So, off I go again on another adventure. This one proves to be challenging and fun… How my week went:
10 days ago Barbara Harper (www.waterbirth.org) asked me if I’d like to do a waterbirth training in Shanghai, China. Um, duh… of COURSE I WOULD! I love Barbara, I have loved her from the first time I read her book, Gentle Birth Choices. I used to show the video to every single childbirth class I taught. Then I met her and she’s even better in person (LOL). Her energy, her vision, her everything is amazing.
So, next step was to get the time off from work… which I managed to do without a hitch! We made plans and the plane tickets were purchased and off I would go on Saturday, April 30th to Shanghai.
Then, off to get a visa to visit China… ROADBLOCK AHEAD! Because my current employer hasn’t managed to obtain a Residency Visa for the UAE yet, the Chinese Embassy could not issue me a visa to travel to Shanghai… PANIC MODE. What to do? Will I have to fly to the States to get a visa? Call off the trip? As I’m hyperventilating, trying not to cry and basically yelling on the phone at the PRO from my job, the Chinese embassy man is tapping on the glass to get my attention.
I walk back to him, people part ways because the crazy lady is coming through, and he proceeds to tell me he has a solution for me… you do??? You can give me the visa? Um, no, but you can FLY TO HONG KONG to get it. LOL… my laugh cracks me up. Living in Abu Dhabi is like livin’ la vida loco… seriously. Now this is Sunday, I’m suppose to go to Shanghai on Saturday… SIX DAYS AWAY! and now this guy is telling me that to get into Shanghai, I’ll have to go to Hong Kong…. how to do.
Next stop… Emirates Airlines. I drive over to their office which is on the Corniche:
Abu Dhabi Corniche
Instead of going into the office, I walk over to the water and sit for a few minutes, collect myself, have a little chat with the BIG GUY upstairs and beg him for just one little thing to go right… just one, let’s not make this day too difficult for me, ya hear? I’m fragile… LOL
I then proceed to go over to the office and find the nicest Iranian girl in the world, who helped me, got me a GREAT seat and didn’t charge me a change fee for my flight. She booked me to Hong Kong, then HK to Shanghai and left my return flight the same. The good news… I get to fly on the A380… biggest plane in the sky… two stories of luxury at it’s finest. Even the cheap seats recline!
So, then back to work the next day to tell the boss that now I need 3 more days off from work! But, simple as pie, maafi mushkala! Now I have less than 24 hours to pack for a 2 week trip… I can DO this!
Packing itself was a challenge, but I am so happy that I did all that laundry on Saturday! Why was packing a challenge, because I think the cats KNOW when I’m leaving… this is the kind of games that they play:
Marina trying to sneak her way in to the suitcase!
And this is what her brother Oyster did when I told him I was leaving for 2 1/2 weeks:
Oh no, Mom, not again!
But quick packing I did! Arranged for a ride to the airport with my friend, Laura, which meant GETTING UP AT 355 a.m. to go! But, ride beggars can’t be choosy! So we got up very early and headed out to Dubai.
I got to the airport with more than 4 hours to spare, which was nice, because those of you that know me well, know what travel anxiety I have. Nope… it’s not about flying… I have NO fear of flying because I have NO fear of dying. I just have general anxiety of making sure that I’ve got everything packed (I didn’t… I forgot the HK hotel vouchers on my desk at work and it was the FIRST thing they asked for!!!) and about getting to the airport on time. So, no problem there, given that I was there so early. I had a lovely breakfast and then sat and read for a few hours. Nice and relaxed. And then the plane pulled in… WOW! I hadn’t seen the A380 in person… just pictures and she is impressive… take a look:
After much anticipation, we were ready to board. I lucked out and had a flight attendant sitting two seats over, no one between us. She was on holiday and flying to meet her boyfriend in China. Awesome chick, very helpful and we have something in common… we both love playing…
OMG… I was so happy to see that they had something fun to do while flying! Jenni… I know you are just jealous as all get out now! 🙂 We had a great time playing and chatting.
Barbara made my reservation and requested vegetarian… which was fine, but I’M A MEAT EATER BARBARA! LOL! The meal was actually quite awesome:
Lunch on the Emirates A380
It was a pasta filled to the gills with yummy veggies (one I have no idea what it was, but it was yummy!) and a large, fresh roll, real butter and an interesting pudding like dessert. I watched Social Network while eating and it was a pretty decent movie, even though they portray Sean Parker as one of the founders of Napster…. which he was not.
I read my James Patterson novel, Fang, and then settled in for a very comfortable nap. The cheap seats on the A380 RECLINE! Yup, they do. And I didn’t have a seat in front of me, so I had tons of leg room (I tried a regular seat and it was more roomy than British Airways and Etihad). I slept without awaking for the 1 hour I had set my alarm to. I awoke to this charming young lady doing stretches in front of me:
Charming Young Lady
Later, she left her sunglasses and something odd (not sure what it was, honestly!) in the bathroom, after what I (and many others) suspect was attaining another notch in her mile high club belt… and I found it. She just about squeezed me to death for giving them back to her… too funny. I did, however, feel like I needed to be decontaminated!
All in all, a great flight. The service on the Emirates A380 was excellent! The food was pretty good and the flight was smooth, with only a couple of bouts of turbulence.
On the hotel transfer bus I sat in the front row to avoid motion sickness. They had 80’s/90’s music on the radio. The third song was “We Are the World” and by the end, I think everyone on the bus was singing it… even though the seats were high and none of us could see each other… on 2nd thought, maybe that’s why we were all singing… we were anonymous! The 2nd song we all sang together was Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World”… Fun ride, I love singing… even if it is off-key!
So… just a couple of more pics to wrap things up… this is what the line looked like at the Visa office this morning:
Visa Line at the Chinese Consulate
I thought I would be there all day, but alas, I was there less than 2 hours! When I finally made it inside, through security and up to the 7th floor, I was #214… the number on the board was 145! Ack 69 people ahead of me, but it went very quickly. Now I just have to wait to pick it up tomorrow morning.
I decided to walk back to the hotel and stopped at a little specialty store to pick up some lunch… I got a Coca-Cola Light with lemon (something I can’t get in Abu Dhabi… the lemon part that is) and some sushi and my favorite chips in the whole wide world that I can’t find anywhere but HK.. Curry Chips. Next to the curry chips were these chips:
Kyushu Seaweed Flavored Lay's Potato Chips... who knew!
I was tempted, but I so wanted the Curry Chips more… shucks! So, now I’ve been hanging at the hotel all day. Started reading A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini. Catching up on some stuff on the computer, doing some competencies for my real job, reviewing work sent to me by my girls back at the hospital and playing Mahjongg Dimensions, which is, for some crazy reason, blocked by Etisalat, my sucky internet provider!
I hope ya’ll have enjoyed my update… more later in the week, after I’m in Shanghai, unless something earth shattering happens here in HK in the meantime… Ciao!