Thursday, August 22, 2013

Finally Traveling to Changsha

It was a pretty eventful day.  You know you've been on a plane for a long time when you leave on August 21st and land on August 23rd.  In the morning, prior to our departure, we were all a little nervous.  Bags had been mostly packed for several days and we were sort of just counting down the hours until we would finally leave.  We received an outpouring of love from friends and family as we made our final preparations.  In fact, we sometimes would joke that it seemed our family was expecting to never see us again.  We assured them that 11 months would go very quickly and that we would be very safe in China.  One of the benefits of living in a less free society is the controls that are in place to prevent crime.  Certainly petty crime happens in the city of Changsha (with its 6 million people), but there isn't an excessive amount of violent crime.  So of course we had nothing to worry about. 

Anyway, we loaded two cars full of luggage and departed for the airport around 3 p.m.  Our flight didn't leave until 11:50 that night, but I wanted to leave ample time in case of vehicle problems. I also thought it would be nice to visit with my dad, Stacie's mom, and her stepdad over a nice meal in the evening.  That "nice" meal ended up being Chipotle (best fast food franchise in the world).  After eating, we found that we really didn't have anything to do and it was still five hours before our flight.  I think everyone was a little annoyed with me because I had given us too much extra time when we could have rested up a bit more in Cedar before heading out.  I may have made a very long trip unnecessarily longer, but how was I supposed to know that the cars would run great, that everyone would eat in 45 minutes and be done visiting, and that the line for security at the airport would have nobody in it!  Oh well.

Once we got on the plane, the children were noticeably excited.  Ezra, Jeanie, and Lucy had never been on a plane before, let alone an international flight.  We weren't sure if they would hear the rumble of the engines and freak out about the take-off.  But, they LOVED it all!.  In fact, there were a few times where the turbulence was so bad, we could feel the plane drop and the passengers would let out a simultaneous "Ugh."  I looked over at the little girls and they were smiling.  In their minds, the experience probably rivaled their best memories of Lagoon amusement park. 

In terms of the flight itself, it was very long (12 and a half hours).  But, the kids were all troopers.  They watched movies, played games, ate junk food, and slept (remarkably similar to their day-to-day lives--at least when we give them free time).  One unique thing happened during the flight that is worth mentioning.  Some had a serious medical complication during the flight and the flight attendants performed chest compressions on her for over an hour.  As we excited the plane after landing, we could see that she probably didn't make it.  It was very sad and I kept wondering why they didn't stop Japan to get her medical help.  I know I would have willingly added a bit more time to the flight to try to get this lady some help.  But, I don't really know the reasons for not landing and I don't want to assume that Korean Air just doesn't care about the well being of their passengers. 

Now, we are at the Incheon International Airport, just outside of Seoul, Korea.  We have a four hour layover before boarding our last flight (3 and a half hours) to Changsha in the Hunan Province.  We are all tired from sleeping irregularly on the plane.  I hope we can all stay awake once we arrive (around 11:20 a.m.) so that we can go to bed tonight at a normal time.

Packed up and ready to go!  We managed to only bring 8 checked bags, 4 carry ons, and 7 personal items.

They are so proud of themselves, but their mom had to repack all their luggage and then do it all again when they would dip into their bags and take things out. 

Last meal in America at Chipotle.

I know grandpa wanted Italian food.

At the check in counter.  We are already getting some attention.

Our version of that scene from Reservoir Dogs.

We are going to be here for a while.  Might as well make ourselves at home.

Grandma is a flight attendant, so she gets to hang out with us at the gate without a boarding pass.

My graduate student, Jay Sorensen, contemplating the reasons why he decided to come along.

Out for the count.

"Can we please watch Iron Man 3."  The answer is "no."


Classic Korean dish.  Tater tots, eggs, and salsa.


  1. WOW! What an adventure, ALREADY!!

  2. Love these pictures!! Especially the ones of the airplane! :-)

  3. I am so glad it's going well! Thanks for posting, Love you guys!

  4. you had me until chipotle. was thinking about you guys yesterday. looks like the flight was much funner than ours. miss you guys already. hope everyone is having fun. cant wait to hear how the Chinese take to the Steins.