Saturday, June 19, 2010

The "glamour" of international travel

I haven't blogged in a couple days. (By the way, thanks for everyone's comments on facebook about my last post, "I Don't Know What to Expect". I didn't realize how much those thoughts would apply to the last two days. Maybe I shouldn't have written that- it feels a little bit like God is saying, "Let's see if you really meant that.")

After we wrapped up our training in Beijing (which went great. God is really doing some amazing things in this country), we were scheduled to fly to Xian on a 6:30 PM flight. We had to check out of our hotel room at noon, so we got to the airport around 2:00 PM. Here's what the next hours looked like:

2:00 Arrive at Beijing Airport. learn that our flight was going to be an hour late.
5:00 Learn that our flight will be 4 hours late.
6:00 Told that our flight might not be going out at all
10:00 Learn that our flight will be leaving at 12:10 AM
12:30 AM leave for Xian (after 10 hours in the airport)
2:30 AM arrive Xian
4:00 get to hotel in Xian (notice that, due to jet lag, I'd been GETTING UP at 4ish the last few mornings. All of a sudden, I'm going to bed at 4.)
7:00 Get up to do training after 3 hours of semi-sleep.
8:00 Start a day of training. I guess God gave us supernatural energy, because our team was awake, focused, and things went very well.

Meanwhile, Julie is having a MUCH WORSE time, trying to come join me in China. Here's her story:

12:23 PM- Scheduled departure from O'Hare
5:00 PM- ACTUAL departure from O'Hare. That meant that she missed her connecting flight in Tokyo, and ALL OTHER FLIGHTS TO BEIJING THAT NIGHT. That would mean that she would also miss the connection to Xi'an.To compound it all, her phone wouldn't work in Japan, so we're not able to discuss all the changes that needed to be made. United fed her and got her a hotel room, but her flight the next morning would cause her to miss her flight from Beijing to Xian. I had to rebook that (but we couldn't really discuss this...). As far as she knows, she's going to arrive in Beijing, where she can't speak the language, can't call anyone, and has already missed her flight. Total sense of abandonment.

8:30 AM (After a good night of sleep for both of us) I decide, "what the heck, I'll dial Julie's number. There's no chance that my US-based Verizon cell phone will find it's way back to the US network, and then be able to locate Julie's phone in Japan, which isn't working anyway. But I'll dial it anyway."


Julie (sounding confused): "Hello?"
Mark: Heeeeeyyyyyy!
Julie: Mark!?!?
Mark: I can't believe this is working!!!

I'm guessing that people in the Tokyo airport wondered why Julie was doing some sort of primitive tribal dance of celebration. My dance was in the privacy of my hotel room, so I didn't look quite as silly.

We talked for a few minutes, and I gave her the flight information for Beijing. She'll have to navigate a few hurdles in the Beijing airport, but I'll be meeting her at the Xian airport this afternoon at 5:30.

I'm married to a wonderful woman. She's been pushed to the brink a few times on this trip, but she's embraced an "Amazing Race" mentality, and is seeing this all as a crazy adventure. But we will BOTH be really glad when we lock eyes in the Xian airport.


  1. SOOO glad you connected. I would love to witness that moment when you meet in Xian. So sweet!

  2. Yeah! I'm glad you were able to connect by phone and get all the travel arrangements squared away. She should be fine in Beijing -- the AirChina agents speak English and it's pretty easy to navigate around the airport, even though it is a huge place.

    A lot of people seem to think that my job is somehow glamorous too since I get to travel around the world all the time. Sometimes it's really just a huge pain in the neck. I get massive migraines every time I come, often get sick, kill my spine on the flights, and have long delays. Last time it took me 35 hours to get home and I swore I'd never fly again. It can be very draining constantly flipping your clock back and forth too. I guess Julie usually doesn't travel with you? My husband hasn't been to China yet so the distance is really hard that way too. Hope you have a successful reunion later today!

  3. wow Mark made me cry!
    Jan K