stuck in the airport … again

I usually try not to travel for Thanksgiving because the travel situation is always RIDICULOUS. But I figured, how bad could it really be? I budgeted way more time than I needed to get to the airport. I left work early and even took the train, multiple transfers and all (MTA subway to NJ Transit to AirTrain), to avoid getting stick in traffic. And for the most part it worked!

I got to the airport two hours before my scheduled flight! Security was slow but I still had plenty of time! I bought a Snapple! I responded to some last work emails! I was ready and waiting!

At this point I’ve been waiting at the airport for three hours and my flight keeps getting pushed back. Oh, and there’s a pigeon chilling out on the sign for my gate.

Happy Thanksgiving?

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chicago o’hare: my most hated airport

With the crazy weather out East, I’m thankful as heck to be way over in Nevada! Although I’ll actually be going out East next week, so hopefully things are better by then. A few weeks back I spent a few days in New York (no snow at the time), and on the way back had a layover at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport … reaffirming ORD as my most hated airport. Then again, they do have this amazing tunnel, which is by far the coolest thing at O’Hare!

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The tunnel connects United’s B and C concourses, has a mirrored ceiling and neon lighting installation by Michael Hayden (Sky’s the Limit, 1987), backlit colored panels on the wall, and was just wow. It almost made up for a delayed flight, horrendously long trek across the airport, and lackluster chicken quesadilla I wolfed down. Rainbow colors, mirrors, and neon lighting? It’s like I was back in China! It was also a complete surprise to me because even though I’ve been to ORD many times before, I normally don’t fly United and had never had the pleasure of seeing the tunnel before.

So why, might you ask, do I so dislike Chicago O’Hare? Three reasons: A) I always seem to have a delayed flight (either to or from there), B) It’s such a crazy large airport that it takes forever to get anywhere, and C) I’ve only ever been to ORD on layovers, and layovers inherently suck. It’s not the airport’s fault that it’s a major hub, it’s incredibly busy, and Chicago weather causes a lot of delays, but I still prefer to change flights elsewhere … especially in winter.

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My flight into Chicago was delayed an hour because it had just started snowing in Chicago and ORD was backed up, but thankfully my layover was long enough that the connection was ‘a bit tight’ rather than ‘run like you’ve never run before’. My flight out boarded on time, but was delayed due to the de-icing process, which was actually pretty cool to watch from my window seat on the wing (my favorite seat). Basically a giant mechanical arm with a bright light and sprayer head on a pivot just went back and forth spraying the wing down.

In the end, my flight landed on time due to favorable winds, so all in all the experience wasn’t that bad. But I still just do not like Chicago O’Hare. Because as much as I bemoan the pretty-much-given delays and borderline-incompetent staff at some Chinese airports (oh PVG, will you ever get your act together?), I always feel like Chicago should be better. But alas, one change the weather.

Safe travels to all you out there!

let the non-relaxing vacation begin!

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I often say I’m busy, which is true, but it’s not entirely accurate. You see, I do have stuff to do, but it’s not really so much in terms of quantity, but its timing really, really sucks, so I am stressed out beyond belief. Today is the start of my vacation to Qingdao, I’m sitting here in the airport sleep-deprived and a bit nauseous, and the only thing I can think of is: I really should have brought my laptop with me, I’ve got work to do!

Oy. Here’s hoping the hostel has good wifi. Things were busy but manageable last week, they just kinda snowballed in the last few days. I probably should stay at home and be a good little worker bee, but here I am at good ol’ PVG anyhow because I need a vacation. I did pack a bluetooth keyboard and mouse to connect to my phone, which should make finishing work a bit easier, but … oh who am I kidding? This is going to majorly suck. What a depressing way to start a vacation.

And it is absurdly early. I hate mornings. Bah humbug.

my last meal in hong kong … popeyes!

For my last meal in Hong Kong, I had Popeyes! Yay Popeyes! Although it was actually kinda disappointing and a tad disgusting. My flight left around 10 AM, so I left my hotel in Central around 7 AM, which was too early for most places with decent breakfasts. I grabbed a cab to Hong Kong Station, caught the Airport Express, and searched for food at HKIA (Hong Kong International Airport, aka HKG).

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I ordered one of their breakfast sets. The scrambled eggs were hella watery. The day before, I had breakfast at the hotel (a super fancy breakfast buffet) and the scrambled eggs were watery as well. Is that a thing in Hong Kong? There were also chicken tenders (decent but ho-hum), really squishy nasty sausages (but edible with a helluva lotta ketchup), and a cup of coffee. Yum, coffee. So much coffee these last few days!

No biscuits though. Goodness gracious I miss normal Popeyes. Sometimes I just want some good ol’ fried chicken with mashed potatoes and biscuits. Even for breakfast.

airline food for new year’s eve

Happy New Year’s Eve! Yeah, I know, you thought I died or something, right? Well, I’ve been … busy. And lazy. It’s cold! My apartment has crap insulation and when it’s so cold and I’m all snuggled up in my blanket next to the heater, I want nothing more than to watch Miss Marple and drift off to sleep.

But today I’m out and about! Although I’ve spent the last two hours sitting and waiting for my delayed flight to Korea. I wonder, what is it about waiting for flights to Korea that inspires me to post?

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Anyhow, because the flight was delayed, they handed out meal boxes consisting of rice, tofu, vegetarian chicken (a tofu patty), and lion’s head (pork meatballs). It was on the level of cafeteria food, meaning not good. But hey, it’s more than a US airline would do!

Have a happy 2015, everyone!

adventures in a missed flight

Today I had an exciting new experience: I missed a flight. Oh my gracious goodness. First time for everything, right? And I’m normally so responsible! So here’s a photo essay to document the experience. Because I have lots of time to kill before my rescheduled flight.

My flight was scheduled for 8:25 AM, and lately I’ve been too busy to prepare, so I decided to stay up to pack and grab a taxi at 5ish. I closed my eyes for a second and the next thing I know, it’s 7 AM. Whups. Threw stuff in my suitcase, ran out the door, and hailed a taxi. It’s about an hour’s drive, so it was obvious I wasn’t going to make it, but in case there was another morning flight, I thought getting to the airport ASAP was priority.

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In the cab I called the travel agent, and when I was told there were no flights until the afternoon, I had the taxi stop at Twosome Coffee instead, because coffee makes everything better. Newly opened on Taixing Road, between West Nanjing Road and Wujiang Road, it’s located in a great location next door to Cachet Boutique, which is a nice boutique hotel I’ve been working with. The coffee was pretty good, I had an Americano … because I’m patriotic like that.

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Was waiting for the agent to call back with availability, and decided to once again head to the airport, this time taking the Line 2 metro, which is slower than a cab but cheaper. On the train they called and I booked a new ticket leaving at 3 PM.

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I was already way far out in Pudong at that point, so it would’ve ridiculous to go home to wait just to come back an hour later. I arrived at the Pudong International Airport at about 10:30 AM.

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Check in wouldn’t start until 12:30, so I chilled. Wandered around the few snack shops and bookstores.

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Ended up at Burger King even though I had BK for dinner last night … not many options for food outside security. Tried their chili cheese fries, aka Cheese and Spicy Beef Sauce French Fries. There wasn’t enough sauce for the amount of fries and the sauce was too sweet, but they were decent enough and today’s a day for new experiences.

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The check-in process was easy enough, but since I only have a carry-on with me, I much would’ve preferred to use a kiosk, but alas, China Southern Airlines isn’t that technologically advanced.

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Then there was customs, which I breezed through like a boss. I’m so glad they’ve gotten over the whole taking off your shoes part of the screening process! I’m by no means a frequent flier, but I’ve flown enough to know how to get through without getting stopped, having anything confiscated, or beeping in metal detectors – lessons that were hard learned (ah, my favorite embroidery scissors … I’m sorry I had to abandon you in Xi’an!).

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After the security check I still had over an hour, so I browsed the duty free shops.

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And the other duty free shops.

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And the others too. Might as well, right?

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And wandered up and down the terminal. What did I find? More gates – yawn.

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Finally I sat down at my assigned gate, took a deep breath, and opened my suitcase. Wow that was a mess. When I say I threw things in this morning, I wasn’t kidding. And yep, I forgot my toiletries bag. Sigh.

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A gate change brought me to the lower level … which is the same area I waited in on my way to Hong Kong and to Tokyo. Huh.

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Boarding! Ciao! And only six and a half hours behind schedule. It’s been fun (not really)!

the beginning of the visa run

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I’m off to Hong Kong! And … my trip begins with a delay. Darn you smog!

I’m flying out of Pudong International Airport (PVG), which is quite a ways away from where I live. I was afraid I was going to be late (I always think I’m going to be late yet always end up arriving far too early) so I shilled out for a taxi instead of taking the subway. Stupid move. I could’ve saved about 30 bucks and still had plenty of time. Sheesh.

kfc chicken zinger in the airport

And on the subject of fast food in airports (the subject of my last post), here comes KFC! In the Mumbai airport! It’s the chicken zinger sandwich from KFC, which I ate at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (BOM) in Mumbai, as my last meal in India. Is it weird to eat American fast food in a foreign country? Yeah. But since the chicken zinger isn’t sold in the US, it’s totally fine.

Basically it’s a spicy crispy chicken sandwich. Not all that special and not all that great. The bread kept falling apart and the mayonnaise was too sweet, but the chicken was good although not as spicy as I expected/hoped. I remember the spicy chicken sandwich from a McDonald’s in India being much better, but that was roughly two years ago so I can’t say for sure. Anyhow, it was a decent way to end the trip … there’s only so much curry and kebabs I could take.

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arby’s roast beef in the airport

Arby’s! Roast beef! Arby’s sauce! Yum! There is no Arby’s near where I lived in Houston, there is no Arby’s in China, and there is no Arby’s in Manhattan. So basically what I am saying is that I had not had Arby’s since undergraduate … and college was quite a while ago. But I like Arby’s!

When I had a layover at the Baltimore (BWI) airport (my first time at that airport), I saw that they had an Arby’s and I got so excited! Classic roast beef sandwich, please! Back when I was younger I used to be somewhat OCD so I would have to rearrange the roast beef so that it was level (because usually when then stick it on the bun it’s kind of in a big clump) and spread the sauce on evenly so every bite was the same. This time, I squeezed two packets of sauce onto the thing and gulped it down. Verdict: SO YUMMY.

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smallest airport ever – flagstaff, az

The Flagstaff airport is pitiful. I spent the weekend at the Grand Canyon (woohoo! more on that in a later post) and I flew home out of the Flagstaff airport. Oh goodness. It’s one of those miniscule airports where it takes a minute to walk from one end to the other and security is closed until half an hour before the flight takes off and its flights are only to or from Phoenix. And yet … it appears they have a Calder mobile. Wait, what?

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I almost didn’t notice it at first because it’s not placed very well and the black metal gets lost among the wooden trusses. Ugh. When I first saw the mobiles, I thought they were pretty cool. And they still are pretty cool, but they’re EVERYWHERE. And that makes seeing them more annoying than enjoyable now. Calder ran a good thing into the ground.

Oh, and the plane was so tiny (befitting of the tiny airport) and the ride was short but bumpy … I’ve never been so scared flying. Yeah, I don’t think I’ll be visiting that airport again any time soon.