Well, we’re here, we made it! Not without incident, but we’re here. Let’s start from the get-go…
We departed from Boston early morning on Wednesday, the 11th of August. Things proceeded smoothly through Phoenix, and we made it happily to Vancouver, where we enjoyed a 13 hour lay-over that included a trip into the city, sushi and relaxation in a park. We hopped on our long flight – 11 hours – to Beijing early Thursday morning, and all was well – we were on our way to China!
Happiness be damned, China was evidently not too keen on our arrival. Our flight landed at 5:30am, which gave us a leisurely 3 hours until our flight to Ulaanbaatar (UB). We cleared “transit customs,” as they called it, and moved along to our gate to wait. At the gate we met some nice folks who were also traveling to UB, one of them a VSO volunteer. Cool. Not cool was that our pleasant banter gave way to one of us reading the flight board:
What?! Our flight was delayed for almost 10 hours? That’s weird…well, we might as well get some breakfast and relax for a while. We’ve got a long day ahead.
Ahh, the mind of the optimist. Our breakfast/relaxation turned into lunch, dinner, another flight delay (thanfully only 2 hours!), and – alas! – we were on our way. Hooray Beijing! Wait…what? Our boarding pass “transit customs” stamp has been cancelled?! But why?! Ooh, because we did not spend the day at the free hotel that we did not know Air China had offered us – we spent it like giant buttheads at the airport! Bad travelers. So we, along with about 8 of our friends, are not allowed to board the plane. We must return to customs, exit into China (I thought you couldn’t do that without a visa?), and return with a fresh boarding pass/customs stamp. Lovely. So we do as we are told, and all is well in the Beijing Airport. Off we go; we hop on the plane, relieved to be done with that headache and on our way to UB. As weary little travelers, we embrace this 2 hour flight to catch a quick nap, and before we know it, the flight attendants announce our arrival in UB – only 20 minutes away!
Silly us. Ten minutes later we awake once again to hear that we are NOT going to UB, we are in fact turning back around and returning to Beijing. Boooo Beijing! And booo Air China. Every other airline was landing in UB but for some reason Air China would not. So back we go…
Two hours later we arrive in Beijing and are shuttled on three separate buses through and around the Beijing Airport. Rejoice, the lovely people are taking us to a hotel for the night! Or for two hours.
We arrive at the hotel, check in, and two hours later – at 5 am – we are back on a bus, heading back to the airport. We’re happy though…we’re going to Mongolia!
Ahh, again you silly travelers, do you never learn? You are NOT going to Mongolia; there is no room on the flight for you. You are going BACK to a hotel and perhaps – if you are lucky – you will fly out at 3 in the afternoon for UB.
GAGH. We are now ANGRY travelers and we are surrounded by ANGRY traveler friends. Strength in numbers. WHERE IS OUR BREAKFAST VOUCHER?! AND LUNCH TOO…WE WANT LUNCH!!! What? No vouchers? Huh? This is weird.
BOOO AIR CHINA. All at once…BOOOOO AIR CHINA.
Enough about them though. The day culminates in this photo – our heroes are HAPPY!
They’re heading to Mongolia, and – this time – the plane lands! Yaaaaay Ulaanbaatar!
So yeah…three of our four bags arrived – the fourth arrived the following morning – and we made it to our new home in Ulaanbaatar a little over 70 hours after we left home. Cripes.
We have been here since, getting to know the city, our fellow volunteers, and the language, culture and people. We are happy, healthy and almost well rested. Things are good. Today was our first day of language school. The sounds are entirely foreign, but it is exciting to feel as though we will make slow progress towards communication. We also made our first trip to the local market today…Chris is a wonderful market shopper I must say.
Anyways, this is enough for now. We’ll leave you with a couple photos of our new home and one of the gym that Chris intends to join…
Until next time…