This is the view from our bedroom window at school. After a week and a half of solid rain, it was lush and green. We started packing about a month before we left so by the end of our time there, we weren’t rushed or worried about running out of time. Our last few days in China were spent finishing packing, getting the proper signatures from the school to get paid and saying our goodbyes. We gave away everything we couldn’t take including the plants we raised from little babies. Having to part with our plants is always hard but we know that they went to good homes.
We left with 3 suitcases, 3 backpacks, a computer case and a yoga mat. Needless to say, it was a handful. The largest suitcase we have is full of presents and souvenirs for our family and friends.
We took a taxi from Mianyang to Chengdu for our flight to Beijing. Usually the commute takes 2 hours but took 4 due to a rainstorm that had not only flooded both cities and the towns between, but collapsed at least 3 bridges in Mianyang the day before. The enitre ride there was harrowing as usual, with drivers pretending they are in a race car video game and the noxious fumes, but this ride was even worse. The entire time we were driving through 3-5 inches of water. At one point we were in an intersection where every car was driving in every direction imaginable anywhere they could find space, including the oncoming traffic lane. People were trudging through the intersection with water up to their shins. At one point, our driver was speeding through a puddle and a curtain of water came up over the windshield, blinding us. We both sighed with relief when we finally made it to the airport safely.
We finally got to the airport and the first man who helped us refused to check our extra bags and kept pointing towards security. We tried to say we were willing to pay to check extra but he wasn’t even trying to listen. Once we got to security they sent us right back. We then were lucky enough to be helped by a woman. Women in China tend to be better students and workers, therefore better English speakers. She helped us check our extra bags and we went to our gate. 20 minutes later we boarded.
In Beijing we had to pick up our bags and recheck them. With only 1 hour between flights, we were rushed. The fee to check our extra bags was exorbitant (as much as our plane tickets!). We got to the gate and it had just started boarding. Luckily we were seated and a few seats next to us were vacant. Kelly, being tiny, was able to sleep on two airplane seats and get a decent about of shuteye on the 11 hour flight from Beijing to Zurich. Once in Zurich we went to the next gate and it boarded 20 minutes later.
A short 2 hours later we were in London and on the curb of LCY waving down a taxi.
£20 later we were in front of Nick’s doorstep in Blackheath. Nick is one of Mi’s family friends and graciously invited us to use his flat as our hub for the duration of our stay in London. We are so very grateful for this invitation because without his generosity we would be spending thousands of pounds just for a place to sleep.
We had to wait 6 hours for him to return from work in order to let us in. Luckily, his downstairs neighbor let us store our luggage in the hallway so we could spend the intervening time exploring Blackheath.
Blackheath village is very small and we were so tired that we found a pub to have lunch at while enjoying people watching and beer.
Stay tuned for our next blog entries about our explorations of London and the surrounding area!