T minus 3

Great news (for me, at least): BOTH of my suitcases arrived in Los Angeles – ahead of schedule! Thanks FedEx and the Ship-it Shop (love that name!) in Summerville SC.

I’m in SFO visiting with my youngest, having left SLC after seeing my older two children and four (count ’em, four) grandchildren!  I sat on the SLC > SFO flight next to a Chinese gentleman who, along with his wife, was taking his only child (a son) to college.  He spoke fairly good English and was very excited to learn that I love Chinese food. We talked a bit about Wei Wei and how the Chinese government is making small strides towards recognizing basic civil rights. One hopes that is true.

I received all sorts of great travel tips from my youngest (who is fluent in Mandarin) along with guidance on how to pronounce and use basic words. My goal is to learn one new word a day. She will also be sending me more “insider” information on Taipei from one of her teachers, who is a native.

NOTE: one thing I learned today (not related to the Chinese language) is that Netflix blocks all foreign IP addresses. In order to access your Netflix account overseas one needs to download a “hotspot shield”: http://download.cnet.com/hotspot-shield/ . I’ll let you know how that works out.

Next stop: soCal, my jumping off point for Taiwan and a visit with my parents! I have a lot of last-minute items to take care of before I’m out of cell phone range.

T minus 8

The theory of getting ready for an international move and the reality are really NOT the same! All those little details that seem to escape mention in most travel blogs become abundantly obvious as the days before take off dwindle!

Last week’s big stressor, the visa! Did I send the right information? Would it be approved? Would VisaHQ get it out the door on time? Would Fed Ex actually deliver it? I’m happy to report that a visa was issued (though not the type I’d applied for….hmmm, will have to figure that out in-country) and sent back on schedule. The only glitch being that I had stepped out to verify international wire transfer protocols with my bank when the guy in blue/orange arrived. (Of course!) So I headed to the North Charleston “World Service Center” (a counter manned by a very patient guy and miles of warehouse space). Thanks to good timing and a new car locking mechanism I met the hunkiest Brit on my way out the door (visa in hand). A gurl can look, can’t she?

Packing, packing, and more packing. A word of advice: read the airline’s fine print on the size and weight of allowable luggage (checked and carry on). I bought one of those handy gadgets that clip onto a suitcase handle and within seconds was pleased to realize I’d actually packed LESS than 20 kg (50 lbs) allowed by China Airlines. Whew! Guess I’ll have to figure out how to shoehorn more footwear into them. Now I just have to worry about whether my vitamin supplements and powdered protein drinks will make it through customs.

And the packing continues…

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As for me, I will take the road less travelled…