Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Beijing Debacle

As mentioned previously, we planned a 24 hour layover in Beijing on our way to Bangkok. We were going to see the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and hopefully even the Great Wall. All preparations instantly snapped to a standstill however when we discovered that even to just leave the airport, you need a Chinese visa. Our first reaction was to try and change our flights – total cost: $300. Next we looked into staying in a hotel inside of the airport – total cost: $120, and a depressing way to start our trip. Finally we decided to just bite the bullet and pay $140 each for Chinese visas that we will only be using for one day. Luckily we have been very fortunate to find a couch surfing arrangement, so the good news is that we will have someone local to point us in the right direction, and a free place to crash (thank you Darlene!) So Beijing, here we come!

Other than that, preparations are going sooo smoothly that we both keep worrying there must be something we are forgetting. My last day of work is on Thursday, and I am still in a complete state of shock; the fact that I will not be coming in on Friday because this era of my life is over, and I am about to travel to the other side of the world to a place I have never been, and teach students whose language I don’t understand, in a little village that has monkeys scampering and elephants stomping though the streets…..it just hasn’t sunk in. I will let Natalie speak for herself, but I think it might have set in for her, poor girl J!

Anyway that’s it for now. Thank you to all of those who are following our adventures- we will do our best to make it interesting!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I'm a (half) blogger

I have been an avid journal writer for years, and here I am writing a blog, kinda weird for me! Having an audience. I better work on that GRE vocabulary....

Anyways, I am hoping that I/Grahamalie will have an interesting story to tell. I hope so for your sake, I don't want to bore you to death with we'vehearditbefore stories, but also for my sake. It has been pretty overwhelming getting everything ready for this adventure. We bought our plane tickets, and Graham was all excited and giddy jumping around like a school boy, and there I was, sobbing, holding on to my growling cat, like the true cat lady that I (kind of) am. But seriously, the thought of being away from my loving family, and all of my amazing friends, and our animals, and my beloved oakTOWN made me almost want to back out of this whole thing, something I have been dreaming about for years. But, all tears aside, I am insanely excited. I am figuring out car insurance holds, banking abroad, living situations, and work, and it all seems to be falling into place. Everyone so far has been so supportive. I guess this really is the right time.

I have had a few people ask me about the program that Graham and I are going with, and why we chose Thailand as our temporary home. Well, we are traveling with an organization called CIEE, which our good friend Susan (sup Susan!) recommended to us. She also taught in Thailand, and I spent some time looking at her pictures and being really jealous, and inspired to do something similar, (or exactly the same, in this case. Well, not really, we will be in a different town) in spite of my reservations about leaving a great job and a great situation. In order to do this program in Thailand, we did not need to speak Thai, all we needed was a college degree and some good recommendations. It also seemed like a good length of time; enough to really experience something new, and soak up a new culture, but not so long that we will come back grandparents or anything. Just enough to get our feet wet, so to speak. Also, and maybe most importantly, it was something we could afford, and Graham and I have had Southeast Asia TOP on our list of places to travel to for years. Everyone just has the most amazing things to say about the area, and Thailand.

On an entirely different note, we just got back from Burning Man, and it was incredible. It was by far the most exotic place I have been to. Mars, seriously, has nothing on Burning Man. Unless mars is inhabited by seriously insane Martians. Wow, my first post and I am already writing about Martians. Either this blog is going to be highly entertaining or flat out senseless. I am hoping the former. If you have not seen a perfectly welded statue of a woman dancing that lights up at night, or a remote controlled car has never driven up to you with a "Have a beer" sign on it (and a beer, naturally), or if you haven't experienced 1 ton of explosives blow up an entire art installation, you have not lived. Trust me on this one!

So, to sum this post up. We are not in Thailand yet (one month) but we have my amazing friend Traci watching out for stuff while we are gone. We are getting all of our ducks in order (is that the right saying? Or is it...oh, ducks in a row! duh!) and spending some treasured time with some of our incredible friends and family who we are going to miss so much. And, of course, I am spending some time relaxing in my beautiful sunny apartment, with my adorable cat, (and beta fish and frogs too of course!) reflecting on the past phase of my life (which I designate as the time since I have graduated from college until now, pretty much) and the one yet to come. I hope everyone enjoys reading this! I wish I could see each one of you on a daily basis, it sucks missing so many people all of the time. I love you guys and miss you already, even though I haven't even left.

I guess I need to get better at developing a "thesis" and sticking to it. OOps. OXOXOXOXOXOXOX
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