Decision time

Hello dear reader,

After a bit of an (extra long) absence I’ve got a few things to catch you up on.

Life after quarantine has been good, we’ve gone out to a few restaurants and taken some mini vacations to Shanghai, and went to a coworker’s home town to see a different side of China. All in all the expat life in China isn’t half bad.  We’re able to get almost any western food we want. I even found BellaVitano cheese.  The hardest thing has been the language and cultural barriers. 

China began to open up vaccinations to a larger audience a few months ago. At first it was only for citizens and foreigners needed special approval to get the shots. Our employer was able get the foreigner’s vaccination requests approved. So I am happy to say we have been vaccinated. It is certainly a relief.  At this point the vaccinations have been opened up to non-Chinese, so more people are able to get them now.

In late April we took a trip to the Yunnan province in Western China.  It was about as close as we could get to Tibet without needing a special visa. (Apparently travel has been extra restricted during the pandemic and for other reasons)  To say that the trip was amazing is an understatement, and the pictures I took likewise do not do it any justice.  Maybe it was the fact that it was the first real vacation we’ve been able to take since 2019, maybe it was that it was completely different scene than eastern China. Who knows, either way it was a once in a lifetime experience that we will never forget.  Key highlights were touring the Tibetan temples and monasteries.   One that was first built in 1679 (Garden Sumtseling monastery).   Then there was the hike at an altitude of nearly 4,000 meters (over 13,000 feet)!!  Both provided us with amazing views, and were moving in their own regards. 

Against all this we’ve been struggling with a major decision.  We haven’t exactly been over joyed with our time in China, but we’ve also had some amazing times. So we’ve been chanting the classic by The Clash (should I sat or should go). After months of trying to determine what the best option for our mental & physical health as well as our careers would be, we have arrived at a decision.  I think it really boiled down to this realization:  “While we could live in China for another couple of years the idea of returning to the US exciting.” And recent losses to our families and the seemingly never-ending pandemic have really highlighted for us that life is way too short to be less than happy.  So we’ve informed our employer and have begun looking for jobs back in the US.  

So we don’t have an actual exit date yet, and we are taking a bit of a leap into uncertainty.  But I think it’s something we’ve gotten good at.

Ciao for now

Quarantine Vibes

Quarantine Vibes

The view from our hotel

Wow, a lot of time has passed since my last update.  The lockdown really limited new experiences, and when we had 4 months of Wednesdays it got pretty repetitive.   So dear reader let’s get you caught up quickly.     A few months ago, P accepted a position in China, due to the lockdown restrictions we needed to fly back to the US to apply for our Visas. We ended up getting our visas much sooner than we expected, so we were able to accelerate our US departure by a week.  Being back the states felt pretty surreal at first, but it gave a chance to get our votes in.  It was great to catch up with a few friends and family and I even got in a few fishing trips.

Watching the spike in Covid cases across the US while we were there was horrifying to say the least.  We had to be sure we avoided it, well…like the plague. We had to get a negative Covid test no earlier than 3 days before we boarded the plane. This caused a bit of anxiety, but it went very smoothly.

Getting to China we took an interesting path.  We flew from Minneapolis, to Seattle, to Seoul, and finally to Shanghai.  The flights were uneventful, and we were able to get some sleep.  I can’t say enough about how awesome the Delta flight crews were. I’ve never felt more welcome and appreciated than I did on those flights.  They made me a customer for life. 

We’re not in Kansas anymore.

Once we landed in Shanghai, we had to sit on the aircraft for a temperature check and verification that we had tested negative for Covid. After this was completed for everyone on board, we were allowed to disembark.  We walked through several stations, collecting papers, a sample collection vial, and stamps for the paperwork, and temperature scans. To be honest, it’s a bit of a blur.  The end result was that we were tested again for Covid, but this time it was both nostrils and a bit more invasive.  All told this was probably only about 20-30 minutes, but it felt longer.

After that, it was just the normal passport control and customs stations.  Then we sat in a holding area for about an hour until everyone from our flight was through the health check process.  Along the way, all the airport and medical personnel were wearing full-body medical protective suits. This was a vast difference from what we experienced in the US. it’s been easy to see why cases in China have been kept low.

Once everyone from our flight was through, we boarded a bus to our quarantine hotel in Shanghai.  The hotel was a bit basic but fully met our needs. We received 3 meals a day, the food was authentic but very good. On the morning of our 3rd day, we were shuttled to a different hotel in Suzhou. This hotel is much nicer and it’s easier to get things delivered.  We will finish up our time here we’ll be free to explore Suzhou. 

Until next time.

-Bruler travls.