Off to China – 2017
Modern Technology Makes Travel Almost Easy
Slightly prior to the one year anniversary of last year’s trip I am off to China again. This time, JoAnn has her own agenda and is not accompanying me. It has been a fortunate coincidence that my retirement was last Friday, Sept 29 and I the trip to China was planned to start on Tuesday Oct 2nd.
I was invited by the Dunhuang Academy to spend a month at Mogao working on the cave presentations with the English Speaking Guides. The best time for training is when no one else wishes to visit, so alas, my trip is not during pleasant weather. The best bargain was November. At least not the dead of winter.
This allows three weeks in October in Beijing studying with Margaret at the Mandarin Zone School. I will start with a side trip to the Shanxi Museum in Taiyuan and then to Datong, to see the Yungang Caves, the last of the major Chinese Caves I had not yet seen.
Off on Hainan Airlines flight HU482, non-stop between Boston and Beijing. This is a wonderful development. That longer routes are being flown, and non-stop from Boston, saves four hours. Avoids the stop-overs required by other carriers. Further, their planes are newer and cleaner and the service is quite good. Yes, a bit conflicted about not using a US carrier, but the benefits with Hainan are too significant.
Planes are numbered, a fact I had never considered and the Boeing 787-9 on this flight was Hainan Number B7667. Amazing; anything you wish to know seems to be on the internet. Without many clicks I found that the Boeing number 62720 and it was delivered in July 2017. Only three months old.
Last year we postponed our trip for a week because it coincided with Golden week, an autumn week long holiday in China. We were warned that everyone in China is travelling and sightseeing that week, but this year I had few alternatives.
The flight, in the middle of Golden Week Holiday was not completely full. Many families, with small children, returning to China. Yes, lots of crying during the flight making sleep on board difficult.
Retirement brought the change of medical care that is highly charged in America. Off the corporate health coverage onto a mix of Medicare gap insurances, dental insurance, vision and hearing insurance, and Plan D, pharmacy coverage. Did I miss something in the list? Possibly! New rules, co-pays, different coverages, donut holes, etc. it is quite confusing, but possibly worthwhile so that we understand our costs and coverages. Truth be told, we did spend the month of September visiting all of our caregivers for last minute procedures, prescriptions, etc. Going into retirement and Medicare coverage, we feel we are as healthy as possible.
Preparation was quite hectic for us both, JoAnn and me. Two months away for me and JoAnn planning her month in London. But quite amazing what has become possible in this modern world. Finding flights, trains and organizing connections are an at home compute project. Hotels, homestay, any sort of accommodation rentals, are at the control of the mouse. Maps, reviews, competitive information, Google maps to see the neighborhoods all in advance of a decision. I can price as well as the local travel agent.
It does extract a toll. I was mentally exhausted with I boarded.
Further amazement at this modern world, arrival in a foreign country, place your plastic card in an ATM, enter your identification and within less than a minute you have made a withdrawal from your account and are handed local currency.
The taxi driver has a GPS with exquisite address and location information, down to feet. An obscure address of a residence can be located with this technology and I am securely left at the door of the hotel, not down the street, on a dark night.