I've settled into a period of general acceptance about the upcoming trip. I'm now the guy who's going to China. It's as if I developed an excitingly new condition, like growing an eleventh finger or hair after being bald. The trip is actually only three months away, though–in fact, we leave three months from yesterday. But sometimes I feel like it might as well be five years from now. Seems like anything that's more than a week away is just something that will happen someday, and that I'll face when the time comes. What has happened to my ability to plan ahead?
Actually, I have been taking steps. I got my passport. I purchased my traveller's insurance. Airline tickets: Check. I have the trip agreement to fill out and send to Uncle George with payment–must do that this week, as well as call my doctor about immunizations. (Good grief, did I pay Cheryl for the airline tickets, yet??) I need to figure out how I'm going to get to New Jersey in order to make my noon flight on the Saturday we're leaving, and, equally important, how am I going to get back to Rome after a 16 hour flight from Beijing? Do I drive down Friday night or take a flight Saturday morning? Driving down would necessitate driving back–not a very appealing prospect after the long flight back. I could pick up Chris and drive down to NJ and back with him, though. That would make the drive easier. One good thing: Lori is going to arrange for me not to work the day after I get back.
There are other things: I'm worried about not speaking the language. This isn't like going to Austria after taking four years of German. I'm not going to have ANY idea what people are saying. The idea that I'll be totally dependent on someone translating for me makes me nervous. I checked out a book called "Getting Around in Chinese" and found it about as easy to follow as a book written in... well, Chinese.
The food is another thing. I'm pretty much down with Chinese-American cuisine, but the thought of someone offering me a fish head or a pig's face has me a little queasy. Anthony Bourdain may be able to dig into whatever is put in front of him anywhere in the world (although I did see him struggle with something like monkey testicles one time), but I'm a not so sanguine about by intestinal fortitude. My plan: Stick to noodles, rice and chicken wherever possible. Something tells me I won't be able to get Moo Shoo pork when we're over there.