We had a very... adventurous departure, to say the least. We left the first of august, but Ting's parents and her brother were visiting us from the eighteenth until the 31st of July - there is such a thing as the 31st of July right? You know what I mean.
Back home I realized that we had a little problem: The floors of the apartment were FULL of stuff... What followed resembled a little bit the action series 24. There was one difference: we did not have 24 hours. The landlord would be there at 9:00 am to receive the keys of a cleaned apartment. Our enemy was time, but we had our allies (especially Linlee, Xiaoling, Zhangyang and Yanzi). (Actually, the picture you see was taken on the first of August at 7 am, officially two hours before the apartment needed to be handed over.)
Sleep was cut, special forces called upon, the appointment with the landlord was postponed to 10 am (couldn't be much later cause the plane was at 15:25) and somehow I found myself handing over the keys of a clean apartment... well, not all the keys. Some where missing - the landlord would have to change all the locks, ouch! - but Ting miraculously found the keys back from piles and piles of stuff.
Mom and dad loaded part of our belongings in their cars (other stuff being stored in Xiaoling's basement) and they drove us to the airport. There my godmother Detje and aunt Bieke with Tim and Ben wove us goodbye. A last emotional moment, and then we passed passport control. Since we were a bit exhausted and starving, we first treated ourselves some drinks and some food. We also bought some presents for our (to-be) friends in America. Of course, time was getting tight again and we had to run for the gate. Technically we were already beyond gate-closed time, but luckily (OR NOT) the plane was delayed.
The plane was delayed for not too long: an hour or so. BUT that was enough for us to miss our connection in London Heathrow to Philadelphia! Moreover, ours was the last flight of the day. We had to stay in London for the night, and we had another flight the next day at 12:55. But it was not all bad news. First, Heathrow was full of athletes and photographers because of the Olympics. Moreover, they had put us in the Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow Hotel, a very nice hotel - three times awarded best airport hotel in the world in some business travel magazine: It would cost you 160 pounds to stay there tonight. The Radisson was home of some Olympic row teams, since the contests were only thirty minutes from the hotel. We had a nice sauna, steam bath and cold water pool, to relax our tightened muscles, and tightened minds.
The next morning an elaborate breakfast and then packing and waiting for the shuttle back to the airport. Unsurprisingly, we managed to wait in the hall and miss no less than THREE shuttles. In the airport we learned that we had gotten an upgrade: yey! I had expected it, since the lady the day before had told us that actually the plane was fully booked. Having missed three shuttles, time was getting a bit tight again, and this time the plane was not late (we thought): boarding had already started, and we got on. But the plane did not leave. An hour later it still had not left. It was on the ground for two hours. Not our lucky trip. But we had nice seats. Loads of foot space - emergency-seat-kinda-seats. Since Ting does not like action movies, I took the chance to see whatever I could get: The Hunting Games (good movie), The Wrath of the Titans (crap) and some other stuff. Ting tried to work a bit.
On the second of august around six pm we FINALLY arrived in the United States of America - Philadelphia, that is. While Ting was exchanging huge packs of Chinese Yuan's to Dollars, I inspected the ceiling: It read, in big letters: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." A big American flag said the rest.