Thursday, July 29, 2010

Physical Exams...

Before we left Northport, our company required us to get thorough physical exams before entering China. It was part of the process to receive our Work Visa. On Wednesday of this week, Sarah and I went through a required Chinese physical exam to complete the process. Let me just say, this was an experience.

The medical clinic was three stories tall and filled from top-to-bottom with people. Upon entrance, we approached the front desk where a woman used a laser-type gun to read our temperature and give us some paperwork. The laser gun never touched our head, but was able to record an accurate temperature. Why are we not using these in America? After filling out the paper work, we went to three different windows and showed them our passports, paperwork and paid them. This was the easy stuff.

Our first visit was to the third floor. On the third floor, I took a small cup from a window and proceeded to give a urine sample. Only problem, the cup holds about 3 sips of water. I am sure that you can see the problem without me going into detail. Giving my sample was much easier than Sarah, as I had a urinal. She was forced to use a squatty potty. Upon returning our sample to the same window, we proceeded to stick our arm into the next window for a blood sample. It was actually pretty easy, but since we were not allowed to eat or drink since the night before, many of us got a little light headed. One of the older men in our group asked how the free apple juice tasted after giving blood.

After the blood sample, we moved to the second floor. My first exam was with an eye doctor. We had to read the letters M or W throughout an eye chart. The funny thing about the eye doctor was that he smoked a cigarette after every few patients in the eye exam room. Also on that floor, I got my first taste of being a woman. I underwent an ultrasound. The female nurse/doctor rubbed that ultrasound wand all over my chest and side with that cold lubricant. It was not a pleasant experience. Just in case anyone was wondering, I am not pregnant. Also on this floor, I went for an ECG, blood pressure check, weight check and height check. Most of that was normal, except for the ECG which used the jumper cable devices for feet and arms, while using suction cups on your chest. I guess the suction cups were  a good alternative to the sticky things they use in America which pull off most of my chest hair.

We proceeded to the first floor for our final treat, an X-ray. This was by far the longest line of the day, as we waited for over an hour. To take the X-ray, you faced a wall, put your hands behind your back and looked up. It was a very awkward feeling. It was even worse for Sarah, as she had to use the community robe that everyone else that day had slipped on.

Evidently Sarah and I are healthy, as we passed all the checks. The exam took about 3 hours total and we were given warm milk after wards. Since we were all starving, we went to KFC for lunch. I will give more info on food later.

Perdues Out

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Travel Adventure...

Our traveling experience to Chengdu, China found the highest highs and eventually the lowest lows. But in the end, the Perdues reached their final destination happily and safely!
Our trip started with Heath Cooper, Leann Cooper and Jeff Coleman taking us to the airport. They woke up well before 3 AM and drove us to the airport. The guys were a huge help by gathering our luggage and help getting it checked. At the Birmingham  airport, we received our first blessing, as the desk lady did not charge us for our 2 overweight or our 2 extra bags. We saved a lot of money! After some tearful goodbyes, Sarah, Brynn and I made it through security and onto the plane without a hiccup. The short, 2-hour ride to Chicago, was painless and enjoyable.

In Chicago, we found our way to the gate for our flight to Shanghai. After eating some airport breakfast, we made our way to the ticket counter. Our luck continued  as the ticket agent gave us an extra seat for Brynn to sleep. In all, we had 4 seats to Shanghai, along with a 10-year old boy from China (5 seats on our row) who slept most of the flight. We watched a lot of movies, ate a lot of food and enjoyed Brynn sleeping  for 8 of the 13 hours. For my first international flight, I would give this experience an A-plus.

Once we touched down in Shanghai, things began to get interesting. At baggage, we immediately ran into another family going to Chengdu and Kirsten, a single  girl on our staff. Tom, speaks Chinese, so that made the process much easier in the Shanghai airport. Customs were a breeze because we have a baby. They pushed us straight to the front of the line. Baggage was easy because we had Tom's two 15-year old sons to push our carts. Finding our gate was a little tough, as the company on both of our tickets claimed not to be flying to Chengdu. Eventually, we found out that we were traded to another airline and everything was going to be okay. Our second bit of fortune hit as we rechecked our baggage. The Chinese company charged our other team members, a second time, for their baggage. Like I said earlier, we received free bags in Bham and received our second set of free bags in Shanghai. I am not sure why, since he spoke very little English, but I think having the cute, American baby helped. Our celebrity status began to pick up in this airport, as Sarah and Brynn posed for pictures with random Chinese. Once we found our gate, we boarded the plane without a hitch and met a Chinese college student who helped us with all the translations, as he spoke basic English.

The flight from Shanghai to Chengdu seemed to be following the same pattern as our earlier flights. We got great service and the ride was going smooth. With about 25 minutes until landing, we noticed the turbulence begin to pick up. As we began our final landing approach, we noticed a lot of lightning and rain. With about 1 minute before we touch down, our pilot decides it is not safe to land. He pulls us out of  a straight landing manuveur and pulls up straight back up. Still not bad, but  getting a little nervous. About 2 minutes later, the stuartist comes on the intercom and gives a short speech in Chinese that sends all the Chinese on the plane into a panic and uproar. At this point, Sarah and I are preparing for the worse. We truly are expecting a crash landing. Luckily, our Chinese friend calms us down and informs us that we are going to a new airport close by, because the pilot was not feeling the landing. I am extremely fine with that decision. Do not risk our lives because you want to make a scheduled stop.

So we are heading to a new airport and upon arrival our pilot informs us that he can not land because it is rained out. How do we not know this before we get to the airport? On to our third airport in 1 hour, which is a 7-hour bus ride from Chengdu. We arrive at Xi'an at 9 PM and sit on the runway to 1 AM. Lots of FUN! At 1 AM, we are given clearance to go to Chengdu. Finally, Hip-Hip Hooray!!! Wrong!!!!! After getting in the air for 15 minutes, our pilot informs us that the weather is too bad in Chengdu for landing and we must do a U-turn. Does China not have a Doppler Radar? Can airplanes not call ahead and check out the weather conditions? I am getting a bit frustrated.

We land in Xi'an and depart the plane at 2 AM. We are told to get our luggage and head outside to get on a bus that will carry us to a hotel. Our group decides against hauling 18  suitcases to the bus and hotel. We take a gamble and leave them on the conveyor belt and  hope they arrive in Chengdu. We board the bus and arrive at the hotel at 3:30 AM. The hotel is very nice and has a shower/toilet that can be seen from the beds. Little awkward, even after being married for 3-plus years. We are told a breakfast buffet awaits at 7 AM and bus departs at  8 AM, thus leaving us with a whopping 2 hours sleep. Brynn does not cooperate and we end up taking showers and resting for a short while. The breakfast buffet was excellent and bus ride allowed us to see a new city. After waiting in a line for an hour and the plane being held for us due to lines, we get on the plane at 10 AM and arrive in Chengdu at 12 PM with much applause from everyone on board.

After loading our luggage onto carts, we find our principal and his wife. They help load  everything into a van and bus. We get our first glimpse of the city. It is hard to describe how different my life is going to be. For those that visit, you will get an idea. Sarah and I will try to paint a picture on our blog. But I am not sure, if we will ever do it justice. We arrived at our apartment at about 2 PM. Hauling 10 suitcases up 5 flights of stairs is
an absolute chore!

Now that we are online, we will be able to update our blog on a frequent basis. Check back in the next day or so, as we are able to give a description of our apartment, some of the food that we have tried and other experiences from our first few days.

Perdues OUT!!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Our "Alabama Adventure"

While Matt was away at a teaching conference Mom, Ryan, Brynn and I went to Alabama Adventure. Even though it was hot, we all had a blast! Brynn loved everything from the Kiddy Park to the Lazy River. She even got to ride a few rides on the amusement park side.

Brynn Sliding with Granna                

Brynn Sliding with Mommy

Brynn Sliding with Uncle Ry Ry

Brynn Sliding all by herself.

Don't worry it ended up better than the picture looks. She actually had a big smile afterwards and did sign language for "more"

Getting Ready for the lazy river

Riding the Choo Choo Train

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Niagara Falls Pictures...

China Flight Details...

Departure Date: Friday, July 23

Leave Birmingham at 6:12 AM on United
Arrive in Chicago at 8:16 AM
Total flight time is 2 hours and 4 minutes

Layover of  2 hours and 24 minutes at O'Hare

Leave Chicago at 10:40 AM on American
Arrive in Shanghai at 2:05 PM on July 24 (lose a day of my life)
Total flight time is 14 hours and 25 minutes

Layover of 3 hours and 25 minutes (must go through customs here)

Leave Shanghai at 5:30 PM on China Southern
Arrive in Chengdu at 8:30 PM on July 24

Monday, July 5, 2010

July 5 Update...

The Perdues are on Day 11 of our trip to Houghton, New York. With back to full health, I am no longer a single husband, Sarah has been able to attend classes and Brynn has been in day care for 8 hours a day.

Niagara Falls: Brynn has officially visited another country before moving to China. We took her to the Canadian side of the Falls. The view was much better from that side, but the area was like Gatlinburg on Crack! There were restaurants, putt-putts, arcades, laser tags and any other child themed activity imaginable. We took a million pictures (posted tomorrow). Brynn loved the water falls. We took her to the Rain Forest Cafe and she enjoyed seeing the fake animals that moved. We spent a few minutes on the American side and were able to look over the Falls. We never took Brynn out of the stroller, as my fear of heights would not allow me to put her near the edge. It was a great visit, but one of those that I do not need to see a second time. We did not ride the boat, as the wait was 2-plus hours.
Side note, border patrol agents on either side of the line do not appreciate a sense of humor. Just hand them your passports and answer the questions in a serious tone. Otherwise, you will get dirty looks and threats of not leaving their country.

Soccer: American kids born and raised in other countries play soccer. As I move to another country and raise a family, I must get used to this concept. Baseball, basketball and American football are not the norm. So, instead of sitting out and watching everyone else play, I decided to suck it up and play some soccer. It was my first real game of the sport. I ended up playing for 2 1/2 hours and enjoyed every minute. At the start, I told them that I had never played and knew very little about passing, shooting or dribbling. Within 30 seconds, I scored the first goal of the match. Everyone thought I must have been pulling their legs. For the next, 2 hours and 29 minutes and 30 seconds they saw the real soccer skills of Matt Perdue. I whiffed on kicks, stepped on the ball numerous time and even tried a couple of painful headers. During the final hour, I found my soccer calling, GOALIE! I can use my hands and catch the ball. My team was losing 9-3 when I stepped into goal and only ended up losing 11-8. I even received compliments the next day about my goalie skills. I must say that I am excited about playing soccer in China.

Classes: The classes that we are attending are very educational. We have learned a lot of new information about our future home and jobs. Some of it is very exciting, while other parts are frightening. This week has prepared us more for the move, than I thought possible. I went in with a bad attitude, but have come out with an appreciation for the classes and teachers. We only have three more days of classes and I hope to pick up as much info as possible. 

Birthday: I turned 29 today. It started off kind of slow by waking up at 6 AM to attend more training courses, but got much better at the end. I officially had my first surprise birthday party. Sarah and our couple friend, the Dentels, were taking me to the local Chinese restaurant. When we arrived, I was greeted by 40 of our new friends. I was totally surprised. The food and company were great. I was even treated to a birthday cake. Following dinner, all the young guys finally put up the soccer balls and let me play a game of Ultimate Frisbee. A pulled groin, aching feet and cramped calves later, I am in bed and typing a blog.

The Perdues return home on Friday. We will be in late (9:30 PM). I hope to have pictures of our Niagara trip up tomorrow and another blog to follow on Thursday. Until then...

The Perdues are out!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Brynn's BFF...

This is Brynn's first friend, Esther. Her parents are moving to Qingdao (China). They are from North Carolina. Now that Brynn is well, the girls have been able to interact. Esther just turned 1-year old on the trip. She has actually taken her first steps at Orientation.

Learning to Slide Solo...

This slide has become Brynn's favorite toy at Orientation. At first, we had to place her on the slide and hold her hand, as she went down. As of last night, she has mastered the toy solo. Her latest trick is attempting to walk up the slide and then walk down it. Sarah is not approving of these new tricks due to the dangers of a fall!