HoliDAY & A Ticket To Ride

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

Well, I am was officially on holidays. Michael Corleone’s words have been ringing in my head all day. Yesterday, after emptying my desk, I was sure I was done with teaching for the summer, but such was not in the cards. I’ve just agreed to teach some extra classes for the next week before I head the Canada for a month.

With a little help from my friend Gabriel, I managed to wire the money to eLong to buy my plane ticket yesterday. Unfortunately, myself and all 1.3 billion Chinese are looking to head to North America this July, and so the ticket was anything but cheap. 10,622 RMB later I’m the proud owner of an e-ticket. I saved 20 RMB not getting the more traditional printed one; I’ll have to remember to buy something special with that $3.

Buying the ticket was somewhat of an anxiety-filled experience, mostly because I’m on such a tight budget. Between the 10K for the ticket, the ???K for spending money at home, the additional flights to get from JFK to Buffalo and back again (as well as a Dalian to Beijing flight), Maggie’s yoga school tuition and life in general… I’m starting to think that the fact I just took on some part-time teaching until I leave is quite possibly a good thing. In fact, what am I bitching about, I am going to be sitting on my ass for a month and a half…

I bought this ticket through eLong for the simple reason that cTrip.com didn’t have any easy way for me to get the ticket. Yes, I’m a big fan of online booking. For some reason in the 10 months since I bought my ticket to Thailand through cTrip, they’ve made getting your ticket more difficult, not easier as one might expect.

This all relates to bad credit and an aversion to credit cards that those of you not inflicted with such things need not worry about. I, (un)fortunately, always have to pay in cash. The Thai flight was a breeze, in that I could just pay cash at the cTrip ticket counter in the Shanghai airport. I’m guessing cash-payers are not that popular, because it’s since been cancelled. Now to buy a ticket in cash you have to go to their Shanghai headquarters in person. Optionally you can have it delivered in Beijing if you know someone there with an address – which I don’t.

So, eLong it was. All in all, quite a good experience. The lovely Lucia made things a breeze, checking and checking again for a cheaper way to fly (eventually informing me that if I change my return date by a couple days it’ll save me a grand or two). In trade I explained to her how to fix her e-mail “reply-to” field problem. Fair trade I’d say.
China’s still got a ways to go with their online ticket agencies – they’re nowhere near as simple as Travelocity or the likes – but generally, they’re still cheaper than the local travel agents.

It blows my mind that in 10 days I’ll be in Canada chillin’ with my family. Two years is a long time to be away from those dearest. Folks back home, be warned: you’re getting an older, fatter, and more cynical Ryan. But on the plus, my Chinese is marginally better than when I got here … and that matters to you.

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