Tag Archives: jetlag

Uneventful adventures in China

9 Aug

Greetings from China!

I met Stephen here the other day. He flew in from London, I flew in from Cincinnati and we met in Shanghai. It seemed like blog material waiting to happen, especially since I would have to find my way to the hotel all by myself. Sure, I was nervous, but I’ve been listening to Pimsleur Chinese lessons for months now and it was all leading up to this moment. I even studied on the plane. And then the minute I landed the only thing that came out of mouth was English. Because it turns out the people who exchange money and sell sim cards at the airport speak English. So my I arrived in a foreign country all by myself story was rather uneventful — I cleared immigration, exchanged some money into RMB, bought a sim card, texted Stephen, and caught a taxi. The only minor hiccup came when I tried to use Uber. I couldn’t figure out where to meet the driver and couldn’t call the driver because my sim card was data only (and also I don’t speak Chinese). So I had to take a taxi, which was reasonably priced and easy. What a boring blog story.

It’s been years since I’ve flown from the US to China, but I knew it was going to be rough. 14 hours on a plane is rough, but it’s even rougher when it’s a 747 with no individual TVs. Luckily I expected this would be the case and loaded up my iPad with movies and TV shows. 747s sure can transport a buttload of people, but transporting them comfortably is apparently not a priority. (For the low price of $1,000 I could have upgraded to business class though!) The entertainment options may suck, but at least they feed you well on a 14-hour flight. Every time I was about to reach for my snack bag, there was another snack or meal on its way. I look forward to crappy airplane food entirely way too much on a long-haul flight. But what else is there to do? I tried to break the flight down into manageable chunks. When there was 8 hours left I thought “only a flight to London now!” At 6 hours left it was a Megabus to Chicago. At 4 hours it was a drive to Cleveland. At 3 hours it was DEAR GOD HOW MUCH LONGER, I CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE OUTSIDE THIS AIRPLANE. And then whatever meal you eat at 11pm Cincinnati time, 11am Shanghai time came and everything was OK. The obvious solution to not going crazy on an insanely long flight is to sleep. And believe me, I tried. But sleeping sitting up with your feet crammed against a laptop bag is no easy feat. I think I dozed on and off for an hour or two before I gave up and watched another movie. Thankfully our return flight from Hong Kong to London is only 12 hours. 😐

sleepy panda.gif
One final thing — I still may be afraid to speak any Chinese, but I’m amazed at how well I can understand it now. When I really focus I can pick up the gist of Stephen’s conversations. The key there is “really focus,” which isn’t easy, especially when insanely jetlagged. Most of the time my brain decides to just tune it out and focus on eating all the things. (Like xiaolongbao!) Also, have I mentioned before how Asian jetlag is the worst? Because it is. Even after being here for a few days and finally — FINALLY! — sleeping through the night Sunday night, I legit fell asleep on the toilet last night at 9:30. Stephen’s boss’s words still ring true: “You don’t sleep when you go to Asia, you just take a series of long naps.”

jet-lag gilmore girls.gif

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A post about how I meant to post about meaning to post, plus some roses

12 Jun

Well. I had a whole post typed up about how I was recovering from jetlag quickly despite the fact that I wrote multiple blog posts in my head when I could not fall asleep the other night, so I guess I spoke/wrote/thought too soon. I also wrote that post about hypothetically writing posts a week ago. Whoops. I’ve been back in the UK for over a week now, and yet haven’t managed to sneak a blog post in. I guess I underestimated how much time running, working, grocery shopping, eating and cleaning takes. So I’ll have to go with the abridged version of the post, since the previous one went into way too much detail about Eurovision, and I don’t think most of my American readers care (half the post was about how Americans don’t know what Eurovision is).

When I arrived last Thursday the weather in London was gorgeous, so naturally I had to take a 3-hour nap. Then Stephen and I went for a much-needed run in Regents Park before we settled in to watch the Eurovision final. It aired on May 23, but I didn’t have time to watch it online in the US, plus it just wouldn’t feel right. I downloaded the soundtrack weeks ago and have been listening to it while running. Based solely on good running songs, my favorites were Belarus and Germany. Belarus did not even qualify for the final and Germany got zero points (nought!), so apparently this American knows absolutely nothing about what makes a winning Eurovision song, but I still enjoyed watching all the performances for the songs I had been listening to.

The weather this past week was amazing — 60s with some clouds. I feel like there are two types of people — those who love when it’s 80 and sunny, and those who prefer 64 and cloudy. I am definitely the latter. I was not sad about leaving the 80- and 90-degree days in Cincinnati. London looks like it will be in the 70s this coming week, which shouldn’t be too bad, but I may have to start running earlier so I’m not out there sweating buckets in the afternoon.

Just because this post needs some pics, here are some I took this past week on runs. This first one is what happens when you stop running for a minute and are slightly disoriented and think your finger is the pavement:

serpentine fingerAvenue Gardens in Regents Park, always gorgeous:

avenue gardens regents parkI was happy to see the rose garden in full bloom, as there were only buds in April.

rose garden london rose garden regents park

Running in Kentucky vs. London

11 May

It seems I only ever visit Kentucky when it’s freeze-your-fingers-off or sweat-your-face-off weather. Neither of which is very conducive to running. It’s been certified butt-hot (mid to upper 80s) in Florence, Kentucky, which has forced me to run first thing in the morning instead of my usual 2 to 3 hours after breakfast. I’ve been back in the U.S. almost two weeks now and I’m still riding the jet lag train. If there is such a thing as good jet lag, it’s GMT to EST. I’ve been going to bed early and waking up early, which works well with my parents’ schedules as well as my work and running. The only time it wasn’t so great was this past weekend when I won free tickets to the comedy club that were only valid at the 10:30 pm show. My constant yawning was not a reflection of the comedian’s material.

When I left London, the weather was perfect, the terrain was flat, and I had one of my fastest runs yet:

London fast run
I’m usually happy if I can maintain a 10 min pace or just under, so sub-9 min was amazing for me (though I did pause it at stoplights).

And then I arrived in Kentucky, where there is heat, humidity and hills. This was my run two days after the one above:

Kentucky slow run
Things really went downhill after that first mile (or uphill I should say). Although I compared the elevation maps of my runs in London and Kentucky and couldn’t find much difference… but reading elevation is not my forte.

London:

London run elevationKentucky:

Kentucky run elevationI think I’m going to do a local 5K on Saturday. I really want to get an official sub-30 min 5K time. I’ve done it many times on my London runs, but this time there will be hills and no stoplight pauses. I’m always encouraged by my Facebook friends’ running posts, photos and times. There are even times when I’m lying in bed and most certainly not running that I think maybe I could run a half marathon one day. Maybe that’s something I should put on my bucket list. And then I run the thought by myself again mid-uphill run, sweat dripping from places I didn’t know could sweat, and I think “maybe you should focus on running 3 miles without dying first.” Baby steps.

This is your brain on jet lag

17 Feb

Brain: Hey, it’s noon, let’s go get some xiaolongbao for lunch!

Me: Um, no, it’s 4 a.m. You’re in London, not Shanghai. You can have oatmeal in 5 hours. Let’s kill the time by going back to sleep.

Brain: No, it’s cool, let’s check Facebook.

Me: If you want to stare at a screen, let’s get out the laptop and do some work.

Brain: Oh no, I’m way too tired to do work now.

Me: Then let’s go back to sleep!

Brain: How about we just take a 3-hour nap later this afternoon?

Me: No, the series of long naps sleep strategy only works when you’re in China for 5 days and on holiday. You’re in London now and have to work tomorrow, not to mention run, Skype mom and brown the pork chops before putting them in the slow cooker.

Brain: Did you say pork? Pork xiaolongbao sounds so good right now.

Me: Why do you seriously not have an off switch?

DinTaiFung XiaoLongBaoStephen and I got back from China on Sunday night. It was a quick, but amazing trip, despite the insane amount of time, effort and money that went into getting my passport renewed and a Chinese visa within a three-week period. But now my body is back in London, but my brain is still somewhere in Xintiandi, apparently craving soup dumplings, and I can’t help but wonder if I will ever sleep normally again, or if writing blog posts in my head for 3 hours in the middle of the night is going to be the new norm.

Fitbit one year stats

13 Jan

Today is a very important day for me — it’s my one-year Fitbit anniversary. On Jan. 13, 2014 my backordered belated birthday gift of a Fitbit Force arrived. As I said in a previous post, 2014 was the year of walking for me — inside, outside and in multiple countries. Since it is my one-year Fitbit anniversary, I took a look at my lifetime stats to get the total number of steps and miles I walked/ran in a year.

Fitbit steps year

Fitbit miles year

Not too shabby! My goal every day is to hit 10,000 steps and 5 miles. I hit my 10,000-step goal 344 times, which means I only missed it 20 times in a year. I would say this year my goal is to never miss it, but I think I may have missed it once or twice already with my traveling.

My best day of the year was on April 22 when I hit 25,563 steps and 11.39 miles. I was in NYC visiting Stephen and practically walked all of Manhattan and then ran on the treadmill. I think my goal for 2015 is to get the 30,000 steps in a day badge.

So I’m back in London now, and coping surprisingly well with the jetlag. Can you guess which day I flew based on my Fitbit sleep data?

Fitbit sleep jetlag

I think I slept maybe 10 minutes on the plane and then took a 3-hour nap when I got home. It’s not so much that I can’t sleep on planes as that I can’t sleep sitting upright. And with all the fights over airplane seat reclining that have made the news lately, I didn’t even recline my seat the entire 8 hours. It was not a very pleasant journey — especially in the last 5 minutes when the girl next to me reached over into my seat compartment, grabbed my airsick bag and promptly used it — but I’m back. I do not miss the polar vortex of the US, however London gave me a warm welcome on my first run of the year with a torrential downpour. Of course the sun came back out the minute I got back inside.

I can’t remember what else I was going to write, so here’s a photo of a corgi dressed like bacon:

corgi bacon

Overcoming Jet Lag and Extreme Wipeout: Regent’s Park Edition

6 May

Whenever I arrive back in London, two things always immediately go out the window: my plans for the day, like grocery shopping, unpacking, working and cleaning; and every bit of advice I’ve ever heard about beating jet lag, like stay up until a normal bed time, go out in the sun, exercise and DON’T TAKE A 5-HOUR NAP!

I got in at the crack of dawn on Friday, had to struggle with my suitcases on the Tube because the Heathrow Express and Connect trains were broken, but still managed to catch Stephen before he left for work in the morning. I briefly struggled with the old long-distance travel priority battle — shower, sleep or eat? — before taking a 5-hour nap, the one thing I was not supposed to do. When I woke up I was in no state to do my full weekly Aldi-Iceland-Sainsbury’s-Tesco run; it took everything I had to put on shoes and walk down the street to buy bananas and yogurt. I struggled to stay up until dinner, then afterwards dozed off a couple times with my laptop on my lap while trying to get some work done. That night I got nine hours of sleep and woke up feeling like jet lag, shmetlag, I’m back! …but I forgot that the worst night of recovering from jet lag is not the first, when you’re exhausted from traveling in general and not sleeping a wink on the plane, it’s the second… and third… and DEAR GOD WHAT IF I CAN NEVER GO TO SLEEP AT A REASONABLE HOUR EVER AGAIN?!

If you can’t tell, I’ve had three straight nights of struggling to fall asleep before 3 a.m. Working from home and setting my own hours is a blessing and a curse.

In an effort to battle my jet lag and just enjoy this beautiful if-it-were-anywhere-else-it’d-be-mild, but-since-it’s-the-UK-we-treat-it-like-summer 60-degree weather, Stephen and I went for a run Sunday and Monday morning (since yesterday was a bank holiday and everyone was off). My lungs felt better than when I did the 5K race last weekend and I was trying to push myself a little bit yesterday, thanks to Stephen’s “You can do it!” encouragement, as well as that of a random guy parking his car nearby who heard Stephen shout it and chimed in. I was feeling pretty good as we ran along the path that cuts through the football pitches (soccer fields) in Regent’s Park. One minute we were laughing and quoting lines from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the next I was eating pavement, fully sprawled out on my stomach in what had to be one of my most majestic wipeouts yet.

falling-mascot-gif
After Stephen made sure I was OK, he burst out laughing. Once I shoved down the “this hurts and I kind of want to cry” feeling, I did too. Because I have no idea how I managed to trip on absolutely nothing or how I ended up landing face-down with my left hip bone taking most of the brunt.

dog running slips

It’s probably because my hands were full with my phone and water bottle so I only half caught myself, skinning my left palm and thumb and right wrist and elbow. Luckily it was not as bloody or painful as my fall last fall — after walking it off I was able to jog back home, mostly because I was anxious to get home to the Neosporin and bandaids which were a mile away. I’m glad I was not hurt too badly and that everyone playing football had a good laugh. It’s also a testament to the iPhone 5s’ and my cheap panda case’s durability — that thing went flying across the pavement and didn’t receive a scratch. I wish I could say the same about myself.

Jetlag, giant planes, and sitting where famous people sat

22 Jan

This comic represents my jetlagged life lately:

jetlag comic

I arrived in the UK on Thursday morning and yesterday is the first day I felt somewhat together, and even then I spent most of my day on IKEA’s website instead of working or blogging or doing anything else productive. (More on IKEA in a different post!) So now I’m tasked with writing about events that happened several days ago.

For starters, I flew in from DC on a 777. I can’t remember if I’ve ever been on one of those planes — you’d think I’d remember it though, because the aircraft is MASSIVE. Two seats by five seats by two seats, meaning there are nine seats across. My connecting plane from Cincinnati often has three or four seats across. I was seated in the third to last row, which everyone knows is referred to as “the back of the bus.” There was some good camaraderie among us back of the bus folk as we not-so-secretly prayed no one would sit beside us. The flight attendant said the flight was not full, and as soon as they announced that the door had been closed, people could move to empty seats. The row behind me was entirely empty, as was my row except for me. Every time someone started heading our way the people around me would mutter “don’t come back, don’t come back, sit there, sit there.” There was a collective cheer when the door was closed and we had the back of the bus to ourselves. I decided not to be greedy and allowed a girl to sit at the other end of my row. Five seats to myself is a bit much, I could deal with two and a half. In fact, I actually stretched out and fell asleep for a brief moment, until I woke up with that “this is not comfortable, I should go to my bed” feeling you get after you fall asleep on the couch, and then I realized I was 30,000 feet in the air, halfway between my bedrooms in Cincinnati and London and sleeping comfortably was not going to be an option for several hours.

When I woke up my contacts were painfully stuck to my eyes, so since they were dailies I figured I’d just peel them off in my seat and save myself a trip to the toilet cubicle. The left one came out fine, but the right one was stuck. I poked and poked at my eye, but no contact emerged. Eventually I had to bite the bullet and run to the bathroom, tears streaming down my face, made worse by the bright light of the lavatory. I continued to touch my eyeball until I looked like a proper red-eyed stoner. I never did find that contact and pray it fell out somewhere in my seat instead of rolling to the back of my eye (is that possible?!)

I took the Heathrow Express train to Paddington station, then got in a taxi. “Are you American?” the driver asked me. “Can I tell you a story?” I said “sure,” and he proceeded to go into great detail about how he noticed a “really famous American movie star” in the taxi queue at Paddington station several years ago. He was telling the story so slowly I wanted to shout “Who was it? Who was it?!” but I let him prattle on. Eventually he told me it was Morgan Freeman, and he got into his taxi. Apparently he likes to have the real London experience with the Heathrow Express and a black cab. It’s good to know that the voice of God and I have sat in the same taxi seat.

When I opened my suitcase up at my apartment, I saw this:

TSA notice of baggage inspection

I think this is the first time this has happened to me, which is funny considering the amount of times I travel and the crazy things I pack. I wonder if they do random inspections or if something on the X-ray machine tripped them. It may have been the potato masher. Don’t you always travel with your own potato masher? (OK, I saw it at the dollar store and I needed one to mash my bananas for oatmeal.) I also packed the microwave popcorn popper I got for Christmas that looks like a plastic alien spaceship. Nothing was missing from my suitcase, thankfully, so I guess it’s not illegal to bring your own potato masher or popcorn popper into the UK.

I was going to include some snow photos, but this post is already too long, so stay tuned for those (if I can stay awake and off the IKEA website).