Step 1: Last Thursday I sent Sarah an email saying:
PPS. I kinda want to go to China next week, but I feel like that's ridiculous, since I've only been back for like two weeks. But, but. China.I don't have class the last two weeks of February (end of term break) and I was dreading two weeks of sitting in my office and reading lolcats. Plus, China! It's practically next door. It has a Great Wall! Of course I want to go to China.
Step 2: I happened to see Tony on the bus that afternoon and I mentioned that I wanted to do something during the break. He told me he and Christine, his girlfriend, were going to China the last week of February. They had found a good deal at a travel agency near their home. I asked if anyone at the agency spoke English (Christine is Korean American, is fluent in Korean and thus has some options open to her than I do not), but alas, it was Korean only. I said bummer and went along my merry way thinking clearly, it wasn't meant to be.
Step 3: That evening, as I was getting ready to meet some friends for dinner, Christine called and offered to translate for me at the travel agency. Christine is quite awesome.
Step 4: I went to the travel agency with Tony and Christine on Saturday. We (and by we, I mean Christine and the travel agency woman, with a little input from me) discussed prices, hotel locations and visas. The good news: for 570,000 won ($400) I can get my plane tickets, a swanky four star hotel and my visa. The bad news: the visa alone is 150,000 won ($100). The good news: dude, a trip to China for $400. That's a really good deal. Two goods to one bad. The goods have it! I'm going to China.
Step 5: Today, I went back to the travel agency to pay and hand over my passport for visa processing. It's always fun to hand over a large bag of money. (The largest bill in Korean currency is a 10,000 won note, so 600,000 won in cash is quite a large stack of money.) I leave next Monday. I'll being in Beijing from February 23 to February 26 and I'm staying near Tiananmen Square. I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet; obviously I want to see the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, but if anyone has any suggestions, that would be great
(And in less joyous news, my father's having hip surgery right about now. It's nothing major, just replacing part of his already artificial hip, but the last time he had a hip surgery, it was life threatening and really, it just sucks beyond measure to be 7,000 miles and 14 hours away from home right now. I'll wake up tomorrow to an email from my mom telling me everything is fine, but any spare prayers or good vibes for my family would be much appreciated right now.)