Posts Tagged With: Airport

Welcome to my Egyptian adventure

It’s official, I have moved to Cairo, Egypt. My next adventure has begun. Though not without a few bumps along the way.

It started in late June when I received an email from the director of the International School of Egypt asking for a Skype interview. I had to backtrack and lookup who was emailing me and from where. In the process of leaving my last job at Disney English I had signed up for a number of programs that aid teachers in finding international jobs and ended up emailing every school with a position and an email address that I could find. When ISE contacted me, I had to look back and remember just what I had signed up for.

The interview went swimmingly, and a few days later I was offered a position as a 5th grade teacher in Cairo. Calling my mother to let her know that I would no longer be spending a few years on her couch, attending graduate school was a tough conversation, but overall she was incredibly supportive. She posted this on her Facebook page:

Anybody else get a call from their daughter today saying that instead of coming home from Beijing for good, she just may be here for ten days before taking a job. In Cairo. Like, as in Egypt. No one? Just me? Thought as much…

People’s responses upon learning I was moving to Cairo, especially when things started to heat up, were varied and often funny. From my fellow expats in China I got mostly surprise and congratulations, though my dear friend Tom, upon hearing that I was moving to Egypt, said “Really? Why? Aren’t you afraid?”

My favorite response that I’ve heard is this one: “Wow, KIRO! Will she be working as an intern? Will she be on television?” KIRO is the local television station in Seattle, where my family lives, and both my mom and brother heard this response when describing my good fortune. Hilarious.

As my time at Disney English drew to a close I did my best to tour Beijing and see things I’d previously missed, including the Temple of Heaven, an acrobatics show, and 798, the art district.

Finally it was time to fly to Seattle and spend some quality time with my family before moving to Egypt. The  13 days I was in Seattle flew by in a flurry of shopping, laughter, and misadventures. There was so much to do, and quite a bit was left undone. I spent a lot of time with my family, but alas I did not get the chance to visit with many friends. They’ll just have to come visit me!

My last night in town my brothers, parents, and I went out to dinner and spent a few glorious hours reminiscing about our childhoods and our collective family memories. I haven’t laughed so hard or enjoyed myself that much in a long time. I will surely miss my family with an ache that cannot be measured.

My flights to Egypt were rather uneventful, though it took 22 hours. Seattle to Chicago, Chicago to Amman, Jordan, and finally Amman to Cairo. In the Chicago airport I had a little trouble finding the connection to Royal Jordanian airlines, so I stopped to ask. In my tiredness (I hadn’t slept much the night before) I mistakenly asked for directions to Air Jordan, “No wait, that’s a shoe. I need to get to Royal Jordanian airways.” The woman smiled and pointed me in the right direction.

In Amman I met up with a few other teachers on their way to Cairo. Guy and Lindsey would be working with me at ISE as the music and middle school language arts teachers, respectively. The few other foreigners would be teaching at the American International School of Cairo.  We almost missed our flight to Cairo because we misunderstood the final boarding calls. We were all sitting in the airport checking in online and dawdling on the Internet when a Royal Jordanian crew member came over and let us know that we were about to miss our flight. We all made it to the mostly empty flight, though.

We left Jordan just as the sun was disappearing over the horizon so my first view of Cairo was a little disappointing, just lights in the darkness below the plane. The heat hit me in a wave as I exited the plane and I said to myself “Welcome to the desert.”

We rode a bus to the terminal and before we could pick up our luggage the three of us teachers for ISE had to buy tourist visas for $15 each. Due to some confusion in finding the bank we were a little late to the baggage carousel and there were no luggage carts available. Not a big problem for me, having learned my lesson flying from Beijing to Seattle. While heavy, I could still move my entire luggage myself if necessary. Not so with my companions, whose baggage reached epic proportions. I began to worry that I hadn’t brought enough with me. Oh well, too late to do anything about it now.

After a brief stop for inspection (backpacks only) we made it out to the kiss and cry area of the airport and were met with signs with our names on them. The head of school was there, along with her husband, the art teacher, and their daughter, the 3rd grade teacher, another weary traveler, the middle school social studies teacher, who had arrived a few hours earlier, and an Egyptian logistics expert, Margaret. We piled our luggage into the school bus and journeyed to our apartment building.

On the bus ride Luke, the middle school social studies teacher, and I discovered we had both served in the Peace Corps. Myself in Mongolia, he more recently in Indonesia. It also turns out that on his post-service travels he had toured Mongolia and met a friend of mine who still lives in the city. *Cue music: It’s a small world after all…

First impressions of Egypt:

  • Heat
  • Friendly, helpful people
  • Construction everywhere
  • Curfew (7 PM to 6 AM)
  • Huge apartment
  • Dust
Categories: Egypt, Life Abroad | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

22 Hour Layover

I love to fly; especially takeoff. That feeling where the plane picks up insane amounts of speed, your body is shoved back against the seat, and suddenly you’re airborne. Your body gets sucked downward into the seat as the plane fights gravity; you feel like you weigh a million pounds. Then suddenly you’re light as a feather and winging your way to your destination. It gives me a rush every time.

However, traveling long distances can be tough. Waiting in airports. Airline food. Customs. Taxis. Finding a hotel room. These are all annoyances that come with long distance travel. Recently I had the opportunity to travel a very long distance, 5838.57 miles (9396.02 km) to be exact. Because I’m a girl on a budget I bought the cheapest flight from Beijing, China to Seattle, Washington and that flight included a 22 hour layover in Narita, Japan.

22 hours is a long time. I meant that my total travel time ended up being 35 hours and 10 minutes. Yeesh. But it turns out that my 22 hours was not wasted. In fact, I rather enjoyed my layover.

I left my friends’ L and S’s apartment at around 11:30 am for my 2:45 flight. L graciously helped me haul my heavy luggage through metro security and into Beijing Airport. By the way, it’s totally worth it to take the metro rather than a cab. Sure you have to run all of your luggage through the scanners and sometimes haul it across miles of underground passageways, but in the long run it’s cheaper. 25 RMB ($4) each way on the airport shuttle plus 2 RMB ($0.30) to get to that stop, versus a 300 RMB ($49) cab ride.

The sum total of my life in China reduced to 4 bags. 4 VERY heavy bags.

The sum total of my life in China reduced to 4 bags. 4 VERY heavy bags.

Getting my luggage onto the plane ended up costing me a lot of time and energy, but I was prepared for it. I had to pay the cost of an extra bag, plus both bags were seriously overweight. No worries, I had planned for all of that. Total cost: $180. Way cheaper than I had expected, but still a hassle to pay for.

Tip for travelers: Chew gum as the plane ascends and descends; this helps keep your ears from popping.

The flight was uneventful, and I was grateful to have picked an aisle seat. I used to always pick the window, but I’ve learned that the discomfort of having to bother people when you have to pee is not worth 5 minutes of a cool view. Plus legroom in the aisles is always appreciated, even for those of us that are 5’2”.

Upon arrival there was some confusion. Did I have to go to the international terminal? Did I have to leave the airport? Where do I go? I’d done a little research, and learned that there were showers available and possibly even rooms to rent for some sleep, I just had to find them.

After going through every procedure to get to the international terminal I found out I was in the wrong place and had to backtrack. Oh well. It’s always fun to explain to security that you’re just going back the way you just came because you messed up. They don’t think you’re suspicious at all…

I made it out through customs and looked for a place to crash. Turns out my romp through Narita was a waste of time, and it put me past the room rental. Sigh, now I had to find a hotel.

Luckily, Japan is a nation of incredibly kind, helpful people and the ladies at the information desk were incredibly helpful. They gave me a list of hotels to try near the airport and showed me where to catch the shuttles. I made it to a hotel by 9 pm local time, grabbed a sandwich from the vending machine, and even had wireless internet that allowed me to check in with friends and family.

My teeny hotel room in Narita, Japan.

My teeny hotel room in Narita, Japan.

The next morning dawned bright and sunny, and EARLY. I don’t sleep well the first night in a new place, and traveling makes it harder. So I was up by 6, and ready to go out and face Narita by 8. I checked out downstairs, and went over to the obligatory fliers that are set up in every hotel. I picked one at random, and found a map of a temple and tourist district that looked like it could distract me for a few hours. Excellent!

I checked my luggage into storage at the airport and hopped a train to Narita proper.

The town was so cute, a little touristy, but who cares? I was free to wander and look at whatever I pleased. And since I was travelling alone, I didn’t have to check with anyone else, or work around someone else’s foibles.

The temple area was gorgeous, and it helped that it was a beautiful day too. Although, the map did not indicate that everything was on hills. I was expecting some nice strolling, instead I did a lot of climbing and hiking. Oh well, it tired me out for the long sit on the plane ride.

There were turtles resting on a turtle-shaped island. Beautiful temples with people praying or meditating. Peaceful ponds full of some of the largest koi fish I have ever seen. Not to mention the very cool calligraphy museum.

After an idyllic afternoon exploring the temple park and the calligraphy museum I walked back up the touristy street pausing to look at all the knick knacks available for purchase. My stomach let me know that it was past lunchtime and I stopped in a little sushi restaurant. One of the coolest meals I’ve ever eaten.

The menu was helpfully in English and Japanese and included many pictures, but I was heartened to see a few locals enjoying their meals. I sat at the counter and ordered a soda and pointed out what I wanted to the sushi chef behind the counter. Oddly, he didn’t hand me a plate of sushi when he was done preparing it all. Instead he wiped down the glass counter between us and placed all of my sushi on it, right at eye level. It was stunning! I thought I’d had sushi before, boy was I wrong. All of the fish was three times the length of the tiny patch of rice it came on. Each piece was beautifully seasoned with wasabi (real wasabi too, none of that horseradish dyed green).

After my fabulous sushi lunch I trudged back to the train station and managed to buy a ticket back to the airport, almost. I attempted to use an automated machine but underpaid for my fare. The woman at the ticket counter however was just as helpful as all of the Japanese I’d encountered and showed me where to get on the train, and explained that I could pay the difference I owed at the airport station. Lovely.


All in all I’d say that having a 22 hour layover was great. I got a chance to sleep in a bed, shower, change my clothes, see a little culture, and eat an authentic meal. If you’re not in too much of a rush to get to your next destination I recommend a 22 hour layover, particularly in Narita, Japan.


Categories: Life Abroad | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Stuff Kids Write

Like stuff adults write. But funnier.


The Best of the visual Web, sifted, sorted and summarized


Expat Alien

still an outsider in my home country

Clueless in Kuwait

An American expat living in Kuwait and totally clueless!

Aisha's Oasis

A peaceful place to relax while on my wild joyride to Egypt from South Carolina.

Andrew & Sarabeth

He likes movies. She likes baking. They YouTube.


Lost and found in translation - my expat life in Mexico