A Travellerspoint blog


Beginnings in Beantown

Boston, where it all began, is where we begin

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View Preston Family Trip to China on Kwpres's travel map.

Bruce and the girls were in Boston today and yesterday for a reunion of the families who had gone to Anhui province in 2003 from the Boston area to pick up their daughters. Hayley was in the group and the Prestons have been to a few of those reunions before. From the pictures Bruce has been posting, it looks like a lovely time is being had by all. But Monday morning, the real fun begins!

I am gearing myself up for a real air traveler's feast over the next 20 days. It began in my familiar home airfield of Lambert International airport. I had to leave right after church, so I blitzed through security and proceeded to the CPK express for a "cup" of tortilla soup. 90_image.jpg

I wasn't a third of the way through when my flight was called. I think I will learn a lot about modern air travel in this little excursion. I have always loved flying Southwest. Would it still be one of the more enjoyable flying experiences? They made a reputation based on wit, personality, and a humane approach to no-frills transportation. But how would a joyous snack of peanuts and coke do in a world of technology and slow economic growth?

SWA now has WiFi in many of their aircraft. Their plan is to pretty much equip the fleet. I decided to try it out. It's 8 bucks for the flight. So, for much of the 2 hours and 45 minutes of my STL to BOS flight, I was able to iMessage my wife, email some data, check on my reservations, and watch a simulated version of today's Cardinals game. The last 30 minutes I was pretty much frozen. I suspect that many others logged in when they had finished their LUV snacks. Something SWA is going to have to address. It's early in the game, but I think future versions of inflight online services will solve these issues.

I know. I also question whether there shouldn't be some time when one isn't hooked in to technology. I still saw plenty of people listening to music or audiobooks, watching video or reading e-books, and other interactions. For many, flying is an interruption in their lives that has them trapped in a metal tube with strangers, out of touch with events transpiring while they are isolated at 39,000 feet. I'm looking at a 14+ hour flight to Seoul tomorrow. Besides catching a few ZZZs, I would like to perhaps do some blogging, check out some more details for our pre-PRC part of the trip (we are guideless for that) and see how my Cards do Monday night against the resurgent LA Dodgers. Surprisingly, it's unclear that Korean Air has inflight internet. That surprises me. They have a reputation for technology and service. Unfortunately, it appears they had an early version of inflight internet in the early 2000s. I think they may have taken a bath on it. I'm pretty sure American has it for our return flight over the Pacific. It will be interesting to compare it to my SWA experience.

For now, I want to try to begin to get myself onto Asian time schedule, which is generally 13-14 hours ahead of us. So for now, I'm going to wrap things up here at the Four Points Sheraton Logan. large_F96227962219AC6817F35373EC105463.jpg

Tomorrow will begin a day of airports, air flight, ending at the Hotel PJ in Seoul!

Posted by Kwpres 18:53 Archived in USA Tagged hotel boston Comments (1)

Just a few days away

Planning, packing, and preparing

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View Preston Family Trip to China on Kwpres's travel map.

I admit it; I'm a technogeek. I have spent the last few days largely focusing on making sure that I take advantage of things that might be useful in the event of unexpected happenings. One thing one can usually be sure of when traveling is the unanticipated and Mr. Murphy's law. (I'll have to find out if there is a Chinese name for Mr. Murphy) I am not saying that I expect "bad" things to happen, I'm simply saying that I want to have as many tools available to deal with sudden changes or the need to pivot to Plan B, C, and so on. (The Chinese have so many more characters in their alphabet; is this why? ;) )

Laurie has done a lot of thinking along the same lines and several days ago presented me with a wonderful notebook full of our reservations, information on possible excursions, and even some Chinese phrases that I should get to know. large_IMG_0280.jpg I must admit that I am not too good at languages (a frustration for my wife who is excellent at them; I wish she was coming!) So...I came up with my techno response: Google translate!

I am bringing my iPhone 5 and have already gotten it "unlocked" (so that I can put a China Mobile sim card in and use it in China on their system!) and have added some nice apps, most of which are free! I have some Seoul apps (even one that helps you find a public toilet!) a Seoul tourism app that does maps, and some other tourism maps that cover sites in Hong Kong and each Chinese city we will be in. While most of these work offline (so you don't need data connections...and roaming charges!) my China mobile sim will give me some data connection. Woo-hoo! I can still iMessage my bride back in the States! I also expect to make use of whatever WiFi my hotels or restaurants have. Portable batteries to charge the phone, my camcorder, plug adapters, a myriad number of other electronic items are joining me on the trip. I really want to make sure we document this. Of course, this blog will be an important part of helping those at home continue to experience it in a small way as well do our "Today is Tuesday, it must be Chengdu" tour!

Finally, I will need some clothing. Yes, even the Chinese don't like to see nekkid foreigners. This part of the planning has been going on since June. I'm using lightweight clothing that can be sink washed and dried overnight. That includes "underclothing" and then keeping the toiletries to a minimum.large_IMG_0281.jpg Most areas in Asia still struggle with their water systems because it will take decades to replace old piping, not because modern water purification systems are unknown to them. I expect a lot of bottled water, even to brush teeth in, but I still hope to find some acceptable swimming pools in order to keep up my "conditioning." I know this will be a physically energetic trip for a couch potato like myself, but I have been working to get myself into a little better shape in order to be a help and not a burden.

I'm getting excited about the coming weekend. Sunday, I leave for Boston where Bruce and the girls are participating in a reunion of those who went over in 2003 when Hayley was added to the family. Monday morning, we leave Logan for a flight to JFK in NYC. Then it's 14.5 hours in a Korean Air Airbus Jumbo for the initial flight to Seoul. I'm getting geared up and ready for this wonderful opportunity to be part of a blessing...

Till then,


Posted by Kwpres 15:48 Archived in USA Tagged me research prep Comments (1)

My father's part of this story

We go to Korea first

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While my main reason for going is to assist and accompany my brother and my nieces, I also have certain other curiosities based on family history.

My father fought as a Marine in the Korean War and, at that point, he was largely in combat with the People Liberation Army of China. I have been recently going through some of his letters (he passed on in 1990) and have been trying to get a sense of his location during his combat. His main work was as an artillery officer, but there were occasion when he was a forward observer, and times when he was on patrol. He entered the Korean War as a Second Lieutenant, was promoted to first Lieutenant, and later was made a Captain in the reserves when he came back home. He was "in country" from June of 1952 to May 1953 and was in many battles involving that late period of the war. I have appended a photo of me going over some of the photocopies of some of these letters. 90_IMG_0255.jpg

By then, the Korean War had ground into a World War I type of static warfare with the additional terror of jet combat, accurate and powerful artillery, and massive Chinese wave attacks. Some of his letters communicate a lot of the intensity of these brief but terrifying exchanges, and he was in the process of culling the warfare recollections when he was felled by a heart attack in August of 1990.

i don't know how much I can really pull together during this short time before we head to Seoul. We will only be there a few days, and the one full day will have a tour of the DMZ area in the morning. We won't be able to visit the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom because the UN regulation prohibit anyone under 10 from passing into the zone. Our youngest will be 9 years and 9 months at the time. They check passports, and we have already been told that she would be prohibited. We will go no where without her. It's too bad.

Some of the letters have small drawings dad made showing where he was located compared to recognizable landmarks, like Panmunjom, and I hope that I can make some sense of these things over the next few weeks. large_IMG_0254.jpgWhile we won't be able to visit Panmunjom, we will be going to other areas in the DeMilitarized Zone, or DMZ. He also shot a number of slides. I am going to try to rent an old projector, as he wrote on each slide what it was portraying. This is kind of fun sleuthing for an old history teacher.

I'll keep you informed of whether I can figure these things out. I can say one thing...if you've seen the movie "Pork Chop Hill", you have some idea of what it was like. Even if it was Hollywood! I know he was involved in a battle over a location called "Bunker Hill". If I can figure out where that is today, it will be a big step forward.

More later...



Posted by Kwpres 17:12 Archived in USA Tagged research Comments (0)

Three weeks to go

being a teacher, I'm consumed by research and "logistical" preparation

I'm the kind of guy who does a lot of research before attacking a major task. This has manifested itself in my work as an educator, my previous life as an investment adviser, and I am taking this forward in preparing for this trip to Asia.
It's been a major task getting the decks cleared this summer to prepare for this hectic trip through the three main Asian areas we will be visiting. Check my map above for our current inventory. It will be up there for every day of this blog.

So, many of the days show me in this mode getting ready to use our full technology to research, then document and blog. There has been a heavy usage of search engines to find what you can and can't do, especially when it comes to blogging in China. There have also been some books that have been helpful. I know Bruce is using the DK guidebook, and the Lonely Planet series.

My concerns are more mundane. (How to not be an "ugly American" or how to deal with asia's famous "squat toilets." At my age and girth, squatting is something that presents certain anatomical challenges.) Any way, I'm sure have more to say about this and other concepts of great "international import" once we get over there. I will try to keep a regular blog even though we don't have "wheels up" until August 4th. And that's just for Boston!

We head out of the country from JFK on August 5th. First stop, as you can see from the map, is Seoul. I'm currently starting to go through some of my Dad's old letter from his time with the Marine Corps in Korea from 1952-1953. I'm sure he would be stunned to the see the ground today.

More tomorrow...



Posted by Kwpres 13:08 Archived in USA Tagged prep Comments (0)

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