Countdown: 35 days!!
As the countdown continues, we also continue to prepare for our move on July 31st! With summer, came my last days at my Phoenix high school. I said goodbye to a lot of great students and friends, but it was time to see what else the world had to offer us! If you saw my China visa post, you know that I have already gone through an extensive process to obtain my Chinese working permit for my visa. Now it was time to go to LA one last time to finally get the visa! My husband and I headed to Koreatown and spent two days walking over 10 miles and making the most of our time here!
If you read my Chinese Visa post, you know the lengths my husband and I have had to go to get my Chinese work permit. Now that I have it, we have to go to LA and apply for the actual visa in person. Oh yeah..we only have 36 hours to do this. What is the rush?? Well, we are leaving at 7 am Tuesday morning from Phoenix and leaving LA at 7 pm on Wednesday night to get Korey back in time for work. Not only that, but spending more time in LA means more expenses such as food and accommodations. My mom and I had to spend two nights in LA to get our chores done before, Korey and I are hoping that with all our gathered knowledge, we can pull it off in 36 hours.
Lucky for us, the plane took off only a little late that Tuesday morning, we still got to LA at 9am. It was fortuitous because I just happened to sit next to a friendly girl and started talking about our plans in LA. It turned out, she knew all about international schooling because she went to an international school in Egypt for four years! Her family worked for the American embassy out there and said she loved the experience. I will admit, it made me feel a little better about dragging my kid across the world.
Anyways, we get off the plane and take an Uber straight to the consulate. Since the consulate opened the same time our flight landed, we knew we wouldn’t be first in line. However, I think we still underestimated the amount of people that would be there on a Tuesday morning. We arrived around 10:30am and had to remain for 2.5 MORE HOURS before we were finally seen. It was fortunate that I had all my documents in order with no issues, because we would have only had one hour to fix it before they closed!
Once we were done at the consulate, we decided to save some money and walk to our hotel only 20 minutes away. The weather was cloudy and beautiful so it didn’t bother us to carry our overnight bags. We made it to the East West hotel, a cheap and clean hotel situated on the outskirts of Koreatown. Although we didn’t spend much time there, the staff was friendly and the room was comfortable. After checking in, we headed out to score a late lunch at one of the Korean BBQ joints. They are all over the place and can come cheaply if you look around a little bit.
After looking at a few suggested places, we decided to eat at a restaurant down the road called Matjip. They specialize in Korean soups and kimchi. I am not a huge fan of spicy foods, so I went safe with the beef rib soup and Korey got a very spicy pork belly kimchi and two orders of white rice. I absolutely loved my food! It came with two ribs and a bunch of slippery rice noodles in the bottom of the bowl. It was heaven! Korey wished his had a little more pork belly, but not at all bad for $30. I would definitely recommend going if you ever get a chance to visit. But watch out for that Korean alcohol…17% alcohol yikes.
After our feast, we spent the rest of the night walking around the area and looking at the amazing architecture. It didn’t hurt that the sun didn’t set until almost 7:30pm! It was amazing to see all the new buildings next to the old, it felt like you were in many time periods at once. The art-deco look on the older buildings is gorgeous and leads to a lot to sight-seeing in this part of the city! We knew we had to get up early to the consulate tomorrow to pick up the visas, so we returned to the hotel to sleep.
That next morning, we left one hour before they opened to get to the consulate before the crowds. Because we knew the area better now, we got there in only 15 minutes and climbed to the third floor. Even with almost 40 minutes before opening, there was a line of over 30 people ahead of us! I thought that once the doors opened, only a fraction of us would end up in the pick-up line and we would be done quickly. Well apparently, 97% of them were also there to pick up visas and were subsequently in front of us inside.
Once we got to the front, we handed them our two pickup slips-one for myself and one for both my husband and son. Well she quickly found my husband and son’s passports and visas, but not me. She went from bin to bin (over 200 passports in each) and was still not able to find it. She came to the window and told me to pick it up in 15 minutes. I won’t lie, I started to get nervous. There was no way the boys could get the visa if I didn’t, so what was the holdup? I go to the front of the line later and they had found it! Two LA trips, several visa applications, and $445 dollars later: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! With 10 hours before our flight back to Phoenix, we decided to check out of our hotel and head out for some retail therapy.
Santee Alley is one of the more famous shopping areas in Los Angeles. This is where you can find many different types of goods for reasonable prices. For example, we picked up a gift for our son, 2 LA Dodgers hats for $10. We got clothes, shoes, etc. Some items weren’t the best quality, so if you aren’t sure then just don’t get it. The next stall will have better and probably a better cost. We also took a quick walk to a park we went to 5 years ago when we were dating, it wasn’t too far from shopping. We made it over 10 miles these past 36 hours and we feel awesome!
Now we are sitting in our terminal at LAX, waiting to fly home to Phoenix. We snuck to the international side of the airport (better food) and had an exciting revelation. We would be here in exactly 35 days when we move to China, this would be out last airport in the United States as we left. As we sat eating our food, we watched foreign tourists coming into the airport. They looked so excited and confused as they were trying to make their way to the baggage claim. I am sure we will look pretty similar heading into Beijing, China. Until then, on home to Phoenix!