Five days and counting. I leave for Chicago at 6 AM on Thursday Nov 1st, then transfer from Chicago directly to Shanghai.
I got my passport and visa ready. I need to buy some more long-sleeve shirts because it's colder over there right now, and because I live in Austin, I have gotten rid of much of my non-short-sleeve attire.
I picked up a flu shot, some prescriptions, and some medical advice from the doctor's office on Wednesday. I also need to pick up some over-the-counter stuff like Immodium AD. Talked to some of the more experienced travelers at my company for some tips. I emailed my immediate co-workers and let them know I was going. I joked with one of them about getting "wigglies," our fun-sounding word for parasites and/or other creepy-crawlies just looking for a chance to set up semipermanent residence in my body. (Note to self: keep eyes and mouth closed while taking a shower.)
I got a nice Chinese history book that I'm reading (and even highlighting passages in!), as well as a travel guide to Shanghai itself. I'll have co-workers there who know the city, so I've made plans to hang out with them the first (actually, the only) weekend that I'm there. Because I'm a huge nerd, I also picked up a baseball rules book to read on the plane. If I end up doing an extended stay in Shanghai, I'm gonna try and travel to Tokyo and take in a Yomiuri Giants game. I've also got the latest issue of Wired.
I arrive in Shanghai around 2:30 PM on Friday Nov 2nd. To my body, this is equivalent to 1:30 AM Thursday. I'm supposed to try and stay awake for seven hours until it's actually time to sleep. I wonder how well that's going to work out :-) I think it'll only happen if I can sleep on the plane. When I went from Maryland to Alaska in 1999, I slept for like an entire day after I arrived.