We were at the airport in the morning only to find the fog was so thick, our flight was delayed about 4 hours and we were stuck at the airport. Once we finally boarded our plane, we were on our way to Chengdu…home of the giant panda bears which is within the Sichuan Province (known for great spicy food). By the time we arrived, it was in the afternoon and our new guide explained we should really go see the pandas tomorrow instead of today because the morning is when they are most active. She said since today is running so late, we should get an early start tomorrow and would just take us to our hotel to relax today.
The hotel for tonight was one we had booked on our own (www.regalhotel.com) and was a 5 star so we agreed to take advantage of it. Before getting settled at the hotel, we asked if the guide would help us find a place with an ankle brace to help keep my foot in one position since I am now limping on it. She did not know where to go…we tried a pharmacy, which by the way is very different from ours. We stood on the sidewalk where the pharmacy counter was and asked for a brace (this was not a store where you walked in to shop for what you need). No luck…so we tried a hospital, they only had really hard cast-type braces that would go up the whole calf. We wanted a sports brace that I could lace up and still wear my shoe. While we were at the hospital, we asked for Advil or something similar to help decrease the swelling. We were reminded at that moment…we were in China…eastern medicines. They did not have any western meds, they only had herbal meds. The doctor grabbed an herbal spray and said to spray it directly on the skin a couple of times of day…interesting. If it works, it would be ideal…then you aren’t sending drugs through the rest of your body to reduce the swelling in one area.
By the way…when traveling to a place like China where the language is completely different, I would suggest either bringing enough tampons with you for the trip or learning the translation. It was quite embarrassing to have to explain to the guide what I needed and then have her translate it to the store clerk so we could all have a group effort in selecting the product together! On another note, the toilets in general were almost all eastern, meaning squatters-holes in the ground. Giff wasn’t so impacted by this and neither were the male guides but for girls…having a western toilet to go to was huge. Oh and 95% of the time…you must bring your own toilet paper or drip dry-Ick!
After our little side trips to find a brace, tampons and anti-inflammatory…we finally arrived at our hotel. Check in went smoothly and our room was much nicer than the tour package rooms we had been staying in. I put my foot up and Giff went walking around the area for about an hour, but had no luck finding food. He said the area seemed really cool and it would have been nice to have more time here to explore the city. For dinner, We decided to order food from the super nice restaurant in the hotel. We watched a movie and ate spicy Sichuan food which was delicious.
Published by Giff Kabat
I grew up in Ohio as a kid, so of course I went to college at “THE” Ohio State University. I graduated in 2001 with a major in business finance. A month after graduation, I moved out to California with my college girlfriend (whom I married in 2005)…and started my career in sales (industrial sales for 5 years…then moved into medical laser sales for 4 years).
In 2009 I was 31 years old. I had a great job, a new house, and a beautiful wife. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any better…my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby. Everything was going according to plan…and I couldn’t have scripted a better life for myself.
Then in the same year…everything changed. My wife, Brandey, called me when I was on my way to work and told me over the phone, something I never thought could be possible in a million years. My beautiful 30-year old pregnant wife was just told that she had breast cancer. At that moment, everything stopped all at once. I immediately went to her…and learned of our new plan…which began with her needing surgery immediately…and the rest we would find out later.
The day we returned from the hospital after Brandey’s surgery…my father died. He had been battling an aggressive cancer of his own…and although he was the one person I wanted to speak with about Brandey having cancer…I never told him. My sister, Brooke, had just gotten married a few months ago, and although he was weak, he was able to walk his little girl down the aisle of her wedding. On the night before my sister’s wedding, Brandey and I told him that we were pregnant and about to make him a grandfather. It made no sense to tell him that everything had changed for us…so he died in peace knowing everything was “the way it should be” for his only 2 children.
2010 was the worst year of my life. We had lost our baby…and for 12 months I watched my wife fight cancer with multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and drug therapy. It was a difficult year for us…but we made it. When you go through something like this in life, you learn a lot about yourself and the people around you. I was amazed at the strength and courage of my wife…and how many good people there are in this world. I will be forever grateful for the ones who never ceased to amaze me with their kindness during this hard time. Family, friends, and sometimes complete strangers…helped us make it through this. I am, and will always be especially grateful to my mother, who was with my dad at the very end, when I couldn’t be there, and when things were at their worst. She has been so supportive throughout all of this, and without her everything would have been so much harder for me.
It’s 2011 now…and the plan we have for our life this year…is to make it the best year of our lives. Brandey is officially in remission from breast cancer and she has a 95% chance the cancer will never come back. Besides the love that I have for my wife and family, the loves of my life are food, wine, and adventure travel. My wife and I love traveling to new places, seeing natural wonders, and meeting new people from different parts of the world. So for the next 400 days…we’ve decided to travel the world…and celebrate our lives. There are so many things I took for granted in life that I will never take for granted again. My father worked for over 30 years at the same job with the same company…rarely took time off…and died at 64 years old right after his retirement. For me, this trip is a combination of a tribute to him, along with wanting to spend the time of my life with the “love of my life.”
* The only thing I will miss while we are gone is our family and friends (who we hope will meet us somewhere throughout our trip) and especially our 3 little kitties we left with my mom in Ohio to catsit for the next 400 days. I will also miss watching “American Football” over the weekend…but I’ll do my best to check the scores in the middle of the night.
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