China Adventure Day One – Partial Disaster

It’s no secret that we all get hooked on crazy, outlandish, “that totally sucks for you” kind of stories. So I’m going to chalk my first day up to it being a great story for all of you. Keep reading for a good laugh, a little second-hand anxiety, and a play-by-play of Karissa’s Series of Unfortunate Events.

It all began with my adorable suitcase. Yes, my sweet little plum purple suitcase that didn’t fit the sizing requirements of United Airlines baggage patrol. To remedy the problem, my dad grabbed me a good size suitcase from our attic, a little old but would do the job. Of course I stayed up until 2am packing, planning, trying on my new outfits, repacking, snacking, texting, trying on more outfits… you get the picture.

Mom and I outside of O'hare International Airport
Mom and I outside of O’hare International Airport

A little tired, I woke up the next morning ready to conquer the day and get to O’hare airport for my flight. My mom, aka South SideSweet Sue, drove me there, gave me a big hug and wished me well on my journey. The experienced traveler that I am, I grabbed my suitcase and strutted into the airport like I owned the place.

That’s When It All Began…

My not so adorable old suitcase weighed in at 62 pounds. The weight limit for United International Baggage is 50 pounds (before you think I’m a crazy over-packer… this suitcase was built extremely heavy and weighed in a little over 15 pounds on its own!) An airline employee sent me to an area to re-pack and re-situate my bag to fit the weight. They provided me with a very large clear plastic bag to put my belongings in. Yippee!

Doesn’t seem too bad, except for the fact that I already had two carry-on items (the permissible amount). My options? Pay $200 for an overweight bag (both ways) or buy a suitcase from a tiny airport store and pay $100 for the extra bag (both ways). I chose the later option.

$50 later I was back at the kiosk with a second suitcase and a worried mind. Unsure how long the security would take, I began quickly re-situating all of my heavy clothing and beauty items into the smaller check bag. Shampoo, conditioner, makeup, face wash, body wash, curling iron, jeans, hoodies…

As I completed this process, a very sweet United Airlines employee came up with a solution to my baggage issues. I could condense my second carry on, put those items into my original check bag and use my newly purchased suitcase as my second carry on item. Voila! No crazy fee, no hassle, just a solution. I could have jumped for joy! I decided she was right, smushed my purse into my check bag and was on my merry way.

As I waited in the security line, I couldn’t help but think, “wow, I can’t believe I let that get to me! I should have known things would work out eventually”.

Finally, I  got to the front of the security line, undressed, unloaded my laptop, took my shoes off, and sent my belongings through the scanner. Soon after, several different airline workers gathered around the airport X Ray machine, one after another they gazed at the screen. Finally someone asked, “Mam, is this your bag?”

And then it dawned on me, I was attempting to carry-on a bag loaded with shampoo’s conditioners, sunscreen, perfume, and several more liquids well over 3.5 ounces. My heart sank, stomach dropped.

To make matters worse, the security woman hadto personally escort me back through the winding security line (against the flow of people) and back outside the security entrance to the baggage check station.

 I paid the $100 and checked an extra bag.

Back to the security line I went. Impatient and anxious I waited to be searched and checked, and finally with enough time to spare I made it through. Phew!

Okay, you didn’t think this entire post would be negative did you?

I boarded the plane refreshed and ready for my newest adventure. I got really lucky and was placed next to a mother and son traveling back home to China. Kevin goes to school in the US and speaks English while his mom cannot speak any English at all. They were immediately very welcoming, generous and sweet. Kevin’s mom, Yaozhen kept smiling and offering me food from across our row of seats. She would shrug her shoulders and hold her hand smiling as if she was saying, “eat eIMG_4760at eat!!!”


It was at this moment I tried my first bit of homemade Chinese food made by Kevin’s mom, out of a crumpled up brown paper bag. It was beef unlike any beef I’ve ever had before! Because of the language barrier, I couldn’t really grab the recipe. But, so far on my trip to Asia I’ve learned that if you’re offered food from a real Chinese person out of a brown paper bag… take it! 😉


More to come, 再见 !!




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