In order to get the cheapest possible flight, I flew home by way of Malaysia. I landed in Kuala Lumpur around 8 pm, and my flight back to China was the next morning at 8 am. I had a hostel recommendation, but I realized that by the time I took a taxi to the place, it would be late and expensive. I inquired about hotels near the airport, but they were mostly filled. "But the airport terminal is open all night," said the friendly guest services man. Fantastic!
So I spent the night in a McDonalds at the Kuala Lumpur Low-Cost Carrier Terminal, which sounds disgusting, but was actually sort of enjoyable. Given the fact that it's a popular hub, tons of people were doing the same thing and it was a good opportunity to people-watch.
I also played hours of Bananagrams by myself.
People around me were sleeping, but I couldn't bring myself to. So I drank my fifth cup of Diet Coke and wrote in my journal.
By 5 a.m. I was feeling pretty crazy but finally, finally, it was time for my flight. When I had booked it online, it said it went to Beijing, but in actuality, it went to Tianjin, a city about an hour away. Air Asia is tricky. I arrived in the afternoon and went immediately to the train station to book a ticket for Dalian. They only had soft sleepers available, which was fine, but it didn't leave until 10 pm. So, again, a sleepless Maggie loitered in restaurants and terminals and on chilly train platforms until the train came into the station. I had been awake for over 36 hours, so my night ride on the soft(ish) bed in my private(ish) compartment felt incredible.
Then, I was back in Dalian, which felt familiar and strange, comfortable and new again, and mostly cold. I had had a really exciting and lovely time traveling, but at my core I'm a homebody, so I was happy to putter and nest until my friends came back.
I've left some things out because I'm too mentally tired to do them justice, but I wanted to say "thanks" to you all for reading about my travels - I had no idea it would take me so long to recount. Now I can get back to writing about my life in Dalian: eating, teaching, learning, spending time with friends, attempting to speak Chinese, hosting seders, and freezing in my apartment. Strange thought: I'll be back in the States in 3 months! Time is flying by a little too fast.