Travel from the mainland begins at any one of the major overseas airline hubs in the US. Two major routes are used; via Honolulu and Guam, or via one of the major gateways in the far east; Narita, Japan; Inchon (Seoul) Korea, or Hong Kong. As of this writing, United has sharply limited the number of flights from Guam, making other routes more attractive.
All flights are long, those to the Asian gateways about 12-14 hrs, so many of us choose to find a hotel to overnight. The hospital defrays most of the cost of travel for new hires. If you can use miles to upgrade to Business, it will be well worth it.
No, you won't be kidnapped and sold into slavery... but there are a couple of items worth reviewing before climbing on the plane, namely:
the right to operate sea, air, or other transport services within a particular territory.
restriction of the operation of sea, air, or other transport services within or into a particular country to that country's own transport services.
In simple terms, it means there is a restriction from using a foreign carrier exclusively to travel from one US port to another. Since Saipan is US territory, you must either begin your journey on a US airline, end your journey with a US airline, or both. It's fine if you want to take Jeju Air from Korea to Saipan, for example, but you have to get to Korea on a US carrier like Delta or United. Or, you can take Asiana to Nariata, but then need to take Delta or United to get to Saipan via Guam. You can get around this if you plan to stay in the foreign country for a couple of days and split your ticket. Don't count on travel services or Locums companies to think of this, since in their mind Saipan is often a foreign country. Spending three days in the Beijing airport waiting for the next US flight to Guam when you have been denied boarding can be really unpleasant. The kidnap/slavery scenario may even begin to have definite appeal......
2. The International Date Line
Yes, this catches everyone sooner or later, especially when planning connecting flights. You leave Seattle at 9:00 PM on Thursday, for a 12 hr flight to Narita, Japan. It get's in at 1:00 AM Japan time. You assume it gets in the next day, Friday morning. But, you lost a day crossing the date line, and it is actually Saturday morning. It gets REALLY interesting if you have a flight leaving or arriving around midnight. The moral of this story? Review your reservations with a calendar in front of you several times; see how many times you come up with the same answer three times in a row!!!
And Once I Do Get There?
The hospital will help you find suitable temporary housing, assisted by a $10,000 sign on bonus for signing a 2 year contract. You will be struck, however, that while a lot is familiar (we ARE a US territory) we are in probably many more ways still a foreign country.
Basic laws, currency, Internet (Actually, better than much of the Mainland), driving rules, electricity is the same. Notable differences include food choices, how to shop, languages (English is basic, but not the first language for most, and the primary languages are colorful and many), signeage (a lot of canned goods and stores have only Asian labels), lack of street signs and addresses, having to rent a post office box, affixing customs labels to anything mailed to or from here, the need to drink bottled water (the untreated tap water is usually safe, but unless your housing has a reverse osmosis unit or rainwater system it tastes bad), cable TV with primarily Asian channels .
Credit cards and debit cards are accepted many, but not all, places. You will find you will need cash much more frequently than on the mainland. ATM machines are plentiful.
The island is very informal. “Uniform of the Day” outside the hospital is shorts and a short sleeve shirt. In the hospital many of the men choose scrubs, or else sport shirt and casual pants. Women wear scrubs or dresses/pants/blouses according to their style. Some like white coats, many don’t. Whatever your choice, you will need to
supply your own.