Monday, October 10, 2005

Christmas

(This post was written on Oct. 9th after we first arrived in China. We did not have internet access until this time for me to log it publically.)

Well it’s been a crazy and amazing and terrifying and heartwarming day—well couple of days. It feels like we’ve not stopped since we found out our tickets were cancelled –oh guess that’s because we haven’t!
Russell and I are exhausted, but can’t sleep yet because the adrenaline is flowing way too hard and heavy for anything like sleep to even be a consideration.
We started off extremely early in Nashville to catch our flight to Detroit. We met some wonderful people at the Nashville airport who overheard us talking about Lydia and they chatted with us at length as they had a grandchild and were in process of having another grandchild from China. They were great. Russell and I had a smooth flight to Detroit but were disappointed to find our long flight to Tokyo was going to have us in completely separate parts of the plane. I ended up getting a woman to switch with Russell even though she spoke no English. (Foreshadowing for events to come on the nobody speaks English front!) She was nice and we were able to hand gesture enough to get our points across and Russ got to sit with me and ironically she got to sit closer to her husband too. I was extremely pleased we got that worked out as he was looking pretty pathetic boarding the plane alone before me. (I thought he was gonna bawl.) Honestly I wanted to sit with him, but after the “the tickets got cancelled and you have less the 24 hours to figure out a way to get to your baby on time” business, I was just happy to be on a plane! That flight consisted of 14 hours of bad movies and no one speaking English but me and Russell and the flight attendants. —Apparently we were on board with over 300 Japanese people who were on their way home from Disneyland! The Disney consumerism was so thick you could cut it with a knife! Old Walt must be smiling down about the money his company surely racked in from that group let me tell ‘ya!
In Tokyo as we waited for our flight to GZ there were several Chinese citizens who were flying home…I found that fascinating too…as there were 5 families on the plane and NONE of them had girls. 4 families had 1 boy and one had twin boys. It made me wonder, how many of these women had actually had boys first and how many had left their girls to be found at sometime, somewhere in China.
The 5 hour trip was hard on Russell because it was the smallest of our planes, and my 6 foot 3inch hubby was looking like a contortionist. It was hot and by this time we’d been going for over 24 hours…so he was pretty wiped. I was still enthusiastic though and as we landed in China I looked out the window and thought how beautiful it was, and how much it looked like Christmas! I cried…it seemed real for the first time. We’re going to have a little girl and to me that is all that matters!
Now as for China…remember, no one is meeting us. We are totally on our own. Not something we planned for at all. I have words of advice for people. Plan for the unexpected! We got lucky more than a couple of times because Russell is anal-retentive about little stuff!
When we got off the plane we followed all the signs to get us through the security checkpoints. I got stopped, but all they did was do a short search…no biggie. It was a random searching and I just happened to win the lottery on that one. They will give you all sorts of forms on the plane btw that you need to fill out. One of which is a health risk form. What diseases do you have and where have you been where you might bring something in. Just kinda interesting, so I thought I’d mention it. Now our incompetent travel agency as they went to try to fix things had arranged for us a hotel for our overnight layover before we moved on to Nanning. (Our ultimate goal as that is where we pick up Liddy!) They told us, The Pearl Hotel was where we were staying and that there was a free shuttle to get there and back. WRONG. No shuttle, and NO ONE at the gate had heard of The Pearl Hotel. We have no address (we were told we wouldn’t need one as the shuttle would take us right there---but we did have a phone number.) The phone number was to the airport—not to the hotel! SWELL!! So as we are trying to get help one of the ladies who speaks very broken English tells us, the shuttle we want is about to leave. We ask again, is that The Pearl? And she says yes it’s the Tianhe Hotel, also known as The Pearl…We figure, well in Nanning The Ming Yuan Xin Du is also called The Majestic, so it’s probably the right place…so on we go…MISTAKE!!!
The bus went on and on forever and it ultimately takes us to the Tianhe Hotel. Very nice place, but we’re dropped off behind it and there are no streetlights in this part of town. (Maybe in others…but not here!) No one speaks English…we’re having to pay for a bus ride we thought was free with yuan (which thankfully we have)…and we’re about a block away from the back of the hotel in the pitch dark, and we still have no idea if this is indeed The Pearl or not. THANK GOD Russell had exchanged about $150 of American for Chinese at the airport. Our agency told us we didn’t have to worry about bringing Chinese money with us, but again…I am married to anal retentive man so we have some. My advice to everyone..BRING CHINESE CURRENCY no matter what your agency says. It was very helpful to us!! You don’t need a lot, but about $100-$200 is worth it, if only for the peace of mind!!!
Anyway…we finally get inside and no one speaks English. (Why should they after all? It’s CHINA!) So we ask them is this “The Pearl” They look at us and smile and call over a manager who also doesn’t speak English….no one speaks anyone’s language, but this much is apparent…this is not The Pearl and no one has heard of The Pearl. Piece of Advice…DO NOT USE OUR TRAVEL AGENT---she works for Delight Travel and her name is Yen Fogarty. (The agency was referred to us by Children’s Hope International our adoption agency. I have told them several times since the cancelled tickets incident to take them off their list for future travelers.) No head way is being made and your now weary travelers who’ve been travelling for over 30 hours and again had the 24 hour ticket fiasco previous are close to breaking down. I, in a moment of inspiration ask the Tianhe Hotel staff to call Anna Zhang the Beijing CHI contact and they do. The very tired Anna (it’s like 1 am at this time) is groggy, but after a minute senses my desperation on the phone and pretty much works as our interpreter with the Tianhe Staff. Still no one has heard of The Pearl. No matter, we get a room and a shower and a very hard bed. (Like a floor, but higher.) And Anna—the goddess like saint of a woman arranges someone to meet us tomorrow to help us get to Nanning in one piece. She is extremely sympathetic to us. Extremely angry with Delight Travel (who have not been so delightful) and Russell and I get some sleep FINALLY. Okay…drama almost over now (I hope.) Elsa is supposed to be contacting us in the morning! We are supposed to make it to the Majestic by the afternoon and get our baby tomorrow. I feel a little better. I’m tired…I’m winding down from the terror about possibly not making it to China, and then from the terror of making it, but having no idea where I am. I am extremely moved by the people of this country who went out of their way to help us. I have not experienced so much humanity and compassion in a long time…and the staff at the Tianhe are now officially my favourite people on the planet. In America, they would have blown us off…here, they cared…they wanted to help. They were kind. I will make sure Lydia knows the country of her birth is a kind country…and when you see it from the sky…it looks like Christmas!

3 Comments:

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Monday, October 10, 2005 3:53:00 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

HURRAH!!! So glad you made it there. Had a feeling you might experience some of what you went through considering your astute (ahem) travel agent. But I knew you'd both manage fine in the end. (I, too, have been accused of being somewhat anal retentive, and while some might consider that a 'put down' I always tell people they should be GLAD I'm that way as it surely comes in handy!!! I would have changed some money too---good call Russ!) I can't wait to see pics of 'Christmasland'. BTW....what's up with these weird comments from people? Spammer bloggers? They need to go away! Love you both!
Laura

Monday, October 10, 2005 6:48:00 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

HURRAH!!! So glad you made it there. Had a feeling you might experience some of what you went through considering your astute (ahem) travel agent. But I knew you'd both manage fine in the end. (I, too, have been accused of being somewhat anal retentive, and while some might consider that a 'put down' I always tell people they should be GLAD I'm that way as it surely comes in handy!!! I would have changed some money too---good call Russ!) I can't wait to see pics of 'Christmasland'. BTW....what's up with these weird comments from people? Spammer bloggers? They need to go away! Love you both!
Laura

Monday, October 10, 2005 6:48:00 AM  

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