Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ni Hao from Beijing

We are all exhausted, but we made it with only a few mishaps along the way. Jerry and I barely slept Tues. night, and my mom and the kids didn't do much better, but we all jumped out of bed by 3:15 a.m. on Wed., and were out of the house by 3:45. We parked in long term parking and took the shuttle bus to the airport.

Mishap #1: When we got in line to check in, Mom realized she didn't have her purse (no ID, no passport, no $). It ends up she'd left it on the shuttle bus. We had to flag down another bus, and get that driver to radio our bus driver. Luckily, she had the purse, and brought it to us with no problems. Mom will not soon live that one down.

At the airport, we met up with Marie, Joe, Linda, Don and the boys. Everyone was full of energy. Linda and Don were the last ones to check in, so the rest of us headed down to Cinnabun to wait for them. They took forever, and it wasn't until later we learned that a zipper on one of their suitcases broke, and they had to repack everything before checking in. (Mishap #2)

Next, we went through security. Mishap #3: Guess who had packed all of her make up in her carry on bag? Yes, my mom. So, she had to throw away all of her Estee Lauder make up, lotion, toothpaste, etc. She claims she "forgot" to pack this bag in her luggage, but we wonder if she wasn't just trying to pull a fast one.

We flew from Jacksonville to Newark on a pretty small plane. All of the kids were excited, but I think Doug won the prize for "Most Enthusiastic." He was only 3 years old the last time we flew, so this seemed totally new to him. He was amazed by the whole thing. Every few seconds we heard: "Look at the buildings! Look at the roads! Look at the clouds!" (All said with great enthusiasm in a very loud voice). It was a clear day, so we got a good view of Manhattan, complete with the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty.

In Newark, we met another adoptive mom, Julie Thomas, and her mom, Susan. I had been reading Julie's blog and e-mailing with her, so it was great to finally meet her in person. Her seats were right in front of ours on the flight to Beijing, so we got some time to chat.

The flight from Newark to Beijing was just long. It is hard to imagine 13 hours on an airplane, until you do it. I think it hit home for me when after reading my book, eating dinner, and sleeping for a little while, I woke up, looked at the computerized flight plan, and realized we still had 10 hours to go! Of course, we had a few spills and accidents along the way: Mishaps #4 & #5: My nephew Sean dumped a Sprite on himself, and they dried his shorts in an oven! I'd thrown a banana in my carryon for a snack, and it melted into a goey mess, which got on almost everything. Jerry and I cleaned it out, but my backpack still smells like a banana.

The kids did amazingly well. Katie slept quite a bit, Doug only slept for about 2 hours. For the most part, they all got along and were able to amuse themselves. But, none of us are looking forward to the return flight when we'll have the added blessing of 2 babies!

After getting our bags and going through customs in Beijing, we found the guide from our adoption agency waiting for us, dressed in green and carrying a green flag. Her name is Rui (Ray), and we all love her already. She told us her name means "to bring luck to others" and she feels that her job with the agency allows her to bring luck to Chinese babies and to adoptive families.

We are staying at the Poly Plaza Hotel in Beijing. The rooms are nice and we are all together on one floor. As soon as we checked in, Rui brought a group to the market, so we'd know how to buy anything we needed. Linda and I decided we'd take the kids to the pool, while the others went with Rui. What an adventure! First, we got on the wrong elevator (maybe the service elevator?) and rode up and down trying to figure out which floor the indoor pool was on. We finally realized we had to get on another elevator. We made it to the lobby, where they told us to go to the third floor. It was not at all like a hotel pool at home. The kids started to run and jump in, but were immediately stopped by hotel employees. First, we had to sign in and show our hotel key, then we had to get the kids bathing caps. (My 13 year old nephew Jason was not into this, and decided he'd rather not swim). We asked where to get bathing caps and they brought some out. Then they told us it would be 395. Of course, we didn't have any Chinese money, yet. What followed was a hilarious discussion, where 2 English-speaking moms tried to ask 3 Chinese-speaking hotel empoyees to charge 4 bathing caps to the room, while 5 tired, cranky kids bounced around, asking when they could swim. We think the caps were charged to the room, because we did get the caps, we did not pay for them, and we were not arrested. Of course, we have no idea what 395 means.

After all of that, the kids only spent about 15-20 minutes in the pool! During the whole experience Linda and I alternated between total frustration and fits of giggles. Linda's motto is "Just smile and wave and say thank you." It seems to work.

For dinner, we decided to stay at the hotel. We went to the "western" restaurant, which had a nice buffet. I'm not sure why it was western, because at home, we would have called it a Chinese Buffet. It was good, but I really didn't get to enjoy it, because Katie melted down when the picture she'd brought to color ripped, and Doug fell asleep in his chair. I gulped down my food, and took them both back to the room, where they fell asleep as soon as their heads hit the pillows. It's a good thing they were so tired, because (Mishap #6) we realized we'd misplaced Katie's blanket ("baney"). Normally she can't sleep without it, but tonight it didn't matter. She definitely had it after we got to the hotel, so we are hopeful it is not gone, but just in someone else's room.

So, now it is 8 p.m. on Thrus., Beijing time, which means it's 8 a.m. Thurs. in Jacksonville. We've been up (with naps here and there) since 3 a.m. Wed. Jerry has already passed out, and I am right behind him. Hopefully, we will all get a good night's sleep, and be ready to begin touring Beijing tomorrow.

P.S. I checked my e-mails and was able to receive them. I haven't tried sending any yet.


At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Julie McNeil said...

I'm glad you made it there safely. I can't believe mom and her purse and then her makeup! She must have been freaking out :)
I hope you all sleep well and enjoy your first real day in China-Julie

At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Ruth Ann Hepler said...

That was hilarious! I can't wait for the girls to read it this afternoon. I'm so glad you all made it safe and sound. Enjoy your hutong tour. We will be looking forward to reading all about it.

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Fran Moss said...

Hi Lisa--So far so good! sounds like you are doing fine! Fran

At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Kerri said...

Sounds like an event filled trip already! I hope you all can get some rest. Can't wait to read the next installment.

At 9:10 PM, Anonymous Suzanne Stout said...

I'm so glad you made it there safely. Thanks for keeping us up to date. I pray things continue to go as (mostly) smoothly as they have thus far.
Blessings - Suzanne

At 9:32 PM, Anonymous Mary said...

We're all thinking of you and hope you have a safe journey. So glad Kathy got her purse back! I'm sure she'll be hearing about that for a while! Keep in touch!


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