Sunday, December 30, 2007

Final Trip Info For those Interested - Very Long

I kept a written journal while we were there so I could at least look back and recall what happened. Our excursion of the second day was to go to the Temple of Six Banyans where the babies were to be blessed with a long life, good luck and happiness. Also, while we were there, we could pray for wishes to whatever god that we believed in with incense. We chose to pass on the wishes one but did let the Buddhist do his thing. It's a traditional thing like the red couch photo so we took part in that.

We then went to a tea house and a garden/park. We gathered around a table where we watched them prepare and then sample a few different teas. My favorite was Jasmine but even though, I'm still not a fan.

After that, we headed to the BLACK Swan where we had another traditional meal. Most of our group meals were pretty much the same thing. They had a dozen different dishes and always served the rice last, along with only one small glass of water/coke or sprite/or beer. Never a second one. We always had our own bottled water because I suppose we just drink tons of water.

We returned to the hotel and Matt took Chani and met with a few of the men who all had their daughters and went to the market that sold live scorpions, snakes, etc. Glad it was him and not me. We women met and went shopping which included a stop at Starbucks. The only time I went to one the entire time in China. It sure was good!

That was the first time that I was away from Chani for any length of time. I hadn't really noticed how much I missed her until I got back to the hotel. She was so excited to see me and just shook with glee. I realized then at that moment how much I missed her and was so glad to see her too.

The final thing of the day was to go on a river boat cruise. It was great weather and with all the lights, it was very pretty. The locals all rushed the buffet once it was served so we all were instructed to patiently wait until they were through. After we finished eating, we headed outside to the bow and felt the wind in our hair. She loved that. We were told that the food was bad and not to expect too much. I, however found the food acceptable.

While shopping earlier, I had picked up a few pair of squeaky shoes. Chani had on a pair and I had set her down on her feet with her leaning against my leg. She would pick up her foot a tiny bit and make it squeak. It was adorable. The men at the next table couldn't take their eyes off of her.

Once we went back to the hotel. Getting her to sleep was Matt's job. I just couldn't get her to sleep. He would walk her until she fell asleep. I would try but always failed. I attempted it again and when I was about to give up and hand her to Matt, he encouraged me to keep going. Within a couple more minutes she was finally asleep. My first successful time. I was so proud and them promptly crashed into the hard bed. The beds were hard but you are so tired that it really doesn't matter. They weren't really all that bad either.

The following day, I went and did my final shopping. I ordered three hand done etchings, an oil painting, a few personalized items and finished up my 21 gifts for gotcha day celebrations and then 21 Xmas ornaments to give her yearly. I also finished up buying gifts for friends and family and a few others down the line. For dinner, just the three of us went to Cow and Bridge. I really liked this place and had a some great shrimp cakes. They did want 1 Yuan for a napkin though. I just think this is so tacky. Luckily I had been a Mom for a couple of days and knew enough to bring wipes and things like that so we were covered.

We ended up buying another suitcase to replace our original one that lost a wheel and another one for a carry on. In all, we ended up buying three suitcases. The two we got in Guangzhou won't last long but the largest one was only $13 and the carry on was $10. The other one was a bit more but I don't remember how much it cost. The laundry did surprise me a bit. It was more expensive that I had thought it would be but we needed clean clothes.

Our final day was spent running around and picking up all our personalized items and then packing them. We had tons of room in our largest bag but had to be careful with the weight. I am proud to say that we were under weight every time we checked in. We did a fantastic job with packing. We had our final breakfast buffet at the White Swan and left our bags for the porters to pick up. On our way to the airport, we went to the US Consulate where we swore that she was the one and to take care of her for the rest of our lives. It was a very touching moment and our final official act in China.

We were on our way to Beijing. It was a late flight and we arrived late in the day so it was pretty exhausting. I didn't sleep very well as we stayed at a run down hotel next to the airport and a very busy highway where horns were blowing all night long. That and I was so ready to head home. It was time.

We awoke and packed our bags, headed to breakfast and then back to the room. When it was time, we left our bags outside the room and then headed to our final lunch as a group.

We then went to the airport and checked in and waited. As we walked through security, several had water that had been taken. We, however, were able to take our hot thermos and an unopened bottle with us. Whew, we lucked out there. While waiting for our plane, Chani needed changed so I went to change her and then handed her off to Matt so I could go myself. I had avoided the squatty potty the entire trip but wouldn't you know it, my last 30 min in China, I had to use one. I was bit confused as to how to use it though. Do I face the door or do I face the wall? - It's a mystery to me. Anyhow, it wasn't too bad and I was able to get the job done. Off to board the plane. Well, not so easy. We were all searched at this point and all of our water was taken from us. They took formula and jars of baby food, juice, etc. We were allowed to take two jars of baby food. They made me dump my thermos and took the bottled water I had. Once on the plane, one flight attendant seemed annoyed that they took all the formula and told us that she would get us some hot water. I had wanted a bottle to help soothe her ears once we started but that wasn't going to happen now. Once we were level, Matt asked about some hot water and she said that they were prepping the galley and would bring it. We kept waiting. It was late for dinner and Chani started getting pretty hungry. They then started their beverage service and by the time they got to us, she was in full crying mode and I was exhausted and I lost it. I yelled at her, "COULD I PLEASE HAVE SOME HOT WATER?" I was so pissed by now and had lost all my patience. Chani was screaming and hungry. It was so ridiculous that we couldn't have hot water or any for that matter. It was a good 1 1/2 hours into the flight by now and they finally gave me some luke warm water. So, our flight started off really crappy. Then, every chance they offered beverages, I would pour the water into the thermos so I would have some to at least make a bottle. The rest of the flight, Chani slept in the seat between us. She slept most of the trip and did really well. We weren't very comfortable but she seemed to be and that was all that mattered.

We arrived in Chicago and went through customs. We were allowed to go to the front of the line and went through pretty well. We then had to show our brown envelope and then we were stamped. That was when she officially became a US citizen. Another touching moment. We then had to clear security once again and then had to rush to catch our plane. The line was super long but they wouldn't let us cut in line this time. When we got to the gate, they were doing the last call. I am so glad that I had been to this airport many times so I was familiar with it and knew where we had to go. We then boarded our final flight to Atlanta.

Our flight went well and we landed in Atlanta a little bit early. We then met Debbie who picked us up. It was after 9pm. I am so very thankful to her for everything that she has done for us for this trip. She is a super great friend. We then gathered our luggage, strapped Chani in the car seat which she hated and headed for home. It was so nice to get home.

While I'm writing this book, there are a few people that I want to thank. First of all, Debbie. You made transportation to and from the airport such a breeze. It was so nice not to have to worry about our car being at the airport or even finding it after all that time. Thank you so much!

Lisa L - Our social worker who actually went on the trip with us. Thank you for being there when we were so unsure of ourselves. For asking how we were doing every single day and for all the support you gave to us when we needed it the most. Your encouraging words meant the world to us.

Lisa F - For always being there for us and showing so much enthusiasm for us every step on the way. You really are a true friend and I thank you so much for that.

Stacey - For the Cheerios. I don't know what we would have done without them.

Cece - For trying to find me some hair conditioner without knowing what I was talking about.

The China 140 yahoo group, for being part of the most memorable trip of our lifetime.

To China, for giving me the most precious gift I could ever ask for.

And finally to Matt, for putting up with everything and for hanging in there with me. I love you!

Overall, the whole trip was a great experience. I had heard so many negative things about every part of the trip from so many different people that I guess I was expecting it to be much worse than what it was. It really was a good trip and if you're about to go, be flexible, open minded, kind to each other and take tons of patience and pictures. The tips that I have given are my own opinion so keep that in mind. For us, it was a trip of a lifetime.

Thank you all for following along. Our trip is over but our fun has just begun. Here are some more photos from the trip. Again, Matt chose them.

8 comments:

Isabella's Mommy & Daddy said...

Kathy- that was an amazing post...
LOVE IT..
Thanks for sharing some of the details...
Love the pictures..
And I haven't seen those ladybug clips.. they are adorable..
But soo important.. is CONGRATULATIONS on your sweet little girl...
Chani is sooooo adorable...
You will have to email me on the 21 gifts... I have heard that sooo much and would like to get some ideas... Love it..
Have a Great Week..
Hugs to you girly and the family.
Hope to meet you in person in 2008...

Special K said...

Thanks for the recap. I love to hear about the trips. I feel like I'll be better prepared when it's finally my turn.

Lisa, Doug & Briana said...

Awww! You are so welcome sweetie! I am so happy that you and Matt are finally parents! Chani is such a doll!

As for the no water incident on the plane, I would have probably killed someone! That is just unbelievable!

Happy New Year!

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

Loved hearing about the rest of the trip... Chani is so gorgeous... I read your 'story'... it gave me a little lift for when my turn arrives... Have a great 2008 and for speedy referrals for everyone... take care and keep safe...

OziMum said...

Bet you are so glad you kept a written journal! There would be so many things you'd forget, I reckon!

Great idea, gathering 21 gifts! I'd better write that down!!!

Sounds like a trip of a lifetime.. for the greatest gift of all... Chani.

Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us.

Jackie said...

It was so good to see you guys last night and to finally meet Chani. What a SWEET little girl!! Well worth the wait, I'd say!

Isabella's Mommy & Daddy said...

Happy New Year...
So glad Chani is in your arms...
Thanks for being such a GREAT friend..Hope to meet you all this year...
YEAH!!!!
Hugs to you my friend..
Bring on some Chani cuteness...
YEAH

Ladybug Hugs 4 U said...

WOW- I was so honored to be the last and first person to see you, I have to get you your "before" and "after" pictures for Chani's scrapbook. She is absolutely beautiful! I can't wait to see you guys again!

Ladybug hugs,
;D