Hello, from China!
Day 1 (and 2)
As you can see, things were bustling around our home at 3:30 am! After loading everything and everyone into the shuttle, our adventure had begun in earnest.
After arriving at the airport we had our first of several good surprises. The first person we saw when we walked into the terminal at 4:50 am was Andrew – Megan’s prom date from last year. Remarkably, he and his family were on our same flight to Seattle. They were going on an Alaskan Cruise.
The first flight to Denver went without a hitch. Well, except for the point when 40 minutes in Mia said she didn’t want to take any more flights that day. After grabbing a quick bite in Denver, wewere off again for the three-hour flight to Seattle. Flying in roughly the same Frontier airplane that featured a TV screen in each seatback, we were about 10 minutes in when I decided the $6 fee for access to “24 wonderful channels of entertainment” sounded like a wise investment. After 15 minutes, Mia turned to me and asked if she could borrow my phone to play a game. At least Anna and Megan enjoyed several shows, including a Price is Right moment when the big winner won a trip to China (how coincidental!).
Once on the ground in Seattle we had some pizza and Diet Coke with real ice for the last time. It was very good. Adventuring further into the airport we found a very large food court/gathering area with a giganticwall of windows (4 stories tall) looking out across a mountain range in thedistance. It was breathtaking (at least as breathtaking as an airport terminal can be). We also found some rocking chairs up near the windows and at one point I rocked Mia to sleep (she would NOT go to sleep on the earlier flights). That was a nice moment.
Boarding our Hainan Airline flight, we realized from this point forward we would be the minority. I would say there were about 5% Caucasians and 95% Asian. Actually getting on the plane, Kayla’s eyes about popped out of her head when she saw the business class seating area. We had to quickly reel in her expectations and tell her that was NOT our seats! But, I think all of the girls (and Kathleen and I) were pretty happy to see a nice TV screen (and remote!) on each seat with options for lots of movies, TV shows, games and more. Before we had even begun backing away, I’m pretty sure all four girls had begun a movie.
The next 11 hours was a mixture of movies, walking around the plane, picking through mostly Chinese food options, searching for a comfortable position, getting kicked by 7 and 9 year-old sleepers.
Landing and making it through their security checkpoints (Kayla did an excellent job all day of not saying anything inappropriate tosecurity folks!), we were in China! Just like every other detail of the day, our shuttle was patiently waiting for us to take us to the hotel. I’m guessing our hotel is about 10 miles from the airport, but very heavy traffic turned thedrive into a stop and good hour-long, stir up your stomach and sap your energy kind of thing. Most of the girls fell asleep and Megan probably took it the worst. By the time we got to the hotel, she said she felt really sick.
The hotel, on the other hand was the good kind of “sick” (you know, the kid language kind, a.k.a. “off the hook”). We were ushered to an executive check-in area near the top floor and quickly made our way to our adjoining rooms. By the way, if you come here, call them“connecting” because no one quickly understands “adjoining”.
With Megan laying down, the rest of us cleaned up a bit and then went to the lobby to meet Dennis, our favorite tour guide when we adopted Mia. He looked remarkably similar (I’m sure he thought the same of me) and was quite excited to see us. He is quite possibly the sweetest person I’ve ever met. We did not expect to be able to cross paths with him, but just happened to be starting a 20+ day China Tour with a group of Australians today in Beijing of all places. It was our lucky day!
We talked in the lobby for about 30 minutes and tried to catch him up on the “Guiping Girls” (he even calls them that!) and to learn what he has been up to, too. He stopped working for Children’s Hope International (the agency we used for Mia’s adoption) in 2009. He now works for a tour guide group that caters to mostly Australian customers. (I successfully resisted the urge to say, “G’day, mate!”, by the way.) He mentioned that he was hoping to organize a group that might come to the United States, maybe as early as next year. It would be a group of students touring the U.S. We confirmed that if he were to make it to our part of the world we could organize homes for the students to stay with for the short time that they’d be in the Midwest. That would be sooooo cool!
After than, Anna and I found the 7-11 not far from our hotel and picked up some extra bottled water, Dove chocolate (I figured we could all use some for medicinal reasons) and some Ritz crackers to go with the peanut butter we had brought along. The store was tiny and only had a few things that I would recognize. We did note, though, that China is apparently celebrating “Children’s Day” on June 1 (a holiday NOT invented by Hallmark, I must say – it seems that I hear that many holidays are invented by Hallmark).
Then it was back to the hotel for a quick swim before getting ready for bed. I don’t remember ever feeling that tired before.
Thankfully, everyone slept for at least 6 hours. Anna and Mia each got up at 4 am and watched a movie. I rolled around in bed for too long and decided to start my day with a blog (I finally had the energy!).
We did get a note from our friends who arrived too late for us to meet them. They slipped it under our door letting us know what room they were in. Lydia, their daughter, wrote, “Dear Mia, and the Staleys, I am excited. Love, Lydia.”
So are we!