Thursday, March 26, 2009
Saturday in China
So we woke up at roughly 6 am to be downstairs with the driver at 7:30 am. Good news was, we were mostly packed. So that wasn't too bad. Bad news was, the bus boy said he'd be up to get our luggage at 7:20, and he never came. So, while we knew time was passing, we weren't positive how much. So we ended up scrambling downstairs right at 7:30. Fortunately, traffic to the airport from Taiyuan wasn't too bad. Which was really good when it was established there was no Air China check-in counter, no one spoke English, and none of the signs said Flight 1146 check in here.
So we stood in line. We asked someone who told us to go stand in the same place we had been standing in line (a line consisting of, well, us). Then Beth and Melanie went to try to get some answers, again, and Andrea and I tried to get some answers from where we were. Standing in a line consisting of us. We, fortunately, got through enough that the lady we were talking to went and found someone who spoke better English. Bad thing about Shanxi province- Not so many English-speaking people. More than there were, but still not many. And they never seem to be close at hand when you're completely baffled and close to finding out just how good your pantomime skills are. Finally, we got an answer about where we were supposed to be, and got checked in.
Then we went through security, which honestly wasn't that bad at all. Except I went through the metal detector and forgot my phone was in my pocket. So I pass through, beep, and it immediately hits me that my phone is still on my person (I'm pretty sure this happened in Taiyuan...could've been Beijing, but I think it was Taiyuan). I immediately pull it out of my pocket, hold it up, and explain that I forgot about it. The woman asks to hold it, motions me back through the metal detector, and I come through clean. She looks at my phone and asks if she can look inside it. I say sure. I mean, really, how many terrorists have pictures of their calico cats as their backgrounds on their phone? Not many, I'd wager. And yes, that is my background. Reassured it was, in fact, a phone, she handed it back, and motioned me on. I collected my things and continued on with life.
Finally, we got on our plane to Beijing, and I took an hour long nap. Which was just as well, seeing as we had to ride an airport bus halfway across Beijing (it felt like) to the terminal we needed to be at to fly out. So, we decide to go check in for our flight. Problem that. There was no one at the check in counter to check us in. So we opt for food. Real food. Like sit down food. We went upstairs, and checked out a few places menus, before deciding on The Lucky Shamrock. Really, how awesome is it for an Irish dancer to eat at an Irish pub in Beijing whose school colors are purple and the restaurant colors are purple, too? I thought it was awesome. And the ketchup and french fries were mucho yummy. Much recommend it if you end up needing a meal in that part of the Beijing Airport. Terminal 3, I think. Though I could be completely wrong.
At 2 pm, we progressed to check in to our flight. Yadda, yadda. I shopped some after we went through security and all, got my sister a stuffed panda bear from China, and my Dad an Olympics rhythmic gymastics/Great Wall of China glow-in-the-dark mug. He collects coffee mugs. Lots of nifty stuff to buy in the Beijing airport. Also bought an inflatable travel pillow, which was nice to have even if I did only sleep like 2 hours on the entire flight. I did get to watch Twilight, War of the Worlds, 3 episodes of Will & Grace (all they had), half of The King and I, and half of Four Christmases (not that funny, in my opinion). We landed in Newark 40 minutes early, which was awesome because I'm not sure I would've made my 7:20 flight to Dallas otherwise. We got out, went through immigration (which took forever), got our luggage (which also took forever); Beth's came out quickly, then after a while, mine, and I have no idea how long it took for Andrea and Melanie's to come, as Beth and I decided it would be smartest for me to just go along alone. So I did, went through customs, gave them my luggage back, went through security, and made it out on the other side with a huge sigh. The hard part was officially over.
I carried my sneakers to a spot by a window, sat down, and called my Mom for the first time in a week where it wouldn't cost us $2 a minute to chat. I bought a Coke and proceeded to gate 114. Where I quickly discovered my gate had to have changed. As I was not going to Williamsburg. So I go back up the escalator to see what gate my flight is at now, since it obviously changed in the last 14 hours.
I quickly let my Mom go and speed-walked to Gate 81. Camera bag, backpack, and all. I made it with plenty-ish of time. Hot, sweaty, and needing to go to the bathroom. So I did and then I settled down by the window waiting for the boarding call. Called Mom again. Boarded the flight. Ended up swapping seats with a kid who was roughly 13 because people under 18 can't sit on exit rows and apparently their travel agent just wasn't too brilliant...
Not that I really cared at that point. By then, I was simply exhausted from being awake for nearly 24 hours solid. And I was back on the right side of the International Date Line, and I wanted my Mom and Dad and sister. I slept most of the roughly 3 and change hour flight from Newark to Dallas. Where we arrived 30 minutes early. A great difference from my running and scrambling to get to China.
I got there and early and was greeting by 40 lbs of small child running at me. And here I thought she wouldn't miss me. ;) LOL We got over to Dad, and I gave Reese, and Dad, their presents, while we waited for my luggage to show up. Which again, took it's sweet time. Finally, we got my luggage, which was decidely harder to spot as it wasn't purple any more (had to ditch that bag in Taiyuan and buy a new one. Apparently 2 trips to and from China, and one to Denver, and one to China was all it could take. The zipper busted.). Black really isn't a good color for luggage, I've decided. We got my luggage, took it to the car, found a McDonald's, as I was starving, and went to the hotel, where I showed off my goodies and took a shower where I didn't have to be concerned about swallowing the water. Ah, the simple pleasures in life.
I also showed Reese the outfit and sweater her foster mother sent for her. She immediately donned on the outfit. The pants are too long, but other than that, it's a decent fit. Cute on her, too.
The next day, we went to IKEA (awesome store, I wish we had one closer than Dallas) and Cracker Barrel, which I had been craving since roughly Thursday. Southern comfort foods, I suppose. And their grilled tenderloin chicken is to die for. Love it.
Anyway, now I am home. I feel kinda miserable at times, but overall fairly decent. My cats are all thrilled to see me, as are my humans (LOL), I mean family. :D