Since the first week of October is a national holiday in China and the third week is a sales convention in Guangzhou where the only US consulate in China issuing visas is located, when we received our travel approval in the last week of August our agency worked to get us an appointment at the consulate in September. We had just under two weeks to get our own visas, our ducks in a row and head out. In hindsight I am thankful for the Labor Day weekend within that time because we could do nothing that day. It slowed us down.
I am one of those people who doesn't relax on a trip until I get on the plane. We had lists of papers to bring, gifts, money, and a booked itinerary. I relaxed a little and but not all the way. We arrived in Beijing late in the evening after a 13 hour flight to find out that we would be sightseeing early the next morning with the three other families from our agency, Children's Hope International. I appreciate all the in-country logistics that our agency did. If my body was in the right time zone it would have gone much better. All of us woke up at 2 am and stared for a while. Sweet jet lag.
Our day of sight seeing included Tienanmen Square, the Forbidden City, a jade shop, the Great Wall, the Olympic village and a tea shop. On little sleep, I was a zombie. I found it ironic that the Forbidden City that the Emperor only came to three times a year has thousands of people visiting daily. Definitely not what he had in mind. It was all fascinating but so hard to appreciate in my fatigue. My daughter fell fast asleep after the Great Wall where she boasts walking more than 1100 steps. I boast a drool spot on my leg. Yes, I took pictures, but I 'm saving those for her wedding.
By the time we got back to the hotel, I crawled into bed with my clothes on and slept. No dinner. Up at 4 am. Somewhere in there I changed. Exhausted and still jet lagged. We got up early again that morning because we flew to Xi'an, the capital of the province where our son's orphanage was located. After checking in, (we are thankful for our CHI coordinator, Amy) we took one of the most turbulent flights I've ever been on. One and a half hours of the one hour and fifty minute flight was bouncy. We were in the back. One other family traveled with us, and we all were praying for safety. And for the flight to be over. I am not a good flier. I am a terrible turbulent flier.
We arrived in Xi'an around noon, met our guides, met other families, checked into our hotel, and exchanged money. That afternoon we met our children and took them with us. Excitement and exhaustion were overwhelming. Our son traveled two hours from his orphanage to meet us. All the children had different manifestations of stress. Crying, withdraw, fatigue. It was hard, but it was sweet. It was a moment all the parents had been waiting for. We all knew that things take time and that this was just the beginning. Our son laughed with the toy we brought him. This encouraged us. The next few days included more paperwork and logistics. I am so thankful for our guides because I was Out Of It. Sherry knew everything we needed to do, she was patient, and she was gracious. She had been doing this for five years every week from March to October. She was training our guide, Sally, and she knew that we were there for the children. I eventually got in the right time zone, but it took at least one nap. The whirlwind wasn't done. I had just gotten my bearings.
Photo Drop Time!
|Yum, Mexican food before traveling.|
|The Great Wall |
(1173 steps for B and S. Umm, less for me)
|Olympic Village - Bird's Nest |
(My daughter asked "What's that?" I replied, "You were sleeping.")