Sunday, March 8, 2009

Journey to China: part 2

We stepped off the plane and walked down the long tunnel to the airport and stepped out into the gorgeously redone Beijing airport (the Olympics were good to Beijing it seems). The signs that we were not in Kansas anymore were becoming obvious now. Every sign is written not only in English, but Hanzi was well. We made our way through the airport following the bilingual directives and even go smoothly through customs without a hitch. Donnie was surprised at the ease with which we cleared the check points.

Just as we were feeling confident that things were going to go smoothly, we finally get to the baggage carousel only to find that ONE of our 4 checked items is there. ONE. The pack n play was the ONLY item of ours circling the baggage claim.

Just as panic started to set in, a helpful friendly airline representative came over and directed us to the lost baggage office. I waited outside with our little baggage cart loaded with only our carry ons, car seat, and pack n play while Donnie handles all the paperwork regarding our missing luggage.

It turned out that the other 3 bags containing ALL of our clothes, diapers, my precious yarn, and Donnie's treasured teas never even made it on the plane and were still sitting in NYC at JFK airport. But, never fear, they promised that we would get them in 2-3 days.

Umm, yeah. 2-3 days. How sweet of them. I was beyond happy that I had overpacked cloth diapers in the carry on otherwise, we would have been SOL when we ran out.

With that issue "taken care of" we headed to the exit to meet with our contact who was to help us navigate the airport and get plane tickets from Beijing to Taiyuan. We spotted Pink (yes, that was her English name. After several other incidents involving names, I am convinced they just pick random names they like to be their English name and because English is a second language, they don't get that it is not really a name that they chose.)

She guided us to the ticket counter, helped translate to buy our tickets and helped us to through check in. Donnie had spoken to our next contact who was to meet us at the Taiyuan airport who's name was original given to us as "Mr Sun" but Pink introduced him as Victor. We had been assured that everything is ready for us in Taiyuan and after a 50 minute flight we stepped off a second plane, finally DONE with our actual travelling part of the journey.

Victor met us at the airport and we hopped into a rickety, smelly red van with a driver who speaks not a bit of English. Mr Sun/Victor asked us if we were hungry and when we said that we were, took us to a lovely 24 hour dim sum restaurant. This was when the nature of our lives in China started to become apparent.

In China, it is not rude to stare. And stare they do. A lot. For nearly all of the people we see here, we are the ONLY Americans they have ever seen and may ever see. AND to top things off, we have a baby here! It is a celebrity-dom of sorts, although it took some getting used to at first.

While at the restaurant, the girls who work there kept coming into the private room we were dining in just to giggle and watch Quinlon. He, of course, was loving the attention and hamming it up for them. But Mr. Sun/Victor explained that, in China, the children are not allowed on the floor because it is too dirty so we might want to pick him up. Quinlon, who had had quite his fill of being carried and strapped down wanted nothing to do with it and we just resigned ourselves to looking like bad parents just this once. Although, little did we know that it would not be the last time we would get scolded for doing something 'wrong'.

After dinner (which was DELICIOUS) we headed to the school where we trekked up 5 flights of stairs to our apartment. It's homey and nothing fancy, but compared to most here in China, we are living like kings. Finally, after an extraordinarily long day we collapsed into bed, ending our first 'day' in China.


MrsDrink said...

I miss you guys SOOO much!! =*(

I'm so jealous that you're in China too!! I'm looking forward to the day you come back so that I have a personal acupuncturist but if I were you, I'd never want to come back!!

Please send me lots and lots of pictures! Sending my love to all three of you!