Monday, July 30, 2007

We're at the White Swan

We made it to Guangzhou! The first leg of our homeward journey is complete.

I woke up at the crack of dawn this morning; actually, I'm not sure I slept at all! My mind was full of all the final details of getting moved out. The girls got up around 7, but were too excited to eat much breakfast. We ended up heading downstairs at 8:45 for our 12:10 p.m. flight! I wanted to give us plenty of time to convince the porters-who-do-not-port to carry down our luggage. I also expected to have to go get a taxi at South Gate to come to the guesthouse to get our luggage. Instead, the head housekeeper ran to get the taxi. We managed to stuff our huge suitcases into one cab by putting the smaller bags in the rear window and one of the large bags on the back seat. The girls were then squished into a corner of the backseat with their backpacks, and I rode in the front seat with mine. It was actually easier than I thought it would be!

This time at the airport I managed NOT to trip over the curb -- it probably helped that Zoe kept reminding me to be careful! When we checked in our bags, we were overweight, which surprised me not. I have no idea if we were overweight when we flew from Guangzhou to Xiamen back in February since we flew with 5 Xiada professors who had attended the Fulbright orientation and the airline averages the weight among many travelers traveling together. We were 23 kilos overweight this time, which cost us a whopping 230 yuan ($30). It cost me almost $100 when I was 6 pounds overweight on the American flight from DFW to LAX. I'm not looking forward to checking in for that leg of the trip -- I doubt that our luggage will get any lighter while we're here!

We were so early for the flight that the girls had time to play in the ball pit at Xiamen Airport again. They had a blast, and I got to sit and recover from a busy morning. Whew!

The girls can easily manage their rolling carry-ons and backpacks in the airport. And they can easily manage them when going from the airport to the airplane on a jetway. But riding a bus and going up a metal staircase -- not so much! Zoe handled it like a trouper, and I ended up putting Maya's backpack in my roller and carrying her roller together with mine. A kindly traveler ended up helping Zoe with her luggage on the stairs -- the same man who bullied two women to scoot over in their seats on the bus so Zoe and Maya could sit down!

Our plane sat on the runway for an hour waiting for permission to take off -- I'm not sure what the problem was. But of course the pilot wouldn't turn the airconditioning on. People were complaining left and right (even without understanding Chinese I knew what they were complaining about!). The flight attendants started passing around glasses of water with actual ICE CUBES in them! I've never seen such a thing in China! Usually they're foisting glasses of boiling water or tea at you, insisting that drinking hot drinks make you feel cooler. Hah!

I keep forgetting how big the new Guangzhou Airport is -- we walked a mile to get our luggage! We had no trouble retreiving our bags and getting a cab to the White Swan, though the security guys in charge of the taxi stand kept saying the bags wouldn't fit and it would cost 300 yuan for a taxi to take that many bags. I kept pointing to the sign near the stand that says clearly in English that a cabbie can't refuse a fare and can't negotiate for an off-meter price. Sure enough, all the bags fit in one cab and the meter put it at just under 100 yuan to the White Swan. We checked in just in time to see a group of adoptive parents with their newly-adopted Chinese babies all gussied up for their "red couch photo!" (For the uninitiated, it's a tradition in Chinese adoption to have a photo taken of all the babies on a certain red couch at the White Swan). Zoe kept asking why they were all dressed up, and Maya kept cooing, "They're so cuuuuuute!"

We did a little shopping this afternoon, and then hit the Swan Room, the play room in the White Swan for the benefit of all the adoptive families staying there. We played there in February when we were in Guangzhou for orientation, and the girls were panting to play there again (that's where Maya is in the picture above). We then went to Lucy's, a nearby restaurant beloved of adoptive families, for dinner. The girls had a bath and I'm about to do the same -- the White Swan bathtubs are soooo deep and I remember taking a bath in them at each adoption trip and finally feeling clean after a week's worth of the world's quickest showers (new mothers know what I'm talking about!).

We've arranged for late checkout since our flight doesn't leave until late. So tomorrow we'll enjoy the parks and statues on Shamian Island, do a little shopping, play a lot in the Swan Room, and then head for the airport for the next-to-last leg of the trip home.


mimifrancoise said...

Thanks for letting us know you are at the White Swan. I know the girls are happy to go to the Swan room. Ric & Ron will spend the night here tomorrow night so that your house will be all ready and clean for you. Erica is a superb housekeeper so you will be welcomed to your spic and span home.

Julie said...

I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and following your adventures over the past few months. As a "waiting" adoptive mom, it is really fun to hear your impressions of China and chinese culture - and also the wonderful insights of your daughters. Thanks for sharing these moments with all of us!