Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Chenchen's First Plane Ride

For those of you who were following our adoption journey over at Red Thread Chronicles, I'm continuing the story here ... after (ahem) quite a break!

When last I talked about the journey to Chenchen, I'd told the story of our visit with her to the SWI. Well, the next day, we departed Hefei for Guangzhou, the White Swan Hotel, and the final leg of our journey!

Here's what our hotel bedroom looked like that morning. (Set the scene: I am up and industriously packing. Here is the mess:

In the other room, this:

We left in the afternoon, and wrestled our eight million tons of luggage onto the bus and then through the airport. (Have I mentioned that we were going to ship some stuff home -- we WAY overpacked -- but the hotel was only set up for express mail and it was going to cost about as much as the rent on a NYC apartment? So we ended up schlepping to Guangzhou and shipping some stuff back by regular mail.) At any rate, it was a sweltering 80-something out, and after schlepping under backpacks, diaper bags and computer bags (not to mention a small child who refused to ride the the double stroller) we were tired and hot!

On the whole, though, the girls were doing well, though. While Michael went to get everyone's tickets, we stood around looking like a group being led by the hand through an airport (we were). Naturally, Chenchen decided she needed to go potty, so I schlepped her there and as we were leaving, I was chastized for not having her in a coat. Yikes! I was sweating like I'd just run a marathon!

At any rate, fashion police not withstanding, we got to the gate, got on the little bus, and got on the plane, all without losing our group or our hand luggage. At one point, we realized that folks were carrying on drinks and coffeecups and we experienced major remorse for trashing our bottles of water.

We got loaded onto the plane, and although our boarding passes didn't have us all sitting together (or even in our own little family groups) Michael had said he'd work it out on the plane by trading with people. We were okay, because I had 3 seats together, and Don was one up and over. Close enough, for a crisis (which, thankfully, we had none).

Catherine is a seasoned traveller, so once she was strapped in, she fired up the Leapster (thanks to Carla for suggesting this ESSENTIAL plane toy for the exuberant 5 yo!) and was good to go. I was still worrying about Chenchen, but I needed have (not yet, anyway). She was a little freaked about being strapped in, but after a moment, she settled in and had a great time. No reaction at all to the plane taking off, she looked out the window, she was a totally normal kid!

Here's a pic of her doing awesome on that first flight:

And here's Catherine chilling on the plane:

And, of course, here's Michael being cool right before he got into it with some rude guy on the plane (go Michael!). Alas, in Chinese, so we don't know the level of coolness, but I figure it must be high.

At any rate, Chenchen did awesome on the first leg of the flight. She "read" all the magazines, and when she noticed an ad with a woman in an evening gown with her arm up in a dance pose, she insisted that we tickle not only the picture (under the arm) but each other. All in all, a giggly, fun ride.

And then the plane landed. And then, we didn't get off. And that pretty much ended that. She got fidgety at the end of the ground time, figetier when the new passengers boarded, and positively inconsolable when we took off again (granted, it was late by this time, but urgh!). Thankfully, Scott had a few goodies to pass from the row in front of us, so after a bit, she was occupied, but never as happy as during the first leg.

By the time we arrived in Guangzhou, it was late -- past 11 -- and we were all exhausted. Catherine fell asleep on the plane and never woke up. And because of CC's then refusal to ride in the stroller, I was forced to schlep her all over creation, along with the luggage cart, since Don had the stroller (with its mucked up wheels, the luggage cart was easier while carrying a child). Not fun!

Finally we made it through the nearly deserted airport and into the bus. She didn't sleep, but she snuggled during the almost hour ride to the hotel.

And let me just say that the White Swan made it all worthwhile. Very nice hotel, very nice room, and very nice soft, big bed.


Next red thread installment: Shamain Island and Medical Inspections

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