Thursday, July 9, 2009

June. 7th, 2009, going to China.

Our 1st flight was at 9:35AM. Our lovely neighbor, Pasty, rang our door bell at 7:15AM as expected to take us to the airport. I just woke up Audrey and barely got her dressed. Soon, the car was loaded and we all got into the car and drove off in less than 10 minutes.

Soon, I suddenly realized that Audrey's favorite pink blanket was left behind. Hubby immediately made a U-turn and drove back home (of course, he was grumpy about my forgetfulness). Before the car was fully parked, I already ran out the car, my cell phone flung out my jacket pocket and smashed on the stone pavement. Picked up the phone and ran in and out with the blanket. OK, all set. In about 15 minutes, we were in the waiting area of the airport. We were well 1.5 hrs at the airport before the take-off.

From this point on, our journey went quite smoothly. We took advantage of Audrey being an infant to be able to board early on each flight.

It was still the H1N1 spreading period in the States, but, people were not scared at all. However, at the terminal of EWK, we saw white masked faces the moment we were near the gate to China. And they were Chinese. It was amusing to see that. They would be shielded from the virus on the plane!!! Anyhow, they felt secure, I bet.

It was a 14-hr flight from EWK to PEK. Luckily, we got the bunk head seats, just behind the business class session. We had tons of leg room and even room for Audrey to sleep on the floor. The flight was landed on time, 14:00 local time! But, we were not allowed to leave the plane yet, BECAUSE the Chinese side would send some doctors to measure our temperatures. Fortunately, the 2 little Chinese student doctors/nurses walked through the aisle pretty quickly. Even more fortunately, nobody on the plane had fever, so we were good to go.

We were ordered to go through another check point for temperature control. Lines were moving slowly and steadily. After we passed the spot, we saw some people in the temperory quarantine room on the side. We knew, they would have a long time at the airport, that is for sure.

We were debating how to go through the customs since I am Chinese and Chris and Audrey are Americans. We need to go through different ways, but Audrey was so super clingy to me that we guaranteed that she would cry loud the whole time she was with Chris. Before we figured out our perfect strategy, an officer directed us to go through the Green-Pass. Yehhh, nice to have an infant/toddler on the stroller to push along at that moment. I thanked the stroller and its cargo from the deep of my heart.

Next was to claim luggage. No problem. Immediately, one airport porter came up to us and offered help. I overheard from a lady who was about to use another porter that the help was not free. What was the matter? I did not want to lug 3 huge suitcases by ourselves. Money could help hubby's back, and mine, too. The porter was good, found out that we needed to take a bus to go to another airport. It was good to hire him.

The airport bus took us to the right domestic airport to fly to Ji'nan. After we bought an infant ticket for Audrey and checked in our luggage, we still had almost 4 more hours to kill till 18:50. Hubby was dying for coffee, so we went to the Starbucks there. A cup of coffee and a cup of tea cost nearly RMB50, wholly-molly. This was expensive, actually more expensive than in the States.

One hour before the take-off time, we walked to our gate. Audrey did not miss her chance to play in the kid play area on the way to the gate. Just 30 minutes before the scheduled take-off time, a very unwelcome announcement came to our ears: our flight was delayed by the stormy weather... Now our waiting started. People got anxious when they knew the flight was still in Ji'nan. It was not raining or stormy in Beijing at all, so the explanation came that some where in between Beijing and Ji'nan had thunder, bla, bla, all sorts of excuses. A few hours passed, nobody knew when the flight would come and take us to Ji'nan. I immediately called my parents using a Chinese's cell phone. He was very kind. I learned that my sister and brothers were already driving to the Ji'nan airport. It is only 18:00.

Audrey was playing around, running around and climbing the seats the whole time. She finally got her leg caught between chairs. I tried to get her leg out, but it seemed that her leg was thicker than the gap. How the heck did she get in there? Hubby rushed over, in vain. I ran to the counter to get help. After I came back, quite a crowd was hovering over little Audrey. Somebody shouted water could help, while I went to my bag to fish for water bottle, somebody also spit some saliva on her leg to lubricate (I knew this later when Hubby warned me not to kiss Audrey's leg). Before I found the water bottle, I heard relieved sighs. Audrey's leg came out. She came out when she kicked while Hubby tried to take off her shoe. All was good, finally.

Finally, Audrey could sit on my lap. We were eating Goldfish, all of sudden, I noticed that her head was nodding. She was falling sleep. I laid her down on the seats and let her sleep. I finally got some time to rest.

Audrey was sound sleeping on the seats at the Beijing domestic airport: (her little leg stuck in between those seats)

Around 21:00, the annocement told us to go get free dinner and drinks at the gate. We ate and then continue waiting. Numerous rumors came to us on what was happening to the flight. Of course, the agument I was sort of expected happened at some point. Some passangers were verbally complaining about the airline and practically they were yelling at the staff. Oh, it was so Chinese in that regard. I called my sister, again, borrowing other person's phone. This time was the airline staff's. Sister was still patiently waiting and they would wait till whenver...... I was so touched.

Anyhow, our flight finally came at midnight. We boarded at 00:30. Our waiting time here was a long 10 hours.

Sister and brothers were picking us up at the Ji'nan airport around 1:30 on Jun 9th, 2009. We drove home on a mad highway filled with overloaded semi. It was 3:00AM when we finally got to my parents' home, thankfully, in one whole piece.

Altogher, we took three flights and spent over 30 hours on the way.

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