Sunday, July 4, 2010

Back at home!

We are home!!  We made it home on Friday, July 2 about 6 pm.  We flew out of Hong Kong about 9 am Friday morning, China time (that would've been 9 pm Thursday here at home).  We got up early and had checked out of the hotel in Hong Kong by 6:20 and had hoped to get on that shuttle to the airport but the shuttle was full.  And there were some pushy people that wanted to get on so we just decided to wait 20 minutes for the next shuttle.  It was good we didn't decide to get up any later.  We had lines to stand in to get our boarding passes and check our luggage.  Then we had to go through security, another long line.  Then we found our gate.  We had kind of a long way to walk to get to our gate.  Once we got to our gate we didn't have that long to wait until they started boarding the plane.  It's been interesting how other countries board their planes.  They don't give any special priority to families with young children like they do here in the states.  So we just board with everyone else.

Let me go back a little and tell a little about our day in Hong Kong.  We took the train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong on Thursday morning.  Our guide arranged a driver for us and she went along and helped us get checked in at the train station.  We had a little bit of a wait there.  Once we went through security our guide could no longer go with us.  And there were three of us families that were taking the train to Hong Kong.  It was nice to be traveling with people we knew.  I think our guide, Veronica, had become quite attached to Marisa.  And I guess we were kind of attached to her since we were with her for most of the trip.  She was a wonderful guide.  It was kind of sad to say good bye to her but we have her email address and she wants us to keep in touch and send pictures.  The train ride wasn't bad.  It took about 2 hours to get to Hong Kong.  Once we got to Hong Kong and got our luggage, each family got a taxi and we headed to our hotel near the airport which was about an hour away from the train station, I think. 

It was so strange we had to turn in our departure slip at the train station saying we were leaving China.  I guess, Hong Kong isn't considered part of China??  (On our flight arriving in China we had to fill out an arrival to China slip and turn it in with information about us and how long we were staying, and why we were there.)  And Hong Kong uses different money than China.  So we had to exchange the China money for the Hong Kong money.  There was an exchange place right in the train station.  I think Hong Kong was governed by the British government at one time and so they drive on the opposite side of the road and people drive the cars from the right side instead of the left. 

The hotel was pretty modern and nice.  We had a room on the 8th floor.  When we got to the 8th floor it seemed like we had to walk forever down the hall till we got to our room.  We decided not to venture out and just eat at the hotel.  They have a couple different restaurants in the hotel.  The one we ate at had a buffet or you could order off the menu.  We decided to eat off the buffet.  Wow!  It was expensive.  It was like $600 Hong Kong dollars!  Doesn't that sound incredible?!  That was something we had to get used to in China when our dinner bill would come to like $182 RMB - which is actually around $27 which is a normal amount to spend on dinner. But the $600 Hong Kong dollars was like $85!!  What an expensive lunch!!!  I'm not sure what we paid for the room!  In all the hotels we stayed at in China there were two beds that were a little bigger than a twin but smaller than a double bed.  So Ron and I would each take a bed.  But here in Hong Kong we had a king-size bed and the bed was softer than what we had in China.  And here when we asked for a crib, they brought a nice pack-n-play for Marisa to sleep in.  We spent the day in our room because we were tired and didn't really feel like going out and about.  It would have been a nice opportunity to see Hong Kong but by this point I think we were just tired and ready to be home and tired of the whole traveling thing.  Marisa played, I fell asleep and then Marisa fell asleep on the bed by me.  We decided to order room service for dinner which we knew would be expensive but decided to do it anyway since we didn't feel like going out.  We got to bed at a decent time so we could get up early.

The flight home even though it was long was't too bad otherwise.  This plane had three rows of three seats.  So we were in the center row and it was nice to have the row to ourselves and Ron and I each to have an aisle seat so we could get up if we needed to.  Plus we were in the very last row of the plane and there were two bathrooms in the back - one on Ron's side and one on mine.  The bathrooms were also a little bigger than what we had experienced on previous flights so it made it nice when we had to take Marisa in.  She did quite well on the flight.  I had taken some food for her and her formula in my carry on and no one said anything at the security check points.  I didn't make up the formula ahead of time in case they would not let me take it on the plane.  It worked out okay mixing her formula on the plane.  We had ordered her a vegetarian meal but she still couldn't eat a whole lot from it.  So we supplemented her meals with stuff I had packed or if there were any fruits or veggies in our meals she could have that.  It worked out nicely because they would pass out the special request meals first, so we could get Marisa fed before our meals came.  But Marisa's body seemed to operate on China time.  Around 12 noon or so (China time) she fell asleep and napped for a couple of hours.  Then what would have been about 8 pm  China time or a little later she fell asleep again but could only sleep till about 12 because our flight landed and she woke up as we're going through security and stuff at the airport.  On this flight we each had our own personal tv screen in back of the seat in front of us.  You could choose if you wanted to watch a movie, tv episodes, or play a game.  But they were having trouble with the screens because they would freeze up, as Ron's did and there was nothing that could be done.  Finally they made a general announcement that they were going to shut the system down and reboot it and no one could use it for about a half hour.  Later Ron was using it again and his screen froze up - I think it was the game he playing.  What was interesting too, is that you could bring up a map of the flight and see where we were at and the route we were taking.  (Actually many of the flights we were on had a map on a screen so you could see the flight route and where we were on that route.) On the way home we flew up through China and the Artic Circle.  I don't think we flew directly over the north pole but we were near there.  Then we flew over Alaska and Canada and then made our way down over Michigan to Detroit.  So coming home we had no darkness just like when we flew over to China we were chasing the sun and it didn't set until we were in Tokyo or soon thereafter.  Ron and I didn't sleep really on the long flight - maybe dozed off a little but nothing much.  It was funny because after we boarded the plane to South Bend, we all three were out almost right away even before the plane took off because we had to wait on the runway a little for our turn to take off.  

When we got off the plane in Detroit we had to go through immigration for Marisa.  We had a brown envelope filled with papers that we had to give to the immigration official and we were told we could not open this envelope when we got it.  They looked through the paper work and stamped her visa.  She's officially a US citizen!  Then we had to claim our luggage, go through customs, and then check our luggage in.  We found our gate and sat and waited for a couple of hours for the flight to South Bend.  I told Ron I was a little nervous because the plane we were on was a little turbo prop plane with only 11 rows of seats on it - 3 across!!  But it was fine and the shortest flight we had for the entire trip!  It was only like 30 minutes or a little bit more!  It's so crazy to think how much flying we actually did on this trip - not only over to China but through China as well.  Glad I'm not afraid to fly!

At South Bend Ron's parents were there to pick us up, as well as Karen & Denny (Ron's sister and husband), Steve & Ramona (Ron's brother and wife), and Nicki - Andrew's girlfriend (Andrew is Ron's nephew).  Actually Andrew was flying in as well (from New Orleans) and originally his flight was supposed to get in 5 minutes before our's and he was going to surprise us!  But his flight ended up getting delayed for 2 hours.  He was disappointed but he'll be in the area for a few days so he's hoping to stop in so he can meet his cousin, Marisa!  My parents and sister Ruby were waiting at the house for us.  Ron's parents brought us home and stayed for a little bit.  Marisa let Grandma Huber give her a kiss, she let Grandma Hochstedler hold her a little, and she pulled grass up and gave it to Grandpa Hochstedler.  So she met a lot of the family but still has another Aunt and Uncle to meet and cousins.  She did okay around everyone.  She likes being the center of attention.

When we first walked into the house, Zoe (our cat) was right there to greet us.  Zoe really missed us as we could tell by all the attention she wanted from us.  Zoe was the first thing Marisa saw when we walked in and she was so excited!  And she kept saying "meow" like she did when she saw her picture.  Zoe actually did okay with her.  Later we took Marisa outside barefoot and she seemed to really like walking on the grass barefoot and I wasn't sure if this was her first time or not by the way she acted.  We walked to the back yard and the neighbor dog came up to the fence like he usually does so we can reach over and pet him.  Marisa was excited to see him but a little afraid, I think, because he was so big.  The dogs she's seen on the streets of China were small dogs.  I had also set out a little tea set I had gotten from one of my cousins at a shower.  She played with that and pretended to pour tea from the teapot into the cups.  It was cute to watch.

So our first evening at home consisted of eating dinner, unpacking a little, and going to bed.  Marisa had some trouble being put down.  And then in the night she woke up and she couldn't be quieted down.  Ron and I took turns and it took like 2 hours till we could get her settled down and she slept some more.  We slept in quite a while then.  It was probably noon or 1 pm till we got up.  So our day was messed up but we figured we'd sleep as we needed it and then on Sunday try to get back to a little more normal schedule.  Marisa played with some of her new toys today, and took a nap with daddy.   Later getting her to bed wasn't much of a problem but once again she's up now (after 3 am) and she's crying and we can't seem to help her settle down.  I don't know if she's scared or having bad dreams.  It's so hard when you don't know what's going on in her head.  

Well, I am finally finishing this post - 12 hours later.  Marisa was having a hard time all night.  I don't know if her internal clock is messed up with the time change or what.  She hardly slept until about 7 this morning she finally settled down and slept until about noon when Ron got her up.  Since she settled down about 7 am it makes me wonder if her internal clock is still on China time because that would have been 7 pm in China.  Or is that she doesn't like the dark and felt better once it was light out so then she fell asleep.  It is so hard to tell.  So needless to say I was up with her and didn't get much sleep until she finally went to sleep.  I was hoping at least Ron would be able to sleep and he did get more sleep than I did but I think he still would wake up when he'd hear Marisa cry.  It's amazing how when we didn't have a child we'd sleep through about anything, now Marisa can be kinda restless and make one little peep and we hear her.  We've decided not to have her nap today in hopes that then by this evening she'll be so tired she'll fall asleep.  I guess we can at least hope.  Ron will be going back to work on Tuesday so I hope we can get her to sleep better so he can at least get some decent sleep then as well.   


Anonymous said...

Mary, you did a fantastic job describing your trip! It was great to be able to read all the details and have a little better idea of what, specifically, to pray for you all--a more normal sleep schedule will defintely be on the list today.
Cathy Wesolek

Kristi said...

Praying that you'll all be on "American time" soon! I know that for us it took close to a week to be completely on the right time zone. Looking forward to seeing what your "new normal" as a family of three (and before long four!) looks like!

Anonymous said...

Mary, I was so glad to hear all about your journey & know that you all made it home safely. I hope Marisa is settling into a better sleeping pattern by now. I know how exhausting that can be. I love the pictures you posted, she is such a cutie! Congrats again! Coretta Miller

Anonymous said... is wonderful to read about your trip and seeing the pictures of your daughter. Hope she has adjusted to a better sleeping pattern by now. God Bless, Jeanette