Monday, February 12, 2018

Hong Kong and Travelling Home: February 9th-10th

Exhausted girls
On Friday the 9th we began our long trek home.  We got up at a normal time, had breakfast, and then got to packing.  By some small miracle everything fit in our bags!  We got packed in enough time to not be rushed to wait on our guide and driver.  Lottie's Visa was picked up and delivered to us when they came to take us to the train station.
Hong Kong at night
View of Hong Kong Island during the light show
When we got to the train station things were crazy.  It was very busy there, just like in Beijing, but at least there was more space for everyone to run around.  The station had four floors!  We went through security, then had to figure out how to get upstairs.  A guy picked up our four big suitcases and checked them through until we got to Hong Kong for a hefty fee.  We really didn't have any choice because without a cart we couldn't carry them ourselves.  We went upstairs in the holding room, Kris grabbed lunch, and by the time he got back and Lottie had a diaper change we had to hurry to move through the immigration process to leave China and wait in another holding room to board.  When immigration interviewed us they asked about Anna Faith.  She had a US passport but they wanted her Chinese name.  We gave it but told them she has had US citizenship for 5 years and has an English name now. They called another agent up who wanted her name in Chinese characters.  We couldn't give it because we can't write in Chinese.  They finally dropped it.  How strange!  They didn't ask a thing about Lottie.  When we went to holding we had to choose between taking an elevator for special needs families (pregnant women, elderly, or parents with small children in strollers) or go in the massive line.  The special needs line was short but the elevator only took a few people at a time and was very slow.  We figured we were better of in the huge line as it was moving quickly.  Good choice.  We could have missed the train if we waited.  We boarded with enough time to be sitting down before it took off.  Much better than Beijing!

The ride there was uneventful.  Lottie was curious and Anna Faith was wiggly too.  They were anxious to get to Hong Kong.
We arrived there and had to figure out how to get our luggage from the station to the hotel.  We were told ahead of time we were on our own to transport it.  No one could help us.  The hotel was a 5 minute walk, but involved an elevator or escalator, a walk up a ramp, and going through a mall before getting to the hotel on the other side.  When we picked up our luggage, they let us use a cart!  We weren't supposed to take it past the station, but figured we could return it when we got it as far as the hotel.  I pushed the luggage, Kris pulled the carry ons, Anna Faith pushed Lottie.  It took 2 elevator trips and lots of muscle, but we made it!  When we got as far as a flight of stairs leading to the hotel, Kris went inside and asked for a luggage cart.  He met us on the top and transferred the suitcase, and just like that we got them to our room!  It was a huge answer to prayer!
By the time we weighed our suitcases in the lobby and made sure they weren't over the limit (somehow we keep it under 50 lbs each!) we bought WiFi for about $7 for the night, got in our room (aka closet) and enjoyed the beautiful view outside of skyscrapers all around us.  We had 2 twin beds to sleep on and no space to walk.  We left the room at 5:30 after settling in and went out in search of diapers for Lottie.  In Guangzhou there were none to be found unless we took a taxi to a department store.  We decided to wait.  In the mall we found a drug store and bought them, then went on outdoors walking to find somewhere to eat.  We wanted to eat outdoors where it was cheaper than a fancy indoor restaurant.  Food in Hong Kong is very high!  We settled on a meat on a stick place and the meat was delicious!  We got food at a local bakery to go with our meat and bought donuts and bread for breakfast since our hotel room didn't include it ($25/person for breakfast at the hotel was out of the question).  We walked around to see the lights and try to find a clearing to see the light show the city does every night at 8:00.  We finally found a park on Google maps and got a fairly decent view from a high point!  It was really cool to watch.  We decided to take the metro back to the hotel and were glad we did.  It was getting late and to walk would get us back much later.  This time we didn't get lost and got out very close to the hotel.  We got the girls settled and put them to bed in a twin bed together.  The way they contorted themselves to fit was so cute.  They ended up laying on top of each other in their sleep.  Lottie fell out once but Kris put her back in.  For Kris and me, it was much harder.  We laid back to back and still were coming off the edges.  He tried the bathtub for a while but couldn't sleep in it either.  We didn't get much sleep, especially since the bed was as hard as a rock too.  Asian beds are normally much harder than American ones.
We got up earlier than planned and started repacking carry ons for the flight to Chicago and then Nashville.  A really nice van was at the hotel to transport us.  We paid a nice fee too, but had no choice. The shuttle service didn't have a schedule we could use to get there and we didn't want to arrive late.
We checked in after being scrutinized by TSA, went through security, then were told we'd go through security again at the gate so couldn't buy liquids to take on the plane.  Hong Kong doesn't mess around with security!  We only had a few minutes at the gate to talk to the boys on FaceTime, and boarded early with the girls.  It was so nice they let us do that because we take so long with walking Lottie and having to get toys, blankets, etc. out for them before packing our carry ons on the plane.
The girls were wide open for over half the flight.  They didn't want to sleep.  Eventually we told Anna Faith to try and she did.  But Lottie couldn't calm down.  It was still daytime in China and she couldn't rest.  But we knew we'd get to the US and it would be morning and she'd want to sleep.  She still didn't fall asleep until the last 4 hours of our 14 hour flight.  By then I had a pounding migraine.  My neck had already taken a beating in the bed in Hong Kong and trying to sleep in the plane was really hard. There were no spare seats to lay across like our flight there.  My legs are so long I can't even stretch them out.  I took 2 melatonin and they didn't work.  I took a migraine pill which normally works and makes me sleepy.  It didn't work either and the pain was getting worse.  So I did what I rarely do: I took a second pill.  The side effects of my migraine medication are nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and rebound headaches.  I took tiny catnaps but could feel I was getting sick.  I tried to eat crackers but they made me more nauseated.  The last hour of our flight as we were descending I could tell I was in bad shape.  Kris could see I was getting pale.  I was afraid to move in fear I'd throw up.  Finally the plane landed and I stayed frozen in place.  Kris packed up all the kids stuff.  I told him "make sure to empty out the seat pockets- there's a lot of stuff in there".  He told me he did.  I couldn't even turn my head to look.  He was across the aisle from me since we switched for him to try to get Lottie to go to sleep mid-flight.  After all the people cleared the plane behind us Kris told me to try to get up for us to leave.  We had 2 hours to make our connection to Nashville but had a lot to do to get to our gate.  As soon as I moved I threw up in the airplane bag- a lot.  I needed a second bag it was so bad.  Afterwards I felt better but was shaking in weakness and was as white as a ghost.  I was so dizzy it was really hard to walk.  I asked Kris again "Did you check all the set pockets?"  He said "Yes, everything is cleaned out!" Kris helped me off the plane and a wheelchair was waiting for me.  I knew I couldn't walk through all the stops and across the airport to our next gate.  My head was throbbing terribly at this point and it was all I could do to open my eyes.  Kris said that four times people asked him if I needed medical attention.  I didn't look good at all with shaking hands and a pale face.  I barely looked up for the next 1 1/2 hours as we made our way through immigration, Lottie's immigration process, customs, transferring luggage, and getting on a train to go to our other terminal.  We went up and down elevators, through security again (where I was thoroughly patted down while shaking because they made me stand up- I almost threw up on the woman examining me), and finally got to the gate.
We were barely seated when they called us to get on the plane first again.  I walked on and sat down and never opened my eyes but a few seconds until we were in Nashville.  I got a few more catnaps but was still feeling so sick it was hard.  The girls passed out by this point and slept most of that 1 1/2 hour flight.  Finally we were done with flying!
We were walking towards the baggage claim when I asked Kris to get out my phone.  I hadn't used it since we boarded the flight in Hong Kong.  He said "where is it?"  I told him "You got it out of my seat pocket so I figured it is in my bag where we usually put it". He said "I haven't seen your phone at all this trip- I thought you had it".  Then it hit us- it got left on the plane when we got off in Chicago.  I started to cry.  It is only 4 months old, but even worse, it had photos and videos of our adoption trip that were never transferred to other places yet.  Fortunately the best ones were shared on Kris' phone or on social media, but others weren't.  I was so sick again.  We got our luggage, waited for a ride to the parking place we left our van, and loaded up before he started calling the airline.  They weren't helpful at all.  They refused to transfer us to the desk at the airport to inquire because they weren't authorized to do so. We had to go home and fill out an online missing article form.  Kris was disgusted.  Likely the plane hadn't even left to go back to Hong Kong yet and if the phone was still there someone could retrieve it.  We could give them the seat number.  If it was brought to the gate they could put a mailing address on it and immediately send it back.  But instead we had to fill out a form that we were told may take 30 days to process.  So frustrating.
By then I was less dizzy, just very jet lagged and weak.  We stopped for Kris to get a Mountain Dew to drive the 3 hours home, and started our drive back.  We explained to Lottie we were almost home.  She smiled really big.  She really understood we were going to our house and she was going to meet her brothers.
We came home to a dark house.  Our Korean friends were keeping out kids the last two days at home with their kids so they could be home when we arrived.  When I walked in first, the lights switched on and everyone yelled "surprise!"  The boys hugged the mess out of me and I got the camera ready to film their meeting their sister.
Happy with her family, finally home!
When Kris brought Lottie in she had big eyes and a serious face.  The boys hovered over her and to her they were giants.  They were so excited and talking to her loudly.  She stuck her lower lip and out and started to cry.  We told the boys to get on the floor and talk quietly.  Within a few minutes she was smiling big.  We brought her in the den and they all took turns talking to her.  Before long she was being toted around like a baby and spoiled rotten.  She was in hog heaven :-)
Our Korean friends who watched the boys the last 2 nights
We had a vase of flowers, a table full of food, and a beautiful frame with well-wishes to Lottie written around the matting by friends at church.  There were streamers and decorations hanging from the ceiling in the hall, kitchen, den and Lottie's and Anna Faith's room.  She even had a couple helium balloons to play with!  The boys made some signs to welcome her as well.  What a special homecoming!
The trip was so brutal, and my phone still has not been recorded as found, but I'm so thankful we are home.

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