Sunday, August 21, 2011

Travels to China

Here we are with our good friend Kim arriving at the Charleston International Airport!  August 18,2011.  We are so excited that this day has finally arrived.  Looking forward to getting our first of four flights on the way!  Thanks to Kim and her unapologetic passion for special needs orphans, we began this crazy "ride" back in April and here we are just 4 excruciatingly long short months later getting ready to fly half way around the world to bring home our new son.

Our first flight to Nashville was pretty uneventful except for the spunky flight attendents that we enjoyed on Southwest!  Then, it was a four hour layover and on to LAX!  This was my first international flight, so I was amazed at how large HUGE this plane was. 

Only to be less impressed with how SMALL the seats were. We traveled over the Pacific for 12.5 hours before landing in Shanghai.  We were in the middle section of seats and luckily, Tommy had a very nice young woman next to him who could speak English well.  He finally concked out about 2 hours before we landed and she even let him kick her a few times as he stretched beyond his 12 inches of  Here is the sharp tack now---

So, as you might imagine, the day was filled with LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of waiting. (Something, by the way, that I happen to do exceptionally well!!! NOT!)  But, did this phase our yougest traveler?  Not at all!  You might expect that a six year old boy woud find this a difficult journey.  Well, as you can see, Tommy found a way to make lemons into lemonade and happened upon some pretty cute girls in the process!

This sweet young thing was his playmate in Los Angeles....

And this one.... in Shanghai-

She was especially tickled with Tommy and her English was good enough for them to get by.  Her Mother and all her friends loved to giggle at Tommy's shyness.  Kim was right- Tommy was quite a celebrity! They don't see a lot of blue eyed, blond headed little boys. (Who, yes, are also strikingly handsome!)  Who could blame them for staring?

Since we had such healthy layover breaks, all the delays of the day were easily absorbed into our overall schedule.  But, by the time we saw this sign,

we were more than ready to see a real bed! After getting through Customs in China (which was relatively painless) we endured enjoyed another 4 hour layover.  About an hour from flight time, we found out that they had changed our gate. From Gate 202 (in the basement of the airport) to gate #5 (You guessed it, a LONG way away.!)  Not that we didn't have plenty of time, but we had to go up two flights of stairs (escalator was shut off) with 4 heavy carry on bags and 3 VERY TIRED puppies!  We were oh so grateful for moving walkways....

The Lord further blessed us ME with AN EMPTY ROW of seats behind us on this 2 hour flight, so yours truly jumped back to the exit row and crashed-HARD!  I woke up when we got the announcment to prepare for landing.

Once we arrived in Shenyang and retrieved our luggage, we were met by a driver from the hotel with a sign "Thomas Frank Rylands".  Good thing too, since he spoke no English! lol  He was a great driver and we got a nice, traffic-free tour of downtown Shenyang, the 4th largest city in China.  Then, we saw that beautiful thing-- OUR BEDS!

Check and Double Check.....
So when we checked in, barely able to remember our own names, we were met with the reality that our credit DEBIT card was rejected.  Why?  Well, one might assume that I had neglected to think about the daily limits that banks place on debit cards. (A SOAPBOX FOR ANOTHER DAY.....) but NO!  NO! I say again.  I DID take the time to go personally to my bank and make sure that the daily limits placed on this card were raised for the time period we would be in China.  And STILL, our card was rejected.  Of course, when they asked us to produce another one, we said, "That's all we have."  Lovely.  So, instead of going into that beautiful, aformentioned BED that was calling my name, I got to stay up, hook up the computer, look up customer service for our bank and call them (AT INTERNATIONAL RATES..LOL) and "discuss" the matter.  Thankfully, it was a pretty easy fix and they cleared our account for China expenses.  Just another minor hiccup pleasantly behind us.

And that brings us to...SUNDAY! (Saturday afternoon/evening in the USA).  The BIG news of the day?


After over 24 hours of continuous travel, we have not been so grateful to get a SHOWER! Just as we were getting ready for whatever the day held, we received a call from our assigned guide/translator.  Guess what? Hiccup number TWO!  His train from Beijing was delayed and he couldn't make it to town until about 4 PM today. Seriously?  So, here we are in a HUGE city where few people speak our language. So, what does one do in that situation?  GO SHOPPING! 

Our first outing? WAL-MART of course!  Drinkable bottled water, here we come!

So, this is where things get ridiculous.  You'd think that living in a Tourist town like Charleston, you'd be immune to gawking around a Chinese Wal-Mart. You'd be SO WRONG! LOL.  What a fun place- ok, very strange, but fun!  So, we begin with the first HUH? moment of our trip. Since I lived in VA most of my life, I was surprised to learn that people in the South BOIL their perfectly good, crunchy, salty, roasted PEANUTS!  Who knew, they sacrifice their peanuts in China too!  So uncivilized! (Sorry Charlie!)

The other things that was a little unusual was the open bins of meats. OPENED!  People could sneeze all over them... ick.  But, people were swarming all around to get this stuff.  Here is a case (covered) of meat on a stick!  We saw people all over the downtown streets enjoying this delicacy!

Tommy was impressed at all the different flavors of OREOS that we saw.

That, and the SANDBOX in the middle of the toy section upstairs.

So, what did we get?  You guessed it, BOTTLED DRINKING WATER.  :-)

Lunch was even more exotic--- McDonalds!  Of course, I ended up eating a very SPICY chicken sandwich because when Tom went to order, he could only point to pictures.  I asked for Chicken and I got Chicken!  (But, it was HOT!).  So now it is 3PM on Sunday afternoon and I am happily enjoying the modern convenience of airconditioning from our comfy room listening to Tom snore through an afternoon nap while we wait for our guide who may or may not actually arrive today!

Happy Lord's Day everyone.



Bruce said...

Tom, Tommy and Angie, You are in our prayers. It sounds like God has gone before you and as usual we don't have a clue about his real schedule. God bless you and yours.


kimjax said...

Just love it, Angie! You are going to have so much fun once you get over the jet lag hangover. OH it's painful at first!! Can't wait to hear about everything. We're praying like crazy for you all and Colin. Love, Kim

Linette said...

We e-mailed back and forth at one point a few months ago (my family just adopted an aging-out boy as well), but I can't find your e-mail now. So I'll post a comment and hope you can see it. A relative of mine lives in Shenyang and has some orphanage-related connections; she said I could pass on her phone number in case you need someone who speaks English in an emergency. Her name is Lori and her number is 159-9828-0863. Congratulations on having made it there! I'll be praying for you as you meet Colin; I don't think there's any way to make those first few days not stressful and awkward, but God is in this!

The Rylands Family said...

Linette, Got your message. Thank you! I will keep her number handy in case we need it. Hoping to have a guide this morning. We shall see...

Annie said...

Oh Angie, you have had quite the adventure so far! You know what that means? That means that everything else will go very smoothly!!!! Right? Right!! LOL! I have been praying for you guys ALL day!!!!! You should be up and getting ready to meet your new son!!!!! Praise God!!! Love you guys and praying, praying!!!