Thursday, May 1, 2014

China Here We Come! {day 1- journey to Ruby Mei}

Well we made it to China... by the skin of our teeth!  We woke up in the morning on Tuesday(after VERY little sleep) all ready and excited to begin our journey.  The phone rang and who was it but American Airlines telling us our flight from Fargo to Chicago(the first leg of our trip) had been cancelled!!  Can you even believe it?  We were fit to be tied.  How could this be happening??  We tried to work with the agent for over an hour to find another flight, any flight, out of Fargo that would get us to Chicago in enough time to make our 7:15pm flight to Beijing.  She continuously told us that nothing as available for 5 of us and that it looks like it just wasn't mean to be... we just couldn't accept that.  She wondered why we just couldn't leave the next day and gave up.  We had to leave that day!  We had a whole tour planned in Beijing- tickets were already bought, reservations made, flights scheduled for Fuzhou, a guide waiting for us... a million reasons!  So John went to the airport to see if that would help.  It took awhile and some dealings with a pretty crabby lady but after all was said and done he got us a new flight on Delta leaving at 2pm- plenty of time to make our connection- yay!!!
Our sweet friend Wendy was thankfully very flexible and was able to drive us to the airport a couple of hours later than scheduled.  Here's the picture she took of us as we excitedly unloaded our suitcases in what felt like 100 mph winds! :)
Well, the drama continued after we checked in and glanced up at the board.  Our flight was delayed 2 hours!! So not only did we have to sit at the airport for 4 hours now(which if you've been to Fargo's airport you will know why that is especially disappointing), but we also had to stress out that we were not going to make our connection anymore.

 Waiting and waiting....
Here are the kids watching the plane that would fly us to Chicago finally arrive at 4pm.  

Boarding(40 minutes before take-off!).

 We would not take off until almost 5pm.  We prayed and prayed that we would make it the entire trip.

We hurried off our plane as fast as we could and sprinted through the airport to our gate.  For obvious reasons I had to stop running part way through and tell them to save themselves- I was having chest pains and a serious cramp was forming in my side.  My sweet boy Jeffrey refused to leave me for dead and walked/ran with me the rest of the way.  When we arrived at our gate we found a crowd of pretty agitated Chinese people trying to relay their problems to the 2 ladies at the gate(who didn't speak a word of Chinese).  This effected us negatively in the following way:  we still needed seats assigned for 3 of us and they were boarding the plane at that very moment!!  We finally were helped by a VERY kind woman and thankfully got 3 seats together in a good row.  When we boarded I discovered that there were 2 single women sitting in our row with us so I asked them if they would mind switching seats with John and Mickey so we could all sit together.  They spoke English- yay!- and agreed to the switch.  We settled ourselves in and I quickly messaged David, our guide in Beijing, to let him know that we made it and we would arrive as scheduled.  Then we breathed a HUGE sigh of relief.

Dinner was served pretty quickly- thank goodness- because we were starving at this point.  FYI- when the beverage comes around(and it comes quite frequently!) you can choose beer or wine for free on international flights American Airlines flights!  Sadly, I didn't find this out until round 3. Oh well- I will know for the ride home. :)  Here is a picture of our dinner.  It was ok.   I was so hungry that it didn't really matter to me anyway.  

After awhile they turned out the lights and everyone pulled down the shades.  It got really dark even though it was bright as could be outside the entire flight(until we got to China).  Here's the thing:  a 13 hour flight is REALLY long.  Even when you have a tiny TV screen and a bunch of movies you can watch.  My legs were very cramped, they went all crazy like they need to move a lot, and I was 100% positive that I was forming a blood clot that would kill me at any moment.  None of us slept much- which is fine because I wanted us to be able to sleep that night in China and not stay up for hours staring at each other.  I'm really hoping there's a new movie line up for our return flight because I pretty much watched all of them on this leg.

We finally landed after what felt more like 23 hours and then began our trek through customs(got our first stamp in our passport books!) and to the baggage claim where we were definitely not expecting to receive our luggage.  Because we were told not to due to the quick connection time in Chicago.

The airport was beautiful and we DID get our luggage, we found our temporary guide for the night(David was out of town and would be back late), and got our ride to our hotel:  Oriental Bay.
And then we went to bed.  So that is how the flight went.  Let's just say that we were beyond thankful that everything worked out for us but I am not looking forward to doing it again in 17 days.

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