Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Adoption Story - Part 7

Our flight to Beijing was late. We landed, collected our bags, and panicked just a bit when there didn’t seem to be anyone there looking for us. Our guide had our itinerary and was supposed to be at the baggage claim area. Thankfully, I had her number in my backpack and called her cell phone. “You’re early!” she exclaimed. No, we’re actually late, but they were on the other side of the airport picking up the families at the international gates. We confused them by coming in on the domestic side. A little later, the assistant guide came racing through the crowds apologizing profusely and waited with us for the buses to come around to collect us.

Our adoption travel group was the largest one our agency had ever had. There were 14 families adopting babies from one city and 2 families adopting toddlers from another city. The cities were both in the same province and the paperwork would all be done in the same capital city of that province so we were lumped into one travel group. Our group consisted of 2 guides, 1 agency rep, 16 moms, 14 dads, several grandmas and family friends, and six kids, plus we would be adding 16 more kids soon. Anytime we went anywhere it was a major undertaking.

Our hotel in Beijing was the most opulent place I had ever stayed. It was gorgeous and obviously a popular destination for foreign travelers. There were 2 interesting things about that hotel. First, K convinced me to take her to the hotel pool, which was part of a Bally’s fitness club. It was a *very* different experience from a typical American pool. We had to go through the locker room, which was embarrassing because Chinese woman have NO sense of modesty. We then had to take off our shoes to walk through a small shallow pool of water, put our shoes back on, and wear them right to the edge of the pool. Immediately after we jumped in, a man came racing over with two swim caps gesturing that we had to put them on.


You know, I don’t remember seeing Michael Phelps wear his flipflops on the starting block.

The second thing that was interesting about the hotel is We’d always heard stories that there are listening and video devices in hotel rooms, but we weren’t too worried. The first night, we woke up in the night to see the tiny light above the bed come on briefly then fade out. It happened again that night and again several times the next night. I guess they were just making sure we were still in bed.

Our stay in Beijing was very nice with trips to the required tourist spots - Great Wall, Emperor's Palace, jade store, pearl store. Yep, we did a lot of shopping. At least it was something to keep us busy, engaged, and our minds off the fact that we were just killing time while the other newly-arrived families got over jet lag before we headed to the province "to get your babies, your babies” to quote Cecilia, our guide.

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