After approximately 24 hours of travelling we have made it home. It was quite the welcome, but before I go there, I need to go back a day and fill you in on all the gruesome details.
Since the most economical flights tend to all leave out of Hong Kong, there is a whole system in place where vans pick you up from your hotel in Guangzhou and drive you two hours south to Hong Kong and drop you off directly at the airport. For a family travelling with not-entirely-mobile children, this seemed like a much easier option than taking the train and having to navigate luggage and cabs and so forth. And in theory, it is, depending on your driver. We evidently drew the short straw this morning. (Yesterday morning? Time can be so tricky.) There were moments when J. and I were both utterly convinced that we were not going to end up in Hong Kong alive. And we pretty relaxed travelers, not easily freaked-out by non-Western driving practices.
The game changes, though, when you realize your driver is falling asleep at the wheel and your first real indication is the large truck which your driver narrowly (like really turning the wheel at the last possible moment) misses. He did stop for some Red Bull, "For safety," he said. J. and I started having very loud conversations about literally nothing in the back seat, while J. contemplated asking to take over at the wheel an I contemplated dope-slapping him on the back of the head every minute or so. To top it off, we managed to get in a crazy-long hold-up at the immigration stop between mainland China and Hong Kong. I'm pretty sure it was over an hour we inched our way forward. And then there was the accident on the road once we were in Hong Kong which slowed us down even more. It took us four hours in that van with the crazy driver (whom I had taken an inordinate dislike to) to get to the airport. It should have only taken us two.
As time ticked on, J. and I were individually doing the time checks in our heads. Our flight was due to leave at 11:10. We needed to check our bags, go through security, and get to the gate in time to board (and not lose our seats). If any of you has actually flown through the Hong Kong airport, you will understand why we were increasingly nervous about making our plane. The airport is enormous. I would not be surprised to hear that it is larger than some of our smaller states. I mean it has over 500 gates. To get to our gate, a lower number... a mere 65... we had four escalator rides, one train ride, and one moving sidewalk.
We are almost ready to laugh about it now, but we looked like the crazy family. J. had Y. on his back, I was carrying many coats and bags, and P. had two backpacks plus R. by the hand so she would keep up and we wouldn't lose her. I'm not sure J.'s back and shoulders will ever be the same from the panicked sprint.
But we made it. Barely. We arrived at the gate after the call to line up had been announced. We did our documents check, got in line for five minutes, and then boarded the plane. It was not a six hours than either of us ever want to repeat.
The plane ride was pleasantly uneventful. (And for those keeping score, there were only five lavatory visits.) Fourteen hours is just a long time on a plane and flying east, the jet lag is rough. But, it was so good to be home. We were greeted by our family and friends (we were sadly only missing TM who will get picked-up tomorrow.) It was quite a crowd of some of our very closest friends who were there and brought our children as well. Seeing all those beloved faces made the past 24 hours worth every single misery.
We arrived to a clean house, food in the refrigerator, and dinner ready when we were, all thanks to family and friends. The dog is still alive, and may be improving, and the cat is thrilled to have P. back and P. is thrilled to have her cat. R. and Y. seem to be doing OK. It's a big transition and now their really hard work starts.
Thanks to everyone for praying for us and helping us and our children as we brought these two new daughters home. It is the ending of one great adventure and the beginning of a brand-new one.