Notes from the road
- The beds in China are hard. Hard as in, you sit down on them thinking they will be a little bouncy and you bruise your tailbone instead. Now, J. and I like a firm mattress, and in general have been OK with Chinese beds, but the beds in Urumqi were over-the-top hard. I've been more comfortable camping with just a camping pad beneath me. We are looking forward to something a little more forgiving.
- When you have a 9 am flight in Urumqi, thus necessitating you leaving for the airport at 6:30 am, it is as though you are leaving in the middle of the night. Everything was closed, the breakfast buffet wasn't yet open, no one was out, and roads are empty.
- I thought we had seen every conceivable variation of metal detector screening over the past few days, but the Urumqi airport took it to new heights. Not only did you have to go through the traditional security checkpoint to get to your gate, but you had to go through another checkpoint just to get into the airport. The only difference between the two was that the entry version did not make you take out your laptop, take off your shoes, and have a complete pat down. Yes, seriously. Every single person had close, individual attention by people wearing gloves and wielding metal detectors at the second security point. They even checked the soles of your feet. But, we didn't have take out our liquids in our quart size bags. Go figure.
- I should have remembered this from H.'s adoption trip, but I guess I didn't realize it was a thing. Children growing up in orphanages and large foster homes, who don't go a lot of places and stay pretty close to their living quarters do not gain skill in holding it when they need to go to the bathroom. After having more than a few very near misses with Y., I was suddenly remembering the same thing happening with H. From the time she tells you she needs to go, we have approximately one minute before it is too late.
- My public service announcement is that if you have a child who does not have complete and reliable function of her legs, and where moving side-to-side is not a real option, do not seat her by the window in a bank of three seats... even if you think she would enjoy looking out the window for her first plane ride. You will soon figure out why if you go back and read my previous point.
- If you are the new, Caucasian parent of a Chinese child, you will look ridiculous at some point in your journey. Everyone stares at you anyway, but trust me when I say they really stare when you are running down the aisle of the airplane with your child being held in front of you because she cannot move fast enough in order to make it to the lavatory in time. It becomes even more hilarious (if you are not said mother holding child making desperate noises) when you also have to navigate going around the beverage cart. (China Southern airlines must have the most narrow aisles in the history of flight.) We made it, by the way, but barely.
- I made a similar run for it once we were off the plane. It was one of those times where the flight arrived at the absolutely furthest gate from any public services. As we approached the rest room, I threw off my coat, threw off Y.'s (trust me on this, it's easier) and bolted for the bathroom. I have no idea if I cut in line or not, but I pretty much slammed into the first stall I came to. Thankfully it was unoccupied.
- Asian-style toilets are not a great option for people whose legs do not work quite right. Sometimes you don't have the option or the time to find a Western one. See above.
- We're getting closer to Chinese New Year, and the decorations are starting to come out in full force. Here is a bit from the inside of Walmart... this isn't even the most decorated part of it. This will be the year of the monkey and for the next few weeks, it seems, all your monkey needs will be able to be satisfied.
- Our hotel is very, very swanky, but I am reminded once again that the more expensive the hotel, the less they give you. I am always surprised (and vaguely annoyed) when they nickel and dime you for every last thing. It's not as though we're not paying through the nose already, just to stay here. Can you say no free wi-fi? (J. and I are cheap, so we will be sharing the one cable in the room. P. is out of luck.)
- The smog is pretty bad at the moment. Here is a photo I took tonight after dinner of P., Y., and J. in front of our hotel. That haze you see is smog. It is so bad in Beijing that the families who were coming in to Zhengzhou today from there were delayed four hours due to smog.
I hope I'll sleep tonight (thought the softer bed should help), but it is always a little anxiety-producing to know that the next morning you meet your child for the very first time.