Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Last Day In China 5: Flying Home
On the way to the airport, this is a bus in its proper lane beside us.
This is the same bus pretty close to use as we duelled in traffic.
Our flight from Guangzhou to Hong Kong was scheduled to leave at 10:40pm, April 8th and it was pretty much on time. We arrived in plenty of time at the airport, spent quite some time passing through immigration, where my child grew more and more impatient and whiney in the Ergo on my back, then stopped for some dinner in one of the aiport restaurants and still had some time for the little ones to play around the gate area before boarding.
Jei Jei was tired, but happy until she had to wear her seatbelt. She really started getting grumpy at it, but it was a short flight and we all managed well.
After landing in Hong Kong, we had about 40 minutes to make our connecting flight. Just off the airplane exit ramp was a group of airline employees all holding signs. My first impression was that there must have been a lot of VIPs on my plane. Then I realized we were all VIPs if we have a connecting flight and these were the people who were going to take us to our next gate. The woman guiding us slapped a little sticker on us indicating we were heading to SFO and proceeded to run through the airport at breakneck speed, fully expecting that we'd be right on her heels. Let me tell you, my little 7 year old can run, and fast, but not in the middle of her night with sore feet from all the previous walking, in a strange place with people all over. I stopped and scooped her super fast (truly, I'm fast at this) into the Ergo carrier and by then our guide and group was out of site. We kept running and she found us, having had to come back to get us when she didn't see us at the escalators with everyone. Down we went, onto a tram-train, out we got, up we went, through security, down a huge concourse, through security again, and directly into the boarding line. We were given permission to hit the restroom before boarding, then walked right onto the plane.
This kind of customer service is what sets China apart from the US. They truly want to ease the path throughout the day of the citizens. I'm not talking about the goverment of China, I'm talking about the culture and commerce. Why spend an hour at a desk with irrate travellers who got lost in the Hong Kong airport and missed their connections if they simply provide an escort to whip them through? People feel special, they make their connections and stay satisfied, on time, and, in our case, get a load of exercise running through the airport!
There wasn't much time to reflect on the fact that I was taking my little duaghter from her homeland. I did much of that in Nanchang and even before leaving for China. Jei Jei fell asleep almost instantly, but it was a terrible sleep. Every few minutes for the next FOUR HOURS, she raged in her sleep. I could tell throughout the day that she was nervous about what was about to happen. I also think she has some post-traumatic-stress symptoms from having undergone surgeries and the resulting painful recoveries. However she falls asleep is how she sleeps and wakes up. So, she was stressed falling asleep and stressed while sleeping.
Like I said, every few minutes for the first FOUR HOURS, she would rage in her sleep, crying out loudly (her scream is loud but low in pitch, thankfully) and thrash, buck, go stiff, flail, etc... I had seen this in the hotel so I knew she could really go at it, but since movement and contact set her off repeatedly, I didn't know what to do. The old me could really have felt desperate, but my mother's heart was filled with love for my child so I did the only thing I could do, pray and asked Heavenly Father to help my child and help me to help her, also to give me strength to do what I needed to do. As soon as the seatbelt sign turned off, I suddenly knew that I had to stand up and rock my little girl as if she was a tiny baby. Just a couple rows back was an open isle area near an exit door and it was all I needed. I rocked my sleeping, raging child and spoke softly to her and miraculously, she quickly calmed. I returned to my seat and repeated this exodus every few minutes, getting just enough time in between to sit and rest because rocking a raging 7 yr. old, even if she is the size of a 4 year old, is tough on the arms and back. The flight attendents and other passengers were so kind and helpful, asking if I need help, offering to translate for my daughter, but I explained to them that she was actually asleep and I couldn't wake her up (I did try!).
Finally, the raging stopped, but the sleep acrobatics continued for the duration of her night. I could not take my eyes off her for a second. Though belted in, she still flipped and turned and manuevered so that I had to constantly pull her back onto the seat or place a pillow over the hard armrest, under her head, under her leg, etc... It didn't raise all the way so no matter what, it was in the way. She could have strangled herself on the seatbelt by hanging off the seat by her neck if I hadn't been vigilant. I am not exagerating, I promise you. It was really something else to witness.
She woke up grumpy with about three hours of flight time left. The kids' meal was horrible so I gave her my meal, which she pecked at and played with. Thankfully, I asked if there were any extra omlets from a remaining breakfast tray and got one for myself. There were also sandwiches and fruit and snack available all throughout the flight.
We arrived at SFO around 10pm, just about the same time we'd left China and on the same day, so it was still Friday, April 8th. Getting home was easy and my daughter was thrilled when everything started matching the pictures I'd sent her. She recognized our house, her room, the cats, and even a pink furry coat she'd noticed in the closet in one of the pictures.
I don't think she realized that the cats in the pictures would move because she was scared, but intrigued at the same time. It only took her three days to get comfortable with them and now she kisses them and tells them what to do.
The plane that carried us safely home. There wasn't time to get a picture of it in Hong Kong and as we headed to the parking garage at SFO, I realized that the windows overlooked our plane so I snapped a picture! I'll also mention here that when arriving in Hong Kong on our way in to China, our plane parked next to the new Emerates Air double story Airbus, the largest passenger plane in the world and it was truly something to behold.