Sunday, January 08, 2006

All the gory details

Okay, I can't view the blog and I can't add photos and I can't get into hotmail on the hotel network, don't know why, but I can get into all the yahoo related accounts and I can edit the blog. Of course, I can't see if the pages update, oh well, maybe when we get to Guangzhou. So, to pick up the story where I left off, and I have no idea where that is because I can't see it, we met Suzanne DeCuir at LAX. She and Patrick were first time parents with me in 1998 when we traveled to adopt our oldest children: my Ellie and their Anna. I told Suzanne that we would meet her where we pick up our luggage before we rebooked on China Southern. Well, middle-aged brain blockage, Delta checked out bags through to Guangzhou, so I just went right to the China Southern counter wondering what could have happened to Suzanne. We get checked in at China Southern, still no Suzanne. I go to the pay phone to call Mom to see if she can call directory assistance because I don't have my regular calling card on me, just the dial around card that won't let me call directory assistance and mid-conversation with Mom, I see Suzanne about 100 yards away. Hang up abruptly, grab bags and YuYu and run to catch Suzanne. We walk over to the next terminal where there are some fast foods counters before the security check to chat for a moment. Get ready to go back to terminal 5 and, heart attack, realize I left the boarding passes next to the payphone, gulp. Grab a luggage cart, plop YuYu on top and Suzanne peels out with me gasping and struggling behind her. Get to the China Southern counter, I can hardly breathe, embarrassingly sweaty (Suzanne runs regularly, she wasn't even winded) and the fates are good to me again, someone turned the boarding passes into the counter, day saved. I do something bone-headed like this every trip, I'm thankful to Suzanne for helping me get this one out of the way right up front.

Long, long, long flight, cramped, uncomfortable, watched Madagascar x2 and some odd French film about office politics x3, finally land in Guangzhou. Gather luggage and head upstairs to check in for the Nanning flight and the hustles start. A pleasant man, clean cut and very officious, grabs the cart, tells me he can help me because he works at the airport and walks very fast, creating a huge sense of urgency and importance. Takes us to the wrong counter, YuYu spills a bag of nutter butter nuggets on the ground, another nice man tries to get us pointed to the next counter, we move on, an airport security man intervenes with the first hustler, questions him while the second one pushes us into a different line, I HAVE seat assignments already, don’t know what the hell is going on, the two hustlers do not seem to be working together, definitely competitors, first hustler just stands there, I thank him, try to tell him to move on, he asks for $20 (which I would have probably paid up front if he wouldn’t have lied or tried to hustle me), he moves away, second hustler moves in, I have to pay a few yuan for excess weight on the bags (THANKS Donna), get handed two sets of very small keys, what the heck? Second hustler moves us toward the gates, trying to explain that the bags were over weight, I needed more yuan? I already just paid for the overweight luggage, and I see he’s leading me to a flight insurance counter. I say no insurance and he shrugs and walks away. He didn’t ask for money, he may have been legit or in league with the insurance counter, who knows.
The airport is VERY COLD, cold cold cold, can’t remember the last time I was so uncomfortably cold for so long, but get to security and well, after all that, we have no tickets, just boarding passes, not a problem in US airports, big problem here. Get pulled out of line, sit in an empty cubicle for 20 minutes, but not feeling panicked because we have plenty of time and it seems like they know we’re there. Back comes friendly security employee with our tickets, voila, problem solved, don’t know how, but I don’t ask questions and just move on. YuYu watches all of Barbie Pegasus with the computer on her lap and hands underneath the keep her warm and we board for Nanning, whew. We made it.

Matthew Xu was there to greet us at the airport, again, much relief, I so obviously need a lot of expert guidance and help when traveling, on my own I’m quite inept. We get in the same van from last year, same driver too. I help Matthew’s 5yo daughter Angela (Tong Tong) do letters and sounds on a dry erase pad I brought for YuYu and Angela is AMAZINGLYING bright (her older sister is at Georgia Tech becoming an engineer) so I have to give her the book and promise to send her more when we get home. She is this close to reading in English, this close, and she gets just a little English instruction at preschool. She is so eager to learn, wow, so refreshing (Mimi are you reading this?).

Up to the room, get settled in, ask Matthew to contact Xiao Xiao and YuYu’s parents, go to the “food street” for lunch, trying so hard to stay awake. Hear from Matthew that we will go out to dinner at the Dumpling King with everyone and that’s where I’ll leave it, time for breakfast since we’ve been un since 5:oo a.m. anyway. But no complaints, I got 7 hours of blissful, uninterrupted sleep; I can’t even do that at home.

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