Thursday, April 18, 2013

Star Command, we may have a problem!!

Mission log Day 4
Stardate 3/27/2013

After a good night's sleep, Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister were up and on to another buffett breakfast, Disney style. Forever Mama enjoyed the Asian steamed pork bun, chicken sausage with onion gravy, and fruit pastry along with the western fried egg, bacon and Mickey Waffle! Forever Sister really enjoyed the bacon and Mickey waffle and Asian pastries.

After a few quick pictures around the restaurant, the duo headed to the gift shop for a last look (and a couple of purchases) and then back to the room to pack the last few things.

Forever Mama and Forever Big sister managed to get all 4 big suitcases and the 4 carryons down to the lobby and Forever Mama checked out by 10:45 am. The van to the next location of the mission was due at 11:00 am. Forever Mama had confirmed the transportation before departing Atlanta and had her cell phone on so that the company could contact her should any questions arise. There had been no internet connection available at the hotel since the pair had arrived. As 11:00 came and went, Forever Mama became a bit worried. She checked her phone and lo and behold there was now Wi-Fi available. A quick check of her email made her heart sink. Apparently, unlike America, a confirmation does not necessarily mean anything in Hong Kong/China. The company had sent 2 emails asking did the pair still require their transportation services??!! Uh....YES!!! With shaking hands Forever Mama emailed them yes, but got no response. It was then that she realized she had no phone number to contact the company (can you say PANIC!!) True to Disney style one of the young men from the concierge desk saw that Forever Mama was obviously in great distress(and that Forever Big Sister was in tears- stuck in a foreign land, not speaking the language , and no idea what to do) He approached and kindly asked if the duo was okay. After hearing the story, he told Forever Mama to see if she could find a phone number and that he would then call to see what could be done. Also he said that if she couldn't find a number, he would help to find a way to Guangzhou. Forever Mama checked all her emails, but no number. Next was Google and finally after searching 20 minutes, a phone number! The concierge called and then handed the phone over to Forever Mama. The man at the company first asked why they had not heard from the pair. Forever Mama, not so calmly, explained there had been no internet and that comfirmation was made before leaving. He told Forever Mama he would see if he could re-arrange and to call him back in a few minutes. So Forever Mama waited 15 minutes (the longest 15 minutes ever!) and then had the concierge call back. They would have a driver there in 30 to 60 minutes and to please be waiting outside! Whew, the mission was saved! 20 minutes later Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister moved everything outside to wait. The young man from concierge came over to check that everything was good and the pair profusely thanked him for his help!
     The van arrived about 35 minutes after the call. The driver was very nice, spoke English and the van was new and clean. The drive to the China border was very pleasant. At the border the driver unloaded all the luggage and explained that Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister had to go in and fill out a form and go through security. He would meet them on the other side. So in the confused pair went. Obviously their confusion showed and the guards pointed them in the right direction to get the small entry forms to fill out. A show of the passports, Visas and entry forms led the pair to the conveyor belt for the luggage to go through the security machine. Forever Mama got 2 of the suitcases and 2 of the totes on the conveyor belt when another leady came up and put her luggage on before Forever Big Sister could get hers on. Forever Mama helped her get the last 2 bags and carryons onto the belt and then the started walking toward the other side of the machine. All of the sudden there were shouts, yelling and loud discussion all in Chinese. Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister froze (and probably looked like deer in the headlights!) Neither knew what to do! Forever Mama risked a glance at one of the security guards, who said "No, you good. You go!" The pair needed no further invitation and grabbed all the bags in record time and hurried out to where the driver waited leaving behind the security guards still yelling at the other lady! The duo obviously looked shaken as the driver asked what had happened and was very concerned that they were upset. ( All Forever Mama can now say is "That was one of the scariest things I have ever been through!") 
       The driver loaded everything back into the van and on they went. Forever Mama knew that they would have to change vans in Shenzhen so when the driver pulled over into a rest stop(??) she knew that it was time to switch. This driver did not speak english and the van was semi clean. Both drivers helped to load the many bags into the other van and then off they went. Let's just say that this leg of the journey was not for the faint of heart. Forever Mama had jokingly noted in her blog that during all van rides in China she would just close her eyes and hang on for dear life. Well, turns out that is exactly what she had to do! This driver drove extremely fast and liked to weave in and out of VERY small spaces, so Forever Mama whispered into Forever Big Sister's ear "Just close your eyes and hang on."  Forever Mama did just that, but Forever Big Sister was not able to. She was afraid the driver might understand what she said so she wrote on the notepad on her phone and tapped Forever Mama. The note said "We are going to die!!" Forever Mama closed her eyes again and held on, about 30 minutes later Forever Big Sister tapped her and showed her another note. "We have literally almost died 3 times!!" Forever Big Sister was shaking and had tears rolling down her face, but would not close her eyes and just hold on. This part of the journey is one that neither Forever Mama nor Forever Big Sister EVER want to repeat again!!!
      It was quite the relief when the pair arrived at The Garden Hotel in Guangzhou, China. This was to be their home base for the duration of the mission in China. A bellhop put all of the luggage on his cart and waited while Forever Mama checked in. The check in was smooth and quick, so onto room 1110!
      The room was spacious and sparkling clean. The rooms that WACAP's adoptive families get are almost like suites. There are 2 rooms and a bathroom. One room has the beds with a TV and nightstands. No dressers. The bathroom was off of the bedroom with a shower room that also included a tub and a separate toilet stall (and yes it was a western toilet!!) The tub/shower is surounded by glass and there was a shade that could be raised or lowered for privacy. The other room had a desk, small table with 2 stools, sofa and a cabinet with a small refrigerator and a kettle to boil the water. The cabinet was filled with snacks, a bottle of wine, several small bottles of assorted alcohol and the fridge held sodas and beer. Needless to say the cost of these little conviences was very steep, so Forever Mama unloaded the whole cabinet and put them all on top out of reach!

After surveying their home base, the duo called one of their trusty guides, Sarah, and let her know that they had arrived and were settled in the room. A little while later Sarah arrived at their door to welcome them and to give them an itinerary for their first week. She also invited them to join another family for dinner at a Malaysian restaurant. The duo agreed, but first needed to get some snacks, water and soda. After a stop at the counter to exchange some currency, off they went with Sarah to 7-11! Forever Mama was pleased to shop there as the 7-11 company has always been a huge supporter of MDA and thus would be helping Little B as well! After getting back with provisions the duo unpacked and rested a bit until dinner.

Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister headed down to the lobby to meet up with Sarah and met the Snell Family who was in their second week of their mission in China. That meant that they already had their new daughter. It was very re-assuring to see this new family interacting. Forever Mama and Forever Big Sister let Sarah order for them and enjoyed their dinner of great Malaysian food and the company of new friends! After dinner it was back to the room to try to get a good nights sleep.

Up next- Gotcha day for Little B

1 comment:

  1. After hearing about your experience on that drive, and one very similar one with a local friend here, we said NO to Hong Kong and are flying directly in to Guangzhou. I freak out on the interstates at home, so wow, not even going to attempt it! Thanks for the heads-up, and I'm glad you survived it!