Thursday, December 2, 2010

China Day 14: Travel to the USA

Day 14 of the big China trip is kind of a blur. Maybe because I felt like I was in the 7th circle of hell. Literally. I remember leaving on the bus from the hotel. I remember walking through security and that’s about it.

Luke and Molly on the bus. Five minutes after this picture they were fighting and had to be separated. A bad omen?IMG_4123

Our first flight was a local flight from Guangzhou to Beijing.I don’t remember getting to the gate, but apparently we were in a rush. Don’t remember getting on the plane. But obviously we did. Don’t remember the meal, but I know I ate. All I remember is the end of the flight.

Don’t remember taking this picture…IMG_4124

…or posing for this picture. That’s a little frightening.IMG_4125

I do remember sitting with these two cute faces! That’s something, right?IMG_4129

The the end of the flight the attendant came on the PA and told us it would be a bumpy landing, and they did not disappoint. There was a lot of turbulence. I had Molly and Mark next to me and Anna and Trey across the isle. Their eyes were a big as saucers. Bumpy flights don’t really bother me so I took it upon myself to keep the troops calm.

I was so busy trying to tell everyone that all was okay that I didn’t even realize what a horrific landing we had. That is until I heard the collective audible gasps from everyone on the plane. As the plane touched down the entire back end of the aircraft  skidded sharply to the left. In an attempt to right the plane, the pilot overcompensated making the aircraft lunge to the right. Even the flight attendants said they have never experienced something like this. Great.

While we were waiting to disembark from our last row seats, Molly told me that her tummy hurt. A few minutes later, she was hurling. She was a champ, though. First time she has ever thrown up and she got 100% into the airsickness bag. Not a drop on her.

After we got off the plane, gathered our luggage, we found the United desk in the Beijing airport. No waiting. Woo Hoo! But that means nothing in China. It still took well over 45 minutes to get checked in. The guy behind the counter took his time and when he finally handed us our tickets told us that the plane was already loading. What?!!!!

I wonder why it took so long to check us in…hmmm. Maybe the mountain of luggage and the 9 people we had in tow.IMG_5190

Molly posing with an extra barf bag that she carried around, just in case.IMG_5192

We ran to catch the train to the international terminal. Molly couldn’t keep up and I couldn't carry her and all of our carry-ons, so literally dragged her onto the train just as the doors were closing.

We still had to get through quarantine, customs/immigration and security, which is a slow process. It didn’t help that we had misplaced our exit cards given to us when we entered China. We had to stop, fill those out and get through customs. Once again, no officials were in a hurry and it took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. Then it was onto security. Luckily no major snafu there, so we sprinted to the gate.

Our plane was a 747. A very old 747 with small seats and no personal TV sets in the seatback. Molly slept for about 3 hours and then was up for the remainder of the flight. And she was crabby. And loud. And let her opinions fly out of her mouth as soon as they formed in her brain. Her main beef is that people kept blocking the movie screens and she couldn’t see. But there were other complaints as well. By the time the flight was over, I was crying. Really.

The good news is that as soon as Sara Jane set foot on American soil, she was officially and American Citizen!IMG_4126

Back in San Francisco we had to get through customs/immigration, pick up and recheck our luggage, get something to eat and get on our plane. That was pretty painless except that we discovered that Trey had lost his wallet somewhere between Guangzhou and San Francisco and Molly continued to whine. Loudly. No time to figure either issue, we continued on.

Finally our luck turned. Our last leg, San Fran to Denver, was on a 767. A fine, new, roomy aircraft. And it was less than half full. We had room to stretch out and relax. Most everyone was asleep before we even took off. I woke up when the announced our arrival.

We were greeted by my sister and dad, as well as a host of the Ahern’s friends and family. A joyous reunion for baby Sara Jane. It was good to be home. Well almost home. Still had a week in Denver with my family. But more on that later.

China was the trip of a lifetime. Wouldn’t trade one minute of it for anything. Well, I could probably do without the trip home, but small price to pay for such an incredible journey! Can’t wait to go back.

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