On to Beijing
We left the next day we left for China via Detroit. Ginger's step
mom and her friend Becky picked us up at 9:00 AM. We had a nice breakfast
at our local Bob Evan's Restaurant, then went to my mom's house to drop
off Cammy, our cocker spaniel. Then off to the Columbus airport.
We were a little anxious, we arrived at the airport 2 hours early.
We were able to catch an earlier flight to Detroit. Just before we boarded,
we called our agency to confirm that everything was still on track.
After the 36 minute flight, we meet up with most of our group in the
large Northwest lounge in Detroit. Most of the group was from Texas,
one couple from Arizona and one from New York would meet up with us in
China, another would fly in a few days later because of her job obligations.
Already anxious to lighten our load, we passed out various INS forms to
the families that did not receive a package from the consulate in Guangzhou.
While waiting for our flight, a man came up to me and asked, "Are you George
Keller?" and then he introduced himself. He was a fellow client
of our agency and our families had traded email frequently over the past
year. He had come to wish us well and to see us off. Our flight
to Beijing departed a little late. That flight flies north out of Detroit,
over Canada, just west of the Hudson Bay, north of Fairbanks and Nome Alaska,
crosses the Bering Straits, over Siberia, Mongolia, and finally to Beijing.
The flight goes to 67 degrees north. Ginger talked with a flight
attendant that also escorts children for adoption, and with a woman that
had adopted from China about 3 years ago. We were also able to sleep some.
By the way, if any airline person is reading this, schedule the comedy
movies early, I was sleeping quite soundly until the laughter in the cabin
awoke me (yes, even with earplugs).
We finally arrived in Beijing at around 8 PM. I was struck by
how dark the airport was. While we were taxiing, I saw a man on a
bicycle riding down the tarmac. We weren't in Ohio anymore. The plane
didn't pull up to a gate, rather it pulled into a parking place and stairways
were brought up to the plane. Looking out the window, it looked like a
foggy evening, stepping out of the plane it was quickly apparent that the
fog really was smog. The air smelled of sulfur and irritated my eyes.
We boarded busses and were driven to the terminal. We had to go through
immigration, then claim our luggage and go through customs. Claiming
luggage was time consuming and difficult. The crowd pressed up to
the small carousel and even though you could see your bags going around
and around, you couldn't get to them. I finally elbowed my way in
and retrieved our two bags, probably damaging the Sino - American relationship
for years to come. After helping others in our group retrieve their
bags, we grouped together to determine our next move. We had heard
that we might have to fill out a form to declare cameras and electronic
equipment that we were bringing into China. A poster gave instructions
on filling out the form, but no forms were around. The customs area
was staffed with uniformed inspectors, and I figured that if I was doing
something wrong, they would certainly let me know. I rolled our bags
into the inspection area and was waved on without so much as a second glance.
After we were successfully through, the rest of the group followed. The
crowd of people waiting outside was huge and we parked the groups' luggage
away from the doors, and then I went searching for our guides.
In a quick pass through the crowd, I did not see a Great Wall China
Adoption sign. I did see a green flag with a white GW on it, but it didn't
sink in at first. After finding nothing else more promising , I went
back to the lady holding the flag and asked Great Wall Adoption?, and she
said yes. She asked where the rest of the group was, I lead her to our
encampment and she introduced herself as Cynthia and also introduced Jane,
They led us through the adjoining parking lot to a waiting bus.
We waited briefly for the couple from Arizona that had arrived on another
flight, and then traveled to our hotel, the Tianlun Dynasty Hotel. This
is a beautiful, western style hotel. We were surprised that it was
decorated for Christmas and we were told it was done for the Westerners.
Information on this hotel is at: http://www.chinaonweb.com/tianlunhtl.htm
. We presented our passports to check in, exchanged about $200 dollars
U.S. , bought a couple of bottles of water, then promptly went to bed.
The sheets and pillow cases were heavily starched and very stiff, the beds
were turned down so tight that you could hardly get in!