Thursday, March 30, 2006

China Itinerary 2002

The following is the itinerary I posted a few days before we left on our 2002 adoption trip to China. It’s sort of a guide to the posts that follow, but you’ll notice that the details of the itinerary are, ahem, subject to change. If you’re reading this as you prepare for your own adoption trip, know that this is the norm. Prepare to go with the flow!

November 12, 2002

Today our plane tickets arrived, along with a Beijing map, China tour
brochure, a pretty embroidered passport holder from our travel
agency, and some helpful information for us as we get ready to depart.

Our plane tickets were enclosed in a China Southern Airlines wrapper
that says "Sincere Commitment! Fresh Experience!" They could very
well be describing the two of us as we get ready for this amazing
adventure. Four days from now we'll be on a plane.

Here is our itinerary thus far:

Saturday 11/16:

Leave Washington-Dulles 5pm on United Airlines (a 757 for you plane
buffs), arrive Los Angeles 7:38pm. Layover til 11:20pm when we board
China Southern (a 777) and settle into our nice business class seats
with private video screens and other cushy accoutrements.

Sunday 11/17:

Since we are crossing 12 time zones, say goodbye to this day - but
we'll get it on the way back. We have a homeopathic anti-jet-lag
pill and a sleep/wake schedule we found at that is
supposed to help us start adjusting during the flight - we'll let you
know if any of this actually works!

Monday 11/18:

Arrive at Guangzhou 6:20am China Time and begin the adjustment. All
of China is in one time zone: Beijing. Catch a 9:20am flight on
China Southern to Beijing (a jet this time), arriving at 12:10pm.
Our Beijing guide and driver will meet us at the airport and take us
to our hotel, the Novotel Peace Hotel five minutes' walk from
TienAnMen Square. Later they will return to escort us to our first
of many Chinese restaurant meals. We will be grateful to have some
assistance with restaurant protocol until we get a little braver.

Tuesday 11/19:

Breakfast at the hotel. Tour the Forbidden City, TienAnMen Square
(the largest public square in the world at 100 acres, it can hold a
million people!) and the Lama Temple (one of many temples in Beijing,
this one has all kinds of beautiful decorative arts like paintings
and carvings). Our guide will again be with us for lunch and dinner.

Wednesday 11/20:

This day it will be especially nice to have a private guide, car &
driver--not as expensive as you would think, either. We are going a
little way out of town to see the Great Wall, the Sacred Way to the
Ming Tombs (guarded by large stone animals and human figures) and the
Ming Tombs themselves. We are thankful not to have to cram onto a
bus, and if we get tired early or want to stay longer, it's up to us,
not the bus schedule. Again, lunch and dinner with our guide (he's
going to get to know us, perhaps better than he wants to)

Thursday 11/21:

Today will be a bit more laid-back. We will tour one of Beijing's
old neighborhoods, known as a Hutong (alleyway) because of the
alleyways that snake through a maze of traditional style homes.
Since these old neighborhoods are endangered by Beijing's booming
development, this is a special opportunity. Later we will see the
Temple of Heaven, an architectural treasure situated in a large
park. We will also go to Beihai Park, which is sort of like
Beijing's Central Park, a place for Beijing citizens to go and relax
with their families. It is supposed to have a beautiful view of the
city too. Lunch and dinner - you guessed it! with our guide.

Friday 11/22:

A busy day - let's hope we've beaten the jet lag for good by now.
Today's plans are to see the Museum of Chinese History, the Summer
Palace at Kunming Lake (there is a marble boat here,
permanently "moored" to the shore), and The Chinese Ethnic Culture
Park. And we requested a special double treat this evening: a
traditional Beijing Duck Dinner and a performance of Beijing Opera.
I am so excited to see Chinese performing arts in China!

Saturday 11/23:

We have a free morning to go back to anywhere we found interesting.
The Art Museum is a possibility, but we may just want to wander
(carefully) around. This would not be a good time to get arrested
for being too inquisitive!! Olivia awaits. At 3:35pm, we say
goodbye to our Beijing guide and driver and board a China Air flight
for Chongqing (Americans say "Chung King" but the Chinese pronounce
that q like a soft "ch" sound in the middle of the
mouth, "Chongching"--and yes, that applies to the Q in our daughter’s
Chinese name too). We will arrive in CQ at 5:55pm. Once we get
there, Lotus Travel turns us over to Dr. Chen, the SiChuan/Chongqing
facilitator who works for our adoption agency (Americans Adopting
Orphans, or AAO). Dr. Chen is the one who visited our daughter in Fuling on 10/18, did a medical exam and took the great pictures and video. Dr. Chen will escort us to the (not kidding here) Holiday Inn
Chongqing, home for the next nine days and for all intents and
purposes the Labor, Delivery and Recovery unit for many adoptive
families! Seven other families adopting through our agency will join
us here over the weekend and we expect to see many other families at
various stages of the process.

Sunday 11/24: Sometime today, a miracle will take place.

Monday 11/25: Begin paperwork to finalize her adoption in Chongqing
Municipality. This whole week is organized around visiting various
officials, notaries, etc., but there will be downtime to sightsee.

Thursday 11/28: Happy, happy, happy and very thankful Thanksgiving!
We will no doubt find a way to feast, Chinese style, on this festive

Friday 11/29: Finish provincial paperwork. Thanks to a recent
ruling by the U.S. government, her adoption is considered final in
the U.S. once it's final in China. But don't worry, "finalization"
in the U.S. is now called "readoption" and there's still more
paperwork to be done!

Saturday or Sunday: We hope to visit Fuling, the city where De
Quan was likely born. We may be able to visit the orphanage and talk with people who have cared for her during the first eight months of her
life. I hope we can convey to them how grateful we are for
everything they have done to keep her healthy and happy.

Monday 12/2: Back on the plane - Dr. Chen will make the reservations
so we don't know what time we depart. We will arrive in our final
Chinese home-away-from-home, Guangzhou (formerly Canton), the seat of
Chinese cuisine and home of the United States Consulate. Two more
adoption agency representatives, Chinese employees known as Richard
and Alexa, will meet us at the airport. We are staying at the White
Swan Hotel--somehow I picture hallways, elevators, lobbies and shops
filled with babies and new families, and I can't imagine anyone
staying there who is NOT adopting!

Tuesday 12/3: Free day to tour around - lots to see. We could even
take a boat ride on the Pearl River. Guangzhou is not far from Hong
Kong. I wonder if we'll be able to see the skyline in the distance.

Wednesday 12/4: Our U.S. Consulate appointment is this day. During
our entire trip we have carried a bulging folder of documents with
us, collected over almost two years' time, all in preparation for
this day. It will feel great to unburden ourselves of all the
document-guarding paranoia!

Thursday 12/5: DeQuan will get her U.S. visa this day. Since this
will be our adoption group's last night together in China, we'll
probably do something fun as a group. The eight Chongqing families
will have joined four families in Guangzhou so there will be quite a
crowd of us. We will certainly have to take the famous "red couch
photo" - there is a red couch in the White Swan where families line
up the babies in a sort of class picture formation and take a picture
for posterity.

Friday 12/6: We actually have most of this day to do as we please.
Checkout time isn't til 5:30 because our plane doesn't take off til
9:00pm (maybe Olivia will sleep most of the way), a China Southern
777 nonstop from Guangzhou to Los Angeles. Remember how we lost
November 17th? We're about to get a second December 6th, because we
will arrive three hours before we left! Pretty nifty trick, huh? We
will not get an immediate connecting flight to Washington because
we'd have to fly overnight and get to Dulles at dawn - not our idea
of fun. We'll be resting at an LAX-area airport...jet-lagged in La-
La Land...oddly appropriate.

Saturday 12/7: We leave LAX at 8am on United (777) and arrive at
Washington Dulles at 3:34pm with Grandma and Grandpa waiting!
We actually have to get in the customs line for non-citizens to go
through customs, but the second DeQuan’s feet touch American soil,
the law says she attains instant citizenship. I wonder if she'll
spontaneously sing The Star-Spangled Banner when that happens? Time
will tell.

So that's what we know for now. It's neat to think that each of
these days is going to be filled with experiences and memories and
special moments. 4 days to go!! And yes, we are VERY excited. Our
faithful border collie Maggie carries an aura of foreboding around
her at all times now - she definitely knows something's up. As for
Morty the cute/jerko schizoid cat, as long as his dish is full and he
gets to go out and make trouble with the neighborhood cats, he
doesn't care about much.

You can search FTJ for past posts, e.g. China info...