Departures and Arrivals

Karlee in the deserted Beijing airport
We landed in the tan haze of smog that enveloped Beijing last Wednesday morning tired but very ready to get off the plane. We noticed as soon as we arrived that people did not follow the same general courtesy that we were used to when it came to waiting in lines. We couldn't maneuver very fast with stroller and bags, so everybody slipped in front of us while we tried to get on an elevator to the departure gates. This happened for three elevator loads until we were the last people waiting and we finally could get on without people pushing past. I was tired and irritable and this encounter made me anything but happy to be in China at that moment.

Trying to see Beijing through the haze
The airport was huge and there was virtually no one around. It was only about 6 am, so that might have explained it, but we had to search to find anyone who could tell us where our next flight was leaving from. When we finally got there, we discovered that we were on the second floor and our gate was on the first and of course the elevator was broken. We searched around for another elevator and failed desperately at trying to ask someone where another could be found. Our plane was already boarding so we finally hauled two sleeping kids, four carry-ons and a stroller down an escalator that conveniently had a row of bars across the opening so that strollers and carts could not be brought down it. We hopped onto the shuttle bus in the last possible minute and William woke up and started to scream. Not just feed me cries, but full on tortured screams. This is about when Karlee and my resolve started to fall apart. There was no way we were going to be able to carry a sleeping Theo, a screaming baby, fold up a stroller, and carry four carry-ons up the stairs onto the plane. Lucky for us, four strangers came to our aid in our moment of need. They spoke fluent English, which was a bonus, but they folded our stroller and shouldered our carry-ons for us. We found out that they were from Hiroshima so they actually continued to help us until we arrived in Japan. We never would have made it out of China without their help.

Shortly before Theo unravelled

The shrieking William and I were making our way to our seats, which were of course at the far back of the plane. I had a large purse strapped over one shoulder and a camera bag over the other as well as a backpack on with a blanket stuffed into the front straps. As I made my way down the aisle, I was hitting each person on either side of me with my bags and assaulting their ears with baby screams. Karlee, who was walking behind me, told me later that I was also slapping everyone with my blanket which had come partially loose. I really didn't feel sorry for anyone else but Karlee and myself at that moment.

Sleeping soundly

We made a stop in Dalian, and of course were made to go through immigration and security and then get right back on the same plane. This time William was sleeping soundly and Theo was crying. As we were boarding the plane, he gripped the doorway and sobbed that he couldn't walk to his seat because he was too tired. For dramatic emphasis he sagged into a sobbing heap half in and half out of the airplane. The stewardesses just watched in disapproval as I tried to drag him down the aisle to our seats.

Two hours later we arrived in Hiroshima airport and were pleasantly surprised with its tiny size, the friendly and helpful immigration and customs officers, and best of all, Dustin, waiting for us at the end.

First glimpse of Japan
When we finally got to our apartment, it was 3 am Winnipeg time and Karlee and I had not slept for about 48 hours. We managed to all shower, change our clothes, and lay out the futons. Dustin tried to make us supper, but by the time the rice was finished he discovered us all completely asleep. Unfortunately the kids woke up at 4 am and continued to do so for almost a week, but any sleep was good at that point. We are so glad to be finally home in Japan!


Carol said...

God bless Karlee! Remember me with my flaming red dragon eyes, threatening you kids with a fiery death if you gave me the slightest problem as we went through customs? I'm so sorry you had to go through that misery. And you didn't have all the wonderful people at the Seoul, Korea airport, either. Too bad you had to go through China!

Josh and Jocelyn R. Plett said...

GAH! that brings back such bad memories of traveling to Madagascar our first time, and that was with only one baby! So glad you're finally there and that the traveling is over with.

Laura said...

I really need to go back to China and rectify my bad first impression; I am sure it is a wonderful place when you are well rested and you have happy children.

All I know is that I won't be attempting that trip again any time soon. Not until the kids are older, we have way less bags, and Dustin is along!

Johnny said...

The cultural differences around Asia are pretty surprising.

My wife and I go to Japan often so when we branched out into Korea thinking it would be more of the same, we were pretty shocked at how chaotic and inefficient everything turned out to be. We had heard China is even worse and you seem to have experienced as much.

We certainly shared your feeling of relief in leaving it for more familiar territory!