Monday, February 27, 2012

First day in Zhengzhou

Sun. 02.26.12
We woke up early and had our usual breakfast meal. We also paid our guide, George, and our driver, and checked out. Our guide couldn't tell us how much to tip the driver and suggested we refer to our agency package but we figured "20RMB per person per roundtrip" for 3 full days would come to 120 RMB or $19 (10RMB per person per roundtrip is also sufficient). We waited for our group and got back on the bus one last time in Beijing and headed for the airport.

The majority of us were heading to Zhengzhou so we said goodbye to two families who had to wait for George to return to them while he checked us in at China Southern. Our two suitcases were in total about 6 pounds over the 44 lb pound limit per bag but they went through fine. No one weighed our carry-on wheelie case. George walked us to the security check-point and I got all teary-eyed when we said our goodbyes (I think he reminded me of my brother); he's been such a fantastic guide -- so happy and positive and extremely helpful.

It was funny being greeted by "Ni-hao" by the flight attendants (did I mention I'm Asian?) while my husband was greeted by "hello" -- just made me giggle as I can speak only a few words in Mandarin. We landed in Zhengzhou and the flight only took 1 hour and 20 minutes :). Our group met our agency rep, Yisha, and assistant at the airport and headed to the Crowne Plaza hotel on our bus, where we were given name tags and the most recent updates about our children!!! We were so eager and happy to read new information about our son and was ecstatic to learn that he is an extrovert! We giggled at the little things such as Henry not enjoying baths and that "he has never seen animal before and he might like animal" -- we think he's seen photos of our dog, Monty. :)

At the hotel, we handed a copy of our passport and visa pages to our rep who then checked us all in and we dispersed into our rooms. I think three other families are on our floor. The room was okay but not as "current" as the Crowne in Beijing. It took forever to heat up the room and just as long to get hot water. We met the group downstairs for a late lunch and I loved my Thai Fried Rice. Our very basic birch-color crib was delivered to our room after lunch by two staff members (our agency requests cribs for families who are receiving very young children).

After lunch, one parent per family met up with Yisha in the lobby to walk to the bank to exchange money. Okay, I had read about bringing over clean and crisp US notes ($100 bills) but I thought it was mainly for the orphanage fee. No, you will need to bring these perfect bills for the bank as well (for registration, notarization, and other fees [plus spending money] if your agency didn't ask you to prepay). Luckily for us, we just had enough clean and crisp $100-bills for today's trip to the bank. Some of our bills had creases down the middle so I set those aside. Dave said one family had over $300-worth of bills rejected by the bank teller because the notes had ink markings on them. So, if you visit the bank and you don't have perfect bills, take more than enough so you have a few back-up bills.

Before we could settle into our hotel room, a large group of us walked about 15 minutes to Wal-Mart to purchase our cheapo strollers. Our rep agreed it was a good idea to make the purchase the night before we meet our kids. The Wal-Mart here was a bit of a maze and not many employees spoke English so I pulled an assistant to our group and pointed to the stroller that one mom brought with her and pointed to the ceiling and then the floor, which was my way of asking, "On which floor do you carry strollers?" It worked! LOL! We were a little disappointed at the range since there were more pricy strollers than the cheaper side. We bought one in the sale for $55, which was quite nice (but probably not something I would have thought hard about at home) as we'll be taking it back to the US.

We decided to skip the group dinner and unpacked almost everything, which included our baby stuff! It was so exciting to pack little things into our bags for tomorrow's big day!!!

The one thing I'm really worried about is the cigarette smoke we're smelling in our room, which materialized towards the end of the night. We've noticed that it's not the room itself that smells of smoke but it's the smoke that is seeping through into our room from elsewhere. Someone very close to our room is smoking and it's driving us crazy. It's disgusting and it's really irritating our throats. We're just worried about our son but there's nothing we can do because guests are permitted to smoke in designated hotel rooms (we are on a non-smoking floor, apparently). I've been spraying my Febreze around the room, which helps a little but it still STINKS!

Folks, this is our last night as a couple! I hope to update you with photos of our Gotcha Day tomorrow (or the day after)!

A little outdated but spacious hotel room
**** ****
All the lights and TV were operated by some kind of
"mother board" on the table between the beds!
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We ended up placing this basic crib in between
our beds, which worked quite well
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You can just see the hairdryer in the
mirror, which looks like a hand-held
vacuum cleaner! They did have a
modern one in the drawer though.
**** ****
I guess for emergencies if you have several bad nights!


Stacia said...

It sounds like you are doing well which is great. I am so excited for your big day tomorrow! You have done a great job detailing everything on your blog. :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update Lin. Glad they didn't charge you additional for your extra luggage weight. Am so excited can't believe it's tomorrow you will be united with your gorgeous son, our nephew! My stomach is churning for you both with anxiousness!! Xxxx big shell

Kelly said...

So very excited for you! Soak in every moment of this precious day. I can't wait to see Henry in your arms.

(fellow Xuchang mommy)

Rebecca said...

Trying to get caught up with blogs this morning...just noticed we have the same "gotcha day!" We will get our daughter this afternoon around 2:30! We're already in Guangzhou and staying at the Victory. Hopefully we'll see you around!!!

Hope all goes well for your family today!!!


Kam said...

WooHoo!!! So excited for you and can't wait to see you with your beautiful Henry!!! Amazing that you are there! I'm soaking up your posts!

Team Robichaux said...

Eeek! Would you recommend buying a stroller in the states and bringing it versus buying it there? Okay, so I am not excited about the cigarette smoke :( I hope you guys get some relief and whoever is smoking checks out soon.


Tara and Julian said...

Haha!! You are Asian? My good friend Linda and I had no idea! (although you have described yourself as very short before.) Can't wait to actually meet you in person! 1 more day!

linxx said...

Thanks, guys!

Tasha: it's completely up to you. One family in our group already had two strollers back home but did not want the hassle of bringing one over so they bought the cheapest one and will be trashing it. Another family brought their stroller but I think they experienced a couple of minor issues at check-in. We just didn't want to bring another item over to be honest! :)

Tara: ha, yes I am! Can't believe you'll be leaving soon. Hoping to see you in Guangzhou!! Have a great flight!