Sunday, June 3, 2012

Coming Home, a.k.a. Back To Reality

We checked out of The China Hotel on Friday afternoon at 3:30, received Henry's visa shortly thereafter, hopped into a van with Dr. & Mrs. Dutter and their little boy, and took off for Hong Kong.  The boys made the trip pretty well.  The constant speed-up and braking as we passed through the cities made me a bit queasy, but nothing big-deal.  Henry filled his diaper once.

As if to seal the vision in our minds, we saw high rise after high rise under construction and crane after crane, even in the "smaller" cities from Guangzhou to Hong Kong.  Whenever I used to hear about China having over a billion people, and knowing that big sections of the country were uninhabitable, I wondered where they put everybody. I don't wonder anymore.  They put people one floor on top of another.  Some of the apartment buildings look nice, but we saw many, many buildings in which I'd think nobody would want to live.

Going through customs into Hong Kong was interesting.  Definitely more intense than the Peace Bridge.  The man on the Chinese side checked our paperwork and waved us past.  At the Hong Kong gate, a masked woman opened the door to our van and aimed a gun at each of us and pulled the trigger.  That it was an infrared tool to check our temperatures was a good thing, but still kind of creepy.  We were shortly waved past as our passports and visas checked out okay, and we apparently weren't carrying any diseases.

The drive into Hong Kong was neat given the time of evening.  The buildings around Victoria Harbor were starting to light up, and we wove through traffic to the Regal Kowloon Hotel.  They're renovating this hotel floor by floor, and unless you can get a reservation for one of the updated rooms, we'd suggest finding another hotel.  The noise from the hallway and adjacent rooms was not blocked out in the least, the network did not work for us as it was advertised, the drain in the shower gave us a shower/bath sensation, and the crib they gave us for Henry was a dangerous joke.  The location was cool, but the room was not.

We passed a Subway on the way in, and that sounded like a good dinner to us, so after we got settled I asked the concierge how to get to Subway.  He told me to walk out of the tunnel, make a right, and it would be about a five-minute walk.  Dr. Indiana and I walked out of the tunnel and Subway was right in front of us.  I think the concierge was giving me directions to the subway.
We rose early to catch the airport shuttle, which was very convenient, arrived at the airport and took off on time.  This was welcome because our in-China flights never left on time.  I've got to say, too, that the staffs of the into and out of Hong Kong flights have been the friendliest I've ever seen.  Good job, United, for hiring great workers for long and potentially trying flights.

Going strong after 14 hours on a plane.
We couldn't have asked for a better traveller in Henry.  Sure he was loud at times, but he was always happy, he slept a good bit, and never gave us too much trouble. The only time he really cried was when we strapped him in the car seat at the Cleveland Airport. Grandpa Doug and Lincoln came to pick us up, and Lincoln had a Welcome Home sign that we loved. Jenn and I were thrilled to see Lincoln. Three weeks was too long.
Shortly after we arrived home, Lydia and Grandma Paulette came, and seeing Henry next to Lydia was a sight to behold. After 2 weeks with Henry, we were getting used to him and thinking of him as an 18-month-old, and it's now clear that he's much more like a 12-14 month old when we have Lydia as a point of comparison. That will all change in the next couple of months, though.
Getting home and seeing the three kids together was definitely a dose of reality. So was Henry's crying at 3:00am because of the time change and new environment. And so begins the next chapter of The Gates Experiment. The thought of being the mother and father that each of our individual children need is a bit overwhelming to think about at this point. Thankfully, we don't have to rely on our own strength. The blog posts will be fewer and further between now, but feel free to surf our blog as the days and weeks and months unfold.

Stay tuned for our upcoming Adoption-Themed post of "Things You Need To Have In Order Before You Travel," or "Setting Your Expectations Appropriately." You prospective adopters will not want to miss that.

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