Who would have imagined that one day, I would have a baby and be moving overseas. Okay, well, I imagined it. And then it happened. We have been in China for exactly 2 weeks with Baby E. It is incredible how time moves so quickly! In some ways it feels like we never left… but I’m getting ahead of myself. I want to tell you the story of our journey to Wuxi.
When we finally got our visas back from the government, our company told us that we would be leaving two days later. So we booked a hotel in Denver near DIA, finished packing and cleaning. Put everything in a car and headed to my parents house for one last family meal. That night, we received word once again about our departure date. Not only were we NOT leaving that next morning, we would have to wait a week to get on board a plane to China.
Its fairly confusing for most westerners to wrap their heads around how China works. This includes things like holidays. As foreigners, we must register with local police, get a health screening and apply for a local work permit once we arrive in China. Because there was a week long holiday called Golden Week, we wouldn’t be able to do these things in time and after 30 days we would need to leave the country.
So we went back up to Fort Collins and laid low for a week. It was a very emotionally difficult week for us. Soon enough, we loaded up the car once again, re-cleaned everything, booked another hotel, and went once more to Denver for a last meal with my parents. On Tuesday October 3 at 3am we left for DIA with 2 (carry on)backpacks, 2 (checked) backpacks, 3 suitcases, a diaper bag, stroller and carseat. I have never felt more weighed down with stuff in my life. When I travel, I want it to be as streamlined, as easy, as efficient as possible. Well, my efficient, simple life has changed… I now have a baby. A baby who doesn’t exactly travel light.
We had 3 flights total, from Denver to San Francisco (3 hours), SFO to Beijing (11 hours), PEK to Wuxi(1.5 hours). In addition to our flight times, we had a 6 hour layover in SFO and a 4 hour layover in PEK. All with a 2 month old. Oh, did we mention we had to gate check our carseat and stroller? At each leg of the journey? I think Nicholas is deserving of the highly coveted “Dad of The Year” award. He checked and picked up the stroller carseat combo every step of the way. He also lugged our checked bags through security when we reached Beijing and finally when we got to Wuxi. He changed diapers on airplanes and walked around with a crying baby. He is truly an amazing man.
You are probably wondering how well a 2 month old baby did on such a long day. Baby E is a natural born traveller, for the most part. She slept through both short flights. She also slept the first 5 hours on the long flight. The second 6 hours on the long flight were a totally different story. She was wide awake and terribly unhappy to be on an airplane for such a long time. I’m sure she was a little tired of all the attention she was getting from everyone. We were very lucky to have a bassinet on our flight. She slept for her first 5 hours in it. After that we mostly used it to change her diapers and for storage of blankets and things during our flight. I’ve never flown for so long and not watched a movie, read OR slept. Like I said before, times have changed for my streamlined, stress free travel experiences.
We finally made it to Wuxi, and unlike our first trip to China, we had people come pick us up. At midnight. And then when we made it to our apartment, a group of 8 guys came to meet us and carry our luggage up for us. Then when we finally said goodnight to everyone, we noticed that our school had prepared some goods for us — towels, sheets, soap, food and a few Nescafe packets. What a welcome! They had also brought some boxes over for us and baby things for E. We had a bassinet, a baby gym and a swing waiting for her. I’ve never felt so loved by a new group of people who hadn’t met us yet.