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Thursday, January 3, 2013

The long trek home (AKA Planes, Rickshaws, and Automobiles)

When all was said and done, our Grand China Adventure totalled out at:
28 bus rides
12 days
7 planes
6 cities in China
6 hotel check-ins
5 automobile rides
2 rickshaw rides 
2 bike rides
1 boat ride

Whew! Getting home on that final day was quite a process. We had a double connection (flying first to Shanghai, then LA, then home), but the first flight got cancelled, so we needed to fly to Shanghai a lot earlier than expected. We checked out of the Guilin hotel and boarded the bus for the airport at 9am China time (that will be important later).

The way to the Guilin airport was filled with now-familiar China sights -- lots of traffic and whole families on bikes, scooters, motorcycles, and in the backs of tiny motorized carts.


We also saw plenty of people cleaning right in the middle of busy roads and highways. Just as in the other cities, traffic would whiz within inches of them and no one would even flinch (well except me, I guess):

The airport had perfect seats for me at the end of this long trip, don’t you think? (except for the last part, of course):

We landed at the Shanghai domestic airport and needed to travel by van to the Shanghai international airport, which was two hours away. Well you know we had to convince the driver to take us on a little bonus tour on the way (for an extra cost). Couldn’t come all that way and not even peek at Shanghai.


We stopped at Yu Gardens, which was teeming with people. This was the most crowded place we’d seen in all of China, and that is saying a lot.


We took in some architecture, walked across the famous Nine Corners Bridge (along with about a thousand other people), then grabbed food at a local dim sum place.


Our lunchtime view was pretty extraordinary:

Then we stopped at the Shanghai Bund, an area along the Huangpu River that is one of the most-visited areas in Shanghai. That waterfront skyline is impressive.


We were kind of cooked at that point, so we headed for the airport. Inside the travelers' lounge Jane and I found the best seats in the house. These massage chairs were incredible. TubaDad might need to get one of these for the family room. Ahhhhhhh. (If they cost as much as a car, don’t tell me, I like to dream.):

We boarded the plane, had a meal, watched a movie, then it was lights out for the girls. We traded in TubaDad’s airmiles for business class upgrades again (that’s the one upside to having him gone on business trips all the time), and appreciated every minute. Ro and Ree slept for almost 8 hours and we woke them up 10 minutes before landing – Best Flight Ever!:

We finally made it after traveling almost 8000 miles by air that day (this pic is the flight from Shanghai to LA, just one short flight from home):

The girls had been talking about wearing their souvenir dresses to surprise Wela and BobBob and could not wait to put them on, so we dashed into the bathroom after landing and did a quick change:

Still skipping after a full day of travel:

My folks picked us up, we did the car shuffle, and hopped in the van. And 27 hours and 18 minutes after leaving the hotel in Guilin, we arrived at home sweet home.


The end.


  1. First jealous of gorgeous trip!
    Two jealous you flew first class!
    Three if one reads tubadad wrong it gives one a chuckle! I thought you were calling him a tubba!

  2. Wow, that's a loooong day! So glad y'all made it home safely :)
    P.S. I think I might be skipping if I'd gotten to sleep for the entire flight in one of those sweet seats!
    What a TRIP - I have loved following along vicariously!

  3. Anonymous1/03/2013

    Wow! Thank you for the incredible vicarious adventure!

    Yes, 1st class does make for a much easier and more comfortable trip :).

  4. Anonymous1/03/2013

    Have really enjoyed following along - thanks for sharing! I'm sure that your girls will always remember this cool trip! :)

  5. So jealous you got to go to Shanghai. When/if we take our girls back, that is a must for me. Loved your blog. Thanks for sharing your trip.

  6. What a fabulous trip you all had, I loved reading along.

    And boy, do I have questions! I know you're going to be in a jet lagged fog for a couple of weeks, but we're thinking of doing a similar trip with our girls (6 & 7) and have a ton of questions for you about logistics and your thoughts about the ages Ro & Ree were when you took them back for such an incredible adventure. One BIG (HUGE!) difference is that we won't be able to relax in 1st/Business class and will be stuck in coach with two little girls, so they won't be able to sleep for 8 hours straight comfortably...but I digress. Hopefully soon I'll get my thoughts in order and either send you an email or write out a list of questions here on your blog.

    Welcome home!

    1. Send the questions on over, happy to answer any that I can! Most of the in-country flights we took were late at night (oh so late), and the girls slept on almost all of them (in those extra-small China Air coach seats), so the smaller size didn't seem to bother them at all. They just curled up kind of sideways.

  7. welcome home. what a fantastic fabulous, trip. Thanks, as always for sharing.

  8. Thank you for sharing your trip with all of us! Please feel free to post and share more now that you are home. I would not grow tired of looking at the beautiful sights....and all of your wonderful travellers, too! You really made the most of your time! The memories are priceless. Now, get some good rest for the next few days!!

  9. Welcome home sweet friend! SO glad you had such a great trip!! Looking forward to catching up when you're over the jet lag.

  10. This trip was so stinkin' fun to follow! Thanks for bringing us along!

  11. Anonymous1/03/2013

    What an amazing trip - thanks for sharing! What did the girls think of it all?

    1. They really liked it and wanted more time in each place. :-) Both said their top highlights were the pandas (of course), riding bikes on the Ancient Wall, climbing really high on the Great Wall, and the boat ride.

  12. That last day looked as fabulous as all the rest. I can't wait to take that trip myself. Once you are back to normal, I'd love to hear more. At some point we'll have to figure out when to take our kids back for homeland trips.

  13. On my way home, I booked a 2 day "layover" in Hawaii. Highly recommend it. 8 weeks, 13 flights, 4 countries (because Hong Kong was independent then), and I lost track of the trains and buses. I'm so glad you took this trip and saw so many wonderful things. I choke up telling Greg about how special it must have been for the girls to see the country where they were born, and to be immersed in the culture. It was great fun watching your travels!

    1. Now THAT is a good idea! I think I'll book a mini-layover at a massage place once the girls are back in school.

  14. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Shanghai dumplings are the best!

  15. What an awesome trip! I sure did enjoy following you all on your adventure!

  16. Anonymous1/04/2013

    Nice. A1

  17. What a wonderful trip!! thanks for blogging!!!!! Woot Woot!

  18. Jealous! It was 3 years ago when we spent Christmas in China on our second adoption trip. What incredible memories! Glad you had a great time and made it back safely! Good luck getting over the jetlag. I had no problem at 35, but at 40 it took me forever...

    We hope to plan a heritage trip, but our youngest is 4, so we want to wait a bit longer.

    1. You guys will love it! Seven-years old seemed about the youngest and a great age to go on this trip. We had three busses for our tour, divided by age, and our bus (of the "littles") had 14 kids aged mostly 7-8. The other bus was around 9-11 year olds, and then there was a bus of teenagers.

  19. That was so fun to follow you!! We leave July 14 for our heritage trip so I eagerly anticipate any traveling tips. Looks fantastic! Mae is the same as age your girls, btw.

  20. Anonymous1/04/2013

    I've so enjoyed following along on this trip. We were in China a year ago to adopt our second and talk about a heritage trip in about 10 years. I can't wait to go now that I've seen what your trip entailed!
    Thanks for posting.


  21. Loved reading and seeing pictures about your family trip to China - looks like an amazing adventure for all of you! So cool the girls got to see and hold baby pandas, talk about a once in a lifetime opportunity. Hopefully everyone is recovering from the crazy time change and long travel day home.


  22. Anonymous1/05/2013

    Hi M3, what a wonderful job you did with a chronicle of your adventures...and with your customary upbeat approach. I am quite sure you selectively left out the slog part of travel (unexpected delays, the occasional sib spat, parent exhaustion, re-packing each day, etc.)Makes one want to run out and book a trip with kiddos today! Enjoyed your wonderful photography as well. Our holiday "trip" was a staycation to a local swishy hotel and the girls had a ball...as did I. Ginny

    1. Hi Ginny, hope you guys had a great holiday! Any news yet? :-)

      Our trip really was awesome - way better than I expected, and I was so nervous going into it. I'll put all the details in the Tips post next, but here are a few:

      We were exhausted from the jet lag at first, but the night of the Christmas party marked the turnaround on that one, and we all adapted better than I thought we would.he de

      The delays (there were tons) didn't really bother us because we all had electronics. During all the waiting, the girls (and other kiddos) got to play as much on the iPads as they wanted, which never happens at home so it was a treat, and for me it was my only time to blog on the laptop. Once we got to hotel rooms, all we wanted to do was sleepsleepsleep.

      We had 20 adults and 14 kids (most of them aged 7 and 8) on our bus, and I can honestly say that all of the kids did great. No one freaked out about anything or ended up on the floor kicking and screaming or anything like that. The kids were troopers.

      The one thing that was hard was that Ro and Ree get wound up when they get tired -- the more tired they are the more hyper they get. So they got increasingly hyper until we finally opted out of some stuff and got them more sleep (I wrote about it on the first Chengdu night, whenever that was). Two nights of getting more sleep and they were back to their "normal" very active selves.

      Anyhow, I'll try to write as many details as I can in the Tips post.

  23. isnt that korean hanbook the girl were wearing?

  24. Loved following your trip. My oldest (almost 9) really enjoyed it too. The panadas were a big hit with her too! She was 7 when we traveled to get her little sister and it was a great age to go. We will do another trip when the youngest (now 3) is around 7. Please share any additional info about the heritage trip (any negatives) when you have a chance.

  25. I followed along through google reader, but just wanted to take a moment to actually comment and tell you how fun it was to see China through your eyes and to watch the girls take in their birth country!! One of my favorite posts was the cooking class!!! You know I am a foodie at heart:))

    I am sure you are still getting settled back in here and trying to get over jet lag, but when you have a few minutes, please share a few of your favorite China photos (and you had so many fabulous ones) with our "frame this" group. I did not want to put you on the spot but I think everyone would enjoying viewing them:)

    Welcome home and Happy New Year~


  26. M3, what an amazing Heritage trip for your family! Loved following along with my girls. I'll have to read your tips (we've talked about the best time to bring our girls back). Thanks for sharing the beautiful pictures and fun posts, it was great seeing China in Ree and Ro's eyes, what a special trip for them!
    What month did you adopt your girls? (I'll have to read back on your blog) We were there in Aug. 2006
    Happy New Year, hope your all getting rested from your travels,

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  28. Anonymous2/17/2013

    Thanks for photos of Shanghai, where my child spent her first 1 1/2 yrs in SWI. Will share them with her as she is becoming interested in knowing about birthplace. She, and all the little sweethearts from China are wonderful treasures.