Taiwan! (Part One)

So, I finally found a few minutes to sit down and tell you a little about our trip!  I want to chronicle as much as I can, so that later, Amber Joy can see what it was like :) 

Monday, December 26: Our missionary friend in Taiwan notified us at about 8 p.m. that she thought that AIT (the embassy in Taiwan) had an available appointment for us on January 5 at 8 a.m.  Our mouths literally dropped open because to get there by January 5, we needed to travel by Thursday, December 29th!  It takes a full 24 hours to get to Taiwan, then we would fly the next day to where Amber Joy lived in Taitung, a town on the southeast coast.  At the time we got the e-mail, I had our friend Baylie over who was helping me pack.  Needless to say, the packing sped up quite a bit when we found out we were leaving in two days!  Baylie and I quickly made a Wal-Mart list and headed out at about 10 p.m.  After a much-needed stop at Waffle House, we spend over an hour in Wal-Mart, buying extra clothes, jackets, a few snacks (in case I found the Taiwanese food inedible), and I don't even remember what all I bought, but it took FOREVER.  Finally got home and in bed around 3 a.m. 

Tuesday, December 27: I woke up early to start trying to find flights and hotels in Taiwan.  And the brick walls begin.  It was crazy.  Flights I had priced just a day earlier were double and even triple the cost.  We could fly from Nashville to LA or San Francisco, then on to Taipei, but not the same day.  We could do Nashville to Detroit to Taipei, but it was $9,000.  We had friends who had generously offered to pay for our plane tickets, so we felt we must be good stewards with that gift and get the most reasonably priced flights possible.  I was sleep-deprived and stressed out.  My mother got on the phone too and began to talk with a woman at American Airlines.  She was incredibly helpful and after several hours, mom and this agent had reserved flights for us that would come to only $1600 each round-trip.  It was unbelievable.  We would fly from Nashville to Chicago, then on to Shanhai, China.  We would have a layover in China, then on to Taipei where we would spend the night, then get a flight the next day to Taitung.  We wanted to still try Delta because we had heard they were good on the flight over.  I was very anxious about the trans-Pacific flight (not a fan of flying over water) and Justin or I had never been out of the country.  In a way, looking back, I'm glad we didn't have much notice.  I didn't have as much time to worry about it!  Mom took a half day off work and headed over to our house around Noon to help me get everything booked.  We decided to go to the Nashville airport in person to see what Delta could do for an adoption "emergency" travel situation.  When I got to the counter, I soon discovered that it was not meant to be with Delta, so I trotted right over to American.  I gave them the reservation # and paid for the tickets on the spot.  We had flights booked by 4 p.m.  When mom and I got back to our house, we got busy booking hotels.  We would stay in the Sunworld Dynasty the night we arrived in Taipei (December 30).  Then, we would stay in the Sanpo in Taitung (the honeymoon suite!), and at the Dolamanco in Taipei when we returned with Amber Joy.  We discovered Agoda.com (sort of the Asian priceline) and were able to book rooms that way.  And so, the adventure was really starting to take shape!

Wednesday, December 28: Really a big blur of a day, we packed and packed and packed...I made lists for people who we enlisted to come to the house while we were gone to do different things for us (groceries, recycling, trash, cleaning, etc.), and we set a lofty goal of being finished packing in time to go see a movie for some last-minute escapism and date night.  We actually made it (only 10 minutes late) to "The Adventures of TinTin" at the NCG in Gallatin.  We got home around 6:30 and were in bed by 10 because my parents came and picked us up at 3:30 a.m. the next morning!!!

Thursday, December 29: Early morning!  Wow!  We got it all done and somehow packed everything for us and Amber Joy in only 3 suitcases.  We had to take clothes for her, diapers, bottles, wipes, and everything else you can imagine.  We also had gifts galore for the staff at Morning Light Home, as well as clothes, toilitries, and carry on items.  Mom and dad prayed with us just before we went through security.  I was nervous, tired, and excited all at the same time.  Our flight to Chicago was uneventful...Justin and I both passed out from exhaustion from the past two days frenzy.  We had about a 4 hour layover in Chicago and passed the time with some donuts from Dunkin Donuts :)  We knew it would be awhile before we would be able to get donuts again, so that was our excuse.  We boarded for Shanghai and settled in quickly.  On the long flights, we discovered that we got 2 full meals and a snack, plus drink service.  Our seats were comfortable, although not a lot of room.  We each had our own monitor and remote control with movies, games, and music.  I could not imagine that this plane was about to be my home for the next 14.5 hours.  The neatest thing for me was the flight path option.  At any point while the plane was in the air, you could choose 'flight path' on your screen and it would show the position of the plane over land or ocean on a map.  From Chicago, we flew up over Canada, Alaska, the Arctic Ocean, Siberia, and finally China.  I know it sounds strange, but I feel like that's one way God took care of me...we were not over the ocean for long periods of time.  Neither of us slept very well on the long flight.  We watched movies, played games, and Justin began reading a book that his boss got him called, "What a Difference a Daddy Makes."  I think I was shocked when we finally got to Shanghai.  The last two hours of the trip were the hardest.  We knew we were almost there, but it seemed to take FOREVER.  We also knew that we had a five hour layover in Shanghai.  We were exhausted. 

(this is our plane from Chicago to Shanghai)

When we arrived in Shanghai on December 30, we had to claim our luggage because China does not allow pass-through luggage.  We had to enter the country officially and exit the country officially even though we were only going to be in the airport.  As we de-planed, there were five men in uniform just watching us.  I suddenly remembered that China is a communist country.  Justin had asked one of the flight attendants what we needed to do when we got there since we were transferring to China Airlines for our flight to Taipei.  She said, "oh, just follow the signs for international transfers.  It's easy."  Yeah. Right. 

Ok, with that, I have got to go to bed.  I will do my very best to blog more tomorrow while peanut is sleeping.  Good night!

(flight path photo)

More to come soon...


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