Taiwan (Part Two)

Ok, I plead the fact that I am a new mom for not blogging about the rest of our trip until now!  If I don't do it now, I will begin to forget the details and I don't want to do that!  As I write today, Amber Joy is napping in her crib.  Yes, in her crib.  When we got home, she was napping great...2 or more hours, but after a few weeks, she started sleeping 20 minutes and waking up crying.  I read the sleep books, but they don't really address adoption attachment issues (you really shouldn't let an adopted baby 'cry it out'), so I began rocking her to sleep then lying down with her in my bed.  That worked for about 2 weeks.  Then, another adoptive mom whose son dealt with the same sleep issues began coaching me!  Seriously!  It was a play-by-play over text when we started trying her method.  I put Amber Joy in the crib at naptime and let her cry it out.  The difference: I stay in the room where she can see me.  She learns to self-soothe and as a result, sleeps longer and better. She is still not taking long naps in the mornings, but she's doing better in the afternoons.  She's 13 months old now, so it may be getting close to time to change to one nap per day.  We'll see.  But for now, she's doing great with naps...in her crib! 

So, back to Taiwan...I think I had gotten us as far as China in my last post.  Honestly, I don't even remember what time it was when we landed in Shanghai.  We had been traveling for nearly 24 hours, but it was sometime in the afternoon for them.  It was a cold place...signs everywhere not to take pictures, be quiet and the idea was to move quickly.  It was sad to me that everyone had a tag on their shirt, but no name, just a number.  We didn't see anyone at the international transfers counter that the flight attendant had instructed us to visit to get to our next flight.  It was closed.  We followed the crowd to the customs lines, but were nervous about going through because we weren't sure we would be able to get back in.  I saw a caucasian woman in a flight attendant uniform and approached her to ask where we should go, but she quickly walked by and said "I'm late."  Hmmm.  We attempted to ask airport workers where to go, and finally figured out where our luggage would be coming out.  One cool thing about Asian airports is the free luggage carts.  We grabbed one and Justin got our luggage.  We discovered that one of the suitcases had ripped down the side and was really beyond repair.  We would have to deal with that later.  We finally decided to go through immigration and just tell them we needed to transfer to our flight to Taipei.  We were exhausted and felt as though we were in an international spy movie.  They flagged us through the line that was labeled "foreigners" and we got our passports stamped with a China stamp!  (I was stoked because I had decided if I were ever going to fly over the ocean, it would be to China!!)  We were directed to go to the other terminal to get our departing flight.  We left the arrival terminal and discovered that in China, those waiting to get people from the airport cannot go inside...they have to wait in the large open lobby area.  There were so many people holding up signs and anxiously (though still quietly) awaiting their friends and loved ones. 

We made it to our new terminal and settled in for the five hour layover.  We had to figure out what to do about the suitcase because it clearly was not going to make it to Taiwan and back ripped all the way down the side.  We spotted an airport worker at a booth with shrink wrap.  We had seen several people's suitcases shrink wrapped and thought we would ask her how much.  It was maybe $6 US dollars.  I went to the money exchange to see if I could get some Chinese yen.  The exchange rate was more than the shrink wrap would have cost.  I remembered passing by a luggage store in the airport so after pleading my case to Justin that we had to have a new suitcase, I managed to purchase the cheapest one they had...about $250.  :(  To make it even better, it was a pinkish-red color that Justin just loved!  So, I sat down in the middle of the Shanghai airport and switched everything from the old suitcase to the new.  After that, they had opened our airline's counter so we could check-in for the flight to Taipei.  Problem is, we didn't know what we were going to do with the old suitcase.  Here we were in a communist country, already getting stares, and wanting to dispose of a potentially suspicious empty rolling duffle bag!  We tried to ask a couple of workers if there was a trash can we could leave it beside, but everyone responded "I don't know" and just smiled at us.  Justin had the bright idea that I thought might get us arrested: He said, "here's what we're going to do...put it on the cart and then we'll just casually walk away."  So we did.  We put the empty suitcase on a luggage cart, rolled it over to a bench, then he pretended to be on his phone and we started to back away.  After a few steps, he looked around and a custodian had gotten the cart and simply laid the bag on the floor and rolled the cart away!  Everyone had their specific job, but did NOT do anything else.  For all we know, that duffle bag is still sitting there in Shanghai since no one knew what to do with it!

We bought some souvenirs in Shanghai: a lipstick case for my mother-in-law, doilies for our home, some bracelets for a little girl we know who was adopted from China, and some adorable shoes for Amber Joy.  We napped a little and were able to check e-mail and communicate a bit with our families.  We were beyond tired.  The flight to Taipei was delayed twice, so we didn't board until about an hour after the scheduled time of take off.  We were dead on our feet.  Eventually we boarded the 1.5 hour flight to Taipei.  We were on China Airlines and let me say...Asian airlines rock!  So clean, excellent customer service, and we were served a full meal on that short flight! 

We arrived in Taipei around 10 p.m. their time. We found our luggage and the taxi line somehow through the foggy sleepy heads on our necks and got to our hotel.  That in itself could be a separate blog post, but suffice to say that lanes are more like 'suggestions' in Taipei and flashing lights don't always mean what you think they do.  My faith grew in more leaps and bounds during that taxi ride than in the previous 8 months combined.  We stayed that first night at the Sunworld Dynasty hotel and it was nice.  The bed only came up to Justin's knees and it was as hard as a rock, but after so many hours of travel and our experience in China, we could have slept on bricks.  We only took 3 suitcases (which I thought was pretty good considering it was our first trip out of the country).  But wow, it was a major undertaking to get it all opened to find what we needed for just one night and then get it ready to fly again the next day.

Our first morning in Taiwan was Saturday, December 31.  We woke up in the hotel, and because we didn't have to get the flight to Taitung until late afternoon, we were able to sleep in a bit.  Of course we were so excited and nerves were swirling that sleep was dreamless and fitful.  But amazingly, we both felt rested when we woke up.  We went downstairs and had an interesting breakfast buffet, complete with eggs, bacon, salad, rice, fried noodles, yogurt, cereal, tea, juice, and everything else you could possibly imagine.  We were able to skype a bit from the hotel room with some family, then we checked out and headed to the domestic airport.  We had about a five hour wait until time to check-in for our flight to Taitung.  Our missionary friend was unable to book us on the earlier flight due to it being New Year's Eve.  Apparently, Taitung, Taiwan is the place to be on New Year's!  All of the earlier flights were booked!  So we cozied up with the computer in the domestic airport.  We shopped a little (I bought a Hello Kitty souvenir for our niece, Jasmine) and we even got to eat Subway for lunch.

Finally, time came to board and fly to Taitung.  It was only a 50 minute flight, but it was the longest of our entire trip!  Since the island is mountainous in the middle, we flew around the island, over water and it was incredibly beautiful at sunset.  It did not feel like New Year's Eve!  When we arrived in Taitung, our missionary friend was there to meet us, along with our other friend who tutors her children.  I could not believe we were finally in the same city as our baby girl!!!  We had talked about taking all of our luggage and checking in at our hotel, but as we drove through the streets and the New Year's crowd continued to grow, it became clear that we needed to go to the church first, meet Amber Joy, then head to the hotel.  My nerves were on overdrive!  I thought, "what if she doesn't like me?"  But I was so very excited and could not wrap my brain around the fact that I was finally about to meet my daughter for the very first time. 

To be continued...hopefully tomorrow!


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