We woke up early to be ready to leave the hotel at 7:15am. This year we couldn't find any inexpensive tickets out of Guangzhou, so the plan was to take a train to Hong Kong and fly out from there. Our agency okayed our plan, but our guide told us there wasn't a train going out early enough to get us to the airport comfortably early. We were really torn about what to do because the only alternative was to hire a van driver to take us to Hong Kong and the van costs significantly more than we were planning on, plus I had heard horror stories about these van rides. But in the end, we didn't want to mess around with missing our flight home, so we took the advice of our guide and took a van to Hong Kong.
Our guide, Jason. Who we really liked... until our van ride ;)
Walking out the doors of the China Hotel for the last time.
Saying goodbye to our new friends.
The van ride took 3 hours and just like Gilligan's infamous 3 hour tour, it did not go well. For the first little bit, it was typical crazy driving through China traffic, but I thought things would get better once we were out of the city. Not so. We have no idea what was up with the driver, but his driving was nuts. Traffic wasn't bad but he kept speeding up, then braking for no apparent reason... over and over and over. This lurching motion made us all sick in no time. It was so frustrating. We couldn't tell if he was on drugs, falling asleep, trying to look at his phone, or what, but he drove that way the entire way to Hong Kong and the fact that he heard vomiting noises coming from behind him did not clue him in at all.
Poor Hallie was not having it.
Enoch threw up 5 or 6 times. Luckily he still had his small collection of airplane barf bags for the first few upchucks.
Yep, still not doing well.
After we ran out of airplane bags, I started emptying Ziplock bags from our luggage for extra puke storage.
Hallie, felling a little better after she threw up on me. What really put her over the edge was when the van driver let out a nasty smelling belch that filled the air in the van. Ugh! At the border, we had to stop at customs, and Kaitlyn really had to use the restroom, so I took her to use some of the nastiest squatty-potties ever. Or maybe they just seemed that way because I was already completely nauseated. Either way, it nearly did me in.
I really cannot express how terrible this van ride was.
On the bright side, the little bit of Hong Kong we saw was pretty cool.
Ryan loves bridges and there were several to check out.
When we made it to the airport we were all feeling better about life.
Kaitlyn wanted me to get a picture of this woman sleeping next to Hallie wearing a sweet eye mask.
Pringle Crumb Face
Lots of waiting...
Then a really long flight on which Hallie did amazing well. The only thing that was hard was the fact that she has such poor muscle tone she couldn't sit upright for that long. She kept slowly sliding down in her seat until her seat belt was up to her armpits and repeatedly needed me to sit her back up. At 4 years old, her muscle tone is really only a little better than a newborns. Something we'll definitely need to work on. Even when we hold her, we have to be sure to support her because sometimes she'll fall backwards.
We made it to Dallas... making this girl an official U.S. citizen!
When we were booking our flights, we had the option of a 2 hour 15 minute layover or a 6 hour 50 minute layover. We knew that customs and immigration can sometimes be a nightmare in Dallas, so we decided to be safe and book the long layover. The last thing we wanted to do was to miss a flight. Well, we got though customs and immigration pretty quickly and tried to see if we could get on the earlier flight, but it was already full. So we had a nice loooong wait in Dallas.
Fun fact: Ryan accidentally forgot to put all of his regular shorts in his suit case so for the whole two weeks, all he had was 2 pair of sweat shorts. At first he was frustrated, then he embraced it. He wore them well.
Our flight and layover were long, but after our terrible van ride. They really didn't seem too bad, just long.
Suckers and stickers.
After a comparatively short flight, we made it to Salt Lake City!
Exhausted, but happy.
Exhausted, but happy.