Saturday, December 29, 2012

And we're off.....

On Friday, December 21 at around 5:30pm we left our house in Sterling Heights, Michigan and were on our way to our new home for the next 27 months in Chongqing, China. The week prior to leaving was a intense time in our lives as we sorted and organized our belongings and divided them into Sea, Air shipments. What didn't get sent in shipments was packed up in 13 pieces of luggage which we'll live out of for the first 8-12 weeks. We stayed the night at the Westin Detroit Airport hotel the night before our departure. Our good friend Ryan Fogelberg (another Ford employee) was kind enough to bring over his Expedition and loaded up our bags and followed us to the airport.

The bell boys at the hotel were quite surprised to see our massive collection of luggage and quickly asked where we going. After hearing that we are moving to China they wished us all the best on our adventure. We squeezed into our hotel room on Friday night surrounded by our luggage and enjoyed our last meal in the States (until the summer) by ordering room service. We were too tired and it was too late to go to a restaurant. We all took showers the night before. Casey and Jake even tried out the hotel robe. By 10pm we were all fast asleep dreaming of what was to come the next day.

Our first flight was from Detroit to Chicago. It departed at 7:45am. With it being a holiday weekend it was important for us to arrive very early to check-in. Also, we had so much luggage in tow that it was going to take a while to load it all up in a shuttle and then unload it and get it to the ticketing area. We left the hotel at 5am and by 6am we were all checked in,  through security and enjoying a breakfast near our gate. The flight was a simple 1 hour hop over Lake Michigan and we arrived in Chicago on-time. We had a 2.5 hour layover until our next flight so we checked in at the Admirals Club (executive lounge) waiting until it was time to go. About 45 minutes before our flight left we headed to the gate and immediately received an announcement that our plane had a complication and the flight was canceled. Another plane will be leaving at 8pm to Shanghai. Back to the Admiral's Club to get our tickets adjusted and also this meant that we would not make our connection in Shanghai. Instead we will arrive in Shanghai and 1am and will have to wait until 9am until the next flight to Chongqing. Mentally we prepared ourselves for a looonnnngg couple of days, too huge layovers and not any closer to our destination any time soon.

During the 9.5 hour delay in Chicago we setup our temporary home in the Club and played many games of war with the kids, caught up on emails/facebook/etc and explored the O'hare airport. It was a long wait but we managed fairly well. Before we knew it it was time to board the plane and our next stop was Shanghai, China. With it being a 14 hour long flight, Ford provided business class seats and the kids took the opportunity to check out every gadget. They loved having their own TVs, remotes to adjust their chairs, access to the windows and of course the tray tables (there were two of them). We were officially on our way to China and would arrive 14 hours later. The flight went well and we all slept for 6-7 hours. The kids (and Mommy and Daddy too) enjoyed access to as many movies and games as they wanted. The flight attendants were very nice and thought it was neat that we were moving to China. They told us the Chinese are very nice people and we would enjoy our experience.

At 1am (local time) we landed in Shanghai airport. We easily got through customs and were headed towards baggage claim. Our luggage needed to be re-checked for our flight to Chongqing. One bonus about China was that they use push carts for moving their luggage and this worked in our favor and we each grabbed a cart and loaded it up with 3-4 pieces each. Since we arrived "in the middle of the night" we could not recheck our luggage until 7am (2 hours before our flight left). This meant we were stuck in the main terminal for the next 6 hours. There was a small handful (about 50 or so) of other passengers spending the night in the airport like us. Jake and Chris played some football in the open space, the kids watched a movie and also rested for an hour. Chris and I tried to relax the best we could but it was not an ideal situation to get much rest. There was 1 small convenience store open where we purchased some drinks and snacks.

As the morning approached many travelers started entering the terminal and our day was about to get started. Before checking in our luggage we stopped at a cafe for muffins, smoothies and coffee. During this time we had access to wifi and were able to Facetime and Skype with family back in Wisconsin. They were very happy to see us. Checking in our luggage was challenging and took 45 minutes, Air China didn't seem to know how to handle our caravan. Eventually it all worked out and we were soon on our FINAL flight to our new home: Chongqing.

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