Journey to China

Its been a week since we arrived in Shanghai, we just unpacked everything. I remember being anxious and nervous, moving to China this time was definitely the most challenging trip so far, even though I’ve made the same trip between China and the US so many times plus ton of flying to 30 something other countries.

We got rid of almost everything we own, instead of shipping them to Shanghai, we decided to bring whatever fits in the allowed number of luggage and carry-on. To avoid the hassle of transfer, we booked the Delta direct flight from RDU to LAX, and visit mom’s friend for a few days then take the direct flight from LAX to Shanghai. The price is good, only about $650 per person for Mom, Michael and I. The domestic flight for infants under 2 is free, but the international flight usually has a 10% of ticket price and we called China Eastern ahead of time and paid less than $120 for both Lin and Li and requested bassinets for them.

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Checking in with that many luggage was tough, especially because Michael was carrying a baby (looking back we should have asked a guy to help us at the airport), Delta was tough on weight as well, they charged us $90 on one of the bags which was overweight by 15 lbs. We purchased a sky club pass so feeding them at the quiet room in the lounge was great, by using just one tempur-pedic pillow we bought the day before, and help from Mom and Michael, boys were happy eating and being changed (surprisingly there was no change table in either bathroom). The flight was full, all three of us had the seats in the same row, we held the babies in our carriers, and gave them bottles during take-off and landing, both boys slept the rest of the flight, I was also able to pump using a nursing cover, the Munchkin cool wrap was great, it holds 3 8oz bottles and has two freezer packs, it does keep the frozen milk cold for a long time. The flight time from RDU to LAX was about 5 hours, and after we landed, we waited in the plane for another 45 minutes due to some problem of accessing the gate. Lin and Li did great, the lady in front of us saw them after landing and was surprised to find two babies behind her!

Mom’s friend from 30 years ago, Mr. Xia came to the airport to pick us up, I have vivid memory of him before he left for the states. He dropped us at the Embassy Suites near the airport and took Mom back to his house. The hotel was really beautiful, and has excellent selection of breakfast with  made to order omelette, boys were fine the next morning, we took them for a walk around the block. Then Mr. Xia transferred us to Hilton, the first day they were fussy pretty much the whole day, but the next day they were good. We were invited to Mr. Xia’s restaurant (京味小厨) and his wife cooked dinner, it was so yummy! I can’t believe the food was so good in LA, and there’re so many Chinese there! Mom pretty much slept for two days without having to worry about the babies. Mr. Xia’s wife brought us traditional Chinese breakfast – rice pack, soy milk, rice milk) for the trip to the airport (it was again, really yummy)!

The only surprise was we were denied access at LAX lounge, because we have to be elite member to use it, that was total BS and it wasn’t stated in the fine print for the 30-day membership terms. I decided to feed them in the restroom one by one, and Mom could change them on the change table. It worked fine, at least I felt more comfortable than using a nursing cover in front of a hundred people. Getting on China Eastern was easier, with the help from Mr. Xia. As soon as we got on board, the flight attendants started checking them out. The online review says the service on China Eastern isn’t good, in our case, they were super friendly (thanks to the boys), before we knew, one flight attendant already talked to a passenger and switched seats for us. So Mom and I had Li in the bulk head bassinet in a two-seat row, and Michael had Lin in another bassinet across the isle in the same row. The couple sitting next to him also had a 6-month old baby in a bassinet, they were moving to China as well so we got some more crying but a good conversation. The 14 hour flight was very smooth and seemed fast since we had a lot to do on the flight – talking to passenger about new born (one guy just had his child 4 days before and he hadn’t met him yet), changing diapers, pumping, feeding, etc. I think every single flight attendant came over to see the twins, and chatted with us, at one point, half of them were checking them out in the same time, some passengers had to ask to get by (here we go, bad service :)), the Chinese (or Asian really) flight attendants almost had to go through a beauty contest to fly, they were all young, tall and pretty, so some of them were asking us about the tips during pregnancy, and they were so cute commenting how cute the babies are, it was pretty funny since they were not stuck-up at all when they ‘re around babies (cute ones anyway). Although we weren’t as lucky as we were with Lin this time, he was fussy throughout the flight until just before landing, he just didn’t want to go to sleep or stay in his bassinet, Michael had to put him in the carrier and rock him the whole time!!! By the time we were landing, he was in such deep sleep we couldn’t even nurse him…Li was really good, he woke up just to be changed or fed.

Mom’s friend and my cousin came to the airport with two vehicles, so they took the luggage and Mom, Michael and I used the public transportation with the babies since we don’t have car seats any more, the maglev we took last year would have been faster (shortens the trip by 23 minutes), but we were concerned about the heat during transfer so we opted for subway, which now connects the airport and home. The trip was about 1 hour, and cost 7 RMB per person, that’s 2 dollars for all of us. The train was brand new and it wasn’t crowded at all, we had seats all the way and again, everyone who saw them were asking million of questions! I guess that’s what happens with twins… When we got out of our station, it was raining so heavily, there’s a storm in town! So we picked up a huge umbrella from a street vendor (they always magically appear once it starts raining) and it was actually kind of nice, the rain was much better than the heat. When we arrived home, everyone plus Dad and my aunt were waiting for us already to have dinner!

Our journey was 3 days and 16 hours from the time we left Staybridge in Morrisville to arriving home in Shanghai. With help from friends (Nora, Welkin, Mr. Xia and his family, cousin and friend in Shanghai), I am really surprised that it was a very pleasant trip, and we did it with 6 large pieces of luggage, 6 pieces of carry-ons (including a large but very useful pillow) and 2 babies under 2 months of age. I know it sounds crazy, but good planning and Michael’s strong arms, we did it! It is definitely something to remember and to tell the story to the boys when we get older 🙂

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