Life with 4 kids 6 and under. Our trip to pick up Tonito in China is: mid-March 2008 through April 12. Our trips to pick up Ricky in Ethiopia are in June and August of 2010.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

DAY 16: Train to Hong Kong

Click for Hong Kong, Hong Kong Forecast

We had to get up early today for our 7:45 luggage pick-up and 8am ride to the train station in Guangzhou. It’s funny how you make plans that seem so easy on paper, and then when you’re traveling in 85 degree heat and 90% humidity with two 3 year olds (one with an itchy rash, one very sleep-deprived) and 5 suitcases, 2 backpacks, 1 video camera bag, 2 kites we picked up in Urumqi, and 1 hello kitty bag full of toys and snacks (whew!) life gets a little more complicated. Especially when they keep asking to see your passports and tickets, the kids want to ride on the suitcases and want lollypops, and there are only 2 adults!!! Let’s revisit the sleep-deprived 3 year old- that one would be Vivi, due to a crisis of gargantuan proportions: WE LOST HER CHUPÓN (aka binky, pacifier, etc) last night at the hotel!! I have no idea where she put it, so she had to fall asleep without it. For anyone who knows Vivi, this is a HUGE, traumatic problem because her chupón is the single most soothing “lovie,” and sleep-aid that exists: no blankie, no stuffed animals, not even sleeping with mommy can replace it. Which is why, she didn’t go to sleep until after 11pm, and even then it was tossing and turning and crying in her sleep all night. Poor baby!
Crowded Guangzhou apartments

Laundry day is every day...

So back to the train ride: everything was great, the scenery was lush and green and beautiful amid the never-ending apartment buildings with laundry hanging out the windows and old air conditioning units dotting the walls, the seats were soft and comfortable, the train went fast (under 2 hours!), and everything was clean (except the squatty-potties, which are never clean). Tonito's first train ride!

Fun with stickers!

Close to Hong Kong

As we neared Hong Kong, maybe half an hour away, they locked and closed the bathrooms. I can’t figure out why they would do that? Of course, Vivi needed to use the potty. We went up and down the train with her dancing around until someone told me about the closed-down potties. In the next breath, she told me to just have Vivi go in the sink (out in the public hallway). I had no other choice, and 5 minutes later, Toño had no other choice with Toñito. So don’t ever use the sinks on the train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong (bring antibacterial “magic soap”).
Tired kids hitch a ride

When we arrived, we got off the train and had to pass through customs and immigration. I don’t understand why, since Hong Kong is not a separate colony from China anymore?? But anyway, in the middle of the long line, Vivi had a meltdown because we left her lollypop on the train. The screaming, stomping feet, crying, letting herself be dragged, lasted a very, very, long time and everyone was watching us move through the customs line at a snails pace. Finally some kind-hearted (or auditory-sensitive) immigration official pulled us out of the line and opened a special booth just for us. We picked up our “checked” bags, loaded everything onto a cart including the 2 kids, headed for the taxi stand, realized we didn’t have Hong Kong dollars, Toño went to exchange money, and finally took 2 taxis to our hotel in Kowloon City. Whew!!!

Tonito's first subway ride!
A little loopy!!

After arriving at the hotel and settling in, we went to visit the Po Lin Monastery. Hong Kong is made up of many different islands, and we were headed on the bus and then subway to Lantau Island (one of the outlying islands).

First cable car ride!

How can they be so cute?

Mom- I'm not sure if you'd like it?

So sweet!

The beautiful view from the cable car

Mommy's boy

Once you get off the subway, you have the choice to either take the Ngong Ping cable car 5.7 km up the mountain or take a bus (or I guess some people take taxis?). We took the amazing cable car through the mist and over tropical, undeveloped vegetation in the National Park into the clouds and up to the Po Lin Monastery. The view was absolutely breathtaking- we could see many islands, the turquoise water dotted with tiny red and blue fishing boats, the skyscrapers in Hong Kong, the rocky shores, and several paths making their way through the trees and flowers. Vivi and Toñito loved it, and the whole ride they were pointing and looking at everything out the windows. I highly, highly recommend this to anyone coming to Hong !!

Posing pretty

Tonito, like Vivi, loves animals

You can barely make out some of the stairs behind us, leading up to the giant Buddha (totally covered by the clouds)

Papi and kids

He did it all by himself!

Vivi goes down to help

What a good sister!

Outside the monastery is the Ngong Ping Village, which is actually a tiny outdoor shopping place with restaurants and lots of postcards and souvenirs. After you walk through this “village,” you come to an enormous staircase leading up to the gigantic bronze statue of Buddha. I was imaging us carrying up the kids, but thought we should see how far they could get up the stairs themselves- they both totally surprised us!!!! Vivi was ahead, and finished all of the stairs without stopping. She just kept pushing until she was at the top! After exploring the area a bit, I showed her that papi and Toñito were still climbing. She told me that Toñito needed help, so she climbed back down and held his hand the rest of the way!!! It was adorable!!! People were taking pictures of them, and I was so proud of her.

Post-climb adrenaline rush

We walked around and then headed back down to get some dinner (though we hadn’t even eaten lunch!). All of a sudden we noticed a sign that said the last cable car down was at 6pm, and it was 5:45= so I carried Toñito and Toño carried Vivi and we RAN back to the cable car station just in time. We were both dripping with sweat and my hair has never been curlier, but we made it.

This is when our little adventure became a bigger adventure. Getting into the subway station, we were kind-of in a hurry because by this time the kids were really hungry and it was starting to get dark. Toño was ahead of me on the escalator down, and he thought I was closer than I was. So apparently he got on the first train, thinking I had seen him and was following, but I didn’t know where he was when I got to the platform so I didn’t get on. Several trips back, we had once decided if we ever got separated on a subway, the person ahead would just wait for the person behind at the first station. So I got on the next train, and then at the next station I got out and was looking around, but I didn’t see him. He said he was there waiting for me, but with all of the people I must have missed him, so I got back on the same train. Vivi fell asleep in my arms at this point, and I did not have a seat for the rest of my trip- I had to change 3 different times to a different line, and then walk forever to take a bus. When I finally found the bus stop and the right bus (thank goodness Hong Kong is bilingual!!!! What would I have done in Beijing where everything is only in Chinese!?) I sat down in the front seat and asked the driver if he could please tell me when we got to my hotel. Fifteen minutes later he stopped the bus, and said something really loud in Chinese. I guess he was asking if anyone spoke English, and could they ask me where I was goingJ. The woman behind me asked me where I was going, I told her my hotel, and then she translated it back to the driver. I was the last person on, and finally got back to my hotel where the front desk had a key waiting for me, left by Toño. At this precise moment, he was filing a missing persons report to the local police station!!! Finally, he called the hotel room and I told him I had made it back, etc, and he came back and cancelled the missing persons report. Oh my gosh, what a long day!!! The kids were wired after snoozing on the subway, and went to bed around 10pm after a dinner of rice, and bananas with peanut butter. (Toñito also had some of my chicken satay).

I am exhausted so I will go to sleep now too!:)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I hate to say it, but that story is such a typical Becky and Tonio story! I'm surprised you found your way back. Next time you have to remember my trick to take a business card from the hotel on your way out, and just get in a cab once you get lost and tell them to take you back. But you made it at least. And Cnn international has not been carrying any stories about a crazy American family lost in the jungles of Hong Kong. Can't wait to see you tomorrow and meet tonito. love and kisses, dadxxoo