Ben and I woke around 7:30 am - or at least we think it's 7:30. It could be 6:30 or 8:30. I feel 50% better today. We got dressed, packed up our things, and decided to see a bit more of HK before check-out at noon. Our hotel is right next door to the biggest mall in HK so we decided to head over there to check out their options for breakfast. Everything was closed because, obviously, it's early in the morning. But there was one saving grace - STARBUCKS!!! As soon as I saw it, I literally yelled out a little joy and relief. Something that I could eat that didn't contain uncooked food. I got a vanilla latte and chocolate chip muffin. Ben got a carmel frappuccino and cinammon roll. They were sooooo good. We ate like it was our last meal. Afterwards, we walked around the mall and then headed out to Canton Road. Canton Road was already buzzing with traffic, pedestrians, and salesmen (the Indian men passing out their cards). We saw a few stores that you may recognize:
Dior on Canton Road in Hong Kong
After walking around, we decided to check-out and head over to Hung Hom train station. The taxi ride was quite interesting. There was a strange smell. I had never smelled anything like it in my entire life. I can't really even describe it. It was just very unpleasant. The cab driver was funny. He was silent until a phone call came in. Instead of speaking in a regular voice, he started talking very loudly to the caller. I recorded some of the conversation. It's really funny b/c he was so loud. Unfortunately, I can't upload the video due to the slow internet.
We arrived at Hung Hom and had a few hours to kill before boarding the 14:47 train to Guangzhou. We stored our luggage and ate lunch at Maxim Express. It was our first real Chinese meal. Not really. It tasted exactly like Chinese food back home except the meat still had the bone. We walked around and walked around and walked around. The station was fairly small and we had to wait a few hours. Eventually we got our luggage out of storage and headed over to the queue for our train. We were the second family in line. We boarded the train. When I started looking around at the other passengers on our car, I realized that we were the only Caucasian folks on board. An Indian couple sat across from us but everyone else was Chinese. Ben put our luggage in an unsecured rack above our head and we sat down. As soon as we did, the same thought came to our head - this is a communist train. It was old, worn down, and nothing like we've experienced in Europe or North America. Ben said it reminded him of the cold war and East Germany (he lived there for 2 years right before the Berlin Wall fell down). The colors were gray and blue-gray. Ben kept whispering "this is exactly like what East Germany did to their people - no colors".

The train started and we were on our way out of the free zone and into the mainland. I figured with a 2 hour train ride that we'd see some empty land, maybe some farms, or countryside. Nope. There was never a break in buildings, people, or human civilization for 2 hours. Sure, there were sections blocked off for little gardens maybe 1-2 acres. And there were areas where the beautiful trees and vegetation had not been clear cut but there was just mostly buildings. Many brand new buildings, many communist style buildings, and many metal shacks. No individual homes. All towers with many apartments except for the shacks. What's funny is that the shacks had, in my opinion, the best living conditions. I mean sure you're in a shack but you had very few neighbors, space to yourself, and you didn't have to worry about noise level from your neighbors b/c no one wanted to live near you!

We arrived at the Guangzhou train station and had to pass through immigration into mainland China. Wait, let me back up to immigration leaving Hong Kong. I think I must look like a criminal. Both Ben and I went up to the immigration officer at the same time. The guy took one look at me and said where's your exit form. I say that I don't know what he's talking about. He points me back to a wall full of forms that I must fill out. I sigh and head back to fill out the form expecting my husband to soon join me. Nope. The guy let Ben pass right on through - barely looking at his passport. Ben didn't have an exit form either but I guess he just looks friendly and non-criminal. I quickly filled out the form, handed it to the same guy, and he scrutinized every single thing. After what seemed like forever, he finally waved me through so that I could board the train. When we went to go through mainland China's immigration, I again was scrutinized. The Chinese immigration officer kept looking at me, my passport, and my visa - flipping through the photos. It was then that I realized why there was such scrutiny. My hair was long in the photos and I didn't have on braces. Now, my hair is chin length and my mouth is filled with braces (something that is very uncommon in China). They must think that I'm an imposter. After the intense scrutiny, he let me pass on through. Ben whizzed by like normal. We collected our bags and headed out to the lobby. We passed by a money exchange place and Ben asked if we should stop and exchange money. I told him no let's just find our guide (this later on becomes a mistake!). We found our guide, Wensi, and her driver picked us up in a very nice minivan. She seems very nice and professional. They drove us to Shamian Island and dropped us off at our hotel - Guangdong Victory Hotel (west building). She checked us in and we agreed on a meeting time for the money exchange on Monday before we had to be at the adoption center.

The bellboy took us to our room. It's about 4 times the size of our HK room and renovated in 2010. I am so freaking thankful! The room in HK was a step above a motel 6 and the same price as this wonderful spacious room in GZ (short for Guangzhou). The bellboy unloaded our luggage and was waiting around for a tip. Literally. He waited for Ben to get out of the bathroom. We had no Chinese money so Ben gave him some HK money. I was starving so we headed out to see if any restaurant would accept a credit card instead of cash. Eventually we found one that did - the famous Cow and Bridge thai restaurant that every adoptive parent staying on Shamian Island raves about. They accept Mastercard and luckily that's all we have. I ordered chicken and rice and a Heineken. Ben ordered a Coke and chicken, rice, and vegetables. The food was brought out quickly and was heavenly! Mine was bland but I was thankful b/c I didn't want an upset stomach. Ben's had some kind of spice to it - very good. We ate all our food, paid our bill, and walked the 100 ft back to our hotel. By this point, it was about 7:30 pm. I was exhausted and fell asleep on our super king size bed. The bed was comfortable compared to the HK bed but not as comfortable as the bed at home. Still as soon as my head hit the pillow I was out.

Ben stayed up til after 11 pm trying to figure out the internet. Mainland China blocks most western websites, like Facebook, Blogspot, Youtube, Google, etc. He figured out how to access our websites and now here you are reading on our blog! It's too slow to upload videos. I may not be able to do that while here in GZ. We have one night in HK before flying home and I have a feeling that we'll upload a few videos then - like the one meeting Meili for the first time and of her orphanage.

We're glad to be here on Shamian Island and will be meeting Meili at 2:30 pm on Monday. That's about 1:30 am on Monday for folks back in Arkansas! But, by the time you wake up you'll get to see Meili!
Let me start off by saying if you are grossed out by bodily functions, do not read this post!

I woke up around 1:00 am. I just laid in bed until the sun came up which was around 6:00 am. Ben finally woke up around this time. He got on the computer and I got out our breakfast - granola bars and pop-tarts. We ate and then fell back to sleep. Around 10:30ish, we got up and decided to head out to explore Hong Kong. But we had no idea how to get to our destination - Victoria Peak. We went to the front desk and the lady pointed us in the right direction. We got out into the hustle and bustle of Canton Road. The area that we're staying in is known for its shopping. Stores, like Prada, Coach, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry, lined Canton Road with shoppers whizzing in and out. I was glad that I brought my Coach purse - I fit right in with the rest of the shoppers! As we walked to our first destination, the Star Ferry, Indian men would stop Ben, give him a card, and try to sell him something. He kept taking the cards and the men would follow us. Finally, I said just quit accepting the cards and they'll leave us alone. Ben's answer - but I might want a custom made suit! Ha! Eventually we made it to the pier, bought our tickets, and boarded the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island.
Ben waiting for the Star Ferry
On the Star Ferry heading to the island
Part of the skyline. The building in the middle says Bank of America.
The photos show the haziness that we experienced. I don't know if it's pollution or just the weather. Both Ben and I think that it's probably pollution. I was starving as we docked so our first order of business was finding something to eat. Ben sees a Subway so we decide to eat there. Our first meal in China and it's an American restaurant. Subway in HK is the exact same as the USA. I ordered a turkey sandwich on wheat. The Subway guy asks me what kind of toppings I want on my sandwich. I hesitate for a minute. I *know* that I'm supposed to avoid tap water and uncooked food while in China. But I figure 1) this is HK, not China 2) Subway is a major chain 3) It's just a little lettuce and tomato. So I said go ahead and put lettuce and tomato on the sandwich. Big mistake!!!! But we'll get to that later. Ben ordered a veggie sub and we quickly ate our sandwiches. After some confusion, we found the bus to take us to the Peak. Also on the bus with us was a group of students from the British International School. We finally arrive at the lower terminal of the Peak. We bought our tickets and waited in line for the tram. It eventually arrived and took us on our adventure to Victoria Peak!
Waiting for the tram to take us to the Peak
After we got to the top, I started to feel a bit nauseated. I attributed it to jet lag, a new city, etc. We walked around a bit and I needed to go to the bathroom. Again, I figured since this was HK the bathrooms would be regular western bathrooms. I was mistaken. I experienced my first squatty potty.
Squatty potty - a rite of passage for adoptive parents in China!
While I squatted, the toilet paper on the floor next to the potty got stuck to my foot. It was gross pulling it off my shoe. But I was quite proud of myself. I went #1 without getting my clothes or shoes wet. When I got out, I looked in some of the other stalls and found western toilets at the very end of the restroom. Oh well! Ben and I then took the escalators to the viewing terrace. It was very windy but the breeze helped cool us down. HK is quite warm, muggy, and humid. If the yellow haze wasn't present, it would have been a beautiful view. Unfortunately, we couldn't see very far.
View of Hong Kong skyline from the Peak
We head down from the viewing terrace. On our way down, the nausea violently hits me. I bought a Coke Zero thinking that the carbonation would help settle my stomach. Wrong! I wanted to find the nearest bush and hurl the contents of my stomach into the grass. However I refrained from embarrassing myself and Ben by doing that. We rested on a bench and noticed everyone getting their picture taken with this green character. So Ben took mine.
After the green guy, we boarded the tram to take us back to the city. We quickly found our bus and boarded. We were lucky as it was a double decker bus and we got to sit on the top deck.
This photo is for my Dad - a guy surveying in HK
HK has a seperate government from mainland China. They get to vote.These signs were all over reminding people to vote on November 6. Campaign signs in Mandarin and English were displayed around the city.
I found it interesting that a sign pointing to toilets was on the side of the road. There was no sidewalk near the toilets or people. Just a sign on the roadside pointing in the direction of toilets.
We eventually made it back to the hotel and I was very sick. I spent some quality time with the toilet - trying to relieve my nausea. Unfortunately, I was just going to have to endure the sickness until it passed. It took a little over 4 hours. Both Ben and I napped. When it came time to eat, we didn't venture out. It was pop tarts for me and granola bars for Ben.

Lesson: Do not eat uncooked food in Hong Kong. You WILL get sick, feel miserable, and miss out on a once in a lifetime opportunity!
We got up at 4:00 am, left the house at 4:45 am, and arrived at the LR airport at 5:15 am. We went to do the self check-in with Delta but a screen flashed up that we had to proceed to the counter. Just the way we wanted to start out the trip! But it turned out to be a blessing. The agent worked his magic, confirmed that we were on our flights, and even switched our seats so we'd have a row to ourselves on the 15 hour flight. The LR airport is under construction so the security checkpoints were backed up. I was worried that we'd miss our flight. We waited and waited and waited in line. Finally it was our turn! I walked through the metal detector and heard a 'beep'. I was randomly selected for a baggage search. The TSA agent grabbed my bags and walked me over to the screening area. While searching my bags, he asked where I was going. I said Hong Kong. Why? My husband and I are adopting our daughter from China. He and I then proceeded to have a conversation about Chinese politics and adoption. He ended the baggage search with a congratulations and we were on our way to the gate. By this time, it was 5:50 am and our plane was scheduled to depart at 6:05 am. We walked to the gate and boarding had not even begun! Thank God! We rushed to the closest cafe, grabbed a bagel, and hurried back to the gate. Everyone was boarding. We took our place at the end of the line. Yielding? Yielding family? Why is someone calling our name, I wondered. It was the counter agent scanning everyone's ticket. We're the Yieldings, I say. I need y'all to step over to the counter please. We did. How many are in your party? 2. No baby? No baby. I need to change your tickets because we have it in our computer system that you have a baby. So we waited while he reprinted our tickets. Are y'all adopting? Yes, we are. Congratulations! Thank you. We finally were able to board the plane.

We arrived in Detroit about 2 hours later. We had a 6 hour layover. We spent the time sleeping, reading, eating lunch, and playing on the computer. The time went pretty quickly. Eventually, we boarded our flight to Hong Kong. We were at the back of the plane and this section was about 25% empty. It was wonderful! Ben and I had a seat between us so we could really stretch out. The in-flight entertainment systems all worked. We had many selections of tv shows, games, and movies. I started the flight by reading and Ben watched a movie. Eventually our first meal came. It was your standard airplane cuisine. I took 2 sleeping pills, drank a glass of wine, and nodded off. I slept on and off the entire fight as well as Ben. I'd sleep for 1-2 hours, wake up, for 1-2 hours, and repeat. We were served 3 meals and I drank wine with each meal. It kept me drowsy, which was the goal. Interestingly, Ben never got up the entire 15 hours. He just stayed in his seat sleeping or watching a movie. I got up about 3 times to use the restroom. I had low expectations going into the flight. It turned out to be the best overseas flight that I've ever taken!

We arrived in Hong Kong at 7:15 pm. They are 13 hours ahead of us. Immigration was fairly painless. We had to wait in a long line but that's to be expected. All 4 pieces of luggage made it and were waiting on the carousel for us. After some initial confusion, we found our hotel's shuttle desk and were whisked away in a wonderfully air conditioned bus to our hotel - the Royal Pacific Hotel and Towers in Kowloon, Hong Kong. Check-in was a breeze since we were the only people arriving. I will say that while everyone speaks English, it's still difficult to understand them. They speak English with a Chinese accent. I only understand about 50-70% of what is said to me. Ben just looks at me when others are speaking.

We finally got to our room. I knew that our room was going to be small but I didn't expect it to be tiny. There's enough room for 2 twin beds and a desk. We can't even open our luggage on the floor because of the lack of space! They're piled up on top of each other in the closet. I'll take a photo of the tiny room tomorrow. Right now, I'm too exhausted and in need of a shower. Luckily, the internet works and a VPN is not required here in Hong Kong. That will change when we get to Guangzhou on Saturday.

Good night everyone! (Or I should say Good morning as you're getting up while we're going to bed)....