Nearly 24 hours after leaving my apartment on Saturday night, we have made it to Ho Chi Minh City and have settled into our rooms. The local time here is 1:45pm on Monday, July 7th. For us, it is 11:45pm, Sunday night. Weird.
When we got to LAX, it was packed. I mean people everywhere. We finally got checked in and made our way to the gate. The airline was really good. The bulkhead seats that the travel agent got us were a godsend. The extra leg room was wonderful. We actually got to see another family using the airline bassinet. Their baby was really young though; I think Sadie will be too big for it. Bummer!
We arrived in Taipei around 5:30am and had just over an hour before our flight to Ho Chi Minh City. We struggled a bit finding the right gate, but finally found our way. The airport was really nice. Large, bright and clean. They had an awesome Hello Kitty play area that I'm looking forward to taking Sadie to. She's too young to really take advantage of it, but it should be good for a cute picture or two. We were nervous about the "1 Carry On per person rule" on the flight from Taipei to HCMC. I put my computer in my dad's carry on and my purse in mine but my mom still had one extra bag. Luckily, when it was our turn for the agent to look at our bags, she was busy with another passenger and another agent just waived us through.
We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City around 9:30am and the first thing we needed to do was pick up our visas. This was not as easy as we were told it would be. The agents didn't seem so speak any English. We showed them our documents and they gave us a form to fill out. We weren't sure how to fill out certain sections, but we got it done. Then, we turned in the forms and they handed us our passports with our visas inside. We were told it would be $55 US each, but it was only $25 US each; what a bargain! They are good until August 1st, in case our departure gets delayed. Next we went through passport control (easy) and then to get our 6 suitcases. I am not lying when I say that ours were the last bags off the plane. It was very stressful seeing everyone else get their bags while we were left standing there. Eventually, we got them all then went through customs. We were then supposed to go outside and someone from my agency was supposed to meet us there. I actually started stressing about this yesterday and called my agency contact's cell phone to confirm that someone would be there to meet us. She never called me back. Well, we went out in this mass of people and there was no sign with my name or my agency's name. Nothing. We looked and looked and couldn't find anyone. Eventually we saw a representative from our hotel so we asked if he could arrange transportation for us. He said he would call us a van. At the exact moment we were loading all of our stuff in the van, our agency reps showed up. Apparently they were delayed with 3 families who were traveling to Hanoi today. Since we had already called the van, we piled in and one of the agency reps came with us. On the way, he pointed out a couple of landmarks and even showed me where the CIS offices were, in case I wanted to drop in and thank them for my approval (kidding!). He also told me that we would be picked up at 8:30am tomorrow to go to the orphanage to pick up Sadie. Then we'll be meeting one other family and we will have our G&Rs together. After that I guess we apply for the expedited passport. I think that is all we HAVE to do tomorrow. Let's see, meet daughter, take over care of daughter, get passport photos and apply for passport. Sounds like a piece of cake, no?
We checked into our rooms and sat for a bit but I wanted to get out and explore. I was afraid if we laid down, we'd fall asleep for the night and it was too early. My mom and I were hungry so we ordered room service (I had fried tofu with noodles in a peanut sauce - Yummy). After we ate, we decided to take a walk around the area. We are right across the street from the Rex Hotel and I could see a building called the Saigon Center from my room. I remembered Emily at Looking for Lulu talking about a great store called NKid, and I knew it was close. So we went on a mission. Let me tell you we were very successful. We found this amazing store and I went a little crazy. Sadie got a quilted jacket, two pairs of pjs, and 3 dresses. They are all hand embroidered and so lovely. I bought sizes 2, 3, 4 & 5 so she'll have them for some time. I didn't really pay attention to the prices. I suck at math so I had no idea how to divide everything by 16,000 or so. So, I'm expecting to spend a couple hundred dollars. Um...no. Try $85! We are totally going back for more before we leave.
We walked around a little more and found a little shop to buy some sodas, water and juice and then came back to our rooms. We all showered then chilled. I pulled out all of the orphanage donations and gifts for the orphanage staff and wrapped everything. I also packed the diaper bag for tomorrow. I'm quite certain I have forgotten something important but only time will tell.
I took a long break in the middle of writing this post so it is now 7:30pm here - that makes it some ungodly hour at home. Guess that means I should get some sleep. I can't believe I am going to meet Sadie tomorrow. Stay tuned for more...