Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Our Trip to Chengdu, Part I

Our Trip to Chengdu, Part I

This blog post is massively overdue and will be way too long. Apologies in advance! This first post will cover the week before or trip to China and the early days in China.
When we were looking at buying airplane tickets to China, we realized that it was about $600 per person cheaper to fly out of LAX as opposed to SLC. By the time one considered flight times and layovers, it was close to the same amount of total travel time. Thus the idea of going to Disneyland prior to China was born.

From Maria: June 23 2014, “Pack, pack and pack. That’s my day.” “Nanny was so kind to let us come to her house to dinner so mom would not have to cook it herself.”

We left on June 24, just after lunch. Lani’s family was incredibly helpful in serving us meals and helping to get the cleaning all finished. We drove straight to Las Vegas, stopping only for gas.

We would have made it without any incident, except that Katrina threw up about 30 minutes before we got to Janet’s house. Poor girl! We think that she just got carsick.

Everybody was happy to visit Janet and Jeffrey Salls, and especially to play with baby J.P. They were gracious hosts, even though it was their anniversary! We got to eat some anniversary cake with them and Levi went with Jeffrey to a pickup basketball game with the Deacon’s Quorum. I was busy reviewing our Disney plans; we had used RideMax to plan out our itinerary, and my online searching revealed that there had been a couple of changes in how the FastPass system worked.

We had a nice breakfast with the Salls and left for the beach! It was a quick four hours from Vegas to the beach and we loved Boogie Boarding and playing in the sand.

From Maria: June 25, 2014, “The ocean water was actually quite warm. I wasn’t that good at bogie boarding but it was still tons of fun. Levi was knocked down in the wave and is all scratched up. The lifeguard gave him a band-aid for the biggest cut.”

Then we were off to the house we had rented with my parents. We arrived at the same time they did and it was great to be together. We enjoyed the pool, had dinner, and went to bed, dreaming of Disney.

While all the RideMax planning was undoubtedly helpful, we were really blessed with abnormally small crowds the days we were there. All of our plans worked perfectly; we rode every ride as often as we wanted, and never waited more than 20 minutes for a ride.  

Our first day at Disney was picture perfect. The rides were all great, and we enjoyed some fun shows.

From Joseph: “We went to California Adventure today. It was really fun. My favorite rides were California Screamin, Radiator Springs, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Tower of Terror, and Toy Story Mania. They all were really great even though it felt like we only went on ten rides. Even though I got not that soaked on the Grizzly River Run I liked it. By 5 I was tired, we came home, I swam in the pool. We got in our pajamas and had ice cream. It was great.”

From Annemarie: “SUNDAY JUNE 29, 2014 On Friday we got to go on lots of rides, I loved it…We went to church at 1pm and had a wonderful time.”

After four days of Disney and priceless memories with my parents, we spent some time with our dear friends the Perrys and the Millers and then we were off to China. Eighteen hours later we had traveled 8,000 miles and it was 12:00 PM in China. We went out to lunch with Sister Weaver (the Weaver family was incredibly helpful every step of the way) and the kids were all impressed with being in a new country.

People were falling asleep by 5:00 PM. Jetlag is real; Rebekah was awake at 4 AM as were most of the family members. Everybody stayed quiet and in bed though (except Rebekah) and Lani and I were both up with her. Because we were all up early, by 8 AM it seemed like everyone was bouncing off the walls a bit, so I took the oldest five kids on an exploratory walk. We had a great time – we found a cool market where there were whole chickens on display, pig snouts, and lots of other crazy things. We bargained for fans for the girls, and everybody was really impressed with the market. This is one thing about being in another country - just walking around for an hour is an educational experience.

That night we went to Jinli street with the Weavers. It was one of my favorite places from my last trip to Chengdu. We went to a really fancy hot pot. The food was delicious; but Rebekah was so exhausted and jetlagged that I wound up holding her more than eating. There was a really awesome show that we got to watch and it included a guy who does face changing. It was really fun to see and he came up close to our family and it was really cool to see his face change. We would not have found this great spot without the help from Doug and Melisa. They were so helpful with our kids and even took a taxi home because there was not enough room in the car (their car!) for them.

On Saturday the kids were again up early. The Weavers were so INCREDIBLY gracious, making breakfast for everyone and not complaining about our early rising. President Weaver got out his guitar and sang songs to the kids, inspiring them to be more musical and learn good things. His music and example was something that stayed with us the entire trip. He also made paper animals for Katrina later in the day. Sister Weaver was unbelievably patient with a lot more noise and messes. After our scripture study we went to the zoo. We took two taxis, which was an adventure. It was the first time for my kids taking a taxi in China (and excepting Levi, it was the first time for any child to take a taxi in any country), and it was really fun to travel around.

When we got to the zoo, we tried to buy some street food and I epically failed to get things that the kids like. A couple of things I learned was to remember to ask if it’s spicy, and also to only buy one of something to see if we are really going to like it before buying multiple. That was my bad.

The zoo was fun. Everyone was hot and tired and we didn’t bring enough food. We were learning lessons about bringing food with us and what we needed to keep going. Lani found some top ramen soup and we all munched on that. We also fed the hippos (awesome) and the four middle children got to ride on a camel. So that was fun. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of the zoo was seeing how Rebekah was such a rock star. People wanted to take pictures of her/with her and once a couple of people started taking pictures huge crowds would gather around. At one point there were about 30 people surrounding her, wanting to take her picture.

From Joseph: “We are in China now and I have had a ton of experiences. Pig knee, this strange brain thing, I have no idea what it is but I think it’s a human brain [it wasn’t.] They have Lego Chima here and toy wooden swords. There were a lot of cool things. I just like almost everything. They have tons of cool stuff. I have to admit it is crazy.

Saturday night we set up for church, which is held at the Weaver’s home. We were beginning to acclimate to life in China.

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