Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Taiwan - First Five Days

Greetings from this guest author from Taiwan. It’s 11:00 PM Wednesday night Taiwan time, and both kids are asleep next to each other in bed. This sounds like a good time to catch up – it’s been pretty busy so far, so it’s been hard to find a time to post.

Excuse the boring writing style, as it pales in comparison to what you loyal readers have come to expect at this blog.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare Saturday morning. After a tough goodbye with mom/Brandee, we were off on our own. For those that don’t know, Brandee wasn’t able to make the trip, being six months pregnant can prevent some big obstacles when travelling 24 hours in a cramped airplane (NOTE: first class is worth the 6,000 upgrade next time), so my parents came with myself and Caila. First flight was off to Newark, on a Bombardier crappy puddle jumper. First and last time I’ll ever fly one – the pilot looked like he was in his 20’s. I need one of those older, grey-haired guys that just beams of seniority and experience. We got to Neward, and quickly boarded our Continental 777 monster of a plane for Tokyo. The flight was as tough as I imagined, if not worse. 14 hours on a plane in coach with no legroom was hard. Although every seat did have on-demand video/music/games. So at least I got to school other fellow passengers at Texas Holdem while in route. After a 4 hour layover in Tokyo, it was off to Taiwan, via a very bumpy 2 hour flight. I had called ahead for a limo (actually a VW van) to get us from the Taiwan airport and our 5 bags to the Holiday Inn in Taipei. By this time, with the travel and time change, it was about 11PM Sunday night Taiwan time, so it was off for a quick nap before the big day on Monday.

Day three was a big, big day – it was the day we got to meet Chih-Fu. We first went to the train station in Taipei to meet one of the social workers who would be with us. With her, we all boarded the high speed train to Kaoshung, where we are now as I wrote this. We hopped a tax after arriving, and it was off to the Kaoshung foster care office to meet our boy. As soon as we went up the stairs and in the door, I heard this familiar voice in the other room. And he heard Caila and myself, and quickly peeked out the door. It was a surreal moment to say the least. Yes we had five Skypes, so I was able to pick his voice out amongst others, but seeing him for the first time was pretty awesome. We all played together there for a while, before going off to get some lunch together with a couple social workers. Then, we checked our our hotel with Chih-Fu and hopped a ferry to a small island to spend some time there. That night he went back to his foster parents, and we went back to our hotel for some much needed sleep – I think I was running on 6 hours of sleep over 2 days.

We woke up on Tuesday, grabbed a bite and Caila and I took a taxi to the foster care office. That morning was the day Chih-Ful was saying goodbye to his foster family, and most importantly his foster mother, who he lived with for quite some time. She along with her husband have done a pretty amazing job raising him over that time, and I’m sure he wouldn’t be the great little boy today without her. Then, just Caila and I took him back to our hotel – which was a pretty special moment to just be alone with the three of us. We spent the day swimming, playing at the park and just hanging out.

After finally getting him to sleep on our first night together, I sortof had a moment of panic – what if he woke up in the middle of the night and was homesick, and decided to open the hotel door and scurry off – would I hear him and wake up? After much internal debate with myself – I grabbed the extra blanket and made myself a bed on the floor in front of the door! How strange is that? But at that moment, I just felt that’s what I needed to do. It all worked out ok, he woke up in the morning practically on top of his sister – so glad he was able to sleep thru the night.

As I write this, it’s the end of day five. We spent the day at the National Aquarium center about 1.5 hours away from Kaoshung today. Talk about a neat place – lots to do and lots of activity for Chih-Fu to help wear him out. So much that he fell asleep in the taxi on the way home. We were accompanied today by a couple of social workers, who know Chih-Fu very well. They said their goodbyes to him today, which was tough to see. You can see how much they care for him and other children – can’t say enough good things about our agencies, both here and back home in the states – both top notch places and people to work with. Tomorrow, we are catching the train back to Taipei in the afternoon, and then Friday is out court date! Fingers crossed that it all goes well.

Some random things I’ve thought about while here:

  • The cabbies here have to be the craziest and best drivers in the world. I’ve spent some time in NYC and in those cabs, but these guys gotta take the cake.

  • The weather here is so much like Floriday – can be sunny one minute and raining the next, then back to sunny a minute later. Dunno if it’s the typhoon going on off the coast here or what…

  • Speaking of those cabbies, they know exactly where the traffic cams are – you’ll be speeding along and all of a sudden they slow down to a crawl to avoid that ticket.

  • There are scooters everywhere. I mean thousands of them. I’ve seen them with an adult and 3 kids hanging off the mother and the bike. They are everywhere weaving in and out of cars – I gotta take some video of this before I leave.

  • The exchange rate is crazy here – I’m walking around with like 12,000 in my pocket and paying $100 for a trip to 7-Eleven (HINT: our dollar is worth 32 Taiwan dollars right now).

  • There is probably no-one bigger than me in this country (take it easy Truax). I’m signing autographs for people that think I’m Big Ben or The Big Show. One guy thought I was Aaron Gray couple of days ago while I was wearing my Pitt shirt.

  • They have a lot of cultural differences, as I’m sure you know. The one is that at least women need to wear swim caps while in the pool. Caila had to wear one the other day, I guess as to not get hair in the pool. I wonder what they were thinking when I rolled up there with my big hairy chest! See above point – this all goes together.

  • I couldn’t have done this so far without my parents, and most importantly my daughter. She’s been a trooper and a big help – and she’s way excited to be a sister.

That’s all I got for now. If you stuck with me to this point – thanks – I told you it wouldn’t be what you were used to from this blog. I’ll try to post in a day or two, at least after the court appointment and how that goes. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s getting late and I have to curl up in front of the door again.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the post, made me laugh and cry at the same time. I am so proud of you and wished i could of captured the moment when you saw him face to face for the first time. Be safe and see you soon,

luv your sis

Anonymous said...

You did pretty good. Good luck for the rest of your trip. Seems like your family is growing by the minute...enjoy every second of it!

Anonymous said...

Good Job Rob. Someone looks great, what a BIG smile. What an awesome adventure and a special memory this will be. Sounds like the family is together, can't wait to meet him.
Love you all,
Papa/Ransom and Nona/Barbara