I wrote this post one week ago. We don’t have internet, so I typed it out on Word and am finally near a WiFi signal were I can post it. Enjoy.
We said a sad and hard good bye to my parent on Monday. We’d just spent an amazing week in San Diego with them and my cousin and her family that left us wondering why everyone doesn’t live in San Diego. (I’ll write all about that later.) We headed into the airport with our eight suitcases, five carry-ons, a double stroller, the bag for that stroller, and two car seats. It took us 45 mins at the counter to check in. The process with Japan Air was the longest, craziest, most convoluted process of all time. Also, I’m sure the lady who was checking us in just stepped out of training. She had to redo so many things after I corrected her. “Yes, we are stopping in Tokyo. No, we don’t want our bags checked straight through to Manila, we will not be on a flight there until Wednesday.” “Oh, ya, ok, I’ll have to reprint your boarding passes.” Anyway, 45 mins of this and we were finally on our way to the gate. The flight was at 1:30PM. We were to preboard at 1:10. That was a whole other craziness full of issues. EVERY airline has their own special “correct” regulations when it comes to infant car seats on a flight. It is the most annoying thing. Some allow you to put them anywhere in any position and let you have the child in there during take off and landing. Others don’t. Japan Air has been the worst when it comes to their regulations and requirements for the dumb car seat. I refuse to fly with Drake without it. He will sit in there most of the 12 hours and play or sleep. No way I was going to give up the ability to strap him in if necessary. After we held up boarding for 20 mins they finally found a seat, position, and person in front of us that made it all work. It was NUTS. The kids handled the 11.5 hour flight amazingly. Aydan watched the iPad for the first 10 hours until she fell asleep. Drake did the classic cycle of sleep, eat, play for the whole flight. It was great. We flew in the new Dreamliner. I can’t tell you how amazed I was by this plane. The bathrooms were so nice and huge. The cabin was very open and the windows dimming system was really cool.
We arrived in Tokyo with no problems. We checked into our super nice hotel, The Peninsula Tokyo, ordered room service and crashed. The room was the nicest room I’ve ever stayed in. It was just across from the Imperial Gardens. So the next morning we woke up very early, thank you jet lag, ate breakfast and headed out for a long walk through the gardens. It was a rainy day but still warm. Japan and their gardens are everything you would think they would be; beautiful, flawless and inviting.
Around 4 we headed back to the airport to board our plane to Manila. After that long flight the four hour flight felt like nothing. Drake slept the entire time, even the hour we sat on the runway before taking off. Everything went really smoothly and we landed in Manila around 9:30PM. Our sponsor picked us up and with the help of an expeditor from the embassy ushered us right through the airport, baggage claim and customs out to our van. This city is HUGE. As we were driving around I couldn’t get over how big the city is. We arrived at our temporary housing around midnight, took a look around and crashed.
Drake woke up at 2:30 that morning. I got up with him bc Patrick had to work that day. Around 4:30 Drake was back to sleep. I could not sleep so I stayed up unpacking. Around 5:15 the sun was coming out. I went into our room and got Patrick up so we could see our new city together for the first time. We stood at our floor to ceiling windows and watched the sun come out over Manila. We couldn’t get over how huge and beautiful it was. Here were a couple of the conversations from that moment:
“Look, I see a reflection of a McDonald’s sign in that building!” Kim
“Yes! Look, there it is right there!! And it’s a drive through!!” Patrick
We’re not huge fast food ppl but the fact that it’s there is just amazing to us.
“Look!!!! There is a super huge super nice golf course in our back yard!!”
“Look at the pool, it’s nicer than any pool I’ve seen or been to!”
“Looks like they have a kiddy pool.”
We continued to stare down at the pool and golf course for a long time until Patrick looked up…
“LOOK! There’s the city.”
We both sat in amazement at the size of just the financial district of Makati.
That day Patrick went to work. The kids and I kept unpacking, played and swam. When Patrick got home we walked down to High Street. Again, we were speechless as we walked through the outdoor mall that rivaled anything in San Diego. They have Starbucks, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Jamba Juice, Sperrys, an Apple store, a huge outdoor store nicer than REI, a huge book store, along with lots of restaurants and bars. Down the middle of the street were little parks with art in there where kids were playing and running around.
Friday night we went to a place called S&R. It’s JUST like Costco down to the slices of pizza and churros they sell! They have everything Costco does, it’s just a lot more expensive. A double loaf of Tillamook sharp cheddar was $55! It was really fun going through the store and seeing all they have. I’m sure we won’t buy most of our stuff from here but the things we’ll really want and love are there so we can get them. I guess most people buy all their meat there. It’s all imported from NZ or the States. It’s actually not too expensive, so that’s nice.
Saturday we went out to breakfast with our sponsors and they drove us around town a little bit. We went by our new house that is getting ready for us. I’m pretty sure I will never live in a nicer house. Ever. I can’t even begin to explain how beautiful the house is. I’ll take pictures as soon as we’ve moved in. They are in the process of sanding and staining all the wood in the house, and replacing the tile floors and grass in the backyard. We hope to move in soon!
That night I tried to take Aydan to a movie but the front desk couldn’t get a taxi for a long time bc it was raining and we missed the movie. There is a Chuck E Cheese like place right next to the theater, so we went there and played for a long time. It was great! Then we took a taxi home. Simple.
Yesterday we went to church that has some connections to home. Afterwards we went out to lunch with some friends to the California Pizza Kitchen. Then I took Aydan to see her first movie in a theater, Monsters University. Cute movie, great day.
We are grateful for our experience in Yaoundé because it lowered our expectations of life overseas so much that when we see a McDonalds we rejoice. We are so thankful for Manila and can’t wait to see what else it has in store for us.