Monday, July 30, 2007
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Kristy surprised us this morning by deciding that she wanted to feed herself with a spoon. We aren't sure if this is a first time or not.
Our guide took us to the Guangzhou Zoo this morning. This zoo is the third largest zoo in China. I think we were just as much a curiosity as some of the animals. We saw a lot of animals from China, southeast Asia, Africa, South America, and North America. We saw the biggest chimpanzee I had ever seen. Most of the enclosures were the old style concrete and bars. The giant panda's cage was also concrete and bars. They had two pandas both were a sleep and only one was in view. The one in view was in a dark cage and too far for a decent picture, very disappointing. They even had some dogs on display (hmm). There was one strange exhibit where handlers were involved. The exhibit had parrots, a red panda, a chained up monkey, a dalmatian, a chimpanzee, and a very large python. When a number of people gathered they did a really disturbing exhibition. They uncovered the python that was on a picnic table and then brought the chimp to the table and forced it to antagonize the python. The python coiled up and hissed the first time and than the chimp did not want to continue with the exhibition. He kept on being pulled over to the table and told to either bang the table or whip at the python with a towel. One time when he really resisted the handler whipped him with a towel. We stood there with our mouths open not believing what we were seeing but the Chinese people were laughing at the entire exhibition. That was not the end of it either. The handler than told the chimp to get a stick and he started swinging it at the chained dalmatian. The dalmatian snarled and growled at it. We couldn't believe what we were seeing. Kelly wanted to get a souvenir at the gift shop but decided not to out of protest. We looked around a little longer and than left.
We are spending the afternoon finishing last minute stuff and packing up to come home so this will be our last blog from China. We have enjoyed our time here and have learned a lot of culture from Kristy's home country. We hope to bring her back here some day so that she will be able to see where she came from. The pictures today are from the Guangzhou Zoo and Kristy at breakfast this morning. The red colored animal is a red panda. We leave early Friday morning for Hong Kong and have an 8 hour layover (ugh). We leave from Hong Kong at 5:20 pm for a 13.5 hour flight to Chicago. We will spend Friday night in Chicago and get into Columbia at around 4:45 pm Saturday.
Kristy continues to show us more of her personality everyday. She is slow to wake up in the morning, is wired in the evening, loves the pool. Actually she is fearless in the pool which kind of scares us. We are starting to get some actual words out of her. She can say hot, doggie, gone-gone, shay shay (thank you in Chinese).
Our guide took our paperwork to the US Consulate in Guangzhou this morning and was able to get them to change our swearing in ceremony from Friday to today. We went to the consulate in the afternoon, went through several security checks, had our passport copies compared to our faces, then as a group (with 23 other families) sweared that all the paperwork we have filled out is true to the best of our knowledge. We received Kristy's Chinese passport with a US visa. When we go through immigration in Chicago and the customs officer stamps her visa she will be a US citizen. We don't have an pictures since cameras were not allowed in the consulate.
This morning after breakfast we walked around to take in the local culture. We walked to the park and found that there was some kind of celebration going on. The speakers were all speaking in Chinese so we did not know what the reason for the celebration. They had speakers, singers, dancers, and a presentation of hand to hand combat by military personnel. I have attached pictures of the performers. Tomorrow our guide will take us to the Guangzhou Zoo to see the pandas among other animals.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
After breakfast we went shopping for family and friends. We also ordered Chinese dresses for Kourtney and Kelly. We're buying Kristy's from the rack. We didn't do much else except get our CWA group picture done (we only have two families in the agency group this trip). We made an emergency call for some pizza to Danny's Bagels. Danny is a New Yorker that married a Chinese woman and opened a bagel/pizza/sandwich shop in Guangzhou 10 years ago. The pictures today is of our group picture (us and Michelle and new daughter Xiang Yi) and a couple pictures of Kristy (she is learning to use a remote already.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Christianity was entirely in Chinese (Cantonese to be exact) and we later found out thet the 11:00 service was in both Chinese and English. We thought about staying for the second service but the little one probably would not have put up with a second sitting. As we arrived at the church we heard them singing "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name." They were singing in Chinese but you could tell by the tune. The church was filled to capacity of about 300. Since we were in the Chinese language serviceWe were scheduled to tour the Six Banyan (Buddhist) Temple this morning but did not feel right about doing that on Sunday so I called our guide and asked to reschedule it. There is a Christian church in the same block as the hotel so we went there this morning. The 9:30 service at Shamian Chapel of Guangdong we were the only westerners in the church. There were all ages of Chinese at the service. The sermon was given by a woman and we wished we understood Chinese better because there were parts that apparently were funny. The pictures today are from the church (it is currently under renovations), one of Kelly holding a bag of KFC chicken flavored potato chips she found, and Kristy helping her mama with her hair in the bathtub. Kourtney stayed in the hotel recovering from being sick the day before. We are ready to be back home as we are tired of eating out every meal, living out of suitcases, etc. but must wait for the U.S. Consulate to process our paperwork to make Kristy a U.S. citizen.
Friday, July 20, 2007
A little information about where we are staying. We are staying on Shamian Island in Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong. Shamian Island is an island surrounded by the Pearl River, the 3rd largest river in China. It once was owned by England and you can tell by the architecture. The island now caters to adoptive families since thousands of adoptive families have to go through Guangzhou each year. The locals speak the Cantonese dialect, Mandarin is the official language of China. The language differences between Beijing and Guangzhou are subtle but the locals will correct you if you use the Beijing pronunciation. The local park Shamian Park is a focal point for the locals. If you go there you will see people playing hacky-sack, badminton, mahjong. They will exercise by ballroom dancing or tai chi (favorite of the senior citizens). You may also see people playing musical instruments or singing. The Chinese really know who to take life leisurely. We are staying at the White Swan Hotel which is a 5 star hotel. The staff at this hotel really are customer service centric. They have operators at each floor to open the elevator for you every time. They have a small shopping mall in the hotel. They have a waterfall with a pond that have huge carp. The hotel has two pools, an exercise room, an arcade, and several restaurants. The most disappointing part of the hotel is when you first get to your room and see the beds. They are bigger than a twin but smaller than a double. The most famous part of the hotel is the breakfast bar. The breakfast bar has almost everything you can think of and a lot that you can't. Ever had stir fried rice or noodles for breakfast? How about dumplings (pork or fish)? Fried green beans? Baked beans? Tater tots? The french toast is the best. All kinds of breads, eggs anyway you want them. All kinds of fruits. It is extremely hot and humid here. The weather is very similar to Columbia or Charleston but the locals are a lot tougher than the Americans. Most shops have fans or little airconditioners. Some shop owners do not turn those on until they see you walk in their shop. I'll leave you with pictures from Guangzhou and the White Swan. The waterfall at the White Swan, a license plate from the wall of Lucy's restaurant, a building from the view of our room, and a picture from Gotcha Day. Oh yeah, I couldn't resist the picture of a menu item from one of the local restaurants. Yes that is a duck with the head still on it. All of you "Christmas Story" fans will know that this is also called Chinese turkey.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
We did not have any appointments or tours scheduled today so it was a shopping day. We got some Christmas ornaments (cloisonnes), Chinese children CD's, childrens books, and squeaky shoes for Kristy. Squeaky shoes are what they sound like. The shoes squeak when the walk in them. The children love them. We saw a little boy in the Forbidden City wearing them. You can take the squeaks out of the shoes. I'm trying to finish this with a 2 year old octopus on my lap. The girls went shopping after lunch while Kristy and I napped. We went to dinner at a local deli shop and had some traditional Chinese food. We had a pork soup, rice, beef, and I had fish (the fin came with it at no extra charge). I'm just grateful that I didn't get the head as it is not uncommon to have that served. Kristy had a little of everybodies dinner (this girl can eat). We did not do much today because everyone has some form of the Shantou flu that Kristy brought with her so I will leave a few pictures.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
We visited the Chen Family Temple this morning. The temple was taken over by the Chinese government during the Cultural Revolution and is still run by the government. It is mostly a museum today but the government allows the family to come to the temple on the 1st and 15th day of each month to worship their ancestors. There were several shops in the temple and we got some art work by a hand painter. Part of the grounds is a park and the locals go to parks to play musical instruments, play games, and exercise. There were several groups playing hack-sack. They use a shuttle-cock which resembles a badminton birdie. One man asked me and Elvin (our guide) to play with him. It is a lot harder than juggling a soccer ball but I was able to get it going after a while. Kristy is being a Daddy's girl today (which could easily change tomorrow some I am not too complacent). I even got a dada from her. It could have easily been a lucky sound but I'll take it. The rest of the day was a leisure day since we did not have any appointments.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
There isn't much excitement the day after Gotcha Day. We finished the last little bit of paperwork with the Chinese government so in the eyes of China the adoption is complete. Our next phase is getting all the paperwork done to become a US citizen. This will take up the remainder of our time. We aren't doing much in the afternoon because she now has tonsillitis. She came to us with a low grade fever and got up a couple of times last night. We took her to the hotel clinic and she has a fever or 102 with inflamed tonsils. She is now on antibiotics and a fever reducer. Right now she only wants mama to hold her. She allows the rest of us to be around her and feed her but don't try and hold her. She is eating fine but you can tell she doesn't feel great. The pictures today are of us finalizing the Chinese portion of the adoption (the young lady brought her from Shantou). Kristy playing in the Swan Room. The Swan Room is a play room for the children here in the hotel that Mattel sponsors. The last picture is of Kristy napping after medicine and lunch (yes June that is the blanket you made for her). We also received our adoption Barbie from the hotel. Every adopting family receives a commemorative Barbie which is a Barbie holding a Chinese baby.
July 13: Columbia, SC to Chicago. Chicago to Beijing
July 14: Arriving in Beijing, Staying in Wang Fu Jing Grand Hotel in Beijing
July 15: Sightseeing the Forbidden City and the Great Wall
July 16: GOTCHA DAY!
Fly from Beijing to Guangzhou at 07:50am,
Arriving Guangzhou at 10:55am
Kristy joins the family in the afternoon
July 17: Registration and notarization
July 18: Apply for Kristy's passport
July 19: Sightseeing Six Banyan Temple and Family Chen’s Temple
July 20: Free day
July 21: Free day
July 22: Free day
July 23: Free day
July 24: Getting legal documents, taking visa photo and Physical exam
July 25: Visa appointment at 11:00
July 26: Swearing in ceremony at the Consulate, getting the visa
July 27: Fly from Guangzhou to Hong Kong
July 27: Hong Kong to Chicago.
July 28: Chicago to Columbia, SC