Wednesday, October 31, 2012

tues: shamian island, pearl river cruise

so we went back to shamian island on tuesday, which is where we stayed when we adopted xia in 2005. the white swan -- its lobby with the waterfall and pagoda is pictured on its construction fence -- is closed now for the Perpetual Renovation, but we thought this picture sort of recreated the magic of seven years ago.

back in the old days, china would not let foreigners trade on chinese soil. so shamian island -- a little spit of land separated from the rest of guangzhou by the thinnest strips of the pearl river -- was designated as a place where foreigners were allowed to do business, and it grew up as the hub of international commerce in south china. the island itself is a gorgeous melding of colonial architecture, east-meets-west style. 

embassies used to be here, which is how the adoption universe came to center on it...but it seems most of the embassies have moved to new digs (except the poles), and with the white swan closed for renovation, it's sort of a lonely shadow of its former self.

there are lots of travel-junk-store businesses that cater to adoptive parents, and it is also studded with sculpture that is not at all sentimental about the foreigners who come to adopt (we laughed, and cringed, at the depiction of the fat western woman in a chinese blouse pushing a baby stroller,a few steps behind the balding grandpa-aged skinny western man with a giant video camera glued to his face. ouch).

now, i might have missed this seven years ago, but it seems that guangzhou (and all of china) has erupted in a riot of insanely-colored blinking flashing lights, and we took an evening cruise on the pearl river on an insanely-colored boat also adorned with blinking flashing lights to take it all in.

tomorrow we leave for hong kong. only two more nights left in china. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

sat, sun, mon: guangzhou!

i love this city! no shaiman island this time; the legendary white swan hotel, where every adoptive family used to stay, is under Perpetual Renovation, so we've left the charm of the east-meets-west island in the pearl river behind for the big city swank of the shiny-neon-skyscraper part of town in the china hotel (a marriott). dig the giant martinis outside the sapphire bar. jeff and xiang-xiang pass out on the comfy sheets; and that's the view from our 15th-floor room (xia and i like to stare out the window before we go to bed and watch all the people puttering around in their apartments across the way).

sunday was half-day city tour; to six banyan temple (where we stupidly missed the buddhist blessing -- argh!) and the chen family house... a group dinner at a nearby restaurant... and then a stroll through the locals' hood, where jeff bought gardenia flower tea for a boil on his back, which he crushed and consumed in a way that basically poisoned him. do not crush the gardenia flower tea pellet and eat it!

i love this guy taking a picture of his tiny buddha in front of the mighty chan must be a hysterical photo.

the first half of the trip, nanning for us, is where you finalize the adoption with the chinese government. guangzhou, the second half, is where you finalize the baby's immigration stuff with the american government (so many officials, so little time!). so we're quite fond of this city from our days here with xia, and it just feels good to be back. babies had their medical checkups monday to make sure they're not bringing any contagious diseases to the u.s...all went smoothly.

more from yong ning: real life china

lunch at the noodle shop... about 50 cents for a bowl of fresh noodle soup with tofu

to the market (jeff gets the photo credits... i was struggling with baby....)

hundred year old egg, anyone?! (actually, those are quail eggs, but the chinese have a 1,000-year-old egg that is really a regular egg salted and spiced and buried in the dirt to age for a while....)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

wed-fri, nanning

ok, so, no pretty lies here... it has not been an easy transition. fu xiang is actually a very easy baby ... her cooperation can be bought with a rice cracker, and she can go from cries to smiles with a simple spin in a circle and/or dip upside down. she likes mom and dad fine, and is also perfectly happy to be carried around by jie jie.

jie jie, however, has her moments battling the green-eyed monster -- not that this will be news to anyone acquainted with her. tuesday was actually the hardest day -- xia didn't like it that fu xiang was being carried everywhere and wanted to be carried too (hello, you weigh 55 pounds now?!).

and i confess to a little emotional confusion of my own... as i've blubbered to a few of you, in the back of my mind i think i was hoping for another go with my little xia baby, and lo and behold, this is an entirely different person! quite easy to grasp a few days out, but at the time (and in the midst of a hormonal rush -- remind me to pack feminine hygiene products for my next trip), there were a lot of tears.

so on wednesday we cocooned by ourselves in nanning -- nice long walk along the lake (with BOTH girls in the stroller, which helped tame said green-eyed monster enormously), a swim in the pool with xia taking fu xiang down the slide into the baby pool on her lap, to great peals of laughter from them both. (unfortunately, the only one of these i caught on video was immediately after fu xiang slid down slide by herself and completely submerged. it's not pretty.) carving out time and attention for xia has helped quite a bit too. think we're all starting to fall into a rhythm. xia was sick of chinese food so we walked to -- cough -- kfc for dinner and got her some chicken nuggets. ordering was a riot.

on thursday, we went to fu xiang's orphanage, where she spent the first year of her life. (she went into foster care in march, but we did not get to meet the foster family.)

 unlike when we went to xia's orphanage in hefei -- where we got pictures of her beside the crib she slept in -- we were not allowed inside fu xiang's orphanage in yong ning (just a bit outside of nanning). the nannies came out and kissed and hugged the babies, and they were obviously very well cared for.


then we went to the spots where the babies were found. these next pictures are weird, but important to have: "finding place" pictures.

fu xiang was left on the side of the road, beside some rice paddies. she was very ill with pneumonia, and we are not sure how easy she would have been to find. we have the blanket/towel she was wrapped in (embroidered with her "xiang" character), as well as a red envelope with "lucky money" left with her by her parents (or whoever left her here).

there was a watermelon vendor at the corner, so we bought a, well, a finding watermelon, i guess you could call it. it was quite sweet, as fu xiang is herself.

can't believe we'll be heading home in less than a week.