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.