Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Introducing Guangzhou

Well, we made it to Guangzhou.  We are at the final stage of our adoption!  To the left, we have a picture of mama looking annoyed.  I don't know why I look annoyed in this picture.  After everyone boarded, we ended up sitting on the tarmac for over an hour and then I really was annoyed!  We were fortunate though.  China in-country flights are known for being very late or being canceled at the last minute. We heard a story from a family here who had their in-country flight canceled causing them to have their gotcha time at 11:00pm at night.  Our longest delay has been just over an hour and we haven't missed a connecting flight yet.


We arrived on Friday afternoon and spent some time lounging in the pool.  Here Chris and Norah are both squinting into the sun, but with the opposite eye.  Like father, like daughter!

We visited Shamian Island.  Well, hello pretty, green lady.  This is the nicest exterior of any Starbucks I have frequented! The Island has beautiful colonial architecture and bronze statues throughout.

The statue to the left and below is of a violin teacher with her students following behind.  It is a popular spot for adoption families to photograph their new child.  The missing spot is just asking for a child!

We also visited the Pearl Market and the Jade Market.  The Pearl Market sold all kinds of other beads and crystals as well.  It was amazing to see jewelry and cords for pendants sold in such mass quantities.  The Jade Market had rows and rows of vendors selling jade in all shapes and sizes.

Five stories of jewelry

These pictures do not do these massive indoor markets justice.  You have to go see for yourself! By the time we got to the pearls, Norah was getting ready to leave, so I do not even have a picture of a pearl vendor.  Just imagine bags and bags of pearls in all sizes with various fresh water colors.  

The next day, we went to the U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou to process Norah's visa application. This is the whole reason we are here!  We were unable to take a camera inside, so the only picture I got was taken by our Holt contact here in the city.  We should pick up Norah's visa this afternoon and we will be free to leave China tomorrow.

We have spent a fair amount of time at this park.  It is just a few minutes walk from our hotel.  We love the scenic view and a chance to stretch our legs.  The parks that we have visited in China have been incredible!

The roots on the trees here look like something out of The Hobbit
There were beautiful paths throughout the park 

The lilies looked like they were on steroids!

The humidity has not been good to my hair.
This palm was bent providing the perfect seat.

I have had trouble getting a good internet connection, so it has been hit or miss for blogging.  We will post more pictures once we are back home.  Tomorrow we say good-bye to China.  We are anxious to be done with the long twenty-four hour trip ahead of us and extremely excited to see our girls at home!  Please pray for an uneventful trip back and for the huge adjustments to come for our entire family.

Waiting for the elevator

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Out and About

We are walking in the Long Tan Hu Park in Taiyuan. Taking a walk in the park is full of surprises!  It had rained that afternoon and it was a beautiful evening.  We have picked up on the habits of the natives and only leave our hotel in the mornings and the evenings.  In the afternoons, the sun is typically beating relentlessly.

Playing under a big pot with other children.  We are following the advice of our agency and trying to spend time with Norah in public places where she can interact with other people.  

Walking through the park, we saw people keeping busy with all kinds of different activities.  This man was writing Chinese characters on the walking path using rain water and a long handled brush.  Even though the letters would evaporate, he was very purposeful in his writin.  There are also tables and tables of elders playing cards, poker, and various other games around the whole city (see below).

While walking through the park, we came across a group of about forty people singing incredible harmony.  This was my favorite park concert yet! Here you can see Norah standing with her arms crossed.  Ba Ba had just told her not to jump through any more puddles and she is not happy with him.

Most of the grass is fenced off, but we found a section that was open.  Norah wanted to touch it and was very excited to run through it.  Later our guide told us that the Chinese don't let their children get in the grass because it isn't clean.  So we see people spitting in the streets and children peeing in the streets, but they don't let their children walk through grass.  We are encountering many interesting cultural differences here!

Can you see all the people in the background staring at us?  Well that happens a lot around here, so we didn't think much about it  Then a nearby girl came up and started gesturing excitedly and speaking in rapid Chinese.  We couldn't understand her, but she was persistent. Eventually, a girl who spoke some English came over and told us people were concerned that she would get dirty on the slide.  She said that Chinese children slide down on their feet. Silly Americans!

Alter to Buddha
Twin Pagodas 
Today we visited Shuang Ta Si Temple which means Twins Pagoda Temple in English.  We are trying to see as much of Taiyuan as possible so we can give Norah information about her birth city.  Also, we would all go stir crazy if we stayed in the hotel room!

Buddha temple
Wherever we go, Norah is a hit with the adults.  Here she is eating an apple from a lady who was going to leave them for Buddha.  I guess Buddha has one less apple because of this cutie!  In the temple, we saw a lot of food being left and women chanting to multiple images of Buddha.  It broke my heart to think of the futility of it all.

We started to climb up one of the pagodas which turned out to be eleven stories.  About half way up, we rethought the wisdom in climbing that high with a wiggly two year old who wanted to explore and so we turned around.

The people of China are about to have a festival and the city is being decorated with brightly colored pinwheels and various banners.  The Chinese people love color!  Norah is fascinated by it all.  She told us today (through our escort) that she had a pinwheel at her other home, so we promised to get her one when we get back to her new home.


Here is another shot of the pagodas.  The dragon and the beast were outside guarding the temple entrance.