Sunday, after a wonderful buffet breakfast, we walked to the photo shop
to have Amanda's picture taken for the visa. While waiting in line,
I accidently bumped a shelf and nearly sent it crashing to the ground.
Luckily, I was able to catch it and no damage was done. This shop also
has a very nice American and Chinese flag set into a brass base.
We then boarded the bus and went to Chen's College. (see: http://188.8.131.52/16/16d/d01310.htm
) This site was originally the Chen Ancestral Temple and now houses the
Guangdong Folk Handicrafts Gallery. The buildings are decorated with
numerous carvings of wood, brick, stone and clay. Beautiful pottery moldings
decorate the roofs. Inside there is a courtyard and many exhibits
of the local folk arts. One couple in our group took pity on Ginger
and allowed us to borrow their stroller. Surprisingly, Amanda did not seem
to mind it. After a while, I started to push the stroller.
Amanda noticed Ginger beside her, then turned her head all the way around
to see who was pushing her. Then she started crying until we switched
positions. Amanda evidently doesn't know about Ginger's driving record.
We had a chop carved here for Amanda, took about ten minutes. They also
had a nice selection of paper cuts, carvings, and other artwork.
then went to see the famous 5 Ram statue of Guangzhou. This statue and
nearby stone carvings illustrates the myths of the gods descending and
giving grain to the people, labor and harvest. The ram is the symbol for
the city of Guangzhou.
Sunday night was spent in another hall party, this time filling out
the paperwork for the visa. I am sure that we were frustrating to
our guides. They would say "For eyes and hair, put black." and someone
would pipe up, "but her hair is more brown then black." Current residence:
"The White Swan Hotel.", what a cool address.
Amanda was now crawling well and could walk a few steps holding on to
fingers. She was now giggly, and smiling almost all the time. She loved
to play peek-a-boo with me, and would crawl to me, but still would not
let me hold her. She would sit in a high chair.
The next morning, each family sent one person to wait in line at the
Medical Bureau. It was cold and raining, but the White Swan did provide
loaner umbrellas. Since the Bureau had been closed for remodeling, we expected
a big crowd. Just before the Bureau opened, the remainder of our
group arrived with the children. The exam was quick, each part, weight,
ear, eye, and throat check, physical exam, being handled at a different
station. The only part of the exam that I thought was even close to being
acceptable was the physical exam. The doctor did listen to Amanda's heart,
checked the muscle tone and range of motion in her limbs, counted fingers,
toes, and had us remove the diaper so that he could check her sex.
Although it was extremely quick, it was more complete than I expected.
The remainder of the day we rested, shopped at the White Swan (another
chop, bookmarks, straw art cards, coloring books, jade necklace), the Shop
on the Stairs (a chop for niece, silver bell bracelet), Cheryl's place
(hand embroidered blanket, red embroidered shoes for Amanda and Mao buttons),
and generally just bummed around. Ginger and I took turns staying
with Amanda in our room. The White Swan was remodeling the floor
above us. The noise didn't bother Amanda, but it did bother other children
in our group and kept me awake during nap time.
Since we had plenty of time until our visa appointment, we decided to
go out on a walking tour of Guangzhou with one of the single
mothers in our group. We walked through the market and saw the live
chickens, dressed pigs, ducks, and a smoked dog. Fresh vegetable,
fruit, grain sacks, eggs all in abundance. The number of small shops was
amazing. Record stores, shoe stores, furniture stores, all open air and
very small. The streets were crowed and we were much less of an oddity
here than in Nanjing. We made our way toward the Dong Fang department store.
Several people in our group were looking for baby food. We had found
some jars in Nanjing, but had not seen any since. Although Amanda had 14
teeth and was accepting table food well, many of the younger babies needed
some softer food.
On the way, we stumbled across a McDonald's. We went in and ordered
burgers and fries. I thought that the meat was salter than the American
version, Ginger thought it was about the same. Either way, it was
pretty familiar. Outside, they had the same siting Ronald statue
that we have at our local McDonald's. We got a picture of Amanda sitting
there next to Ronald with the Chinese signs in the background because we
thought it would be something about China that she would be able to understand
while she is still quite young. The department store was a bit of a disappointment.
Although they had formula, they did not have baby food. We left the
store and decided to hail one of the many taxis on the street. It
only then occurred to us that we did not have the hotel name written in
Chinese. Talk about a basic mistake! Ginger, thinking quickly, pointed
out that we had the White Swan umbrella with us and pointed to the logo.
We were quickly off to the hotel. The cab fare was metered and was
Later in the day we would walk the half block to the American Consulate
and interview for Amanda's visa.
The next morning, one member of each family walked back to the Consulate
to pick up the visas. I went with our guides to pay for the visas and get
the receipts. The clerk checked each bill very carefully, examining
the front and back, holding the bills up to a light. I had heard that the
Chinese checked American money very closely, but I did not expect it at
We then took the receipts to the adoption unit and received the visas.
I was very relieved, the last major paperwork hurdle had been cleared,
we could now go home!
Our group boarded a bus in the afternoon and went to the Temple of the
Six Banyan Trees. http://www.welleslian.com/dragontour/attraction/att07c.html
This Buddhist temple dates back to 537 A.D. It features large, old (1663
A.D.) cast bronze Buddhas. We lighted incense and offered prayers
for our daughter, her first family, and her new family.
We then went to a Jade store. This area of Guangzhou was very crowded
and the side walks were uneven. Using a stroller here would have
been impossible. We were also warned to be careful of pickpockets. There
was a large workshop attached to the store, but it was closed for the day.
They had all types and sizes of Jade carving. They also had Jade
bracelets. Some of the bracelets were rather inexpensive, some cost
hundreds of dollars. Although they tried to explain the difference,
I still could not understand the wide price differences. We did buy a jade
rat pendant for Amanda and they gave us some red thread to use for the
evening, we had a going away banquet. A traditional Chinese dinner,
followed by a cake with "Happy New Life" on it. The icing was thick
and rich. Since we had missed Amanda's first birthday, we gave her a piece
of the cake and let her have at it. She loved it and we ended up
with icing in her hair, up her nose, down her clothes, but she had a great
time eating it.
After dinner, a small group of us went to a nearby music store to purchase
CD's with children's music. I guess I expected some traditional Chinese
folk music, not "Old MacDonald has a Farm" in Chinese. Never the less,
it is interesting to listen to "Popeye the Sailor Man" in Chinese.
The next morning, Christmas Eve day, we again packed our bags up and
left for Hong Kong. We gave gifts and tips to our guides who were leaving
us hear and the bus driver. It was a short and uneventful flight.
We were met by another guide and bussed to our hotel on Kowloon. The hotel
was attached to a mall and was decorated for Christmas. While Amanda
and Ginger napped, I went down to the mall and bought a few toys for Amanda
for Christmas. After the nap, we went with the couple from Arizona to explore
Hong Kong. We took the ferry across to Hong Kong, we had wanted to go to
the peak of Mt.
Victoria, but the line was impossibly long. I had heard that there
was a Toys are Us on the pier, so we set out for that. I thought
it would be neat to have a toy that spoke Chinese, perhaps a See and Say.
Well, Christmas Eve and Toys are Us do not mix well. We were disappointed,
we could not find any such toys, and the clerk gave us a look that said:
"Why would you want such a thing?." We were getting tired and hungry,
so we found a nice restaurant. They were not serving dinner yet, but allowed
us to come in and wait. We had Peking Duck, a treat we missed out
on in Beijing. After dinner we strolled back to our hotel, through a crowd
of people gathered for a Disney Christmas Celebration. Bright neon Donald
Duck and Mickey decorated the side of our hotel. In the lobby a choir
was singing Christmas carols. A large, real and fragrant pine tree was
in the lobby. It was decorated with pandas wearing Christmas hats. For
the first time, it felt and smelled like Christmas.