Monday, September 1, 2014

Last stop...Guangzhou


 Last Stop! We LOVED Guangzhou...so did Tessa!
She set up her office as soon as we got settled into our room.
We unplugged the 2nd phone and she had some calls to make.
Kept her quite buzy while we unpacked.

She also found some other forms of entertainment.
 I hoped the drawers could hold 21 pounds.
Soon to be traveling parents ~ Note the hot water pot on the counter.  We weren't crazy about the location right there on the edge.  So we moved it into the bathroom where we used it most. ( cleaned toothbrushes, bibs, her plastic spoons & forks, bottles, sippy cups) 
She still takes a bottle before bed, so we used half boiled water and half bottled water = the perfectly  warm bottle.  This was on the Saterday afternoon that we arrived in GZ. The next day we were touring the city of Guangzhou (pronounsed Guh wong joe...well kinda like that)

 Sunday we all loaded on our A/C bus (glorious)...did I tell you that GZ is HOT?!!! 
AND super humid! I thought it was hot in Beijing and ZZ. Ha!  THIS was crazy sticky hot.
Our first stop was a local Buddist Temple.  It was a bitter-sweet place to be.
It was a beautifully cared for, and yet there were broken hearts there.  
They came to give their tokens of sacrifice...
 all to be scooped into a plastic bucket moments later by one of the temple volunteers.
Their prayers falling on deaf ears.
 I was told the gifts of food, fruit, and bottled juice was given to the monks.

~Jonah 2:8&9 "Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God's mercies. But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the Lord alone."
 The next stop was the Old Chen House & Arts and Crafts Center.
It was totally not what I expected.
 The outside of the 'house' was covered in very beautiful carvings
 Inside was more like a courtyard with open rooms all aroud.
Many local arts and crafts, such beautiful work all around you. 
 This artist made scenes of China with ink on his hands...that's it!  Amazing!!!
There is a couple other places where I saw this kind of art. (The Great Wall tourist area also had this type of artist selling prints)
We purchased some sovenirs here for our nices and nephews with their names on it.  There were pre-made prints right behind his table, as well as other water color prints.
We also purchased a wall hanging with Tessa's Chinese name on it.  Our guides helped us communicate our order to the other artist.  They had the prints delivered to our hotel later that day.
 There were many other rooms set up like art halls, this one had huge pieces all hand woven with silk! So beautiful!!
There were many other rooms with carvings that were crazy intricate
But honestly... I just wanted to sit and WATCH PEOPLE!  I love to people watch! 
This was a great place for that! We noticed other adoptive families touring here from other agencies as well.  This was also the first experience of having Tessa use the squaty potty, here at the Old Chen House.
Oh. my.
Look at this poor child!  Its so flippn' hot!!! She already drank all of her water bottle, so Daddy shared his with her.
Off we went to the next stop... A local arts & crafts shopping center.
It was quiet.  Until we stopped in!
This is a great place for purchasing quality china sets and jade.
We purchased the boys "brother" t-shirts here. 
Tessa REALLY wanted one of the Asian baby dolls here. She kept wanting to go back to that isle!

Here she is after a long morning of sight-seeing and shopping!  I literally opened up my Ergo carrier and laid her right down. She was drenched in sweat!
While she slept and Daddy watched what ever he could find in English on TV ( which there are more options here than the previous two cities), I went down to a meeting on completing visa paperwork.
 Next day... Monday morning we took a trip to the Pearl Market.  Tessa loved to wait for the bus and hang out in the lobby with the other kids.
 So.....here's the JEWELRY mall.  That's right.  This entire mall is nothing but jewlrey stores!!!
 We took a collection of taxis to the mall. This was the first taxi ride in China.  
Before we left, our guides did a wonderful job of explaining the difference in pearls and jade.
They gave us a good idea of what the costs were and that THIS pearl store was THE BEST!
 We chose the strands we wanted. You purchase the entire strand (unless you wanted to purchase something out of the case, already strung).  We wanted bracelets the the 4 girls. With the extra few pearls, they made me some earrings for free. 
 Nate is representing the look of EVERY ONE OF THE MEN IN THIS STORE.
THRILLED TO BE HERE.
 We found the A/C vent!  I'll be standing right here until the bracelets are ready.
Just outside of the giant mall is a little silk shop.  Our guides took us here and said it's THE BEST!
Julie and I should have made our purchases here the first time we stopped.
We regretted that we only purchased a couple things the first time...so we ventured back ON OUR OWN towards the end of the week.  
Here we purchased small keepsake/display dolls (nice gift for my nieces), jewlery trays made of silk (gift for our older daughters and friends), kithen hot pads and coasters made of silk, a tunic hand painted for myself and some of these CUTE booties for Tessa. It really is the best place for gifts!
 When Julie and I went back on our own later in the week, this is what the other side of the mall area looked like! Crazy busy! We were so proud of ourselves for taking this little adventure on our own.  Our sweet guide gave us what we needed to get a taxi to take us to the right place and back.
That evening for dinner we all went out to eat as a agency group.  We thought we might take over the local Chinese place, but we were just a fraction of the people there!  It was HUGE!  It was just a short walk around the block from our hotel.  Here's our view back to our hotel.  That little mall right in front also had a few good deals.  Probably more, but I AM AWFUL AT BARTERING!
We did purchase some dresses for the little girls as well as some tea for my sis in law. 
Later in the week a few of us went back to the restaurant on our own for dinner.  We had no idea what we were doing this time. We just wanted to say "what ever you fed us the other night, we'll take that"
That didn't translate exactly.  Still good though :) 
 Tuesday we all headed over to have our children's medical exams. It's about as fun as you think it might be.  Can't you tell by Nate's face?
 When we first got there, we got in line to have the children's pictures taken, THAT went very quickly actually.  Then we walked around the corner to the medical rooms/hallway.
As we stood in line for the pictures, we were surrounded by locals all waiting in chairs.  I just kept looking at each face, wondering what their story was.  There were all there to start their applicaiton for their US Visas, the medical part. Did they have family waiting for them? Were parents and children seperated? For how long?  How much longer?
 Our guides again did an amazing job of explaining what this would be like.  Basically you need to do the following:
ENT, Weight & length, physical and TB test.
It doesn't matter what order the first 2 were done, just pick a line/door.
This is also were we ran in to other adopting families that I had become FB friends with.  It was a ray of sunshine to meet them here this day and get to see their little miracles!
So we picked ENT first.  Then weight & height, then the physical.
 Tessa wasn't a fan of any of this... except when we saw the doctor and his stethoscope. 
She stopped crying then, she was completely still for him.
That's my heart baby!
 The very last thing we needed to do, because she is over 2 years old, we had to hand her over to a couple nurses to get a TB blood test.  NOT FUN FOR ANY OF US.
They gently take her in to one of the rooms, shut the door. And we just wait.
She was pitiful when they handed her back to me. 
She kept lifting her arm up to Nate & I...like she was saying "look what they did to me!!"
 In the downstairs lobby of the medical building is THIS.
A wine vending machine.  I didn't notice it going in.  
After that morning....well this pic says it all.
That evening we took the Pearl River Cruise with our group.
Some agencies have their group eat the meal on board, but our agency got alot of feedback that it's not so great and so now they have us all give our Papa John's Pizza Order and they deliver it to the dock!  Yummy!!!!  So here's the boat....
 Not this one...
That's one we got to watch go by and think how much cooler it was than ours.
Boat envy.

 Gotta love their translated signs.
'No Climbing' would have sufficed.
 We started out with a good amount of sun light still, then as we turned to go back up the river,
the building lights came on...
 This is the stadium for the Asian Games a few years back...
it was the reason all this fancy stuff was built along with river.
 Best part of the cruise is again, running into special FB friends with miracle babies!
God was very creative with both our little girls' hearts :)
 Took lots of pics of the Canton Tower for my boys and nephew who LOVES tall buildings.
The pic doesn't do it justice.  It's MASSIVE. 1,959 feet tall to be exact.

Towards the end of the cruise was a lovely little show for the kids.
A very animated clown-ish lady who juggled and blew balloons.
She was VERY fond of Ricky Martin...just so ya know.
I did step back in the shadow of the corner and had to salsa a bit during "Livin' La Vida Loca"
I just had to.
 So lets talk about the Marriot ( the China Hotel as it's known there)
We kept discovering things about it as we explored around.
Here, Tessa is standing at the base of this beautiful tropical waterfall area in the courtyard, very near the children's playground.  It's a great place for pics!!
 We took a VERY long way to the park just across the street from the Chinese restaurant that we ate at earlier in the week.  These street intersections don't have crosswalks, so we walked under the street through these pedestrian tunnels.  They seemed well lit, but after it got dark and the park closed, we chose the long way home, walking on street level.  The park was beautiful as they all are.  Not even sure what this building was, but I love this pic! If we would of had more daylight we would have explored the park more!
We didn't even notice that there was this very nice family style Chinese street food restaurant in the hotel until the day before we left.  It kinda took us a while to figure out what we wanted, but the company was great!  The kids were happy and we really enjoyed it.
The pool here is outdoor, we LOVED it!! I even got some time alone in the sun one afternoon while Nate stayed with Tessa while she napped.  It was glorious!! The hotel has a very nice locker room, it has an indoor jacuzzi room.  It was quite full of local little kids and mommas when Tessa and I discovered it, so we put it off until later. Never got back around to trying it out though.  It would be perfect for the cooler months or rainy days.
Wednesday was the trip to the city zoo.  Now, we have the Columbus Zoo and Cinci Zoo just over an hour away from us, so we have a pretty high bar.  
But what we don't have is PANDAS!
And the pics we got of these cuties walking hand in hand...

 We were all taking pics like they were what we came to see! 
They were cuter by far than any animal!
Did I mention how hot it was there??
I just was so excited to see the panda bears!!!
 And here they are.... kinda not kidding.  The bears were inside (CUZ Its SO FLIPPN' HOT) and the building they were in, we couldn't even see them...boooooo :(
So these statues had to do.  Tessa didn't mind
They also got to feed the giraffes...she was ok with it, kinda got over it quickly and wanted to move on :)  I have heard that there is an amazing Safari Zoo in GZ.  Other agency families have gone and the pics are soooo great!  We asked our agency about it.  So it's quite a drive, and it's alot more $.  Probably worth it though.  Our group has alot of little ones and our agency want to keep them priority, the heat of that long stay there would have been alot for them, plus they all had naptimes to get back to.  So in thinking of all those things, they stick with the local zoo option.  Worked for us!
 Thursday was our US Consulate appointment!!! WAHOOO!!!! 
You can't take any cameras, phones or bags in with you, so here's our pic all dressed in our red,white and blue for the VERY SPECIAL DAY!!!
We loved again, getting to spend a bit of time with the other agency families that had appoitments at the same time.  The kids got to play together while we waited. Would have made some great pics!

 We found out that morning that our agency was getting ready to celebrate their 11,000th adoption from China!  We were asked to hold up the sign to celebrate!
This afternoon we had our kids "couch picture" and the group pic.
The girls were all sitting on the couch and the boys were sitting down in front.
There were flashes and clicks heard around the world!!
That's a whole lot of cuteness!!!
We were a large group, and there were 3 other children not in the couch picture!
YET....the adoptions from China are continuing to go down:(
There are currently over TWO THOUSAND children WAITING!
Papers are ready. They are just waiting for a family TO CHOOSE THEM!!
Some of them have been waiting for YEARS!
And as they get older, they know.
They know they are missing a family for them.
They know they will age out.
They know their special need is too much.
MORE families need to GO! 
They need to PURSUE their miracle!
THEY ARE WAITING!!!!
 So when your guide who is also the director of your agency's China office tells you "Thank you for coming for our children.  We know they will be loved"  when they tell you that...your heart is full and humble.  He then shared with us that yes, the adoptions are going down in numbers.
 It makes him sad.
It doesn't have to be that way!
Go!!!!!
 Here's our group...Chinese Children Adoption International ~ group number 2096
Julie is trying to see if her little guy will join in the couch picture... he's not a fan of this idea.

 We had a completly free day on Friday as we waited for the visas to come back.  So we headed over to Shamian Island, our guide went along too!
The statues all along the park are beautiful and I had to have THE picture with the children.
Tessa wanted no part in this!  She DID NOT LIKE the statues at all.
So much for the cute pic!
 There was a beautiful church there! And loved seeing the statue of Jesus with the children around Him.
 They were also having several weddings that day.

 It was time for all the wedding pics...he's working the classic 'foot up on the edge of the fountain' pose.. and they are doing the 'lean in and smell the bush' pose.

 Nate REALLY wanted a pic of us here with these two guys...it wasn't until we sat down that we noticed a dead bird right next to him....ewwww!
 The island had MANY shops at one time, but their mainstay was adoptive families coming and staying at the White Swan Hotel there on the island. It is currently closed for remodeling and the number of families have really gone down.  Forcing many businesses to close.:(  We did purchase several things from the little shops that were still open.  And we ate lunch at Lucy's!  Western food!! Except for Nate ordered Sweet & Sour Pork...huh??
 The Espresso Ice Cream sounded yummy off the menu.  In my mind I was about to enjoy a scoop of coffee ice cream...well this was served to me.  Espresso with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it.  Oh well, they tried.  

Last morning there!  We are now headed home!!!!
We got up super early and took a van to the Hong Kong airport.  The traffic was nothing, it was so early!  The driver stayed mostly awake and we got to enjoy our last hours in China.
Tessa did get sick just minutes after this pic was taken as we got though HK.
She's not a fan of car rides as she got sick in one of the van rides in ZZ too:(
This momma has been puked on countless times...no biggie.  I just felt bad for her :(
 We enjoyed the beautiful views at the HK airport!!!
 Tessa did awesome on the flight, she didn't sleep well, but Nate did. ughhh.
When we arrived at the Chicago airport, it was a crazy whirlwind getting through customs and immigration.  And I forgot we were an hour off from home, so I was thinking we were missing our flight!! oops... nevermind.  AND no worries, United took care of all that by delaying our flight 3x.
sigh. 
We just wanted to get home!!!! I put Tessa in her best Newest American outfit and counted the minutes until we were ALL HOME TOGTHER!!!!
It was crazy hard to be away from my loves for 19 days!!!
But we are all together now! 
And I love my crazy big family!!!

1 comment:

Heather Bellman said...

Amber, thank you for taking the time to journal your trip to China and to share it with us! I had seen the pics on Facebook previously, but love hearing you explain everything. That jewelry mall looks like some place I would love to visit! Congratulations on your new addition and soon-to-be official other little daughter! What a blessing to have these little girls join your precious family:)