Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Day 4 Million...

Okay, not 4 million maybe, but it does seem like we've been here an awfully long time. This will be our last post - we leave tomorrow!

We are so ready to come home. We don't have anything to do today...our guide was less than helpful in finding us a way to explore the rest of Guangzhou that isn't on this island. Grrr. There is a German Beer Festival going on at a sports center, but it is far away. We'd love to see more of Guangzhou - we just have two kids that won't walk more than a block and no encouragement to leave the island. At least in Changsha on our day off our guide gave us a "Please take me to..." taxi card in English and Chinese so we could go explore. This city is a big tourist destination, so it isn't like it is unsafe to leave the area... Neither kid slept well last night, so today should be fun. These beds are very uncomfortable, like they've put in western beds instead of Chinese beds, including giant horrible hotel pillows. Sorry to be so whiny, we are just bored and tired and ready to come home. :)

It hasn't rained much and the humidity went down, so the weather has been lovely. We went to the playground and let them run around - though really there is only one thing for kids, and the rest are simple versions of gym machines out for free for anyone to use. Owen wants me to tell everyone that he hurt his ankle playing, but it doesn't hurt anymore.

We bought a chess set (that should set us over the baggage weight limit). Owen really wanted one, and Derek has been trying to teach him how to play. You can imagine how that is going. :p

Yesterday we finished up shopping. Then we joined a bunch of other families on a bus and headed to the US Consulate. From the bus we got great views of Guangzhou. We stood in lines and went through security so we could get Xiao Miao's visa. Then we all had to take an oath, and received a sealed envelope that can only be opened by immigration in the states. It was the last step in the whole adoption process. And November is National Adoption Month!

Somehow today we'll have to smash all of our stuff in to our bags for a 5:30 am departure to the airport for our 830am flight. When we leave here it will be friday morning, and after a 5 hour flight to Tokyo and a 10+ hour flight home we'll arrive at 7am, friday morning. Ugh.

So, this winds up our blog, for now. We'll post again when we get home.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hello from Tropical Guangzhou!

Well, we barely made our flight from Changsha to Guangzhou! Our guide took us to the airport 2 hours early, then had tons of trouble getting the right number of tickets and boarding passes printed. It made no sense, and was completely stressful mayhem, and we boarded as they announced the final call for the flight. One bumpy hour later and we landed in the humid 70 degree and overcast city of Guangzhou. Xiao Miao slept the whole flight on Derek's lap, which was nice.

Our hotel is the White Swan, which is near the former site of the consulate. Unfortunately they moved and now we have to drive 40 minutes to get there. The hotel is really nice: huge atrium, shops, a big playroom, swimming pools, and the restaurant has huge windows overlooking the Pearl River. It is a really nice hotel, there is a huge waterfall and koi pond in the middle. There are a lot of adopting families here, and a lot of the stores outside cater to families. we are on a small peninsula, and all the streets are narrow and mostly pedestrian friendly.

We walked about ten minutes this morning for the medical exams for the babies. There was a nice breeze, and we saw a playground filled with adults! They were all exercising. It was pretty funny.

Everyone here speaks more English, the bell boy here speakes it better than the manager at the hotel in Changsha. The rooms are air conditioned and smell like tropical flowers. The whole hotel is decorated for Christmas, which feels rather odd.

Xiao Miao was laying in her crib awake last night, and she babbled herself to sleep. Derek and I were watching TV, and he was eating sunflower seeds, and she was imitating the noise he made as he spit out tehseeeds. She thinks she is quite funny.

The buffet here is very big, and while the food at the Changsha hotel's buffet never changed the whole time we were there, this one changes as you are eating. So if you go back to get more noodles, you might find something else in its place! Despite it being a bigger buffet, it has less for us to eat, and more they think that westerners want. Pretty disappointing. Lots of restaurants here cater to Americans, and all we want is some decent tofu and Chinese food.

We ate lunch at a place called Lucy's, which had a wide variety of food and stuff specifically for the babies. We got Xiao Miao mashed potatoes - which she gobbled up - and when Derek's pesto pasta came she leaned over and went "oooh!" She had a tantrum at dinner because we made her stop eating. She is a handful.

We filled out several pages of complex paperwork today, and our giude Lee will take it to the consulate for us tomorrow. The hotel gave Xiao Miao a going home Barbie, which is a Barbie with a Chinese baby (that looks Mexican, to us). You only get one if you are adopting and staying at the White Swan. Its a real Barbie from Mattel, they have a deal with the hotel, and even sponsor the playroom.

More later!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Last Day in Changsha

Today is our last full day in Changsha. After an early breakfast, Derek decided to stay in the room with Xiao Miao while I went out with Owen. We thought Xiao Miao (or any of us, really) didn't need to be rushed in and out of taxis in the rain. Owen't been whinier lately and he seemed a little better going out. Our guide took Owen and I to Hunan University and visited the 1000 year old area. We saw the ancient temple, lecture hall, gardens and library. It was really pretty, but I think the temperature dropped 10 degrees -- it was cold!

We came back and ordered lunch up to the room (hot and sour noodles, egg and tomato, and tofu and leeks) and I went out with Susan to a book market. Oh, the goodies! I got two stuffed Totoro dolls for $2 - in the U.S. or online they would be so much more. I also got some flash cards with pictures and words in English and Chinese.

After lunch and naps, we all walked down to a department store to buy a piece of luggage; it was so crowded! Now we are packing. We have to be ready at 9am for our short flight to Guangzhou -- where it is warmer and we have heard that it is much easier to communicate with people.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Day 7

Not much going on for a couple of days. We went to an embroidery museum and factory. The embroidery is very lifelike and intricate. We also saw the ladies doing embroidery; they work in a pretty dark room and some of the pieces are so big there is a group of 7 or so ladies working on a single one. Then we went to a sort of painters cooperative - nobody was painting at the time, but we got o look at the art and buy some stuff.

I think Xiao Miao is at the stage where Owen was when we stopped going out to eat for a while. Unfortunately we have little choice but to eat out most meals. She is quite a handful! We have to move everything out of her reach or it will all get thrown on the floor just for the fun of it. We will need to do some serious babyproofing when we get back.

I went looking for new shoes for Xiao Miao, which turned into quite an adventure. I found a tiny baby boutique with cute things. Unfortunately their shoes were too small and the lady working there indicated that I should go around the corner. I ended up walking down a long alleyway with people selling fruit, meat, and huge tubs of frogs, fish, and turtles. There was a school that had just gotten out and all the kids were staring and saying "hello." I finally found some shoes ($4) and came back. Today we need to find another piece of luggage -- we've got too much stuff now!

We got our paperwork back from Changsha Civil Affairs yesterday; we will need this in Guangzhou. We also got Xiao Miao's Chinese passport which sadly will be taken away once we reach the U.S. (where she is declared a U.S. citizen). Our guide Susan gave each kid a card wishing them a happy life and a cut-out paper of the double hapiness symbol. Very nice.

Today I'm going to try to convince Owen to go with me to Hunan University while Xiao Miao stays at the hotel with Derek. We need a break from being rushed in and out of taxis.

Tomorrow, it's back to the airport for our final airplane ride within China -- a 90 minute flight to Guangzhou.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Today we were on our own. We slept in a bit (wow! past 7am!) then dared to give Xiao Miao a bath. She really freaks out when we change her diaper and clothes, so, of course, anything that has to do with washing her. I got in the bath with her while Derek fed her Cheerios, resulting in a tolerable amount of screaming.

She does so much on her own -- eats well with a fork and spoon, cleans up her space with a napkin, tries to wipe her hands off, etc. Rather than trying to brush her teeth for her, we gave her a toothbrush to try herself. She watched Owen brush his, then I showed her the picture of Little Bear brushing on the toothpaste tube. She then proceeded to try to do it -- not bad for a first try!

I carried her in the sling today, which saved my arms.

We took a taxi to "Walking Street," which is an outdoor mall with a wide patch down the middle. Lots of stores, food stalls and bronze sculptures.

We wandered around and bought some popcorn, which was sweetened (everything here is either spicy or sweeet).

All was going fairly well until a woma decided to walk next to Derek and jabber in Chinese. She didn't care that we didn't understand her; she kept going on and on and constantly tapping him on the shoulder. He kept giving her the "I don't understand" shrug but she just kept going until we jumped into a taxi and headed to Walmart (I know I know. We just wanted some peanut butter and other grocery stores didn't have a clue as to what it was). Turns out, the Walmart was at the other end of "Walking Street" where we had already been. Fortunately, the taxi ride allowed us to find a Pizza Hut with menus in English and Chinese. It's not something we are going to make a habit of, but it was comforting to be able to order and know what would be coming. We ordered orange sodas and they came with ice; we've been avoiding ice because if it isn't made with bottled water you will suffer the consequences. We really wanted our drinks, though, so we reasoned that the ice hadn't had a chance to melt too much yet, so we scooped them out and put them on a spare plate...and hid the plate behind the table tents.

Things are so cheap here. Our pizza, garlic bread, and 3 large drinks were under $10. A 1 litre Coke at Walmart was about $0.25. We bought a loaf of bread at a local bakery near our hotel this evening, plus some cookies and two unidentifieable sweets for $2.

All the tired cryers (read: everyone but Derek) had a much needed nap, then we had our first Thanksgiving dinner as a foursome: PB&js and "cherry tomato" Lays potato chips (they taste like tomato soup!).

Xiao Miao came out of her shell even more today -- lots of smiles and giggles. The waitresses at breakfast waved at her when we left and said "zaijan" (goodbye) and "bye bye" and Xiao Miao said "bye bye!" Later we were looking at a picture book of fruit and she pointed at a picture of a banana and said "nana." So we don't know if they've been teaching her English or what. We've been trying to talk to her in Chinese! Today she said "Oh" for Owen.

We are glad we weren't here in August when it was 100+ degrees and 100% humidity. It is hot enough in our room as it is. We have the windows open and are still hot. They keep everything very warm.

This city is so lively at night. It's 8pm and there is a concert at the stadium across the street, people everywhere, lights are flashing...I think they do construction at night too; we hear what sounds like jackhammering until very late. Every once in a while we hear a crowd yell something in unison, but don't know where that is coming from. Of course, there is always the honking! We'll try to get a picture of the no honking sign...it looks like a marching french horn with and anti-sign around it.

Tomorrow we go to visit the Hunan embroidery (factory or museum) and a museum of local paintings. Should be fun!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Yesterday, the day started off with a bang -- literally. We were awoken at about 4am with the sound of what sounded like thousands of firecrackers. Twice. We've never heard so many.

We went to Yiyang (pronounced ee-yong); the location of Xiao Miaos's orphanage. Yiyang is very big -- about 4 million people in the city and surrounding communities.

On the way there (it is about an hour's drive from Changsha), we took a detour through the countryside. Our guide (Susan) wanted us to be able to talk to a family near where Xiao Miao is from, so she looked for a family standing outside of their house. I can't imagine this happening in the U.S., but Susan got out the car to talk to a family and they were happy to talk with us. There were three women there -- a woman, her mother, and their neighbor. The first woman showed us through her house, told us about her life and her family. There were five people living in the house -- her, her husband, her mother, and their two children. She was very proud of her children -- they are going to the university. They made a living by growing and selling vegetables. The neighbor then showed us her home. The homes are, of course, very modest. They are really open to the elements; you often go through the outdoors to get from one room to another. The kitchen has a huge wok in it that is wood-fired. The first woman was excited about the new gas-powered burner (like a stove top) and demonstrated it. The buildings appear to be made with brick and plaster. Chickens wandered everywhere -- in and out of the house. The women were very friendly and asked us questions as well. As we were leaving, they gave us some oranges and sweet potatoes that they had grown. We gave them salt water taffy in return -- something they had never heard of. Lesley and I were a little nervous about talking to a family at first (being the shy people we are), but it turned out to be an amazing experience.

In Yiyang we went to the police station that Xiao Miao was taken to after she was found. We didn't go in, but just took some pictures from the outside. We then went to the orphanage and, once again, just took some pictures from the outside. Many adoptive paernts take some soil from the location where their children were found. We did the same and will put it in a beautiful cloisonne box that we bought at the cloisonne factory.

For lunch, we went to a local restaurant and had a feast. There was a big "lazy susan" in the middle of the table. We were given a bowl for rice, but no plates. All of the food is put on the "lazy susan" and everyone just eats directly from those dishes. Everything is pretty cheap here -- out large table FULL of food cost about $20 total.

Susan then took us to a park by a lake near the orphanage where we took a walk and took pictures.

After that, we drove to a Buddhist temple on a hill. It was up a steep, muddy, VERY SMALL one-lane road and had a huge dropoff right next to the road. It has been very foggy and rainy here, so the views from the temple were limited, but is was still very beautiful.

The day ended similarly to how it started. At about 8pm we heard what sound like fireworks. We looked outside and could see a large firework display right from our 26th floor window. It was amazing. All of the firework displays we have seen in the U.S. start off slowly with one or two at a time, then there is a grand finale for a minute or so. This one started out looking like a grand finale and continued that way, never ceasing, for over 10 minutes. Amazing.

Today we have a day off. We will probably just walk around Changsha and take everything in. We never had time to do this in Beijing, so we are looking forward to it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Now It's Official

Xiao Miao doesn't cry much -- only if we try to change her clothes, change her diaper, give her a bath, put her in her crib, or if she is especially fragile, any change of position. She went to sleep pretty easily on her first night with us. I had to walk her to sleep, but it didn't take long. She only woke up once (at about 3:30am) and went back to sleep retty easily.

She livened up a bit at breakfast and got watermelon all over her. She also ate congee and picked up my fork to try to steal my noodles. I gave her some and, despite that they were quite spicy, she loved them. She is a Hunan girl.

We went back to the Civil Affairs office to finalize the adoption, so it is now official. We were a little worried she would be upset to go back to the room we got her, but she miraculously came to life! Previously, any attempt to tickle, act silly, etc. was met with a disinterested look. At Civil Affairs, Derek threw her in the air and she was delighted. After that she was walking around, playing, and smiling. She'd edge toward the door, look at Derek, and he'd say "Xiao Miao, come here"; she would then do this funny shuffle back and smile like it was a game.

Unfortunately, it was also her biggest trauma yet with us. We had to take a picture for the adoption certificate. She was terrified of the tripod and we had to go in there twice to try and get a picture that suited their demands. It was horrible.

We got some food back in the room -- sauteed peppers, noodles, scrambled egg and tomato, and rice. The food here is greasier than in Beijing and there are less greens and veggies overall. We have yet to see tofu in Changsha as well. Xiao Miao was so hungry! She was sitting on the bed, so we slid the diaper changing pad under where she'd parked herself on the bed and she ate (by herself! with a fork!) 4 bowls of rice and the eggs. She digs Derek and she tried to play with Owen -- she is much happier right now and is a lot of fun...until I change her diaper. :)

Before coming down to the computer to type this, Owen just said to Xiao Miao "Say ge ge whenever you need me and when I need you I'll say mei mei or Xiao Miao." (ge ge = big brother; mei mei = little sister) He is so sweet to her.

In other news, Derek has a head cold. He is pretty stuffed up and uncomfortable.

Communication is very tiring. For example, there is a swimming pool here and we went over to it this afternoon. It is part of a spa and everyone tried to help. Not helpful enough, since apparently we need swim caps. That went over real well with Owen. We don't expect everyone to speak English, this IS China after all. However, they cater to adoptive families and have 2 floors dedicated to these families. Unfortunately, we have yet to find someone who works at the hotel who speaks the most basic of English. So, it is very difficult to borrow scissors, order anything from their numerous restaurants, etc.

We've been buying goodies at the nearest grocer (very small, maybe 20' x 20') Today I got pineapple beer (yum! like pineapple champagne), some other beer, dried fruit, crackers, and pumpkin seeds. Derek bought cheap sake. It is SO different here than any other place we've visited. There is a real community here; everywhere you look and at all hours of the day and night people are congregating. The stores are all tiny and are interspersed with housing. In addition, there are tons of people selling food and other goods on the street; just look down any alleyway and you will find multiple vendors just hanging out and chatting. We think that this is probably how the U.S. used to be before chains ruled the country.

It seems that every store has 4 employees per customer. This makes for a lot of being followed and a lot of unneeded help. In the baby clothes store, which was the size of your average Starbucks, had 6 people hovering around us.

Tomorrow we are going to visit Yiyang where Xiao Miao is from -- or at least the location of her orphanage.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Xiao Miao Zoe Atlansky

Hunan = spicy food = interesting breakfast food.

We killed time walking around Changsha near the hotel. There is a stadium across the street with a large open area out front, under the shadow of the largest ferris wheel in China. We went to the open area to let Owen run off some energy.

We met Susan (our guide) and got in a taxi to drive 15 minutes to the civil affairs office. They took us up to this room with many benches and tables. I saw a woman with a child that looked like Xiao Miao; she was franitcally wiping her nose. Owen saw her and pointed and said "Xiao Miao!" The woman looked very pleased and repeated to the girl "Xiao Miao!" The woman then walked her over to us..and of course it was Xiao Miao! It happened so quickly it was amazing -- we didn't wait at all.

Xiao Miao cried and we tried to comfort her; she was so sad. :( Fortunately, she stopped crying pretty quickly. Owen was fabulous -- videotaping her, talking to her, kissing her, and taking pictures. He is so in love with her. It would be hard not to -- she is beautiful. Owen was also very understanding that she is so upset. We got her to eat a cheerio and shea watched the families and babies come and go.

I (Lesley) talked to a woman from the orphanage and she answered a few questions for us. We wanted to visit the orphanage but it is "being decorated" and they "can't host us," which is a bummer. We do get to tour Yiyang (the city near Changsha where her orphanage is). We will also go the the gates of the orphanage, where she was once left.

We drove back to the hotel and she clung to me in the car, but ate the Wheat Thin that Owen gave her. Then she spoke! "Ge Ge" -- which means big brother. Oh my goodness (so far, this was the only thing we have heard her say). We stuck to the room and she spent her time crying or eating or playing. Our room is a disaster, but in a good way. She is still fragile - always on the verge of tears.

While Derek and Owen stayed with her in the room, I filled out a bunch of paperwork, got her schedule (food, sleep) and found out about her (can speak short sentences, likes to climb, is strong-minded), and got the goldmine -- pages and photos from the orphanage documenting her time there. That is pretty rare; we are pretty fortunate. We were able to get this information thanks to the great work that Half the Sky is doing at her orphanage. Of course, they are in Chinese, so we will have to get them translated when we get back. I then left to go buy her clothes, socks, formula, diapers, and some more bottled water.

When I got back, we had to get her some food, so after talking to four people at one of the hotel restaurants, I got us some tofu and leeks and fried rice w/egg. She fell asleep in Derek's arms before the food came, but ate when she woke up. She cried for a while and we turned on "Ni Hao Little Friends" on t.v. -- it is a DVD of kids teaching you Chinese with songs and pictures. She is currently sitting next to me, watching Owen dance, and rocking slightly to the music.

She has really long eye lashes :)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Beijing to Changsha

Owen woke up at 3am, and we gave up sleeping and joined him. It gave us time to charge up electronics, give him a bath, and pack. Another nummy breakfast and we were off to the Tempole of Heaven, near the center of Beijing.

This place was huge - an oasis in the center of the city. There are gates on four sides, huge paths, and various halls and temples along the way. Marsha explained that living quarters are so small in the city that people get out often to congregate. So everywhere people were talking, playing hackey sack, doing tai chi, dancing, singing, playing instruments or cards or dominoes...it was really really cool. We spent at least an hour there. I'll let the pics do the talking...

We did a drive by of Tianeman Square and the Forbidden City, which judging by the queue was a wise choice. WE ended up at this odd place, that ws sort of gated, and there were old small kiddie rides and an old stadium and a giant panda statue. WE went to a silk factory, which unfortunately was gross and smelly from the boiling alive of hundreds of wroms. :) There was a bar in the shopping area of the factory, so that was a plus.

Finally we got to go eat. Marsha ordered for us - and honestly, the food gets better with each meal. Dumplings with greens dipped in vinegar, garlic broccoli, fried egg and tomato, green onion pancakes, spicy tofu...it ws fabulous. Plus, man-Pepsi (the liter bottle had a picture of a shirtless man on it. It was weird.) We had time to kill before our flight, so we went for a nerve-wracking walk as we tried not to get run over.

We finally headed to the airport to catch or flight to Changsha. Slight panic when Marsha realiezed she had Owen's passport number wrong, so she was afraid we wouldnt' get past the gate. Fortunately he is a rock star, and everyone fawned over him and paind no attention to the numbers.

Its hard to tell if Owen is being a trooper or a brat. He has chosen the trip to be the beginning of his complete disgregard of any thing we ask of him. ON the other hand, his sleep is thrown off, so he nods off at odd times, then hs to wake up and run through the airport. Poor kid.

The people on teh flight were nuts, getting up to open the overhead bins five minutes before landing, and other nonesense. The flight attendants worked with synchronized movements, and were militant about the tray tables and seat backs.

We met or new guide, Susan, who seems very nice and very thorough. One harrowing near death experience later (the drive) and we arrived at the Golden Source hotel. Our room is on the 26th floor. Yikes! There is a crib in the room, and a stroller. At 9:45 am (in 1 hour), we get to go to get Xiao Miao!!!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Day One in Beijing

We got into our hotel at about 10pm and had to wait in the hall because room service was setting up a roll away bed. I guess they didn't have time during the day to do this?? :p The roll away was rock hard, so we gave it to Owen. He got his revenge though, waking up at 3am, so we let him play videogames until he fell back asleep.

We hit the breakfast buffet in the morning, and it was awesome. They had some western food - bacon, french toast, doughnuts. We really loved all the non-western food - fried vegetables (looked like squash, sliced thin, kind of spicy), bok choy, steamed bun with bean paste, sesame bun with sweet paste, noodles, rice and eggs, congee, etc. so delicious. I tried to find out if there was meat in the noodles, which generated a lot of confusion. the waitresses got the desk clerk that spoke some english. She indicated we could eat the noodles and fried vegetables, and proceeded to make me a plate of food. We ate fast, because our guide Marsha was waiting.

It was sunny and very hazy outside. I expected the pollution to be bad, but I never got that tight chest/hard to breathe feeling I remember getting sometimes in L.A. We drove a ways out of Beijing. Everyone drives like a lunatic - cutting each other off, honking, driving in both lanes. People walk in front of cars as if they aren't even there, and teh cars just honk and don't slow down. Somehow it is controlled chaos - nobody seems to crash.

Marsha talked to us about China and Beijing - how the city is growing, about her daughter's schooling and college, etc. We saw a few cars on the freeway that had red and gold signs over the license plates, and red ribbons tied on the mirrors. Marsha said it was a wedding party, and there was a guy in a hatchback (hatch up) in front of the procession, filming it at 50 mph.

We drove around a big roundabout with a statue of a peasant uprising leader from the Ming Dynasty (700 yrs ago). Finally we stopped at a jade factory, where unfortunately we got the whirlwind tour of the museum. Our enthusiastic guide took us to a few of the displays, and we learned about some of the carvings and their meanings, and how to grade the jade, and tell real from fake. then they drug us into the showroom, where I ended up at a counter of jade bangles. They size your wrist and have to put your hand in a plastic bag to get the bracelet on. I think they hope you'll like the $1500 bracelet they just squeezed on your arm and will buy it. I declined. They did love Owen so much that they gave him a cool little bracelet.

Then we went to the Great Wall. Beijing and surrounding province is pretty dry, and the mountains reminded us of scrubby southern California. There are a few places you can visit the wall, and we went to a part that is a huge loop that Marsha said served as a gate in and out of Beijing. We also went to the only part you can visit where you can park right next to the wall.

If you have all day (and you are a mountain goat) you can walk the entire circle of teh gate. We just went to a small section, joining hundreds of others. It was really beautiful. The stairs are uneven - some are quite tall - and once you get high enough up the wall the stairs were dizzyingly steep.

At this point let me just say taht Owen is a total celebrity. Everyone wnts to touch him, pinch his cheeks, take pictures of him, etc. They marvel at how pale he is. It didn't take long for this to move from charming to annoying. A woman on the great wall was practically stalking him, and she finally asked us to take a picture of him with her. Owen never seems terribly pleased by the attention.

(Owen with his harem -- watching him play Mario)
We left the wall and had lunch at this huge restaurant that had hundreds of large tables. After walking a quarter of a mile through the building we were seated at the smallest table in the place, in the middle of the room. They brought us a plate of appetizers that had ham and beef on it. We told Marsha - again - that we don't eat meat. She said "is fish okay?" and we said no, again. Honestly, in a country of millions of Buddhists, you would think it wouldn't be such an oddity to be a vegetarian. We got lots of veggies, rice, and tofu. Once again, the food was so delicious. Owen had 3 helpings of tofu. WE brought his little kid chopsticks to use, which worked out well.

We were taken to another tourist place right next door, this time freshwater pearls. Unfortunately we got to witness an oyster being murdered. We didn't buy anything.

Finally, we went to the cloissone place, which was by far the best. It was an odd place, that looked like an abandoned set of buildings. Our guide Herbie ("like the volkswagen car!" he said) was awesome. We didn't realized how cloissone was made - let me explain: they make the vessel out of copper, then glue on wire bent into the pattern or design. Then they fill in the space in the wires with enamel using an eye dropper, and fire it each time, doing this about 6 times. Then they polish it. It is really cool. We got to see each step, and everyone was very friendly, and Owen got to run outside between the buildings.

We were warned about the clothing police - women who fuss over your baby if they don't think they are wearing enough clothes. They do it to Owen too. Yes, it is winter. But it is sunny and in the 50's, and he doesn't want a jacket. Leave us alone! :D

So we drove back to our hotel, only getting glimpses of Beijing. Derek got a really bad migraine and went to bed. Owen and I had dinner in the restaurant (another odd, slightly uncomfortable vegetarian experience, but the noodles rocked). Then while I was waiting for the check Owen crawled into my lap and went to sleep. I took him up to bed and we were all asleep by 7:30pm.

We are keeping a look out for funny English translations. There are many, but this one is great. We were worried that Quiet Riot would come out of the fridge, so we kept it closed...

Time for breakfast here again. More later!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Good Morning from Beijing!

I'm sitting here in the business center of the Debao Hotel in Beijing. I'll blog quickly, as we need to have breakfast and meet up with Marsha for a day of sightseeing in a half an hour.

The flight was looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong. The games and stuff were nice to have, and htere were a ton of (bad) movies on demand, and a large selection of kids movies. Owen developed ADD on the flight, and would watch 10 minutes of a movie at a time and then stop to play a game or do something else. Derek kicked ass playing bejeweled, and you could play reversi and a trivia game against anyone on the plane. That was pretty fun.

Our flight left at 12:00 noon, so we had lunch right before. About 40 minutes after take-off they served us dinner. Then we got ice cream. Then later in the flight, we got breakfast. It was crazy. We were so full.

At one point they called for a physician on board, and then they asked if anyone had any chewable tylenol. We bought some (which, by the way, is SO disgusting). We gave it to the flight attendant, and they gave us a voucher for miles in thanks. :)

We arrived in Tokyo at 3pm their time, though it was like 10pm to us. We arrived in Beijing at about 5am Portland time. Luckily Owen slept on the Tokyo-Beijing leg (and we got another dinner). Met up with Marsha, came back to our hotel (it was about 10:30pm here in Beijing). We slept pretty well, on mostly hard twin beds.

Thats about it, I guess. Just wanted to let you know we arrived.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Everything In Its Right Place

All right! Our bags are packed, we're ready to go. I'm standing here outside your door...oh wait, that isn't right. Nevermind. John Denver anyone? Anyone? Okay then. ;)

We leave tomorrow (Thursday the 16th) for 17 days in China. We will attempt to provide updates and photos when we are there - we aren't going to bring a laptop, but have heard that internet cafes abound, so we will try to blog and post pictures as time allows. The Chinese government has a tendency to block access to certain websites, but we know someone that went earlier this summer and used blogger without any problems. If we can't post to this blog, we will attempt to post at Owen's, which can be found here. That is if we can actually remember how to post at Owen's. Obviously he lost interest in keeping it up.

The Itinerary!

November 17: Arrive in Beijing and meet up with our guide, Marsha. We are flying Northwest, and while our seats are practically within the splash zone of the bathroom at the rear of the plane, there are movies, music, and video games on demand. To go with the music player, movie player, Gameboy and Nintendo DS Lite we are bringing. We'll be staying at the Debao Hotel in Beijing. It has a bowling alley!

November 18: We nearly blow our sight seeing wad on Day two with a visit to the Great Wall. The day finishes with lunch out in Beijing (where we can practice saying wo chi su, or I am a vegetarian) and a visit to some factories (most likely cloisonne and/or jade). Guess what you all are getting for Christmas this year!

November 19: The day starts with a visit to the Temple of Heaven, followed by another lunch out in Beijing, and a visit to Tiananmen Square if we have time. Then we catch a flight to Changsha in Hunan Province, where we will meet our guide Susan and check into the Golden Resource Hotel. Rumor has it there is a Brazilian restaurant in the hotel. Go figure.

November 20: FINALLY get to meet Xiao Miao!!!! She is in the SWI in Yiyang, though we will get her at the Civil Affairs office. Hopefully she won't be too traumatized.

November 21-22: We get a couple of days to take care of some paperwork and spend time with the babe.

November 23: Yet more paperwork and a visit to Hunan University.

November 24: Today brings us a visit to the Xiang Embroidery Research Institute.

November 25: Our final day in Xiao Miao's province, we will be going to a park and book store and will do some shopping.

November 26: Today we fly from Changsha to Guangzhou and meet local guide Lee. We will check into the White Swan Hotel along with every other family that is adopting in China. The pool looks awesome.

November 27: Time for more paperwork. Today we'll take visa pictures of Xiao Miao and do medical tests.

November 28: Appointment at the Consulate.

November 29: Swearing in at the Consulate and pick up visa.

November 30: Sightseeing around Guangzhou, our last full day in China.

December 1: Fly home, sitting somewhere closer to the middle of the plane, and somehow magically arriving in PDX 2 hours before we left.

We were excited to escape the constant downpours we've had the past week and a half, but it looks like we can expect rain in China too. And 80 degree weather. And thunderstorms.

Anyway, I guess that is it. Hopefully we can sleep tonight.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I Stood at the Top of the Mountain...

...and China sang to me.

That's right. After a year and a half of paperwork, paperwork, more paperwork, and a whole lotta waiting (followed by a quick flurry of last minute paperwork), we are finally going to China to get our daughter.

We will most likely be leaving next Thursday, with Friday as a back up if the Thursday flight is full. We'll do a couple days of sight seeing in Beijing, then fly to Changsha in Hunan Province, where the orphanage is located. We'll get our daughter, have a week or so to get to know each other and complete some - wait for it - paperwork, then on to Guangzhou, where we finalize with even more paperwork, before we fly home on 11/30 or 12/1.

We honestly can't believe that this is finally happening. We are in a flurry of packing and shopping. But the coolest thing is that we were able to get fairly current photos of Xiao Miao!! We only had the 6 month old pictures to go by, so it is nice to see that she is indeed standing and playing and stuff. We were amused that her current weight at 23 months is what Owen weighed at 11 months.

I'm Derek Atlansky and I approve this message. :)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Mac Attack

Check out this hilarious cartoon poking fun at the Mac vs. PC ads that Apple puts out. Totally spot on!

Also, a Pac-man chart. Heh.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Weblog Commenting and TrackBack by HaloScan.com GeoURL