Sep 17

Life on Shamian Island.

Category: In China

Is so far, quite comfortable. The White Swan Hotel is our residence now, located along the Pearl River (China’s 4th largest, soooo Clavenesque) the Swan plays host to hundreds (literally!) of adoptive families at a time. We flew from Nanchang on Saturday afternoon, and arrived here in Guangzhou around 6:30 pm. Our CCAI reps Jocelyn and Bruce were there to collect us with a beautifully large air-conditioned bus, and whisked us away to the Swan. The flight was uneventful (whew!) and Madison slept through almost the entire ride. We had thought that the whole ear popping thing would be a problem, but just pop in a few Cherrios or fruit puff graduates, and Viola! your set. The longer flight across the pacific will pose a stronger challenge, but we are confident we will get by. There are many other adoptive families on our flight to SFO, so its gonna be a mess, but what can you do? As I was stating earlier, the Swan is well known in adoptive circles, as everyone, well almost everyone, who comes here to adopt a Chinese child from the USA stays here. Not everyone, but almost. By the time we arrived, and checked in on Sat. nite it was about 8 pm, we got settled, fed Madison a bottle, and down she went. We scored a few snacks at the local market down the street and went to bed ourselves.

At breakfast on Sunday a.m., it looked like an adoption convention. After having a hotel to yourselves (as the novelty item to observe) in Nanchang, we were surrounded at breakfast by hundreds of families from the USA and elsewhere around the globe. Kinda cool to see so many others, but also a bit overwhelming at the same time. Its crazy at the breakfast buffet, combat eating. I’ll try to get a picture later this week. This is a very large hotel, with about 10 different restaurants, a waterfall, an enormous Koi pond under, and around said waterfall, lots of shopping and lots of personal attention. its like a Vegas property without the gambling. When you get on or off the elevator there is always a hotel employee to assist you in “pushing” the button to select up/down and your floor. They stand outside at the lobby area on each floor 24 hours of the day. Nice, but also kinda creepy at first. Guest service in China as a whole has been exemplary, but then again, we have been staying in very nice properties, so maybe its very different at the other end of the scale. Anyways, everyone is always smiling, and even in Nanchang and Beijing, you feel very safe. No matter where you go.

So Sunday Kelly did the visa paperwork (1.5 hrs) for Madison’s visa to enter the USA. Madison and dad just hung out in the room, played with our stacking cups, made raspberries at one another and watched South Africa beat the stuffing out of Bangladesh in Cricket. She also loves World Cup Rugby, who knew? We also had to take a photo for Madison’s USA visa application, fun, an its a great shot. Later in the afternoon we posed individually as families, and as a group for the famous “Red Couch” photo’s here at the Swan. I cannot think of any other adoption journey blog, site, or video where I have not seen these photo’s. So that was cool to do, but with such a big group, it was nuts as well. The kids were so patient, but as we all know, patience has its limits, so everyone had to be super quick when it came time to photograph just the babies, alone, on the couch. After the photos we went as a group to the “Cow and Bridge” Thai restaurant here on Shamian Island. Some outstanding Thai food BTW. After that, as Kelly says “time to shut ‘er down”. Prior to dinner Kelly and I also made arrangements to have some custom clothes (Chinese traditional) made for ourselves and Madison. There are a number of shops here on Shamian that cater to adoptive families for this purpose and our friend Carren Leevers from group 1233 was kind enough to steer us in the right direction. We each had a garment made, and Kelly’s and Madison’s match. They look awesome, we got them back tonight. We had Madison’s made a bit bigger so she can have it for Chinese New Year next February. We had our second “meltdown” on Sunday night and have learned (we think, knock on something wooden, NOW!) to identify the “I need a bottle” cry from the “I just want to be held” cry. We used this discovery tonight successfully. Some nights I’m just a dad, others, I’m Marlin Perkins on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. “Kelly will cradle the crying child, while I fly above in the chopper” Really, Thats how its been. An adventure, but a fun one so far. (stop the snickering out there!) Not to worry, I get my turn in the box as well, I can assure you.

Today we took a trip to the Six Banyan Temple. One of the oldest in Guangdong province. Of 1.5 billion Chinese, 95 % are Buddhist, the other 5 % are Muslim, Protestant, or Catholic. So while we did not try to attempt to make any religious statement with our visit or participatory role in the blessing of our daughter, we did want to pay homage to her countries heritage, and predominant religion. It was more of a “good luck” blessing ceremony, and it was really cool to share it with Madison. Hearing the monk conduct the ceremony with the chanting and with all the incense around, and in front of these enormous, giant golden Buddha’s, well for me it was a little moving. The Six Banyan Temple is very beautiful and contains many structures and shrines as well as a very well preserved prayer pagoda. We were not allowed in the pagoda, but we studied it from many angles. Its very impressive. There are of course many Banyan trees, so beautiful and distinct with their enormous root structure. We also got to see a Bohdi tree, which is significant to Buddhists as it was under a Bodhi tree that Lord Buddha first received enlightenment. We also did a bit more shopping, found a very distinct wine like “beverage” (see the gallery) and went to the Chen Family Temple. The Chen family surname is the largest in southern China and the family Temple and academy was home to the greatest silk embroidery artists during the ancient times (Qing Dynasty, about 2200 years ago). Guangzhou was the end point for the land based “Silk Road” route, so the artisans who lived within the temple’s walls were providers of some of the most re-knowned styles and examples ever made. Some of those pieces are on display, as are many current ones whose craftsman are trained in this technique by the Chen academy today.

Later in the afternoon, we had Madison’s physical exam appointment for her US visa. Hilarity ensued. I will state one example. During the “Medicine and Body” portion (there is also measurements, and E.N.T.) the Chief physician was looking her over with me holding her on my knee. I thought he asked me “whats her Sex?” , I said “Female” (duh!!) and he just looked puzzled, he asked the same question again, and I answered the same again. This cycle repeated again for the next few moments, until he reached down and pulled off her SOCKS. Oh, “riiiight, take off her socks”. Breakthroughs in language everyday around here. BTW, this is all on video for posterity. Our little girl checked out just fine at 6.6 kg and 66 centimeters. She is a bit wee for 9 months, but very healthy, and very strong and I can assure everyone, active.

So, now we get to slow down a bit, take some time out, tomorrow we are going to visit the Pearl market, and we should get the green light from the US Consulate that Madison’s paperwork for her visa is squared away and we are on track for the Oath taking ceremony on Wednesday afternoon. Then its a day off on Thursday with travel on deck for very early on Friday morning. I will give you all one teaser for later this week, I will have some very interesting photos and a post to share on Wednesday or Thursday (your time) , I just need to gather some more info (research) before I can post. But I promise, its really something different. So, good night (or is it morning?, yes. its now Tuesday morning) from Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, PRC.



Comments are closed.