Monday, July 29, 2013

Guangzhou-Shamian Island

Hopefully we returned to our regular sleep schedule as Emma Claire slept very well last night in the pack and play. Whatever disrupted her sleep the night before is hopefully a thing of the past.

This morning at breakfast I met Cyndi & Dean, another adoptive couple from our October LID Facebook group. They recieve their daughter this afternoon. In fact, there were about 5 other couples at breakfast this morning all preparing to meet their children today.

We went with our Great Wall group to Shamian Island today. During the Opium Wars, Shamian Island was divided amongst the French and British as a defense post along the Pearl River. The island reflects this in its western-style architecture. Shamian Island is also home to The White Swan Hotel, one of the best-known hotels in Guangzhou, that hosted many adoptive families. The White Swan is currenlty closed for renovations and the U.S. Consulate, which was next door to The White Swan has since moved off the island to a new location.
The White Swan Hotel under construction.
We stayed on Shamian and at The White Swan in 2005 when we adopted Chloe. Shamian is still as beautiful and peaceful, a oasis in the big, bustling city of Guangzhou, but many of the shops and restaurants are gone. Tourism to the island has decreased since The White Swan has closed.

It is still a great place to visit and stroll along the banks of the Pearl River and in the remaining shops that still cater to adoptive families who visit, but with The White Swan covered in scaffolding and the closing of many shops, it wasn't as I remembered. There is a Starbucks now that looks like it should be in Key West, not Guangzhou, and a Subway sandwich shop. It was hard for me to get my bearings. I did manage to find the storefront of the noodle shop Matt and I ate at literally every night (we loved their spicy, fried noodles), but it is now a ladies clothing shop.
The banks of the Pearl River.
Shamian Island.

Chinese military doing drills in one of the parks on Shamian Island.
Our group had about 2.5 hours to spend on Shamian. Deanna, Emma Claire and I went into a couple of the shops--We visited Michael's Place and bought a chop with Emma Claire's Chinese name and we also bought a wooden sword for Oliver.  We walked through the park and then decided to venture off the island and over the footbridge to QingPing Market. This is where my memory completely went blank.

During our stay in 2005, Matt, Chloe and I would venture off the island daily and walk the vendor stalls of QingPing Market and into the shopping area nearby. Literally everything and anything is hawked here. If it is possibly edible, then it's here--scorpions, monkey paw, pigeon, kittens--as our guide said, "We eat anything with legs except a table and chairs". You could also find merchants selling "LV" bags, knock-off Rolex watches and pirated DVDs. It was at this market that I went into complete panic mode in 2005 when my husband literally disappeared when we were looking in one merchant stall. As a first time mother in a foreign country, I started freaking out until Matt emerged from behind a fake wall where the merchant wanted to show Matt the watch he had that was "identical" (wink, wink) to Matt's Breitling watch he was wearing. It wasn't quite identical since it wasn't really a Breitling, but a fake Breitling. Despite my scare, Matt and I enjoyed walking the market stalls and the market each day. We liked escaping Shamian Island and making an adventure on the other side of the canal.

So, Deanna and I set out for adventure. We crossed the footbridge off of Shamian and that's where I looked at her and said, "I don't remember any of this". Turns out we took the wrong footbridge. We should have taken the footbridge that goes over the road and to the other side. Instead, we took the footbridge that goes to the Huadiwan Fish & Aquarium Market. While it wasn't what we originally set out to look for, we walked the rows and rows of stalls that were bringing in fish from the nearby docks on the Pearl River. Crab, lobster, sea slugs, sea worms and sea urchins all on display. Men were rolling huge vats with flopping fish to the markets. It was very interesting, but an assault on the nasal passages. The street is wet and full of puddles of fish guts, etc.
The stalls of the fish market.
There is a bicycle under those boxes that once contained fish.

After our little detour, we headed back to Shamian to give our olfactory glands a break. Much to our surprise after our excursion, we were still had an appetite and we went to have lunch at the Cow & Bridge Thai Restaurant, which still remains on the island from when we last were there.

Tonight we did paperwork in preparation for our U.S. Consulate appointment tomorrow morning. This is the last step in the adoption process for this trip.

And now for some Emma Claire cuteness:

We borrowed a stroller from the hotel. Emma Claire didnt seem to mind.

In the high chair at dinner.

First taste of ice cream. Lets just say she has a sweet tooth.






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