Saturday, July 27, 2013

We were tired since arriving in late last night and I woke up to Matt and the kids ringing me on my iPad to FaceTime. It was 7:30 a.m. By the time I talked to Matt and the children, got dressed and headed down to breakfast it was 8:30 a.m. and the restaurant that serves the breakfast was packed. It took about 5 minutes for me to turn to Deanna and say, “I miss Harbin.”
It’s like we’ve gone from one extreme to the other. We went from being the only Americans with a Chinese baby in a place that spoke little to no English to a western-chain hotel full of Americans with Chinese children.  
Many families look forward to Guangzhou, and I did too, but I am not liking the giant, impersonal Marriott we are staying in that offers a westernized version of China for its western clients. On one side is a McDonald’s, inside is a Starbucks and on the other side is a 7-Eleven. There is one family in our Great Wall group that couldn’t be more pleased to be in Guangzhou. They disliked the province their daughter was in, said it was hot and boring, and are very pleased to be in Guangzhou at the Marriott. I just don’t feel that way.
I liked Heilongjiang and Harbin. And while it is considered by many in China to be a “westernized” city when it comes to architecture and layout, it doesn’t cater to westerners and I liked that. I can make it two weeks in China without a venti latte a Quarter Pounder with cheese and fries.
Let’s just say I’m looking forward to getting out and about and away from the hotel on our free days.  
With that said, it is nice to meet other adoptive families. We had breakfast this morning with a very nice lady who was adopting a toddler. This is her 9th international adoption. She is traveling with her sister-in-law and the hotel restaurant seated the two pairs of women together and away from everyone else. It gave us all a good laugh and we vowed to stick together since we will be here the same amount of time.
But, today was all about the medical exam that is required for a visa to enter the U.S. We met our Guangzhou guide, Kelley, and two other GWCA families and boarded the bus for the short ride to the medical exam. First stop was a photo for the visa, second stop was height and weight. Emma Claire weighs 19 lbs. (the same weight as her sister at the same age). There was also a stop for ear, nose and throat as well as head circumference and general physical check-up. Emma Claire got a clean bill of health and two doctors told me she was very healthy.

The medical clinic.
After the medical, Kelley took us to Wal-Mart to buy some water and other supplies. Emma Claire fell asleep right after we boarded the bus and I opted to stay on board with the driver while everyone else went in to shop. There is no parking in front of the Wal-Mart, so the driver circled the block and then parked outside some shops to wait.  We were to return for the others in 30 minutes and I people watched and snapped some photos from the van. I was intrigued by the street café owner who was washing bok choy and placing it on bamboo skewers to steam. I was thinking it looked good until she scratched her head with the one skewer and then used it. I also watched the hair salon owner sweep all the hair that had fallen on her salon floor into the street. Who needs a dust bin for those things anyway? 
Mom and two kids (one in front, one in back) on a bike in the rain.

Sweeping the hair out of the barbershop and into the street by the outdoor dining tables.

Outdoor cafe.

Delivering groceries via bicycle.
For the rest of the afternoon, we stayed at the hotel and let Emma Claire catch up on sleep. I think the flight and a new place has stressed her a bit and she slept very fitfully last night and at naptime. We took it easy, played indoors with her, washed some clothes in the hotel room and then headed out for dinner just down the street at a restaurant that specialized in seafood. Emma Claire was mesmerized by the large tanks of grouper, lobster, and crabs.

My go to lunch while we let Emma Claire nap. Less than $1 and very spicy!
On the way back to the hotel, we stopped to purchase a bottle of Chinese wine from one of the big three Chinese wine producers. We had read an article while we were in Harbin on the rise of Chinese wines and wanted to give it a try.  As Deanna put it, “It isn’t horrible, but it isn’t good either.”

Perhaps not the best vintage.
I got two photos today from family that made me smile. One is of Chloe and Oliver on a hike with Matt at Bear Mountain. When I spoke with Oliver about the hike, he told me all about the food he ate on the hike. He apparently worked up an appetite as he ran the majority of the trail.
Chloe and Oliver at Bear Mountain.
The other photo I received is of the quilt my Aunt Millie made for Emma Claire. It's really beautiful and the quilt pattern is called Emma's Star.
The quilt my Aunt Millie made for Emma Claire. The pattern is called "Emma's Star".

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