Sunday, July 21, 2013

Harbin - Day 2

After thinking we had acclimated nicely to the time change, both Deanna and I were wide awake at 5 a.m. with the sun beating through our hotel room. The sun rises very early here--I woke up at 3:40 a.m. and the sun was beginning to rise then.
Breakfast.

We were one of the first to breakfast at 6:30 a.m. and afterwards, we headed to Wal-Mart to cruise the aisles and pick up a few items. We spent a long time checking out the food and playing with our new favorite app on our iPhone that will take a sign, menu item or food and using the camera translate it from Chinese to English.
A screenshot of the Waygo app that will translate items to English. Its been very useful!
I somehow forgot deodorant and we were searching and searching the aisles of Wal-Mart for it until we discovered it is kept at the makeup counter. A nice, young lady pulled out the three deodorant choices and had me test each one on my arm. It was a bit like buying perfume--she would roll it on my arm, have me smell and motion to me to see if I liked it. When I settled on the lemongrass deodorant, she retrieved one for me. I never knew there was such to-do in buying deodorant!

We met Sophie, our guide, at 10:30 and walked to the bank to exchange the money needed to complete the China-side of the adoption. We were told to go to the window of a young man who, along with the bank manager would help us exchange the money needed for the orphanage donation, province fees and passport from U.S. dollars to Chinese yuan. The bank teller was very meticulous and by the book. He was so nervous and sweating bullets during the entire thirty minute transaction. He literally counted the the U.S. money through the machine three times and once again by hand. He then had the bank manager do the same. He apologized for his nervousness and explained to Sophie, who translated for us, that if there was one mistake in the paperwork or in the U.S. currency when the transaction went to the central bank, then the branch would receive a 20,000 yuan fine (about $3200 USD) which would ultimately get passed down to him.

After the money was exchanged, we decided to go touring to Sun Island, which is the largest public park in China. Sun Island is across the river from our hotel and is home to the International Ice Festival for which Harbin is famous. We took a taxi from the hotel to the park. The taxi driver was a very nice man who gave us lots of information on Harbin and Heilongjiang.

The park was crowded--it's the number 1 attraction in Harbin and was filled with families and groups. We walked the park and took in some of the sights and then caught a river boat back to the other side.
One of the lakes at the entrance of Sun Island park.

For 5 yuan, you can feed the spotted deer.


Deanna and I at the waterfalls in the park.

Feeding the squirrels was hugely popular.
 
The river boat shuttle.

Swimmers in the Songhua River.

Chinese folk singer.
 
When we got back we grabbed a bite to eat with Sophie at a nearby food court. We're taking it easy the rest of the day and preparing to get ready for Emma Claire---one more sleep until Gotcha!!

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