|Dates:||15 Nov 2012 - 1 Dec 2012|
|Duration:||2 weeks, 2 days|
Ojai, Ca to Nanyang, Henan, China to pickup our daughter, Isabel!!
Home! 5:30 pm. All was crazy here, Dan and Nate we hug crazed, Mommy then Daddy then Mommy then Will then Anna and back again. Isabel started crying from overload (and exhaustion). Its 10:00 am in China. She did sleep 7 hours on the plane though. The map showed us traveling through Europe so I ended it in Seoul.
Friends brought dinner. Mary Alice and Emma were here trading off with our close friend Kim. Could not do this without them. Unbelievable support.
I'll end this by saying something I should say every day; Jennifer is incredible. Besides being smart and gorgeous, her kindness and selflessness glows from her. I can sit and stare at her all day. I can't say enough (but I should say more) how proud I am of my Jennifer. My life is so full because of her. I AM blessed!
So the last photo is of my Jennifer and our Isabel.
On the way. Just arrived in Seoul. Night and day! I fell asleep as soon as we left. Isabel was awake. Most people speak some English so I can put my pantomime skills to bed. My brain is fried. Spent 12,000 won at Burger King. $12.
So, Will found himself a Korean girlfriend. A couple girls (20 somethings) were talking with us and one was teasing Will. Wondered if he had a girlfriend. Bought him a candy bar. He was a few shades red. Jen told him if he was a few years older he'd have himself a pen pal for sure.
Isabel gets a whole different look since we left. Very chatty and happy. We have a bulkhead seat and a wall mounted crib so Isabel gets all the leg room. Boarding in 10.... As soon as I typed that the flight got delayed.
Shamian Island. It was where the old U.S Consulate was and the hotel where all the adoptive families stayed. The White Swan. They are renovating so the families are now in the China Hotel in the busiest area of the city.
Shamian Island is beautiful. It was pouring rain. I got two more umbrellas for the kids. If it can't be real China, this place is the place to stay. It looks like a very British colony. Everything is about 100 years old. Victorian buildings and parks. Very few cars. We ate in Lucy's, a burger and American food place. Got some souvenirs with a little bargaining.
Packing now, drying our clothes and waiting.
Yuexiu Park. A short distance from the hotel. Very tropical, the humidity was over 90%. It was the first day it wasn't raining so we took time to take a walk.
I'm done with Chinese food so we're having dinner with another family in a steakhouse. So much for saving money on shopping.
Tomorrow we're checking out Shamian Island, what used to be embassy row. Supposed to be nice. Then we PACK!
Hurray! Last appointment, U.S Consulate. All adoptions in China come here so it can be busy. We had an 8:30 appointment. It was funny to see the Chinese nationals wearing a security uniform with an American flag on the sleeve.
We have one last departure orientation meeting today, one last down day waiting on paperwork tomorrow and Saturday we are flying.
Pearls, pearls and more pearls. When I first saw this photo I thought it was a sack of flour tortillas.
Through Jen's adoption blog world she met a local guide who took her to the best shopping at local prices. Silk outfits for Isabel and fresh water pearls for her wedding, a tradition.
They cut the strand and a number of moms of multiple adoptions say they are worth 5 times. 30 bucks each. I spent that in Starbucks. I even got a silk shirt for the next Christmas party!
Travel isn't the same with Facetime ( or Skype). Every morning we have a video chat with the little ones at home. They get to chat with Isabel and we get to visit. The kids get a kick out of it. We get to know that life is routine at home which is nice to know.
The Guangzhou Zoo. A couple pandas and 14 tigers. The white lion and the pandas were a hit but this Bengal tiger was all attitude. It was raining and I was soaked. Isabel under wraps.
We are so ready to be done. We are stuck waiting for the consulate appointment on Thursday.
Hey. Look who I found!!
Curly, Mao and Larry.
Oh yea!! The medical appointment. Not just our group but all families either adopting or emigrating. It went surprisingly well. We got out in 2 hours. No issues for anyone. One step closer. Consulate on Thursday.
Raining today and windy. Walking out today Anna's umbrella turned inside out.
Group dinner at the Macau Street Restaurant. We are in the largest group for this agency. 12 families.
Very authentic westernized Chinese restaurant. Forks, knives, Sprite, Coca Cola and chopsticks for the REALLY adventurous. Big difference from Zhengzhou. I miss that. Had a mocha frap at Starbucks today and McDonalds for lunch.
The 3 ft glass lazy Susan in the middle kept the Pearl River Lager moving though.
Tomorrow is Isabel's medical exam.
Uh ohh, Jen found a Buddha belly to rub. Another government run store to buy things.
I decided that the $5000 jade carving would have to wait so I decided to settle for a can of Pringles next door. Got a little outfit for Isabel for the big group photo this week.
Ok, this place was cool. Named for a famous Chen family it was an academy where you prepare to take the Emperors exam. If you passed you could start a company or work for the Emperor. Incredible art, even the building was an art piece. I got a copy of Mao's little red book for my leadership skills :/ English, of course.
My other bro's at the temple. About 10 of them in front. All very nice but the temple was the place to hang out I guess.
My bro's at the temple. They were taking a picture of their group so I offered to take their picture with their camera. Then they let me take their picture.
The Six Banyan Temple. 1500 years old. Still an active Buddhist temple it has a 180 ft tall pagoda. The guide said that if you rub the Buddha's belly you will have many more children. Lucky it was behind glass. Jen was looking. Very peaceful, I almost found inner peace. Almost..
The China Hotel. A Marriott. Very opulent. Can I go back to the normal 8 million folk in Zhenzhou. I feel like I'm in a Vegas hotel. This is much more western since a number of consulates are here.
No bikes, the Concierge thought I was crazy for asking. I didn't think the breakfast buffet could get bigger but it can.
Going on a city tour and a Buddhist temple, etc.
Made it to Guangzhou. Good flight. 8 screaming babies in chorus. Not Isabel, she's a happy traveler. Met with the rep and off to the hotel. About 65 degrees and cloudy.
Note to self: Call first. I rode my bike the 3 miles to the Patrol and Traffic Security station to try and make friends with a couple patches in hand and maybe get a local patch in trade. After the first guy got the second guy who got the third with a sorta translator I met these folks. I told them what I was there for and they asked if I had received permission. Ahh, nope.
After a little confusion I broke out the patches and managed at least some smiles and got another officer to take the picture. I think the frowning guy was a crusty old Sgt. It ended well but it was the first time I got that "closed society" vibe I expected. No one goes looking for the police I guess.
Had a cool ride back, getting good at the traffic. I am amazed with all the pedestrians, bikes scooters and cars, I have yet to see even on bike accident. It's like they al have built in radar, no one EVER bumps into each other and no one obeys any traffic laws. Like magic!
We leave tomorrow for Guangzhou and the American consulate.
Ok, not a big stop. Just lunch but the kids wanted chicken feet. Pretty good. They double as a toothpick when you're done.
We all went back to the street market and Jen held court. We had about 10 people who spoke no English chatting with Jen and Anna, who spoke no Chinese. Blondes rule! I got some video. An old guy was either yelling at me or congratulating me on my male prowess having all these kids. Have to get it translated. He slapped me in the back of my head, and walked away. He was smiling though.
A beggar walked by with a can and a make shift crutch. A real one I mean, not the ones on SSDI. I gave him some yuan. Reality check for Americans.
Ok, it wasn't car sickness for Will, it was bad food. The father next door was laid out too. Will lost it in the night and on the marble stairs in the hotel.
He's better but I made a run for both families for water, etc. I took a bike and found a really cool alley market. Fish Monger, butcher and every vegetable. Super friendly (or I was almost mugged 20 times, not sure which). All the women would laugh and hide when I tried to take their picture. This was normal life, very cool. As soon as Will crawls out of his cave I'm taking us back there again.
Right now he's watching Chinese soaps: Chinese revolution, army, guns, romance.
We had lunch in Nanyang at the DMQ. Kinda of a cross between McDs and KFC. Yuck. Now we were out in rural China and Anna was again the rockstar. Folks were tapping on the window getting her attention. Poor kid wanted to crawl under a rock. They are all very nice, just not the same social taboo. She just stares ahead and won't even blink. The rest of us wave back.
The girls at the counter were really nice, wanted to know why we're were with Chinese children. They thought it was great that we were adopting. Nearly everyone is disgusted by the abandonment but still it is a huge problem.
Since it doesn't look like we'll make the 10 hr trek to Zhenping where Isabel was found I thought I'd add the waypoint to the map. ...and a picture of a little old lady I asked to take a picture of in Nanyang.
After a 3 1/2 hour minivan ride (6 adults, 3 kids, 2 toddlers) we arrive in Nanyang. Dramamine was used by several including Will and Jen. Mr Toad's Wild Ride. Unfortunately, it wore off Will and he got car sick on the way back. First the driver stopped on the very skinny shoulder. I wouldn't do that in a cop car. I eventually had to dangle a grocery bag of puke for 2 hours. He was green then white as a sheet. He is in bed now.
Isabel was found in a small village about an hour away from Nanyang and was brought there. Won't make it to the village. It's already going to be 7 hours on the road plus a meeting (with an official) and lunch. Too bad, because we have the street name she was found in. Not sure if anyone wants another 10 hour minivan ride. Maybe Anna, she's the travel trooper.
Got the last piece of paper approved and we are done! We have two down days before flying to Guanzhou.
The pic is Jen and Isabel with the orphanage director.
You can't make this stuff up. I'm in The People's Republic of China and the hotel staff had a tree lighting which included Santa, an angel with a dozen people in choir robes and Santa hats singing Jinger Bears.
Will and I rented bikes to go find the Apple store. We were doing great avoiding the oncoming and passing scooters but were outgunned by the cars using the bike lanes to get past traffic. Made it. No sightseeing allowed, look forward or die. I'm in awe of the ones talking on the cell phone and weaving in traffic.
It's final. She's a Pfleging! Yesterday we were designated as the guardians. Today we have officially adopted her and she is our daughter. Even had a brief ceremony with the "official." Every place has an "official."
When we got back I rented a bike and got food. The knack is to ride like a lunatic and they tend to let you go by. If you show weakness they'll run you over. Much fun!
There's the smile. Will got this smile then Anna got her to also. Almost naptime. Jen is at a meeting so I am hangin' with the big girl. The two big kids spotted a group of Chinese people dressed in robes, wearing Santa hats and singing jingle bells. They took the camera.
She's chowing down on noodles.
All the children would arrive at different times from different orphanages. Other parents would photograph for a family getting their child.
Introducing Isabel!! Whew! Well that was great. Jen comforts her in Chinese so no crying jags yet. She had 6 layers on and was sweating, poor kid. What an amazing sight. So much excitement in the room.
We were awake at 5:00. Jen was up prowling around at 1:00. No stress here... :/. Internet is sketchy so we finally got on. Doing uploads when we can. Last night we had the buffet. $150 yikes 1000 yuan. I gotta learn Chinese fast. Expensive pigs feet and snails. I didn't tell the kids until they were done but they seemed pleased. We may be at mcDs tonight. Apple manufactures their computers in Zhenghou. Is it too late to trade in my Jade factory tour for the IPad factory? Next post is with our daughter. This is the same stressful feeling as watching your wife go through labor.
Arrived in Zhengzhou. We were picked up by the rep and started the process. The stress of anticipation is already mounting. Have to go change currency. Tomorrow we get united at 10:00. 12 families and 12 children and all of them are going to feel like they are being kidnapped. All joy with not much fun. I gave the kids a talk on being all about helping. They've been great.
Acrobats show. I hurt just watching them. Pretty amazing stuff. Had a pretty delicious bag of microwave popcorn in the lobby. Pretty funny. Got some great shots with my idiot proof camera. Jen is beat. Only slept 4 hours last night and we leave at 0700 for the airport. To Zhengzhou, 2 hour flight. I hear that the domestic flights are pretty exciting, we'll see. We have some meetings after we arrive and meet our Isabel on Monday.
Olympic park. Well, the Chinese are very proud of it. Nice place, got hounded by vendors. After the wall we were beat, so walking another two miles was not a highlight. When the Chinese see a blond child they want there picture taken . They don't ask, just giggle. Sometimes they want to touch the hair. Anna was the rockstar. She didn't know what think. A little toddler gave her hug and Anna couldn't believe it.
Great wall of China. They have the hard route and easy route. Not! Its hard and harder! We did the hard side. Will and Jen peaked. I hung out with Anna and the two guys from South Sudan one section from the top. No two steps are the same, most as tall as my knee. The ultimate stair-master.
Every place you go you get hounded by the vendors. I got a $2 dollar hat from one near the hotel and a $10 dropped out of my pocket. He grabbed it and started to pocket it. Slick, never skipped a beat. I laughed at him, shook my head and said no and he pointed to his pocket like he dropped it. Almost got that one but not this time. Maybe the next dumb Yank.
Jade Factory. Very cool! Expensive though. Had examples dated 2000 years. Off to the Great Wall.
Tienanmen Square and the Forbidden City. A little foggy but the it cleared up. Then they announced a yellow smog warning. Will was attached to the guide, George. Couldnt ask enough questions. We set up a shutterfly account. Http://journeytoisabeltaiyu.shutterfly.com
In the Hutong "old Beijing" got a rickshaw ride and a tour of a local resident'' house. Very cool. 800 year old district.
We have arrived. Beijing Capital Airport! ....and its snowing. Immigration went well. 45 minute bus ride to the hotel and bed. I really am on this trip, just the cameraman.
Incheon/Seoul after a 13 hour flight. Will and Dad (behind camera) are toast. Jen and Anna are, ... Well, as expected. A pair of Pollyannas. All smiles. We spotted a Korean Cultural demonstration. The Royal procession. I tried to get Will to go up to them but there was no way. We only had a little while so we ate Starbucks. So sad but no thinking required.
|Dates:||15 Nov 2012 - 1 Dec 2012|
|Duration:||2 weeks, 2 days|
Ojai, Ca to Nanyang, Henan, China to pickup our daughter, Isabel!!