Made it home

For those of you who wondered if we have been stuck in immigration or customs since our last post, the answer is no. We made it home after a long and difficult trip.

My sinus infection returned with a nasty vengeance and we are all trying to get over the jet lag. We now need to begin the process of adjusting to normal life with our new family member.

I am not sure when my next posts will be. For me the blog was a way to keep my friends and loved ones informed about our journey. For now, I am simply grateful to be home safe and sound with my new daughter.

Hong Kong

Well we arrived safely in Hong Kong. This morning we decided to go by car instead of the train. This was largely due to the weight of our luggage and having to move it on and off trains and into a cab.

We had to drive through the border crossing and go through customs which was interesting. Pictures included.

The hotel is thankfully attached to the airport which should hopefully ease our departure tomorrow.

Anyway, Hong Kong is beautiful. It looks like the magic island in South Pacific. They also have suspension bridges larger than the Golden Gate. Might be nice to see, but glad we are coming home.

See you all soon.

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Traveling again

We are leaving for Hong Kong shortly which is necessary to reposition us for our flight home. We are praying our visa and immigration papers arrive shortly without any issues.

I don’t know what kind of internet or phone reception I will have from Hong Kong. So, if you don’t hear from us tonight, you won’t hear from us until we get home.

Looking forward to getting back and seeing everyone soon!

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Consulate appointment

Well today we rose bright and early for our 8:30 consulate appointment. We went to the 5th floor of a commercial building. It was very anticlimactic compared to all the movies you see where the US embassy is a big white building with a US flag in front of it.

We went through security and had been told in advance to leave our cell phones and cameras at the hotel. However, as it turns out they do not allow electronics of any kind and I believe Lily was a little miffed when they confiscated her plastic princess cell phone.

We were ushered into a small waiting area with plastic seats. All 12 families were then asked to stand up and say an oath. They then called us one at a time to present our paperwork. Of course, we were last. We provided our forms and they basically said come back tomorrow for our visa and immigration papers.

When we got back to the hotel Julia and I were feeling adventurous so we took a cab to Liwan Plaza- commonly know as the Pearl Market. This involved getting into a cab and providing him with a piece of paper that our guide had written in Mandarin.

The Pearl Market itself was unlike any other place I have ever been. It was 5 story building with literally hundreds of tiny little stores selling everything from pearls, to gemstones, minerals and crystals. We started at the top floor and worked our way down.

We made some great purchases and then had the experience of finding another cab to get ourselves back. Fortunately, luck was with us and it only took about 10 minutes to get one. We then presented our hotel business card and the driver took us back.

Since we will be taking the train to Hong Kong tomorrow afternoon, we made a special trip to the Bank of China to exchange some currency since Hong Kong uses their own money. It took considerable explaining and various hand gestures to get them to understand what we wanted, but we got there in the end.

We then took a rest this afternoon and commenced packing. I think the last leg of this trip is going to be a difficult one. Hauling many pieces of luggage, a toddler and a stroller. Heaven help us!

This evening we returned to our favorite Italian restaurant for dinner. It seemed appropriate for our last night in the area.

So, tomorrow we will be leaving the hotel about 2:30. We will be dropped off at the train station while our guide goes to the consulate to get Lily’s visa and paperwork. She will then bring it back to us since the embassy won’t release it until 3:30. We then need to go through the departure process which China requires to know that we have actually left. I have no idea how complicated all of this will be.

We are allowed to board 45 minutes before the train leaves. Our train departs at 4:56 pm. We arrive in Hong Kong about 7pm. We then need to go through entry into Hong Kong and get a cab to our hotel. If we make it that far with all our stuff, at least our hotel is attached to the airport. Hopefully this will make things easier of Thursday.

Anyway, please send us your positive thoughts and prayers that everything goes smoothly for our upcoming travels. We need all the luck we can get!

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PANDAS!

We got up bright and early this morning and headed off to the Safari Park. It is kind of like Busch Gardens for those of you have who have ever been to one. It has lots of zoo animals, a train ride through the park to see various animals and a few amusement rides. The difference here is China has limited safety measures for the animals and the people. For example, I got some of the best animal photographs I have ever taken in my life because there were no fences or glass between us. Also, in many cases you can bring food to feed the animals. On the riding portion of the tour the animals can actually walk right up to the train (which is actually a zoo mobile). Further, you can also drive your car through this part of the park. They advise not to get out of your vehicle but of course there were foolish Chinese people throwing chunks of food to the lions, tigers and bears! Oh my! We spent about 3 hours walking around seeing lots of animals in the extreme heat. This park breeds tigers that are sent to Zoos all around the globe. They had over 150 tigers on site and have the largest breeding program in the world. Of course, the highlight of the trip for me was seeing over a dozen pandas. They were big and cuddly and I wish we had them back home! I have some fabulous pictures on my good camera which you will have to see when I get home. They also had quite a few red pandas which were also beautiful.

Oh we also happened to be touring exhibits on the same route as a local Chinese news crew who thought it was great fun to include the Americans in their footage. So, if anyone watches Chinese news you might see us.

After the safari park, we went back to the medical facility and got the results of our medical exam. Fortunately everyone was negative for TB. Yeah!

We then went back to the hotel and bought our train tickets to Hong Kong for Wednesday.

After a short afternoon rest, we then went to Pizza Hut for dinner. It was excellent! Interestingly wait staff are not allowed to accept tips here. So when I tipped our waitress she tried to give it back. When I explained it was for her good service she said it was not allowed and they would donate it to the orphan children’s fund of which they are a sponsor. Kind of ironic considering why we were here in the first place.

There were also some interesting people at dinner the man at the table next to us was actually sleeping while waiting for his food. (picture included)

After dinner we toured the shopping mall by the restaurant. We got Julia some very chic new clothes for school.

Tomorrow we need to be up early as we have an 8:30 consulate appointment. Not sure how we will spend the afternoon, but will let you know when we do.

I hope you are all doing well. Julia and are very much looking forward to getting home and we are only days away.

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Shaiman Island

Today we got up and assessed everyone’s health. Julia broke her fever. Lily was doing well and my sinus infection was tolerable. So, we decided to take the group trip to Shaiman Island. This is an isolated part of Guangzhou built between a canal and the Pearl river. The buildings look like 18th century Europe and are very pretty. We walked around for two hours and did some shopping. Apparently this is the location for all the local wedding photos as we saw at least 4 different bridal parties taking pictures.

We also went to the Temple of Sun yu. This is the Chinese leader who actually led the rebellion in China to end the dynasties rule of China. It was very pretty.

We then came back to the hotel and worked on preparing our paperwork for Tuesday’s consulate appointment. We then took an afternoon rest.

At 5pm the group gathered to go to a group dinner at the New Hakka restaurant. I did not recognize any of the dishes ordered for the group except fried rice, nor did Julia and I eat much. Oh well, tomorrow night we will go to Pizza Hut.

Tomorrow we have to go back to the medical office to review the TB skin test results. Our guide looked at Lily’s arm where she was pricked and said her results were negative, which is Great News! Unfortunately, the little girl in the wheel chair has had a big red bump form at the injection site. This means she will have to have a chest x-ray taken tomorrow for them to decide whether she can go home or has to be quarantined for 4 to 6 weeks. My heart goes out to that family. We are all praying the x-ray comes back clean. Anyway, I will let you know how things turn out, but for now things look good for Lily.

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Medical exam

Well, this morning we got up having slept better than any night so far on this trip. While the beds here are still harder than I am used to, they were better than our previous hotels and the air conditioning is Great!

We had breakfast in the hotel and the met the two other families traveling with our agency in this part of the trip. There is a nice family from VA that adopted a 7 year old boy. He is their 6th child and 4th adoption from China. There is also another couple who adopted a 6 yr old girl in a wheel chair. She is terrified of everything and they have spent all their time so far in the room.

We went to the clinic and had 4 tests done. First was height, weight & temp, then an eye, nose throat check, then a physical and finally the skin test for tb. When it was Lily’s turn she started screaming as soon as she saw them holding a needle. It took three nurses to hold her for the test. Clearly, getting her vaccinated is going to be painful for me and her. We will find out the results on Monday. I pray they are negative or we may not be able to re-enter the US until the waiting period has passed.

Finally after we finished all our exams my guide gave me Lily’s passport which had been delivered by another family. Thank god!

While we were waiting between medical tests, our guide Elsie came over and explained to Lily what her new English name will be. At first she said no and started to cry, but the clever guide kept talking and explained that the Lily is one of China’s most beautiful flowers and only special little girls can have such a pretty name. Since that time we have had no objections to her new name. 🙂

When we got back to the hotel, everyone decided to walk to the Friendship store to get some water and supplies. It was an interesting store in that it had designer department store merchandise on 7 floors but had a supermarket in the middle of it.

To get to the market we had to walk through the largest designer shoe department I have every seen in my life. They had ever designer you could think of. I believe this would be my niece, Caroline’s version of heaven. I managed to snap a few photos before the shoe police accosted me and said no photos allowed. What? Did they think I was a rogue shoe designer who was going to copy their product with a teenager and toddler in tow? Not exactly your typical vision for corporate espionage.

Anyway, we got back to the room and Julia was not feeling well. I took her temperature and she was running a fever. So, I gave her Tylenol and everyone took a nap.

When we woke up, we walked to a local restaurant called Oggie’s. It had the best Italian spaghetti I have ever had! Who knew you needed to go to China for great Italian?

We then came back I gave Lily a bath in the giant bath tub. She clearly loves water and had fun playing in the water and makes faces at herself in the mirror.

Anyway, today I am including some hotel pictures, some shots at the medical facility and of course my illegally snapped shoe shots. Enjoy!

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