Catching Up

We are home! Actually we’ve been home since Thursday but I’ve been too tired to do anything except eat cheerios and take extended naps. When they say the time change is more difficult coming home, they aren’t kidding (whoever they are).

I nearly kissed the ground when we landed in Newark, New Jersey. Nearly…but airports are nasty places. Here’s Ning’s first pic as a US citizen.

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By the time I took this photograph, we already had logged 18 plane hours  (from Guangzhou to Beijing to Newark) but we still were staring at a 2 hour flight to Indianapolis and a 2 hour drive home. Our first flight from Beijing to Chicago had mechanical issues so the flight was delayed 5 hours. I won’t go into specifics but trying to reschedule our flight from Beijing to a city near Cincy took God’s intervention. I had never felt such stress in my life. Ning was sick, Reece and I were drained, the Beijing airport was enormous and nobody seemed to know English. Somehow we were able to get things straightened out and make our flight. Still, we had customs, immigration and a car rental to figure out by the time we made it to Indy. Thanks to God and our wonderful family, we made it back.

I had three days worth of blogging that were lost before we returned home. (Don’t ask). Most of the cool stuff had already taken place but I still would like to share those last three days with you…

Monday: Safari Day

We visited this whacked out zoo in Guangzhou called Safari Park. I call it “whacked” because when you first get there you take a tram through dozens of carnivorous beasts. Here’s the tram:

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And here’s the beasts…

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This guy is nuts. There’s no fence between he and the bears, only a shallow ridge.

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There’s also plenty of herbivores who could do a fair amount of damage if they wanted….

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We sat next to a family who had already been to the park. They told us that during their last visit, the animals nearly stampeded….thanks for sharing.

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The sheer volume of exotic animals was amazing. This place had tons of koala bears, pandas, giraffes. ..you name it. Here’s Ning feeding the giraffes…she was a little freaked out.

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Ning will always be Little Panda to me but I think a better name might be Little Tiger.

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Ning had her first ice cream at the park. At first it seemed to be too cold but in the end she devoured it.

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This is how her day ended.

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Tuesday: US Consulate

There are no electronics allowed in the Consulate, not even a Casio watch so I don’t have any pics of the day. Just imagine a scene much like our doctor’s debacle except with less room. It was a stressful experience because the US computers were down and nearly delayed our trip home…but thanks be to God it all worked out.

Wednesday: Last day in Guangzhou

The last day  before our trip home was nice. We spent the morning feeding Koi at the hotel garden.

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It was a nice setup, except Ning nearly fell into the pond several times.

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There was a waterfall and walkway right next to our dining area.

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Our hotel was top notch. Here’s a few more pics of the place.

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There was even a small mall inside

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Our hallway had this Star Trec vibe going so when we first arrived, I couldn’t find my room.

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Here’s a pic out our bedroom window. The hotel flags had fans so they always seemed to be blowing in the wind.

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Unfortunately, I didn’t get pics of the city. Guangzhou is a cool place with lots of restaraunts and shops within walking distance. It was our favorite city of the trip…by far.

The last evening ended with a boat cruise on the river.

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Ning was a little off so Theresa and I spent most of the night chasing her down.

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I’m bummed about losing the blog entries but hopefully this captures the last days well enough.

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Man zou!

Shopping and Shamain Island

It was a full morning/afternoon. Early on we took a trip through one of Guangzhou ‘s shopping areas. Our guide (Richard) accompanied the group of four families…providing much needed direction.

Here’s a few merchants preparing shipments of jewelry right on the streets….

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This is the area we walked through on our journey for souvenirs.

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Anyone for squid on a stick?

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Richard said over 80% of the world’s pearls come from China. Guess where our first stop was?

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After a quick trip to an embroidery shop (sorry no pics. ..I was keeping Ning Qiu busy) we took the bus to Shamain Island. Richard told us that it used to be controlled by France and Britian. The architecture is beautiful…

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We had a chop (stamp) made for Ning at this place.

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Master Wang is a respected artist and (according to Richard) well skilled in the craft of stamp making. Here’s Wang creating a stamp with the Chinese characters “Olivia Ning Qiu.”

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And here’s his shop inside. It was over cast today so the pics are a tad dark.

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There’s a famous statue of children following a lady here. The site is a favorite photo opportunity for adopting parents…but a film was being shot so the area was off limits. Perhaps we’ll make it back for a pic before Thursday.

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Shamain Island is a favorite destination for photographers….I can see why.

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Doctor Doctor in Guangzhou

We just spent the better part of Saturday traveling from Wuhan to

Guangzhou. We went by bullet train. My pictures through this trip aren’t too great because we were rushed and Ning needed entertainment on the train.

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Here’s a pic of our guide, Kristina whom Ning liked very much.

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The train was a lot like an airplane, only it stopped every hour or so which made the trip longer than I would have liked.

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After a four hour ride through China’s countryside, we arrived in Guangzhou.  It was the roughest trip so far since we had a fidgeting four year old to deal with. Ning has no sense of stranger danger and will take off with anyone. Traveling in crowds has been challenging.

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By the time we got settled in the hotel, it was around midnight. It’s a ritzy place called the Garden Hotel. I’ll try to get more pics but at midnight we could have been at the Taj Mahal for all I cared…I wanted sleep.

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Since the U.S. Embassy is here, the Garden Hotel is used by several adoption agencies so the place is crawling with adopting families. Reece and I are in the minority here as most people we’ve met have adopted numerous times. Our Madison group consists of four families…two of which who’ve adopted 14 kids each!

The next day came quick. We had a 10 a.m. medical appointment and the scene at our clinic was chaos. Ning had to be checked by four separate docs so imagine 4 crammed lines of squirming, fussy kiddos to navigate and you get the idea of what our morning was like. Through this ordeal we met some amazing people all gathered for the same purpose. It was unreal….

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Most people dealt with it very well…

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Our last line took almost an hour to get through. Here’s Ning being a real trooper during her physical…

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Afterwards we made a quick trip to buy a few store items.

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Ning wants to be held all the time so buying this stroller was the best $30 we’ve ever spent.

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Now time for a nap!

Road Trip part 2

We visited the Yellow Crane Tower today.

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http://www.chinahighlights.com/wuhan/attraction/the-yellow-crane-tower.htm

To get there you need to walk through a park. Here is Ning and Mama doing just that.

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I forget if I blogged about this already, but the elderly here are fond of practicing their Chinese characters.

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The walk wasn’t too long and took us to a front entrance.

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The inside of the Yellow Crane Tower park was set up similar to yesterday’s temple. Here the court yard area.

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And here’s Ning Qiu looking for fish.

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Chinese poetry is written across several walls. Kristina related how Chinese students must memorize several of these classics while in school.

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There’s another path from this court yard leading to the tower. I could take pics of this stuff all day…

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Finally we arrived at the tower.

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As I said, it’s under construction however most of the building is open for public display.

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This mural relates the fable of the Yellow Crane.

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http://www.warriortours.com/cityguides/wuhan/yellow_crane.htm

I had to lug Ning Qiu up four flights of steps and was struggling when we reached the top.

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At least I had enough stamina to take this pic.

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From the tower you can see the city of Wuhan. This gives you an idea of how big the place is.

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It also provides a cool overlook of the court yard.

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I rang this bell nine times for good luck. I tried attaching a video of the momentus event but it was too large to add from China.

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Afterwards, Reece and Kristina gathered some dirt to commemorate our trip to Ning Qiu’s birth province. I just hope it makes it through customs.

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Ask me about this photo sometime. …

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Last Day in Wuhan

It’s our last day in the capital of Hubei province. Ning Qiu started the day with her favorite food…noodles.

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We dont leave for the train station until 3 p.m. so we had some time to explore the streets.

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Ning Qiu doesn’t like to walk and the streets are busy so most of the time we carry the lug.

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Seeing two Americans causes quite a stir here. Most people stare us down as they walk by. Perhaps it’s because our daughter is dressed in bright pink from head to toe?

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I’d never heard of Wuhan prior to this visit but now I can see how China is growing.

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We walked only for a short time. The streets here are no place for two preoccupied parents.

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At least this fella seemed to be taking it easy.

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Buddhist Road Trip

Today we visited a Buddhist temple in the heart of the city. I’ve always been interested in Buddhism and it was cool to share this interest with my youngest daughter….this is her culture after all.

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We began by burning incense…which is a prayer-type of offering given for good fortune.

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Pictures of the Buddha are frowned upon by locals so I decided to respect their wishes and take most of my pics from the courtyard area.

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This is one of my favorite pics from the day. Something about the man’s pose interested me.

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There’s a metal kettle located in the center of one court yard area. Custom teaches that if you throw a coin into the kettle, you will have good luck. If the coin sticks to the kettle, then it’s time to buy a lotto ticket! Here’s Ning picking one of her coins up. We all will have good luck this year.

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Outside the temple is a garden area.

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Here’s Ning and Mama. It’s so sweet to see the bond of mother and daughter grow stronger each day.

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This new temple is near by. It’s not completed but should be ready for the Spring Festival which hosts 200,000 visitors daily.

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Beside the new temple is a statue of female Buddha (out of respect I did not take a pic) and an area where followers write prayers on strips of silk.

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Today I learned that Christians and Buddhists hold similar beliefs. It was very special to share this with Ning Qiu. Just look how excited she is.

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Ever heard the saying, “act like you’ve been there?” Aparently Ning has been there….

Getting to Know Ning

Reece and I had a few matters to take care of today. We started where we left off yesterday…at the Wohan civil center. Here’s Ning and Mama waiting for the appointment.

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During our meeting we met with the director of our daughter’s orphanage and a member of the civil service department.  Our guide from Madison acted as interpretor. Here’s a pic of the director of the orphanage, Ning’s Nana and our guide.

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The meeting went well. After meetimg their matched child, each family has a 24 hour period where they can refuse to adopt. Reece and I had to agree to the adoption and explain our reasons. Afterwards we made a trip to the grocery for some food and other items. Thank goodness Kristina went with us.

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We shopped for shoes. Ning is already such a girlie girl. Look at all these shoes…do you think our little Panda would agree to any of them? Actually there were only 1 pair in her size and I don’t blame her for not liking them.

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The store had three floors which was bad enough for any foreigner. At least Ning was having fun.

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It was time for lunch…thank the Lord…they had a KFC!

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Ning ended up eating noodles…the girl is a good eater like her Baba.

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