Sunday, July 31, 2011

Too much for my heart

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beijing Three and Four, combo post

The cattle driving continues and holy crap, is it ever hot. I thought the itinerary was ambitious when I read it months ago, and now I am living it,, plus the heat. Oh good hell.

We have to be in the lobby at 6:00 am this morning and I’m so afraid I’m going to over-sleep that I’m not sleeping, so might as well get in some keyboard time.

On the third day, don’t ask me the date; I haven’t known the date since we left SLC. Nora’s birthday is Saturday, but other than that, there’s no reason to know the date because I relinquished control of my right to make choices when the plane landed, so I’m not bothering with dates any more.

But I digress, on the third day, the whole crowd of families was invited to enter the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square for a ceremony marking the 15th anniversary of the China Center of Adoption Affairs (n/k/a CCWelfareAA). My first adoption application was caught in the turf war between the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Civil Affairs for control of the CCAA. The Ministry of Civil Affairs won that battle and is the supervising authority for the CCAA and the (wise) vice chairman of the Ministry of Civil Affairs addressed us at the ceremony. But here’s the thing, it was ho in the Great Hall of the People.

Each of us was issued a greeting card-like invitation that was punched with an Office Max hand held hole puncher at the door. I watch as other non-event related Chinese people entered the other doors and they all had the same card, just, presumably, a different page inside marking the purpose of their visit. Then we were herded up a few flights of stairs into a large, large room, with high high ceilings, where a five tier riser had been set up ahead of time. In our matching t-shirts, parents on the top levels and kids on the bottom, we stood on the risers in the hot and air-less room while each speaker, and there were five, made their remarks which also had to be translated, and if it is true that there are no atheists in foxholes, there were no atheists straddling the crack between two risers on the top tier with no railing in back and sweat running in rivulets down her back praying not to be the first parent to become faint and fall to her certain death on the marble floor 20 feet below. Oh my garden peas. That was some kind of endurance test . I kept thinking that nothing similar would ever be expected of us in the States. We would have been quizzed about our health status in advance along the lines of does anyone have a condition that would not allow them to stand for an extended period of time in oppressive heat, packed next to your neighbor like tissues in a box where you would not be allowed to sit? Yay for our group, no one croaked, fainted, vomited or fell. It was a triumph of the American spirit.
After the ceremony, each child was given a letter from the (wise) vice chairman and a stuffed panda bear embracing (or as YuYu noted, choking) a baby panda bear. Yay, four huge stuffed panda bears that we must say good-bye to this morning because we have no room in the luggage. Ah, it’s the thought that counts.

Our smaller sub-group was scheduled to walk around Tiananmen Square, then lunch at the obligatory lunch for tourists in large dining room over government run jewelry store and then on to the Summer Palace. Ten years ago, we were in Beijing, about the same time of year, seeing the same sights, and I don’t remember the crowds although China was just as over populated back then. It finally occurred to me that now, China and its citizens are more prosperous and these folks have enough disposable income to spend on travel and they are all here seeing the national treasures same as us. The line to get into Mao’s mausoleum was hours long, the long corridor at the Summer Palace was full of people catching the breeze and on the
Fourth Day, at the Forbidden City? The place was teeming with people, teeming I tell you. Inconceivable. The Forbidden City is so large, hard to wrap your head around the wealth and man power it took to build it on that scale, and now it is filled with Chinese people enjoying their own antiquities, just wild. My photos won’t do it justice especially after I kept passing from one more gate into one more huge walled area with an even larger gate, and the sweat was pouring off my head and into my eyes and I was more concerned about trying not to be a sweat spectacle and needed to mop my brow with cheap tissue that kept shredding. I don’t have the words to describe my sweatiness other than damned embarrassing.

After the Forbidden City, we drove to the edge of an older neighborhood that has been spared the wrecking ball called a hutong (narrow alley) but now hutong just means old traditional housing. When we visited in 2001, we told our guide that we wanted to see a hutong neighborhood and he said sure, we walked out of the hotel and he started knocking on doors until someone let us in for a visit. This time, we rode rickshaws supplied by the Beijing Hutong Tour Co. to a home of a couple who is paid by the tourist board to let us in and fix us lunch and it was great, but not the same. And don’t you know I slipped our rickshaw driver an extra ten spot (US) for hauling me all over creation. Hercules. I was so thankful there weren’t any hills in that neighborhood.

In the evening, still sweating, we walked from the hotel to a duck restaurant, and it was fine, not great, not like the Peking Duck memory from 2001, but that was the topper of our four days in Beijing.

I need to take a shower, like that matters, really, one step outside and I’m dripping anyway, and get us fed and in the lobby by 6:00am for our 7:50am flight to Xian where it is even hotter than Beijing. My poor poor children, no one else is sweating like me. No one.

We’re all well, kids are sooper dooper troopers, spoke to YuYu’s foster mom, she is excited to see her girl, all systems go, more from Xian.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

13 pictures for you

Photos from the first day. Great Wall, cloisonne factory, hot pot
restaurant, Olympic venues.

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Adding pictures

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Okay, so it will be a two-step process. I can email the photo to blogger from the photos on my laptop hard drive then sign into my computer in SLC to jump the firewall to add text to the post. Not ideal, but better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick. Technology, got to love it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day Two, Beijing Cattle Drive Part II

Starting early again, we headed toward the Temple of Heaven on a bright hot morning, great visibility, Beijing is huge, beyond my comprehension, huge, and we could see it real well, huge. China Central Televion (CCTV) sent a reporter, camera man and photographer to cover our day in connection with this 15th anniversary of the CCWAA and we got stalled out at the first courtyard before the entrance to the Temple of Heaven to get footage of the kids playing bird feather rubber washer thingy and to give me time to work up a good sweat before hitting the inner courtyard, I guess. Mimi had her chance to be interviewed, but clammed up, so don't look for us on CCTV tomorrow.

Onward to a Thai food restaurant, delicious, and then a tour of the CCWAA administrative offices. the infamous matching room where child A in pile 1 is matched with family B in pile 2 and Bam, Magic Family Juju. I met an older gentleman who had been with the CCWA since 1996 and Ellie's file probably went through his hands. I gave him a heartfelt thank you very very much. True magic with that match.

We were ushered into a large conference room, and the director of the CCWAA, sorry I did not catch names, welcomed the group, we got a short lecture on Chinese culture, the kids all tried paper cutting, my kids perfomed the task the least well of all the kids in the room, I'm a proud mom, and we were giggling and giggling about their mad paper cutting skills. One of YuYu's attemptes looked like a string of pink butts rather than paper dolls, mad skills.

We beat feet over to an acrobatic show and the girls were completely rapt. Mid-way, Mimi leaned over and said, "Mom, these people really know what they're doing." They loved the show, the popcorn, not so much, tasted like coconuts.

From the show, we were driven to the Beijing Hard Rock Cafe where it took them so long to bring out the food that two of my girls were asleep before they were served and it turned into an endurance test rather than a nice meal. Back at the hotel with very very exhausted girls and they crawled into bed and were out like lights. Oh, did I mention the heat? Oh good hell. I have heat rash. I kid you not.

More hard driving tomorrow. Still can't figure out an easy way to post photos. I'll get on that tomorrow. Must slip into a coma now.


Monday, July 25, 2011


We'll keep the computer on when we are in the room. Mom, if you turn your computer on and double click Skype, it will show you that we are signed in and you can click video call and we'll hear you. We are getting up early and could talk to you in the early afternoon, 2:00 - 4:00 pm your time. Turn your computer on and we will try calling you too.

Day One, Beijing Cattle Drive

Day One Beijing: Driven Like Cattle

Man alive, the jet-lag kicked my butt today. So tired, but making myself type.

The lag time on the remote access is maddening, but it helps me jump the fire wall that prevents direct accesss to blogspot, so no complaints. Also, pardon the typos, I'm too tired to fix them. Got into the hotel by 11:00pm last night, straight to bed and the kids were able to sleep even though our bodies thought it was mid-morning, so that was good. We were up early to meet the guides by 7:30 and introduce ourselves to the other members of our tour group within a tour group. There are close to either 300 or 400 of us, jet lag brain, can't remember for sure, and BLAS broke us up into smaller, more manageable groups. We climbed on the bus and headed for the Great Wall by way of a jade factory/obligatory tourist/shopping episode but nothing will compete with the jewelry fashion show at the
Guilin state run pearl store. So, without bored but beautriful young Chinese women carrying the jade carvings up and down a catwalk, I was kind of disappointed. We arrived at the Luyong? section of the Great Wall and it was lighly raining, just enough to beat the heat back. The guide encouraged us to take the steeper but shorter section because our time was short and my heart fell when I stared up the incline. Oh good hell. my sunken heart was soon beating out of my chest and ancient Chinese grandmas were lapping me up and back. One thing about SLC: it may get hot, but its a dry heat. Not. Here. Oh good hell, I was dripping wet and it had stopped raining long before I started dripping. My hair is CURLY here. My hair. Curly. Inconceivable. The girls climbed much farther than I was able, but I made it to the first guard station so I didn't embarrass them completely, except for the dripping with sweat thing I had going on.

We left the Wall and stopped at a cloisonne factory (state-run, obligatory), with a big banquest restaurant on the second floor and had a pretty darn good lunch for banquet food and scooped up some small cloisonne animals on the way out. We got back to the hotel where we had an hour before the next time we needed to be in the lobby to go to dinner and I fell asleep like I had been chloroformed and the phone ringing scared me awake. We kept the group waiting for 20 minutes and if you know my "if you're on time, you're already late" kind of personality, you know that I was just mortified. I won't let it happen again. Dinner was Beijing-style hot pot, not spicy, but delicious. The group filled in the tables in the double room and we had a room to ouselves with the three lovely BLAS guides where I could get over the mortification before we got back on the bus to visit the summer Olympics sports venues. The Bird's Nest is pretty spectaculare, but the tourist bathroom stilled lacked toilet paper. World class architecture accompanied by third world bathrooms. Beijing in a nutshell.

Back to the hotel and the girls fell asleep the second their heads hit the pillow, me next. Photos to follow. Maybe.

Tomorrow: Temple of Heaven, acrobats (Mom, I'll look for the sturdy girl at the bottom of the bike pyramid and say hi from you and Lynette) and Hard Rock Cafe so Ellie can eat something besides noodles, but lover her, she's willing to try different tastes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thirty minutes and counting

Yikes, thanks to Fran for the help packing, would have been in a world of hurt. Talked to Glenn about setting G'ma up with Skype, hope that works. Need to get off the computer and get my bags zipped. Off we go.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

test post by email

I'm using the hotmail account to post, but have no idea if hotmail will be available either.  I better be thinking of a plan B just in case.

Pre-travel initial post

I was just prompted by the announcement by a travel mate who started a travel blog that I should also create a blog for our trip to China that commences with our flight out of SLC on July 23 and ends with our flight home on August 8. Another e-friend who has relocated to China and is wise in the ways of Chinese internet problems has warned that blogspot might not be accessible through the Chinese firewall. Here's hoping that emailing the posts might be a work-around the firewall. We shall see, but if I don't try to make some kind of journal while we have feet on the ground, I know myself well enough to predict that it won't ever happen once we get back home.