Thursday, September 5, 2013

Thoughts on Our Journey: Experiencing China

I am not a world traveler - before we went to China I had only been to two other countries and both times my visit was brief.  One was Canada for a half day (we drove to Windsor from Detroit) and the other was Mexico while on a cruise.  But China was different.  For most of my life I have been fascinated with China.  As a girl I had once said I wanted to adopt a baby from China.  Over forty years later I did just that and we packed up our suitcases, weighed and re-weighed them and then flew across the world.  I read many blogs before we left, but was still not prepared for the experience.

About Nanchang:  When we first arrived in Nanchang it was raining.  My first sight as we left the airport was of the highway to our hotel. The highway was multiple lanes, similar to highways here, but the difference was the wide variety of vehicles, including scooters and bikes and even people on foot.  The sheer number of people we saw on the highway was amazing. The hotel we stayed in - the Jinfeng Hotel - was beautiful and lavishly decorated for Christmas, with a huge, ornately decorated Christmas tree in the center of the lobby. The elevators were filled with mirrors, our room had a beautiful marble bathroom, lots of natural wood and was clean and comfortable.

The people we met were friendly, often curious, and seemed to be happy for us and our girls.  We did encounter the clothing police, I had read about them on blogs and was not surprised.  It seems that many people in China, usually older women, feel pretty strongly about children being dressed appropriately, which in their minds meant bundled up, preferably in layers.  Several times we were told, via gestures, that we were not keeping the girls properly covered.  It wasn't easy to comply as both girls had if differing opinions as to how much clothing they should wear.  Many men in China smoke, I didn't really see many women smoking, and they smoke wherever they want.  We found that, perhaps because of the population density in China, many Chinese people we encountered didn't have as much sense of personal space.  We were often on elevators and found ourselves elbow to elbow with lots of people.  

Shopping was interesting.  We went to a WalMart in Nanchang, it was huge, multi-storied.  The escalator is magnetic, so the shopping carts stick to the steps as you go up and down.  Shopping for diapers was confusing - the sizing was very different and the same with clothing.  The store had one to two sales assistants assigned to each row to help.  The variety of foods for sale were mind boggling, we saw chicken feet for sale along with a bunch of fruit I could not identify.  We did have a man who was mentally ill follow us around yelling at us.  Evidently mental illness is not treated the same in China as in the states.  He was finally escorted out of the store.  The scanners didn't work and it took ages for us to get out.  We were the last ones to get out of the store.  Larry also went to a market with our travel group where he purchased mickey mouse squeaky shoes and saw all sorts of vendors. 

We also went shopping for porcelain while we were in Nanchang, we were told that because of the quality of clay the porcelain was some of the finest in China.  We went to a small shop to look at the porcelain, it was quite the trick to navigate the store with two toddlers who hated their strollers and were very grabby.  We purchased some porcelain bracelets for my co-workers and a tea set for the girls.  I regretted only getting one after we left, but decided that instead of picking a girl to give it to I would just keep it for myself.  

We didn't get the opportunity to do much dining out as the girls were having issues, particularly with high chairs, but we did get out for a dinner with our travel group while in Nanchang.  It was snowing and the private room was upstairs, but it was worth the walk in the cold carrying a protesting child. The food was the best I had the entire trip.  We ate family style and unfortunately I had no idea what much of what we ate actually was, but I had a pork dish with hot peppers that was the best chinese food I have ever eaten.  It was a pity we had to share with the entire table.  The only thing we had at the meal that I didn't care for was the birthday cake we had for a couple of the babies who were turning one.  It was not sweet, but the birthday flower candle was awesome.  We liked the candles so much we purchased a few to bring home.

Larry got out with the travel group and went to the people park.  I stayed at the hotel because the girls were supposed to nap - I never did get them to sleep.  So I missed seeing what looked to be one of the most scenic tours that the group experienced.

The People's Park

We also went to the Pavilion of Prince Teng it is located in Nanchang City, and is one of the three towers in the regions south of the Yangtze River, together with Yellow Crane Tower and Yueyang Tower. It has been destroyed and rebuilt 29 times. The present building was rebuilt in 1989 on the original site.  The pavilion was first built by Li Yuanying, the younger brother of Emperor Taizong of the Tang Dynasty in 653 AD, it became famous due to Preface to the Pavilion of Prince Teng, a poem of Wang Bo, a very famous poet in the early Tang Dynasty. 

The pavilion had very narrow stairs and no elevator, so we had to carry the girls up several flights of stairs to where they had a small stage.  We got to watch a show, with dancers and musicians.  This was after we had a couple of Chinese visitors to the pavilion ask to take a photo of the Shuāngbāotāi (twins) the power of the twins was strong even when they were small.  The murals were gorgeous and the architecture was beautiful to look at.  It was cold and we had an encounter with clothing police that Sissi had to come and rescue us from.

At the Pavilion.

I loved being in Nanchang although while we were there I was very stressed out.  The girls had terrible sleep issues.  The rage they would go in when we tried to get them to sleep was frightening to see and one of the girls had a self soothing habit that was sad to watch. It was clear that the time they spent institutionalized had caused some behavior issues.  Because they slept with us my sleep was poor and they were very strong willed from the beginning.  I wish I could have seen more of Nanchang and maybe gone to their SWI, but at the time I was doing the best I could to keep it together.  Nothing can prepare you for the intensity of those first days.  

Rose finally smiled after a couple of days

Roni took a little longer

Next: Thoughts on Our Journey - Guangzhou

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