Today was a scheduled trip to Shamian Island. This island is part of Guangzhou and has been, for a long time, synonymous with American adoption in China. That was because the US Embassy was located on Shamian Island, and every US adoption must go through the embassy before the child can receive a visa to the US. There is also a hotel on the island--The White Swan--where most Americans used to stay for the duration of their GZ time. The WS is famous for their red couches. Many adopted children get their photo taken on one of the red couches. Of course, we had to do that today, too. There are numerous shops geared toward Westerners on the island as well. Recently, the US Embassy moved off the island, and the White Swan also announced that it is closing in September for a year and a half to renovate. Unfortunately, most of the little shops will probably close down because of lack of business. We stayed at the White Swan when we adopted Gracie (when Auntie Martha was able to meet us there!), so Simon and I were a little nostalgic remembering back 7 years ago. Sniff, sniff.
Well, the medical exam office is still on the island, and our group had to take all of our kids back to get the results of the TB test from Saturday. I'm very happy to report that all the Lifeline kids in our group had negative test results-PTL!!! Thank you for your prayers. After the quick test result session, we were free to roam about the island and shop and eat for a few hours. As most of you know, you don't have to tell me twice to shop...if there's shopping to be had, I'm gonna have it. We pretty much knocked out our list of things to get, both for Gemma and for family/friends. Most of the prices were pretty decent, but we were still surprised that some of the prices were so high, what with many of the shops closing down in a month or two. Anyway, we had a good time, and we ate at the famous "Lucy's Cafe." It's an "American" restaurant in the middle of China. Last time we ate at Lucy's--7 years ago--we didn't really like it. Today, I can honestly say that the meal I had there was the best I've had in China so far. YUM! (Strangely enough, I had a Thai dish at the American cafe. Go figure.)
We got back to our hotel and vegged for a while. Simon went to the gym to run on the treadmill, so the girls and I stayed in the room. I had fun with Gemma. She was talking a lot, and I tried to get her to say English words. She manged "hello," "bye bye," and "mama." She is also asking to sit on my lap more and more. She also will show me whenever she gets a boo-boo for me to kiss it or rub it. So sweet!
We then ventured out to the Chinese Wal-mart again. I can only stay cooped up in our hotel room for so long at a time, even with the air conditioning. It seems as though trips to Wal-Mart are universal--we can just as easily drop $50 at the Chinese Wal-mart as we can at the Smelterville one. Okay, can I just make a couple observations here? Observation #1: Many Chinese people have no concept of environmental awareness. What I mean is this: we'll be walking along the sidewalk, pushing Gemma in the stroller, and EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN FRONT OF US will either stop directly in front of the stroller--to chat, talk on their phone, light a cigarette, you name it. OR, they will totally cut in front of the stroller, especially on escalators and elevators. Seriously, people. ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS!!! Observation #2: Many Chinese people like to stare at us. Okay, I know they probably have good reason. And I know that staring in the Chinese culture is not considered rude or bad manners like it is in the American culture. But, seriously! Take a picture! I'd really rather people ask to get their picture taken with me than have them stare at us as they walk by.
Okay. Rant over. I don't mean to belittle the Chinese or their culture. I think I've just been away from home too long. I'm ready to see the US!!!
Then we went to dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, and back home for baths and bed. Whew! I'm tired!!!
Feeding the fishies at The Garden.
Looking at the fishies at the White Swan
The beautiful WS waterfall
I had to politely discourage Simon from purchasing these clubs for dirt cheap
We bought so much from "Jennifer's Place," she gave the girls free snacks!
Model shoots are common on Shamian Island because of the beautiful European architecture.
This man created a chop (name stamp) for us.
Gracie LOVED the kitty...Gemma ran away from it. (Not good news for Pretty and Chloe.)
Red Couch (and other) pictures
The Millers 4
Gracie wanted this picture in front of the horse sculpture
Lucy's is an "American" cafe, so they have American memorabilia, including license plates from the 50 states. We sat near Idaho's.
My friend's little cutie pie on the bus ride back to the hotel.
Ahhh, this is the life!
Ready to go out
Gracie manipulates the rolling basket at the Walmart. (Linda, we need these baskets at OUR Walmart!!)
Super skinny Walmart aisles.
Trying on girlie shoes
Chinese error message on the display computer in Chinese Wal-mart. Simon couldn't resist.
Both girls got new water bottles today.
15th floor, please, madame elevator person.
Random dinner shots
Our favorite restaurant so far
Mama can't resist a good show sale no matter where in the world she is (I ended up purchasing them)