It took us three planes to get to Guangzhou, China. Tampa to Detroit, Detroit to Beijing, and Beijing to Guangzhou. Let me tell you, a 13 hour flight is no joke! Thank goodness for in-flight movies and melatonin. Between the two, our kids were entertained or sleeping almost the entire time. I had brought a bag full of goodies to bring out as needed, but it turns out all we needed were some coloring books, markers, crayons, and a TV! I felt a little bad giving the kids the melatonin gummies that I found, but they really worked! Both kids were out for a good 5-6 hours of the long flight, and slept the entire last flight from Beijing to Guangzhou. We are all completely exhausted from the traveling, and are so happy not to step onto a plane for two weeks!
This morning we took our time getting up and ready for breakfast. Caroline of course woke up at 6:15 and we had to wake Matthew up at 8:30 before Brian started eating children and/or body parts he was so hungry. Yes, we were that family who let their kids go to the fancy hotel breakfast buffet in their pajamas.
It was neat to see other families there to adopt children. They are quite easy to spot - American parents holding Asian babies. I guess that will be us soon! I wonder how the Chinese feel about this... Anyway, breakfast was amazing! Think of the best breakfast buffet you've ever had and then make it 50 times better. They had everything from the traditional American breakfast of bacon, eggs and pancakes to Chinese traditional foods like dumplings and bean cakes. Plus fruit, yogurt, pastries, juice, cereal, cooked to order eggs and omelets, and a bunch more Chinese food I didn't even begin to look at. We are so happy that we will be eating breakfast here every morning!
After breakfast we explored the hotel and gardens. It is absolutely beautiful! The favorite attraction for the kids was the koi fish swimming in all the ponds. Caroline was literally jumping up and down with excitement watching them swim and gulp air and jump. She has already asked to go back to the fish multiple times. There are two waterfalls, benches, a pavilion, and gardens all around. After running around the grounds for a bit we went back inside to climb the giant wooden staircase and ride the escalator that the kids had seen last night when we checked in. And yes, the kids were still in their pajamas this whole time. I'm sure thoughts of "those crazy Americans" were circulating among the many hotel employees. We found the fitness center, pool, kids' pool, playground, spa, and various restaurants on our adventures. Then we decided that we might want to put real clothes on the kids before we headed out of the hotel to find the Trust Mart (Chinese Wal-Mart).
I was feeling pretty exhausted so I took a short nap while my mom and the kids got ready to go. Then we used the handy map our guide gave us to figure out how to find the Trust Mart. It's right down the street from the hotel, but we almost missed it because the entrance is so small. It looks like the only thing inside is an information counter. But then you turn the corner and it keeps going, and going, and going. There's no such thing as organized rows and aisles or running in to grab one thing. It's more like IKEA where they make you walk this winding path through every section until you finally get to the checkout. And if you passed something and need to go back, forget it! You will never find it again! We grabbed some diapers and wipes for Lily, bread and PBJ for sandwiches, a few snacks, and some bottled water. I had it on my list to get paper plates and plastic utensils for eating in the room, but apparently I missed where those were and there was no going back! We'll be returning to the store tomorrow after we get Lily thankfully.
After the Trust Mart we grabbed some quick sandwiches at Subway. Brian was a little disappointed we weren't getting authentic Chinese food, but I told him we had plenty of time for that! Plus I actually wanted the kids to eat something and I knew that would be a challenge with unfamiliar food. Turns out mayonnaise is an unfamiliar food for Matthew, and getting him to eat a sandwich that was a bit overenthusiastically dressed with it was quite a challenge. Meanwhile Caroline was literally licking it off her hands. She will also have some pretty shiny hair from the amount of mayo that ended up in it! Thankfully Matthew finally conceded to trying the mayo (cue my "you don't have to like it but you do have to try it" phrase combined with the promise of a cookie upon finishing lunch) and, surprise surprise, he liked it! He then proceeded to eat his sandwich and the rest of Caroline's.
Brian forgot his tennis shoes at home, so we tried the Friendship Department Store next. I think there were 8 floors in it, and not one of them had anything for men! No clothing, no shoes, nothing. We're going to ask our guide tomorrow where else we can try. At this point it had started raining and everyone was getting pretty tired again so we headed back to the hotel for a nap. We were afraid if we slept too long we wouldn't sleep at night, so we set our alarm. Then we continued to sleep through it. I finally forced myself to wake up around 4:45. I thought doing a quick workout might help me wake up so mom and I went to the fitness center while Brian bribed the kids with lollipops to get them out of bed. They went and found the indoor playroom, and then I found them once again riding the escalators (what is wrong with those crazy Americans?!).
It was still raining so we opted to find some takeout and eat in the room and watch a movie. Brian and I ventured out to find a Chinese fast food place around the corner. Turns out the Chinese have an interesting system to determine restaurant cleanliness. Our Subway earlier today had a blue face with a small smile. This was considered a "B" in food safety. An "A" was a green face with a large smile, and a "C" was a red face with a straight line mouth. There is apparently nothing below a C. So of course this place had a C. Awesome. One step above being closed down. Well, we did say we were going to have an adventure!
Since I was unable to find plates and silverware earlier, we used our creative thinking skills to make plates and utensils. They did give us chopsticks, but I'm pretty bad at them and the kids would never get anything in their mouths. Thankfully my mom saved some plastic utensils from earlier in the trip so we used those, the lids of the takeout containers for the kids' plates, and the glasses in the bathroom for the adults' plates.
Then it was bathtime and bedtime! The kids are sleeping in mom's room tonight, so we are enjoying some kid-free time before number 3 comes tomorrow!
Things we've learned so far:
* Chinese people really must never see blond children because they LOVE Caroline. She however does NOT love them. During our 4 hour layover in Beijing a large group of girls was filming her and taking her picture and trying to get her to talk to them. You can imagine how well that went over.
* When you order something with chicken it comes with both bones and skin. Brian can check authentic Chinese food off his list for today!
* No one uses seatbelts in China. In fact, our van from the airport didn't even have any.
* I thought that I'd be completely overwhelmed being a country where I can't even pretend to speak or read their language. Turns out, I'm not! Even though everything is different, in a lot of ways it just feels like we're in any big city in the US.
* Electric curtains in the bathroom provide lots of entertainment for children, especially when they are upset during bathtime.
* Do not put your bag down while riding the airport train for fun. Brian's bag got lost somewhere in the Detroit airport, which unfortunately had our iPad along with some other things we would have preferred not to lose. You can pray that someone turned it in and we will be able to get it on our return trip through Detroit!
* They do a really good job cleaning glass doors here. Caroline ran into one at full speed today.
That's all for tonight! I'm off to (hopefully) get some sleep before we get Lily tomorrow! We are leaving the hotel at 2:00, so will get her sometime after that. I will try to post at least one picture shortly after getting her.