Guangzhou Day 1 – Oct 31
Both Nora and I are very happy to be in Guangzhou starting our last week in China. The weather in Guangzhou is hot and humid. I’m just guessing, but it feels like the mid 80’s but it’s very, very humid.
We have met up with our travel group which is one other family from Shakopee MN; Jodi and Keith and their girls (twin 5 year olds adopted in 2005 and their newest family member Kira, age 2, from Inner Mongolia). We will do all our sightseeing and adoption appointments together. They’re a super family and I’m really enjoying their company.
We started the day off with a 9am appointment with the US Medical Exam for Adopted Children. The appointment was on the Shamian Island, a 15 min walk from our hotel. The island has become the beacon for every American family traveling to China for adoption, it is the last part of a journey which nowadays may have started four or more years ago. The Shamian Island was the former location of the American Consulate in charge of processing the Chinese children being adopted by Americans.
The Consulate moved downtown before Isabel’s adoption in 2006, but the businesses that developed to serve the adoption community still remain; the anchor is the White Swan Hotel. The island reminds me of Charleston or Georgetown with their French architectural influences.
Various regions in China’s past have been occupied by the French, British, and Japanese. For Isabel’s adoption we stayed at the White Swan but decided this time to venture off the Island to experience a little bit more of real China. Off the Island was also cheaper and since we’re here during the City’s biggest convention of the year, hotel prices are about double the standard rates.
The Medical Exam was cursory at best, squeak a toy and the baby can hear, measure the head, check the heart beat, weight and height; parents need to acknowledge any special needs in writing. Since my wait began so long ago, Nora was grandfathered in under older guidelines and so she did not get any shots (that will be taken care of the week after we get back at Southdale Peds) and since she is under the age of 2 she is not required to have a TB screening either. One family I talked to at the exam was adopting a little girl same age as Nora with an unpaired cleft palate (no surgery yet) the examining physician found no cleft in the palate at all. I have heard this for heart conditions as well. A baby gets on a special needs list and there is no special need.
After the medical exam and a quick half hour of document preparation back at the hotel, we all head back to the Island for shopping and just walking around to see what’s changed since we were both there last. One of our 1st stops was the Starbuck's Coffee. LOVE the Starbuck!!!
The air conditioning was cold, the drinks were delicious, and for an hour we sat and chatted and pretended that we were at the Excelsior and Grand just sipping a iced latte on a hot day. Jodi and Keith were as ready for Guangzhou as I had been.
After a while Keith took their older girls back to the hotel for a nap and Jodi, Kira, Nora and I went shopping, shopping, shopping. It was wonderful. After a few hours of shopping (Nora napped for 2 out of the 3 in a stroller) we made our way back to the hotel across the freeway, via a pedestrian bridge, that separates the neighborhood between our hotel and the Island. Both on the way to the Island and the way back people just stop to help us carry the strollers up and down the stairs. I have found the people of Guangzhou to be incredibly gracious and kind.
After our return, we regrouped to find some dinner. At the entrance to our hotel we turned left just to see what was there and found another world. We had wondered why this very nice 4 star hotel was in this very narrow-street Chinese neighborhood and now we knew. The back side of the Hotel is adjacent to Shang Xia Jiu Pedestrian Shopping Street. I haven’t Googled it yet but it is amazing and I’m sure you could find more information on the web. Block after block of stores and restaurants. We haven’t checked it out during the day yet but at night it was like Time Square only bigger and longer. We walked and ate and walked some more. Nora experienced her 1st McDonald’s french fry! The stores were so crowded that we just turned around and headed back out to the street to walk and watch some more.