Melissa's Return to China - Page 2


Warriors Horses Breakfast came early this day as we had to leave by 8:30 am to head to the airport to catch the 10:10am flight to Xi’an to see the Terra Cotta warriors.  When we landed we meet or local guide Jacky.  He proved to be quite the entertainer!!  Off we headed to see Qin Emperor’s Terra Cotta Army.  The building where the army was located was just enormous and only a small fraction of it was excavated.  Jacky said that it took about 7 years to restore about 100 of the soldiers, so the archaeologist were in no hurry to uncover the others.  There hopes were by the time they got to some of the rest preservation techniques would be better and that what remained could be better taken care of.  Plus they already had enough work do with what they have are ready uncovered.

We left this building and stopped to get lunch, in one of the gift shops/dining area, out tables were upstairs, near a man (you guessed it) making noodles!!  He did a good job but not quite as good as the one we had seen at Civil Affairs dining hall.  Again we had some good food there, and then it was time to go to the second pavilion.  At this place it was thought to be the command center for the army, as several of the figures were all turned facing each other and looked like they were conversing, and it was here they found a kneeling archer that still had color in the Terra Cotta.

After Rebecca had the girls take a picture with some statues, we all headed back to the bus, and then into Xi’an.  While going into Xi’an Jacky showed us the original city wall.  This would be the place where in the morning (if we wanted) we could come for a Tai Chi lesson.  Then we checked into the hotel and were given a few minutes to relax and get ready for the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show.

Dumpling Show Dumpling Show After a short bus ride to the show, we were escorted down toward the front and seated at tables where we would watch the show and then later eat the 21 different dumplings. The show unique, in that some of the instruments were from ancient times and no longer used anymore.  The people had to teach themselves how to play the instruments with out the help of having a teacher to instruct them.  The dances, costume colors, and music where just superb, it was a very good show.
(my camera battery had died from the long day and it's backup was in tempary hiding! so I didn't get any pictures here. These are from one of the other families.  Thanks Chris!)

Next came the meal.  The dumplings were made to look like what was in them, so with out knowing you could just look at the dumpling that looked like a pig, fish or had a bird design on it an know what was in them.  Most were quite good, although none were as good as the ones we would have later in Wu xi.  After another big meal, it was time to head back for the hotel and get ready for the next day.  I had decided that I would try the Tai Chi lesson, so I needed to get moving early the next day.


Tai-chi When I got up, Melissa was a wake and had changed her mind about going with me, so we quietly got ready and headed off downstairs.  When we got downstairs. There was only a couple of us from the group plus a couple from Dillon.  Turns out there was almost as many guides as us. Melissa was the only one of the girls, but we headed off anyway.  When we got to the original wall of the city, we had to walk around a bit to find a way into the park (seems everything is under construction here too), but then we located the lady who was to be our teacher.  She wanted us to join her group, so we gave it a try.  She turned on the music and we tried to follow her, but we were always (at least I was) a ½ a step out of sync.  I blame the guy in front of me.  He was off and I was off from him!

Man swansAfter practicing for a while we thanked her and the group for allowing us to be a part of their morning, and of course there were group pictures to be taken.  Melissa even had her picture taken with a gentleman that for whatever reason want to have his picture taken with Melissa.

Then we loaded up and headed back to the hotel, where we met up with Maureen and had breakfast. Then got our bags downstairs and ready to head off for our child’s province and adoption city, in the mean time we had some time to kill so we went to some of the gift shops.  I found a Terra Cotta horse to get Miriam (Melissa's older sister) and Bernie, (for about $10) while Maureen found a jade carving that went for $2,000 but was on sale for 90% off.  After checking with the local guide who said that it was a very good carving, but the jade was medium quality and that at $200 was not a bad price to pay for it, and  Maureen decided to by it.

We then loaded up and headed for the airport again!  Since Cecilia was going with us she had use get our boarding passes and then went off to help everyone else get theirs.  We said our good byes to everyone and headed to our perspective gates.  Next stop Shanghai, then Wu xi.

While waiting in the airport Melissa checked out the Beijing 2008 shop and found her doll in a 4 foot version!  That one we didn’t get, but her and Maureen found a hat for the boy next door.  The trip to Shanghai was uneventful except for the ride was very turbulent.  The stewardess kept getting the carts out and then putting them away.  After a while they gave up and gave us peanuts and mints (that turned out being our lunch on the plane!). The mints were more like eucalyptus cough drops, so they went in the bag for a later time.  When we got to Shanghai, Cecilia found our driver and his van, and we headed out for Wu xi.  After about an hour we asked Cecilia about how long it would take, and she asked the driver.  He said about another 2hrs which seemed long, but as we watched the cars pass us we noticed he was move slower that the rest of the traffic.  Since it was kind of rainy off and on maybe this was the problem (because Wu xi is about 120 km from Shanghai), it should of only taken a couple of hours, any way we just settled in for the ride.

Wuxi Once we got close to Wu xi, we noticed all the huge factory building and the even bigger apartment buildings being built.  We found out that Melissa's town (city) had went from 850,000 nine years ago to 5 Million today!  We were coming in on the industrial park side of Wu xi, but even so all the road ways (major anyway) had flowers and trees that were newly landscaped.  Every so far there was one or two people out in the median working on keeping everything looking nice.  After about 20-30 minute drive we got to our hotel, The Hubin Hotel, this was close to one end of Hubin Lu (or road) where Melissa was found.

Jumbo We checked in and Cecilia said she would see us in the morning, as we were to have dinner on our own.  After getting settled into our room, which had a great view of Lake Taihu, except for the haze and low clouds, which kept us from see out on the lake very far.  We notice a big boat/restaurant that was anchored on the lake with a path way from the hotel to the boat so we decided to go down there for our supper.  Last time we were in China, when we stopped in Hong Kong we ate at a boat like this in their harbor that even had the same name, the Jumbo.  When we got seated upstairs on the boat and started to look over the menu, there was nothing the Melissa would be interested.  To much fish and strange seafood dishes (I wasn’t to crazy about it either), so we left a small tip on the table and told the hostess that Melissa wasn’t feeling well, and headed off to the hotel restaurant which one of them was to have western food.  Once seated we found that Melissa could get spaghetti and I could get steak, so we were off and running, after the meal we turned in to get read for the next day.


Hunbin Hotel Melissa and I got up early and went out and took a walk down the drive way to the hotel.  Here everyone that saw us just keep looking, trying to figure out what the deal was.  Why was this Chinese girl, speaking English and walking with this American?  One guy even went so far as to turn around as he walked watching us, I never got the chance to show them the card that Dillon had provided that explained the situation, and that we were in China to show our daughter some of her homeland.

pots Back at the Hotel we got Maureen and headed off for breakfast, then we met up  with Cecilia in the lobby and she took us out side to meet our local guide Ben.  Ben drove us over to the Orphanage, but since we were a little early we did some site seeing close by.  Went by some open air market where they had pots as big or bigger than Melissa.  Since we had the time, Melissa and Maureen got out and took a couple of pictures, and we were off again.

Orpahange orphanage When we arrived at the orphanage we were met by a lady (was name I don’t remember) and she took us in to the waiting room.  There we met with one of the Assistant Directors while we waited for the Director.  When he got there we all introduced and he welcomed us.  We told him we appreciated his letting us visit,  and he said that we were welcome any time as we are all “family”.  I then gave him some pictures that other Wu xi Adoptive families had sent me, before we left.  They then had a question about how we knew these other people, did we live close? Or what?  I tried to explain to them about the Yahoo list I had for all adoptive families, but not sure it translated well.

orphanage While all this was going on the Assistant Director we met was making a phone call, and shortly after that a lady came in blue uniform, and they introduced her as one of Melissa’s caretakers when she was there.  She came over with a big smile and gave Melissa a big hug.  I wish now we had been able to talk to her more, about all we got done was to thank her for taking care of Melissa while she was there.  There were so many people and so much going one with everything being translated, that we never got to really talk to her.

orphanage Then again everyone wanted to take group pictures, before the Director had to go to another meeting.  So we took some pictures, and then Melissa’s caretaker had to leave to go back to work (she left crying happy that she got to see Melissa and how she had grown), and the rest of the group was going to show us around.

orphanage Outside it was explained to us that the left side as we walked further towards the back of their complex, was for  the elderly, and in between was a little pond and garden area where they could come and stroll and sit in benches and enjoy the flowers.  On our right was a hospital to serve the needs of those at the Welfare Institute.  A little further down, past the dining hall for the staff, was building where the children were.  They would not let us go in and see the babies, it was just after lunch and nap time for them, but next to this building was a playground.  They told us that Seagate had given them the playground and was still helping them. They even had a little sign out by the playground so you could see who donated it.  Went back to the dinning hall and upstairs to a room where they were starting to get our lunch ready.

The food was excellent, and they said that they had a very good chef, and we found out why Melissa love the dumpling at one of the Chinese restaurants back home.  They were almost like what she had in Wu Xi, and probably some of the best we had on the whole trip.  During our meal one of the staff from the Orphanage told Cecilia that out of all the returning adoptee's Melissa was the most animated.  While on the tour of the grounds she was almost always in front of us, just skipping or hopping around.  If she had not had on a skirt she would have been doing cartwheels I’m sure.  Plus when they brought out the watermelon and sat it down at an empty place on the table (not on the lazy susan), she just got up and went and helped herself (usually in a situation like that she would have been more reserved, guess she felt right at home!).

When the meal was done we headed back to the reception area in the main building, but not before Melissa had to stop at the bathroom.  By now we had told Cecilia that we thought Melissa had seen every bathroom in China, and Cecilia has had to find ½ of them for her.  In the main hall we rested for a few minutes and gave a few gifts to our hostess (we had already give the Director his before he left us), and of course took some more group pictures!!

School school Then Ben drove us over to an elementary school just a few blocks away.  We had to wait a bit until they sent  someone from the office to the main gate to let us in, but not long, as they seemed to be on the way.  We meant the Director of the School and couple of his staff members.  One guy spoke a little English, but soon we were off to find the "English teacher" at the school.  She accompanied us as we took the tour.  We stopped by one class room where the teacher was out the room at that minute, and the kids were like any anywhere, taking advantage of the situation.  Other rooms, when we went by we very quite listening to the teacher or studying.  We looked a some of the rooms that were not quite finished yet or had no class in them, they were library, dance studio, science lab and music room.  Much more than most elementary schools in the states have.  In the courtyard between all the buildings they had several basket ball goals, soccer (football to the rest of the world), and a track.

school As we were leaving we saw some pictures posted up by the main gate, and were told these had been done by the students there.  Melissa was quite impressed with their art work.  And I forgot to mention that while going to from class to class, a student stopped us and started asking questions.  Seems she had just came back to the WuXi after spending time in Japan and Canada.  Her English was excellent, and she had all sorts of questions for us and Melissa.

After bidding our good byes, we took off again, not knowing just where Ben was leading us.  Turns out that after he and Cecilia had looked at our file in the Orphanage (we had hardly given it a second glance, since we saw the one in Beijing at the CCAA office),  he decided that he knew where the “Beginning of Hubin Road" was.  Seems one end of the road was covered my one police department and the other by another. Since the report mentioned which police station Melissa was taken to, he said that the intersection we were coming upon had to be the place where Melissa was found.

Hubin Lu Hubin Lu We got out of Ben’s car and walked around the on the corner looking at different view and places that might be likely.  Ben said that this intersection had changed a lot in the nine years (been widened, etc), but everything was still basically there.  When we turned around behind us was a Hospital (#5 to be exact), and Ben said that had been there nine years ago  (also when we got back to the states our friend from Wu xi said he could remember Hospital #5 from when he was a kid there).  I think this made Melissa feel better about her situation, but being Melissa she made the comment to Cecilia that she probably was out there for quite awhile.  To which Cecilia replied, “Are you kidding, it wouldn't be long that you would be so hungry you would be crying so loud everyone could hear you.”  This seemed to satisfy Melissa, and we took a few pictures of her under the road sign that said, “Hubin Road”.  Also I took some pictures from various angles up and down the street and across, just to have a record of what was there.

Liyuan liyuan Next Ben took us to the Liyuan (Li Garden) one of the most beautiful spots in the  city there is.  The Garden was so liked that the emperor had a replica made in Beijing, but still like this one better.  We listened to some people playing music there (click to hear), and from there it was time to head back to the hotel.  When we got back to the hotel we thanked Ben for all he had done for us, that day and bid him good bye.  We then asked Cecilia if she would like to be our guest for dinner.  We didn’t know where we wanted to go, but didn’t want to stay in the hotel.  So she said she would meet us in about 1 or so after we all had time to rest and clean up.

Mall Cecilia got us a cab and we headed for down town Wu Xi!  On the way we got so see some “typical” Chinese driving (the way we remembered it!). Our cab pulled up to a stop light I noticed that there were 3 lanes in the road, but four cars in those three lanes.  But wait there’s more, as we came to a stop someone behind us decided that being behind two other cars was not his style, so he pullout on the left  (over the double yellow) next to the guy in font of us.  When the light changed it was a mad dash to get all 5 cars into three lanes on the other side of the intersection.   This was the first time I had seen anything like this on this trip, this kind of driving was common place 9 years ago.  The guy with the loudest horn and most nerve usually was the winner!

Once down town we got out of the cab and went across the street to an kind of shopping mall.  The ground floor was totally open air, but there were stairs going down with more shops in kind of a covered “mall like” area.  We walked around trying to decide what we wanted to eat, at this point Melissa was getting burnt out on trying new stuff, so Cecilia mentioned Pizza Hut.  That seemed to satisfy everyone so we headed over to one that was just across a small street next to the mall, not the one across the major "busy" intersection we had just crossed about an hour ago.


We found it would be about 20 min wait, but decided it was better than trying to find anything else.  After waiting about 5-10 mins they told us to follow them and lead us upstairs to the second floor.  The menu was about the same as our's back home, other than you could get pizza with seafood on it.  So we got an Hawaiian and a Cheese Pizza, and some drinks plus Cecilia got a salad.

When the pizza came it was delicious, and we finished it off all but a couple of pieces.  The interesting thing was at each table the waitress kept the order in a little book under the table.  Every time someone brought drinks or whatever, they checked off they had delivered that item on the order.  We then got a cab back to the Hotel and Cecilia said she would see us in the morning and we called it a night.

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jll 29 Feb 2007/a