Melissa's Return to China - Page 3


6/17/2006

We were starting to feel like Willie Nelson (“On the Road Again”), but  we got our bags packed and ready to go and headed down one last time to get breakfast at the Hubin Hotel.  Afterwards we kind of wandered around for a while in the gift shop and then we just moved our stuff outside to wait for Cecilia.  We were out there about 10-15 mins and to our surprise they guy who drove us up from Shanghai showed up, and motioned for us to get our stuff and load it up in his van.  After getting it loaded up, he then went around the circle back to the rear of the hotel area, and here came Cecilia with her luggage.  She apologized for being  late, actually we were a little early, but it didn’t matter in a few minutes we were off heading back to Shanghai.

It only took two hours this time to get to Shanghai, although we were flying out a different airport, this one seemed to be more in town than the other one.  So I’m not sure if the guy drove faster or this airport was closer to Wu Xi, or just what the story was.

airport

Anyway we got our boarding passes and headed down to the gate area. Naturally Melissa had to find the restrooms, so her  and Maureen went off that way, and Cecilia went to get some water.  When Maureen and Melissa came back she went to little gift/snack counter next where we where setting and it was about then we found out our flight was delayed 15 mins and Cecilia came back with some water.

When the whole crew was back, I took off to go to the restroom and just look around, when I came back my seat was gone, someone was sitting there, so I just wandered for a while.  It wasn’t long that my chair became free again so I sat back down, and found that there was someone talkative sitting across from me.  We started to chat a bit, and found that he was from a small African country Namibia.  Seems he and his brother have a trucking business and they each travel about 6 months out of the year.  He was getting ready to head back home.  He was curious about  our adoption and Melissa so I explained to him what we were doing, and the concept of a homeland tour.  He said that Melissa was lucky and I just gave him the standard answer we gave everyone that we were both lucky.   I got the feeling that he thought Cecilia was our daughter also, but I don’t try and explain that one.

clinic

Soon we found our selves on another airplane headed for Guangzhou, and to regrouped with the rest of the group at the White Swan Hotel.  When we got in we made our way to the arrival pick up area, and discovered that two of the families of our group was waiting on  the bus along with the Director "Kool", as he was know by now.  We got everything loaded and headed off to Shamian Island.  Along the way we decided to stop at the medical clinic and went in even though it was closed.  The guard there turned on some lights and a guy in the back came out asking what was going on.  As it turned out he was a doctor there and had been working there 9 years ago.  Now don’t know if he would have been working when any of the girls went there, but it was too good of an opportunity to pass up another photo op!  So we had him pose with the girls to take a couple of pictures.  Then we loaded back up and drove the 3-4 block to the White Swan.  Since we were late getting in we only had few minutes after checking in until we were to met everyone and the Girls went for a pizza party at Lucy’s.  We would go off for a Chinese foot massage (I was a bit skeptical, as I’m not much on massages, but figured I’d not be a wet blanket and give it a try).

foot massage

Even I thought the foot massage was great, not at all what I expected.  They worked on the neck and back before they ever started on the feet.  They (and rightly so) left those soaking while they did the rest, and then worked on the feet last.  I think the girl that did mine thought I was nuts, as every once in a while the massage tickled, and it was all I could do to keep from laughing out loud.
After the massage, we all noticed we were hungry, so we walked back to Lucy’s Restaurant and I ordered the closest thing I could find to what we had when we were there nine years ago.  Their noodles were the best then, but now they didn’t just have plain noodles so I had to settle for some that were stir fried.  These were crunchy on the bottom, but still good!! We then to a walk back thru the park that was in front of the White Swan, and went into find the girls as they had talked someone into taking them swimming.  We found Melissa and went up to the room to hit the hay, but one of the girl’s mom and Maureen decided to do some shopping, so while they were going to do that I stayed with them at ourroom and they took showers and got ready for bed.  Maureen got back and Melissa’s friend and her mom went back to their room, and now we could get to bed.  Tomorrow was another busy day after eating and checking out, we would head for Guilin.


6/18/2006

red couch

Rise and shine it airplane time!  With a quick breakfast it was time to hit the road.  Every one of us wished we could spend another day in Guangzhou.  Too many memories and not enough time! Just enough time to stop of one more photo at the White Swan.  One we had done 9 years ago with four other families.  But with her usual efficiency Cecilia had us all herded up and on the bus headed for the airport before we knew it.  We got into the Guilin airport, and off to the hotel with out a hitch (we were starting to get the hang of it). After checking into the hotel, we had another big group lunch, and prepared to head out one more time for the Reed Flute Cave.

The cave was half way put a mountain, but that was not the problem.  The vendors here were the most persistent.  Gillian was a tourist town by trade and they had their spiel down to a science and didn’t take NO or "boo" (Chinese for no) for an answer.  Couple of times I had to get between them and Maureen.  Only thing we could figure out was her being smaller, and at eye level made her a prime target.  Even going up the steps to the cave there were barriers that would carry you up to the entrance if you wanted and could pay the price.

cave LandScape Painting

The cave was interesting, but crowed.  We saw some very pretty formations and interesting passageways,  after about an hour of walking around it was time to leave.  Back to the vendor fray and off to learn about landscape painting and calligraphy.  The place that had been originally picked for us to go didn’t have any staff that day, but the Guilin Landscape Painting Research Institute was able for us to visit.  So that is where we were to go.  The grounds that we walked thru to get to the building where we would be given a demonstration were beautiful.

painting

They had the Director of the school explain to us about Chinese Painting, ink, and paper; all the technical stuff.  Then he introduced on of the professors who had been painting for some 60 years, and as the teacher did something the first guy explained what he was doing.  In no time he had a picture done, and then it was to be the girls turn.  They had a place set up for them upstairs with five easels and brushes and ink.  We could either go up and watch them or look around the galleries downstairs.  Maureen went with Melissa and I went to look around.  They had come beautiful works in the galleries, but I thought it would be to hard to get home, and we already have one, a big walk hanging that we’ve never done anything with, because framing it would cost a small fortune.

painting

After looking at most of the pictures I went up stairs where the girls were working on a bamboo picture, then one with  Guilin Mountains, and then like a branch with leaves on it.  Their final one was to do anything they wanted, which I think the old professor got the most kick out of see just what the girls would do and doing American type pictures with the Chinese brush and ink.  They put each girl’s pictures in a little carrying case and we were off again.

Back at the hotel the girls wanted to go swimming and Maureen and some of the ladies decided to go shopping, so I stayed with Melissa with a couple of the other parents.  Just kind of kicking back and relaxing, that was nice.


6/19/2006

cruise crise

Today was a cruise on the Li River (a three hour tour).  Our local guide told us that Guilin had 10 million tourist  ayear come thru the city and 1 million were not Chinese!  When we go to the dock and saw all the boats lined up, I thought all 10 million were going out today!  After all the boats got loaded, they started to take off one by one.  Tea and water were free; but soda, beer and snake wine (yes, a bottle of wine with a snake in it) cost extra!

When we were under way we could go up to the top deck which was just flat with a rail around it so see the pretty sites and the boats on the river just like ours.  If you looked in front or behind us you could not see the end in either direction of all the boats on the river.  The scenery was magnificent, to the point of you saw so many of the gorgeous mountains and got tired of looking at them, even though the next one was better than the last.

cruise

Then we started to notice two guys on a small bamboo raft with a box in the middle.  Vendors!!  They had found us, even on the river.  They would paddle next to the boat and some how get a hold of something, letting the boat pull them along as the hocked their wares.  One of the guys I our group with help from another was able to “haggle” them down on a carved water buffalo, from about 800 Yuan to around 100 (about 12.50US).

About half way thru the ride it was time to eat. On the second floor was where they were doing a buffet, and on the fist floor is where we were to sit! The stairs were hard enough going up and down on a rocking boat, with out a plate of food in your hands, but some how we all managed.

When the cruise was over, we pulled into Yangshuo Mountain Retreat which was, you gusted it, a tourist town.  The stairs coming up from the boat and basically the whole village was just shop after shop and person after person wanting you to by their stuff.  Which I can understand, because this is the only way these people make a living, and with 10 million coming thru even just a small percentage of buyers would be enough, but they wre hoping we would up those odds!

When the whole group got up from the boat our local guide showed us where we would meet and said we had about 1hr or so just to go walking amongst the shops.  At first we some of us weren’t going any where, but the vendors right there would not take no for any answer.  Seems like if you stopped they thought you had to be interested in something.  So after awhile we decided to walk down one of the main streets.  We saw a guy playing a flute and when he saw I was taking a picture of him he went behind a bush and pole so I could see him very well.  I think he hoped I’d come over and he could sell me one of the flutes he had in a bag over his shoulder... (click to see)

Also we saw this little girl who had a stand that basically had a small board on a pivot. She took the board in her mouth and then bent her legs back over her head and supported herself that way.  Then using her hands to spin herself around all the while she was arched over her head and holding herself up with her mouth. (click to see) Of course there was a small box beside her for people to throw coins/bills into.  We had then met up with others from our group and just kind of followed them around.  It was fun watching someone else barter for things they wanted.  One lady was able to talk the shop keeper down to around $80 for 4 puppets to use later at China Camp.  (They got quite a bit of use on the bus rides while in China by the girls, so I think they will be quite the hit this year.)

moon mountian

We them met up with everyone and took a tram back to our bus, and low and behold, guess who was in the parking lot??   More vendors!!  They had bikes that had some sort of push cart attached to them, again not taking no for an answer.  When we were on our way our local guide told us we might not get to do the bamboo raft on the river.  She wanted to see just how fast the river was before she let us go on.  She said that the drivers of the rafts didn’t have much of a way to steer them when the water was quick.  This sounded all right to very one, especially when we saw just how fast the river was running and only a few daring soles were out there rafting!  We did drive by and stop so we could take pictures of Moon Mountain.  It was a mountain with a hole right in the center! And also on the way back we stopped so some of the girls could get their pictures taken with a water buffalo?  Seems the local farmers when the see the buses coming trot out their water buffalo and for a Yuan or two let you get your picture taken with them.

Elephant Rock

We then stopped at Elephant Trunk Hill and went into a park they had around the lake. There we saw a place where you could dress up like some of the minority tribes in China and have your picture taken in costume.  One guy was doing silhouettes cut outs and Melissa wanted hers done. It was only 10 Yuan (or 1.25) to have done, but all I had was a fifty, well before I knew it.  He was doing all five girls (to keep the fifty), but that was alright.  Melissa was having fun treating her friends.  When the guy figured out what the deal was he said he’d do mine for free, since I was the one with the money.  I wanted him to do another one of the brothers of one of the girls, but instead he did both for free!  Plus he did one of our guides, Cecilia as well.

monkey elephant

We went over a little bridge to get a better look at the Elephant Hill and there was an man with a little monkey  that was all dressed up, and he wanted (I think) 10 Yuan to let you get your picture taken with the monkey.  One of the girls got her picture done, and before we knew it, Cecilia had paid so they all could, and even she got her picture done as well.  While we were there we saw this lady that was a dead ringer for someone we knew back home.  Well I followed her, a little ways and got her picture and then Maureen tried to explain why we took it.  Their English was as bad as our Chinese, so the got their guide, but their guide only spoke Chinese as well.  Finally Maureen tracked down Cecilia and had her explain what the deal was and the lady just laughed.  She said we could all take a picture with her if we wanted, but I was off looking a something else and Maureen couldn’t find me, so she just thanked the lady and went on her way.

Soon it was time to pack it in, so we just headed back to the bus and had a group dinner at the hotel.  Later the kids wanted to swim for a while, so we sat out by the pool, but the bugs were bad and it was getting late.  The next day we would be heading back to Beijing, so at 8:00pm all the parents decided it was time to pack it in.  Strangely enough non of the kids seem to mind (I think they were getting tired as well).


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jll 29 Feb 2006/a