Qing Ping Market

We are home although most people wouldn’t even be aware of that since I’ve been unable to even pick up the phone, but more on that in a second.  I wanted to do my last Guangzhou post with the pictures we had taken from Qing Ping Market which is right across the bridge from Shaiman Island in Guangzhou.   Qing Ping Market is a real locals market and not the type of place where you find souvenirs to take home from your trip.  Qing Ping is filled with all types of spices and creatures that the Chinese consume and some of them are quite questionable.  For instance, we saw buckets and buckets of scorpions that are cooked and eaten and canisters of roaches as well.  We also saw millions of dried seahorses and starfish.  Our guide told us about the Chinese philosophy of eating that really came to light in this market.  “The only thing without legs we don’t eat is the table.  The only thing in the water we don’t eat is the boat and the only thing in the air we don’t eat is the airplane.”  Here are some pictures that show you just how true that is!

Mushrooms 
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Snakes

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Starfish
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Roaches
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Scorpions
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Some kind of really brightly colored fruit.
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Here is Surae eating at a Guangzou Thai restaurant, the Cow and Bridge.  We are there several times and it was yummy.  I wonder if they bought their ingredients from Qing Ping Market!

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Yuntai Gardens and The Infamous Red Couch Pictures

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The group made its final big outing yesterday to Yuntai Gardens. What a gorgeous place! The city of Guangzou has really poured some money into these gardens. This is the Disneyland of Gardens. The Yuntai Garden is located at the foot of the Baiyun (White Cloud) Mountain. The weather was again absolutely spectacular and we had a great time.
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Michael especially loved the enormous ancient bonsai trees.
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There were lots of school kids there on field trips and they were adorable. A lot of the groups wear matching outfits and they again all wave and say hello in English. I loved seeing all the kids!
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After we returned from Yuntai, we prepared for the Red Couch Picture. This is a White Swan tradition. All of the families dress their babies up in traditional Chinese clothing, put them on a couch, and then the babies proceed to scream their heads off and pictures are taken. It’s a bit torturous, but the babies do look so cute when they all arrive dressed up. Surae did well and just seemed concerned for the other babies that were upset.

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This is the inside of the White Swan Hotel- Not too shabby!
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Chen Family Temple and Surae’s First Doctor’s Visit

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We are in Guangzhou now on our last leg of the trip and staying at the White Swan. The White Swan is on Shaiman Island which is a small island filled with lovely old mansions and pedestrian streets. What a wonderful change after having to play frogger to cross the street in the big cities! It is filled with baby shops catering to all the families here to adopt. The people are really friendly here as well and I really can’t speak kindly enough about the Chinese people. They have been so welcoming to us. Michael even has a special Chinese girlfriend who cuts him extra special deals on dresses and t-shirts. Just kidding!
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The day after arriving in Guangzhou, we headed out for the Chen Family Temple also known as the Guangdong Folk Art Museum. It was built in the 1890s and has nine halls and six courtyards. It had lots of great little shops and art to look at as well as being a beautiful place to visit. The weather was amazing as well, so it was a great day to be outside.
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People at the Chen Temple were as curious as ever about Surae and wanted to see our tag of explanation.
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Here is Surae with her friend from Fenyi, Natalie. She is Stepanie and Jubal’s new daughter and she is such a cutie pie!
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Surae had her first doctor’s visit with us today. They checked her height and weight, ear, nose, and throat, and checked her heartbeat. She did such a great job and didn’t cry at all. What a trooper!
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Street Life in Nanchang

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We have moved on to Guangzhou now which is fabulous, but before I start posting about that I wanted to post a few street scenes from Nanchang. I am of course behind in posts. Having a one year old will do that to you and on top of that Rui keeps us really busy with touring!
Rui made us tags to wear that tell about the adoption process and that we are from America and going to take good care of the babies. When people stop us on the street, we show them the tags and it helps immensely with the language barrier because some people are downright confused about why we are carting around a Chinese baby. People here are so supportive overall and give us the thumbs up or say thank you. The people here are wonderful.
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The only negative reactions we get are from people wanting us to put more clothes on Surae. They want the babies bundled up like Ralphie from a Christmas Story. Some of the older people will really get onto you about it and feel her clothes to see how thin they are. It is not that cold here at all, but we went ahead and bought this really thick blanket in Nanchang to try to make the Chinese elders happy. Here she is asleep in it.
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The school kids in Nanchang were really fascinated with us too. We ended up walking by their school one day just as it got out and they followed us around for a long time practicing their English. They had an English school book and they kept picking out phrases to try on us. It was too cute!
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Surae is still doing so well- So happy and content. She is a buddha baby!!
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Sightseeing in Nanchang

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The first two days in Nanchang were filled with paperwork, but for the last 3 we have been seeing all the sights of Nanchang. When you look at our window, it is extremely drab and dreary here. There has been a constant fog or smog since we arrived and the town is very industrial. But, then we hop in the bus with our group and our guide, Rui, takes us to the most beautiful temples. They are truly magnificent and unlike anything I have ever seen. The one we went to the first day you can actually see right out of our hotel window. It is called Shengjin Ja Pagoda. It was first built during the reign of Tianyou in the Tang Dynasty. It is the highest ancient building in the city and we climbed to the top.

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Rui also bought some incense for us at a local store and we burned some to symbolize our past, present, and future.

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The next day we headed out to Teng Wang Pavillion. The pavilion was built in A.D. 653. This was another beautiful pavillion which held a surprise at the top- a Chinese performance was taking place and it was fantastic. The women were wearing amazing costumes and the music was enchanting. Surae seemed to really enjoy it!
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People in Nanchang are really interested in Surae. We have a tag that Rui, our guide, gave us to wear that explains the adoption process that we can show people. They seem very appreciative overall although some people are upset that we don’t have more clothes on the babies. They want them bundled to the point of a heat rash!
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Today, we explored Xianghu Lake Park. This is a Daoist temple and was another beautiful sight. It is really, really windy today and chilly!
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Surae is still doing really, really well and her little personality is emerging more and more each day. She is starting to become more verbal and active. We can get her to laugh a lot now. She is really a sweet girl and only fusses when we put her down to sleep. Then, she calls out for her mama which breaks my heart. She must have been attached to someone in the orphanage which is a good thing! Photobucket
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Surae!

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Surae is doing wonderfully!  She has been the most easy going baby you could imagine and we are so thankful for her.  All of these years of waiting have soooo been worth every second.  I cannot wait to bring her home.  Here are a few shots of her getting used to us and us enjoying her.

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Gotcha Day

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Can you believe it?  After over 2 years of paperwork and waiting, we finally have our baby girl, Surae Yaxue and boy was she worth every second of the wait.  She is absolutely amazing.  She has been an angel baby so far.  I keep thinking I need to knock on some wood.  The gotcha process was a whirlwind.  We landed in Nanchang and got whisked to the hotel.  We only stayed at the hotel for 10 minutes and then went straight to the Jiangxi Center for Adoptive Services Office in Nanchang where we walked into a room full of babies.  It was crazy and chaotic and my heart was racing!  Surae was placed with us and although she whimpered, she never really cried and hasn’t since.  She has been wonderful.  She has taken to Michael and I both so far and doesn’t seem to prefer one over the other.  She is very curious and loves her toys we brought.  She can examine a toy for hours.  She can already stand without any support too.  She seems really healthy and loves eating her cheerios and biscuits.  We’re already making her smile a little too.  We are in love!!
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Happy Birthday Surae and Beijing Recap

First of all, Happy Birthday to our baby girl. She is one today! Tomorrow is our Gotcha Day. We fly out of Beijing around 10:40 in the morning and are scheduled to pick up Surae at 3:30 in the afternoon. I can’t believe the big day is almost here. Our time in Beijing has flown by, but we have really packed in lots in a short period of time.
Our first day here went by rather quickly. We went into the Houhai area which surrounds some beautiful lakes. People ride around on bikes and rickshaws there and life has a much slower pace. There we stumbled into a much less touristy version of the Quanjude Duck Restuarant which is a famous Peking Duck Restaurant in China. We were some of the only non Asians in the place and they were having some kind of a talent show there. It was incredible. People were singing, dancing, doing acrobatic routines, martial arts, and tons of other traditional Chinese arts. It was fantastic and added to the great ambience of our meal. The duck was mouth watering and that crispy skin truly melts in your mouth.
The next day we tackled the Forbidden City and Tian’anmen Square. The Forbidden City was beautiful and we got kind of lost wandering around in the great palace.
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At night, we returned to Houhai again and went for a rickshaw ride with this great driver. He showed us a really cool temple where a ceremony was taking place and rode us all around some of the back areas where the Chinese people were playing heated games of cards.
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After that, we ate dinner in a traditional Hakka restaurant called Kejia Cai. This was one of the best meals we ate so far, if not ever! The Hakka people are a minority group from Central China. Their food is so wonderful and different!
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On Friday, we took a 3 hour bus ride out to a less touristry area of the Great Wall at JinShanLing. We began a hike there and ended up at Simatai. It was about a 7 mile hike that consisted of a lot of steep uphill climbing up really primitive sections of the wall that have not been restored. The views here are absolutely incredible and I’m sure because of the difficulty of this hike, there were not that many people out there. We were able to get so many pictures without a soul in them which I didn’t think would be possible. Being on the Great Wall was truly a dream come true. It is as beautiful as it looks in pictures. When we arrived back home, we headed out for some sushi at Hatsune. Oh my gosh! How delicious. I was thinking about my my good friend and sushi partner Jill and wishing she could try some of this sushi- It was so yummy!
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Today, we went to the Panjiayuan Market and for a girl that loves markets, this market was hands down the best I’ve ever been to! I could have spent all day there, but we had to move on. It was filled with all kinds of cool Asian goods- paint brushes, jade jewelry, clothing, original art. What fun! Then, we headed to the Temple of Heaven and the Park there. The Park was again pulsing with Asian energy. People were all over singing and dancing. The Chinese are not afraid to sing and dance and I love that! We went to the Silk Market next and that was fun too. The Chinese love to bargain and Michael is getting pretty good at his bargaining skills. They might start at 220 Yuan for a shirt and he’ll talk them down to 20! He loves it and they think he’s funny. I feel too guilty to bargain though like I’m cheating them out of their money, but they really don’t seem to mind and applaud his skills at the end most of the time. Tonight we are off for more roast duck and tomorrow we are headed for Nanchang to finally meet our baby girl! We can’t wait!!

Shanghai- The Old and The New

Shanghai is definetely a mixture of the old and the new. The future of Shanghai is no where more evident than strolling along the Bund looking at the Pudong section with its high rise towers. We took the Bund stroll during the day and then ventured into Pudong at night. In Pudong, we checked out Jade on 36 in the Pudong Shangri La and sampled very tasty tapas and an incredible 36th floor view. We also went to the 87th floor of the Jinmao Tower for some more tapas and and another amazing view.
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In sharp contrast is the Old Town section of Shanghai with the Yuyuan Gardens and the adjoining tea house with its
zigzag entrance to ward off evil spirits. The gardens have beautiful rock formations throughout and are truly a place of serenity within a fast paced city.

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Delicious Food

We have really been enjoying the food here in China, even more so than we ever thought we would. One of the highlights in Shanghai was the Crystal Jade Restaurant. We had dim sum there twice and it was outstanding. Their barbecue pork was amazingly tender on the inside and crispy on the outside. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Another place we ate at in Shanhai was called Shanghai Uncle. It was also superb. We had these green beans that were coated in some kind of ginger/soy/peanut sauce combination that was mouth watering. We also had prawns in chile sauce there which seems to be a Chinese specialty because we’ve seen it pop up on a lot of menus here. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
On another note, at the Ye Ole Station, we attempted to partake in the Chinese delicacy of hairy crab. A plate of hairy crab drenched in sauce was placed in front of us with nothing to eat it with, but our fingers and chopsticks. We went about trying to tear it apart with our fingers, but couldn’t figure it out at all. The servers mostly stood around and giggled at us. We couldn’t figure out how to get any meat out and just made a huge mess. Hairy crab remains a mystery.
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