Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Great Wall

We were remiss in not updating our blog to show are our trip to the Great Wall before we came home with Jude, who, by the way, is doing well. His understanding of English is growing each day, and his ability to speak it is growing as well. He had a visit with the cleft doctor, who also worked on Jake, and the doctor was impressed with the results of the surgeries Jude had in China. He doesn't anticipate him needing as many surgeries as Jake, which is a blessing.

Anyway, after we finished with all the paperwork and got Jude's visa in Guangzhou we flew to Beijing so we could take both boys to the Great Wall, then fly home.

We left Guangzhou at night and arrived in Beijing late, with no hotel shuttle waiting for us, as we were told would be there. That should have been our first warning that something was up. We finally got a ride from a worker at another hotel who moonlights as a cabbie. His car was packed with us and all our luggage. Come to find out, both Violet and I had the same thought — that he was going to drive us somewhere and rob us. LOL. Instead, he took us right to our hotel — which promptly informed us that our reservation had been canceled. Mind you, this is at nearly 2 a.m., which luckily is in the afternoon back in the United States. The hotel said they would give us a room and we could pay in the morning if nothing got straightened out. Since it was still the afternoon in the states, I called our travel agent who handled this part of the trip and she said she would get on it and straighten things out.

So after a few hours of sleep, we were back up and ready to go. We met our guide in the lobby and — praise God — everything had been worked out. The tour agency had paid for the room so we ate breakfast then set out for the Great Wall. We can't remember our guide's name, to our shame, but he was really nice.

We went to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall this time and it was fabulous. It was cold (it was the first of December), but the sun was shining brightly. In 2008 when we went to the Great Wall on our first adoption trip, it was cloudy and rainy. Back then we went to the Juyongguan Pass section of the Great Wall. As awesome as that was, and it was incredible, we both think the Mutianyu section is more amazing.

We had to ride a cable car to get to the wall. The boys loved that.

The view was breath-taking. The mountains are so rugged in this area.

Our guide took a family photo of us all.

Here's the area along which we walked. Not even, but that's to be expected since the wall runs along the mountain ridge.


Here's an idea of how steep the walk was in some places.


And another view of the ruggedness of the surrounding mountains.

Oh, and please make sure your flames are clothed. :-)

A good time was had by all, and we hope the boys remember this remarkable adventure.

After the Great Wall, it was off to the airport and the marathon flights home. Let's just say the flights were not our most favorite parts of the whole journey, but we made it and now the adventures continue. -- Kevin



Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Circus fun

Tuesday night, after our trip to Shamian Island, we went to the Chimelong International Circus. It was 1 1/2 hours of non-stop entertainment. We had a blast.

Jude seemed captivated by it. He couldn't take his eyes off what was going on, although his expression hardly changed. We figure he might have been overwhelmed by all the sound and lights, but he did clap often and smiled some.

That's an elephant balancing on one leg on a stool and spinning around. Amazing.

Watching in awe and amazement.


The opening act.

Six motorcycles in the Sphere of Death. 

More sightseeing

On Tuesday, we went to Shamian Island for shopping. The island has changed a lot since we were there in 2008. The White Swan hotel is closed for remodeling, and we've heard when it reopens it won't cater to adoptive families. Many of the shops are still open, but some aren't around anymore. Lucy's still is there, offering American food.

On Wednesday, we had our consulate appointment. Everything is done, we get Jude's Chinese passport with his visa to enter the United States on Thursday, before we head out of Guangzhou and to Beijing for our quickie trip to the Great Wall on Friday before our trip home.

Also Wednesday, we visited Yuntai Garden in Guangzhou, our last sightseeing trip.

Here are some pics:
The White Swan hotel. Our home in Guangzhou in 2008 when we adopted Jake.

Lucy's.





Fidding around with one of the fiddler statues on Shamian Island.



Yuntai Garden in Guangzhou.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Cruisin' on a ... Monday night

We went on a dinner cruise along the Pearl River in Guangzhou on Monday night.

It was a fun experience. Many of the buildings along the river are lit up brightly and quite colorful. Plus, Jake and Jude had a blast.

Here are a bridge and the Canton Tower all lit up. The Canton Tower was - and maybe still is - the tallest structure in China at more than 1,960 feet tall.


Here is another of our traditional family self-portraits.





Jake and Jude had fun on the cruise, playing with balloons the woman who entertained handed out. Jake also got to spin a soccer ball on his finger, but I missed the shot and got the smiling aftermath. ... Kevin





 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

An easy day

Our second day in Guangzhou was an easy day.

We finished all of our paperwork for the U.S. Consulate and now just await our appointment to get Jude's visa.

We went to a park today and went shopping.

Here is Jude feeding the fish in the pond at our hotel, the Garden Hotel.

Here's a view from our hotel room of the hotel's waterfall.




Here's another view of the city outside our hotel window.



This statue of 5 goats symbolizes the city of Guangzhou. It's in the park we visited today.




Saturday, November 30, 2013

Ouch!

Saturday was medical exam day for Jude.

Violet took him through the various stages of it while I waited with Jake.

Checking his ears, throat, etc. — good. Stripping down to check him all over — not as good. Drawing blood for the TB test — what do you think? Jake and I both heard this loud crying and looked at each other, practically saying at the same time "That sounds like Jude."

Then we turned and saw him coming out of the room to mommy's waiting arms. Poor little guy. It's amazing, though, how soon he forgot about the pain when he took my iPhone to make some cupcakes on the Easy Bake Oven app.

Here are some pics Violet took of Jude getting checked out:



Meeting an old friend

Five years ago, a wonderful woman served as our guide in Xi'an and Guangzhou when we were adopting Jake.

We know her as Kelly. She lives in Guangzhou and works as a guide for Great Wall China Adoptions. Her trip to Xi'an to serve as our guide in 2008 was her second time ever in the city, but she did a great job leading us through the paperwork and showing us the sites of the city that always will hold a special place in our hearts. She was even more valuable during our time in Guangzhou.

On Saturday, we were going through Jude's medical exam in Guangzhou. Violet was taking Jude through the various stages while I waited with Jake. He and I were playing games when this woman came up and spoke to us. I looked up and saw the same smile I saw so much 5 years ago. It was Kelly. Violet had seen her while standing in line and they chatted. Although it took a bit for her to recall, Kelly quickly remembered the important details about us.

Jake didn't really have much recollection of Kelly, but Kelly remembered him. She was happy to see him and to see how much he had grown in the past 5 years. We were happy to see her, too. Violet and I had remarked to each other before we even go to Guangzhou that it would be nice if we were able to run into Kelly again.

Half a world away from home and we still can rekindle an old friendship, even if it was only briefly. ... Kevin

Kelly was kind enough to pose for a photo with Jake.
And, here they were 5 years ago when we visited the Terra Cotta Warriors.