A Remarkable Day!!

Lucy Love,
These pictures tell the story..

We joyfully anticipated your arrival
A precious little girl entered the room
Timid at first
A light up spinning toy broke the ice
Then imagine your surprise when you discovered the magic of a magna doodle
Slowly you put it all together 
You embraced your new family
and started a new day
We will never forget.


The merging of two rivers....

Wow, just wow!  We landed in Hefei City, the capital of Anhui province yesterday at 11:20am.  As we were landing, we noticed that on the outskirts of town near the airport the land is lush and green, with lots of ponds and seems like farming area. We weren't sure what to expect of Hefei.

The new airport was big, yet not heavily populated at all.  We grabbed our bags and met Jane and Erin.
There are 6 adoptive families in Hefei this week (2 of which i have connected with on FB, one which we happened to meet at our same hotel in Beijing, and another who we met on the flight here yesterday)  Jane handed us off to her assistant, Erin, a young guide from Hefei who is engaged and to be married in October.  Super precious girl and we loved her instantly.  She and the driver took us to our hotel and on the way, we learned more about the city.

The word "he" means merge and the word "fei" means river.  So we learned that the name of the city means "the merging of two rivers"  Here is where the east river meets the south river. We were all kinds of excited about this symbolism of our daughters city.  So cool.

As we drove, we noticed that this is actually a pretty big city! Gone was the lush green farm land and I have never seen so many apartments so close together and so many floors high all in one place..  everywhere you drive there are just TONS of high rise apartments.

We checked into our hotel, the Hilton Hefei and we are so happy with our room!! In China, they do not like to put more than 2 people and an infant at most into the hotel rooms.  So we had to book a suite on the executive floor.  The price was not that bad and well worth it for where we ended up!  We have 2 rooms, a big master bath and a powder room, a mini kitchen area, two desk areas.  We also have access to the executive lounge which will be great for us if Lucy needs to stick close to the room as her little world is about to change.   They have 3 free receptions daily which include breakfast, afternoon tea and sandwiches, and evening all sorts of food asian and american, with desserts and drinks.

Wal Mart is right across the street.  There are 3 jam packed floors where you can "shop more save more" here in Hefei and they are connected by a conveyer belt that carries you and your cart up to each floor.  Its a riot as they have Great Value brand dried fish, or squid, or noodles in place of pretzels and goldfish ;)
One thing they DO have is oreos.. in all kinds of fun flavors and yet we bought the infamous "green tea ice cream"flavor along with some mini oreos we can take today as a treat for Lucy.

We had another unfortunate mandarin experience as we were trying to find a bathroom for Zoe.  I should have remembered from my experience everywhere else thus far, that the toilet is always on the outside of wherever you are and that is for a very good reason :) I was saying the word in mandarin for Toilet but with my dialect it was just not cutting it.  We found some girls from the University who were there marketing for Lux and tried everything to communicate toilet, even pretending to pull our pants down and squat and to no avail. Yes, there were many onlookers and already a crowd just following us because Zoe and her blonde hair are very very popular here.  With the help of Google translate we finally got our point across and the girl accompanied us out to the toilet and helped us the entire time.  She actually spoke fairly good English but she understood the English word Restroom.  Not bathroom. Not Toilet.  Not charades of pulling down pants and squatting all the way to the floor.  No.  The key word would have been Restroom. lol

Zoe was so tired after this (she woke up at 2am for the day) that we had to put her in a cart and push her around the store.  She quickly fell asleep so where we were done shopping, sean had to carry her back across the street (motorcycles, taxis, cars everywhere, total madness and pedestrians literally just walk into same part of the street with all that) to the hotel.

We made it to our room and started the process of unpacking our stuff and getting ready for Lucy.  While we were gone, the hotel had delivered a large crib with soft bedding!
We have it all set up for her and even if she decides not to sleep in it, she will see that we have prepared a place for her!

At our guides recommendation we have packed a backpack with small toys and snacks and a cup of water.  This is the craziest feeling.  In  6 hours...two more rivers will merge here in Hefei when we (finally!) meet our daughter for the very first time!


Beijing- Day 2 - Saturday.

Today we went out with one of the recommended guides from our Agency,  Helen!
I must say that we have had incredible guides and drivers so far.  Helen was so much fun.
She instantly felt like someone we had known for a long time and took such great care of us.
We left the hotel in the Morning and went straight for the Hutong Tour.. where we had a guide names Lotus you will see in the pictures.

The Hutongs are the tight knit communities from Old World Beijing.  On this tour, you see the drum tower, which is how they kept time over 600 years ago.  The days were 12 hours long and each "hour" was 120min.  They used a water clock with 4 jars that they filled at the start of each day and the jars would pour into each other and at certain increments, spill over into the next jar.  Then the final jar contained a ruler stick - one of 24 different lunar phases that they would change out... Each time it was another hour, the water caused the stick to raise 2 notches.  Then a little statue banged a cymbal and the drummers would come out and do a drum routine that would ring out over the city thus telling you what time it was.  We happened to be there to see the local students come out and do one of these routines - same as the one who drummed at Olympics opening ceremony.  This was powerful.  We loved it.  Then we limed the almost 70 steps back down.

We then rode in a couple rickshaws around these Hutongs.. the oldest community in Beijing.
We saw how the people in this community really live.. Helen told me that  in normal China, you will see someone and not even ask, How are you, or How is your day, but that here in the hutong, you share everything, even community bathroom.  We stopped into a host home (where they host people from the tour and allow you to see their actual living quarters, sometimes even cooking a meal for you.  Her courtyard was beautiful, even a birdcage and a cage with a cricket inside.  I seriously think i might get a cricket in a cage when we get home.  They make the most glorious music and you just feed them a cucumber or carrot every 3 days.  Now don't go trying to beat me to the punch on that.. I know some of you are tempted.. let's start a new trend. Inside, she had many artifacts and furniture that was very old dating back to the Ming and Chen Dynastys. (sp?)

We toured around and went into a Hutong market where they said the familes don't just shop every day, they shop before each MEAL.  The ingredients are freshest possible.  We bought steamed buns outside with vegetables and meat inside and tried it.  Helen purchases spicy pork noodles for us to try.
Inside the market, we bought Goji Berries, local pepper, star anise, and saffron all for $10 total! Import companies are making quite a markup for these exotic spices.  Let's start a new business.. Who's with me?

Then, Helen took us to the most perfect lunch restaurant.. Hot Pot.  This was a Muslim restaurant.  They sold a lot of Lamb.  This was AMAZING food.  kindof like fondue, but you boil the meat, veggies, and noodes in this spicy water and then eat it with a sauce that tastes very similar to Thai peanut sauce.  Helen did all the work of cooking it for us.

After lunch, we went to the temple of heaven.  This is where the emperor went to pray for the planting, rain, and harvest of the crops .. he went 3 x a year and fasted 3 days, prayed for 4.  The number 9 was a big deal here.  Everything was 9.  9 steps, 9 dots in the door up and across = 81, etc etc.  Seriously 9 something was everywhere.  9 is a powerful number in China.  We went to a store where art students sell their art to make money for brushes and papers.  On our way out, there is a corridor where a LOT of retired people hang out selling wares, playing poker and Chinese checkers, smoking, singing, and dancing together.  It costs only $20 a year to get in, so this is their hangout.  They seemed to be having a really good time.

From here we went to the shopping market.  This is like 6 floors of hilarity.  Sean was just in heaven here let me tell you.  No photos of this one.  I was too busy bargaining and got 2 pair of toms, a pair of nikes, 2 crocs, and those mens canvas style crocs shoes.. all for $55.  I have a bit of a Chinese shoe fetish.  Everyone here has the cutest shoes on. - esp the kids.  I just stare at all the shoes that everyone has on as they are walking by.

At this point, Sean's eyes were so bloodshot.  We were going to go for Peking duck and then Snack street (with all the crazy stuff on a stick like scorpion and starfish) We weren't really hungry yet but I could tell from Sean's eyes, and my legs and little Zoe looked ready to pass out on the dirt - that we needed to eat.. so we went to another local restaurant and had the traditional fried duck, sliced and with tortillas and cucumber and some kind of brown sauce.. too incoherent to take pics here.  

It was a great day.  My mandarin still leaves little to be desired.  I had a set back today, learning that the pronunciation for thank you can mean shoe, blood, thanks, and something else.  So either I am at times really saying thank you but at other times may be saying "blood, blood!!" which would have been appropriate today anyway as sean cut his arm on some foil at the restaurant and there was initially a lot of blood there... OR "shoe shoe" which honestly was going through my head most of the day as i watched all the cute shoes walk by.  

Im not normally a blogger - but i have an advantage now.  While you are just nearing the end of your Saturday, we are waking up over here at like $3:45 from the jet lag.. wait, why did I put a number sign in front of that?

Enjoy the pics..