Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Another day to rest

Again, after arriving in a new place and touring for a few days we were ready to have a day with nothing to do.  The only thing that was scheduled was our 'red couch pictures" with our travel group.  It is customary to take pictures of all the kids and families on the red couch in the White Swan before leaving.  After that we walked around the island a couple of times and this evening we hung out by the river and watched the boats covered in neon lights; they were really cool.
Our visa application and supporting documents were submitted to the consulate this morning and we didn't hear any bad news so that means everything was good.  Tomorrow morning we go on another tour and then in the afternoon we go to consulate to do our oath ceremony where we swear to never abandon her and all that other important stuff.  Then the consulate processes her visa and it will be ready to pick up Thursday afternoon.  THEN, after that we get to LEAVE!  We are so ready to go home and enjoy all the things we take for granted in America.  #1 on the list- my kids followed very closely by my bed.  I'm so homesick I might even put all my kids in my bed.
Today while shopping at a small shop on the island Claire wanted to play the toys while I browsed around.  She was out of my line of sight so every few seconds I called her name. Claire then told the lady that owned the shop "I know she's inside, my mom worries a lot."  HA!  She told the lady later that she has an American mom and dad.  Every one that talks to her tells us "she is so smart."  At another shop the owner asked her what color her shirt was (in mandarin) and Claire responded "pink."  The lady was shocked and then Claire told her "my mom taught me that."  Let's hope her smarts help her transition to English easier.
Speaking of that; I think we've entered a new phase with language.  When we first got her she talked to us all the time in mandarin.  We had no idea what she was saying but she definitely tried and we figured things out fairly well.  Now she's communicating with more grunts and points and some hand motions rather than talking in mandarin.  She's figured out that we don't understand much so I think she finds it useless to try.  We are trying to encourage her to talk, even if it's mandarin rather than point and grunt.  We tell her the words for everything and she has picked up so much.  She understand a lot of what we say to her.  We supplement with quite a bit of mandarin that we know (which grows by the day) and after saying the mandarin words we say the English word/phrase. 
We've been working on body part names and she has remembered most of them and we're also working on the last part of the
alphabet.  She likes to say J-K-L jumbled mess- O-P.  At this hotel we are on the 17th floor so that has opened up counting from 10-20 for us.  She has a little trouble from 13-15 but then goes up to twenty and keeps going to 30. 
For parents traveling soon-
Even though it is February, it is already warm enough on some days here in GZ to wear shorts and t-shirts.  The sun was out earlier today and it was very warm and the humidity is out of control.  Bring some hair gel if your hair is naturally wavy or curly but you usually like to wear it straight.  It won't be straight for 10 minutes after you walk out of your hotel room; even the lobby is humid.  Just pack the gel and embrace the frizz like every other woman here.  Don't bring nice shoes for GZ; the sidewalks are ripped up and the construction has made a nasty mess.  The rain and humidity make it even worse and it trashes your shoes.  Also, if you see something you like in Beijing or in the province- buy it.  Don't hold out for what you might find in GZ because I think a lot of the stuff here is much lower quality than other places.  We are kicking ourselves everyday that we didn't buy more stuff at the jade and cloisonne factories in Beijing. 
A couple things about the White Swan-
We stayed in a nice hotel in Beijing for 10 days so I can't compare the White Swan to hotels in the provinces.  But, compared to our hotel in Beijing I am less than impressed with the White Swan.  The rooms are tiny, they smell musty or kind of wet and the walls/floor are thin.  I'm paying a lot of money to listen to babies above me pounding on the floor or crying or even hearing someone else urinate in the toilet.  I heard a lot "the service is 5 star" and "they speak very good English".  I'm not finding that so much.  The housekeeping staff has been great, the front desk staff is half and half on friendliness and English and the dining room staff in that "oh so wonderful buffet"?  I have found they are pretty rude.  I can't compare this to the Victory because I haven't been there but I would probably choose that if we were ever to come back to China.  I don't need 150 things to choose from for breakfast because I'll choose the same 5 every day.  I would trade a bigger room with a soft bed any day.  But, I would choose to stay at the same place as my travel group again.  Being in the same place as all the other families is very nice and Claire enjoys seeing the other kids in our group each day at breakfast and throughout the day.

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