Today was a free day, at least as far as official adoption events go. We met Missy in the lobby at 9:30 for a visit to Daming Lake, one of Jinan's main cultural points of interest. Unfortunately the weather was less than ideal; it was about 40 degrees and drizzly. The lake is surrounded by a walkway which takes about 3 hours to walk the complete circle. There are lots of little bridges and side paths that make it an interesting layout. There are a couple of islands in the middle of the lake that are only accessible by pontoon. The lake has several pavilions, pagodas, and many gardens, creating a very calm and tranquil atmosphere. At least that's how it's supposed to be. We were freezing after a very short time. We decided to take a pontoon cruise around the lake, which was a nice way to see everything and stay warm at the same time. Once off the boat, it was clear that this was going to be too cold for the kids to enjoy, so we headed out after less than an hour. We took some pictures, but like our experience at the Great Wall, they are misty and gray.
We needed an indoor activity to pass some time, so we headed for the Parc66 mall, just off Quancheng Square near our hotel. This is a high-end mall more suited for window-shopping than actual purchasing - think Versace. The 5th floor is dedicated to children's cloths and toys, so we headed up there to let the kids look around. They quickly spotted a toy store and soon we were leaving with a new baby doll and some Legos. They ran around a bit at a little play area and then we headed out for lunch. As we emerged from the mall the rain had stopped and the sun was shining, but at that point it was too late to go back to the lake.
We returned to the wonton restaurant that we attempted to dine at yesterday. It was still busy, but we managed to find the last available table. It was a good thing we had Missy, as there was no English and no pictures on the menu, and no one was speaking English except us. We shared 4 varieties of wontons that were floating in a nice soupy broth (think wonton soup, but much, much larger and better than most places we've visited in the states.) On the side, vinegar and fried chili paste are served as condiments. We dished out a little vinegar in a bowl to the kids, and the adults had both. Well MJ quickly started reaching for the chili paste. We handed the bowl to her and she took a big bite of pure chili paste, licked her lips and added more to her wontons. I asked Missy how the paste was made, and it is crushed red peppers that are fried in oil and seasoned with various spices. She kept eating it like that all meal; she really, really enjoys spicy food!
After the meal we headed back to the hotel room to let the kids play with their new toys. We decided that it would be a good time to do a little laundry in our room. We washed socks, underclothes, and a few other items in the tub. It quickly became a game, and M&M has a lot of fun playing in the soapy water and wringing out the clothes.
After hanging our unmentionables all around the room to dry, we headed back to Starbucks to get our afternoon coffee fix, then we strolled down the old city moat, which is fed by the Black Tiger Spring. We took a few pictures and headed back to the room. We decided to eat in tonight, and we prepared some noodles with our hot-pot (all hotel rooms have them here.) This gave us more alone time to bond with MJ. I think it's going well so far; she doesn't scream trying to get away when we take her places! She and Manu have been feeling each other out since her arrival, and today they seemed to get along well. There have been lots of laughs and giggles, and even a pillow fight! There's still a little ways to go before everyone is completely comfortable with everyone, but we're getting there. MJ also seems to be understanding a few English words and phrases already, like "no," "get down from there," "don't put that in your mouth," so that is helping bridge the communication gap a bit :-)
|MJ ready for the lake.|
|A pontoon on the lake.|
|Missy and Min Jing.|
|In front of a Tiger display at the mall.|
|Doing the laundry. Child labor, or character building?|
|Standing over the old city moat.|
|Our Hotel, as seen from Quancheng Square.|
|Min Jing looking over Manu's shoulder.|
|Snuggling up to...their gadgets.|