Yesterday was a travel day. We waited around the hotel until noon when Missy came by and we headed to Mr. Lee, a local noodle place that we have visited once before, for our last meal in Jinan. On the way back we stopped by the river for a few last pictures before heading to the airport. We got through security with about an hour to spare before take-off. The big challenge at this point was keeping up with MJ who wanted to take off running through the terminal as a game, or if she saw something shiny. Once on the plane, it was a challenge to get her to keep her seat belt buckled! Poor Manu got a tummy ache again on this flight, but he was a trooper and made it through 'till the end with no problems. Our new guide Elvin met us after baggage claim and we headed off to the hotel. We're actually travelling with another family from our agency on this portion of the trip. The Anderson's are from the San Francisco area and have adopted a cute 19mo little girl. By the time we got settled into our new room at the Garden Hotel, it was after 10pm. We were exhausted and headed to bed soon thereafter.
The Garden Hotel is a beautiful establishment. Definitely 5-star and the best of our trip thus far. The only drawback is that it is a little too westernized. We've become accustomed to being immersed completely in Chinese culture, and have been the only western family we've seen until now. This hotel is a popular hotel for families adopting children from China, and this morning alone we ran into at least a dozen families just like us at breakfast and in the lobby. It's nice to meet others like us, but it doesn't feel authentic; more of a spectacle really. That, and the breakfast buffet had pancakes! Where was the dim sum? The steamed buns? The noodles? The chop sticks?!?! Interestingly, we tried to give MJ a pancake and she shrieked and quickly removed it from her plate.
Today was our visit to the local medical center for MJ's visa evaluation. It consisted of a general checkup, and ENT screening, an eye screening, and, since she if over 2yo, a TB test. She handled it all pretty well. She seemed to do well on the eye exam, which is encouraging. We were most worried about the TB screening, as they took her into a room alone, and we had to wait outside. Through Elvin we told her what was coming, and she said she wasn't scared. After it was over she emerged smiling and in good spirits. They actually draw blood for the test here, so she had a band aid on her little arm. The nurses commented on how well she did, and were tickled when she took off her bandage and put it on her doll's arm. After that we were finished, and we headed to our first sightseeing adventure in this city: Yuntai Garden.
Yuntai Garden is a botanical garden featuring all types of local and tropical flora and fauna. The grounds are beautiful and there are lovely fountains throughout. Manu earned his junior photographer badge by taking some great macro shots of flowers and cacti. This was a nice-enough place, but the most interesting thing wasn't a plant or animal. No, the most interesting thing by far was the cheese - I'm not talking dairy. In addition to all the lovely plants was a good dose of corny theme and decoration. It reminded me of a bad amusement park. It was so bad that it really distracted from what was otherwise a nice location. After about an hour we headed back to the hotel. After resting for a bit, we headed down to the hotel restaurant for lunch. We then set out for a local mall to buy MJ a new pair of shoes. Buying things in China is a lot different than in a mall in the states. First, there are a LOT more employees; almost one in every isle. They assist you in picking out your items and then give you a ticket that you take to a central cashier for payment. You then bring back your paid receipt to the department to pick up your items. We got her a cute little pair of pink flats and some socks. We then headed downstairs to the grocery department and picked up some noodles, yogurt, and snacks for the room. We're back now and had dinner in the room tonight. Before bed, I thought I'd share a few more insights into Min Jing:
1. She doesn't answer to "Min Jing" Apparently they didn't use her official name on a regular basis. Instead they called her "Jing Jing" as a nickname. She'll answer to that or "Mei Mei" (little sister).
2. She loves bubble baths.
3. She likes to look at herself in the mirror and sing and dance.
4. Did we mention she can be obstinate? She can also be a bit manipulative, and prone to mild tantrums if she doesn't get her way. She's called me a "bad baba." a few times; I guess I must be doing something right.
5. She loves her dolls and pretend play.
That's it for tonight. Thanks for following!
|Waiting for her exam.|
|This should really become a thing in the US.|
|Cheese on display at the gardens.|
|You know you want to pick me up, Daddy!|
|M&M at the Yuntai Gardens.|
|One of Manu's photos.|