December 8, 2000
We arrived in Guangzhou after an hour long airplane ride from Wuhan. We were delayed in Wuhan for about 90 minutes, so we didn't arrive in Guangzhou until 9:00pm or so. There we were greeted by another Holt representative and transported via bus to the White Swan hotel. It was immediately evident that Guangzhou was by far much more modern than Wuhan.
The White Swan hotel was a magnificent place filled with beautiful art and containing seven different restaurants. A beautiful view of the Pearl River is the backdrop to one of the restaurants.
December 9, 2000
Today we had to bring our babies to the local medical clinic to have a rudimentary medical exam performed. The clinic was just a short walk from the hotel. Afterwards, many of us went shopping in Guangzhou because it would be one of our last chances to shop in China. When we got there, we couldn't believe the hoards of people in the plaza! Some of the families in our group were mobbed by people because they were clearly Americans with Chinese babies. The locals wanted to speak to the American parents and wish the babies good luck in America. Luckily, we weren't mobbed because we looked Chinese (although we got tired of saying "English please" when everybody spoke to us in Chinese).
It was really hard for us to find "traditional" Chinese clothes for Stephanie. The Chinese people don't wear the traditional garb any more, but instead wear American and European styles. Eventually though, we found some clothes tucked away in a department store.
December 10, 2000
We gathered all our paperwork together in order to bring it to the American Consulate. There we were to get visas for our babies to enter the United States. Unfortunately, due to security, we were not allowed to take pictures inside or out of the consulate. Once inside the consulate, things went very smoothly, although this was probably the most nervous time for us. Many of us have heard horror stories of having a visa requests rejected due to improper paperwork. Once we had our paperwork approved, we were home free and much more at ease.
December 11, 2000
We all gathered in the hotel lobby to do the obligatory group photos. We then went out to do more shopping.
December 12, 2000
Today, we visited the Chen Clan Academy, which used to be a school for the Chen family, but now is a museum. It was full of fine art and beautiful carvings and many of us bought souvenirs from its gift shops. We also visited the Pearl and Jade market where you can supposedly get great deals on pearl and jade if you know what you are buying. In the middle of the market we ran into a school and just had to take a picture of the schoolchildren.
That night we decided as a group to have a final dinner together as we all will be heading back to our respective homes the next day. After dinner we quickly made it back to our rooms to prepare ourselves for the long flight home.
December 13, 2000
As a last ditch binge, we bought some nice artwork at one of the many shops in the White Swan hotel. Even though we probably paid more than we should have, the large painting we brought home is a nice reminder of the time we spent in China.
Because of our airplane schedule, we flew into Hong Kong and stayed overnight at the Regal Airport Hotel. The hotel was a bit like living in a George Jetson cartoon because everything was so modernistic... to the point of being funny.
December 14, 2000
After 3 airplane rides and 19 hours later, we arrive back home in Chicago... Fortunately, they showed 3 movies which I haven't seen before. Grace and I literally had to run to catch our flight connection from Minneapolis to Chicago because customs took so long. We, along with some other adoptive parents, had to go to a separate room to process our children's visas.
We finally arrived in Chicago just in time to dig our house out of 10 inches of snow. Even though we had a wonderful trip and came back to the aftermath of a snowstorm, it was great to be back home.