Adopting Again The Trip

Saturday, March 06, 2004
Tiananmen Square
This morning, at our orientation meeting with Holt, our travel group met officially for the first time. We have previously met a few of the families on our sightseeing trip yesterday and a few more through email, phone calls, and a Yahoo chat group, but nothing beats meeting each other face to face and interacting with each of the families. The orientation meeting, which took place in a spacious hotel meeting room, was straightforward and it gave the Holt staff a chance to answer all of the questions many of the families had and the ability to reassure all of us that things will go smoothly. The meeting also gave the families a chance to introduce themselves and learn a little about each other. This would be important since we would be, for all practical purposes, living with each other as an extended family for the next two weeks.

After a group lunch at the hotel (which was absolutely delicious), we all piled into a bus and traveled to Tiananmen Square which was only about 6 blocks away from the hotel. Tiananmen Square was, well... large... and windy... very

Tiananmen Square

windy. The square and its surrounding area were filled with determined hawkers who desperately tried to sell you their souvenirs and trinkets. Their prices were actually very good, but if we had bought something from one of them, we would have been swarmed by multitudes of others. We felt like a light bulb in the center of a swarm of moths.

From Tiananmen Square we walked via an underground walkway to the Forbidden City. Once one passes the outer wall which is adorned by the famous portrait of Chairman Mao, your first impression has to be how vast the place is. The Forbidden City is a series of courtyards and ornate buildings each filled with fine craftsmanship. Our guide Mark did a wonderful job highlighting the various structures and explaining the rich history and meaning of the various artifacts.

Taking Care of Business
As a side note, Grace took a picture of a little boy "taking care of business" through his split pants in the middle of a courtyard. From then on, we all watched where we stepped. Pampers is one thing we Americans got right!

Upon returning to our hotel, we quickly went out shopping again... this time with a purpose. We had to buy another suitcase for all the souvenirs we had purchased so far and we also wanted to buy an Asian Barbie doll to bring back home for our daughters.

First off however, we had dinner at Pizza Hut. We were a group of 5 adults and so we ordered two 12 inch pizzas. The waiter was quite amazed that we ordered 2 pizzas and at first didn't believe us, but not a crumb was left when we departed. Throughout the trip, I noticed that we Americans tend to eat a lot more than our Chinese counterparts.

Once we began our shopping, the suitcase was easy to find, but not the Asian Barbie. There were plenty of blonde-hair, blue-eyed, Barbies but none Asian. We found this odd and actually, kind of sad. Here we were in wonderful Beijing and around us we see McDonald's, Starbucks, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, and American toys. Even the talking toys, spoke English. It felt like we were forcing the western culture on these wonderful people.

While shopping, we met a lady from Barcelona, Spain who was adopting a baby. Mark walked up to her to talk and it turned out to be quite comical. She only spoke Spanish, Mark spoke bad broken Spanish and the rest spoke English; all while in China. Eventually, we were able to convey our messages to each other, wish each other luck, and go our separate ways.

Next on our agenda, we had to get ready for tomorrow's trip to Changsha City in the Hunan province. Tomorrow, we would finally get to hold our new daughter Wen Hui and introduce her to her "forever" parents. This is what we came for and we are starting to get excited!