• 28Nov

    Well, it was a nice rest after being up for so many hours. Our room is ok but the place has a odd odor that I am not partial to. Everything is kind of dreary cuz of the weather (no sun) and I think everything is covered in a coat of gray dirt – probably soot Plus the city smells oddly smokey outside in the ‘fresh’ air.    China so far has been interesting. I think it’s easier on Vince since it is obvious that he probably doesn’t speak Chinese. Patty and I are always spoken to in mandarin and haven’t a clue! Folks seem a bit frustrated with us. Chongqing is a very big city with 7 million in the city proper and 31 million altogether if you count the immediate surrounding area. That is a lot of people! There are lots of very dense hoods – very tall apartment buildings very close and then open space interspersed with shopping areas. We’ll get the city tour on Tuesday with other site seeing activities planned for Wednesday and Thursday.    Today is the big day…Gotcha Day! 10am Patty and Vince meet with the group coordinator and the other families to fill out some paper work, go to the bank to pay the fees and then leave at 2p for a 2:30 appt at the government building to finally meet Ruby!   For lunch we dash across the street…no actually we go underground in to the pedestrian underpass to the Chinese fast food chain “CKC” – Country Kitchen Cooking. It’s all noodles, all spicy…well, they did have rice plates as well with some pretty delicious looking morsels on them…mmm, twice cooked pork… We decide to have noodles though. I have a bowl of noodles with pork and chilis. It was very tasty though a tad hot.   

    Finally we gather in the lobby to board the bus for the government office to finally meet Ruby. Patty and Vince are excited as are the other eight families in our group. After a 20 minute ride we arrive at a very nondescript building – pretty run down by our standards. The entrance had a few shops along one side, we excitedly walk toward the dark interior where two very small and ancient elevators will take the families up to meet their new daughters and sons.   

    Patty and Vince go up on the first ride while we wait for the next. Unbeknownst to us Patty and Vince got their first glimpse of Ruby crying while being held by the director of the social welfare institute where she has been spending the first 10 months of her life. By the time Mom and I get up to the fourth floor, Ruby is clenched to Patty. Wow, there she was – finally. All cheeks and a head of hair you’d never believe. Patty immediately took on the role of Mom and Vince – there he was beaming. Ruby took glances at both as if she knew these two people were her destined parents. What a journey all three have taken to finally come to meet today. They looked like they belonged to each other.

  • 27Nov

    We finally settle into the hotel around 2pm. We’re all bonkers tired from traveling the past 30 hours but figured we needed to try and stay up so we could adjust to China time which is 16 hours ahead of PST.   The area around the Conifer hotel is definitely not touristy – it’s very much a local ‘hood. Below the hotel is a ’super market’ so we head there to stock up on bottled water. Right away Mom and ‘Sis start shopping for ’stuff’ (which is to be expected as they have both elevated shopping into an Olympic sport.)   The market was unusual to say the least…it was a subterreanean maze of ‘departments’ wholy unrelated to one another, all patch worked into one store. Each aisle it seemed was manned by a very attentive uniformed worker ready to spring to your aid in case you might have a question about the tube of toothpaste you just casually glanced at. The worker would immediately and loudly banter on and on…what I guessed was a sales pitch to the merits of that particular tube – I really didn’t know since I couldn’t understand a word of Mandarin. All I could do was smile shaking my head and back away. After that, I was careful not to touch or look at anything I didn’t have any intent on buying. And if there was something I wanted, I just figured I’d better grab and run. I didn’t get to tour the entire market – probably for the best as I was a bit spacey. I figure I’ll have time tomorrow to really check out the food sections.  

    We head back to the hotel and wander around til dinner. I check out the business center in search of internet connectivity. I luck out and find they have 2 computers complete with IE though in chinese. The connection is pretty slow but not bad for Y20 per hour ($2.50).   We decide to have dinner at the hotel since we had no idea what the ‘hood had to offer. The Chinese restaurant on the 4th floor was closed for a wedding so we head to the ‘Village Coffee Shop’ to check out their buffet dinner for Y68 – with all the warm beer you can drink! The staff descend on us and hover over us like mama birds for the rest of our meal. We were tired and hungry so tried not to let the fact that there was only one other table bother us. The spread was in fact quite impressive – razor clams with garlic noodles, crab coated in some hot looking red stuff, chicken & abalone soup, 2 kinds of prawns, sichuan style fish, chicken and lamb, duck, rabbit, a dozen or more vegetables prepared various ways, lots of fresh fruit, a whole table of desserts and even pizza. Once we filled our plates we finally notice the place is decorated in a quite homey, Amish kind of way complete with pictures of the Pennsylvania countryside. Wow, look at those amber waves…We almost didn’t feel like we were in China.  

    Finally, we all grab our glasses of warm beer and toast to Patty and Vince’s last dinner where they can eat simultaneously. Tomorrow they will be parents to a 10 month old!

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  • 27Nov

    It took us 30 hours but we finally make it to Chongqing. The first leg of the trip we flew to LA where I discovered how easy it is to get back on board a plane after you’ve disembarked. As we walked toward the exit for the terminal I noticed how drafty it was – oh gosh my jacket! Luckily we hadn’t passed through the security check yet. After everyone had offloaded I was easily let back on to the plane with no questions asked! Though thankful…Hello TSA…?  

    Next a 15 hour flight to Guangzhou. Even though we were in business class it was a long uncomfortable flight. Sleeping in a plane is not the easiest thing to do. Walking up and down the aisles doesn’t seem to help pass the time. I must say that the service by the China Southern crew was fab – very professional and attentive. Finally we land in China! We were met by a local guide, Crystal, who navigated us through the Guangzhou airport to catch our next flight to Chongqing. What service! The Guanzhou airport is brand new and spectacular. Bright, airy and clean. I noticed that they are very much into energy conservation here. The escalators sit still until someone steps onto it! We grab a bite at the airport dim sum restaurant then sit around for a few hours taking in the smokey air as we wait for our flight. So many people smoke in China!  

    From Guangzhou we take a short 1 1/2 hour flight to Chongqing. Security in China is much more stringent – the checker didn’t know what the bottle of Aquafina in my bag was so told me to open and take a swig. Glad it was just water! And something I noticed right away – the chinese people waste no time dilly dallying while boarding or unloading a plane. You just have this mass of people push on and push off. The seats were cramped though as they must have confirgured the plane for maximum seating capacity. The plane was a modern jet, a Boeing xyz – unlike my first trip 20 years ago when inter China travel meant boarding a Russian made prop plane – can we say Indiana Jones? We were served a quick lunch of fried rice and assorted pickles. After the meal I closed my eyes for a moment only to be awoken by Patty exclaiming “Arghhh!” I turn to see a cockaroach running down the wall. We both look at each other and put ours bags that we had on the floor onto our laps. No more snoozing for me. Besides our six legged seat mate – not bad for our first inter China flight.

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  • 25Nov

    Today it is off to China with my sister Patty, her husband Vince and my Mom. My mom and I are tagging along to witness the culmination of a year+ long process Patty and Vince has undergone to adopt a a little girl. And what a process – piles of paperwork, legalese, home studies, background checks, medical exams, trips to the notary, translations of all of this into chinese not to mention the waiting and anticipation.  

    Getting to the airport was no small feat. The day after Thanksgiving meant everyone decided to drive on the freeway. Simultaneously Patty and Vince on 101 North and I on the Bay Bridge were stuck in traffic! We all start off the trip on a major adrenaline rush. The gods were kind though and we make it to the airport with plenty of time. So we start our “Amazing Race” to get to Chongqing China.

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  • 14Nov

    Life is even more hectic than usual. School started up again in September – so far we have had an in depth look at the liver and detoxification. Wow, all I can say for now is take care of that liver of yours – without that wonderous organ you would not be reading this entry!
    Then we took an intimate look at digestive health from the ins to the outs. Be forewarned that at cocktail parties I may get you talking about your movements…and we’re not talking break dancing here!
    Now we are onto the endocrine system. Fascinating how many hormones we have and the systems that our body has to regulate them all. Our sleep depends on them, our hunger, our moods, our growth, our drive…Whew! so much to learn…
    On top of that I’ll be tagging along on a wonderous adventure as my sister and brother-in-law travel to China to adopt their daughter
    Ruby.  Sis is very excited and so are we as we welcome niece #2.
    Sis is really interested in holistic nutrition for herself and for Ruby. She asked me to guide her in choosing the best foods for Ruby. So for my Nutrition Educator program final project I developed a talk on “Building Healthy Kids.” As a result I put together a booklet that gives nutrition and lifestyle tips for new parents. I’ll be bringing along copies to give to the other parents in Sis’s adoption group. The booklet was great fun putting together and I hope to spend more time expanding it in the future.
    So off I go – maybe I’ll even post from China.

  • 03Nov

    someone well…  

    cute, sweet, lovable, fun loving, warm, silly, able to snuggle at a moment’s notice…  

    then you find out…find out about the dark side…terrible things…  

    you will never look at them the same again.  

    G, sweet G is really a cold blooded killer…a predator, ready to take advantage of the weak. We never knew.  

    I was in the office today and suddenly heard P cry out. Ewww. I ran into the hallway and found P holding Mochi back and gesturing towards little G. I looked down and she was crouched over something. Suddenly she looked up and I saw a bird clamped between her jaws. Screaming ensued, chasing, flapping, scambling, more chasing…finally I was able to grab Goldie, prey in jaws, and tossed her outside. Goldie ran with her prize under the deck – out of reach. I grabbed the garden hose, she shot out from under the deck…alas I was too late to save the bird…  

    such is life…nature.