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Friday, May 18, 2007

China Experience - Changsha, Hunan

On 4/5/07:

It is about 3 in the afternoon here and you all are tucked snugly in bed. This morning Kim and Phoebe stayed "home" instead of doing the sightseeing. Phoebe has been a little fussy and had a hard time sleeping the past day. So, Kim decided they both could use a little downtime. (Turns out that she has an ear infection- more on that later)

The group went to a lovely river-side park for a stroll. The park was built 2 years ago. The landscaping looks much more mature than that, though. We saw many, many grandparents out with their grandkids (preschool age) and lots of kites flying. There were a couple of men practicing their katas (karate "routines"), too! An interesting cultural note - pre-potty trained babies/kids wear split crotch pants and NO diapers. You often catch a glimpse of a cute little bum here and there. Hahaha! This particularly cracks me up because they bundle the heck out of their kids (three layers are mandatory regardless of the weather!) and then let their little bums catch the breeze!

After the park the bus driver took us for a quick drive out to the countryside. Every inch of green in the country is cultivated for agriculture. The only things not cultivated are the roads and homes. :) We saw rice paddies, fish "ponds" (small lakes), and water buffalo pulling plows. The bus pulled off the highway so we could get some photos.

Peter, our guide, wandered down to a group of farm houses where the owners were beginning to congregate to watch us. He spoke with an owner of a particularly large home and asked if we could come in (or was invited). They were very gracious to invite us in to see how they live. Their home was very simple, but quite modern inside. We didn't actually go in, but peeked in the front door from the courtyard. I felt a little conspicuous and didn't take any photos of the interior. I'm sure they wouldn't mind, but it just seemed too intrusive.

Before we left the owner pulled out a pack of cigarettes and began passing them out to us. Peter explained that this is customary. These are a very expensive item and they share them to be hospitable. He said, "Even if you don't smoke, it is best to take one." So, I did (we all did). Tell Uncle Josh I've got a Chinese cigarette for him!

Before we left, I asked Peter if he'd ask them if I could take a photo with them. They very graciously obliged and Peter took the photo of the two ladies and I. Again, they really enjoyed that I could show them the photo on the digital back.

Then we drove back to the city and had lunch. Kim and I might go out to explore a bit...we'll see how Phoebe feels.

Ok - about the ear infection. Three of the babies were roommates - Phoebe and two others. The two others have ear infections and now Phoebe does, too. We are SO BLESSED to have a doctor with us - Dr. Ivory! His family is adopting (they live in Colorado) and they are traveling with us. They have three kids (11, 9, 6 - girl, boy, boy) and their eldest daughter is with them. Matt has been so wonderful! He's given all the kids a good physical and dispensed some medication that he brought.

The government gives them physicals before we leave, but they are very cursory. The medical information they send home with the babies is really not very good either. So, it is very reassuring to have a doctor in our travel group.

Just FYI - very interesting, Kim and I thought there would be many first time parents, but most of our group already have kids. Some are adopting for the second time and some have 2 or more children. Two of the families have grown children and are adopting now that their children are grown!

Ok - gotta run. We are trying to get out into the city before it gets too cool!