Maria Holland

Hey, I’m In . . . Guangzhou!

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2010 at 12:44 am

The trip from Xiamen to Guangzhou was so smooth, you’d almost think I’ve done it before.  Oh wait . . . I have.  But still, if I may say so myself, I managed the flight, bus, and two taxis like a pro, door-to-door in under 5 hours for $100. 

My friends are staying in a nice hotel and graciously booked me a room there as well.  From the second the doorman (!) opened the door for me while a bellhop (!) grabbed my bag, I knew I was stepping out of the taxi and into the lap of luxury.  I don’t stay in places like this when I travel; most of the places I’ve stayed at in China don’t even come with towels . .. so yes, the cushy bed and shower door (!) are a very pleasant surprise.

After dropping off my things, I went upstairs to see my friends.  I was greeted by a hug, a Southern drawl, and a familiar face – all things hard to come by in this part of the world.  We had lunch together in the hotel – the parents, Pat and Eva, their younger son Carson (a tree!) and their new Chinese son Shan – and had a chance to catch up a little bit.

Shan just celebrated his 14th birthday a few days ago; the adoption process was relatively last-minute as these things go because children cannot be adopted after they turn 14.  His parents died when he was 10 and 11 and he’d been living in an orphanage in northeastern China since then.  He’s rather quiet but talked to me a little bit in Chinese after a few hours – we totally bonded over our identical electronic dictionaries.  Carson started self-studying Mandarin when they decided to adopt a few months ago and, while he’s done really well considering the time and lack of Chinese environment, I think he communicates with Shan even better than me.  A lot of the time it’s not even verbal – there’s just something about the physical relationship between two brothers.  They exchange smiles, poke and tickle each other, and play little games all the time. 

The family is in Guangzhou finishing up the paperwork before taking Shan home to America.  It’s a task I certainly don’t envy them – I had developed an intense loathing for Chinese red tape even before I saw their piles of papers and heard their stories.  But they got their daily task done in the early afternoon and we went out to explore town a little bit.

Last time I was in Guangzhou, a friend of mine acted as our tour guide; today, that lot fell to me.  We checked out the Chinese medicine market (row after row, floor after floor, building after building, of ginseng and sliced antler), some street food (none of which I could get Carson to try), and a large pedestrian mall. 

We found a Papa John’s and, after they saw my reaction to it, decided to eat there . . . but it was closed!  We ate at a sort-of Chinese restaurant instead.  (I say sort-of because we were issued silverware instead of chopsticks.  Today may have been the first day I’ve gone without using chopsticks since coming to China!)  Most of the food was good but the Caesar salad had cornflakes on top and Carson’s drink bore a downright eerie resemblance to the murky water of the Pearl River. 

IMG_2465

I really failed on the picture front today; I took exactly one photo (pictured above).  I am heartily (or hardly?) sorry and promise to do better tomorrow. 

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  1. Okay – you get one more chance on the picture front, and then you’re fired…

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