Monday, September 10, 2012


Thank you all sooo much for your prayers in our adoption journey! We arrived home late Thursday night and are still feeling the ill-effects of jet lag (it's bad enough as a grown-up, you can imagine how a 10-year-old and two-year-old are handling it). I'll be catching you up on our China trip in several installments. My husband, Scott, will be blogging along with me to recap the trip as well as offer a guy's/husband's perspective. He starts off today.

This was a trip of many firsts. The obvious being our first international adoption. This was also my and our daughter Rylee's first trip out of the country and her first plane ride. Speaking of which, I have some observations on making it through 14 hours in a metal tube at 31,000 feet, but that may come later.

The adoption part of our China trip would start in Nanchang, a city of five million. Before that, however, we spent a couple of days in Shanghai to acclimate – at least a little – to the new time zone before meeting Charlotte.
The Astor House Hotel

Here's where I show my cultural ignorance. Before actually staying there my most memorable association with Shanghai was the opening scene to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, where Indy escapes being poisoned while recovering a precious jewel and we're introduced to his sidekick, Short Round. Yeah, sad.

Going by nothing more than online recommendations, we stayed at The Astor House Hotel very near The Bund. For under $90 a night we stayed in the first Western-style hotel in China that represented the country's opening up. Charlie Chaplain, Einstein, and Ulysses. S. Grant were guests. No health club or pool, but I'll give those up to be basically on China's front doorstep with the world.

I try to not be the obvious tourist, but that was impossible. Each hotel we stayed in had a buffet, so I didn't do myself any favors by relishing the role of large, gregarious American eating everything. Also, when you have a goateed man a head taller than anyone else, a redhead, and a blonde daughter (more on that later), you stick out. Accept it.

People. Lots and lots of people.

There were two things we anticipated but were still amazed by: traffic and crowds. Sure, those would be expected in the largest city in the world (23 million), but it was way more than anything we experienced. To be succinct, we also realized quickly the popularity of smoking among the Chinese, the fact that crosswalk signals are regarded as suggestions, and that KFC is a really, really big deal.

The skyline across the Huangpu River
People will also hand you paper fliers and cards. I learned should you, perhaps out of courtesy, take a card from someone who keeps intermingling the words "tour guide" with whatever he's saying you have accepted his offer to follow you along the street and explain which stores are what. This will continue even if you duck into other stores as he will wait for you outside. The transaction is apparently dissolved once you hand back the card (in my case, just a few minutes), mutter "bye", and quickly walk in the opposite direction.

We learned about the fascination of little girls with blond hair. No matter where we went, Rylee drew attention. Little boys – sometimes at their request, sometimes at the urging of their parents, sometimes both – wanted to have their picture taken with her.
Walking down Nanjing Road, a highly-popular tourist spot. 
Didn't realize we'd brought a celebrity with us.

We'd questioned whether or not to add the Shanghai section of the trip, but that ended up being the correct move. It took 38 years before I (Scott) traveled to this great land (Amy has actually been to China before on some kind of "ambassador" program in high school), so there's a fairly good chance there wouldn't be another. And more practically, we needed a couple of days to acclimate before meeting our little girl.

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