Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Saturday the 4th - Not a very fun day

Saturday we awoke in our apartment from hell (what I wouldn't give to be back at our Kunming hotel!) and found that Daisy had gotten hives in the night (french fry cooked in peanut oil?) and scratched her arm till it bled.  She is an itchy little thing and I wonder what scabies looks like?  I am trying to google it but with no luck on this slow connection.  If it doesn't get better I will have to put the toxic scabies cream on her.

I really didn't sleep because it was hot and my arms kept going numb from the hard bed.  That and Daisy waking up a lot.

We had to be on the island at 9:00 to meet Eva for some paperwork and a medical exam to get Daisy her visa to come to America.  We left Sharon and Zack at the apartment and told them they would have to find their own breakfast, which they found at a quickie mart down the street.  Yum.

Our taxi ride took about 20 minutes to the island (with me crying most of the way) and we met another family who Eva is also guiding for.  They are with our same agency and live in Eagle Mountain.  The wife happens to teach at Waterford School so we know some of the same people.  They also have an 8 year old boy who they brought to China and are adopting a 4.5 year old boy.  The bunch of us set off for the medical exam which was very simple and non-invasive and we were done pretty quick.  Daisy did make quite a fuss though, she didn't like being examined. (By the way she is the cutest baby we have seen!)

The island is like heaven on earth.  Trees everywhere, clean and pretty with nice colonial buildings and nice hotels and restaurants and shops.  Why oh why did we not stay here!?

After, Eva told us she was taking us to the pearl market.  We were hesitant to go because we had left Sharon and Zack and we were thinking about getting a different hotel and needed to get everything squared away.  She seemed disappointed, but took off with our new friends.  (We later found out that she gets a cut of all sales so that would be why she wanted us to come so bad.)

We went back to the apartments and I lost my mind for a while.  Steve took Sharon, Zack and Daisy out to find lunch and the store we never found while I had a nap and a good cry.  As I was sleeping I heard a knock, which I ignored.   Then I heard some people enter the apartment and go in the bathroom.  They started clanking around with something (the toilet?) and they were clearly smoking.  After a long while they left.  Weird.

We decided that even though this place would not give us our money back (we prepaid, duh!) we were going to find a new place.  It wasn't worth me loosing my mind.  (I admit I am such a wimp!  And a princess.)  We took a taxi to the island and found a great hotel with soft beds (we made them take us to a room to check before we committed).  Unfortunately they couldn't get us a room until the next day.  We ate at a Thai place next door and then went back to the ick for one more night.  Zack and Steve went to the swimming pool and had a good time.  Poor Zack, he is so sad when I cry and I haven't been able to stop today!  He needed to have some fun.

SQID! Strange for a picky eater like him to like seafood so much!  

At The Bridge and Cow restaurant on Shamien Island.

The other thing I have not mentioned that was adding stress was the fact that Daisy was not a big fan of me. I was prepared to have her reject one of us (this is quite common) for a while but it turned out to be harder on me than I thought it would be.  She was all smiles and giggles for everyone else but she barely tolerated me and often tried to hit, pinch and scratch me.  Steve was the only one who could comfort her and I usually did things that made her mad (wipe nose, change diaper, etc.).  It was very frustrating and just added to my already stressed state, even though I knew she would come around and she probably just didn't trust female caregivers.  Why would she?  They have all left her.

At least the pool was nice! And Steve and Zack made some friends.

During the night while I was asleep the broken A/C unit (which we were running because it was better than nothing at all) started dripping on my head.  A lot.  I put a towel down, and switched my head to the bottom of the bed.  Good night!

Help, my mom is loosing her mind!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Friday the 3rd

Today is our last day in Kunming.  Paul called this morning to tell us that they couldn't get the passport to us unless we gave the official 100 yuan ($16 usd).  Of coarse we were more than happy to pay and he delivered the passport right before we got on the plane.

That morning Paul came to give us some paperwork in the lobby of our hotel and I was following Daisy around as Steve talked with Paul.  At one point I said something to Daisy and Paul looks at me and says: "She can't understand you."  Hmmm, really?  Ya think?  She's a smarty though.  In the lobby they have fish and I kept telling her "fish" and pointing.  Finally she started saying "shh" when she saw them.

We spent about 3 hours packing up all our crap.  Then it was off to the airport where we had lunch in a restaurant while we were waiting for our flight.  We ordered something with green beans and the green veggie that came was most def NOT a green bean, but it was tasty so we ate it.  Translational issue I guess.  Thanks to Paul we can now order COLD drinks.  We say coca cola BEEN.  They usually figure out what we mean after we yell it a few times.

We gave Paul 100 yuan per day for a tip and off we went for Daisy's first airplane ride.  She enjoyed eating the emergency evacuation cards and ripping up magazines.  It was about a 2 hour flight and fairly painless.

Daisy's first airplane.

Daisy loves Daddy and Zacky!

This is how Daisy felt about the trip!

Daisy is entertained for hours by putting hats on and off a head.

We arrived in Guangzhou at 7:00 pm and walked off the plane into a literal sauna.  We thought Kunming was humid?  Ha!  We are talking 95 degrees and 100% humidity at 7 PM.  No desert style night time cooling off here.  Our guide was called Eva and she was adorable.  Luckily our van had good A/C.  I almost cried when Eve handed me a written schedule for the week, Paul could learn a lot from this Eva.
Before the trip we thought we had wanted to experience the REAL China so we declined staying on Shamien Island where most of the other adoptive families stay because it is more catered to Americans.  Also, we didn't want to have to get 2 hotel rooms so we booked this apartment hotel that had 3 bedrooms, a kitchenette, living room, 2 bathrooms and the coup de gras:  a clothes washer!  Upon our arrival in the apartment, I noticed it was a bit shabby.  Upon further inspection, we noticed: dead bugs and other debris along the edge of the floors, filthy dirty floors that leave babies feet black, rock hard beds the equivalent of box spring mattresses (it literally sounds like you are knocking on wood when you rap your knuckles on it), broken A/C in Steve and my room, a tiny clothes washer with Chinese buttons (no English), no where to hang the washed clothes, no soap or slippers (we had to buy for $5 usd), a refrigerator that keeps tipping like it's going to fall over, a really old, stained, disgusting hot pot that looks like it's a fire hazard (a hot pot is a water pitcher that boils water because you can't even wash dishes or brush your teeth unless it is boiled first), a really bad raw sewage smell coming from the toilet and wafting into the living room, crumbs all over the dining table, no one that speaks English in the place and no breakfast buffet!  I could just FEEL the bed bugs looking at me from the corners of the room!  I was sickened. (Did I mention I have issues with germs?)

The Kitchen.  Dead bugs everywhere.  Beyond the green glass was a small out-door balcony on which rested the washing machine.

The washing machine.  Good thing Steve can read the characters so he knew which button to push.  This machine was the only saving grace of the hotel room.

The living room.  It may look OK, but it was really filthy and run down.  The fridge would try to tip over when you opened it.

The dining area and the stinky bathroom.  Note the cushion on the chair is faded and yellow.

Grandma's bedroom.  Again, it looks OK but those beds are hard as rocks!

We immediately went down to the desk and made a list of everything that needed to be fixed.  More like we pantomimed our list.  Finally, a house keeper came with a dirty, wet sponge mop and swiped at the floor a couple of times in the hallway.  Then he suddenly disappeared.  I took Daisy down to the desk and shoved her black feet in the guys face.  He got the message.  Later a maid came and mopped everything while my mom supervised, after making her go back for some soap.  I kid you not.

The view from our balcony at night.

The day-time view.

It was late by now but we went in search of a store, got lost and ended up at McDonald's.  I gave Daisy a couple of french fries to get her to stop screaming.  Then we went back to the 8th floor of hell and went to bed.

Thursday the 2nd

Today our guide picked us up and we took a short taxi ride to Daisy's orphanage.  On the day she was brought to us we had a bunch of questions written down to ask them about her and especially her schedule and eating habits.  Our guide wanted us to wait and ask when we toured the orphanage.  This was frustrating to me because it meant for the next 3 days we had to guess at what she liked to eat, when she liked to eat and how she slept, etc.  I also was dying to know if she was in foster care before or if she had been in the orphanage for her whole 14 months of life.

The entrance to the Kunming Children's Welfare Institute

I had seen pictures of the orphanage before so I wasn't surprised.  It looked really cheerful and well kept.  There are several buildings, the main one being white with bright colors and a turret.  There was also a medical building and 2 other buildings.

This is where the library and physical therapy rooms were. 

We were taken to a room and offered water and candy.  They gave us a book about the orphanage and then took us on a short tour of the facilities.  Everything was SO clean and modern which was a surprise because not much in China is considered clean.  We saw some kids getting physical therapy, some babies getting developmental play time, a nice library, and a TV room.  They showed us the newborn baby room and there were lots of cute babies sleeping in their cribs.  The older baby room was empty because they were all off getting breakfast.  The lady touring us around asked if we would like Daisy to have breakfast with the other kids and I declined because I was afraid they would take her from us and have her eat while we finished the tour.  I didn't think that would be so good.  But it would have been interesting to see how they feed all those babies and what they were feeding them.  Most of the older kids were at school (we were told they go to a local school in the area) so the place was very quiet.  It really seemed like they did a good job of caring for the kids and it is probably considered a really nice orphanage.  I don't have anything to compare it to, however my mom has been to orphanages in Armenia and she was shocked at how great this one was because she was expecting something more like Armenia.  This one was top notch in her opinion.

The library, with lots of books for the older kids.

Unfortunately, the lady touring us around wasn't the usual person who knows the babies really well.  She didn't know much about Daisy and I didn't get any real answers to my questions.  Basically they said she went to foster care when she was about 5 months old and then she was brought back to the orphanage 1 week before we arrived to get her.  Its really so sad!  I can only imagine how confused she must be, wondering when she will stop getting new caregivers.  I am sure she doesn't imagine that we are the final stop in her life.  I hope she will quickly learn to trust us.

The main building where the children sleep and eat.

 The inside of the main building.  It seemed very new and was very quiet at that time of day.  

They also gave us a little piece of paper with her schedule on it for feeding and sleeping.  But, it was the orphanage schedule and she had only been on it for 1 week.  I wished we could have gotten the foster families schedule.  The only thing they would tell us about the foster family was that there were other foster kids and the couples biological child also living in the home.

This was a cool metal sculpture mural on the outside of the colorful building.

In Kunming, they have what is called the foster village 1 hour away from the orphanage.  That is where they foster all the kids.  I imagine it's like a big compound with apartments for every family.  I also think it is their main job, to be foster care givers.  There are 500-600 kids at the foster care village and about 100-200 kids in the orphanage.  I was surprised at how many there are!  Daisy's hands and face are quite tan so I figure they spent a lot of time outside.

The person giving us the tour (translated by our guide) thanked us for giving Daisy a home and we thanked her for taking such good care of her.  Then a film crew asked us if he could film us and he did for a minute but we didn't talk, just stood there staring into the camera.  It was kind of weird.  I guess somewhere, someday we'll be on Chinese TV!

The medical building behind us.  We were not invited to go inside.

That was it.  We were told it would be $250 for the tour but we were not charged in China and have not seen a bill yet, but it could still be coming.  We were also only allowed to take pictures of the outside and one of the inside lobby.  NO children could be photographed.

We left the orphanage and Paul said he would take us to Green Lake Park, which I had wanted to see.  We went and walked around, there were a bunch of ponds with lilly pads, bridges, gazebo's (with people doing Karaoke), shops and a kiddie amusement park.  There were also people dancing and doing Tai Chi and performing music.  We loved watching the Tai

One of the many lakes/ponds in the park.

Badminton anyone?  With a bike for a net?  Note the tai chi dancers in the background.

If you would like a nicely drawn caricature of Bin Laden or Obama, this is the place to get one!

Lilly pad heaven.

A lone dancer practicing her moves.

Steve carried Daisy around like that all day.  He didn't let that stop him from filming.

Zack was determined to sink the lilly pads with these rocks.  An impossible task, he found.

There was a building in the middle of the park with big windows we could see inside to the people who were all at tables playing majong or studying or just chillin'.

Two ladies practicing their dance moves together.

One entrance to the park.

Cutest baby at the park that day!

A group of people doing Tai Chi. (Behind the people watching.)

When we got to the park, Zack spotted some hamster balls on the lake.  We told him he could do them so after we had walked around a while and Paul had left us, we went to inquire on the price.  Well, Steve asked and they told us about $5 usd.  I went up to pay because I was going to get in it with Zack.  They told me a huge price like $30-40 usd.  We decided to leave and go check out the hamster balls on the other side of the park.  This time they told us $5 usd.  Zack and I got loaded in and started running.  And we went nowhere!  Have you ever done this?  It is freaking hard work!  Zack was laughing so hard and having the best time.  I would run really fast and he would just get tossed around like salad in a spinner!

"I NEED to get into those hamster spinners!"

At one point I looked over to see if Steve was filming and I realized we were once again quite the spectacle.  A huge crowd had formed to see the large American woman and white haired child spinning in the hamster balls.  This is not the most graceful I have ever been and they were quite amused.  After I was sufficiently tired, I got out and Zack continued for 10 more minutes.  After, he thanked us profusely and said that was the most fun he had ever had.  Pretty boring vacation if the hamster ball is the highlight!  Ha!

Ready to start!

Round and round we go!

People gather to watch the spectacle.

We had to work together or Zack would get tossed! 

We didn't get too much further than this!

Taking a break!  This is hard work!

Mom's ready to come in!  Zack's ready for more.  He really got that thing going when he was alone!

During our time at the park we went from sunny and roasting hot to poring rain, to sunny and hot and more rain, then sun again.  We kept getting out the umbrellas and putting them away.  The rain did little to alleviate the heat and just made it feel more like a sauna.

Before Paul left us, he took us to a restaurant just outside the park that he said had good noodle soup.  He ordered for us and then left.  He had lots of paperwork to do you know so we could only ever have his company for half a day. The soup came boiling hot and then a plate with noodles and meat parts that you were supposed to dump in the boiling broth to cook.  One bowl we weren't quite quick enough and the meat didn't end up getting all the way cooked.  Luckily no one got sick.  I took all the meat out, it was unidentifiable meat parts so I passed.

Sluuuurrrp!  Those are huge bowls of soup!

Of coarse right when the food came we smelled the baby.  She can load a diaper like no body's business.  I was a little freaked because I had no idea where I was going to change her.  I'm not sure but I think even in China it is considered bad form to change a diaper next to where people are eating.  My mom volunteered to help me, thank goodness, so we set off with a screaming baby and our diapering kit.  As I walked through the restaurant the workers would see me coming and point me in a direction.  I just kept going and after 3 minutes of walking through a maze of different dining establishments, I was directed to a bathroom.

A tiny bathroom with a sink and two stalls.  No where was there a changing table or counter top.  There was however a deep window sill.  So of coarse our only option was to lay our screaming Daisy's head out the 2 story window, onto some pipes, with my mom supporting and handing me wipes.  All the while Daisy was pitching a major fit and was in danger of flinging her whole body out the window!  It wasn't too bad, but most def a 2 person job!  My mom took Daisy and I proceeded to use the squatter as gracefully as I could.  Just so you know, I thoroughly scrub my feet every night in the shower!

The squatter, in case you've never seen one.  I could never figure out if  I was supposed to face the tank or the stall door.  ?

I may have mentioned before that there are always people emptying the garbage's with tongs.  Here is an example.

That night, we set out to find a good restaurant.  We stumbled upon a Tempanyaki place (you know where they cook the food in front of you?  Except there were no theatrics or onion volcano's).  It was probably some of the best food we had the entire trip.  We ordered so much food!  You should have seen the employees faces, like they had just hit the jackpot!  Steve got sauteed duck tongue.  Sharon and I politely declined a taste.  Did I mention this baby loves to eat?  She ate and ate too.  We were happy to have found it and wished we could have found it earlier in the trip.

Out looking for a restaurant, we came across this bull and Zack took a ride.

The Tempanyaki restaurant.  If we ever go back to Kunming we will need to remember this place!

We sat at the counter so we could watch them cook our food.  Only some of it was cooked here.  Some came straight out of the kitchen.

Steve ordered Duck Tongue.

Steve ENJOYED his duck tongue.

No thanks, you can have all the duck tongue Steve.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and Daisy is a happy baby!