King Family Travel Log
Friday, October 1st PM to Saturday, October 2nd
Train ride into Fenyi - train ride from hell! Overbooked, crowded, floor
buckling with old linoleum, passengers standing in the aisles � of course
standing over the 'laowei' in case we do something interesting. Thank God,
Angie has found us soft sleeper tickets and we 'buy up'. The
kids share a bunk and we all manage to catch some sleep the rest of the train
We arrive in XeLing (or something like that) at 5:30 AM to be met
by a car from the orphanage. We drive for the
next 40+ minutes or so, farther and farther into the countryside. It is
beautiful - full of rolling hills, trees and fields of crops everywhere. We
arrive at the Fenyi Hotel in Fenyi. We are taken
to our room, which is in fact a three room suite - a large bedroom with two
beds, a living room complete with dining table and chairs, leather couch and
chairs and a huge bathroom with a Jacuzzi garden tub. The doors in the living
room open to the rooftop and there is an area for the children to play. The
room also has a shelf running around the ceiling, with pink neon lights hidden
We nap and bath, then the orphanage staff picks us up at 1:00
for a huge lunch across from the hotel, since there is a wedding at our hotel
restaurant. All the while we are lunching, pick-up trucks drive by with bands
playing in the bank to announce a wedding, followed by the bride's car covered
in flowers. So many weddings - we see and hear at least a dozen.
At lunch we give out the gifts we have brought, Texas and US
bracelets for Ms. Xu and Texas tie tacks for the men. Each man takes his turn
to have me explain what is on his tack - jalapeno peppers, bluebonnets,
armadillos, etc. We also look at the photo pages from the Fenyi Families e-mail
group and the staff is delighted with them.
We then go to the orphanage! We drive in to be greeted by
several children - some with disabilities, some without, and they aren't afraid
of us at all. Several children with cerebral palsy, a boy with Down syndrome
and a lovely little girl with a large tumor of some sort on her nose. They are
curious and happy to show us around. The director shows us around the
children's building, there is also a building for the old people. She shows us
the room where Becca used to live, but the babies are upstairs now. The place
is grubby but has big faded murals painted on the walls. There is lots of
light. The babies are all together in walkers and are picked up immediately by
their nannies when they start to cry. There is obviously lots of love and care
We also ask to meet Xiao Ying and discover she has been walking
around with us the whole time. Ms. Xu asks about her mother - she didn't know
the INS keeps giving the family delays. She has
happy to know that is the problem and her family is still coming. We get a
measuring tape and find she is now 86 cm tall and weighs 13 kg. Xiao Ying is so
beautiful and healthy. She is also very shy and
reluctant to talk to me. We find out she has a special person in her life -
Gong Yue Xiang - an older girl who lives there and has taken it upon herself to
take care of some of the younger ones. I must remember to talk to Kate about
Yue Xiang - Xiao Ying will probably want to keep in contact with her.
We are taken to a large conference room with a huge, gorgeous
table in it. The director shows us she has saved all the photos of Becca we have
sent over the years and tells us, through Angie, that they have been receiving
the packages we have been sending. She also shows us Becca's file and in it is
a NOTE FROM HER BIRTH MOTHER! We never knew there was one. It is a small red
rectangle of paper that says Becca was born on April 27th in the afternoon and
they wish her a good life. We take photos of the note since the director says
it has to stay in her file. We spend a very comfortable couple of hours with
the staff � eating oranges, apples and a large softball sized green citrus fruit
and talking about Becca's life in the US and in the orphanage. Becca eats 5 of
the small oranges - I promise the director we do actually feed her and there are
smiles all around.
We learn over 100 babies have been adopted from Fenyi! We also
talk about their needs - such as more walkers, stationary, etc., but Ms. Xu says
the packages we have been sending are good. Ms. Xu gives us special Fenyi green
tea and an elaborate box of moon cakes. One older girl also gives Josh and
Becca 2 small decorations each - they tell us she did this on her own. We drink
green tea and are very comfortable in this intimate setting. We ask each other
more personal questions, and then reluctantly agree we need to go find some
supper for Josh and Becca. We make tentative plans for the morning - some
sightseeing around Fenyi, and then say goodnight.
We go to Bideboa - the only western food in Fenyi. It has
hamburgers and chicken burgers, but it is all so spicy - Fenyi food is so spicy
overall that we mostly each French fries and drink soda. We finish our meal and head back to the hotel for an early night, each
ready to process their emotions from the day.
Sunday, October 3rd.
Jeff and I wake up before the kids and talk. We think about the requested
walkers and decide it would be cheaper to buy some here in Fenyi than to buy
them in the US and pay shipping fees. We also decide, since we were quite
frugal in Hong Kong that we have enough money to do this. So, we decide to
spend 500 RMB on walkers to surprise Ms. Xu. I also sneak another 500 RMB into
my pocket to see if we can find a medical supplies store to find a proper walker
for the boy who gets around with a stool - it works for him for now but he will
Angie arrives with the orphanage car and we set out. I thought
I remembered a store full of baby beds and walkers between the orphanage and the
Bidebao so the driver patiently retraces our drive from the evening before. We
can't find the shop but we do find a small toy store. Jeff buys two packages of
large plastic animals - he wants to give them to the boy with Down syndrome.
Angie also negotiates with the shop owner but he has only three walkers and
refuses to bargain. Someone must have phoned Ms. Xu because she suddenly appears
and says she knows a better store.
We cruise up a deserted alley of small stores until we come
across a quite large toy store. This is the place. We start looking over the
store and find so much we want to buy. There is no medical supply store in
Fenyi so we decide to spend the whole 1000 RMB here. They have lovely wooden
rocking horses and we must have those. Ms. Xu picks out a large bag of Duplo-style
building blocks, I find puzzles, Jeff finds a basketball backboard, etc. Ms. Xu
also buys two of the little Chinese style drums that beat as you twist the
handle for Josh and Becca. Angie negotiates
prices the whole time with the shop owners. The store fills up with curious
onlookers and they flow out into the street. It is chaos and so much fun!
This is what we get for our 1000 RMB - about $120 USD. Nine
walkers including the best one in the store, a basketball goal, five small but
sturdy basketballs, the bag of Duplo blocks, two wooden rocking horses, five
trace-n-erase books, thee sets of 16 puzzles, a package of 10 rattles, two pull
toys and two baby toys and three large magna-doodle writing toys. The owner has
given us great prices and even threw in the rattles.
We hire a funny little three wheeled taxi - it is 1/2 car and
1/2 motorcycle - to take the things to the SWI. The street is now packed and we
pose for photos with the toy store staff. The owner even asks for permission to
display the photos and we say of course. We all arrive at the SWI and begin
unloading the toys. I think we are supposed to go sightseeing now but we are
having way too much fun. The children appear and we hand out the plastic
animals and they also begin playing ball. The taxi arrives and we unload all
the rest of the things.
All the walkers are in pieces so Jeff decides that is what he
wants to do next even though the shop owner says he will do this. The boy with
Down syndrome starts to help Jeff and he is amazing. Ms. Hu says he is very
good with his hands and is very persistent. Jeff and the boy make quite a team
assembling the walkers together. A lovely girl with cerebral palsy decides she
is in charge of trash and collects all the plastic bags, the papers, etc in one
big bag. I start to play ball with several of the children and so does Becca.
Josh is more withdrawn but helps his dad with a few of the walkers. Becca and
I play ball with the girl with CP, the girl with the tumor on her nose (I wish I
knew their names!) and then Xiao Ying comes over to play too. She is much less
shy today and is very happy as she plays ball with me. Her jiejie, YueXiang
comes over to play too. We play and assemble until everything is done and
everyone's tummy is rumbling. So much for sightseeing but this has been so much
We go out with the staff for another wonderful lunch - they
refuse to let us pay. Josh actually eats some noodles, some rice and some beef
so the staff is pleased. Ms. Xu takes over care of Becca at lunch, peeling
chestnuts, picking choice morsels of fish, and ladling soup for her. Becca responds to her care by laying her head in
Ms. Xu's lap. I am very impressed by Ms. Xu - she knows the children well and
obviously doesn't sit in her office all day. She is very hands-on and the
children are very comfortable with her. I speak to her about the two children I
noticed the first day who I am sure have multiple disabilities and are too big
for walkers. I have seen some bamboo woven strollers, if I purchase them, would
these children be allowed to go outside in them and the answer is of course.
We talk, through Angie, about stimulating their minds as much as
possible. We also learn Becca's primary nanny left shortly after Becca left.
She got married and Ms. Xu says she will try to find her for us. We say
goodbye and head back to the hotel for Becca's nap and some quiet time. Angie
will go see her family and meet us at the hotel around 6:00 pm.
We meet Angie in the lobby of the hotel and walk down the street to see the
strollers. We get them for only 30 RMB each and we take them back to the hotel.
The desk staff will keep them for us until we return and we set off again. We
stop in a music store and Angie buys Jeff a CD of a singer, Dao Lang (sp?), that
Jeff likes very much. I am approached by a giggling young girl who wants to
practice her English and she asks me to sign my name for her! How fun!
We keep walking and shopping, aware that we have a growing
following behind us. The people here are so different from the people in Yiwu
and we are not worried at all. The people are smiling, giving us thumbs up -
not rude and poking fun like they do in Yiwu. I buy myself some much needed
sturdier shoes and a pair of sunglasses. We come across a shooting game and of
course, Josh must play. We are now surrounded by about 100 people who cheer
when Josh pops a balloon with the pellet gun and he is pleased. I feel a tap on
my elbow and hear 'hello' - it is Mr. Liu from the SWI, the man we met 4 years
ago. He has his son with him and we invite them to supper with us. We keep
walking toward the Bideboa and when we get there, the owner has to 'shoo' the
crowd out, not once but several times!
During the meal, the owner gives Josh and Becca a shark game
where you have to push down the teeth until one closes its mouth. People are so
generous! Then we head back to the hotel in the motorcycle taxis. Mr. Liu, his
son and Angie come upstairs to watch the video footage of the toy store fun and
also a tape Jeff brought that shows our home so they can see where Becca lives
now. After the tapes, everyone says goodnight and we have our baths, get ready
for bed, etc.
Monday, October 4th
We are unable to get decent train tickets back to Yiwu � only standing tickets
are available and that is not acceptable for the children to stand for nine
hours. We change plans again as Angie has a friend in Nanchang who managed to
get sleeper seats from Nanchang to Yiwu. We won't need to sleep as it is a day
train but we will have much more room and it will be private.
We drop plans to sightsee again as taking the bamboo strollers
out to the SWI is my priority. We will say our
goodbyes at the SWI, meet Angie's parents and take a bus to Nanchang. We arrive
at the SWI to be greeted by the kids and their basketballs, ready to play. I
take the chairs in to find the two children. Angie tells me she is amazed that
I noticed them and knew their problems, but I guess, after 17 years of Special
Education, you develop an 'eye�. The nannies are happy to help me transfer the
children to the chairs and they are a god fit. They even have a good footrest
that will keep their legs well-supported. I am so excited as we go outside, the
other children are so happy to see the two come outside. They talk to them,
laugh, tickle them and give them toys. The older girl is so excited - she is
looking everywhere and stiffens when we play ball near her. The other child, a
smaller boy, is a bit overwhelmed but he appears interested in the playing too.
Xiao Ying is happy to see us today; she brings me a ball to play with her and
blesses me with many smiles. I keep telling her that mom is coming soon.
As we play ball all together, I am surprised to see Ms. Xu
appear in a straw hat and a metal object in her hand - she is going out to cut
grass by hand with some of the older girls! She is an amazing woman. We have
got to see about getting a better system for them - maybe a small mower or a
weed-eater. We say our goodbyes and I snap what I hope will be a great photo of
Becca leaning out the car window, grasping hands with Xiao Ying, both of them
shouting 'bye' over and over to each other.
I still want to shop a little - to buy something from Fenyi for
both Becca and my mom. Ms. Xu cleans up and takes us out to several shops. I
buy some Fenyi green tea for my mom and then we go to another shop filled with
accessories. I buy some hair things for myself, Angie buys Becca some hairclips
and I get a bracelet with a stone heart on it for Becca when she is older. Becca and I pick out a few things for my mom and
the shopkeeper gives Becca some more hairclips.
We go to the Fenyi primary school, where Angie's parents used to
work and where they still live. It is a
beautiful school with really well-kept grounds and Angie's parents greet us with
fruit and moon cakes. We walk down the road for lunch and then we need to go
pack for a 3:00 PM bus to Nanchang. We come downstairs to check out after we
pack up and find Ms. Xu and Angie's family ready to see us off at the bus.
The bus has been delayed so we sit in the lobby for a little
while. Jeff and I had talked while we were packing about coming back to Fenyi
for a summer sometime in the future to repaint, teach some English, maybe teach
the nannies some therapies for the disabled children, etc. and we mention the
idea to Ms. Xu. She says that would be fine and says we can have a room in the
old people's building. Maybe I can talk my mom into coming. We also talk about
our visa problems and how we don't know how long we will be in the country at
this point but she says we are welcome to bring my mom back over Spring
Festival, if we are still here.
The whole group takes us to the bus and we say tearful goodbyes
to Angie's parents, her sister and Ms. Xu. There are no words to thank her for
the last three days - they have been incredible. We have had so much fun and we
just love Fenyi. Becca is very much at peace with the visit. The bus ride is
fairly uneventful except for the people peering in the windows to check us out
as we are waiting for the bus to leave. The scenery is really nice - China is
really pretty as we pass lots of really big hills covered in green, fields of
rice, and water buffalo grazing in the fields.
We meet Angie's classmate at the bus station and she tries
convincing us to stay in a different hotel but we have already decided on the
Lakeview since this is where we first met Becca. Angie
and her friend say goodnight and leave us at the Lakeview.
We order some dinner (we remember to order our burgers well done
from the last time we were here and they were served so rare - Josh eats two as
he is low on protein from Fenyi!) and I take Becca to the restroom. We are
walking back through the lobby and I am telling her all about it � this used to
be the store, the restaurant was longer, this bar is new but the jade tree and
chandelier were here, etc. The concierge, Arthur, comes over to speak to us and
tells us he has been there five years and I am correct in my memories of the lobby. He asks the name of our guide when we were there and
when I say Sissi, he pulls out his cell phone and asks if I would like to speak
to her! We talk a few minutes and then appears at the hotel about 1/2 an hour
later. How wonderful! We talk for some time and she presents Becca with a
gorgeous porcelain plate for the Jiaxing area. She finally says good night and
offers to be our guide and cook for us if we come back in Spring Festival.
Again, I explain the visa situation and promise to keep her informed.
Tuesday morning, we have the breakfast buffet and head to the
train. We have great seats - thanks to Angie - really we have 4 bunks and 1 is
a lower bunk so we have a place to sit. The kids climb into the second bunk and
get out their magazines and Game Boys. It is a good trip and we arrive in Yiwu
about 6:15 or so. Angie comes back to our apartment for some supper as her
train to Shanghai leaves at midnight. The trip is over and there is so much to
think about, so many details and memories to store. I am so happy and relieved
that the trip was so good; the orphanage was as we suspected - a good place for
the children and that Becca loved her hometown. Angie is a true blessing from
God � her efforts made the trip go so smoothly and we are so blessed to know
her. I know these days will live in all of our hearts forever.
2005-12 - A Fenyi Mom, Carla
Sanford-Elliot has passed away recently and we have planned a memorial in her
honor in Fenyi. We are building a
family/educational room in the SWI to be called
Carla's Room. Anyone wishing to contribute to
the fund can contact me for bank info.
The trip is planned for July 2006.
We'd love to hear from any families that have children that are from
Fenyi and would welcome any information anyone might have about the city or orphanage.
Please e-mail me at
if you have any additional information or if your child is from here and you would like to
post a picture here or other contact information.