Kemp Family China Trip
In June of 2009, we traveled back to China with our three children for a 3 week vacation and a visit to my daughter's orphanage in Guixi. Our first 2 weeks were spent in Beijing, Weifang (Kite Capital), Qingdao (on the coast of the Yellow Sea), Hangzhou (my favorite city....highly recommend), Huangshan and 1 night atop Mt. Huangshan. Our Guixi trip was at the end and we left from Huangshan which was a 5 hour drive.
It was a 4 lane highway all the way but we stopped off for gas at one point and for some reason, the driver stayed on the 2 lane road that was much slower due to little villages, bicycles, people, etc. but also more scenic. We stopped in Jingdezhen for lunch at the most amazing restaurant on the side of the road in the middle of what seemed like nowhere. We picked out our food not from a menu with photos but from bins of fresh veges, meat, animals, tofu, etc. Beside the bins was the cutest toddler playing in a big bucket of snakes...picking them up and then looking for them when they slipped through her fingers! We had a very different food (local to this area) while here that we hadn't had anywhere in our previous 2 weeks in China. It was sticky rice formed into a ball and covered in sugar and black sesame seeds. Delicious!
We arrived Guixi in desperate need of exchanging money, only to find out that none of the banks (we went to 4) could do it! We had Amex Travelers Checks and apparently no bank could exchange these so be prepared when you go!
We got a good look at downtown as we were looking for banks. My family agreed that we saw more children and babies here than any other cities combined in our previous 2 weeks of traveling. It was amazing to "people watch" on the street and see so many toddlers, school age children and babies! There were many nice shops that lined the busy streets. Shops for handbags, lingerie, sunglasses, shoes, clothes, hair accessories and more. Our hotel was the best available in Guixi and was a 3 star hotel called the Huang Ting. It was ok but did lack many things that we had in our previous hotels. Because there are 5 in our family, we had 2 rooms; however, they didn't have rollaway beds so my daughters had to share a twin. Breakfast was included but very sparse...no coffee or tea but warm milk. We were all a little nervous about the upcoming orphanage visit and meeting the foster family so no one minded the small meal.
The Director met us at the hotel and escorted us to the Guixi SWI. Before we left, he advised we wouldn't be able to see the babies because of the swine flu scare that all of China was being so cautious about. I was disappointed but knew that was not the sole purpose of the trip. When we arrived at the little country road of the SWI, some children chased our van all the way up the street to the SWI where there were firecrackers going off and a huge banner welcoming all 3 girls (there were 2 other families visiting at the same time as we were). We immediately recognized my daughter's foster mom (we had photos of her) and she came right up to Ava and stroked her face and held her hand. She shook my hand and then looked up at me with a tear in her eye. We were escorted to the meeting room where they had tons of fruit (bananas, lychee and watermelon) and hot tea. They took our photo with the donation we had given them (baby walkers, bottles, formula, etc.) that had arrived before us (arranged through OCDF), The Director gave Ava a Buddha necklace. We then visited the baby room and because we were told we couldn't go, I was very careful not to push it and just inched my way closer and closer taking photos. Finally one of the nannies motioned for me to come closer but we didn't get to hold any. The baby rooms were so sparse...no toys, white walls. There were big windows and it was clean. All the babies except the infants were in walkers. There was one boy being held by a nanny. They seemed to be very proud of him. He was wearing pink socks with pink ribbons tied around his ankles.
We left the baby rooms and played on the playground (cement slides) with the local children that chased our van. We gave them a toy we had acquired from a visit to KFC in Beijing! We then walked to our foster mom's home and saw where my daughter spent her 1st year and even the crib she slept in. Toward the end of our visit, my daughter started crying as did mom and dad, brother too and foster mom. It was very emotional and sad. We had lunch shortly after saying goodbye to the foster mom and I have to say much of it was a blur due to the emotions. We had a separate room from the other 2 families who were there and the Director ate in both rooms shuffling back and forth between. he noticed my youngest daughter eating all the peanuts on the lazy Susan, left the room and returned with 2 big bags, one each for my daughters to take home! He toasted us and Ava and asked about her schooling, interests, etc. We asked many questions about the area and were given a beautiful brochure of Guixi. I need to get it translated but it looks like it comes from something like the local Chamber of Commerce when you visit a new city. Very nicely done. After lunch, we asked to find a shop to buy a souvenir for my daughter. We really wanted something made from Copper since that is what Guixi is known for but we were told that there are not small items of copper to buy. We also found no tourist souvenir shops. We wound up going to a dept. store that we had gone to the night before for a camera memory card and found some cute notebooks and pens that we purchased.
We had planned to stay another night but due to the emotions of the meeting with the foster mom and the undesirable hotel, we decided to leave for Nanchang after our shopping. Looking back now, I wish we had been able to see more of the city, the outskirts and the local hiking trails that I previously read on another post. If you are going to Guixi and reading this, consider doing a little sightseeing before the orphanage visit when emotions might be high.
We drove to Nanchang which was 2 hours of nice 4 lane roads. We stayed 2 nights in Nanchang hoping to see the hotel where we received our daughter in 2001 only to discover it had been torn down. After Nanchang we spent 4 nights in Shanghai and then headed to the U.S.....but no one in our family wanted to come home!
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