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Monday, April 09, 2007
A Sack Full of Puppies
A few last words about Chongqing. I can't remember if I've mentioned this already, and I'm too lazy to go reread my posts. Chongqing is an amazing city. The sidewalks are quite literally made out of marble. It makes San Francisco look slightly hilly. To cross the street, you either climb two flights of stairs up to a bridge or down to an underground area. The citizens don't need to buy a stairmaster. They just need to cross the street. This is a large city, and we only saw a small portion of it, but it definitely has character. The park outside our hotel lit up like Times Square at night with flashing lights. The fountains and buildings all had light shows and music played. I'm guessing it all stopped around midnight, but I never stayed up long enough to see.

Saturday morning, we all met in the lobby, once again, at 8:40 to head to the airport. While a little sad to leave Sera's home place that was tempered with the idea that she had actually spent less time in Chongqing than we had. The area she is from is about three hours to the north. Let me tell you...this is the way to travel. We are being so spoiled.

We had to have our checked bags packed and outside our room door by 9:30 pm on Friday night. When we left Saturday, we just had our carry ons. The man who took our luggage the night before headed to the airport about an hour before we did. He checked our bags, checked us in, and got our boarding passes. When we arrived at the airport, we just had to walk through security and on to our waiting area.

Now Sera has really blossomed the last few days, but I was worried that a big transition like this would throw her for a loop. We climbed aboard our plane and settled in for our 1 1/2 hour flight, which included lunch and two rounds of beverage service. For a 1 1/2 hour flight!!!

Anyway, Jim made her bottle after we boarded so it was ready to give to her during takeoff to help pressurize her ears. It was also time for her to eat. After her bottle, she played, giggled, performed her backbends, and giggled with Nora and Nora's mom across the aisle whom, by the way, I neglected to give photojournalist's credit for the hot pot pictures.

Which brings up another memory, so excuse me as I go off on a tangent. Sera is one of six babies from the Liangping orphanage. We found out when talking to the nannies that the other five babies in our group had all slept in the same nursery, but Sera had been in a different room. They did spend time together in the playroom. The first few days we had her, Sera didn't really want much to do with the other babies. That changed at the group dinner on our last night. We sat next to Samantha and her family. Samantha's mom was holding her while I held Sera. Next thing you know those two started reaching for each other and giggling. They'd get quiet for a minute and then one would giggle. That would set the other off. It was just precious. Then, to top it all off, they reached for each other and shared a big hug. I will confess that whole incident made me tear up.

Anyway, Sera did great on the flight though by the end I did compare to holding her when she's playful like that to trying to hold a sack full of puppies.

We arrived in Guangzhou to discover that the weather here is also gray, wet, and chilly. What happened to the tropical weather I had planned and packed for? On the other hand, I'm just happy it's not July.

The drive from the airport to the White Swan was quite sobering. We passed what seemed like hundreds, but probably dozens of immense highrise buildings jammed up together like dominos. The buildings all look old and in need of maintenace. Jim compared them to Cabrini Green (old projects in Chicago). Unfortunately, he's right. The level of poverty is just mind-boggling. The average income for many of the people here is less than we'd spend on good pair of shoes. Sobering.

Finally, we arrive on Samian Island at the White Swan Hotel. Rumors have it that it will be closing temporarily for renovations. The lobby doesn't need it, but the rooms are starting to look a bit tired. I recognize the fabric used to cover the headboard and bedspread as being popular in the 80's. The lobby area though...WOW! We'll have to get some pictures to share with you.

We had about an hour after arriving to regroup before meeting our guides in the lobby for a quick (10 minute) tour of the island. They told us you could walk completely around the island in 25 minutes.

After our tour we joined some fellow travellers for dinner at Lucy's. It started to rain, so we had to wait for a table inside. It was mainly filled with adoptive families, but there were three men smoking up a storm. We chose to wait a little longer to go to the non-smoking section. This caused our group to have to split. We ended up eating too late, but had a very enjoyable dinner.

One of them any buildings we saw on on way to the White Swan. They all looked about like this.

Here's a shot with bamboo scaffolding. Just amazing.

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