Mae's Heritage Trip to China - Journal

Green Tea Frappacchino
Day 1 : The Long Flight(s) to China

We left home at 5am and walked to the Park 'N Ride. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time but our flight to Minneapolis was delayed three times. Eventually we got there; it was such a fancy airport with iPads at every table. Then we boarded the long flight to Tokyo. We watched lots of movies and ate many meals but it was hard to sleep. Our Tokyo-Beijing flight was three hours and we were pretty exhausted by then. We met up with Eric, our guide, and hung around the airport to wait for another family. We tried a Green Tea Red Bean Paste Frappachino (Yum!) and were so happy to crash at the LoDo Hotel at 2am local time. We slept soundly until 7am the next morning.

with Sophia, her Huaihua "sister"
Day 2 : Free day/Acrobat Show

After sleeping in til seven and having a Skype chat with Paul and the boys, we went down to the fancy breakfast at the hotel. We took a little walk around the area, bought some snacks at Nick's Market, took a short nap and went swimming at the beautiful pool. We had simple ramen for dinner in our room and then met up with the group to go to the Acrobat Show.
  Mae: A lady would stack a chair on top of the other chair until she was really really high off the ground.
One routine involved 8 ladies on bicycles and at the end all 8 were on the same single bike! My iPhone was lost/stolen, so we returned by taxi to the theatre after the later show to check for it. No luck. We slept like rocks until 5:30am the next morning.

The Great Wall
 Day 3 :  Jade Factory/Great Wall/Tea Tasting

Today we met with our Daisy Group and headed out with Eric, our guide, for the long day in Beijing. We stopped at the Jade Factory on the way to the Great Wall. We enjoyed shopping for our friends there and picking out little jade pieces for jewelry. The Great Wall, at Juyongguan Pass, was a different pass than my previous trip. We got up to the third tower and went up the narrow passage to the top of the tower for the amazing view. On our way back we stopped for a Tea Tasting at a tea house. We tasted green, oolong, jasmine and black tea. No tea tasting is complete without the requisite peeing boy to test the heat of the water. We made sure to bring one of those home, as well as tea for adult friends. Yum! At night we swam again in the lovely pool and ate at an Irish pub with Kaya and her dad. Kaya fell asleep at the table! It was such a busy day, but a fun one!

Tian'an Men Square
Day 4 : Tian'an Men Square/Forbidden City/Hutong Rickshaw lunch/CCWA/Welcome Dinner/Party

Today we went to Tian'an Men Square, which is the site of Chairman Mao's portrait, which is repainted every year on his birthday. After crossing over to the other side, we toured the Forbidden City. We lost one of the girls briefly, which was very scary for everyone. The Forbidden City was very crowded and hot, but so amazing. I'm not sure the little girls were all that interested, but the teens in our group gave piggy-back rides and there were plenty of popsicle stops, so they survived. 

Rickshaw ride
After, we took a rickshaw to a local lady's house in the Hutong district. Lunch was delicious and it was interesting to see the one-room house and hear how the city is preserving this district. Next we went to CCCWA, the amazing building where all the offices are located. We saw many rooms with many files, but perhaps the most goosebump-creating was the Matching Room. They let us walk around, and while no files were actually out, just looking at the bookcases full of dossiers was enough to send chills down my spine. Everything happens in this building - our dossiers are reviewed, our children are matched, our approvals are sent out. It was an amazing place. The kids were ushered into a school room and, were treated to a lot of videos about the Beijing Olympics. The girls learned some calligraphy and received a book on paper cutting. We got home to the hotel and freshened up before heading outside to the hotel's outdoor dinner party area. The Welcome Dinner was a delicious feast complete with performances by the male guides (who sang) and the female guides (who danced). Then various kids got up to sing, do TKD forms, recite in Chinese, etc. It was really a fun party. We left fairly early because we were so tired, but it was a fun night.

Syd with Kaya and Lelia with Mae
Day 5 : Fly to Xi'an/Terra Cotta Soldiers/Tang Dynasty Show with Dumpling Banquet

Today we took an early flight to Xi'an and went straight to the Terra Cotta Soldiers. Our guide was Susan and she had perfect English. Seeing the three pits up close was amazing. Pit 1 had the famous soldiers, the ones that had been mostly restored. Pit 2 was being worked on and Pit 3 was mostly horses. Just amazing. After the long hot day, we went to the Tang Dynasty Show, which was a lot like the show Mae and I saw in Denver. There were songs, instruments and dancing while we enjoyed a Dumpling Banquet. They were nice enough to bring Mae, myself and another mom, Joyce, our own vegetarian dumplings. It was so delicious. When the show started, we went down to the very front and sat with Sophia and her mom, Deb. It was great to reconnect with them! That night, we fell asleep right away!

biking on the Ancient Wall in Xi'an
Day 6 : Bicycle Ride at Ancient Wall/Fly to Chengdu

Today we had a grand adventure! With our guide Alex, we drove to the Ancient Wall that surrounds the city of Chengdu. Mae and I biked 9 miles on a tandem bike along the Ancient Wall. The wall is cobblestone so it was very bumpy and there were lots of ups and downs where stairs were, so we had to work together to get up and over! We raced Lelia and Sydnee a lot and had a great time. It was very hot and humid but really fun. We enjoyed a popsicle and Gaterade at the end. Then we flew to Chengdu and had a nice relaxing evening. Lelia and Mae wanted to go to McDonalds so we walked to one. The moms had more ramen! The pool was outside and very cold, but Mae and Lelia swam anyway! It was a great night.

Day 7 : Local Park/Teahouse/Panda Park/Opera/Dinner/Shopping

Today was PANDA DAY!

We started the day at a local park that had many varieties of bamboo tree. We enjoyed tea and a shoulder massage, walked along the bamboo-lined trails, watched the art of beautiful sugar candy and the kids rode an amusement park ride (Lelia lost her flip-flop!).

Mae and 10-month old baby Panda
Then we had lunch en route to the pandas before arriving at the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Center. We saw adults, sub-adults and toddler pandas, all lounging or cuddling. They are all so cute and fuzzy! We did a little panda bear shopping, then the girls who were going to hug a toddler panda were taken into a special area to learn all about pandas. They watered the bamboo, got all robed up, and got to hold one!

The toddler panda Mae held was 10 months old and 90 pounds. He was very sweet and mellow, though he did try to lick her face a few times! He was sucking on bamboo with honey on it. He was adorable! 

real coconut milk!
After holding the Pandas, we had to hurry back to the bus to go to the show. The performance was very loud but interesting. There was tea to drink and peanuts to munch on. There was singing, acting, opera, mask-changing, shadow-finger-puppets, and instruments. Afterwards, we went to a delicious dinner and then shopping in the "Old City" where we tasted real coconut milk from a coconut and bought more presents for people. It was a fantastic day. Lelia and Mae swam briefly back at the hotel.

Day 8 : Fly to Changsha/Free Day

It was so sad to say goodbye to the Daisy Group, as all the Daisies split up to go to their individual orphanage cities. We flew to Changsha with Liam's family and Kate's family and spent the rest of the day with them and our guide, Jacki. First we went to McDonald's to eat. It was very difficult to order and we weren't really sure what we were doing. Then we went to Starbucks for a green tea frappachino. Then to Wal-Mart to stock up on candy for the orphanage. Then we went to swim in the super-fancy pool. Liam, Jamie, Sophie and Kate all joined in and all the kids had a good time together. We had another good Skype session with Paul and the boys before bed. We were so sad to leave our friends, but we were excited for the next day!

Day 9 : Fly to HuaiHua/Orphanage Visit/Fly to Guangzhou

directors of the orphanage
Mae: When we got to the orphanage, the director took my hand right away. She took us to the lunchroom to eat some lunch with the assistant director. They served us lots of noodles with a fried egg in it. It was delicious. Then I was really full. Our guide ate two bowls!

Then we went into a conference room and they fed us watermelon and another melon like a honeydew. On the screen it said, "Warmly welcome our little friend Huai Xiang back home."

Mae's nanny (L) and PanLi (R)
My mom asked if my nanny was still there and the director said yes. And the person who found me was there too. They came in and hugged me and we took lots of pictures.

I asked when we would see the kids. There were 6 kids at the orphanage, 3 kids and 3 babies. We brought lots of candy for only 3 kids! The babies were so cute. One of the babies was a toddler with cerebral palsy. Another baby had really big eyes and I got to hold him. After the babies we went to the big kids. One was was walking right out of the room! We gave them some stickers. The oldest boy said Thank You. There was a girl with CP in a wheelchair. She had cute pony tails in her hair. We left all that candy for them and they were excited but mad that they couldn't eat it right away.

the referral quilt!
The orphanage director gave me a gift, a wall hanging that is 2 fishes shaped like a heart with three kinds of peppers: green-spicy because Hunan Province has spicy food, red for good luck and yellow. We saw my Hello Kitty blanket from my referral picture. My nanny remembered that my favorite foods were watermelon and apples. It was surprising that my nanny was so young. She works in the office now.

Then they fed us a huge dinner. I had chicken and rice. There was a huge meringe shaped like a chicken. My mom liked the fish and vegetables and the sweet egg with the meringe dish. After dinner we went to the airport. It was sad because we had to leave the orphanage. Also the old orphanage had been torn down. The older kids were probably there when I was there. It was really fun to visit my orphanage. The End.

Day 10 : Free Day in Guangzhou

We slept late which felt wonderful! Then we went downstairs to breakfast, then went to Starbucks for a green tea frappachino and a cinnamon roll. We went swimming - the pool was on the top floor and only a railing separated the pool from the drop off. Every pool we saw had a place to walk through that had water in it. After swimming we had a nap, then lunch at Subway and looked in the shops. We brought some booksmarks and other things for our friends. Then we took the ferry across the water but couldn't get back on the same ferry so we took a taxi home. We had dinner at Lucy's (grilled cheese and chocolate milk shakes, just like 7 years ago!) and chatted with two families who had just adopted their toddlers. We came home and packed up for the next day!

Day 11 : Fly home

We left for the airport at 6:20am though it took a while to get our boxed breakfasts. Rose, our guide, left us at the airport and we flew to Tokyo. We had a brief layover in Tokyo so we exchanged the rest of our Chinese yuen into Japanese yuen and bought some lunch. Then we settled in for the 10 hour flight on the fancy new SkyDream United plane. It was very digital - the windows dimmed instead of closed and the lights in the cabin were supposed to help regulate sleep. There was also more oxygen in the cabin, they said. We watched lots of movies and had two meals. It didn't seem as long as the way over and we were excited to land in Denver. We went through Customs and Immigration and waited forever for our luggage. Our bags were literally the last ones to come through, but we were relieved they did since they had been checked through in Guuangzhou! We left Baggage Claim and saw Paul and the boys right away! It was so nice to see them! We drove home and hugged Sweet Pea and gave out presents. What an amazing trip!

Click here for a Photo Page! There are lots and lots of extra pictures from each day of our trip, thanks to the many friends who took pictures for us. Enjoy!


Anonymous said...

loved the china blog!! what a fun sounding trip too. walking the wall is not for the faint hearted --well done! thanks for posting. brought back memories! <3 ayi susu

jack said...

Thanks, Mae , you are a very lucky young lady to have this great experience.

God bless you


M3 said...

Awesome trip journal!! I remember so many of those incredible experiences.