Today was one of our days off because we didn’t have anything adoption related to do. We were still pretty footsore from our walk around the city yesterday, but we still met Denise at 9 am. Fortunately this time the Confucius Temple area really was a short walk and there weren’t even any major streets to cross to get there. We didn’t actually enter the Confucius Temple, but we saw it, along with the river and all of the nice shops. It was interesting to see signs that Denise said were from the Ming dynasty era. One was mentioning Nanjing as a center of education because it used to be where scholars would take their exams to enter the imperial service, and the other said “Black coats only” which Denise said referred to the imperial guard.
We were able to do a little shopping. Matt pointed out that the mall prices seem like normal prices to us, but when you get out and see what regular prices are in the rest of China, it’s easy to see why Denise says the mall is so overpriced. I’m doing most of my shopping in Guangzhou so I don’t have to carry things around through our in China flights. But I want to make sure I buy some items from Leo’s home province. One of Nanjing’s local things are “rain flower stones” which are pretty agate stones from the river. They are usually shown in water because they make pretty patterns when the sun shines in. We bought a few of those, along with some local tea which is also named rain flower. Many adoptive parents buy a “chop” for their child, which is a decorative stamp that has their child’s name carved on it. We bought one for Leo made from rain flower stone, and had his Chinese name carved on it.
While the chop was being carved, Denise pointed to some glass beads and remarked that they came from Leo’s home city. I decided to buy one and have it made into a necklace. It was a large glass bead which had been hand painted with a design on the inside of the bead. When I chose one, the seller asked if I’d like to have it personalized, so I had Leo’s name painted on the inside as well. The man took out the tiniest paintbrush I’ve ever seen and sat down in front of a magnifying glass and painted the characters for YuQiang on the inside of the bead. I then chose a red thread for the necklace, because Leo’s foster mother gave him a bracelet made of red thread, which also has significance in the adoption community. It’s a very beautiful necklace, but I forgot to take a picture so you’ll just have to squint at the other pictures to try and see it.
We asked Denise to take our picture here because you can see what she calls “the city’s animal.” I’m not sure there is an English name for this mythical creature (how would you translate something like manticore to another language, right?) He is one of the nine sons of the dragon. Anyway, this creature is known for eating a lot but never going to the bathroom. She says “Always in, never out.” So he guards the city gate to keep the luck going in, but never out and many shops have him guard the door to keep the money coming in, but never going out.
After we did our shopping, we made sure to ask Denise to take us by a place to buy Nanjing salted duck to take back to the hotel. She said she wasn’t sure we would like it, so we bought half a salted duck and half a roasted duck. Later, Matt made a trip to the mall and bought some rice and side dishes and we ate it all for supper in the hotel. Contrary to Denise’s predictions, we all loved the salted duck and found the roasted duck to be bland.
We’ve been in China for a full week now, and I would say we’re still in the honeymoon period. So far every morning we all choose Chinese foods for breakfast along with our normal American ones. Usually we have steamed buns and dumplings with our bacon and eggs. Other than getting ice cream cones at the McDonald’s at the mall, we have eaten Chinese food for every meal. Chinese Chinese food is much better than American style Chinese food. I hear things get more rough the second week, and I’m sure we’ll be craving a hamburger and fries soon.
Tomorrow we will travel to visit Leo’s orphanage. We will be gone basically all day, about 12 hours. I may or may not update tomorrow night before bed, so don’t be concerned if you don’t hear from me until Friday morning. Which would be Thursday night in America. Leo had his sad moments again today, but he spend a lot more time playing with the other children. He walked around more, exploring the 2nd room in our suite. He gave me a spontaneous hug and kiss, and called me Mama once! He also had hugs for Matt and the other children and called Linda Nai-Nai, which is Chinese for your grandmother on your father’s side.