Travel to Guangzhou

Yesterday (Friday) was our day to check out of our hotel in Nanjing and fly to Guangzhou where we will stay for our last week in China. While in Nanjing we were staying in a suite at the Holiday Inn. The attached mall was nice, because we could go out and walk around easily if we wanted. The suite had one room with a king size bed where Matt and I slept with Vincent and Leo slept in a crib. The other room had two beds that were about the size of a double bed. Linda and Mary Evelyn slept in one and Max and Gregory in the other. The Holiday Inn wasn’t quite as fancy as the Novatel Peace in Beijing, but it was quite comfortable for us.

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As we were taking the elevator down with our luggage, we shared the elevator with a Chinese gentleman who spoke excellent English. He looked around the elevator and asked “These all your family?” When I said yes, he smiled and nodded and then gestured toward Leo. “This is your youngest?” I said yes again, and he said politely but in a slightly confused way “He look . . . Chinese?” So I explained that we had just adopted him, and then he nodded in understanding.

We went back to the Nanjing airport with Denise and the same driver we have had all week. Denise mused on the food in Guangzhou, remarking that the Cantonese “are very adventurous eaters. They eat cat, snake, monkey brains . . .” Many people warned us to avoid domestic flights in China, but really we haven’t had any trouble with the flights. The airport bathrooms have a good supply of soap and Western toilets. We haven’t had any trouble communicating with the security personnel and the signs are in dual Chinese and English. One thing that I have noticed is that the female security guards and all the stewardesses are gorgeous. There is not an old or homely one to be found. Another interesting custom is having the person you should address questions to being indicated by the person wearing a beauty pageant style sash. It looks perfectly natural on the lovely baggage claim girl, but the male security guard in his black police uniform looks a little silly in the red sash with a bow at the waist.

Many domestic flights are delayed, but so far we have been lucky enough to avoid that. As we waited in the terminal for it to be time to climb onto the bus to take us to our plane we heard two other flights to Guangzhou announced as delayed. We chuckled as the English announcement apologized for the delay and suggested delayed passengers should relax and rest in the waiting area. It was swelteringly hot and the waiting area was standing room only. Not relaxing at all! We have been fed on both our domestic flights even though they were short, and the food is much better than on US domestic flights. We arrived in Guangzhou at about 6:30 and then had another long drive to the China Hotel.

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Guangzhou will be our home for the next week. The adoption has been completed as far as China is concerned, but now we have some things to do for the American side. This morning (Saturday) Matt took Leo for a medical exam. This afternoon we will complete paperwork for Leo’s visa. He will travel home on his Chinese passport, so he needs a visa to enter the US. We don’t have any plans on Sunday or Monday, but Tuesday is our appointment at the US Consulate. We will receive the paperwork that we need to make Leo a citizen once he is processed through customs on entering the US. His visa should be ready on Tuesday afternoon, and then we are free to leave. As I mentioned before, we will not be flying home until Friday morning for various travel related reasons. But our suite here at the China Hotel will be a luxurious home for us for the next week. It is larger than the apartment Matt and I had for four years during his time in graduate school! It is a similar set up to the last suite, only we have an extra half bath which is always a nice perk when you have 7 people living here (plus one in diapers).

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I don’t expect us to do a lot of touring here, but there is a lot that is walking distance from the China Hotel. There are two different large parks adjacent to the hotel. We won’t even have to make a crazy Chinese street crossing because there are underpasses leading to the parks. There is also the tomb of an ancient Chinese king next door to the hotel, so there is plenty to keep us busy on our free days.

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Since I don’t have a lot more to say today, I thought I’d tell you about laundry. The hotels here don’t have washers and dryers for our use, and the hotel laundry service has dry-cleaning prices. There are local options for us to send our laundry out, but even at a more reasonable dollar an item price, it really adds up for a family our size. I wanted to pack light, so I did not pack 16 outfits per person. We were lucky as to our travel time, because those who travel during cool weather need to pack for two different seasons because when it’s snowing in Beijing, it is warm and sunny in Guangzhou. We packed a reasonable amount of mix and match clothing, and I wash the laundry in the bathtub.

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Washing is actually the easy part, it’s the drying that’s a challenge. It is difficult to get the water wrung out so the clothing can dry sooner. I mostly hang the clothing in the closet to dry, but there is a surprising amount of places in the suite to hang laundry to dry. The Holiday Inn suite had a retractable clothesline over the bathtub. After seeing all the Chinese laundry hanging out on balconies and in the street, I don’t even think that the maids think we’re weird. It does take some planning because we have to have enough time for the clothing to dry before we can pack it. The iron provided by the hotel helps with the last bit of dampness. I packed the clothing in large packing ziploc bags, and I try to keep putting the outfits for one day back in a bag as the clean laundry dries to try and keep things organized better. That’s it for today, hopefully I will have more Guangzhou pictures for you tomorrow.

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