Today was kind of the opposite of hugely exciting. We drove in the van with our guide to an official building. We waited around. We signed papers. We drove to another building and repeated the process. We did this a couple of times. I think we’ve determined that it takes exactly an hour to drive to any building in Beijing. Our adoption process in Nanjing was easier because they prepared the passport in advance as well as had a notary within the Civil Affairs building, eliminating an extra trip. In the end, we spent over 6 hours of our day getting all of the paperwork in order. Which means I don’t have much interesting to blog for you.
How about some more China cultural differences? It’s winter here, so bundle up. Heating in China is unpredictable. In our hotel, we’re running the air conditioning because the hotel’s heat seems to be set on 73. Any vehicles we ride in are the same way, swelteringly hot. It’s enough to make you decide to dress lightly excerpt that other buildings aren’t heated at all. The Beijing Civil Affairs office was in a very shiny new building. All digital everything. But the employees were bundled up for work in their winter coats because it was in the upper 50’s within the building.
You know how in the US people carry around insulated coffee mugs all the time? Sometimes they’ll go empty their drinks in the bathroom sink, then rinse out the mug to go get a refill. In China what everyone carries around in their thermos is green tea with the leaves still in it. I guess that can cause a real mess in the bathroom sink because I found one restroom with a trash can which had a sieve sitting on top of it. It’s specifically for people to dump their tea into.
While we were at the notary office waiting for our paperwork to be completed our guide took us to the restaurant in the building to get lunch. They usually serve everyone hot tea automatically at restaurants, the way you get ice weather in the US. Iced drinks are considered unhealthy in China. At this restaurant we ordered a Sprite for Vincent, because he won’t drink hot tea, and nothing for August because we had a bottle wth water for him. When the waitress realized we didn’t order a drink for August, she came over and poured him a mug of boiling water. Boiling water is a common drink if you don’t care for tea, and it’s even served in the summer when you are hot and thirsty. Living in a country where every disposable cup of coffee comes with a warning label, it seems very strange to have a 2 year old served an open mug of visibly steaming water straight from the pot.
We ordered some chicken noodle soup thinking it might be a nice change for Vincent who mostly eats sweet and sour pork. We asked if it was a large bowl because bowls of soup here seem to only come in half gallon sizes. The guide told us only a small bowl was available. Sure enough, a gigantic bowl of soup came to the table. Don’t tell Vincent about the chicken’s feet that were in it. We ladled around them.
Finally, as strange as it sounds, my little post about the dumpling shop behind our hotel in Beijing is one of the most read posts on my blog. I know I have a lot of readers who will be traveling in the future on adoption trips so I wanted to help you out. We finally figured out how to get to the dumpling shop without having the concierge take us through the employee bike parking lot. You walk down Jinyu hutong street and turn into the alley next to the Waldorf Astoria. This is taking a right out of the Novotel Peace or crossing the street if you’re staying at the Peninsula. It’s not far at all off Wangfujing if you are at another hotel in that area. According to google maps the alley is probably Xitangzi Hutong. Look for the restaurant with red lanterns and yellow sign. We took a picture for you.
I’m having trouble keeping an Internet connection for more than a few minutes and I wasn’t able to upload any photos to the blog at all. I did get the pictures on Flickr so you can see the illustrations for this post there. I will edit the post to add the pictures later when I can get it to work.