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Wednesday 11/27/2002

This is our last day in Guangzhou – we’ll be leaving for the airport at 6:30 tomorrow morning. We head out early to finish our shopping for friends and family back home. It’s amazing that after just a few days here the girls who work in the shops near the White Swan remember us and where we’re from, remember the babies’ names. They must see thousands of families just like us every year. The first stop is Sherry’s Place to pick up an extra suitcase to hold all of the stuff we’ve bought to bring back home. We buy a nice big hard-sided suitcase with wheels for less than $20 – everything’s cheap in Guangzhou. I drop the suitcase off at the hotel and return to the appointed meeting spot in front of Sherry’s Place, but of course Kathy and Hope are nowhere to be seen. The girl in the antique shop across the street calls out to me, “your wife’s gone around the corner!” I look and, sure enough, there they are – amazing!

By lunchtime we’ve finished off our shopping list. Our most unusual find is a wind-up watch with a picture of Chairman Mao on the face. When the watch is running, the Chairman waves his hand back and forth. Back in Changsha, Mao’s hometown, he was still viewed with a great deal of reverence. But here in the much more Western city of Guangzhou he’s presented as a kitschy cultural icon, rather than an actual historical figure. His image can be seen on all sorts of souvenirs, and cheap copies of his little red book are to be found in every shop that caters to tourists.

After lunch (another delivery order from Danny’s Bagels) we meet with Cynthia and the remnants of our group in the White Swan’s playroom. It’s our first visit to this playroom, which is much nicer and better equiped than the one at the Dolton in Changsha. Presumably this is because it’s sponsored by Mattel and features lots of shiny new Mattel toys. It’s also the only place we’ve been in China with a posted disclaimer advising us that we’re using this facility at our own risk - nothing like a nice refreshing taste of home. Cynthia goes over our travel plans for the morning and then returns the babies’ Chinese passports, which have been updated with new U.S. visas. She also passes out immigration packages for each baby. Each immigration package is sealed in serious looking, official U.S. government envelope which proclaims that it is to be opened only by an official of the INS.

After dinner we pack our bags and leave them in the hall for the hotel bellboy. This trip to China has been wonderful in so many ways. Not only have we adopted a beautiful baby girl, but we’ve experienced at least a little of a culture about which we previously knew almost nothing. I’ve gained a great admiration for these people and their land, and hopefully we can return some day and learn even more. But for now I’m tired, and really ready to go home.

Guangzhou Panorama   Panoramic view from our window at the White Swan. Shamian Island is in the foreground and Guangzhou is in the background.
Shamian Island   Shamian Island in Guangzhou.
Shamian Island   Shamian Island in Guangzhou.
Shamian Island   Shamian Island in Guangzhou.
Shamian Island   The Pearl River from the park beside the White Swan.
Shamian Island   A night view of the Pearl River. All of the buildings on the other side were brightly lit in a rainbow of colors - it was beautiful.
Shamian Island   We pose for one final picture with Cynthia. This was taken in the playroom at the White Swan hotel.
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