Thursday, October 02, 2008

Totally Senseless China Thoughts & Stuff

  • In 16 days we could count on one hand the number of pregnant women we saw.
  • Getting around Shamian Island is a snap. Walking is easy and you won't get lost.
  • You will need a taxi to get to the Pearl Market. Short ride. Cost about 10-12 Yuan or a buck fifty American. The ride is fun :)
  • When at a restaurant. Put a few of the small paper napkins in your pocket or purse to use for toilet paper when out and about.
  • Your agency guides will tell you who, when and how much to tip. Listen to them.
  • Vehicles have the right of way in China. REMEMBER that.
  • The Chinese people are extremely friendly. Show respect. If you learn to say anything in Chinese. Learn to properly say Thank You.
  • When giving or receiving paperwork, a bill, a business card, cash, etc. Use two hands.
  • Yes. You will be stared at. Smile. Nod slightly.
  • Parents encourage their children to try out their English on you. You can see the pride in the parent's eyes.
  • Pack light. Unless you are in rural China. They have it. They sell it.
  • The contrast between privilege and poverty is striking. Much like where we live. Just on a much larger scale.
  • For all the traffic madness. Take notice of how few dents and scrapes you see on the cars and buses. Amazing.
  • Make friends within your travel group and ask to share their photos. You'll be glad you did.
  • Pack a SMALL Tupperware container to take food back to your room for the little one.
  • Going through airport security is a major hassle. Don't get upset about it. It is what it is.
  • ALWAYS have bottled water with you. And DRINK it.
  • I took 3 shirts. 3 pairs of shorts. 1 pair of shoes. Everyone in your Travel Group understands.
  • Be on time for Group activities. It is a major pain waiting with your little one when ready to go.
  • Take the time to tell your spouse you love him or her each day of the trip.
  • If you haven't ordered new uncirculated money from the Federal Reserve through your bank. Do it now and remember to order small bills as well. 1's, 10's and 20's. Don't ask your bank to do this. Politely but firmly tell them to do it. They can have the money in 3-5 days max.
  • Yes your baby is going to cry. Yes others will hear it. Yes you will handle it.
  • Your trip to China is not a vacation. You understand this. Family and friends may not.
  • Buy stock in the makers of cheerios.
  • Alyzabeth's city has a population the same size of all of California. Yes, you read that correctly.
  • You are representing America. Remember how we say we wished sports figures were better role models? Well this is your chance to walk the talk.
  • When standing in a line. Don't lag behind the person in front of you.
  • Your agency guide is your lifeline. Don't abuse or take them for granted.
  • Only 2 families in our large Travel Group visited their orphanage. We chose not to visit.
  • Cars and buses are constantly blowing their horns. Day and night.
  • Many of the city plazas have HUGE LARGE SCREEN TV's and music blares from everywhere.
  • Witness the Chinese culture without comparing.
  • At least sample the variety of different foods.
  • Our hotel rooms were more than adequate.
  • If you enjoy wine. Prepare to drink Great Wall. The local beer was quite good.
  • OK, I admit to not sampling the Ostrich Tongue at breakfast.
  • The beds are firm but not so we couldn't sleep.
  • The beauty of the Chinese people will take your breath away more than once.
  • Hotel staff for the most part understand and speak limited to fluent English.
  • Take a baby carrier to hold and support your little one while walking. It is THE bonding tool.
  • Take yogurts from the hotel breakfast back to your room. It will most likely have a small refrigerator. If you have a toddler. Don't forget the straws.
  • Back to the wine drinkers. We found "foreign" wine but it is not prevalent.
  • If the baby sleeps. You're missing a BIG chance to do the same.
  • If it's raining. Check with your hotel. Most offer the use of a free umbrella.
  • I wish we were younger and qualified to start the paperwork for a second child from China.
  • If you're not suffering from Jet Lag on your return home. Then you really didn't go to China :)
  • We saw dogs. Only 1 cat.
  • Buy a baby room monitor (day/night video) off Craigslist. Save some money and sell it when the time comes you no longer need it.
  • Pack a baby spoon.
  • We never experienced a problem connecting to the Internet or posting to our blog on Blogspot.
  • If you do not have SKYPE on your computer. Download it. It's FREE and the best way to see and talk to those at home while in China!
  • Red envelopes are available in China should you need them. Ask your guides.
  • Each of our hotel rooms was set up for us to plug in our electrical devices without the need for a converter.
  • You see cars and buses everywhere but not gas stations.
  • We'll never forget our Group singing Happy Birthday to Alyzabeth.
  • Coffee was served warm but never hot.
  • Expect smoking wherever you are eating and staying.
  • Walking The Great Wall is NOT EASY! The uneven steps are killers.
  • Most of the hotels have Business Centers if you need to copy anything.
  • The basements of department stores were usually grocery stores. Baby stuff was located on the 5th or 6th floors.
  • Check your strollers at the plane gate.
  • We celebrated a "Happy Hour" each day at the same time in a common area with other families. We all looked forward to the down time together.
  • Red Couch Photos are indeed great. Just not mandatory. Some little ones do not need the added stress. You make the call.
  • The street hawkers were persistent but easily enough to rebuff.
  • Fog is often smog.
  • Guard the bottle you get from the orphanage with your life!
  • Order chops, etchings, drawings, etc., as soon as possible in Guangzhou. It takes a full day for the items to be made before pickup. You pay upfront. Save your receipt.
  • Journal daily. Record each day briefly describing what you did along with your thoughts and observations. This will be a gift to yourself for years to come.

I've bored you enough.
Suffice it to say that the experiences are immeasurable. While photos and video have captured our time there together. The real memory of our journey wakes up each morning with a smile and her arms out stretched.
This will truly be a trip of a lifetime for you. Savor it. Immerse yourself in it. Expect the unexpected and be open to all that is new and different. You will become the cultural tie for your son and daughter with your experiences.
Embrace and Enjoy so to later share those treasured experiences with them...

Playing ball with Nana :)


Sophia's Mama said...

Ford and Alyson, this is truly a beautiful post. I loved reading your tips even though we have been to China already. I second all of them especially your last paragraph. China, its people, the smells, sights and sounds gets in your sole...

Big hugs

Catherine said...

So many great tips! Thank you Ford!

Cute video. What a happy little girl! Praising God for answered prayers in your little bundle of love who reaches her arms up to you each day!!

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

What an incredible list of tips!! I will be referencing this when the time comes!

Thanks for sharing this journey with was so much fun to follow you all daily in China!

I am glad you are home and starting to settle in to everyday life with Alyzabeth!

Hugs to you my friends,


a Tonggu Momma said...

Not boring! I found myself nodding my head at every line item.

Vivian M said...

I love your tips and agree with almost all of them, except one. There are some things that we could not buy in China. Feminine hygiene things (ok, pads etc.) are better brought from home. And if you are plus sized, you will have a harder time finding clothes in China, so you may want to ensure you have extra set of clothing in your carryon just in case your luggage is lost or delayed.
That's my tip!

PIPO said...

Hardly 'totally senseless'. Totally wonderful and helpful. Thank you.

Julie said...

Wow, that is awesome and I agree.

I see you had one of the same guides I did, Kathy. And we just adored her. I hope to be able to see her again sometime @ a CCAI reunion.

Melissa said...

Ford, I love all your recommendations. I will use them!! AA looks like a different kid from China!! Looks like she is doing well and I am so happy for you!

Melissa said...

Don't EVER think you are boring me. Tears of joy & happiness are w/me for you all! This journey was wonderful, tiring, exciting & all in all you said it all, to wake every morning & see AA, to open up her arms to you, to run to you, to do all the things you have & will do w/her is all you need!!
I love you & wish I could be there to help & experience this journey with you. So write all you want, send videos all you want, post all you want, journal it all so I can be there in my heart, in spirit!'
All my love (and then some) from Maine,
Mel & Aunti M

Anonymous said...

This is a WONDERFUL post! I am going to forward it to my husband so he can read it. We may be a several months out, but I think it's time to start gathering information, again. :)

I have enjoyed follwing your journey to China and back. Alyzabeth is beautiful. Thank you so much for telling the good and the not so good moments.

Mike and Rhonda said...

I just love watching her blossom under the love and care of you two. It is amazing. I do hope the sleeping gets better. She is adorable.

Briana's Mom said...

This post is perfect! You are so right about everything!

Chongqing was so huge - I couldn't believe it. You are so right - the contrast between the privileged and the poor was so dramatic.

The baby carrier was an absolute must!!!

Kayce said...

So not boring!! Thanks for the tips and the video!

Nina said...

We're leaving in about a month and this post is PRICELESS.

Thank you!!

Truly Blessed said...

Awesome post -- great info for those who are yet to travel and great reminders of those of us who have returned home.

Two things: we had horrible jet lag after our first adoption trip, the but almost none after the 2nd one. Weird.

Also, we visited DD#1s orphanage and thought it was a fantastic experience. We BEGGED to be allowed to visit DD#2s, and were shut down on several occasions. We wish we had been able to at least have one of us make that trip.

Oh well, we'll be visiting China again in a few years for the girls' heritage tour and we'll see it then.

Alyzabeth -- not Lizzy after all, huh?

Such a beauty and it looks like she's adjusting so well. Enjoy today!

kris said...

not senseless at all, i loved this...

Lisa and Tate said...

Love this post.... as I am starting to get closer (March 7 2006) I am trying to get all my ducks in a row. This list really helped. I even copied and pasted and email to the ones who will be traveling with me just as a food for thought. Please post as much information as you can.


Dori's Mommy (Diana) said...

Great summary!

Troy and Amy said...

What a perfect list. You said it so well! Glad to see Alyzabeth having fun with the ball. Looks like she is adjusting well! We look forward to seeing you whenever you visit Illinois!

FinsUp said...

I wish you had told me this BEFORE I went!


Beverly said...

you say that now about the red couch photo. I am three years home and I said the same thing then. I regret not getting it now because that one moment of tears wasn't more or less than what G already had been through and we don't have the pic anyway. Had I made her stay even crying at least we would have it. My advice is get the pic anyway in three years home you may really regret not having it.

Doreen said...

Everytime I check your blog I'm either grinning like an idiot or crying like a baby!Sometimes I do both at once!!!! PHEW...I'm emotionally drained but in a good way!!!
Wonderful post...again....thanks

Doreen in Montreal single Mom to Faith-Jiangxi & Mia-Sichuan

hiltonsheadeast said...

Beautiful post ...thanks for the heads up ... we are next.

Lori H**

Sam said...

Very good, Grasshopper. You've learned well. I only wish others (email me for a blog link that will make steam pour out of your ears due to the lack of respect shown to their daughter's birth land) would learn these lessons before traveling!

Sorry I haven't been able to comment while you were in China. We've had a few issues around here!!! I did follow you and think your little sweetheart is gorgeous!!! Congrats and welcome home (belatedly)!!!

Sam @ Just Keep Swimming

Ellen said...

Fantastic post! Thanks Ford! BTW, really are you regretting not "trying" the ostrich tongue??? C'mon, truly, a major regret??? ;)
Thanks for the giggles and desire to experience China!

OziMum said...

Thanks for the pearls of wisdom! Hopefully, I'll be calling upon them... SOON!

Hope you're getting some "peace" ;)

Love the video! Thanks again for sharing!

Kay Bratt said...

You forgot one tip:

Carry a purse that has the long strap so when you are forced to use a squatter, you can loop it around your neck and not have to sit it on the dirty floor.

Or maybe you are always around hotels? (definitely the best option but I have been in circumstances where there is not a western toilet available...)


Amie@HeartSmiles said...

stumbled onto your blog... These are some REALLY good tips.. We have been to China twice and are getting ready to go back a third time, and could have definitly benefited from many of these the first time. and the one that stands out as the most helpful.. DEFINITLY buy stock in cheerios!!!!!!! They will be a lifesaver!

Congrats on your new little one!



Billy and Maggie said...

What a wonderful post. I will take all listed to heart. Thank you so much again for being fantastic bloggers!

Alyzabeth Ann looks like she has made great strides God Bless her.. very happy to see!

Donna and Joe said...

Ford, thank you so much for this wonderful post of random thoughts. It is so helpful for us about to travel soon to take all this information in. I'm looking forward to being able to share with others when we get back.

Donna :)

Stephanie said... have taken me back...but am I ready to head back for #3?! hmmmm maybe. :)

cougchick said...

one of the best posts I've ever read!
If only I could put some of these to use.
Did I send you an invite? I meant to, as I've gone underground.

China Dreams said...


This is very helpful

Don and Be said...

Ford, thanks for putting down your thoughts into words. Mind if I use some of them for our waiting families China group? Don and I started a list but yours is so much more comprehensive!

AA looks like she is thriving! JM has been sick this past week with a respiratory virus. She is a trooper though. Much better than mom or dad would be with a 104 temp. Hopefully we are on the upswing. BTW, Don has been sick as well. Only one not sick is me...Typhoid Be. I must be a carrier.

Love you guys, Be

Michelle said...

Excellent post!! This is great for waiting families and you'll really enjoy having this in the future. You brought back many memories of our wonderful time in China. Thank you!

AA is simply adorable. You have been so blessed!

NoahandMaddysMom said...

Thanks for will really come in handy (I just printed it out and put it in our "China Portfolio") when we go in afew months YEAH!!!

sea star said...

Tips that are 'totally worthy'...thanks!

Julie said...

LOVE the list. It was great to see someone putting this much thought into their adoption trip and sharing it with others.

Especially the one about role models and also to smile and nod politely when stared at - and that Chinese people ARE friendly! We found them to be very warm and kind.