Tuesday, November 23, 2010

China Day 5: Free Day in Changsha

I still can’t believe that we here. I stand on the streets, look around at all of the craziness and chaos and have to pinch myself so I know that I am not dreaming. I have wanted to return to China since the moment we left in 2007.

It’s hard to describe the pull that this country has on me. The best way that I can explain it is that this is where my family started. Most families begin when a child is born in the hospital. The family quickly moves from the hospital to the home. And life starts from there.

My family didn’t start that way. My family started in a hot, humid little room in China. And for our first three weeks together, we lived in China. Eating, sleeping, breathing China. China became synonymous with family. So now this country has this special place deep in my soul.

Not everyone that adopts from China feels this way. In fact, I would guess that most people actually don’t. But for whatever reason, this is the way it was hardwired for me. I love China and have a need to be here that goes way beyond vacation. It’s like coming home. Sorta. Except I wasn’t born here. And I’m not Asian. Clear as mud right?

Today we had the day to fill with China. Last trip here was scheduled with tons of tours to various locations. This trip is a bit off the beaten path. We just go out everyday and explore, talk to the locals (or should I say try to talk), find interesting things to eat, shop in neighborhood markets.

Changsha has a much different feel than Beijing. It was obvious from the moment that we got off of the plane. You just got the feeling that you weren’t in Kansas anymore. In Beijing, it’s relatively easy to communicate, things happen at a fairly quick pace, and it is more polished. Changsha seems to be less influenced by the Western world, although you can see evidence of it seeping through the cracks where ever you look.

In Beijing, many people will speak some degree of English. Here, not so much. This makes getting your needs met a little more difficult. Trying to order dinner or finding what you need in a chaotic and disorganized Carre-Four store can take longer than you would ever imagine. Not that it’s a bad or frustrating experience. It’s not at all. It just takes a long time. You definitely need to roll with the punches.

The easiest people to talk to are the kids. They learn English in school and have fewer inhibitions about trying to speak it. It is so fun to talk to them on the streets. They are so curious and love seeing and talking to us. With the adults, I have found that with my limited Chinese, I am able to communicate a lot easier. It seems like if you are willing to try to speak Chinese, most everyone will be patient with you and work hard to help you.

Below are some of my favorite pictures of the day. And like always, I go to bed each night excited to find out what the next day might bring.

Molly on her window sill perch, 25 floors above the ground.


The view from our window.IMG_4367

Remember how I said that there was no OSHA in China? Here is an example. A window washer way up on a high floor, sitting on a little seat attached to a rope. Not tied in. No harness. Just sitting on a little plank. Yikes!IMG_4373

Love this picture. The chef is chopping vegetables and there are several roasted duck hanging behind him on hooks. Typical China.IMG_4379

This man is crafting suckers with hot sugar for the local school kids to buy.IMG_4387

This was so fun to watch.IMG_4389

Local market. We bought tangerines here. So juicy and delicious.IMG_4380

Middle school kids on lunch break.IMG_4393

Typical Changsha street.IMG_4396

Does it get any cuter than this?IMG_4398

This man is chopping and selling pork on the street. You know it's pork because he brought the skinned head to prove it.IMG_4401

Everyone hangs laundry from balconies to dry.IMG_4403

Chinese architecture...never tire of looking at it.IMG_4402

Scenes from the sidewalk of a local restaurant. Here is what's for dinner.IMG_4406

Didn't like that...well how about this?IMG_4407

Still more choices. Pick something from the tank and it will be served to you within minutes.IMG_4408

Adoption Day for the Ahern's. Papers signed and now they are an official family of seven. Welcome to your new family Sara Jane Si Te Ahern!IMG_4444

Footprint for the adoption document.IMG_4448

Jan and her sweet baby girl.IMG_4449

Molly and Luke doing what Molly and Luke do best...Loving each other!IMG_4414

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