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Monday, September 3, 2012

And the Journey Continues . . .

Update:  We are home now, so I am able to add pictures!

This is Tyson updating the blog.  I have never actually typed on this blog so I will do my best . . .  We still can't upload pictures to the blog so they will probably come full force once we are back in the States and settled.  Tonia is putting pics on Facebook though, so you can check there too!

So, Saturday August 25 was our first day in Shanghai.  Shanghai has over 23 million people!  Unreal!  Considering Chicago has just a couple million!  The city never seemed to stop!  Unlike cities at home that have a centralized downtown with skyscrapers, Shanghai is one giant skyline.  Skyscrapers every direction with apartment building after apartment building as far as the eyes could see.  Wall to wall traffic, buses and taxis, and people -- walking, riding mopeds and scooters and bikes right out in traffic! Such a diversity of wealth.  BMW and Lexus cars parked on the street in front of old ladies washing clothes in a tub on the sidewalks.  For those who have never seen it, it is so hard to explain.  In America we have a central city with spreading suburbs.  Shanghai is all city and with no room to spread outward, the city can only go upward to accommodate so many people!

Views out our hotel room window




  We actually slept pretty well for suddenly going to bed at 2 am when our bodies thought it was 1 pm the previous day!  We flew 15 hours into the future!  The Bund Hotel was a 4 star hotel -- really nice!  It seemed out of place, scrunched onto a corner intersection among small store fronts, apartments with laundry hanging out of the windows drying on long bamboo poles, and open air butcher shops with sheep carcasses hanging in the windows. The room was a suite with a living room -- Rylee slept on a cot and Evan slept on the couch, a 1/2 bath, a wet bar with fridge, a bedroom with king sized bed, and a full bath with sliding glass doors.  The bed was literally like sleeping a slab of wood -- no springs at all!  No bounce!  Normal for a culture who tends to sleep on a mat on the floor.  In the morning we had breakfast at the hotel.  The entire second floor was a big dining room that was open to the lobby below. They had some foods that we considered normal for breakfast such as fruits, juices, toast, bacon and waffles --- but it was mostly traditional Chinese breakfast which included pork steam buns, noodles, fried rice, chicken and beef sausages (which were more like wieners), boiled eggs, tea eggs (duck eggs boiled in soy sauce), pork and beans, bok choy, congee (boiled thickened rice -- no sugar), and hot tea.  It was all really good, but by the end of the week, we were ready for a change.






After breakfast we went to Old Town Shanghai with our friends and fellow adoptive parents Nicole and Tim Martin from Georgia.  Tonia has been phone pals with Nicole for months now throughout the adoption process, so it was great to actually meet in person! We walked from the hotel which took about 30 mins.  There are absolutely no rules of the road and pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way!  We almost died several times!  Anyway,  this was the original ancient part of the city.  Traditional pagodas and gardens.  Beautiful!  We toured the YuYuan Gardens which was a wonderous garden with rock outcroppings, ponds with koi fish, fountains, and traditional architecture.  It was a home compound built for a city official in the 1800s.  It was a shame to see that all of those beautiful ancient buildings around the gardens had been turned into shops and fast food restaurants.  It seemed that most all of the traditional Chinese culture in Shanghai was gone, replaced with Western culture of jeans and McDonalds.  The shops were really neat though.  They wound through the old streets offering chopsticks, carved jade, silks, Chinese medicines (like squid powder, Tiger penis, pickled seahorse, and exotic herbs), fans, tea sets, etc. etc.  Scores of vendors walked the streets selling watches and jewelry, purses, and children's toys.   The smells were interesting -- a mixture of sewage, garbage, and dirty water.  It was very hot and humid, so we stopped and had an ice cream cone at DQ!  So many people wanted pictures with our children!  They all think white, blond, blue eyed people are beautiful and our children were certainly a focal point to the locals!

This narrow street had tons of 2-way traffic, bicycles, mopeds and pedestrians!


Why yes, that IS a mother helping her son go to the bathroom on the street!

Not sure what they were serving here.  But I DO know I didn't see a Health Permit hanging anywhere!

Classical Street at Old Town

Courtyard at Old Town

At the YuYuan Garden










Since I am actually typing this a week later, it is hard to recall all of the day.  I am sure we came back and took a nap, as the jet lag had wiped us out a bit.  In the evening we ate dinner at a local restaurant called Momochachas.  The waitress spoke enough English to get us by, but pointing at the menu proved to be universal communication!  We had peppered beef with vegetables and rice.  It was really good - and even the kids loved it!  A can of coke was about $4!!!  We couldn't drink the water, so by that point it was well worth it!  The rest of the days however we brought bottled water from the hotel with us!

Well, it is late and we have to get up early tomorrow so goodnight for now!  Again, we are so sorry to be a week behind in our blog, but the Bund Hotel had horrible internet and we had no means of using the computer!  We will try to catch you up as quickly as possible!!   Sunday, August 26 to follow! . . .


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