Our plans for Sunday involved a visit to the Chen family Academy and then a trip to the toy market. I asked our guide before we left if she had received our passport but she had not yet. She said she knew it was on its way and hopefully it would be here in the afternoon when we returned from our sightseeing/shopping adventure. Given we are not used to Sunday fedex deliveries this made us very nervous, but our guide wasn't. This is one of those "we just need to trust" moments.
We had visited the Chen Academy before and we're looking forward to it. Unfortunately we didn't have very long there - long enough for us to purchase some of the hand crafted items they do there - we wanted to purchase some things for Matthew, that we had gotten the other kiddos when we were there - a calligraphy set, and a stamp with his Chinese and new name. We would have loved longer so we would walk through and enjoy the beautiful wood carving details and cultural educational information they have. But we only had a short stay. (I'll post a few photos later after I upload them from my camera)
On to the toy market which Chris and I were dreading. What could be worse than having two teenage-ish boys in a market of only toys? But we were pleasantly surprised - the boys contained themselves and there were other things, not just toys. And we got some killer deals on Lego sets. Now we just have to figure out how to get them home. Sshh, don't tell the little guys, it's their Christmas presents. Matthew was given about $50 from the orphanage and we told him he could use his money to buy something special to take home with him. He bought a beautiful small crystal stamp from the Chan Academy and had his full Chinese name engraved on it. And he wanted a watch. He had been begging for a watch, and when we hit that toy market he was on a mission. He drug Chris thru a maze of shops until he found the one. So our boy now has his watch and he's very happy.
As we were loading the bus to return to the hotel, Kelly our guide said she just got a text that a package was delivered for her at our hotel. She wasn't sure, but felt pretty good that it was Matthew's passport and notarized documents. We couldn't get to that hotel quick enough for me, but rest assured it was what we had been waiting for. And just in time, as we had to meet Kelly to prepare our consulate documents for tomorrow. When finished we decided to try an Irish pub called Paddy Fields that I had heard about on some of the travel blogs. This family wanted something close to American, something that didn't have remnants of unidentified animal parts. It was a great decision. Real hamburgers, a decent Reuben sandwich, hot wings, and a good Irish stout. We were content, and Matthew enjoyed his hamburger. Maybe he won't miss those chicken feet too much. We did put in a Skype call to wish our William a happy sixth birthday. MawMaw is doing her magic to make sure he has a good day and Aunt Nay is there as a special treat. Hard to be away from him on his big day but we'll celebrate both the boys' birthday when we are home. We also got in a little swimming before calling it a night - big day tomorrow.
|Beautiful waterfall at our hotel|
|and all the koi|
Sunday morning was an early start - early breakfast and meeting the three other families going with us to the Consulate. First we had to stop by the medical building to pick up the boys medical forms. Then off to the consulate. This is a new building from where we went in 2012 and it was quite nice. Not cramped and hot like the other one. It was spacious, with air and good bathrooms and after taking our group oath, we just waited our turn. It was pretty painless - Matthew turned 14 on Saturday so he was able to do his own fingerprinting. He was asked three questions:
1. Did he remember his birth parents? (No)
2. Did he know who we were? (Yes, his mama and baba)
3. Did he want to go to the US? (A firm YES)
And we were done. All paperwork was in order and tomorrow we can pick up his Visa and start our journey home. We leave late tomorrow for Hong Kong for a couple of days and then fly to Chicago on Friday. Whoo Hoo - we are ready to reunite the ZooCrew.
But we have one more shopping/sightseeing we get to do today. We headed to Shamian Island for the afternoon. This was so reminiscent of our trip in 2012 because we stayed on the island on that trip. Lynné, you will pleased to know that Lucy's is still there. Many of the shops were different but we found one store that was very familiar, Although it was in a different location. Chris remembered the owner and asked is she had been located across the street 4 yrs ago. She was surprised and delighted to tell us yes. Chris told her we had bought luggage and strollers from her in 2012 and she was so pleased he remembered her, that she gave him a few free gifts and of course, the "good deal" prices. The day was fun and nostalgic to be back on the island, but I have to admit - I liked the weather in February a lot more than today's weather. We had a successful day - a stop at Lucy's, lots of souvenir purchases, lots of photos, and Starbucks.
|a dragon ceremony to celebrate the opening of a school.|
|The traditional Shamian Island photo|
On the bus home we had been talking to a couple of other families about our Irish pub experience. They were excited about it so we all planned to have dinner together. We very much enjoyed our time with Judy & Kelly and their two sweet girls, and Niki and Cactus and their adorable little boy. A great evening. Tomorrow we'll have to do some creative packing to get all of our treasures ready for the trip to Hong Kong and eventually home. But tonight I'll rest easy knowing all the paperwork is done plus we had some adult conversation to end this trip.