Empty examination room
When our overnight train arrived in on Wednesday in Guangzhou, we were met by Jocelyn after a munching on Pringles purchased in Guilin for breakfast. Since we were here last time, motorcycles have been banned from the streets of the city. The city also has a two-lane elevated inner belt that winds between the high rises about three storeys above the main roads. There are many on and off ramps connecting the two and the speed limit is only 40 km/h so traffic is only slightly faster on the freeway than the one below.
We checked into the White Swan hotel which is on Shamian island in the middle of a river that flows through Guangzhou. It is the traditional lodging for Americans adopting children from China. Those adoptions are much less frequent than they were ten years ago, and now what you see is adopted pre-teens with their parents on their homeland visit. Jocelyn said there were 48 from our tour agency alone just that morning.
Just as an aside, why do 5-star hotels charge for in-room Internet access when 4-star hotels don’t? It is annoying. Have to admit I’m willing to spend $4 for a can of Diet Coke but not $8 for a day’s worth of Internet in my room. Perhaps I should cave. I did a quick check of the number of clean socks, underwear and shirts in my suitcase and I was short one shirt for the number of days left in the trip. I decided to buy a new T-shirt for $4 instead of paying $9 at the hotel to have one I already own cleaned.
After a lunch of Dim Sum in a private room for just our family in a eight storey restaurant, Jocelyn took us to a government sponsored handicrafts store. Although I said no to Claire’s request for a $300 mural, Chris did say yes to Katie’s request for a $13 calligraphy set. It will match the one we already have at home. Amazingly Claire showed interest in another calligraphy set shortly afterward at another store. If you want to keep account at home, we now have 3 calligraphy sets and we’ve purchased, while we’ve been here, 4 swords and 7 fans, not including the 4 we were given on the boat cruise.
We stopped by the place where Katie and Claire got their passport picture taken on Shamian island and again at the physician examination building where all U.S.-bound adopted children are examined before departure. Last time I was there, I was carrying Claire from room to room, along with several dozen other parents with children, to visit several doctors who weighed and measured children and checked their hearts, ears, noses and throats. It was a mad house in 2003, but it is empty now. I didn’t see a single child or doctor beyond the doors marked “Examination Room for Adopted Children” this time around.