Wednesday, June 27, 2007

China vs. U.S.A.- Emily's thoughts

I would definitely choose to live in the U.SA. than China. China is a wonderful place, but I like much more things in the United States than I do in China.The things I really missed were..... My SOFT bed, my 3 dogs, my sisters, the food- especially MEXICAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I missed using water from the faucet and regular toilets!!! As you can see, I missed ALOT of things! I missed a lot more, but I can't think of all of them right now. Something I really like about China is that when you shop in China you can bargain. I wish we could do that here. Than I wouldn't be so concerned about money. I also like that there are a lot of interesting places you can go see. Unlike here, where we just go to the park or something like that. Another thing that I really liked was the hotels that we stayed in. They are VERY nice. Except the breakfast wasn't very good usually. I am never going to complain about where I'm living again!! The houses there are just so different from here. I am SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO glad to be back home!!!! When we got into the XNA airport, I was shaking because I was so anxious to get home.
I know I'm totally changing the subject, but I forgot to tell you about the meals in China. Or, let me put a little more detail into that subject. It was DISGUSTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I didn't actually try everything but everyone who did said it was bad. For our last meal with the group, we ate DUCK, DUCK, and MORE DUCK!!! I didn't eat any of the "side" dishes of duck, but I did try the main duck. didn't want to eat the duck, but I wanted to be able to say that I've eaten duck. It was okay, but not that good. Some of the other dishes of duck was lemon duck, fried duck, peeking duck, and SO much more. The food that THE CAT names in HONK JR. is actually real!!! Ever since I've gotten home, a lot of people have been telling me that I'm invited to their house to have dinner and their main dish is going to be DUCK!
When my parents take Allyson and Claire back in a few years, I hope I get to come too because I think it would be cool to come back to China when I'm a teenager.
~Emily Rodgers~


We've been back home in the USA for a week now. By about the 5th or 6th day home, we were finally feeling rested and back to "normal" (well, as normal as we get anyway! LOL). I truly love being in China and around its people, but I must admit it's great being "home" again. Some of the things I missed and tend to take for granted:

1. my kids! wow, a phone call just doesn't do it...and it always seems they've grown so much when we return
2. tap water - just knowing you can turn the tap to get a drink if you're thirsty is such a good feeling....oh and brushing our teeth with tap water - ahhhh! Having to swish your toothbrush around in a small cup of bottled water just isn't the same.
3. my semi-soft mattress - the beds in China are HARD and left clothing seam lines impressed on my skin. After a few days, my sides felt bruised. I'm a big dummy though because I knew about the beds and should have taken a small inflatable air mattress.
4. air conditioning! Although most buildings in China have a/c, it just isn't the same (they don't keep it as cool), so I was still sweating.
5. blue skies - because there is so much pollution, it's rare to see a blue sky.

I am also thankful....for so many things, but here are just a few:

1. God - for without him, I wouldn't have these 3 little blessings I call my kiddos.
2. my kids! I love, love, LOVE them and am SO lucky to be called mom many times a day.
3. my dh - yeah, he's impatient, but otherwise a pretty great guy and a wonderful dad.
4. the USA - we are SOOOOOO fortunate to live in such a place believe me!
5. Dillon International - such a great adoption agency
6. Rebecca Hackworth - she's a wonderful example of Dillon's commitment to helping children
7. our travel group #1 - the Wood and Gary families are such great people to travel with....they'd have to be for putting up with our crazy clan for 2 weeks!! :-)
8. Bridge of Love Adoption Services (BLAS) - they did a wonderful job of putting our trip together, and did so many wonderful things to welcome our children "home" to China

Gosh, there are SO many other things and people that I'm thankful for, but I'm running out of time and need to get to the dentist's office this morning. Hopefully, Emily will jump on in a bit and write down her thoughts.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Heading Home!

We actually slept in since we didn't have to be at the airport until noon. We left Beijing around 4:30 p.m. on Monday, June 18th and arrived in San Francisco in the afternoon on the 18th (hey, how did we manage that?!). Our bodies sure knew we missed a day there somewhere!

One dad in our group kissed the ground when we landed in SF...too funny! Would you believe that the food choices on the flight were either fish or DUCK?! There was NO way we could eat more duck, so we chose the fish....also a bad choice.
We had really great connections in San Francisco and Dallas so we didn't have to sit in the airports long. Emily spotted a Subway in San Francisco so we grabbed a sandwich before boarding our flight. Wow, I've never seen that kid eat a sandwich so fast!! LOL Randy was glad to have a Diet Coke too. Can't believe I forgot to take a picture though!

We made it home around 10:00 p.m. - we were greeted by our two little munchkins at the airport.

The jet lag has set in, but I've finally managed to get the blog updated a little. Will try to add a few more thoughts about the trip in the next few days.

Last Tour Day in Beijing

Yet another early morning for a 1-1/2 hour bus ride to the Great Wall. We went to the Badaling section of the wall, which is an area Randy and I haven't been to before. There were TONS of people! We climbed to the first tower and bargained with a peddler - got Emily a little brass certificate that says she climbed the wall. They originally asked $150 yuan - we got it for $10 (about $1.31 U.S.). We were the first from our group to the first tower, and since we only had an hour at the wall, we decided to go back down and do a little shopping (bargaining). We met our group on the way down, and Emily decided to go back up with them.

Our lunch stop was at the Friendship Store, which was also the home of a cloisonne factory. This was very convenient for sales. :-) Lunch was better that most of what we had been having...or maybe I was just really hungry. :-) After lunch, we browsed the aisles and aisles of cloisonne. Even though there was no bargaining at this store, we ended up buying a few small gifts anyway. We even grabbed an ice cream cone on the way out (tasted close to our ice cream at home!).

The next stop was the Summer Palace. Again, tons of people....and again, we were rushed. The palace grounds are huge. Oh to be able to own such a place just for vacations - what a life those emperors had! We rode a dragon boat across the lake before making a mad dash for the hotel.

We were to originally have had about 3 hours to prepare for dinner, but ended up having only 30 minutes. That made it really fun (not) to get rid of the sweat stained clothing and dress for dinner! We somehow managed to take a 2 minute shower though! All of the girls wore their new dresses that BLAS arranged for them...they all looked lovely.

Dinner was at a restaurant that specialized in Peking Duck. Practically every dish on the table was some sort of duck....who knew you could fix duck SO many ways! Our hosts for dinner were very prominent in the adoption world -- the director of BLAS, as well as the Vice-Director of the CCAA. We sat at the table with Cecilia (our BLAS guide in 2002) and the BLAS director. Before we started eating, the director looked at us and said something in Chinese. Cecilia translated for us and said that he specifically wanted her to be our guide on our next adoption trip (Randy had told him what a good job she did when we were there in '02). Cecilia does the planning now though, and not the adoption group guiding, but said she would be happy to be our guide when we return.

After several duck dishes, we thought the meal was almost over...but we had a surprise coming! Two chefs walked in with trays of the whole ducks! They proceeded to carve and chop away at the ducks and presented them to our tables. The BLAS director then showed us how to wrap the meat into a little burrito shape and eat it.

After dinner, everyone took photos of the kids in their Chinese clothing, and then photos of our hosts. BLAS presented all of the kids with a final gift...a pillow that represented one of the 2008 Olympic mascots.

Back To Beijing!

We were up early again (no rest on this trip!) for a flight back to Beijing. We had to wait 30 minutes at the airport for our bus, so that put us behind the rest of the day. We changed up the schedule a bit and went straight to lunch which was a "hot pot" style. Each person had a little copper pot that was filled with seasoned water, and set over a burner. After the water came to a boil, we dropped meat and veggies into it to cook. The problem with this was that most of the meat was lamb, which we don't care for. We tried several different things, but just didn't like as usual, we were hungry.

We then headed to the Temple of Heaven - we rushed through because we were still behind schedule. We didn't go through fast enough though, as we were late arriving at the Chinese Acrobat Show and couldn't go in. We waited in the heat while the guide bought tickets for the later show. Since we hadn't eaten at lunch, I began to feel lightheaded and decided to return to the hotel room. Emily wanted to stay with her friends, so Randy and I caught a taxi to the hotel. There was a McD's near the hotel, so that's what we had for dinner (I must say, it was quite tasty...but neither of us were able to eat it all. I guess the heat had taken it's toll). Emily watched the show and had dinner with the group, and returned to the hotel about 10:30 p.m.).
Fishing for things in the hot pots
Cute little pot
Temple of Heaven

Guilin - Day 2

On our 2nd day in Guilin, we rode our bus for about an hour to a wharf on the Li River for a boat cruise. Sadly, my camera batteries bit the dust AFTER we left the dock (weird because they charged overnight). We still had 2 other cameras, but they didn't have good zoom. The scenery along the river was just beautiful. We saw people from small villages at the river's edge washing clothing, filling buckets, etc. There were several other cruise boats on the river as well, and we could see them cooking lunch at the back of the boat. Our cruise was a lunch service as well...traditional Chinese again! We were offered an appetizer of mini crabs and shrimp, but we declined. A few people from our group did try the local "osmanthus wine" though. We docked in Yangshuo and were bombarded by peddlers when we got off the boat. Randy found a couple packs of batteries at one stand for my camera, so I was a happy camper again. We stopped briefly at a small village to see a comparison of the old way of life, as well as the new. What an eye opener that was! We have SO much to be thankful for believe me!!

Our bus took us by "Moon Hill" just so we could take a few snapshots. The guide said that we couldn't stop and get off the bus or the local people would charge bus window photos it was for us.

Our final tour stop for the day was "Elephant Trunk Hill" which is a famous tourist area in Guilin. As we posed for a group shot, we thought it funny that strangers were taking our photo as well. Within a couple of minutes, we were being offered our group photo (laminated and dated) by those strangers. What entrepreneurs they are! Another vendor just walked around looking at us and quickly cutting away at a piece of paper....he was speedily making silhouette papercuts (yes, we succumbed to the pressure and bought it - after all, it was all done and ready to go...not to mention the fact that the artist had included my double chin in the silhouette!). LOL!

Scenery along the Li River

The boat kitchen!Elephant Trunk Hill

A Parking Lot
Moon Hill

A Few Photos

Just posting a few photos from the past few days since I couldn't post them earlier...

Friday, June 15, 2007


We transferred to Guilin Thursday. This is a beautiful city. I think this would be a wonderful place to live in...much smaller than Beijing. We had yet another Chinese group lunch...but we're at the point where we really don't eat. Instead, we just grab a peanut butter cracker in the room.
We visited Reed Flute Cave which is a huge cave inside one of the many limestone hills here. We were then off to an Art Museum. One of the artists showed the kids how to do traditional Chinese painting...then they got to try it. They were also given a custom painted rice paper with their Chinese name on it...we'll bring that home and frame it.
Group dinner was again at a Chinese restaurant (Emily said it was horrible...she was right). We then went to a HUGE gymnasium where the kids were to play badminton with some local kids. Instead of just "regular" kids, these were like mini professionals that they were to play against. All of the parents just sat in the non-air conditioned room and watched...and sweated. Have I mentioned how the air conditioning just isn't the same?
We're off to dinner now, but I'll try to pop back on later and post a few pictures.
Hi everyone! It is VERY hot here. My skin is broken out in a BAD heat rash. The food is disgusting! I can't wait to have Mexican food. :-)
Inside Reed Flute Cave

Watching the artist demonstrate how to paint

Some of the pretty scenery in Guilin


We transfered to Guangzhou today. A quick flight from Hefei to Guangzhou. It was overcast when we arrived, and started raining by the time we reached the hotel. As soon as we arrived, Randy went to a couple of close shops to order a few gifts. We had a few free hours in the evening, so we went to Lucy's for dinner (it was SOOOOOO good to have a cheeseburger and fries!!).

On our 2nd day in Guangzhou, we had to get up way too early since we were scheduled to do tai-chi with some of the local people. It was SO very hot and humid...we were already sweating at 7:00 a.m.

We took a bus to the Long Gang School (which is a rural school on the outskirts of Guangzhou). We stopped at the Nan Huai orphanage (think that's spelled correctly) to pick up the director of the orphanage. There were several children from the orphanage who attended the school, and they wanted us to meet them.
We arrived at the school and heard the children repeating things for their teachers. The classrooms were much different that home....all non-air conditioned rooms! The kids didn't know we were going to visit, so they were all surprised. They were so cute sitting in their rooms, waving and saying hello. We were shown 3 children who lived at the orphanage (all abandoned in the last 2 years). One girl really grabbed my heart....a shy little one who was the star of her class. We left the school just as the children were leaving to go home for lunch. The orphanage director's mom came to take the 3 children home for lunch and a nap. What a great visit that was!

We had lunch at a traditional Chinese restaurant...again. Emily is really having a hard time with the food. We're ready for some western food!

We had the afternoon free and did a little more shopping (but haven't really found anything great this time). Rebecca took the kids to Lucy's for dinner - the parents had the evening free and were treated to a Chinese massage. OH MY GOSH....what an experience THAT was!!!!
They took all of us into one big room and put our feet into a warm water bath. Then, they started at our heads and went down from there. It was hilarious when they got to our feet...Randy kept jerking his feet from the lady when she touched his feet. I cracked up when the guy put me into a headlock position. I believe there are pictures out there somewhere...hope they don't surface!!

More About BengBu

We haven't had any free time, and were in a hurry the last time we posted, so I can't remember where we left off. We also can't actually SEE our posts once they're typed, so can't go back and read to catch up.
Just wanted to tell a little more about our BengBu trip....
The orphanage director and 2 workers took us to a really nice buffet lunch at a local hotel. We were given instructions ahead of time on how to properly toast. So glad we knew what to do! The director and staff offered up so many toasts I lost count. For anyone who knows us, you know that we don't drink....but we did in BengBu! It would have been rude to not toast and drink (so we were told). The director and staff toasted and then emptied their glass each time...and expected us to do the same. I just took a small sip though...and thankfully Rebecca would reach across and quickly switch glasses with me. ;-)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Day 4

Today was a very BIG day! We got up early and headed out to the orphanage. We had to make a stop at a warehouse to pick up the washer we purchased for BengBu.
We were greeted warmly by the orphanage staff. We immediately recognized the lady who delivered Emily to us 10 years ago. She walked out and said, Ni Hao Ran Ran to Emily. The girls were again treated like stars. We had a short meeting with the director and several staff members. We were able to answer any questions we wanted. After the meeting, we were given a quick tour of the baby area - it was naptime though, so we couldn't stay long. We did deliver the care package for one waiting baby and took a quick photo of her.
The staff then took us on a tour of the city to show us the girls' finding sites. Emily's finding info was vague, so we had to just visit the general area listed. We taped a couple of signs to a pole stating that our child was found and then adopted and was now living in the U.S. I was so proud of Emily for wanting to do that.
Need to post more using a friend's computer.

Day 3

Sorry for taking so long post....we've just been so busy everyday and don't have nuch down time.
Today was a travel day. We flew to Hefei in the morning and checked in at the Holiday Inn. Aftere check in, we went on a ciity tour. We went to the Golden Anhui where we received our girls 10 years ago. The hotel now has a different name, but we were able visit the rooms where we stayed, as well as the conference room where we rec'd the girls.
Later in the evening, we went shopping a little and had KFC for dinner (by the way, it wasn't very good food). The group decided to donate a washer to the orphanage, so Randy and the guide went to purchase that, as well as some diapers and formula. All of this will be donated when we visit tomorrow.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Beijing Day 2

What a day we had! After breakfast, the girls were given another surprise....they were measured by a seamstress for a custom Qi Pao dress. The lady will sew the dresses while we're touring and have them ready before we leave China.
We went to the zoo today to see the pandas. It was very hot outside again, so we didn't stay long, but it was fun seeing the pandas eating bamboo.
After the zoo, the REAL fun began. We all rode in bicycle rickshaws!! Some of the drivers serenaded their riders with songs, some gave Chinese lessons, and some were just funny. We made a brief stop by a lake to watch a group of elderly ladies do a traditional fan dance. They pulled some of the girls, as well as a few dads, into the dance. The rickshaws then took us to a local hutong (older style family dwelling with a courtyard). We visited the home of an elderly man and woman and they allowed us to tour their home and told us about their daily lives. We jumped back into our rickshaws and went to another home where the girls learned to make dumplings. We were then served the BEST meal (including the dumplings)!! YUM
The group then went to the National Children's Center. Part of the group learned to make tie-dye (Emily and Randy did this), while the others learned paper cutting (Emily and myself). The director of the center presented all of the girls with a nice set of postcards showing artwork of Chinese children.
We then went outside the center and the girls were all given a kite of their choice.....and then the kite flying began!
Dinner was at a noodle restaurant, where we were served an interesting variety of dishes, as well as a big bowl of noodles. The heat has really zapped our energy and Emily and I didn't eat at all.
We were supposed to go to a Chinese opera in the evening, but several members of the group weren't feeling well, so we all opted to just go back to the hotel. The kids were THRILLED because they had an hour or so to swim. Emily wasn't too thrilled though that the hotel had a rule that everyone must wear a swim cap...that cost us $20 yuan.
I still need to write about today's adventures, but the internet is costing us per minute, so I'll be back on tomorrow. Emily and the other kids are swimming again right now, then we'll be going out again.

Friday, June 8, 2007

We're Here!!

We're in Beijing, China! We made it here Thursday night (Thursday morning at home). Emily and the other girls in the group were greeted like royalty upon arrival at the Beijing airport! They were each given a huge bouquet of fresh flowers and cameras were flashing. What a nice greeting.

Yesterday, we went to the Forbidden City (it was H.O.T! and we sweated buckets!). We then went to BLAS (Bridge of Love Adoption Services) and had the BEST time! Again, the girls were treated SO well. The staff put on a little skit of the adoption process where they pretended to be American parents adopting a baby....very cute! They also presented the girls with a magnetic puzzle and had a contest to see who could put all of the provinces on the map first. After a little culture lesson, the girls were taught how to do Chinese calligraphy. Our group then sang a song in Chinese for the BLAS staff.

Later in the day, we went to a Kung Fu show....those guys were amazing! It was very hard to stay awake during the performance though as jet lag has set in.

Here's a note from Emily:

Hi everyone!! I'm so excited to be here. Going to BLAS and the kung fu show was my favorite thing we did yesterday. The dinner last night was VERY bad. China has some intresting foods. We've got another tiring day ahead of us. On the long plane ride to China, my parents surprised me with pink nintendo DS and 5 new games. I miss you Allyson and Claire.

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