Day 9 was pretty uneventful, Lynne, Caden and I spent some time in the morning shopping with Mark, Moya and Andie. The afternoon was filled with paperwork and the rest of the day was spent packing for our travelling to Guangzhou the next day.
Part of our shopping was to buy a new large suitcase. We didn't really need it for this leg of the trip but we plan on doing a lot of shopping in Guangzhou, enough that we know we'll need a whole extra suitcase for everything we are going to purchase.
The paperwork took over two hours to complete, not that it bothered me much as Lynne took care of it while Caden and I had together time. One of the things we did together was get more pictures. Here is a shot of the building I was talking about the other day, where a shop has been setup on the ground floor and the building isn't even complete.
I also got some pictures of what our group referred to as "the big dig" next to the Marriott. It is a large excavation for a basement, one of the three new highrises being constructed in the front of the Marriott. The culture here is definitely not as safety conscious as it is in the US. The pictures I took here are from the driveway of the Marriott. The only thing that separated me from a 50 foot fall to the bottom of the pit was a thin landscaped area. No fence. No barriers. Nothing.
The paperwork that needed to be done is much longer and more complex than anything we've had to fill out so far. That's because it is all for the American government and not for the Chinese government. Over the next 4 days we will complete all the steps we need to adopt Caden in the US.
After packing we turned in early, got up early and were on the bus to the Chongqing airport by 9AM. A one and a half hour flight landed us in Guangzhou and a 20 minute bus ride got us to the White Swan Hotel. The White Swan is a 5 star hotel that is a favorite of adoption agencies to put up their clients because it is so nice and it is conveniently located to the services we need. The American consulate is literally a 5 minute walk down the street. Now we were fortunately warned from others that had gone before us that if you stayed at the Chongqing Marriott then not to expect too much when you go to the White Swan. They were right. I am quite honestly not that impressed. They messed up our room assignment, first giving us a room on the 11th floor then retracting it, saying the room wasn't ready, then after waiting they gave us a room on the 15th floor, but it too wasn't cleaned so they gave us the information, but refused to give us the keys until the room was done. Wendy, one of our agency's representatives out of New York was kind enough to let us use her room on the same floor until ours was cleaned. They assured us that they would get us from Wendy's room and give us the keys as soon as it was done. Well, they didn't and 20 minutes later we checked on things to find that the room was done, but our keys were not available, and they'd forgotten to set up a crib in the room. They eventually got the crib set up and the keys to us, but all-in-all it was a pretty shabby introduction to the hotel. Oh, and the rooms are smaller, the beds are smaller, the bathroom is absolutely cramped with no counter or drawer space. In general the staff have been professional, but they verge on snooty and are nowhere near as nice as the staff at the Chongqing Marriott.
The entire feel of the area is very different from Chongqing. The air is much cleaner and the area surrounding the White Swan is almost alien, as it is all European styled buildings, something to do with Britian and France and the Opium Wars. We'll go into that more tomorrow.
We did a little exploring, mostly to get some bottled water and Coca-Cola, and to find the local laundry.
Water has been constantly on our minds during this trip because none of the tap water is potable. As a matter of fact it has been various shades of brown and tan over the last few days. Given that we don't in anyway want to ingest the water we go through a lot of bottled water. It also means that we have been washing all of Caden's bottles and bowls with bottled water too. You never realize how much water you use washing dishes until you're pouring that water out of a bottle and not from a tap. The water restriction means that at every hotel we have been hanging a towel over the tap to remind ourselves not to use it, even for things like rinsing your mouth after brushing your teeth, or for rinsing your tooth brush off afterwards. Bottled water for everything. Luckly we can pick it up at a reasonable price, a two liter bottle runs only about 70 cents.
Special thanks to Ralf for converting the flower street videos into divx, quicktime and mpeg4!