We left Houston at midnight on Tuesday night and arrived in Beijing at 5am on Thursday morning which is equivalent to 3pm Wednesday at home. Our flight was on time and we managed to get the exit row. Score! We had plenty of room to stretch out although we couldn't have any of our carry-ons in front of us; instead they had to be placed up above the whole flight. We both slept, ate, and watched movies off and on throughout the flight. It went by faster than we thought.
We cleared immigration and customs without issue and claimed our bags. When we walked out of the customs area one of our agency guides, Cecilia, was standing there with a sign for us just as we expected. Cecilia drove us in her own car to the hotel. It took about 45 minutes. We learned that the Forbidden City is at the center of Beijing and each road that goes around its perimeter is called 1st Ring Road, 2nd Ring Road and so on all the way up to the 6th Ring Road. Our hotel is inside the 2nd Ring so it is quite close to the center of the city.
Outside our hotel in Beijing
There is a window with blinds in between the bathroom & bedroom area. How special to look in on someone using the potty while lounging in the hotel room. We have closed the blinds.
The atrium area of our hotel.
We ate breakfast at the tables below this morning. Our breakfast was good! We enjoyed a variety of foods: eggs, sausage, donuts, fruit (only stuff with a peel on it!), juice, dumplings, potatoes. It was very filling!
After breakfast we came up to the room to rest. As we laid down we both remarked that we didn't feel too tired and I even wondered aloud if I'd be able to sleep. Four hours later we woke up!! Ha! We got dressed and had the concierge help us get a taxi so we could go visit Little Flower, the first place that Hannah lived.
When Hannah was found in her birth city the orphanage realized her medical needs required special care so within days they sent her to Little Flower in Beijing. We believe she would have traveled by train with a nanny from Anyang. She lived at Little Flower from around August 17 until January 26. They did serial casting on her legs followed by bracing on her feet/legs to correct their placement. We are so grateful for them and love the work they do for orphans in China.
The taxi ride to Little Flower took about 45 minutes. The concierge told the taxi drive to wait for us outside Little Flower so we wouldn't have to try to find another taxi back. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take pictures inside out of respect for the privacy of the babies living there. We LOVED getting to see this facility as it is a part of Hannah's past that we can learn about. It is in a community of houses. After going in, we saw a large playroom full of children and many nannies and volunteers. The toys were great, the room was bright and cheerful, and the children were happy. I recognized the faces of many of the babies from the Little Flower Facebook page.
Next we were taken upstairs to see the rooms where Hannah lived. She lived in Baby Rooms 1, 2 and 4. In each room the staff was told that we were adopting An Ping. When they heard their eyes lit up. One woman in particular clearly loved our Ping Ping as she was called because she thought they looked alike with round faces :) In addition to seeing the love the nannies (or ayis) have for the children, we also saw the children getting tons of one on one interaction, therapy, play time and specialized medical treatment like tube feedings, breathing treatments, etc. We did not enter the two preemie rooms where the smallest babies stay. The feeling there was happy and we left feeling so grateful that the Lord would place Hannah there at such a vulnerable and important time in her life.
Many of the nannies were thrilled to hear that I knew so many adoptive families of other Little Flower children, especially Hannah's little friends from Anyang who have already gone home with their forever families. The nannies loved hearing that these girls will hopefully get to see one another again since they share a common history.
We were able to bring over 13 pulse oximeter machines (oxygen meters) for babies that a German donor shipped to our house. We also brought our own donation of some specific vitamins and preemie diapers, which are apparently unavailable in China. It felt like something so small to give after what they have done for our daughter.
Outside of Little Flower
With the sweet nanny who clearly adored our Hannah Ping- what a blessing!
After we got back from Little Flower we went to the 7-11 across the street from the hotel to stock up on bottled water and a few other drinks. Then we met up with another family from our travel group, the Allenders. We walked together to a popular shopping mall near our hotel where there were 2 entire floors full of places to eat. It was probably the largest food court we've seen! Bryan had a rice and chicken stir fry bowl and I had some dumplings filled with carrot, mushroom and egg. It was all very good although our process of ordering was somewhat comical. Luckily we could laugh along with the Chinese employees at each restaurant! :)
Inside the mall. It is the year of the horse! We are enjoying all the decorations for Chinese New Year.
This Catholic church is part of the view outside our hotel window.
Apparently it is a popular gathering spot for people to dance. There is currently a large group of people doing group dancing to pop music (think Chinese line dancing!) outside. I took a video of it because I loved it! Looked like great exercise and a lot of fun.
Tomorrow we will eat breakfast and meet up with our group at 9am so we can tour Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and then take a rickshaw tour of the Hutong neighborhood and have lunch in a local family's home. We are looking forward to the adventure and experiencing more of Beijing!