Yesterday afternoon we checked out of our hotel around 2:30pm. Our guide picked us up at 3pm and we went to pick up Samuel’s passport. We then drove to the train station in Nanning so we could catch our 5pm train. We went through security at the train station and then made our way to our waiting area for the train. Thankfully our guide was able to stay with us the entire time. He even came onto the train with us to load our luggage and get us situated. We really liked riding the bullet train— more leg room than plane, we got to see the country side plus it was a new experience. It may have been difficult to navigate without the help of our guide, though.
Outside the Nanning train station
With our guide in Nanning, Amby
Walking to get to the train platform
The bullet train
A view inside the train
On the train Samuel was a busy little guy. We went through every entertainment option that we had for him several times and he never did fall asleep despite our best efforts. We could tell he was exhausted as he got busier and busier and more rowdy. We were pretty beat by the time the train arrived in Guangzhou at 9:30pm! Another guide and driver were waiting there for us and helped us take our bags to the van. Samuel fell asleep immediately in the van and slept during the entire 45 minute ride to the hotel. He continued to sleep as we got checked in, went up to the room and laid him on the bed in his clothes.
Samuel insisted on feeding himself this Chinese train food with chopsticks
Isn't China beautiful??
We’ve had a great trip so far but it still has things about it that are difficult— being away from our other children, familiar foods, our familiar home, traveling all the time, not speaking the language plus the stresses of adding a new toddler to our family. We were by no means at the end of our rope as we arrived in Guangzhou but we were a little ragged. When we arrived at The Garden hotel in Guangzhou I literally thought to myself, IAM GOING TO MAKE IT! I AM GOING TO BE OK! I wish I wasn’t so shallow but having more space to spread out, a hotel with a nice pool, great breakfast buffet, children’s play area, great location in the city near restaurants and supermarkets PLUS familiar faces of our friends and other adoptive families all was a huge encouragement to us. I am trying to remember that when I miss the comforts of home that our Samuel will likely feel this way as he settles into life in our family-- he may have days or weeks where he just longs for some familiar food or his foster family or to hear someone speak Cantonese.
The front desk check in area of The Garden Hotel
We all slept ok and enjoyed the breakfast buffet on Saturday morning in the hotel. We saw our friends the McDonalds and also met several other families who are here from our agency and other agencies. At 9am we met our guide for the rest of the trip, Lucia. We loaded up to go to the medical exam that is required for Samuel to get a visa.
The exam consisted of 4 different rooms: general screening, height/weight/temperature, ENT and Tb test. Samuel did fine for the first 3 rooms and allowed the doctors to examine him. We tried to communicate to our guide and the doctors that we wanted a CBC done with his Tb blood draw because we do not know what his hemoglobin was after his transfusion on the 12th. Our last room was the Tb room. After explaining several times about the CBC and getting permission from the head doctor, they agreed to take an extra vial of blood so a CBC can be done. This incremental test cost is 30 RMB, or $5! We will not get the results of the CBC until Tuesday morning. Please pray that Samuel's hemoglobin levels are in an acceptable range to get home safely.
At the general screening
With the ENT
After this step we did the blood draw station. For whatever reason the Chinese clinic feels that it is best of the newly adopted children to be separated from their parents and taken to do the scary blood draw alone with the medical staff. We did not have a choice in the matter so we had to comply. Samuel was in there for a long time and he was screaming very very loud for a long time. They even called in a third nurse who is supposedly the best one to help hold him or stick him, we aren't sure which. It was very difficult to listen to him scream and not be able to do anything during the process. We know asking for the CBC may have made it take longer, but if we hadn't done it then we would have needed to go to another clinic and have it done. It seemed better to get it all over with at once.
When Samuel finally came out he was upset but quickly calmed down in Bryan's arms once we gave him a sucker. We went down to the lobby to get a good laugh at the wine and liquor vending machine they have downstairs! I'm pretty sure most parents feel like they would like a drink after the stress of the appointment! We sat with our group in a restaurant area that was closed to prepare all our documents for our last official adoption step, the consulate appointment, which takes place on Tuesday morning.
Bryan with his coworker and friend Mike McDonald. We are so happy to spend time with them on this trip!
Samuel quickly passed out in the van on the way back to the hotel. He seems to fall asleep anytime we ride in the car. We laid him on the bed and he took a nice nap in the room.
When Samuel woke up we snuggled for a bit and then he enjoyed watching a show about puppies on TV! So far he loves vehicles, balls, animals and being rowdy! ALL BOY! :)
Snuggling with Mommy after nap
Talking about the puppies in Cantonese
After puppy TV was over, we decided to walk to McDonalds for a little snack. There was Minion stuff everywhere. It was very similar (maybe nicer??) that McDonalds back at home.
Samuel eating his first Happy Meal. Little guy knew what to do with those fries and was dipping them in the ketchup and in the Mango Sweet and Sour sauce that came with his nuggets.
After McDonalds we walked about 10 minutes to a department store called Aeon. It is 5 floors that includes a supermarket, housewares, children's floor, adult clothing, and restaurants up top. I decided it is kind of like China Target!
Outside of Aeon
Food in Aeon
And now for a segment I will call: "LOST IN TRANSLATION". We have gotten some good laughs out of clothing we see people wearing that has English phrases that just don't make sense. I imagine this is similar to the laughs Chinese people have over the tattoos that Americans get thinking that the characters mean "love and faith" when really they mean something entirely different. Here are a few favorites:
Outside of Aeon on our walk home-- Samuel found large concrete balls (again... just like Target!) and in true boy fashion, needed to see them up close and personal.
Once back at the hotel, we explored the garden outside that includes a large coy pond and a three story waterfall. Samuel loved looking at the fish. We would have stayed out longer but it is so hot.
Tonight we went to dinner at a pizza/Italian restaurant with 3 other families. We enjoyed great food and great conversation, and Bryan got to have the adventure of taking Samuel to the squatty potty around the corner to use the bathroom!
Tomorrow our guide is taking some other families to shop for pearls and embroidery-- things we bought a lot of on our trip for Hannah. We are going to try to go to the Guangzhou International Christian Fellowship church that is held in a local hotel. The rest of the day is a free day so we hope to explore Shamian Island and maybe take Samuel swimming in the hotel pool!