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Well….it’s finally the day! We are leaving for China.

Day 11 January 31,2005

Another whirlwind of a day! Every day seems to be a marathon of adventure…there are so many places to visit and so much shopping to do. Actually, I can’t believe I’m saying this but I think I’m all shopped out! EVERYWHERE we go there is stuff to buy and people hollering to you to buy their stuff.

It is really exhausting!!! Today we did get to experience the market and bartering and I think we did pretty good. We were told the “rule of thumb” is to never pay more than ½ of their asking price. Which means you have to start bartering below half of the price to have something to work up to. For example, I wanted a pair of NorthFace waterproof snow pants for Caleb and the saleslady said 180 Yuan (approx. $23 Cnd) but I got her down to only 80 Yuan (about $10 Cnd). The key is to walk away….when they say “no, price too low” we say to them, “okay, bye bye” and leave and they follow you down the hall and say “okay, okay,okay…but only for you” They always say “but only for you”…Yeah right!!! I got two Rolex watches for only $5 US. Bartering can be quite fun but is very tiring. Sometimes you just want to be able to look around and not be bothered but this does NOT happen in the market!! Be prepared to be bombarded!

We are supposed to go to another market tomorrow called the Pearl Factory but I’m not sure if we are going to go. For one thing, pearls are very expensive and I’m not really too interested. The rest of the market is pretty much the same as today and like I mentioned earlier, I’m getting all shopped out! We also have NO room left in our suitcases!

Today we had the children’s medicals done and the doctor said Alyssa was doing quite well. She is a bit under weight but he was not really concerned. She is eating well now so that’s the main thing. She weighed 9.5 kg (is that about 20 pounds or so?) and was 79 cm tall. She is quite tall compared to the rest of the babies. All in all…it went well and we were pleased the doctor thought she was doing okay.

Chris and I and Alyssa just got back from seeing a Chinese Acrobatic Show and it was fabulous! Alyssa was yelling and laughing – she was so excited she didn’t know what to with herself. The show was very interesting and the acrobats were amazing. Most of them were young teenagers and did things I didn’t know was possible. I will try and post a few pictures (I have to see how they turned out).

Both Chris and Alyssa are snoring away and I’m frantically trying to get the update done. Sorry about being late with yesterday’s update but something was wrong with our email. I can’t believe we only have 2 days left in China before traveling home! We really love China and will be kinda sad to leave here. The people are so friendly and love to practice their English with us. The Chinese people seem to adore all the babies which makes you wonder why there are so many abandoned. The Chinese gov’t did a survey last year to find out what the Chinese people thought about foreigners adopting Chinese babies and 90% of the population surveyed thought it was wonderful. When you are walking in the streets with your baby many people will give you the thumbs up.

Tomorrow is another big day…the Pearl Factory and then in the afternoon we finally get to visit Summer Palace. We hear it is very beautiful so we are looking forward to seeing it and being outside.

Day 12 February 1, 2005

I can’t believe we only have 1 ½ days left in China! WOW! In some ways, though, it feels like we have been here forever. I was feeling very homesick today and really missing my boys. Chris has had a difficult time being away from the kids, too. We know the next couple of days will go by very quickly!

Today we did visit the Pearl Market but we didn’t buy any pearls. We just looked around and picked up a few small items. We are always so amazed by the huge quantity of things in the market. Booths upon booths of merchandise…clothes, hats, shoes, purses, watches, jewelry, makeup, knick knacks, cameras, scarves, coats…ANYTHING you want, they have it! Chris and I had a lot of funny moments today bartering but I will have to tell the stories in person. They just wouldn’t be funny if I wrote them down.

Chris and I didn’t make it to the Summer Palace today. Each day is so busy we hardly have time to feed Alyssa lunch or give her a proper nap. Today she was too fussy and hungry and we didn’t have much time before heading to the Summer Palace so we decided to take the afternoon off and hang out at the hotel. We had McDonald’s for lunch and it was actually quite good. We also went to a DVD store and stocked up on DVDs. They were only $1 Cnd each! Most of the movies we got are still in the theatres!!! We got ones like Oceans Twelve, Closer, The Forgotten, The Incredibles, Shark Tale, Million Dollar baby, The Notebook and lots more (we bought 43!)

 

Alyssa really enjoys being outside in her stroller so we just enjoyed the afternoon hanging around. It was cold today but it was sunny and overall quite a nice day. Most people who visited the Summer Palace today said it was too cold for the babies and there wasn’t anything to do but walk around for 2 hours. We were glad we stayed “home” and we will get pictures from some of the others who went.

Tomorrow is our last day in Beijing and then we begin the long journey home! It is going to feel so great to be back in Canada!

Below are some of our pictures from today…just enjoying each other and relaxing a bit. We have started Alyssa on McDonald’s food since it’s a family favorite and she seems to be enjoying it.

Day 13, February 2, 2005

Hi, Chris here. I thought I would give you all a break from Tammy's shopping escapades! Well, today was our last day for touring, and a busy one at that. After a breakfast we left the hotel and headed for Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. For those of you who need a brush up on Chinese history, click the following link for briefing http://www.infoplease.com/spot/tiananmen.html . I loved being there, as I remember watching CBC coverage of the events. I said to Tammy today, "Can you believe we are standing where this all happened?" To which she replied, "Yeah, I know...what happened?!"” What a hoot. From there we entered the Forbidden City (the residence for the Royal Chinese family, namely the emperor, his family and roughly 3,000 concubines. Sheesh. This place was rich with history - we actually took a piece of the stone walkway that was built in 1406 (shhhh).
Tammy and I came back to the hotel for a bit where we enjoyed some free time with Alyssa. It was nice to relax a bit before heading to the last hurrah supper with the group, where we discovered something interesting about Alyssa. The supper, by the way, consisted of typical Chinese cuisine, a magic show and a dancing facemask-changer (to much to go into!). Anyway, Alyssa became quite upset at the table as SOON as we sat down to eat. Especially when Tammy tried to pass her to me. This went on the whole time, with Alyssa bawling and screaming each time I tried to take her. I kept racking my brain, as she hadn’t done this sort of thing since we met. I told Tammy I had a funny feeling it might be the black turtle-neck shirt I was wearing, but Tammy thought I was nuts (which is usually custom at any given time, ha ha). We left the function and we noticed that Alyssa immediately stopped (could it have been the fact that I put my blue jacket on over the black turtle-neck?). When we got back to the hotel, I took off my jacket and asked Tammy to pass me the baby…and guess what? Alyssa goes berserk! So, I took off my black shirt, and then guess what? Yup, she’s back to her old self again just like magic. I guess I won’t be wearing that shirt again (a hint for those who may want to hold her in the future!). I wonder why the shirt was such a negative trigger for her?? We'll never know.

Tammy and I are having lots of fun dealing with 14 days straight with each other. Why, just today she dropped my brand new digital camera in the middle of the Forbidden City with the whole group standing around us. I saved up for 2 years for that camera. It looked so shiny and new. And then, from behind me, I heard a crack, followed by a little, "oopsie". That's it... oopsie? The group looks at Tammy, has the uh-oh look on their faces; then they look at me and instantly I was taken back to those 5 words I said... "til death do us part."” DOUGH! But get this, she has the nerve to immediately take a picture of me in front of everyone and say, "Here's Chris, look how ticked off he is that I dropped the camera...hee hee". Yes, folks... 'til DEATH do us part :)

Anyway, we're so excited to be leaving tomorrow for home. I am overdosing on Chinese culture, every kind of rice dish imaginable and being worlds apart from family and friends. I remember Stephen Fenton saying in church one day, "They have no idea what they are in for." ”Now I know exactly what he meant…rush here, rush there, Chinese people everywhere, markets, walls, China dolls and nee-how shay-shay wumanchu :) Good thing he didn't elaborate; I think he only told us what we needed to hear at the time!

Say a few prayers for the long journey home. We can’t wait to see everyone. We’ll be lucky if we get the last post on tomorrow, but we will follow up on it shortly after we have adjusted back to normal life. Is there such a thing?

Enjoy today’s pictures. Cheers...

Coming Home February 3, 2005

Hi, Chris here. We survived the 11 hour trek across the Pacific Ocean with all these babies! I have to say Alyssa did well on the flight. We were impressed, as she didn’t cry once. Some of the other babies had a few fits! It feels great to be back in Canada, what a great country we have here. Ok, enough babble…MAN I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THE BOYS!! Although, I am reluctant to gaze upon the mountains of snow.

We’ve only had 3 hours sleep this stretch of the trip home. Tonight (3:30am PEI time) we fly to Toronto where we’ll meet Mom and the MacLaren clan for about half an hour in the airport (they’re driving a few hours to meet Alyssa!); then we’re off to Charlottetown. Yeeha!

Leaving Beijing was a little hard, in terms of Alyssa leaving her homeland, but we had Canada immigration officials welcome her to her new home earlier today. That was quite a thing (smile). She’s sitting in the crib beside me skillfully handling her cheerios and babbling like a brook.

A BIG thank you for those who pitched in to help look after Caleb, Dylan and Nathan while we’ve been away, especially Dad and family and George and Lorraine Marshall (Tammy’s dad and grandmother).

We’re almost home. You’re going to love Alyssa.

Chris

There is an invisible red thread
that connects those who are destined to meet,
reguardless of time place or circumstance.
Although the thread may stretch or tangle, it will never break.

~ Chinese Legend ~

Read more about Alyssa Li at: www.jewelbox.ca/mackinnons/index.htm

Pages 1,2,3,4,5


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