Sunday, February 26, 2012

Hong Kong Marathon & Chicken Feet in Guangzhou

Warning: This is going to be a long post with LOTS of pictures.  If you want to see larger pictures, just click on them.

Yesterday was exhausting.  I kid you not when I say we walked a marathon...okay maybe claiming 26.2 is an exaggeration but I swear it was at least half that much!  

We are finding it more difficult to adjust to the 13 hour time change than we'd expected.  So far we've averaged 3-4 hours of sleep per night since Thursday...  Mornings are fine but by late afternoon the fatigue is starting to take over and today Jon succumbed to a nap.  I will hopefully join him once I have this knocked out - I don't want to lose the details by waiting too long.

Yesterday in Hong Kong it was breezy and drizzling on and off.  We took the train from our hotel and walked around downtown Hong Kong and Kowloon from morning until dinnertime and were completely wiped out when we got back to our hotel.  We were tempted to skip dinner but were afraid we'd wake up at 2:00 AM with grumbling stomachs again so we forced ourselves to eat a pizza before collapsing.  We managed to sleep from 9:00 PM to 1:30 AM.  Here are some pictures from Hong Kong:
 This is downtown Hong Kong.  The paths are very narrow in some places and if you're by the where you step!  They drive crazy fast through the narrow streets and don't feel the need to slow down for pedestrians!  It's hard to capture in a picture just how steep this walking path was but my legs are feeling it today!
And here is a picture of a man in the alley behind a restaurant chopping hundreds of green onions.  I guess when real estate is at a premium, the back alley becomes the prep kitchen!
 Next we climbed around on the side of mountain to see the Botanical Gardens, reptiles and monkeys...
We had planned on taking a ride up to a park on top of a mountain to see the Big Budda but the ride was closed for maintenance and we learned the Big Budda statue is actually relatively new - not the historic site we were expecting - so we bought tickets for The Peak Tram.

This is how it is advertised and what you could see on a perfect day:
But because it was so overcast we could barely see the building only 20 feet in front of us!
Even though there was no view of the city (seriously I could barely make out my hand in front of my face) the tram ride itself was pretty interesting.  Words can't explain how steep the climb was...crazy, ridiculous, wicked steep.  Whatever you're thinking - it was steeper than that.  After riding the tram back down (facing backwards) we took a ferry over to Kowloon and explored that area. 

I didn't take pictures of a lot of the main downtown Hong Kong or Kowloon areas because they could have been any big downtown in the USA with the exception of the massive apartment buildings all over.  There was Prada, Tiffany's, Cartier, and every other big name super expensive upscale store you can think of...and people were lined up outside waiting to get in!  Hong Kong would be awesome if you wanted to shop, but if you're on an adoption trip and have depleted most your bank account to get to this day in Hong Kong is plenty.  Around 2:00 PM we realized that we had missed lunch so we walked into one of the many giant upscale shopping malls and found a little place for a late lunch.  When we sat down we realized just how hungry we were as a mixture of nausea, fatigue and dizziness set in.  We thought we'd over ordered but managed to put away every last bite.  We learned that you have to raise your hand to be waited on...if you sit there waiting for your server to ask what you want, you don't eat.
We ordered one of the dishes that the table next to us had because it looked so tasty (not pictured)...turns out it was pork ribs riddled with small bones.  We were trying to figure out how to eat it "politely."  It was bite sized but how do you get the bones out without a fork and knife???  We observed the other table and realized we were supposed to put the whole rib into our mouths, work the meat off, and spit the bones onto our plates!  It was really good but the bones and the spitting got old after awhile.  After lunch we wandered around a little more.  Here are a few shots of around town - I don't know if you can tell in the picture - but many of the windows have laundry hanging out to dry...

So this is Hong Kong...a city of tall buildings, expensive stores, mountains, loading docks with huge cranes and probably thousands of cargo boxes.

Here we are too tired to walk anymore...we couldn't get back the hotel quick enough.  BUT it was really awesome spending time together and getting to have a meal where we could eat whatever we wanted (didn't have to be kid friendly) with no interruptions.  Having the day to knock around together was pretty awesome.  I am no longer upset with Delta Airlines for the reservation snafu that required us to leave a day early.  We really needed this time alone together and it's probably the last opportunity we'll have for quite awhile!!!

NOW...On To Today!

We were staying at the Regal Hotel which is connected to the Hong Kong airport so we walked over and checked our bags before getting a second breakfast by the gate.  I swore I would avoid McDonalds while in China, but, it was that or a version of Ramen Noodles with 7:00 AM a sausage, egg and cheese Mcmuffin sounded more appealing.
Our flight boarded at 8:00 AM and we landed at 8:50 AM in Guangzhou, China.  It was a fast flight, only 27 minutes in the air but they showed about 15 minutes of "Suburgatory."  Apparently American TV shows are HUGE in China and the way many learn and/or practice their English. 

Our guide, John, met us at the airport and then showed us around Shameen Island in Guangzhou (where we are staying).  After our quick tour we took him to lunch and enjoyed his selections off of a Dim Sum menu.  While we were waiting for our table we looked around at the many tanks of fish and other sea creatures just waiting to be devoured...some were common like crabs and fish while other tanks had sea snakes, water beetles and other things that really grossed me out.  
When we were ordering, John (the guide) pointed out that most of the locals were enjoying Chicken's Feet for lunch so we told him to order whatever he recommended and we, meaning Jon, would give it a try.  So here is our guide, John, and my husband, Jon, eating chicken's feet...

The food was good and relatively inexpensive.  I'm glad we're both pretty good with chop sticks because that's really all that has been offered since we arrived in Asia.  One piece of Chinese culture I don't think I'd ever get used to is the spitting at meals.  Crab shells, bones and whatever part of their meal they aren't supposed to swallow is spit out on their plate.  We also learned that we're supposed to dish out the food into the bowl provided and that the plate is actually for the parts that get spit out!!!  I assumed soup was coming...nope!  Anyway - Jon said the feet had good flavor, but two was enough!  He was happy to watch our guide finish them off!  When we got back to the hotel we unpacked and got everything organized.  It's quite chilly outside but is supposed to get pretty hot here by the end of the week.  The climate is similar to Florida.  Unfortunately the only way we've been able to cool the room off is by keeping the windows open...once it warms up we may have to request a new room with working air conditioning...if anything like that is available that is...  Here are two last pictures that I thought were humorous (but it could just be exhaustion)...our room has face masks and a "Guide For Fire Evacuation In Hotels."  The comic below is inside the booklet. 

Okay - it's time for me to try to eyes are having trouble focusing on the computer and my stomach is starting to do flip flops.  We've avoided naps up to this point because we were afraid they would disturb our night time sleep, but I think we've gotten to the point where it's getting hard to function...

I can't believe that in 24 hours I will be sitting here with my daughter...  Today we learned from our guide that her first name means "happy" and "beautiful" and her last name is a "Tangerine."  Apparently the area where she is from is highly agricultural and known for their tangerines!  

Check back tomorrow to see our "happy and beautiful tangerine" - although she probably won't look so happy when they hand her over to us.  I wish this wasn't going to be so hard on her.  Please keep her in your prayers.  We know she will grieve the life she's losing and that we are complete strangers to her.   We hope that she is able to find peace quickly as she transitions into her new life with us.

...can't keep my eyes open any longer...