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Journal of Our Trip to China

August 23, 2000 -- We got the call with our travel dates. We are going to get Elaina next week! We will return on September 14th.

August 30, 2000 -- Our flight left Washington at 7:00am with a connection in Chicago. We left Chicago at 11:00am on our way to Hong Kong. Whew! That flight was a long one. Three movies, dinner and a nap and we were still only half way here! We watched our progress on the personal video monitor as we crossed into the arctic circle, over Siberia, and down over Japan and China.

August 31, 2000 -- We arrived in Hong Kong safely at 4:30pm local time, but just before Typhoon Maria hit the area, with lots of wind and rain. We checked into the Shangri-La Hotel in Kowloon and spent the next 14 hours ditching jet lag and adjusting to the local time and culture (hey, they have Friends here on TV as well as shows from all over the world; makes our American TV look pretty dull). Having chased the sun halfway around the world, this was the first nightime we have seen since we started our trip yesterday morning.

September 1, 2000 -- Today we explored Kowloon and Hong Kong. I bought a $45 pair of socks -- that is $45 Hong Kong dollars, HK$7.75=US$1 exchange rate, you do the math. After a $30 cup of tea, we have resorted to rough estimates! We also saw Fantasia 2000, a totally interesting experience with Chinese subtitles. Tomorrow we meet up with the group and Sunday we meet Elaina. We can hardly wait!

September 2, 2000 -- Met up with the group today. We toured much of Hong Kong Island by bus. For some great photos (not mine though) of some of the places we visited, go to Photomann's site. We went to a local market, visited Victoria Peak (the highest point in Hong Kong), took a ride out to Fisherman's Village in Aberdeen Harbour just of the South China Sea, and tried our first custard apple. Tomorrow it is a three hour bus ride to Guangzhou then a flight to Zhanjiang. Hopefully we will actually get Elaina tomorrow.

September 3, 2000 -- Took the bus from Hong Kong to Guangzhou. Crossing the border into a communist country was a bit unnerving, but went smoothly. In the afternoon, we flew from Guangzhou to Zhanjiang, Elaina's hometown, and settled into the Hai Bin Hotel. We won't be getting the babies until tomorrow morning. Took a trip to local department store to buy formula that Elaina will be used to. The taxi ride over was something that would make a New York cabbie proud; apparently lanes are optional in Zhanjiang. The group was quite the spectacle, too.

September 4, 2000 -- Labor Day. How appropriate. We took a bus to the orphanage where we did paperwork and then received our beautiful Elaina. I hope someone got it all on video or photos for us because it all seems like a blur to us now. We got to visit with the nannies and see the nursery. We apparently passed the interview with local officials because they let us leave with her. She is totally amazing. Her first antics are that she crosses her fingers, like for good luck, and she fake thumb sucks. We think she saw the other kids doing it but didn't quite figure out that the thumb actually goes in the mouth, so she tucks it into her fist.

September 5, 2000 -- Just hung out with Lainey in the hotel and went for a walk on the hotel grounds. She is so curious and a very happy baby. She is the life of the party when we get together with others in the group for meals and such, and she has already acquired the title of "party girl Elaina." Today's antics: jabber, jabber, jabber. Clearly we will never have a moment's peace again, and we couldn't be happier about it.

September 6, 2000 -- We flew back to Guangzhou today and checked into the White Swan Hotel. Had dinner at a real-deal Chinese restaurant where you pick your dinner from tanks of live creatures, many of which you could not pay us to try. We did try eel, pigeon, spicy tofu, and radish pastries, though, and they were all very good. Elaina is an angel and takes everything in stride. Today she really surprised us when she suddenly took off crawling across the length of the king-sized bed. Guess we will be chasing a highly mobile baby sooner than we thought.

September 7, 2000 -- We took a bus across town to complete the adoption registration with the Chinese government. That is it - she is all ours now as far as the Chinese are concerned! Now it is on to the US government process of getting her out of the country and home. She continues to progress at a rapid-fire pace. Today's antic is that she pulled herself up to a standing position on the crib. Needless to saw we were stunned. Looks like she will be amazing us a lot. Tomorrow we take a bus tour of Guangzhou, which is quite a large city and very nice from what we have seen so far. We took a stroll this evening in the neighborhood and park around the hotel.

September 8, 2000 -- Toured Guangzhou. Visited Six Banyan Temple, a 1,500 year old Buddhist monastery and temple where the babies were blessed by monks in a temple with three 30-foot tall gold Buddhas. Next we visited Dr. Sun Yet-sen's Memorial Hall, where we saw children dressed in costumes rehearsing for a school millennium performance. We had dim sum lunch and then it was on to the Chen Clan Academy, built in 1890 as a private residence of 57,600 square feet, and now used as an arts and crafts museum with amazing architecture and gardens. We had dinner seated at the foot on a waterfall inside the hotel. Elaina loves seeing new things and loves, even more, napping on dad in the carrier.

September 9, 2000 -- Had Elaina's visa photo taken today, then a trip to the doctor for her exit medical exam. A lot of other babies screamed when they were weighed, stretched out for measuring, and had their eyes, ears and chest examined. Lainey took it all in stride and even amused the doctor by giggling while she was trying to listen to her heart with a stethoscope. In the evening we went on a river dinner cruise up the Pearl River. Entertainment on the cruise was traditional Chinese ethnic dancing - quite interesting.

September 10, 2000 -- Went to the Immaculate Conception Church here on Shaiman Island, but missed mass so the nuns invited us in for tea, mooncakes, and fruit. We then cabbed over to the big cathedral downtown (Sacred Heart) for 10:30 Mass. After we came back to the hotel and had a Sunday brunch that was amazing, then on to Qingping Market, a local outdoor market where you can get anything from mangos to mushrooms, scorpions to sparrows, bok choy to bullfrogs. The entire atmosphere was truly other-worldly and quite an experience. Alice, our agency rep who is incredible, threw a party for all the babies here at the hotel in the evening, then some of us went to Lucy's, an outdoor American (sort-of) style cafe for dinner.

September 11, 2000 -- Today we went to Xinagjiang Safari Park, where we saw Asian and African wildlife in natural seetings in the drive-thru part of the safari. It was reminiscent of the movie Jurassic Park with the big gates swinging shut behind you as you entered the "predator" section! In the walk-thru part we saw white tigers, polar and panda bears, an elephant show, birds, baby animals, and lots of other great stuff. Lainey slept through some of it, but really seemed to enjoy the white tiger show. Tonight we will just hang out and maybe get in some shopping in the stores here on the island.

September 12, 2000 -- Went to the US Consulate Office to get Elaina's visa and immigration papers to get her into the US. Then we spent the rest of the day doing a little shopping and relaxing.

September 13, 2000 -- Tonda got up early and hit the streets and park for some photo-taking of the people and places around Shamain Island. After breakfast, we picked up Elaina's visa and US paperwork and then flew from Guangzhou to Hong Kong. One more night in a hotel and then it is home sweet home.

September 14, 2000 -- Left Hong Kong and arrived in San Francisco at 9:15am; Chris and Pam, Ken and Wendy were there to greet Elaina. It was nice to see familiar faces. Then it was on from San Francisco to Washington Dulles arriving at 8:43pm, where Elaina was greeted by Margaret O'Brien, her Uncle Gregg, Nana and Auntie Jan.

At home

September 28, 2000 -- Jet lag was rough for the first few days and it took a while for Elaina to convert that 12 hour difference so that she wasn't rearing to go at 3:00am, but we are finally settling in nicely. She is such a peach! Next trip is to Tennessee and Georgia for the southern leg of the "All Elaina" tour. We will be there October 7th through the 14th, so look us up!

October 19, 2000 -- Thanks to everyone who came to meet Elaina on October 8th in Chattanooga. What a fun party! Also, thanks to those who came to meet her at the party in Atlanta on the 9th. I think she is going to really like her new family and friends!



We are so glad to be able to share our journey with you all. Be sure and sign up for our email list on the home page and we will continue to alert you to new postings.

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