March 18, 2012

China Day 10 - Six Banyan Temple

Something that has surprised me on this trip, is the number of westerners that we have seen in China. When we came to adopt Josiah in 2008, there were four westerners in our hotel and even fewer outside the hotel. On this trip, there are westerners everywhere, and not just adoptive families, but also tourists and many business people. Breakfast is like the United Nations with different languages being spoken all around us.

Driving through Guangzhou the other night when we flew in, was a neat experience. The road we traveled was 20 - 50 feet above ground level the entire time. We were able to look down on the streets we passed as well as into people's apartments and small factories. We had a bird's eye view of a slice of China. I read a book a few months ago called Factory Girls about the women, and sometimes girls, that migrate to the cities from the countryside in China, to work in the many factories. As we drove through the city, we passed, what looked like, dorm after dorm, containing bunkbeds and hanging clothes that were reminiscent of the lives the women lived in that book. They work 6 days a week on assembly lines, making clothing, designer handbags, electronics, etc., and send money back home to their families. They live in dorms owned by the factories, housing something like 10 women at a time.

After breakfast, we walked around the hotel a little, checking things out. It's a beautiful hotel with gardens, waterfalls, elaborate art work, etc., all in the middle of a giant city. We also borrowed a stroller from our hotel to help control Little Miss Autumn, although I think a straight jacket might have worked better.

While the boys only know about three words in Chinese, they are fluent in Whinese. Since they were introduced to Angry Birds, just before leaving home, everything else pales in comparison, including the playground, swimming pool, and eating. I promised myself that I would never let them get addicted to video games like I was - too late.

After our self-guided hotel tour, we joined our group for a tour of the Six Banyan Temple, an active Buddhist temple, here, in Guangzhou. There was a nine-story pagoda in the center. In all my trips to China, this is the first one I've seen. I always loved those little pagoda fireworks that my dad would set off on fourth of July. They would spin around really fast and then the pagoda part would pop up at the end. This was just like that, but bigger and without the flames.
9-story pagoda

We got a little religion lesson on Buddhism from Connie, our guide. The first Buddha we saw was the smiling one with the big fat belly that most people are familiar with. They believe this Buddha eats up all the bad things in life and carries them in his belly and makes people happy. Connie told us that sometimes monks are brought to the monastery as children if they are weak. The parents believe the monastery is a better life for a weak child.

Worshipping at the temple

There were a lot of buildings housing Buddhas and many people burning incense and bowing down worshipping. We saw a few monks too - they didn't look weak. At one point Josiah asked loudly, "why are they worshipping false idols?"...Awkward.

Josiah's finger being bitten by a dragon

After the temple, we went to a market that had a bunch of overpriced stuff, so we just got back on the bus. Then we went to a Dim Sum restaurant, but there weren't any little carts, with little plates, like we're used to. It was family style, so maybe it wasn't dim sum, just Chinese, and I heard wrong. Whatever it was, we weren't prepared. Apparently, according to Connie, Guangzhou has a BYON (bring your own napkins) policy. And yet they only give you chopsticks, to eat the buttery, flaky, puff pastries and oily vegetables. We cleaned our hands on the tablecloth (don't tell them it was us). I left the restaurant with a ring of oil around my lips, like a clown smile. They also didn't have enough highchairs, so Autumn sat like a "big girl" resting her chin on the table to eat. I fell off the wagon and had my first coke since August. I just felt like I needed some extra acid to break down all that oil in my stomach - at least that's how I justified it in my head.

Canal near the restaurant

Then everyone went back to the hotel while I went to Trust-mart, which is somehow part of Wal-mart, but looks absolutely nothing like it, except they sell the Great Value brand. They had large tanks of fish that you could dig a net into and pull out the one you wanted to buy. That was right next to the turtle tank. I didn't have enough yuan to pay for everything, so Connie had to spot me. The guides here are great.

Then we walked back to the hotel with my arms loaded full of diapers, wipes, bottled water, and ramen noodles - my workout for the day. For dinner, we ate our 10th meal of ramen noodles (minus the sauce packets). Then we went to the playground and kiddie pool again. Autumn was thrilled with both. She really started to test us at the pool. She's a little like Josiah in that she thinks everything is a joke, but is also very mischievous. We told her, in our clumsiest Chinese, to not get out of the pool because the rocks were slippery when she was wet. She kept getting out and laughing. She thought it was great fun to defy us. We gave her a time-out and had to hold her in the chair because she kept trying to sneak out. She's a rascal.

Then we decided to get some ice cream. The Haagen Dazs sold downstairs was about $10 for a quarter of a pint (!), so Steve and Sheehan went to get some Magnums at the 7-11 across the street. We went against the guide's suggestion again and let Autumn have a little ice cream. She loved it. She woke up in the middle of the night with what seemed like a night terror. Not sure if it was triggered by the ice cream or the fact that she had fallen off the bed and was trapped under it. We got her out.

Today, we get Autumn's TB test results and then shopping in the afternoon. It's supposed to be close to 80 and humid today. We heard about the heat wave Chicago has been getting. We were jealous when we were in Nanjing.

Can I just say, our hotel room looks like Hurricane Katrina went through it - without the three feet of water. There are no dresser drawers here. Clothes and toys and food are everywhere. Print Friendly and PDF

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