We got up, gave Izzy a bottle, got dressed and went to the breakfast buffet. Izzy screamed her head off of course, because why not? I spent the entire meal bouncing her in the carrier trying to eat, sip coffee and feed her. She was not having it. Yes we were THAT family.
We met Guide Susie in the lobby and were loaded into the van, Izzy was in Paul’s Ergo and we headed to the Civil Affairs office which was about half an hour away from our hotel. Of course the office was up several flights of stairs.
When I rounded the corner I see Gabby down on the other side of the room in an off white princess dress with a little sweater. A man and 4 ladies were with her. The man turned out to be the director and the ladies were all nannies from the orphanage. They had made the 4 hour trip the night before and stayed 2 nights to meet us, finalize the adoption and say goodbye to our pint sized dynamo with the huge personality. Paul told me later that the director watched me like a hawk through the entire meeting with Gabby. He probably wanted to be sure we were going to take good care of her.
They gifted us with a 7 foot tapestry and sent Gabby home with a new suitcase, new clothing, 1 pair of sandals, 1 pair of sneakers, a quilt, a stuffed panda, a pink stroller, linen jammies, bowl and spoon, and A CHOP with her Chinese name. Absolutely amazing because generally you are lucky to get a diaper and formula. Gabby was very well loved in her orphanage.
After the appointment we went to Walmart to pick up a few things to get us through the next few days. We grabbed a TON of yogurt, formula, baby pouches, snacks, diapers, wipes, a bath basin, and a beach towel. Once again we were dumped off and left by our guide. We went to the restaurant next door to the hotel for lunch. We got a Mango Smoothie and I think little miss Gabby horked the entire thing down (much to Dad’s dismay). It was at least 16 ounces.
The kids played in the room and dinged around. For dinner we ordered from the hotel kitchen and the food was fabulous. We loved this spicy beef and rice dish. The surprise was however that the rice looked as if it was just plain steamed white rice and it was not.. It was hell rice. It was super spicy hot. What invisible spice had they cooked this with? I had no clue. The food was good but it was really HOT. This did nothing to stop us from ordering more the next night.
We bathed the girls separately in the little wash basin and got them ready for bed, watched Chinese cartoons and relaxed. We had two cribs in our bedroom and we could still get around! I loved that room. The kitchen was super convenient and I really missed it when we left.
We got dressed, ate breakfast at the buffet. We tried plain congee for Izzy and that was also a no go.
We met our driver out front of the hotel and drove to the Civil Affairs Office for “Family Day”
We signed untold amount of papers and put our red fingerprints on every sheet. We did a couple pictures for Izzy’s book before heading back to the Holiday Inn.
We returned to the hotel had lunch at McDonalds and walked around the mall before meeting our guide and driver.
Denise took us to the airport, got us checked in and made sure we got through security. We were taking Shehnzen to Chengdu. Shehnzen has a reputation for being late and it did not disappoint. They were two hours late and every announcement in the area was yet another late, delayed or cancelled plane.
After we get to our seats and get settled a woman came to get into the window seat, we let her in. A short time later, before takeoff she has a full out panic attack because of Isabella. She had to be moved. This did nothing to help my mood.
We got to Chengdu and looked for our guide. We had been assigned Susie. I had heard not great things about this gal and had specifically requested we not get her. Awesome. So we can’t locate her anywhere and after 30 minutes I was LIVID. I texted our in country coordinator to locate this gal, finally she breezed in, grabbed our cart and took us to the waiting van.
Our driver was a super nice lady. They took us to The Chengdu Sommerset, apparently this is not Susie’s preferred place to for families to stay because it is not near to many restaurants or shopping areas (meaning we’d ask her to take us). We were dumped off in our room and our guide made a hasty retreat. Not Impressed!
The room was very spacious with a kitchen, dining area, separate bedroom, small desk area and a gigantic living room. This was by far the largest room we stayed in while in China and it was amazing. The views were nice, the extra room was great for the kids to play in. I really liked the place. The only drawbacks were that they did not have a tub so we had to buy a bath basin (5 bucks at Walmart) and the location not being convenient to many eateries.
We were really busy with all the events of the day and didn’t have time to be nearly as freaked out about picking Gabby up the next morning. We didn’t get to the hotel until late, we were tired and ready to wind down.
We got up and got dressed, went to the breakfast buffet (which was amazing) It was large and varied. This is where the Holiday Inn became phenomenal.
We met Denise in the lobby, climbed into the van for the drive to the Civil Affairs office. It was my turn to be nervous and Paul was calm. It was a surreal day for sure. I thought I would barf all the way there.
We pulled up and there was our baby in the arms of the orphanage representative Coco. She handed Izzy off to me and I thought she would scream but after a moment of fussing she laid her head on my shoulder threw her arm around my neck and it was fine. We signed saying we would be her guardians overnight for the “Harmonious Period”. She was not interested in any of the toys but was happy to walk around the office with help and eat cheerios.
We headed back to our new favorite eatery in the mall and got lunch. We ordered her congee and she was not interested NOT.AT.ALL.
Our laundry was delivered to the hotel lobby (perfect).
We ordered room service for dinner, gave Izzy a bath and put her in pajamas, we played on the bed for a while before putting her down. She is such a quiet sweet baby and seemed much younger than her 19 months.
Sunday morning we met David in the lobby and checked out of our hotel. We drove to the airport and said goodbye to our driver. David was kind enough to take us into the airport and get us checked in and made sure we made it thru security. With the TSA in China they want all electronics together. Battery packs, cameras, cell phones, iPads etc. It was a little nutty because we had brought so much tech. Seriously DON’T DO IT. If you are reading this and getting ready to travel PACK LIGHT. We did not and I regretted it bitterly.
We were flying China Eastern and of course our flight was delayed. It was delayed for about an hour. The gate took forever to even be assigned, it was crazy.
The flight was shorter than we had anticipated and when we arrived in Nanjing, we collected our luggage and headed towards the exit. Our guide Denise was waiting for us with a big sign.. she knew exactly who we were (inconspicuous?). We were sure glad to see her. We climbed in the van and drove through terrible traffic and high flood waters to the Holiday Inn.
The room was large but it felt damp-ish and was not super clean. We were both glad we were not going to be there very long. I had heard great things about this hotel and perhaps because we paid using points we got the crappy room. It certainly did not live up to the hype. The main area had a large window into the bathroom (What is with that anyway?) and the blinds did not work (awesome).
Denise arranged for our laundry to be picked up at our hotel. The lady was so nice. We needed her services because we wore most all of our clothing in Beijing.
The Holiday Inn is attached to a mall, Shoppers start your engines.. That’s right a mall connected to the hotel. They had a number of restaurants on the lower level and(not to mention a grocery store) we picked a favorite and ate there a couple of times.
We ventured to the mall and shopped around. I was a little stunned at the price of the children’s clothing. It was pretty expensive. Considering we buy a ton of clothing made in China here in the US, I felt it was pretty shocking to see we would pay more for the same thing there. We picked up diapers and wipes and said goodbye to our sanity and our selfish lives. We picked up a few snacks at the grocery store. Paul was freaking out about meeting our new baby girl the next day, I was strangely calm.
Saturday we started out at Tienanmen Square, then we went on to the Temple of Heaven, we watched all the activities, dancing, exercising and games. Fabulous place to people watch. Both places were crammed with people.
We went shopping at The Pearl Market (called that because there is a huge faux pearl statue out front), it is really a flea market for everything. Bags, scarves, table runners, t-shirts, shoes, jewelry, carvings, scrolls etc. hundreds of little stalls all hawking one thing or another. We bought two back packs (one sport type and one plain), we found something nice for each of the big kids.
Then we headed over to the Old Beijing Noodle Shop for lunch. Thankfully we had reservations, it was crazy busy (Paul had the traditionally prepared noodles with the bean sauce) we all had the potato string stir fry, fried rice, a sweet chicken dish etc I’ve only eaten with chopsticks when we are out and in spite of not being fabulous at it, I am actually sustaining myself. Score!
Paul and I rested and cleaned up for an hour, went to a shopping mall with nothing but tech stuff to locate another camera battery. We found it at a great price. Our guide took us to this amazing acrobatic show. Wow is all I can say. It was freaking amazing. The talent was phenomenal. They did crazy, insane stunts. It was like a circus without animals. I am not going to lie, the motorcycles in the ball had me on the EDGE of my seat the entire time. This is a must see. We did get an ice cream sandwich from the gal that comes around before the show similar to the old style cigarette girls at the theater, but way better because .. Ice cream! Loved it!
After that we had dinner at another older style restaurant right next to our hotel. I could not eat the Peking Duck because of the sauce, which is really sad because as I recall Peking Duck is juicy, tender and fabulous. We had this stir fry dish with celery, a beef tomato soup, and fried rice. It was all excellent. We stopped at the local quick shop for snacks before heading to our room for the night. We bought our first fruit yogurt there, and yogurt in China is WAAAYY sweeter. I shamelessly ate it daily after that. .
We packed up our bags so we were ready to head to Nanjing the next morning.