Saturday, March 21, 2009

Another Not-Quite-Lazy Day in Guangzhou

Saturday, March 21, 7:36 pm - Considering last night's sleep was less than stellar, I managed to make it through the day feeling pretty good. This morning we went to the bank to exchange traveler's checks and some US cash into Chinese yuan (or RMB which stands for "renmenbi" and means "people's currency). We ran into a snag when we were informed that the bank only exchanges traveler's checks on Mondays and Fridays. Seeing that we needed the money on Monday for some of our adoption fees, that posed a problem. They gladly exchanged our cash, but we had to find another way to exchange the traveler's checks. Fortunately, the hotel desk was able to do it for us, so our concern was short-lived. Besides, we may have had time to do it at the bank on Monday anyways, but our experience so far with the bank here is that things move very slowly, therefore we didn't want to chance doing things at the last minute on Monday.

Next we went to the business center and made photocopies of necessary documents which we need to present to the proper authorities. While waiting for help, we met some nice folks from the Bay Area who were both adopting their first children. I felt like the experienced old man since I'd walked this path before. We also met a mom from Pennsylvania and her new son later on in the day. It's an amazing thing, how you have an instant bond with these people whom you've never met and with whom you have nothing in common except adopting children in China, and you can easily strike up a conversation with them and see how they exude joy.

And now I've just had a strange sense of Deja Vu. I think I remember feeling some of these same feelings and thinking these same thoughts the last time around. I may have even blogged about them. Guess I'll have to dig around in some old posts and see.

Finally, we hit the streets again for some more relaxing and shopping. I am not a good shopper. I need to know exactly what I want before I enter a store. This is not easy here with so much variety, and with shopkeepers breathing down your neck, telling you that your baby cannot do without this, or this, or this, and how you will like this, or your wife will like this, and how they will give you such a good price. 50% off today only. Business has been so slow. I really like you, you nice. Your cousin, she look like a teenager. You want this? You drive a hard bargain. I cannot sell that to you at this price. How about this much? You want two? Three? Come on, you buy three, I give you good price.

Actually, it's not all that bad. It's kind of fun, haggling with them. It's part of the game and all good-natured.

After more strolling around the island, we ended our day at a restaurant next to the hotel. I can't tell you the name of it, and that's as it should be, because the food was underwhelming. We thought we were at a great Italian place that one of the Bay Area dads recommended to us. But I don't think this was it. We did order spaghetti, but Jan and I decided that it was, in her words, "Craptastic." It was edible, but had a real funky aftertaste that even mango ice cream and a Diet Coke could not kill. I liked it less than Jan did and could not even eat half of it. Thank the Lord for peanut butter M&M's.

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