Friday, May 25, 2007

100 Turnstiles! (Thursday May 24, 2007)

Today was another busy travel day. The only thing that made the day fun was that Frank and his daughter, Sarah, came from Hong Kong to spend the day with us. Today is a national holiday in Hong Kong because it is Buddha's birthday and all of the schools are closed. We ate some breakfast and packed our bags and headed off for a morning at the Guangzhou Zoo. This zoo was very nice in many ways, but disappointing in others. The grounds were large, beautiful and well kept. There is a big pond in the middle of the zoo with beautiful swans, ducks and huge pelicans all happily doing their bird things. The monkey hill was a great habitat, and Peng was especially thrilled with the elephant who was reaching over his fence to eat the tree right above him. The big cats and bears, however, were in very small cages and were often pacing back and forth. We were really looking forward to the Giant Panda, but there was just a single one sleeping and we could not get very close. Unlike the rare chance to see a Panda in the US, this was nothing special to these zoo-goers—just another bear cage. We ate a nice lunch at the zoo restaurant and headed back to the hotel.

Peng was really happy that Frank spoke Mandarin and it was really nice for us as well. One of Peng's first questions was, “why can you speak Mandarin, but my parents can't?” followed by “how do you know them?”and “how old are they?” Peng really seemed to get along well with Frank and Frank was really great (and patient) with Peng. At the zoo Peng would tell Frank that if two adjoining cages were together which animal would win the fight, for instance, he was sure the elephant would beat the tiger. Peng also really wanted to know what we were doing the next day and the day after that—he seemed a bit anxious about these upcoming days. We also got to ask a lot of questions translated by Frank, which was phenomenal. Peng was first told about him being adopted about 2 months ago when our final approval was issued. This is when he moved back to the orphanage from the foster family. He also told us that he had one more foster-sibling that we had previously known about and we learned some of his favorite foods. It was great to have a translator and friend for Peng for the day.

After the zoo the travel fun began. Frank took the two Sarahs on a little shopping excursion while Heidi, David and Peng checked out, took the bags on a bus and went to the Consulate to do the final procedures and pickup his Visa. This took a couple hours and after finishing that, our bus dropped us off at the train station nearby. We met Frank & Co. there and started the trek. First we took at train to the Hong Kong Border. It was a really nice modern train that moved along pretty fast—at one point topping 125 MPH. Frank had bought Peng a “Transformers” model and they worked together on it while we traveled. When we arrived at the border we had to exit the train system, go through exit immigration, Hong Kong entry immigration, Hong Kong Customs, and then onto the Hong Kong subway system train. All of this with three kids, 4 backpacks, and 6 other suitcases. We made it through (thanks Frank!) and stopped at the university where Frank works and met his wife and other daughter for an excellent Chinese dinner at a campus restaurant. After dinner, Frank graciously offered to drive us to our hotel instead of us getting back onto the subway even though it is very much in the wrong direction from his house and quite a distance away. We arrived at our hotel, which is the Hong Kong Disney Hollywood Hotel at about 9:30pm (sorry Mom that we missed our skype). The hotel is very nice and Zion would love it. Zion is a big Mickey Mouse fan, and of course there are ears on everything from the elevator doors to the shower curtains. She would be constantly pointing and shouting “Mickey Mouse”. It made us miss her more, just seeing the symbols all over.

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