Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Going Native Alone

My new guide, my agency's main guide returned from abroad and began his turn with us. I'm sorry to say that I found it disruptive to our flow. He's missed our beginning and seeing how assimilated we are. He wanted to take us around to do the tourist stuff and we are soooo past that. We are going and doing like the Chinese do, taking the subway by ourselves and following our noses.

We did agree to go to the 6 Banyan Pagoda, but it was awful. Being Christian, it doesn't matter to me that the pagoda in Nanchang was for tourists, it all looks the same to me, gold Budha's and incense, red wishes, cushions for kneeling, etc... I think it's all very beautiful, but today was a huge holiday, the memorial day for remembering the deceased family members and I honestly felt intrusive and irreverant and disrespectful taking pictures at a holy place while so many people were worshipping. The smell of incense was over powering and even my little daughter was covering her face from the smell of it and the smoke. She's a little apprehensive of the darker chapels and huge gold statues so we don't go in.

The guide said he I could leave her with him and I said that I would not because she doesn't know him. He actually said, "She knows me better than you because I called her orphanage many times to arrange the adoption." I asked if he ever spoke to her or saw her and he said no. I was very angry, but instead of getting steamed, I simply dismissed him in my mind, told him that we would not be going on to the park we'd planned to visit and asked to go back to the hotel. He said that he'd take us to the market to buy something I'd mentioned we needed, and I was willing to get it later on my own, but my travelling companion over road me a bit, and it was okay in the end, though I didn't appreciate it at the time. At the market, I managed very well, getting the stroller up the escalator, etc... myself and the guide said I was very strong, the strongest woman he ever met and that it must be why I don't have a husband because men don't like women that strong, that I must be softer. Ha! I can definitely understand his view, I encounter it often, but I'll be darned if I'll land myself with a man I had to pretend to be helpless for. I told him that if the man wasn't stronger than I am then he wasn't the right man for me.

So, after lunch, I headed out on my own with my daughter to the Walking Street. I found all the shops Ann took us to yesterday and decided to take the subway to IKEA and see how it is in China vs. the USA. However, when I got to the station, it turned out to be a huge underground mall where the Chinese shop so I skipped IKEA and toured the mall. I found two pairs of shoes for my daughter for a total of about $10 and some cheap toys, cotton pjs for about $8.50 with Mickey and Minnie mouse on the front, and a foldable scooter for about $13! Jei Jei was so thrilled with it that she cruised up and down the hotel hallway until exhausted.

I bathed her and she went right to bed.

I didn't take many photos today. We both needed a break from it.

My friend headed out on her own in the opposite direction and encountered what she called Inner China, the real China, with chickens running around and the cleaver and chopping block nearby, bags of frogs, etc...


Karen said...

WOW So sorry you had an unpleasant time with Chris. He is full of knowledge of China. He was by far the best for us. He used to be a history and language teacher at a university level in China, and he was able to tell us all about our daughter's native province history, and what was important. Im sure he WAS instrumental in helping with the contact between HS and the SWI. Im thinking he was only making gestures of good will by wanting to take you around, and had no intention to insult you. Sometimes the intention is not the same as the spoken words when English is someone's second language.
As for the Pagoda, we went to it as well. Even though we also consider ourselves Christian, we found it comforting to be blessed and have our daughter blessed by the monks. Our thought was, this would have been our daughter's religion if she would have grown up in China. What more beautiful thing than to have good wishes upon her as we were getting ready to exit her native country. But I understand your feeling uncomfortable with it. I just figured that blessings are similar to good wishes and good intentions, and so it doesn't hurt.

Carrie said...

I second that WOW! How unfortunate that someone who is being paid to do a job for YOU, can't seem to hold his tongue. People are so obnoxous sometimes. Hopefully it will get better and fortunately, you'll be coming home soon.

Thanks so much for sharing so much on your journey. It is wonderful to see what people are doing over there when they pick up their children. We are LID 9.20.06, so we are hoping to go sometime in the next year or so.

Have fun and be safe!

Nicole said...

Your daughter is so beautiful!
We were in Guangzhou for 18 days in April of last year, adopting our 3 year old son from Shenzhen. We loved the Xiangjiang Safari Park and reading your post brought back memories. Another place we enjoyed was Baiyun Gardens and the White Cloud Mountain beside it (you can take a "cable car" (tram/gondola) up the mountain. However, the steps down to the Nengren Temples were steep and narrow, and so we did not do that part once we had our son (we did do it prior to our son). We took a taxi to Baiyun Gardens and White Cloud Mountain. My husband is Chinese and speaks Cantonese, and except for our SWI visit and our adoption appointments, we really did our own thing. We stayed at Shifu Holiday Inn, so I am familiar with the pedestrian street you mentioned, and the Liwan shopping mall (huge!). Your photos brought back memories for me! Enjoy the rest of your time in Guangzhou!!

Karen said...

@ Carrie- If you had ever met Chris, it's not his nature to be rude. He grew up in an orphanage, and it's been his life long journey to help take as many kids out of orphanages as he can! He gave up a very high ranking job at a university to do the work that probably pays him 1/3 of what he could be earning. He also found an abandoned child a couple years ago, and took her to a hospital and eventually adopted her. He is very diplomatic (from what I saw of him), and I truly think it was a language barrier that set the mood (and perhaps exhaustion on both ends)-he DID just return from a major trip himself, and it sounds as if he went directly to GZ in order to accommodate the situation.

It's a Wonderful Life said...

I hope it's OK to laugh. It is truly funny that someone would tell you you are too strong and that's why you're not married. In my life I could not survive if I wasn't strong. You are more than physically strong you are spiritually and emotionally strong. Keep up the great work.


Vicki said...

I am so glad you are venturing out on your own. We also rode the subway and found it easy and clean. Make sure you go to the bookstore. I can't remember the name of the one we went to, but we went to it on the subway outside the garden. It was many stories high and we purchased many books to take home.