Friday, July 10, 2015

Guilin day 1:
Our flight to Guilin wasn't scheduled to leave until 11:30am so we actually got to sleep in a little bit!! After breakfast at the hotel we were off to the airport. Unfortunately our flight was delayed a couple hours. We never could figure out why. Due to the delay, the airline brought out box lunches, water bottles, and a pot of tea for all passengers waiting in the terminal. I know its going to sound crazy but the meal was delicious!! And they served it with this little package of hot sauce stuff. Yum!

One of the nice things about being part of a large touring group is, when you're stuck in the airport, there are lots of other kids to play with! One of the reasons we chose this particular tour was that, in the planning stages, Georgie had expressed a pretty strong preference to be able to go with other adoptive families. She wanted the chance to hang out with other girls like herself. Georgie is a friendly kid but she's also cautious and can be a slow joiner. It took her about 4-5 days to start interacting with the other girls. But, by this point, she was good!

After a two hour flight we finally made it to Guilin. I'm just going to say it... Guilin is gorgeous! You know when you see those beautiful pictures of those green hills in China and you think "wow, that's pretty. I wonder where that is?" That's Guilin. Its a very popular resort/vacation area for Chinese citizens.

As many people know, over 1.3 billion people live in China. About 92% of them are Han Chinese. The rest of the population is made of 55 Chinese ethnic minorities. Apparently, Guilin is the home of a large number of ethnic minorities. There are the Miao who are known for their traditional outfits featuring large silver headdresses. The Yao whose women are known for having really, really long hair; I guess they only cut it once in their life, when they're 16. And, the very romantic Zhuang who have a traditional singing courtship ritual where the girls embroider these silk ornaments (kind of like a Christmas tree ornament) and then throw them to the boys that interest them. Very cool.

When we exited the airport in Guilin we were met by some pretty intense heat and humidity. Remember when I said that we thought it was bad before but it was going to get worse? Guilin was significantly worse. It was exactly like being in a steam room without the fog of the steam. It was heavy, oppressive, and because I'm used to a very, very dry climate, it sometimes felt hard to breath. Ick.

Because of the flight delay, we were taken directly to the Normal University (I'm not clear on the reason for the name) where the kids took a one hour Chinese painting class taught by a Chinese brush master. The school is absolutely beautiful! Portions of the grounds looked like they'd be Asian storybook illustrations. Georgie enjoyed the class very much. Generally, she takes her art seriously and this class was no different. Painting with black ink and a Chinese brush isn't that easy but she actually did a really great job!

After that we had another huge dinner at a restaurant in the Zhuang Yang pedestrian area. Again, this was a neat area that I would love to return to and explore further. They had these interesting little alley restaurants, waterways, and shops to explore. So fun!

We finally made it to the exceptionally nice Guilin Bravo Hotel where the beds were soft and the a/c ran COLD! Ahhh... relief. However, it was to be a short stay...

this stuff was delicious! I'm going to take the picture to the Asian market and see if I can buy more. Yum!

the world's best "your plane is late so we're giving you a box lunch" food ever!

everywhere you go in Guilin you can see these beautiful hills. They reminded me somewhat of St Lucia's pitons.

at the Normal University. So beautiful! I wondered, but didn't ask, if they do weddings there.

the teacher's example. He painted this whole thing during the class. Pretty impressive!

This is what humidity can do. The school had a store of sorts where some of the student art was for sale. A few of us were really interested to look but with no a/c the heat and smell of mildew was too overwhelming to stay in the room.

another view of the beautiful campus

a little boy stops to play with someone's future dinner
the restaurants are to the left.. choose your food from the plastic bins and have a seat.. your meal will be served shortly :-)

the food!

More food!

fish, turtles and crawdads, oh my!

Zhuang Yang pedestrian area

The kids (and some of the adults) were glad to see pizza on the table ;-)

the room décor was somewhere between "brothel lite" and "grandma's guest room" but the beds were so comfy!!

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