Monday, July 20, 2015

Nanchang and Zhangshu:
The next day we flew from Guilin to Guangzhou, had a 3 hr layover, and then from Guangzhou to Nanchang. It was a lot of flying. When we were in Nanchang in December 2008 it was a VERY polluted, very crowded city of 4 million. Its now a very polluted even more crowded city of over 5 million. It seems hard to believe but the traffic situation in Nanchang is so bad that it made the craziness we'd seen earlier in Xian etc look incredibly mild. Not even the sidewalks are safe because the billions of electric scooters treat them as free for all roads. Over the few days we were there, I saw several cars going the wrong way on the street. No one seemed to care. And the honking, OMG the honking... it never, ever, ever stops... and there's absolutely no reason for it... you'd see cars driving down the street just BEEEEEEEEEEEEEPing. It was absolutely insane! On the positive side, the air quality seemed to be better. A friend had suggested it was because this time we visited in summer and last time was in December when it was cold requiring that people burn coal for heat. I'm not sure.

We made the walk of danger to the local grocery store so we could get some water and snacks. I absolutely love wandering through grocery stores in China. They have the most interesting things! Georgie and I spent some time checking out some of the products for sale like live eels, bullfrogs and turtles. I tried telling Georgie they were pets for sale but she was too savvy for that :-)

The other thing about Nanchang is that there are basically no westerners there. Bobby was the only other Caucasian person I saw the entire time we spent in the city. As a result, any white person would be stared at but, with the addition of Georgie, we were nothing short of a spectacle. People REALLY stared and they stopped and tried to talk to Georgie in Chinese and it started to wear on her a bit. My mandarin is pretty weak so after I explained that we were American and that Georgie was my daughter, I was pretty much done.

The next day we drove with our guide to Georgie's hometown to visit the Social Welfare Institute (SWI) where Georgie spent her first 11 mos. Zhangshu is a farming community which is best known for its production of camphor tree oil and other traditional herbal medicines. Like every place else we'd visited in China, Zhangshu is in process of massive development. The entire area used to be fields, farms with water buffalo, and old villages. There's less of that now. Instead we saw street after street filled with identical, new apartment buildings and, on the river front, rows of the same 30+ story buildings and more under construction we'd seen elsewhere.

We went to visit the SWI or, more accurately, we visited what used to be the swi. It really is no longer in existence. Only the main building is still standing. The other 2 portions are gone and there is now a big road where the garden used to be. Across the street are large apartment buildings. There are no children at Zhangshu. There are some still in foster care. I asked but was not given a number of how many.

We were able to meet with the Director and the Assistant Director and Georgie's former nanny was kind enough to take the bus in to meet our dd. She is now 73 yrs old and is living with her family and caring for her great granddaughter (I believe). Both the Director and the Assistant are planning on retirement in the next few years. They said that the swi is being relocated to "the country" and that land has already been purchased for this purpose with the building planned to be completed in less than two years.

They were all quite kind and gave my daughter a "chinese welcome": a large red and gold banner, a long string of fireworks and a framed paper cutting. They sat and talked with us for awhile and fed us fruit. The nanny admitted that she didn't specifically recall G but you could tell that she had real affection for her just knowing that she'd previously been in her care. They then took us to a very nice lunch at what I'm sure is the finest restaurant in Zhangshu. This was attended by about 13 people total who I guess were swi or perhaps government employees? A few seemingly important people dropped by and toasted G and us and made kind comments. The director and assistant then took us around town a bit. There's not a lot there but we walked around and got a feel for the area. The Director bought G an ice cream cone :-)

Truthfully, the whole thing was a bit awkward but G felt very welcome and we were all treated as guests of honor and even though the nanny didn't remember her, G was very happy to have met her and take photos etc. We had seriously considered not visiting the swi on this visit as we plan to return in about 5 yrs and G hadn't expressed any interest but I'm very happy that we did it now. The construction that has taken place since we were there in late 2008 is mind boggling. There are long rows of 20-30 story apartment buildings. A city of new sky scrapers with just as many under construction. There are some of the old villages left but mostly they appear to have been replaced with brand new, very modern looking villages. I'd heard/read about the construction taking place in the cities in China but to see it in person was still quite the shock.

We enjoyed a wonderful lunch and mosied around the town a bit. The lack of insane traffic and mass of people was a pleasant change. It was a beautiful clear day but the heat and humidity were almost unbearable. Eventually we made our way back to Nanchang. Georgie and I were completely exhausted so Bobby was nice enough to make the super sweaty walk down to the RT Mart for cup of noodles that we ate in the air conditioned room. Thanks babe!!

Bobby was trying to figure out what happens when you buy a frog... do they give you a box to take it home in?


we made a couple visits to the store while we were in Nanchang, each time there were people carefully choosing these shellfish. The kids in particular seemed to like it!

Seaweed section, not too surprising but what's up with the mannequin in the sexy seaweed dress??? So strange.

These oreos were delicious!!

The bathroom in our hotel, the Galactic Peace. It was really very nice.

The view from our room

fields at the outskirts of Zhangshu City

Men and women this time... I can't tell but it looks like maybe mahjong rather than cards??

G with Nanny Ding.

One of the first pix I ever saw of G was of her sitting in this chair!

This is the view across the street from the SWI. There used to be two more buildings there and a large garden. No more.

G was toasted over and over... she liked it!

This is the entryway of sorts to the waterfront. We were told that once a year there's a large trade fair for herbal medicines attended by 10k people.

Statue on the riverfront... haha!

I'm pretty sure that's the Gan River but I could be wrong.

none of those buildings were there 6 years ago

1 comment:

Ruth said...

My granddaughter was from this SWI. Adopted in 7/11/2011. Great getting the update about the city.