Ok, so today has been interesting. Steve and I are both nauseous (traveler’s kind of nauseous, if you know what I mean), we have cabin fever, our son has a cold, we don’t speak the language, we’re the only white people in this city and we get stares as we walk down the street pushing our son in his stroller. We haven’t been spit on yet, so that’s good (we’ve heard about this happening to other adoptive parents). It’s very difficult, but really has been a great experience, if for nothing else, to understand a little what it’s like to be a minority.
One of the things that has been bothering me is the beggars on the street. It’s very sad. Most of the beggars we have encountered are handicapped in some way. Our guide and every other person we’ve seen ignores them and we have been following suit. Until today. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I had been praying about these people and was crying so hard the other night after I walked past a teenage boy begging from his skateboard-like platform because his legs were so deformed that they were behind his back. Today, three children, under 10 years old, ran up to us begging for money. They were very dirty and dusty, with matted hair. I pulled out 1 yuan for each of them and placed the money in their little baskets. They were so excited. They immediately and profusely thanked me and one little girl even blew me a kiss. It felt so good to help them until I remembered that 1 yuan equals about 12 U.S. cents. Money goes a lot further in China because stuff is so much cheaper, but I still felt like crap.
A few minutes later, I asked our guide if there was a system in place for the beggars. She said there isn’t. She said there was until last year. So, they are left to beg and live off what others give them. Our guide also told me that our adoption agency tried to help one child beggar who had a special need and they were getting ready to do it and the parents wouldn’t allow it because having their handicapped child beg for money was the only way they could get any income and if she was treated and didn’t look handicapped anymore then they wouldn’t have money to eat.
In spite of some challenges here, we have really enjoyed experiencing the Chinese culture and visiting the amazing landmarks and historical places of our son’s homeland. We would definitely come back. People are very friendly, aside from the constant stares…but, that’s really no different than in the U.S.
Today we had a day off. We had breakfast in the otel restaurant, and then hung out until about 10 AM. Then Anna our guide took us into the downtown area for some shopping. We ended up in a Mall that reselmbled Marshall Field’s or Water Tower Place in downtown Chicago.
If you can’t tell, that is a huge cricket for sale as a pet … no kidding
One thing to comment on…the driving in the cities. Every driver drives like a Chicago cab driver. Every cab driver, drives worse. I can’t even explain how aggressive the drivers, bicyclists, AND pedestrians are. Yesterday, our driver couldn’t get past a bus, so he just drove on the side walk for about 100 yards to get to our hotel. NOT uncommon! The good thing is that the traffic is so dense, that vehicles rarely ever drive over 20-30 mph.
This is Steve now … let me clarify the situation with the driving. In essence there are no rules. Some vehicles obey the stop on red, but that is the only rule I’ve seen that is consistently obeyed. There does seem to be a sort of unwritten rule however … the bigger the vehicle gets the right of way. That means people come in last on the roads, even when they have the “right of way”. It is wierd to see the right of way rules flip-flopped but everyone here just seems to deal with it. If you are trying to turn left and traffic is so busy it seems like you would ave to wait 10 minutes to cross … here it isn’t a problem … you just pull in front of traffic and make everyone stop.
Anyway, there are many wonderful differences here from the states … driving just doesn’t happen to be one of them
Signing off for now…
Note to Aunt Kim (response to your question)…we are calling him Sheehan. He responds when Steve or I call his name from another room. Unfortunately, the language barrier is such a hindrance that communication is very difficult other than the few Chinese words I know. For the Chinese words I know, we say the Chinese and the English. He is catching on to simple words like, “No,” “Come,” and “Let’s Go.” He’s a very smart boy and a very tidy one. When we get ready to go, he grabs his socks and shoes and helps us put them on him. When we pull out a diaper and the changing mat, he lays down on the mat. When we are finished with water bottles, he disposes of them in the trash, without our asking, and he tries to clean up the little table in our room if he spilled. He is so cute.