What we liked: (not everything is included here...we really liked the whole trip)
1. The girls made good friends! We met lots of other families like ours. We realized that the population of adoptable children in China has changed. (that was a shock to me).
2. Just returning to China, with people who spoke English, was a real treat. We had been discussing our return trip for a few years, so we were overjoyed to see this offered to us last year. We were also honored to be the first group sponsored by the Chinese government.
3. The ceremony the Chinese government held for us at the Great Hall of the People was amazing! They put us on TV and in the papers...WOW! What an honor!! How proud we were to bring the children back so the Chinese people could see them as healthy and happy!
4. The panda reserve. As much as we loved holding the pandas, we also really enjoyed Swan Lake and those HUGE fish that jump up at you to get food!
5. The orphanage visits. The reception we got at Kathryn's orphanage. Seeing the children and babies that are now at orphanages. It tore us up though...wanted so much to help those kids somehow.
6. Starbucks across the street from the hotel in Beijing!
7. The tour guides - all were very nice and helpful. Sunny had an incredibly difficult job dealing with everyone in our group. I wouldn't want that job. But she was graceful and entertaining.
8. Having free time. We loved our 3 days in Nanchang alone before the actual Heritage Tour began. I am not sure however if it would have gone so well if we hadn't had Mike with us (the professor in our group who spoke Chinese fluently)
9. Interacting with the Chinese people. Although we couldn't speak the language we enjoyed communicating in our own way with the people. Loved it! We learned the sentence "I don't speak Chinese" and said that in Chinese when a native talked to the girls in Chinese and expected them to talk back in Chinese. All 3 of us would say "Wah bu hway shwa Jungwen"...and then the Chinese people would laugh and laugh!
10. Hutong tour by rickshaw - this was really fun! The lunch with natives was fun. It was shocking to see how people lived in these hutongs, with the one "bathroom" done the "hall" that everyone shared (and we had to use)
11. Acrobatic show - enjoyed immensely.
12. Visiting China adoption Center - just as in meeting you and Lily in person once I started the adoptions, this was as important to see face to face the people and places that assisted me in becoming mother to the 2 most beautiful girls in the world! I am forever indebted to CCAI and to CCWA. It grounded me to see the location where all the decisions took place.
13.The group meals. The Guilin noodles was the BEST dinner!!!!! Watching the cooks make the noodles right in front of us was amazing. And they tasted sooo good!
14. Riding bikes at the Ancient Wall in Xian. We were hot and the bikes didn't work too well, but it was a blast!
15. The terra cotta soldiers - the Museum and the original site. Bargaining with the natives to buy souvenirs.....The farther you walked the cheaper they got!!
16. The local park we visited in Chengdu, where they served us tea and then we had free time. A group of us had lots of fun there, watching people make the candy caramel animals to eat; going on the boat ride (6 kids in a boat), talking to the people. Loved that park!
17. The hotels - all were superb. Hard beds, but that's OK. Good breakfasts!
18. The river cruise and Guangxi province. I felt so good that Connie's province was as beautiful as it was. It made her feel special. We loved that province. The river cruise was beautiful. I enjoyed seeing the natives playing in the water, riding inner tubes or just floating on the water, and out in their own little boats for pleasure rides. I liked seeing the water buffalo in the river and the little towns we passed.
19. HIghlight: Chinese cooking school. That was one of our best days! Both of my girls love cooking and this was super special to them. When we expected to eat just the food they made that day, the staff brought out lots and lots more food and everything was delicious! The teacher and her husband were very likable!
20. Cormoratn fishing tour: this just amazed me. In spite of the harshness of the treatment of the cormorants, it made me feel like I transcended a few hundred years in time when I watched these fisherman.
21. White Swan Hotel and Guangzhou. I loved coming back here. It enable me to relive those first precious days with my new babies many years ago. And we enjoyed shopping here and getting souvenirs.
22. The Chinese airlines. Our American airlines should take some lessons from them. They treated us like royal guests on all the flights. They served food on every flight. They put us up in an executive suite in Hong Kong when we missed a flight. The flight over from the US was painless and enjoyable, compared to flying in the US from PA to CA, which is a hassle.
We would do it again. We are so happy that we jumped at this opportunity to return to China. We now know where we want to return to spend more time and Kathryn still wants to go back and work in the orphanages. Thank you for everything!