Friday, March 20, 2009

Hong Tong and Pingyao

Terraced farming on the way to Hong Tong

Doorway in Hong Tong, the odd look is due to the smog

A traditional house in Shanxi

Kids in Hong Tong going home for lunch

Beth and Zoe's foster mom

We were quite the spectacle in Hong Tong

An entryway into a house

A gate to one of the foster homes we went to

A wall just inside the gate. In Shanxi (maybe all China but at least in Shanxi), they believe good fortune will go around the wall, but bad fortune will be deflected off the wall

Pingyao at dusk

Pingyao City Center (The "heart" of the turtle)

A kitty in Pingyao. Basically all white animals look like this in Shanxi

The Pingyao city wall

The inside of a traditional "cave house" in Shanxi. It's much cooler inside in summer, and apparently warm in winter, because of the shape.

Yesterday (Thursday), we went to Hong Tong to see the 11 foster kids there. The orphanage director, upon hearing that we were going, decided to go down there and see the kids himself, as well. So we were accompanied to Hong Tong by Director Geng. And one thing we've noticed, is we seem to gather an entourage. In Taiyuan, we started out with just us four, then we got a driver, then Verena, our awesome guide; then Tang Xia and the China Care Foster Care Director, and then we gained the Director of the SWI and his translator and driver and yeah. Our final total was 13 before everyone started falling away.

All of the families there have special needs children as their foster children, mostly spina bfida and cerebral palsy. It was a very interesting experience, as we got to see traditional houses of Shanxi, which are "cave" houses. Very nifty. It was an almost awing experience, as this kind of house, that kind of town, is likely where Reese and Zoe's biological families are, where they were born. It was very dirty, coal everywhere. We also got to meet Zoe's foster family! Which was awesome, as I'd been through the experience and knew it was just such an emotional moment. I'll let you read about that on the Destiny's House blog, because that's Beth's story to tell. The family obviously loved Zoe very, very much, and I know that means a lot to Beth and her family. You know it from pictures, but to really feel it, is awesome. Amazing. Life changing. We both now have family in China.

We ate dinner with Director Geng and the Entourage. That was...interesting. Chicken fingers. Liver. Boar's Foot. A whole fish. Yeah, it was interesting. I was immensely grateful when I got my bowl of plain rice. LOL. It was an experience, that's for sure. We got out of the Director what kinds of things they needed at the SWI, though. That was important. We were really able to get the information we needed. And he really is a nice guy. Paid for dinner and everything.

Then we decided to go to Pingyao on the way back to the hotel, so we would have all of today to shop. Verena is from Pingyao, so she showed us the alleys to where she's lived. I got Reese a chop (50 yuan, about $7) that says her American name ("Reese") and has the Chinese characters for her Chinese name, Kai Jin. I also got her 4 qi pao dresses, one in a size 10 that's sleeveless (100 yuan, about $15) and in a print that's used commonly in Shanxi, very soft and silky, 2 size 12 dresses (80 yuan, about $12) in pink and blue, and a size 14 in a beautiful light gold. I got a framed papercut (35 yuan, about $5) with my and Mom's zodiac year (horse), Reese's (monkey), and Dad's (boar/pig). I got me a purple silk scarf/shawl/muffler thing(60 yuan, just under $9). I also got Reese a red drawstring purse (20 yuan, about $3) for her 2nd Gotcha Day but shhh...don't tell her. I also got an embroidered cat in a frame(75 yuan, about $11).

It was an awesome experience, and I really want to go to Pingyao again. A bit of factual information. Pingyao's city wall is 6 km in circumferance. It is also in the shape of a turtle. In about 5-10 years, all the people who live inside will have to move out, and it will be reserved for people making movies and tourists. It was featured in the movie, Raise the Red Lantern. It is 2800 years old. Also, from April to November, no cars are allowed inside. From December to March, they are.

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