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19 posts from May 2008

May 15, 2008

What did your sunset look like tonight?

Sunset_2_blog

Daddy came home from work and grabbed the camera and the kids and they all ran out the front door to capture this lovely sunset.  Hopefully our neighbors were too busy looking at the gorgeous sky to notice that our children were in their underwear!

We've been back from China for five days and jet lag is still a bit of an issue.  It's 2:00 in the morning and I'm sitting here sipping a glass of wine and posting sunset pictures on the blog!  Hopefully the internal clock will be back on California time by next week so I can start keeping more normal hours.   The girls are sleeping better but still wake up at least once per night and wonder why they can't go outside and play in the moonlight. 

May 11, 2008

We're home

We got home yesterday afternoon and we're all dealing with the usual post-travel cruddy stuff like unpacking, laundry, and jet lag.  But the good news is that I lost nearly 10 pounds during this trip!  I'm sure that was due in part to having to find the appetite to eat things with the head still attached and staring up at me from the plate and having to chase two active preschoolers all over 10 Chinese cities!

I'm too tired to write much but I wanted to share these pictures of our recent night at The Majestic Hotel in Nanning.  We were there two years ago when we adopted Maddy.  Look at these comparisons!  So similar yet sooooooo different! 

It's amazing what happens to kids if you feed 'em!  Maybe I'll keep doing it and see what changes the next two years bring!  ;)

Majestic_2006_2008_sm

May 08, 2008

Qinzhou Pottery Factory


Qinzhou Pottery Factory
Originally uploaded by Donna & Andrew
Today we visited a pottery showroom in Qinzhou. Qinzhou is apparently famous for Nixing pottery, which is one of the four most famous forms of pottery in China -- the oldest known pot of this form is from 618 AD. This place was amazing! Maddy's foster parents took us, and nobody was around when we arrived. We looked into the workrooms a little and got some great pictures of where things were made. Foster-Mom and our guide wandered into buildings yelling for help, and managed to flush somebody with a key who opened up the showroom. The first thing you see is a bunch of pots with plaques and certificates on them. And the pots were fabulous. They're made from local clay which has various nice properties: non-toxicity (always a plus), resilience to strong acids and bases, and some peculiarities with respect to keeping tea fresh. Anyway, in the store is the largest Yixing clay pot ever made, around 6ft high -- it took a gang of expert artists a few months to make this pot, and the level of craftsmanship is very high. Each of the tiny figures is carved with a different face and appearance. This pot went on a world tour, and finally upon arriving back in Qinzhou was dropped off the back of a truck and broke. You can maybe see in the picture that it's been repaired. Even so, there have been offers of millions of Yuen to buy it, but the store refuses to sell.

In fact, in the back of the store is a collection of ancient Nixing pottery, but it was for sale only to locals -- they don't want it leaving the area, which seems admirable.

The pottery of primary of bronze and yellow clay, and turns azure when fired, and burnishes to a wonderful shine. We really wanted to buy more, but we're very tight on space. Even so, we got a beautiful vase of mixed bronze and yellow clay, a lovely teapot, and a set of two matched mugs carved with a wedding inscription for when Maddy gets married (yes, we're thinking way ahead here). I really wish we could have managed a couple of the bigger pots as major decoration for the home, but maybe next time.

Maddy and her city (Qinzhou!)


Maddy and her city
Originally uploaded by Donna & Andrew

We arrived in Qinzhou yesterday. We expected to find a much smaller city -- perhaps more like a village -- but we found a very modern city over 4,000 square miles in size with a population of nearly 3.5 million people!

Qinzhou is famous for several things two of which are flocks of dolphins that draw hoards of tourists in Autumn and lovely brown pottery.

Our hotel is the White Dolphin.  It's a new hotel with five very well deserved stars, 25 floors, and a spectacular view of much of Qinzhou. Here's a picture of Maddy taken on the 19th floor where our two adjoining rooms are located.

The highlight of our trip to Qinzhou was, of course, meeting Maddy's foster family.

Words can't describe how amazingly warm and loving this family is. They clearly loved our daughter with all their heart and missed her dearly. We have dozens of early photos of Maddy in their home and now those photos mean so much more since we've been in those rooms and know many of their stories.

The family prepared a delicious lunch for us and Maddy slowly warmed up to them as the minutes passed. By the end of our first meeting, she was re-exploring once familiar places and finding all of her stash of old toys. Each new discovery brought huge smiles to the faces of her foster family and dozens of fantastic stories about her early months living with them.  Our guide translated each story to us.  Our favorite:   Maddy was an expert dart player at the tender age of just 23 months! Yes, DARTS!


Qinzhou Pottery Factory
Originally uploaded by Donna & Andrew

(Andrew typing now) Today we visited a pottery showroom in Qinzhou. Qinzhou is apparently famous for Nixing pottery, which is one of the four most famous forms of pottery in China -- the oldest known pot of this form is from 618 AD. This place was amazing! Maddy's foster parents took us, and nobody was around when we arrived. We looked into the workrooms a little and got some great pictures of where things were made. Foster-Mom and our guide wandered into buildings yelling for help, and managed to flush somebody with a key who opened up the showroom. The first thing you see is a bunch of pots with plaques and certificates on them. And the pots were fabulous. They're made from local clay which has various nice properties: non-toxicity (always a plus), resilience to strong acids and bases, and some peculiarities with respect to keeping tea fresh. Anyway, in the store is the largest Yixing clay pot ever made, around 6ft high -- it took a gang of expert artists a few months to make this pot, and the level of craftsmanship is very high. Each of the tiny figures is carved with a different face and appearance. This pot went on a world tour, and finally upon arriving back in Qinzhou was dropped off the back of a truck and broke. You can maybe see in the picture that it's been repaired. Even so, there have been offers of millions of Yuen to buy it, but the store refuses to sell.

In fact, in the back of the store is a collection of ancient Nixing pottery, but it was for sale only to locals -- they don't want it leaving the area, which seems admirable.

The pottery of primary of bronze and yellow clay, and turns azure when fired, and burnishes to a wonderful shine. We really wanted to buy more, but we're very tight on space. Even so, we got a beautiful vase of mixed bronze and yellow clay, a lovely teapot, and a set of two matched mugs carved with a wedding inscription for when Maddy gets married (yes, we're thinking way ahead here). I really wish we could have managed a couple of the bigger pots as major decoration for the home, but maybe next time.

As usual, we took nearly a thousand photos during the last few days in Qinzhou but only about 30 made it past the delete button.  You can see them here:

Qinzhou (slideshow)
Qinzhou (thumbnails)

Flickr_set_qinzhou

May 05, 2008

Wet Guilin Cave Dwellers


Wet Guilin Cave Dwellers
Originally uploaded by Donna & Andrew

Yesterday, we visited the Reed Flute Cave in Guilin. The cave got its name from the reeds that grow just outside it and these are the reeds used to make flutes.

It was raining so we thought we might escape the weather by taking cover inside the cave but we were wrong. Water seeps in and was dripping and pooling everywhere. Naturally, our two little girls sought out, stomped in, or stood under, every drop of water they found. Afterwards, they proudly displayed their drenched hair to each other.  They're playing together really well on this trip. Even when they have the opportunity to play with other kids, they seem to mostly stick together. Today, Gwen was taking some pictures with our camera and I wanted her to take a photo of Daddy but she said she wanted to take a picture of Maddy because "She's my best friend".

Today, we took the Li River cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo. Andrew and I looked forward to this part of our trip and the scenery didn't let us down even though the weather was far from perfect. We took nearly 300 photos but after very liberal use of the delete button on the keyboard, only about two dozen were deemed good enough to post and share on Flickr. Some day, we'd like to return when the sky is blue and do this again.

Tomorrow we do a bit more sight seeing in Guilin and then we catch a train to Nanning. The day after that, we meet Maddy's foster family in Qinzhou!

Here are photos of the last two days in Guilin:

Guilin (slide show)
Guilin (thumbnails)

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