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!
(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: