Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Thanksgiving was a travel day for the group and the day we split off from everyone to go to Gaoyou where Jemma's orphanage is. Susan and her daughter Rebecca joined us and the rest of the group headed down to Zhanjiang Zhanjiang. We had a long day - a two-hour flight to Nanjing with an hour delay, and then a three-hour drive in the van to Gaoyou. We were met by Denise, our new guide, who I liked right away. She had a good sense of humor, and a very warm energy about her.
Jemma, her dad and I will fly to China on November 16, 2012 for a quick, ten-day tour of Beijing, Chengdu, Gaoyou and Shanghai. We are traveling with the Zhanjiang homeland group, and I believe there are ten families traveling - two going to the Gaoyou orphanage and the other eight to the Zhanjiang orphanage. Here's the plan - we travel from Los Angeles to Beijing via San Francisco - 15.5 hours. We are currently loading up the iPad with as many apps as possible because I doubt even Jemma can play Dragonvales for that long. We spend the first six days with the group beginning with four days in Beijing. Everything has been arranged for us through BLAS, a travel agency in China who arranges homeland return trips. What's nice about going with this organization is that they cut through a lot of the red tape such as facilitate the orphanage visits and get you access to the matching room where the babies photos and files are matched with the adopting parents. I don't think this happens very much anymore as there are so few adoptions coming out of China now and most of them are for special-needs children. After Beijing we fly to Chengdu to the famous Panda Reserve, where the children can hold a baby panda for a small fortune. We will pay that small fortune (supposedly around $250) because we hear it is incredible, even if you have to wait on-line for an hour and only hold the baby panda for a few minutes. Next, we split from the group and visit Jemma's hometown Gaoyou (city of about 800,000 3 hours northeast of Nanjing - www.aboutgaoyou.com) and will meet Vice Mayor Ni of Gaoyou, who featured our family in his book about the Gaoyou orphanage. We will also meet the Director and workers at the Gaoyou Social Welfare Institute and we are hopeful that we will meet the nanny who took care of Jemma during her time at the orphanage. She is retired now, but Mayor Ni has written to us that she is in the town and will be invited to join us. We will be spending our Thanksgiving in Gaoyou and our dinner is already arranged - I'm pretty sure they will not make turkey for us, though we can pretend the dumplings are turkey-shaped... I plan to find a Thanksgiving meal in Shanghai, which should be doable. We drive back to Nanjing and ride the bullet train into Shanghai, which takes less than two hours. Originally, I had hoped to spend some time with a long-lost friend in Shanghai - we reconnected on Facebook last year - but she is flying back to NY just a few days before we arrive. But, there are tons of things to do in Shanghai and we only have two days, so I expect we will be very busy. We fly back to Los Angeles from Shanghai and thankfully, the flight back is only 11 hours - phew! I hope our access to this blog will not be blocked during our trip; but if so we will fill in the missing information after we return. I'm not a big Facebook poster, but I will definitely share my photos on FB, though I believe there is a firewall against FB in China.