The flight over was a direct flight from Newark to Beijing. Thankful for the direct flight but it was very long. A friend warned me before we left that I will watch three movies, take a few naps, eat two meals and still have four hours left. Seriously, it was a long 13 hours. I'm not looking forward to the return flight.
When we arrived, our guide met us and brought us right to the hotel. It took over an hour in traffic. A theme for this trip is traffic and more traffic. We have spent about half of our waking hours here sitting in traffic. The city itself is very beautiful. The streets are very clean. There is a lot of pollution in the air but it's not that bad that we have any trouble breathing. When we arrived on Wednesday, we could see the sun. I've heard that's very rare. Thursday, no sun in sight.
We were so exhausted when we got here that we had a mission to get bottled water and then right to bed. When we left the hotel, there were soldiers lining the street and closing every possible way of crossing the street. Traffic was stopped in all directions. We were so confused as to what was going on. Once we saw the presidential motorcade come through, we figured out what was going on. At first I thought maybe there were soldiers to help us cross the street.
We headed to bed shortly after 5pm local time, a good 24 hours without sleep. We all woke up a few times throughout the night but finally all got up at 3am and could not get back to sleep. We relaxed and hung around until 6 and then headed down for breakfast at the buffet. We are at the Novotel Peace Hotel and the buffet was pretty good. Complete with eggs, baconn, sausage, noodles, sushi, and fish. I stuck with the good old eggs and tea. Abigail tried everything we gave her (no we did not give her sushi for breakfast).
We hired Angela from Ladybugs N Love to take us out to the New Hope Orphanage where Lucy lived. First off, Angela is amazing. She is the sweetest woman and speaks english very well. She is also so knowledgabe of the history and area of Beijing. I highly recommend Angela to all my other adoptive families who are following.
On our adventure of a drive out to the orphanage, we sat is so much traffic. I'm not exaggerating when I say we passed 7 accidents just getting out of the first few city rings of Beijing. Just crazy drivers around here. Angela's husband was our driver and he's an ex police officer so we felt safe with him.
The orphanage is way out in the country. We passed a whole lot of farms (of sorts, not like a farm in the US, but crops of some sort). The facility was big, beautiful and very clean. When you walked in you had to either cover your shoes with plastic bags or take off your shoes and wear some lovely slippers they provide. We were so impressed with how well loved all the kids are in there. We met Joyce and Robin who run the orphanage. They were a sweet couple from England. At first over email, Robin said we wouldn't be able to see the Love Without Boundaries babies because they are more medically fragile and they don't let anyone in. Once we were able to explain the story of our Lucy and how Abigail sponsors Heidi, he let us in to see her. At first, Heidi looked at us like we were crazy. She was in a room with probably 7 other young babies. We ended up staying in there for 45 minutes playing with Heidi and all the kids. They loved Abigail and Abigail just LOVED those kids. She played blocks and played with balloons. We saw some very sweet smiles. I walked a little boy all over that room. He just loved the attention.
Then we went downstairs and had an opportunity to meet Lucy's nanny. She immediately said how similar Abigail and Lucy look. I totally agree. I have a picture of both of them at the same age and they do look so similar. They remembered when another adoptive mom had come in to take pictures and a video for me and that they were so happy to hear she had a family. Her nanny was noticeably very sad when we talked about her. She was a well loved little girl. None of the nannies speak any English so we needed a translator for everything. Abigail gave Lucy's nanny one of the angel bracelets that we have been selling in memory of Lucy. Her nanny was so touched. It was a sweet exchange. While visiting with that nanny, we got to meet a whole lot of other babies. We played with those kids for awhile. They were so funny. Some of them have such crazy funny personalities for such little guys. We saw their youngest baby who was so small and had a cleft lip and palate. What a cuite!! One of the boys took to Russ and his camera very quickly. Russ would take a picture of him and then show him on the screen in the back. That boy just loved seeing his cute face.
Overall the orphanage visit was very positive. We were so happy to see that Lucy was so well loved and in such a great facility. The nannies really love and care for the kids.
We left the orphanage around lunch time and Angela and her husband took us to a restaurant near the Temple of Heaven for lunch. They only had chop sticks! I'm terrible with chop sticks. The food was very delicious, what little actually made it to my mouth. We had duck, kung po chicken (so amazing), spicy beef (whoa, lit me up spicy), Chinese cabbage (don't remember what it was called but so good), noodles in chicken broth and steamed rice. The noodles were just amazing, the texture and flavor really were incredible. This was our first offical meal in China and we all loved it.
Angela took us for a quick tour of the Temple of Heaven after lunch. Wow, there are some beautiful structures in China.
We are back at the hotel and completely exhausted. It's 7pm and Russ is already asleep and Abigail is almost. She is watching Chinese cartoons with the sound muted. So please excuse all the spelling and grammatical errors... I'm a bit cross eyed.