We made a conscious decision not to go back to Hefei, the city she's from. Her orphanage has moved and she really didn't feel a strong desire to go there. It would have really added to the cost of the trip and I was nervous about going there alone with her, so was glad to skip it.
On our way to China, we had a 8 hour layover in Seattle. This was great because Anna Li has a cousin who's her age and was adopted from China the same year as her who lives in the Seattle area. They haven't seen each other since they were 6 (Anna Li is 15 now) so it was great to get to see her and her mom.
I'm not the greatest photographer and I had to pick pictures without kids/people for privacy concerns. But I hope you enjoy these.
Our first stop was Beijing.We of course saw Tian'an Men Square and the Forbidden City.
To be honest, this was not my favorite part of the trip, though I'm glad I saw this. It was very cold--18 degrees-and we were outside for over two hours. The buildings in the Forbidden City started to look alike. Luckily, there was a bit of wind so we didn't have all the terrible pollution in the news about a week after we got home.
We also took a rickshw ride in the Hutong district of Beijing. This is an older part of the city with small houses with courtyards. Mostly retired people live there and some offer to cook for tours. This was the kitchen area in the house where we went to eat. This was a lot of fun.
Then we went to The Great Wall.
Next we went to Xi'an to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers. Xi'an is the major area for energy production for China and is very polluted. Our guide said that you can never see any stars at night. You can really see it in the picture of me on the Ancient City Wall that rings the city. People ride bikes, walk, and exercise on it.
The Terra Cotta Soldiers was another amazing place. It's mind boggling to think how they created the soldiers with the tools they would have had. And there are many pits still there with soldiers to assemble after 20 years of work on this.
Next we went to Chengdu to visit the Panda Reserve. Sorry that the pictures do not include Anna Li, but she had to wear green plastic when she held the baby panda. I don't think she'd speak to me if I showed you that. But I have some cute pictures.
We also went to an outside market area that sold lots of things for cheap. It was things like that and the park that I actually enjoyed the most.
Then we went to Guilin and left the next morning to take the Li River Cruise to Yangshou.
We took a 3 hour bus ride back to Guilin and stopped for a very fun Chinese cooking class. Here's some pictures.
The last day in Guilin Anna Li and I were alone and we went to an outside shopping mall.
As I said, the Chinese have a different idea of heat. Our hotels were heated, but many of the buildings we were in, including restaurants and a theater, barely had heat. One theater was so cold even with our coats on that as soon as the awesome show was over we ran to the bus to get warm. Most people wear their coats all day, even when they're working. So when we went shopping, we found mostly coats for sale. Seriously, there were racks of them and piles of them on tables. But Anna Li found a shirt and a dress and we had pizza for lunch.
For me, the trip brought back many happy memories of my trip to adopt Anna Li and some sad feelings of thinking of Anna Li's birth mother in China wondering about her and me not being able to tell her that Anna Li is doing great.
I also found that I'm not as adventuresome as I used to be. Some of the challenges, like my cell phone not working in China (this was how I planned to communicate with my husband but ended up using a friend's I-Pad and my phone when we had good Wi-Fi to e-mail him) and figuring out how to get to the international terminal from a small, distant terminal in Beijing airport at 1:30 am on our way home with mostly people who did not speak English were pretty stressful. But I figured them all out. I'm just not so anxious to do it alone again. We were both very ready to get home and when we felt the plane leave Beijing and then land in Detroit, we were very happy.
So I hope you enjoyed hearing about this. What interesting trips have you all taken?
Here's what's coming up:
Next Monday I'm interviewing debut author Elsie Chapman about her dystopian novel, DUALED and giving away an ARC of her book. It's about a world where everyone has a genetic alternate that you must battle at some point in your teenage years to the death. It is a fascinating concept.
Next Wednesday I have a fascinating interview with Chuck Sambuchino of Guide to Literary Agents about his new book, CREATE YOUR WRITER PLATFORM: THE KEYS TO BUILDING AN AUDIENCE, SELLING MORE BOOKS, AND FINDING SUCCESS AS AN AUTHOR, with a giveaway of his book. His book really got me thinking about how I can improve my platform and social networking. I'm really excited to share Chuck's advice and his book with you. Chuck's interview is filled with awesome advice whether you're an author or book review blogger. I can't encourage you enough to read his interview.
The following Monday, I have an interview with a high school teen for my ASK THE EXPERT series and will be sharing and giving away THE CADET OF TILDOR, a fantastic debut fantasy, and OBSIDIAN MIRROR, another fantastic fantasy by Catherine Fisher, one of my favorite authors. Even if you're not a fantasy lover, I think you'd enjoy both of these books..
Tuesday that week, Ari Magnusson is going to share an awesome tip and give away a copy of BITOPIA, a fantasy that also deals with bullying issues.
And Wednesday that week, Casey and I have a super awesome 3000 follower mega giveaway. You won't want to miss it.
And don't forget our Tuesday Tips and Casey's Thursday agent spotlights.
Hope to see you on Monday!