Today we went to the famed panda preserve in Chengdu. It was begun in the 1980's with two pandas and now has over 800. Jackie Chan has adopted two of the pandas and made a 1,000,000 yuan donation to the preserve, per a plaque at the entrance. Aleah is a big Jackie Chan fan so she photographed the plaque. Bamboo grew along both sides of the path, bent down over the top of the pathway, and so formed a sort of "lover's lane." We were hoping to see a baby panda, but didn't get to. We saw some red pandas, which look more like overgrown red raccoons.
Afterward, we were taken for lunch at a beautiful restaurant. We walked through three courtyards to get there. They served so much food we couldn't begin to eat it all! Our guide suggested we take some home for our evening meal so as not to waste it, which we did. We were served a huge bowl of white race, one of "vegetable soup" which was tofu and cabbage in broth, green beans cooked with sausage, and one each of a chicken, pork, and beef dish.
After lunch, we toured a silk museum where we learned how silk is made and dyed, and how tapestry is created, and silk embroidery. Very interesting. There were live silk worms in huge woven circles that were eating mulberry leaves. The huge "baskets" were stacked in such a way that they could be easily taken down to feed the worms, which are fed three times daily. Their life span is 40 days.
Ava continues to be quiet. She speaks when she is spoken to, but doesn't volunteer anything. If we are looking for something, she helps look. If something is dropped, she picks it up, if something needs carried, she grabs it and carries it. She stood and served me a bowl of soup today when the soup was placed on her side of the table. She tries to be helpful however she can. I keep waiting for the "other shoe" to drop. This is going too smoothly! Having worked in the foster community, I am very aware of the "honeymoon period" and I don't know if that is what we are experiencing, or if this is truly her personality. For breakfast she ate a bowl of yogurt and had a pancake with blueberry syrup on it. At least I know a few American foods she likes now. During lunch, Aleah and I were calling each other crazy and making the motion to Ava. I would say to Aleah "you're crazy!" and she would say "No, you're crazy" etc. We went back and forth until Aleah won when she said I was made of crazy because I was related to Grandpa!!! I thought Dad might like to know Aleah is bad-mouthing him, even in China! (They keep up a running verbal feud, with each teasing the other continually.)
We have the rest of the day free to do as we please, and tomorrow as well On Friday,our guide will come back for us and we will fly out and meet up with our new guide, "John" and the family from St. Louis we started out in Beijing with. They have adopted a four-year-old girl who was, shall we say, less than happy to go with them initially. I was mistaken when I said they had eight children. They actually have eight biological children, and this is their fourth adopted child from China. Debbie and I graduated from high school the same year. I am hoping southern China will be sunny and bright. Aleah says she hasn't seen any blue sky since we've been here and she misses it.
Before we left our hotel room this morning, Aleah flopped backward on the bed and said she was too tired to go. On my way to the door, I poked her in the ribs. When Ava followed behind me, she grabbed Aleah's hands and pulled her up off the bed. Sort of an "Oh no, you don't! You're coming with us." She looks to see what Aleah is doing for cues on how to act. Aleah is such a good girl, she couldn't have a better teacher!
More Later! Laura