Once again our guide could not be with us, so he turned us over to a colleague. My name was the last to be called. One of the fathers joked as he was leaving the room that they saved the best for last! The other family we share a guide and van with had to wait for us downstairs. All our cameras and cell phones were checked in before we were allowed in the room and we had to go through a metal detector. So far, I continue to set off every metal detector we've gone through. Never happened before this trip! Interestingly, the Western toilet at the Embassy has a sign "No standing on the toilet." I assume the Chinese must try to 'squat' over the Western toilets as well, so only their feet would touch the seat?
After we raised our right hands and swore/affirmed that we had provided the full truth to the officials and would take care of the children we were adopting, we each signed one last paper and were given our official adoption papers. Our children's passports were kept until tomorrow evening, when they will be delivered to our prospective hotels with the visa stamp intact.
On the way there, I saw an unusual sight. The Chinese version of a Brinks security truck had pulled up to a bank around the block from our hotel and there were three guards outside - one flanking either side of the back of the truck, and one standing beside the bank door. All three had big, long, black machine guns held at the ready!! They looked like they meant business and I would not want to be anywhere on the street with them there! Again, they were very young boys. We passed two groups of school children crossing the street who had their red kerchiefs around their neck. John said the red kerchiefs represent a political group all the children belong to. I have a photo of both the girls wearing a red kerchief.
After we left the Consulate, we went back to the Mariott to drop the other family off and our driver had orders to take the girls and I back to the Victory; however, the other family had told me about a wonderful indoor mall where we could shop for the items I was looking for, so we changed our plans. Our driver was not happy and wanted us to wait while he called (presumably John) to make sure it was alright to leave us there. Before John could answer, a hotel doorman approached who spoke English and I had him explain that I had decided to go shopping and would take a taxi back to the hotel. The driver seemed okay with that, but still was checking with John when we left. They do NOT want to lose us in this city of sixteen million people!! We enjoyed shopping. Aleah learned that something that costs 30 yuan in one store might only cost 10 in another. I had gone to change money at a bank prior to shopping. The banks in China are different. You come in the door, go to a machine that prints you out a number, then take a seat. There are sort of like hostesses who are available if someone has a question or needs assistance, but you have to wait your turn to advance to the window. They call your number when it is your turn to proceed to a counter. You are separated from the teller by glass, and you put your money in a stainless container that spans underneath the glass, and they take it from the other side. They do not like our "old" money and each bill is checked for water marks before approved.
Our taxi was only 17 yuan (less than three dollars), and I discovered last night that the moment you pull up at the Victory and exit the taxi, a doorman hands you a little slip of paper that says in English "Dear Guest; Welcome to Guangzhou Victory Hotel. The license of the taxi you took is:________________. Taking good care of personal belongings is part of our courteous service to our guest. Have a nice day!" Last night I found a slip of paper in the desk drawer that said some taxi drivers were taking their fare and giving counterfeit money for change, therefore they suggest guests only take a taxi with a license number that begins with "A". I assume this is the reason for their close scrutiny of each taxi's license plate number. Almost before I could pay and get out, two Chinese men got in. Taxis do a thriving business here, with so many people going so many places and most without a car!!
Because we had our appointment at the Consulate and then shopped, Ava couldn't wait to go order food at a restaurant, so ate some of her beloved noodles from the 7-11. She scoops five spoonfuls of her precious chili seasoning (it looks like what is on the table at a Pizza Hut) into her noodles, and shares generously with Aleah. I am going to have to take out stock in the industry!! John told the other American family that his favorite food is chicken feet. They put the feet in something that turns the feet white. When they told him Americans do not eat chicken feet, he told them that is because all the chicken feet are shipped to China for the people here to eat because they are so good!!
We plan to walk through the spice market, the pet market, and over to the shopping street next. I hope to get some good photos of the spice market. It is a sight you cannot imagine seeing in America!
On to the next adventure!!