It’s amazing how quickly we fall asleep these days. I (Godfrey) used to lie in bed awake for up to an hour before I would slip into unconsciousness, but ever since the arrival of Baby Boo-Boo, we’ve both been conking out in a matter of seconds! Stacey and baby just fell asleep on the bed, and it took about as long as for me to write this paragraph! Sarah is tiring us out, even though the only other responsibilities we have here in China are (1) to exchange dollars into yuan (which we’ve had to do four times already because we underestimate how much money we’re going to spend) and (2) to find the next great restaurant to eat at. (BTW, tonight we had an awesome buffet dinner at the hotel restaurant…all-you-can-eat seafood, sashimi, sushi rolls, soup, salad, sirloin, noodles, veggies, gourmet desserts, chocolate…$13 per person! Just thought you’d like to know in case you’re wondering if we’re eating OK)
My cold really is wearing me down, and today I would’ve stayed in bed and slept all day, if I could have. But we realized that today was our last opportunity to make a side trip to my parents’ birthplace of Xinhui (San Ui), a small town about 50 miles south of Guangzhou. But remember, this is China, so a “small town” means 750,000, roughly four times the number of people in Torrance.
We took the trip by taxi, and the final tab was 880 yuan ($110). I think it was probably one of the best fares the driver ever had – I kidded him at the end of the trip to buy a new car with the fare! But we thank G for that guy. Even though it was hard to communicate with him (he didn’t speak Cantonese), I did communicate to him the purpose of the trip, so he kinda took this as his own mission. He didn’t want to disappoint, and part of that customer satisfaction included getting us there as quickly as possible. I’m not sure if he was speeding or not (his speedometer didn’t work), but he definitely drove like he owned the whole road. He would not be deterred: neither emergency lane, red light, pedestrian, pylon, bicyclist, motorcyclist or other motorists would slow him down. He was so bad that other taxi drivers were honking at him! But behind the demonic driving was a pretty good guy – he even treated me to a soda in Xinhui after I offered to treat him to one!
I’ve always had an interest in finding out more about my roots: where my parents came from and how they arrived in the U.S. I’ve even offered in the past to take them back to Xinhui so they can show me around, but they’ve always declined, citing their age and lack of mobility. Plus, they said, Xinhui’s changed and is no longer recognizable to them. Our trip today pretty much confirmed that – in some parts we felt like we were in Southern California or Florida…lots of concrete, glass, palm trees and shops. I can only imagine what it was like for mom and dad…a small village surrounded by rice paddies. Compared to Guangzhou, it does have a small town feel (less crowded, less traffic congestion), but it definitely also has a “boom” feel to it (new construction everywhere). I wonder if my parents ever miss Xinhui.
Geography lesson: The countryside is a lush green, and the entire Guangzhou-Hong Kong-Macau region is part of the Pearl River delta. There is water, water everywhere. We crossed bridge after bridge to get to Xinhui. I’d guess they probably don’t worry much about droughts in this area. No idea what typical rainfall totals are, but it could be over 100 inches of rain a year. In fact, we’re here in the middle of monsoon season…sub-tropical rainfall coming up from the South China Sea. The region probably compares to New Orleans and the Mississippi delta, but with more mountains and hills. Many place names have “shan” (mountain) in them- Foshan, Heshan, Taishan, Xiqiaoshan.
Some of you might be thinking, “OK, Godfrey, enough geography…what’s up with baby Sarah?” Well, this is, after all, a “travel blog” so there’s got to be some blogging about the geography and culture, right?? Plus, it’s just fascinating to learn about other places. I guess that’s why I majored in geography. (BTW, I’ve been stocking up on maps…I’ve got five so far, and more to come!). Oh yeah, about Sarah…she’s doing pretty well. &x1F60A We’ve discovered more table food that she enjoys; at a sumptuous buffet like we had tonight, there was plenty of opportunity to experiment. She likes Chinese squash (“gua”), peas, and chocolate. But I think if she had a choice, she would have rice cereal and watermelon for the rest of her life! She also, without a bib, can make a pretty ugly mess of herself. You know the phrase “wearing your food?” Yup, Sarah dresses with the best of them. We pretty much left feeding her up to herself…we cut and ground up food, put it on her tray, and let her go for it. Half of the time we were chatting with other people, so we didn’t even pay attention. It was only at the end when we saw the extent of the mess, and exclaimed, “Aiya!” How embarrassed mommy and daddy were; no wonder strangers were staring at her as they walked by…we thought it was because she’s so cute! Ha! &x1F60A
Sarah still prefers mommy to me, and will, if Stacey is available, go to her instead of me. That’s OK as long as she’s not afraid of me, which I don’t think she is. The evidence is when Stacey’s not available; then she’ll settle for baba without a fuss. However, she does know me as the “food guy” since I feed her most of the time, and the “blow fart” guy, since I enjoy blowing farts on her body, which brings a cackle of laughter from her. I’ll take that!
Today we had a makeshift chrch service in the hallway on our floor! I’m not sure who’s idea it was, nor am I sure it was approved by hotel management, but it was nice to gather together for “chrch”. Another pastor in our group gave the message from Matthew 6 (not worrying about material possession; looking at how the Father feeds the lilies and birds). This guy, John, was from the south, so his preaching sounded like many southern preachers you’ll hear on the radio (e.g. Charles Stanley, J. Vernon Magee). It was a little awkward as other hotel guests and housekeepers walked through our “service”!
Tomorrow, the paperwork is delivered to the consulate by our guides, and if there are no problems, we pick up Sarah’s U.S. visa and take our oaths on Tuesday as a group, and that’s it. We’re done and ready to take her home…stopping over in SFO/Oakland on Friday (9:45 am – 9:45 pm) and then to Torrance. Our guides also have a shopping trip on Shamian Island planned for us. It should be fun, if my cough/cold doesn’t keep me down. Please pr for health and strength!
Blssings to you all!