Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A day in the Old City

Greg has been writing pretty much all of the updates since we left for China, so I decided that tonight it was time for me to do one. We had a really good day today, but we ran hard, so we are very tired tonight. Lucy took us down to the Old City, which is one of the major tourist attractions in this area. It is a city that was built about 400 years ago, and it has been restored by the government as a historical center and a tribute to the minority people of China. This province, Guizhou, has a higher percentage of minority people than any other province in China. Lucy and our driver both think that Isabelle is probably from one of these minority peoples based on her physical characteristics. The Old City is very near the mountains of Guizhou, and the view all around it is beautiful. We got some great pictures, but they are still on Greg's phone, so maybe we can post them tomorrow.The surrounding area is still active farmland, so we drove by some local villagers working in their rice and corn fields. Inside the city, all of the old houses have been converted into shops where people sell craft items of these minority peoples, or food items that are native to this area. One of the funny things was that Greg and I were two of the biggest tourist attractions there today. I don't think this province gets many Caucasian visitors, because people stare at us everywhere we go. It doesn't seem to be considered rude to stare a people here like it is in America, and we are getting used to it. Children in China study English at school, so parents kept bringing their children over to us to practice their English phrases. (Usually just "Hello, how are you?" and "Nice to meet you.") Several people asked if we would pose for pictures with them, and more than once, we noticed a crowd gathering around us. We feel like celebrities. :-) We were very brave at lunch time today and had a completely native lunch - tofu and pig feet. Lucy called them pig hands - the hands that you walk on. I thought the tofu was okay, and Greg didn't mind the pig feet too much, but neither of us is eager for a repeat of the meal. We were able to buy some neat items for Isabelle's box, and we sampled some local candy that is very good. We also found a toy that Hallie is interested in. This is huge, because we have been trying to find something that she would play with ever since we got her a week and a half ago. She was completely bored by everything until today. It was one of those little drums on a stick with the beads on each side. When you twirl it, the beads strike the drum to make noise. Unfortunately, Isabelle broke the drum off the stick as soon as we got home with it today. :-) Hallie still loves it, and spent most of the evening playing with it. She is very protective of it, and doesn't want anyone else to touch it. (That could have something to do with the fact that the one time Isabelle did touch it, she broke it.) We will work on sharing later. Right now we are just overjoyed that she is showing interest in something.

Tonight we decided that we had had enough of local cuisine for one day, so we set out to find the Pizza Hut in Guiyang. We knew where it was more or less thanks to Google Maps, but we learned in Jinan that often Google Maps is off by a block or two in China, so we weren't sure if we would be able to find it or not. To our surprise, we found it with no difficulty, but the place was packed, and their was a wait of more than half an hour. We wanted to order our pizza to go, but the workers at Pizza Hut didn't speak any English, so we didn't know how to ask. While we were trying to figure out what to do, a man brought his little son over to us and asked if the boy could tell us hello so he could practice his English. It turns out that the father speaks fluent English, and is actually leaving for Great Britain very soon to study to be an English teacher. We talked to him for a few minutes and asked if he would be willing to help us order our pizza to go. He was very happy to help with that. Then his little boy sang a little song for us in Chinese. It was really cute. Then, while we were waiting for our pizza to be done, we ran into three Americans who have been living here in China for two years. They are studying Chinese at the University here. One of them is actually from Columbus, Ohio, and knows the Cincinnati area very well. They gave us their phone numbers and told us to call them if we need any help with anything. They also told us about an English speaking coffee shop less than a mile from our hotel, so we plan to check that out tomorrow.

We are enjoying our time in China very much, but we have hit that point where we feel pretty homesick. We miss our kids a lot, and would like to go home now. We know that it will be a bit difficult to get through that last week in Guangzhou, so we would appreciate prayers for that. Three weeks is such a long time to be away.

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