Yesterday (Thursday) was another good, and fairly quiet day. It was probably the most relaxing day that we've had since we got to Guiyang. Lucy took us for a walk around the city here in the morning, and we got to see the big city square. She was almost apologetic at how small it was compared to the squares in cities like Beijing, but it seemed plenty large to us. The main part of the square is accessed through a gate made out of metal fashioned to look like bamboo, with a lion on either side. On the other side of the gate, we watched a Tai-Chi class in session. It seems to us that Tai-Chi might well have some of the same physical benefits of yoga, because of the balance, control, and stamina involved. But the best thing about the class was the little girl—who was no older than 5, if that—who was trying to do it along with the adults. She was actually pretty good, so she must have done some of it before.
After that, we walked around the park for a little while, and we heard two different sets of musicians playing. The first was a man sitting by himself, playing an interesting instrument that we'd never seen before. (In hindsight, I should have asked Lucy what it was), and then we saw a man and a woman playing. She had the same instrument as the soloist, and he was playing something akin to a flute, though made out of some sort of wood, I think. While we were sitting and listening to the duo perform, an old Chinese woman approached us and asked about our girls. According to Lucy—and backed up by the woman's smiles—she was very enthusiastic and complementary toward us, but Kristie said later that it sounded to her like the woman was threatening to call the authorities on us for kidnapping two Chinese children. That made me laugh. It's always hard to decipher someone's attitude based on things like tone of voice when they're speaking a foreign language, and that difficulty is compounded exponentially when the language is a tonal language. The Chinese language is quite a different beast from English or anything else that I've ever studied.
We wrapped up the morning by visiting a Buddhist (or Buddhinist, as Lucy says) temple. We thought that this would be much like the Confucian temple that we walked through in Jinan, a sort of museum representing ages past. But that wasn't the case. Lucy bought some incense for all three of us, and she asked if we wanted to set some up along with the others that were there. We declined, not knowing exactly what offering incense would communicate, and the last thing that we wanted to do was to be caught up accidentally in some religious rite. I'm really glad that we declined, because not only did Lucy light the incense and place it alongside the others in the temple, but she also bowed down in a posture of prayer. We had no idea that she was a practicing Buddhist, but that certainly seems to be the case. In fact, she bowed towards most of the statues of Buddha that were in the temple. I've never seen anything like this up close before, and it was a bit uncomfortable. Somehow, I think that Hallie felt it, too, because she started crying really hard after entering one of the rooms in the temple. Kristie got her out of her stroller, and we started to make our way back out of the temple. On our way out, we met a group of Buddhist monks, and there were a couple of women there with them. Through Lucy, they told us how happy there were for us and commended us for the good that we had done in adopting Isabelle & Hallie. Once we left the temple, we got some lunch at a nearby shop and then went back to the hotel.
For dinner, we decided to try to find Highlands Coffee. We did find it, thanks to Kristie's careful eye. I had walked past it, but she spotted the sign, tucked back in a small street branching off the main street. They had some really good food there, and it felt great—albeit kind of weird—to be in such a Western atmosphere in a city that doesn't have very many Western features. On our way out, I ordered some drinks for us, including some coffee for Kristie. I opted for the caffeinated coffee over the decaf because it sounded like the better flavor, and I figured that she was tired enough that within a few hours she'd be able to go to sleep. She agreed, but that turned out to be a mistake. The caffeine kept her up all night, and that's not a good thing heading into the flight this evening. I feel really bad for having done this to her, even though she's emphatic that she doesn't hold me accountable for it at all. I disagree and still think that it's my fault. :-)