This morning (Thursday morning), we got to go to an old section of Hangzhou and do some sightseeing and shopping. The area where we were reminded us a little bit of Leavenworth, except not with the Bavarian theme, of course. It was a long, wide street lined with shops on either side, plus a row of open-air vendors down the middle. Some of the things were kind of trinkety souvenir things that looked cheaply made, but a lot of the things were really nice authentic things and some of them were even made right there. I don't remember seeing any other Caucasians there today besides our little group, and it doesn't seem like they particularly cater to Americans or Europeans. All the people we saw shopping looked like regular old Chinese people. The shops were of all sorts: we saw lots of different tea shops, different types of artwork and traditional musical instruments, toys, jewelry, food, clothing, and lots of silk shops. The Zhezhiang province is famous for its silk. We bought a traditional Chinese outfit for TongJie to wear when he's older. We also bought some artwork and chopsticks and a few other small things. However, the purchase Jeff is most excited about is his Chinese saxophone. It's not exactly a traditional Chinese instrument, but it's very well-made. It's made out of wood but has a plastic reed and looks similar to a recorder but it actually sounds like a cross between a saxophone and a clarinet. It's built on a diatonic scale, not pentatonic like most Chinese instruments, so that's why I say it's not a traditional instrument. This one is in the key of C but there were some in G and even one in Bb. I haven't taken a picture of it yet, so I can't post a picture of it up close, but I did take a picture of the booth where the guy was selling them. He was playing Chinese-sounding songs on them as people walked by, but when he saw we were interested in buying one, he broke out into a rendition of the Carpenter's "Yesterday Once More." That sealed the deal right there. Just kidding. Jeff was going to get one anyway. It seemed like everything was very reasonably priced, even cheap, compared to what it would be in the US. Definitely WAY cheaper than a tourist place like Leavenworth where everything is marked up. The only problem is, we have only so much room in our luggage and there's a weight limit that's lower for in-China flights, so we can't buy too much stuff. We might buy more stuff in Guangzhou because by then we'll be done with our in-China flights, so the weight limit is higher. Plus, we're using the diapers and eating the food that we brought so we're getting more room in our luggage as our trip wears on. Actually, we're not using the diapers, TongJie is.
We also went to a brass-carving museum this morning right in the same area as all the shops. It was pretty neat, and I took some cool pictures, but a lot of it was Buddhist stuff that we didn't really understand or get impressed by. The shops were a lot more fun. TongJie did really well in the front pack. He fell asleep for awhile and then woke up and looked around. He seems to like to look at all the people, and a lot of Chinese people come up and talk to him and he smiles. One lady came up to Jeff and pointed at TongJie and then pointed at our guide Sarah, and asked "ma ma?" Jeff pointed to me and said "ma ma," and then the lady seemed like she understood that we adopted him. A lady on the train yesterday spoke to us in English and asked us if we adopted him. When we told her yes, she said "you have a kind heart," and then she said to TongJie "you a lucky boy."
Another funny thing, Wacap warned us that we should dress him in long sleeves and long pants because the Chinese people will think he's too cold, but the poor kid has been sweating and it's way too hot here for long sleeves right now. So we've been putting him in short sleeved shirts, which we're really glad we decided to bring. One of the housekeepers in the hotel this morning saw that we were taking him out like that and told us that his arms would get cold. When we were shopping and walking around outside, we saw a whole bunch of Chinese families with kids in short sleeves though, so maybe it's only certain people who think that. We've also seen a lot of Chinese kids running around with pants with a big hole in the crotch and no diaper or underwear - you can clearly see their little bottoms exposed as their pants flap in the breeze. Sarah said they do that so it's easy to go to the bathroom, but I can't understand how that works with the little kids who aren't even potty trained yet. I want to take a picture, but haven't been able to figure out how to do it discreetly.
I'm posting some pictures that I took this morning at the shopping place. One is of the Chinese saxophone booth, one is Jeff and TongJie in the brass carving museum, and the others are just the market in general. Tomorrow around noon we leave to fly to Guanzhou. We've heard it's a little more Americanized than Hangzhou and more rainy. So far, Hangzhou has been our favorite city by far. I almost wish we could have spent the extra days here instead of Beijing, except I'm glad we went to Beijing to see the Great Wall. There's just so much cool stuff here in Hangzhou that we don't have time to see. We will go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner tonight, so we're looking forward to that. Last night, I forgot to mention that after we finally got back after our long day we were really hungry and didn't get dinner, so I came back to the hotel to put TongJie to bed and Jeff and Sarah walked to a nearby Chinese restaurant to get some food. It was after 9:30 I think. Jeff came back with a whole bunch of really good rice and noodles that only cost the equivalent of a few American dollars and we had some left over for lunch today too. We told Sarah this morning how we thought the rice and noodles were really good, and she said it was probably just because we were so hungry, because they were only just regular old rice and noodles. But I still think it was good.
It's hard to believe it was only a week ago that we arrived in Hong Kong. It seems like we've been here for a lot longer than that. We're having a great time, but also really ready to come home! TongJie's medical exam is on Saturday, then Monday is our visa appointment and we should get the visa on Tuesday and we'll leave on Wednesday. We'll be home on Thursday, so about one more week 'til we get home. Thanks for all the nice comments and the thoughts and prayers. We love reading the comments and emails!