Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Originally uploaded by juststeve.
Hi all.

Well M’s asleep and Rhea’s trying. I need to soon at some point.

Today was mostly a do nothing day. We had 2 1/2 hrs paperwork then a bit more later in the day. Lots of sitting in a room with Norman saying “Box number 4 check no” Or “Write your daughters Chinese Name there”. Sounds boring and it is but the US consulate is apparently very very picky and any problems can be a pain. Plus those forms I think were written by fired IRS workers. They are written to maximize confusion. Who looks at those things!

Rhea and I did manage to escape back to Shamian Island for a bit to pick up a couple of things we bought the other day when we went to the clinic for M’s US immigration health check-up. But other than that it was a pretty slow day.

Tomorrow we have to wait around until 11:30 to while the Team delivers the papers to the Consulate and then if everything goes well we’re free. I don’t know what to do yet but I’m hoping to go somewhere new. We’ve only got 2 more days in China and as much as I’m looking forward to going home I’m really enjoying being here.

Since things here aren’t too noteworthy let me tell you a little about our trip to Fengcheng because that was a real adventure.

That day started off with a trip to the passport office in Nanchang to pick up Marina’s Chinese passport. She’s our child now but she’s still a Chinese citizen and will have to travel with a Chinese passport. That was a quick trip. After that we went to visit a Preschool.

I guess that most parents work so many children at age 3 start going to full time pre-school. However, they’re school is much more academic than ours. They have English, Chinese, Math, Dance, Painting, Science, all sorts of things. The whole approach sounds like the ultimate in Bay area overscheduling, but with more pressure. That said, I thought the school was very nice. The facility was clean and stimulating, with a nice play yard and the teachers and students looked happy. This was a public school and the student teacher ratio was 40 / 2 for the classroom. Though is sounded like they had visiting specialists for some subjects. We wandered around saw some classrooms had a couple of song and dance performances for our benefit, very cute. I was impressed. It reminded me very much of a school back home. I really loved the kid art.

After that we went back to the hotel. R, M and I grabbed a quick bite in the hotel and then took off for FC at about 1. The drive was about 1 1/2 hrs on a tough road. One of the others who went with us said the conditions in the countryside where the worst she had ever seen. I didn’t thing it was that bad but it was very poor, with lots of trash.

Fengcheng apparently has the largest power plant in Jiangxi. I guess there is a lot of coal in the area. So as we drove in we saw piles of coal along the road. The town is large 1.5 million but only moderately developed. I call it ‘real china’ or ‘old china’ it’s the one I remember from 15 years ago. The town sort of tapers off to single or two story buildings but in the center is full of 8 story concrete buildings. The town is bustling but they sure don’t see westerners often. Everyplace we got out we were swarmed by gawkier. I don’t mind but for Rhea it was a bit overwhelming at times. It’s easy for me I’m a grown up and tall (by Chinese standards) but for here they’re all around her and the old ladies want to touch her. They were very curious about us and our babies. Some were telling us we needed to cover them up more. Some were commenting that we had big noses. Overall people looked both happy and puzzled to see us.

Ok, bedtime again. I’ll pick up from here tomorrow.



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