Thursday, June 26, 2014

9,999 Steps to Nowhere

Yesterday was our consulate appointment. It's a bit anticlimactic after all the paperwork, fingerprints, and interviews we have been through in the last year but nevertheless it is behind us. We raised our right hands and swore that everything we have said and submitted to process this adoption is true. They take our fingerprints and tell us Daniel's visa will be ready for pick up the next day. Yay!

Since we knew we had several free days, we decided it might be nice to visit a site outside of the city. We wanted to catch a peek of some of China's natural beauty away from the sea of skyscrapers, heavy traffic and noise of the city. We researched and found this lovely park about an hour outside of Guangzhou. It has a hiking path up the mountain with 9,999 steps dotted with spectacular waterfalls. Coming from drought ridden California, this sounded wonderful. We had been looking forward to this excursion but honestly everyone woke up so very tired and had we not already booked the driver and guide would have preferred a couple more hours of sleep. We figured we would pay big time for our exhausting hike in the heat but the chance to see the country would be worth our fatigue.

So we left the city very early in the morning for Bai Shui Zhai. The countryside is lovely and we drive through several large city areas and smaller villages winding our way up a mountainside. As we pull up to the gate to enter we are flagged by a park employee waving his hands over his head motioning not to enter. Oh, oh. This does not look good. Our guide gets out to speak with the employee and then comes back with a disappointed expression. The park is closed. The monsoon season has taken a toll on the park. There has been too much rain recently and the trails are either damaged or impassable. We never got a clear explanation what the actual problem is just that there has been too much rain so they had to close. Bummer!

Our guide and driver feel horrible that we can't go to this park and offer to take us to another pretty location that is not too far from this one. We agree and say we just hoped to visit a pretty location. So we head off toward the next park. The driver winds through several different villages. The scenery is filled with many farms of lychee orchards and dragon fruit. These villages do not get many foreigners and we are quite the sight to view. I can see the driver's gps device from my backseat and see we are getting very close to the park. As we round a corner to enter the highway we face a major roadblock. The bridge for that road is closed and many signs and large rocks are in the way. Great. Now what? Well, a local man on a motorbike drives up to us and our driver has some sort of conversation with him. The man is going to lead us through the village to go around this road block. Awesome!

Our driver follows the little man zipping through the village, to the mountain roads and finally through a very narrow orchard. He stops at the orchard and gives our driver some more oral directions. Basically we follow this road till the T stop and turn right to head up the mountain. Our driver pays the little old man. I am wondering if our "local guide" has just ripped us off and left us to fend for ourselves in the middle of nowhere. The farm road is super narrow and we have several oncoming cars that make passing difficult. At one point Lou gets out of the van to direct traffic so the vehicles can pass each other. Oh. my. goodness. We are having a blast. Our guide keeps apologizing but we assure her, that we are quite okay with our adventure. So we wind up this mountain road toward the park. The little man did not rip us off, yay! There are several restaurants, inns and residences on the side of the mountain. They advertise with pictures of food and Chinese writing that neither Lou nor I can read. At one point, we see a restaurant sign advertising WIFE. What the heck? Someone is looking for a wife? Haven't they heard of or eHarmony? Well, I guess they don't really need a wife but rather are advertising that they have WiFi. Chinglish signs are pretty common as translations aren't always exact. I wonder how many folks stop to use the WiFi there...

So we reach the park gate and wouldn't you know, it is also closed. I guess this park has similar issues as the last park. We are now at the top of a mountain and have spectacular views of the countryside. There are two waterfalls in view, blue skies, and a breathtaking view of the valley below. Our guide laughs at our bad luck but again apologizes that this one is also closed. We honestly do not care an iota. We are seeing the countryside and loving it.

After taking a some pictures, we hop back in the van and our driver suggest a lakeside location that is always open to tourist. We're game for whatever. Daniel is doing well in the car. He hasn't gotten carsick on us and tends to even cuddle up and snooze on our laps. We head back down the mountain, through the village and find the main highway once again. After several U-turns, we end up at a lake resort with hot springs. The lake isn't a swim and play kind of lake. It looks murky and I'm sure any icky pollution in a twenty mile radius has flowed into this lake. There are several resorts though and I guess one has some nice hiking. Our guide goes to get the information but comes back with an embarrassed smile on her face. It is closed! Too much rain. Okay. We give up. We get out to stretch and walk around a bit before heading back to the city. The little village has some unique items for sale. Wood and stone artwork. We end up getting a killer deal on a beautiful piece that we would have spent at least double on if we bought it in the city and ten times that in the states. We are ecstatic! So we may not have hiked our 9,999 steps but we sure did have a day of fun and adventure. Plus we are not going to feel like a mac truck ran us over tomorrow.

Tomorrow night we fly home. Please pray for Daniel (and us). We are not looking forward to the long international flight but are eager to get home and introduce our little stinker to the rest of the family. If you have followed us through this adoption we thank you for your prayers, support and kind words. We have truly felt loved and supported by y'all through this entire process.  My next post will be once we arrive home.

Our day guide, Lee with Daniel

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