Travel 06/29/2011

Keith reporting:
Visa Day and Cold Drinks

Karen has already mentioned it, but it is worth mentioning again. You do not realize how spoiled we Yanks are until you recognize just how much you miss things being cold. I do not mean cool, I mean cold. This, like many other countries we have been blessed to experience, does not have safe drinking water systems, and therefore does not have ice for your drinks in most establishments. Even when you see ice in the drinks, you really have to wonder whether or not it is worth a round of roulette on chancing the intestinal demon. They keep cold drinks in the refrigerator, but even those are not cranked down to the near freezing temps that we are accustomed to back home. Probably somewhere around 40 degrees is about the norm to expect. That may be ok for Europeans and their un-frosty libations, but it is a real problem for me, especially when it comes to a big glass of milk (skim at 33 degrees is on top of my list when we return; I will probably have to make a midnight run after our 32 hour return trip on Friday.) Today was a double treat day when it came to cold drinks. Safe ice at McDonalds (yes, I said the Mc word; amazing what sounds good after two weeks of stir-fried-what-was-that) and really cold Coke Zero at the Thai restaurant. I am thirsty just thinking about it. Anyway, think about this the next time you hear that wonderful ice rattling around in your glass.

The steambath with rain that is Guangzhou this time of year continued today. We went out shopping, did not carry umbrellas, and ended up soaked again. I must say that I could not be more proud of my three girls as they have shown themselves to be world class travel jedi when it comes to getting around in this city the size of New York. They follow me through taxi cab interpretations, wandering around aimlessly after being dropped off only to somehow always find our way to where we are going. All this while hauling a stroller, diaper bags, backpacks, shopping bags and other accessories on top of a 20 month old and a very capable seven year old. We get soaked, roll in and out of cabs, talk hillbilly Chinese to the cabbies and trudge onward. If they can do that in this city, they could tackle any city on earth.

We went to the world famous pearl market, where we got great deals on pearl necklace, bracelet and earring sets to give to Karis several years down the road. We swam back to the hotel for a drying off and nap, followed by more Swan Room playing, another meal at the Cow and Bridge Thai Restaurant (our favorite authentic when it comes to successful ordering for my family) and then more shopping.

We received Karis Chinese passport and US visa this afternoon, meaning she is all ready to enter the US. As I said earlier, she becomes a US citizen the minute she steps off the plane in Newark, NJ.

Tomorrow, Thursday, is our last day here. We plan on taking lots of final photos of the White Swan hotel and Guangzhou, shop a little more then start packing for the trip home. We leave out just before 6:00am on Friday morning (that is 5:00pm Thursday night back home) and begin the long journey home. We arrive in Nashville at 10:00pm Friday night Nashville time, and should be home around midnight (after my stop for cold skim milk). That will be more than 32 hours after we get up on Friday morning. Please say a prayer for us for our safety, endurance and patience on this journey. Thanks again for following us on this adventure of a lifetime. One of us will post again tomorrow, then will follow up with a final trip posting sometime on Saturday.

Talk to you again soon.