For our last day in Guangzhou, a group of us decided to go to the Baiyun Mountain Park, another very large park in the city. Baiyun Mountain is quite tall and the park around it is very lush and some early spring flowers were out making it quite colorful as well. Instead of walking up, which takes about an hour, we all chose to ride the electric trams up.
The trams stop about halfway up, where this amazing vista is. I know it is very hazy, but if you look carefully you can make out some dark shapes toward the horizon. These are sky scrapers and it really showed us just how big Guangzhou is. The entire width of the vista was an arc of tall buildings.
We then proceeded to begin the climb to the top. It wasn't straight stairs... along the way were places to rest and things to look at. Such as these carved dragons.
We didn't make it quite to the top. I think we probably got at least two thirds of the way there. The families who did make it reported that it was over 800 steps. H. was a trooper and kept right on climbing with us without complaint. Instead she busied herself by practicing her English counting by counting the steps as we went up. She is pretty good up to 20 and there were many sets of 20 as we went up. We decided at one point that it was best that we turn around. Going down was a little more difficult for H., but she kept up and remained cheerful. See:
When we got back to the midway point of the mountain, we sat and ate lunch. One thing about Chinese parks is they're well used. We've seen ball room dancing classes. (Even dance classes up at the midway point on the mountain which means the students walked up first and then danced.) People also do tai chi, badminton, jump rope, and hackey sack. But it's not like American hackey sack, but played with something that looks a bit like a badminton birdie. There were some for sale where we bought lunch, so A. bought one and A. and TM decided to join the natives and play their game. They stopped when they realized that they had gathered a crowd who were watching and laughing. (Actually J. and I were watching and laughing as well... it was the first time either of them had played it, and let's just say neither of them exhibit savant-like hackey sack tendencies.)
We decided to call it a day and go back to the hotel. To get back down the mountain we took the cable car.
I think H. enjoyed the cable car.
We also did some walking around in the markets a bit later on, but had a short amount of time and didn't really find the area we were looking for. We did see quite a few chickens in crates which TM lobbied to take home, having declared them cute.
It was a good day and I think I have even managed to get everything in our suitcases so they can be set out early in the morning.
I know we are having a particularly easy experience with H. and we may still face some challenges in the future, but adopting an older child has been pretty great for us. And we are still getting to experience some "firsts" with her even though she is nine. In some ways these firsts are a little bittersweet for me because my heart is saddened at all she has missed, but I am thrilled that I get to be the one to allow her to experience so many new things.
Take tonight for instance. I have been going slowly with the whole bath-thing because it was evident that it made her nervous. She was much more comfortable standing in the tub and just pouring water over herself to get clean. Well, I thought we'd try a real bath tonight and see how it went. J. ran a bath with bubbles and then I took her in and showed her the tub filled with bubbles. She was entranced by them and happily got in. I scrounged around the room for things she could use to play with and handed them to her. She caught on immediately to the idea and gave a huge grin and hearty laugh. I then suggested she sit down in the water. Surprisingly, she did so and her face showed the wonder of sitting in a tub filled with warm water. I think I can safely assert this was the first time she had ever done so. I let her play in the tub for a long time while I worked on packing. Then it was time to wash her hair. Before she insisted on my rinsing her hair by pouring water over the top of her head. I did so, but inwardly cringed. I have always laid my children down, supported their heads and carefully rinsed their hair under the running tub faucet. As extra protection, I have them hold a washcloth over their eyes. (Can you tell I have my own personal issues about water in my face?) Tonight I convinced her that I could hold her head and rinse her hair. She wasn't entirely convinced at first, but after she figured out what I was doing she cooperated. But it wasn't just cooperating, she laughed with joy the whole time. It was as if she had never imagined that having her hair washed could be pleasant. I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to laugh or cry with her.
And those picture cards I made to help us communicate? Well, they are proving useful, but not in the way I imagined. We have been able to communicate pretty well, but H. has taken to using them to learn English. She will look at a card and either say the English word or ask what it is. Today she held up the card with the angry face and said, "Angry". Then she said, "H. not angry, H. happy!"
And so are we.