Thursday, March 15, 2012
Day 4: Fish... real and surreal
Before beginning on the events of the day, I thought I would show you what Zhengzhou (at least around us) looks like at night. It is very bright... and very neon. Imagine many more of this type of sign up and down the street.
Today's event was to go to the Zhengzhou Aquarium. I have been to zoo-type places in Asia before, and so I was prepared for it to be rather dire. Happily, some of it exceeded my expectations. There was lots of fish (of course), and some of them were rather interesting, in a large, fishy sort of way.
But along with the tanks of large fish, we were also treated to a couple of shows. The first was a sea lion show. At least by the end we figured out it was a sea lion show. I guess the sad dolphin in the pool in front was merely a decoy.
The sea lion balanced balls, did some sea lion acrobats, and did some math problems for us.
After the show, we were ushered along on the tour. We walked under a tunnel of fish.
And then were directed up a set of stairs. Here was the sign on the landing. (If you can't read the English, it says, "Welcome to the Caribbean Town". I feel this was highly misleading as the air was growing noticeably colder as we ascended the stairs. The reason soon became apparent. The top of the stairs was open to the outdoors and we were treated to a rooftop park.
Now, perhaps this is charming in the summer, when it is warm. But today it was not warm. It was decidedly cold at about 40 degrees and overcast. (Please don't ask me how I feel about missing 80 degree weather in Chicago in March.) And so my opinion of the rooftop park may be a bit colored by the shivering. I think something was definitely lost in translation because it was a little odd. For instance, there was the 'Leisure park' area which was filled with large rocks, wet cement, and dead goldfish.
Or the 'Monsterhouse', where there was a room with a beach scene complete with sand and chair, but nothing else. This little still life was followed by two fun house-type rooms that slanted this way and that. The final room had furniture nailed to the ceiling. But no monsters. Not even nailed to the ceiling.
It did make us wonder what we would find inside the 'Marine gentleman house'. But, brave souls we are, we entered anyway. It was a little anti-climactic to only find some sad, sad sea otters, one of whom obviously was suffering from PTSD.
I don't think the children found it as surreal as the adults and TM and H. happily posed on a cement sea turtle for me.
The roof also offered an interesting view of Zhengzhou, which doesn't seem likely to become a top contender as one of the world's top beauty spots.
After what seemed a slightly longer time then necessary, we were ushered back inside where it was warm and there were actual animals. H. was rather taken with the large pool of sea turtles, though she didn't like the more vicious-looking types of fish.
Next on the list was to attend the Mermaid show. This took place in one of the large salt water tanks and really did consist of a mermaid. (I'm pretty sure that it was a person dressed up as one... if you can imagine.) There were also some other male characters who were swimming around, but they didn't have tails. They were obviously acting out some type of drama, but the meaning was lost on us. Some of the male characters did spend some time 'dancing' with some of the fish who live in the tank. Since this involved spinning the various creatures around in ways that they don't normally move, I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't pass AZA muster.
Now, you might think that this was about all the excitement that could be had in a morning, but you would be wrong. We had one more stop to make. It was time to feed the fish. For 10 rmb (or about $1.20) you could purchase a small baby bottle filled with fish formula. The fish evidently love this, because they come right up to you and slurp down the contents of the baby bottle. I really don't think you've lived until you've seen a carp eating from a baby bottle.
The rest of today was spent either resting in our room or swimming. It takes a while to get over that much excitement. Plus it has been raining all afternoon and has not warmed up. In just a few minutes we will be given the paperwork that we need for the next steps in the adoption process, including H.'s passport. Tomorrow we repack the suitcases which have exploded all over our room and board a plane down to Guangzhou. That is where we will do the US side of things in order for H. to get her visa so she can enter the US.
H. continues to do quite well and adds more and more English words to her vocabulary. She feels comfortable enough to have opinions about things and she has begun to compete with TM over who gets to use the room key to open the hotel room. The rest of us are also doing well, though J. and I are getting tired of shelling out money for every meal except breakfast. And from what I've heard, this is the cheap city in comparison.