Wednesday has been great so far! We took a taxi to the island where the White Swan hotel is located. It is closed for repairs/renovations, but it is where almost all American families stayed years ago. It is BEAUTIFUL in that area. Hayley described it well - it is more like a deep south atmosphere that you would find in Louisiana or southern Alabama. It is calm - not crowded - and fully of little "mom and pop" shops. Many of them speak English, too! I love our hotel - and it is so very fancy and nice. However, I would have loved to have stayed in this area if the White Swan were open. I just felt more relaxed there. Our hotel is surrounded by the downtown area and so busy and crowded. I guess that's why I like where we live - it's a bit slower paced compared to the hustle of a big city! :-)
One thing I have really noticed is the fashion here. I love to shop and buy clothes, so I notice those things when we travel. (On this trip I have NO fashion sense.....I clearly know that.....you have to pack light and comfortable.) The Asian women I have seen - at our hotel - look like they stepped out of a very edgy fashion magazine. Their shoes and clothing are unlike ANY I have seen in the US - even when we have been to New York and Chicago. The style is more edgy, more modern and sleek. I felt so dumpy in my Old Navy t-shirt and Gap jeans! Today was even worse. I am wearing sweat pants! :-) I know we look like travelers, but we most also be comfortable and in easy-to-go outfits. I am amazed at the women walking LONG distances in 4 inch heels! The poorer women outside the hub of the city are dressed more like me. :-)
We bought some really neat souvenirs today. I got a "traditional" shirt for me to wear next year for Chinese New Year and to wear when I get home and talk to my class about China. The lady asked me what size I wear, and I said, "small or medium." She handed me a Chinese extra large and said, "you big small for Chinese!" That boosted my ego. :-) It is very pretty, though! I bought Alexis a traditional dress and him a nice traditional "suit." We got other random gifts for our family. I found the cutest chopstick sets for my students! They will love them. We also went to a shop where they wrote some names on things for us and we found gorgeous paintings that a man does with fingerpainting!! The shop owners are so nice (of course), but genuinely happy for us. Two of the shops had signs about "love God" and other Christian-themed sentiments. That was refreshing to see.
We saw some sort of photo shoot taking place. It was impressive. We also saw a crowd of military men doing something. Jason was fascinated by them.
We came back and let Jaxson/Alexis take a nap. We are getting ready to go to the police station to apply for Jaxson's passport. Alexis and I (and I hope Hayley, too....I get lost) are going to go to a nail salon across the street for some more "girl" time. Big sister Alexis is having some issues still (which is totally normal and expected). We are going to get Jaxson some Chinese tonight. :-)
Tomorrow is his medical appointment, which should be interesting. He doesn't love being still. :-) It is a requirement for leaving the country. He also has to have a TB skin test. I think this is all a US requirement.
Thank you for your continued prayers and interest. I get so excited to get on facebook or the blog and read all the responses. My homesickness comes in waves, and so I LOVE the encouragement. I am trying to enjoy China as much as possible, but I can't wait to watch both of my kiddos run through the backyard with Jake running along! :-)
Here are some pictures: