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Saturday, July 01, 2006 

Nanjing Train Tom

Originally uploaded by hollysbaking.
Woke up early this morning, got our stuff together and managed to squash the two tote bags into suitcases so we’d have two less things to wrangle. At 7:30 Evita met us in the lobby to walk over to the train station. We were so glad she was there to help us figure this all out! The station is several floors tall and you have to wait in the specific waiting room designated for your train which is actually quite a ways away from the actual platform. She was allowed to help us get our bags onto the train and show us where our seats were before saying goodbye. I’m sure without her assistance we would still be in Shanghai right now.

The train ride itself was very pleasant, took about 2 ½ hours stopping only at 1 other station (Wuxi). We had “soft seats” which means reserved seat numbers in a clean, comfortable air-conditioned car. Several times during the trip attendants came through selling bottled water, juice and snacks.

Sitting across the isle from us was a mom and a very bouncy ten year old boy named Tom. He was very happy to show off how well he spoke English. He proudly told me he got a 99 in English class! Tom also was happy to show off his yo-yo skills…..several times. Some things really are universal…ten year old boys being one of them!

When we arrived in Nanjing it was raining. Another guide, Nancy, met us right on the platform. She will be coming back on Tuesday to go with us to Suzhou (found out proper pronunciation is SOO-jo) On the ride to the hotel we chatted about other families we both knew. I showed her pictures of Hank and she immediately recognized him from times she has been at the orphanage! She said he seems like a very sweet boy.

Got to the Mandarin Garden Hotel safely. Traffic is still a bit hairy, but not anywhere near as bad as it was in Shanghai. The room is lovely, a nice size and everything is immaculate. We crashed for a little bit and then went downstairs for lunch. I must have misunderstood Nancy when she said this particular restaurant had an English menu. The menu is written in English but all the selections were clearly local specialties. I can’t help but wonder how mute ducks it takes to make the duck tongue dish. I crossed my fingers and ordered Beef with Water chestnuts (very tasty!!!!) and Jeff ordered sautéed chicken with peppers which turned out to be a large tureen of soup with cherry-tomato sized HOT peppers. He loved it (and half of mine..)

By the time we finished lunch the rain had mostly stopped. We were able to borrow an umbrella and wandered off on our own. I’m sure we ended up several places we never would have seen with a guide! The shopping is endless. A mix of storefronts and little stalls and around every turn it goes further on and on. I was very restrained, didn’t want to go nuts on our first time out. You have to be prepared for a hard sell and be prepared to say no and keep going.

We did wander a bit farther out than we planned and got to where we had *no* clue of where we were. Just when we were thinking it might be time to pull out the hotel business card we stumbled upon it…no, not the hotel…a YARN STORE!!! Interestingly enough, yarn stores are also universal. It was the one place where the clerk wasn’t the least bit interested in if I wanted to buy something and almost seemed annoyed that I did. Ened up getting two giant hanks of a purple marl wool blend yarn (not sure what it’s blended with..have to ask Judy tomorrow) for 40 yuan (approx $5).

Thankfully we wandered in the right direction after that and found the hotel a few blocks away. Made a quick stop at a grocery store to get some bottled water and a few munchies for the room. Came upstairs, crashed, missed dinner again!

We have a few pictures from today here http://www.flickr.com/photos/bringinghankhome/sets/72157594183542062/
Hope to get more of the local things tomorrow, we didn’t have the camera with us while on our long wander because of the rain. Not sure what’s in store tomorrow. The other two families from our agency are coming in, it will be great to meet them!!!

Hmmm.... he looks a bit like me.

Cool photos aren't they Sean?
Love Lisey

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