Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Three-Hour Tour (sort of )

Back on Shamian Island, the babies received their medical exams to make sure they had no communicable diseases. It was supposed to take just a short while and then we would have until noon to wander the island, shop and hang out until we met for lunch at noon. Our girl passed with flying colors but things went a bit slowly for us. First they couldn't quite find her file. Then we needed to get into a special line for bigger kids (she would be weighed and measured on a standing scale, not the produce-style one most doctors use for infants). Then in the middle of everything: "Wuo niao-niao!" - guess who had to go to the bathroom.

My daughter and I were hustled through the slim, crowded corridors to a ladies room that - you guessed it - featured the native variety of commode that give new meaning to the term, "hole-in-the-wall" (see earlier posting by Mark, with illustration, if you need further help here). After more than a week with us, Xiao-Ling was used to American-style powder-rooms. Fine by me. We toddled back to the doctor's office, which adjoined accommodations that were much more accommodating. Unfortunately while we were in there my child 1) took her usual sweet time with thorough self-santization and 2) accidentally knocked a roll of paper to the floor. When I bent over to pick it up, the pen behind my ear slid into the bowl with a farewell splash. Needless to say, I have written my last word with that quill, but worse yet, it jammed up the pipes. Oh hell and botheration. That medical staff was awfully sweet about it.

On with the medical exam. They measured the length of each leg, the circumference of her head, and tested her arm mobility. Things checked out pretty well, and we were eager to skip out of there and have some leisure time because we were the last family in there. As we skibbled out the front door, wait for it, wait for it...

"Come back! Come back!" the voice of our guide Dennis beseeched us. Turns out they needed to measure the length of one of her surgical scars. Soooooo close! By the time we got out of there we had only 45 minutes, and Xiao-Ling needed to play. Before we found a playgrosund and it wasn't long before our darling was back to her old self and demonstrating her derring-do on the slides.

Shamian Island is also a nice spot for brides and grooms to have their outdoor wedding photo sessions, which are fun to watch. Our guide Simon told us that these are never done on the actual wedding, but several days to weeks in advance. Guess that explains the bride's dungarees under her gown when she walks from venue to venue for the next photos.

Lunch was at a very homey restaurant where we sat at huge round tables with Lazy Susans in the middle and ate mostly dim sum along with fresh steamed broccoli and little bowls of beef broth. Absolutely delicious. Mark thought our meal was a bit American because the selections felt familiar, but I reminded him that he and I do not favor egg rolls or sweet-and-sour swill and therefore we have always been attuned to food that's a little more Chinese than Chinese-American. Xiao-Ling only wanted to eat the egg custard tarts and nearly turned into one herself. Normally I would have picked that battle but she'd had such a rough morning that I let it go.

We are very, very homesick for Harry. I miss him so much and can't believe we will have been separated for three weeks. When we see him, I get to hug him first. His sister shows his picture to absolutely everyone and cannot wait to take a bite out of him either.

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