So, Bobbie, all we have to do is listen to know we're not in Beijing anymore. This is Taiyuan....horns and sirens all around.
The streets are filled with more scooters and bicycles.
The people are filled with curiosity about the Caucasian couple walking down the street with two Chinese children. (Imagine the more stares when we add one more---a son).
We awoke this morning, though, to a blanket of white covering the city of Beijing.
I began to watch the snow fall around 2:00 a.m., but when we were really stirring this morning, some of the snow was already beginning to melt away. Not all of it had melted, though, when we made our way out of The Comfort Suites. The girls were each able to make a snowball.
Our driver and Charlotte took us past a few tourist sites on our way to the train station. We passed The Bird's Nest and The Water Cube.
Can I say again how wonderful Charlotte is? And, can I say again...if anyone needs a guide in Beijing, I am happy to recommend her?
Not only did she meet us at the airport, and help us make our way to Amazing Hands yesterday, she purchased our train tickets for us. She did more than take us to the train station. She stayed with us until we were on the train. She helped us find a porter who took our luggage and guided us to the the train at the right time. We were even allowed on the platform a little earlier than other passengers. (All of that special treatment can be arranged for anyone for the extra price of 50 yuan....less than $10.)
The train station would certainly be more than a little overwhelming without assistance....maybe a little like Elf in New York City. You might have wondered if we wearing an Elf suit the way people looked at us. Wait, nah, if Stan had been wearing those green tights...No...don't picture that.
The train saved us a good bit of money over airfare to Taiyuan. The ride was 4 hours and we had much more room than on an airline. Security was faster and exiting the train station was faster.
It was much like a drive to Atlanta from our house. Only I didn't have to close my eyes for fear Stan was going to get us killed. And, all of the other people were Chinese.
I thought we might see some interesting sites that would keep the girls entertained along the way. As we lef the city, though, we mainly passed one industrial site after another. Then, we go through a city and repeat.
The most difficult task to manage when riding the train is carrying all of your luggage with you. And, when we arrived in Taiyuan, we were alone without a guide or porter. We had to manhandle our luggage and allow Josie-Tatum to push Ellie in a stroller. Then.....
We saw escalators.
We find that most people in China are intrigued by Ellie. Yes, she turns heads in America, but in China it is different. Most children and adults with any form of disability are not part of mainstream society. She is stared at as often by adults as she is be children. Very few faces show any sign of compassion.
When we saw the escalators, we were certainly on display. Two Americans. Two Chinese girls. One with a disability. I don't know what they were thinking, but they continued to push and shove their way to the escalators all around us....it's not rude. It's their culture.
We managed to stop. I grabbed Ellie from the stroller, and with JT's help, go her on the escalator. But, as were nearing the end, I was growing worried. Until....
One Chinese lady turned around and helped Ellie.
She continued to help for just a minute to we had all regained control of our belongings and Ellie was back in the stroller. Just like Jesus.
We are settled in for the evening at our hotel, after another traditional Chinese meal of pizza, this time Pizza Hut. Josie-Tatum and I ventured from American fare, though. We ordered stuffed shrimp crown pizza. It was delicious. It had shrimp, pineapple, Italian sausage, and green peppers. The shrimp was enclosed in the edges of the crust along with Mozarella. I'll close with photos from our hotel window.