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  • Marilyn Saltzman

Touring Guangzhou

Today we toured the Six Banyans Buddhist Temple, which features a statue of the only female Buddha, old banyan trees and a six-story pagoda that is leaning to the left. (A political statement?)  We learned that at Buddhist temples, the first Buddha at the entrance is always the happy Buddha, greeting the worshipers.  On the side walls there are often fierce-looking guardian statues, protecting the space. “They are not happy,” as Selam said. At the temple, a Buddhist priest blessed all the families adopting children. There were about 10 families that we traveled with today, many of them with special needs kids. In front of the Buddhas are small, red upholstered prayer stools, and Selam knelt on one, put her hands together in front of her face, and bowed as other visitors were doing. It was very cute!

We also visited the old Chen House, a wonderful folk art museum that has stone carvings, wood carvings and exhibitions of ivory, embroidery, Chinese paintings and jade. The architecture is incredible, with colored porcelain sculptures adorning the sides of the roof. An artist was creating amazing ink drawings with his fingers.

Some interesting facts about Guangzhou: It used to be known as Canton by the West and is a city of 15 million, the fifth largest in China. Chen is the most popular family name. When Hong Kong became part of China in 1997, each province gave Hong Kong a gift, and Guangzhou’s was a very valuable piece of jade.

Some interesting facts about jade: There are three classes of jade “A, B, C ¬¬” with high quality, “A” jewelry being extremely valuable, costing in the thousands of dollars. Chinese people receive jade on three occasions: birth (from parents or grandparents), marriage and on their 60th birthday (from their children). One of the most popular designs is the doughnut-shaped pendant, which signifies ‘happy family.’

Tonight we made the decision not to go to the group dinner and give the kids some down time. We took them swimming, which Selam loves, and Dian is just learning to enjoy. Then we had a quiet room service dinner of pizza. Dian is a good eater and took right to pizza.

We are all getting a little tired and cranky, and we decided we’ll skip most of the rest of the group excursions and do more kid-friendly activities on our own. The kids need time to run around and burn off energy, and tours of museums don’t cut it.  Selam is still struggling with how to play gently with Dian, and their play often ends with her pushing him too hard and his crying.

Heidi and Robin are eager to get the kids home and into a routine. They need more space to play, regular hours for sleeping and eating, and time to adjust to each other.

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