Sunday, January 4, 2009

Van's Posts from Jan 1st and 2nd in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia

January 1, 2009
Happy New Year's from China! I woke up after getting a little sleep. The fireworks kept me up here and there throughout the night. I looked at my watch and it's 4:15 a.m. I start trying to keep up on typing the journals. Also, the Holiday Inn allows $200 US to be exchanged per day. I need to make sure I have enough. Today, the main thing on the agenda is a trip to the new museum, get a suitcase, and pack! Garrett wakes up around 6:30 a.m. He cries a bit when no one is in the bed, but stops as soon as you touch him. Still not 100% toddler, still has some baby aspects that will make bonding easier. He falls asleep easier then any child I've seen, that is if you have to lay with him for 2-3 minutes which is not problem. Garrett gets up and to my amazement, he uses the little plastic training pot for the first time. Yes, progress!! I give him high praises which normally means hugging and high-fives! We go to breakfast and again, Garrett and I are treated like royalty again. Garrett eats pretty well. It's now time to go to the museum.We drive through the main part of Hohhot. The traffic is crazy as normal, far worse then Beijing or Guangzhou. There are several New Year's decorations, mainly red ornamental balloons and grand dragon style archways into all the buildings. It is the beginning of a 3 day holiday. The air is between 5-15 degrees right now. I make sure that Garrett has Vaseline on his lips, and special Desitin on his cheeks and forehead to protect his skin. We arrive at the museum, which is fascinating. The architecture is something I've never seen in a building this size. The building is 1/2 museum, and 1/2 opera/concert house. We enter and the main hall is a huge travertine grand room with several sandblasted wall motifs depicting the various history of Inner Mongolia. We then go to the next section which is various dinosaur exhibits. I loved this since I was a huge dinosaur fan, turns out Garrett is as well and start lighting up for the next 2 hours. We walk into the larger exhibits including a 40 foot long dinosaur, like a diplodocus or brontosaurus. We also see some nice mastadon and Wooly Mammoth skeletons. Garrett is getting very excited.The next grand rooms (about 10 of them) depict the early cultures of Inner Mongolia. There are some stunning exhibits, even compared to the best Smithsonian exhibits. Garrett is starting to feel a little freedom and I let him run around a bit, as long as he doesn't scream or touch things. Well, that's exactly what started happening soon so I had to be a bit more controlling. He is the sweetest kid and his face lights up. He is getting a lot of attention from the dressed up attendants and the security guards. Sandra is really affixed to him now and I find her wanting to give me a break more and more. I think it's more to play with a very sweet child who is just passionate in this museum. Sandra is a history major by default, so we are all having a great time for the next 2-3 hours in the museum. We get to the Genghis Khan exhibit which, besides the dinosaurs, is the nicest one for me and Garrett. Their is a full size Mongolian tent on a huge wagon. The statue of a young Genghis Khan on a horse is where many of the men are having their pictures made. Genghis Khan is still the national hero in these parts, and was voted "Man of the Millenia" by Time Magazine last millenia. Garrett is starting to wind down a little. I'm very impressed how much he can walk. He always keep a very cheerful look on his face. We bundle up and walk outside to the car and prepare for a quick shopping trip for a new travel suitcase to hold some of our new items. We drive for about 10 minutes and then drive into a parking space near one of these red dragon arches in front of the entrance. We walk through some heavy red curtains that lead you into a 4 story mall/flea market. Most of the shops are in narrow alleys. Sandra warns me to watch my stuff, people are pickpocketed all the time. I make sure my wallet is in the front pocket, along with my camera zipped in my coat. Sandra is still really being helpful with Garrett by holding his hands. Garrett, BTW, is great on excalators. He knows exactly when to step off. We've been on about 20 and so far, no trips or anything. We come to a shop that has more suitcases than your typical Macy's displays. I choose a red, then change to a silver/cinnamon colored suitcase that I could spot a mile away. It isn't as gaudy as the red and won't show the black marks that you get immediately with a new suitcase after a flight. Only 168 yuans, or about $30 US. What's ironic is that they were showing me how this suitcase locks, and I had to let them know that in the US, you can't lock them anymore. We get back to the hotel, and eat lunch immediately. The meal is now about $23 for both of us, since they were giving wine and beer, all you can drink. I did have a few beers at lunch and again at dinner. In between, Garrett took a nap, and I packed our new suitcase and get all the gifts split between the suitcases. If you lose one, you still have 1/2 the gifts, clothes, and medicine (the minor ones). I ended up falling asleep at the last part of Garrett's nap. Garrett woke up earlier than me and proceeded to cry to try and get my attention. Well, when I didn't respond immediately, so he got in my face, cried louder, and then started chanting, like we all did with the Indian chants. It got my attention! We go to dinner and see the staff at the Champs Elysees one last time. We had seen Hilary at lunch time for the final time, she was our first "friend" during that first day. I do plan on writing a nice letter to Holiday Inn about their service and very tasty food!We get back, and it's time to pack, but must give Garrett another bath. The last group of laundry shows up, which I'm glad made it since if it was missing, I didn't have a 2nd day to find. I get the bath water ready, but just a little warmer. Garrett is doing much better this time, and also tries to help out on his legs and feet. I dry him off, get his sleepers on, and then dry his hair on low. He falls asleep very easily. I finish packing by 10 p.m. and then make sure that the hotel give me a wake-up call at 4:30, just in case. Happy New Year's from china!

January 2, 2009 The Last Hohhot Entry
I didn't wake up until the hotel called at 4:30 a.m. I get up, do some push-ups and crunches, then hop in the shower. At the tail end of the shower, the phone goes off again. I can't get to it since I'm soaked. I finish, and start towelling off when the phone rings again. Who is calling me, Sandra to make sure I'm awake? Well, it we the front desk checking to see when the bagboy needs to upstairs. I tell them at 6 a.m. I get ready, take a pic or two, and then wake Garrett up. Oh please, poop before we leave. I had some coffee in the room, and the last pastry that the Chungs have given to Garrett for a quick breakfast. Garrett is given the last of the fresh yogurt the Chungs have given him and a banana and cookies. Garrett uses "the pot" in the morning for #1 which I praise him for doing, even though it's a tough task and a small area. At 5:50 a.m., Garrett answers my requests and follows with a #2. No changing diapers on the plane or airport! The bellboy arrives right at 6 a.m. It is another cold morning, but now snow. Sandra is in the lobby and I close the bill. The streets are empty. It is dark until about 8 a.m. in Hohhot, and the sun sets right around 4:30 p.m. The drive is the calmest since I've arrived. We get to the airport without issue and then it's just about 45 minutes before boarding the flight. China Air has very nice planes. We get on, and I meet an Englishman sitting across from me. We talk for about 5 minutes before the hugest Mongolian sits between us. He is about 6'7" and just BIG. He could easily suit-up for a defensive linemen in the NFL or be a professional wrestler. He is nice and smiles our way, even though his knees barely fit in. Garrett takes a quick nap, the flight to Beijing is just 1 hour long, than I catch another flight to Guangzhou. I get to see more of the ranges this time, but not next to the window. They serve us some hot dogs for breakfast, with rolls that spiral around the hot dog. I hold one back for Garrett since I've seen him eat them. He wakes up about 20 minutes before landing and proceeds to eat he hot dog and drink the water give to him. Thus ends my Hohhot story. I made it through the scariest part of the trip, and was feeling great. I had bonded with Garrett and he trusted me so much already. We were father and son on a journey home, with one more stop for a week. I really came out so much better than I predicted, not having to do baby bottles was one reason, but Garrett's calm and loving demeanor was the key. Talking via video conference with Madeline and Gracie helped so much with the days being away. I can't wait for this new member of the family to meet his mother and his big sister. Now, on to Guangzhou.

1 comment:

Hohhotter said...

Hi, how are you, I am a Hohhot native currently studying in Malaysia, it is great to read your posts. Are you still in Hohhot or planning to go back to Hohhot or Baotou?

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