25 January 2009

More grocery goodies

Feeling thirsty after a great Chinese New Year party?
This might be good, as long as it's not syrupy. Someday I suppose I'll try it.

It's Asparagus Beverage. Umm, no. Think I'll pass, despite the nice illustration and smiley face on the can.

Now this is a product I have tried and heartily recommend. The producer is Elisha Waters from Fujian, and these are lightly flavored mineral waters. They have the orange and apple you see here, and also peach and lychee. All very nice; about 99 cents here in the States.

15 January 2009

NWA/Delta merger: One thing you won't see for much longer

With the Spring 2009 schedule, Delta has announced it will stop the Saturday-only "extra" flight between Minneapolis and Tokyo-Narita, leaving the route with just one daily nonstop. This will mean MSP will no longer see two 747-400 aircraft simultaneously at its gates.

Over the next few weeks I'll explore how much more difficult it is becoming for adoptive families to make their China trip. 2009 was supposed to have been a year that saw unprecedented expansion of flights between the USA and PRC; instead carriers have cut back existing services and deferred - indefinitely - serving the new authorities they so fiercely sought just a year ago.

11 January 2009

They're out there, waiting for you...

Take a deep breath and pull it together before walking through those doors. Yes, your family is hiding behind one of the banks of arrival monitors, with balloons and stuffed animals and cameras. They're happy and proud and excited, and they have no conception of how exhausted you are. (And of course, your new child has no idea who these loud strangers are.)

One last dose of patience and composure is what you have to leave for yourselves, to use at this moment. These are people you love. And you don't have the strength or the mental wherewithal to tell them to leave you alone for a few days while you figure out where your bathroom is and how to cook for yourselves and get over the China Colon Syndrome.

Be kind. You're almost home.

04 January 2009

40 articles and counting!

Like a bowl of Shanghai-style beef noodle soup, weninchina.com aims to be filling, nutritious, and something you want to have available every day.

We've just published our 40th article about the China travel experience for families. Unlike the traditional travel guidebooks, which are organized around the various regions of China, we realize each family's timeline and itinerary is different. So we've set up our website more like a Dim Sum cart - pick what you're interested in and swing back for more when you're ready.

We've organized information into categories that apply wherever you land:

Lodging - including links to many of the most commonly-used hotels for adoptive families. Most of you will not be staying in well-known Western chains. There are important differences between a Chinese "5-star" hotel and what we would call "5 stars."
Food - it's good, and for the most part, inexpensive.
  • Chopsticks - yes, you need to learn how to use them
  • KFC / Pizza Hut - these Western chains have made interesting adaptations for Chinese tastes, and should be on your list of things to try. There's no need to be afraid of ordering at the counter for yourself!
  • Starbucks - because we can't live without good coffee, and you won't find any at your hotel
  • Congee - it's what your child is eating; you should know what it's about
Travel and Tourism - advice about getting there, getting around, and getting home.
  • Planning your Transpacific flights - more difficult since you have to leave from Guangzhou. We list and discuss several options
  • Tokyo Narita Airport - a quick overview of where many of you will connect through
  • Chinese Domestic Flights - what to expect as you move around the country
  • Departing China - baggage strategy, getting through Guangzhou Baiyun airport, and what to expect for security
  • Preparation for coming home - dealing with jetlag, relatives, and re-integrating into your 'normal' life. Includes a checklist of things you'll need to have done or arranged for before you leave for China.
  • Shamian Island - the adoptive parents' refuge in Guangzhou. Includes a downloadable map to use when walking around.
  • Traffic in China - amazing and hair-raising
  • Passport & Money Holders
Money and Shopping - never enough of the former, never enough time for the latter...
  • Money Basics - what the bills and coins look like, what to call them. China is very much a cash-based society, and you'll be using this knowledge every day.
  • How to Exchange Currency - you'll be carrying a lot of it; here's where to go and how the process works
  • Shopping for Groceries - a great and inexpensive way to get to know the Real China, not just the touristy stuff. It's something you can do on your own - and endlessly entertaining.
  • Olympic Souvenirs - while a little outdated, still a good read concerning knockoff goods and how to determine what is authentic merchandise
Safety and Health - to supplement what your doctor or travel clinic has prepared you for
People and Culture - explaining some of the things you'll see on your trip, and ideas for back home
  • Karaoke - is a huge industry in China. You might or might not get roped into it...
  • Umbrellas - are used for more than rainshowers. If you want to fit in quickly, here's a good idea.
  • Boats on the Pearl River - Guangzhou is a busy port with lots of traffic, and Shamian Island is a perfect spot to watch it from.
  • Lucky Fish - why do Chinese have pictures and hangings of fish everywhere?
  • the China Daily newspaper - your nightly reading assignment
  • Chinese TV stations - in this case, watching TV can be considered to be 'good for you', and we do heartily recommend it!
  • Chinese Learning Resources - for you and your children to use "back home". We profile and recommend several publishers and book distributors.
We hope to see you soon, and invite your comments, questions, and suggestions at weninchinainfo@mac.com. 

02 January 2009

Love of Groceries

We enjoy shopping at our excellent local Asian Market (United Noodles in Minneapolis) and usually go at least once a month. Not only is it a great way to stay connected to Chinese culture, but prices and selection for vegetables, spices, rice, noodles, and frozen foods are amazingly good, even better than the warehouse stores!

When we walk in the door, the scents immediately remind us of China. Our daughter gets to see many more faces that look like her own. It feels like "home."

And we get to explore the great variety of familiar and unfamiliar foodstuffs on the shelves. The labels remind us of what American food used to look like twenty or thirty years ago.  (How I miss the old Red Owl chain...) Love the artwork - check out that mackerel in the bottom photo!