Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Meeting the Foster Family

Girls swinging at the Peoples Park

Outside of the apartment building of the foster family

Foster Mom (Ah-Moo) with the kids and the fruit basket we brought for them

On couch with foster mom...and the small fruit we ate..yikes

Sarah with her foster father

Sarah in her old bedroom

small plant on the porch...we have several photos of Sarah in front of the plant...both were much smaller

foster mom with the girls

boys with foster mom

sarah with her old bear and the picture of her with it

foster mom with kids as we were leaving

girls in front of wedding poster

We had a slow start today as we didn't have anything scheduled until our meeting with the foster family at 3:00. The kids loved the park so much so we went back. It is a rather large park so Tom, the girls and I explored a different part of the park and found a playground. The girls enjoyed swinging and playing on the equipment. The boys took off on their own and went on the boat again. Of course, we had to feed those fish again at 3:00 p.m. we headed over to a fruit market to purchase a basket of fruit as a gift for the foster family. We also stopped at a pharmacy to pick up some cough medicine for Lily. She has been coughing a lot so I was concerned. Well, the Chinese cough syrup didn't go over well and ended up all over me.

We arrived at the apartment complex at 3:30. It is a large complex and is much like the typical apartment in China. I've included a picture of the building that has the apartment in it. We waiting downstairs for the foster parents to come greet us. It was just like I had imagined....Ah-moo (that is what Sarah called her when she lived with them and is a term of endearment for an older lady in one's life) ran to us and first wrapped her arms around me and kissed me and then did the same with everyone else! Then the foster dad scooped Sarah up and carried her up to the apartment..on the sixth floor. He told us that he always carried her up the stairs since it was so high. The apartment was just as I had imagined, only smaller. There were two small bedrooms, big enough for a full-sized bed. The kitchen was very small. The living room had a couch, a few chairs, a television and a table. We spent about two hours together talking, laughing and crying. They insisted on us eating fruit with them. We ate two new fruits that were rather good. I'm a little concerned that the girls ate grapes. We were told not to eat fruit that isn't peeled. I hope we don't regret allowing them to eat it.

Our visit was a lot of fun as we shared stories of Sarah both when she was with them and now that she is with us. You'll notice a monkey in one of the pictures. When we heard that the foster brother had his first baby, the girls went to Build-A-Bear and made the monkey for him. We also got a wooden train set from Amish country. I took pictures of the girls making the monkey and sent them along with the monkey and the train. It was great to see both the monkey and the train. There was also this white bear. Sarah said, "That was my bear." When Sarah would look at her pictures from China she would always ask me, "Where is my white bear? Why don't I have it?" I would just explain that the foster family could not send it. They gave Sarah that bear. I added a picture of her holding the bear and the photo album with her and the bear in it. It was fun to look at all of the photo albums. Two were from us and there were others of other foster children. They had fostered six children; Sarah being the last.

We all just love the foster mom....she is very loving.....and talked so much. The foster dad was very quiet. We knew that he had spent some time working in Africa as an engineer. We were surprised to hear that he was still working there and had come home the week before to meet us. He will be home for one month. We also got to spend time with the foster brother who is a security officer for a bank. We did not meet his wife as she was working at the bank. We did get to meet the granson, but he was pretty shy. I was so impressed with how well they treated all of the kids. They even gave Lily a stuffed animal. And the foster mother kept hugging on the boys throughout our visit.

After our visit we all walked down to the courtyard where the foster mom would tell everyone something where we only understood "xiao ning." I'm sure she was telling everyone that this was Xiao Ning who used to live with them. We made arrangements to meet for dinner tomorrow evening near our hotel. I'll do better at getting pictures of all of us together.

Again, Sarah lived with them for 18 months! What a blessing to have met them and to have speak to them in Mandarin, "Thank you for taking care of and loving our daughter until we could bring her home." What a special time we had today. Sarah was so happy the entire time although she said she did not have any memory of the apartment. She was bold enough to ask to see her room, which we did. She shared a room with the foster parents.

Another good day for "Sarah's Story."

After our visit, Tom and I decided to eat Chinese for dinner. The boys didn't want anything to do with it, so we gave them money for McDonald's and a taxi....gave them the necessary hotel information for their return and sent them on their way! You should have seen their eyes when they realized we were allowing them to take off on their own. Not to worry.....they are now safe in the hotel! I added a photo of their girls in front of a wedding banner. There have been six weddings in this hotel since we have been here. All of them have these banners made. The bride and groom greet everyone at the banner in their wedding clothes and give them a small gift and/or snack. It has made for conversations with the girls about their weddings...too funny!

Tomorrow we are free most of the day. We'll have dinner with the foster family. We leave for Ghanzhou on Friday morning. We are looking forward to the White Swan hotel...a familiar place for most Americans who adopt from China. It is where the final in-country swearing ceremony is at the US Consulate. The medical exams take place there as well. Since Lily was a Guangdong baby, we stayed at the White Swan the entire time. We will also enjoy Shamian Island, where the hotel is located. I understand it is under construction, but will still be a great place to finish up our trip. We have great memories with our travel group from our Lily adoption trip in 2004...hope we get rooms on the seventh floor! The girls have such different stories. Sarah has a connection with her foster parents. Lily has a connection with the other girls that were adopted at the same time. If Lily's "China Sisters" are following.....stay tuned.....Ghangzhou here we come!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

After AML.....

Black couch photo of Nanning
The girls in the lobby of the hotel
Girls feeding fish
Dane and girls feeding the fish
Tom and I in the boat with the girls

View of the park from the boat

Boys in the boat

(This is the second post today. The first post was about AML.)

After we got back to the hotel we decided to head downtown to eat lunch and go to Walmart. There are too many of us to fit into one taxi so we went in two. Ty and Lily went with me and Sarah and Dane went with Tom. We each had the same destination written on a card, "McDonald's by Walmart." We arrived first and waited outside for ten minutes. They didn't come. Ty and I decided that the best thing to do would be lunch, shop at Walmart and meet up with the other three at the hotel when we were done. That is what we did. When we returned to the hotel, the three of them were waiting on the front steps all worried. They decided to visit all of the McDonald's in town and return to the hotel without eating because they thought that would be the nicest, more concerned thing a person would do. Sorry, not practical! I figured we were at the right McDonald's because it was right next to Walmart. I figured they would find us or do what we, shop, return.

When they got back from their lunch, we headed over to the People's Park. We have a lot of photos of Sarah at this park with her foster family. It was also a place we enjoyed visiting several times when we travelled her to get Sarah in 2006. In many ways, it is a beautiful park. There is a small zoo, a small amusement park and a lake. We first stopped and fed the fish. The boys saw that they rented out boats to ride on the lake. I wasn't too thrilled about it, but i went along with it. The boats just didn't look that safe. We aren't certain if the boats ran on gasoline or electric. We simply turned a know and off we went. The boys had their own boat. After the boat ride we walked for a while in the park. The rides were closed for the day....whew, I wasn't so sure allowing them to ride them would be a good idea. Tom thinks otherwise and promised the girls we would go tomorrow or the next day. Yikes!

Tomorrow we are free most of the day. At 3 p.m. we will leave to visit the home of Sarah's foster family. I'm excited about seeing the home. We did not get to see it on our last trip. Sarah's foster family no longer fosters. They care for their grandson who was born not long after we adopted Sarah. Sarah was her sixth and final foster child. It is very common in China for the grandparents to care for their grandchild while the parents work. After a visit with them, we are taking them out to dinner.

Ty and Dane might not like me sharing this, but they are swimming right now. They only swim in the dark! Lol. The hotel has a policy that if you swim, you have to wear swim caps and speedo-like trunks. I promised that I would not take their pictures, but it is oh so tempting!

A Mother's Love....a wonderful orphanage...part of Sarah's story

The last time we were at A Mother's Love Orphanage it was one of the most heartbreaking times ever! We had Sarah for several days and decided to meet the foster family at the orphanage. We felt pretty good about how Sarah was doing and thought it was an opportunity that we should not miss. Our visit in 2006 was good, but the visit came to an abrupt end. We had no idea why the director ended our visit without a warning. She pulled Sarah from the arms of her foster father and put her in our arms. Sarah was so upset that she screamed and kicked most of the way back to the hotel. She was screaming and crying. I was attempting to comfort her while I cried. It was one of the most heart-wrenching times ever.

Today, the circumstances were so different! We pulled into the street where AML is located. We first stopped at the original location of AML. The building is extremely run down and obviously is not cared for. Sadly, it sits empty. The orphanage could no longer afford the rent so they moved across the street into an apartment building. I think they have several apartments in the building. The old building is dirty beyond imagination and the courtyard which was once neatly landscaped was full of weeds. The old statue was still there as well.

We walked up towards what looked like a typical old apartment building in China. It was probably five stories high and was simply grey concrete. We were greeted by the Director, the same woman that handed Sarah to me in May of 2006. Her first words were, "Xiao Ning looks exactly the same!" We had a great conversation about Sarah and some of the things that interest her. We also talked about the orphanage. AML once used to take special needs children from around Guangxi Province. Not all orphanages were able to process international adoptions so many children were transferred to AML to be adopted. As time has gone on, the other orphanages began to process their own adoptions and the focus of AML changed. AML currently cares for 11-13 children with developmental disabilities. As many of you may know, this population of people have become near and dear to my heart as I serve on staff with Community Employment Services, a branch of Fairfield County Board of Developmental Disabilities. Most of the children currently at AML have several disabilities, cerebral palsy being one of the main disabilities. Sadly, all were abandoned by their families because of their special needs. These children will never know the love of a forever family, but are loved and cared for by the staff of AML. AML is associated with A Mother's Love out of Hong Kong; a Catholic charity. We took a tour of the facility and found the kids getting ready for lunch. This lunch was slightly different as they were preparing it themselves as part of their training to learn skills to one day live on their own. I have one picture of them preparing lunch, but have decided to not post pictures of the children besides this one photo. I told the Director about my work as a Job Developer for adults with developmental disabilities and she jokingly said I could return to help them look for work in the future. We then went into another room where there were jewelry hanging on the wall underneath the photo of the child that made the jewelry. I was blown away with this, because it was their workshop. It was small room, but much good takes place in this little room. It was a touching experience for me because I love to visit the workshop of Fairfield Industries when I am at work. I have included some of the pictures from this little room, a picture of the jewelry I purchased (most will be going to the women I work with because I know it will have so much meaning to them as it does to me), and a picture of the mission statement of the workshop. Here is what the statements says, "Mother's Love Xin Xiang Workshop. We are the children who living and growing up at Mather's Love. The artware in our workshop are finished with our own hands, it is a stage for us to learn how to be self-supporting, and to find ourselves a new field. When we find ourselves finished a work with a deep concentration, we feel so much love and satisfaction, meanwhile our concentration and functional coordination between eyes and hands can be trained too. We expect more supports and applauds for our beginning. The earning from our sales of work would be helpful for replenishing the materials of the handicrafts and useful for our lives. Welcome to our workshop. Thank you so much for your generous supports and participation and we also hope you can enjoy our handicrafts." I have purchased a lot of things in my three trips to China. I've purchased pearls, jade, artwork, silk, etc. The ten bracelets I purchased today are probably the most valuable of purchases I have ever made from China….no doubt! I am proud of AML and the fact that my little girl has a connection to a place that is doing much good!

After the tour of the facility we went into the director's office where we were given the opportunity to view Sarah's file. We found out MORE information to "her story." Sarah actually came to AML on July 19, 2004 when she was only 12 days old! She stayed in the old facility until she was four months old. It was at that time that she was placed in the home of her foster family. We got to look at a few more pictures and even saw pictures of Tom and I in her file. At this time the director presented both Lily and Sarah with a doll representing one of the minority people groups of Guangxi Province. At the end of our visit we got to talk with one of the newer staff members who is originally from Fujian Province, but lived in New York City for 25 years. I would like to write more about our conversation, but this isn't the time or place. Let's just say that we have MUCH in common with this man!

We ended our visit talking more about Sarah and expressed our gratitude for AML for caring for her until we were able to get her. We then let them know that we will continue to pray for AML and the chilren that make their home there. We then left A Mother's Love. In 2006 it was with kicking and screaming. Today, she skipped down the walkway holding a precious doll.

Sarah in front of the sign on AML

Sarah and the Director

Orphanage Kids cooking

Workshop Jewelry

Workshop Mission Statement


Sarah with her doll

Sarah with a photo of her in her younger days. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Quinzhou (Cheen-joe)

Building which the fifth floor housed Sarah for two months.

Sarah with the head nanny.

A view of the backside of the original building of the current facility for the orphanage.

Family with head Nanny and medical lady. Sarah has her love ball.

Sarah in front of the sign forever good wishes bridge...Note: this is the same shot I posted last night

View into what was formly the countryside

View from the bridge into the city

Sarah on the bridge

Sarah and the photo of the police officier

Sarah with her french fries, fork, ketchup and coke.

Sarah sleeping on the return trip with her Love Ball.

Today we visited Quinzhou, the city where Sarah was first found and then lived in that Social Welfare Institute for two months. Qhinzhou has a population of about 600,000....a small city in China's standards. The city is known for the water ports, dolphins and pearls. It is located about 62 miles north of Vietnam. The name of the city comes from the Qin Dynasty and means, "A city entitled by emporer."

Sarah was found on July 8, 2004 with a note on her saying she was born the day before. She was found on the Number 2 bridge, also known as "The Forever Wishes Bridge." A local policeman found her and transported her to the local orphanage on that day. They gave her the name, "Min Xiao Ning." "Min" is the surname given to every baby that first his his/her home in the Quinzhou SWI. "Xiao" means "morning" and "Ning" means "Peaceful." Xiao Ning lived for two months at the local orphanage before they transported her to Nanning to be part of the foster parenting program of A Mother's Love. It was at that time Sarah was placed in the home of her foster parents.

Our first stop today was at the SWI. I can't recall the position of the first woman we met, but Tom believes she is the doctor. We then got to meet the Head Nanny. The babies of the orphanage used to live in the fifth floor of a building over a car dealership. From what I understand, they no longer use that floor and have moved all aspects of the orphanage to the facility behind this building. Like most orphanages, they also house the elderly and the sick. We were told there are about 100 children still associated with the orphanage, but that many of them are now in foster homes through two sponsorship programs overseas. I know that one of them is "Grace and Hope." Prior to leaving, they presented Sarah with her own Love Ball and gave Lily a purse.

After the orphanage we headed to the finding location on the bridge. We aren't certain where on the bridge she was found so we took several pictures. As I mentioned already, when we last visited this bridge is was the day before we received Sarah. We took plenty of pictures then. That was May 14, 2006. Sidenote, we got Sarah on Mother's Day 2006! When we visited the bridge in 2006 it looked much different than it does today. In fact, the way the bridge looked then gives us a better idea of some of Sarah's story. Then, when standing on the bridge facing the city, there were building upon buildings. When you turned around facing away from the city, it was all countryside. There were small farming plots everywhere you looked and several water buffalo. Because of the surroundings of this bridge and the fact that Sarah was born the day before, we believe Sarah came from the countryside where her biological family were probably rural farmers. They probably travelled into the city and left her on the bridge which was then the edge of the city. Tom and I were shocked how much things have changed since our last visit. The countryside is no longer in view from the bridge as there are many buildings and streets. We were blown away!

After the visit to the bridge we headed over to the police station where the officer works that had found Sarah. He was out of town for training. There is a large billboard with the officers names and pictures so we took a picture of Sarah in front of it.

After the visit to the police station we headed to what we were told was a western cafe. Sarah, being the westerner that she has become, ate french fries with a fork, dipped in ketchup. She drank a coke! After lunch we headed back to Nanning.

What was Sarah's response to all of this? The only thing I can note at this time is that she was beaming. As one of five, I could tell that she was feeling something special like, "This is my city, this is my story." I'm thrilled that we captured some pictures for her so as she grows up and processes "her story" she'll have a better understanding of things.

I have some thoughts that I think are hard to put words to explain them completely. Maybe som AP will understand. I've known three of my children since their births. TJ, who was adopted, came to us straight from the hospital. As a mom, it's somewhat hard to grasp that this child that I love so very much had 22 months without me. She was placed on a bridge alone to be found. She was taken to an orphanage where she lived for two months. She was then transferred to another orphanage where she was placed into a wonderful foster family. She lived with them for 20 months. Her world was probably tore up as she was placed in our arms in May of 2006 as all she knew was gone. The adjustment was a challenging one for her as she was attached to my hip and for months would cry if ever I left her. It was nearly a year that she would wake up and scream if I were not in sight. A huge turning point for me was when we had Sarah for 22 months. It was then that I could say, "We've had her longer than the time we didn't have her." That was huge for me. "The Red Thread" is a common term for thos of us who have adopted from China. Sarah's red thread runs from an unknown farmers home, to a bridge, to two orphanages to a foster home to her home with us. We are grateful to China for allowing us to adopt Sarah! Moreso, I have to say that bigger than China is a big God who had great plans for a little baby. His plan was from the beginning of time! It was then that he knew about this red thread...His thread... and how a little baby named "Min Xiao Ning" would become "Sarah Jo Xiaoning Alexander." To Him we give glory and praise for His plan!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Decided to go back into my old yahoo group from when we travelled to get Sarah. The photos are: one of the early photos of Sarah that came with her file...the first we saw her face. One is of her at A Mother's Love....before we got her. One is on Gotcha Day! Love that photo. The other is the bridge location where Sarah was found.

Arrived in Nanning!

(sorry, no pictures today)
We survived the hotel in Yangshou!

We have now conquered several forms of transportation in China...planes, trains, taxi's, van's, motorbike (Tom), a boat and a bus. The bus was another one of those experiences that you just have to have had in China. The bus was packed with over fifty people! It was non-stop from Guilin to Naning....five hours. We did have a brief stop to use the WC...wash closet, I think. The girls and I have conquered the squattie potty! I was a little anxious after our stop when the driver kept honking the horn. Several passengers were still not on the bus, Ty and Dane being two of them! They were two of the last three that made it back....with oreos in their hands. It's funny, but we really don't eat Oreos much at home, but they are the cookie of choice for us in China! Now to more important things.

We are in the Majestic Hotel in Nanning! Our guide is Glenn and the first thing he said was, "Sarah, welcome home!" Any mom knows that when you revisit "the firsts" it is a fun ride! We rode past the Lottery Hotel, the building that houses the government offices. This was where we first met Sarah! We then pulled into the Majestic Hotel. Just like the first trip here, there was a wedding taking place so the lobby was decked out. Sarah is just grinning like crazy because this is her placen and no one elses! I gave the girls a bath and remembered Sarah's first bath in the same place. It's a wild time!

Tomorrow we are headed to Qinzhou City, south of Nanning about two hours. We will visit Sarah's finding location. I will share more about that tomorrow. When we travelled here in 2006 to get Sarah, we visisted this spot as well. The difference is that when we visited it, we had not received Sarah yet. I'm thinking it will be a brand new experience for all of us now that Sarah has been an Alexander for several years now. One of the things we will do is pray together on that very spot and show God our gratitude for the red thread that runs from that spot to our house on Autumn Dr. in Lancaster, Ohio! Amazing! I look forward to holding Sarah on that very spot. After the finding spot we are headed to the local police station. We have the name of the officer that found Sarah that day and are hoping to find him tomorrow. How cool would that be? He was the one that transported her from the finding location to the orphanage. Here is some really wild news. Glenn told us that the Qinzhou SWI is allowing us to visit tomorrow! For some reason I thought they never allowed visitors. I am looking forward to the visit. I really don't know how long Sarah was there though...might have been just a few days.

We have also connected with Sarah's foster family and will be joining them later in the week. I think we are having lunch in their home. We'll also visit A Mother's Love....the second orphanage that was home for Sarah and the orphanage that operated the foster parenting program.

I know our church family at Fairfield Christian Church will be having services in about an hour and a half. We are so grateful to our church to allow Tom to have this experience with us! Thank you to the elders who supported us in the grant proposal! Our family is so very blessed! We will miss worshipping with you today!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Yangshou (Young-show)

Again, are reasons for coming to Yangshou was because the boat ride was supposed to end here. It is a tourist town....only about 60,000 people live here....small in the way of Chinese cities. The biggest draw here is the bike-riding in the country, the night life and the shopping. Well, we couldn't ride bikes in the country because of the girls. We aren't much into night-life activities. As for shopping? Typically we are not shoppers, but we managed to buy a few things. I first have to share information about our hotel. We were told that the New Century Hotel was a four-star hotel. Yes, it is one of the better hotels in Yangshou, but....oh, oh....first impression was not good! I'd give it a two or three-star. Somehow the condoms on the bedside table was part of the not-so-good first impression. They are 10 yuan each, about $1.50 USD!!!! Oh, and next to that was a big sign on why condoms should be used! The girls room smelled pretty bad so I went through a bottle of "Febreeze To Go" on the curtains and the chairs. The housekeeper came up to help and insisted that leaving the windows open would help. I opened them while we were out to air out the room, but open windows on the sixth floor doesn't set well with me so they are now closed. Plus, a sign in the room says to keep the windows closed and locked so people won't come in!

Western Street in Yangshou is closed to cars and motor bikes. I would say it is similar to Gatlinburg, minus the Putt Putt Golf and Go Karts! Of course, you have to bargain with the shop owners as they always ask an extremely high price. Our guide will whisper in my ear how much is reasonable and then I tell Tom. When the shop owner refuses to bring the price down, we say "Tie gwala." That means "too high." We walk away and then they come after us and say, "ok, ok." The girls got a couple of fans and a new purse with some "happy goat" on it. The Happy Goat is a cartoon they have been watching...they love it. Ty bought a t-shirt. Dane bought a musical flute of sorts. It is actually some type of vegetable. Tom was able to play it rather quickly and several stopped to watch him play "Amazing Grace." Too funny! I also bout a few "love balls." Love balls are these silk balls with embroidery on them. The Zhuang people of Ghangxi used to use these silk balls for courting. The girls would make their own silk balls and form a line. The boys would line up in front of them. The girls would sing out a question one at at time and then toss their silk ball to a particular boy. He would catch the ball and then sing back his answer. At the end of the game the girl would decide who she wanted to court and toss it to the boy of her choosing. If he caught it, he was interested. If he let it drop to the ground, he wasn't interested. This was a custom from a long time ago. Since then, the silk balls are now given from one person to another to show their genuine love and/or appreciation to longer used for courting.

We are now back at our luxurious hotel! I've also attached the "Tan Leather Couch Photo of Yangshou."

Tomorrow morning we head back to Guilin where we will catch a bus to Nanning. I'm looking forward to Nanning and staying at the Majestic Hotel. This is where we stayed when we travelled to adopt Sarah. These next few days will be mostly about Sarah. We will visit Qinzhou City (Cheen-joe) where Sarah was found on a bridge. We'll visit the bridge where she was found by a police officer. I am hoping to also make contact with the officer while we are there. We'll stop at the first orphanage, but Sarah was not there very long and they do not allow visitors. Since Sarah was found to have a congenital heart defect, she was moved to A Mother's Love Orphanage in Nanning and immediately placed in a foster home. We will get a few pictures of the first orphanage...Qinzhou City Social Welfare Institute. While in Nanning we will also visit A Mother's Love. AML is actually an orphanage affiliated with the Catholic church out of Hong Kong. We will also spend some time with Sarah's foster family in Nanning. They did a great job caring for Sarah for the 22 months she lived in China prior to the adoption. It will be good to spend time with them.

We are enjoying the comments and the emails. Thank you! TJ, the girls saw the moon early this evening and Lily said, "I am thinking of TJ." TJ, the girls love you so much! You have a special connection with them because the three of you have all been adopted. I know that you and Lily especially have a special bond. I thank God for that! You know there is nothing that brings a smile to her face more than being scooped up by her TJ! Thank you for being so special to both of them!

Good night from Yangshou!

Li River

The Li River boat ride was one of the things I was looking forwrd to on this trip! I got a little concerned when our guide told us there would be a slight change because of the drought in Guilin. The river was pretty low so we couldn't take the boat clear down to Yangshou. We took it about 1/3 of the way and turned around and came back. Had I known this in advance, I would have cancelled the hotel in Yangshou and stayed in Guilin, but we had to stick with the itinerary.

There were many boats on the river, but that didn't take away from the beauty. Aren't the mountains amazing?! The sun came out a bit more towards the end of the trip which made it even more beautiful. With the boat ride came lunch. Now, I could see the kitchens and the activity in them in other boats and I wasn't sso sure it was a good idea to eat the lunch. I was hungry so we went for far so good! They boys shared a table with a guy from Cincinatti. Ty enjoyed talking Ohio sports with him. The guy from Ohio and his guide enjoyed getting to drink the free bottle of beer that came with the boys' lunch. For some reason most meals come with free beer, but you have to pay for pop.

Today was a great last day in Guilin! Even thought the river was low and the ride cut short, we were disappointed. Great day!