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April 3, 2006
Mmmmm…..violin shopping! But first, a Chinese taxi ride! It was quite the experience! I believe dad got it all on tape, but I thought, several times, that my final moment would be in a taxi! All rules of the road are more like guidelines, two lanes are actually six lanes, and solid yellow lines are mere suggestions!

But we made it alive! We ended our ride at an outdoor mall. It was ginormous! They had stores for everything from instruments to clothes to perfume to frog and lizard on a stick! It did NOT look or smell appetizing let me tell you.

And finally, after much searching and asking directions, we found “The Store”! They sold all kinds of instruments from pianos, guitars and violins to unidentified Chinese instruments! It was AWSOME!!! I got to try several violins and ended up with one made here in Guangzhou! It’s really loud and has nice sound quality! The manager played it a little for me (he’s very good!). I was impressed. It ended up around two hundred American dollars for it and all it’s accessories! Good stuff.

We did a little shopping after that. I found a clothes store that had more Western style clothes and bought a nice sweatshirt. They tried to sell us the rest of the store, but we were able to get away with just that!

Also in the mall, we got to see split-pants in action! Right on the side walk, too! L! Needless to say I washed my feet when I got back to the hotel and decided against wearing flip flops out side the hotel again! We then headed for the taxis and made it safely back to the hotel un-bruised!

At three, we all piled into the bus and headed to Shamian Island where the White Swan is. All the shops there are aimed at tourists. Each store had the same merchandise, just differently priced! I believe they were all having a competition to see who could sell stuff for the biggest price possible. You’re allowed to barter in those shops, but I discovered that I am not so good at it! I always feel bad trying to talk people into less money, even though I know that the prices they are giving are ridiculous! I’m an easy target!

Chinese shopping is always an experience. The store workers follow you wherever you go and try to hand you things or show you things that would look good on you! Anything for money! Neither mom or I liked the pressure they put on you! We had Sophie in a stroller and a lot of the Chinese women we saw stopped to talk to her and many wanted to hold her! She’s just so cute! She’s learned how to wave bye-bye and hello! She really starts showing off when she gets attention….a very high strung little girl! This will definitely be an adventure!!!

Anyhow, after a while, we went to dinner. Grandpa and Grandma went to Thai food with most of the group. Apparently, Grandma “got her groove on” when the dancers came out! Grandpa got some good pictures! She said they just grabbed her and made her do it! She was quite embarrassed!

Mom, Dad, Sophie and I, along with Kevin, Jennifer and Myah went to a restaurant called Little Italy. It was a nice little place. We listened to Spanish music and were waited on by Chinese staff in a restaurant owned by a Moroccan! But it was very good food (the best I’VE had on this trip). Myah had her first noodles (at least that we know of) and had the slurping action down in no time! She’s a doll!

After another taxi ride (mom’s first!), we were back at the hotel and I was hired as a babysitter for Sophie while Mom, Dad, and Grandma got an hour and a half, full-body massage for around twenty-two dollars each! Mom fell asleep!

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Sophie and I were playing chase, bouncing balls, making high-pitch noises (which she loves) and watching a Chinese volley-ball match on TV. Then it was time for a bottle and bed for little girl (or Sister as I call herJ). I was very worn out and not up to rocking her, so I laid down on the bed and laid her on my tummy and we both fell asleep! I woke up to a nice elbow in my ribs. She moves a lot in her sleep! Always a busy little girl! I laid her in her bed and watched one of the only English channels, Discovery!!!!

Everyone came back relaxed and happy, and it was off to bed! So ended our second to last day in Chiner!!!

See ya’ll soon!!!
Lindsey Kae

Howdy ya’ll, (we’re in southern china), Hope this posting finds you all well.

It was a great day, no paperwork, no responsibilities, just good old eating, shopping, relaxing and seeing some sites around town.

As Lindsey noted, the taxi ride to go shopping for a violin was to say the least… interesting. I used some photo copied instructions from Bob and Tanya Morgan’s trip and gave it to the taxi driver and off we went. Not a clue where we were headed, or even the name of the store. Well, Mr. Taxi dropped us off at the end of a blocked off street, said “Get out, taxi stop here” and pointed away from his taxi. Not exactly the kind of directions I had hoped for! So after about 18 seconds of wandering aimlessly away from the taxi drop off area, I spotted a couple of Guangzhou’s finest. I asked them for directions and he drew on my paper and sent me on my way. His directions were good. On a side note, he was one of the few policeman I have seen in China carrying a sidearm. From the butt of his weapon, I could see the SIG SAUER emblem, and it looked to be like a 9mm or possibly a 40sw caliber. I wanted to ask, but I figured it might be a crime….

Anyway, we walked right down through the closed streets (Shopping on all sides!) and enjoyed a stroll shopping with locals. They were selling everything. If someone would have told me that the average Chinese city dweller had access to all this stuff, I would not have believed it. The city planners and tax commission certainly studied hard on western capitalism and shopping 101 when they went to business school. Well, we went to a well equipped music store that had it all, from piano’s to harmonicas, brass to accordions… In the very back of the store was about 75 violins and about 30 cello’s and bass viola’s. I was amazed. It was a very well organized, stocked and staffed store. The store manager was our main staff, but of course, no self respecting music store would be complete with out the required artsy and eclectic and possibly frustrated musicians working the floor. One of the few guys who spoke English looked like a young Chinese John Lennon, complete with circullar spectacles, and a modified Lennon hair style.

Being a total novice at buying stringed instruments, I shopped price while Sis tuned and plucked notes. The manager, quickly and expertly tuned several in the price range I was comfortable with, (the price range went from about $48 - $2300), and then Lindsey played a few short notes on several and when they were narrowed down, he explained the difference between them in broken Chinglish. As it turns out, in China, Guangzhou is the home of the stringed instrument craftsman, so we were shopping in the right place. After haggling a minute on price, we picked one and had them package it. Before it was stowed, the manager wowed us with his violin skills and proved that the product was worthy of my young musical beauty. After about 30 minutes, we left with a nicely priced, beautiful violin and a smiling girl.

We strolled the mall a bit, and Lindsey and Grandma shopped at a nice store, where Lindsey bought some clothes, then we walked back to the taxi stand and hailed a cab. I told him “China Marriott” to which he shook his head and we were off. I like this guy, he was no nonsense and about $1.40 cheaper than the last taxi that got us there.

In the afternoon, we went to Shamian Island, (home of the world famous White Swan hotel), to shop the tourist shops that line the streets. I must say, it was over whelming and at time quite irritating. Most business on Shamian Island is geared exclusively to serving families from all over the world which translates to “these folks have money, let’s get it before they leave”! To be fair, the women in our group mostly enjoyed looking, but if we were stuck staying at the white swan, I think I would have had to buy one of the tourist shop ceremonial daggers and taken myself out. To much pressure, to many tourist/adoption families, and not enough real estate to ones self. Many thanks to our agency AWAA for putting us at the China Marriott! After 2 hours of shopping, we headed to dinner at Little Italy, had a great meal and good time. About 8:30 pm, I drug mom and Beth upstairs for the massage Lindsey mentioned… WOW. Those little china girls can put a hurt on you quick. We thoroughly enjoyed the 90 minutes (well Mom and I did, Beth slept through the foot massage) and then we slinked back home to pour ourselves to bed. Another great day in China!

Have a great night, talk with you soon. - Paul
Violin Shopping With Lindsey
Sis And Sophie Trying On Hats
Grandpa And Sophie
Sophie's First Italian Meal
Grandma And Sophie Shopping