July 4, 1997:
At home the July 4th Holiday is beginning to take shape in people's minds but it is not July 4th there yet--merely July 3rd. Here, in Kowloon, we have actually moved into the 4th of July, but it doesn't have any special meaning here.
We are really getting excited now about soon seeing our little Kristina. This truly is a weekend we will not forget. Sort of a "Dependence Day" celebration. The day that Kristina Su will begin being dependent on us for all her needs as she grows up. There is a lot to be thankful for and in both Linda's and my mind, there are fireworks blasting and bands playing and rodeos, circuses, fairs, picnics and concerts going on.
Many people are coming in, now, as the absolute latest adopters can arrive is today by midnight. Our first meeting with the people at Holt International is tomorrow at 9:00 AM. It is a three hour meeting and I wonder what they'll be talking about. Why don't they just hand over our child and we'll go home and love her and raise her?
Today we met up with Ron and Charlotte who are from Kentucky and are adopting through Holt. We had heard from Joanne that it was pretty interesting to take the Star Ferry to Hong Kong (which is on an Island very near Kowloon), then take the Central Escalator which is 800 meters up a hillside. The four of us adventurers started off walking down Nathen toward the Ferry. There were remnants of the reunification ceremonies everywhere. Dragons made of brightly colored fabric, lights strung on buildings in the shape of Chinese characters, and more.
A Star Ferry leaves every 10 minutes. We got our $2.20 HK tickets (remember it takes roughly 7 of these dollars to equal 1 of the US dollars), and boarded the very rocky ferry for the 10 minute ride to HK. Ron was snapping pictures right and left while I occasionally took either video or photos. One Asian lady on the ferry absolutely insisted I take a shot of the new convention center where the hand over of Hong Kong from Britain took place.
When we arrived in HK, the first thing we did was grab a bite to eat. Since Charlotte did not care for Chinese food, we found a Hardee's there.
After lunch, we continued our trek to the famous escalators. Hong Kong, as well as Kowloon, is a confusing mixture of squalid poverty and tremendous prosperity. Large, shining skyscrapers pierce the Oriental sky but surrounding those buildings are dilapidated rotting tenements and very dirty alleyways. Many of the businesses in these old buildings have no front door, they are just open fronts where we could look right in and watch them work. Some of the businesses we observed in which the employees worked under those conditions were a laundry, tailoring, book publishing and binding, and craft selling. Ron took some touching photos of an elderly Asian lady sewing up some pants using an old electric sewing machine.
The escalators were certainly interesting but after going up and up for maybe 45 minutes, we had hoped at the top we'd get to see a view but that was not the case. We were in a valley of buildings. Although we looked around for a way to see a panorama of the city, we never could.
There were no down escalators. I knew that as we were going up, but my legs were getting a little tired as we started our journey back down. I paused to observe my environment. It was the rainy season. It was hot and humid and cloudy. Everyone carried umbrellas because it could sprinkle or even downpour with nothing but a few seconds warning.
Though there were a lot of automobiles, there were countless styles of buses for public transportation. Many were rickety and old. Some were two-tiered looking like large, square, thin, dark shoe boxes with wheels and windows. I did see some bicyclers but not as many as I would have thought. I knew we'd see more bicyclers when we got to Nanning on Sunday afternoon.
It was especially great connecting with Ron and Charlotte. Interestingly, Charlotte is a registered nurse and they and their new baby will be flying back on the same jet we're on. Plus we've heard another couple and their babe will also be on that United flight. It will be fun sharing our friendship and letting our babies play with each other on the return trip. Meanwhile, tomorrow is the first meeting with Holt and we are so anxious for Sunday to roll around so we can meet Kristina for the first time. I must remember to put a fresh battery in the video camera.