Olivia’s Adoption Diary

Sunday March 12, 2006

Without the internet, I am nothing.

  • The view we had…
  • …the view we now have…
  • …all so Mark could have internet access. Damn him!

I was up at 5AM this morning going through some pretty severe broadband withdrawals. We were scheduled to switch rooms at around 9:30 for one with internet access, and I could hardly wait to feed my jones. Once you start riding the snake, you can’t get off.

Dorothy eventually got up and we went to breakfast. A very tasty affair with a nice mix of western favorites and Chinese standards. You haven’t really had breakfast until you’ve had steamed dumplings, lo mein and scrambled eggs. They also had a pretty mean bread pudding which is always a plus.

The restaurant where they serve breakfast is on the seventh floor with a commanding view of West Lake (of the famed — albeit elusive — Lakeview Hotel) as well as a very busy intersection. We saw an accident today where a man in a subcompact tried to cut off — I kid you not — a bus. Apparently he subscribed to the “not the size of the dog in the fight, but its the size of the fight in the dog” theory of driving. But let me clarify Chinese road rules for you, at least as they apply in this case. Imagine a junction of 5 roads including a highway off ramp as well as an onramp. Now imagine that all right of way laws and road signage were considered merely suggestions. Finally, allow for human instincts such as logic and self preservation to be secondary in importance to the need to get where you’re going. Now you have an idea of our view. I am placing the over/under on the number of vehicular mashups we see this week at 12. I will keep you posted.

After breakfast, we switched rooms where I immediately plugged my laptop into the supplied data-port where I was greeted by continuous “server not found” messages from my browser. A call to the front desk revealed that they needed to activate the DSL connection, which they would happily do for the American equivalent of $5 per day. After agreeing to their exorbitant fee, I was told I would be surfing the net in minutes. A full half hour later with still no viable internet connection, I called the front desk again and was assured that my connection was active and that they would send their engineer to my room to check the problem out.

15 minutes later a pleasant young kid shows up to fix the internet for me. He sits down at my Powerbook, looks confused for a few minutes, then finally turns to me and asks where the DOS prompt is. I knew my goose was cooked. Does anyone suck more than Microsoft? Have they taken over the whole entire world at this point? Anyway, after another half hour or so of my trying to explain to this poor kid why he should be using a proletariat elevating Mac instead of a running-dog imperialist Windows machine he finally tried a new ethernet cable which solved the problem. Moral of the story? Always travel with your own cables. Man, I am such a geek.

You got your fix. Now its my turn.

Once the internet debacle was settled, an exceedingly patient Dorothy and I decided to take a walk around Hangzhou and get a feel for the town we will call home for the next nine or so days. I truly have no idea how long we are going to be here. I just go where directed and smile when told to.

The city is very nice although it was pretty cold and very overcast. We even had a few snow flurries on our walk. There are stores everywhere in our part of town and although I tried to encourage Dorothy to check out the Chinese Tea Museum (I am dead serious, this exists) she opted to enforce a shopping mandate instead. I had no choice but to accept since she had just sat there watching me curse god and everything under him for well over an hour due to my internet outage and had not complained once.

The stores were packed as I suppose everyone else in Hangzhou was escaping the wintry day by shopping as well. We went out looking for a coat for Olivia since we figured that the present weather patterns might make one a good idea. We were looking for something traditionally Chinese but every single store we went into was filled with absolutely nothing but western clothing. I’m not saying we were looking for something out of a kung fu movie or anything but maybe something that didn’t have Snoopy or Mickey Mouse all over it would have been nice. It was like shopping in a Walmart in Topeka Kansas. Now I’ve never been to Topeka Kansas but I guarantee you, the Walmart there is no more American than the Shopping Malls in Hangzhou China. How freakin sad is that. Hurray for us. We have commoditized Chinese culture out of existence. The only thing that they have going for them is that they got the contract to build the means of destruction, and financially, it seems to be working out for them.

We eventually found a coat without a cartoon character on it and decided to cut our losses, buy it and get back to the hotel. It was getting relatively late so after a quick bite to eat, we decided to enjoy our last few hours sans children and head down to the hotel bar for a nightcap. Well, my early morning coupled with the creeping jet lag must have finally caught up with me because I started falling asleep in my beer (literally) and Dorothy made me go upstairs to bed before I embarrassed her by starting to snore right there in the lobby. We left, went to our room and I immediately fell asleep (which is why this entry is being posted a day late).

Tomorrow is the big day, when we meet our daughter Olivia for the first time. To say that emotions are running high over here would be quite an understatement. Both Dorothy and I are really nervous, much more so than with either Aelex or Matthew. I guess a six year old’s ability to wreak havoc as opposed to a 1 year old is cause for concern.

That’s it for today but be sure to tune in tomorrow when the chips all fall where they may.

Tsingtao wishes and dim sum dreams…