Saturday, October 31, 2009

McSocks? What's Up With That?

Breakfast was super yummy!! It's included with our room at both hotels and there is lots to choose from for each of us. The fruit is so fresh and there are lots of choices on the buffet. You'll notice that the only thing about Dad's breakfast this morning was that he started to eat it with chopsticks. They didn't last long but made for a good pic.

After breakfast we headed out on our Amazing Race adventure! We're back and had a ton of fun together!! Our adventure began at the bank. When you go in, a security guard prints a ticket for you and then you sit and wait your turn. The wait was about half an hour and during that time we were both entertained and we did some entertaining too! Norma and I are still giddy (probably to a total of about 7 hours sleep each in the past two nights) so when the computer kept calling out 'Twinkle Bunny' it had us in hysterics! It was a long stream of Chinese words and then would end with 'Twinkle Bunny.' It probably happened about 6 times in the time we were waiting and every single time we cracked up! Heh....doesn't take much to entertain us!

We entertained a young girl who was sitting there as Robert had out his Chinese phrase book and was trying to count. We could tell she was listening as she'd grin at some of his pronunciations. We started talking with her and enjoyed getting to know her a little and trying out our very limited Chinese! It was fun and helped to pass the time.

After leaving the bank our guide Sarah hailed a couple of taxis for us and we were headed to the subway station. Unfortunately there is more than one entrance to the station and Robert and Bonnie's taxi left them at another entrance and we didn't end up seeing them again for a few hours. Lesson learned....Squish into one taxi or be more specific about final drop off destination!

The subway was fun and we were pleased that we navigated it so easily. Most things were similar but one difference was that our belongings all had to be x-rayed before we could enter the platform. Not such a bad idea! We did really well in the subway until we hit a crowded transfer station and about 30 people crowded in to an already full car! We were pushed and shoved but held our ground and then just laughed when we crawled our way out of the crowd at the next station. Won't be taking Hannah on the subway, that's for sure!!

When we got to the silk market, the fun began! First, we had to cross about 10 lanes of traffic. You need to know that here a pedestrian has the very least rights when it comes to the roadways. We made it across in little bits and found ourselves laughing again when we'd be in the middle of 10 lanes of traffic with 5 going each direction at a good clip and us standing there wondering when we might be able to venture the rest of the way across. We made it and had stories to tell.

Our first stop was at a McDonald's to use the facilities and that's where the title of this post comes from. Going back to early in the morning, Dad realized that he'd forgotten to bring any white socks so that was his goal item to purchase today. Fast forward to noon when we're in MCDONALD's and the ladies have gone off to use the restroom. As per normal, the ladies are lined up out the door....unless you wanted that squatty potty and that one was free for the taking. Given a choice, each of us decided to wait. We eventually made it in and upon exiting we all started to laugh!! There was dad, sitting at a table in McDonald's....buying SOCKS!!! A lady had approached him and said, 'For you sir....very good price! Only for you sir! Here...SOCKS!' LOL....yes, she had a bag of socks and was trying to sell him Nike socks. Genuine Nike I'm sure! ;o) She started out at about 60 yuan ($10 CDN) for 3 pairs of socks. Nope...he wasn't paying that. She said, 'OK sir...60 yuan for these' and added another pair!! He still didn't budge. By this time we'd joined him and were enjoying the fun. You can imagine our surprise when here's dad, sitting in McDonald's, bartering for socks!! In the end she sold him about a dozen pairs of socks for 60 yuan and he's set for the rest of our trip and then some. Want to make us laugh today? Just mention dad's McSocks and we all burst in to laughter!!

We went to the silk market after that and each had our turn at bartering. Fun!!! Mom, Norma and I each purchased some souvenirs. Shopping in the market is an experience unlike any other!! Each and every stall has gals standing on the outside doing their best to get you to come check out what they have to offer. They call to you, show you things, put things in your hands and should you show the least amount of interest they call after you, pull your arm to get you to come back and can put on the saddest faces if you don't look at their wares.

The normal way to barter is by calculator. They punch in the number and the first one we're supposed to punch in back is 10% of their price! Wow!! They look at you with shock, tell you you're crazy and then they punch in another number lower than their original one. It goes back and forth, back and forth. If you can eventually reach a price you both agree on you've made a deal and all is well. If you can't reach an agreeable price you begin to walk away and they will normally follow you, call out to you and often grab your arm attempting to pull you back to their stall. It's fun but a lot of work too! I bartered with one gal for a silk dress for Hannah for almost 20 mins. I didn't 'need' it so walked away a few times but she kept pulling me back and coming down in price. The first price she quoted me for 1 little dress was 925 yuan ($154 CDN!!!) and in the end I paid 65 yuan or about $10. Not sure what I 'should' be willing to pay for a 100% silk Chinese dress. Anybody know? Also, can you buy them for less money that are not 100% silk? Want to get good deals but also don't want to rip people off. 2 different ladies today told me I was a tough bargainer. Heh...guess that's because I'm willing to walk away if we can't reach a price I'm willing to pay. Bartering is a hoot but may require a nap afterwards after all the work of agreeing on prices!

We decided to grab a snack at McDonald's before tackling the subway home. As we were approaching the restaurant we were all asking Dad if this was a lunch visit, or was it time to buy more McSocks? :o)

When we got back to the hotel Norma and I decided it was time for some pampering. I won't have much time for this come Monday so we quite enjoyed ourselves. She had an amazing massage and I opted for a Milk Foot Bath and Foot Massage. Ahhhhh!! What a treat for my feet and legs after sitting so much yesterday!

We're in the process of repacking our suitcases right now as the ones staying in Beijing need to be downstairs at 8:30 tonight to go into storage. After repacking it will be supper time. Going to venture out to a restaurant down the street. We're told there are pictures and English words on the menu so hopefully all will be well and we'll order what we can eat.

Thanks for reading this far. I know it's a lot but I want to document as many of the details of this trip as possible. This is our China Travel Journal so I want to capture the details for later.

Less than 48 hours to Hannah!!! Tomorrow's schedule is breakfast, leave for airport at 8:30am, fly to Changsha and check in to the Dolton Hotel. This time tomorrow night I'll be in Hannah's province!! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So very, very close!!!


  1. what fun, I remember the silk market and I think 10.00 is perfect for the dress. I got place mats, table runners and slippers so hope your time was fun. LOVE the McSocks!
    Take care,s

  2. LOL Sounds like you guys are having a great time. If silk dresses can be bought for only $10, please tell my mom that the girls would not object to more than one silk dress each :)


  3. So fun to read your updates! It sounds like you are having a great time. I can't believe you are actually in China! I can't wait to see Hannah with her mama!

  4. We are reading every single post with so much excitement!!! It looks as though you are all having a great time and are SO BRAVE!!!
    I can't believe you are so close to your beautiful daughter! I have the Kleenex box fully stocked!

  5. Our family is having so much fun reading - brings back wonderful memories!
    In chatting about bartering, we all agree that you shouldn't worry about ripping off the vendors - they won't sell if they're not making a buck!
    Sounds like you're having a great time! Looking forward to more posts... we LOVE the details!

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  7. I think you described the Silk Market to a "T"! I thought I had done well when I spent about $18... so I think you did great! I bought the cotton and silk pajamas there in different sizes, unfortunately, more of them on the smaller size, so she could have them for several years, hind-sight, I wish I had bought more! lol My advice to you, do what you can while you are there and don't get everything in the size she is now. The nicest silks I have found post-China are from EPCOT and being the Disney nut that you are, I don't need to tell you how over-priced they are! :) Regular prices start near $50.

    Fantastic that you get to leave some of your luggage in Beijing! Our Consulate is in Guangzhou and we were pretty limited by what we could take due to "in-country" luggage regs. That is just great for you!! More room for those silks! :)

    Have fun and sleep well!
    Lisa and Gracie

  8. i'm loving these updates! so excited for you! thanks for all of the details from your trip!

  9. Sounds like you are having fun. I stayed at the Dalton July 2007 when I picked up my son. It is a very nice hotel and the food was great both myself and Mattie my son loved the food. Can't wait to see Gotcha day. Reading that you are staying at the dalton brought bac lots of memmories to me. Beth

  10. Yours is by far the best account from China I've ever read. For me, it is because you're open to this adventure and embracing the many positive aspects to the unique daily life in China, a lifestyle so diametrically opposed to our own. I've always thought the extreme contrasts were because the Chinese lived in a broken time zone, but that's a fable for another post.

    Much has changed since I was there in the 1980s when it was still a very closed society; therefore, I, especially, look forward to your spirited accounts.

    Clearly, your joy leaps out at us all!

    A fan of 2 years, Carol in Ottawa

  11. Oh Catherine, these posts are fabulous! Thanks for sharing everything. That sock story is hilarious :)

  12. Catherine, We are so enjoying your trip. and thanks for keeping us all in the loup, we are very excited for you, and Hannah of course.......Gyll (Grandma to Ryleigh)

  13. Love your post! I love the things you write about. I have read many accounts of friends days in china and they are all so interesting, but I especially love the details you write about.

  14. Sounds like fun!! Enjoy and savor the culture all around you. Can't wait till Monday. Little Hannah has a great mommy!
    God Bless

  15. I am LOVING the updates! It is so nice that you will have so much detail to remember this trip by! I absolutely love your attitude. It's great that you are so open to the Chinese culture and are taking so much with humor :) just thinking about seeing you with Hannah brings tears to my eyes!

  16. You are having too much fun! We traveled with 19 other families (sept 2008) so we were in large groups and didn't venture out much.....
    You will have Hannah soon, WOW, only one more day!

    Alyzabeth's Mommy for One Year

  17. Oooh, you will love the Dolton! Lovely hotel and somewhere close is massages done by blind people. Ask your guide. I've been told the massage is wonderful and very reasonable. Also check out the pool and the bowling alley in the hotel.

  18. I love seeing the joy and fun and good times you have no matter where you go!!! I am also learning so much for our trip. I will need to hear all about your handy tips.

    Safe travels and keep up posted!

    Keep smilin!

  19. Sounds like you're having a *great* time! This may sound odd but when you're at the Dolton be sure to try the apple juice. I swear it is the best, most freshest apple juice I ever had - you can ask my husband I still rave about it and it's been over 3 yrs (March 06)!

  20. Hi Catherine,

    Oh my are there!!!! I am behind a couple of days and just caught up. I am so excited to see you hours away from your girl!

    It looks like you are soaking up as much of the culture as possible....I love hearing all the details of your adventures and cannot wait to follow the rest of your journey!

    How funny that your dad walked out of McD's with a dozen socks....that is a riot!

    Take care and be safe.


  21. it's always an adventure in china!!!!!! i'm so glad you're having fun! sleep well-- you've got some big days ahead of you!!!!

  22. so much fun:) everything you are seeing and doing brings back all our fun happy memories. I also kept saying to Rowan its like we are on our own Amazing Race:)

  23. Dont ever apologize for the length of your post, I could read forever!!! You had me cracking up with the video!!!! AND I want to know how much that massage....that's what Im talkin about!!! I saw on a Travel show that the massages in China are not very expensive and that they are WONDERFUL!!!!

    Love, Kristy

  24. Catherine,I've been following your adventure for awhile. The thought that has prompted me to finally comment is"what amazing adventures our children lead us on!" Surely your parents never,ever thought they would be standing in the middle of traffic in Beijing and laughing and giggling while doing that! (or buying socks in a Chinese McDonalds!)You, their amazing daughter are giving them that adventure and your amazing baby girl Hannah,is a part of this and sooo many other adventures to come. I am a mom and a gramma and I have been blessed and amazed at all that our children have brought into our lives.Enjoy the ride.

  25. Oh, does this ever bring back memories! We enjoyed every minute in China and found the people to be very friendly and helpful.

    Did you try the green bean pies at McDonalds? I thought they were pretty good. I wish the McDonalds here would serve little cups of whole kernel corn like they do in China. That was much better to me than french fries.

    Don't worry about having long posts--we are loving every word of it. We had better enjoy it while we can because in very few hours you won't have a lot of time to write them. When we don't see new posts, we will know that you are spending your time wisely by giving your beautiful daughter every minute she needs. Don't forget that you need some rest in there somewhere! Uh-oh, I am starting to sound bossy.

    Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

    Ro an Ree's Ma

  26. LOL! I think this is one of the most amusing China travel posts I have ever read! You are cracking me up!

    The traffic in China is completely terrifying. I'm not sure how we didn't get hit!

  27. Sounds like you are having a GREAT time!!!

    I paid about $5.00 for the dresses for LiLi. It REALLY helps if you are buying more than one or two. I bought her dresses and outfits up to size 10. I think I might have bought about 20 dresses in all kinds of different colors and sizes. It might sound crazy but every Chinese New Year, she has a cress from China to wear.

    I also bought lots of little items for every Gotcha Day. It have enought until she is 18 or 21...I forget. LiLi is just now getting into some of the books I bought her. Oh, Don't forget to pick up some chopsticks, ear-rings, and pearls for her wedding day!

    Have fun and buy whatever you'll NEVER see those prices again!


  28. Hi. Following your blog in Canada and have been for a while. We got some of our dresses for around $8. As someone already said, you can get a better deal if you buy a few at the same time.
    Buy the outfits as big as you can find. The smallest I bought was a size 4 and my DD wore it for her baptism at 14 months and it was too small by the next CNY when she was almost 2. It was a bit big-long but not so she couldn't walk in it. I have dresses up to size 16 and DD will probably wear the size 12 dress this year when she turns 7. She wore the size 10 at age 6. People told me girls typically wear the dress at double their age (size 8 at age 4) and I used that as a guideline.
    Hope that helps. Will be excited to see your pictures with Hannah on Monday. Take care, Theresa

  29. Catherine: love the way you are documenting this so well - and having so much fun and seem to be TOTALLY unstressed! Been to China and Hong Kong many times. Buy a beautiful tablecloth and placemats someplace. Buy pearls. I bought exquisite chopsticks and we use chopsticks a lot. You can get beautiful silk throw pillows (without the stuffing) and they lay flat. I have actually gotten hotels to ship a big box of stuff home for me. Then you can buy everything you can afford and want for Hannah's future! I'd for sure get some pearl earrings to put away for Hannah's wedding and a jade bracelet for a special (sweet 16?) birthday. I would also get a Chinese dress (get synthetic - it's easier to clean, etc. and just as pretty) in a size she can wear as a young woman- maybe the equivalent of a size 6 in US clothing. Just a few suggestions!

  30. Catherine, i can only imagine the emotions you are going through - it is so wonderful that you are making so many memories during this grand adventure -
    I sit here getting my boys ready to go out for Halloween - just think - next year you will be doing the same - how exciting!

    God Bless

  31. McSocks! That is hilarious! I can't wait to hear more! thanks for keeping us updated! Goodluck tomorrow!

  32. Oh I am just loving your posts Catherine. The video is great...listening to you guys giggling is the BEST! You are in our constant prayers. We can not wait to see Hannah in your arms!!

  33. Gosh that mcsocks thing cracked me up too! I love that you're having so much fun...and the haggling brings back so many memories. It's true like you say, it requires a lot of patience and you generally feel tired after it all! :)


  34. Don't apologize for the length, I am loving the details. Thanks for sharing your travel journal with us!
    hehehe... McSocks!

  35. So cool. I can't believe you attempted the subway . . . we weren't that brave!

    Mike and I are so jealous of you being there. The pictures are bringing us right back. We're homesick for China . . . does that make sense? I'm glad you're having so much fun and getting to see and experience some things before your focus is 100% on Hannah.

    Love you . . . miss you.


  36. Wow, I remember the silk market!! I paid less for the fake silk dresses and bought many. I only got a few real silk dresses because they were more expensive and I thought they would be a bit too delicate.

  37. Yippeee!! Almost Hannah Day!!

    I LOVE reading about your adventures in China! Prayers to you for a safe flight to Hannah.

    Keep up the good work, mom, you are so close!


  38. Great read Cathy!!! We shared your journey after dinner tonight at Japh's. Got on the computer and sat around your blog. Took tons of pics of Dad's homecoming. Posted them on Facebook...maybe will post them to the blog tomorrow. What an incredible day from start to finish. God is good.

    Looking forward to your next post here. Love ya and praying,

  39. It's almost Hannah Day!

    I LOVE the story of the McSocks! How funny is that?!

  40. Your dad is a hoot. Reminds me of Fraggle Rock, with the Uncle Traveling Matt character.
    Keep the posts coming!!!

  41. I think that a silk dress is worth whatever you are willing to pay for it. They are wise and are not going to let you rip them off.

  42. Odd I just commented and it would not let me add more than a lines. Hmmm.

    If I am adjusting the time correctly you are less than 24 hours away from holding sweet Hannah! HOURS!, not moths, weeks, days but HOURS.

  43. You sound so young in the video and seem to take everything in stride and are able to look at everything as funny, while some people would probably freak out being stuck in that 10 lane street. You're going to make a great mom.

  44. Congrats! You'll love the Dolton...and the food is AMAZING!!! Definitely the best on the trip for us when we got our Hunan princess. Have fun! Enjoy the ride! Take in'll miss it all when you get home...praying for a smooth transition for Hannah.

  45. Have the time of your life.

  46. I love your blog. What an amazing experience you are having. Enjoy every moment.
    The McSocks just cracked me up.
    I was actually born in China and was able to take a trip there about 10 years ago, so I especially enjoy reading about how things are now.
    Can't wait to "meet" Hannah and to see you two together. It will be so wonderful.
    I am keeping you in my prayers.

  47. Really enjoy reading your blog. Sounds like everything is going so well. So looking forward to the next post.
    LID 5-18-06


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