So Frankie & I (that’d be Angela) did a whirlwind tour of Qinzhou, her home city on the Gulf of Tonkin. It’s not exactly a tourist hotspot, so getting there–via taxi, airplane, shuttle bus, and more taxi–was half the, um, fun. She was ambivalent about the whole enterprise, but as a slavish follower of adoptive-parents-advice books I felt that we should re-visit her orphanage and “finding place.” To make it festive I squelched my miserly impulses and booked a room at the fanciest hotel in town: the White Dolphin. It was, as expected, something of a gilded Motel 6 (i.e. “breakfast buffet” consisting of leftovers from last night’s dinner buffet; gold faucets but no reliable hot water, etc.). But we had fun, and there was a very cold pool which was refreshing after hours in the tropical heat.
Qinzhou is a small city with a very Vietnamese flavor; people are not as open as in Xiamen, although their reticence is, I think, mostly because no one speaks English. The traffic is hypnotic, nonstop, and trance-like. The orphanage turned out to be just down the street from our hotel, so we were able to take pictures in front of the courtyard, although we did not try to go in. To my relief it seemed okay-pleasant, crowded with worker bicycles and decorated with red paper lanterns.
Frankie’s “finding place,” near the gate of Qinzhou University, was part of a small, leafy campus. We wandered briefly through the searing heat, before beating it back into the city where we ate a shamelessly American lunch at McDonald’s. That evening, Frankie met a chubby little Chinese girl in a polka-dotted bikini who turned out to speak impeccable, if foul-mouthed, British boarding-school English; everything was “bloody hell” this and that. They had fun swimming until they turned to prunes.
Overall, it was a fine trip, though I probably violated a lot of adoptive parent heritage trip rules. Time to put away the advice books, I guess.