Lili is still a star

After spending several days here on Shamian Island in Guangzhou – which is essentially adoption central for families from the US because of the old location of the US Consulate – and where it’s fairly typical to see caucasian families with their chinese daughters (and occasional sons) and the only people who really take an interest are usually the proprietors of gift shops, we ventured out into the city today in search of the mythical $100 suit and cheap custom shirts. We ended up in a nice shopping area where we were surrounded by shop clerks all very interested in our little daughter. At one point we had 5 floor attendants all clustered around us – I know this because I counted out loud in chinese – “yi, er, san, si, wo” and pointed at each woman as I did. They all laughed, apparently I’ve finally found an audience of people who’ll laugh at my jokes.

Back to the mythical custom suit. Ever since WWII men have come back from Hong Kong and China talking about these great custom suits and shirts, made in 24 or 48 hours. Supposedly dirt cheap and they look great. The cheap hong kong suit was even a featured Sgt. Bilko episode. I’ve never actually met anyone though, who’s had it done themselves. Since our Chinese Visas won’t allow us to go to Hong Kong on this trip, I did some investigating and found a place a whopping $2.50 taxi ride away. So after Lili’s – and our’s as well – morning nap and a simple little lunch at this outdoor cafe, we hopped into a taxi. We found the place (well Catherine did anyway) and quickly discovered they aren’t cheap at all. I don’t really need an $800 suit, no matter how nice it will look and custom shirts can be had with english speaking tailors in the US for less than their $120 per shirt price. So we left still suitless and shirtless.

A little background. I have a size 18 neck, which coupled with my size 46/48 chest means all dress shirts billow around my waist like a loose main sheet in a fresh breeze. So I’ve been trying to figure out how I can have nice, crisp, refined dress shirts made for my hard-to-fit frame for a long time. I did find a very nice custom tailor once, but his suit/shirt sets start around $2,000 and go up. Given the impending, and now actual, addition to our family that was a purchase that didn’t seem very prudent.

Back to today, after the first tailor we walked around this shopping district just enjoying the warm 75-80 degree temperatures and not even bothering to window shop since neither one us are likely to find much in the shops that will fit us. We wondered into the “Trust-Mart” in hopes of finding a WC (water closet which the chinese seem to have adopted as a universal term for restroom). We succeeded in that quest, if finding squat toilets can be considered successful. After a quick change of our little Lili, we started looking around the stores and found a store called “Happy Store”. It turns out it was a children’s/baby store. We stocked up with a hat for Lili, a new drop cloth (or whatever you call those spitup/feeding cloths), a bulb syringe for her stuffy nose and a pair of child’s training chopsticks. We also attracted loads of attention from the staff who all though Lili was a beautiful “Xiao Bao” (little baby).  We then ventured up to the trust mart. It was like Walmart, but less frenetic. Since we needed diapers we picked up enough pampers to make it home.

After leaving the trusty Trust-Mart, we went to the fabric market. It isn’t a market as much as a large multi-storey building filled with separate 3×6, 6×8 and 10×12 little kiosks and shops all with their own slightly different fabric sold by the meter. We did find a nice woman with good wool suit fabric who spoke with a tailor across the corridor who didn’t speak english but said it would 500 Kwai (slang for the Yuan). We also asked the shop keeper how much fabric we would need for a suit. Her response – “for you?” followed by gails of laughter by her, Catherine and finally myself. She finally settled on about 3 meters which would have cost about 280 Kwai. So If I had been willing I could have had the $100 but since the tailor spoke no english, had no samples of her work making western suits, and wanted five days to finsh it (we only have 3) I decided to let that opportunity pass by. But we did enjoy the fabric complexes, we walked through two buildings all the while thinking how much fun Brett or Ann would have wondering through there. Every conceivable kind of fabric for clothes, bedding, curtains, tapestry not to mention all the yarns, buttons, trim, etc. I’m sure there are people who would have known what to do with such a bonanza, we weren’t those people. As it was we found two pillow covers so ridiculously cheap that we had to buy them and a table runner for about 1/7 the price of what they are charging for them on Shamian Island. Someday my suit will come.

Through all of this shopping Lili was her usual charming self -see the new pink hat along with the traffic coming at us as we are stopped for several light cycles in the middle of an intersection.


You may notice that Lili is secured in the baby bjorn and not in a car seat. I’ve been in China two weeks now and have yet to see such a contraption. Hopefully Lili will not complain when she gets strapped into her first car seat after a 30-hour-trip.

We took another nap before dinner before discovering that once again Lili really doesn’t like baths, as in face completely wound up, massive screaming and crying, crocodile tears, the works. A nice preview of what she’ll look like when I turn down her request for her own car on her 16th birthday, only with no shouting. Catherine turned in early because she has the cold, I’ve had twice already, and has now migrated to her and probably to Lili as well. Apparently we are doomed to travel through China with low-grade nuisance illnesses, which I guess beats the 4 day hospitalization a recent adoption traveler we know experienced a few months ago.

That’s all for now. BTW, what happened to all the commenting? We were really enjoying reading everyone’s comments to each other in the morning when we wake up, but they’ve been diminishing recently. Is anyone out there still reading our long-winded posts? Let us know either way. Zaijian -t

13 comments on “Lili is still a star

  1. Ann Schomer says:

    Sorry about no comments. We are all so thankful for daily writings. Ginny is reading it in Wy, Gail and Carol in Mi.,the Barrington gang ect ect ect. I think some are a little unsure of how thw system work. We are getting very excited about Monday. What do you want us get in the house to keep you going till morning? You could stay here!

  2. raem77 says:

    Great hat! I’ve been hanging on every word, just super busy with work and family so not much time to post. :) I hope she does well in the carseat but is there some reason that you can’t just keep her strapped to you in the bjorn during the flight? Just a thought. :)

  3. raem77 says:

    Oh yeah……Are those dimples I spy? Love em’!!!!

  4. sputaansuu says:

    Just wanted to let you know how much I’ve been enjoying reading every last word of your experience! I’ve logged on every day to read about all of the exciting events. Lili is absolutely beautiful and I’m so happy for the three of you. Congratulations and thanks for the great reading…it’s an excellent reason to procrastine at work :) Enjoy your beautiful daughter. Love, Susan

  5. Sailboat29 says:

    You guys rock! It’s great that you have a few leasurely days before heading home on the big bird. Sorry about the colds, knowing it’s annoying. Lili is such a sweetie, Catherine looks so happy and Carol & I are both happy for you all. And, take it from one that knows, it just gets better and better. I am sure Samantha will get to meet Ms. Lili and we all look forward to it. Keep having fun and thanks for letting us into your travels, it brings back some great memories.

    the recent adoption traveler who spent the 4 days in hospital…

  6. cschomer says:

    I find myself marveling at the fact that you all seem to be making the most of your time in China. Most of the adoption blogs I’ve read put China only as backdrop, and a dietary inconvenience. I love the fact that the country is a character itself in this very compelling narrative.

    Still, would you bring that baby home already?

    Aunt Christine

    ps Please bring back some training chopsticks for Lila.

  7. GabeP says:

    Hey Guys,
    I’ve been having a great time reading the blog. College life pales in comparison to your great adventure. I’ll have to come home to Providence every weekend now instead of every other. Safe travels.

  8. LucyInRI says:

    Hey! We’re reading every post. ‘Cept I thought Otter was leaving the comments. And I guess vice versa. I know he responded to the post about Thai food the other day.

    So, we’re basically ready for you to come home now. Enough goofing off on the mainland. I need to inspect Lili. And introduce her to the rest of the Tong here in Barrington.

    Loved the imagery of Thom’s fitting for a shirt and suit. But no pictures to back up the visuals? Bummer.

    Lucy & Otter
    “Paging Dr. Bombay … paging Dr. Bombay”

  9. paintgirl says:

    Just got home from a fabulous day- first things first- IT”S BLOG TIME!!!
    Catherine, I had a lovely lunch today with Chris and Lila and I agree with her about how wonderful it is that you guys are really enjoying China- as well as your very beautiful daughter.
    My mom has tuned in from Texas, she is delighted for you guys and thinks LiLi is ‘cute as a button’.
    On a side note regarding prior blog on hackeysack- Thom, for myself and other selfrespecting DeadHeads- you make us proud!

    muchos abrazos y besos y amor

  10. bschomer says:

    Hi Guys…Only 2 pillow covers and a table runner? You could have picked up at least two or three hundred yards of fabric for me. It is not like you have a lot to carry home with you.

    Thom you will certainly appreciate this. I was so engrossed in reading the blog the other night I forgot to put the flour in the apple pie I was making for mom and hutch. It made for a very watery pie, but seeing LiLi sleeping in her father’s arms was well worth it.

    Can’t wait to see you all!

  11. Patricia Ingmire-Richard says:

    This is now part of my morning routine, a cup a coffee and learning more about Lili. Thom and Catherine, thank you for your beautiful updates on such an amazing event in your lives!!!! She is so cute. What a beautiful family. Have a safe trip home. I look forward to meeting Lili on one of your trips to visit her family in North Carolina.

  12. LucyInRI says:

    Lucy again – Just logged in so Otter could leave his thoughts. And now paging Dr. Caffeine …

    Thom, sorry to read that you will not be coming home with custom shirts. As someone with an unusual build I understand their virtues, but I, too, am unable to afford them. You will have to console yourself with the thought that, as we can all now confirm (thanks Catherine), your manly physique can best be appreciated when you are not wearing a shirt. You will have to come with us to Orient Beach next year.

    We do check your blog at least twice a day, so rest assured that your journalistic efforts are being appreciated.

  13. Gram says:

    Each morning I log into the blog while at work–I don’t usually go on the internet at work. I get so excited over the new pictures, I print a few of them to post at work so I can brag about my beautiful new granddaughter. Each day I have to print more of them because Lili gets cuter and her personality just seems to radiate and reach out to us. She looks so happy being able to view the world and her audiences in the security of her perch on your chest. Both of you look so comfortable with Lili, like they have been traveling with her for months. Love Lili’s new pink hat–very American :>) Love, Gram

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