Saturday, January 16, 2010

To Zhengzhou and back...

And so we got going... On Wednesday, we booked the 12:46 pm train to Zhengzhou, where the whole train ride will take 5 hours, which meant Rosabelle needed to take lunch on the train. The nanny prepared meat/spinach/tomato stuffing in brinjal, peas and corn, as well as some fried eggs for her, and I brought some fruits, biscuits, and of course water along for her. I booked a taxi in advance to come pick us up, and made it to the train station waiting area 10 minutes before the train was due to leave (according to Wayne, I should board the train 30 minutes prior - my timing was too close for comfort...heh).

After making it through throngs of people, and I really mean alot of people (when you come to China, the idiom 人山人海 really takes a life of its own...), we boarded our first-class seats. Hmmm...not as first-class as I thought - still rather cramped, though it's supposed to be more comfortable than the second-class seats, and of course better than the normal seats. Oh well, it was only for 5 hours anyway, and so the nanny and I settled in and got down to changing Rosabelle into thinner pants (as it was rather warm in the cabin). I have bags of Pampers pull-ups at hand (free gift from buying normal diapers), so it was really an ease changing her diapers on the trip as we did not need to get her to lie down. Only thing, of course, was we could not apply diaper cream.

Lunch was next...

Maybe it was because of the exciting environment, where she got most distracted by anything and everything, particularly liking to grin at and play with men, calling 'Wa wa' (her version of 叔叔, or Uncle) all the time, but she did not eat much of her lunch, other than quite a bit of her favourite peas and corn and a slice of bread. So along the way, she snacked on biscuits and fruits, and I also nursed her.
She did not sleep at all during the 5 hours, and naturally, we did not let her walk along the train aisle as it was quite dangerous/rocky at times. So... we had a 14.5-month-old who was luckily quite obedient and happy with sitting on the seats and having us entertain her with mundane things like mineral water bottles, wet wipe packets, food... and also mimicking people's snores (she will 'Huh!' her nose slightly to pretend to snore...haha!)

And taking photographs, of course.
I let Rosabelle get behind the camera to take shots of the nanny...
And help take self-portraits of the both of us... I couldn't get the angle right at first.
And these last two shots turned out better.
She also liked looking out the window, making huff-puff noises, complete with dance movements of up and down, when asked 'How does the train run?'. Side innane note: her hair is getting quite long/messy these days... it'd be hot for her in Singapore...

We got to Zhengzhou safely, where Wayne and his good friend came to pick us up (thank goodness for this friend, who drove us around over the next few days...so nice of him!) and we went straight to Wayne's parents' home for dinner, where Rosabelle did not eat much of what Wayne's mum prepared for her (porridge with dish of carrots/mushroom/pork/tofu), but ate quite a bit of fish...hmmm (turns out she poo-ed that very night after a few days of not pooing, so it could be because she was so stuffed inside that she needed to have some 'output' before she could 'input' eh?).

Rosabelle made her grandparents' day with her calls of 'Ye ye' and 'Nai nai' and happy grins upon seeing them, and happily toddled around their house.


After dinner, we headed to Sofitel Hotel (where we stayed at previously), and they had upgraded us to the business level - great!
And Rosabelle liked to play with the room phone, making nuisance calls to the operator on at least two occasions (gulp...). She must have liked the bed so much and had nice naps on it, as the nanny said she was chuckling in her sleep, then turned over to sit up when she awoke up on one morning as she pumped her fist up in the air and started dancing - hahaha!
After breakfast the next morning, we got Rosabelle dressed to go to the entry/exit bureau to get the paperwork done.
This is her usual 闹人 (cranky) face when she's trying to attract my attention - with abit of fake crying - I usually laugh at it as she still looks so cute/funny. As you can see, I even snapped this shot rather than placate her. So bad of me, huh?
In the car, she likes to request for and play with a figurine of a Chinese wedding couple, asking for '哥哥' all the time (even asking for it when we got back to Beijing when in Wayne's car). Other than that, she preferred to stand on the car floorboard rather than sit on the seat/our laps, crouching down at times in the cramped space. I had to resort to 'kiap'-ing (holding her closely) with my thighs at times to prevent her from falling, haiz!Yet another random shot of the nanny and I from Rosabelle's angle... (luckily I cleaned my nose of any snot *cough*)
And so we got to the bureau on Thursday morning for Wayne to fill in the forms, make payment, and for them to take a PC camera photo of Rosabelle to process her one-time entry/exit permit to leave China on an expired visa. (I was deliberating with Wayne before we left for Zhengzhou, to ask him if he could 'borrow' any of his friends' kids to pose as Rosabelle just so we did not really have to make the trip down. In Wayne's words, '借个小孩儿不像借车这么简单...' (borrowing a kid is not as simple as borrowing a car)...bleah).

And so, we will get her permit in 7 days (Wayne's parents will collect for and courier it to us). As for her denounciation of citizenship issue, Wayne had submitted all the relevant papers when he got there the day before, but they have yet to issue him a receipt, and he has yet to make payment, because this is probably unprecedented, and they need time to process (and maybe to decide how much to charge us?). And did I mention that once they process everything, Wayne needs to make one more trip down to present the original documents, and after that, Rosabelle needs to go down personally again to collect the items? Oh well, if they need to take 3 months, so be it - I will just be so. darn. glad. when this is all over.


If we did not apply for the exit permit in Zhengzhou, we will be fined up to a maximum of RMB5,000 when we leave for Singapore next month, and even then, they need 5 working days to process a temporary visa, which means we could not leave for Singapore at that point even if we wanted to. Problem now is, if Rosabelle leaves China using the entry/exit permit (not her passport), I'm not sure we can apply for a China visa using her passport for her to come back and stay in China (as according to China/Singapore immigration, Singaporean Rosabelle holding her Singapore passport is still in China and not in Singapore). The conundrum of it all... I've run out of both Singlish and Chinese swear words for this issue already, so I shall not rant further on this family blog (or have I ranted enough already?...).


The silver lining on the cloud (who uses such English idioms these days anyway?!) amidst all these is that Rosabelle gets to meet her grandparents, who are happy folks seeing their sole grandchild.
Her meals over the next few days were prepared by the nanny whilst we ran our errands, though we ordered one breakfast of steamed egg for her (at RMB55, inclusive of service charge) at the hotel. I gave the hotel's F&B folks a good dressing-down as they had the audacity to charge me this much for just simple steamed egg, when the last time we ordered this on our August trip, it came with a whole bowl of bread rolls/jam and fruit platter - the latter items don't cost much, but the fact that they have inconsistent pricing for something so simple is rather unprofessional, don't you think? They were most apologetic and of course quickly brought the missing items up - if I were a 傻老外, I might have let this pass, but no.... they had to meet with me, buwahahaha....

Another priceless catch-up was when we paid a visit to Wayne's good friend whose wife had just given birth on 10 Dec last year (a day after Wayne's birthday) to a sweet baby boy, Zhao Wang Qi (Daddy's surname is Zhao, whilst Mummy's surname is Wang, so they incorporated both surnames into his name, but the joke is they usually just call him Wang Qi now, so Daddy's surname had dropped...).

That's the sleeping boy deep in slumber (and me looking so unforgivingly bedraggled and like I was the one who had just come out of confinement...), in spite of me unknowingly tickling him with my long hair whilst carrying him, heh.
Rosabelle was very excited when she saw the baby boy, going 'Eh! Eh! Eh!', and was similarly excited when she saw his crib mobile, wanting to grab at it. She tugged at the boy and his clothes and wanted to plant kisses on him, and we had to try to contain her and her excitement as she might unknowingly hurt him as she is really now a big Jie Jie. Our girl has really grown before I even know it... heh...
We only stayed awhile as their home was a distance away from our hotel and we needed to get back to put Rosabelle to bed after a bath, as well as to pack. She had alot of fun in the hotel room playing hide and seek with Daddy, who very fast ran out of places to hide. In the hotel building, there were a few shops, and one of them had window displays of headless mannequins. When Rosabelle saw them, she started calling 'Wa wa...' (Uncle/叔叔) in a very sad tone, going 'Ooooh....ooooh' as if she was very upset, seeing that her favourite 'Wa wa' had neither head nor face. Even today, when she suddenly remembers it, she will say 'Wa wa' sadly and even drooped her lips and wanted to cry just now. Haha, so sweet!

Her love for 'Wa wa' is quite obvious as on the train ride back, she will only exclaim loudly and call/play with men, and like on the trip there, she did not take her afternoon nap, aiyo! She also did not take much of the chicken/vegetable cereal with fish floss, nor sweet potato we brought along for her lunch. By the time we hopped onto a taxi at 6-plus in the evening and planned to head directly to Grandma's Kitchen for dinner, she fell into deep slumber in the taxi as I was nursing her. So, change of plans and we headed home first but she was obviously not very happy and cried when we dressed her, waking her up in the process and then got out of the taxi.

Oh well, she became wide awake and after we quickly changed her diapers, we again left to drive to Grandma's Kitchen for our dinner. You can imagine she very speedily went to sleep after we got back home after, and bathed her, as it was a rather exhausting, albeit exciting, trip to Zhengzhou for her.

I also enjoyed this trip, but would rather it not be for such irritating purposes, and I must admit it was rather tiring given the whirlwind circumstances of the trip!

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