Visiting Jinchang – 2006

Beijing, Xian, Lanzhou and visiting Yanmei's Social Welfare Institure

Returning to China – April 2006

We started planning our third trip to China during November 2005. Via mail we agreed most of the itinerary with CWTS in China, who also arranged all the official paperwork for the visit to Yanmei's "home" in China - Jinchang City in Gansu province.

Being honest, the need to see Jinchang and visit the SWI was greater from our side (Lene and Steven), than it was something Yanmei felt she had to do. Yanmei was 8,5 years at the time of the visit, and is very clear in her mind about her Chinese roots and her Danish life. However Yanmei also wanted to go back to China, primarily to walk on the Great Wall (again) and see the Forbidden City - after seeing Disney's Mulan.

Our 20 day trip to China took us Beijing, Xian, Lanzhou, Jinchang and Wuwei. The high point was, of course, the great day we had at the Jinchang SWI (see pictures by selecting the link), but also the Great Wall and the Terracotta soldiers in Xian were fantastic experiences, as was just walking around and see all “life” at street level. It was an important for us that on this trip we did whatever we wanted to do, whenever we wanted to do it and at our own pace, i.e. no guides dragging us around and telling us things we’d almost immediately forget (no disrespect to the guides, who do a great job).

We had 20 fantastic days and all left China tired, but far richer for the experience. Visiting the SWI will be a memory for life, both for us and I think for the Social Welfare Institute as well. Yanmei was the first child to return (not only to Jinchang, but in the whole of Gansu) and all the staff opened their arms to us and made it a truly unforgettable day.

For Lene and I, the visit has helped release a lot of emotional energy – energy that consciously or sub-consciously was spent speculating about what Jinchang was like and how had Yanmei been looked after.

We’ve now seen Jinchang and met the nannies, many of whom remain from Yanmei’s time at the SWI, and the meeting only confirmed to us that the children from Jinchang have been loved and cared for during their time spent at the SWI.

Yanmei – she enjoyed the attention, loved the show in the evening and was happy for the visit. Time will tell whether the visit has had any other impact on her.

If you decide to read on, which we hope you do, please enjoy the pictures and the text, but please also remember that the description is primarily meant for us – for us to remember the details of our third trip to China.

Read our day by day description of our 3rd trip to China ...
Day 1: Off to China April 6, 2006 Copenhagen, Partly Cloudy – Max: 7; Min: -1; Avg: 3 We were up early and ready to leave by 10am. Thomas left for work so we said the good byes and crossed our fingers that everything went well. He, as usual, was ill whilst we were away - a bout of flu, probably caught from… Read more >
Day 2: Back in Beijing April 7, 2006 We arrived in Beijing and left our bags at the hotel and went for a walk into the center of town, before we could check-in. We took an afternoon nap, before venturing out in the beautiful spring weather to Tiananmen Square and the Gate of Heavenly Peace, where we took the customary picture in front… Read more >
Day 3: The Temple of Heaven April 8, 2006 We woke early and took a taxi to the Temple of Heaven and its park. Unfortunately the main temple was closed for visitors, being restored in time for the Olympics, but we had a great day anyway, not least watching the Chinese singing, dancing and generally enjoying themselves. We spent the afternoon walking through some… Read more >
Day 4: Lakes, Towers and Gardens April 9, 2006 Today was a long day walking, from the outer ring road and the lakes, we visited the Former Residence of Soong Chi-ling, the Drum tower, where we saw a drum exhibition, the very popular Prince Gongs Residence, with it's beautiful gardens and ended the day walking through the Jingshan Park., with is views over the… Read more >
Day 5: The Forbidden City April 10, 2006 Today we started the part of the trip that was arranged by the Chinese travel agency and therefore had to change hotels. In the afternoon we visited the Forbidden City (Imperial Palace), the permanent residence of 14 Ming emperors and 10 Qing emperors. Not least Yanmei was looking forward to the visit after seeing Mulan,… Read more >
Day 6: The Great Wall April 11, 2006 Today was another big day on our Beijing itinerary - the trip to the Great Wall. Despite the horror stories of people being cheated, we found the bus and for 90 RMB per adult, including entry to The Great Wall, we drove the hour or so to Badaling. Half of the section was closed due… Read more >
Day 7: Beihai Park and on to Xian April 12, 2006 Today was our last day in Beijing before our China road (train) trip to Xian and Lanzhou. We spent the morning in Beihai Park, but couldn't visit the White Pagoda - it was closed for renovation. Instead we took a paddle trip on the lake. We spent the afternoon on the walking street, before checking… Read more >
Day 8: Xian April 13, 2006 The train from Xian arrived exactly on time at 7.58. We spent the day in Xian, visiting the Great Mosque and the Bell Tower and walking in the Muslin district and the Culture Street, where we bought a porcelain flute. Read more >
Day 9: The Terracotta Warriors April 14, 2006 The Great Wall is truly unbelievable, the Forbidden City amazing, the Summer Palace beautiful and the Temple of Heaven heavenly. The Terracotta Warriors are proclaimed to be the 8th wonder of world - the ultimate superlative - a superlative we would not argue against. We also visited the Huanyuan Gardens, on the way back to… Read more >
Day 10: Big Wild Goose Pagoda and Xian City Wall April 15, 2006 Today is our last day in Xian, before travelling to Lanzhou and the trip to Jinchang to visit Yanmei's SWI. We spent the day at the 7 storey Big Wild Goose Pagoda in the grounds of the Dazhen Temple. We also walked the City Wall and returned to the Muslin Quarter, before taking a taxi… Read more >
Day 11: Lanzhou April 16, 2006 We arrived at Lanzhou station on time, and booked into the same room we had stayed in when we adopted Yanmei. After a trip to the local supermarket, we visited the first bridge over the Yellow River and the Waterwheel park, where Yanmei had smiled for the first time in 2000. We ended the day… Read more >
Day 12: Shopping in Lanzhou April 17, 2006 I suppose there is always one day during a holiday where you don't get as much out of as you'd hoped. This was our last day in Lanzhou before travelling to Jinchang and decided to go shopping - a mistake. later in the day we met Megan, our guide, and her boss, Johnny, We had… Read more >
Day 13: Off to Jinchang April 18, 2006 We were picked up at 8.30 for the almost 400km trip from Lanzhou north west to Wuwei and Jinchang. We ate lunch in Wuwei and just outside Wuwei visited the Leitai Han Tombs, where the Bronze Galloping Horse was discovered in 1969 in a tomb dating 2.200 years back. When we arrived in Jinchang we… Read more >
Day 14: Jinchang SWI – Morning April 19, 2006 Jinchang, Sunny – Max: 26; Min: 6; Avg: 16 We woke early, excited about what the day would bring. We showered, dressed and packed and went to breakfast. We were told that breakfast was at 8:00am, we assumed "from 8:00am" and arrived at 8:15am. We were shown into our own breakfast room and the waitresses… Read more >
Day 14: Jinchang Downtown – Afternoon April 19, 2006 Jinchang, Sunny – Max: 26; Min: 6; Avg: 16 Jinchang City is in eastern sector of the Hexi Corridor, at the north foot of the Qilian Mountains and on the southern edge of the Arasan tablelands. It hardly existed 50 years ago and the sole reason for existence is the Nickel Mine. Everything looks relatively… Read more >
Day 14: Jinchang Gala Evening April 19, 2006 We walked back to the hotel, it was getting a bit chilly. The children watched TV. We were due to meet the guides again at 19:00 to go back to the SWI for the gala evening. We eat our bread, yoghurt and fruit, non of us feeling particularly hungry. We were still digesting all that… Read more >
Day 15: Wuwei April 20, 2006 Due to a possible sandstorm we left Jinchang after visiting the orphanage for a last time. We travelled to Wuwei where we spent the evening. During the afternoon we visited Weiwu Confucian Temple and walked around downtown, where we attracted crowds, and through the Muslim quarter, back to the hotel, probably the poorest area we… Read more >
Day 16: Leaving Gansu April 21, 2006 We left Wuwei to travel back to the airport in Lazhou. On the way we stopped at Baita Monastery, also called the Hundred Dagoba Monastery, with 100 white pagoda's, We ate lunch in a small town on the way and arrived at the airport with an hour to spare. We said our goodbye's to Megan,… Read more >
Day 17: Shopping in Beijing April 22, 2006 Beijing, Sunny – Max: 22; Min: 13; Avg: 18 Another beautiful sunny day awaited us. We slept until around 8am and breakfasted. It was wonderful to have a varied breakfast again - cereal, omelette, toast and marmalade. Today was going to be shopping day, so we took a taxi to the new Silk Alley -… Read more >
Day 18: Lama Temple April 23, 2006 After one day shopping we were back in tourist mode. We visited the beautiful Lama Temple with its colourful halls, before crossing the road to Ditan Park or the Temple of Earth, where a book fare was taking place. In the evening we say all the specialties in the night food market - but stuck… Read more >
Day 19: Workers Cultural Palace and Zongshan Parks April 24, 2006 Beijing, Sunny – Max: 23; Min: 7; Avg: 15 Today was our last day in Beijing. Before leaving Denmark, we were certain we wanted to visit the Summer Palace again. Last time we'd visited the palace we were four families with new children and were dragged around the Palace by a guide clearly not used… Read more >
Day 20: Home to Copenhagen April 25, 2006 We were up early had breakfast and checked out. We managed to get our 4 suitcases/bags into the taxi and he zig-zagged his way to the airport. The plane left on time and was an uneventful flight with a connection in Helsiniki. As we drew up outside our house Daji suddenly said "how nice it… Read more >