Monday, September 10, 2012


We got to Shanghai late at night.  We still had to check Chloe in for a week’s quarantine. So that took a bit long. We were just happy to see that she was fine. Scared, terrified… but fine. We also had to change money. We had Dirhams. No bank at the airport changed Dirhams. Oh boy. No problem, tomorrow. At this point, I’m outside the gate with Mila. We met other teachers that were arriving with us.  There was a family who was on the same flight with us and also lived in Al Ain, but we never met. Jen, Dave and cute, sweet Lester.  Jen is a teacher working in the same school now. Mila’s first friend in China is Lester. This is the beginning of their love/not so much relationship.  So, we are fitting two families of 3 and all of our lives’ belongings plus one more teacher and the driver into a tiny van.  Oh boy, strollers on top of us, luggage, cranky children, long drive, very very late at night, cranky parents, bumpy roads, no carseats, no seatbelts… Bleh! No fun…
We finally arrived in Suzhou at around 2 a.m. and checked into the Noah hotel in SND (Suzhou New District). Showers all around and bed to end the first day of the rest of our lives. 
Breakfast was good. A bit different, but we’re used to different. Mila and I were adventurous in our selections. We tried many things. Fried rice, noodles, etc… but I also had my usual coffee and eggs, and BACON!  Luis tried to change money E! VE! RY! WHERE! to no avail. No one changes Dirhams here. We’re stuck. Good thing that the school gave all new teachers a small advance of their salary so that held us through.
We rested the first day and met the new teachers.  The first week was basically trying to catch up on rest, checking out the neighborhood and city. We took a tour of the school, looked for housing, met with the principal and his family, went out to eat with the whole group. Beer every time we get together; fun, and a nice change – basically a way to relax and know that this is something that although serious and professional, can also be enjoyable and laid back. We were showed how to use the metro and the bus. We went almost everywhere as a group in one of the school buses.  It was nice to go the SIP (Suzhou Industrial Park – part of town where most expats live) and check out markets and restaurants which carry familiar items and foods.  The principal hosted a bar-b-q at his compound’s pool and we got to meet the rest of the staff who are already working in the school.  It was nice to see familiar faces and people we already knew from Al Ain – Geoff and Coree and their boys.
We finally found our place and started to get settled after a week and a half in the hotel. We chose a place that is central and we got familiar with the area while staying at the hotel. It’s within walking-distance. We have 2 small markets, a Starbucks, 2 gyms, Subway (food), Franco Papa (bakery/coffee shop), subway station, Gymboree, pet shop & grooming, hair salon where Luis gets his hair cut, banks … all within a five minute WALK from our apt.  This city is very walker/bike friendly. Lots and lots of e-bikes in a designated lane.
The place is pretty cool and modern. I really like it. We are on the top floor, so we have a big outside terrace that we want to convert into a garden. But for now we have an inflatable pool there for Mila. She loves it.  I’ve had to  clean the place A LOT and still haven’t quite finished. But, I’m getting there. I cleaned thoroughly everything that we use and lightly the things/ areas that we don’t yet. But little by little I’m getting it all cleaned and disinfected. Rentals come furnished here so that takes the burden off of having to buy everything. We only had to buy our kitchenware and personal things like towels and sheets, etc… But in true Lu and Luis style, we had to ditch some things that are not our taste like some curtains and a bed or two. Nothing lkea doesn’t solve.
A trip, okay two, to Wuxi (another city) where lKEA is located and we got some knick-knacks for the house.  We were so happy to be in lKEA! Oh my word.  Well, the first trip…… we wanted to be adventurous and maybe save some cash by not hiring a car. We decided we wanted to go by train. We had to take a taxi to the train station and then a taxi from the train station there to lKEA. The train station is pretty much the same as any other in the world. But the train… oh my… it was like an airplane.  The seats, the attendants, everything. Very very cool. 
Everywhere we go people look at us. They are mostly interested though in Mila. Blondish, curly hair; big blue eyes. They stop, stare, smile, laugh, and some try to talk to us in Mandarin and even touch Mila’s hair.  Many, many, many pictures.  We just smile and tell Mila to say Ni hao.  We expected this already. We knew it would happen. I think after countless blogs I’ve read of American families coming to China to adopt and their experiences, I knew what to expect. Also, I truly believe that living in the UAE was very much a cultural stepping stone for us. For Mila also. She’s used to it. And she’s very friendly. Too friendly. We’ve had to coach her on “stranger danger” a lot here. Since we’re always surrounded by friends and family everywhere we go, she thinks people here are part of her entourage also. Because you know, the world revolves around this tiny person. She’s getting it though.
After a week in quarantine, Luis went back to Shanghai to pick Chloe up. She was so happy. I was happy too. I had been worried about her. I told Luis almost every day to call and check on her.  But Mila was truly the happiest one of us. It was as if she knew that with Chloe here, we were home.  Her demeanor completely changed from being “away on a trip” to being “home” once she was reunited with her beloved friend and companion.
We’ve been in China for a little over a month now. We have many adventures to document. So keep checking back regularly.  


  1. You adapt to any situation so easily. You are awesome.

    How cool for you to be living in China it truly is a dream of mine to take the girlies there for a year once they are older.

  2. Ay Lu, I love it... you guys rock!!!

  3. Ay Lu, I love it... you guys rock!!!

  4. Love reading about your adventures. Now that your boxes arrived you can continue turning your rental into your home. I am sure that all these new experiences are helping Mila see the world. How lucky is she. She gets the best of both. A few weeks a year back home. And the rest of the time learning and enjoying new cultures. Keeping sharing your story with us. I hope Jose is enjoying his new school. I saw that he has a special lunch date everyday. Such wonderful memories are being made. Take lots of pictures and see if Mila would enjoy making a scrapbook. How fun would it be to hace a book for each country she lives in. Xoxo sussell

  5. Congrats on arriving in your new home and life!! Am really anxious to hear and see your adventures in your new land. So many changes and so many new things to experience.

  6. HI Luciana,

    I am not super woman that is for sure. LOL Just one tired mommy. :) Look at you though miss world travler and with a little one to boot. I hope you are enjoying China. I think it is so awesome that you get to live where you want to adopt from. :)Blessings to you and your family and I hope you are feeling settled.