The Straka Family

(left to right) Kelci, Noelle, Chris, Andy, Bonnie, Aimee, Lily


Andy and Bonnie February 2009

-Beijing  (New Day Foster Home, Love Without Boundaries Heartbridge)

-Jiangxi province (Luke's home province for adoption)

-Guangzhou (American Consulate)

February 18, Red Couch Picture White Swan Hotel, Luke, Mommy, and Daddy Preparing To Return Home!

February 18, Red Couch Picture White Swan Hotel, Luke, Mommy, and Daddy Preparing To Return Home!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Please Send Spaceship Now

We love our intrepid Luke.  And we love the Chinese.  We really do.  But there comes a time on every adoption trip when the rush of emotions, the adrenaline for the journey, and the exotic curiosity of the surroundings have worn off and we find ourselves simply longing for home.  It doesn’t help that here in the Middle Kingdom they have their own way of doing things, often beyond the comprehension of we mere Westerners. 

To our surprise, it has grown quite hot here in Nanchang.  Eighty degrees Fahrenheit the past couple of days.   Our guide Jenny informs us this is quite unusual for this time of year.  A stiff wind has also begun to blow, which, instead of clearing all the pollution from the air, only serves to stir it all up into a cough-inducing, eye-stinging soup of grit.

Maybe the unexpected change in the weather helps explain why the relative peace and quite of our hotel room was shattered yesterday morning by a man with a mallet outside our window banging loudly on the metal superstructure of some gargantuan piece of ventilation equipment two stories below. 


Okay, something in the mechanism must be stuck, we thought.  The guy was there to fix it. 

Except that he kept right on banging and banging and banging.  Soon, he was joined by a friend, and the two of them proceeded to serenade us in stereo with their clamor.  The philosophy seemed to be what you can’t solve with precision and accuracy, proceed to conquer with raw brute force…. whether or not it seems to be working…. over and over and over again.       

With brief breaks for lunch and maybe a Tsing Tao (beer) or two, the cacophony continued throughout much of the day.   By mid-afternoon, our bangers had added a rhythm section and actually seemed to be developing, in their own way, an elegant sort of cadence. 

Could it be that we’d completely misunderstood?  Maybe these guys actually had some kind of New Year’s Ming Dynasty ceremonial drum thing going on.   Or it could just be Morse code for Five Star Jin Feng Hotel My Green Home.

In any event, we were able to escape the noise, at least for a little while, with a pleasant and informative tour of the beautiful Tengwang Pavilion and a performance of traditional Chinese music and dance that stopped us all, including even Luke, in our tracks.  Finally, at five PM, the mysterious banging mercifully ceased.  

 After nine days of Chinese food (as good as it mostly has been) we finally broke down and sojourned to Pizza Hut for dinner.  “American style” pizza (cheese and pepperoni) and Chilean white wine served in a glass mug.  What a treat!  I am always stunned at how enthusiastically the Chinese have embraced Pizza Hut and KFC.  As our guide in Beijing informed us, there are now more KFC restaurants in China than in any other country on earth, including the US.  Luke loved Pizza Hut too.  He especially liked the side dish of waffle fries and ketchup.  (We’re already corrupting the poor kid with fast food.)

With our American fix fulfilled, we contentedly retired to our hotel for the evening where the bangers had apparently all gone home. 

Hold the anchovies and pass the earplugs.



  1. Hi Andy & Bonnie!

    I can so relate to the banging noise! When we were in Hohhot in late 2006, they were putting up a building next to our hotel and they worked 24/7 - no kidding. We had to keep the windows closed all the time and it was so very warm in our hotel room! I love reading your blog and certainly can relate to the desire to be home. We leave for China on March 19th and will be staying at New Day for 2 days. Hooray!!! God bless. Doris

  2. We stayed in that same hotel when we were there for Hudson. They smoked like fiends there. Tengwang Pavilion was great. There was a sign that said no pictures or recordings. Our guide solved the problem by turning the sign around. I understand about the food. I got sick of the breakfast buffet after awhile.

  3. This is so funny! I guess what is most amusing is that it seems it was unexpected for you. We've lived here so long with the banging that if it's NOT there, we feel like something is missing (perhaps a slight exaggeration, but you get the point).

    I guess you'll be traveling to GZ today-yay! Can't wait to see you with your precious little Luke. :)

  4. Hi Andy and Bonnie ~

    Luke is just precious!! It looks like he is feeling right at home with his family ~ that is wonderful!! I know you all are very busy but if you have a moment and could email us that would be great:) Our email is

    Thank you so much ~ Curtis and Teresa