Monday, April 29, 2013

Zhengzhou, China...Or Where Children Go to the Bathroom in the Street

We arrived in Zhengzhou fairly late in the evening on Wednesday and headed to my hotel. It was in the back of a gated parking lot and was rather sketchy looking, though right around the corner from the center of town.

By rather sketchy, I mean the floor I was to sleep on was completely under construction. And everything was orange. Needless to say, I didn't spend very much time there.

The next morning, I decided to check out the museum, which was interesting. Taxis were very cheap, so I decided to just take a taxi instead of figuring out the bus system for just a couple days in the city.

The museum was shaped like a triangle, as you can see.

There were a lot of interesting artifacts.

This interesting thing with dragons on it.

A vase

A dog dragon.

Some swords.

A turtle.

And what appear to be teeth.

Some inappropriately shaped vases
Recreations of archaeological sites.
Which, for some reason, some people felt the need to throw money in with the bones.
Another vase.
These are writings on bones.
Another dragon.

A dragon that, for some reason, was pictured and seemed very important...

But was extremely small...

And yet another dragon.

A small dragon on top of a pot.

Creepy masks/

Ancient microphones?

Very small gold deer.
A uncolored horse.
A very happy dragon.

An army.
Another horse. This one was smiling.

A small head on a large vase.
A gnome?

An army
complete with dragons.

A picture of a camel.
A very colorful horse.
Another camel.

And more camels.

Camels with dragon saddles.

bird vases.

A scary dragon/
A conqueror.

Another scary man dragon.

A large pot on top of an elephant.

More elephants.

A tiger or lion?
A tiny turtle.

Very small people

Another scary man.

He's terrifying

A duck.

I then headed off to get lunch. I had no idea where to go, so I ducked into Starbucks. There was a nice woman who helped me order and spoke perfect English.

One thing I noticed in China was people do not wait in lines. They don't really in Korea either, but not quite to the same extent. There was a LOT of pushing and jamming me in the back, which was slightly annoying.

So many elbows.

I stopped at the bank to get some money, then left the bank to head to Anna's school.

I realized I didn't have my map, so I ran back to the bank and found the map sitting on the ATM.

I walked for a few minutes, then realized I didn't have my phone.

I ran back to the bank and found my phone sitting on the ATM, where the map had been.

That was a close call...

Zhengzhou is a city that I have never heard of and I'm assuming a lot of you had never heard of. I looked it up before I went thinking it would be fairly small.

The population is 10 million. It's not westernized at all.

It's also very dirty...There was a layer of dirt and the air was "hazardous" the entire time I was there.

And by layer of dirt, I mean several layers.

Men and women were spitting all over the place, every time preceded with a hocking, horrible sound.

Children did not wear diapers. Instead, they wore pants with slits, so when they needed to go to the bathroom, they just squatted in the streets.

It was quite the experience I must say. I witnessed 2 children poop in the street and while on the bus, there was more than one hocking of loogies.

The area around Anna's school was nicer though. The school had ping pong tables outside.

The next day I took the bus to an orphanage to volunteer, but they were out of hot water, so I went the next day instead.

Then, I was going to sit in on one of Anna's classes, but both her afternoon classes were cancelled, so Friday was slightly unsuccessful.

We ate hot pot again, which was delicious, again. We also ate at a Muslim restaurant the night before and it was very delicious. Kebabs and noodles.
This is the neighborhood near the orphanage.

This is the apartment building where the orphanage was.
We decided to go to the orphanage early in the morning.

This little boy asked me to pick him up basically as soon as I walked in and clung to me the entire time I was there.

It was heartbreaking.

One thing that surprised me was how well taken care of the children were. They had a lot of volunteers, the workers were very loving and they all  seemed very happy and comfortable, which was great to see.

The orphanage was called Swallows Nest and they had several buildings throughout the city.

Most of the children had some sort of special needs.

The little boy who I was holding had had open heart surgery. One boy had down syndrome. Another was born without ears.

The other children had no obvious problems, but their parents gave them up because they weren't healthy.

We took the kids to the park and walked around and played with them.

It made me want to adopt all the children. It was more difficult than I thought it would be, but at the same time, it was great to see how well they were taken care of and how happy they were.

We then headed to the Shaolin Temple to wander around in the afternoon.
We stopped in at McDonalds. One of their options was a hamburger with 2 patties and 2 hotdogs on top...and people think Americans are unhealthy! Good heavens.
Unfortunately there was a ton of construction along the way and then a truck tipped over in front of us, so it took 3 hours to get to the temple instead of one. We arrived at 4:45 and it closed at 5.

The Temple is where kung-fu began...and I missed it! I saw the outside gates and a statue. But that was it.

Looking in at the temple they wouldn't let me enter.

Here's a statue.

Zhengzhou was slightly less successful than Beijing, but it did let me see an area of China that was not in the least westernized or prepared for tourists, which was quite interesting.

Here's the Muslim restaurant we ate at.

I headed back to Beijing on Sunday morning. I had a bit of time in Beijing and thought about returning to the Forbidden city when it wasn't raining, but air quality was dangerous and looked extremely foggy and it was not foggy.

It was pollution.

As you can see, the pollution was so thick you could barely see outside.
These last pictures are from my phone of Zhengzhou. They're not with the other pictures because it takes forever to move them up to the other pictures.

The school where Anna teaches.

I think this post was a bit scattered, but they were my thoughts on an interesting city that was definitely a new experience!


  1. oh my, I'm in heaven finding so many photos of our sweet kids. Glad you got to visit swallows nest. I am stateside caring for my mom. Who is Anna? Pam Swallows Nest Director

  2. Yin Lin (the little boy that had you pick him up, when you arrived) is the little boy we are adopting. We are waiting on Travel Approval. I loved seeing your pictures.

  3. Anna was working at the foreign middle school and volunteered at the orphanage sometimes with another teacher, named Buzz, I believe. It was a great experience visiting there and seeing how well the kids were taken care of!

    I am very glad that he is being adopted! He is a very very sweet little boy. I hope your paperwork is approved soon!

  4. Hi Lauren ... I'm Clay, Pam's husband, I am the grey haired guy with the long beard that Anna sees from time to time as she and Buzz volunteer at our QianJin Road Swallows Nest Children's Home (foster care)... they are a great help to our staff as well as you were helping the kids enjoy the local park ... I want to share your bog post on my facebook site ... you took so many great pictures with a wonderful narrative of your experience in Zhengzhou ... love & appreciation to you from the Swallows Nest just across the pond! ... Clay Williams ...

  5. Thank you! You are welcome to share my blog on your Facebook page! I enjoyed my visit there and seeing how well you took care of the children!

  6. Welcome to Henan any time.....I just wish I had found your blog in April when I desperately needed photos to send to our sponsors:) I found your blog from my statcounter, when someone who reads your blog clicked on the swallows nest link. Yea!!!!

    Do you live in South Korea now? Where are you from in the US?

    Several people who follow us, want to be your friend on FB. Are you on FB? Your photos are fantastic. Love the BJ post......

  7. I told Yin Lin's mom....he probably thought you were his mother coming....he has seen so many kids get adopted and he'd just gotten a pkg from his family. He knows it won't be long.....He is a sweet heart.....

  8. Hi Pam,

    I live in South Korea for the time being. I've been teaching English there for a couple years. I'm from the Seattle area.

    I am on facebook. Who wants to be my friend? This is a very surreal situation, I must say!

    Thank you for your comments about the blog! It's glad to hear someone likes them =)

  9. One girl, who is an adoptee, teenager, her name is IVY