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It was one year ago today that we left on our fabulous 16 day China trip. We have so many wonderful memories from that 2 weeks. We still talk about all the things we saw, the people we met, the kind, funny guides in each city, and all the food we ate! I wanted to extend another thank you to you and Lotus travel for making it truly a dream trip that we will always remember.
2011--Vietnam--here we come!!
Fondly, Lisa Bara

Guilin Photo Gallery

Thank you for arranging our travels to China. Our favorite part was Guilin! The Children's Art Palace was fun for our entire family; we used traditional Chinese ink brushes to create panda paintings. The children at the social welfare institute touched our hearts and we will treasure the time we have spent with them forever. Our five nights at Guilin Ming Garden were great as well! The apartment is remodeled, extremely clean and has a great view; having internet access is a nice touch and there is plenty of room for our entire family. After a long day of fun, it was relaxing to come home to delicious home cooked meals prepared by our nanny Mrs Huang. She made us feel right at home with her traditional Cantonese home cooked dinners: her normal dinner very much like the meals our Cantonese parents made for us when we were younger and the meals had brought back fond memories. Bing, our tour guide is exceptional. He was like our genie, every request was delivered! The Li river cruise was very scenic and Bing also brought us to tour his former primary school. With both the visits to the orphanage and Bing's primary school, we got a glimpse of what a child's life is like in Guilin. It was truly an unforgettable experience.
-Helen Lee
I really think the kids who were adopted from China should go back to visit, so they could see what kind of life they might have in the orphanages if they never immigrated to America and of course to see China. I will definitely recommend Lotus Travel to others because Ms. Lea and her staff provided us with great service, interesting tours and kept us safe the entire trip.
- Ana Caroline Huiwen Joros (age 12)

18th Anniversary Reflections: A Journey of Growth

Editor:  Lotus has been in business 18 years now – it is “grown up” like some of the first adoptive children that have come from China.  What are your thoughts now on being around for 18 years?

Lea:   Wow!  Yes.  In thinking back to 18 years ago --- so much has changed. Lotus Travel has grown up too I guess.  We have changed a lot and so have China adoptions.  Louie and I now have three girls, which dramatically changes our lives, as all the parents in the world knowJ!

It’s funny—Louie started in October 1995 in the US and I joined him in December 1995 – so we have really done business and family together for the past 18 years.  He is really passionate to serve and lead and do the most excellent job in putting together detailed trip plans.  Sometimes it seems to me that Louie does the hard part, and I do the talking, which is marketing – I have the easy part (laughing).   He is very passionate about his job – he works with a tremendous amount of details to put together itineraries and cover all the logistics for each family’s trip.  And, when he leads an “Uncle Louie” tour, he becomes very connected the families; he always is focused on providing the best possible experience.  He is diligent and attentive.  He shows his caring through his work and not as much with his words.  Clients love him for his unique blend of personality.  Even after 30 years of being in the travel industry, he still loves it and works hard for each family.

 Cottage building where Lotus Travel began

Editor: In what ways have either or both of you changed over the years?
Lea: Well, of course, Louie now has no hair!!  On a more serious note, though Lotus is a business, it is also is more than that for us--- the positive impact on our lives is really hard to measure. Adoptive families have influenced us in a great many ways.  I think my heart leans more towards heaven than it would have otherwise.  We recently made a large donation to the people affected by flooding in August. (Click here to read news article: http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1297667/deadly-floods-cripple-guangdong-rail-service )    Because we work all the time with adoptive families, our hearts are very in tune with charitable needs. Our kids are growing up with a more charitable heart, because of that influence in our lives. Over the years we have learned many adoptive family’s stories.  We have had the privilege of serving a unique group of people.  Yes, Lotus is our business – but we also feel it is also a unique opportunity that Louie and I have been given. Families have inspired us to be caring and generous with others less fortunate also.

Editor: Can you tell us about a time that an experience with one family stands out to you in your memory?
Lea: Oh, wow, there are so many memories, it is hard to pick!   Okay, one early experience comes to mind though.  This was definitely memorable, because my mom and dad became foster parents, to help out this one family. This all happened in the early years before adoptions became as organized as it has become.  There was a couple from the Redmond, WA, and they were adopting a young girl—around 4-5 years old at the time.  Louie made a number of phone calls from the US toget steps in the adoption to work smoothly.   I worked on the case and this adoptive family desired to have their child be placed in foster care and out of the orphanage experience.  Ultimately I asked and arranged with my mother and father to foster Sarah until she could be adopted.  This girl is now in her twenties-- she actually called Louie last year about coming back to visit Guangxi province where she was born.  This family also adopted a second child; now both girls have graduated from college.   So, at this anniversary, I think I have become more sentimental than in years past – so much has happened.  So many changes ---- we have worked with some wonderful people – both with families and individuals at different adoption agencies. 

Editor: I know your family lives in Guangzhou during the academic school year and return to the US for summer breaks typically.  How long do you plan to stay in China?
Lea: We have been living in China during the school year now for six years and we will return to the US for girls’ schooling permanently in the near future.   Living in China for the past several years has allowed us to share the culture with our children and travel to see many key sites throughout China.  And I think that if we had remained in China originally and never moved to the US, we would both be different people.  The opportunities and influence of the US has changed us and I am so glad we have had that opportunity – we have had more freedom to pursue growing a business in the travel industry as we both have loved.  In the US, there is more creative freedomto start and run your own business. I think if we had never moved to the US, would be very different and Louie would likely not still be in the travel business.  Before working in travel, he was a teacher for several years in Hunan province.  Louie is in a perfect spot to pursue his passion with travel and be of important service to families at the same time.  We do feel very blessed to have opened a “business” that allows us to bridgecultures and work with adoptive families. Louie would be successful through his hard work wherever he would be.  However, I know our lives would be so different if we had never moved to America and worked with adoptive families.  The adoption experience of families has “rubbed off” on us in many different ways.   

Editor: What are other thoughts would you like to share?
Lea: It’s not possible to have anticipated the turns in the road along the journey. Louie and I are changed people than we would have been had we worked in some type of regular business. Because of the influence of the kind nature of adoptive families, I think we have a strong feeling to about how important it is to return good to society.
It has been an incredible journey for us as we reflect back on the last eighteen years.   We feel like we share in just a small way of the family coming together.  We both feel so fortunate and are thankful to families with which we have worked and share so many memories. 

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