On the morning we were getting ready to leave Xiamen for other points on Fujian’s map, my Wife and Younger Daughter (age 2) weren’t quite ready to head out yet, so I took our Elder Daughter (age 4) across the street to wander around the Marco Polo hotel for awhile.

We had a great time walking up and down the grand staircases, exploring big dark empty “Cinderella ballrooms,” as she thought they looked like, and just checking out the scene.

At one point we ended up near a back entrance off the beaten path and found a scene where she asked to have her picture taken. Being as how she’s sometimes camera-shy, this was a pleasant surprise.

She was four when this picture was taken, and since has just turned five, but I’m going to leave a message for her here in case she someday finds this entry and has a question or two.

Dear Elder Daughter,

I’m calling you “Elder Daughter” here not because I’m trying to sound all Confucian or anything, but because your mother and I don’t like the idea of putting your name on the Web. Even though it’s a darn cool name.

Thank you for asking to have your picture taken that day at the Marco Polo in Xiamen. The way you asked, so thoughtfully and politely, was one of the sweetest things I’d ever seen and heard.

I have to apologize, though. I’m the one who helped you get dressed that morning–your mother was sleeping late–and so I’m to blame for putting striped Big Bird-like stockings and purple tennis shoes together with your beautiful dark flower dress and red coat. But see, they were all in the “clean clothes” suitcase that morning, and they all fit, and for Daddies like me, that’s the same as, “Hey, perfect match!”

Don’t worry, though. You were still picture perfect. And thank you again for all your smiles and giggles. That was a great morning.

Love,

Dad

Some quintessential Xiamen-related bedtime reading:

China’s Industrial Reform and Open-Door Policy 1980-1997: A Case Study from Xiamen (Ashgate Studies on the Economic Reform of China)