Kaila in Kunming: A Visit to My Orphanage

(Touching the Dragon Gate for Prosperity)

I took a few days off from work and headed back to the province I was born in, Kunming! It was a busy few days where I didn’t get much rest and was busy from sun up to down. I was able to do a lot, met up with some connections and friends and went back to my orphanage. The night before and the whole drive going to my orphanage I was quite nervous which really surprised me.

China is such a diverse and beautiful place and I was excited to go back and explore. Yunnan has stunning nature, views and I already want to go back to spend more time hiking away from the borders of the cities.

The first day I woke up and headed to the Western Hills for a hike and lots of stairs to visit the Dragon Gate. I took the metro to the Western Hills, bus to the entrance, chairlift to the top of the mountains then ascended and descended many stairs!

Beautiful view of Kunming!

An evening stroll in the park. Kunming is so much more relaxed than Shanghai and I enjoyed walking the streets.

There was a huge lake filled with blooming Lotus flowers!

The next morning I was picked up bright and early by Li Qi, a teacher we hosted in Denver several years ago. We went out to eat, walked around Kunming and had a great but exhausting day. We visited a tea house and had a tasting and ceremony that was so relaxing that I almost fell asleep.

She showed me this hidden beautiful temple I would have never found on my own! Apparently it is quite famous and people from all over China and Asia come to visit and and send blessings.

What a special connection around the world to have!

Talk about the most beautiful scene. A pond full of lotus flowers, a sunset out of a storybook and people dancing in the park.

My orphanage is an almost four hour drive outside of Kunming in Gejiu. I left my hotel first thing that morning with my driver and translator. We stopped at a very casual place on the way and had the best spicy beef. As I mentioned, I was very nervous as I hadn’t been back since I was 10 and didn’t know how I would feel.

We arrived, met the new orphanage director and had time to walk around and play with the kids. There are about 37 kids there currently. Many of them have disabilities and are older, but they did have a few healthy newborns only weeks old, several adorable boys about 1 years old and a 7 year old girl who followed me around. Some of them are in the process of adoption paperwork to be matched with families which makes me so happy. Unfortunately the kids with severe disabilities are going to have a huge challenge being adopted given the immense medical needs.

She couldn’t stop playing with my hair!

At the gate of the orphanage.

It was a very special visit to go back as an adult! It was very emotional in terms of seeing all the children because I love kids! It did give me comfort to see how well the kids are being taken care of. The day was exhausting with all the driving but I am so glad I went! I am also equally happy that I went when I was 10 and didn’t wait until being an adult to go back. I found the trip when I was 10 to be much more important to my own identity and journey while this trip kind of brought everything full circle.

I spent my last day at the amazing UNESCO Stone Forest. I took a bus directly there and met two nice guys from Malaysia to explore the park with! The surprising thing was that the park had only chinese tourists besides us three. No foreign tourists in site!

It is truly a maze of a place and I walked in circles many times in the Major Stone Forest section.

It was so beautiful and a special place in China to visit. When I was first adopted my mom came here and I slept the whole time!

Overall, my trip was so wonderful and I already look forward to returning. Yunnan is a gorgeous area of China and I want to do my part in helping other children waiting in the orphanage to be adopted!

As for now, I’ve wrapped up my now old job and have started my new job working at a bilingual kindergarten! We will have a summer camp and then I will have my own class of little Zebras to prepare for primary school. I’m so excited but also nervous and ready for this next chapter to start!


5 thoughts on “Kaila in Kunming: A Visit to My Orphanage

  1. Beautiful post, Kai Kai. I’m sure plenty of “food for thought” and a mix of emotions. Keep going. Isn’t Kunming area so so beautiful? Wait to you get further afield, in the mountains, out south and west, all the way to Xi Shuang Ba Na . . . and perhaps NW too — to Li Jiang. More adventures to come. Glad you spent time with the kids . . . you can understand them and know their pathway better than most. Sending you all good wishes for the summer camp, and the new work gig. Sounds like a good situation. Enjoy the new Zebras. I have my 46 student zebras now too — summer session seminar. Lots of “teachable moments,” to say the least. Warm good wishes from hot hot hot Hongkers, a city in turmoil. Do come visit again when you can. Good luck with your summer’s work. Have fun meeting Casey — she’s a gem. You two are peas of a pod, I would think. More soon, Your marching God-Father . . .


  2. Your photos are stunning and your commentary very poignant!
    Eric and I send you our love and best wishes for your new job!


  3. Hi! I loved your trip, actually I’m planning to come back visit the orphanage too, I lived there until was adopted too. I would like to make the trip soon but I don’t know how to do it, who I must to talk to…
    I’m from Spain and It would be a pleasure if you could reach me out and help me. Thank you for sharing your experience it make me want to do it too.


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