Soooo, guess what I found on my computer….an unpublished blog post about my Christmas travels…how appropriate to resurrect them a bit after Qingming Jie! (Happy Easter, y’all!)—
For Christmas holiday, JUMP! luckily granted all of us two weeks of leave with an option of working remotely in the several days before as well. Being that we are an international organization, most everyone took advantage of this time to return home to their families for at least a chunk of this time; I, however, took advantage of the time to travel on my own to several places after my family’s plans to come visit were foiled!
First, I took a 19 hour train from Beijing to Guangzhou, the capital city of China’s southernmost province, Guangdong (formerly called Canton, thus Cantonese). There, I was welcomed by my fellow fellows who are teachers in the city. After the days of working remotely in a sleepy 24-hour café, Will and Rammie treated me to tours of their favorite part of the city – a section not filled with my favorite Cantonese foods, but rather an area of heavy African diaspora where we gorged on the most delicious Mediterranean cuisine. In the huge port city of Guangzhou, its history as a strategic business center is hugely evident as one goes toward the harbor: as you wander, buildings exhibit more and more the artistic flair of East meets West. There, Will and I wandered into historically protected, but crumbling buildings, snacked on dried figs to the bemusement of shop keepers (they should be used in soup, not snacking, according to them), and sipped on porridge just like mom makes. I loved Guangzhou really – familiar Cantonese, a chance to still use Mandarin sometimes, winding Banyan trees reaching down to scratch my head.
I took my leave from Will and Rammie’s futon to head down to Hong Kong as destination number two! I arrived late in the evening at my hostel, but didn’t let that stop me from grabbing BBQ pork for dinner! While I still had to work remotely during the days, I made Hong Kong a key destination because my cousin, who I haven’t seen in many many years, got married this past summer, but was coming home to Hong Kong with his wife to throw a second reception for family members who couldn’t make it to Sonoma, California for the nuptials. I got dressed up at my hostel and headed to the hotel at 5pm that evening, hmmm, this is quite early for a reception dinner I thought, only to arrive and find out dinner wasn’t until 8pm and I was expected to smile for photos for three hours prior…thanks for the heads up. I was flattered to be representing my father’s side of the family at the celebration, but also highly aware of the potential to become hangry…hence gladly accepting a bite of dessert before dinner. One of the opportunities of coming to China and traveling to Hong Kong so often has been the chance to reconnect with my Aunt and Uncle there, parents of my newlywed cousin (his little brother got married too!); so so glad I could be a part of the momentous day! Otherwise, my first work-free visit to my favorite place held the usual Cantonese cuisine indulgences, wandering amongst mid-levels, spending time with my Aunt, Uncle, and other distant relatives, and making new friends and good conversation. Hong Kong captured my heart yet again…more on that one later.
After a rainy Christmas, I was supposed to close out my holiday travels with a weeklong trip across Indonesia before flying to Kuala Lumpur for work. Flight was booked, appropriate belongings packed, friends arranged, but alas, I did not go to Indonesia. Due to an injury sustained by my friend thus counting her out, I decided against traversing Java and booked myself a spontaneous trip to Chaing Mai, Thailand instead. Rock climbing was the works, but alas, I only attended a film screening of Valley Uprising – a documentary about the rise of rock climbing in Yosemite Valley (highly recommended, even if you’re not into climbing). My friend came with me to the screening and asked very poignantly after the film, “Sam, how big is a mile?!” – oh silly Europeans and their exclusive use of the metric system… Otherwise, Chiang Mai was several lovely days of sunshine, New Years fireworks, PiA reunions, and mountain motorcycling. Thailand may have taken a hold on my heart too…
Looking back, what an amazing Christmas and New Year holiday…I miss it already.