One of my favorite things about Guangzhou is leaving it. Ouch, hope I didn't hurt Guangzhou's feelings. But it's true, and living here has given us the chance to see many other awesome places that we otherwise may not have been able to see. There's only one place we've visited that I haven't totally loved, and that probably had more to do with the fact that I brought a sick baby to that place and had to spend most of the time in our hotel room. If I went back to that place with a healthy child, I'd probably think it was pretty neat.
I'm not going to elaborate too much on our travels, but here (in order of visitation) are pictures of the places we've seen in the year we've been here:
Labor Day weekend, 2010: Our very first trip to Hong Kong
China National Day, October 1-8 2010: Seoul, South Korea
October 11-30, 2010: TDY to Shanghai, China
My parents and I visited Hong Kong (without Aaron and Augie) December 26-27, 2010. Don't appear to have a picture of this at the moment though.
We flew to Guilin, China, with my parents December 31, 2010 - January 3, 2011
Aaron and I got to take a trip to Macau by ourselves from January 4-6, 2011
We took TWO back-to-back trips to Hong Kong during Lunar New Year in February 2011. We had planned the first one already when we found out that a good friend of ours was coming to Hong Kong just a few days later, so we decided to go back. Yes it was cheaper that way.
We decided to take a day-trip to Hong Kong once again (without Augie though) in February on President's Day to see a movie. I don't have a picture from that though.
Our trip with a sick toddler commenced the weekend of April 29-May 1. We went to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and didn't realize our child was sick until we got there. We saw as much as we could though!
On Memorial Day, Aaron and I went for the day to Macau in order to celebrate his birthday (May 31).
Then from June 9-July 4/5 we went for R&R in the US. We went to Seattle, Spokane (Washington), Dallas, and Oklahoma City.
We do have a few planned trips for this autumn.
Over the Mid-Autumn festival, Sept 9-12, we will be going to Xi'an, China, which is supposed to be really awesome. It's the old capital of the country so it is full of historical sites, including the terracotta warriors that everyone has heard about. So we are looking forward to that!
Also, for this year's October holiday (Oct. 1-8) we are going to Thailand! We'll be starting in Bangkok for 4 days, and then spending the rest of the week in Koh Samui, which is an island in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand. Hopefully it won't rain the entire time!
That won't be the end of our travels in Asia, but so far nothing else is definitely planned. We had planned to go to New Zealand in January, but have since decided that we'd rather save our money for some upcoming expenses next summer. We'll definitely go somewhere (cheaper) though, since Aaron has 4 days off!
Saturday, July 23, 2011
I haven't written a goddamn thing on this blog this year. Sorry! Part of the reason for that is my desire to whine less, publicly anyway. Actually it's pretty much summed up in the comment section of my previous blog post. I received an unexpected comment on that blog post in June, and just now noticed it, so I decided to post a reply, and then decided that maybe I should post an actual blog entry. So here I am! I know, interesting story.
Anyway, so the other part of my lack of posting is that I started working part-time at the Consulate in January! So that's cool, it fills up half of my week and kind of makes time go by a little more quickly. Plus we're making a little more money, which is always nifty.
So wtf else have I been doing? Well. I try to fill up the half of the week that I don't work with meaningful activities. I'm really bad at hobbies because I lose interest pretty quickly (as evidenced by this blog), so I just try to set really, really short-term goals. Maybe I have ADD, I'm not sure. But just this past week I started and finished Pride & Prejudice, which was a fantastic story (I'm not sure if italicizing the title of the book is grammatically correct, sorry if it isn't). A few weeks ago I read Tina Fey's new book Bossypants (again, sorry if my italicization of the title offends anyone), which was hilarious as expected. Months ago I read Snakehead. If you are going to be serving in China, especially as a Consular Officer, PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING READ THIS BOOK, IT'S REALLY FREAKING IMPORTANT. (I wasn't really yelling, just emphasizing, but it's funny how capitalizing letters gives the effect of yelling.) Anyway the book is about smuggling rings in China. Very interesting stuff.
I also work out a few times every week. The Oakwood here has a decent gym, so I try to make use of it, plus it fills up time. I'm not sure if I've actually lost any weight (I gained 10lbs after I got married...then another 40 while I was pregnant. I lost the 40lbs of pregnancy weight 6 months after giving birth, and have since lost another 5 - 7lbs, but it's more fluctuating weight than anything) but I'm probably in the best shape I've been in since college, or maybe even high school. So that's cool.
Augie loves his ayi/nanny. We love her too, she's the best. She talks to him in Chinese, which was the main reason we even wanted an ayi to begin with. He's almost 2, and he talks a LOT. But the talking is mostly incomprehensible. He knows both English and Chinese, and says many words in both languages that we CAN understand, so I'm just wondering if the words/sentences/paragraphs that we can't understand are some hybrid-Engrish/Chinglish language that just makes sense to him, or if it's just normal jibberish that any almost-2-year-old would be speaking. Whatever it is, he sure has a LOT to say.
We did just recently complete our R&R trip back to the US. It was amazing. The sky was blue, the air was clean, the drivers obeyed rules, and we could even have good US beef (hard to find here, they import most of their beef from Australia or New Zealand, it's not as good). Plus it was really great to see Aaron's family, my parents, and some of our friends. Augie had the opportunity to play with his 2 cousins who are his age (one is 9 months older than him and the other is 9 months younger than him). He enjoyed every second of it!
I was really sad to come back here after spending almost a whole month in the beautiful US, especially since for the next week or two after we got back to Guangzhou it rained and looked generally post-apocalyptic outside. No one wants to go outside in that mess. The summer is definitely the worst time of year to be here though. Last November was beautiful (or, beautiful for Guangzhou anyway). That's what I'm holding out for, a beautiful November!
So July marks our 1-year anniversary in Guangzhou...which means only one more year to go! It also means that we have bid and received our next post. We'll be heading to Panama City, Panama in November 2012! Although it's not Athens (which was our #1 pick) or anywhere in Europe, I'm quite excited. It seems like the one of the most desirable posts in Latin America, and especially in Central America. I already know a LOT of Spanish, so I may actually be able to have real conversations w/ people in Spanish when we get there. I also plan to go to Spanish training at FSI if they'll let me so that I can polish it off. Plus Panama is WAY closer to the US than China, so we might be able to see our friends and family more than once every year or two. That's very important to me now, I hate having to fly 16-24 hours to see people. I'm definitely counting down towards our departure!
As for future China tours... well it'd be a pity for Aaron to waste the Chinese training he's received, so it's definitely something we will consider. But our current decision is to wait until we have no children under the age of 3 because of the longass flight. Traveling that far with a toddler(s) is sucktastic (I did just make that word up), and I really only want to do it one more time, and that's on our trip from Guangzhou to Seattle for home leave next July. We're planning to have at least one more kid, possibly 2, so it could very well be another 10ish years before we come back to this side of the world. I'm hoping for Shanghai or Hong Kong if it happens, or possibly Taipei. One thing is for certain, I do not forsee another tour in Guangzhou. Two years is enough for me (well...if we're being honest, one year is enough, but this coming year should be better than last so I can deal with it)!
So that's my random update. Yippee!