Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sleeping on a Jet Plane

We should all be on an airplane right now.

We spent a rather tedious summer in Shanghai, having only left town for a few quick trips to Beijing, southern China and Hong Kong. Our family has not been outside of China since early April, and we're feeling this sorely. A very interesting and exciting place to live, Shanghai fills our lives with good friends and plenty of chances to explore a new world. But China can wear a Westerner down, and a good dose of not-China is the best prescription for those China-weary families.

This summer we received an invitation to a wedding in Phuket, Thailand. Phuket is a beach town, and a common destination for the China weary Westerner. The wedding would take place at a gorgeous little boutique hotel, populated with villas of 1 or 2 bedrooms, each facing the beach. Rooms offered at a half-price discount for wedding guests made the trip irresistible. We RSVP-ed, we booked rooms, and we arranged flights. We went to the ATM for days in a row to pay for our flights in cash. We booked a non-refundable room in Bangkok - why wouldn't we?

We were so excited.

And then we heard from Jon and Stacey.

Jon and Stacey live in Cambridge, England. Jon is Dave's brother and Stacey is his wife. We've always enjoyed their company tremendously, but as both families live abroad we spend precious little time together. They had last seen L-- when she was only 9 months old, so they had certainly not even met S--. A visit was long overdue, and this was the purpose of their call. She had been invited to stand in a wedding in Sydney (all expenses paid) and their flight could layover in Shanghai for as long as they liked. The only caveat - they must visit the week of the October holiday.

We called the travel agent, and canceled our flights. We emailed the hotels and canceled our rooms. We lost a good chunk of money and our last opportunity to leave the country before Christmas.

Jon and Stacey arrived on Monday afternoon - with no jet lag, coming only 2 hours difference from western Australia. They left on Saturday, after a truly lovely week. Because of the holiday, L-- had no school and Dave had no work. He spent less than 1 hour per day checking emails, and never once turned on his Blackberry. We ate good food and walked the town. L-- and S-- showed their aunt and uncle the playroom and the playground. We relaxed together as a family, spending the days playing together and the evenings talking well into the night. We had a truly wonderful week.

Had we gone to Phuket, we would now be on a full flight that would last 6-7 hours and last in Shanghai in the wee hours of the morning. We would all be exhausted, and the night would have been miserable for both the children and the adults.

All things considered, we've absolutely no regrets.

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