Winnie left this afternoon for a rather short-notice trip back to China. She’ll be returning April Friday April 10, just shy of three weeks visiting half-way around the world from here.
This trip is not for the best of reasons. Winnie’s father passed unexpectedly about three weeks ago, and the family notified Winnie via e-mail (the only way they have of contacting her). Winnie looked into going back for the funeral, but with the time requirements for commercial air travel (about 39 hours travel time just to the airport nearest Winnie’s home town) she wouldn’t have made it back in time for the funeral. So she decided to wait until October’s national “Day of Remembrance;” a semi-annual national holiday dedicated for people to visit the gravesites of their ancestors.
Then last Thursday night Winnie learned that her mom was ill, and being kept hospitalized for observation. We had a hard discussion on Friday afternoon, and then got online to price out last minute plane fares. Surprisingly enough, we found round-trip tickets non-stop from Dulles Airport to Beijing, China, with connecting flight to/from Nanning (closest to Winnie’s hometown), that was about half what we paid on our last trip to China four years ago. So, after a bit more intense discussion, we made reservations for Winnie.
I would have liked to go with her, but it’s really not possible for me to take three weeks’ vacation time on no notice. That’s one of the disadvantages of having a “professional” job. As opposed to the work Winnie does, where she gets to call her boss and tell them she’ll be back next month. The flip side is Winnie gets no paid vacation time, so…
We spent this weekend getting Winnie ready for the trip. The big item was obtaining the Made-In-America things Chinese people most prize, to bring back as gifts:
- Fish Oil Pills: American-made fish oil pills is considered better quality than Chinese.
- American Ginseng: Considered better quality and cheaper than Chinese Ginseng.
- Powdered Milk: Chinese-made powdered milk is considered unsafe due to the lack of safety regulations like those here in the US.
Really makes me proud to be American.
We had to go up to Washington’s Chinatown to our favorite Chinese General Store and herbal pharmacy on Sunday to get the Ginseng, so we took the chance to have a nice lunch at my favorite noodle shop around the corner from the store. It made for a nice day’s outing at least.
Sunday night and last night we got Winnie packed. She managed to put all the gifts in the medium wheeled duffel bag she used for our European adventure last year, along with some of her clothing. I looked at the number of bottles of fish oil pills, packed around pouches of ginseng and powered milk, all tucked away in clothing, and pictured the bag going through a TSA x-ray machine. Good times.
Winnie packed the rest of her needed clothes in her venerable backpack, the same backpack she brought from China ten years ago and has used on every travel adventure since.
This morning I dropped Winnie off at the airport so she could fly the friendly skies back to China. She flew on United Airways, and not unsurprisingly her flight was delayed over one hour leaving Dulles. There’s a 15 hour layover in Beijing for the connecting flight to Nanning, so Winnie has plenty of time at least.
The good thing about Winnie flying home this time of year is that she hasn’t started her annual garden and I don’t need to worry about keeping her plants alive. But it’s a long three weeks of bachelorhood for me, no matter what time of year she travels.
I’m hoping next time Winnie goes back to China I’ll be able to go with her.
The Long Wait : The Two year’s wait between the time Winnie and I got married until she obtained her visa and joined me in America.
Exploring China : A photo gallery of our adventures in China.
Passed the Interview and On Her Way Here! : The story of Winnie gaining her visa at an American Consulate.