Being in the Eastern hemisphere has it’s benefits. Specifically, whenever someone comes into town (town being anywhere in East Asia) I am promptly informed, my presence is inquired after, and advice is sometimes sought. The truth of the matter is, if a person means a lot to me, and they are within an 8 hour flight, I might actually go visit them. Even if it is just for a day.
I might not be able to see you on your trip to Korea or Malaysia or India, because of various factors, but it is certain that if you find yourself in Hong Kong, you have a couch to sleep on (it pulls out) and a friend with whom to have dinner.
With that in mind, I heard a few months ago that my college roommate was going to Beijing for a family vacation.
I went to Beijing in May for the great wall (half) marathon, and enjoyed it immensely. I even had dinner with my roomie’s sister who lives there (best Peking duck I’ve had). I was slightly torn–four hour flight for a 2 day visit to a place I had already seen.
Then I thought about it: I lived with her for three years, she is amazing and wonderful, and I had only seen her for a couple hours in the past two years. It was over. I bought tickets, booked a day off of work, and crashed the family vacation.
It was the best decision I made all summer. I make lots of good decisions, this was just an exceptional one.
We met up after my late taxi from the airport, went clubbing in San Li Tun with her sisters, had a family meal talking about Zimmerman, went to hutongs to buy jewelry and explore bike equipment, enjoyed vegan smoothies, had lengthy massages, and shopped for cheap knock off handbags with their Mandarine skills. It was the Beijing of expats, of people who have lived there for years, of people who lived their 20 years ago, and of two who were just visiting.
Beijing is a wonderful city for that. You can discover new things every day, you can relax and eat and meander. I tell people I wouldn’t live there–because of the pollution, the lack of outdoor space, the traffic–but I also tell them how much there is to discover. I love visiting Beijing, and I can actually see myself taking more trips there.
A whirlwind trip to see people I love: always worth it.