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Published: March 17th 2011
Tokyo in happier times
It was clear and cold when we passed through Tokyo but the signs of spring were there
I wasn't going to write about our winter holiday but changed my mind. It has been a while since I wrote anything and there were some noteworthy happenings during our visit to Canada, so here goes. Of course, the main reason for going back during the holidays instead of going south to warmer climates is the six grandchildren. Other family members are great too, but they know us (maybe too well). Maintaining the relationship with the grandchildren is important. Skype helps, but there is no substitute for being there.
Probably the most significant happening since I last wrote was Dianne's decision that this was her last year at Maple Leaf. It was a tough decision because she really enjoys her work and we have had a great time in China. But time marches on and she felt it was time to start on our next adventure, yet to be determined. The school year ends June 30 and we have some last minute travel plans so we expect to head back to Canada about July 11th. We leave with some reluctance but with many great memories. Winter Holidays
Getting home for winter holidays was not without its
An arresting thought
I wonder if they are serious?
own excitement. Air Canada had changed our itinerary from Dalian-Beijing-Vancouver-Calgary to Dalian-Tokyo-Vancouver-Calgary, Good thing we weren't planning to meet anyone in Beijing. Then they arbitrarily moved our return from a Thursday to a Friday. This meant we got home just one day before the start of second term. Hmmmmm.
The day we left was sunny and pleasant. A bunch of us met up at the airport and were all excited to be winging our way back to Canada. Except we sat on the plane at the gate. And sat. And sat. They kept announcing that we would be leaving "soon". We finally left a couple of hours late which put us into Tokyo at the time our connecting flight was leaving for Canada but we still had to go through customs. Not good as there is only one Air Canada flight a day to Vancouver. We were told the flight had been delayed because of "Air Traffic Delays" and, since it was not the airline's fault, we had to arrange our own hotel.
The Principal and his wife were on a JAL flight to Vancouver. They managed to get out before we did but still missed their connection
You wonder if the seafood is fresh?
This chap was preparing the eel for the lunch menu while sitting in the restaurant window. It was amazing to see the volume he could prepare.
in Tokyo. The Principal managed to convince JAL to put them on another flight. Amazingly, there was room on an Air Canada flight. They got our seats! They were told the Dalian airport had been shut down for commercial flights because of military operations. We had seen several fighters taking off and landing so the military must have needed the runways.
It did give us another day in Narita, the town around the Tokyo airport. It wasn't the way we had planned to spend the first day of our winter holiday but at least it was a gorgeous day. We toured the temple grounds (again) and managed to find a nice restaurant for lunch. It was actually very restful after a busy year end (for Dianne).
As I look over the pictures we took, I can't help but think of the thousands of people suffering from the effects of the recent earthquake and tsunami not to mention the problems at the nuclear plants. We are 1,000 miles from the site of the epicentre and all reports say there should be no "immediate effects of radiation from Japan's nuclear crisis." Home again
Back home, we managed to
We had lots of time to explore the area as our flight didn't leave until the next day.
spend time with all our grandchildren. Great fun. We are already looking forward to the summer when we can get them all on Pender again.
Our renovation project has been stalled by weather. Pender has had so much rain this year that our "lawn" is a quagmire. It's usually pretty wet in the winter but this year it is ridiculous. Two trees had to be removed for the renos but the tree guys couldn't cut them down because of the danger of fire in the fall. This also delayed the guys who had to build an access path to the house so the construction vehicles can get up to the house. They now have to wait until things dry out so they don’t lose anybody! We could be home before the renos even start.
We did manage a couple of weeks on soggy Pender but it was too cold to get the kayaks out. We had lots to do, especially cleaning up and storing the wood from the two trees.
One day when Dianne was filing some stuff she happened to notice her passport wasn’t where it should be. A search failed to find it. Calls to
Dianne wanted to try out her mini-tripod. Great subject.
the kids had the same result. This was not good. She determined what had to be done to replace it. The passport itself could be replaced fairly easily (it only takes money). The biggest problem was replacing the Chinese work visa. The whole process was going to cost nearly a $1,000., including a trip to Vancouver. But the night before we started the process, Dianne got a call from Christine (her emergency contact in the passport) telling her the RCMP in Edmonton had her passport. She apparently left it on a WestJet flight and it eventually got turned in to the RCMP. This was almost three weeks later! They kindly Express Posted it back to her. Moral: keep the address and contact information in your passport up to date.
But Dianne isn’t the only one who had a problem. I have this recurring dream where I lose my computer. While in Victoria, I visited a friend to show him an Excel spreadsheet I had been working on. When I opened my case, the computer wasn’t there. I was astounded that I had been so careless that I had left it at home. I decided I would get Dianne to
We are always amazed how we can find Illy coffee everywhere we go. Cappuccinos are one of our favourite treats when we travel.
email the spread sheet to me at my friend’s office. She couldn’t find my computer at home. Ack! My nightmare had come true. My computer was gone. But where was it? I have a computer backpack that I use for travelling and it is always very heavy. When I checked it, the computer was in the wrong partition of the pack. Although slightly embarrassed, I was also extremely relieved. Back to China
The trip back was pretty tame. Getting in at midnight after almost 24 hours on the road isn’t my idea of fun but at least we had a day to recover. Many of the teachers who went south to the sun returned Sunday evening and had to face classes the next day.
Dianne had the excitement of starting up the Grade 9 program again. She never knows how many students will show up for this special four month program. Sunday was spent determining how to split the classes and assign teachers. We have now been back three weeks and things are moving along pretty well.
The weather here continues to be mostly clear, cold and windy but there are signs of spring. However, one
with Claire and Lise
Visits are too short. Lise is taller than Grandma and Claire isn't far behind.
Sunday it was really nasty and we had a fair amount of snow. We had planned to meet a friend for supper to discuss an upcoming trip. We fought our way through the cold and snow and had a nice dinner at Susan’s Pizza (we have written about her restaurant before; she is the Chinese wife of Maple Leaf’s retired librarian). We thought it would be worth taking a cab home and asked Stan if he could call a taxi for us. “There will be one out front when you get there” he said. We paid our bill, bundled up and went outside. There was Stan with his car running. “If you had phoned and asked me to deliver dinner, I would have”, he said. “I’m still delivering dinner; it’s just that this time you have already eaten it”. Pretty cool.
We were not affected by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. It was over a thousand miles away and both Japan and Korea are between us and the epicentre. If a tsunami ever came from the south it could be a bit nasty here as we are close to the beach and the land is fairly flat.
with Maya and Jamie What’s next?
We got to spend time with Maya in her kindergarten class and I got to take Jamie to preschool. Lots of fun sharing time with the kids.
The biggest difficulty we have now is figuring out how we are going to fit all the travelling Dianne wants to do into the time left. Too many places, not enough time and money. But lots of fodder for future blogs. We think we will be able to get to Tianjin, Qingdao, Hong Kong and Macau, Xi’an (terracotta warriors), Beijing and Chengde. Plus a couple of "stay near home" vacation weekends in Dalian. It’s a tough life but somebody’s got to live it.
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