Close to the eve of Wu Yuren having been in detention for close to 8 months, I decided that a travel break outside of China was in the cards … it has been a tough crawl for both of us, especially that the law does not allow family visits to detainees until after the sentencing. We sort of thought, expected (hoped?) that the sentencing would come sooner than later, and that the second half of the trial would not have taken close to 2.5 months re-convene. But, we were not so lucky. Why not head to Thailand and get away from it all? So, we did.
We left right after the second trial date, in the afternoon of January 28th and it was such a relief to just get on that airplane and zoom down to Hong Kong, our first stop on our 3.3 week trip. Basically, HK was about seeing a friend in Discovery Bay and visiting Disneyland. Funny, but the flight was overall cheaper to go through HK with Dragon Air and Cathay than to fly straight from Beijing to Bangkok. So, we also did some camera shopping and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly at Disneyland. We were there for 9 hours and took in as much of the rides and shows and fun as we could – we even bought the ears and had our names engraved on the back (just like THE Mickey Mouse Club from the 60s and 70s, Annette would have been proud!). I was also surprised that Hannah endured the 9 hours without once asking to go home or complain that she was tired. Of course, she wondered what it would have been like if her baba was with us.
Over to Thailand, where we stayed exactly three weeks and had a blast in the different areas and hotels we stayed in: Bangkok Boutique Hotel (one night); Royal River Kwai Resort and Spa (4 nights, awesome swimming pool!); Asia Hotel (4 nights, convenient for transport within Bangkok); Lom Lae Beach Bungalows on Koh Yao Noi (8 nights, a special spot, not very touristy); Imperial Adamas Beach Resort and Spa (4 nights, close to airport on Phuket Island, amazing pool). I suggest you go to http://www.latestays.com to pick up some last minute deals on accommodation, not just Thailand.
During our trip, we just hung out and did as little as possible. As long as there was water and a deck lounge chair, Hannah and I were happy – I read books while Hannah swam. Of course, we did some day trips and saw some interesting things, such as bathing/swimming with elephants and the Gibbon Rehabilitation Center, and boat trips, snorkeling, etc. But, generally, for me, it was important to really not been engaged with the internet (facebook, email, twitter, Wu’s blog, etc) and to have very minimal contact on my cell phone, which I left open to receive a text from the lawyer if there was any news about Wu’s case. In fact, it was quiet as there was no new news at all about Wu’s case, no sentence, etc.
How did leaving China affect Hannah and I? For me, it was great to get away, unwind and to think about things without major Beijing life distractions. I think for Hannah too, but for slightly different reasons. In her mind it was just about seeing new things, meeting new friends, and the like, as you do when on holidays at 6 years old. However, she was very clingy to me, and would walk on the outside of us if we were walking down a small road, saying, “Mom, I don’t want you to get hit by a car, because how would I get back to Beijing and Baba is in jail”. Cute, but also shows an underlying fear of being left behind, or abandoned by her other parent. Also, she brought along a small note book and everyday she would draw pictures of what she did, saw, ate, all as a record to eventually show her Baba when he is released and she can be with him. The book was for him, not for me. It was great to see her committed to including him in our trip vis-a-vis her little notebook and drawings. Not a day goes by really when he isn’t mentioned or referred to by her, regardless of what is going on in our lives. Life goes on, but in small ways he is still very much a part of her world.
Back to Beijing and we are now back to our routine. I am very well rested and ready for the next phase of what shall come our way. Hannah is at school, second semester of grade one and I am in between closing down all of my small businesses and looking for work either in Asia or back in Canada. I have also applied for an MA in Intercultural and International Communications, starting hopefully in September, 2011, a 2 year online program.
Stay tuned. Enjoy some photos.