Friday 8th January 2010

Adventures of a Tai Tai: Snowmageddon?

After spending last Christmas in Hong Kong my husband and I were really looking forward to a Christmas at home in the United Kingdom. I had it all planned in my head, cozy pub dinners by a cracking fire, excellent yuletide television shows and of course, lots of lovely pressies. As usual it didn’t all quite go according to plan.

This year in the UK we were fortunate unfortunate enough to have a white Christmas. My husband and I arrived back into Heathrow after a 14-hour flight only to be told that our connecting flight to Manchester had been cancelled. Was any further information available? I asked. “No.” Would we get a refund? I asked. “You can try.”

Things only got worse. Our baggage took over two and a half hours to appear off the flight (quite shocking given that we were on the first flight into the UK at 04:30 in the morning) and then we were pretty much left to our own devices to try and find our way from London to Manchester in the sleet and snow. “Welcome back”, I commented to my husband. Luckily we had lived in London for over 8 years before moving to Hong Kong so we know how to escape the city, but there were many people in the airport that day who had as much idea about their onward journey as Charlie Sheen does of maintaining a healthy relationship. As usual, all airline representatives had disappeared and, if ignorance is bliss, Heathrow was comfortably occupied that day by the inhabitants of an Eden utopia. “Poor souls” I remarked to my husband as we made a hasty exit before acquiring any clingers-on.

We finally arrived at our destination eleven hours after landing in the UK, as opposed to the planned two and a half. At one time my husband and I would have had no problems coping with the inefficiency but after spending nearly three years in Hong Kong we are now used to exemplary service. When landing in Hong Kong, we really do pass through customs, collect our luggage and find ourselves at home within one hour. Britain, unfortunately, had let the side down once again.

Luckily for us, however, after our 28 hour door-to-door journey my mother in law was there to greet us with a cup of tea, “Oh you poor things, don’t worry, have a nice cup of tea and everything will be fine” (I kid you not.)

Once I had recovered from the turmoil, it was great to catch up with friends and family. The presents that I had been looking forward to were there as expected but, unfortunately, we received quite a lot of big items that we couldn’t fit in our suitcase and had to give away. Upon returning to Hong Kong and sharing this information with our friends, it transpires that this is a common expat problem. My husband, however, had a solution to said problem. Luckily for him many of his presents had been edible and in order to avoid leaving anything behind he had successfully managed to eat his way through a 1kg jar of jellybeans, two boxes of chocolates and a packet of festive pork pies in just three days. I was so proud.

This year we were also inundated with Christmas cards. I personally don’t bother sending them. I would pretend that it’s because I am striving to save the environment but the real reason is that I have never truly bought into the process of sending the same messages, to the same people, year after year. In the past I have considered giving out cards with self-addressed return envelopes so that I can receive them all back after Christmas and redistribute them the following year, but my husband has assured me that applying the principles of lean sigma to seasonal greetings is not quite in the spirit of Christmas. The cards we did receive this year though were quite lovely. The current trend at the moment is to send cutesy cards that are covered in glitter. Some of my friends even added additional glitter and Christmas tree shaped confetti in the envelope, so that when I opened their card the joy of Christmas fluttered into the room like fairy dust. Just lovely. How did I spend my Christmas? Vacuuming.

As for the television? I’m afraid this too was a let down. The best program of a bad bunch was an hour long documentary about an exploding Sperm Whale on the streets of Taiwan in 2004… again, I kid you not.

Jokes aside, we did have a great time and were genuinely sad to say goodbye to our friends, many of whom we will not see for another year, (I have to say this in case they read my blog). My faithful readers reader may be wondering if my mum liked her novelty chopsticks. She didn’t. She did, however, love her handbag ;)

Happy New Year to you all, here’s to an exciting 2010! A Year, incidentally, that will see my husband and I move to Singapore, but I’ll tell you all about that next week.

Read the full article: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/jan/30/china

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