I left Beijing on Monday morning, starting what will be a full month of travel around South East Asia. I return to Beijing on July 22nd, giving me a few weeks before the youth ministry kicks back in for the year.
The air was terrible as I left Beijing. I’m accustomed to watching the city from that odd airborne angle as I fly in and out, albeit usually through a smog layer. This time the smog-fog was so thick I could barely see the airport itself. I flew through Shanghai, and on the way out saw the Bund area from the air. Later I also managed to recognise Hongkong from the air as we fly by to the west – I was really quite pleased with myself for that.
I have spent the last two days at the Juniper Tree at Dolphin Bay, Thailand. Christina and I are here for a week of holiday – just relaxing, unwinding. Neither of us can remember the last time we had a full week of down time like this. The first day I spent almost entirely in the pool, or lounging beside it reading a book.
Today I took a walk at the beach and played some Monopoly deal with Christina, but the rest of the day was spent in or by the pool. Tonight we jumped in at dusk, when the sky was a soft mauve/rose colour behind silhouetted palm trees. Sometimes the breeze carried the scent of frangipanis which blossom on several small trees around the pool. Small bats flew around, diving toward the water and at times skimming just above it. We assume they were chasing (and hopefully catching) some of the insects flying about.
Right now I’m sitting at the front of the property, where I can hear the ocean lapping the shore and see the green lights of fishing boats at work. The bay is very calm – the waves lap; they don’t crash – and below the high tide mark the sand is not so much sand as silt. It feels like the soft, fine mud deposited by floodwaters, soft as your feet squelch into it. There are several small islands close by, and lots of small fishing boats that anchor on shore above the low tide mark – they sit beached for much of the day.
It’s taken me a while to realise just how much I need this time away. It’s been a busy, busy year and I’m ending it quite spent. (For my southern hemisphere friends, my life now revolves around the northern hemisphere school calendar, so my year starts in August and ends in June).
I love love love all the things I’m doing. I love my kids, and spending time with them, and working on youth events, and travelling in south east Asia working with more kids. It’s all wonderful. I thoroughly enjoyed all the events I was part of. It never ends, though. The continual ongoingness wears on me after a while – and I took on a little too much in May anyway.
I’ve struggled to make the adjustment to my new life, with so much interaction and extroverted time. I work with people, I have flatmates again, and distance is no longer a reason to skip events or miss seeing people as it was when I lived in Langfang. I don’t want to change it – I love what I’m doing! – but I need to balance my life better. And, more importantly, I need help. Turning in on myself doesn’t restore my reserves; it isolates me from the support that sustains me.
To continue doing what I love, and do it longterm, I have to make some changes. Not sure what all of those are yet, but my hope is that I will return to Beijing with clearer ideas and the energy to put them into practice. My hope is that this trip will help me recharge enough to process the year that’s been, and refresh and renew me for another full year.