My month in the US ended with an evening flight on Christmas Day. My family were all catching up after Christmas anyway, so I got to celebrate Christmas TWICE – on two different continents.
I saw quite a few friends in San Diego, mostly people I had known in Beijing, but also an Australian friend who lives in Mexico. I especially enjoyed the view from Fletcher Cove Park – the Pacific Ocean, albeit the wrong side.
I had only one day in San Francisco, but my friends helped me pack a lot in! Particularly special was a visit to the Napa Valley and the winery my friend works at. It is a beautiful area, and the wines we tasted were lovely, too. The most special thing of all, though, was spending time with great friends I hadn’t seen in so long.
I had a lovely time in Seattle, Washington. It was an amazing whirlwind of visiting with friends from all my years in Beijing. I also saw Gas Works Park, seaplanes, the Space Needle and deer casually sauntering around a suburban neighbourhood.
A good month before leaving Australia for my US trip I was dreaming of Orlando. I knew that this place would be the rest my soul desperately needed. I spent a week of unhurried days with people who were key figures of my daily life in Beijing. I also spent time birdwatching the wetland wildlife, marvelled at Spanish moss covered trees, and enjoyed a bit of warm weather.
I really enjoyed my time in Minneapolis. It was lovely to relax with wonderful friends. Minnesota is known as the land of 10,000 lakes; after driving around Minneapolis I believe it! Minneapolis has 20 lakes, plus other waterways and waterfalls and wetlands, and sits across both banks of the Mississippi River. One interesting sight during my trip was a bunch of turkeys roaming a suburban street!
Throughout this trip I’ve had reunions with people I haven’t seen in years, but my New York reunions were the most impressive. I also did some touristing, seeing the New York Highline, Chelsea Markets, Times Square and the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree.
I came to the US to be in my best friend’s wedding. Christina and I met in Beijing; she met her now husband, who is from Nigeria, in Cambodia; they got legally married in Thailand; then we we all together to celebrate their church wedding in the US. Confused yet? There were guests from Sydney (me), London, Abuja (Nigeria), and I think 7 different US states. It was a wonderful time.
This was my first trip to the East Coast of the US in 18 years – since my family lived in Connecticut in 1996-1997. There were so many memory triggers! Tall oak trees; wood-clad houses; tall, sloping rooves with attic windows; squirrels bouncing around; lakes and ponds with frozen tops. I spent the last two nights in a house first built over 250 years ago.
My first stop was Los Angeles, where I spent a day visiting with China friends. It was a gorgeous day – the air was so clear I could see the Hollywood sign. A week later, the whole day seems almost like a dream – did it really happen?
The Yu Gardens, one of the most famous tourist attractions in Shanghai, were built nearly 450 years ago. I visited three times between 1999 and 2012; my parents also went in March 1983. I very much enjoyed Yu Yuan – there is so much to find and see and take in. It is a lovely, peaceful place with lots of history.
Tiantan is a large temple complex and one of my favourite tourist spots in Beijing. I’ve seen it in dusted with snow, full of blossoms, shrouded by pollution, and sparkling in sunlight. I love the peaceful stands of trees, the beautiful old temples, and also the chaotic noise of many groups of (usually older) people doing exercises or enjoying music together.