Home > Homesickness, Uncategorized > Merry Christmas From a Lazy Traveler

Merry Christmas From a Lazy Traveler

Everyone is going to Hainan for the Christmas vacation. When I say everyone I mean double digits–the TA’s, my boss Dave, and a high number of lecturers with surf boards in tow. Hainan is an Island way way way south of here, close to Vietnam. To get there, one takes a train that, eventually, boards a ferry (yes, the train boards a ferry), that continues onto the beach side paradise for cocktails and some yuletide sunbathing.

I, however, after the shame and difficulty of getting my job back after copious misunderstandings and phone calls between my uncomprehending boss and middle-woman, Jocelyn, don’t feel like asking for another Saturday off from tutoring. So I’m glued to Zhuhai, and it looks like Brian and I have a good 10 hours of the final seasons of Six Feet Under accompanied by several different types of cake lined up for that day. I can’t shake the feeling, though, that after staying only in Zhuhai for the past two months with no fascinating excursions to speak of since the momentous mud-wrestling at Qiao island that I am a boring, boring traveler. In my dreams I see myself as a miserly Scrooge stealing lollipops from babies (I am not exaggerating). Christmas? Train rides? Sunny beaches? Bah humbug.

Something about getting on a crowded 13-hour train trip, though, with nearly all of my co-workers in my department, awkwardly skipping a Saturday that could be spent making money and giving a potentially really fun Christmas-oriented English lesson…I don’t know. Would you want to spend your Christmas taking a Chinese train trip with everyone you work and live with every day of the week? Or would you rather hang out with your gay boyfriend from another department, eat cake, and watch quality television? Although it seems like a logical explanation, I wonder if it’s just a rationalization of the anxiety that arises in me when I think about bus or train trips where I have to communicate in Chinese characters.

I confessed this fear to Stephen over squid and broccoli last night, and he said in that psuedo-guru way he has, “Well you know, it’d probably be good for you to do things that make you anxious. Let’s take some bus rides together next term, ok?”

Yes, I know. I know, Steve. Why do you think I watch horror movies? Why do you think I went camping in the freezing dessert with you? Why do you think I went skydiving? Why do you think I moved to China? Why do you think I do anything that I do? Because it’s all safely within my comfort zone?

Honestly, though, the funk and misery of my former homesickness has passed at last. I was again salivating over pictures of the Beijing summer palace that Wendy, my Chinese tutor from another one of the nearby Universities, showed me, instead of just covering my eyes and ears and reciting “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.”

“Zhe shi shenme?” What is this? I asked excitedly, my pitch getting higher, as I pointed at a picture of terraced tiles and dark blue, intricately painted and molded signs.

“This is Tunxi Old Street—it’s also in my home province Anhui!” Wendy said. She looked a little undone by studying for her finals, small and lithe with artificially lightened brown hair all askew.

“How old is it?” I asked her.

“Oh, just like…” she looked up, thinking, tapping her bottom lip with her finger, “2,000 years.”

Just, like, 2,000 years, she said. I was so excited about the book that she gave it to me to bring home and browse, to return after the spring festival in February. It’s not like my Lonely Planet travel guide. It isn’t just colored pictures, places to stay, and which bus line to take. It is a boring, intensive, historical detailing of all of the famous sites in China, and at this point I feel like reading the whole darn thing.

And to be fair, to myself, I bought a ticket to Bangkok for February 2, and a ticket back to Hong Kong from Kuala Lumpur for February 20.

So anxious that nonsense, suckahs!

I hope that, given circumstances in many of your lives, you are having a good holiday season. That you’re happy and spent some good time with family. It’s been a rough month for a lot of you. For those of you that are having some positive Christmas firsts (with baby, with marriage, etc.)—awesome. My thoughts are often with you.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

  1. Jo
    December 30, 2009 at 2:43 am

    Hello from Goodreads! I hope your Christmas was a Merry one after all! My hats off to you and best wishes for your recent move! A Blessed, healthy, prosperous & Happy New Year to you!

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