This time next week Brett and I will be getting ready to check out of our Portland Airbnb to begin our journey to India for a seven-day tour of the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra and Jaipur). In the late morning we’ll move YaYu over to one of her friend’s home for a week’s stay (followed by a stay with a second friend for a few days before heading back to Pennsylvania), and then WenYu, Brett and I will go to the airport to turn in our car and get ready for our flights out of Portland: to Boston for WenYu, and Vancouver, B.C. for Brett and me. Meiling will head back to Eugene next Saturday, to get ready to start her final term of college on Monday morning.
Brett and I had originally planned to drive up to Vancouver from Portland and be there in time to catch our late-night flight, but ended up deciding to fly because 1) we really didn’t want to drive that distance (5+ hours); 2) we were worried about possible delays at the border when driving (sometimes they happen which could throw off everything); and 3) the paperwork for taking a rental car across the border was more detailed than we imagined – one wrong thing and we wouldn’t cross the border. The flight from Portland will put us in Vancouver a little less than six hours before the flight to Delhi (through Taiwan), but we are pros these days at managing long airport layovers. The layover will give us plenty of time to pick up our bags from the first flight, exit customs in Vancouver and then re-enter the airport to check the bags with the airline that will be carrying us to India. We’ll have dinner in the airport as well during our wait. One good thing this time too is that our suitcases should be a little lighter.
We had a good time meeting Meiling’s boyfriend this past week and give him two thumbs up. We all got together for Chinese food on Thursday evening and let Meiling and K order. Everything they chose was delicious, especially since they had the good sense not to order the duck’s tongue entrée (they are more adventurous eaters than the rest of us). We feel K is a very good fit for her. He currently lives and works in New York City (as a software engineer at a very well-known tech company) so for now they only see each other every couple of months, but she is planning on moving to NYC to work after she graduates next June. They will be spending a week with us in Japan at the end of March.
Our suitcases may be lighter leaving Portland, but I’m not sure that Brett or I are leaving lighter than when we arrived. Unlike other locations during our travels we have had a car here, and combined with the rain and the gloom, and the distances between our Airbnb and places we’ve needed to be, we have made good use of it and done little to no walking. We have been eating more than we usually do because of the family being together and the holiday, and that combined with a lack of exercise has meant we’ve both gained weight, even with Brett being sick for a few days. So, we are looking forward to eating less and doing more walking again in the next several months. I’m more than a little bit worried though that I might be too big for my warm weather clothes that I’ll need in Australia and New Zealand.
This morning I am:
- Reading: I still haven’t been reading anything, or at least not any books. There’s too much activity in the house during the day, and at night I fall asleep quickly. Although I’ve found it hard to read when I’m traveling because my mind is so full of all that I’m seeing and doing, I’m still giving myself a goal to read 30 books next year. First book of the year will be the new Ian Ranking thriller!
- Listening to: The girls are still asleep and Brett is reading something so it’s very, very quiet here this morning. And I mean quiet. There are no chickens or roosters, no lawn equipment, no birds singing and no dogs barking – all the things we used to live with as constant background noise on Kaua’i, where we lived with the windows open 7/24/365 (I still miss Kaua’i though).
- Watching: We haven’t been watching a whole lot of TV here, but we watched a wonderful film, Lion, last night. It’s the true story of an Indian boy who became accidentally lost and separated from his family at age five and was eventually adopted by a family in Australia. With the little he remembered he searched for years and eventually found his home village in India and was reunited with his birth mother and sister 25 years later. It was an amazing story and film – I can’t recommend it enough. YaYu also loves to watch cooking shows so I joined her to watch a few of those, but mostly I’ve stayed busy with things around the house and/or running errands.
- Cooking/baking: We are working diligently now to eat up everything we bought before we depart at the end of the week. Our Christmas ham is almost finished, and tonight we’re finishing up the big chicken pot pie we bought at Costco. I sent some things back to Eugene with Meiling the other day but we’ve still got several things to finish up and then whatever’s left over after that will go to Eugene with her when she goes back on 1/5 (she’s coming back to Portland tomorrow).
- Happy I accomplished this past week: We had a lovely Christmas and everything came together perfectly. Brett and I had sort of forgotten how much more work we used to do when the girls were around, but we’ve managed to keep up with all of the cleaning, laundry, cooking, recycling and composting. I got a much-needed pedicure and can once again stand to look at my feet. We have a busy week coming up with lots of small tasks that need to be taken care of, but we’ve made a list of everything so hopefully nothing gets forgotten before we set off again.
- Looking forward to next week: I am getting together with two more friends for coffee next week and can’t wait to see them and set the world straight again. I’m also excited about the release of the new Ian Rankin book tomorrow and looking forward to diving into it, no matter how tired I am! We are going out for pizza on the 4th to celebrate the girls’ birthdays since we’ll be on the road when those happen, and then will come home to have cake and open presents. I have to admit I am also somewhat looking forward to getting packed up again (well, not the actual packing part) and getting back on the road, although I feel sad when I think about saying goodbye to the girls, especially since it will be a while since we see them all again.
- Thinking of good things that happened: I somehow never caught the stomach bug that took everyone else down last week (or should I say it never caught me). Usually I am the first to get sick, so I feel very lucky to have been spared this time, and it was a good thing to have one healthy person operating in the house. Everyone is well again though. One of the Portland restaurants on my bucket list before we left in 2014 was Andy Ricker’s PokPok (Thai food), but time got away from us and I never ended up getting to eat there. However, just up the street from our Airbnb here is the PokPok wing shop which sells the most popular item from the PokPok menu, and this past week I got my first taste when WenYu brought home a box. They were hands down the most delicious chicken wings I have ever had – we are going back again before we leave!
- Thinking of frugal things we did: We had several no-spend days this past week other than going out to eat, and otherwise spent very little money. Both of our meals out cost less than we budgeted too so we were able to bring our daily spending average down.
- Grateful for: YaYu has a long winter break from Bryn Mawr and doesn’t go back for nearly two weeks after we depart, but her two best Portland friends also have long breaks from their schools, and their families stepped up to host her and will get her on the plane back to Philadelphia later in the month. We’re so thankful because we know they will take good care of her, and she and her friends will have a great time catching up and being together. I am also very thankful for the time to get together with friends while we’re here – I have missed them so much! Finally, I have been thinking lately about our four years on Kaua’i, and how lucky we were to live there, and grateful we had that opportunity.
- Bonus question: Do you have plans for New Year’s Eve? We are probably the dullest couple/family when it comes to New Years, and as always, we don’t have anything special planned for this year. The girls will all be here with us, but I’m still not sure if any of them have plans to get together with friends and do something (probably not as they would have said something by now). So, I have no idea what we’ll do other than we’ll all stay up and welcome in the new year together. Brett and I have never gone out on New Year’s Eve – we’ve always preferred having a quiet celebration at home. Anyway, I’m thinking of cooking a nice dinner, we’ll watch a movie together and play games together, greet the new year and then head for bed. It’s not very exciting, but it works for us!
From the bottom of my heart, a big THANK YOU to all my readers for coming along for the ride in 2018. Wishing all good things for all of you in 2019. I’ll see you next year!