Sunday, March 29, 2015

An American in Paris part 5

I'm going to Paris on Tuesday. Everything's set. We have the visas and a place to stay. Instead of a hotel out in the middle of nowhere, we'll be staying at an apartment on the Île Saint-Louis right in the middle of the city. According to the maps, this apartment is close to a lot of the big sites, including the Louvre, the Latin Quarter and Luxembourg Garden. And it's right next to Notre Dame and the Bastille. I have no idea what the apartment's like, but it seems to be a great location.

That's a pretty good deal as far as I'm concerned, but there's some icing on this cake. Instead of getting packed into the plane like cattle, we'll be flying business class. This is essentially a business trip, so that makes sense.

Since moving to Hong Kong, I've flown to a few places. One of the benefits of living in a place like Hong Kong is the easy accessibility to East Asia. I've been lucky enough to fly from Hong Kong to Shanghai, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Tokyo, Bali and probably somewhere else. Each of those flights was much shorter from Hong Kong than it would have been from home. And every one of them was in economy class.

If you're flying from Hong Kong to Fuzhou, it really doesn't matter. But Hong Kong to Paris is a pretty long day. Flying to Rome was not my favorite experience in the world. Rome is great, but that's a long trip in last class. Business class, I assume, makes all the difference in the world. It's an overnight flight, so it might be nice to actually get some sleep on the plane and not arrive as tired as Donald O'Connor after making us laugh.

When I come back, I'm sure I'll have something to say about it.

À la prochaine les blogueurs.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

An American in Paris part 4

This Paris trip will definitely interfere with my micro trips to Fuzhou. Ryan doesn't mind. He recognizes that the Paris trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We almost went to Paris when we went to Rome, so he knows how much I want to go. Getting paid to go there is even better, as far as he's concerned.

Of course, this means we won't see each other for a month. Even longer when you include time before and after the trip. He can't exactly come out to visit me while I'm there, so we have to go back to talking on Skype and the phone instead of seeing each in person. We've done that before, so I'm sure we'll survive. Ryan's biggest fear, he says, is that I won't want to come back. If I stay in Paris permanently, it would be a lot harder for us to see each other. I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen. I like the idea of living in Paris, but I don't like the idea of being homeless there and eating out of garbage cans. My job is in Hong Kong, so that's where I live.

Lily is another story. She's not at all used to being away from Kevin. They have never lived in different cities, let alone different countries. It will be a lot harder for her to stay celibate for a month than it will for me. Kevin worries that she'll find some charming French guy who sweeps her off her feet. I think that's about as likely as Ryan's fear that I'll stay in Paris. Lily & Kevin have been together for a very long time. It will take more than some stud with an accent to steal her away. But I suppose a temporary tryst isn't out of the question. Maybe if he has a friend, I won't tell Kevin about it.

That's also a joke, obviously. He'd have to have a friend and give me a job in Paris to keep me quiet.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

An American in Paris part 3

Packing for a month long trip is never easy. Lily says we should just buy clothes while we're there. That's not really something my bank account thinks I should consider. I'm sure Paris has plenty of great clothes, but most probably are not compatible with Hong Kong's climate. I'm sure clothes made by a professional French couturier cost a little more than clothes made by children in some Chinese sweatshop somewhere. That's a joke, of course. Most of the clothes here are made in Vietnamese sweatshops.

There's also the issue of language. I studied French in high school, but I'm pretty sure the people of Paris don't sound anything like the old worn out CDs we had in the language lab. If everyone talks with subtitles, I'll be ok, but if they talk as fast as they do in movies, I'm screwed.

Lily is from Canada, so she thinks she can speak French. But she's from Winnipeg, not Quebec. There are more Native Americans in Winnipeg than French. More people in Winnipeg speak an Asian language than French. I've been told by a few French people that Canadians are hard to understand when they speak French anyway. It's like when Americans go to England.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

An American in Paris part 2

Going to Paris for a month certainly sounds like a good idea, but I have a job. Fortunately, April is an easy time of the year to get some time off. The big New Year rush is long gone and summer is months away. Ryan & I actually took our first vacation in April. We didn't even want to. They made us take the days off, so we went to Macau. Macau is nothing special and there are plenty of better places to go in China, but I'll always remember it as the first place I went to from Hong Kong.

It also helps that I've been at my job for 4 years now. That's not really a long time, but it's long around here. Most of the people I work with stay for a year or two. Foreigners are lucky to make it past a full year. Not that they get fired – although some do. The main problem is adapting to the new culture. A lot of people think it will be a great adventure, but too many can't handle how different everything is. If you want to live the life you lived in Canada or Australia, don't come to China. It's not the same.

Monday, March 16, 2015

An American in Paris part 1

Speaking of trips to other countries, I'm going to Paris next month. How that happened is a pretty long story, and I'm sure I'll get into it sooner or later, but for now I'm concentrating on what I need to do before I go.

Lily & I are getting paid to go for a month. Since it's for work, we need visas. Even people who work there temporarily need visas. If we were just going as tourists, we could stay there for 3 months without any kind of visa, but to work, we need temporary work permits. So there's all that paperwork to deal with.

There's also a question of where to live. Housing will be provided for us, but at this point, I don't know where it is or whether we'll be staying in a hotel or an apartment. I assume an apartment is cheaper for the month, but I don't really know. I also assume that wherever we stay, it will probably be on the outskirts of the city or in some suburb somewhere. Anything for a month in the heart of Paris has to be expensive. That means it will take longer every time we want to go into town, but I can't complain. I'm getting paid to go to Paris.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

One Day At a Time part 6

I'm going back to Fuzhou on Sunday. I think I'm getting used to these tiny overnight trips. I remember the first time I went to Fuzhou. It was my first trip to Mainland China. Everything about it was new and strange to me. The Fuzhou airport is nothing like Hong Kong Airport, and just walking the streets of Fuzhou feels like you're in a different country. The signs are all in the same language, but the atmosphere is different.

Now it's almost routine. Going to China is like hopping a flight from Minneapolis to Chicago. Almost. I've been to several other Chinese cities, but now I've been to Fuzhou more than the rest of them combined. It's still a strange little city, but it's familiar. If I ever go back to Shanghai, I'll probably get that feeling that I'm in some new exotic place. But Fuzhou will never feel exotic again.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

One Day At a Time part 5

Since I have the day off tomorrow, I'm going to Fuzhou again. It's another tiny one night trip, but I knew about it far enough in advance that I was able to book a hotel. It's a lot cheaper to stay at Ryan's house, but it's also a lot more crowded.

He likes staying at my apartment whenever he comes to Hong Kong. That's because he gets along with my roommates and has a bit of a crush on Lily. I don't especially like staying at his house whenever I go to Fuzhou. I think his roommates act too much like teenagers. It's not that they're old. They're all pretty much our age and they've all been living there for a while, but they act like they're away from mommy & daddy for the first time.

At a hotel, Ryan & I can have far more privacy than we ever get at his house. I've said it before and I'll probably say it a million more times, but privacy is of the utmost importance when you're in a long distance relationship. Lily & Kevin see each other every day. They share a bedroom. They can live in sin like there's no tomorrow. Ryan & I live in different countries, more or less. We have to get on a plane to see each other. After I've gone through all the airport hassles and a hundred Chinese people manhandling my passport, I want to do things with my boyfriend that I can't do with 4 teenagers listening at the door. In a hotel room, I can go 50 shades of red on his ass.

Monday, March 2, 2015

One Day At a Time part 4

I'm taking another mini trip to Fuzhou tomorrow. The plan is to go more often, but that New Year interfered. Now that it's mostly over, I should be able to go more often.

I'll have to stay at Ryan's house again. We didn't book a hotel in time. The downside to taking these shorter trips more often is that there is a lot less time to book anything. Plane tickets are pretty easy. Hong Kong Airlines and Dragonair have several flights a day from here to there. Hotels require a little more advanced notice, especially in Fuzhou.