In our lives BC (Before China) our main holiday was 2 weeks (and sometimes if lucky) 3 weeks Eurocamping in France, and in 2013 France and Switzerland. We went to France a couple of times in between and once before Eleanor we went to Sweden and South Africa. We even managed skiing with friends in Austria, but Europe was really as far as we ever got. But now that we are in China there are endless possibilities. Australia in the summer was somewhere we had thought we would never be able to visit, certainly not altogether because of a)the cost and b) the flight time but as Shanghai is an international hub you really can go anywhere.
I had laid the gauntlet down by stating very firmly that we would not be staying in China over Chinese New Year. Last year none of us got a full night’s sleep because of the endless firecrackers at all times of the day and night. I have since read that to survive China during CNY you should sleep when it is quiet no matter the time of day/night. So having said last year why don’t we go to Borneo, we didn’t. Eleanor and I were going skiing and returning into China on Chinese New Year day and to do a turn around was impractical as it was just too expensive on one salary. Flying anywhere at CNY is like going on holiday in August in the UK when all the schools are off. You pay a premium.
So we decided to go this Chinese New Year, though we didnt quite book our flights well in advance… We booked our flights in January with Eleanor and I having a stopover in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of nights. Eleanor and I flew out earlier as Martin was at ISCMS (international schools choral music society) in Zhuhai with students and his viola until the Sunday after we broke up on the Friday so in order to keep down the cost it was cheaper for us to go separately and stay until Martin arrived three days later!
It was also nice to get away as it had got down to -8 before we left Suzhou, the coldest it has been in decades. So going to temperatures of 30+ degrees centigrade was lovely!!!
Chinese New Year is lunar. So our holidays have to be worked around that. It meant that between coming back at the start of January to the start of our holiday for CNY was four weeks. We return to school on 15th February for a few more weeks before a week off in April for “Tomb Sweeping”. Sadly it does not coincide with Easter this year. Next year CNY is even earlier so it could mean only a couple of weeks between Christmas and CNY.
So why Borneo? Well my cousin has been a couple of times and on the last visit she gave Eleanor a stuffed Orang Utan. (You know a toy!) We were very original with his name and called him Borneo (most of her stuffed toys have the names of people who gave the toy (Norman for example) so we decided to branch out and call the toy after the place where he came from. We also said we would try to go and show Eleanor exactly where he came from. And when we landed the China job we said that Borneo would be on our list.