Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Cabin Fever

I have a love-hate relationship with Hong Kong. I’ve never really been at home here but there are so many advantages to living here that I feel like it’s the best place for us right now. One of the most appealing things about Hong Kong is its proximity to just about everywhere else. When I was 21 I went to Europe from Australia and I travelled for 3 days! My husband is currently in London; he left HK yesterday morning after breakfast and arrived not long after I went to bed. Since we’ve been here we’ve been to the States twice, Bali, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand, with countless trips back to Australia. My husband’s job makes it easy to travel, but Hong Kong is the gateway to a lot of countries that we would not be able to travel to without a lot of prior planning if we still lived in Sydney. For the first couple of years we were here I was travelling every 3 months or so and it was the ability to leave that made it possible for me to stay. While I was pregnant we had one trip back to Sydney but then I didn’t leave Hong Kong for 9 long months. It forced me to explore the place a bit more and to make deeper connections with friends here. I still didn’t love the place but I was definitely more comfortable here after my “confinement.” I was itching to leave as soon as J had a passport and in his short 8 months on the planet we have been to Australia twice.

It has only been about 6 weeks since we got back from our last trip but I am already feeling the need to get away again. I’m spending way too much time at home and so much about Hong Kong is bothering me at the moment. It doesn’t help that last month my husband went to Milan, with a side trip to Lake Como, and next month he’ll meet his sister in New York. At most he gets 48 hours in each destination but, wow, the things you can do in 2 days in a place like New York… Before J was born I had this fantasy that we’d do a lot of travel as a family while he was little. That was shattered the first time I flew to Sydney with him overnight. 9 hours in an economy class seat with a 4 month old on your lap and vomit in your hair do not make for a pleasant travel experience! He travels brilliantly to be fair and I’m sure he’d cope fine with a 16-hour flight and a 12-hour time zone change, but would I? I would love to travel more, my longevity in Hong Kong depends on it, but there’s one small issue. Hong Kong is not easy to leave. You need a passport to go pretty much anywhere else. You can’t really satisfy your craving for adventure with a road trip here, as the furthest you’d get is the Chinese border. Which is a problem for me because I don’t like flying. If you’re at all an anxious flier please don’t read on, as I’m about to confess something that might make matters worse for you. Since J was born and we’ve been travelling with him I’ve had the sudden realisation of what flying actually is. You’re suspended thousands of feet in the air in a plastic and metal cylinder with hundreds of strangers, in the hands of guys who are really just our husbands, brothers and dads. Sometimes you have to fly over the remotest, most isolated and inhospitable places on Earth to get to your destination. Knowing there’s an airport in Irkutsk brings me no comfort whatsoever. If I was ever on a plane that had to make an emergency landing in Siberia I can guarantee I would not be flying out of there, I’d be applying for Siberian citizenship. Either that or I’d have to be heavily sedated in a first class seat with access to A LOT of alcohol!

Maybe it’s this new realisation, or the simple fact that I’m now flying with my beautiful son attached to me by the world’s most pathetic excuse for a seatbelt, but the thought of getting on a plane for longer than a couple of hours fills me with dread these days. So, I’m left with a bad case of itchy feet and no way of scratching them. Does anyone know how long it would take me to get to Paris on a train…?

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