Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What did you do this summer?? - We followed our roots!

It was a cold morning in February of 2009, when Air Canada informed me that I would be demoted from their top tier of frequent flyers at the end of the month. In many respects it was a relief that I no longer kept a bag packed, and I was now eating more meals at home than in hotels and restaurants. My finger nails were intact, and the obsessive checking of my Blackberry had finally stopped. Seriously the phantom vibrations of imaginary messages haunted me for months after I stopped working. All good things aside however, the note from Air Canada put me into a sudden panic.

One of the hidden benefits of my work was that I accumulated huge amounts of frequent flyer miles. There were enough miles for Pat to meet me in exotic locales for the weekend and my kids always flew to and from school on dear old dad’s Aeroplan account. Now that I was getting kicked out of the frequent flyer club, the miles I still had in my account were about to become seriously devalued because non top tier Aeroplan customers have to compete for the very few reward seats, or be willing to pay 2-3 times the published number of miles to secure a seat closer to their liking. As a top tier flyer for a few more days, I could claim virtually any empty seat on an Air Canada flight so I became obsessed with the idea of spending as many miles as possible before the end of the month.

China seemed to be a logical place to go. It was far enough away to soak up a good chunk of miles, and I had a brother living in Shanghai so I had a place to land. When I considered that Pat had never been to China, despite having traveled extensively, the decision was clinched. And so as a result of a marketing e-mail from Air Canada extolling the virtues of becoming one of their second tier frequent flyers, a plan was hatched to spend the summer traveling throughout China. I would have a chance to show Pat a little of my heritage by visiting my father’s village, and the two of us would get to explore the wilds of Tibet. As an added bonus, I also decided do bring my mom along with us to act as a tour guide in the villages.

The pictures speak for themselves so I won’t waste many words describing the trip. Our itinerary was Florida to Toronto and then onwards to Shanghai. We spent a week in Shanghai resting up and playing tourist, and then we headed for Beijing, Tibet and Xian before returning to Shanghai. We stayed in Shanghai long enough to rest up from Tibet, do our laundry, complete some last minute shopping and then we headed south for Guangzhou and Kaiping. The final part of the trip was a weekend in Hong Kong, where we had a chance to play tourist for a few more days before our nearly non stop run back to Florida. I’m not sure what is more tiring, a 200 mile sail crossing of the Gulf of Maine in October, or 14 hour first class flight over the North Pole followed by another 3 hours in a commuter jet?

Anyway we are home after being out of the country for 6 weeks. We covered over 20,000 miles, using planes, trains and automobiles. We went from sea level to over 15,000 feet, and we visited places where the flies moved out because of the dirt, and we stayed in 6 star hotels. Since our return we have been holed up in Cape Coral Florida catching our breath and visiting with our friends Bob and Mary Ann whom we met in the Bahamas. They have been our saviors! Next week we will be off to help friends Richard and Connie, whom we met while going down the St. Lawrence River, deliver their Island Packet 485 home to Fort Lauderdale from the dealer in Palmetto. Pat and I are really looking forward to the trip. I just hope I don’t get boat envy and blow the RRSP for 4 or 5 more feet!!

The load of pictures in this posting is substantial. My advice is to take your time and not look at all of them in one sitting, or you might be a little overwhelmed. I apologize in advance if the albums look a little bit like a family outing, but in many respects that’s what this trip turned out to be. If you have any questions please ask.

Enjoy the pictures and have a great week!

I know I will!


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Toronto to Shanghai

Shanghai Shopping and Cruising


Solar Eclipse to Tibet

Xi'an - Land of the Terracotta Warriors and more

Guangzhou to Kaiping - Roots

Hong Kong - Home Stretch


Carol said...

Trip of a lifetime, congrats!
Carol & Helmut

Teren said...

Hey Addison, I am really enjoy looking at your pictures. Very nice. I hope I can visit China soon.


Pat & Addison said...

Hi Teren

Glad you are enjoying the pics. I certainly enjoyed taking them

David, Janine & William said...

Oh, Lucky Man (& Pat too)!
What a trip - gonna be hard to surpass this one. Where are you off to next?