One of the often asked questions of me at parties and gatherings is from where we have just been back or when we would be going away, implying that friends have a perception that we travel a lot. Actually, that is not quite true. We did travel a bit more frequently in the beginning years of our married life, but then we have been away a lot less. Indeed, in the year before my last birthday, we were away for just over a month. Never mind, we can’t stop others forming views about us.
But we are actually going away for six weeks, starting tonight. With our bags packed to the brim and thunderstorms outside, I sat down wondering what would happen in the next six weeks.
I know very little about where we are going, except that we would be in France and Germany; we would stay out of the big cities; and we would try things most tourists won’t do. Su has been planning for the trip with another friend who would be driving with his wife and daughter; and we would stay for just under two weeks in my friend’s chateau, about three hours from Paris or four hours from La Rochelle where we had a great time a few years back.
For some time now, I have stopped travelling for the sake of sightseeing or going to places that I have never been to but because the place is there, or because many people have boasted about having been there and how wonderful, beautiful, marvelous, inexpensive or special those places are. Everything can be beautiful or otherwise in the eyes of the beholder; and to the enlightened, beauty is everywhere. I have enjoyed for example watching documentaries and National Geographic productions. Those people sent filming crews and feature writers to faraway rainforests and no man’s land where they would spend 12 to 15 months waiting for some exotic animals, birds or insects to appear from seemingly nowhere, or wait for the arrival of the next rainy season to change the landscape of the places and create or alter the habitats for those creatures. I always think these are very lucky and special people because they are in a way working with God.
Back to the present, Su and I took out our respective suitcases a week ago and began putting in them things we thought we would need, mainly clothes. Su had a check list and she had been detailed by our chef-cum-chauffer friend to pack certain items; while I waited till last night to start packing, spurning a chance to go to our favourite bar to watch how England got beaten.
The places we are going to would have morning and evening temperature differences of 15 degrees if not more; and we need to be prepared for the cooler ambiance in the wine cellars and the likely scotching mid-day sun on certain days, for after all, it is summer.
By now, you would probably realize that I am expecting a restful time seeing friends and spending time wining and dining. On the other hand, Su is not taking chances: she has been reading up literature on Bordeaux, Alsace and Lorraine, grapes growing and wine making, characteristics of various wines, the black forest and its habitats and inhabitants, among other things.
I have packed a log book for making notes; and I have dug out my mini iPad which I sparingly used, but which is now too slow for present day use, except for making notes here and there. I am not taking with me a lap top or a camera; and my main means of communicating with the outside world in the next six weeks is my Samsung Galaxy Note 4 which has been with me for four years and which again is becoming too slow for professionals and needs to be treated with respect.
On the other hand, I don’t expect Hong Kong or, for that matter, the world would change a lot in a few weeks; and people won’t probably notice that we are away, just as they didn’t notice that we weren’t away when we were next door. On that happy note, I would sign off and I hope to talk to you soon.