This month has been anything but ordinary, and so I found myself scratching my head while listing down the ordinary joys I had experienced. Let me just begin by saying April has been magical; our visit to Disneyland Hong Kong was extraordinary. Disney theme parks are creativity in motion. Sometime around Christmas, last year, my husband and I were planning our vacations for 2018, and while Japan was on top of our list, after much deliberation we closed on Hong Kong, a visit to Disney being the main highlight of this trip. None of us had been to a Disney theme park before, and hence it would be a first-time experience for all. I’m not a big fan of man-made wonders (the Burj Khalifa doesn’t do anything for me) when on holiday I prefer the open ocean, crisp mountain air, national parks, or vineyards. But somehow, just somehow, Disneyland was different, and it may have something to do with a childhood dream coming true.
My Hypotheses: In order to enjoy the ordinary, one must be light-hearted, thankful, and forgiving.
NO PLAN. Family vacations call for being light-hearted so that everyone gets to enjoy the way they think best.
Sometimes you just know when things are going to turn out right. So when our plane began its descent into Hong Kong and I looked out of my window I was in awe: the Hong Kong -Zhuhai-Macau bridge a 55-km crossing consisting of three cable-stayed bridges and an undersea tunnel linking three cities (scheduled to open to traffic sometime in 2018), sprawling across the blue waters, caught my breath. I could see tiny islands in the water, small stretches of white sand beach, and skyscrapers in the distance. A perfect mix of natural and man made! I’d heard, and read about the city’s dramatic skyline but this view was much more.
After our short beach vacation the previous month where my husband was glued to his laptop and phone, I had nearly given up on spending any quality time as a family in HK. But like I said earlier, this month was extraordinary and so was my spouse. He did work a little but that was when Lil Z and I were knocked out for the night. Next came the fabulous weather HK had to offer. The first night we stayed at a friend’s place, and I could not stop talking about how lucky they were to have seasons other than summer. I’m not sure if they got why I was making such a big fuss about the temperature holding between 13-20 C. I guess you have to live in Bangkok to understand that tiny piece of truth.
For this holiday, with some help from my friend who’s an explorer and has done a fair bit of discovering the city he now lives in, we made a simple list of places we should visit. My husband was surprised I didn’t have any printouts of the finer details of this list in my bag. The only thing I had planned was that this trip would be divided equally between grownup activities and toddler-friendly fun. Lil Z has always been a great traveler and makes it pretty easy for us to have an enjoyable holiday.
On the first day of our trip, I was pleasantly surprised to find a Bubba Gump and that too at the Peak: the highest point in HK. I was unaware that they had one outside of the US. You see, if I had done my usual holiday research, this Forrest Gump movie inspired seafood restaurant with spectacular panoramic views of the Victoria harbour, would have been on top of my must-visit list, and I would have probably made reservations before getting there. Small surprises can brighten the day too. We stuffed our faces with the delicious, large portions of food we were served; I must confess, I wasn’t keeping a check on the unhealthy food intake on this trip. We did manage to get 10k steps every day, but that wasn’t intentional.
This trip took me back to my childhood summer holidays when my mother took me to visit the zoo located on the other side of the city, and we had to use the double-decker BEST bus to get there. I saw a similar sense of excitement plastered on my daughter’s face when she sat in the first row on the upper deck of the bus to Stanley island. We were warned about this hour-long, stomach-churning ride along winding mountainous roads, but my little one didn’t seem to care. Instead, she was happily offering me her support and every time I checked on her to see if she was alright, she assured me there was nothing to be afraid of. My belly did a flip flop each time the driver took a sharp turn, but her little giggles calmed me down. That night when we got back to the hotel she gave me a few tips on how I should combat my fear when we sat on the roller coaster at Disneyland the following day. She promised to hold my hand, and she did just that when we sat in the Toy Soldier Parachute Drop ride (she didn’t fulfill the minimum height requirement for a real roller coaster ride after all).
The long waiting lines didn’t deter her from sitting on every possible ride meant for her age, not once but twice. Her little eyes twinkled with delight when she saw Goofy in the flesh. But the fascinating bit was to see the eagerness in my husband’s stride; he was equally kicked about all the grownup rides. I saw a childish fascination in his eyes, I guess that’s the Disney effect, it awakens the sleeping child in you. Lil Z couldn’t stop thanking us for the wonderful time she had at Mickey’s home (to her, the Disney Hollywood hotel we stayed at was Mickey and Mini’s home, no wonder Goofy and all the other Disney characters she met across two days were real.
Despite having so much fun, I felt homesickness kick in, and this time it wasn’t for the motherland. Lil Z and I were missing Bangkok. It’s been little more than three years since we moved to Thailand, and yet on some days, it feels like just yesterday. Every six months we bid farewell to friends who are either going back to their home country or moving elsewhere. That homesickness was a reminder that Bangkok is now home; it could change tomorrow, but for today it gave me a sense of belonging.
When we returned home, we were happy to enjoy a four-day-long weekend with no agenda. Family time is like a magical potion that rejuvenates the soul. I had no problem getting back to all the writing assignments that I had put on hold. I was riding on a new high, and then this morning I received a message from a friend cancelling a play date that I had organized. The magic I was experiencing slowly began to drain. I had planned this week to include several activities to keep Lil Z cheerfully occupied before she goes back to school next week. But at the end of the day, plans are just plans. Lil Z seemed unphased by the cancellation and suggested we do what we often do: go to the cafe and then play at the park. And that’s just what we did. Right before she went down for her afternoon nap she asked me the same question I ask her every night “What was your favorite part of the day, mama?”
I shrugged my shoulders and said, “The day’s not yet over, love.”
“Mine was blowing bubbles from my new bubble maker at the park with you.” Lil Z continued and turned her back to sleep.
Magic all the way!
Best Shareable Moment This Month:
At the start of this year, we had three, large, IKEA bags filled with little plastic bags that we had collected over the years. We’re now down to two. Our family has been making a conscious effort to reduce the use of plastic bags by carrying cloth bags and reusing the old ones we have for wet groceries. I’m very proud of our effort, and I implore you, my readers, to make this small but highly effective change.
So if you’d like to join me in this project leave me a message in the comments section. If you’d like to participate by sharing photos of your life’s ordinary yet joyful moments, feel free to use #TheOrdinaryLifeProject hashtag. Ciao!