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Sunday, December 28, 2014

A new year approaching...

It hasn't been the merriest of Christmases this year. The death of my father-in-law has dampened everyone's enthusiasm for the holiday, and his passing away meant we couldn't go away this weekend as planned. With nothing else to do, I went to the office on Saturday hoping to wade through some of the backlog of cases that has accumulated in my bin due to an increase in visa applications combined with staffing shortfalls, computer issues and badly-timed high-level visitors from Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the combination lock to open despite repeated efforts, and gave up, cursing both a wasted trip and the overtime I'm going to have to do in the days leading up to New Year's. And to top it all off, the power was out all this morning and afternoon as part of some preplanned electronic surveillance routine maintenance work. And all this while the ongoing electronic surveillance sewer pipe replacement project has left our driveway looking like a First World War No Man's Land. 

But while the management of our housing compound taketh away (electricity and vehicular access to our house),  they also giveth in the form of putting us up for the day in the five-star hotel across the street. And by "day", I mean literally - we had a room booked for our use from 6 am to 6 pm this Sunday, which included free rein of the hotel and its facilities. Considering all that has happened over the last few days, this was the best gift this family received this Christmas.

Looking down at the swimming pool and the garden terrace from the elevator on our way up to our room after checking in this morning:

The view from the garden terrace looking up at the glass elevator. A whole lotta pink goin' on...:

A whole lot of lobbyin' going on...:

While  Pamela took Amber to her Go 围棋/圍棋/囲碁 lesson, I kicked back with a vanilla latte in the Costa cafe next door, then took a walk around the outside of the building:

The view from the sixth floor-corridor:

And the view from our fourth-floor room:

We may have been staying in a five-star hotel, but our lunch bill only came to just over five dollars total for the three of us. The reason? We ate at one of the cheap Chinese joints opposite the west side of the hotel. Afterward, we returned to the hotel and made use of the indoor swimming pool:

After the pool, I partook of the hot tub and sauna before retiring to the sports bar downstairs for a post-swim drink. At 90 RMB (including the 15% service charge; about $14.50 in total), it quickly became apparent why I was the only customer there:

We checked out just before 6 in the evening and headed downstairs to dinner. A last look out the window before leaving the room:

By coincidence, the same housing compound management who had paid for our day at the hotel had a week earlier given us complimentary vouchers for the same hotel's dinner buffet as a Christmas present to all the residents. So not only was our room paid for today, dinner this evening was also gratis. My daughter made repeated visits to the chocolate fountain while my wife stuffed herself with as much crab as she could get her hands on. Considering all she's been through the past few days, whatever made her happy...:

It's going to be extremely busy again at work this week, and the girls will be leaving for Taiwan at the end of the week to take part in the funeral, but at least for one day everyone could forget their troubles and end the Christmas break on a positive note:


  1. Jim, i don't know what to say, but i'm very sorry to hear the news of your father-in-law. our condolences to your family.

    1. Thank you. My wife is coping well, but she was close to her father and it hasn't been easy for her.