Monday, October 4, 2010

Packing it in

The suitcase is open on the spare bedroom floor and enough stuff - clothes, shoes, accessories, books - for three months is spread across the bed and table. I'm going away for three weeks so much of this will be left behind. This is my preferred method of packing.

I always hate the way people pack in movies - striding about their bedrooms, whipping open drawers and cupboards, flinging things blindly into cases. They're usually upset when they do this - due to a marital infidelity, a pursuing serial killer or a determined police officer - but really, their new life isn't going to be any better for having taken a load of unwearable items and overlooked the one or two that would pull the rest together.

I've no such excuse and I want to get it right. I'm going to China for son J's wedding then on to Vietnam.

It's my fourth visit to China. I first went for the weekend in 1987. I was in Hong Kong for work and, instead of doing whatever it was we were meant to be doing, the photographer and I bunked off to Guangzhou. I didn't go back to until 2007, when J was living in Urumqi. (You can read about that trip here.)
J and S were living in Kunming when I returned in January this year and still are. Technically, they're already married, having registered in Urumqi, so this is the after-match function. It will be held in Dali, a charming old town we visited in January. This was the view from the hotel entrance.

This time, of course, there's the question of what the mother of the groom will wear. The odd (very odd) faithful reader might recall my account of a Skype conversation with J on this subject. I'd just bought a black Karen Walker cheongsam-inspired dress, which for a while I pretended to myself would be just the thing. But it's not - you don't wear black to Chinese weddings. I'd look like the Angel of Marital Death. So I have something else. More of which another day.  Meantime, here are some wonderful images of what I won't be looking like.

Then there's the Vietnam leg. It will be hot, and since the plan is to drive to the border and walk across, we shall have to pack light. Each time I travel I think I can do this and each time it turns out that I can't. Yet I still have this fantasy of stepping lightly off a plane in the middle of nowhere with just a carry-on. I was going to say that at least I won't have to take tango shoes and dresses, but that's hardly a plus.

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