Tomorrow we’re headed back to Kunming for what is quickly becoming an annual trip. We’re doing it by train, with both the kids, because tickets are really pricey at this time of the year and Dylan, nearing 3 years old, cannot fly for free anymore. So once more we’re braving 40+ hours on the train, covering a great many of China’s provinces, crossing the Yangzi river, in order to spend some time in “our” hometown.
This time while in Kunming we have several important tasks. The first one is to get the kids exit permits so that they can (fingers crossed) make a visit to America next year. They need exit permits because, as American citizens born in China, they have American passports that are completely blank, no visas. Since they can’t exit the country on blank passports (apparently, although personally I don’t see why not …) the local public security bureau has to issue them one time exit permits. The next important task is to get several documents that Wang Yao will need in order to process his application for a green card. While we haven’t decided 100% on the timing of Wang Yao’s greencard application, getting one for him seems unavoidable. There’s no other good way, at the moment, to allow him to travel back and forth between both countries. We have to plan this green card thing carefully though, because once you have a green card you’re supposed to have the intention of staying in America, so if we don’t have that intention yet, then there’s not much use in getting him one. But we’re going to get the documents anyhow, because things seem to be, for the time being, pointing in that direction.
Of course we’re also super excited to see family and friends who we haven’t seen in a year. I’m particularly happy about seeing my old partners in crime, Mike and Lesley. Mike and I used to get into no ends of trouble in Kunming and he is one of the few of my original gang of friends, who I met on a School for International Training study abroad program, still remaining in Kunming. Another of my OG Kunming buddies is Lesley, a fellow UT grad who is working on her PhD in Anthropology at Cornell and is now doing fieldwork in Kunming. My SIT friends and I initially only spent a semester together in Kunming as undergrads, but the situation was incredibly lifechanging and we’ve formed lifelong friendships which started as something China based but grew into something much richer.
Also on tap are visits to the hometown and Dali, if we can squeeze a trip in. Going back to Kunming is always a bit bittersweet because it was my home for so long and I still am incredibly attached to the place. Somewhere deep down I always feel like it is where I belong, but right now living there is just not realistic for our family, so Kunming has to just be a place we visit and hopefully one day we’ll be back there permanently, even if it is when we’re old and grey.
Anyhow, wish us luck on our massive train trip. We did it last year with only one kid, but now there are two! At least Xiao Yu will be with us on the way there (she’ll not be rejoining us in Beijing, but more on that in another post) so we’ll have three pairs of eyes on the two kiddos.
See you on the other side!