"Their lives are all set," my friend Lulu says. "What to do with me?"
Lulu was talking about an impending visit to a grown daughter and the daughter's family--two children and a husband--that recently relocated to Hong Kong. This would be Lulu's first big trip on her own since her husband died last summer.
It's the daughter's job with a development bank that's brought the young family to the former British colony that's now part of China. The job is one that keeps Lulu's daughter busy--traveling part of almost every week to Southeast Asia countries where the bank has interests. So when Lulu announced she was planning to visit her daughter and family in January, the daughter wondered what Lulu would do. The kids would be in school, the daughter would be working--and traveling--and the son-in-law would be spending his days as usual on his computer.
Not exactly an inviting prospect. And yet, well---here's Lulu's report on her 10-day visit:
"I enjoy visiting my children and getting a sense of how they lead their lives. But they wouldn't be around during the day on this visit. I figured I could go off and do things by myself--after all, I was going to a pretty exciting part of the world. It turned out to be easy getting around. I was able to figure out the subway. I read guidebooks and each night I would figure out what I wanted to do the next day and how to be back at the apartment when everyone else came home. I asked my son-in-law, who doesn't have a job, if he wanted to come with me to some of the things but he didn't want to go. I didn't say anything.
"One thing I wanted to do was have high tea at the Peninsula Hotel. My daughter was surprised that I was ready to do that by myself. It must have sounded interesting because she decided to meet me there and we had high tea together. It was lovely.
"I knew before I left home that my daughter had a trip to Vietnam planned and that I was invited to go with her. That was a lot of fun. She had a big room at a luxury hotel in Hanoi. She went to her meetings and I kept myself busy: I took a cooking class, which was a lot of fun--they take you shopping to the outdoor markets to buy ingredients. I went to a museum on Vietnam's history and I walked around the city--though that was tricky since it's really hard to cross the streets: hundreds of motorbikes are coming at you and they never stop. In the evening, I would join my daughter and have dinner together with her and her colleagues.
"This was the best visit I had. Part of the reason it went so well is that I was doing my own thing. I was happy, and they were happy."