I have been blessed with so many great friends - but these are two who are definitely worth blogging about... For my art exhibit in China last August, two long time friends who also happened to be my classmates since kindergarten all the way to primary school and high school (in college, we all went to the same university as well, but different departments) went all the way to Beijing to join me in my exhibition... We had been out of touch for a long time after moving abroad, but when I broke the news to them of my olympic invitation, they all found a way to meet up!
Karl, one of my best buddies, traveled around 10,388 kilometers from Auckland, New Zealand to Beijing and spent almost a day on the plane. He took time from his work in the land of Frodo and Middle Earth where he has been living for the past three years. Among us, Karl had the most relaxing journey to China - flying with ease onboard Air New Zealand bringing with him a bagful of exotic cheese as pasalubong for us!
Karl has the least possibility among the two to come because he had just came from a month-long vacation in the US and his boss is definitely not giving him another break from work... but with much persistence and convincing, his boss agreed and he even extended his China trip to a couple of days in Japan! Details are sketchy of what he did to his boss to get an approval, but he made it!
Elaine on the other hand, traveled from Iloilo to Manila, then Manila to Hong Kong - covering around 1,561 kilometers. From Hong Kong, she journeyed by train to Guangzhou, stayed a day, then took another train again going to Beijing. The train ride alone covered a distance of 1,887 kilometers and took her almost 24 hours! On the way back, since most of the train seats were fully taken because of the closing of the games, her trip had to take twice that long because she had to do stops in a couple more cities around China!
Among the three of us, her journey was the most gruelling and nerve wreaking (not to mention plucking heaven and earth just to get a measly 7-day Chinese visa in Cebu!) - and I truly admire her for that... think of it as a field training for her as she is preparing to move to the United States in a couple of months...
After my own gruelling journey of crazy flights (Siem Reap - Phnom Penh - Hong Kong - Beijing) covering around 3,490 kilometers, we met up in Beijing in the hotel and spent a couple of days roaming around - reminiscing how we used to take these crazy trips together back when we can only afford weekend trips to Boracay, Tagaytay or Manila!
Two years ago, when I started working in Cambodia, these two also took an arduous journey from Iloilo to Manila to Bangkok. Then, they took a seven-hour bus and taxi ride to the Cambodian border and all the way to Siem Reap to see me and my family (my baby was just born then)!
Since this has become quite a tradition for us, we are saving up for a trip to Vancouver in 2010 for the Winter Games and in London in 2012 for the next Summer Games! Since I ALWAYS pay for their hotel, Elaine has "promised" to buy our airfares to Vancouver and Karl has also "offered" to take care of London. Right, Karl and elaine???!!!
Now where do you get friends like them?