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The Long Journey to the Airport
“What do you think, big group or little group?” Sīfú asked me back in March, just after telling me it was time to go and visit Ip Sigong in Hong Kong and go to China. My mind was little blank as my excitement of the news was also crashing into the fact that it was going to be at the same time as my 50th Birthday. The real question for me was would I even be in the group? Never mind how big it was! Would my family and kids let me get away with not being around for my big Five-O? The dates were not set in stone just yet so it was it was a case of fingers crossed.
For most people when they write their China Trip diary their day one starts on the day down to the airport. Mine really starts the day Sīfú say’s we are going as there is always so much to organise and get done. There is a massive amount of work that goes on behind the scenes and Sīfú and Simo spend hours and hours organising things for everyone. For my part I try and take as much as I can, but there is only so much I can do to help.
This trip was going to be by invitation only so once the announcement was passed out to all the instructors it was a case of inviting students to come along. I like inviting students as they are always so happy, excited and nervous- “Me! Really?” and a big smile is their response.
As luck would have it there were some incredibly good airfares flying with Cathay Pacific just around the time we were thinking of going. We would have to be quick to take advantage of them but it meant flying out on my Birthday! So now there was no way of avoiding the question… In the end there was no need for me to worry. My wife and kids are incredible and they said, “What an amazing way to spend your Birthday!”
Once the news of the airfares was passed on to the group, everyone quickly booked their flights. The next job for me was to design the t-shirt logo for the trip. It has become a tradition now that every time we go to China we have a special set of t-shirts and a jacket made. Sometimes designing this can take weeks, but this one seemed flowed and just worked straight away, and even if I say so myself, I think it’s the best one yet!
There were still hotels to book, Chinese visas to apply for and sudden changes to our plans due to the unrest in Hong Kong. Then there was also organising my students and getting them in the right mind set for the trip. Many of them had travelled before, but never with a group of over forty people! There was still much to do, but everything went smoothly (more or less) and then it was finally time to go to the airport. A couple of students would be travelling down to Heathrow by train but the majority were all meeting up at my house and then we would all hit the motorway together. No one in their right mind would ever think driving down the M6, M40 and M25 is going to be straight forward, so we arranged to meet early and set off in good time just in case of traffic etc. However… my morning started with a message from Gareth, “Hi Sīfú, my car has broken down…”
By Darryl Moy
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Journey to China
Sifu sent a WhatsApp to the northern group on the Monday before the trip saying that he “can hear a clock ticking” and as I’m setting about going to work, I’m thinking there’s a lifetime before Thursday. Before I know it, its late Wednesday evening and starting to pack.
Thursday morning the day of the trip, I’m up early finish the packing, have a quick breakfast and then head off to Sifu’s to meet up with the group ready to travel down to Heathrow.
Arriving at Sifu’s I see that some of the group have already arrived with Kevin Phil and Bea have a cup of tea. Whilst having a cup of tea Sifu gets a call to say that Gareth’s car had broken down an they were running a little late. Eventually they arrive by taxi as Gareth’s car could not be fixed in time and there was a quick change of plan. Sifu said I’ll take my car down and we’ll shuffle everything around. No problem.
Trevor and Ash travelled down with me, which is always eventful with Trevor checking out what our favourite film was, and did we like Taylor Swift?
On arriving at Heathrow Terminal 3 carpark we pull up to the “meet and greet” section where the car gets fully scanned before being taken away, very efficient.
We are on of the first groups to arrive and as we wait more and more of the group turn up in their green tee shirts. It’s always at this stage when everybody starting arriving together that I really start to think this is happening.
Once through all the security and onto the plane the flight was quite good, especially for me as I’d booked at seat near the back of the plane hoping that it may be a little quieter, and had the joy of stretching out on 3 seats to myself.
Once off the plane we gather up together and head for the bus that’s going to take us to Foshan, on getting outside at the terminal we see a beautiful sunny day in Hong Kong.
The trip through the Chinese immigration on the border can sometimes be extremely busy, however today I’d never seen it so quiet and we were quickly through.
The bus journey to Foshan usually takes a couple of hours but we were delayed getting through the city on the last section with the heavy traffic. On arrival at the apartments we all made our way to the reception on the 4th floor to check in. It was very busy, with Yelian being a great help at the desk interpreting and helping things move along. Amongst all the chaos as we’re all standing in reception waiting our turn Ip Sigong just wanders through unannounced and totally unassuming, and everybody was very happy to see him. Someone went to fetch Sigong to let him know that Ip Tai Sigong was here, and they went off for tea while waiting to go for dinner.
Once checked in, we all had dinner in the restaurant at the hotel with Ip Sigong, and told that we would be going to the seminar with Ip Sigong tomorrow. It was a good end to a long day of travelling.
by Martin McDermott
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