JD and I spent this morning at the Kunming Railway Museum. JD was two years old when we last went and he had no recollection of it. But this time he thoroughly enjoyed seeing everything from the old steam engines to the new high-speed trains. I've been to the museum about half a dozen times and it just gets better every time with new exhibits and more English captions. Shame about the toilets though!!
We moved into our temporary flat eight months ago and renovation work finally started on our old house two months ago. Since then, progress has been slow but steady, monitored daily by Jiajia with her architectural plans, self-bought materials and design ideas in hand.
JD's bedroom will be doubled in size with a new extended balcony, windows will be double-glazed, central heating has been installed, new kitchen and bathrooms fitted, new stairs, extra walk-in storage cupboards and space for a balcony garden. It should be fantastic once finished, but we may be looking at New Year 2019!
China launched its first self-built aircraft carrier today. Its only previous one was a refurbished second-hand Russian ship. The military build up in China is getting very noticeable and a little bit worrying.
Closer to home, JD's choice of outing today was to YuanTong Temple across town. He's recently been copying Jiajia when she prays to Buddha and he wanted to try praying by himself! He particularly enjoyed the prayer wheels at the Tibetan Temple next door.
JD was having trouble grasping how long it is until we visit the UK, so I wrote a countdown on a block of post-its and now, every day, he rips off the top one and we stick it up on the top of the wardrobe.
We are all really looking forward to the trip. Six weeks seemed a lot of time for us to fill, at first, but we appear to be squeezing far too much in once again in order to see everyone and do all the things we want to. And of course, we're still waiting to see if Jiajia gets her visa without a hiccup.
JD's Birthday Party has been put back again and again, due to illnesses, bad weather and conflicting events. But, last weekend, he finally got his party with his preferred guests (American friends, Kaiya and Zaden) with a trip to the Waterfall Park to do various activities and share a picnic. Together the kids did boating, fishing, robot driving, a car ride, trampolining and ice-creams. We got there by e-bike, subway and tuk-tuk, and returned by open-topped bus and e-bike. The weather stayed dry, the picnic was enjoyed and great fun was had by all.
Yesterday saw my last lesson with the Foreign Affairs Department of the Kunming Civil Service. The course was supposed to run for 12 weeks but, due to cancellations and public holidays, it's been 16 weeks since I started. They have been a fun group to teach, but I'll be glad to get my Fridays back again - it's my only JD/work free day each week.
JD, Jiajia and I went to the Kunming UK Visa Processing Office yesterday to hand in the various documents required to apply for Jiajia's UK visa. There seems to be less requirements this time, but the online application beforehand still takes about 3 hours to complete, and I had to do it twice this time after we suddenly realised that applying for a 5-year visa wasn't going to work when Jiajia's passport only had 2 years to run. However, last time we applied we had to fly to the UK Consulate in Chongqing and stay a night in a hotel. At least this time there is a processing centre in Kunming. The 2-year visa still costs some £350 though. Not cheap. And, as ever, there is no guarantee we will get the full two years or, indeed, any visa at all. The website asks for various documents, while the processing centre mentions others and whoever you ask comes back with the set phase "We are not able to advise you on what to supply - it's up to you." Hmmm ...so helpful!
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