I just returned from my first trip back to Seattle after moving to Beijing last November.
I was super excited after my short stop in Tokyo (with the great ramen and sake experiences) to get home. Our approach to Seattle came in over downtown Seattle, so I could see all of the boats lined up for Opening Day, Lake Washington, and the Cascades. It was really lovely; I started feeling really home sick.
Then things took a little turn for the worse. After we landed at SeaTac, the crack border guards promptly confiscated the $40 worth of boxed ramen that I bought in Narita. (The soup base apparently had once been a chicken before it was boiled and reduced into a 3ml packet). I'm sure we all feel much safer now.
Then, once I got to our house, opened the blinds, and discovered that some bad people had stolen all of our patio furniture and my beloved Weber grill. As I was feeling confused, angry, violated, and a bit stupid, I tried to call Michelle back in Beijing and some friends in Seattle to see if I had missed something only to find my Seattle cellphone number no longer worked thanks to T-Mobile's not-so-great customer service.
Fortunately, I think I managed to get most of the bad parts behind me quickly, and the rest of my trip was great. Rather than bore everyone with a play-by-play account, let me just make a few observations:
- Seattle is a beautiful place to live. Michelle and I always comment on this when we come back to town, but the contrast with Beijing is really striking. The green and clean mountains and water in Seattle are just unparalleled. Even the air smells sweet (or maybe that's just the lack of coal and dust.)
- I have great friends. I spent a lot of the week catching up with old friends and colleagues between my meetings. It was like I had never left, especially thanks to blogs and Facebook. I really enjoy my new friends in Beijing, but I didn't realize how much I missed the folks in Seattle. I feel very fortunate to have such an awesome circle of friends in so many places.
- Nothing beats meeting face-to-face. I think I'm a pretty good communicator via email, etc. but I my 30-60 minute in-person meetings with my colleagues in Redmond were much more productive than weeks of email.
- Home is where my family is. I loved being back in our house and in our familiar environs, but it was a little weird being there without Michelle and the kids. I'm looking forward to being back in Seattle in the summer with them.
Also, since I'm sure you're wondering, here are the foods and drinks I missed and sought out:
- Bacon Of course. We have crappy-to-decent bacon in Beijing, but no thick cut, free-range, gourmet bacon. My first real meal in Seattle was a bacon and egg orgy while reading the Sunday paper.
- Mexican food We haven't found any good (or even decent) Mexican restaurants in Beijing. Even the Qdoba at SeaTac on the way out was better.
- Hot dogs I have a soft spot for supermarket hotdogs; we have lovely German frankfurters in Beijing, but no Ballpark franks, etc. Call me weak, but get me my hotdogs.
- Microbrewed ale In Beijing, we have good German lagers (brewed locally even) and decent Chinese beers (think Tsingdao), but for my money, nothing satisfies like a yummy microbrewed ale.
So, thanks to all my friends for making this trip great. I really enjoyed it, but I'm glad to be back in Beijing with my family. I'm looking forward to coming back out to Seattle this summer (and buying a new grill.)