The clock is ticking on our final months living in Europe, so we're using this as a travel springboard to hit some faraway places that won't be on the horizon once I return to teaching in Texas.
This month we leave for our photo safari in Kenya over the week of winter break. Due to work commitments back at headquarters, the husband won't be able to break away and join us. Therefore, the 6th grader and I will sally forth and have a good time, even though we'll miss him. The teen is headed out on her service trip to a Romanian orphanage. Her school requires all juniors and seniors to complete 20 volunteer hours during the school year and this allows her to get them all in one fell swoop. She had volunteered at a Mexican orphanage back in her freshman year and now she does love her some orphans. She'll get to see a country she has never visited, take them some much needed supplies we've purchased and hopefully return home ringworm and lice-free!
I've been dragging my feet regarding our spring break travel because the teen is supposed to go with some friends to another friend's house in Dubai for the first four days of spring break. However, we haven't purchased the tickets yet because the hostess' grandmother is seriously ill and could pass away around the time of their trip. Or a couple weeks before. Or maybe a month after. And since the girl hosting the teen and friends for her birthday is footing the bill for everything except their plane tickets - accommodations, meals, camel riding, etc on them - then I can't really say much about having to pay a bit more for a last minute plane ride when everything else has been taken care of for us.
However, I decided to go ahead, bite the bullet and plan our week long trip to China for the second week of spring break, far enough removed from the supposed-to-be Dubai trip so as not to overlap. I knew it wouldn't be cheap, but it's still giving me a bit of sticker shock. And I still have to purchase our planet tickets.
The teen has had me check multiple times to make sure our chosen itinerary would include a side trip to Chengdu so we could visit the Panda Breeding and Research Centre. Not only can you view these cuties in natural surroundings, but you can also pay a fee to hold them briefly and have a picture made with them. It seems panda holding is on the teen's bucket list and no trip to China would be complete without this experience.
So long as they don't mistake my fingers for bamboo and take a bite, or try to climb me like a tree in their enclosure, I think it sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.