Our 1st White CNY

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It has been a very very long time since l blogged. 2019 has been a rather intense year of transition and life-changing moments. While life at work has been making good leaps and bounds, I didn’t excel well in my personal life, especially towards my family and loved ones. It was a terrible year for the entire family. Funerals and other issues all arrived at the same time. Piles of 2019 family photographs and unfinished blogs laid messily on my desktop (I will try to publish them in the coming weeks). Weeks after weeks, I kept procrastinating. Yet I couldn’t find the right mood and time to publish them. The sense of loss and guilt kept piling, and it becomes too heavy to bear alone.

I have been looking forward to this CNY trip for a long long time. It is always my dream to bring my old folks to see snow. I know they may not enjoy the long flight and the bitter cold; I always believe it will be an unforgettable and enjoyable experience for them. For 3 years, I have been postponing the trip due to my own work travel plans.

There are certain things in life that we cannot wait. Without any hesitation 6 months ago, we decided to go ahead and booked the air tickets. We wanted this to be a surprise for my parents but someone in the family spilled the beans 2 months before the trip. It wasn’t a bad thing because my mum and dad were thrilled and excited. They only knew the destination and they had no idea about the itinerary.

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My parents, Felicia and Elkan flew in directly from Singapore and I arrived on a separate flight from Hong Kong. We met at Apple Store Ginza where our hotel was located. While We were walking along Ginza street, Elkan confessed he has no recollection about this place. He was here when he was only 5. That was a decade ago. No loss at all, it is always a brand-new experience to revisit the same place with different people, at different ages in different seasons. For Felicia and me, it is a brand-new experience too with our teenage boy and our parents.

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Mother Nature wasn’t greeting us the way she should this season. Japan was experiencing the lowest snowfall in 60 years. Many ski resorts were closed due to the lack of snow. I was very worried to disappoint my parents. I even came up with a few contingencies to fly all of us to Hokkaido if there wasn’t any snow in Nagano. The fear became a reality when we arrived at the Snow Monkey Park. I was here on the same day 3 years ago and it was a drastic difference.

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I was worried the barren site will be a huge disappointment to my parents but I realised the comparison difference was only obvious to me. I saw the expression on their faces. Mum and Dad were delighted and excited to see the puddles of melted snow on the ground. It was a priceless new experience for them. It was their first touch and encounter of icy snow.

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At their age, they weren’t as active as before. It wasn’t easy for both of them to hike the slippery muddy 2km-track to the Snow Monkey Park. The hiking sticks were extremely useful for them. We took a few mini-breaks along the hike. Their excitement superseded their own fatigue. Seeing their joyful expressions reassured me that this is a worthwhile trip. Tiring but extremely fulfilling.

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We spent 2 days in Nagano, visiting different ski resorts. To experience thicker snow, we have to travel higher in the highlands of Yamanouchi around Jōshin’etsu-kōgen National Park. With no prior planning beforehand, we navigated our way up the mountain taking the local buses. Our random, ad-hoc exploration yielded great results. We visited 2 awesome ski resorts – the Shiga Kogen and Ryuoo ski parks. We had one of the most spectacular lunches on the summit of Ryuoo Ski Park, at a café by the name of Sora Terrace at 1,770m above sea-level. It was here where we all had our first snowmobile ride. It wasn’t a very comfortable ride; it was bumpy and draggy.

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We headed back to Tokyo on our last day in Japan. Mum and Dad were extremely drained out after 2 days of fun at the snow parks. On our day in Japan, I tricked them that I am treating them to a more relaxing museum tour. They had no idea that I have booked a tour for them at the world-famous TeamLab Planets.

Dad and mum were agitated when I told them that they need to remove their footwear before entering the “museum”. Worried about the germs and viruses, my dad was extremely grumpy.

My parents didn’t enjoy their first encounter with TeamLab. The first corridor was flooded with cold water. It was uncomfortable for my old folks. My mum nearly had a heart attack when she fell onto the beany cushioned floor. The staff came to pull my mum up and guided her through a short-cut to the next experiential zone. At that time, my parents wanted to bail out of the “museum”. Thankfully, the next few exhibits (room with borderless mirrors and light tubes, projection koi pond, and giant balls) calmed them down and enticed their attention. I was so happy when they started to take their phones out to selfie. Mission accomplished! Another new and wonderful experience for them!

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On our 5th day, it was time to say goodbye to my family. I flew back to Hong Kong 4 hours before their flight to Singapore. It finally poured cats and dogs on our last day! We never had a rain-free CNY. At least, we did have 4 good days of blue and sunny sky! No complain because we didn’t have the presence of the notorious Rain Goddess (Auntie Amy) with us this trip! Perhaps if she had tagged along, we would have experienced a better snowscape!

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Masks on. Time to fly. The world has changed so much during this CNY! See you folks in Singapore soon! Enjoy the video. (I am getting rusty, it took me more than 8 hours to put this blog and vlog together!)

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