when i arrived in belmont, my mother told me my godmother was coming so once again i'd be denied belgian waffles for breakfast. instead i ate some hot dogs baked inside of croissants.
in the early afternoon i went with my father to my grand uncle's place, where a satellite dish repairman came over to recalibrate the dish, as it had shifted from its mount and the signal strength was very low whenever the weather was bad. i didn't know how the repairman would fix it but apparently he had a signal meter that he connected to the LNB to tell him if he was pointing in the right direction.
my father wanted the routing numbers of company checks he left at the cafe. he called my 2nd aunt who was working today and asked her to take a photo of a check and send it to him. but this was something my aunt didn't know how to do, she is not very tech savvy. the easier solution would've been to have her just read back the numbers, but my father was adamant that she send a photo instead. it ended up taking forever, and involved her going onto video chat and putting the check in front of her ipad. it was completely unnecessarily ridiculous, causing my father to angrily leave the house and return to the cafe to teach my aunt how to send a photo with her tablet.
my plan to china gets more detailed, as i try to figure out when i'm leaving and coming back. yesterday i said i wanted to scale back the number of days, but i think i'm going for the full maximum of 60 days (as allotted by my visa) to get my china money's worth. one problem is the hainan airline direct flight is only from boston to beijing ($658 roundtrip). once i arrive in beijing, i have to take another flight to chongqing. so i checked the prices for beijing-chongqing flights, and the cheapest i could find is $216 ($432 roundtrip, since i need to take it again to get back to beijing to fly back to boston).
i then checked to see if hainan also had flights to chongqing and in fact they do. the only problem is i arrive in beijing at 7:05pm, but the only daily hainan flight from beijing to chongqing is 3:55pm (3 hours), which means i have to have a layover in the capital before i can leave the next afternoon. but the advantage? the airfare is just $674 roundtrip. so for $16 more, i can get to chongqing, but it just takes me almost 38 hours to get to my destination, even though i save more than $400 but not going with a different carrier. another advantage? since it's all considered an international flight, i'm allowed 2 suitcases, which means i can bring a lot of stuff back.
hainan airline also have flights from boston to chengdu, with a stop in beijing. the price is the same ($658) so i considered that as a option. unlike the boston-beijing-chongqing option - with a layover a 21 hour layover in beijing - the flight to chengdu leaves at 9pm at same night, arriving in chengdu by midnight. i've never been to chengdu airport before, and there's actually no easy public transportation from the airport into the city (my research says there's a bus with 30 stops, no subway though). to get to chongqing i need to take the high speed train (memory serves me, a 2 hour ride), but from the airport to the east railway station is a 30 minute car ride. as much as i love chengdu, logistically it's just too much of hassle to get to chongqing via chengdu. i might be able to do it going to chongqing, but coming back, if i end up with 2 suitcases, it'll be a nightmare.
so the better choice would be to accept the layover in beijing. besides saving me a lot of money, it'd also give me the chance to explore the city for half a day. a cheap hotel in the city center (near tiananmen square) is just $25 (haiyou hotel). not counting the quick stop at the airport the last time i left china (and got into some expired visa problems), the first and last time i was in beijing was back in 2000, 16 years ago. and then we i leave chongqing, i get to revisit beijing again for another layover before finally returning to boston.
another complication: one of my younger cousins is getting married on 5/28. that'd be a great time to visit taiwan, provided sunmeng is able to go. i had been planning on returning to the US at the end of may (5/30), but i may end up pushing back my schedule a few days, so i leave boston later, and come back later to have time for the wedding.
at this point, regardless of what sunmeng decides to do, i will probably purchase my tickets tomorrow. tentatively leaving april 4, returning june 2nd.
not sure what's the occasion - maybe to atone for some recent misdeed, or to pay back my mother - but my sister cooked tonight. it was an elaborate affair, and everyone was dying from hunger. we didn't eat until 7pm, which is an hour later than usual.
i biked back to cambridge around 8pm. i watched the golden state-OKC basketball game, a showdown between two of the best NBA teams. stephen curry was on fire, hitting 12 3-pointers, winning the game in the final seconds of overtime with another 3-pointer that was nearly from mid court. my juices are starting to flow again for basketball! to fill the void that football left behind when the patriots were knocked out of the playoffs.