Desperate to use up my remaining vacation days for the year, these past several weeks I have been taking a day off here and there. I would check the 10-day weather forecast, pick a sunny day and tell my secretary I wouldn’t come in to the office on so-and-so-day. And when the day finally arrives, I would head to the beach for a hassle-free "staycation." There would be no flight delays, no hefty hotel bills and no need to flash that Cheshire Cat smile in front of the camera. All there is to it is a simple, stress-free day all to myself.
Blue skies don’t come by very often in Hong Kong. You can count the number of clear days in a month with one hand. But today was one of those days. I threw a beach towel into my convertible and drove to Repulse Bay. Driving top down on a balmy November morning instantly put me in a good mood, making the 20-minute ride a treat in itself. The beach was almost empty, save for the clusters of Mainland Chinese tourists taking pictures on the far side. It looked like the recent cold front had driven everyone away and turned my favorite beach in the city into something of a private resort.
I lay under the azure sky looking out to the shimmering waters. The sun was strong but not harsh. I turned on my iPod and switched off my cell phone and Blackberry, shutting out the world for several hours with deliberate defiance. The mere thought that the rest of the city was toiling in the office while I was soaking up the sun was enough to put a smile on my face. Mom is right: the best things in life are free.