Last year was quite possibly the most exciting and adventurous year of my entire life. So in the spirit of reflection, I thought I'd recount a few of the highlights month-by-month.
My wonderful friend Alex came to visit me in Hong Kong after spending time in Thailand and India. We had a lovely time catching up after 18 months apart.
I took a Chinese New Year Trip to Malaysia with Jen and Natalie. We all stayed in Penang for two nights and then I continued on to Langkawi. Here I went sea kayaking, caving, hiking and played on the beach. I also went on a couple of scuba dives and met some fun people. A highlight was seeing all the monkeys and nocturnal animals that inhabit Langkawi, a very cool place. Later that month, back in Hong Kong, Ulrich returned from TED 2010 with a amazing stories to share with me.
After a weekend trip to Guangzhou in mainland China, another quick weekend trip to Donsol and Legaspi in the Philippines got Ulrich and me into the water, swimming with whale sharks! This was one of the most exhilarating experiences I've ever had. Exploring Donsol with our waiter and tour-guide, Ryan, was pretty fun too. We visited the Mayon Volcano in Legaspi, but didn't have time for any hiking. The following weekend I was coaching the U16 and U20 boys and girls teams for SEASAC Badminton finals, which were hosted at CDNIS. Schools came from around the region for 4 days of intense competition. The last weekend in March, I attended an inspiring, challenging and extremely social, professional development opportunity at the EARCOS Teacher's Conference in Manila.
This month began with an incredible trip to Jordan. Ulrich and I met up in Aaman, explored the dead sea, Petra,Wadi Rum, Little Petra, Al Karak and more, all from the comforts of our own rental car. Highlights included sleeping in a cave, camel-riding, the stars in a desert sky, rock-climbing, driving, the scrumptious food and long, meaningful conversations. What an amazing and beautiful trip.
The Gr. 5 classes explored Cheng Chau Island for 3 days and 2 nights on a super high-energy "Amazing Race" camp out. Hosted by a team of outdoor educators and facilitated by the best teaching team (that ever there was), we had a fantastic time. I spent a couple weekend in Guangzhou. At the end of the month, after lots of planning and preparations, I took 30 Grade 5s into the heart of Guizhou province in mainland China. Guizhou is the province with the highest percentage of different local minority groups who live quite traditionally in rural areas. The trip was 5 days and consisted of a fully inter-cultural student exchange where the CDNIS students became partnered up with a local child. Our guides took us on adventures like tea leaf picking, shared meal preparations and shared traditional activities with us. We sang songs, danced and spend gorgeous time in the natural beauty of the region. The food was, as always, amazing. It ended up being a very meaningful and special trip for all involved.
The month started off with a trip to Chengdu and a hike down Mt. Emieshan. A little bit rushed by a deadline to catch a flight, poor physical and mental stamina, and unfavorable weather conditions resulted in a pretty horrendous physical plight for me. It took me almost a week to recover. Then I had the pleasure of moving house, right as school ended and everything got really hectic. I put all my belongings in my classroom and headed to South Korea to see my mom, sister, brother-in-law and niece. We had an exciting 10 days of different adventures in Seoul, the mountains around Gyeongju, the beach near SanJu and many, mnay parks. Summer had begun!
I started July on a plane between Hong Kong and Vancouver. I spent a week visiting Aaron and we explored the Juan de Fuca trail on Vancouver Island and the city of Vancouver a little bit. I was lucky enough to share my birthday with my dad. Then I headed to Ontario to see my extended family for a week. We went on a couple fun excursions to the CN Tower and Ontario Place. Mid-month I headed to Bogota for one night en-route to Panama City to meet Ulrich. From there we went to Bocas del Toro and spend a gorgeous 10 days in pristine paradise. After Bocas, Ulrich and I continued on to Villa de Leyva, Colombia to see my mom and William on the farm for a little while.
Still in Colombia, Ulrich and headed to the north coast and trekked a 4-day hike to Ciudad Perdida, dipped ourselves in a mud volcano and I even squeezed in a day of scuba diving! We ended that trip in Cartagena, after which Ulrich heading back to Panama and me back to Canada. Later, in Hong Kong mid-August, it was already time to start school again. A new year and nowhere to live! I began the house hunt and eventually found a place on Lamma Island.
I moved into my new flat, and new life, on Lamma. What a change of pace! School kicked off in full swing and September just seemed to get eaten up.
This month began with an adventurous girl's weekend in Guilin and Yangshou to celebrate China's National Day. River rafting, silly games, hiking and biking made this a very memorable long weekend away from Hong Kong with good friends. At the end of October I took off to Bali with Melissa and Jen for week of exploring a new place. I went to Ubud, the Green School and then on to Gili Trawangan for the most beautiful diving I've ever done. I saw lots of really big sharks too! In Legian, I did a full-day surf lesson and had loads of fun meeting people and soaking up the beauty of Bali.
November started with a professional development IB conference in Bangalore India! Not only was it fun to get to go to India with some really great colleagues, but I also got to catch up with old colleagues who are now in Saudia Arabia and India. The conference was fabulous and the catch-up with old friends and new friends was the icing on the cake. For American Thanks Giving Ulrich came to Hong Kong with stories from his first quarter at Stanford.
I started December in the Philippines writing the GRE. Later, after 2 weeks of teaching it was time to head out on holiday and I travelled to Melbourne, Australia to see my sister and her family. My mom met me there with some family friends from Colombia and we had a very lovely family holiday. We rented a car and explored around the Great Ocean Road and the Yarra Valley region. It was really nice to be with the ones I love as the best year of my life came to an end. I am such a lucky and fortunate person!
I wonder what 2011 will have in store for me..... here's hoping it can top 2010.