My Last Update for the Year

Hey guys!

So since I last posted (which has again been a long time ago), I had an awesome April break with my friend Jen and her boyfriend Ken. We went to Borneo which is an island in Malaysia. It was awesome! First we went to Mulu National Park. We stayed in an awesome chalet type room right in the park. We went on a canopy walk and visited four amazing caves. I didn’t realize I liked caves but they are so cool! Minus the cockroaches!!! I saw a huge green scorpion, spiders, centipedes, and millions of bats! Then we headed off to Turtle Island where we saw sea turtles give birth to dozens of eggs. To end the night we watched baby sea turtles get released into the water! Soo amazing! After that we took a two hour boat ride to go and live in the jungle for three days. Literally live in the jungle! One afternoon I was woken up from my nap by a group of monkeys encroaching on our camp (not gonna lie I was a little nervous!). I saw so many cool things like a water monitor (looks like a small crocodile), monkeys, crocodiles, birds, etc. It was definitely a once in a life time experience!

The following weekend I went to Bangkok with my friend Sarah. It kind of reminded me of Toronto, a big city, lots of traffic, etc. But in many ways really different. We went to Khao San Road. It’s pretty much a huge street party. Every bar is competing to have the loudest music possible (I can’t imagine living there!). Then we went to the red light district ( I had to check it out). It was…interesting. A lot of lady boys and working girls haha! We went to the most amazing market ever! I cannot remember what it was called but you could literally buy anything and everything there. It put Walmart to shame! I picked up some cute outfits for my love Coco (don’t judge me). Bangkok has tons of malls so we did a lot of shopping and then headed back to the grind.

School has been crazy since then with my grade 5 trip, success assemblies, water day, etc. The grade 5 trip was three nights, four days so the kids could go camping and to a resort. The kids did a lot of cool things like geocaching, archery, painting on the beach, etc. It was great but man was I exhausted! A lot of my staff are leaving so we have had many good-bye parties. Right now it is the night before I go home and I feel the need to reflect on my year…

This has been one of the hardest, most rewarding experiences I have had in my life. Leaving your home to live without everyone and thing you know is not for the faint of heart. ┬áIn the beginning I stumbled to find my footing. What was my life now? Who was I on my own without my family and friends? How would I spend my time? It took me a while to answer these questions. But with the support of my beautiful family and friends, I figured it out! I have found a lot of positive energy in my school and co-workers. My students have truly been a blessing in my life. They are so funny, smart, and kind! I will miss them all so much (they promised they would visit me next year). I have also established some really solid, life giving relationships that I am forever grateful for. I have committed to volunteering my time at school and at a local shelter next year and I am really excited about that. Vietnam has treated me really well. All of the travel, people, massages and manicures haha! Seriously though, I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to come here and I am looking forward to coming back. But let’s be honest, I am more looking forward to coming home!!!!!!!!!! In 24 hours I will be on a plane! Whooo Hooo! I can’t wait to see all of you:) Thanks for all of your love and support, not sure where I would be without it!

My Life Since Christmas

Holy Moly! I can never believe how much time has passed since I have last blogged. Obviously I am pretty terrible at this! Haha! Anyways, since Christmas I have had the pleasure of visiting Lisa and my mom in Al Ain, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. What a trip! First of all, if anyone has been to Las Vegas that is what it feels like when you visit the two emirates. They are beautiful, pristine, and no expense has been spared to make every inch of the place glistening. Literally your jaw just drops at how much effort has been put into these places.

When we first got there, we spent the weekend in Dubai. We did the on and off bus to get our bearings. It was a great way to see what Dubai had to offer. We went to the Dubai mall which is enormous! Also, just outside of the mall is a beautiful fountain show that rivals the fountains at the Bellagio. We they went for a lovely Valentines day dinner and then headed back to Lisa’s apartment the following day.

Al Ain (where Lisa lives) is kind of like the Bolton of the GTA. It is close to the major cities but is much smaller and I would say felt a bit more authentic. Lisa had to work during the week so my mom and I would head to the local hotels to swim and have a drink:) Throughout the week, Lisa took us to Global Village (a huge international market), up Jabel Hafeet (an enormous mountain that gave us a glorious view of Al Ain), and we got to meet her friends (very lovely ladies). Some interesting tid bits: driving around the emirates is quite intense. I am used to going about 40 km on my motorbike and there the average speed is about 120 km! Also, every 500 metres there is a mosque to help make going to temple convenient for people.

The following weekend we went to Abu Dhabi. There we stayed at a gorgeous hotel called the Rotana. There were some pretty crazy sand storms so laying by the pool was slightly difficult. That weekend we also did the on and off bus (We are creatures of habit). The city was stunning. We did a lot of shopping, sight-seeing, and bar hopping! It was a fantastic weekend!

Some of the other highlights were visiting the grand mosque (the most intricate building I have every visited) and visiting Lisa’s school (ask me about this when you see me:).

It was so nice to spend two weeks with my sister and mother, I am so blessed!

Since then, I have been to a GIN conference (for kids supporting global issues), has a Saint Patrick’s Day pub crawl, and celebrated a co-workers 50th birthday (it was sports themed and involved an apartment crawl).

Next up is my week break in April where I am heading to the island of Borneo. It is divided into two parts. One half is considered Malaysia and the other Indonesia. There I will be going on a three day cave tour, visiting a turtle island, and living in the jungle for three days! I am very excited and will keep you all posted.

Love you! Miss you! Pictures will follow:)

Happy New Year!

Hey guys! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and new years! I am back in the thick of things at work after having a glorious two week vacation with my family! It was beyond nice to spend time with my parents and sister:) It felt like forever since we had all been together.

We spent about four days in Ho Chi Minh City. The first night we went to see the AO show. Mom and dad were sleeping before the show started haha! Probably not the best idea to take them to a show their first day:) Then we went to see Ben Than Market, the War Remnants museum, Lisa and mom got dresses made (they turned out beautifully!), and we lounged by the pool. It was a great start to our vacay.

Then, we were off to Da Lat. It is north east of Ho Chi Minh so it was a lot cooler. It was the first time I have worn a jacket since being here:) We went on an amazing tour of the city. We toured a silk worm factory, a coffee plantation, a rice wine “factory” (more of a man’s house), the elephant waterfalls, and a Buddhist temple. Every stop was just as interesting as the last. The coffee plantation specializes in weasel coffee. This is where they feed the coffee beans to the weasels and they poop out ripened beans. It was very interesting:) Our tour guide was so kind and informative! I would love to go back there!

From there we flew back to Ho Chi Minh to regroup and the next day we flew to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was so different from Vietnam, very metropolitan. We did a lot of shopping:) We also went on a tour around the city. It was less impressive than Da Lat but still interesting. We were taken to a pewter factory…haha! I do not hold a strong passion for pewter but it was ok. Then we went to what we thought would be a rubber factory but ended up being a tree on the side of the road. The driver got out and cut the tree. This yellowish liquid poured out and then hardened into rubber. It was pretty cool although we all had a good laugh! From there we went to some outlet shops…less impressive than the rubber factory, if you could imagine. Lastly, we went to the Batu Caves. This was a temple inside of a mountain. It was really cool. You had to climb about 200 steps (if I remember correctly) and there were monkeys all over. I got some really great pics. After a lot of shopping, some great food, and a movie, we had to fly back to Ho Chi Minh.

Our last two days together were spent by the pool relaxing and went for a nice dinner down the street from my apartment for new years. Lisa and I planned to go downtown for the night. We hopped in a cab and found out that numerous bridges were closed because they were being used for fireworks so the traffic was crazy! The normal traffic is crazy anyways but this was something else! We finally got downtown. We were about to cross the street and two guys almost ran us over with their motorbikes. Lisa yelled at them and then the one on the back of the bike grabbed my purse and ripped it off my arm!!!!! There went my phone, bank card, money, etc. I tried to keep calm and salvage the night but we decided to head home:( So we spent new years by the pool with some drinks. The next day, Lisa went back to Abu Dhabi and the following day my parents left. It was really hard to say good bye, we had a such a great time. I came back to my empty apartment and the silence was almost unbearable! I miss you all very much and hope your holiday was spent with the people you love. Talk to you soon XO!