The end of year has approached with alarming speed and just a little surprise for us this year but here it is and if this doesn’t get written and typed soon we will already be facing another year and the annual message will be superfluous.
This has been an unexpected and delightful year of travel for us. It began with an extremely well planned and much anticipated trip to America. In New York City we celebrated New Year’s Eve with one of our dearest friends for the second time in the same bar in Harlem. It was so good the first time we knew a repeat would be perfect and from what little we all remembered of the occasion the following morning, we once again seem to have partied it up with the locals. The rest of January was spent in the US and we loved training all the way from NYC through Washington and Chicago with stops in both places before the long haul on the California Zephyr. As avid train travellers this was a dream come true. From our little roomette we took in the landscape and incredible views of 6 states in total relaxation mode. After disembarking in Sacramento for a leisurely day strolling the old town, less than 12 hours later we reached Oregon and kindred spirits and former BCF colleagues Julia and Charly hosted us in their beautiful home in Florence. Whilst in the neighbourhood we simply had to look up old mates from China days in San Francisco and much to our delight also spend time in Los Angeles with Hiroshima cycling buddy, dear friend and former boss Barry.
In February we returned home for valuable and much needed time with family and friends. Before long however we had to set to the task of packing away our former existence in Bhutan and preparing ourselves for the new adventure of a 2-year stint in Tanzania. As things panned out that particular plan stumbled in the starting blocks. Disappointed, disillusioned and somewhat dazed we found ourselves back in Bangkok with time on our hands and no real plan of action only 3 months later. It was our decision to return to familiar territory and we had learned some serious life lessons but found ourselves wondering “What now?”
Thus was born the 7 countries and 7 months concept. We are fortunate to have been able to afford this extravagance and it has certainly fuelled our already passionate love of travel. Initially we took some time out to simply relax and decide what we wanted to do. Having never been to an island in Thailand, we decided that it was the prefect time to do just that and formulate a plan in relative luxury. While considering our employment options we were contacted by Madam Nancy, executive director of BCF and invited to reapply to teach in Bhutan. We both did a double take at that and wondered why it had not already occurred to us. For the previous 6 months I had heard myself saying, “But in Bhutan…..” as a sentence opener so many times. When we had decided to leave we were sure we needed a break but it was only after we had left that we realized just how much we missed the students, the landscape, the philosophy and the other worldliness of it….. so apply we did.
We also agreed to look seriously at the employment options and opportunities for volunteering in several other countries while we had both the time and the motivation. High on our list was Myanmar, which became our first stop on the Asian trail. Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam were also contenders, which we wanted to investigate and that justified the extended period of time spent travelling and the need to keep on the move, at least in our own minds. Bhutan was also somewhere we had never really explored having worked long 6-day weeks in both the years we lived there, so we made enquires about getting that expensive tourist visa waived and taking a long look around just to reconfirm that we really were prepared to give it a second shot supposing we were accepted again by BCF.
Well all that is history now and we have indeed been reaccepted to teach in Bhutan in the new and as yet unseen location of Samtengang, starting in February 2014. We found ourselves in Malaysia at the end of what can only be described as the most unexpectedly adventurous and wonderful year.
We have had the most incredible Xmas at home in Adelaide, Australia and surprising my gorgeous sister by arriving unannounced on her doorstep just days before the big day was just wonderful. As was celebrating with Ian's sister and her family in their new home overlooking Adelaide with views all the way to the coast
All that remains is to wish you all a safe, healthy and joyous silly season and every happiness in the year to come.
Peace and love always,