Since reaching Koh Chang, we dawned our island attitudes, and have been enjoying having nowhere to be but in a hammock or on the beach.
The laid back pace of life on this lush island is a refreshing change from the bustle of Bangkok.
With one main road going most of the way around the island, we are thankful to say it nearly impossible to get lost or wander for hours in search of our desired eating establishment (which can’t be said of either Bangkok or Chiang Mai.)
Though we have certainly not tired of Koh Chang’s alluring blue waters, towering coconut trees and sunshine, we have decided to say hello Koh Kood, a neighboring island to the south. Our feet should touch Koh Kood’s sands by 2pm tomorrow.
Just a quick update! So far, our feet have touched the soil of Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai. Today, we head to the island of Koh Chang, near the Thailand/Cambodia border. There is too much to write and not enough time at the moment, so for now, we will leave you with these initial thoughts:
South East Asia is HOT in the month of May. Some days have neared 40 degrees.
The food scene in Bangkok is amazing, and we are loving this vibrant city more than we thought we would.
Though it is still early on in our journey, it has already been confirmed for us that the highlights in life are most often the humans we encounter along the way.
One. Not a week, but a day. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, and we suddenly find ourselves with just 24 hours left in our beloved adoptive nation.
A kind and keen gentleman strolling the Wellington waterfront snapped this photo for us when we were photographing a friend’s wedding in the nation’s capital this weekend.
Our last day in Auckland (before our SE Asia adventure) was filled with some special times:
Reuniting with our dear friends Tim and Mimi Keel who are back in Auckland for a visit.
A special last dinner with beloved friends.
Meeting the newest member of our NZ family: Jack Alexander Hart!! (Huge congrats to Dale and Amber for the arrival of their first born son into the world!)
Our hearts are full… of many things. It’s hard to believe this is really it! There is much to process still… but now for some last minute packing.
Tomorrow, we are off to set foot on a new continent. First stop: Kuala Lumpur.
The school bell at 3:00 this past Friday signaled the beginning of Term Break for most students and teachers, but for myself, it marked the conclusion to a rather significant part of my journey here.
I received the most heartwarming farewell from my students this past Friday as I wrapped up my teaching career in NZ. Without giving away the slightest hint that anything was going on, my hip hop crew invaded the staff room in the middle of morning tea and honored me with a beautiful performance the hip hop routine we had been practicing over the past term. Apparently, some of them were hiding in and amongst the furniture, but I didn’t have a clue that anything was up until the music came on, and the room was flooded with my gorgeous little hip hoppers. I’ll be honest- there were definitely some tears. I am SO going to miss their gorgeous little faces. A large portion of the crew are students of mine from this year and last, so we have quite a strong bond. Having never been flash mobbed before, it was pretty special, and I will never forget it. Hats off to my lovely co-worker, Kylie, for sneakily (and very successfully) orchestrating this flash mob. You are super sweet!
The farewelling only continued from here. I received so many lovely cards from students, parents, and staff, and some very special treasures to take back to my homeland as memories of this wonderful adventure.
The hip hoppers also put on a shared lunch, filled with an abundance of my favorite things, including chocolate and carrots- so thoughtful!
At the whole school assembly that afternoon, three of my former students presented me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, a heartwarming speech, and a trophy engraved with “Best Dance Teacher.” I didn’t know it was possible to earn a trophy for teaching, but I was very honored to accept it. I was truly touched by the extent to which a few particular students, parents, and teachers went out of their way to make me feel loved and honored. I definitely felt the aroha (love), and it was absolutely the best way to conclude my teaching career in New Zealand (at least for now anyways).
While it’s certainly not ideal to be leaving in the middle of the school year, I think for the most part, the students seemed to understand that my time had come to return to my Canadian roots.
We celebrated the end to a fantastic 1/4 of the year together with a “one quarter” party, in which students brought in shared lunch items which showed their understanding of one quarter. I was thoroughly impressed with their creativity and fraction knowledge!
While I am sad to leave the darling Kiwi kids who who were in my care over the past term, the students in Room 10 are very fortunate to have a cool, creative, and vibrant young teacher taking over for me. Miss Smith and I get along great, and we had the privilege of working together quite closely over the past couple weeks to make the transition as smooth as possible.
A heartfelt thanks to all the amazing students, staff, and parents at my school for such an extragant farewell and giving me such awesome days and memories as a teacher in NZ. It was the best send-off imaginable.
And on to the things we will miss…
Endless beach options. East Coast or West Coast? White sand or black? Busy or remote? We are truly spoiled for choice in Auckland.
Volcanoes to picnic on and watch the sun make its glorious descent.
Vino from NZ’s lush vines.
Palm trees. Of many varieties. Just outside our front door.
Really. Good. Yoghurt. And cheese. NZ dairy is top notch.
Stonefruit in February.
Consumables made in your very own city. The fact that the hummus you ate for lunch today was made just down the road.
Feijoas in April.
That soft, enchanting light at Bethells Beach on Friday nights.
Baby sheep on One Tree Hill.
Cheap car insurance.
Pumpkin. So abundant and plentiful. Not to mention versatile.
Movies in Parks.
The All Blacks. In particular, Dan Carter, Piri Weepu, and Sir Richie McCaw.
Lemon curd frozen yoghurt from The Store. And Kohu Road Cardamon Ice Cream. Have I mentioned the dairy here is just unreal?
Laid-back, hospitable locals (on the whole.)
The melodic songs of exotic winged creatures.
New Zealand, you have surely been good to us! We shall never forget your greatness or beauty.
Our time in NZ has been amazing, but we are ok with leaving behind…
Fearing for our lives when crossing the street.
The produce department at Pak’nSave.
Sushi shops that are closed on Sundays.
The inconvenience of going to the doctor every 3 months to get prescriptions refilled, and having to go a “chemist” (pharmacist) to obtain Sea Legs (Gravol).
Land lines that are unable to call mobile phones.
The semi-annual W.O.F. (Warrant of Fitness).
Paying $19.99/kg for courgettes (zucchinis) in the winter months.
Having to wear one’s winter jacket indoors to keep warm in the winter months.
The UV rays. Too dangerous to want to take with us.
The reality of our departure is setting in.
Our room is slowly emptying itself of its contents as our belongings find new homes among friends and strangers. One more week of school for Mel, and two more weeks in this beautiful country before we embark on our South East Asia excursion. The people and places that have come to be comfortable, familiar, and oh so dear to our hearts will be ours to enjoy for just a very limited time… we intend to make the most of it, while trying to tie up the loose ends that remain before our departure. Lots to do in these last two weeks.
Now on to the list of things we havn’t missed from Canada.
Snow. (Special thanks to my dad, Andy, for these first 3 photos.)
Temperatures below 5 degrees Celsius.
Frozen fingers and toes.
Morning rituals involving scraping centimeters of ice off your windshield.
The 1 cent coin, aka penny. We could probably do away with the nickel as well.
G.S.T. (and P.S.T. in applicable provinces.)
The vicious Prairie mosquito.
Eau de hockey dressing room.
Edible oil product.
The infamous Double Double.
I was honestly surprised with the short length of this list. As you can see, we tried hard to make it longer by listing all negative aspects associated with snow, but we racked our brains and couldn’t think of anything to add. Maybe items will trickle in later. Or maybe Canada is just a pretty great place after all…
Two years ago, we began a few lists of things we miss/do not miss from Canada, and things that we will/will not miss when leave NZ (excluding humans). This is the first in a series of 4 posts that will unveil our lists to public eyes.
Since making some changes to our diets while in NZ, a number of items have come off our list (beause we no longer miss them).
Things we miss from Canada (and are looking forward to returning to) include:
The organic aisle at Superstore.
Transcend Coffee. (photo credit: Transcend Coffee)
Pedestrians having the right of way.
Cheap(er) groceries… wait- cheap(er) everything.
Majestic horned creatures. (photo credit: Andy Goodall)
Teaching once again in the system I was trained in.
Cafes open past 4pm.
Salsa in massive jugs.
Benefits for teachers.
Opportunities to practice the French language.
Affordable gym memberships.
Michael’s (one stop for all your crafting needs).
Maple syrup aplenty.
A whole lot of land out there for us to explore.
Trois, tres, toru. However you say it, we have reached the number inbetween four and two. (Special thanks to Mitchell, our friend and fellow East Wing resident, for snapping these shots for us in the empty lot next to Laidlaw College.)
Three is a bit of a sad number for us. To hit the three week mark was a pretty stark realization that our time left in NZ is very. limited. Emotions are quite mixed at this point, and becoming slightly more heightened at times.
This past weekend, the first of the goodbyes began.
I was honored as around 25 past students and their parents gathered at a local park for a reunion/farewell gathering. Teaching these vibrant, caring young people has been a real highlight of my journey in NZ. It was truly heartwarming to be reunited with the kids with whom I shared some special times and made some fantastic memories with in Room 24… they are truly stellar young people, and I will never forget them.
I recently began a new blog to keep in touch with past students… you can check it out here, if you wish.
Who knows… maybe some of these fine young New Zealanders will even come and visit us in Canada one day on their O.E. (overseas experience)? Here’s hoping!