hong kong- hills, charm, and grit

Hong Kong is definitely one of my favorite cities in Asia. I always look forward to visiting this city full of surprises, charm, good food, and hills. It’s even more fun when you have good friends that live there (#jandjinhk). Hong Kong definitely has a good mix of urban grittiness and nature throughout.

We had a great time taking the ferry our to Lamma Island for an easy hike and stunning views. I also loved exploring Stanely with our guide Janice (next time we will do twin peaks). If you are in need of a workout, just walk around Hong Kong island. There are so many hilly streets and areas, with a lot to see on each street corner, we were definitely burning off all the food we ate! Here are some photos from Lamma Island, Stanley,and Hong Kong Island taken by my iphone 5s.

Stay tuned for more on our food adventures in HK…

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2015 in review

slice of life 2014

One of the most important lessons I attained from my graduate degree in education is the importance of reflection. Every week, instead of tests (thank goodness for progressive education), we wrote pages and pages of reflections on our learning. We reflected on everything- from our journey as teachers, education theory, pedagogy, experiences in the classroom, and our graduate school classes. I definitely did see the importance in all that reflecting as an educator and in general, it’s a good life skill to have.

A fews day late, but I started reflecting on 2015 and I found it was hard to put into words accurately all that happened, so I felt that photos would be better. As I started putting together photos I felt pretty blown away at how incredible this past year has been. I had quite a few friends get married and I actually got to be there for the celebrations, many babies were born, friendships were deepened, and also at the same time with sadness as we said goodbye to a good friend unexpectedly -we miss you Crew.

It was also a year full of travel, including two trips back to NY, Bangkok, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Indonesia, Sydney, Paris, Amsterdam, Langkawi, Memphis, Toronto, Chicago, Boston, and Siem Reap. Besides all the fun traveling, I cherished just as much the simple things like exploring Singapore, getting to know my students better, going on hikes, watching tennis, flying kites, taking photos, discovering new cafes and restaurants, watching movies, celebrating birthdays and holidays with friends, meeting new people, and being part of our church community.

As I’ve been thinking about this new year, this quote has been resonating in me:

“You and I don’t live in a series of big, dramatic moments. We don’t careen from big decision to big decision. We all live in an endless series of little moments. The character of a life isn’t set in ten big moments. The character of a life is set in ten thousand little moments of everyday life. It’s the themes of struggles that emerge from those little moments that reveal what’s really going on in our hearts.” –Paul Tripp

In this new year, as I live in the little moments of everyday life, I want to give God glory even when those struggles and unexpected bumps emerge. I want a heart fixed on God. I want to be full of gratitude and not complaints. A big thank you to all of my family and friends that helped make 2015 pretty spectacular. Here are some of my highlights from 2015. :)

What are you thankful for in 2015? What are you hoping for in 2016? 

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exploring singapore’s coney island

One of the things on my to do list for my vacation was to visit the newly opened Coney Island Park here in Singapore.  Unsurprisingly, this Coney Island bears very little resemblance to the famous Coney Island amusement park and beach in Brooklyn, New York. It was actually the original intent of this island when bought by an Indian businessman in the 1950s to be an amusement park like the one in NY(according to this blog post).

I quickly found out that Coney Island park is an oasis located in the far north eastern part of Singapore, where most don’t travel to unless they live there.  I admit it was my first time in punggol! Getting there wasn’t too difficult, as we took the purple line to punggol and then bus 84 to Punggol point/Punggol settlement. It was much closer than I imagined. The island has a few paths, but the whole length of the main walk of Coney Island is about 2.4km from one end to the other. Luckily we went during a weekday morning, so it was quiet, peaceful, and serene, which was much needed.  Despite not finding the cow (there’s one cow that lives on Coney Island, which you shouldn’t disturb if you encounter), we enjoyed the peaceful nature walk and took a lot of photos along the way. There are bikes available to rent in Punggol if you prefer to explore the island that way.

Coney Island park is definitely worth visiting at least once, and it can only take up a few hours to explore most of the island.  Make sure to catch the Punggol waterways at the end of the trip, which connects easily to Coney Island. Here are some of the photos from our explorations. I like the  few shots of me taking photos and what I was taking a photo of! Thanks to James for those unexpected candid photos! coneyisland-0907coneyisland-091012378104_10153743148403895_830121547605935895_o10259174_10153743146573895_5572487902331253054_oconeyisland-09211933356_10153743147663895_758122576763176798_oconeyisland-0933coneyisland-0923coneyisland-0926coneyisland-0925 coneyisland-0942coneyisland-0938coneyisland-0936

vacation means…

Vacation means sleeping in, hanging out with friends and their beautiful babies, taking photos, eating good food, reading, and blogging. I’m hoping to catch up on many overdue blog posts in these next few weeks while traveling and celebrating the holidays. Can you believe that 2015 is almost over? It’s definitely time to reflect on this year and make new year resolutions…which might include blogging more frequently.

Here are some photos from hanging out with Aimee and her beautiful family! :) oscarmaggie-0832oscarmaggie-0861oscarmaggie-0883oscarmaggie-0845

a new thanksgiving tradition

Orange is the new color of choice for a group of SAS teachers during thanksgiving weekend, as we venture to Changi airport with bags packed to the brim, full of a hodgepodge of donatable school supplies, translated Khmer posters, lesson plans, art kits, and the minimal pieces of clothes and toiletries to last us through the four day break. With our bright matching Caring for Cambodia t-shirts, we assemble in orderly lines at the check-in desks. We have our passports in hand along with neatly packed bags filled with kilograms of art kits donated by students from our elementary school students. We play the game of adding art kit bags to our check-in luggage hoping that the combination won’t go over our 30kg luggage allowance. We give big smiles and hope that the airline will be as generous in return with a bags that might go over a few kilograms. We are group you can’t miss- a sea of orange shirts.

This was my third year going back to Siem Reap, Cambodia with a group of about 20 teachers volunteering to train Cambodian teachers. I had a chance to work with 5th grade teachers from schools in Siem Reap. As I reflect on my time in Cambodia, I’m reminded that being part of this CFC trip has become my new tradition. A thanksgiving dinner that involves no big family gathering in my home in NY, but an impromptu, where should we eat in town for dinner, with a group of coworkers that have become like family. We find a nice restaurant, with cheap prices and good food, but no turkey or pumpkin pie. And there is laughter, because happy hour is truly happy when drinks are only a few dollars.

The day after thanksgiving, we wake up early, grab our breakfast quickly, all before 7am, not because we want to beat the lines for black Friday, but because we have another day of training. By 7:50am, we arrive at the school, starting another day of intensive heat while training and working with our Cambodian teachers in the classrooms with no fan. I’m always trying to stay hydrated and cool with capri pants and a light t-shirt, while the Cambodian teachers are in long pants/skirts and long button down shirts, and don’t seem to break a sweat.

Saturday is the day I look forward to the most. Our training is done and we get to visit the classrooms of our teachers and observe them teach. This is truly the highlight of my trip each year; seeing the teachers take the lessons we taught them, and adapting them for their students and classrooms in Khmer. I’m always not sure what to expect, but I’m always amazed.

Sometimes, living abroad means letting go of the old traditions and embracing the new traditions that start to form. So for that, I realize there is much to be thankful for. cfc-0434cfc-0444cfc-0436cfc-0465cfc-0512cfc-0523cfc-0580cfc-0504cfc-0491cfc-0576cfc-0555cfc-0573cfc-0561cfc-0553cfc-0567cfc-0596cfc-0446

48 hours in Singapore

I always love having visitors, but I was a bit nervous about how much we could get done in Nuree’s 48 hours in Singapore. I knew how tiring the flights are from NY are and I wasn’t sure what she would be up for. Luckily, the haze wasn’t too horrible and we were able to pack in a lot in the limited time. So in the two days we had, we accomplished the following:

  • Breakfast at the local hawker (Whampoa Market
  • Lunch at Din Tai Fung
  • Walking the streets of Orchard Road
  • Exploring Chinatown
  • Church service at RHC
  • Visiting Sentosa and going to the southernmost point of continental Asia
  • Eating coconut thai ice cream with free coconut water
  • Seafood Indian food at the Esplanade
  • Walking from Esplanade to MBS, via the double helix bridge
  • Cafe hopping on Keong Saik Road
  • Enjoying the view and drinks from the top of Marina Bay Sands hotel
  • Chili crab at Jumbo Seafood
  • Supper at Swee Choon
  • Visiting Gardens by the Bay Cloud Forest
  • Taking the water taxi from Clarke Quay to MBS
  • Visting Mustafa in Little India
  • Walking around Haji Lane and stumbling upon the Selfie Coffee cafe.
  • Taking the bus, MRT, taxi, rides from friends, and walking as means of transportation!

By the end of those two full days of eating and walking our way through the little red dot, we were ready to board a plane to haze free Thailand and relax on the beach. I forgot how tiring walking around and doing sightseeing in Singapore can be, especially when you are outside in the afternoon. There were a few times, where taxis were necessary. By now, I think I could plan tours for anyone interested in coming to Singapore in my sleep. Also, Nuree needs to come back to Singapore because we didn’t get to try durian. Next time, my friend.

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