Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Thank you, 2013

It really doesn't feel like that long ago since I wrote "Thank you, 2012". 2013 was full of challenges and big changes. I traveled a lot, volunteered in Honduras and finally I've left Taiwan. (Moved back to the United States of America, hello!) I've learned that we're better off letting go of things we cannot control, and that happiness is always an option if we so choose it. All in all, I had another extraordinary year as an ordinary girl. Here are some remarkable moments of my 2013:

Climbing Mount Jade (玉山): Excellent first hike of the year! Took us 3 days and 2 nights to make it to the peak of this 3,952 m mountain, the tallest in SE Asia. We went with a guided group with old friends and new friends. It was really cold and on the final day we started hiking in pitch darkness around 2am, but the view left us in awe.

Chinese New Years in Thailand: The most packed vacation ever. We hit Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Ko Samui, Ko Tao, Krabi and got back to Bangkok in ten days! The weather, food and sights were amazing. We did it the backpacker way...definitely an experience.

Team Max 2013: I would say that most of my best friends in Taiwan were my fellow teammates. We started practice again in January and continued on pretty much all year because we just love the sport and company. Some of the best Saturday mornings I've spent in 2013 were just on a dragon boat, in bikinis, in the Bitan river, working on our tans and making plans for the day after showers. We didn't take home first place this year, but it's okay. Thank you Team Max, our orange days will keep us bonded for life!

Exploring Ireland: While meeting his family, I spent a lot of days adventuring on my own in Ireland! One my favorite moments was getting on the train and spending the day in Galway. It's weird how sometimes you grow fonder of a city when you're seeing it on your own. Lovely people, and the only proper place to have a Guinness.

Biking Hwy 11 (From north to south coast of Taiwan!): Probably one of the most physically demanding things I've ever done. Our bodies are amazing machines once we break though the mental barrier. Confession: It was so hard I cried a few times along the highways. I would never have made it without my partner in crime! Really glad we did this together, now I can look forward to never doing such a crazy bike journey again!! :D

Training with the Celts: The other sports team I had loads of craic with were this lovable Gaelic team whom I launched my professional Gaelic career with last year. I wish I could have stayed in Taiwan long enough to compete in the Asian GAA games once more, but just being a part of the team up to that point meant a lot to me (and hopefully to them!! haha) There were so many good days spent playing on that scorching Baling field, countless juice smoothies and pints at the Brass Monkey after. Only the finest!

Golden Graduation: Oh, this was so bittersweet. It was finally time for me to bid farewell and good luck to the students I've practically raised for the past two years. I am proud of them for learning so much and growing up so quickly. Also, it was the end of my teaching career for as far as I know. Until I go back to school, which I'm not sure I'll be aiming for, my Teacher Kalong title has come to rest.

Volunteering in Honduras: After my kindergarteners at Golden graduated, I spent the rest of the year in remote El Porvenir, Honduras as a volunteer teacher. I played games, taught silly songs, brushed teeth, and hugged the kiddos a lot. I learned how to cook and read books and take naps on the hammock. I adapted to making lesson plans and teaching a whole term with practically no curriculum or materials. For four months, I lived my life very differently from all I knew before, but I found peace within it. There were good days and there were bad days, but it was an experience I won't regret. Even if I forget all the Spanish I learned, I won't forget the faces and love I had for all my little (and older) friends in El Porvenir!

Being reunited with my man: This happens a lot, which means we get separated a lot, which means we have rights to celebrate when we are together!! Whether it's been me waiting ecstatically for him at the Taoyuan airport to welcome him come home from a work trip, or him flying down to Central America via the tiniest planes, or being mushed together at the Dublin airport arrival gates, there's nothing better than returning to his side. I kinda hate being apart, but we're like celebrities that way, hurmph.

Cheers to another exciting year!!

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