Last Days in Hongkers

Boy did I go out with a bang. I did genuinely try to end my time in Hong Kong in a subtle manner, because I didn’t want the last few months to be a forced rush trying to complete a bucket list. Despite that commitment to normalcy during my last days in Hong Kong, things started picking up last weekend. My friends made sure I had a hell of a send off, and the weather was of epic proportions as well.

Saying goodbye to my Cici
Last weekend we did a dinner on a private sampan in Causeway Bay typhoon shelter called Shun Kee. Mid-meal there was an amber rain alert issued, which meant we were stuck on our tiny boat with piles of seafood. The final course was fresh crabs in chili and fried garlic which made my freakin' day. Soaked to the bone, we failed to take any group pictures, but I'm sure not going to forget the experience any time soon.

The transfer boat which took us to our dinner boat
On the last day of school, my friends and I fulfilled our annual tradition and did the lunch bu…

Montezuma's Revenge

Today officially marks two weeks left in Hong Kong for me before I move to Atlanta. I never made an official bucket list but I have been trying some new things lately. I did a dining in the dark experience with friends last night where we ate a 5 course meal that we couldn't see. We didn't know what any of the dishes were in advance, and that made the whole thing way more fun. Did you know that beet is really hard to identify if you can't see it?

This had me thinking about how we take the food here for granted. In my four years in Hong Kong, I have had food poisoning twice (from some Indian delivery and delicious spicy Korean fried chicken). That is nuts! Considering I had diarrhea for two years straight when I lived in Ecuador, the hygienic nature of Hong Kong restaurants is something I really appreciate.
A true dumpling guzzler, in Hong Kong
One of the downsides to backpacking is that you will get food poisoning at some point. It doesn't matter if you are staying in f…

Hong Kong Theme Parks

I've gone to the two big theme parks in Hong Kong with my friend Scott in the last couple of years, and I'm going to break down the experience for you.

1. Hong Kong Disneyland: I'd say only go here if you are a Hong Konger. For someone visiting, there is way too much cool shit to do around the city to spend a day at the tiniest Disneyland ever. Although, maybe if you have a family it might be different. It was a lovely day, and just as magical as other Disney parks, but coming from Florida it just didn't compare. There were no big roller coasters! The Disney parade, Mad Hatter teacups, and It's a Small World rides are all classics, though.

2. Ocean Park: Now this theme park is worth a visit, maybe just for the views. Part aquarium/part classic theme park, this adventure land is built into a mountain top and is straight up epic. Massive aquariums full of penguins, sharks, jellyfish, sea lions, and rays are dispersed amongst a range of thrilling roller coasters, so I f…

Bureaucracy Will Be The Death of Me

Leaving Hong Kong is not so simple. Yes, I am moving home to the States, but there is still a ton to do! I need to terminate my phone and television and internet contracts, close out my utilities account, ship boxes home, get my pension money out of the HK system, and most of all: pay my final tax bill.

Taxes in Hong Kong are not withdrawn from your monthly paycheck- you pay them in a lump sum at the end of the year. It's a weird system that I've never totally figured out, where they charge you somewhat for the upcoming year as well. Although I am leaving in June, I need to first pay taxes on all of my income through August in order to submit of a 'letter of release' from the Inland Revenue Department to my employer, so that my employer can release my last few paychecks and pension holdings. Got it? Right.

The imposing government building everyone needs to visit in order to leave Hong Kong
Sorting out stuff like this is actually pretty straight forward in Hong Kong- I&#…

The Natural Beauty of Tioman Island

Off the southeastern coast of Peninsular Malaysia, just a couple hours drive from Singapore, is the idyllic island of Tioman. Tioman is a hotspot of adventure sports for the outdoorsy type, but can also be a place to post up in a beachfront bungalow for a week with a stack of magazines and coconuts to sip on if that's more your style. I was there on a school trip with students, so it was pretty much nonstop action for us.

Students and staff on our jungle trek
A well deserved dip
Right off the bat, we took our kids for a jungle trek followed by some over night camping in the jungle. It was a jolt to the senses having come from the city noises of Hong Kong to the deafening noises of the Malaysian jungle wildlife. The kids got to build campfires, swim in rivers, and do their business outdoors- oh joy!

Kayaking through the mangroves
Pythons spotted above us whilst kayaking! EEK!
Considering Tioman is a tropical island, there are plenty of water activities to do either in the rivers of the…

My Travel Bucket List

I know I should be focusing on a Hong Kong bucket list considering I've only got 6 weeks left here, but I'm a dreamer so let's shoot for the stars, shall we? Just because I am moving back to the US does not mean my travels are coming to a halt. Some personal financial goals might mean I don't aim to visit ten countries a year like I did in 2016, but there is still so much more out there I want to see. Here are some of the places I have on my mind for the near future:

1. New Zealand

photo credit
Any Lord of the Rings fan wants a chance to visit the Shire and Mordor and Helm's Deep and Rivendell and shall I continue? Ha! I want to go to New Zealand for the stunning scenery and to visit the infamously cool city of Wellington.

2. Tarangire Safari Lodge, Tanzania

photo credit
A friend recently told me this is their favorite place on Earth, and I'm sold. Africa is a continent I still need to crack, and this seems like an epic way to start. Sleeping in luxury tents amongs…

Tioman With Teens

Last year I went to Taiwan with teens, and this year I was lucky enough to go to Tioman Island, Malaysia, with a group of my 9th grade students. It was a week long outdoors extravaganza of jungle trekking, turtle conservation, scuba diving, mangrove kayaking, organic farming, snorkeling, and beach parties.

The students loved snorkeling in the pristine waters
With my students cooling off after a long hike (I'm the overexcited one on the end)
Traveling with teens can be frustrating sometimes. They have to come first, so even if you quietly spot a turtle swimming off in the distance, you can't blame them for shouting and pointing and driving it away. If you find a ukulele or a dog to pet or spot a monkey nearby, they too will be enthused and likely take over your finding and drive it away with their infectious enthusiasm (aka ruckus). Being asked for a band-aid for every single little bug bite or boo boo might wear down even the most resilient teacher.

We really did push them out of …