Showing posts from October, 2013

The BEST Scuba Diving in Asia!

I got my Open Water PADI certification a couple weeks ago in Koh Tao, Thailand, and am therefore obviously not that experienced, but I can't imagine a better place to go scuba diving in terms of atmosphere and warmth and fun and experience. New Way Divers was a dive shop I found through random google searches along the lines of 'scuba dive asia' and 'good scuba dive asia.' There are something like 50 scuba diving companies on Koh Tao alone, so I feel really lucky that I found New Way!

We had 7 people in the Open Water class, but with 2 instructors. I saw groups of 7 or 8 at the other schools, but they only had one instructor, and I think that made a huge difference. We would hang out and do a morning briefing on the boat as a big group, but break up into smaller groups under the water based on our air levels. Also, New Way had their own boats which made our lives way easier.

Prepping on the boat
That's me doing the James Bond entrance

Our group descending down the…

Massages in Thailand

In my nine days in Thailand, I had 3 massages. They're so cheap, it's hard not to! And I don't know if I just got lucky, but every massage therapist I had really knew what they were doing. I've read about the healing intent behind Thai massages and I understood it.

Where the magic happened
One spa gave you tea and fruit after every session
Let me try to explain how a Thai massage feels: I felt so positive and I knew great things were happening and my body felt connected to the world and people are generally good. not evil. and puppies. You get it?

Oh so relaxed at the spa after my back massage
The first time around I got a healing package (hot stone massage, Thai massage, facial), the second time I just did shoulders/neck/back, and my last massage was a feet and shoulder combo. Could I do this professionally, review massages around the continent? Hmm...

Majestic Spa in Koh Tao: Go there now!
To be honest, I only got the second massage because the shower in the spa was real…

A Week in Thailand

Er, actually… nine days. I spent nine days in Thailand, guys! This time last year I had no idea I would even be living in Asia and now I'm well on my way to exploring the continent. I think because I didn't originally choose Hong Kong (the school sort of found me at a job fair), I didn't really have the motivation to go out and wander. After the instability of Ecuador, I just wanted a home.
Now that I've hit the road, I feel that travel bug deep down in my bones. And I'm excited! I have years ahead of me living here in Hong Kong, the perfect home base to hop around the rest of Asia.
Designated area in the Bangkok airport
So a quick rundown of my trip to Thailand. I had a brief, oddly timed weekend in Bangkok. I got in at 1 AM on Friday night and left at 6 AM on Sunday, so I really only had Saturday to explore. My mom's friend from Florida is living in Bangkok an she graciously took me around the city. We rode on a ferry boat, took tuk tuks, taxi, the undergroun…

Traveling Isn't All Fun And Games

I don't want to make the impression from this blog that my life is pure bliss and adventure and frolicking around fields of dandelions with wonderful new friends I've met. Travel can be hard work! Last night, for example, I had planned to unpack from my trip to Thailand, do some laundry, grade some assessments. Instead I spent FOUR hours on the phone with Orbitz, resulting in them ultimately canceling my trip entirely because they couldn't sort it out and admitted defeat, and then I had to start from scratch and rebook everything.

For all the time I spent scuba diving in Thailand and eating shrimp on the beach and getting massages, I spent a lot of time waiting. At piers, at airports, on street corners. I also spent a lot of time asking for directions and trying to figure out exactly where the ferry picks up passengers and where I should leave my luggage and convincing myself that my back would not actually break under the weight of my backpack.

Throughout my trip to Thail…

Moody Musing

I've been to 27 countries and found myself in Bangkok yesterday, all too aware of how it was my first time travelling solo. Wandering the streets, I was craving a cafe to read and drink iced coffee and dwelling rather excessively on how I was alone, when BOOM, I stumbled upon a quirky little coffee shop with big pink vintage couches, Regina Spektor playing in the background, and plentifully gracious air conditioning. I'm always surprised when things work out so perfectly even when I know it's not a coincidence. I will be travelling with an open heart this week!

At a cafe in Bangkok
This morning I woke in Bangkok in a bad mood. I had to wake at 430 for a 7 AM flight to Samui so I could wait around for 4 hours and then catch a ferry boat to Koh Tao. I know, what a hard life, right? Everything was bothering me. People on the plane stood up the minute the plane landed, as we will still taxiing across the airport, and the flight attendants got all flustered. Then the Samui airp…

Very Random HK Weekend

This weekend was totally spontaneous and took me to the far corners of Hong Kong. I danced in Kowloon, I hiked in Sai Kung, I drank on a classy rooftop. There are so many options here, and because it's so safe I feel totally comfortable winging it and exploring with or without friends. Here is my random Hong Kong weekend, in 5 photos.

Yummy yummy mezze platter at Mana! Slowfood
Hiking trails around the beaches in Sai Kung
Swanky cocktails on a rooftop bar
Grungy dancing at a ska concert above an auto shop
Vietnamese pho deliciousness

Hong Kong International Schools

For today's blog post, I am going to write about schools in Hong Kong. My job is pretty similar as to what I was teaching in Ecuador, middle school social studies at an 'international' school. Just like in Ecuador, my school is mostly local children. That's about where the similarities end. I've taught in Ecuador and the US, and now Hong Kong, and for all you teachers out there: YOU GOTTA GET TO ASIA. Here are some reasons why.
Kids Behave: I think I came off as a hard-ass in the first week of school here because I'm used to having to be a jerk at the beginning of the year to establish who is boss in my classroom. Discipline is a non-issue in Hong Kong schools. I spend zero time worried about classroom management and discipline because the kids just behave. No chaos, acting out, fights, late work, missing assignments, or attitude.
Bell Schedule: As a result of the kids' great behavior, the bell schedule looks a little different. Period 1 ends at 9:20, and Pe…

Hiking Up The Peak

Victoria Peak is the tallest mountain on Hong Kong Island at 552 meters. I climbed it today with a friend, starting pretty much at sea level, and am feeling quite proud of myself at the moment for making it up to the top. I get worried when hiking uphill because of my asthma, but I paced myself, drank lots of water, and had fun conversations with my friend to distract me from the sweating and wheezing.

I highlighted the trail I took today on this map of Hong Kong
Pre-sweatiness McKenzie
The trail is really easy to get to from the city. Once on Caine Road you can either take Old Peak Road up, or Kotewall Road if you are further west. My friend and I walked up Kotewall Road, and then ended the hike going down Old Peak Road. I felt like I was walking up FOREVER, but I think that was only because it was my first time doing the hike. I'm sure it can only get easier (I hope!)
Feeling good on the way up
After much googling, I have determined the animal we  bumped into on the trail is... a Mask…