Thursday, July 31, 2014


My day started with a crazy banana coffee on the edge of the Mekong. The place was incredible. They had a platform for yoga which had an amazing outlook, and another sheltered one with couches and little bed things. What a way to embrace the day! 

I had my feet nibbled by tiny little fishes today. It felt so weird but so good! When I took them out they still needed a bit more loving so I asked for a foot scrub. The girl spoke no English but we communicated in smiles. She really earned her money because my feet were so tough. I think she was quite surprised. It felt amazing though and my feet are now so soft!

After Dani got off work we made a spontaneous decision to take a boat to the other side of the Mekong. A man offered us a good price so we followed him down some dodgy steps to his boat. I had my doubts before we got in and watched him try to start the motor. It took about ten tries and some going back and forth before it caught. Off we went to the other side where a whole bunch of stairs awaited us. 

We made it to the top, puddles of sweat, and looked around the rundown temple. It had an amazing view of the other side of the river though and was well worth it. 

Eaten alive

Dinner of a juicy bamboo shoot stuffed with minced pork, deep fried.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Luang Prabang has absolutely charmed me today. It is a ridiculously quaint little town with the Mekong river on one side and the Nam Khan on the other. The buildings are French Colonial and the people are so friendly. 

I'm still getting used to seeing so many fallangs (foreigners) everywhere. Most of them seem to be European. I hear French everywhere. It's wonderful. 

Today I played a real tourist and crossed off many things on my list. I visited temples, rode along the Mekong, ate in a cute cafe, had amazing coffee, drank out of a coconut, read my book, and went to the cultural museum. All before 3pm! 

They put wax on the fabric before dipping it in dye so it leaves a pattern. So lovely.

Beautiful scarves at the night market.

Barbecue, Laos style

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Today I was running on 3hrs sleep because we ran into Dani's friend last night and had all kinds of adventures. I've rode on the back of a motorbike with two other people in the rain (sorry mum), seen the inside of a Laos club and then danced the night away at a bar owned by one of the guys in the group because the clubs close early due to the curfew. 

Going to bed when as the sun comes up isn't as exciting when you've got a 12hr bus ride ahead of you. 

However, I was feeling surprisingly chipper for the first ten hours. I loved watching the villagers go about life as we passed on through, especially as we got higher into the mountains. It was even ok in the dark for a while. I just imagined I was on a bumpy ride at a theme park. But those last two hours were a bit torturous. Whenever I dozed off, my head would drop suddenly. I bumped Dani's head once, and the window sill so hard that it gave me a bump and Dani woke up from the sound. 

We finally made it and tumbled into bed at 2:30am. Phew!
Dani, surprisingly chipper in the tuktuk.

Tasty snacks at a rest stop.

Rice paddys are my new favourite landscape.

Monday, July 28, 2014


Lao reminds me a lot of Tonga. The people even look a bit similar. There is a major exception, though. The French left their stamp on the country after they colonized it. Some houses and storefronts have the shingled roofs and shuttered windows. It's really very quaint. 

It also means I had a croissant for breakfast and it was so legit. I savoured every mouthful. 

Today we caught a tuktuk to Buddha Park over the bumpiest road imaginable. I thought we wouldn't make it. But we did and it was a journey for the memory banks, definitely! The road surface was cratered like the moon and even the giant trucks were having a hard time, never mind our tiny makeshift tuktuk! I have so much respect for our driver for not getting us too stuck. That's some mega skill. We bought him a grilled banana as a thank you and he seemed happy enough.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


I managed to oversleep 40 mins, completely Marilyn Munroe a poor man, and leave my food waste at home to fester in the heat this morning. 

But that's ok because I was on my way to Laos. 

I made it to the airport where a young boy kicked me, called me 'mum', and stuck his hand up my dress. The airplane ride felt long, but the seats were green and the blanket smelled like fabric softener. 

Flying above the clouds always makes me very happy. Today they looked like that filler stuff Dad used to stop up holes in the wall joinery. I imagined it was a fictional land which I could run across and slide down the cloud dunes. It looked like a lot of fun! 

It's so good to be with Dani again! We ate fresh pineapple on the side of the road as we walked to the COPE center. The museum was a little walk through the terrible history of Laos, but it ended with hope. Children are still getting limbs blown off from finding live bombs in the forest but thanks to COPE they can access free medical care and prosthetics. 

Some of the people's stories were incredible. They are so brave and they just get on with life the best they can manage.

All these wonderful books and I forgot to bring one with me.

Lao Airlines has green leather seats!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


Today one of my loveliest of friends chose to tell me something that couldn't have been very easy for her. I really do try to be the kind of person people feel like they can open up to without fear of judgement.

That's why it means so much that she would tell me what's going on in her life.

I love it when people share real stuff with me. It makes me feel trusted. It's one of my favourite things.

I'm trying to become better at reciprocating that gift, too.

This morning at school we had a little show and it was adorable.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


The cutest conversation happened at lunch time today.

I was sitting in my usual place and the girls plus Sihoon came and started talking to me. As usual, a couple of the girls hassled Sihoon and started pulling his hair and tugging on his arms. Once they dispersed and only he remained, he complained about it to me.

I suggested that perhaps they like him if they're doing that. He told me that he doesn't like them because he likes another girl.

I asked some prying questions and he looked at me out the corner of his eyes with a cheeky grin on his face. So, yep. She's in his class and he has told her how he feels.

Apparently he sent her a text confessing his feelings and she told him he had to behave better in general before she will consider him. He said, "I will fix my bad actions and she will decide on Friday".

What a deal! I'm just a bit terrified that if she turns him down he'll be cheekier than ever. Oh dear. Anyway, tomorrow I will see who she is. I've already got my suspicions!

Monday, July 21, 2014


I love how kids aren't so great at hiding their instinctive emotions. Mainly because it's flattering.

Like today, on my way back from lunch, a little third grade boy saw me as he popped his head out of the door and did a little surprised hop/dance thing with a giant grin on his face.

He exclaimed, "HELLO TEACHER!" before bounding off down the corridor.

That kind of thing really makes your day.


Dongshin is a very special community. Today I felt so much love as I visited again.

During the announcements I was watching some friends being an adorable married couple. They were laughing and hitting each other in recognition of how awesome they both were. I had a silly grin on my face as I looked on. Then they caught me! 

He turned around and gave me a peace sign hello and she waved, both with silly facial expressions. 

I just loved seeing them be best friends and such a team. Married couples like that are the best.


Saturday, July 19, 2014


Jess and Isaac had a birthday bash this evening in the buffet restaurant at Ariana hotel. Of course, is foreigners were a bit loud and people complained. They just weren't so keen on our rendition of Let it Go. Fair enough.

The band was really fun so we ended up taking over the dance floor. As soon as I got there the most gorgeous little half-Korean girl ran up to me, arms extended as if to ask me to dance with her. She was super adorable, going from person to person, jumping about and twirling. Oh to be a fearless four year old again!

While we were there I was talking to Jess' friend who is a US military officer. We got into the topic of leadership and I couldn't believe how many of the exact same principals and little quips we both knew. It was great to talk about that stuff. I feel like there aren't that many people with a real passion for it. Anyway, I have a lot more respect for the military now, as an institution which helps develop leaders and change lives in a positive way. It's so weird to see the similarities between the church and the army. 

After that it was noraebang time and I absolutely wrecked my voice once again. Also my ankles. It's impossible not to scream and jump. It's practically necessary.
Michelle got Isaac a corn.


I stayed with Lucy tonight! It was so great to see her smiling face and just hang out at her house.

She gave me melon and It was incredible. I can't even describe how wonderful it tasted. 

Just chilling is the thing I like most.

I blew out a candle and hot wax went all over my hands. I thought I was fine but apparently it melted my skin a bit.

Friday, July 18, 2014


I went to a training this afternoon with my coteacher and it reminded me so much of Kids Ministry trainings. I half expected her to pray at the end.

The teachers there were so passionate about it. They had all kinds of great ideas for teaching phonics and reading and they helped each other out. 

It really was about the kids and making sure they get the best quality education. That's what I love about my school. They believe in what they do. It's not just a job to them. 

It makes me want to find that for myself again.

A couple of Hangyul's great recent snaps:

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Today the students were just making me happy. Everything they did was amusing.

In one class we made mini-books about their daily routines and the boys were all in a fluster over how to illustrate shower time. 

They threw around suggestions of censoring mosaics and careful towel placement. We really had a laugh!

Another boy had a page that read, "I walk my duck at 4:15". 

These kids keep us on our toes in the best way possible.

The sunset at Gwanghwamun


The yellow ribbons remind us all of the Sewol

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


This evening I bought clothes for the first time since I went home. It was very very strange. Afterwards I felt gross, like consumerism had won.

Anyway, Keke and I met up with Matt, a guy from Rangi who is in Korea at the moment. It was so weird to hear his (very strong) accent. But also very cool. 

It was like having worlds collide in an odd but also awesome way. It was stranger still because Korea is far more part of his culture but I was the one showing him around. 

I enjoyed it very much though!

No bandy-legged discrimination here!

Monday, July 14, 2014


I saw Janet today! I love seeing her because she's so Korean that it's like hanging out with a legit Korean, but she gets the Kiwiness too.

Also, I didn't realize until after that she didn't say a single word like an American the entire time.

That made me feel very good too!

Also, I had two hours to kill before meeting her so I had solo chills by the river. It was wonderful. I love this city more and more every day.

What a snap!

I taught her about Snapchat and she uses it as an excuse for more selfies.

Ok, we went selfie mad, but we are Korean...