Happy Holidays! Happy New Year!

83E43EC6-ED8D-40F4-A2BC-5D1B061A5854.jpegI figured since it’s still January I can still get away with saying “Happy holidays” and “Happy New Year”! I really wanted to get this post in during the holiday season but between travel time, being sick, time with family, and then being busy seeing all the sites of New Zealand (I know excuses, excuses!) it just didn’t happen…until now!

I hope the new year is off to a great start for everyone. I can not believe February is around the corner. That means I only have one more full month of travel ahead of me before settling back down again. So much to catch up on but I am going to keep focused on the topic of this blog – the holidays. Here’s a recap of the holiday season!

Saffron time!

December 23rd – my birthday! I spent the day (my final day) in Luang Prabang. I went to my favorite coffee place – Saffron – to soak in the views of the Mekong River, drink the wonderful local coffee, and snack on my favorite treat, banana bread with espresso butter! I took some time to journal and opened up a card that a follow volunteer friend had given to me before she departed earlier that week. It was also a lot of fun getting messages and emails from friends and family back home. Being far from home on my birthday and Christmas was new and different, but hearing from people was awesome!

View from guesthouse balcony 

Because I was done with my program I had to find a new guesthouse for my final night in Luang Prabang. I stayed at Cold River, a guesthouse a couple of doors down.

Happy hour with Beer Lao!

I enjoyed one final Beer Lao on the balcony before getting ready for dinner. Luang Prabang had good coffee and beer!

Birthday outing 

I met some wonderful people while volunteering in Laos. Helen was a follow volunteer from England. We both had the opportunity to participate in the female health workshops in rural villages. We arrived back from our trip the evening before so it was fun celebrating both a birthday and our recent adventure on my final night in Luang Prabang.

Luang Prabang airport

December 24th – departure from Luang Prabang. I was really sad leaving Luang Prabang. I spent six weeks working, living, and exploring in that area. I met some wonderful volunteers who have become friends. I worked with some incredible people at GVI who are doing amazing work teaching and creating opportunities for others. I taught really sweet, friendly, appreciative students. I wish I could have been there for longer.

Luang Prabang during takeoff
One final look at the Mekong River

I had a mid-afternoon flight from Luang Prabang to Bangkok and then a red-eye flight from Bangkok to Sydney. So I arrived into Sydney on Christmas morning.

December 25th – I arrived early in the morning and was lucky enough to be able to check into my hotel. I was feeling quite jet lagged but thought it was nothing more than needing a little nap. I woke up not feeling great but blamed the travel. I rallied for a stroll down by the harbor.

Sydney Harbor 
Sydney Harbor Bridge
Sydney Opera House

After walking around for an hour I decided I needed another lay down and that’s exactly what I proceeded to do for my entire 72 hours in Sydney. As it turned out it was more then just jet lag and I ended up with the flu. Fever, body aches, loss of appetite, zero energy. It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind for Christmas or my time in Sydney but I am so thankful that I had the opportunity and time to rest and a comfortable place to spend three full days in bed.

My view for 72 hours!

I probably would have spent another day or two in bed but had to rally on December 28th to catch a flight to Auckland to meet up with my sister, Casey!

New Years Eve in Sumners, outside Christchurch, with my sister!

Casey and I spent a couple of days in Auckland before flying down to Christchurch for New Year’s. She joined me for a two week road trip on the South Island. She left two weeks ago while I remained here on the South Island. New Zealand is amazing. I’m so lucky to be here in their summer when the weather is warm and the days are long. There is so much to do and it’s so easy to be outside until the final light of the day is gone. It’s wonderful! It’s just harder to find the time to sit at the computer and write! So more blogs to come when I can steal myself away from Mother Nature!

Sunset along the West Coast

This is why there have been so few posts. I just want to be outside from sunrise to sunset!