Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 in Review!

The most amazing blue lakes in the world, from Christchurch to Queenstown, New Zealand. December 2011

I am amazed that we are already almost the end of June 2012 and I have not posted a single time this year. I have to say - not excusing this sad state of affairs :( - but I have been pretty busy since December, especially with my work for the Women's Association: Charitable Donations and 
Designated Giving, raising funds for 29 charities selected by my committee to
 be granted funds for their projects benefiting the HK community.

Mount Cook

Although very satisfying, what I thought was to be a part time job, ended up being two full time ones! So blogging fell off the wagon.

So for those interested, here is a synopsis of 2012.

We celebrated Christmas 2011 in New Zealand, traveling by camper-car
In the camper-car
from Christchurch to Queenstown. The scenery is out of this world. Snow-capped mountains, the bluest lakes we have ever seen, lots of wildflowers, wildlife.
So many outdoor activities, perfect weather. We hiked, biked, ziplined, swam, even had an accident on a trampoline! (Everybody's fine..). It was just a great time.
Lake Wanaka, Queenstown

58km Milford Track

The second half of our vacation was a 5 day trek on Milford Trail, in the Fjord land National Park, from Lake Te Anau to Milford Sound. Possibly the most beautiful Sound in the world. We had Christmas dinner in Pompolana Lodge

Christmas dinner
way out in the middle of nowhere. It was really a great vacation, it is an amazing country.

We loved it!

MacKinnon Pass at Mitre's Peak, mile 16! 1154 meters.

Then my sister Marika and her husband Michael and daughter Lara visited us for New Year's 2012 celebrations.

It was really nice to have them here and Lara - who is 5 - took to Audrey as a big sister, holding her hand everywhere they went. For my introverted Audrey, this was very cute to see.

January brought return to school and organized sports. All is well now, routines are set, kids are settled. Nice that they are doing well and have good friends and are happy.
Ankor Wat

Audrey's sunrise at beautiful Ankor Wat
At the end of January, the kids and I took a short trip to Cambodia and went to the famous Ankor Wat world heritage site. Those temples are amazing, dating back to the 4th century, some of them.

You can't imagine the work involved and how this was done without machinery, trucks and cranes. It is just fascinating. We also visited our "adopted daughter" Samkhann while there; a young lady in the 8th grade, just a little older than Audrey. We have been supporting her studies in a school for gifted children since our arrival in HK. She regularly writes us and we correspond on her and her family's lives, her studies, etc. Her English is not too bad and it is good practice for her. She recently made it to national math testing - only for the top 5 students in each province. She wants to be an accountant and live in Phnom Phen.

This would be an amazing blessing to her family and for us to be able to help her reach that goal is an incredible opportunity. It was so heart warming to meet her and spend the day with her while in Cambodia.

The Ninja Huyghes
 For Easter, we finally made it to Japan, first Tokyo, then the mountains and countryside around Mount Fuji and finally Kyoto. Japan is a treat to visit. The Japanese people are so polite and courteous, it actually makes you very self conscious of your own lack of social graces and manners. But to be there for several days is great.

We visited a Ninja Dojo and learnt the ways of the ancient art in Tokyo, went on a bike ride in Takayama by Mount Fuji in a blizzard - the kids were besides themselves, so excited with the snow for 3 days! It was freezing...

The food is a challenge at every meal since you never know what you're going to get, a difficulty amplified by kids who are sick of being "Food Adventurers".

 But in any case, the scenery, the weather, the sites,
Golden Pavillon, Kyoto
all are impressive and beautiful. We were lucky to be there right when all the cherry trees were in full blossom. Lucky for the sites' beauty, but oh boy! so many onlookers!
Kyoto blooms


Audrey celebrated her 13th birthday with a "Hunger Games Light" survival contest and games at Victoria Peak Garden with her 7 best friends. They had a great time building a shelter in the woods, shooting rocks with slingshots through targets, sword fighting and a nice picnic. A very nice day.

Phoebe, Heloise, Fanny, Anne, Floris Angie, Juliette, Audrey and Grant

Anne made Audrey a cup with her favorite cat on it! She was super excited!
Desert Adventures, we did ride the camel.. See the moon between us? Full moon night! Awesome!

I just last week was invited  - almost a first, as I was reminded that I was invited once before to Denver when Audrey was 8 months old - with her - to join Steve on a business trip to Dubai.

Steve and Sheesha..
I LOVED it! My HK friend Chris lived there for 6 years and had prepared an itinerary for me. It was so much fun. Steve and I went on a desert adventure with Sheesha smoking, camel riding, belly dancing and a Bedouin BBQ.

 I visited several Mosques and lots of souks, we had fantastic meals, a drink at sunset on a rooftop terrace, AND an afternoon indulgence at Burj Al-Arab spa, in the world's only 7 star hotel (the building that looks like a sail). Oh my!..
Burj Al-Arab 7 star hotel

We are now in June and school is almost out. We will go back to Australia for 2 weeks in July to visit Perth and Sydney while Steve meets the people of the new offices his firm has opened there. Then back to HK for a little while before going to Shanghai for a month for Mandarin camp! The kids and I all will be going to camp for 3 weeks, followed by a week on the Silk Road in the western-northenmost provinces of Xinjiang and Gansu of China in the Tanklamakan desert and Altun Mountains of the border area with Inner Mongolia. This area is close to Kazakhstan and the ethnic minorities there are mostly nomads. It should be interesting and definitely off the beaten path.

Wishing all a wonderful summer!

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