During June and July I was fortunate enough to take a holiday. I turned 40 while I was away and originally the plan was for Matt and I to have a romantic holiday together 'somewhere requiring a passport'. It didn't work out for us to go together however Matt suggested I go to Indonesia and spend some time with Declan. So I did! I completed my uni assignments, sat an exam then took off the very next day and was gone for just over 4 weeks. I can't even begin to explain how much I missed Matt and the kids but at the same time I had some amazing adventures. One of the highlights for me was skyping with my family from the Shangri La Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on my birthday. My gorgeous family made a yummy chocolate cake complete with [way too many] candles, sang a harmonious 'happy birthday' and arranged for me to 'virtually' blow out my candles and cut the cake. I didn't let them see but I had tears in my eyes as we chatted about what I'd been up to and vice versa. I'm so grateful to Matt for suggesting I take this trip and for being so capable in my absence and holding the fort like a true legend!
I went with a brand new passport (that's a whole other blog post) which now has stamps from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. I had a wonderful time. Declan is the BEST holiday planner. If you are ever traveling in Asia please contact him. You will be thankful you did! I spent 9 days in Jakarta - that place is nuts and in all truthfulness I really didn't like it there - hanging out in Declan's classroom, practicing ma skills! and generally having a fun time as their school year drew to a close. The British International School where Declan works is quite a prestigious school. He has had the President of Indonesia's grandkid in his class (wouldn't want to send a bad report home for that one would you?) and at the moment has the grandkid of a woman (Susi) who happens to own an airline (Susi Air) and a chain of hotels (among other things). That is how Gus, Tilly, Felix, Declan and I came to be the only ones on a chartered flight from Jakarta to Pangandaran. Collected by a driver and taken to a hotel to stay all for FREE! how generous is that? Oh my goodness!
We received so much generosity from others it was almost unbelievable. Before living and working in Indonesia, Justine and Declan lived and worked in Chiang Mai, Thailand. When one of Declan's past students from his school in Thailand caught wind that Declan was coming to visit with his sister, she insisted we stay at their resort!!!. When we arrived at the Lanna Resort not only did they insist we stay for no charge but also supplied us with a brand new car to use for the 10 days we were there. All of our meals and any other conveniences we needed were all supplied free of charge...so, so generous.
We fit lots and lots in to the 10 days in Chiang Mai then flew to Phuket for a relaxing few days then spent 24 hours in Bangkok (long enough in my humble opinion) before flying back to our respective homes. I was totally exhausted when I returned home. It took a full week to feel back to normal. It was so wonderful to spend some one on one time with my brother. We both needed it and benefited from it. I feel very fortunate to have had the experiences I have had during my trip and to have shared most of them with Declan. I can't remember the last time we spent time together, alone without other distractions...probably when we were teenagers and we didn't really appreciate it or even realise how precious time alone is. There's far too much to fit into just one blog post so I will do a number of posts over the next little while detailing some of the highlights...Myanmar needs a whole post to itself! I'm still sorting through photos all while trying to keep up with uni and catch up with things that fell by the wayside while I was gone.