We closed out our Asia trip with a visit to the Maldives, a true island paradise. Then, after a few days on the Maldivian island of Huraa, we flew to Singapore for the weekend to visit with some good friends and closed out our Asia trip for good. The Maldives are world famous for their white sand beaches on their thousands of islands and their crystal clear aquamarine waters. In this regard, they did not disappoint. We snorkeled, and scuba dived, and fished, and boated to our own private island to play in the white sand.
After being in India, it was great to head back to a tropical island - full of plenty of nature to explore and fresh air to breathe in. So on we went to the island of Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon during British colonial times. We flew into Colombo and then spent 3 days in Dambulla, then drove down to Kandy to spend the rest of our time. We visited ancient Buddhist temples, saw wild elephant herds roaming, climbed a hilltop fortress, and took a local train ride up into the highlands and tea plantations.
What a place! We had wanted to go to India for years, but had always felt a little apprehensive. This year we took the plunge. We hired a full-time driver who arranged the itinerary and all the hotels, which took away much of the fear of the unknown. We did the “Golden Triangle” of northern India, which includes Delhi (capital), Agra (Taj Mahal) and Jaipur (Amber fort). We added in Ranthambore (tiger safari) and Varanasi (Hindu equivalent of Mecca) and had ourselves a fantastic Northern India tour ready and waiting. It was a complete cornucopia of sights, smells, tastes, and sounds.
One of our favorite parts of worldschooling is the presentations the kids give on the places we visit. Instead of paying for a guide, the kids become our "tour guides" (for a much more reasonable fee!) at most of the places we visit, or give us a recap presentation later, complete with a competitive Kahoot! Sometimes, they just do a writing assignment of what stands out in their mind of a certain place. We have included some of those writings below:
(Click below right to read more . . . . . . )
My good friend, Linda Franks, invited us to join her on her yearly humanitarian trip to Phnom Penh, so I jumped at the chance to go and spend time with her and follow her amazing shadow of good will. Jen and Emily Kelly, and Anna and I flew to Phnom Penh for a 4 day/3 night visit spent learning to serve and love the Cambodians.
1. Spending time with Linda Franks, founder of AKUN charity
2. Volunteering in the Mother Teresa's "Missionaries of Charity" orphanage
3. Visiting the Genocide "Killing Fields" Museum
4. Traditional Cambodian Dance show
5. Spending time in the Lindalva Learning Center
6. A girls' trip
(Click below right to read more . . . .)
After leaving the island of Java, we happily walked down the memory lane that is the island of Borneo, where we had lived as a family for 5 1/2 years (2008-2013). We flew to the northeast corner of the island to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, a city where we had spent many fun family vacations. After a few days in Kota Kinabalu, Tera and Anna took a service trip to Cambodia with Jen and Emily Kelly and a good friend of ours from Brunei, Linda Franks, and the rest of the crew went to Brunei to spend a few days. Tera, Anna, Jen & Emily joined us again in Brunei just in time for an overnight trip to the rainforests of Temburong National park, and then we parted ways with the Kellys. They headed back to Bali and we continued on in Brunei for a weekend visit to our old house and neighborhood in Panaga. It was so fun to reawaken old memories and make some fun new memories along the way.
A boat transfer from the Gili Islands back to Bali, and then a flight to the island of Java. We came to Yogya (Jogja) to see the famous 9th century Hindu and Buddhist Temple complexes of Borobodur and Prambanan.
After our week in Bali, we boarded a fast boat to the Gili Islands. There are three small islands, just off of Lombok, each with its own vibe. Gili Trawangan is the party island, Gili Meno is the secluded island, and Gili Air is nice mix of both. We chose Gili Air, and early in the afternoon we disembarked onto the island with no cars or motorized vehicles of any kind. Their form of transportation around the 2 km perimeter sand road was walking, bikes, electric scooters, and pony-drawn carts which jingled with horse bells as the ponies trotted along the path. There were signs everywhere of the destruction wreaked by a powerful earthquake just 6 weeks earlier. Luckily, most of the island was back up and running by the time we arrived.
(Click below right to read more . . . )
We returned to Bali for our 3rd time in 10 years, and fell in love all over again with the island. Our trip included the Kelly family, who we met in Guatemala while we stayed in Panajachel, to make a travelling party of 13 people. The first half of our Asia trip will be with the Kelly’s: Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia and Brunei; and then the second half will be just the 6 of us: India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Singapore.
We headed straight to Ubud, Bali’s cultural center, and one of Tera's favorite places in the world. A place where you can be completely immersed in nature and culture: tropical fruits (think mangosteen, rambutan, mango, passion fruit, pineapple, coconut), the sunrises & sunsets, the warm tropical breezes, the Balinese style of Hinduism with their fragrant offerings and graceful traditions, the tropical flowers, the inexpensive Balinese massages, the local dress, the vibrant rice fields, the humble people who show true satisfaction in their modest standard of living and close-knit families and communities. In Ubud, we were welcomed into a 9-bedroom villa with a swimming pool. It was spacious and overlooked a jungle ravine. It was far enough north of the city to feel like a hidden local space, but close enough to Ubud to be near all of the delicious restaurants (though the whole area was a great deal more crowded than I remember from 10 years ago).
We loaded up the car and started our drive south with just four kids, leaving our two-month long retreat in Orem, Utah and our two college kids behind, and pointed ourselves toward St. George, Utah. It had been two months since we all loaded up in the car, and the kids eased back into it quite well. After an overnight in a friend’s house we spent a day in Zion National park. Sunday was a church day followed more driving and then a few days in San Diego seeing cousins. Then a final dinner in Chino Hills with yet more cousins before our late night marathon 18-hr flight from LAX to Singapore. Living out of a suitcase for the next 7 weeks, here we come!
We've had a great time "settling in" to Utah (yep, 2 months is settling in for us!): finishing school projects; spending time with friends and family - especially our college kids Emily and Nathan; and planning our next adventure to Asia. We're ready and rested, and very grateful for the joy we find in so many places.
1. Completing many BYU online High School classes
2. Helping Nana to get ready for her move
3. We love the arts!!!
4. BYU career presentation
5. Spending time with Emily and Nathan
6. EFY, Ballroom Dance Camp, and Education Week at BYU!
7. Finishing our Asia trip planning
8. Making new memories with old and new friends
(Click below right to Read More . . . .)
Plan? What plan?
Our first Gap Year was a fabulous "2017-2018 School Year" of travel: from the Netherlands to Jordan to Texas to Hawaii to Mexico to Central America to London and back to the Netherlands. Our "2018 Summer Vacation" took us all around Western Europe, back to the USA on a transatlantic cruise, a road trip through New York and into Canada, and ending up in Utah. We have now kicked off the "2018-2019 School year" with a trip to Asia. Follow along with us on our visits to new places, as well as revisiting some of our favorite places from our time living there. It's going to be great!!