Dear Family & Friends,
First, we deeply apologize for failing to send out a hard copy Christmas card this year. We could make excuses – we have to plan to send it so much earlier to get there on time, the end of the semester was very busy, sending hundreds of cards from China is expensive, we were preparing for family to visit. But frankly, it just fell through the cracks. Life is always busy and there are always excuses. But, it is never too late to write that Christmas/New Years/Valentine’s Day/Easter (you get the point) letter.
We have had a remarkable year. So remarkable in fact, that when we think back it is hard to believe how many new and interesting experiences we have had. We began 2014 by sitting on a plane, flying to Bali, Indonesia where we relaxed, surfed, played with monkeys and had our first (and only so far) bout with travel tummy.
Thanks to an early Chinese New Year, a short three weeks after we got back to Shanghai we boarded another flight, this time to Vietnam. We arrived in Hanoi just in time for the Tet (lunar new year) fireworks. We followed that up with a trip to the beautiful and breathtaking Halong Bay. Then found ourselves hiking in the gorgeous Sapa region, where we were invited to eat with members of the local family.
We were lucky enough to meet B’s mom and her husband (we will call them M & J) in Bangkok, where we quickly got on a plane and headed to the Thai island Koh Samui. A wonderful week of beautiful weather, exploring on a motorbike, soccer golf and fantastic company – it went by much too quickly. M & J came to Shanghai where we had the opportunity to show them around our new city and home.
In May we took advantage of a three day weekend to visit our favorite city (after NYC of course), Hong Kong. Where we visited friends, watched horses race and enjoyed the city.
Right before and after this weekend we were lucky enough to be visited by our cousins. We are not only lucky for all the opportunities that Shanghai affords, but we are so thankful for the visits from our family and friends. Every time someone visits a little bit of home comes to us. However, it is not always easy to be away from home. During this time we lost a very special uncle, who will forever live in our hearts. It was heartbreaking not to be with family at that time. While we couldn’t be at the funeral, we think and talk lovingly about him often.
As the summer began we went to India, to visit a good friend, explore Delhi and see the Taj Mahal. The pictures cannot match the beauty of seeing this building in person (it was just as beautiful and awe-inspiring the second time around for A).
B headed back to the U.S. where he was able to visit with family and friends (and climb Mount Washington).
A enjoyed her first year teaching and decided to pursue her certification in elementary education. She found a program geared towards international teaching, which took her to Mallorca, Spain to begin her coursework. She was lucky enough to have both her parents and her sister visit.
This fall we made the decision to stay in Shanghai one more year, signing a third year contract. We have come to love this city and in order to explore it more we will be moving further from work and into the center of the city.
We also decided to tackle the wild wall – the overgrown, not redone part of the Great Wall of China. We climbed through parts of the wall that were barely there and camped in a tower, waking up to a completely empty and peaceful wall.
We were lucky enough to figure out a way to make it home to see M & B get married. A very quick trip that was worth every minute of jet lag and more.
Our year ended with a visit from A’s parents (C & R) and her sister (K). Once again we got to show off our great city. Together we traveled to Beijing where we explored the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven Park (post and pictures to come). A memorable Christmas Day was spent on the great wall.
From there we went to Xi’an to see the famous Terracotta Soldiers. Our year wrapped up in Ho Chi Minh City (otherwise known as Saigon), Vietnam watching the New Year’s firework show with family.
We are incredibly grateful for the opportunities that living and working in Shanghai have given us. We have gotten to know more about Chinese culture, enjoyed a vibrant and multi-faceted city, and traveled and explored parts of Asia. We do not know what 2015 has in store, but we are looking forward to all the new opportunities and adventures that are to come.
Wishing you a very Happy New Year, from our family to yours.
A & B