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The holiday break was a whirlwind, so I was glad to make it back to Memphis for a little rest! My roommate and I made it up to Michigan on Thursday night after exams, and I took off with my family early Friday for Newark and then 15 hours later Hong Kong. My older sister was waiting for us and showed us a few sights on the way back to her apartment. We were all very tired but excited to have finally made it. We explored the islands around Hong Kong for a few days including the Big Buddha statue and monastery and the seaside town of Stanley. We had lots of wonderful food including peking duck, hot pot, dim sum, beef noodles, Thai and more. During the entire trip, I don't think I ate a meal that I didn't enjoy.
A few days after arriving, we flew to Indonesia and met my aunt and cousin at the Jakarta airport. Traffic was crazy getting back to their house, but it was exciting to be in a place that we had heard about from them for so many years. After a lot more eating and shopping we celebrated Christmas in +80 deg weather and hopped on a plane for Bali with even more warm weather expected. Bali also had lots of traffic and lots of tourists. We stayed within walking distance from the water and lots of surfers, kite boarders and swimmers. We were right downtown in Kuta, which is very heavily populated, but conveniently located by shops, restaurants and beaches. The following day we escaped the city and drove for 1.5+hrs to rice paddies and a small Balinese village. It was amazing to see how people were still living and farming outside of the city, and we had a local guide that explained a lot more about their way of life including their religion, family and work. It was truly a remarkable experience.
In Bali we met up with a former exchange student of ours from Malaysia who stayed at my house when I was a freshman in high school. It was so nice to see her again after 8 years. She definitely helped us with the language barrier and told us that we had to go to Singapore where she now worked and lived, so we flew to Singapore for the night on our way back to Hong Kong. Singapore was extravagantly decorated for Christmas with huge lights hanging over the streets. All the streets were clean and well maintained, which was a big contrast to what we saw in Indonesia. We dined with friends of my sister who also had attended the University of Michigan. Singapore is known for their seafood, especially giant crabs, so we had giant crabs fried in butter, in chili sauce and in pepper sauce. It was such a fun experience trying new foods.
We returned to Hong Kong the next day to collect the rest of our belongings, pack and hang out for one more day with the whole family. We had two weeks in Asia but it went by very fast. After another 14 hr flight we were in Chicago, our ninth and last flight during the break, and I was on my way north for New Years Eve and New Years day before driving back to Memphis on Sunday. I definitely enjoyed my break and family time, but it is nice to be settling back into a normal routine at school. I'll definitely be ready for another trip right about May when it's time to head to South America with SVOSH!
[caption id="attachment_885" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="My dad hanging with the locals in Bali"][/caption]