It’s been an excellent year. One to remember. It began on a freezing hillside overlooking a spectacular fireworks display over Prague. And will end tonight at a rave somewhere on the outskirts of Hanoi.
Information is sketchy at best right now. We know that a bus will pick us somewhere at 9pm and take us to a small village (somewhere). It has all the hallmarks of being either the greatest or worse New Year in history. And if I’m honest, good premise for a horror film.
The beginning of the year in Prague was an incredible experience. Truly one of the most stunning cities in the world and it was where I learnt to teach. It will always be a special place. I was grateful to have visits from some of my best friends. Some I have known for many years and some for much less. The weekend with the boys from home was complete debauchery in the most fantastic of fashions. I don’t think any of us were expecting anything else. A group of German girls in a passing peddalo on the Vltava River called us boring. We were stunned and more than a little hurt. We thought it best to party for the next 16 hours to prove them wrong. We did – and we really showed them.
Seeing my wonderfully sassy New York/Southern California friend was a mixed experience. It was fantastic to see her – but the sight of the two monstrous suitcases she was traveling with filled me with dread. I swear they were each bigger than her and weighed about the same as a mid size cow. She has been informed not to pull that shit when she comes to Vietnam and to buy a small backpack instead. If anybody reading this knows her I’m sure you will agree that the results of this will be hilarious. But I doubt she agrees.
Stag Week(ends) in Croatia and Ibiza will live long in the memory. Equally so for those lucky/unlucky enough to cross our paths. More than one of us returned home from Croatia with sea urchin needles in our feet. The fact that it happened skinny dipping at 3am only adds to the slow shake of the head in disapproval. The groom returned with a broken rib. The bride quite fairly wielded the threat of wedding expulsion above certain heads. But all was forgiven (I think) on the big day; which was absolutely magic. Ibiza predictably followed suit. Epic 10,000 people clubs. Nights that rolled into mornings that rolled into…I’m not sure what that is really. Purgatory maybe? I think it’s fair to say that those who attended both returned home a little slower than before. Six months later I am still attempting to regain the brain power lost.
Twice in February I received phone calls informing me that my Grandmother was on the brink of death, twice she battled back. She is a Swedish Viking. I am quite sure she is indestructible and will probably out live me. It was emotional to see her again in Paris in August after been so sure I never would.
I don’t think I have ever been as exhausted as when I finished the summer school in August; but it was an unforgettable experience and I made some excellent friends. Observing the looks on the faces of the children from Barcelona as they gazed out into torrential English rain for the fourth consecutive day was a particular highlight. Forcing them out into it did top it though.
Spending nearly four months in England over the summer was probably more than I had planned but it gave me time to reconnect with old friends. It means a lot to me to spend years away from home and be welcomed back as normal. It takes an excellent group of friends to do that. Living elsewhere people have always told me how they have dreamed of visiting the rolling hills of England, with its quaint little villages. Sometimes what is staring you in the face takes time to be appreciated. And spending time with my mother is always great. It had its low moments though. On more than one occasion she forced me go with her to shovel horse shit into bags. Once in the rain. Obviously she waited until I was well out of the reaches of child services before beginning this horrifying act of forced labor. Apparently she does it all the time – and worryingly gets quite a kick from it.
And so to Vietnam to finish the year. A country I’m still hopelessly confused by. But in the most exciting of ways. I have purchased a motorbike and therefore now have the right to drive like a lunatic ignoring all sane driving sense and use the horn as my very own personal soundtrack whether it’s needed or not. It is quite wonderful.
So a fantastic, breathless year. I like to make a special mention to somebody close to me who had the worst of years in 2011. So much so he would have completely been forgiven if he had taken the slower burner, or even stepped backwards in 2012. That wasn’t the case. He went from strength to strength through 2012 and I’m very proud of him for it. I only hope that when life puts me on my ass I can do it as-well.
Happy New Year Everyone.