On to KL

So, after my fantastic evening, and some phone calls home, we were off first thing the next morning to Kuala Lumpur. I was attending a Teachers Conference there and Marshall was just planning on hanging out. We had a room with a view of the Petronas towers!


I was excited to see the other SIS teachers who were there so that I could tell them my news! And show off the ring!


Again, we were staying at a Shangri La hotel so again, we had fabulous breakfasts (including a chocolate fountain!) and dinners provided by the conference. The dinners were dangerous – free wine and beer which was constanty filled. As soon as you were near the bottom of your glass, someone came along and replaced it with a full one!


The food was great with an Indian section, a Malaysian section, salads, fruit, chocolates, cakes. Robyn and I worked out that in 4 days we gained 4 pounds. And it was worth it!


While I did actually attend some really good conferences, we had plenty of time for hanging out by the pool and checking out some local places.

n810202220_370324_13041.jpgn810202220_370317_93691.jpg It was definitely hard to think about coming back to Korea without Marshall and starting teaching again, when I have far more fun things to think about!


Add comment April 4, 2008 lizzie

Finally some details…..

The whole vacation was wonderful ( and I was thinking this even before I became engaged). Marshall had spent a week here in Korea as he had 2 weeks off. I should have known it was love since he spends every vacation he has coming back here to Seoul! We were flying to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo separately since he was going through Hong Kong in order to pick up his summer clothes backpack, and….the ring as I found out.

I arrived into Kota Kinabalu around 3:30 and it is a real testament to how comfortable I am travelling now, that I didn’t check what kind of money they use there, didn’t change any money beforehand, didn’t arrange a hotel van to pick me up. I just arrived. I found an ATM machine and then a taxi and headed off.

I knew the hotel was going to be gorgeous but it just gave off such an air of tranquility (until I discovered the children’s play area and pool that was crowded with screaming kids). As you enter the hotel, they hit a gong and then musicians play as you walk to the lounge to check in. I knew I had about 6 hours until marshall arrived so I took a look around, swam a bit, even worked out! Then, I positioned myself in the lobby bar and started drinking gin and tonics to wait for Marshall. After an hour and a half and 2, maybe 3 drinks, he still hadn’t arrived. It turns out that his flight from Hong Kong had been cancelled! I had to spend my first night there alone! So, in order to distract myself from this fact, I cozied up in the hotel robe and slippers, ordered room service and found a good movie on TV.

We had a great room with an enormous bed, a separate little sitting area and a balcony overlooking the ocean. balconyview.jpgview.jpg

They even put a coconut plant in each room that is planted on the orangutan reserve once you leave!


Obviously Marshall made it in fine the next day and we were able to take  full advantage of the beach loungers, poolside service, boule’s games, gorgeous sun and views, and not forgetting the wonderful breakfasts. Each morning was a huge array of food – all the waffles, pancakes, pastries, eggs, omelettes, breads, curries, laksa noodle soups, congee (the last two were my favorite). I was stuffed every morning!


There were many, many things to do within the resort so I left it to Marshall to plan some activities for us and he did well. Monday night we took a sunset cruise which was really relaxing.sunsetcruise.jpg The funniest part was that there were white people everywhere, a lot of Europeans, Australians and Brits but none of them lived in their home country. It seemed that everyone we met was living somewhere in Asia. I guess it’s a long way to travel if you’re from the states?

There are two great restaurants in the resort. The first is Naan, an Indian place that won best Indian in Malaysia, and the second is Coast, this really fancy place that Marshall had been to before and loved. So, of course we had to try each. We had decided that the Tuesday would be our day to celebrate one year together and Marshall had the whole day planned out.

First thing in the morning we took a bike ride to a little fishing village nearby. It wasn’t a hard ride by any means but it was nice to get out and about. Then, we went to watch the orangutans feed on the reserve, orangutan.jpg, then we had a 90 minute hot stone massage, and finally we had dinner booked at Coast. After the massage, we were both really relaxed and ready for a good meal. In the middle of getting ready, we decided to watch the sunset from the balcony since they are gorgeous out there. What I didn’t know was that Marshall had decided that this was the moment. I’m busy snapping photos of the view and chatting away not noticing that Marshall was shaking a little as he lit his cigar.

thenight.jpgsunset.jpg Gorgeous eh?

I was sitting in the chair just thinking what a great day I had had and how sweet Marshall was to arrange it all when he turned around, squatted down in front of me and asked “Will you marry me?”. My response? “In a heartbeat”.

He gave me this beautiful ring that he had made in Hong Kong and showed me photos of an heirloom ring that is stunning (we will use that one as the wedding band).

I was so happy! It was completely unexpected! And we had this amazing dinner right after that where we just got to enjoy the moment. It was the best day, and night of my life!

2 comments April 4, 2008 lizzie

Marshall proposed!!!!

I’m so excited! This is just a super fast post to let out the news one more time. I do have some great photos to put up here but I need the right program to resize them. Sorry!

In the meantime, I’m going to be Mrs. Hudson!!!!!

2 comments March 30, 2008 lizzie


I just had the BEST weekend! First of all, I was thoroughly committed to my training and was up at 7:30 on Saturday morning and on the running track by 8. That’s dedication! I did the longest run I’ve done so far (20 min.) and was really excited by it. Then, I had a great breakfast with eggs, potatoes, onions and headed into Itaewon with Abigail. We enjoyed a leisurely coffee at Starbucks and then we were off to belly dancing. I know.

Abigail had heard about this class so we decided to give it a go. It wasn’t the best work out but it was a ton of fun. Workouts that just make you laugh are wonderful. And who wouldn’t laugh? Turns out my hips don’t shimmy! and the big body shimmy’s make everything shake and jiggle that normally you try to hide. It was fun to be proud of your body and let it all hang out. We decided that we will go for a 2 hour class next Saturday. The location is interesting. We had to be led there by a lady in the shop that organizes it and I’m just hoping that next week we’ll be able to find it.


It was also a gorgeous day on Saturday. Still some chill in the air and if the wind got you, it was freezing. But! The sun was out and my Scottish instincts kicked in finding us a place to eat outside that was sheltered from the wind.

After lunch it was off to see the LA Galaxy (that’s David Beckham’s team) play Seoul. Again, sitting in the sun, watching football, drinking beer.

p3010063.jpgp3010065.jpgp3010068.jpgp3010069.jpgsee? that’s Beckham taking a penalty kick!


Finally, I headed home, watched the newest Lost episode and chatted with Marshall. I was so happy!

Sunday was a bunch of laziness – coffee shops, reading, movies. It was so nice.

Add comment March 4, 2008 lizzie

A Public declaration

I am going to do the triathlon by myself.

That’s it. That’s my public declaration. Isn’t it supposed to make it easier now, or something?

Every year our school holds a sprint triathlon – 5k run, 15k bike and short swim. Last year I was part of Team Pride with Marshall and Coleman but when we finished, the both of them all sweaty and dirty, me all clean and showered, I didn’t feel like I necessarily deserved the beer. After all, they had each done 30 – 45 minutes of hard racing. I had done 3 and a half minutes of swimming. Just didn’t seem quite even.

So this year I have decided to tackle it myself. It’s still about 12 weeks away but it’s a good exercise goal and it also reminds me that in 12 weeks, it will be hot, sunny and worthy of outdoor BBQ’s.  I’m not worried about the swim, a little worried about the bike, and very worried about the run. I have never been a runner. I started this week following the advice of our school’s cross country coach. I’m aiming for every other day for 2 weeks, then going up to 5 days a week. That may sound like a lot but my runs right now are 10 minutes long. Actually, on Tuesday I could only run for 8 minutes (my knees are not very strong yet), but on Thursday I managed 12 minutes. It’s an improvement! And don’t worry mum, I’m only running on a padded track- no concrete.

If you decide to write me any time soon, feel free to remind me of my goal. Hopefully this will all pay off. I’ll let you know in 12 weeks!

1 comment February 22, 2008 lizzie

Happy Haggis Day!

I hope everyone had a great Burns night on Friday. Yes, it was the 25th of January when we celebrate that famous Scot Robert Burns and generally all things Scottish.

To that end, I hosted a Burns supper with about 12 friends here. I even managed to have some haggis shipped over! Thank you MacSweens!

The menu that night was roast chicken, haggis, neeps, tatties and whisky cream sauce over the lot. Followed by cranachan (more whisky cream with strawberries and honeyoat cakes), homemade shortbread (yes, I made it myself) and of course lots and lots of whisky.


But don’t think this was all for free. Oh no, I made my guests work for their dinner. The first challenge of the night was to read Burns’ “Ode to the Haggis” in their best Scottish accent. While wearing a Jimmy Hat. (notice the Saltire flag in the background please)


Don’t worry, I let them listen to Robin Williams’ great rendition of how the Scots created golf.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2zcgieFVtE

The next event after dinner and many shots of whisky celebrating the great haggis, was ‘Dress The Scot”. Each team had parts of a traditional Scottish outfit and had 2 minutes to place them on the body in the right place. Nae bad eh?


2 comments January 28, 2008 lizzie


I did it! I finally got the photos!

So, here they are to illustrate the story of my vacation.

Ah, the glorious sights of Hanoi –vietnam-winter-2007-141.jpgvietnam-winter-2007-146.jpgPho - best food in the world

The Temple of Literature:


Let’s see…….

Cat Ba island and climbing!

vietnam-winter-2007-070.jpgThis is Butterfly valley and that strip of white is what we climb.

vietnam-winter-2007-093.jpgCan you find Marshall?

vietnam-winter-2007-097.jpgRock Star!  vietnam-winter-2007-099.jpg

This is how they bolt the routes. See how much gear he’s pulling? He has to find a good hold and just hang off his own strength while he drills, cleans, glues, bolts and tests. Each bolt takes about 25 minutes. Think of the strength!


Here’s one of the beaches we kayaked to for climbing.vietnam-winter-2007-089.jpg

Resting while we get things set up. vietnam-winter-2007-105.jpg

This is Onslo, talking us through a climb.vietnam-winter-2007-108.jpgvietnam-winter-2007-112.jpg

This is where our lunch was waiting for us.vietnam-winter-2007-109.jpg

I love this photo because it looks like Marshall is hanging out on some giant dinosaur skull.vietnam-winter-2007-129.jpg

Touring around Cat Ba on our bikes. vietnam-winter-2007-084.jpgvietnam-winter-2007-082.jpgvietnam-winter-2007-080.jpgThis is where we ate lunch most days.vietnam-winter-2007-132.jpg

Here’s us enjoying Bia Hoi – a local beer that has no preservatives or additives. It’s really good and refreshing, but the best part is that it costs about 15cents. vietnam-winter-2007-122.jpg

My final week I hung out in Hong Kong. I’m getting pretty good at knowing my around now but one thing I hadn’t done was visit the Buddha on Lantau Island. You get there by cable car which is pretty cool and the Buddha really is enormous!


But no Buddha is complete without a monastery and lots of incense.vietnam-winter-2007-188.jpg


Add comment January 28, 2008 lizzie

I know!

I’m sorry I haven’t been on here to update sooner! Still trying to make sure I have all the photos from all the cameras and even trying to figure out a way to put a video on here. All in good time.

Until I get to all that, I can at least tell you about Christmas. A belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all. At least in Asia I’m not late yet – Lunar New Year is in 2 weeks.

I was in Vietnam for 2 weeks of the vacation and Hong Kong for the last one. I met Marshall in Hanoi and I had made sure we had a great hotel right next to St. Joseph’s Cathedral. We stayed near here last time I came and I remembered loving the area. Our first full day was Christmas Eve and we didn’t really achieve much! But it was a good starting point for the holiday. Christmas Day was our big travel day. We had decided to try and get out to Cat Ba Island in Halong Bay (a UNESCO world heritage sight that is gorgeous). We had been told that Hanoi to Cat Ba Town could be done in 4 hours. We had also booked a bus/boat ticket through a travel agent who had promised we could do it in 6 and get lunch as well. Sounds good eh?

Not true. The whole trip took 12 hours, we had to pay extra for a bad lunch, pay extra for a cave tour that we had no say about and no option to miss and at least 4 of those hours were spent just sitting – either at the dock or on the bus once we had docked.

dsc00009.jpg dsc00005.jpg

Oh yeah, and our captain was too drunk from rice wine to dock the boat so we had to be ferried on these little tug boats and then climb up a ladder to reach the dock. We were just thankful that as soon as we got to the town, we were able to say goodbye to the operators and figure our own things out.

The whole point of this excursion was to check out a new climbing area. Most people climb in Thailand but these 2 American guys (Eric and Onslo) have just started a climbing business in Cat Ba called SloPony and are bolting all new routes trying to get this area up and running to rival Krabi in Thailand. So far there are only around 70 climbs up (compared to over 300 in Krabi) but it’s a work in progress. We stayed at the guest house where they have their base of operations and started to plan some great days. We decided to hire them as guides so that we could try climbing harder stuff than we normally do and it was absolutely worth it! It was awesome. There is one area called Butterfly Valley that you ride moto’s to and has water buffalo roaming around. They also have a deal with a family that farms in the area that you can eat lunch at their house. Authentic Vietnamese food. It was so good and I think a few days we rode out there just to eat!

They also have routes on some of the tiny islands around the Bay. You take a boat out then kayak to the beaches to climb and kayak back to the boat for lunch.


It was gorgeous. The weather was cool – mid 60’s each day but that’s perfect for climbing. And because it was low season and the climbing is so new, there was no one else around. That never happens in Krabi! Some days we just rented our own moto’s and cruised around Cat Ba island. Over half of the island is a national park so it’s really green and forested.  One day SloPony arranged for a local farmer to take us on a hike through the forest. This was absolutely unforgettable. It was a hike that in the states would require you to have on harnesses and ropes. One slip and you were tumbling a long way down! The rock is also extremely sharp and shreds your skin. Every step was nerve wracking but it was easier to keep going up than turn around and come down. And the view from the top was absolutely worth every heart pounding moment.


I can’t even mention the descent without breaking out in a sweat!!

We ended up spending 6 days in Cat Ba climbing. It was so great and Eric and Onslo are amazing climbers who really taught us a lot. We got to see them bolting new routes and plans for new places to climb. When we left, we gave a ‘bolt donation’ (basically money to help buy equipment for putting up new routes) and to say thank you, they bolted a brand new route and called it Team Ling Ling after us! (in case you’re wondering, Team Ling Ling is the name of our climbing group in Korea that Marshall started). So now, we have our very own route!!!!

New Year’s Eve day we returned to Hanoi to meet up with some SIS friends. We took SloPony’s recommendation on returning and the trip only took 4 hours, no hassles. So much easier! So we met up with our friends Mitch and Elissa, Bryan and Alana, and Allison. We started our New Years Celebrations with Champagne at our hotel (don’t think that just because I’m abroad, I’m going without Champers on New Year!). Then we managed to get into a little Italian Bistro near our place for some great homemade food. Then…….well, we weren’t sure what to do. What are the celebrations in a country that doesn’t celebrate the same new year? Turns out – nothing. The bars closed at 10:30 and we were left standing on the street with one can of beer each. We headed towards the lake and ended up standing around and talking until someone yelled “Happy New Year”. At that point we managed to find some cheap sparklers but that was the extent of our midnight celebration.

The next few days were pretty lowkey. We checked out the Temple of Literature in Hanoi which is gorgeous. It was the first University-like institution in Hanoi and the students (all men) had oral examinations given by the King! The photos certainly look intimidating.


I do have a lot more photos of this but they are on my computer at home. Sorry!

We also ate lunch that day at a great place called KOTO. It stands for Know One, Teach One and it is an organization that brings in homeless children, teaches them how to work in a restaurant either as chefs, or as waiters, and then finds them jobs in the tourism industry. During their training they get a place to sleep, a bike to get around, and free schooling including English language lessons. The restaurant serves great food and all profits go back into maintaining this organization. Certainly one to check out if you’re there.

At this point we realized we had just enough days left for one more small trip. So we decided to check out Cuc Phuong National Park and Tam Coc. We booked our trip through Handspan Travel which is more expensive than other tour companies but worth every penny and it’s never a scam. There were only the two of us booked for this trip so we had a car with a driver, a bilingual tour guide and great hospitality the whole way.

Cuc Phuong Park is southwest of Hanoi and is a huge rainforest. Here, they have an Endangered Primate Reserve where they rescue monkeys (primarily Gibbons and Langurs) from markets and try to rehabilitate them before releasing them back into the wild. The monkeys are hilarious to watch (as most monkeys are) and when we slept in the park that night, we could hear them all night!


We trekked for about 4 hours through the rainforest and again, as it was winter, we were the only people around. We got to see a 1000 year old Banyan tree, lots of tropical birds and a cave where they have found the oldest prehistoric human remains in southeast Asia.


The cave was especially cool – no lights, no walkway. Our guide had a flash light and led us in, winding through tunnels. It was so fun, something you’ve always wanted to try, right up until she mentioned that there are frequently snakes, scorpions and centipedes in the cave. Now snakes and scorpions I can handle but centipedes?? Aaaaggggghhhhhh!

Sure enough she shone her light up and there were 3 fat, long centipedes with long, hairy legs. They were about 8 inches long and 6 inches wide including their legs. My legs turned to jello at the sight. If one of them had moved even an inch, I probably would have melted into a jibbering mess. Once the guide saw my reaction, she decided we had gone deep enough into the cave and started to lead us out.

We had a really nice dinner at the park and spent the night in one of their guesthouses there. Pretty basic but can’t be beat for a view.


The next day we left the park to visit some temples (I’m completely templed out now by the way). They were pretty amazing to look at, but you can only spend so much time in one.


From there, we picked up our bikes (yes, little Vietnamese, old school, basket on the front, bikes) and started a 2 hour ride into Tam Coc. This area is known as the inland Halong Bay. The same giant limestone karsts sticking up, but instead of beautiful ocean water, they are surrounded by rice paddies. The ride was beautiful and we went through lots of little villages along the way. Finally, we got to a tiny house on the banks of one of the rice paddies. Eight wizened old women came out. They are guides through the rice paddies! We jumped into one of the flat bottom boats and she took us for a 2 hour ride through the rice fields and islands. The paddies were full of women working and our guide would yell out to them or pick things up out of the water to show us.


At the end, she took us through a river running through a mountain. We had to duck down in the boat to get through and I had to shine a flashlight to guide us. It was really eerie and beautiful.

After all this fun, we returned to Hanoi and packed up for our flight the next morning. Marshall had work on Monday and I had ……. hanging out to do. I did visit a huge buddha but that will have to wait until the next time I have time to write, or at least until I get more photos loaded on here.

Add comment January 23, 2008 lizzie

3 hours and 15 minutes

That’s how long it is until I am on Christmas vacation! We sang Christmas carols this morning, we had a special Christmas lunch and now it’s just finishing off any crafts.

The lunches at this time of year are amazing. The parents are in charge of the lunch for each class and they eat with their children. But remember, these are not ordinary parents. Most of the food is catered (mothers don’t cook) and is a full 3 course buffet. There are over 100 cars outside (BMW’s, Mercedes, Lincolns, Lexus, Bentley’s) all with their driver waiting patiently for the mother to call and send them on an errand to get more napkins, or maybe some extra forks, or just to come inside and take the child’s bag back to the car for later. When it’s time to go, it’s like a valet service. Call the driver and a few minutes later they will navigate their way to the front of the school.

Pretty amazing.

I am really looking forward to my vacation this year. My first one away from home, which will be hard, but I really need the break. 2007 was a hard year and I am looking forward to relaxing in the last 2 weeks of it before celebrating the start of a new (and hopefully fun, drama free) year. Merry Christmas to everyone else and I hope you get some time to relax!

2 comments December 21, 2007 lizzie

Dec. 13th

Happy Birthday John!

This week is much better. John’s best friends Mechum and Kiyomi flew in for the weekend and Marshall came too. We had a really great celebration on Sunday. All the teachers turned out for a soccer game followed by a Thai dinner. We had T-shirts made to commemorate our Egerton Cup and the day was full of laughing (with a few tears thrown in). Coming back to school on Monday was so much more positive and I think we have all reached the stage where we are no longer crying, we just have heavy hearts when we think about him. Below is the eulogy that Robyn, Leah and I read at his memorial service. I sent it to his family as they prepare for their own services this coming Saturday now that his remains have been sent home. eulogy.doc

As for the rest of us, we are planning our Christmas staff dinner tomorrow night, our plans for our last weekend before the vacation (mine includes going to see a Korean Opera) and packing for vacations. I am looking forward to this holiday and was very excited to get a parcel from mum and dad with presents! Thank you!!

John and MeJohnWhy he was suited to JKEgerton Cup068.jpgwhole-soccer-team.jpg

Add comment December 13, 2007 lizzie

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