it’s been a long time since i’ve been up on here.  i made a resolution to stay in better touch with everyone through the year in a meaningful way.  sometimes i feel like phone calls are cheating because it’s too easy to stay in shallow conversation, and unless the conversations are regular enough it takes too long to get to the meat of the conversation.

as most of you know we spent two weeks over christmas in the philippines.  we went to a little place called calicoan at the southernmost, easternmost tip of eastern samar in the visayas.  we were looking for an out-of-the-way place which had warm weather, ocean nearby, and not too many tourists so that we could relax in a quiet environment.  calicoan villa fit the bill, and we were lucky enough to find a house for rent which had a pool/cook/maids and was right on the pacific.  surfable waves and endless mangoes clinched the deal and we took off with the leflers (3 kids, a helper and a brother) just before christmas.

although it was a bit of a trek to get out there, it immediately felt like the polar opposite of hong kong.  no internet, no hurry, barely any road traffic, clean sea breezes and fresh fish welcomed us immediately.  the first few days the temperature averaged in the mid-80’s (about 30 Celsius) with puffy clouds floating lazily above us.  when night fell, the sky morphed into a brilliant display of thousands of stars, visible all the way to the horizon.

kai loved it – he wore a shirt the first day but after that pretty much spent days and nights clad only in his zebra diapers.  he swam in the pool in his trainer ring, sat on the swing every night, and sang karaoke with his parents.  he tasted several different kinds of bananas and slept in his own tent (lent to us by some hk friends).

we were lucky enough to be visited by mom and dad chenn, who brought along andrew, mason and emily for a few days.  it was great to have family around for christmas and we had our own adventures despite the weather.  mom chenn brought some watercolors as an activity and despite her disclaimers impressed us with some beautiful ocean and coconut palm painting.
interspersed in the fun was the second part of our trip – distributing school supplies and donated childrens’ books to some of the local kids with the help of the mayor of guiuan, annaliza kwan.  the leflers were instrumental in organizing the book drive in hong kong before the holidays and in raising funds for help one future.
i guess the highlight of the trip for me was the time i was able to spend together with alicia and kai.  even being back just a week it seems hard to believe where the last 5 days went – this stands in stark contrast to the seemingly endless time spent hanging out in the pool with kai or walking around the shore with alicia devoid of deadlines and appointments.  days blurred together and time was only marked by knowing that we had to head into town for church on sunday.  it was the perfect vacation for us this year.
for those of you who we were unable to see, we are hoping to make it back to the states in march.  happy new year to all and see you on a another post soon.