Hello friends! It’s been about a year since the first post of thephilosphicalcyclist was posted (January 5th), so I thought it would be cool to do a “Year In Review” post. I’ve come a long way from first writing my “Greetings from Dhaka” post, and on the way have amassed 29 WordPress and 9 email followers, and readers from 20 different countries. It might not seem like a lot, but for me, it’s an amazing achievement that so many people are able to seeing a different side of the world through my eyes, and that I can be a storyteller for the whole world through my writing. With the coming of 2017, I wanted to celebrate all that has happened in the year of 2016, so here it all is in One Reviewalicious Post™. Enjoy!
Holiday in Canada
While the Canadian Winter Holiday didn’t technically happen in 2016, I thought it would be a great start to this post. And indeed it is! This holiday was my first Canadian Winter in goodness knows how long, and it was awesome! So much snow! So cold! We got to spend time with the entire family, and had a Reed-family Christmas! While I didn’t play any hockey or go ice-skating, I did shovel loads of snow, have loads of snowball fights and chillax in front of a fire with my derpy cousin. Brilliant stuff.
I had started this blog way back in 2014, so as to document my cycle tour of the Outer Hebrides with my father, but it didn’t happen. Then I sat down one day after school, and wrote what would become the first of many posts on thephilosophicalcyclist. At that point, I didn’t know that an “About Me” page existed, so “Greetings from Dhaka” was basically a mini-bio. And so it began…
Discovering Dhaka food
sA massive part of my love for Bangladesh is the food, especially street food. In these two posts, I tried making fuchka for the first time, and reviewed bhajji and samosas. The places selling these were literally everywhere. For lunch, you’d just go walking around the block, and there would be about 3 different vendors selling these snacks. After a while, you got a “favourite place” to buy different snacks; for example, I loved the samosas from a Southern Dhaka book market, but the Kalachandpur shingara were the best in the world. But Bangladesh’s culinary offers don’t end there! Vegetable biryani, dopiaza, naan, dhalpuri, paratha…delicious. Bangladesh is a country where, food-wise, you just can’t go wrong.
Grace Staff Picnic
A picnic for all the staff at Grace International School, from the teachers to the cleaners. There was loads of fun and games, including a huge game of cricket (see above) that lasted effectively the entire afternoon. I don’t want to be Mr Judgement, but some people (every Bangladeshi man in the game) took it way too seriously. Then again, it IS the national sport of Bangladesh. I manged to get bowled out twice, but the delicious food more than made up for my devastating loss. Super awesome. (P.S. 10 points to Gryffindor if you can spot my IT teacher pulling the world’s weirdest face).
Well, this was of course a major event for me. My 13th birthday was big, but this was bigger, sort of like a “Congratulations, You’ve Survived Your First Year of Being a Teenager” birthday, if you know what I mean. We went up to Jahangirnagar University and did some bird-watching, then, after stopping for lunch at a small cafe, went to see the National Monument, which was pretty cool. After that, we had a birthday supper, and a delicious chocolate cake covered in Dhaka-style M&Ms. The plan was to watch “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, but as it happened, it was not only filmed illegally in a cinema, but it was in Spanish, so… you win some, you lose some. It was a super special day, spent with great people doing awesome things.
Grace Sports Day
There were two parts to this. The first only involved my class, Year 9. It’s a tradition at Grace that the Year 9s run the primary school sports day, so this year, the responsibility fell on my class. I was to run the wheelbarrow race with another guy, Ryan, but at the last minute, Ryan was kept at school due to ‘behavioural issues’ and I had to run the event myself. I was quite nervous, but when my first group came, I got over that. It was super fun, especially when the kids got into it. One of the classes was pretty bad, everyone falling over and getting covered in grass, but they were so happy. I loved it. My sports day came a few days later. I had signed up for the 400m and the 1500m. I came second in both, but it was a close second! My house didn’t win sports day, but ah well. I had loads of fun hanging out with my friends and teachers, and Mama came to watch! Super-duper!
Easter Field Trip Week
This was an Easter fun week at school, where we were off timetable, just doing fun stuff. The first part of that was that we went of for an overnight stay at Base Camp Bangladesh, an outdoor adventure place just north of Dhaka. I had sooo much fun! Staying in a tent with Alamgir was great, and so were all the activities. We did an assault course, zipwire, high ropes, and played cricket and football, but at the heart of the night we spent there, it was just me and my friends hanging out together. Great food, great company… what more could you want from a school trip. The rest of the week was spent doing various other things, which included: a water fun day, which involved loads of water-related activities and ended in everyone getting soaked, a visit from the Bhutanese High Commissioner, and an all-school game of Capture the Flag. The week ended with a trip to a local school outside the city. A group of my friends performed an Easter Drama, and a group of students (myself included) ran an art workshop. It was loads of fun, and an excellent conclusion to a super fun week!
Our second trip to Thailand. However, while the first trip was about sun and beaches, this trip was city and mountains. We spent the first few days in Bangkok with Grandma and Grandpa Eastwood, who had flown from Australia to meet us. We spent a lot of time wandering around markets, eating delicious local food, and spending time with each other. We then flew out to Chiang Mai in the mountains to spend about a week hiking, eating and chillaxing. It was so lovely! It wasn’t super touristy, and there were loads of things to explore. Grandma and Grandpa left after 3 days together, and we spent a few more days doing a big hike and eating loads. We had loads of fun and saw some amazing things. I never imagined that I would go on holiday to Thailand, and we are so lucky that we were able to.
Bangla New Year / Pohela Boishakh
Shubho Noboborsho! Bangla New Year is an awesome time of the year, with loads of great food, music, and fun. It’s a national holiday, and Rosie and I got the day off school. We spent the day wandering the streets with Mama, observing the going-ons. As a rule, you have to wear red and white (the colours of the New Year), and we certainly did! The park near to our house was teeming with people, all eating and singing and going on the fairground rides set up there. Later in the afternoon, we wandered down to Gulshan 2 Circle and watched musicians performing. Loads of fun!
This was Part 1 of our summer holidays, a week in Kathmandu. We flew out on Bangladesh’s budget airline, Biman Airlines. On the 200-seat plane, about 10 seats were occupied! We were served a sandwich with margarine, cheese and chicken, crackers, rice pudding and a bottle of Coke. My ‘vegetarian meal’ had the chicken removed from the sandwich. Funny! We stayed at the Hotel Happy Home, which was awesome. After a cup of Nepalese tea (which I became addicted to), we wandered the streets, finding a nice supper spot. We ran into my French teacher and his partner, which was super funny! We had a day out to the hills, and a walk up to a temple, and saw the largest collection of prayer flags ever! It was super interesting to see a different side of the Indian Subcontinent, and how often do you go to Nepal?!?!? A truly stunning trip. Definitely a 2016 highlight.
Part 2 of the summer holidays. And what a Part 2. This section of the holidays was split into two sections. Firstly, two weeks in the UK. We took the train down to Devon to spend some time with Nonna. Rosie and I slept in her apartment, and Mama and Papa stayed with some friends of Nonna’s. We had such a lovely stay. It was just what we needed: nothing super big, just relaxing and spending time with Nonna. She and I spent many an evening practising classical duets for guitar and cellos. Beautiful. From there, we went to visit the Knopps in Essex. We spent several days hanging out with Cecilia, Justin, Freya and Jemima. We had a great time helping out at the fireman’s carwash, or going to the Medieval Fête. I hugely enjoy their company, especially Jemima. They are such kind people, and great to spend a holiday with. After that, we said goodbye to Papa, who went back to Dhaka. However, Rosie, Mama and I went on to Canada, to visit our Canadian family. I love staying at 10 Hatt with Grandma and Grandpa, but there was a twist this time: instead of sharing a bedroom with Rosie, I slept by myself in the basement, which allowed me to slip away in the morning and go jogging. It was such a great holiday. Basketball and cycling with Grandpa, hanging out in Guelph with the Grubbs, going to Port Dover, the Hatt St. Street Party, going to Tony’s bunkie with Grandpa and Daniel (and canoeing solo for the first time), poring over books in the library, going to church with Grandpa and Grandma, munching through Picone’s deliveries, cooling off in Tony’s pool, MLG-ing with Daniel, grooving in Toronto, a day trip to Niagara Falls, going to evening concerts at the Dundas Driving Park with Grandma and Grandpa, cycling the Rail Trail, and hanging out at various people’s houses were but a few of the highlights of our trip. On our last night, a lot of family and friends came to 10 Hatt for a party, and we left with full bellies and large bags of sweets. I loved our holiday, but after 5 weeks in Dundas, it felt right for us to be moving on to a new life…`
Moving to Jakarta
Due to unforeseen circumstances, we found ourselves moving to Jakarta after spending only a year in Dhaka. Nevertheless, it was an exciting move for us, and we were all really looking forward to seeing the other side of South-East Asia. It was a looooong flight to get to Jakarta, but we went over Northern Canada, and down through Russia and China, and even though we were on a night flight, we still got some stunning views. We arrived into Jakarta super dazed, and rolled into our hotel and fell asleep. We spent the next few days wandering around (going to the mall) and doing official things (Embassy stuff, dental stuff, medical stuff). After about a month in our hotel in the city centre, we moved down to Kemang and into our new house.
First day at school is pretty scary. First day of school for the 7th time? Also pretty scary. First day of school when you’re going from a tiny 75-student place to a massive swanky 850 student school? VERY scary. But it was pretty cool. I got lucky and got a great counsellor who took me around before school began and introduced me to all my teachers. I had loads of classes and met lots of new people, so for a first day, it was pretty good.
Maybe this is something that applies all around the world, but when you apply for a visa in Indonesia, you have to leave the country, and the done thing is to just fly to Singapore for a few days. We had to get our permanent visas, so it was off to Singapore for us. Papa had been working in Dhaka for the past couple of weeks, and was flying out to meet us. We flew with budget airline Tigerair (which I think got unfairly mocked) and landed in Singapore after about an hour. We got a taxi from the airport to the YHA, and got to see some of the city. And wow, it is pretty modern! Loads of theme parks and fancy buildings.. super snazzy. We got to the YHA and there was Papa! After chatting in our room, we slept for a bit, then went and found a great food court. I had mie goreng (fried noodles), and we all shared some paratha. It was a lovely evening, and we walked back to the hostel stuffed. The next few days were spent divided between business and leisure. The main point of the trip was to get visas, so we did, which meant sitting in the visa office for a couple of hours. However, we also got wander around Singapore a bit and get a better sense of what it was like, but my favourite part of the trip was going to the botanical gardens. Soooo lovely with loads of different plant species. The rainforest area was amazing! But all good things must come to an end, and after a few days, we flew back to Jakarta with our diplomatic visas. Good to be home.
Holiday in Cisarua
Our Cisarua holiday took place over the Autumn break. I had just finished my first term at JIS, and by then had a small group of friends who I really liked (and still do!). We got picked up by a minivan and got driven down south. The first place we stayed in was not the best place for us, as it was basically a backpacker lodge. But we did have a nice wander around town, and got invited into the house of a local girl, Nara. The next day, we took a bus to Cisarua, which was THE funniest bus ride I have ever taken. The bus seated about 10 people, but 20+ people managed to fit in, plus 2 chickens! We got to the Buena Vista Hotel and some navigational problems, and got settled in. We loved it a lot there! It was super green, with a lot of facilities, a delightful manager, Heri, leading a team of lovely staff… and breakfast included. Our kind of place. We took a walk down to the river and chillaxed, before going out for supper: world’s hottest mie goreng at a roadside café. We wandered back, missing all our taste buds, watched a movie and went to bed. The next few days were spent exploring, going on walks around the village, visiting the Curug Tujuh Cilember (7 Waterfalls), and generally relaxing. We left after several days with heavy hearts and invitations to lunch. After a bus ride into Jakarta, we got a taxi back to our beloved Jl. Kemang V home, to find upon arrival that our shipment would arrive in a few days! Woohoo!!!
My first Thanksgiving was spent, strangely, in Jakarta. I always thought that I would spend my first Thanksgiving with my Canadian family, but there you go. It was a lovely night at the Feldis house, chatting with people, eating lovely food, watching a 3-D printer in action. Wow. I can’t stop going on about the food. Amazing. Turkey, ham, salads, cranberry sauce, stuffing… delicious. And delightful company as well. Rosie had loads of fun hanging out with people from her classes that were there, but I mainly stayed at the table and ate 🙂 I think the Eastwood-Reed family should make Thanksgiving a regular event of the year.
JIS UN Day
There were a lot of firsts last year, and first UN Day was maybe the best of them all. JIS High School UN Day celebrates the 54 different nationalities in the High School. The entire High School is off timetable for the day, and you have loads of fun. One of the UN Day requirements is that you dress up in your country’s ‘traditional dress’, in my case, shirt, tie, waistcoat and a tweed bunnet for the UK. You start off the morning doing workshops about things from different countries. My friend Jao Lok and I did the Kiwi Kapahaka workshop (super fun) while my two other friends, Ethan and Nathan, did French Cooking. After the workshops were over, we went into the auditorium, for Mr. Carr (the head teacher of JIS) to officially open the UN Day performances. We saw a few dances and musical performances before going outside fo lunch. And what a lunch! Every one of the 54 countries was represented, and we got to go around eating as much as we liked! I ate a lot (Indian, Norwegian, Canadian, Malaysian) and then wandered with Jao Lok. Then for the next round of performances. The flag bearers came on (and Jao Lok played in the school band in the background). Large rounds of applause were given for the UK, Scotland and Canada from a certain smartly dressed British-Canadian. After that, there were performances from the International Clubs. The Japanese Club, the Indian Club, the Latin Club, the Chinese Club and the Indonesian Club all made spectacular performances.