After my 2nd 5 year term at PayPal, I earned my 2nd sabbatical (see here for 1st sabbatical: 2008 September - Mongolia and 2008 October - Silk Road ). We packed up our lives in Shanghai, saying goodbye to our great friends, and in parallel, attending the farewell parties of a lot of other friends leaving the "Paris of the East" at the same time. Alan had his guys' outing (first pic is from their go-karting adventure where alcohol was served upstairs of the track - typical of "only in China" experience); ML had many smaller, more intimate goodbyes; and our awesome friends surprised us with a farewell party at the Horizen Lounge (which closed shortly after our party, typical of Shanghai).
We went to the Bay Area first, Alan for his PayPal "Leaders Day Conference" while Kyle started his summer vacation with his cousins. Then, my sabbatical officially kicked off in Seattle, where we stayed with our best friends, the Yens, in their amazing custom-built house. Afterwards, we went to Irvine and stayed with my cousin Cheryl, allowing Kyle to play with his cousins Emme and Aiden.
From LAX, we flew to Naples, and the following day, took the commuter train to the Amalfi Coast, where we tried to get over jetlag before meeting up with our friend JonMichael, who brought his girlfriend Jen. We had an amazing few days there, traveling up and down the coast, visiting the picturesque towns. Time flew by, and we just as we were getting to know Jen, it was time for us to move on.
We eventually made it up the whole boot of Italy, from the Southwest coast (the "shin" part) to the Northern tip, to our little apartment in Lake Como. After not having electricity for 24 hours, we finally settled in to another great week around the absolutely amazing European tourist spot made famous by George Clooney. We spent a night in a super-quaint little house with our friends Lee & Mel. Then, our best friends Felita and Chantal came, with their super-nanny Sandy who, among numerous other skills, knew how to handle a boat. Our 3 hour boat ride around Lake Como was one of our best experiences!
Our magical time at Lake Como came to a close, and we took the train back down to Florence, where our National Geographic tour began.
All in all, an amazing trip. We had our normal travel mishaps, like being separated at Naples, having no electricity in Varenna, and Alan's asthma acting up in Lake Como to the point where we went to a local clinic to get antibiotics. We loved meeting all of our friends in various parts of Italy. We enjoyed trying out the local cuisine, though to be honest, we had to get our Chinese food fix when we got to Florence. We were pampered on the National Geographic tour, where we especially appreciated the luggage pickup from and drop off to our hotel rooms. I got what I wanted / needed - an extended time off period to clear the brain, start work in Singapore fresh, with quality time with the family, especially after the 6 months of commuting between Singapore and Shanghai.
We split ways at Frankfurt, I flying directly to Singapore, while ML and Kyle finished summer vacation in California. We moved into our superb service apartment, Ascott at Raffles place, while we started our search for our apartment. We have finally moved into an awesome new unit off Orchard, starting our new life here in sunny Singapore.