My Golden Week 🌇

Beautiful Beihai Lake

After only a month of work, yes, I was already on holidays! #joysofteaching The first week of October is the Chinese National Day, a week-long holiday, also known as the Golden Week, to commemorate the founding of the People’s Republic of China on the 1st of October 1949. What a perfect opportunity to visit a new part of China and learn about the history and the culture of this vast and beautiful country! My first pick was Beijing, the national capital. At first, I was wondering why I was one of the only teacher at my school traveling in China, while most of them were escaping to other southeastern Asian countries. Well, I quickly understood why…

I left early on the Saturday morning allowing (I thought) enough time to head to the airport in Guangzhou, which normally takes 1h by bus from Dongguan. Well this “1h” bus ride turned into a 4h30 nightmare! If you think you’ve been in traffic before, you haven’t been to China! The highway literally became a giant parking lot… It seemed like every Chinese family in Dongguan decided to go on a road trip, on the same day, at the same exact time. Urg. I did practice my patience that day. A lot. Well I eventually made it to the airport, and, obviously missed my flight. However, it must be a common thing because they told me “Oh no problem, we just put you on later flight”. Oh ok then… and it was that easy! A few hours later, I was finally landing in the country’s capital. Lesson learned: Never travel on the first day of a Chinese holidays.

I won’t go into details of my whole trip. In a nutshell, despite the number of tourists, I had a lovely week visiting Beijing top attractions like The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace, The Temple of Heaven, The Bell and Drum Tower. I also didn’t miss the chance to wander through the city’s countless hutong (alleyways) and of course I couldn’t leave without trying the capital signature dish, the Peking duck.

The highlight of my trip was definitely my camping trip on The Great Wall of China. What can I say, my happy place is in the mountains, not in the city, especially during a Chinese national holidays! I went with this local hiking group called Beijing Hikers (recommended by my lovely colleague!), which brings you to the unrestored sections of the wall, away from hordes of tourists. Let me tell you it was quite special not only to hike, but also to sleep on China’s most famous icon. You can see and feel the hundreds of years of history beneath your feet. What a thrilling experience!

So now it’s back to work until December. I’m really excited to be coming back home to Canada this year for Christmas. After spending my last winter in The Gambia, I’m extremely looking forward to be reunited with my family and friends for the holidays. Home is where the heart is they say… ♡

Gambian holidays and final goodbyes…

It was the first time, in 28 years, that I was spending my Christmas holidays without my family, in a foreign country. I must say I really enjoyed the experience! Everyone should, at least once in their life, celebrate Christmas abroad, in another culture. Even if The Gambia is mostly Muslim, Christmas is still a public holiday. It is an opportunity for families and friends to gather and spend time together, exactly what I did. After a nice homemade déjeuner aux crêpes, my girlfriends and I went to the beach where we spent a lazy afternoon, swimming in the ocean and drinking sangria under the sun! I did not have a white Christmas this year but it was a very sunny and warm one! I surely did not complain! At night, we went to the Open Mic festival at the national football stadium. It’s an annual event held every Christmas night where dozen of Gambian, Senegalese and Liberian artists come to perform all night. We walked back home at 6am, admiring the first rays of sunshine. A moment I will never forget.


My big sister Renée then came to visit me for a week. I really enjoyed my role as a tour guide, showing her around (on bikes!), teaching her about the Gambian culture, presenting her to my friends. We even spent one night in Bwiam, where we visited Ndey’s family and village. We were warmly welcomed as always. For New Year Day, we went to Banjul for the festivities. The streets were filled with parades, musicians and street performers. It was a very colorful and musical day! And of course, Renée and I took the time to enjoy the beach, the nightlife and the Gambian gastronomy! It was a quick but very busy week where we really got the chance to experience the Gambian lifestyle! Merci pour cette merveilleuse visite! 🙂

My last week in The Gambia was filled with lots of love and yes (of course!), tears. I made sure to say goodbye to everyone that had an impact in my time here, friends, roommates, coworkers, training buddies etc. My last day at the NSGA was one to remember. They organized a small farewell ceremony for me. I received beautiful goodbye words from everyone, but also a very nice African blouse and even some cake! Gambians really know how to make you wanna stay!!


Reflecting on my time in The Gambia, I just can’t help myself but to smile! (I totally understand why they call it The Smiling Coast of Africa now!) I’ve only been here for three months, but those months have been beyond my expectations. I ran with all my heart across the country, I made many wonderful new friends, I’ve learned to live in a different culture, and I’ve just been simply happy! I’ve learned that happiness is a choice. It is found within ourselves and the people that surround us. The rest is just extra. Thank you to everyone that was part of my Gambian happy journey. It was a memorable one! Abaraca! Jerrejef!


The Gambia was my first country on my itinerary and it did set the bar pretty high! I’m so exited to continue my travels on this beautiful continent and to learn about other cultures and meet new people! Now let’s wipe those tears, an ending only means a new beginning. En route pour le Sénégal! 🙂

Farewell dear Gambia!