Talk about a world of dichotomy. One moment I’m out of cell phone reception, toileting in the woods and bathing in a river and the next I’m at a 5-star resort that is rumoured to have hosted Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Let me explain.

The week started with our school’s annual Malaysia Week. This essentially is a chance to take education off site and into the real world for students. For the group of 16 middle schoolers I and two other teachers were in charge of, this meant jungle survivor skills. You might be wondering what certification and expertise I have in jungle survival – well, none really. Unless you count the time as part of a university class I was stuck alone on a Northern Saskatchewan island battling killer bee like mosquitoes and a thunderstorm of epic proportions. I did survive that – barely.

Thankfully, a local company called most of the shots and I was able to focus on the students themselves. It was a wonderful week in which I saw the students grow and learn with the tasks presented to them. They hiked up a “mountain” further than many thought they could handle and experienced beautiful panoramic views, they cooked their own meals over a fire and most of all, they learned the importance of teamwork. I returned to KL at the end of the week feeling proud and exhausted.

Knowing just how rewarding but tiring these weeks can be, I jumped at the chance to take advantage of the residents’ package in a nearby island resort. Myself and 3 colleagues enjoyed 5-star service, delicious food, yoga, massage and jungle trails (without having to poop in the bush). I left feeling re-energized and very fortunate.

As a person in the top 2% of the world’s income (if you make $35,000 CAD or more / annum, you are too), choice is my luxury. I can choose to sleep with my feet hanging out of an Asian-sized tent or in king-sized bed comfort. What a paradox!