It’s time for the second Seegs Quarterly! I’m looking back on these past few months with lots of gratitude. Gratitude for the experiences I’ve had, for the patience to know that hard times don’t last and will eventually turn to good, for the interesting people I’ve met around the world, and for my unique lifestyle that wouldn’t have been possible years ago.
I spent the first part of the quarter wrapping up things in Taiwan. I was pretty whiney towards the end of my time in Taipei and couldn’t wait to leave, but that was unfair of me. Because I knew I wasn’t staying, I didn’t continue making an effort to meet more friends and make a life for myself there. If anything, I felt like it would just be more people I was going to eventually have to say goodbye to. But I want to reaffirm that Taipei is a fantastic city and should you have the opportunity to go, you should absolutely jump on it.
I had a nice little day trip to Jiufen which was on my Taiwan Bucket List before I’d even arrived, and it was worth the wait! This magical mountain town charmed the pants off me. If you’re a fan of lanterns, hilltop temples, tea terraces and/or just plain beautiful scenery, I’d highly recommend a day trip out to Jiufen. There’s a direct bus from central Taipei that costs only a few dollars and takes less than an hour each way. You can pay using your MRT card.
I experienced my first (and then second, and third) earthquake in Taiwan. While it certainly wasn’t a devasting or really even notable earthquake, it was still the first time I’ve ever literally had the ground shake beneath my feet. I’ve heard explanations of what an earthquake feels like, but it’s different from actually experiencing one. You lose your center of gravity and there is nothing to grab onto to steady yourself. I wrote more about it on Culture with Travel which, if you’re interested, you can read here.
I finally met Expat Edna in person! We got to know one another better and it was wonderful to learn how much we had in common. She’d been through a lot of the same ups and downs I’d been through in the past year. Sharing that with someone who really knows what it’s like is a feeling that I’ll never tire of. I’ve got a new soul-sister in her and I have travel to thank for it.
I successfully recruited Edna into joining me on a really fantastic few days in Seoul, where we met up with Richelle from Adventures Around Asia (who also shares the same lifestyle and interests, and is hilarious). We ate our way through the city, tried loads of different themed restaurants, and discovered the fantastic beauty products that Koreans use. I don’t know how I lived this long without knowing about them. My skin has never been so soft or radiant before.
Korea was one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited, and has an extremely interesting culture. I’m really happy it was just a short flight from Taipei, and I’m already trying to figure out when I can return and explore more of the country including the coastal area of Busan.
In the last Seegs Quarterly, I’d mentioned how sad I was to miss out on my grandmother’s 99th birthday while I was in Taiwan, and it turned out to be her last birthday. It was sort of heady to deal with that, but as I’ve said, this is what I signed up for when I moved abroad and it comes with the territory. She was the ultimate strong female role model – I remember writing her name as my hero growing up on a number of occassions. Like many of her generation, she made lots of sacrifices so that her children could lead a better life, and never complained once about it. I have so many wonderful memories of her and we were so lucky to have had her for as long as we did.
I was in San Francisco for a few hours instead of a few days as I’d planned. Life got in the way but I’m already trying to figure out when I’ll reschedule my visit to the bay area and hopefully that little jaunt will make it into the next Seegs Quarterly. Napa is calling my name, especially before I head back to Asia and wine becomes less accessible again. I need to stock up!
Wedding season 2016 kicked off in New Jersey! As time goes on, I know it’ll be harder for me to make it to these special events for my friends, but I’m certainly going to try and make it work as best I can because my friends are very important to me. I can travel the world through, but I’m so lucky to have a wonderful set of best friends to come home to.
What’s next for Quarter 3 (July – September)?
My biggest news BY FAR has been that I got into my first choice grad school and I’m moving to Hong Kong! A lot of people say that graduate school is somewhat of an outdated institution, and while I do see the basis for that argument (and it really should be considered on a case by case basis), personally it was something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m happy the timing is finally right to do it. When you get into your first choice school, and the timing is right, you find a way to make it happen. And it will be happening towards the end of August when the first semester starts. So stay tuned for the Hong Kong posts to start arriving!
But first, while I wait patiently for my Hong Kong Visa to arrive, I’ll be spending July and the first half of August shuttling between New York and New Jersey which I’ve already been doing since returning from Taiwan. It certainly hasn’t been so bad, especially with double rainbow nights like the one we had below. I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of “home” and hope to do a post on it in the weeks ahead.
No other summer travel plans as of now, but that can always change at the flip of a hat. I hope everyone else is having a fabulous summer (or winter, depending where you are in the world) and, of course, happy travels!