Category Archives: Hong Kong

Solo-navacation update!

Tl;dr: We still travel, I’m just not as good as updating about it. Here’s some pictures of a day in Hong Kong!

The long version: It’s been just over a year since we moved to Taiwan, and we’ve been busier and busier! Some reasons for that: Steve’s app start-up is really taking off, I got a new job in April that keeps me really busy, and in May, we finally welcomed our puppers Stella to Taiwan. She’s becoming a circumnavacator too! Just because we haven’t been posting doesn’t mean we haven’t been traveling though: last November, we made a 48-hour trip to Shanghai and Beijing to see some family, in December we visited Bangkok and Krabi with my parents, and in March, we put a pin in a new country: a weekend in Seoul, South Korea. Oh, and we made another trip in June to Hong Kong, and hung out with Steve’s cousin. Maybe sometime we’ll write updates about those trips, but they were all really cool! I wanted to update this weekend given that Steve and I have both been on solo vacations lately, him to visit family back in the US, and me on a day trip this weekend. my Traveling solo is a really interesting experience to go back to after years and years of going places with each other, but I’m going to say that I prefer going places as a pair. We’ll let Steve weigh in on that eventually. *wink*

Continue reading Solo-navacation update!

Lessons from Hong Kong.

We watched our last sunset in Asia from the Avenue of Stars in Kowloon today, gazing over the water at Hong Kong Island. While we strolled toward the Star Ferry, Steve offhandedly remarked that this had been a great visit to Hong Kong – we’d hit all our old highlights, and we’d also seen some new things. We had made one extraordinarily bad decision, but everything else turned out pretty well. It was a net positive in total!

Lesson #1: Oldies are goodies. This was Steve’s fourth trip, and my third trip to Hong Kong. We have the restaurants and the places that we go to every time. This time, we reveled once more in Branto Pure Veg, a delicious, delicious Indian restaurant in Tsim Sha Tsui that was recommended to us by close friends Kate and Erin. Branto is amazing Indian food that really spoiled me for actual food in India – so good and so flavorful! We ordered peas palak, chana masala, and a paper masala dosa, a giant crunchy roll stuffed with mashed spicy potato. The last time we were here, it was a year and a half ago on Christmas Day, during our visa run from Taiwan. Today, we visited another oldie but goodie location – the Central to Mid-Levels Escalators, which is the longest covered walkway in the world. We traveled some ways up, saw the Jamia Masjid, a lovely celadon-green mosque, and then went halfway back down to sit at a bar with great seats overlooking Shelley Street and the escalators. Steve enjoyed a beer while I had a mojito (okay, it was already 2 pm, you know?), and we people-watched for a while. While Asia is always full of Engrish shirts, we saw our favorite today – a woman whose shirt said “In memory of when I cared”. Man, those good old days! Continue reading Lessons from Hong Kong.

The first forty-eight hours.

We’ve spent two crazy whirlwind days in transit, even though the calendar says it’s three, but we are finally here in Taichung, Taiwan. It’s been a true journey of planes, trains, and automobiles (and even buses!).

We woke up on Thursday morning around 4 am in Greenville, and Steve’s parents drove us to the airport, and we hugged them goodbye and gave kisses to Stella, who let out one farewell bark when she saw us disappear into the airport. We will miss that dog like crazy! I already do. We had one short but uncomfortable flight to Dallas/Fort Worth, and then a four-hour layover where we walked around the airport. We happened upon the inaugural direct flight for American Airlines  from Dallas/Fort Worth to Beijing, which featured a bunch of Chinese dancers (probably from the local Chinese school), several TV crews which were going around and asking passengers about why they were traveling to Beijing, and a buffet table of Chinese delicacies. I overheard a photographer grilling the man behind the table on exactly what soymilk tasted like, which made me smile.  Continue reading The first forty-eight hours.

Journey to the east!!

In just about another week, our travels are about to start up again! On May 4, we leave Durham, North Carolina, where we’ve lived for the past eight months, and on May 7, we board a flight for Taiwan once more. To our immense delight, I found a very promising summer internship in Taichung, Taiwan, for a national social service organization. That means Steve and I are gearing up for another few whirlwind months of travel in Asia!!

This summer is going to be quite a different animal from our World Tour, which occupied us for eleven months and almost as many countries. I have a ten-week internship which will keep me largely occupied in Taichung. On the other hand, as a part of my internship, I will be visiting local branches and sites across the island for a few weeks. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to check out different cities and towns in this way, maybe some places we’ve been, but maybe some new and different places too! In late July, we’ll have a few weeks to spend in our favorite places (probably Kaohsiung and Taipei) before flying to Hong Kong for nearly a week in early August, and then it’s back to the States.

I hope to spend some time blogging about the new challenges of traveling and living in Taichung. It seems again a different city from Taipei, which is large and metropolitan, Tainan, which is picturesque and historical, and Kaohsiung, which was industrial but has now reinvented itself as a very livable place and the center of southern Taiwan. From what we’ve gleaned, Taichung is more industrial and gritty, and we look forward to trying it out. Working for an organization is going to be much different than just traveling around Taiwan as well. I’m looking forward to working with the youth capacity-building program at this organization, which should really be pretty interesting. I anticipate the language and cultural barriers to be the most imposing part. While I have pretty much full conversational fluency in Mandarin, I do fall apart and splutter when faced with the challenges of technical and professional language. How do I even talk about policy analysis in Chinese? What are the vocabulary words? I barely remember the words for microeconomics and statistics! It’s going to be a challenge, to say the least.

Meanwhile, Steve and I are preparing the apartment for our subletter, starting to pack away the things we need, and oh, yes, I am also finishing my finals for spring semester. It’s going to be a busy few weeks and a very busy summer! Stay tuned for more details.


4 is the loneliest number.

When we first investigated the possibility of living in Taiwan, I heard from my mother and several others about the virtues of Taiwan. One of them was that Taiwan had preserved Chinese tradition and culture better than China itself. I have seen a lot more signs of religious and traditional beliefs here, from both individuals as much as institutions. For example, every Monday, many businesses bring out onto the sidewalk a metal container where they burn yellow paper, which symbolizes money in the afterlife. The metal container is accompanied by a small table of offerings to the ancestors, which invariably contains oranges and some products that would be considered good presents in Taiwan, like Coke and Lays potato chips. Small shrines and temples to Buddhist and other deities are everywhere — smaller ones can be found inside people’s living rooms and kitchens, and bigger ones sandwiched between clothing shops, and occupying prime spaces on large street corners. It’s very much a part of modern day Taiwan.

One sign of a strong culture could be a strict adherence to traditional taboos, in which my mother has indoctrinated me thoroughly. For example, don’t send old people clocks as a present — the Chinese character for clocks, 钟 (zhong1), sounds the same as another character, 终, meaning final or end, so it sounds like you’re cursing them to die. Also, don’t stick your chopsticks vertically in your rice bowl; that’s how they prepare a bowl of food for the dead (maybe because it looks like incense sticks that way?), so it’s a bad omen. Do you see a trend here? And definitely don’t give a couple an umbrella as a present, because the umbrella (伞, san3) is pronounced very similarly to 散, the character which can mean to split up.

Continue reading 4 is the loneliest number.

Hong Kong: where East met West and settled down together for good.

It’s impossible to cram five days of Hong Kong into a single blog post, but I’m going to try anyway. For a Christmas vacation, this was pretty darn good! I took a billion pictures of food, buildings, and road signs, which can all be found in World Tour, Vol. 4: Hong Kong.

Des Voeux Road, Hong Kong Island: Chinese characters, but double-decker trams and buses drive on the left.

Continue reading Hong Kong: where East met West and settled down together for good.