Today I received a Facebook message from my friend Austin, who paid me the best compliment: “You’ve inspired me to move abroad.”
He’s heading to Costa Rica, with plans of running an online business, while learning Spanish, hitting some waves, and hopefully meeting a girl. In his words, he’s searching for “pura vida,” or “pure life.”
His message reminded me of something I wrote myself eight years ago, just before moving to South Korea. I was full of excitement and optimism and would spend hours scrolling though images of temples, reading about weekend trips from Seoul, and daydreaming about what my life would be like. I emailed everyone I knew who had spent time abroad to hear their stories.
But Austin included something in his note that I wish I had: he asked for advice, for insight. I thought about what I was going to say for awhile, and figured I’d share my reply with all of you. So, here goes: Continue reading
Why the hell would anyone want to go to North Korea? This is a question my parents posed, and even my students, as I told them my husband and I were heading to its capital to participate in the annual marathon.
The short answer: curiosity. While living in Seoul, I had the opportunity to listen to stories from several North Korean refugees. How they escaped through China, how they left behind loved ones, and how they lived in a constant state of fear. I remember feeling completely ignorant, as I knew nothing about the country other than the fact they harbored nuclear warheads.
Who does a “year in review” post in the middle of February? Apparently I do. And I’m not going to apologize for it, because one of my New Year’s resolutions is to stop feeling so guilty for things I shouldn’t feel guilty about. Plus, this is my blog and I can do what I want.
2016 was a crazy year, end of story. Future generations will look back on 2016 and think, Geez, I’m so glad I didn’t live through that year! (Ok, they probably won’t say the word “geez.” In fact, I’m not even sure why I’m saying it now, in 2017.)
I like blaming my 30’s for a lot of things: the fine lines appearing under my eyes, the two-day hangovers, and the inability to lose weight the way I did in my 20’s. And while I don’t have too much control over the first problem (let’s be honest, eye cream is just overpriced moisturizer), I can drink less (well, sometimes) and I can definitely make healthier eating choices during the holidays.
The idea of cookie exchanges has made its way to Shanghai, and so has Thanksgiving. For my day job, I’ve had to write listicles about turkey delivery services and where to go for the best cup of hot chocolate in the city. I’m also a food critic on the side, and it’s literally my job to eat fattening food. So I cut corners when I can.
Winter has arrived in Shanghai, and even while I’m typing this (indoors), I’m wearing a scarf and fuzzy slippers. So naturally, I’m thinking of warmer places and warmer times, like this summer. For six weeks, Luke and I traveled around Croatia, Italy and Slovenia, eating pizza, lots of gelato, and kicking back in the beautiful nature that surrounded us.
We started our adventure in Croatia, deciding to cruise around the islands with Sail Croatia. I was actually hesitant to do something like this, as I hate organized group tours. Also, I had read reviews online about 30 and 40-somethings having to deal with all night parties and waking up to piles of puke outside their cabin doors. Continue reading
When I was little, my favorite movie was “Big Bird Goes to China.” I must have watched it several dozen times, because I can still recite a song the giant yellow bird sings about learning Chinese. Serious props to my parents for dealing with that.
I loved the movie not only because of my obsession with Sesame Street, but because of the curiosity it evoked. Everything seemed so foreign, so different. I couldn’t believe that those landscapes, the buildings and the people belonged to the same planet where I lived. And, like most children, I dreamt about digging a tunnel and winding up on the Great Wall of China.
I made this. From scratch. I am so freaking proud of myself, I want to post this everywhere.
It’s what I’m calling a “pumpkin ricotta phyllo tart,” but it should be called “the miraculous outcome of mixing and baking a hodgepodge of ingredients.”
A few weeks ago, I was selected to participate in Shanghai online grocer Epermarket‘s “Halloween Battle.” Along with a few other food bloggers, I was sent a box of mystery ingredients, and asked to create one cohesive dish. A huge fan of the TV show, “Chopped,” I happily agreed.
First, I apologize for posting an article about an ice festival just one week before April, but I’ve been busy. Actually, I’m still busy. So this is why you’re getting a photo essay.
But before I dump my SD card on you, here’s some background: The Harbin Ice Festival has been going on annually for about 17 years, and is now one of the biggest in the world. It’s made up of three snow and ice sculpture parks, and goes from the end of December through February.
Where is Harbin, you ask? It’s in China. More specifically, Northeast China. It was once a sleepy fishing village, until 1897 when Russians settled and built what is now known as the Trans-Siberian Railway. So besides being a place to see cool ice sculptures, it’s also a way to soak up some Russian culture in China. Continue reading
There’s something about the word Mandalay that made me want to go to the city before I knew anything about it. Man-da-lay. The sound of it, the way it rolls off the tongue. I pictured a lazy river town, blanketed in rolling fog, with men steering Burmese-style gondolas against the background of mossy-green mountains. A painting come to life. But like most places I romanticize, Mandalay was far from what I imagined. Continue reading
When I first started planning my trip to Myanmar, I spent hours pouring over the Google Image search results. Pictures of mist-covered mountains dotted with ancient temples were first to pop up, followed by the iconic Shwedagon Pagoda in the country’s capital. I had seen these images before. Heck, they were the reason I was making the trip to Burma in the first place.
But as I continued to scroll down the pages, I began to see another part of the country–a lesser-known part. Pictures of aged fisherman standing on the ledge of wooden boats, women and children poking their heads through windows of stilt houses, and rolling green hills that seemed to touch the sky.