Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why Do We Travel?

Mui Ne Sand Dunes Earlier this week, I stumbled upon a Facebook post written by my favorite writer, Elizabeth Gilbert. It was entitled “Why do we travel?” and began with a picture of herself, donning an eye mask and clearly suffering the effects of jet lag.

It was 3am. A time every traveler who has covered a multitude of time zones will tell you, is when you question your life choices. Much like Gilbert, you recall all the money you spent, the chores you left behind, and how many emails are waiting in your inbox. You look in the mirror, at a mere shadow of yourself—eyes hollowed, skin dry and taut, stomach bloated. And you wonder, “why the heck do I do this to myself?”

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Summer Cocktail Recipes: “Florida Mule” and “New World Gin & Tonic”

2015-07-09_0003As you know from my latest postone of my favorite parts of visiting St. Augustine was touring the local distillery.  I mean, free booze? An excuse to buy gin and vodka? Come on.  

Then, today, I got a follow-up email, containing recipes for St. Augustine Distillery’s two signature cocktails. It felt like Christmas. Or happy hour. Whatever. Either way, it was enough justification to break out the bottles and do a little taste-testing. For you, of course.

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Road Trippin: A St. Augustine Photo Essay

2015-07-07_0001As a teacher, I plan my entire school year around holidays. Myanmar for October break, Belize for winter vacation, Bali for Chinese New Year. I can’t help it; I’m an eternal wanderlust.

However, something was different at the end of this school year. The thought of traveling exhausted me, and I wanted nothing more than to spend time with family and friends in Florida. Plus, after a year of learning the IB curriculum and navigating my way through the Chinese culture, the only plans I wanted to make involved my parents’ pool and a lounge chair.

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The Ultimate Jet Lag Cure: Oatmeal Pancakes (with recipe)

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Day three in Florida, and still surrounded by the heavy fog of jet lag. My head aches, my eyes are straining to stay open, and I’ve been up since 4am.

It’s been awhile since I’ve experienced this sensation, as I deliberately keep my vacations within a few hours of Shanghai time. Actually, the last time I had to make this 12-hour adjustment was when I moved to Shanghai last summer. And before that, when I moved back from Korea, in 2011. There’s a reason for this.

It’s said that it takes the body about one day per time zone to get over jet lag. This means that if you traveled from, say, New York to California, it would take you as much as three days to get on California’s schedule. If you traveled from, say, China to Florida, it could take up to 12 days. Twelve days, people! Now, I only predict it will take me half of this time (fingers crossed), but regardless, it’s not fun. Luckily, I have my family, the sun, and pancakes.

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My Top 10 Travel Experiences

People often ask me to name my favorite country, or my favorite vacation. But I can’t. I tell them that asking me to do this is like having me choose between ice cream and chocolate. I like both. I’m going to eat both. So instead of telling you about my top travel experience, I’m going to share my top ten thus far (while enjoying a bowl of ice cream topped with chocolate sauce).

#1: Hiking the Inca Trail 

 

IMG_7381I mean really, do I need to provide a caption or explanation for why this is number one? Look at this. And the picture doesn’t even do it justice. It was four days and three nights of hiking at high altitude, sleeping in tents, and seeing world wonders. It was challenging but oh-so-rewarding. I went through a company called Enigma and would highly recommend.

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Why you don’t need an alarm clock in China

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I am not a morning person. I never have been. I never will be. But the fact that I’m now a high school teacher means I at least have to pretend.

So Monday through Friday, I set my alarm for 6am, giving me a solid hour to quietly enjoy a giant cup of coffee. I make breakfast. I cake concealer under my eyes. I bike to school to get my blood pumping. By the time my students enter the classroom at 8am, I fake a smile and actually resemble a human being.

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Why you should join Internations

IMG_5825If you’re an expat, or if you’ve ever traveled by yourself for long periods of time, you know that sometimes it’s tough to meet people. True, you may get lucky and meet that perfect group of people at a hostel, or another solo traveler on a walking tour. But what if you don’t? Well, my advice for you is to get online. There’s Meetup.com, which is a great site for finding activities or weekend trips with like-minded individuals, Couchsurfing.org, good for finding a couch/room or meeting locals, and the Tinder app for the single traveler, looking for a possible romance on the road. But if you’re planning on making a semi-permanent or even permanent move abroad, Internations is the way to go. The website is similar to Meetup, but with an emphasis on networking opportunities. I’ve personally been to several events, and have made many friends and business contacts along the way.

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How to Teach Abroad

IMG_1839Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about what I do for a living. “How did you start teaching overseas?” “Do you teach at a Chinese school or an American school?” “How do you travel so much?” “What kinds of benefits do you get?”

Then the most important: “How can I do it too?”

Six years ago, when the U.S. economy took a turn and I was left without a job, I decided to throw all caution to the wind and move to Korea to teach English. I had never taught before, I hadn’t traveled much, and admittedly, kids weren’t really my thing. But I thought, Hey, I can do anything for a year. 

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10 Reasons to Love Melbourne

While in Sydney, I heard that I would either be a “Melbourne girl” or a “Sydney girl.” Apparently, according to locals of both cities, you can’t love both. At least, you can’t love both equally. But I’m sorry to report to my Aussie readers, I did.

Sydney and Melbourne are in fact very different from one another. Sydney has all the major tourist attractions, beaches, and is admittedly a better option for tourists if you have to choose. However, Melbourne is definitely worth a visit too.

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3 Must-Have Experiences in Sydney

Planning a trip can be extremely overwhelming. You have to decide on which country to visit, which cities, how long to stay in each city, find hotels and airfare within your price range, and have an idea of what you want to do once you actually arrive. Aren’t vacations supposed to be relaxing?

If you’re like me, the Internet can be a double-edged sword when making these decisions. It’s easy to log hours on travel sites, reading review after review, until you lose all confidence in your ability to make a decision. So, I’m making it easy for you. I’ve compiled a list of my top three things to do when visiting Sydney. If you’re limited on time, plan your days around each of these events, giving you three very different days of touristic opportunities.

1. Sydney Harbour BridgeClimb

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I’m not going to lie, this is expensive. But then again, Australia is pretty expensive in general. And, in my opinion, it’s worth the money. Basically, BridgeClimb is an adventurous way to see the city’s most iconic sites from a different vantage point. You choose what time you want to go (day, twilight, night or dawn), get strapped into a jumpsuit and harnesses, and hike your way up the bridge, stopping every so often for historical facts and pictures. The climb takes about two hours, and there’s no need to be in shape. Just prepare for some stair climbing (obviously) and slightly high winds coming from the bay. For more information, visit the website: http://www.bridgeclimb.com/.

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2. Manly Ferry 

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In contrast to the high price of climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the 30-minute ferry ride to Manly Wharf is a beautiful, cheap way to get to know the city better. Ferries leave frequently (every half hour or so), from 5:30am until 11:45pm from Circular Quay. You can purchase roundtrip tickets at the station ($15 AUD) right beforehand.

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Once you arrive to Manly, you can go on a 10 kilometer harbourside walk if you feel so inclined, or you can do what I did and plop down on the beach and relax for a few hours. Either way, make sure to end your day with fish and chips. There are shops all along the beach, and some tucked away on side streets. We chose a fresh fish shop that had a line out the door (always my go-to), and enjoyed it on a park bench while watching the sun set. It was truly a perfect day.

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3. Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

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This six kilometer cliff top coastal walk is the perfect way to take in the city’s famous beaches and eastern suburbs. It takes about two hours; although you could make a day of it by stopping at the parks and restaurants along the way. Public transportation is quick and easy, and bus numbers depend on where in Sydney you’re coming from.

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Been to Sydney and agree with my list? Have other suggestions? Please comment in order to help others make informed travel decisions. 🙂