Category Archives: travel

my thai lullaby

I was trying to write a blog post tonight — I have so many on my mind — but, to be honest, it’s been a long day. I write best in the morning. I should know better.

And so I decided I would log out of “Shift,” check facebook, log out of that, and head to bed . . . And then on facebook I saw this. And I just had to share.

This, my friends, is what life is — or at least should be — all about.

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The news clips call this a tear jerker. Why? Why is that? Should it be? Should tears form when, universally, we recognize what we all should have been doing in the first place? Interesting how emotions know no cultural lines.
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on the road to a new life

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Already tired but ready to get this show on the road.

When I was 18, when most of my friends went just two hours away from home, I drove 2,500 miles for college. It was a scary time, and an exciting one. I’d lived in the same small town in Northern California my entire life. I was ready to see something new.

In many ways, that decision was a turning point and a defining moment in my life. This small town girl was exposed to a whole new world — Chattanooga, Tennessee was nothing like Placerville! You see . . . Where I came from, a “hog race” would indicate a pig race not a Harley race. Thunderstorms happened only rarely (and only during winter) at home. “Y’all” and “you’uns” were not in the dictionary. And grits? Fried okra? Sweet tea? Huh?

In many ways, it was like being in a new country, with the only difference being that English (albeit Southern English) was the written and spoken language, and I didn’t stick out everywhere I went — that is, until I opened my mouth.

In embarking on our recent journey from Tennessee to California, Jon and I created something of a reverse culture shock for him — and taken it to a whole new level. If Placerville was nothing like Chattanooga, Chattanooga is on a different planet from Berkeley! From rural Signal Mountain where Jon could recognize friends by the sounds of their cars passing on a two-lane highway, we’ve moved to busy University Avenue, where traffic never stops and our closest friends live several hours away!

The best example I can think of regarding the difference between living in a small town versus a big one, however, occurred while waiting in line at Comcast the other day. Jon and I were waiting to pick up our Internet modem when a large African American woman began a loud telephone conversation in line behind us. “. . . Hey, yeah. Yeah, I’m jes’ out payin’ bills. Yeah, I know. Jes’ remember we can’t affor- no f***-ups. I . . . Yeah, I’d like to see you, too, but I’ve jes’ been so bi-sy . . . Nobody gives me no respect. You hear that? No-body. Everybody is always disrespectin’ me and the way I raise my keeds and trying to tell me what to do. And so you know what? I’m gon’ re-move myself from the situation. I’m jes’ gon’ go away so there ain’t no one can find me no more. If they don’t respect me, I’m jes’ gon’ go away . . .”

Oh, boy.

Below are pictures from our road trip across the country. We drove the northern route, through Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. It was a beautiful drive, but man am I glad that it’s over. I cannot stand sitting in a car for hours on end!

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At Jon’s before we left — that’s a scooter and three bikes on the back of that truck!

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Hello Illinois!

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Can’t forget the St. Louis Arch.

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Because my friend Jeff lives in Nebraska, I’ll go ahead and say it’s an awesome place. Otherwise, I’d just say it’s flat!

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Old barn somewhere along the way.

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Jon contemplating our truck’s sagging hind end at a gas station. That scooter was heavy!

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Hello, Wyoming.

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Light at the end of the tunnel.

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I heart clouds.

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Electricity.

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Somewhere in Wyoming.

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Snow-swept.

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Boulders in Wyoming.

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Snow!

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Salt Lake City area.

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Salt Lakes, Utah

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Wind-blown and worn out

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She’s still holding up!

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Sky meets salt.

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Jon was excited about this.

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Getting closer.

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Driving, driving, driving.

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Almost home.

 

 

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the world awaits

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In looking for jobs recently, I updated LinkedIn. In updating LinkedIn, I got in touch with old co-workers. In getting in touch with old co-workers, I got a job offer in Taiwan.

And I couldn’t take it.

Those of you who’ve been following me for a while now know how important travel is to me. I’ve often stated how much I miss living in Asia and how I can’t wait to return. My dream job would be to work for a nonprofit organization whose focus is international relief. I want to write to make a difference.

But why is travel so important to me? How can I make others understand? Continue reading

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if i could go anywhere

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If I could go anywhere, I would go to Carmel, on the coast of California, in the year 1990. My family would be staying at a small condo by the beach. It would be foggy and misty. I would be six years old, and my mom would be turning 32. We would be there to celebrate her birthday, and I would be laughing and twirling and calling her an old lady.

I would then take my six-year-old self on a trip around the world. I’d stop in Delhi, Dhaka, Beijing, Tokyo . . . Manila, Sydney, Cape Town, Istanbul . . . Bucharest, Athens, Rome, Lisbon . . . Moscow, Santiago, Pell City, Montreal . . . Continue reading

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imagine . . .

If you could go anywhere* — alone — where would you go?

Why?

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*

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If you’ll tell me your answer, I’ll tell you mine.

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Note: You’ve got to answer both parts of the question. No cheating!

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life is precious — treat it well

2014-year-of-horse-chinese-new-yearI ought to be asleep. No, really. Normal people go to bed before 11 p.m. Normal people also go to bed before 12 a.m., and 1 a.m., and 2. More often than not, I go after 2. Even on work days. Even when I’m tired. Even when I haven’t gotten enough sleep for weeks and weeks and weeks.

You see . . . I just . . .

There’s so much more I want to do than I possibly can in sixteen hours. And since we’re supposed to sleep eight hours out of every twenty-four . . . I put sleep off until I absolutely have to and often end up getting less than I should . . . And sometimes, yes, sometimes, I regret it. But only sometimes.

Tonight is not one of those times. Continue reading

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blessed

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The holidays are a wonderful time. Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate’s life for me. Oh, wait. I guess that was supposed to be Ho-ho-ho! — Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

Or was it?

Something that’s always bothered me about the holidays is — no, not the materialism (although that’s part of it) — the focus on self. When I was a copy writer in Chattanooga, I wrote countless articles on depression around the holidays. The media paints Christmas and New Years out to be such a wonderful time of year, but what if it isn’t? What if you’re single and alone? What if your family lives a long way? What if a loved one just died, or money is really, really tight? It’s a well-known fact that shop-lifting rates go up around the holidays.

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A little girl begging at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Around my home, Christmas cards from friends always come rolling in around the holidays. Pictures with smiling faces and new babies and fall colors and fancy scarves beam from the refrigerator door. Sayings like “Blessed!” and “Wishing you and yours happiness throughout the holidays and the coming year” jump out at innocent passersby . . . And, as I look at these clean, painted faces, I wonder: Do they even know? Do they know how blessed they really are? Really? Continue reading

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merry christmas!

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I’m writing from Pell City, Alabama. This last week has been an adventure! I will give details later, but let’s just say traveling around the holidays is not always fun! I wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, though, and say that I love and miss you all and hope this holiday season has been about the important things (things that last) instead of , . . everything else. (Those of you who have been following me for a while know what I mean.)

Merry Christmas!!

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what i got

sublimeIt’s mid-afternoon on Saturday. I’ve been home nearly a week and have only posted . . . once?! Big race is tomorrow (I’m running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in San Francisco), and all I keep thinking is, “What do I want to say?” There ought to be a lot after my tripand there isbut all I keep coming up with is:

Life is . . .

Which then launches into:

“Life is . . . too short, so love the one you’ve got,
‘Cause you might get run over, or you might get shot . . .
Take a small example, take a tip from me:
Take all of your money, give it all to charity . . .
Lovin’, is what I got, I said remember that.
Lovin’, is what I got . . . I got, I got, I got.”

It’s the lyrics to a popular song by Sublime that came out when I was in grade school. It’s a song that’s a little bit timelessas in, it could have come out yesterday, the melody and beat are still so fresh in my mind. Not all of the lyrics are good, of course. But I find it interesting that even mainstream artists who talk about smoking pot and getting high keep coming back to the idea that life is short and love is all we’ve got . . . Continue reading

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the truth behind travel

While on my trip a dear friend from high school posted this photo on my facebook page:

fernweh3“I think you’ve been satisfying this need for a couple of weeks now,” he said.

And I wondered: Was it true?

I’ve been a seeker all my life. From the time I was ten, I couldn’t wait to get my driver’s license. Six more years! How would I make it? In high school, my Catholic boyfriend challenged me to examine my Protestant beliefs, and when it came time for college, I chose a school 3,000 miles from home — Southern Adventist University in Chattanooga, Tennessee. At Southern, I uncovered a whole new world, one in which umbrellas were a necessity year-round (a strange phenomenon for a California girl) and the correct way to address a group of friends was not “Hey, guys,” but “Ya’ll”! It was the start of what has made me me and a part of what eased my transition to life in Asia  — I already knew about this cicada and humidity thing!

But, I guess my question is: What is travel? And why is it — is it? — important? Continue reading

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the bad blogger

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One of my first views in Florida, not far from the Tampa Airport.

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It’s been funny, these past few weeks, not writing regularly on my blog. I feel like such a bad blogger. A good blogger — one seriously committed to her readers and to growing her blog — would have written posts ahead of time and scheduled them to appear at regular intervals during her absence. But not me. Those of you who know me well know that that’s not how I operate. I’m spur of the moment, genuine as can be, or not at all.

And so here we are: Two posts in . . . how many days?

I’ve missed my blog — and you. Writing is such a huge part of my life. And yet . . .

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What kind of blogger reads while waiting for her ride at the airport instead of blogging on her iPhone? A bad one!

It’s been good to live away from my blog for a few days, too. Good to think without writing, to ponder without sharing. Not that I’ve been thinking deeply or found many profound things to say. This trip has been crazy — visiting New Orleans, participating in my good friend’s wedding, taking long walks on the beach (beneath the stars, of course), catching up with old friends . . . I’ve even extended my trip to this next Sunday so that I can visit Chattanooga. I can’t wait to revisit my old stomping grounds . . .

But with so much activity, there hasn’t been time for deep thoughts and great writing. It’s been good, and yet . . .

I can’t wait to get home so I can catch up with all of you! :)

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Image: Mine. All rights reserved.

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the best of the best

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View of New Orleans from my friend’s apartment

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This post comes as something of a surprise. I would have thought I’d be talking directly about New Orleans.

I arrived this past Saturday to a scene I’ve never really been a part of. No, no, I’m not talking about the music or bar scene. I’m acquainted well enough with both, though truth be told I rarely participate in either. (I’m a “goodie goodie,” remember? Drinking has never really been my thing.) No, I’m talking about the medical academic scene, or, more specifically, the ivy league medical academic scene.

My friend is an internal medicine resident at Tulane, one of the most highly regarded and selective research universities in the nation. Yes, she’s smart stuff, and I’m proud to know her, but I don’t usually think of her as such. To me, she’s just April, my best friend from forever, and that’s enough. All the rest is just fluff.

So at dinner the other night I was surprised as I was talking to another internal medicine resident, a friend of April’s, when he told me about his experience as an undergraduate at Yale. Continue reading

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see you . . . soon!

Dear All,

I miss you. What? How is that possible? I don’t know, but it’s true.

Funny that my little blog has become something of my home. I share my thoughts here, and you respond. You tell me that I’m not crazy. For that, I owe you everything.

A few weeks ago I proposed a regular Friday section focusing on travel. I should have known better. I can’t even get myself to bed on time let alone post a weekly section on time. I’m sorry. I do plan to write at least once a week about travel, though. I just can’t swear that it will pop up in your “Reader” section at a specific time.

This Friday (yesterday) I took a day trip to San Francisco. The weather was perfect, and I got to drive over the new Bay Bridge, a white, sleek monument to modernity that stands in stark contrast to the dark metal contraption — the old bridge — beside it. I broke the law and took a few pics for your benefit while driving. ;)

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The new bridge to the left and the old on the right.

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just another day in taiwan

Temple Dance

April 2010, Sanjhih, Taiwan

Sh**. As I ran, purse bouncing on my thigh, shoelaces untied, down the brick walkway toward the front gate, I could already see the Pony* pulling out of the apartment driveway. Damn. I stopped in my tracks and put my hands on my hips, exasperated. Grrrr! I was already late, and now I would have to walk the mile into town and catch a bus to Danshui from there. Dammit!

I considered turning around and going back to my apartment. I could text Lara and tell her I was sick and spend the rest of my Saturday evening alone, as usual. That would be easier. But somehow, I couldn’t make myself do it. I’d spent almost all of my Saturday nights alone recently. I knew I needed to get out. Continue reading

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where we came from

Sandimen, Pingtung County, Taiwan

Boy in Sandimen, Taiwan

Danshui, Taiwan Dragon Boat Festival June, 2011

The hot sun hung high in the western sky. Beneath it, brightly colored gods — with their wide eyes and big lips and expressions both goofy and severe — danced and sang in the dusty streets. The parade swayed to the beat of drums and exotic music as it snaked its way past the MRT station and between the tall Danshui buildings. A ways off, down by a three-story Starbucks beside the river, I saw lions, dancing. The performers were teenagers. They were incredible. Continue reading

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and what is beauty

746151-indore-india-girl-beauty-not-believe-but-she-poorAnd what is beauty, anyway?
And how do we decide?
If we look around the world,
it changes with the tide.

And what about the history books?
Do they all agree?
From days of yore to evermore,
not from what I see!

And so it is that beauty lies
somewhere down, deep inside.
Our differences are beautiful
and not to be denied.

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Image: woophy.com

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a whole new light

eyezI blinked. I blinked again. Each time I blinked, searing pain ripped across my right eye.

Something’s not right.

It’d been going on for months. Every morning I’d wake with red, painful eyes—my right eye worse than my left. I’d quit wearing contacts weeks ago, but these days the redness wasn’t clearing up like it used to . . . and drops weren’t helping.

Continue reading

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seeing double (or, the airport)

sfoThe airport,
(oh, curs-ed place),
where dreams forgot
are woken—
where all’s amiss,
remembered bliss,
and I, its long lost token . . .

The airport
(oh, bless-ed place),
where winging worlds
are lighted—
where dreams unfold,
of tales yet told;
and lovers, reunited.

Continue reading

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a sister’s perspective

Half Dome

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park

A few weeks ago . . .

“Cris and I are thinking about climbing Half Dome for the 4th.”

Half Dome? My mind clicked. I didn’t really want to be a third wheel, but . . .

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah. I still have to apply for passes*, but if we get them, that’s where we’ll be.”

“Would you, uhhh, mind if your sister tagged along? I haven’t been to Yosemite in forever,” and then I added, “I promise I’d be a good guest!” Continue reading

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why i love travel

IMG_0251ed3One pedal, then the other. Over and over and over again. Almost there. Just me and the road, and . . . That old guy who just flew past me.

Seriously? . . .

. . . He was pushing a much lower gear.

I felt better.

Then, suddenly, “Hiiiiii!!!” I looked to my left. High up on a balcony, a little boy and his dad were catching the last rays of the setting sun. The little boy was waving vigorously. I smiled. “Hiii!!” I called back and waved as I pedaled on. The boy grinned.

(A few minutes later. Heading down the hill I’d just pushed up, contemplating my next blog post [now my next-next post] . . .)

A group of men, strolling. Hands clasped behind their backs, chatting amiably on the sidewalk. A few wore caps. They were tan. Asian. One of them looked at me as I flew past. His eyes smiled, as though he were amused, as if he were saying, “What are you doing here?” Continue reading

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searching for the here and now

I’m in Tahoe this weekend. Lake Tahoe is about an hour from my hometown and an hour and a half from where I currently live. It’s a lovely place, famous for its natural beauty. Just outside my cabin window are huge pines and a forest floor littered with pine cones and dry pine needles. During the winter, it snows.

Lake Tahoe is the largest freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevadas, and, at 1,645 feet (501 m), is second only to Crater Lake as the United States’ deepest. The lake is 22 miles (35 km) long and 12 miles (19 km) wide, making it the 26th largest freshwater lake by volume in the world. It’s a popular destination for tourists, including cyclists, skiiers and snowboarders, gamblers, and renaissance fair enthusiasts.

To me, though, it just feels like home. Continue reading

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the power of kindness

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I follow the rules of the road!

I was riding my bike tonight—at the top of a long hill, huffing and puffing, watching the full moon rise—when suddenly a car passed, and someone inside yelled, “You rock!” The youth then stuck his hand out the passenger-side window and waved it up and down, and continued waving it until I waved back, as though he wanted to be sure I’d heard him.

And it took me surprise.

No, no. It’s not that I’m not used to being yelled at while I’m riding. I get yelled at all the time. “F- you!” people say. Or, sometimes, “You idiot!” Sometimes they honk their horn and scream “Ahhhhh!” just to scare me.

And, unfortunately, it works. Continue reading

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factories of death—a reblog

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Image by GMB AKASH

“Today, I count myself blessed to have become a photographer. To be able to articulate the experiences of the voiceless, to bring their identity to the forefront, gives meaning and purpose to my own life.”

– GMB AKASH

I used to think reblogs were silly. I didn’t understand why people would post them. Were they too lazy to produce their own work? Or was it, sometimes . . . something else? Continue reading

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on and on you go (take two)

Please don’t hate me! I was not content with my first version of this poem. Something about the third stanza (and a few other things) just didn’t fit. So I revised it, and here it is. Most of you know by now: This poem is dedicated to “wind.”

dress3From here to there and everywhere,
on and on you go.
I hear you there, or is it there?
Your face, you’ll never show.

O’er sea and over mountain,
continent and plain,
from Asia to the Balkan:
the world is your domain.

At times I’ve seen you angry,
you howl and wreak havoc.
It’s then I shiver meekly,
and stand in awe, dumbstruck.

But when you’re sweet, you’re lovely;
you caress my soul.
Your whispers soft and balmy,
you can take me whole.

And though I cannot touch you,
on wings you fly me high,
to places where I knew you,
under another sky.

Which version do you prefer?

Image: Pinterest

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greater than all these

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Dragons are the most exalted “animal” in Chinese culture.

I was struck by its colors. Bright red and yellow and blue and green . . .

But then it was gone. Nick* was driving too fast. But, oh wait! There was another one. This one looked similar, only it was bigger. Rainbow-colored dragons with yellow spines leaped from its peaks. Black-bearded men holding whips perched nearby. I was agog.

But then it was gone.

“Would you slow down?” I wanted to punch Nick.

“You want to see temples?”

I said nothing. Continue reading

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