34 Reasons to Be Grateful For

Since I will be turning 34 in less than two weeks, I may as well share 34 reasons to be thankful for. While I am bummed that I wont be eating cake in Taiwan (Western cake tend to be way too sweet for me, anyway), I still have so many reasons to smile. Case in point?

1. My funky retro shoes picked out by my husband – he gets me.

2. I’m still making cute cards for loved ones. While they may be simple, I am still happy with how they turned out. Continue reading “34 Reasons to Be Grateful For”

A to Z Love List


A is for amazing tofu. Most of my meals are tofu related – stinky tofu, miso soup, mao po tofu (with beef instead of pork), dao hui (Taiwanese dessert – pictured), fried tofu, steamed tofu, boiled tofu, the list goes on. I like the texture and how it tastes delicious when it’s sweet, sour, spicy or salty. I can have tofu 3 to 5 times a week and not be sick of it due to the variety of ways how to cook it. Continue reading “A to Z Love List”

I’m Homesick (& I’m Not Talking About My Birth Country)

IMG_20141112_195607I want to be a little personal on why the island means so much to me, on a deeper level. No country is perfect but when you found a country to call home, it’s perfect to you. I wrote this in 2012:  “For the longest time I couldn’t even see the menu at the coffee shop so I say my usual and not get embarrassed. When I was at the Metro station, many times I couldn’t see the signs or the map. I would have this intense anxiety wondering if I missed my stop. Tonight was different. I just got my eyeglasses and I walked the usual roads and it was as if I was seeing a whole new world, you know? For the longest time, I was seeing a painting only in two dimension and for the first time, I can see the painting for all its glory. Being able to see the colours more vibrant, being able to navigate easier, and seeing everything in detail is such a privilege. In the past two weeks, I’ve cleaned by teeth and did a whole body check up. I usually get all tensed up when I go to the hospital but somehow in Taipei, I don’t feel as such. It’s an amazing feeling. In America, you can still go bankrupt even if you have health insurance.”

The disgusting blisters were on the other side of the hand. I will not be mean to you and show them. Although, at that time, it wasn’t that bad yet. It got much worse.

I can’t stress this enough. Taiwan’s health insurance probably saved my life. I’m blessed that if I need to see the Doctor, I don’t have to question if I can afford to (even with health insurance). I’m truly grateful.

I wrote this back in 2014: “One morning I woke up wondering why it was so hard to open my eyes. I thought I was simply just tired so I went back to sleep. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. When I went to the kitchen to get some water, my husband freaked out when he saw me. My eyes were swollen and my face was puffy. I had a terrible allergic reaction. I also had red bumps all over my hands. We immediately went to the dermatologist that morning to get treatment. Well, my eyes got better but my hands got worse. Before you know it I felt like my entire body was on fire. The itching was unbearable. My body is changing and now I no longer know what I am allergic to. I’m already lactose-intolerant – what more do you want from me?!

It was discouraging to wake up every morning and realize I was simply just getting worse. I ended up going to another dermatologist also around my neighborhood. The dermatologist said it is in fact an allergic reaction, so she have me drew blood to find out what’s exactly going on. I got more medicine and went on my way. I will find out the results on Tuesday.

Yay for affordable medicine. Now my hands look much beter (but I am still not showing you ). You know, I am a very nice person…I don’t like to give people nightmares or get anybody to recycle their meal.

I’m finally getting better, which is good because I don’t want to get on the plane to Shanghai and have everybody freak out when they look at my arm thinking I am contagious. Seriously though, my arms did look rather disgusting. Red turns turned to bubbles and the bubbles got bigger. It would freak me out too, honestly.

The allergic reaction could’ve been more dangerous; instead of my eyes, it could’ve been my throat. It seems my allergic reaction is getting worse each time, but luckily I’m taking necessary measures to find out what is my body reacting to. Thank you, Taiwan, for giving me a better quality of life I wouldn’t otherwise have in my birth country.”Camera 360There was a mini concert at the Hospital and it cheered some people up. Continue reading “I’m Homesick (& I’m Not Talking About My Birth Country)”

Gongguan: My Happy Place

LINEcamera_share_2014-11-24-14-39-35LINEcamera_share_2014-11-25-20-28-34I probably say this too many times but I will say it once more: It must’ve been mind blowing to grow up in Taipei during the 1970′s and seeing all these changes as time rolls by. I can’t even imagine. I’m impressed (and proud) of the positive changes that happened in the last 20 years in Taiwan. Before the 1980’s, you couldn’t speak your mind and now Taiwanese people elect their own President. It’s amazing to think about.

The first time my husband, Dawen, took me to his childhood hangout in Gongguan was back in 2009. 7 years later, and I can honestly say this place will always be my favourite, so I may as well share what to do in the area (besides eating at the street vendors, of course).

Speaking of street food, I always eat this when I’m in the area.

Other regular little eats whenever I’m in Gongguan.

We got off from Taipower Building Station and walked roughly 10 minutes to the cafe. My husband said the Americano is pretty good. Out of the three Cafes, this is by far my favourite. The design of the cafe is rustic and has a down-to-earth sort of vibe. There’s a library as well for you to browse while you drink your cup of Joe.

There’s also Treasure Hill 寶藏巖

2014-11-05-15-16-54_decoI would look out the window and see Treasure Hill from the bus ride home. I kept telling myself I will visit before I leave the island. I even saw this place on a travel channel and yet I kept putting it off and before you know it, two years has passed.

14151693607611416134819601“Only you can fill what’s missing. It’s not something another person can do for you.” Haruki Murakami14151693839672014-11-05-15-13-54_deco1415169371593LINEcamera_share_2014-11-27-20-58-28“This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” Henry David Thoreau
1415197405923“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.” Nelson Mandela

Since I knew I was going back to Shanghai in December of 2014, I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. While Dawen and I were heading home on the bus (pointing at Treasure Hill), “I want to visit here.” You know what? Dawen did surprise me on a sunny afternoon by taking me there after we left the gym. I will always remember this.

When Home Never Quite Felt Like Home

Taiwan on the brain

Leaving the States is like losing your seniority from this big company and you learn to adapt to other companies only to realize you like what you see, learn the tricks of the trade and due to this, you’re no longer the same. When you return to the big company, you can’t adapt and you wind up feeling more foreign than when you lived abroad.

I haven’t stepped on America’s soil for over 3 years; I was either living in China or Taiwan. In August of 2015, when I went through the costumes, I was told, “Welcome back home.” I wanted to respond, “I left home.”

And I did. My home is in Xiaobitan area, New Taipei, Taiwan. Not the United States, especially not Maine. Not anymore. Then again, I don’t think Maine ever felt quite like home. I wasn’t born there, and to most Mainers – I wasn’t one of them despite I grew up in a small town near Belfast. Not only that, apparently I am a Louisiana native because I was born there but I left the state when I was only two years old, but that’s another story. The last time I went to Maine with my husband, I felt more out-of-place than when we moved abroad in China from Taiwan. I felt disconnected but most of all, I simply lost seniority as if I’m Junior level again and nobody knows who or what I am. It’s like starting from scratch again, except it’s quite strange when it’s in a place that supposed to be your home but never quite felt like home. It’s a muddy, indescribable feeling, honestly.

If you ask me what to do in Maine or what’s happening over there. I couldn’t tell you. If you ask me the same thing about Taipei or Shanghai, my eyes light up and I can talk for hours. It’s like being in my comfortable pajamas, reading a familiar book. Places like Maine, Atlanta or even South Florida? Not so much.

Despite the pollution in Shanghai, for instance, my quality of life was still much higher than here in the States. I, at least, have mobility, can easily go to the Doctor (going bankrupt due to hospital bills is UNHEARD of), get my teeth cleaned and I actually hung out with like-minded people. I had a social life, but most of all – I was content.

In the States, however, it’s hard to talk to people when mentally we’re worlds apart. While we may both speak the same language, there’s a barrier between us. And you know what? I realize the States has propaganda just like the rest of the world. Americans have said to me how great it must be to leave China as if my life is better. In a few ways, yes. In many ways, not so much. The bottom line is, though, their perception of China (or even Taiwan) is completely wrong.

Have you realized those who say they live in the best country in the world never actually lived anywhere else while others live abroad become humbled by their experiences?

It has been over a year since I left China and Taiwan, and while it hasn’t gotten any easier, I’m fortunate to be with a very patient, understanding husband; he listens to me when I’m having the blues. Not only the blues hasn’t been turned down, the lyrics to the song rings truer than ever before.

Regardless, here’s to 2017…may this year be kind to us all.