Several eons ago (okay, several weeks– I apologize!), Rosie from La Grenouille Anglaise tagged me in the “ABCs of Travel” tag, in which I’m happy to take part (thank you)! Rosie has spent this past year as a lectrice d’anglais in Lyon, France and is now back in the UK, gearing for (I hope) more adventures to come. I encourage you to check out her blog—it’s nothing short of everything you need to be entertained for hours on travel, baking, and personal reflections.
Pretty straightforward, the “ABCs of Travel” tag is merely a series of questions, each starting with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. Rather long, if you think about it, but I enjoy doing these sort of tags and awards, for they allow me to reflect on my travel experiences since day one. Allons-y!
Age you went on your first international trip
I honestly don’t remember, but I know that I was an infant when I took my first international trip to Taiwan to visit family. If I had to guess, I probably was at least six months old.
Best (foreign) beer you’ve had and where
Beer isn’t my preferred drink, but I would say that the one I had during my trip to Gdańsk this April was pretty darn good. Can’t recall the name of the beer, but I remember it being really smooth, with a slight, sweet-sour cherry taste to it. I’d ordered it again, if I could!
Oh, where to start…being a massive foodie, I have a hard time choosing just one cuisine. There are so many I love: Greek, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Lebanese, Moroccan…the list goes on and on.
If I had to choose, Taiwanese food has my heart. Since I’m of Taiwanese descent, I grew up eating what my mom cooked, as well as made frequent trips to “the 626” (aka Asian central of Los Angeles) for Sunday breakfast—let me tell you, Taiwanese breakfast is sure to change your life! Visiting family in Taiwan also gives me an excuse to eat as much oh ah jian, shao bing you tiao, and gua bao as I can.
Destinations – favorite, least favorite, and why
I’ll preface this by saying that these are merely based on my own travels. Some people might find one place amazing, while others disappointing—really, it comes down to what you’ve experienced. I’m writing this, because I don’t want anyone to hate, let alone get defensive, about a certain place!
Favorite destination: I would have to say that my recent trip to the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon this summer was a pleasant surprise. What really blew me away was the views from Crown Point on the way: my family and I were there in the early morning when the misty fog was still hanging, and the scenery made it appear like something out of a computer home screen—it was that gorgeous!
Least-favorite destination: Brussels, Belgium disappointed me when I visited in October 2015—there just wasn’t a lot to see or do. Admittedly, I didn’t feel comfortable walking at night, with some men creeping on me (even when I was with a group of friends). Plus, I got bedbug bites at the hostel I stayed, which was absolutely horrible!
Experience abroad that made you say “wow”
I’ll be cliché and say that my college study abroad experience in Paris three years ago left a notable impression on me. No doubt I viewed that summer overseas through rose-tinted glasses (baguettes! Eiffel Tower! Cheap wine!), but because of that, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today, i.e. working in France.
Favorite mode of transportation
At least in Europe, I do enjoy taking the bus. Unpopular opinion, I know, but it’s usually the cheapest and most practical option. I’ve also gotten used to staring out the window to enjoy the scenery–city and countryside alike–while also letting my mind wander freely. Granted, some destinations are a bit too far for busing, so anything with a travel time of 12 hours or less (especially overnight) is my basis for traveling via bus.
Greatest feeling while traveling
Generic as it sounds, the freedom to get out of the house, out of town and away from responsibilities, is one of the most euphoric sensations I’ve felt time and again. It’s also pushing myself to do things out of my comfort zone, and I have to appreciate what it has done for changing me for the better.
Hottest place you’ve traveled to
Las Vegas, Nevada…in the summer! I went in July 2007 (funny enough, on the date 7/7/07, aka “lucky seven”) and I remember it being 110°F (43°C). Certainly didn’t help that the concrete streets, buildings, and pollution added to the already-intense heat!
Incredible photo you’ve taken and where
I have taken many photos which I’m proud of, but this one of Étretat, France remains one of my favorites. Normandy, represent!
Journey that took the longest
I recall taking a 16-hour flight back to Los Angeles from Taipei when I was perhaps twelve. While nothing terrible happened, I remembered being extremely bored, wondering if we would ever land. Even if I’m going over the Pacific, it’s still quite a way to get to and from Asia!
Keepsake from your travels
Postcards pretty much, although I’ve forgotten to purchase them in several places I’ve been. Otherwise, the photos I’ve taken throughout my trips serve as beautiful (and inexpensive!) memories to look back on.
Let-down sight, why and where
Stonehenge in England was a let-down: not only did I have to pay almost £15 to go, but also I couldn’t even get close to the site. Really, it was all but for a pile of rocks!
Moment that you fell in love with travel
Having grown up traveling with my family, I’d been accustomed to going somewhere every year for school break, even to the point of taking it for granted. It wasn’t until after I returned from college studying abroad in Paris that wanderlust began to kick in, and since then, I’ve never looked back.
Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in
The Westin in Beijing has got to be one of the sleekest, classiest hotels I’ve ever stayed at. My family and I visited China in the summer of 2009, and we were impressed with our hotel, provided by the tour we would be taking. Besides its ebony floors and staircases in the lobby, our rooms were like mini bachelor pads with a massive bathroom to boot. Breakfast was complimentary and served a wide variety of Eastern and Western breakfast dishes, which suited both me and my parents’ palates—excellent service to boot, too!
Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while travelling?
Views—I’m especially fond of skylines and rooftops, and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve climbed staircases or taken elevators for that magical view. The fact that I have to work hard, e.g. exercise, for some of them makes it all the more rewarding at the top!
Passport stamps – how many and where from?
Far too many…let’s just say that I recently got a new passport, just because all but two pages were left!
Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where
Touristy as it is, the “Modern Toilet” restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan is certainly one to write home about—this restaurant has even been featured on World’s Weirdest Restaurants! Though I would say that the food’s just average, “Modern Toilet’s” decor of toilet-seat chairs and poop-shaped chocolate ice cream really make for that once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Recommended sight, event or experience
When I was in Seattle this June, I was happily surprised with my visit to the Chihuly Garden and Glass. Although tickets cost a hefty $30 per person, each exhibit blew me away in size, shape, and decoration. Plus, there were plenty of exhibits indoors and outdoors, which *sort of* made up for the price. Definitely a place where tourists should check out in Seattle!
Splurge – something you have no problem forking out for while travelling
Food, hands down. Wherever I go, I make an effort to go out for a proper, sit-down meal. I do my best to research beforehand local restaurants that are presumed to be reputable, as well as serve the local dish of the city or country. I only limit going out once or twice while on vacation, but when I do go out, it’s worth it! #treatyoself
Touristy thing you’ve done
I remember spending my whole time in London (December 2015) just visiting the main sights: Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, London Eye, Piccadilly Circus, etc. I was basically rushing from place to place, trying to cram in as much as I could during my short stay. Consequently, it proved to be an underwhelming experience since I couldn’t fully enjoy myself for long in each place.
Unforgettable travel memory
Too many to count…one that comes to mind is hiking in the Cinque Terre back in May 2016. Although it’s touristy (as it is with the rest of Italy), its views of the navy-blue Mediterranean Sea in contrast with the colorful, Lego-like blocks of houses perched on cliffs in the five villages are too pretty to ignore. It’s great for those who want to experience another part of Italy, as well as get in excellent shape hiking between the villages!
Visas – how many and where for?
At least six, from what I recall: two (soon-to-be three) for working in France, two from separate trips to China in 2009 and 2011, one from Taiwan, and one from Japan. There might be more, but I don’t remember.
Wine – best glass of wine while travelling and where
One of the best glasses of wine I’ve had was in Paris three years ago when I studied abroad. It was a Cabernet d’Anjou rosé, quite sweet and light on the wine taste. I’ve tried to find the same brand since, but sadly, I haven’t been able to.
Xcellent view and where from?
I’ll share my current-favorite view from the top of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington.
Years spent travelling
Since the day I was conceived, really!
Zealous sports fans and where?
Not a huge fan of (American) football or baseball (not a “true” American, I suppose), but I do enjoy watching gymnastics, swimming, and track and field. I’ve been to a couple of gymnastics and track and field events that my university hosted when I was still in school, free of charge!
Thanks for reading—à bientôt!