8.26.2014

sunset on the Ludington lakeshore


when it comes to beaches and sunsets, I'm partial to Lake Michigan. and when it comes to Lake Michigan beaches... I'm partial to Ludington. I was able to spend a few weeks there this summer while visiting the US. we try to make it a habit to walk down to the beach around sunset. the clouds and weather this year were not very cooperative, but on this particular evening I was able to get a handful of shots.


can you see why I love this place? I know that having grown up in Michigan and spending many childhood summers here makes me biased, but Ludington will always be one of my favorite places to watch a sunset.

linking up with Bonnie, Camila, Jessi, and Amy for Travel Tuesday.


and now I want to take the opportunity to introduce my featured sponsor this month. Sara is the expat behind the blog Bristol in my Pocket. if you're heading to England [or just dreaming of it], I would suggest checking out her travel guides and her recent posts on the gorgeous shoreline of Wales.


Hey y’all! I’m Sara, a Texas girl who found herself in England. About a year ago I decided I hated the idea of “settling down”, so I moved to a city I had never been to and a country where I knew absolutely no one. Bristol In My Pocket is a place for me to document my expat life and other things that interest me (history, photography, traveling, and food of course). Hope y’all enjoy!

any travel plans or goals you have for this year [or have done already] that you'd like to share? I quite enjoy taking day trips to places around England. I believe it’s important to explore your own backyard. However, I’m hoping to make a trip over to Amsterdam later this year to finally experience one of Europe’s most beautiful cities!

what is one thing you'd love to learn how to do? This is going to sound so lame, but this past year I’ve learned how to transcribe medieval manuscripts. As a medieval history masters student, transcribing documents is essential to my research.

two of your favorite posts: Overcoming my fear of small spaces was difficult, but in the end the view was absolutely amazing. Cabot Tower showcases Bristol's amazing beauty. The Cliffs of Moher were always on my list of places to go one day. The fact that I can now cross that off my list is so rewarding!

where would you dream trip take you? My dream trip would be to travel around Europe, spending at least a month in each country. I love throwing myself into new cultures and learning to overcome the smallest of tasks, like conquering public transport. On my dream trip, I would be able to spend enough time in each country to understand its culture a little more.

describe yourself in 3 words: Restless. Independent. Fearless (at least I try to be).

read more about Sara on her blog: Bristol in my Pocket
follow along with

8.25.2014

back to the future.


I've made it to Taiwan after 20+ hours of travel and am easing back into the world from my jetlag/melatonin haze. the last few days in America always feel so conflicted... and I decided to be a bad blogger but a good wife/daughter/sister/friend and pay more attention to my real life.

to break the silence here, I'm going to tell you a little story about our travels back to Taiwan.


we had an amazing summer. we traveled A LOT, and were able to see so many of our loved ones. we ate a ton of food and spent way too much money. there were kitten snuggles + slumber parties, weddings, barbecues, runs on dirt roads, and one night of intense margarita drinking. but when the time came to head back home to Taiwan, we were ready to go.

packing, as I have mentioned before, is always a trial for me. I had high hopes this summer of only bringing back one extra suitcase. we would have been fine on space. but I seriously underestimated the weight of everything. and since an overweight bag costs more than checking an extra bag under 50lbs... we ended up checking 4 bags in total. [after, of course, I had a Unikitty rage moment about it.]

we arrived to the airport and each paid the extra $100 to check an extra bag [Delta only allows one 50lb bag per person] and I was not in the greatest of moods when we approached the bag drop counter. the attendant asked for my passport and visa.

I should stop here to explain a little about visas in Taiwan, and my particular situation. laws have changed in the past few years and Americans are allowed to enter Taiwan with a 90-day tourist visa. this is given upon arrival in Taiwan, and requires no special forms or paperwork. for the previous two years, I have been in Taiwan under a residential visa [which required a LOT of paperwork] tied to my Husband's work visa provided by his school. unfortunately my Alien Residence Card [or ARC] was unable to be renewed before I left this year. you see, I can't have mine renewed until my Husband's has been renewed, and I left the country before that happened. an ARC lets me skip the long line for nonresidents and to leave or enter Taiwan with minimal hassle. the person in charge of visas at our school told me that I should return to Taiwan on a tourist visa [since my ARC was no longer vlid] and instead of renewing we would apply for a new one upon my return.

I explained this to the check-in attendant.

I'm not sure if she was unfamiliar with the new law that allows visas on arrival, or if she thought I was trying to illegally immigrate to Taiwan, or if she was simply having a bad day. but her response to me was "you're not allowed to do that. they probably won't let you in, or else you'll be deported." I again tried to explain that I was following the course of action recommended to me by someone who knew what they were talking about. "I guess I don't know about Taiwan... if you were trying to go to Japan you would be deported for sure." I refrained from mentioning that Japan also offers visa on arrival... and that I had been there 3 months ago with no issue.

I was 98% sure that things would be fine, but her certainty that I would be refused entry flipped my panic switch. Husband quickly started messaging our contact to double check I would be ok to enter the country while I did my best not to have a meltdown.

the attendant then proceeded to make a huge hassle out of weighing and checking our bags. first I wasn't loading them on to the scale properly, and then one bag was magically 4 pounds overweight [though we had weighed them all at home and made sure they were under.] of course, it was the last bag and so we couldn't just rearrange things to another checked bag. I frantically pulled out what I thought was 4 pounds and put the bag back on the scale. "oh, now you took too much out." the attendant informed me. I resisted the urge to scream and shoved a few things back in the suitcase, tying the rest into a plastic Target bag to carry on.

the attendant handed Husband back his passport with a "well I know you'll be fine." and gave me mine with a very doubtful sounding "good luck."


while Husband frantically messaged with our contact in Taiwan, I tried not to picture being thrown into a holding cell and shipped right back to the USA after spending 20 hours making my way to Taipei. we were reassured that entry would not be a problem, so long as I didn't whip out my expired ARC and try to use it. consolation came in the form of a soy caramel macchiato and being sent the new Taylor Swift video from my BFF.

2 flights, 3 screaming babies, 4 really annoying toddlers, and several almost panic attacks later... we arrived in Taipei.

delirious from lack of sleep, I waited in line for 20 minutes before I was directed to wait at counter 25 at immigration. there was man in his early 20s in from of me, American. he was having trouble with the officer because he hadn't indicated an address of stay for his time in the country, didn't have a phone number of a friend or even know the name of town the was staying in. my heart started racing as the officer called another man over and they took the American off... well I don't know where they went but I was terrified I would shortly be following.

I stepped up to the counter and handed over my passport. he asked me to take off my glasses, look at the camera, and squinted at my face to be sure I was really myself. he started flipping through my passport. "you have been to Taiwan before?" I don't know if he saw the expired visa or just the dozen or so stamps of entry/exit I've accumulated. "yes. my husband is a teacher at an international school in Hsinchu. I'm just here on a tourist visa though." I could see Husband standing on the other side, having gone through his line in about 3 minutes.

for a minute the officer thought I was with the American they had taken away, but I clarified that my Husband was already through and approved, and waiting. he stamped my passport and let me through.


thankfully, I don't have a more interesting story to tell.

we made our way back home, found six dead cockroaches in the apartment, went on a late night 7-11 run for some water, and melatonin-ed ourselves to sleep. the next day we met up with friends for [what else] some xiao long bao and card games, and have been slowly trying to unpack and adjust.

school starts next week, which means we will finally be getting on a somewhat regular schedule. this fall I am going to be teaching a blogging class [or really "activity time"] for a handful of students and I am both excited and nervous. I also have a lot of work to do with editing and completing my book manuscript, and of course I'll be blogging and sharing more of my summer adventures with you.

until then, xo.

8.18.2014

the writer's block: summer vacation catch-up



we're already more than halfway through August, which just seems crazy to me. in the madness of this summer I haven't had time to keep up with all of my favorite bloggers - but lucky for me [and you] three of them are here today to help get us back up to speed. these women are all passionate creatives and travelers, so I know you'll love them as much as I do! read on below, then stop by their blogs to say hello.

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I'm Megan. Inspiring, encouraging and empowering are the words you should expect to hear on the Artistic Brunette! AB's mission is to do all these things and more through weekly posts on advice for your career pursuit, travel, DIY, non-profit, lifestyle and more. Visit AB to be encouraged to live a creative, fun-filled life. Let's be pals!

catch us up on your summer with some posts:

where did you travel this summer? I actually did a lot of traveling at the beginning of this summer. My mother and I took off on an adventure to Scotland, Ireland and England in May after I graduated. It was a great time, and I loved seeing the Scotland countryside. Make sure to check-out my favorite posts on Scotland: Edinburgh and Driving Britain.

what is one thing you want to do/see/accomplish before September and fall arrive? I really want to get a good handle on my new job! I just started this last June, and I want to be comfortable by the end of this month. I also plan to see Houston!

any travel plans for fall [or for next summer?] I am planning to visit Houston, Texas at the end of this month! My best friend just moved to the city, and I can't wait to explore it with her.

learn more about Megan on her blog:  The Artistic Brunette

or follow along with



I'm Marielle, a twenty-something dilettante, thinker, and quiet smirker. I'm also a former expat and EFL teacher who's still readjusting to life back in the States. This Flooded Sky is where I write about travel, culture, feminism, and other assorted rants.

catch us up on your summer with some posts:
How I embraced being a "feminist" + the F-Word link up
Would you go a year without makeup?
Living life in Hangzhou
Local exploration

where did you travel this summer? My boyfriend and I are saving up for a vacation in October, so we've just done some local exploration and hiking at Ohiopyle in PA. We're also planning on going to the beach with some friends in a few weeks.

what is one thing you want to do/see/accomplish before September and fall arrive? Before summer ends, I want to apply to some jobs and work seriously on my writing. And maybe finish knitting this sweater for my boyfriend that I started around this time last year. Maybe.

the best meal you ate this summer - what was it and where did you have it? The best meal so far was a good old-fashioned cookout in my backyard with fresh burgers, homemade buns, bacon, and feta cheese. I love summertime grilling.

learn more about Marielle on her blog: This Flooded Sky

or follow along with



I'm Christina, the girl behind the scenes here at Route Bliss. I'm a 30-something single wannabe vagabond whose practicality and realist side keeps her planted in East Texas. By weekday I write lots of reports at my job as well as daydream frequently where I want to travel to next, ways to motivate myself to getting fit for health and happiness's sake, and experimenting in the kitchen to make my favorite not so healthy foods healthier. I also like to take lots of photos of pretty things, furry critters (aka canines and felines), and beautiful destinations.

catch us up on your summer with some posts:

what is your favorite memory you made this summer? Spending time with my Austrian penpal while she was in Texas during her US travels

what is one thing you want to do/see/accomplish before September and fall arrive? Headed to Little Rock over Labor Day weekend to visit the best friend and photograph her bridal portraits. Hope to catch up on blog related emails and comments before September as well!

any travel plans for fall [or for next summer?] Aside from the Labor Day trip to LR, one more back up there in October for the BFF's wedding, maybe a early winter weekend trip within East Texas. Hoping for a long roadtrip next year ...

learn more about Christina on her blogs: Route Bliss + Christina McCall Photography

or follow along with:
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