I'm finally home from all my summer travels, and ready to tackle my keyboard again. three months seems like decades in the online world - but it was a much needed break for me. and now, I'm actually excited to blog again and share my travels.
for starters: I've redesigned the blog. I think keeping my last design for 18 months was a record for me. [and maybe an indication of how stale things were feeling.] if you find any issues with links or readability, please let me know so I can fix things to be more friendly.
I've also been writing. so much. I've been writing almost every day. working on my memoir manuscript, starting new fiction projects, wrestling with morning pages and the Artists Way. but it's not enough. I need to put work out into the universe where it can be seen. I want to stay true to myself but I need some kind of interacton, feedback, acknowledgement. I've talked about this before: art cannot exist in a vacuum. I think the hardest trick is to write for yourself where others can read it. and it's time for me to emerge from my little cocoon and make the effort. and so I'm back here.
other happenings include: the arrival of Pokemon Go in Taiwan, our leaky bedroom ceiling finally being fixed, getting sick and going to the doctor like an adult instead of "toughing it out," and making plans for the year to come. the bulk of my summer, however, was spent traveling. I'm not sure where this blog is headed yet, but it's a safe bet there will still be lots of travel stories ahead. for now, we'll start with some favorite iPhone photos from the summer.
TurkeyI have so much to say about our time in Turkey. it was a magical country that went beyond my wildest expectations - the history, the people, the food - I fell head over heels in love. during our week in Istanbul we visited the most stunning mosques and palaces, made friends with every stray cat that tried to steal our doner kebab, and listened in awe as the call to prayer rang out across sunset on the Bosphorus. in Cappadocia we climbed stone castles and monasteries, explored underground cities, and soared with the sunrise in a hot air balloon. and in Şirince we gorged ourselves on a massive Turkish breakfast spread before wandering the ancient streets of Ephesus. it was a dream.
and then the airport bombing happened - a few hours after we had flown through Istanbul on our way to Izmir. I spent a lot of time trying to write about my experience. the shock, sadness, fear that followed the news. the hassle and unexpected expense of changing our plans. the disappointment and guilt that we felt it necessary to do so. but before I could organize my thoughts on the bombing, the attempted coup happened. I have some very strong opinions on the situation - made stronger by the people I met while traveling through Turkey and seeing firsthand what the government has done there. maybe someday I will be able to sort it all out and share. but not yet.
despite all these recent events, I would never discourage someone from visiting Turkey. I still plan to share our experiences in the hope that you will someday visit this incredible country. for now, I think that's the only way I can fight against terror and injustice that has happened - by showing you the wonder and beauty of everything I saw there.
Prague, Czech Republicour first few days in Prague were spent recovering from our emotional departure from Turkey and catching up with friends. eventually we took a walking tour - which turned out to be the best decision we could have made. we saw everything and learned the layout of the city, and were able to navigate on our own the rest of our stay. Prague is extremely walkable and completely gorgeous from every angle. it's been 12 years since I had been to Europe, so it kindof felt like the first time for me. most of our time was spent wandering its charming streets and squares [and for me, photographing them] but we also took a trip out to see the bone chapel and St Barbara's cathedral in Kutná Hora.
while Prague is famous for beer being cheaper than water [which was true] I found that there were incredible Moravian wines for barely $5 US a bottle. eating in Prague was also surprisingly easy for me. apparently the EU requires restaurants to list what allergens are in each dish. seeing as I have issues with 8 of the 14 listed allergens [plus 4 things not] it made ordering meals a lot safer. I could have happily stayed in Prague for a month.
Vienna, Austriawhile this was an unintended destination for us - added when we changed our travel plans after the bombing - we certainly enjoyed it. we took the train to Vienna from Prague and splurged on a nice hotel. there was stunning breakfast, hip street art, Egyptian artifacts, Viennese sausage, and sachentorte for Luke. we didn't venture much past our neighborhood by the museum district. but we did have a lovely and relaxing time.
after spending extended time in most of our other stops, two days in Vienna seemed like nothing. I know that we missed out on much of what the city has to offer, but by the end of our travels we just had to do what worked for us. which was: sleep in, eat, explore a few museums, and drink lots of wine. sometimes you need a little vacation in your travels.
Vietnamback in February this year, I was sitting in the park with two friends. one of them mentioned that she was thinking of going to Vietnam in the summer. the other said she would be interested in going, and so did I, since it's one of the few nearby Asian countries I have yet to explore. for some people this would have been idle talk. but my friends - they are planners and doers.
that's how, after two weeks of recovering from a solid month of travel, I left for a 10 day girls trip to Vietnam. the first days I spent in a cold medicine haze, but by the time we traveled from Hanoi to Sapa I was ready to soak it all in. we did a two day trek with an overnight homestay, a Vietnamese cooking class, and a 3 day cruise through Ha Long Bay. our weather was mostly rainy or hazy, but we still managed to see and do [and eat] a lot.
overall, it was a great summer of travels. there were many glasses of wine, sunrises and sunsets, cat encounters, selfies, and magical moments. but it feels good to be home in Taiwan again. I've started sorting through everything and hope to share detailed itineraries, packing lists, many photos and stories in the weeks and months to come. if you have any questions or topics you'd like me to address in upcoming posts please let me know! I hope your summer was as fantastic as mine.