Exploring Taiwan – Scenes From an Ancient Hakka Temple

Temple In the northwest corner of a small island in the south China Sea there is a small, charming temple. It’s rarely mentioned in travel guidebooks and has never made TripAdvisor’s “Top 10” list. This is a temple of the Hakka people, a group who migrated across the strait from southern China to the small island of Taiwan way back in the mid-1600’s…

The small temple sits on the edge of a village called Hsinpu. On this day, the temple is crowded with Hakka people taking part in a festival devoted to make the ghost spirits of their ancestors happy. This is the annual Water Lantern Festival, a very important celebration during Ghost Month.

Hidden Taiwan – Looking Through the Eyes of Samu

Samu Coffee ShopThe aboriginal man sits at a table just outside his coffee shop in a remote mountain village in northwest Taiwan. This cafe was his dream for many years and it finally opened only six months earlier. He works only on weekends, taking care of the Taiwanese “city people” who travel into the mountains with their families to visit the nearby gardens, the only real tourist attraction in the area…

Taiwanniversary – Four Lessons Learned After Three Years in Taiwan

Taiwanniversary“But he was able to understand one thing: making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”
Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Three years ago today my flight touched down in Taiwan (my “Taiwanniversary”) and I stepped off the Delta Airlines 747 and into my new life. I had never been to Taiwan before and I passed through immigration and customs in a sleep-deprived daze after the long flight from the US. Walking out the door into the arrival area, I scanned the signs held by the mob of drivers, searching for my name. It wasn’t there. No one was there to greet me and welcome me “home”.

Game Plan for 2017 – Adventures in House Sitting

Adventures in house sitting

A dream without a plan is just a wish.” – Katherine Patterson

Inspired by my blogger-friend Jayne’s recent article on her 2017 travel plans (a really amazing plan!), I’ve decided to tweak my dreams into something more resembling an actual plan… kind of like Jayne’s. Well, not exactly like hers because my funds won’t allow epic adventures like Antarctica, Africa, or the Trans-Mongolian Express. (Someday!)

Mine is a realistic vision of how someone like me, with meager funds, can actually make a plan work.

Taiwan Ghost Month – Invasion of the Angry Ghosts

Ghost Month - Taiwan

“It’s late at night and she’s sound asleep. She begins to dream about someone controlling her movements and awakens suddenly. When she opens her eyes, she sees the figure of an old man standing near her bed, quietly watching her. Unable to move her body, she’s terrified. Her thoughts race but she’s powerless. Finally, her mind goes to an incantation and the creepy old ghost-like figure disappears. She can move.” (-Wayne Chen)

It’s here once again, Ghost Month in Taiwan when the gates of hell open up and flocks of ghosts are released for their annual summer holiday. Many of these ghosts are angry, all are very hungry, and they’re sick and tired of living in hell.

Humans of the World – meet Jayne Edmondson

Humans of the world - meet Jayne

“Ordinary people with extraordinary stories…”

“A dream without a plan is just a wish” ― Katherine Paterson, The Invisible Child

About a decade ago I had a dream – living overseas, working for an international relief organization, traveling, and writing. I had no plan, and no confidence that I could ever create a plan, so it essentially was just a wish. I had no idea at that time how I would ever actually make it happen.

My Top 10 Most Influential Travel Bloggers in the World List

Top 10 Travel Bloggers

I saw a blog post the other day, a very extensive and detailed list naming the top ONE THOUSAND travel bloggers in the world. The list was broken down into categories: solo female travelers, couples, families, etc. And despite my thorough search through each list, I couldn’t find my name anywhere. Maybe next year they’ll create a “50-something-American-expats-with-blonde-hair-teaching-English-in-Taiwan” category and I’ll crack the top ten. Yep, there’s always next year.

Taiwan – Amazing Sites I’ve Seen and Still More to Explore

View toward Jiufen

At dinner the other night with a new friend, a recent expat-transplant to this island, talk turned to the many amazing things to see and do in Taiwan. Although I’ve seen and done a lot in the past 3 years, I still have a lot left on my “To Do” list to explore. I began to view Taiwan through fresh eyes, the view of someone just off the plane, and it motivated me to get out of my “comfort zone” and start making room on weekends to explore more of the intriguing wonders of Taiwan.

Snapshots of Nepal – epic adventure about a million years ago

Annapurna view - Nepal

In a recent “Humans of the World” profile, I interviewed a man who I believe is a candidate for “The Most Interesting Man in the World” – Trek Thunder Kelly. He shared some valuable lessons about human nature he learned on his round-the-world epic adventure a few years ago.

I met people EVERYWHERE who were kind and giving and truly went out of their way to help others. I realized it is often those who have the least who share the most. I returned from traveling greatly humbled”.– Trek Thunder Kelly

Moving to Taiwan? The price of a new life


Moving to Taiwan

In many cultures, talking about money is often considered taboo. Personally, I hate money and wish we could live simply like the primitive people on the island of Yap where men wear little skirts and deals are made with gigantic stone discs instead of money.

But we live in a more complicated world with the additional complication of money. Starting over in a new country can be really expensive – emotionally, mentally, and financially. It can break your bank while it breaks your heart, as you get rid of all your “stuff” and break-up with your old life.