Scenes from San Francisco

Although things have been up in the air since I've gotten back to New York, I did want to share some snapshots from my brief stopover in San Francisco last month (is it really December!?). This was more of a family-and-friends-seeing trip rather than sight-seeing so you won't see much of the touristy spots which, I've been fortunate enough to visit in the past.

photos & lettering by lillianliming

I did get to spend a few hours exploring on my own, and the cloud-action that day was insane - it had just rained earlier that morning. The clear, blue skies and crisp, fall air were a much needed welcome after the haze and smog of Taiwan. I must have spent a good hour down at the pier by the Ferry Building; mesmerized by this view of the Bay Bridge and crazy cloud-filled backdrop. 

Then, there was the food. I must say I didn't eat nearly as much as I thought I would as I was craving ALL the American food and pastries! I had a list of bakeries and sweet spots that I wanted to hit but only got to check off two - Craftsman & Wolves and Bi-Rite Creamery. I walked by Tartine Bakery on the way to Bi-Rite but alas, it was packed with people.  

"The Rebel Within" - savory muffin with a soft-boiled egg in the center (!) and a chocolate croissant stack at Craftsman and Wolves // I also bought a matcha snickerdoodle and some yuzu almond caramels for the flight home. [Photos below]

There were also tacos, and a hearty brunch - both things I missed while in Taiwan. And though I don't have photos, I also hit up Super Duper Burgers on the recommendation of my friends who live in San Francisco. Surely enough, they live up to their name. The garlic fries alone at Super Duper are enough to make me go back. Now I'm hungry.

Tacos, brunch, brown sugar ginger caramel swirl ice cream from Bi-Rite

Pacifica Pier

Pacifica Pier

Seeing things from the other side of the Pacific Ocean felt a bit like a dream (and I was extremely jet-lagged) -- didn't I just order a bubble tea from my favorite shop down the street, and take in the last sunset from my rooftop in Taoyuan? As surreal as it was, this sunny, Californian pit stop to see my family and dear friends was just what I needed to ease back into life, stateside.

'Til Next Time, Taiwan

One’s destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things.
— Henry Miller

By the time most of you read this, I'll be getting on a plane heading back to the good ol’ United States.

It’s been just shy of one year that I’ve been living in Taiwan - 11 months and 2 days, to be exact. When my husband and I moved here last December, it was to fulfill one of my life-long dreams. We came with a loose plan of how we thought everything would pan out - teaching English 25 hours a week and using the rest of the time to explore the island together. We came with a hope that Taiwan would breathe new life into ourselves and our marriage.

However, things didn’t go exactly the way we thought they would. 

When our teaching gigs didn’t work out, we looked into other avenues - but, after a while we resolved to live off savings and enjoy our time in Taiwan for the remainder of the year. [The cost of living is so low compared to the US that we'd be ok.]

You probably think that life would be pretty grand as non-working expats in Taiwan, right? My social media posts probably made it look that way - I even had a few friends comment that it seemed like we were “living the life” or having “too much fun”. 

Yes, the food in Taiwan is amazing (for the most part) - and so conveniently, cheaply, and abundantly available. Yes, Taiwan is beautiful - I have the photos to prove it. Taiwan will always have a piece of my heart - it's where I was born, and it's where most of my family live. 

Mountain view at Cingjing Guesthouse

However, as we shared in our 6-month update, things are not always as perfect as they seem.

I wish I didn't have to point out the negatives because there are many, many things I'm thankful for as a result of this experience. It's only fair to share (but not dwell on) why we decided that living in Taiwan is not a fit for us long-term. One major factor is the air pollution - which, significantly affected us because we didn’t have a car and walked most places/to public transportation. Coupled with the hot and humid weather beginning in April and lasting through October or so, we felt stifled. These two factors, and various health issues that popped up as a result, were what eventually drove us to the decision of moving back to New York. 

Flowers at Sun Moon Lake

No one place will ever be perfect - although we read many blogs and spoke to friends who live/lived in Taiwan prior to moving that made it sound pretty close to perfect. But close-to-perfect for one person can be entirely "un-perfect" for another. We had to live and experience it first-hand to learn this lesson for ourselves. Even so, we leave with no regrets - only thankfulness. As cliche as it sounds, we truly did come out of this experience with a changed perspective. 

At least I did. 

One prime example being that before living in Taiwan, I was adamantly against living anywhere in upstate New York (or New Jersey). I had my own (irrational) reasons/fears. Heck, my comfort zone was Long Island - because it's where I grew up and lived most of my life. Now? I’m happy and eager to be anywhere that has fresh air, and some peace and quiet - which, just happens to be in “upstate” New York or northern New Jersey as David got a job up there.

Sun Moon Lake, Fall 2015

Before Taiwan, I had grown weary. Weary in faith, in marriage, in life. God used this year away to teach me to see things in my life in a whole new light. The pieces are slowly coming back together - but certainly not from my own strength. There's still a lot to process and reflect upon, so don't be surprised if I'm still blogging about my experience in Taiwan well into the new year. 

What's next for me? I'm not sure. And that's ok. God has been faithful - even though I’ve/we’ve made some crazy decisions over the past few years, He still provides. Somehow, some way, even in our doubts, He always provides. 

A special thank you note must be included in this post - to the friends and family members who followed along with us on this journey. Thank you to those who made efforts to keep in touch, prayed for us, and cheered us on this past year while we were on the other side of the globe. I truly appreciate you and am grateful for your support and encouragement. Looking forward to catching up in person this holiday season!