Entering the Lunar New Year with a Reflection of 2018

Note: this piece was originally started in December when I was in the US. I got lazy, forgot about it, and now it’s just in time for the Lunar New Year – all the rave here in Singapore – to be revived and published! 

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Zillions of shops like this one lined up along the streets in Singapore so you can prepare for the festivities. This year will be the Year of the Pig.

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Lessons on the Road: Friends and Connectivity

Background on the blog series “Lessons on the Road”. I used to have this overly analytical way of calculating whether a year was net positive or negative, kind of like a personal yearly report. So come every December, I’d be stressfully trying to tally up all my experiences: “Did I give enough? Did I learn […]

Quarterly Review: A Travel Postmortem

I found myself trying to plan out the next few months this Monday and realized that it has been a little over 3 months (!) since we started our year of traveling. In some ways, it’s felt so much longer than that; in other ways, I’m slightly panicked that our year is already a quarter of the way done. Since being on the road, there have been some things that have gone as expected — we miss our friends, family and community; our reliance on one another has intensified, and our relationship has strengthened (it’s like doing a trust fall with your partner every day); we miss not having to think about whether we’re fitting in culturally or not; and I would go slightly crazy without work.

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Las Vegas, 2018 when we were planning the trip.

In an effort to document my own learnings on this trip, I wanted to share a list of things that surprised me about our travel along with what we expect the next 3 months to bring. I hope I can read back on this when I am far wiser and more experienced, shake my head and say, “Oh, look at how naive I was,” or, “Wow, I was pretty perceptive about that one!” Continue reading “Quarterly Review: A Travel Postmortem”

Lessons on the Road: Balance in the Extremes

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Edinburgh, 2018. Must. Keep. Moving.

Starting this June, I took advantage of an opportunity of a lifetime to travel. When this opportunity landed on my lap, my first reaction had been hesitance until a friend had said, “Are you crazy? Do you know how few people in the world can do this?”

“But my career,” I had replied, “A year off would slow that momentum down, and it feels so self-indulgent.” In the end, opportunity won, and I gave notice to my job where I had a close group friends and community, a sense of purpose and an independent pay-check*. This would be the first time I was without a job since age 16.**  Continue reading “Lessons on the Road: Balance in the Extremes”

London and the Coming of Age

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A real castle! Circa 2011

Every person has a coming-of-age story. If you’re lucky, yours would not be very exciting. While I wish I could say that I reached adulthood when I moved into my dormitory in college or the moment I graduated and picked up suits from the mall like a grown woman to head to my first job in New York City, I’m afraid I – like the rest of the Ding/Fan family household – appeared to be a late bloomer.

Childhood and young adulthood is filled with emotions that rise and drop like waves, unfettered idealism, and an enormous confidence in one’s untested convictions. Perhaps that is why the young will always be more creative, brash and exciting than their older peers, and because of this, I look back on some misguided events in my younger days with a mix of embarrassment, pride and at the end of the day, a shrug, “Oh to be young.” Continue reading “London and the Coming of Age”

Andalusian Reflections and Malaga’s Mystery

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Malaga was the last Andalusian city we visited before leaving Spain. As I entered the port city, I reflected on how Andalusia exceeded my expectations. I suspect part of it is the intersection of cultures and histories that seemed so foreign to me, and the other part is the reflections I had while I was there as the hot sun baked dry the surrounding mountains and coastal towns.

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Los Cahorros de Monachil

img_3906Is there something you’ve always been afraid of that you wish you weren’t? Some childhood irrational fear that you try, secretly, to overcome hoping that no one finds out?

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