Seoul Food Journey

Do you like spicy food? What about onions and strong, salty flavors? Or maybe you’re swearing off all carbs to try that new paleo or whole 30 diet. Well if you can check off any of the above, Korea is the place for you. The champions of fermentation (seriously, kimchi will be your primary source of vitamins during any trip to Korea), mysterious red chili sauce, and two inch thick pork belly BBQ, Seoul is a meat lover’s dream.

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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 […]

The First 48 Hours in Seoul

Before coming to Seoul, everything I knew about Korea was based on my lil Sis’s love of BTS and the Tofu House in Palo Alto. To me, Seoul was squarely in lil Sis’s domain; it was her place, and I would feel a weird sense of betrayal for coming here before her. For that reason, Seoul wasn’t originally on our travel itinerary. But since Seoul is a major Asian technology hub with a consumer base obsessed with blockchain, AR/VR and mobile technologies, and since it’s only a 2 hour flight from Tokyo, we decided that lil Sis would have to stew in her envy for just a little longer until she can make the trip out. In the meantime, I am trying to memorize the faces of the Korean boy bands so I can immediately alert her of any sightings.

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Seoul is really hilly and surrounded by mountains. There are also a lot of cars.

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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”

Where the Wild Things Are: Scottish Highlands and Edinburgh Fringe

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I have no known connection to Scotland. For all I know, my ancestry goes back to when the first humans arrived in the land that is now mainland China and settled there until 1990 when my mother boarded a plane and arrived in La Guardia, Queens in New York City with two suitcases and $300 in her pocket. My Company, on the other hand, has traced part of his lineage back to the Mackenzie clan of the western Scottish highlands. Steeped in mystery with emerald green mountains, navy oceans and lochs with an unsettling fog that moves through the land during early mornings, Scotland would be the next destination in our exploration. Continue reading “Where the Wild Things Are: Scottish Highlands and Edinburgh Fringe”

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”

Bavaria: Pretzels, Dirndl, and Platzes

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No, unlike most travelers who want to see iconic German towns, we were not going to Bavaria, München (Munich) and Nuremberg to be exact, for the Bavarian Alps, famous castles, biergartens, wursts of all flavors and dirndl.As most tourism to Bavaria reaches peak hysteria in September and October for – yes, you guessed it – Oktoberfest, my Company was headed there in August for the Prometheus Conference. Now this isn’t some Greek mythology fan-club but an open sourced monitoring conference (if you’ve lost me here, don’t worry…just continue on). So the top technical brains from all over the world communed here to Germany’s industrial capital in peak heat wave weather to share knowledge and, of course, drink themselves into semi-oblivion on watered down German beers (which they make up for in size of beer). Continue reading “Bavaria: Pretzels, Dirndl, and Platzes”

Three Days in Berlin: A Lesson in Hipness

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Through the wall at the Berlin Wall Memorial, Mitte

What makes sense after spending nearly two weeks in a small Southwestern German village where every neighbor knows one another and the largest employer is the chocolate factory? Head straight to one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan, historically rich and diverse cities of course! Continue reading “Three Days in Berlin: A Lesson in Hipness”