Hiking Zhangjiajie in Hunan: A Must See in China



In high school, I worked at the only Chinese restaurant in my very humble town called “Hunan Village.”  I neither knew what, or where, Hunan was at the time.

Fast forward six years later, and I meet the inspiration for my foray into China: a man named Chen.  Through our friendship, he inspired me to not only self-study Mandarin in Japan, but also to study abroad in Beijing and later take the plunge and move to Shanghai.  Honestly, without Chen, China wouldn’t even be a part of my life.

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Hiking in China: 7 Habits of the Modern Day Chinese Traveler


J and I were descending one of China’s greatest treasures: the National Park of Zhangjiajie.

Every corner we rounded presented us with a new jaw-dropping landscape of carved sandstone valleys poking through a sea of lush green trees. J and I took a deep breath, inhaled the clean air of the countryside and lost ourselves in the sea of clouds swirling in between the mountains.

That is, until Avicii arrived. You know, the Swedish DJ. The Chinese tourist who came bouncing down the trail behind us was blasting him full volume from his iPhone speaker.

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The Double Standard of Diversity in California


After growing up in Utah, living in Southern California for three years has given me a different perspective of the United States.

For one, white is no longer the majority in California (at least, in the big cities anyway).  Almost all of the friends I’ve made here are either Hispanic, Asian, Arabic or Black.  In fact, I’m sometimes hard pressed to find a white person here and it’s a great thing.  As someone studying international affairs on a professional level, diversity warms my heart and it makes for a very interesting place.  Now, after three years in diverse Southern California, I’m dumbfounded by how white dominated Utah is every time I return.

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I’m Going to Graduate School at 30


Remember how I said I’d update you on the most recent events of my crazy life?

Whelp, I’m going to get a masters at the ripe, old age of 30.

In my ‘turning 30’ post I wrote back in February, I mentioned some big life plans in the works that might involve graduate school–and, well, let’s just say it all worked out.  I got in.  I committed.  I accepted the student loan.  I live in graduate housing (aka, a dorm) and, somehow, I live with a Chinese family.  Don’t ask.  At least I’m not sleeping on an inflatable bed anymore.

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5 Reasons Japan is NOT technologically advanced

Japan tech savvy

On my most recent trip to Japan I once again asked myself this question:  Is Japan really technologically advanced?

Advanced robotics.  Giant mechas.  Bullet Trains.

To much of the world, Japan is seen as the world of the future.  It’s no surprise the  country that invented the Mario Brothers and the hybrid car is known worldwide as the most high-tech.

So when I moved to Japan, I was expecting to walk into the future.  I was ready to see what life would be like in a world where technology ruled.

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Hiking Japan’s Holy Pilgrimage, Kumano Kodo


How in God’s Name did I hear about this virtually unknown trail, the Kumano Kodo?

Well, I first stumbled upon this off-the-beaten-path pilgrimage when I worked for the Japanese government and found this photo on a pamphlet:


Something about it captivated me. Maybe it was the bizarre costume/pilgrimage outfit that is so ancient, even my knowledge from four years of Japanese language and culture classes left me in the dark. Perhaps the fact that it was one of only two UNESCO recognized pilgrimages in the world appealed to me, and I was dying to check ‘pilgrimage’ off the bucket list.

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Stories of My Irish-American Family

As far as I can recall, my father always had white hair. When I was only five years old, he was already fifty—yet he refused to act his age. I remember playing basketball with my father at the nearby courts of our humble apartment. He used to urge me to get my head out of the books and go out to the track and run alongside him. Although he was decades older than me, his energy was infectious.

Like myself, in his younger years my father was all about adventure. When he hit 28 and felt lost in his career, he signed up for the army and volunteered for Vietnam. What possessed him to go to a war torn country and dodge bullets is anyone’s guess, but I imagine that he was hungry for what most young people my age are looking for now: excitement, travel, and meaningful work.

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Cat Island, Gardens and Udon in Takamatsu, Shikoku

Visit Takamatsu Tourism

I stepped off the train platform at Takamatsu station, awash in nostalgia.  Five years ago I found myself at this very same bus and train station housed in the city’s harbor.  I was struck first by the smell of crisp and raw ocean air washing over me.  The brilliant blue sky reflected the ocean surrounding the island.  Unlike the streets of Tokyo, the people here walked at a slower pace, a smile on their face, with a peaceful calm floating over the city.

I was so grateful to return to one of Japan’s most charming small cities: Takamatsu.

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Southern California vs. Northern California… and a Life Update

I somehow live here now?

I somehow ended up living in wine country

So, my life has been flipped upside down.  I am now kinda, sorta, living in Northern California.

A month prior to my Asia trip, my boyfriend told me he wanted to take a job offer in Northern California.  Although I’m kind of itching to get out of California, we both knew that taking this job was the right thing to do.

So when you get back from Japan and China, boyfriend said, we’re moving up North.

And… here I am.  North of San Francisco in a place I never, ever expected to find myself in.

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My Boyfriend’s First Impression of Japan

japan temple

After two months of silence:  I’m finally back on U.S. soil.

After suffering through China’s excruciating internet (wow, did it get WAAAY worse in the last two years, and hats off to fellow expats still suffering through it), I am finally able to wordpress and Google photos freely (and thus update this little blog).

I traveled extensively for six weeks throughout China and Japan–and believe me, I have A LOT to write about.  I’m very excited to get some posts out in the upcoming days and weeks.  It was great to be a nomad traveler again, donning a backpack and whizzing from place to place for days on end.

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