I’ve been MIA over here for quite some time. And the longer I stay away, the less motivated I am to get back to posting, even though there is plenty to write about. 😅 Since 2018 is coming to an end, it just doesn’t seem right to just let such an incredible year go by without writing anything. To say that 2018 was life-changing for us is certainly not an overstatement. After all, this was the year that we decided to leave everything behind to embark on a journey of a lifetime, therefore I thought maybe I would look back at this year via some sort of a photo journal.
In March, we moved out of our house and got it ready to be sold.
In mid-April, we kicked off our new adventure by traveling in southern Europe for 2 months with only one suitcase and 4 backpacks in tow.
Our gateway into Europe was the lovely city of Porto, Portugal. We spent a couple of days just leisurely walking around and Rich also did Port Wine Tasting in one of the many wineries in town.
A short train ride from Porto took us to Portugal’s capital city, Lisbon. We really fell in love with Lisbon, with its friendly people, its old-time charm and beautiful red rooftop buildings, and its many hills that offer spanning views of the city.
After leaving Portugal we arrived in Valencia, Spain. This was our longest stop during this trip because we wanted a base for a little while to get into a routine and relax, and to really enjoy time with each other. We got into a really nice daily groove with homeschooling, grocery shopping, cooking, playing in the park, walking around town and visiting the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences. Valencia was the hardest place for us to say goodbye to thus far as we all loved it so much, and we could see us actually living there.
We travelled by train again from Valencia to Barcelona, where we got to see some of the most incredible architecture and buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, including the breathtaking Catholic church – Sagrada Familia.
After spending one month on the Iberian Peninsula, we next flew to the eternal city – Rome. Italy was honestly squeezed into the itinerary solely because the kids really wanted to visit
for its food. Rich and I have visited Italy many years ago and we absolutely loved it, and have always wanted to return. However, it was exactly because we loved it so much that I think it requires a much longer visit all on its own. I was envisioning a separate family trip dedicated to Italy sometime later in the future, but the kiddos really had their hearts set on it so who am I to deprive them? And Rome of course did not disappoint as we got to enjoy the yummiest gelato and cannoli while we were there!
Another request that the kids had for this trip was to have some beach time. The weather did not really get warm enough until we got to Greece later in May, so on the island of Crete we made sure that lots of ocean time were to be had.
Next we visited Santorini, which has long been on both Rich’s and mine bucket lists. Its white wall houses on the caldera and the famous blue dome churches were really just as beautiful as you’ve seen them in photos. Not exactly the most kid-friendly destination per se, so it was purely an indulgence for us.
Our third and last stop in Greece was Athens, City of Athena. All of us had been really looking forward to visiting Athens, as we have been avid readers of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson book series based on Greek mythology, and it was so much fun seeing the places mentioned in the books in person.
The final destination of this epic Europe trip was Budapest, Hungary. Budapest is such a stunning city that I wish we could have spent more time to really explore. By this point we were a bit tired from all of the traveling, so we ended up spending a good chunk of time just hanging out in the most amazing Airbnb flat that we’ve ever stayed in. We spent a lot of time playing games and had lots of fun and laughter and just being together, so in a way, it was a very nice ending to wrap up this portion of our journey. Though I hope for a return visit one day to Budapest as we just barely scratched its surface.
In mid-June, we returned home in the U.S. for a whirlwind 2-week stop in order for our son to attend his elementary school graduation ceremony. And we tried to squeeze in as many playdates and get-togethers as we could during this time as well.
At the end of June we put everything we think we will need into 8 bags (2 checked bags allowance per person) and off to Taiwan we go.
The month of July pretty much went by in a blur what with trying to settle in, establishing a routine, taking care of the many logistics related to living in Taiwan and finding activities for the kids. We were glad to have found an English-speaking soccer camp so the kids had the opportunity to run around and play with other kids.
August was also a stressful month as we had to make some major adjustments to our objectives. Since we decided that it was best for me to resign from my work after some unforeseen changes at the job front, we needed to figure out how to shift and modify our plans with regards to our remaining time abroad without having a regular income. There is a Chinese saying that basically translates to “No amount of planning can keep up with changes life throws at you”. After a lot of discussions through many possible scenarios, along with the fact that Annabelle did not really adjust well to living in Taiwan, we settled on not pursuing the avenue of trying to find work locally. We decided to forgo the original plan of staying in Taiwan for a few years and make this time into a gap year instead. We would hang out in Taiwan with family for about 6 months or so, and will then focus on traveling for the rest of the time before returning to the U.S. in May, 2019.
In September we took a short trip to Taipei to see the Sky Lantern Festival.
October was a busy but fun month. First we took a trip to southern Taiwan for a quick beach getaway, visited the Buddhist Museum, and for Rich to run in a Spartan Race.
The day after Rich’s race we flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand to attend the Project World School Family Summit. This was a fantastic 5-day event where we met so many awesome and interesting people, and the kids also got to play with many children from all over the world. In fact, we’ve made some great new friends from the summit which made our almost one-month stay in Chiang Mai so much more fun and memorable. We hope to be able to maintain these friendships and perhaps meet up with these beautiful people again somewhere in our future travels!
One of the greatest experiences we had in Thailand had to be our visit to the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary. I think I need to write a separate post about our time in Chiang Mai at some point. 🙂
Before we returned to Taiwan in late November, we stopped over in Siem Reap, Cambodia for a few days to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site Angkor Wat, and many other temples in the area.
Since we returned to Taiwan in late November from our month-long southeast Asia stint, both kids have completed all of their grade-level school work. Therefore, we have been taking it easy and spending a lot of time just playing outside and meeting up with friends.
In December we celebrated both kids’ birthdays by having lunches at American restaurants, movies and cakes. For Christmas, we enjoyed a nice home cooked meal, headed out for some desserts, watched Christmas movies and played some board games. We have also been housesitting in a friend’s lovely apartment for the past week or so, and it has been really great to have the extra space to spread out and enjoy our holidays this way!
So that’s a wrap. May you have a healthy and joyous 2019! Happy New Year!!