At the end of February I went on a company retreat to Malaysia. We stayed mostly in Kuala Lumpur, which was a lovely city, not just because of the weather, which was consistently sunny and warm (a far cry from cold Shanghai), but because the people were friendly and the food was delicious.
The weather was like this:
--and I visited a Kinokuniya Bookstore, which is basically book heaven for book lovers, because it's huge and has pretty much any book you can think of on its shelves somewhere. AND because it fully integrated YA literature into literature at large, and there were lots of placards around the store recommending YA lit as "your next great read."
The Petronas Towers were so, so, breathtakingly beautiful:
They reminded of plants, taking root on our earth and unfurling towards the impeccable sky. I didn't get to see much of Malaysia as I was only there for a few days, but I will definitely return.
A few days after Malaysia, I left for vacation to Taiwan. My family is from Taiwan, but this was the first time I had a sizable say in where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do. Being there simply reinforced to me the fact that Taiwan is an incredible, lush, friendly, wonderful place that I could seriously consider calling home.
My favorite place on the trip was probably the Pingxi district, a short train ride outside Taipei, which is like a slice of the 1800s in the middle of the 21st century.
In the town of Shifen, the train track slips in between old houses, and during the times when the train is not passing by, people will stand on the tracks to release "sky-lanterns" that they can buy and paint their wishes on.
These are scenes that seem to come right out of stories and dreams.
Incredible, isn't it?
There's more, so much more:
Storm clouds moving in to the city of Hualien.
Riding bikes along abandoned railroad tracks in the East Rift Valley past rice paddies.
Attending the weekly Saturday night local music performance in Dulan.
And, as always, braving the crowds at night markets to enjoy the ubiquitous good Taiwanese street food.
It was a wonderful trip and it was really hard to return back to "normal" life. Needless to say, I will be going back to Taiwan as soon as I can. This tiny island is truly incredible in what it has to offer in terms of scenery, culture, food, and people. I'll stop short of being a salesperson for Taiwan vacations but seriously, you should try to go if you have the chance!
These two places in the past month have really awakened the wanderlust in me. Hopefully I'll get to explore more places in the future while I'm still hanging around Asia. South Korea, Thailand, Philippines, New Zealand, and Australia, I'm looking at you!