Tag Archives: traveling

My Favorite Things

I got this idea from another slicer to make lists of my favorite things (the number for each list, 11 in this case, is the number of the date). I had so much fun the last time I did it, I thought it was time to do it again! 🙂

Everyday Things I Wouldn’t Want to Live Without:

  1. Books
  2. Internet
  3. My favorite water cup
  4. Go-Jek
  5. Music
  6. Good quality lip gloss
  7. Glasses
  8. Toothbrush/toothpaste
  9. A good quality writer’s notebook
  10. House plants
  11. Flipflops

Adventures to Have Before I Die:

  1. Another week in Nepal at the Little House in the Rice Fields, where I can connect with nature, relax, write, read, and rest.
  2. Visit Antarctica and South America before I’m 40
  3. A month in Inle Lake, Myanmar, riding my bike all around, taking boat trips out on the lake, eating my weight in Burmese tea leaf salad, volunteering at a local school, and getting regular massages
  4. Stay in a villa above the water in The Maldives
  5. Eat my way through India, traveling around to all the different areas to try all the flavors they have to offer
  6. At least a month in Bali, focusing on my health, eating smoothie bowls for breakfast and vegan food for lunch and dinner, swimming and exercising every day
  7. Learn how to skydive on my own
  8. Live in a small town in Italy, learning how to cook pasta, pizza, and desserts from scratch
  9. Fall in love again
  10. Scuba diving in Raja Ampat, Indonesia
  11. Ride the Trans-Siberian train

Pasttimes I Never Tire Of:

  1. Traveling
  2. Slicing
  3. Reading
  4. Trying out new restaurants
  5. Photography
  6. Jigsaw puzzles
  7. Cooking for others
  8. Spending time in the sun
  9. Dreaming about where I’ll travel to next
  10. Listening to music
  11. Learning new things

Treats I Could Eat/Drink Every Day:

  1. English Breakfast Tea
  2. Goat cheese (on almost anything!)
  3. Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies
  4. Smoothie bowls
  5. Bagel sandwiches
  6. Mango sticky rice
  7. Pavlova with fresh cream, passionfruit sauce, and luscious, ripe berries
  8. Freshly cut fruit
  9. Berries, yogurt, and granola
  10. Fresh lime or mango juice
  11. Pappadum with mango chutney and tamarind sauce

People I’d Be Lost Without:

  1. Mom & Dad
  2. Randi & Logan
  3. Michelle
  4. Linner
  5. Shaggers
  6. Callie
  7. Lisa
  8. Wayne
  9. Miriam
  10. Nicole
  11. Kathy

Places I Want to Visit:

  1. Perth, Australia
  2. The Maldives
  3. Topas Ecolodge in northern Vietman
  4. Luang Prabang, Laos
  5. Iceland to see the Northern Lights
  6. Barcelona, Spain
  7. Cape Town, South Africa
  8. Lisbon, Portugal
  9. Chile- Santiago, Easter Island, and the national parks
  10. Buenos Aires, Argentina
  11. Calgary, Canada to see Shaggers, Jeezy, and Marlowe

Words I Believe Hold Magic:

  1. Hope
  2. Serendipity
  3. Joy
  4. Wanderlust
  5. Wonder
  6. Love
  7. Authenticity
  8. Gratitude
  9. Enough
  10. Adventure
  11. Vulnerability

Gestures that Make Me Smile:

  1. Unexpected gifts, like a plant or a book they know I’ll love
  2. A thoughtful thank you note, preferably handwritten
  3. An invitation to dinner at someone’s house
  4. A hug when I most need it
  5. An offer of help when I’m sick or not feeling well
  6. An invitation to go on a spontaneous adventure in my city
  7. Being tagged in a funny meme
  8. A conversation where no one looks at their phone
  9. Spending quality time together
  10. A well-timed joke
  11. A text to say they’re thinking of me

Favorite Songs (as of this publication):

Click here to listen to my favorite songs

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Traveling is My Life

Ever since I was little, I’ve dreamt of a life where I get to travel the world, seeing far off places and taking in new experiences. I honestly don’t know where this idea came from. I mean, I grew up in a smallish town in Texas and other than road trips (mostly in Texas), my family didn’t travel much. It’s crazy, but I didn’t go on my first plane ride until I was 16…and that was only to Tennessee! But for whatever reason, I felt this constant pull to just go.

After a couple of international trips in college (to England and Germany), I fulfilled a lifelong dream when I picked up and moved to Australia- Sydney to be exact- right after graduating from college. Australia has and will always hold a special place in my heart, and Sydney is such a beautiful, magical place that you can’t help but fall in love with it. I ended up moving back to Texas after my half-a-year adventure living abroad, where I gained a ton of life experience and independence. It was, after all, the first time I lived anywhere but my childhood home.

Teaching in a suburb of Houston was exciting and I had many positive experiences during my time there, yet I always felt like something was missing. It wasn’t a constant feeling, but it came often enough that after 6 years, I finally listened. That pull to just go was back. I answered it by applying to a little school nestled in the Shanghai Zoo, and knowing nothing whatsoever about China, I picked up and moved halfway across the world.

That was in 2010, and here I am in 2019 still living abroad, just in a different country now. While that first year in China was one of the hardest of my life (the culture shock I experienced was no joke), I wouldn’t trade it for anything. This life has afforded me so many opportunities to travel to places I wouldn’t have even imagined as a child, allowed me to meet some of the most interesting and influential people who’ve become my tribe, and stretched me beyond my comfort zone in more ways than I can count.

I tell anyone who will listen that traveling is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. By travel, I don’t mean take a cruise or go to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. I mean really travel. Experience how other people live, talk to locals, get lost, feel the heartbeat of a city, try new foods you’ve never seen before, and travel alone at least once in your life. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to 5 continents, live on 4, and experience 39 countries and counting. Take it from me, you owe it to yourself. I’ll say it until the day I die, life isn’t meant to be lived in one place.

 

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This is ‘2010 Jen’ showing off my fancy new bike in front of my little school in the zoo in Shanghai…man, those were some good times. But those bootleg jeans…yeah, no! 😛

37 Things That Make Me Happy

While most of the world is focused on the royal wedding today, I’m quietly celebrating my 37th birthday. Rather than having a huge party, I’m keeping it low-key. Due to the fact that Ramadan has just started, parties are frowned upon, at least ones that include loud music and any alcohol. Despite the fact that it doesn’t really feel like my birthday, I am looking forward to spending the weekend in Puncak at a nature retreat and spa about an hour outside of Jakarta with Miriam and Michelle. The plan is to go for a walk, lounge by the pool, read, get massages, and eat yummy food. Sounds pretty good to me!

It’s pretty crazy to think that I’ve celebrated my birthday in a different country the past four years! This year it’s Indonesia, last year was Thailand, before that was Albania, and before that was China. Hopefully I’ll be in Indonesia for the next few! As per a tradition I started a couple of years ago (35 things and 36 things), I like to reflect on things that make me happy on my birthday. In random order, here are 37 things that make me happy.

  1. Country music…lately I’ve been listening to it, which is out of the ordinary for me, but I’m loving it!
  2. Taking my niece Randi and nephew Logan on dates
  3. Bagel sandwiches, toasted with garlic cream cheese, loads of veggies, white cheddar, and a touch of mustard…mmm
  4. Getting lost in a good book
  5. Completing my to-do list, especially when I didn’t think I would
  6. The look on their face when I give the perfect gift
  7. Mango sticky rice…I had a bunch last weekend in Thailand, and it did not disappoint!
  8. No-agenda days
  9. Ice-cold coconut water
  10. Traveling to new places and filling my passport with stamps and visas
  11. Revisiting favorite destinations, stopping by the spots I remember and finding new places to love
  12. Making people laugh
  13. Sunny Shanghai weekends…man, do I miss that place! (Lucky for me I’m visiting again next month!)
  14. Spending time with family and friends
  15. Solving a problem
  16. A clean, organized home or office
  17. Smoothie bowls…Alchemy in Ubud has the best ones, hands down!
  18. Getting to see my former students…last week in Thailand warmed my heart so much when I got to love on my little babes!
  19. A nice-smelling candle
  20. Go-Massages…or massages in general
  21. Feeling strong
  22. Green plants around my home
  23. Teaching others
  24. Nice, colorful pens
  25. Making a difference in the work I do
  26. Pavlova…can’t wait to eat this a bunch in NZ this summer!
  27. FaceTime dates
  28. Participating in the Slice of Life Challenge each year
  29. Iced sweet tea
  30. Watching a movie in the theatre with a big bag of hot, buttered popcorn
  31. My new home…I’ve made it my own oasis, and I love it!
  32. Photography…getting that perfect shot is the best!
  33. Saturday mornings, when I get to do whatever I want…sleep later than normal, FaceTime with friends, catch up on my shows, drink hot English Breakfast Tea, and make breakfast
  34. Comfy leggings to travel in are a must-have!
  35. Buying a new, quirky pair of glasses
  36. Reconnecting with a friend…getting to catch up with Josh last weekend did my soul some good 🙂
  37. Friends who become your family
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Last year at this time I was celebrating my 36th with Julie, Lauren, and Kyleigh in Bangkok. 🙂

A Reading Kinda Day #sol18

Today was a walk around, stop for a while to grab a bite to eat or drink, and read, read, read kind of day. It’s been a long time since I’ve truly gotten lost in a book and spent the majority of the day reading, and I’ve missed it! All too often, I’ll read in short spurts, distracted by technology or something else I have to do. Lately, my reading life has been in a slump, and while I’m always in the middle of a book or two, it’s taking me longer and longer to finish a book.

Today, as I read, I got swept up in the story. I found myself stopping for longer stretches, breaking out my book to read, tuning out the noise around me. And boy was there noise today! I heard cappuccino machines steaming, blenders whirring, spoons clinking, patrons gabbing, music blasting, fans spinning, motorbikes speeding, horns honking, drills drilling, and hawkers yelling. Somehow the noise took a backseat to the story, becoming the soft backdrop, rather than the main event.

I managed to read over half of my book, and I plan on reading more tonight before bed. Of course, reading is on my agenda tomorrow. Frankly, other than trying more delicious food, it’s the only thing on my agenda. By the way, I’m reading Turtles All The Way Down, John Green’s newest book.

Here are a few shots of my day, in between my reading sessions.

Little India #sol18

Craving a taste of Indian food, I headed toward Little India. The bright, in-your-face colors, vibrant aromas, exploding flavors, and make-you-wanna-dance songs drew me in.

After stopping for lunch, I hit the streets, following my whims. Pulled this way and that, distracted by the Indian music blasting from every other shop and the sights, colors, and smells grabbing for my attention, I meandered through the streets, in and out of shops.

The midday sun beat down on me, forcing me to retreat to the shade whenever possible. Passing a small shop, a man outside chopping coconuts caught my eye. As I stopped to watch him artfully maneuver his knife with quick, successive movements, I noticed the sign claiming “the best coconut milkshake in Malaysia” was sold there. Hot and dripping with sweat, I gave it a try. Watching the lady mix fresh coconut water, fresh coconut meat, ice, and vanilla ice cream together, I just knew it was going to be tasty. It was indeed! I was so busy drinking it, that I forgot to take a picture. Guess I’ll have to go back tomorrow to get a pic!

As I wandered through the streets, I happened upon some of Penang’s famous street art. The whimsical paintings mixed with real objects drew a small crowd of tourists all vying for their turn to snap a photo. I was no different.

As I sit here, alternating between writing this slice and sopping up my Paneer Butter Masala with naan, I am wondering what tomorrow’s adventures will bring. While there’s no plan, I know for sure it’ll include some delicious food!

Hawker Stalls #sol18

Walking into the open air food court, a myriad of smells hits you all at once. Clusters of people from all walks of life sit on stools, laughing, sharing a variety of food. Wandering through the stalls, you’re not quite sure what you should try. Japanese ramen? Thai curry? Indian naan and curry? Chinese stir fry? There’s something for everyone.

Unable to find decent Indian in Jakarta, I opt for a vegetarian Indian platter with a pile of basmati rice, three different curries, dum aloo (dry cooked potatoes), and the butteriest, flakiest naan I’ve ever tasted. Diving in with my hands, I quickly devour most of my plate. Delicious!

After tonight, I’m looking forward to my next hawker stall meal in Singapore! What will I try next?

Catching Up Is Fun #sol18

Social media has made the world smaller. Because of social media, I am able to keep up with people, no matter where they are. As we scatter around the world, we can continue to make connections with others.

I’m in Singapore for the IB Global Conference this weekend, and because of social media, I was able to connect with a high school friend I haven’t seen in nearly 20 years! She and her family now live in Singapore, so when I knew I was going to be in town, I looked her up and it just so happened that our schedules matched up.

Miranda and her son came down to my hotel, and we had dinner at Din Tai Fung before strolling down by the river to take in the city. It was so great to catch up with her. In high school, we were friends, but didn’t really hang out outside of school. Talking to her, we realized we are much more alike than we even knew. Our experiences in the past few years are very similar, and I found myself nodding along in agreement many times throughout the night. We are now looking forward to continuing our friendship, and hopefully she can come visit me in Jakarta!