It feels like time goes by so much faster in Hong Kong! I can’t believe it has been over 2 years since I moved here. 2014 was marked with new challenges, new travels, and a constant reminder that the only thing that matters in life are your friends and family. At least that’s how I saw it. What were you reminded of as 2014 came to a close?
Here are some snapshots of my year:
Despite the atrocious heat, I survived my first visit to Singapore for a tech event my company was participating in. I got to visit an old friend who showed us some of Singapore’s more vibrant neighborhoods. We also explored the sprawling city center, getting a glimpse of what life is like in Hong Kong’s “sister city”.
In April, two of my favorite people came to visit me in Hong Kong! When we weren’t roaming the city, we were dancing all night and eating all day. Then we embarked on
one of the most memorable trip to Chiang Mai – ever. Let’s just say we should be so glad we made it out alive.
Finally: a visit to South Korea! I’ve been meaning to visit Korea for years and finally ticked that off my list. My college days were pretty much defined by my introduction to Korean culture, Korean bbq, Korean ramen, Korean alcohol and plenty of Korean and Korean-American friends. So by default, Seoul was a blast. We ate pancakes, visited a puppy cafe (bury me there, plz), drank coffee til we peed caffeine, spent hours in Aland (it’s like Korea’s American Apparel mixed with Urban Outfitters, but way better?), and bike rode around Hongdae. I cannot wait to go back for another visit!
This one is a bit personal so I won’t spare any details. For the longest time, I thought I could stay in shape on my own but let’s be real: “on my own” was really code for watching an 8-minute ab video, once or twice a week. I needed to get in better shape so in July I joined a gym.
My lower back problems, which have been bothering me for years, were exacerbated by walking around everywhere in cheap flats with 0 shock absorption. Plus I was sleeping on a fairly small couch for the good part of a year, which did not help. I remember feeling like my back could give out if I so much as sneezed really hard. That’s a scary feeling. As if that wasn’t enough, my weight was also fluctuating a bit due to poor eating habits like skipping meals when work got busy or snacking instead of eating a proper meal.
So once I joined the gym, my boyfriend, who has been weight training for years, began to get me into a routine. It took some time — a bit of reluctance from me, and some well-deserved scolding from him — for me to realize that being half-assed about my gym workouts was a waste of my money, a waste of my time, and really, not doing anything to improve my health. Fast forward to today: I’ve put on, and more importantly, kept on, almost 10 pounds. It’s an accomplishment for someone who has always been underweight. As for my lower back, I don’t think its ever felt better. Weight training gives me focus at the gym. It has also led to improved physical strength and stability I haven’t felt since high school.
Feeling strong is a new and awesome feeling for me. I really can’t thank my boyfriend enough for showing me the importance of this type of exercise. If you struggle with lower back problems or weight gain, a balanced diet and weight training could be just what you need!
You always think you’ll be young forever and then your little sister gets married. Time really flies as you get older. My youngest sister got married in October and since it was the first wedding in my immediate family, a huge celebration was in order! It was a beautiful day and a fantastic wedding weekend. Going home for 2 lovely weeks meant maid of honor duties, family dinners, a few Taco Bell runs (of course), catching up with friends and cousins I’ve missed, and a special, long overdue trip to LA.
When I returned from my trip, Hong Kong was a different place. A small but determined gathering of students had swelled into a full blown movement. I will never forget how quickly things escalated during that period of time. From televised protests to nighttime walks home, I felt very close and sympathetic to what was happening yet as an expat, very displaced at the same time. To this day I often think of what Hong Kong will be like in the near future. Ultimately, I cannot help but feel sad that despite the efforts of the Umbrella Movement, Hong Kong is still very much under China’s grip.
A short but full trip to Taiwan during Christmas provided some much needed respite from long days and frenzied nights in Hong Kong. We made good use of Taipei’s metro system, visiting a number of night markets and less-than-tourist-y areas. We also tried the bike share program (unbelievably cheap and very convenient) and feasted on as many street foods as we could! If you visit Taipei, don’t forget to check out Eslite – it has to be one of the most beautiful bookstores in Asia.
Already 2015 holds a brand new set of adventures and challenges! I can’t wait to travel around Asia more, and see what else the year has in store. What are you looking forward to most this year?