The year 2018 had a very cold beginning here in US. Now that I stopped shivering I can write my obligated annual “good-better” summarizing/planning post. My 2017 was good, although I didn’t quite accomplish the goals I set out at the beginning of the year:
- Read 50 books, 20 of which from shelves at home. Partially Done. I did finish 50 books and here are the book reports: Q1; Q2; Q3; Q4. Amazingly, the average length of this year (2017)’s books is 341 pages, compared to (2016)’s 343, and (2015)’s 342. As a statistician, I can’t help marveling at these numbers. There had to be something significant going on other than coincidence. Only 16 of the 50 books were from shelves at home, so this part of the goal wasn’t reached. I am not going to lose sleep over it though. 🙂
- Visit 3 new countries. Done. I visited South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.
- Swim 80 times (average 1.5 times a week); yoga at home everyday. Not done. I only swam 37 times, average 0.7 times a week. I didn’t count how many days I did yoga at home, but I suspect it was less than every other day. On average I walked 4,953 steps a day, slightly short of last year’s 5,080 and a lot fewer than the previous year’s 7,000. Seems I missed the marks of my exercise goals quite a bit!
- Publish 40 blog posts. Not done – only published a shameful 7 posts, not even half of last year’s not-so-good 18.
- Lose 5 pounds. Not done – my weight throughout the year moved up and down within a six-pound range. At least I weighed one pound less on December 31st than on January 1st, so I consider it losing 1 pound.
All in all, my 2017 wasn’t very productive in reaching goals. However, it was a great year in traveling – I actually was in four continents! 🙂 Here is this year’s travelogue:
- January. London, United Kingdom (work)
- May. Seoul, Busan, South Korea; Beijing, China
- July. Mystic, CT; New England
- October. Sydney, Cairns, Melbourne, Uluru, Australia; Queenstown, New Zealand
- October. New York City, NY (work)
I haven’t got a chance to write about the 19-day Australia/New Zealand adventure – one of the best trips of my life! It involved 12 flights, 8 hotels, 4 time zones, and temperatures anywhere from 50 to 100 degrees. I ended up being poorer financially but much richer in experiences and memories, not to mention the thousands of photos I brought back with me!
Now here are my goals for 2018:
- Read 50 books – at least 5 in Chinese, at most 25 in audio format
- Visit 5 new countries
- Swim 50 times; yoga at home everyday (except this past week :))
- Publish 30 blog posts; write at least 3 full-length travel articles in Chinese
- Learn to cook 3 new dishes
- Lose 5 pounds
I am looking forward to a better year ahead – more explorations and adventures. I can’t wait to start.
On this day twenty years ago, I came to the United States. My point of entry was Anchorage, Alaska. I still remember stepping off the plane, exhausted after an eight-hour flight from Shanghai (and a short flight from Beijing before that), yet excited from seeing the gorgeous snow mountains from the air, and the rows of private jets on the ground. As I stood in line at passport control, it suddenly struck me: I am in a different country and I will be on my own. My family and friends and everything I am familiar with are now thousands of miles away…
There was not much time to be sentimental. I boarded another plane and flew six more hours to JFK. As it approached, I watched the beautiful night view of New York City with all those bright lights and elegant bridges, and felt like I was in a dream. When the wheels touched the ground and passengers applauded, tears rolled down my face. At that moment, so many feelings went through my mind that it felt blank. A new chapter began.
So that was the first trip by air in my life. And it lasted over 20 hours. I was a rookie traveler then and thought even the churning baggage carousel was impressive. Today, I am quite experienced. I have been to 33 countries and 64 airports around the world. Still, that same excitement when the plane touches down in a brand new place never left me.
Many things have changed in twenty years. For example, I came here holding a Chinese passport with a US visa. Today, I have a US passport with a Chinese visa. Between the two countries, no matter which direction I fly now, I consider it ‘going home’.
BTW, here is a post that I published around the 18th anniversary. 🙂 Can’t believe it has been two years since then! Time flies. I wonder what I will be writing about five years from now, or ten, or another twenty…
Early this month we had a wonderful visit to South Korea, including 1.5 days in Busan and 3 days in Seoul. Hopefully our itinerary below would help people plan their trip to this great and interesting country. I found this site to be quite helpful when I did my planning.
Our day started at 3am US EDT. Due to delay we almost missed our connecting flight at San Francisco. Luckily we made it to the gate 4 minutes before it closed. We arrived at Incheon International Airport around 3pm the next afternoon. Then we got our Korail pass and boarded a KTX train to Busan. Because it was a holiday week the seats were sold out, but we managed to sit for 2.5 hours out of the 3.5-hour ride. Not bad. We arrived at Busan around 8pm – 28 hours after we left home. I promised myself never to make such crazy arrangements ever again.
Day 1. Busan Aquarium, Food Alley, Geumgang Park (with cable car). We made an attempt to go to the famous Beomeosa Temple but were too exhausted to walk the required distance.
Day 2. Jagalchi Fish Market, Gamcheon Culture Village. Afternoon train to Seoul.
Day 3. Half-day DMZ Tour. Deoksugung Palace (changing guards).
Day 4. Lotte World Aquarium, Lotte World Tower, Coex Aquarium, Namsan Tower.
Day 5. Changdeokgung Palace, Myongdong Shopping District.
Except the DMZ Tour, all the other places are accessible via subway/bus. A must-have is a Cash-bee card. It can be used to pay for subway, bus, taxi, train, or even in convenient stores, and it is good in both Busan and Seoul. That said, we walked on average 15,000 steps a day even with the great public transportation!
The next day we departed Seoul heading to Beijing, China… To be continued.
My year 2016 has been quite busy and productive, although I didn’t accomplish all the goals I set out at the beginning of the year:
- Read 50 books. Done. I finished 50 books and here are the book reports: Q1; Q2; Q3; Q4. Interestingly, the average length of this year (2016)’s books is 343 pages, almost the same as last year (2015)’s 342. In both years the longest book I read was by Stephen King.
- Visit 5 new countries. Done. I actually visited 8 new countries: Netherlands, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia.
- Swim 80 times (average 1.5 times a week). Partially done. I swam 50 times, average once a week. But I started doing Hot Yoga this year and attended classes in a studio 7 times. On average I walked 5,080 steps a day, falling short of last year’s 7,000.
- Publish 50 blog posts (on Saturdays). Not done – only posted 18 posts, even fewer than last year’s 28.
- Lose 5 pounds. Not done – my weight at the end of the year was the same as the beginning of the year. At least I didn’t gain pounds.
Seems only the travel and reading goals were accomplished, same as last year. It is a clear indication of where my passion is. 🙂 Here is this year’s travelogue:
- January. New York City, NY (work); Cruise on Windsurf, Caribbean
- April. Charlottesville, VA
- May. San Antonio, TX; Carlsbad, NM
- July. Amsterdam; Belgrade; Montenegro; Dubrovnik; Frankfurt. Trip Brief
- October. New York City, NY (work)
- November. Mystic, CT; New England
Now here are my goals for 2017, not much different from 2016:
- Read 50 books, 20 of which from shelves at home
- Visit 3 new countries
- Swim 80 times (average 1.5 times a week); yoga at home everyday
- Publish 40 blog posts
- Lose 5 pounds
I am looking forward to a better year ahead – closer to God, healthier, happier, wiser…
It has been a week since I returned from a wonderful 12-day trip in Europe:
Amsterdam, Netherlands -> Belgrade, Serbia -> Montenegro -> Dubrovnik, Croatia -> Frankfurt, Germany
The trip included five flight segments from four airlines, train, bus, ferry, and lots of walking (average 15,000 steps a day). It was a nice combination of city and nature. As usual, there are too many pictures to go through and too much fun to put into words – highlights for now and details in the future.
(Reception at the Royal Palace – our small tour group with Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia)
Montenegro (Kotor, Lovcen National Park, Sveti Stefan):
Dubrovnik (climbed the city walls):
In addition to enjoying the breath-taking views, we also appreciated Van Gogh’s masterpieces, drank Rakija and local beers, tasted wines, ate lots of meat (in Serbia) and fish (in Montenegro and Croatia), met wonderful people everywhere, and added precious moments to our memories… More details to come.
I just returned from a 7-day Caribbean cruise on the gorgeous Wind Surf, the world’s largest sailing yacht that brought me to several new countries (Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis) as well as territories (Sint Maarten <Netherlands>, Guadeloupe <France>, Saint Barthélemy <France>). It was such a wonderful trip that I can’t wait to return for another sail-away…
We actually didn’t spend much time on the usual cruise-related activities – shopping, sitting on the beach/deck, swimming, etc. Rather, we did different interesting things that involved the following means of transportation:
Sea Thru Kayaks VI
Note: I forgot to take a photo of the clear-bottom kayaks so I borrowed a picture from the Sea Thru Kayaks VI website.
Each of these excursions was fun and deserves a post of its own. For details on the Yellow Submarine, check here. We also hiked/walked a lot at every location – average 10,000 steps a day. After we sufficiently exhausted ourselves we would return to the yacht, change into ‘casual elegant’ clothing, and enjoy a truly gourmet dinner like this:
In addition, there was wine, there was music, and there were incredibly numerous stars in the night sky. Mountains, oceans, rainbows, sunsets, unfurling sails – simply too many beauties grabbed me everyday. I can still feel all the happiness and excitement even now, days after I returned home a few shades darker and several pounds heavier. Till next time…
My year 2015 has been quite busy and productive, although I didn’t accomplish all the goals I set out in this post at the beginning of the year:
- Read 45 books, at least 12 of them have to be from my book shelves at home. Done. I finished 50 books and 17 of them are from shelves. Check out my book reports for details.
- Visit at least 3 new countries and 2 new National Parks. Done. I visited Denmark, Sweden, and Norway; Everglades, Biscayne, and Dry Tortugas National Parks.
- Join a gym and swim twice a week, try to add in one class as well. Partially done. I did join a gym on Feb 8th, but fell short of swimming twice a week (I went 45 times, average once a week). Didn’t do classes but walked 7,000 steps a day on average.
- Publish at least 50 posts on this blog. Not done – only posted 28 posts.
- Do at least 5 paintings. Small exercise pieces don’t count. Not done – only did one painting.
- Learn to cook at least 3 new dishes that I feel comfortable sharing with others. Not done – might have cooked new dishes but nothing to share. 🙂
Even so, I still feel great about this past year. Lots of new and exciting experiences. Here is a brief travelogue:
- January. Southern Florida; Secaucus, NJ (work)
- March. St. Michaels, MD; Cheasapeake, VA
- May. Scandinavia (Denmark, Sweden, Norway)
- July. New England, Quebec City, Montreal
- August. New York City, NY (work)
- October. Paris; London (work)
- November. Beijing
- December. New Orleans, LA; Lancaster, PA
Now here are my goals for 2016, more realistic than the 2015 goals, I think:
- Read 50 books
- Visit 5 new countries
- Swim 80 times (average 1.5 times a week)
- Publish 50 blog posts (on Saturdays)
- Lose 5 pounds
I am looking forward to a better year ahead – work, read, write, travel, exercise, learn, enjoy.