Country #1: the United States of America
I was born in the States and lived there for the first three and a half years of my life. I went back for college and spent the first five years of my married life there as well. Now Floyd and I sometimes return there to spend time with our families over Christmas vacations or summers.
Click here to read my blog post Impressions upon Returning to America from Taiwan.
Country #2: Kenya
This was home to me for my entire childhood. I lived in Kenya for fourteen years, and it will always be a part of who I am. Growing up, I felt more Kenyan than American. My family traveled to the States for 5-month furloughs every three years or so, but when we were there I always longed to return to Kenya.
Country #3: the Netherlands
I was only there for a brief layover on the way to one of our furloughs. I remember it, but barely.
Country #4: Spain
Ditto. Overnight layover, and my clearest memory is the complimentary wine at the restaurant that Daddy let Jimmy and me taste. Yuck! (I believe I was all of six years old.)
Country #5: Switzerland
We’ve had a number of separate layovers there, along with one actual vacation that my parents worked into our travel schedule. For some reason I don’t have any pictures with me in them, but I have lots of memories of mountains and trains, chocolate and cable cars, picnics and high prices.
Country #6: Israel
This was a wonderful vacation. We visited several different cities, including Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth, and toured many sites where important Biblical events took place. I have lots of pictures and special memories from the week or so my family spent in Israel.
Country #7: Great Britain
Unfortunately, my stay in Great Britain was limited to a few hours each in the Heathrow and Gatwick airports and an all-too-short predawn bus ride between them, with the same experience repeated in reverse on the way back from my real destination.
Country #8: Mexico
I’ve been to Mexico three times, all short day trips while I was in college. The first couple of times were mini-mission trips with a group from my church and with Biola University’s puppet ministry team. The third time was a fun little excursion with my family.
Country #9: Indonesia
I dreamed of traveling to Indonesia for six years before I finally had the chance to go. Right after finishing my senior year of high school, I spent a summer serving on Java with Teen Missions International. It was an unforgettable and life-changing experience and made me long to go back. I returned for a month-long visit a few years later, and eventually (after college) had the opportunity to spend a year there teaching in a one-room schoolhouse on the island of Papua. Also a life-changing experience, but that’s another story!
Country #10: the Philippines
After my summer mission trip to Indonesia, my team traveled to the Philippines for a week-long debrief, along with teams from various other nearby countries. There wasn’t much time for sightseeing, but I enjoyed what I saw of this beautiful country (mostly Manila).
Country #11: Singapore
I’ve had several layovers in Singapore, though I’ve never had the chance to leave the airport. (Yes, that DOES still count as being in the country!) It’s my favorite airport in the world; I’m always impressed at the wide variety of interesting things to do and see there. I’ve never been bored, even when spending eight hours alone there late at night.
Country #12: Canada
Since I don’t remember my visit to Canada with my parents when I was three months old, I’m counting my first visit as the cruise Floyd surprised me with on our honeymoon. Our time there was short – we only had one day to explore Ketchikan – but we were able to make some fun memories. Five years later we had the chance to visit Niagara Falls from New York, and we crossed over to spend a few hours on the Canadian side.
Click here to read my blog post A Day at Niagara Falls.
Country #13: Taiwan
Floyd and I have lived in Taiwan for the last ten years (not counting summers), and we love it here! It has truly become home for both of us.
I don’t think I could ever spend “too long” in Taiwan, but click here to read my blog post You Know You’ve Lived in Taiwan Too Long When…
Country #14: South Korea
I spent about three days in Seoul several years ago while attending a teaching conference. There wasn’t much time for sightseeing, but I used every spare moment in the evenings to walk around with friends and see as much of the city as possible.
Click here to read my blog post It’s All About Seoul.
Country #15: China
Another teaching conference brought me to Hong Kong, which immediately became one of my favorite cities. I especially loved the efficient subway system and the waterfront at night, and I hope I have the chance to go back sometime. More recently Floyd and I had layovers in the Shanghai and Beijing airports, though unfortunately we couldn’t leave the airports since we didn’t have visas.
Click here to read my blog post Four Days in Hong Kong!
Country #16: Malaysia
I’ve actually been to Malaysia twice, once to Kuala Lumpur (peninsular Malaysia) and once to Kota Kinabalu (on the island of Borneo). Both times were for conferences, and both times I was able to squeeze in some brief but memorable sightseeing experiences. Kuala Lumpur is another of my favorite cities – I love the blending of cultures I saw there, as evidenced by the food, clothing styles, etc.
Country #17: Japan
Floyd and I have had a couple of brief layovers in Narita on our travels between California and Taiwan. On one occasion we were there just long enough to leave the airport and take a walk down some quiet streets to a large temple complex with beautiful gardens out back. The last time we were in Narita, our connecting flight was delayed due to a typhoon, and we were forced to make last-minute arrangements to stay overnight in a very expensive hotel at some distance from the airport (since all the close and reasonably-priced ones were already booked solid by other stranded travelers). Not the best memory – but still, I like Japan!
Click here to read my blog post Lost in Narita.
Country #18: Thailand
One November I had the opportunity to teach a workshop (about indie publishing) at a teachers’ conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It was an awesome experience: the conference was great, my workshop was well received, and I loved what I saw of Thailand. Besides making the most of all my evening time, I had half a day free at the end, so I paid for a little tour package. It included visits to an orchid farm, an elephant camp, and Tiger Kingdom. The highlight of the trip for me was petting and lying down with three large female tigers!
Click here to read my blog post A Trip to Thailand.
Country #19: Vietnam
A friend and I spent several days in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Vietnam, on a brief vacation. (Later I visited a different part of the country with Floyd.) It was wonderful! One of the most interesting things for me was experiencing the blend of Asian and European cultures (Vietnam is a former French colony). That blend manifested itself in the food, clothing styles, art, and architecture. One of the highlights of the trip was watching a “water puppet” show. Another was taking a boat ride down the Mekong Delta, with lots of stops along the way to watch various traditional snacks being made in little local shops.
Click here to read my blog post Seeing the Sights in Saigon.
Country #20: Myanmar
This one of the most fascinating countries I’ve ever been to. Floyd and I enjoyed an amazing vacation there over Christmas one year. Highlights included delicious traditional foods and drinks (including inexpensive smoothies and lassis at every restaurant), a traditional marionette show, gorgeous temples and pagodas everywhere (and some very old ones), and a town whose buildings all stood on stilts in the middle of a lake.
Click here to read my blog post A Day on the Lake.
Who knows? I can’t wait for my next opportunity to travel internationally! What’s your favorite city, country, or memory from an international trip? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!
I’m here in Malaysian Borneo for a few days attending a teaching conference, and I’m loving it! (To see my first Bornean blog post, click here.)
Today after the conference sessions were over, Floyd and I took a taxi to visit the Tun Mustapha Tower. It’s the second tallest building on the island of Borneo, and apparently is one of only four hanging structures in the world with a glass facade, and the only building in Asia in the shape of a 72-sided polygon built without columns. We didn’t get to go inside, but it did look pretty impressive from the outside. Here are a few pictures I took:
Afterward we visited The Sabah Museum, which featured various traditional local cultures. Unfortunately, a large section of it was closed for renovation, but we did enjoy what we were able to see.
Behind the museum was a traditional (uninhabited) village preserved in its original form. We got to stroll around it and even go in some of the buildings.
I’m really enjoying our time here and everything we’ve been able to see. What a pity we can’t stay longer!
I love Malaysia! I’m here for a few days for a conference, which is being held in the beautiful, touristy town of Kota Kinabalu in the state of Sabah. This part of Malaysia is located on the island of Borneo, along with a piece of Indonesia and the whole country of Brunei. (The rest of Malaysia is a peninsula attached to the mainland in Southeast Asia.) See the map below. It’s very different here from Kuala Lumpur, which I visited back in 2008. You can click here to read my blog post about that experience.
Floyd was able to accompany me; he works on his classwork on the computer in our hotel room while I attend the conference workshops, and then we go sightseeing together in the late afternoons and evenings. This is the front of the beautiful Sutera Harbor Resort, where the conference is being held. We’re staying at a different (less fancy but quite a bit cheaper) hotel. I usually walk to and from the conference each day; I haven’t been timing it, but I think it’s about 40 minutes each way.
Once when I walked through the loby of the Sutera, I came across a musician in traditional dress playing the musical instrument below, called a kulintangan. The sound was beautiful and almost haunting, and I lingered quite awhile to listen. Here’s a link to a video (not one I took) where you can see how it’s played and hear how it sounds. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKKqFm79rxQ
Among other noteworthy sites, Kota Kinabalu boasts two especially large and beautiful mosques. Below, with the even more beautiful flower in the foreground, is the Kota Kinabalu City Mosque.
Want to see more of our adventures in Borneo? Click on the links below to read my other blog posts from the trip:
Borneo: The Green Connection and Dinner on the Beach
I recently had the privilege of attending a teachers’ conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The conference was great and I learned a lot, but I especially enjoyed seeing Kuala Lumpur. The Petronas Towers and Batu Caves were two of my favorite sites.
At 88 storeys, the Petronas Towers are the world’s tallest twin towers. They’re connected by the world’s highest, longest double-decker skybridge. Stately during the day, they gleam like a fairy tale palace at night. Pictures don’t do them justice, but if you ever go to Kuala Lumpur, you’ll see what I mean!
The Batu Caves are a series of large caverns that have been turned into a Hindu religious site. The gold-painted statue in front is 140 feet tall! After crossing the courtyard in the temple complex, you climb 272 steep steps to get to the main cave entrance. There are cute but annoying nearly-tame monkeys all around the steps begging and grabbing for food.
Inside the high caverns are a number of shrines, statues, carvings, etc. depicting various Hindu religious scenes.