Oh howdy from Taipei! I’m writing this from my Airbnb while it rains like crazy outside (and finishing it on Valentine’s Day *cough*). I’ve just been in Hualien and Jiufen for the last week, so I haven’t been nearly as active as I thought I could be in terms of writing and doing a lot of work. I didn’t write a December review since I already did a whole post on 2017 and my hopes for 2018, and 3 personal, rambling posts in a row just seemed more self-indulgent than anything else!
I didn’t really do much in December anyway, so any new songs or shows or books, I’ll add to the bottom here.
On the other hand, January actually turned out to be a fun month! We switched our centers with the new term, and I have all new adult and elementary students. I actually like my schedule a lot better now as I can walk to most of my centers instead of figuring out buses or paying for a taxi. My kids are also about 1000x times better behaved than last year. I think I’ll be sad when it comes time to say goodbye!
January started off with New Years in Yeosu which was fun until we had to leave a bar because some of the other men there were being creepy. One guy kept going around trying to pat girls’ bums! He actually cornered this one girl who was looking at a songbook for Norebang, and I had to go over and pull her away. Guys, just an FYI when you stand around in a group, don’t interact, and openly STARE at women in a bar, you’re only making us put on our rape-kidnapping-sexual assault-murder warning bells!
On a more relaxed note, we had book club the next weekend (and I also binge-watched the whole new season of “Black Mirror”…) where we got to discuss my book of choice, Crazy Rich Asians! I’m seriously so excited for the movie to come out in August.
The following Saturday, Stephanie, Ryan, and I headed up to Namwon to take some photos in the snow in Gwanghallu. It was the only real free weekend we had, so we were crossing our fingers we’d not only get snow but that it would stick through the weekend.
It’s been an unusually warm winter, but the week after book club it was suddenly cold enough that even Yeosu saw some flurries! After checking quickly that Gwanghallu was still covered in snow, we planned to meet up around 8 a.m. You can see the all the photos on the Hedgers’ blog. It was a lot of fun and even got me to properly learn how to do my eye makeup (and put in false eyelashes)!
Later that week Stephanie and our new friend, Stacey, decided to come up to Suncheon for an impromptu jimjilbang date. If you don’t know about Korean jimjilbangs, they’re freaking amazing. We didn’t sleep over, but we did the sauna part. We all woke up the next morning to the softest skin from all our tub soaking and exfoliating.
The last weekend of January I did something I never thought I’d actually do — I went skiing! My friend, Autumn, invited me up and we went to High1 Resort, which was a 2-hour bus ride from Suwon where she lives. I haven’t been skiing since I was a kid, so I was pretty nervous I was going to break something. But hey, I did just fine! Autumn gave me some pointers, and I kind of remembered some of the motions from elementary school. I made it through, even if I was going so slow at one point she came up and starting singing, “Despacito” to me and my second to last run was actually almost normal!
And that brings me into February, where I’m currently in Taiwan and still ridin’ high on that Eagles Superbowl win (I’ll get into all of that in my Feb update). In the meantime, here’s what I’ve been loving!
WHAT I’VE BEEN READING
- Rich People Problems – I finished this back in December, and it might be my favorite of the trilogy! It finishes off everyone’s story lines in a way that gives closure. The whole series is such a fun read, so if you want something light for vacation, then definitely pick them up. I think I sped read through all three in under a month!
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – I finally started listening to this on Audible! I’ve had it forever but never listened to it. It’s about a young boy who’s on a mission to solve what he thinks is his dad’s final treasure hunt. This involves meeting as many people with the last name Black in post 9/11 NYC and dealing with the grief over losing his father in the towers.
- The Constant Princess – This is for book club, but I’ve actually read it before! I think I only skim read it because I was the end of a Phillippa Gregory Tudor phase and a little fatigued by all the court love/lust/drama that didn’t necessarily reflect actual historical records. I used to gobble up Gregory’s books, but I realize now I haven’t read one in nearly a decade. This book was a newer release when I read it, so that was around 2005/6. Catherine of Aragon has always been one of my favorite players in the whole Tudor era, so it’s fun seeing her has a main character rather than a side note to Henry VIII’s idiocy. I will say though, I think my ultimate favorite Gregory book is The Queen’s Fool now that I look back at it.
- The Little Book of Lykke – I picked this up at Bandi + Lundi’s the last itme I was in Seoul and only started flipping through it. It’s written by the same guy who brought helped popular Hygge, and it’s just a fun, interesting read on the idea of happiness and what that means around the world.
- Cheese in the Trap – I haven’t read this since the drama came out, so I pretty much had forgotten all the plot points! It’s a webtoon, and it’s ridiculously well done in terms of character nuances and development. You can read it in English on Naver’s English webtoon app, but it’s super far behind the Korean version, which is finished now.
What I’ve Been Watching
Okay, sooo I probably haven’t been reading as much because I’ve been watching a lot of new TV shows and movies and Youtube. *cough*
- It’s a Wonderful Life – My personal Christmas tradition. It’s my favorite Christmas movie and in general one of my favorite movies ever!
- “Big Mouth” – My friends recommended me this show, and it’s absolutely hilarious. Basically everyone who’s gone through puberty will relate.
- “Black Mirror” – Of course! Which was your favorite episode? Mine were “Hang the DJ” and “USS Callister.” I also loved “Black Museum,” but I imagine that’s more for the Easter eggs. I got what “Metalhead” was trying to do, but it’s not my cup of tea, and I thought “Crocodile” was so disturbing and depressing, it got kind of boring (if that makes ANY sense). I liked “Arkangel,” but I didn’t love it.
- “Cable Girls” – I started watching this in order to work on my Spanish comprehension and because it kept popping up in my Netflix recommendations. The show is about cable women in the 1920s Spain, and it’s got the right amount of drama, beautiful people, and fantastic fashion.
- Barefoot in the Park – I was looking for a fun romantic comedy to watch one night while I was packing, and I came across this on Netflix. It’s such a simple, cute movie about a newly married odd couple in the 1950s. Jane Fonda’s outfits are amazing in it and Robert Redford was his usually attractive self.
- “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” – Started watching Season 2 (SO behind). It’s the same old crazy that I loved about the first season. Waiting for Rebecca to get over her love of Josh Chan because wow he is not right for her.
- “Silicon Valley” – After loving The Big Sick, of course I had to start this show! It’s hilarious, and I actually enjoy how few romantic/sex plot lines there are. Jared is by far my favorite character, but I love the weird dynamic with Laurie and Monica as well as the hate relationship with Gilfoyle and Dinesh.
- “Archer” – Oh my gosh this show is so funny! It’s an animated spoof on spy dramas, and it’s so clever in how it subverts all the typical spy tropes. If you do watch it, all I can say is PHRASING.
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle – Took myself to the movies to watch this after work one Friday, and was delightfully surprised by how funny it was! Obviously, Jack Black steals the show with his portrayal of a popular vain girl stuck in a Jack Black body. I can’t even.
- Howl’s Moving Castle – I started watching more Ghibli films over the winter break. I’ve always meant to, but I never sat down to watch them! Howl’s might be my favorite of the bunch, but I’m also a sucker for Christian Bale’s voice and charming portrayals of France.
- Spirited Away – I had to watch this before going to Taiwan! I watched it one weekend at the Hedgers’, and it’s amazing. I just really love Mayazaki’s artwork. I’m actually glad I didn’t see this until I was an adult because I’m almost certain it would have freaked me out as a kid.
- My Neighbor Totoro – I accidentally read up on the death god theory before watching this, and… It’s still good! I can see why so many people have cute Totoro stuffed animals! I just can’t unsee the death god stuff.
What I’ve Been Listening To
- ASMRMagic – this is my current favorite channel for ASMR. She has a lot of quality no-talking ones, which I vastly prefer, and her videos run up to an hour.
- Paradise by George Ezra – HE’S BACK. I’m so pumped.
- Capital Letters by Hailee Steinfeld + BloodPop – I LOVE this song. I’ve always liked Hailee Steinfeld’s voice, and this is just a fun bop. The video is absolutely gorgeous too.
- IDGAF by Dua Lipa – So much fun.
- Camila Cabello’s New Album – Listen, if there’s some sort of break up competition between Camila and Fifth Harmony, girlfriend is winning. This album is so much fun, and Havana is still amazing after how many months of listening to it? My other favorites are “Inside Out” and “In the Dark.”
- Palace by Sam Smith – I kept hearing this song on the Apple ads, and, ugh, it’s even prettier when I listen to the whole song.
- Delicate by Taylor Swift – Now that the excitement over her new album has settled down, I think this might be my favorite on the album. This one or “New Year’s Day.”
- Living with Lucie – I watched a whole bunch of these in a row. Refinery29 has this series with Lucie Fink where she tries different things for 5 days. From cold showers to freeganism, I really like her personality and how much research goes into each challenge.
- Binging with Babish – Talk about a voice that could soothe even the grumpiest of babies. He makes a lot of food you see in movies or TV but he also has other cooking videos too.
- My My My by Troye Sivan – I love this song so much.
What I’ve Been Writing
- Taiwan Bucket List
- 50 South Korea Travel Tips
- 20 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Bali
- Quick Guide to Tongyeong
- How to Get a Korean E2 Visa in Japan
- Guide to Winter in Korea
Any other writing or projects:
- Digital Nomad Guide to Ho Chi Minh City on Female Digital Nomads (didn’t write this so much as organize the answers + post layout!)
- 5 Warm Weather Destinations in Asia on Department of Wandering
- 10 Tips for New Expats on Department of Wandering
And that’s it for me. What have you been up to?