Time seems so warped on the road. The last thirty days have been packed with more than I can process sometimes. It seems impossible that only 30 days ago we were saying goodbye to our students, to our apartment, to our friends.
Countries visited: 3
Planes taken: 5
Photos snapped: 516
Bowls of noodles eaten: 33
This month has been full of newness and excitement. It’s been a month of getting used to having no schedule, of figuring out how to budget ourselves again and relearning how to go with the flow and not get too stressed by the small and uncontrollable factors of travel.
Jeju – 5 Days
I’m so glad we decided to spend a few days in Jeju before we flew out of Korea. We got to enjoy some more of our favorite dishes, practice our Korean for the last time and explore a landscape completely different to that of the mainland. We hiked up craters, ate the famous black pork (totally worth the hype) and drank some Jeju soju (slightly less harsh and hangover inducing than what we’ve had before).
I loved our little hostel, I loved watching sunsets over the beach every night. I couldn’t get enough of the black craggy shoreline and how incredibly green it all was. We laughed our asses off at Loveland and followed Olle trails to six different waterfalls. It was a really nice send off after our year in Korea.
Japan – 17 Days
I have never been so excited, so downright giddy about landing in a new country. Japan has been a place I have dreamt about visiting since I was in second grade and a girl in my class shared her mochi with me at lunch.
The food was all we’d hoped it would be. We ate noodles as least once a day – udon, soba, ramen. Hot or cold, it didn’t matter. The depth of flavor, the saltiness, the meat slices, the fish shavings, the abundance of spring onions. We treated ourselves to an expensive sushi lunch in Tokyo, we sampled all kinds of delights in our daily bento boxes (a superb way to cut costs at lunchtime) and devoured all manner of Yakatori – chicken meatballs, heart, liver, gizzard and intestines. I kicked my coffee habit and spent way too much on craft beer. We got drunk with the locals in a tiny little Izakaya in Nara (and Tokyo and Kyoto).
I fell in love with Osaka and seriously considered not even leaving. We spent four days checking out the neighborhoods there before catching the train to Kyoto for four days, Hiroshima for two days, Nara for two and then up to Tokyo for five. It felt simultaneously like a whirlwind and like we’d been there a lifetime. It felt comfortable, it felt like it could be home.
Taiwan – 5 Days
We spent pretty much our entire five days in Taipei. Taiwan for me, is proof that the power of blogging is real. Luke and I didn’t even have Taiwan on our radar before planning this trip. Then I read more and more about it from Waegook Tom and I knew we had to add it to our itinerary if for no other reason than the food.
It did not disappoint. We ate so well. Bacon pancakes and ice cold milk tea every morning (we sometimes left out the bacon, I swear), amazing dumplings, soups, buns and more milk tea at lunch time and a smorgasbord of food in the evenings at various night markets around the city. I literally never felt hungry during our entire five days.
We took a day trip to Wulai, an amazing little village to the south of Taipei, and it was perhaps one of my favorite days in the last month. We hiked to a waterfall, ate rice cooked in bamboo and pork pickled with lime flavored peppercorns. We sat in ferociously hot natural springs and jumped into the river to cool down, only to repeat the process over and over again.
It hasn’t been all dark beers and daisies though. We nearly missed our flight to Japan because we didn’t give ourselves enough time at the airport (and the subsequent stress nearly left us both in meltdown mode). In an effort to avoid the same situation we paid way too much to stay at an airport hotel in Tokyo before flying to Taiwan. We had dreadful weather in Taiwan which meant we missed out on a few places that we were really looking forward to visiting outside of Taipei. Our bodies are constantly exhausted at the moment. We go to bed each night in a heap with achey legs and feet.
These are all minor blips in an otherwise glorious 30 days. We constantly find ourselves sitting back at the end of the day, beer in hand, feeling so grateful for where we are and what we’re doing. There is still so much more ahead of us: scuba diving in the Philippines, a month in Vietnam, crossing land borders through Cambodia, Thailand and Laos. The trip has only really just gotten started and yet I can feel each moment passing far too quickly.