Happy New Year!
Oh what a year it’s been.
I feel like I’ve been so busy with my cross-global move from Boston to Hong Kong that I haven’t really had time to reflect upon this past year. For sure the move has made 2017 the most eventful year (maybe ever) in my life. I’ve only moved/uprooted one time before – at the age of 18 when I moved from Ohio to Boston for college. That was eventful, but not like this one. At that young age, I was ready and excited to move. Settling in was easy because I was amongst a whole class of freshmen who had also moved to Boston from all over the country.
This move is different. After 20+ years in Boston, there’s a lot more to uproot, move, and resettle, both physically and emotionally.
It’s been a whirlwind three months since I landed in Hong Kong in early October. We’ve been living in a serviced apartment for several months, but finally signed a lease for a real apartment at the end of 2017. Our stuff from the US arrived in mid-December (yay!). We worked tirelessly throughout the weekend to unpack as much as possible before flying out to the US for the holidays. On New Years Eve, we spent our first night in the new apartment.
|Loving my Totoro painting done by a friend||view from the kitchen window!|
Finally, I’m starting to feel a bit settled! It’s nice to have all of my own kitchen stuff back. My new kitchen is smaller than my old one, so I’m back to having a true AliSanta again. 😉
Here’s a look back at 2017. I realized that this was the first year in about a decade that I did not visit a new country, though I did re-visit many favorite ones multiple times (hello Japan and Taiwan!). Here’s a recap of this crazy, crazy year. I have no idea what 2018 will bring, but I’m excited for the endless possibilities, especially being out here in Asia!
January in London
At the end of 2016, my family decided to spend the holidays in London together. It had been years since we had traveled together, probably since the birth of my sister’s eldest son (who is now six!). We had a lovely time visiting London’s most famous buildings (the Tower of London is really worth visiting!) as well as spending a day in Bath and Stonehenge (super super cool!).
We rang in the new year in London right in Trafalgar Square. I was blown away by how many streets in downtown London become pedestrian-only during this huge celebration. It was super fun to walk down familiar streets without worrying about cars. The crowds were massive, but the security was good, and it was really exciting to be out there celebrating with so many people.
February in Taiwan and Japan
In February, Bryan and I flew to Taiwan for a wedding. The bride and groom were super gracious hosts, taking us around Taiwan and showing us the best eats the week of their wedding.
We had so much fun exploring incredible bites at the best foodie night market in Taiwan. We also spent a day checking out the most famous Taiwanese noodle and dumpling shops. It’s always the best to have a local guide, and we were so thankful and appreciatively that our friends (who were busy with an upcoming wedding), took the time out to take us around. To see all the food we had, check out the following blog posts: Tour of Top Taiwanese Dishes Part I: Dumplings and Noodles and Tour of Top Taiwanese Dishes Part II: Night Markets
Since we had made it all the way to Taiwan, it was hard not to stop by Japan as well (heh heh, probably my favorite country in the world to visit). My most memorable meals from that trip would probably be the yuzu-flavored ramen at Afuri Ramen and the the best steak sandwich I’ve ever had from Shima.
The most memorable part of the trip had to be our visit to the Tsukiji Fish Market auction. Knowing that the market was going to move in about a year and would forever disappear, we knew we couldn’t put it off any longer. We got up at 2AM to line up at Tsukiji for the 5:30AM auction. It was exhausting to line up, but I don’t regret it one bit. It was fascinating to watch the auction and to see all that frozen tuna!
I made a video of our entire experience (see above) so you can get a sense of what it’s like (in case you aren’t able to go, or you don’t want to get up and wait in line for so long!!). The post detailing the whole experience is here.
March in Sonoma
In March we spent a memorable weekend in Napa and Sonoma after visiting friends in the Bay Area during the week. It was memorable in part because both of our best friends from college made separate trips out to Sonoma to join us for lunch at The Girl & The Fig (awesome place for food!) and a special vertical wine tasting at Chateau St. Jean. We discovered the now-famous 2-Michelin starred Single Thread Farms (before it received the stars), and we had one of the most exquisite and perfectly executed meals in memory at The Restaurant at Meadowood.
In April, Bryan quit his US job in preparation for his big move to Hong Kong. We had decided that he would start his job first while I would stay behind in Boston to wrap up various aspects of my life in Boston (as well as pack up the rest of the house!). Bryan spent the month packing and sorting through his stuff. With the busy-ness of move-related activities, we didn’t really travel in April. Instead, we focused on enjoying some of Bryan’s favorite Boston restaurants during that time. The list is long, but included frequent visits to Bergamot (our regular haunt), savoring seafood from local favorites like Row 34 and Island Creek, and strolls through the Public Garden and Boston Common.
May in Switzerland
In May I visited Geneva and Lausanne in Switzerland for a business trip. I hadn’t been to Switzerland in over 15 years, so this trip felt like a brand new introduction to the country. I fell in love with the gorgeous lakeside scenery, the phenomenal chocolates, and the friendly people.
I also interviewed Season 10 Top Chef winner and former Boston-based chef Kristen Kish as part of Macy’s Asian Pacific American heritage month. It was cool to chat with Kristen backstage before we went “live”. She’s super approachable and a really cool and friendly person. I’d never done a live interview quite like that before, so it was interesting to try to come up with stuff on the fly yet try to be as natural as possible. I think it turned out pretty well, and I had a lot of fun.
June in Hong Kong
At the end of May, Bryan moved to Hong Kong!! I flew out with him to help him bring stuff over (yes, we brought SEVEN suitcases . . . we had to order an extra large van to carry it all!!). I spent a week there, helping Bryan settle in while exploring Tsim Sha Tsui, the new neighborhood in which his work and serviced apartment were located.
July in Taiwan (and Hong Kong Again!)
In July, I took advantage of the 4th of July long weekend and planned another trip out to Hong Kong to visit Bryan. I arrived in time to witness Hong Kong’s 20th anniversary celebration commemorating the city’s return to Mainland China. We went out on one of the piers at Tsim Sha Tsui to view the fireworks against the stunning Hong Kong island skyline. Despite some heavy rains at times, there were pockets of relief where we could really enjoy the show.
I also flew to Taiwan to visit my dad, who was spending a month in Taipei. I treated him to the fanciest Taiwanese meal he’s ever had at Shin Yeh at the top of Taipei 101. The food was exquisite, the views were unparalleled, and my dad loved it (despite being a bit floored at the price, which, at $50 USD a head, is still a steal for this level of food and ambiance). It was nice to have several days of quality time with my dad as we walked around various parts of Taipei and chatted about all sorts of stuff.
August / September – Enjoying the Northeast and Packing
August and September went by like a blur. I was busy spending most of my free time packing and sorting. It’s takes a LOT of work to sort through and pack/store 20+ years’s worth of stuff (I had stuff from COLLEGE I had to wade through!). During that time, I did manage to enjoy a bit of the Northeast. I went to New York City for a weekend (finally went to the top of the Empire State Building!) and also took a weekend road trip to Vermont.
There were many good-by meals as I met up with many friends I’d made in my 20+ years in Boston. I visited many restaurants during this time, partly to say good-by and partly to enjoy the food one last time before I left. My company put on an awesome farewell clam bake for me (complete with boiled lobsters, clam chowder, corn, and the works!). My church gave a really heartfelt send-off as well (a potluck where everyone cooked for us our favorite foods!). My a cappella group arranged and sang an a cappella version of a song I had written years ago. It was so hard to say good-by to so many dear people I’d gotten to know through my many years in Boston.
Movers came the last day of September. I slept in the empty house for a couple days (it was weird!) and I left for Hong Kong a few days later. A few of my good girl friends personally drove me to the airport and escorted me all the way to security for a final send off.
October Celebrating Bryan’s 40th
I’m so thankful for how gentle my initial transition to Hong Kong was. Eight of Bryan’s closest friends flew out to Hong Kong to celebrate his 40th birthday with him. This happened less than a week after I arrived in Hong Kong.
Even though I was in a foreign place with very few friends, all of a sudden I was surrounded by close friends and we were exploring Hong Kong together. I felt so blessed to have such good friends willing to fly so far to join us in celebration. It was a crazy week of food exploration, and I’m still only part-way done blogging through all the amazing meals we tried. On Bryan’s actual birthday, we booked a private room at 3-Michelin starred Bo Innovation and enjoyed a creative, Hong-Kong inspired tasting menu.
What an AMAZING week! Thanks to all the wonderful friends who flew all the way out to HK to celebrate Bryan’s 40th bday with him. Fantastic dinner at Bo Innovation was the perfect way to cap off the week-long celebration. Happy Birthday Bryan!!! #sospecial #neverforget #bestbirthdayever #tinyurbanhk #hongkong #bryanbdayweek #hongkongeats #michelin #3michelinstars #chinesefood #modernist #molecular #wanchai #instafood #foodstagram #foodie #eattheworld #seetheworld #travel #travelblogger
November Foliage Trip to Japan
In November, I booked a 5-day trip to Tokyo to seek out the fall foliage that I desperately missed from Boston. The foliage was stunning and I was thrilled to be in Tokyo right at peak season, which was Thanksgiving weekend. I made another pilgrimage out to Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka to watch the sequel of My Neighbor Totoro called Mei and the Kittenbus. This short film (15 minutes) is not shown anywhere else in the world. You must come to the museum to see it, and they show it on a rotating basis with other short films, so you have to make sure you are going at the right time!
I thoroughly enjoyed the film and was thrilled to find a kids book version of the movie as well as some stuffed toys from the movie (pictured below, a cat-bullet train, or neko-shinkansen).
December – whirlwind Tour of LA and Boston
And then all of a sudden it was December. I had found a great apartment at that point, and we had received the keys in early December. Our shipment from the US would arrive mid-December, so the timing was perfect. We spent a weekend unpacking furiously with the goal of finishing most of it before we left for the States.
The final week in December was a whirlwind of travel. We first stopped in Los Angeles where we enjoyed many of the foods we had missed in Hong Kong (hello In & Out Burger and fish tacos!). It was great to spend quality time with family and California friends. After four short days, we hopped on the 6AM flight out to Boston, where we spent another three days catching up with old friends, visiting our favorite restaurants, and running some basic errands.
We flew back to Hong Kong just in time to catch the New Years celebration. From our new apartment we could watch the fireworks. Because we were so exhausted from all that travel (arriving at 5AM on New Years Eve and not napping at all that day . . .), we took it easy and just opened our balcony window at midnight to enjoy the fireworks.
Here’s to a great 2018. Happy New Year everyone!