14 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Around the World

14 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Around the World

  Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner.   We don’t particularly enjoy all the commercialism that surrounds the holiday, but we do love any excuse to celebrate. So if it means getting dolled up, eating scrumptious food and sipping on good wine… well, we can handle that.   Last year we celebrated Valentine’s Day in Taiwan. Taiwanese celebrate February 14th with fanfare—teddy bears, glittery flowers, and decorations. Stores often have Valentine’s Day discounts. Taipei 101 even lights up with cute hearts. But in addition to the Western date, Taiwanese also celebrate traditional Chinese Valentines Day on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. Honestly we never knew much about this other Valentine’s Day, and from a foreigner’s eye, it certainly didn’t receive as much attention as its Western counterpart.     But it got us thinking. How do other countries celebrate Valentine’s Day around the world?   We set out to the handy dandy Internet to see what we could find. Perhaps not surprisingly, we discovered that many countries celebrate Valentine’s Day with roses and chocolates and perhaps a dinner date; many cultures have embraced the Western influence. Other cultures protest the holiday, some even going so far as to set fire to Valentine’s Day merchandise. And finally, some cultures have looked for a way to make the holiday more their own, finding a bit of balance.   Before we set off, we want to be clear that we haven’t experienced any of these celebrations firsthand; the information was sourced from around the web (you can find the original...
A Preview Of Life In Dominical, Costa Rica

A Preview Of Life In Dominical, Costa Rica

Update: It’s now been almost two years that we’ve called Costa Rica home! Be sure to follow us on Instagram to see live photos of what life is like here. There tends to be lots of photos of our adorable (and much larger) pets, too 🙂    It’s been about a week since we arrived in Costa Rica, and so far, things are pretty darn awesome. We’re set up at a cool and quiet rental in Platanillo. It’s simple, but we’re surrounded by jungle and have a beautiful hiking path just on the other side of our fence. In 15 minutes we can be on the beach in Dominical. The whole drive down is all gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and jungle. If we go up the hill, we arrive at the bustling mountain town of San Isidro. We took a chance by finding the house on Craigslist and putting down a deposit before we saw it, but now that we’re here, we’re so very glad we did!     Our first mission when we arrived was finding a pair of wheels. Not only did we want a reliable and convenient way to explore the region, but I also needed a mode of transport to get down to Dominical (where I’ll be teaching yoga a couple of times a week). We entertained the idea of purchasing a used car, but after testing a few out, we quickly realized we weren’t going to find anything we found safe and reliable within our budget. Instead, we opted for a motorcycle—something which Dan was not complaining about at all. Dan loved his...

Big Life Changes – What the Heck Are We Thinking?!

With only a few more weeks left of our time in Taiwan, everyone keeps asking us the same question: What are you going to do now?   Our answer? Why travel, of course.     This in turn leads to quizzical expressions accompanied by a variety of the following statements:   “How long will you be on vacation then?” “Wow, you’re so lucky you don’t have to work!” “So you’ll be gone for like, two weeks?” “Don’t you miss America by now?” “You guys must be loaded!”   If you are a fellow traveler, then you already know what we mean. It can be truly difficult to explain what ‘travel’ means to those who don’t travel long-term and have no desire to do so. And while Dan can just brush away comments like the ones listed above, I let them get under my skin, nagging and pushing at me. I feel the need to justify our plans to others; when they still don’t quite understand our definition of traveling, the self-doubt creeps in. Are our plans completely unrealistic? Is it time we return back home, find ‘real’ jobs and plan for the day we want to start a family? I know we have nothing to doubt and that traveling is the best next chapter of our lives. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’ll need a few hundred reassurances from Dan and ultimately my own inner voice to regain confidence in our plans. And if we are being completely honest here, maybe a few glasses of wine too.   So if you want to understand a little bit...

If You Had Told Us Two Years Ago…

Our time in Taiwan is dwindling to an end. We have exactly one month and one day until we say goodbye to the place we’ve called home for two years. That’s only 32 days. 32 days to explore the pockets of the island that have remained too elusive to us up to this point; 32 days to play and laugh and hug our students, some of whom we’ve taught since the beginning; 32 days to pack up our first home as husband and wife, selling or shipping away the majority of our belongings. Call us sentimental, but as excited as we are for the next chapter of our lives, we’re a bit sad to leave this one behind. As our time in Taiwan closes, we have been taking a few additional moments to reflect upon the things Taiwan has taught us—not only about Taiwanese culture or the Eastern world, but also about ourselves. In the past two years we have learned and changed a great deal. There are many things we now do on a daily basis that we never could have imagined would become a part of our routine lives, countless events and accomplishments we didn’t expect to come our way.  They are habits we have picked up, interests we have developed, all of which are compliments of our time spent in Taiwan. This is a compilation of those things, and how we would have responded if you had told us about them two years ago.   If you had told us two years ago…   1. …we would drive a scooter or motorcycle everyday, using it for our primary...
The No-Nonsense Travel Guide to Hong Kong

The No-Nonsense Travel Guide to Hong Kong

Why Go? Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city, featuring luxurious hotels and unsurpassed fine dining. We expected to find an overabundance of commercialization and skyscrapers, and not much more. While we certainly did find those things (is there really a need for a shopping mall at nearly every metro stop?) we were also pleased to discover Hong Kong and the rich, unique, and at times chaotic experience it offers to travelers. Vestiges of British control, traditional Chinese culture, and a large international presence mix together throughout the metropolis; the result is a strikingly unique culture that promises moments of pure delight. While at first the city might appear overwhelming and exhausting, take a moment to step back and enjoy the energy that is Hong Kong. Here are our travel tips to get you started.   Getting In: Unless you are travelling from China or Macau, you’ll probably be arriving in Hong Kong via air. Its importance as an international hub in Asia means most major and budget airlines have connections at the Hong Kong International Airport. Once you arrive, there is an Airport Express Line on the MTR (metro) that connects the airport to Central, Kowloon, and Tsing Yi. It is a bit pricy at HK $100 (one way) but extremely efficient. For budget travelers, there are numerous buses that will connect you to most major areas in and around Hong Kong. For a complete schedule and routes, see the City Bus webpage.   Getting Around:  Hong Kong has an extremely thorough public transportation system. It’s easy to use, and by far the best way for travelers to navigate...