(Because the first version was lost to my fat thumb) Suddenly, I find myself in the United States of America. To be precise; San Francisco. What happened after the Philippines? Did she go to Taiwan? What are you doing all the way in San Francisco?! Yes, a South-East Asia trip has almost converted into a Round-The-World trip, now in the U.S. and later this year (probably September) I can be found down-under, in Australia. Celebrating my six-months travel anniversary here in The City is not so bad, I can tell you.
After saying goodbye to the Philippines, I found myself in a plane to my second home – Taiwan. The country where I lived for five months and where nostalgia was waiting for me. Those very first days being back in Taipei, I was overwhelmed by these feelings of so-called nostalgia. Meeting up with old friends, meeting new friends, walking through the streets that I had known so well a year and a half ago; Gongguan & Shida night market, biking through Guting, Daan Park and around Taipei 101… and things just did not feel the same. Of course they shouldn’t; things change, and change is good. But somehow I was missing something and as I was wandering around the city, I soon started to feel restless. Realizing many of my memories were tied to people whom I met in Taipei, people who have moved again from the country, I increasingly told myself: “get the fuck out of here.” Don’t get me wrong, I love Taiwan (I really do!!), but after almost five months of new and exciting experiences, the old gets boring soon and I was not prepared for that. My thoughts were answered with whispering plans. These whispers, however, started to get louder and louder, until they were screaming to take a decision. A bold plan started forming: Korea, then Japan? Japan, then Korea? Just Korea? Just Japan? Japan? Korea? Korea? San Francisco? Japan? San Francisco? Enfin, you get the train of thought and from the introduction you also know my decision. A mere two days before my flight, I booked it. Hooray, hurry, hurry, pack, pack! And those two days later, I was boarding a plane to the United States. So, what made me cross 10,000 km over the Pacific Ocean? Would it be really cheesy to say I did it because of love?
Escaping the increasing Taipei heat, I arrived in a very pleasant temperature of around 22 degrees Celsius (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit for those unwilling to convert). The weather has been quite stable during my stay. Have I been to the city of fog? Yes, but I have yet to see a foggy day. Blue skies and sunshine; whoever said “the coldest winter I ever spent, was the summer in San Francisco” clearly didn’t visit the City in the 2015 drought.
After a long flight with almost continuous turbulence, I arrived with R. waiting for me. It was strange seeing him again, but also completely natural and wonderful (obviously). To be honest, this was not my first time in San Francisco. Eight years ago, I visited with my family in a U.S. trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco. In those years, a lot has changed and I cannot remember a lot from that time, except that it was cold and foggy. What a difference. San Francisco is crawling with so many different characters. Most notably homeless people, hipsters, techies, business(wo)men, immigrants and tourists. Such a vibrant city and there is so much to do every single day that sometimes R. and I just got lost in the apartment. Throwing my stuff everywhere, it almost felt like “our” apartment. Plenty of times we also went out of that apartment, no worries. Just biking around or going camping in Cache Creek Wilderness to escape Fourth of July madness. It was a month in San Francisco as I could never have imagined.
Now, after a month of making many memories, I can look back with a big smile and a big pinch of sadness as well. Riding the hills of San Francisco on bicycles, spotting the Dutchies (as in spotting the wildlife of Dutch tourists), climbing and coffee in Hipsterville, Prison Break, Chinese take-out boxes, music, movies, Minions, laughing, crying, tie-dye, taking photographs, camping, and so many books. A lot of books. And bookstores. And thrift stores. And used book stores where the books are $1 and where you can find little gems like Jim Morrison’s Wilderness and Nobokov’s Lolita. Thank you, San Francisco, for your literally literary paradise. Thank you, R., for being so patient and taking me to my happy places. I wish I didn’t have to leave, but at the same time I can’t wait to be on the road again. So this is what it feels like…
Looking back on those six months, my life almost seems unreal. I did the most amazing things, met the most amazing people and I managed to develop myself in a way that I feel proud of. Six months ago, I was in the plane towards Singapore, with healthy nervous butterflies coursing through my body. A month later touristy Thailand, complete with Chang, Khao San Road and Thai massages. Another month later, Myanmar, still one of my favorite places, where the smiling people never stopped smiling. Then back to Thailand, this time for ultimate hippie life in Pai and ultimately, more Chang. Three and a half months in and being reunited with my parents in gigantic China was more than great, and a nice break from backpacking life & culture. Then from Hong Kong to the paradise of the Philippines which surprised me every minute. Taiwan never received the honour of the five-month touchdown because two days before, I found my way to San Francisco. And now it is July 20th and I am overwhelmed with memories of places, people and adventures. I can’t help being emotional and grateful, not only to family and friends for their unconditional love and support, but also to the people that brushed the shoulder of my life: the guy who showed me the way in Batad, the Philippines and the woman selling me about a dozen donut sticks for 50 cents in Pyay, Myanmar. Thank you!
For now, I am going to continue growing, learning, travelling, writing, experiencing, meeting and smiling. The world is such a beautiful place and I can’t wait to explore more and more. Over & Out.