Over the years I’ve realized that I like to spend a lot of time exploring each country. I’ve been living in China for almost two years and I just feel like I’ve finally seen everything I want to see. That said, there’s so many countries I feel like I didn’t spend enough time in. It’s impossible to see everything a country has to offer when you only have a week or two to travel!
5. Sichuan and Chongqing
My biggest regret in all of my travels is not paying $200 USD to hold a panda in Chengdu, Sichuan. To be honest, this is my primary reason for wanting to return. Pandas are my absolute favorite animal, and it’s my dream to hold one. I’m also obsessed with red pandas too, which I’m pretty sure are my spirit animal.
Aside from the pandas, I have plenty of other reasons for wanting to return to Sichuan. Firstly, the food is amazing! If you like spicy food, Sichuan is the place to go. From mapuo dofu (spicy soft tofu) to hot pot, Sichuan cuisine is by far my favorite Chinese food.
Chongqing, originally part of Sichuan, is a mega-city about two hours away from the capital Chengdu. While I spent four days there in the summer of 2012, I’d love to come back with a bit more money and do a river cruise along the Yangtzee river.
I did not spend enough time in Vietnam when I visited last winter. While I was able to explore Hanoi, Kayak Ha Long Bay, sail the Mekong Delta, and wander Ho Chi Minh, I didn’t see any of central Vietnam or the beaches!
I would love to return to Vietnam and visit Hoi An, spend more time in Ho Chi Minh City, rent a motorbike, and lay out on a tropical beach somewhere.
I also really need to delve deeper into Vietnamese cuisine. I didn’t get to try enough food while I was there! Unfortunately, I didn’t come across Jodi Ettenburg’s blog Legal Nomads until after I visited Vietnam. Jodi is an expert on Vietnamese cuisine and even led food tours at the time I visited.
Jodi please come back to Vietnam so I can visit you and you can teach me the wonders of Vietnamese cuisine.
3. South Korea
South Korea was the very first place I ever visited in Asia! I stopped by Seoul for a week before starting my study abroad adventure in China almost three years ago. I stayed with my Korean friend, who introduced me to the magical world of Korean food. If you’ve ever tried Korean BBQ, you’ll know that’s reason enough to return.
While I was lucky enough to explore most of what Seoul has to offer, I would love to visit my many Korean friends, and take a trip down to Busan on Korea’s southern coast. I’ve heard it’s beautiful and more relaxed than the hectic city of Seoul.
I would also like to spend time in Seoul when it’s not absolutely freezing cold. There are so many new neighborhoods I want to explore, like Hongdae and Dongdaemun. If you’re looking at planning a trip, here are some awesome places to stay in Seoul!
Last winter I spent a few days in Kuala Lumpur, which I absolutely loved. While I saw most of what there is to see in KL, I did miss a few things, most notably the Masjid Jamek Mosque, because it was closed on the day I went. While it was interesting to experience the Chinese New Year in Malaysia, which has a large ethnically Chinese population, a lot of restaurants and attractions were closed, making it difficult to find food, which is what Malaysia is known for!!
I also took a day trip down to Melaka, which was definitely not enough time to explore such a historic and culturally vibrant city. I felt rushed through China Town and I didn’t even get to see the Dutch section.
I also need to spend time exploring the rest of the country, visiting Borneo and the beaches.
Currently I’m attending the University of Nottingham, which has campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia. Because of this, I’ve met so many Malaysian exchange students. Maybe I’ll visit them all next year when they’re back in Malaysia!
I am absolutely in love with Taiwan, and it’s possibly my favorite country in the world. It combines everything I love about China with funky Japanese pop culture and an island lifestyle. Taiwan is one of the safest countries in the world for travelers and women. The food is absolutely amazing, the temples are incredible and I could spend hours wandering through Taipei’s night markets.
While I spent just over two weeks backpacking this tiny island, I didn’t even get to see half the things this country has to offer. From surfing on the east coast, to hiking and river tracing in the north, and amazing traditional food in the south, Taiwan has so much to offer!
If I could choose anywhere in the world to live next year it would definitely be Taipei, Taiwan. The only issue is that it’s hard to find a job that isn’t teaching English (which I think I’ve outgrown now that I’m getting my master’s degree). If anyone knows of any jobs in International Communications or International Education in Taiwan, let me know! I feel like I would make an awesome study abroad resident director. Maybe I could lead food tours in my spare time!
For now I’ll just have to live vicariously through Waegook Tom.
Things I realized after writing this post:
- I am extremely obsessed with food
- I should probably just never leave the continent of Asia because there’s way too much to see here
- Why am I going to grad school in China when I could be working in hostel bars, backpacking around Asia?
- How am I going to pay off my grad school debt and travel to all of these awesome places?
- My life is in shambles.
Where would you like to re-visit? Let me know your favorite places and help inspire my next trip!