Wednesday, January 4, 2017

My 2016 Highlights

Here we are, already a few days into 2017. To be honest, I wasn't sure if I should post my annual highlights this year. 2016 was just so miserable to so many people. It's been a devastating year for many with countless terror attacks around the world and the ongoing crisis in Syria. Also, Trump?! Seriously, America?! You could have had Bernie! (Don't even get me started, I'm still not over it..)

After thinking about it, I decided to post my highlights of 2016 anyway, just like I've done for the past few years. I would like to keep this diary to look back on in the future to remind myself that 2016 did have some good times, too. On a personal level, 2016 was a great year and I'd like to sit back and reminisce on the past 12 months and think about my highlights and the things I'm most thankful for. If you're interested, let me take you on my 2016 journey.

Snow in Taipei!?

yangmingshan taipei
Snow on Yangmingshan in Taipei

It freakin' snowed on the mountains around Taipei City in January, which have NEVER happened during my eight years of living in Taiwan. The Husband and I got up super early that one Sunday morning to take the bus up the mountain and beat the crowds. It was truly a magical scene. The mountain, usually a vision of luscious green trees and plants, was covered in a white blanket. People were dressed like they were heading on an Arctic adventure and children were building snowmen and making snow angels on the ground. As a South African whom have only been in snow a couple of times in my life, it really was a very special experience and I'm glad we got to witness this event in Taipei.

Family Trip to Dubai

grand mosque abu dhabi
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi

For our Chinese New Year break in February, The Husband and I flew to Dubai to visit my brother, sister-in-law and my sister. My mom also flew in from South Africa to spend the week there with us. It was so nice to be there during the winter, as we finally got to (comfortably) do some outdoor activities (usually impossible during the scorching hot summers). I wrote all about our trip, you can read it here. Visiting the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and going on a "desert safari" were big highlights for me.

New Address

The Husband and I were bummed out when our landlord informed us that they sold our apartment and that the new owners wanted to live there. Finding a decent yet affordable apartment in Taipei can be a headache, so it took us about 2 months to find one that was just right. We literally only moved a 15 minutes' walk down the road, and it's much closer to a subway station. I still miss our previous place, but we have made the new apartment our home.

My Dad's Visit to Taiwan

taroko gorge taiwan
In Taroko Gorge with my dad
In May my dad came to visit us in Taiwan for three weeks. It was his first visit here, and we had a great time. The Husband and I still had to work, but my dad was such a trooper and navigated the city on his own when we were at work. He quickly learned how to use public transportation and shared his adventures with me every evening after I got home. It was so nice to have him here and show him our life in Asia. He absolutely loved it! Maybe we can make this an annual thing, and hopefully also get my mom over here.

Road trip to Taroko Gorge

taroko gorge bridge
Exploring Taroko Gorge

While my dad was here, we went on a little road trip to Taroko Gorge. Out of all the things I wanted to share with my dad, the beautiful gorge was at the top of my list. He's also a huge nature lover, so I knew he'd appreciate it. It was a lovely trip and we enjoyed our stay at the stunning Silk's Place Hotel in the middle of the gorge.

Babies, Engagements and Weddings

Not one, not two, but three of our friends announced their pregnancies to us within a week. Damn, people have been getting busy! All of them gave birth to healthy bundles of joy in 2016 and we couldn't be happier for them. Also, close friends of mine from South Africa announced their engagements and I got to attend my friends' wedding here in Taiwan. Love is in the air, that's for sure!

New Job

After working at the same job for six years, I knew that my chapter there was coming to an end. It was hard to say goodbye to everyone there, and I still miss them. That said, I LOVE my new job! My coworkers are wonderful people and we've become really good friends. Also, I can walk to work which is a huge improvement from my previous soul sucking commute.

Our Trip to Penghu

penghu summer
Penghu, Taiwan

In the summer, The Husband and I spent a few days in Penghu, one of the small islands off the coast of Taiwan. It was such a nice week and we really enjoyed the beach, sunshine and relaxation. I wrote all about our trip and you can read it here. A big highlight for me was our scooter trip around the island, it was so much fun.

California Dreaming

hollywood sign view
Hollywood, Los Angeles

This summer The Husband and I spent one week in LA with my brother and his husband. They've been living there now for a couple of years and we finally had some time to go and see them. They bought a beautiful house and we loved staying with them as they treated us like VIP guests and we enjoyed the quality time together. During our time there, The Husband and I did some touristy things around LA, Santa Monica and Malibu and also got to meet up with one of our friends whom happened to be on vacation there at the same time. It was wonderful catching up with her and spending the day together. I loved Malibu and enjoyed our lunch there at the pier (we even spotted celebrities!) and we met up with friends and watched the sunset together at El Matador Beach. We LOVED our time in California and we're already looking forward to our return this summer.

Back to the South

lake north carolina
North Carolina, USA
Before we went to California, we spent two weeks with The Husband's family in North Carolina. I always love going there, as it's absolutely beautiful and his family is so wonderful. We spent a lot of quality time with the fam and especially our nieces and nephews (whom seem to multiply every time we go back for a visit.) During our time there, we also met up with The Husband's friends whom took us out on a boat trip on the lake, which we really enjoyed.

Catching Up with An Old Friend

While we were in North Carolina, I got to meet up with one of my best friends from South Africa. He moved to the States when we were in university and by that point we haven't seen each other in almost 10 years. I got to meet his lovely wife and we spent a day together catching up and reminiscing about our childhood and crazy uni days. It made me so happy to see him and it was like no time had passed, we just picked up from where we left off.

Taiwan Adventures

maokong gondola taiwan
On the Maokong Gondola ride over the treetops far below.
Every year I tell myself that I should see more of Taiwan and experience more of the things that this island has to offer. To be honest, I could have done more but did manage to make a few day trips and visit places I've never been. My friend and I finally took the time to go on the Maokong Gondola for a cable car ride up the mountain. The view of Taipei from up there was breathtaking and the ride itself over the treetops was exhilarating. The Husband and I also visited Wulai and stayed at the beautiful Pause Landis Hotel for our 2-year wedding anniversary. On a work outing, we went to Jinguashi and visited the Huang Jin (Golden) Waterfalls. I didn't even know this place existed, and it was interesting learning about its history. Other than that we made a day trip to Taichung to visit friends and also did a road trip over the mountains to Taroko Gorge and spent some time in Yilan.

A Table by the Window, please.

taipei cafes
Enjoying sweet treats at a cafe in Taipei.

Being a huge fan of food and drinks in general, it was easy for me to develop the hobby of cafe crawling in Taipei City. I loved trying out new cafes and eateries around the city in 2016, especially because SO many fantastic cafes have opened their doors in the past few years. I have made it my Saturday morning tradition to try out new cafes with friends, and have met so many amazing people in the process. I can tell you, it's tough having lattes at different cafes around the city, but someone's gotta do it.

The Last Day of 2016

taipei101 nye fireworks
Taipei101 New Year's Eve fireworks 

This year we decided to go all out for New Year's Eve and attended a rooftop party across the street from Taipei101. During my time living in Taiwan, I've never been this close to the famous countdown and fireworks show at the world's second tallest building. It was truly a highlight ringing in the new year with The Husband and our friends up on that rooftop away from the crowds. It was probably one of the best parties I've ever been to in Taipei!

I hope I'm not forgetting anything. 2016 was such a wild ride and hopefully 2017 will be more smooth sailing for our world. I wish you all a wonderful new year!

HAPPY 2017!


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