Wanderlust Wendy

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Recognize Passport Privilege

US Passport

One of my main goals with this blog is to inspire people to live globally. When contacted by the U.S. State Department to help promote its #BeginYourJourney campaign for Passport Month, I happily obliged. After all, obtaining a passport is the first step to living more globally.  Recognize Passport Privilege  Before I dive into my story, I would like to address passport privilege. Not all passports are created equal, and based on one’s nationality and…

Birthday Giving: Hair Donation in Saigon

Hair Donation Saigon

Since turning 30, my desire for elaborate birthday celebrations has waned. Instead of large gatherings, I now prefer to retreat and reflect. Recently, there’s been a trend to raise funds for birthdays on Facebook, to support a good cause. This year, in keeping with the “being uncomfortable” theme, I decided to have a makeover, and do some giving of my own – with a hair donation to the Breast Cancer Network Vietnam.  Co-Space & Breast…

US Road Trip: One Week in California’s San Francisco Bay Area

From geological marvels of the American Southwest, we headed west to San Francisco for a change of scenery, but continued the road trip theme in California. During my time at the fruit company, I had a few extended visits to the Bay Area and wanted to share this beautiful region with my family.  Upon landing at SFO airport, we picked up a rental car and headed to our AirBnB in San Jose. Accommodation outside of…

Saigon Chronicle – Week 7 & 8: Apartment Rental Search

Saigon Skyview

After a month of living in our temporary apartment, we began the hunt for our longer-term home in Saigon. The process proved to be more challenging than I had anticipated, but I am happy to announce that after two weeks of painstaking search, we have been blessed by the apartment-hunting gods, and landed on a great two-bedroom apartment, with a stellar view of a rooftop pool to boot! Hopefully, my experience will help you in…

U.S. Southwest Road Trip: 10-Day National Park Loop Across Arizona & Utah

After a tour of the East Coast, we head west to Las Vegas to begin a 10-day national park loop across the American Southwest. We enjoyed this journey with my parents to celebrate their retirement. The beauty of US national parks is the well-planned facilities and trail path. Regardless of your physical abilities, there is something to enjoy for everyone. Before departure, be sure to prepare a great playlist, and allow extra time on the…

Saigon Chronicle – Week 6: Making Friends. Exploring Co-working Spaces.

One of the many reasons we put an end to nomadic living was missing a community. Yet, forming a community in a new city doesn’t happen with a snap of a finger. The steps to forming quality connections can be tedious and a little awkward. It’s a little like going on many friend dates, and hope the conversation clicks. As a couple, it’s easy to get complacent since there is a built-in hang-out partner. I…

U.S. East Coast City Tour: Boston, New York, D.C.

3 Days in Boston

Our epic road trip from Montreal down the Maine Coast ended in Boston. We returned the rental car and commenced the US East Coast city tour across Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. Frenchie has never been to any of these cities. Before our road trip, the only places he has seen in the US were St. Louis, Missouri, and Carlsbad, California. I needed to show him the US is a lot more than those…

Saigon Chronicle – Week 5: Learning Vietnamese

Saigon Street Photography

After stumbling around on non-existent Vietnamese skills for the past month, we finally set up lessons with a private teacher to begin our Vietnamese-acquisition journey. I strongly believe the best way to integrate into a culture is to learn its language. Even understanding basic sentence construction helps one peek into a culture’s thought process. We have traveled the world without the ability to speak the local language, yet to live in a country is to…

Give the Gift of Experience, or Cash

Last week, I published our approach to unique and affordable wedding planning. Unexpectedly, readers seemed very interested in the Chinese hong-bao tradition – giving cash in a red envelope. Hong-Bao literally means red (hong 紅) – bag (bao 包). It’s used not only for weddings but also for birthdays, Chinese New Year (our Christmas equivalent), graduations, etc. Unlike in the West, where giving cash as gifts can still be perceived as tacky and transactional, for…

Saigon Chronicle – Week 4: Living Abroad in 2019

Living Abroad in Saigon

The first time I moved abroad was in 1998, from Taiwan to the United States. The Internet was slowly becoming mainstream, but the way to keep in touch with my family was still through faxes and occasional expensive international calls. In suburbia Saint Louis, my only source of Chinese entertainment was the books I had brought, a subscription to World Journal newspaper, and Sina.com, the only site back in the day that displayed Chinese characters…

Four-Part International Wedding Under $8k USD

Today marks one year since Xav and I concluded our around-the-world wedding celebrations. Recently, I’ve heard and read various reports on the ever-growing wedding cost, and the trend of newlyweds going into debt from weddings. This motivated me to share our approach of planning a unique four-part wedding celebration for under $8k.  Disclaimer: This post aims to share what we had done, and it certainly wouldn’t make sense for everyone. Please kindly take what applies to…

Saigon Chronicle – Week 3: Home Goods. Maison Marou. Women Meet Tech.

Place in Saigon

Hello New Home After over a year of suitcase living, we moved into an apartment that is all ours. For the first time in 13 months, I unpacked all of our suitcases and put them away. Among all of the benefits of nomad living, regaining an appreciation for a physical space that we can call home is on top of the list. We are only in this new apartment for two months. Perhaps we are…

2019 Q2 Business Update

The imposter syndrome returns as I prepare for this Q2 update. My initial feeling: I haven’t accomplished much. I spent the entire month of July traveling before settling into our new home in Saigon. If I’ve learned anything over this past year, it’s that I am a terrible travel blogger, as in, travel and blog at the same time.  Yet, in the spirit of accountability, I forced myself to eschew the self-doubt, dig through the…

Saigon Chronicle – Week 2: Roadside Barber. Chinatown. Eco-Market.

Thien Hau Temple Saigon Chinatown

The initial shock from the overwhelming traffic and noise in Saigon during week 1 has somewhat dissipated. There is now even a sense of calm energy when I watch a steady flow of traffic (preferably from a café window). While slowly settling into the city’s rhythm, we are still moving about town largely clueless. More than a few times, we have paid the “foreigners tax”. Can’t exactly complain, since we can’t communicate and thus have…

Saigon Chronicle – Week 1: Traffic. Noise. Heat.

Saigon Traffic

After a year of globetrotting, we gathered our belongings, added a couple more bags, and headed for Saigon. By now, moving across the world has become rather habitual. My first big global move was from Taiwan to St. Louis at age 12. That was seriously major. Moving to Cameroon with the Peace Corps was a rather big deal as well, so was traversing the globe to Shanghai after grad school, without a plan.  Minimal Living…

Float Spa: Weightless Body and Restless Mind

A friend recently gifted us certificates to a float spa here in St. Louis, at Float STL. I adore the gift of an experience, and float spa has been on my list of things to try. In accordance with my 2019 theme to step out of comfort zone, I went for it despite not knowing what to expect.  Float STL The minute we stepped into the spa, we were transformed into a different environment. The…

Journey to a Changing Cultural Identity

Recently, someone on Twitter asked how quickly an immigrant loses ties to his/her heritage. The answer varies, but for me, it was within two short years. At age 12, my identity became hyphenated: Asian-American. Yet with an concerted effort to fit in, I quickly dropped the Asian part of the word. Over the last decade, I’ve been reexamining both parts of my identity as an Asian-American. Since May is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (which…

From Nomad Living to Ho Chi Minh City

We can read all about an experience, but until we’ve lived it ourselves, it’s just a story.  Nomad Envy I have wanted to travel full-time for years. I read blogs and watched vlogs of people who trot around with their life’s possessions in a backpack (or a suitcase), and call the world home. When I was trapped in the corporate grind, these stories served as an important mental escape. I transported myself into these lives,…

Redefine What It Means to Work

My parents grew up in Taiwan in the 1950s, the country was poor, and stories of their childhood without shoes or other basic necessities juxtaposed with my fortunate upbringing. In our household, education was the key to success, and success was defined solely by work that brings in money. This traditional belief had governed my path, but it’s time to redefine work in the changing world. Chasing Money I began college as a music and…

Internet in China: Life Inside the Great Firewall

Great Wall of China

Less than a year ago, I bid farewell to my established life in Shanghai. Since, I feel like I live in two parallel Internet universe. My China life on WeChat, and the rest of the world on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram. There is very little intersection between the two worlds, and it has me reflect deeply on life inside the Great Firewall. The effects have always existed in a subtle, non-threatening manner, but the divide has never been…