What did 2014 look like? 2014 marked an important change in my life. After 5 years as a PhD student living in Hong Kong I finally defended my dissertation and graduated the PhD to leave Asia and begin a postdoc in the United States. Most of this year was surrounding these big events, and so almost all of my travels were somehow associated with my academic pursuits around the globe.
I spent most of January in Hong Kong, with a short trip to the tropical island of Hainan in southern China.
- Shishan Volcanic Cluster National Geopark : Haikou Hainan
- Hai Rui Tomb : Haikou Hainan
- Haikou walk & snack streets : Hainan
- Betelnut Park – Li Miao Minority Village : Sanya Hainan
- Sanya Beach : Hainan
- Sanya Yanoda Rainforest : Hainan
February started off with an academic conference in Austin and a stop on the way back in California visiting some of the local universities in the San Francisco and Los Angeles area.
- OHenry’s House & Museum : Austin Texas
- Capitol building : Austin Texas
- French Legation Museum : Oldest house in Austin Texas
- Art Museums : Austin Texas
- Around Downtown : Austin – Texas
- University of Texas Campus : Austin
- San Francisco Walk : California
- Conservatory of Flowers at Golden Gate Park : San Francisco
- Japanese Tea Garden at Golden Gate Park : San Francisco
- Lombard Street : San Francisco
- Musée Mécanique Pier 45 : San Francisco
- Sea Lions at Pier 39 : Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco
- San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park: Hyde Street Pier
- Alcatraz Prison Tour : San Francisco
Around San Francisco
- Mexican festival near Union Station : Los Angeles
- Thien Hau Temple & Chinese American Museum : China Town Los Angeles
- The Getty Center : Los Angeles
- Travel Town Museum at Griffith Park : Los Angeles
- The Hollywood Sign : Los Angeles
For the final month write-up of my dissertation I made my way to Israel, where I spent most of my time laboring against deadlines on my laptop closed off in a dark room, only taking a bit of time off for an academic talk in southern Israel. But, at the end of the month the thesis was submitted and the thesis-defense presentation ready, and so I could relax for a bit before heading back to Hong Kong for the final defense.
- Israeli Air Force Museum : Beer Sheva
- Sculpture Park Drive : Kibbutz Hatzerim – Be’er Sheva
- Israeli Air Force Museum : Beer Sheva
- Sculpture Park Drive : Kibbutz Hatzerim – Be’er Sheva
- Nabatean Mamshit National Park : Southern Israel
- The ancient city of Tel Arad : Negev – Southern Israel
- The Big Crater : Negev – Southern Israel
- Ben Gurion University Campus : Be’er Sheva – Israel
On the way to Hong Kong, I made a stop in Europe after over 10 years of absence, originally meant to explore academic opportunities. But, by the time I arrived in Amsterdam I have already accepted an offer for a postdoc in the US so rather than jumping around between meetings and universities I could enjoy the wonders of the Netherlands.
At the end of the month, I successfully defended my thesis and could start to get ready for what changes that were to follow.
- The charming canals of beautiful Amsterdam : Netherlands
- The Heineken Experience Beer Museum : Amsterdam
- Het Grachtenhuis Canal House Museum : Amsterdam
- Rijksmuseum : Museum District – Amsterdam
Daytrips from Amsterdam
- Zaanse Schans : Netherlands
- The city of Leiden : Netherlands
- Keukenhof Flower Gardens : Lisse – Netherlands
- The Hague : Netherlands
- MC Escher Museum : The Hague
After a rough return to hectic Hong Kong, I opened up May with a trip to nearby Guangdong province in China to Shunde. The end of the month I made an academic visit to Singapore, my second visit after my backpacking year in 2005.
China’s Guangdong province
- Gaozan Feng Jian Canal Town : Shunde Guangdong
- Nanhai Baofeng Temple at Xiqiao Mountain National Forest Park : Foshan
- Qinghui Garden Museum : Shunde Guangdong
- Visions of Stunning Singapore
- Sentosa Island & Cable Car : Singapore
- Where it all began – China Town : Singapore
- The odd Tiger Balm gardens of Haw Par Mansion : Singapore
- Gardens by the Bay – Super trees Grove & Skyway : Singapore
- Little India & Arab street : Singapore
- Singapore Gardens by the Bay : Cloud Forest Dome
The Singapore visit was brilliant, academically and travel wise. Thinking of what I want my farewell from Asia to be, it was clear to me I needed to visit Kyoto in Japan and have spent a wonderful time exploring this amazing city. Right before leaving Hong Kong I did a few hikes.
My goodbye to the China near Hong Kong:
My farewell to Hong Kong:
- HK Temple Run Day : Wong Tai Sin, Chi Lin & 10000 Buddhas
- Northern Peng Chau Island Hike : Hong Kong
- Farewell Saikung : Last boat trip with the HKUST management department
- Lung Yeuk Tau Heritage Trail : Fanling Hong Kong
- Po Toi Island : Hong Kong
- Visions of Kyoto : Japan
- The Japanese Gardens of Heian Jingu Shrine : Kyoto
- Nijo Castle : Kyoto
- Tōfuku-ji Temple : Kyoto
- Kyoto International Manga Museum
- Mountain top Kiyumizu Dera Temple : Kyoto
- Gion Old Geisha District : Kyoto
- Murin An Villa & KonchiIn Temple Gardens : Kyoto
- Bamboo Forest & gorgeous walks : Arashiyama Kyoto
- Ginkaku-ji temple path : Ancient Kyoto walks
- Iwatayama Monkey Park Arashiyama : Kyoto
- Shrines of Fushimi Inari Temple : Kyoto
- Visions of Nara : Japan
- Isuien & Yoshikien Japanese Gardens : Nara Park
- The temples and shrines of Nara Park
- Deer of the Ancient Capital : Nara Park – Japan
- Todaiji Temple : Nara Park – Japan
Last arrangements and farewells and I left Hong Kong. Wanting to return to see Europe I spend a couple of weeks in France, exploring Paris and the nearby areas. On the way for a quick visit to Israel I was happy to get stuck in Rome for a couple of days due to the conflict taking place at the time.
more specifically …
- Château Vaux le Vicomte : France
- Château de Blandy-les-Tours Castle : France
- Château de Fontainebleau : France
- Le Touquet beach : Northern France
- Pantheon : Paris
- Notre Dame de Paris & Notre-Dame of Reims Cathedrals
- Les Faux de Verzy at Forêt Domaniale : Champagne – France
- Musée Fort de la Pompelle, Hautvillers & Basilique Saint-Remi: Champagne France
- The Champagne cellars of Ruinart Winery : Reims
- The Castle Château of Vincennes : Eastern Paris
- The Eiffel Tower : Paris France
- The Louvre Pyramid : Paris
- Palace & Gardens of Versailles : Daytrip from Paris
- Claude Monet House and Gardens: Giverny France
- Montmartre Cemetery : Paris
- National Museum of Modern Art – Centre Pompidou : Paris
- La Basilique du Sacre Coeur de Montmartre : Paris
- Carnavalet Museum : Paris
Still have a lot more from that trip.
In August I wrapped things up in Israel and relocated to the United States to the small twin towns of Urbana-Champaign in Illinois. In the area, I got to revisit gorgeous Chicago and get a first glance at Indianapolis. The transition was anything but easy, in all possible respects.
Northern Israel weekend trip
- Tel Megiddo National Park : Northern Israel
- Tel Hazor National Park : Northern Israel
- Bahai Gardens : Akko
- Breathtaking Mount Tabor : Northern Israel
- The Must-Do Masada Insanity : Israel
- Kibbutz Dafna : Northern Israel
- Old City Acre : Northern Israel
- Old City Acre Street Market
- Crusader Fortress : Old City of Acre – Northern Israel
Various other short trips
- Visions of Jerusalem #2 : Israel
- The Holon Design Center & Musuem
- Tel Aviv Harbor, Old Jaffa, City Center : Photo Walk Tour
- Da Vinci Alive Exhibition : Tel Aviv
September was mainly about adjustment and catching up with work. Only got to do a quick visit to Chicago. Possibly the most frustrating month of the year.
October was slightly more interesting, with trips to a nearby Amish town, Indianapolis and my first visit to Saint Louis.
- Illinois Amish Country : Arthur Arcola
- The Gateway Arch : Saint Louis Missouri
- Missouri Botanical Garden : Saint Louis
- Forest Park : Saint Louis
- Illinois Old State Capitol : Springfield
- Lincoln Home National Historic Site : Springfield Illinois
- Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum : Springfield Illinois
More to come from Saint Louis.
November was my first real trip after moving to the US, with a long over due first visit to Mexico, starting from Mexico City.
- Visions of Mexico City
- National Museum of History at Chapultepec Castle : Mexico City
- Lucha libre Mexican Wrestling night : Arena Coliseo, Mexico City
- The National Museum of Anthropology : Mexico City
- Teotihuacan Pyramids : Mexico City
- Mexico City from above: Torre Mirador Latinoamericana Observation Deck
- Frida Kahlo Museum and Coyoacan : Mexico City
- Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlán and Museo del Templo Mayor : Mexico City
- Metropolitan Cathedral and Constitution Plaza : Zocalo Mexico City
- UNAM campus: Mexico City
- Ancient canals of Xochimilco : Mexico City
- Historic center of Mexico City
- Museo Nacional de las Culturas : Mexico City
Much more to come from my Mexico adventures.
But, wait, the year isn’t over yet. Lots of posts to come from my final travel for December 2014, featuring Phoenix Arizona, San Diego California, and hopefully – Mexican Tijuana.
- Ro Ho En – Japanese Friendship Garden : Phoenix
- Visions of Phoenix : Arizona
- Cosanti Foundation Artist Colony : Paradise Valley Arizona
- Musical Instruments Museum : Phoenix Arizona
- Rosson House Museum at Heritage Square : Phoenix
- War memorial and Arizona capitol building : Phoenix
- Hayden Butte Preserve : Phoenix
- Visions of San Diego : California
- La Jolla Cove Beach : San Diego
- Cabrillo National Monument : Point Loma – San Diego
- Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve : San Diego
- Coronado Beach : San Diego – California
- Balboa Park : San Diego
- Desert Garden : Balboa Park – San Diego
- Old Town & Mormon Battalion Historic Parks : San Diego
Overall, this year I’ve been to the Unites States (Texas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Arizona), Israel, China (Hainan and Guangzhou), Japan, Singapore, Netherlands, France, Italy and Mexico with a big farewell to my beloved Hong Kong. Not a bad year (compare that with 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009). I hope 2015 will bring lots of new adventures and interesting places.
Want some stats?
- Kept on Instagram-ing. With almost a 1000 photos, it looks like a pretty neat collection now. I don’t seem to attract many followers (~180), but we aren’t doing it for that, are we?
- The blog has ~1250 followers on Twitter and ~300 followers on Facebook.
What to expect in 2015?
Honestly, I’m not sure. For now I’m in Illinois, but academic life is unpredictable with all sorts of possible changes and surprises, and a postdoc is meant for short term contracts. After almost 10 years living on and off in Asia, moving to a small university town in cold northern US is proving to be more of a challenge than I expected, but I’m sure things will be alright. A few conference trips expected to east and west coast US, as well as a big conference in Europe, and hopefully I’ll be able to do some trips to see more of Mexico and Central America. Definitely something to look forward to.