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Looking back at 2018



2018 has been an absolutely restless year, when I thought I couldn't out-do myself. In 2016 I braved the Trans Siberian Railway solo, hiked all the trails in Hong Kong, and made it to 4 of the far South Pacific islands. In 2017 I finished off 10+ countries with solos to Myanmar, Cambodia, Morocco, followed by moving countries to Singapore. 

I believe in living life to the fullest, and seizing the opportunity. You only life once (please don't do dumb things like eat a slug or jump off a cliff), but what kind of life story do you want to write? When was the last time you tried something new or overcame a fear?

Believe me, my life isn't just full of fairy tales. There's good, bad and ugly. 

But here I am, ending the year at 61 flights clocking in 332hrs & 30min of flight time (13 days, 20hrs, 30min) and 241,246km & 6 times around the world. I tried skiing and archery for the first time, and ticked off a bucket list of seeing my favourite Japanese singer's arena concert. 



In detail, this is what happened in Ariel Land in 2018:

January - New job and first time back in the states since I left in 2013. 
I started a new job which was a massive challenge. I've never done an Asia Pacific wide role with an 8 digit annual target, which is insane. The first few months was a struggle to even figure out my head to my ass. On top of that the occasional 5am call and regular 10pm calls were also a new thing. But that's what it's about, the more you get paid, the more the company owns your time. But good thing is I get to fly everywhere with the company. 

Finding myself back in the states was an interesting one. I missed all of the junk food, including the American-Chinese chain Panda Express and their (yummy) greasy noodles and fortune cookies. I missed pop-tarts, lucky charms cereal, twizzlers, jelly belly... etc anything that can expedite one to obesity. I'd have to work twice as hard exercising if I'm to live in the states again. 


 

February - Chinese New Year, back to skatingand San Francisco
Chinese New Year is once in a year where I get to taste my mother and grandmother's cooking. I also get to meet all of my relatives once a year. And the food is just amazing, full of seafood, meat, all kinds of delicacies. I keep having to explain to my grandma that I can't bring food products in my luggage. 

Last I skated seriously was in 2009 in Seattle. 9 years have passed, and I got myself a pair of new skates which will hopefully get me to double jumps. I stopped at a wobbly loop jump. But I'll progress to the flip, learn some new footwork and the sit spin throughout the year. My goal is to get up to a double axel. 
 

And last in February, I went back to San Francisco for the first time since 1996. My family did a huge road trip from Iowa, through the Rocky mountains, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and ending up at the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm glad to be able to come back as an adult, this time though for a company meeting. 


March - Skiing and Cherry Blossoms in Japan
I've never skied in my life till this year, I'm not too sure why. But a group of us went to Niseko for skiing. Everyone else has skied before other than myself. The first slope we went up to was supposedly the beginner's slope, but I'd say it was more intermediate. 2 others almost gave up, and I ended back down at the base after about an hour. Day 2 was incredibly foggy so conditions were challenging again. But that set me up for the last day. On day 4 of skiing in my life, I challenged the peak of Niseko, through the black diamond expert slope and the un-groomed sections with fluffy powder and 2-3 people in sight. No one would believe me if I said I did that in 4 days, I don't even believe myself. Not sure where the courage came from, but at least I can say I did it! 




 

And though I love Japan, and have been probably over 10 times, this year for the first time I saw Cherry Blossoms. It's always so hard to catch them in such a short window, but luckily my company had a quarterly meeting there just in time! 



April - Meeting parents & Sun Moon Lake
I normally go back to my hometown for my mom's birthday. And this year I brought my boyfriend along with me to meet the parents. I was nervous, he was nervous, and my parents were nervous. Everyone was nervous, but the trip was wonderful. I don't think at that time they knew this was going to be their son-in-law, but I have never seen my parents more amused and happy. It's good to be with someone with a great sense of humor when it's for a lifetime. 

 

May - Archery class & Brunei
I've shot a military rifle, yet I've never tried Archery. My partner has always wanted to take some classes, so we went on a sunny weekend. And man was I sh*t at it. I have really weak arms and a very bad aim. But all in all it was really fun. I have to say I prefer shooting rifles though. 




We also spent a short weekend in Brunei. New country, why not? With little research, we ended up in a country where booze was banned. Thank god it was for a short weekend. But it's also my first sighting of a croc in nature, one of the biggest species - the salt water crocodile. Hours later I would fall into the river from river rafting. I was so busy not-drowning that I only later realized I could've been eaten alive! 

 

June - Birthday month in Turkey, Italy, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland
June is always an exciting month because it's the height of summer and also my birthday! Since I've started working properly as an adult, my birthday month breaks the year in half and there's always a grand trip as a reward for working hard. This year we made it to dreamy Cappadocia, followed by Venice, train to Milan and then a road trip through Italy and Switzerland. It was a really great mix of busy-instagramy-tourist spots and quiet nature. 



 


 


July - Ayumi Hamasaki concert in Osaka
I'm loyal to 2 artists in my life - Jolin Tsai and Ayumi Hamasaki. Jolin I saw in Hong Kong 2 years back. But getting to an Ayu concert is a pain in the ass if you don't live in Japan. First there's the cost of getting and staying there. Second, to get a ticket I had to register for a Japanese Yahoo e-mail address, borrow a friend's phone number, pay for the ticket (in March when I was in Tokyo for work), then pick up the ticket in July. Consider this a bucket list item done. Her concerts are always so much fun, full of different themes, acrobats, different stage effects. It's more like watching a Cirque du Sole musical but with Japanese Rock music. 



August - Pregnant, and back in Sydney
Then 2018 took a huge turn. Maybe the big summer trip was too good. Also my pregnancy symptoms were basically no existent. Throughout the past few months, other than some slight food aversion, the whole experience is smooth sailing for me and the baby.  


I also find myself back in Australia for the first time since 2007, again my company brought me there for meetings. Slightly frustrating flying an overnight flight during the worst 2 weeks of trimester one, plane food smelled even worse, but I had saltine crackers in every bag. 



September - Pre-wedding photoshoot and finding out the gender
Getting married before the baby pops was my non-negotiable. So There was a lot of scrambling to plan all of that. One of the first steps was to get the pre-wedding photoshoots done in Singapore. Onethreeonefour was amazing with their selection of dress, photographer and locations. At this point I was about 2 months pregnant.


We also found out through blood work that told us the gender of the baby. From the moment a woman is pregnant, she will keep the baby's DNA in her bloodstream for the rest of her life. It is especially easy to get traces of male DNA, so we're having a baby boy! 

 


October - Round Asia Trip (TW, HK, KO, JP) and feeling first kicks
In October I completed a 17 day round Asia trip for work and also personal reasons. I had meetings in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan, which gave me the chance to see my family in Taiwan, and a stop by in Korea before I need to stop flying for a while. In Korea I went to a Racoon cafe (which also had pigs and corgis, more on my Instagram) In Japan I made a point to go to several temples to pick up a "Safe Delivery Lucky Charm" or 安產御守. This is very popular for pregnant women in Japan to get for a safe labor and delivery of the baby. 


  

I was also very lucky and started feeling little kicks from my little guy at week 16-17 when I was in Korea. It was big enough to capture on camera as well! I was still too little for people to notice or let me have a seat, but being able to feel him always with me is the most magical feeling. 



November - Wedding and Honeymoon
Finally, for what felt like ages, just 3 months after finding out I'm pregnant, we got married in Kyoto, Japan. It was a small wedding of just 20 close friends and family, with a western ceremony and Japanese reception. How we pulled that off I do not know, on top of baby preparations, dress fitting, booking rooms, finding suitable locations in Japanese, rehearsals, down to choosing flower displays, color of table cloth etc. And not to mention making sure guests all get into their Kimonos and return everyone home happy and safe.  





We then flew off to Lapland in Finland for our honeymoon, hoping to catch the northern lights. They were having a lack of snow, never seen in the last 60 years, on top of that cloudy skies the whole time ad low aurora activity. So no luck this time for the aurora, but the rest was well needed. Considering how much I've done this year, and not died from skiing or falling into a croc riddled river, I don't take this miss of the Aurora too much to heart. 



December - Final flight to Kota Kinabalu for Babymoon
As I near the end of my 2nd trimester, I took my final flight for a small Christmas holiday or babymoon to Gaya Island. I didn't even know what a babymoon was until I looked it up, and it is very applicable. 


babymoon

/ˈbeɪbɪmuːn/
  1. a relaxing or romantic holiday taken by parents-to-be before their baby is born.


I'd rather define it as clawing the last holiday in before getting denied on a plane. I even went snorkeling during my holiday but definitely felt the difference with a big baby bump. I was way less buoyant and when my body was underwater and I'm breathing through my snorkel, I was struggling to get enough air in my lungs even with deep breaths. But all in all, it was great to have a getaway before life gets hectic. 



Heading into 2019, there's already so many things to look forward to. Birthing my baby boy and raising him will be the single biggest accomplishment to date that I cannot wait to get to. And I can't wait for him to join me and my husband on more firsts, more adventures, and teach him everything I know about this beautiful world. 











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