Final Memories

This post is just small notes for us to remember a few little things from each place we visited.

2.5 men/Location,location,location/Border Security
Yuppy Party Bois everywhere
Jackson’s Musical Table Toy From Auntie Zoe
Josh Pyke “The summer”

New Zealand
Mom setting kettle on fire
Queenstown Luge
Hopgoods Restaurant in Nelson
Celine’s House & Eggs

Babysitter Calling us Home because Jackson wouldn’t stop crying. (First time hiring a babysitter, ever!)
SMS Taxis
Same Breakfast every morning downstairs
Switching apartments because of roaches / roach bomb / smell

Holes in wall in Tokyo Apartment
Looking for Jameson’s favorite Ramen Restaurant in the cold
Train Ride Bento Boxes

Penghu Hotel Room

Japanese Yakitori Restaurant (Niao An)
City Shop Grocery Store and Linda Massage
James eating Sheng Jian Bao and Squirting Juice on Julia’s brand new outfit
Jackson breaking the hinge and the Wifi on James’ Laptop

Chinese Food and Shwarmas every night, and Alimentacion convenience stores on Sundays
World Cup Win (Spain vs Holland)
Pimp House with Family Vacation
Family’s train tickets not being valid, splitting up to get to Madrid

MTV (Sweet 16, Room Raiders, 16 and Pregnant)
Smell of Marijuana from people walking by our window
Bike Ride

Czech Republic
Ate at Loving Hut Vegan Restaurant almost every night (followers of the Truth, led by The Supreme Master, Arcadia CA)
A million rafts going down the river in Cesky Krumlov
BAD (worst) Chinese Food in Cesky Krumlov
Jackson scared of Bees in Cesky Krumlov at the restaurant by the riverfront

The door from Amazing Race that did not have a secret keyhole

The blueberries and strawberries
People seemed uptight
Bono was apparently in our hotel
Jackson liked ice cream (cone on some fortress island, and softserve from mcdonalds)

Every plane ride we took
Jackson loved to flirt with any women around him. He'd look over the back of the chair and smile a lot.


After nine months of living abroad, we're now back in the United States. Sometimes it feels like just yesterday when we departed for our world trip, but looking at our son on the flight back compared to when we left, it is clear that time has passed.

In the last year, we traveled through countless airports with all of our gear and luggage. It is hard to believe that we lived out of our suitcases for so long, but we also learned how little you actually need to live happily.

By the end of our journey, we were able to pack up everything in less than 30 minutes and had the routine down pat on how to walk and carry everything. James would tow my suitcase and the travel crib while carrying his pack. I would carry the laptop/diaper bag on my back while Jackson was strapped to my front, and also tow the umbrella stroller. We got around airports, metros and city streets like a well oiled machine.

We are staying in New York for a few weeks before returning to California. We still haven't finalized our housing plans yet since we gave up our rental when we left, but I'm sure we will feel at home wherever we land.

Last Stop, Helsinki

We took a two hour ferry from Tallinn to Helsinki. This was the final destination in our world tour since it was the closest departure hub for Oneworld airlines. We spent 3 nights at Hotel Kamp, a Starwood hotel. A lot of people gathered in front of the hotel during the days we were there and it turned out that U2 was staying there as well.

Helsinki is a very clean and modern city. There are street stands selling all sorts of berries and fresh peas. The strawberries and blueberries were so sweet that even my picky one year old devoured by the handful. One thing we noticed was that people here seemed more reserved and mostly kept to themselves.

We visited a church (Temppeliaukion kirkko) that was built into the rocks. It was quite cool and modern.

On our last day, we took a ferry to the Fortress of Suomenlinna. Before boarding the ferry, we enjoyed some really delicious salmon at a seafood stall near the port. Suomenlinna reminded us of Angel Island in many ways. It was a beautiful day to stroll the island and a nice way to end our world tour.

Smiles all around on the last day of our trip.


Our plan was to stay in Tallinn for eight nights before heading to Helsinki. After two days, we decided that four nights would be sufficient. We had already seen most of the town and didn't feel like hibernating in the apartment. I have to admit, this trip has gotten a lot harder since Jackson began to walk. His energy level and 5am awakenings have exhausted us. Furthermore, we miss the comforts of home, our family and friends. So we shortened the trip and decided to head back to New York on August 20th, spend a few weeks there, and then return to California.

That said, Tallinn is a lovely place. It is one of the less tourist developed cities we've visited thus far, but its well preserved architecture and old town lives up to its Unesco World Heritage status. Interestingly, Estonia has one of the highest internet penetration rates in the world and is also the birthplace of Skype.

The weather in Tallinn was interesting. It was sunny for the most part but when it rained, it poured. This region is also extremely cold during the winter so every home has a sauna room. Too bad we didn't get to make use of it during our stay.

Beautiful memories from Tallinn:

Old city walls

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Freedom Cross

St. Catherine's Passage

James fell for an Estonian lady

House of the Brotherhood of Black Heads (As seen on The Amazing Race, except there was no secret entrance!)

Jackson is our tour guide

Funny street sign

Our baby has grown up over the course of the trip

Cesky Krumlov

James really built up my expectations for Cesky Krumlov, a city he visited many years ago. He remembered it being one of the most serene and beautiful places he's ever seen.

We took a three hour bus from Prague to get to Cesky Krumlov. The snaking river that runs through this city was the first thing I saw when we arrived. It is indeed one of the most picturesque towns I have ever seen.

There is not much to do here except for rafting, touring the castle and walking around the town. Most people probably spend a night here but we spent four nights to take it all in and just relaxed (sans internet too).

(pretty daisy in my soup)

We ordered a pizza one night and this was on the cover of the pizza box. I swear it is George Clooney's face! Some how I doubt he endorsed this advertisement.

James noted that while Cesky Krumlov has maintained its charm after all these years, it has definitely attracted more tourists and rafters. I guess the secret's out.


We rented a fun loft we found on VRBO and stayed in Prague for about 10 days. On the first day, we met up with our friends Rohit, Kaamna and their son Karam and went up to the Prague Castle together. We arrived about three hours before closing time. The ladies at the ticket counter warned us that we would not have enough time to go through everything and that we'd have to come back the next day. We thought they were crazy but they were right. The Castle is one of the biggest in the world and the complex includes a Cathedral, a monastery, several palaces, gardens and towers. But given that we were traveling with impatient one year old toddlers, we opted for the highlights. No detailed history guides here.

In addition to touring the Castle complex, we walked around the Old Town, crossed the beautiful Charles bridge and explored Lesser town.

Prague also has an interesting Jewish quarter that has Europe's oldest active synagogue. Amazingly it was not destroyed during WWII. Legend has it that the body of Golem lies in the attic of the synagogue and protected the building during the Nazi occupation. There was also a beautiful memorial hall in the Jewish quarter that lists the names of all of the Jews who died during the war. It was really sad to see all the names and especially poignant to see the years they were born and the years they all died, which was either 1942 or 1943.

During our stay in Prague, we took a day trip to Kutna Hora, a town about 70km east of Prague. James went there several years before and told me about this interesting bone church (Sedlec Ossuary) in this town. Apparently it was a desirable burial place and after the plague, the cemetary had to be enlarged. The bodies were exhumed in the process and bones were stacked in heaps with no designated burial places. A woodcarver was finally commissioned to put the bones in order and he ended up making amazing objects with them - family coat of arms, a chandelier (which consist of at least one of every bone in the human body) and massive bone mounds.

At the ossuary, we saw an American couple who looked very distinct dressed in mostly black leather. Turns out that they were Kat Von D and Nikki Sixx. James helped take a photo of them and Nikki Sixx took our family portrait. Sweet!

We also visited the Church of Saint Barbara in Kutna Hora. It is a famous Gothic church that is also a UNESCO world heritage site. The flying buttresses were spectacular, though after visiting the church of bones moments earlier , this just couldn't top it.

On days when we were not sightseeing, we hung out at home and only went out for food. Our go to place was this Asian vegan restaurant called Loving Hut. Neither of us are vegans, much less vegetarians, but we loved this place so much. When James asked if they are Buddhists, they responded that they are "The Truth". Turns out that they are a group who shares beliefs based on teachings from their Supreme Master Ching Hai, a woman who resides in California. Loving Hut is actually a global restaurant chain (and cult). If you are ever near the restaurant, try it, even if you are a meat lover. It will change your views, at least on vegan cuisine.

We also tried traditional Czech food on several occasions. The portions were usually huge and everything was quite meaty. I tried the famous roast duck and James had the roasted pork knuckle. I gotta say, Czech food isn't my favorite but it does go well with beer.

Our next stop was to Cesky Krumlov, a small city in the South of the Czech Republic. It is also one of James' favorite places in Europe!


We shortened our time in Amsterdam from two months to just two weeks so that we can visit Prague, Tallinn and Helsinki before returning to the US. The original plan of staying at a city for months at a time no longer makes sense now that Jackson is older and seems to adjust to change better than I do.

Since our plans were not finalized until a couple of days before our flight to Amsterdam, I was nervous about getting a decent apartment during peak tourist season. But as usual, James managed to find a centrally located apartment that met our needs perfectly. James had been to Amsterdam several times before but it was my first time. After just a few days here, I could see why he wanted to include this city in our world tour. It is absolutely amazing! The city is full of charm and we loved our daily stroll along the canals. The food here is also delicious and diverse. We enjoyed Dutch pancakes, some of the best Thai food outside of Thailand and tried the famous Indonesian rice table.

People in Amsterdam are extremely friendly and nearly everyone spoke English. We felt welcomed and found settling in very easy. It was neat to see all the bikers on the streets and the designated bike lanes in the city. I was initially surprised to see that no one here wore helmets (even toddlers), but it became apparent that biking in Amsterdam was a very safe activity. To experience the Dutch life, we rented bikes one day and rode around town and to a local countryside.

We also took a day trip to Zaanse Schans. It was a small town with windmills and traditional Dutch homes.

Along with canals and windmills, Amsterdam is also associated with marijuana and prostitution, both of which are legal here. You can smell pot everywhere - on the streets, in cafes, in our living room (coming from people walking by of course). I was also curious about the red light district and hesitated strolling there with our toddler, but it was not seedy at all.

All kids in the US are taught about the dangers of marijuana (the "gateway drug") and our society holds a very negative view of prostitution. I'm not necessarily advocating them, but perhaps we were all misinformed. Amsterdam is in fact one of the safest cities in the world. The legalization of marijuana and prostitution actually creates more regulations for activities that would otherwise go unchecked.

One of our final and most memorable activities in Amsterdam was touring the Anne Frank House. We all read The Diary of Anne Frank in grammar school, but to see the home is a completely different experience. Anne Frank and her family hid in these tiny, dark rooms for two years during the Nazi occupation. Anne's newspaper and magazine clippings on the walls showed a girl who daydreamed of the outside world. Seeing Anne and her sister's heights marked on the wall brought to life the length of their imprisonment in that house. At the end of the tour, we were all brought to tears. I never imagined that it could be such an emotional experience, but perhaps being a parent now, I could never imagine any child living in a world filled with fear, hopelessness and hunger. I walked away feeling grateful for everything we had but also feeling extremely sad that these injustices are still happening in the world today.

Amsterdam was a beautiful experience. Two months wouldn't have been too long a stay after all, but Prague was calling so off we went!