One of the questions frequently I get asked is "How many countries have you been to?" I never can remember them all and by the time I figure it out, nobody cares any more! So, as a way to save time and maintain interest in future conversations, I'll document the countries I've been to here:
The first time I left the country was to go to Vancouver, British Columbia (CANADA) for the 1987 World Expo. I remember having a really good time. I was given a little tiny "passport" in which I could go to the different pavillions and get a stamp from that country. I wanted to collect them all but my dad had swollen feet (from a sunburn the day before) and couldn't do a lot of walking, so I had to be selective!
In university, my brother convinced to go with him to Oaxaca (MEXICO) for a language study and also to see some of the country. We got to visit the town he was an exchange student in and see many ruins. Amazing! Except for getting violently ill. Damn that Montezuma and his revenge!
Of course five years ago my life changed by accepting a job in Seoul (SOUTH KOREA). A month later, 9/11 happened. Despite warnings, two coworkers and I went to Thailand a month later and had a fabulous time! My trips to Guam and Saipan were also relaxing but also "safe" places to go since they really are part of the US and not separate countries.
I took an amazing trip to London (UNITED KINGDOM) where I saw many theatre productions as well as tourist sites and Winsor Castle. The highlight would be a private tour of Westminister to see House of Lords and House of Commons.
After that I went to Sabah (MALAYSIA) to climb a mountain and go snorkling. That was a really great trip! That summer, after a visit to Kansas, I convinced my cousin to follow me back to Korea and squeeze in a trip to Bejiing (CHINA). I will never forget climbing the Great Wall!
I spent my next birthday visiting my friend Doug in Tokyo (JAPAN) and later went with John
to check out HONG KONG and MACAU- a place I would love to return to!
My friend Mandy and I went to Sarawak (MALAYSIA) to tour the rainforest! That was a great trip! My three week road trip in AUSTRALIA could have been much more enjoyable but I saw many things and was especially happy when I was in Sydney at Gregory's house. That was probably the most miserable Christmas in memory.
I attended an ESL conference in Jakarta (INDONESIA) and then that summer did a fabulous 'round the world trip that took me to see Mohamed (our exchange student in Kansas) in Dubai (UAE), my coworker Ruth in Cairo (EGYPT) and my friend Matt in Istanbul/Ankara (TURKEY). Highlights of that trip were of course the pyramids, Hagia Sophia and Capadokia.
My best friend at SFS and I jumped at a chance to spend the weekend hiking up Mount Gumgang (NORTH KOREA). I felt really honored to be one of the few people to be allowed to visit this country, so close to South Korea and yet so far away!
My partner and I took a trip to Manila and Cebu (PHILLIPINES) which made for a very special Christmas memory (although tainted by the horrible loss of life due to the tsunami). We took another trip together back to Sydney (AUSTRALIA). Despite visa problems, I got to see a lot more of the city and we made enjoyable road trips to Canberra and the Blue Mountains.
Looking over the list of 17 countries I've been to, it somehow seems fitting that most recently I returned again to Vancouver, the first place I started my adventures. Highlights there included a mountain, a bridge, two beaches, two parks and lots of laughs with family and friends.
Is this Vancouver trip a bookend or merely a comma for my further adventures? Only time can tell!