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How to Eradicate the Growing Divisiveness in America

How to Eradicate Divisiveness in America - Adam's Apple: The World

If you’re like me, you are watching the chaos and cataclysmic events happening across America with great sadness.

I have watched bad police officers use excessive force to kill subdued suspects, such as George Floyd. And I have seen good police officers, such as David Dorn, murdered because of a growing hatred of the police force by society.

I stand by and watch two corrupt, out-of-touch political parties further the divide in America. Each side now views the other as the enemy.

Meanwhile, as an independent, I am here in the middle wondering how we got to this point.

Is it so hard to love one another?

How do we eradicate the growing divisiveness in America? Since the lobbyists and corrupt lifetime politicians have no interest in doing so, how about you and I figure this out together?

In the Current Crisis, Who Is to Blame?

I read all of the toxic Twitter comments. One side places all of the blame on the suspect for not complying, while the other looks at the police force as cruel and looking for reasons to kill.

In reality, as in most aspects of life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

A Bad Apple Ruins the Bunch

There is no room for “bad apples” in certain job fields, including police service, surgeons, etc. In America, we must get better at weeding out the bad ones from the start.

If you see something, say something.

Whether this means additional personality exams or ongoing sensitivity training, I don’t know. Whatever the case may be, the current situation is not good enough.

With that said, I believe most officers of the law are not starting their day thinking, “who can I kill today?” I have friends, like Daniel, who are not only great cops but amazing human beings. I can see why they would feel frustrated of being lumped in and hated because of their chosen profession.

While you’re fighting for justice, just remember not to throw disrespect at an officer you see at the store, restaurant, or game because of the experiences you’ve had or read about. The ones you’re insulting may actually be part of the solution; alienating them won’t solve the problems or help the future state of this country.

Stop Fighting Law Enforcement

I can’t say this simply enough. When stopped by a police officer, whether it be for speeding or a serious crime, being respectful and promptly complying with their orders will make the situation go as well as it could.

If you have committed a crime, then you have to face the consequences for your actions. If you disagree with your arrest or citation, you will have your chance to lawyer up and fight this battle in court.

I don’t know any situations in which trying to fight law enforcement turns out well. Even if you manage to escape, a warrant will be put out for your arrest, and you will be caught sooner or later.

Shoot to Subdue, Not Kill

When possible, it’s important officers do everything in their power to end the situation without anyone getting seriously injured or killed.

I understand there are certain moments where this is not possible. I also understand the unpredictable nature of this line of work, and I take my hat off for all those who serve honorably.

However, there must be a level of restraint. If the altercation reaches the point where a gun must be used, unless your life or another’s is in imminent serious danger, attempt to target in a way to knock them off their feet.

Then, you can cuff the suspect and escort the individual to jail where they will be processed and ultimately face their day in court. Once subdued, do not take your anger and frustration out on them no matter how much of a pain in the ass they have been. Once they are secured, it’s your job to get them to the holding facility safely.

I know this is a job I couldn’t handle or be brave enough to take on, but for those who are, it’s important the mindset is trained long before an altercation ever takes place. So when those split-second decisions come at you, your mind is already naturally reacting based on how you have been trained.

Perhaps the current training system is inadequate; I don’t have firsthand knowledge on that, but it feels like something that needs to be revisited.

Regardless, society needs a strong and stable police force that is fair to everyone. Law enforcement and society need to be cohesive, not at each other’s throats. There needs to be respect shown both ways.

How Do We Improve and Reunite as One?

Follow the Golden Rule

How we bring America back together is no doubt a gray area, and the way forward is not crystal clear. I believe it all starts with showing love and respect to your brothers and sisters.

When you treat others how you’d like to be treated, more often than not, you can overcome any political disagreements.

Interacting With Different Backgrounds Through Travel, Sports, and College

Eliminating Divisiveness Through Sports

Interacting Through Sports - Adam's Apple: The World

I’m thankful to have had exposure at a young age to people from different backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and countries.

At the age of 5, I met a kid by the name of Chris, and he just so happened to be black; we bonded over our love for the game of basketball. We became the best of friends and remain so to this very day; I’ve got nothing but love for him, and I’ll always proudly stand by and listen to his concerns.

He is just one example of many of how sports can help bridge the gap in today’s society.

Eliminating Divisiveness Through Your College or University

Perhaps you grew up in a small town where there isn’t as much diversity. That’s okay.

If you decide to branch off and start higher education at a college or university of your choosing, there will be plenty of chances to meet people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

This is perhaps the perfect time to start learning more about other cultures from the people you meet. I also highly recommend adding Global Studies as a second major like I did; your classes in this program are virtually guaranteed to be the most diverse.

In addition, it can open doors to more study abroad and exchange student programs. You may eventually find yourself teaching English overseas as well.

Eliminating Divisiveness Through Travel

How to Eradicate Divisiveness in America - Adam's Apple:The World

Saving arguably the most important way of getting rid of the divisiveness in America for last, travel will open your eyes to how the world truly is. The media is filled with half-truths and sensationalism as those are what drive clicks and views.

Go and see the world with your own two eyes. Anyone from even the smallest of towns can help change the world. A simple act of kindness can go a long way.

Reality vs Perception

Upon connecting with others around the world, you will realize how foolish you were to ever pay attention to the propaganda spewed through your TV.

I am speaking from personal experience on this as I wasn’t always the independent I am now; for those curious, I used to consider myself a Republican.

Travel helped me see things clearer, opened my mind, and erased the political stubbornness I once held; it can do the same for you.

Political Toxicity

Despite disliking the corrupt political system and disagreeing on many issues, I used to give the typical talking points from Fox News. I have always found America’s obsession with guns to be strange and unnecessary. In addition, our lack of first-class public transportation in America is a sad joke when you compare to much of the world, such as Europe or especially Asia.

However, I used to dare not speak on these as I viewed it as Republicans vs Democrats, and these are unpopular viewpoints in the Republican party.

And I say all of this not to just pick on people on the right side of the aisle; the left-wing and its media, such as CNN and MSNBC, do the exact same thing.

As a country, we need to start fact-checking articles and videos we come across before sharing; confirmation bias is a dangerous thing. Blindly sharing articles on social media because it fits your agenda adds no value.

Also, we must stop taking what the mainstream media tells us as gospel. What is their agenda? Who is their target audience? Who are their sponsors?

And most importantly, we need to start thinking for ourselves. Don’t just hash out repetitive talking points; make an effort to be informed and make a rational decision for yourself, regardless of how popular it may or may not be.

We have too many politicians in America these days and not nearly enough critical thinkers. From top-to-bottom, we can all do better.

Difference in Religion

I am a Christian, yet some will have you believe that we are incapable of being friends with people of different beliefs. Last time I checked, God said to love everyone; there were no conditions attached to that.

And regardless of what belief system, if any, you hold, the concept of treating each other with love and respect applies to everyone.

At the end of the day, though we may come from different countries and speak different languages, we all share this earth together.

Once you come to this realization and stop looking at each other as the enemy, we can begin to break down those barriers one friendship at a time.

How to Eradicate Divisiveness in America - Adam's Apple: The World

What Are Your Thoughts?

No matter your background, race, ethnicity, or gender, your voice matters here. Whether you agree or disagree with my point-of-view, I respect your opinion and will always take others’ thoughts into consideration. I give you this platform to speak from your perspective. All I ask is that you be respectful. Together, maybe we can come one step closer to eradicating divisiveness in America. A united America is a stronger America.

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each & every one of them and responding. If you want to know something, ask away! Do not hesitate to contact us if you need anything at all or would like to chat! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling (safely)!

So, My Lovely, Crazy Cat Brought a Bat Inside Our Home

Last updated on August 25th, 2020

Our Cat, Domino, Brought a Bat Inside Our Apartment

Just a Normal Evening at Home, or so We Thought

What seemed like a normal evening turned into mayhem thanks to our cat, Domino bringing a bat inside our home.

He spent a few hours out on our screened-in balcony, which was quite normal for him. After waking up from a short, unscheduled nap, I went to let him in.

Due to my grogginess, I didnt notice he was carrying something in his mouth.

As Mora walked into the roomed, she shrieked, “What’s that in Domino’s mouth!”

Perplexed, I turned to look at him and saw he was holding what appeared to be a large, dark object in his mouth. Then, he dropped it next to his blanket to come greet us.

We were several feet away, so we could not exactly see what it was. However, when Domino walked toward us, he seemed to be strutting proudly as if he had accomplished some major feat.

Discovering the Object Inside Our Home Was Actually a Bat!

Cat Watching From Afar

Mora exclaimed, “Is that a bat!” This was my first instinct too. As I walked closer to it, I was able to confirm Mora’s fear. Needless to say, she was less than thrilled to have a bat inside our home in the living room, much to Domino’s confusion.

I tried to calm Mora down by asking her to take Domino into the bedroom. The bat seemed to be near death as it had barely moved once Domino dropped him on the floor near the blanket.

I turned my head for just a brief moment. When I turned around, I saw the bat walking pretty swiftly across the floor. This of course freaked Mora out even more; I wasn’t too thrilled about it, either (lol).

While Mora stood far away near the bathroom, I stood just a few short feet away from the bat and watched as it started to climb Domino’s beloved scratch pad tower. After reaching the top, the bat decided to rest.

How I Removed the Bat From Inside Our Home

I knew I needed to grab the bat somehow and take it outside. However, considering the Covid-19 pandemic allegedly started from a bat, I was not wanting to risk being bitten.

So, as always, I improvised.

I grabbed the only thing I could find: a long pair of tongs.

While Mora was still freaked out about the bat, she still did not miss this moment to laugh her ass off at my expense.

A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.

I slowly crept towards the bat. Finally, I lunged the tongs toward it and clasped it firmly but not too hard.

The bat did not put up a struggle as I took it outside.

Batman Returns: Again?

Our Cat, Domino, Brought a Bat Inside Our Apartment

After giving myself a well-deserved pat on the back, the bat problem was vanquished. Or so we thought.

As I was putting the trash out, I noticed something dark down the hall.

The bat had crawled its way to one of my neighbors’ doors and burrowed itself in the corner.

I never saw the bat again after that, so I’m guessing it finally left the immediate area.

Did the Bat Bite Our Cat?

Cat Lying in Bed

Mora and I were a bit worried about Domino being in such close contact with the bat. Thankfully, Domino showed no signs of being bitten by the bat. However, to be safe, we are going to take him to the vet for a checkup. Bats carry many diseases, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

Also, I trashed the pair of tongs I used to carry the bat. Mora can make jokes all she wants, but I got the job done (lol).

Anyways, we clearly need to work with our inept apartment office; the screened-in aspect of the balcony only works when there aren’t dozens of tears in it.

Have You Ever Had a Bat Inside Your Home?

If you have ever had a bat inside your home, Mora and I would love to hear your story! Or perhaps you have had a bat fly inside your car, like my brother; that would absolutely freak me out. Regardless of your encounter, tell us about it!

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each & every one of them and responding. If you want to know something, ask away! Do not hesitate to contact us if you need anything at all or would like to chat! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling (safely)!

Teaching English in Taiwan for FREE: A Comprehensive Guide

Last updated on August 22nd, 2020

Taipei 101 - Living in Taiwan as an Expat English Teacher - Adam's Apple: The World

Teaching English in Taiwan: Background

Can You Teach English With Glossophobia?

Teaching English in Taiwan is one of the best things I’ve ever done.

After living in Taiwan as an exchange student for a year, I fell in love with this beautiful island and set about finding a way to return. Teaching English will allow you to live and work in Taiwan, immerse yourself in the local culture, and even save money as you do so. I was sold on the idea, and despite dealing with a crippling fear of public speaking, landed myself a teaching job, and set off for Taiwan.

Yes, even with a fear of public speaking.

That just proves that if I can do it, anyone can.

The entire experience changed my life, helped me overcome my fear of public speaking, and showed me that nothing is impossible. In addition, it taught me different ways of thinking, made me a more well-rounded person, and gave me confidence I never had before.

If it wasn’t for my initial study abroad to Taiwan, I might have never conquered my fears; this is one of the many reasons I highly recommend studying abroad, the sooner the better.

This guide is going to cover absolutely everything you could possibly need to know about finding a teaching job, moving to Taiwan, and what life is like in this wonderful country.

Why You Should Teach English in Taiwan

The Convenient Taiwanese Lifestyle

In addition, I severely missed the lifestyle in Taiwan. It’s hard to put into words how convenient and laid-back the culture is, but I’ll do my best.

Waking up on any given day off from work or school gives you the freedom to do whatever you want on the entire island; public transportation makes day trips very manageable. Unlike the U.S., if you do not own a vehicle, you will be perfectly fine; while it’s easy to rent or buy a scooter in Taiwan, it really isn’t a necessity.

Many convenience stores, restaurants, bakeries, shops, parks, and grocery stores are located within walking distance; because of the emphasis on convenience and public transportation, it is super easy to get plenty of exercise each day. As a result, the vast majority of Taiwanese and expats living in Taiwan teaching English are really healthy.

Most people focus on culture shock and the difficulties of immersing yourself in a given society. However, for me, it was the complete opposite; reverse culture shock is what I struggled to cope with and still struggle with to this day.

Historical and Natural Beauty

YuanZui Mountain - Living in Taiwan as an Expat English Teacher - Adam's Apple: The World

Between all of the historical buildings and museums and breathtaking natural landmarks, you will never have an excuse to be bored in this beautiful country. For the active adventurer, there is an endless amount of mountains and hiking trails waiting for you to explore!

Affordability

Though I know some will dispute this, Taiwan is one of the cheapest countries in the world, if you know where to go. If you are a budget travel, Taipei is not the place to live! This is a mistake I see expats make all the time.

I absolutely adore Taipei and think it compares favorably with many large cities in terms of affordability, things to do, and entertainment; in addition, the city’s expansive MRT subway system is second-to-none!

However, if you compare it to the rest of the island, your New Taiwanese Dollar (NTD or NT$) will go a lot further if you search elsewhere. I can promise you there’s plenty of things to do, beautiful sites, delicious food, convenient living, and wonderful people outside of Taipei.

Job Security as an English Teacher

With Taiwan looking to possibly have English officially become a 2nd language by the year 2030, there is a constant need for educated native English speakers. Because of this, there are always vacant job opportunities for English teachers in Taiwan. If you feel disappointed in the school you originally chose to work for, it is not difficult to find another job teaching English. If you signed a non-compete agreement, then you should wait until that expires.

Over time, you will make many contacts with fellow English teachers who have a wide array of experience at different schools in different cities throughout Taiwan. It is crucial you make these connections a priority. In any career, networking is one of THE most important tools at your disposal. Even better, networking as an expat often involves beer (or whiskey, if you prefer).

My Many Loved Ones Living in Taiwan

Adam and Mora inTaiwan - Adam's Apple: The World

I chose to move back to Taiwan to be closer to my girlfriend at the time (and now wife of 4+ years), Mora. Also, most of my best friends I met the previous 2 years lived in Taiwan, which added another great incentive; these wonderful people are one of the many reasons I return to Taiwan over and over again.

One thing you’ll instantly notice in Taiwan is how easy it is to make friends. Taiwanese are some of the friendliest people in the entire world; in addition, you’ll meet many people from all throughout Asia.

I’ve honestly made more friends in my time in Taiwan than the rest of the world combined. No, this is not an exaggeration.

The 5 Best Cities for Teaching English in Taiwan

1. Taipei

Taipei 101 - Living in Taiwan as an Expat English Teacher - Adam'sApple: The World

As mentioned before, if you are a budget traveler, you should really consider the other cities I have listed down below.

With that said, if you have the means and understand going into the situation that Taipei brings a heavier cost burden compared to the rest of Taiwan, you will absolutely love this city! From the entertainment, mountains, shops, restaurants, and arguably the best MRT subway system in the world, Taipei has it all!

Although the younger generations generally know English throughout the island, it is emphasized even more in Taipei as it’s an international business city. Because of this, many restaurant workers will understand you if you order in English, and you will see English written on many signs and menus throughout Taipei. Even without knowing a word of Chinese, you are unlikely to run into any difficulty; with that said, learn the language. You didn’t come all this way to not fully immerse yourself in the local culture.

2. Taichung

Taichung Station - Living in Taiwan as an Expat English Teacher - Adam'sApple: The World

Centrally located in Taiwan, Taichung is perhaps the best place for people looking to frequently daytrip throughout the island. I have considered moving here in the past for this very reason.

In addition, Taichung is home to some breathtakingly beautiful mountains and hiking trails, which are perfect for avid explorers but not too difficult for people just starting out. Taichung has always been a vastly underrated city.

3. Tainan

Shennong Street - Tainan, Taiwan - Adam's Apple: The World

Quite possibly my favorite city in Taiwan, Tainan is such a magical, peaceful place that transports you back in time. The feeling I have when going through all of the old streets reminds me of my visit to Rome and seeing all of the ancient roads and buildings. There are many historical buildings in Tainan that I highly recommend visiting.

Some of the best food in all of Taiwan can be found in Tainan: milkfish, beef soup, braised pork over rice, and the best lu wei in the world, just to name a few.

I absolutely adore Kyoto, Japan, and there’s a very valid reason why Tainan has become known as the Kyoto of Taiwan.

4. Kaohsiung

Dome of Light - Kaohsiung - Adam's Apple: The World

The friendliest place in all of Taiwan (and quite possibly the world), Kaohsiung is known for their warm people and weather. Located in southern Taiwan a little ways below Tainan, there are few hotter places on the island, so please keep this in mind.

While there is plenty to see and do, and the seafood is tasty, the main drawback I have with Kaohsiung is the severe lack of nightlife. You can find a few options, but compared to the other big cities in Taiwan, there is a noticeable gap. If this is high up on your ranking criteria, you might want to pick another city.

5. Zhongli

Best Friends in Zhongli - Adam's Apple: The World

Zhongli will never be mistaken for any of those other cities on this list in terms of size and popularity. However, it will forever be my home away from home. Many of my friends in Taiwan live in the area, and my wife’s family lives nearby in Daxi.

Outside of the charm and homeyness I feel when I’m in Zhongli, I also believe it is a great option for someone wanting a more authentic, traditional experience in Taiwan. Also, with there being substantially fewer westerners living in Zhongli, that means less competition for you and more incentive for the company to hire you.

What are the Different Types of Schools Where You Can Teach English in Taiwan?

Cram Schools (Buxiban)

Chances are, if you are on this page, you are looking to dip your toes in the water for the first time as a beginner English Teacher in Taiwan. If so, you’ve come to the right place.

When starting out as a teacher in Taiwan, unless you have advanced degrees and/or a teaching license, your options will be more limited than a seasoned veteran.

Your workload and class size will vary, but my hours and most class sizes were in the mid-20s. It is important you adequately research any company before agreeing to go work for them. Ask around, and you’ll find plenty of horror stories out there, so just be careful. There are good cram schools out there, though.

What Is Your Weekly Routine?

Lesson Plans

Every week, when I taught English, I would begin by creating detailed lesson plans for my older classes and more outlined ones for my younger-to-medium-aged classes. Keep in mind that hours utilized for lesson plans are unpaid.

Younger Classes

For the younger classes, all I really needed to do to prepare is determine what few games to integrate into the day’s lesson.

All but 1 of my younger classes were fantastic. Most of the students were enthusiastic and cheerful, and despite being a little out of control at times, their joy was infectious. There is always the one class that you cannot seem to get under control no matter what you do, though. Having an effective co-teacher really helps here.

Older Classes

You might be asking yourself why I would need to be more detailed for one set of classes vs the others. The reason I did this is because I found the older classes much more challenging, personally. However, they were also the most interesting and engaging from an intellectual perspective. By this point, you can have complete conversations with your students on virtually any world topic including sports, music, politics, etc.

I had to come up with unique ways to hold their attention and interest as I knew their level was already pretty fluent. In addition, the older they get, the less they enjoy games to go along with the lesson.

A couple of very effective segments I came up with were teaching slang words and phrases and playing a popular song and having everyone write down the lyrics as it played to the best of their ability.

Many kids are there because they are forced by their parents in order to ensure exams are passed. However, I felt these exercises would help their fluency level in being able to understand other aspects of the English language. I think my students appreciated that as they were always highly engaged with this material.

Taiwanese Co-Teachers

For each class assigned, there is a Taiwanese co-teacher also assigned to help students with Chinese-English translations and other class needs. Most of my co-teachers were really great and helpful, and I learned quite a lot from them.

Salary

By far the most common hourly salary for cram schools is 600 NT$ ($20 USD). I made slightly higher than this at 660 NT$ ($22 USD), but it normally doesn’t veer too far off from the average.

Public High Schools

At public high schools, you will generally teach for fewer hours than you would at a cram school. However, the downside is you still must be physically present at the school for the hours assigned by the school. This can be a bit inconvenient for those wishing to leave behind a life filled with daily 9-5s.

Salary

You can generally make a little bit of extra money at public schools; this is especially true when considering added benefits such as the annual bonus coming at the end of the contract. However, some cram schools also offer this, so be sure to check the details.

American or UK Curriculum Schools

The schools that by far pay the best are ones which teach an American or UK curriculum. Unfortunately for you, this is a widely known fact among expats teaching English in Taiwan; you must bring something to the table that sets you apart. Otherwise, it’s best to build up your experience and qualifications.

Fair warning that you can expect to work a lot more hours in this type of school compared to a cram school.

Salary

You can expect to more than triple the typical cram school English teacher salary if you are fortunate enough to land a position with one of these well-respected establishments.

Universities

Getting a teaching gig at a university in Taiwan is not easy; it requires at least a master’s degree and possibly a PhD. Even if you have the necessary qualifications, the field is highly competitive.

However, it is far from impossible. I have multiple friends who teach at the university I attended as an exchange student.

Salary

Salary will differ by area, but it can actually be less than what you make at a cram school. It depends on the amount of hours you teach each week.

How to Get Free Airfare and Housing When Teaching English in Taiwan

Use the English School Competition to Your Advantage

The schools in Taiwan are generally really competitive with each other. They want the best and brightest to teach at their school; the better their education is, the more money parents will spend to send their kids to that particular school.

Impress the Interviewer

As a result, if you impress the interviewer, you may get some added benefits to go along with your salary. It definitely helps if you have strong grades to go along with your bachelor’s degree. You can better your chances even more with a master’s degree and/or PhD. (Full disclosure: although I have a CPA license and master’s of accountancy degree now, at the time, I only had my 2 bachelor’s degrees in accounting and global studies.)

Inquire About Free Housing and Airfare

Some schools will showcase free benefits in order to entice teachers to join them over their competition. Others may do so after speaking to you and determining they need to seal the deal. And there are others who won’t add free airfare and housing unless you specifically ask for it; they may talk it over with other managers, but again, if they feel you have great potential, you have a good shot at lowering your expenses!

If you are unsuccessful at landing free airfare and/or housing, I recommend using Travelocity to book your flight and hotel until you find a nice, affordable apartment to rent. You should also cover yourselves with travel insurance via Travelex; you never know when an emergency will arise. To become a permanent resident, you will need an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC), which you can read about from the Taiwanese government’s website. Once you have your ARC in Taiwan, you can be covered under national health insurance, which is one of the best in the entire world.

My Interview With Gloria English School in Pingzhen, Taiwan

For example, when I had a Skype interview with Gloria English School, I was offered a job right on-the-spot. The interview was quick and easy, and I honestly didn’t have to put much of an effort at all to get the extra perks. They offered to pay for my flight from Nashville, TN to Taipei, Taiwan. In addition, they gave me free housing for 1 year in Pingzhen, a district in the city of Zhongli; this city is about an hour south of Taipei.

What Were My Salary and Benefits While Teaching English in Taiwan?

So, outside of preparing for my move back to Taiwan, it cost me a whopping $0 to fly to Taiwan and live. All I needed to do was pay for food, utilities, and whatever my heart desired when traveling through Taiwan. When I was comparing my options, this seemed like a no-brainer to me. If you take my hourly salary of 660 NT$ ($22 USD) and extrapolate it over 100 teaching hours in a month, that makes 66,000 NT$ ($2,200 USD). When added to free rent, which is roughly 7-12,000 NT$ ($233-400 USD), you’re up to a salary of potentially $2,600 USD per month.

If you’re comparing this to salaries in the U.S., I know that doesn’t sound like much. But you have to take into account how affordable Taiwan is. Unless you are splurging at fancy restaurants, high-end clubs, and taking a High Speed Rail (HSR) every other day, it is easy to get by on this salary. And this is coming from someone who did occasionally eat at expensive restaurants like Din Tai Fung, party at popular places like Club Myst, and take the fast and convenient HSR from Taoyuan station down towards the bottom of the island in Tainan.

How to Choose a Great School to Teach English

Job Sites

There are different job sites in Taiwan, similar to what we have in America. One site I’ve had luck with that I recommend trying is called 104.

Facebook Groups

In addition, be sure to join several Facebook groups related to English teacher job postings in Taiwan. My favorite Facebook group related to this is Taiwan English Teacher Job Openings (ELT Search).

Reviews and Word of Mouth

Before accepting any job, you should do your due diligence and research the company. If the school is reputable, there should be plenty of reviews to help set your expectations and determine if it’s the right fit. Also, the expat community in Taiwan is a pretty tightknit group; fellow English teachers are generally always open to passing on knowledge they learn.

What Is It Like Sharing a Dorm With Other English Teachers?

Expat English Teachers Living in Taiwan - Adam's Apple: The World

Dorm Private Room

If you happen to get free room-and-board, you’re probably going to get your own private room in a dorm with other native English speakers. It will sometimes be located on the higher floors of one of the teaching locations.

In my experience, when I first arrived at the dorm, I took over the room that was recently vacated; it was one of the smaller rooms but fine for just me.

However, I lucked out soon after as a long-tenured teacher, Mandy, moved out of one of the most sought-after rooms. She was nice enough to offer it to me (win!). Not only was it spacious, but it came with a super comfortable queen-sized bed.

Experience of Living With Other Expats Teaching English in Taiwan

Right off the bat, I met a teacher sitting on the couch in the living room by the name of Dimitri; he was from Niagara Falls, Canada and is an all-around nice guy. He did his best to make me feel welcome. In addition, I met 2 other new teachers from America like me: Jordan and Neil. Since these 3 guys were living on the same floor as me, we naturally hung out and talked pretty often. However, guys like Brian, Danny, Chase, and Ari would hang out with us as well.

Other teachers at Gloria who weren’t living at the dorm would sometimes come by to hang out; there was definitely a community vibe, and I became close with many of them, some of which are still living and teaching in Taiwan or other parts of Asia.

When teaching English in Taiwan, Once Class Ends, the Fun Begins

As what became a ritual multiple days per week, many of the English teachers would get together after classes ended. Since we all lived in the same place, it was really convenient to have a fun night out on the town together. Sometimes, we would even just go to the local park within a 5-minute walk.

Suffice it to say, much scotch and beer was consumed over our nights of camaraderie. There was even one night where Brian and I drank until 6 am and practiced tai chi, a relaxing meditation stretching exercise, with a lot of Taiwanese grandmas. But that’s a story for another day.

Typhoon Parties as an English Teacher Living in Taiwan

Scary

Typhoons can be scary if you’re living on the Eastern side of Taiwan, or if you’re stupid like when Mora and I tried to drive through a category 5 typhoon.

Not so Scary

With that said, all of my other experiences with typhoons have actually been fun. We had some fun and memorable typhoon parties back at the dorm near CYCU when I was an exchange student. However, the ones we had at the English teacher dorm were just insane.

Typhoon Party Preparations

To prepare, we would buy many boxes of pizza from Pizza Hut (about a 10-15-minute walk), wings, rotisserie chickens, and other meat to cook from Costco, and a huge stockpile of beer, whiskey, rum, tequila; you name it, we probably had it.

We all contributed and bought so much because it was like a big event for us. Classes were cancelled, so everyone was in a great mood. Dozens of people came over to party with us, and it was just an all-around awesome time.

During the Storm

While the typhoon was howling and raging outside, some were enjoying delicious meat cooked to perfection on the portable grill we had on the balcony. Others were drinking on both of the floors allocated to the expats teaching English in Taiwan at Gloria. Some were even on the rooftop drinking; this brings a new meaning to whiskey water. However, by this point, I’m pretty sure no one could tell their drinks were watered down.

Typhoon parties were always a lot of fun, but there are 3 dumb moments I’d like to highlight down below to complete my embarrassment for today.

Dumb Moment

During one of our large typhoon party get-togethers, I remember rushing to my room to get my phone. As I rushed back out, I didn’t notice the giant pool of water that had come inside; apparently, someone had left the outer door open in the laundry room. I had one of the biggest wipeouts you’ll ever see and landed hard on my lower right leg. It was bruised and hurting for like the next month.

Dumber Moment

Surprisingly, we went through our entire inventory of alcohol. So, a couple of us dumb souls walked casually and calmly through the middle of the storm to 7-Eleven. Outside of the wind blowing us around and raindrops feeling like needles, it wasn’t too bad.

Dumbest Moment

After the storm had mostly gone away and many of our guests had left, a handful of us made a foolish decision. We decided to climb the giant ladder to the second rooftop way up high. This was obviously not one of our brightest moments; we had just a tad bit too much Johnnie Walker, I’d say (just a smidge).

Are You Interested in Teaching English in Taiwan?

Mora in Tainan, Taiwan - Adam's Apple: The World

If so, it’s not as hard as you think to make the leap. For me, teaching English in Taiwan was as simple as applying, having a quick and easy Skype call with the school, filling out legal paperwork, making sure my passport was not in need of renewal, and booking my paid-for flight. I’d love to hear any of your thoughts in the comments section down below.

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each & every one of them and responding. If you want to know something, ask away! Do not hesitate to contact us if you need anything at all or would like to chat! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling (safely)!

Disclosure: Please note that one or more of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and companies I use, and the income goes to keeping the site community supported.

BEST All You Can Eat Korean BBQ in Tampa Bay: Matjoa Review

Last updated on July 31st, 2020

Matjoa: Best All You Can Eat Korean BBQ in Tampa Bay

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Mora & I recently bought a Korean BBQ grill. The Korean BBQ at home experience was better than we could have possibly hoped for; we recommend you do the same to satisfy your cravings! With that said, once it is safe to do so, we’ll be barging into Matjoa (during their normal operating hours of course; we’re not animals), the best all you can eat Korean BBQ restaurant in all of Tampa Bay!

Introduction to Korean BBQ

If this is your first time learning about Korean food, then welcome to the wonderful world of Korean BBQ! I can personally guarantee you will love it if you have at least 1 of the following: a love of meat, a love of great food, or taste buds.

When dining at a Korean restaurant that happens to serve the famed Korean BBQ, one thing you should know is the cooking is done right at your table; depending on the restaurant, you may or may not be the one doing the cooking. I personally enjoy doing it myself as I can control how long the meat cooks. If you’re new to this, just keep an open mind and give it a shot.

Also, in case you aren’t aware, when 1 member of your party orders the all you can eat (AYCE) version of Korean BBQ, the rest of your table does as well. This is a common safeguard to prevent people from taking advantage of the system by sharing.

How to Cook Korean BBQ

Mora Enjoying Amazing Korean Food at a Local Korean Restaurant

Typically, the grills run on gas and are placed in the middle. However, at Matjoa, they are placed on the side of the table.

Once you make a choice on which option to get, the server will bring your drinks and Korean banchan (side dishes). We always choose the option with all of the meat.

Cook Unmarinated Meats First!

As a rule of thumb, you want to always cook the unmarinated meats first before moving on to the marinated ones. If you do it the other way around, the marinade will burn onto the grill by the time your other meat is ready to cook. Sometimes, hunger calls and wins the day, but this is just a tip to keep in mind to make the most of your AYCE BBQ experience.

Thinly Sliced Brisket: The King of the Starter Meats

At most Korean restaurants, you can choose 3 types of meat at a time. The very first meat I always order is the beef brisket; for those of you thinking about southern BBQ, it doesn’t taste the same or have the same texture. Being from Tennessee, I know a thing or two about how that type of brisket is cooked and falls apart out of the smoker.

The brisket used in Korean BBQ is super thinly sliced; the way you know it’s going to be amazing is if you can see all of the marbling from the fat. As soon as that sucker touches the grill, your mouth instantly begins to water.

With thinly sliced meat such as brisket, you want to make sure you are turning it over pretty quickly. Some like theirs a little less done, while others like a bit of char. While I prefer my steaks in the medium-rare to Medium range, I do enjoy a bit of char on my brisket.

Some salt, pepper, and perhaps a bit of sesame oil is all you really need for your cooked brisket; the taste is complete perfection. I also enjoy placing some in a lettuce wrap.

Is It Really All You Can Eat?

Yes, for the options labeled all you can eat, you can keep the orders of 3 additional meats coming until you have been vanquished by the devastating food mountain that catches us all. Mora & I never make it past round 3. We always tell ourselves, “next time!”

What is Korean Banchan (Side Dishes)?

Bibimbap & Banchan (Korean Side Dishes)

Korean banchan, aka Korean side dishes, are what come with your AYCE Korean BBQ experience. The exact dishes will vary place-to-place, but you typically see kimchi, a steamed egg, onions, bean sprouts, radishes, cucumber salad, green veggies, and lettuce wraps. Matjoa even includes cheese corn! I mean, it’s hard to go wrong with cheese on anything.

Thes banchan are perfect complements to all of the different types of meat you’ll be eating. You certainly need something to soak up all of the grease & fat; Mora can attest to the fact that I’m far from a veggie lover, but they do a great job here. In particular, the lettuce wraps, fish cakes, fresh garlic, kimchi, steamed egg, and fresh jalapenos are typically used up pretty quickly.

How to Make Soju Bombs!

Soju Bomb

Have you ever heard of the drink combination known around the world as soju bombs? No? Well, you can’t have the best all you can eat Korean BBQ without having either soju or soju bombs (or both; we prefer both).

A soju bomb combines beer with soju; how strong you want the drink is entirely up to you! I myself have been known to be a bit of a heavy pour, so I apologize in advance if we ever go here together in the future. Or should I say you’re welcome?

Pro tip for women, courtesy of Mora: if you feel the original Jinro soju is too strong, you should go for the one labeled Fresh instead! It is lighter & easier to drink.

Mora & I have been absolutely hooked on this drink for the past few months. Soju bombs have such a clean, smooth, and refreshing taste, and we can’t get enough of them. We are sure you all will love them, too!

Review Time: What Makes Matjoa the Best All You Can Eat Korean BBQ Restaurant in Tampa Bay?

First of all, I’d like to preface my comments by saying this is not a sponsored post, I paid for the 2 meals Mora & I have had at Matjoa, and all opinions stated are our own. We just happen to love everything about this restaurant. And believe me; we take food very seriously in this household! I will always be honest with you guys on what we actually think of a restaurant, product, or service. I will never recommend something I dislike or have never used/tried before and loved.

Now then, on to the main question at hand: what makes Matjoa the best all you can eat Korean BBQ in Tampa Bay?

Not only are they the best in this area, but it surpasses every other Korean restaurant we have tried in the state of Florida so far. In terms of Asian restaurants, we rank Matjoa 2nd in the state, behind only Gyu-Kaku (in Orlando), a Japanese BBQ place that serves melt-in-your-mouth wagyu.

Meat Selection & Quality – 9.1

When compared to other all you can eat Korean BBQ restaurants Mora & I have tried in the US, the selection and quality at Matjoa easily reigns supreme. Let’s run through some of the major items; in addition, you can also check out a couple of pages of the menu above.

Brisket

This is by far my favorite cut of meat when it comes to Korean BBQ; to make things even better, the marbling & quality here are perfect!

Ribeye Steak

Ribeyes go hand-in-hand with the KBBQ experience. The fat melts right away and proves to be the perfect complement for your lettuce wrap. The quality of the steak is very noticeable.

LA Galbi

Bone-in Korean short ribs, otherwise known as LA galbi, are marinated ahead of time. While sometimes chewy around the bone, these provide tremendous flavor.

Beef Fillets

The beef fillets are another great way to get your beef fix. While this wasn’t our favorite choice offering, it was still really good. No complaints here.

Shrimp

For a change of pace, throw some shrimp on the barbie to get a little seafood action. Your taste buds will need a break from beef eventually.

Marinated Spicy Pork

The marinated spicy pork was really good. It’s easy to forget about this option with how much is available to choose from, but do your best to remember to order this one.

Teriyaki Chicken

We don’t get chicken too often at Japanese or Korean BBQ restaurants unless it’s fried, but we figured we might as well try it since it’s included. We were once again pleasantly surprised & impressed.

Pork Belly

Last but certainly not least, if you love pork belly, you’ll enjoy it even more in a Korean BBQ setting.

Banchan (Korean Side Dishes) Selection/Taste – 8.5

We thought their selection was very good, and everything tasted excellent & fresh. It even came with some miso soup, white rice, and cheese corn. However, I personally would have loved some small, crispy mandu to go along with the side dishes; I know this is a bit nit-picky and probably more of a personal preference, but I love those little dumplings. To be fair, they do offer this in their anju (appetizer) selection.

Soju Selection – 9.9

Mora, the Jinro Soju Model

First of all, Matjoa carries our favorite brand of soju: Jinro. Secondly, they offer our favorite flavor: grapefruit.

Just to give a little backstory, I typically am not a fan of grapefruit. However, when we were in Seoul one night eating chicken, we decided to order beer, Makgeolli (Korean rice wine, which Matjoa also carries), and soju; our waitress that night was super friendly and recommended we try the grapefruit soju as it’s her favorite. I am so glad I listened to her; this is one of the best, most refreshing drinks in the entire world. An absolute must-try!

In addition to grapefruit, they have original, fresh, strawberry, apple, and even make their own soju cocktails, which I think is pretty cool! Anytime I have AYCE Korean BBQ, I have to pair it with soju.

Authenticity – 9.6

Considering we just visited Seoul, South Korea last year, the way authentic Korean food is supposed to look, smell, & taste was still at the forefront of our minds. Everything about our experience at Matjoa satisfied our cravings for Korean food completely. The only problem was that the food was too good, so we crave it more often now (lol)! First world problems, am I right?

Service – 9.9

I have a personal standard against ever giving out a perfect 10 score for anything. I feel there is always room for improvement in every aspect of life, no matter how small. With that said, it is hard for me to see how the service could be better than what they have going on at Matjoa.

Two separate individuals waited on us for our 2 trips to Matjoa, and they were both phenomenal. They were attentive, kind, helpful, friendly, and generous. As a result, we couldn’t help but love this place even more.

Other Korean Food Not Named BBQ or Banchan – 9.2

While the Korean BBQ here is mouth-wateringly delicious, they have plenty of other options as well. Unfortunately, we haven’t had a chance to try them all just yet, but we have tried a few.

Korean Bulgogi Beef

Korean Bulgogi Beef

I feel like a broken record, but they make a great bulgogi beef here as well! Between the juicy, flavorful, marinated beef to the crunch from the green onions, you will enjoy every last bite of this bad boy.

Bibimbap

Bibimbap

I still remember the first time I ever had bibimbap. Believe it or not, it was actually on a plane through one of my ridiculously long flight itineraries to the other side of the world.

My first experience with bibimbap was surprisingly great; I was shocked considering the majority of food when flying in economy is mediocre at best. With this dish, you get succulent, tasty beef, crunchy, julienned vegetables, rice, seaweed, kimchi, and a whole lot of gochujiang spicy sauce. If that wasn’t enough, they even give you a poached egg on top.

Ttoekbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes)

Ttoekbokki & Banchan (Korean Side Dishes)

One of our absolute favorite Korean snacks ever is ttoekbokki. Basically, these are soft Korean rice cakes, which stew in a spicy red sauce for hours; this dish is normally served with fish cakes, vegetables, and a boiled egg. I usually am able to convince Mora to let us opt for the spicier version whenever we order this anywhere.

Korean Seafood Pancake

Korean Seafood Pancake

Korean seafood pancakes are really popular in Korea for both locals & foreigners alike! I remember walking through Gwangjang Market in Seoul and seeing these things sell like hotcakes.

Japchae (Korean Stir-Fried Glass Noodles)

Japchae, Korean Glass Noodle Stir Fry

Another one of Mora’s favorite Korean dishes is japchae. It comes with beef, noodles, and veggies all stir-fried together. The noodles used are dangmyeon, which are sweet potato starch noodles; these are more widely known as glass noodles.

KFC

Next up on our agenda is the real KFC; I’m talking about Korean Fried Chicken, of course. No offense to the Kentucky colonel, but his lieutenants have taken his chickens out to the pasture by this point.

Unfortunately, we haven’t had a chance to try this yet, but once we do, I’ll be sure to update this review accordingly.

Galbitang

Likewise, we haven’t been able to try their galbitang yet either. For those unaware, galbitang is a type of soup with thick Korean short ribs that have been braised, vegetables, and glass noodles; this was actually my first meal after arriving in South Korea, and I asked for the spicy version. It was so incredible. I can’t wait to try Matjoa’s rendition of it.

Overall – 9.3 (They Really Are the Best All You Can Eat Korean BBQ in Tampa Bay)

There is a reason why I chose Matjoa for one of my first reviews. The food is so damn good! Over the course of our 2 visits, Mora & I ate and drank our hearts away. Until finally, we had to slowly make our way out the door while battling the inevitable food coma.

9.3 is a monster score and will be extremely tough to beat when it comes to Korean food in America. The way my rating scale works is anything 9 & above is an absolute must-try, meaning get your ass over to Matjoa today! Just to quickly explain the rest of the scale, 8s are great and worth traveling for. 7s are really good and worth trying if in the area. The 6s are pretty good, followed by decent/average and bad.

Not only is Matjoa the best all you can eat Korean BBQ in Tampa Bay, but it surpasses every other Korean restaurant we have tried in the state of Florida so far. In terms of Asian restaurants, we rank Matjoa 2nd in the state, behind only Gyu-Kaku (in Orlando), a Japanese BBQ place that serves melt-in-your-mouth wagyu.

Because of these reasons, when you visit, you have a very good chance of running into Mora & I one of these days. If you see us, once the pandemic is over, please come by & say hello!

For those wishing to visit, you can find them at 3580 Ulmerton Road in Clearwater, Florida. However, I recommend getting there early to get a good parking spot.

What Do You Look for in a Great All You Can Eat KBBQ Restaurant?

All you can eat KBBQ is a love of ours, so we enjoy checking out new places whenever we see them. We would love to hear from you guys and find out what you look for in a Korean BBQ restaurant. In addition, what are some other Korean foods you love?

Mora Selfie in the Sun Under a Palm Tree

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each & every one of them and responding. If you want to know something, ask away! Do not hesitate to contact us if you need anything at all or would like to chat! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling (safely)!

Disclosure: Please note that one or more of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and companies I use, and the income goes to keeping the site community supported.

Home Sweet Taiwan: My Return at Last

Last updated on July 31st, 2020

Sun Rising Over Taipei 101

Taiwan: My Home Away From Home

There are few things in life I look forward to more than returning back to my home away from home: Taiwan. However, no matter how sad I feel when I leave, I know with certainty I will be back, just as sure as I am the sun will rise again for a better tomorrow.

Although I was born & raised in America in the state of Tennessee and have lived the last 2 & a half years in Florida, I have never quite felt at home here, oddly enough. I can’t really explain it, but there are many times in my life where I have wondered if I really fit in anywhere.

Sure, I had plenty of friends in high school & college. The girlfriends came & went. All of the other aspects of my life are what people on the outside would consider “normal.” However, on the inside, I felt the complete opposite.

Reflecting back on this internal battle, it’s easy for me to see how I fell into depression. Travel ultimately brought me out of the abyss and provided me a level of happiness I didn’t know was possible.

Returning to Taiwan

Returning to Taiwan, My Home Away From Home

A little over a year ago, Mora & I went on a trip for a couple of weeks to Taiwan & South Korea! We booked our flight tickets via Travelocity, but we didn’t need a hotel as we were going to be staying with Mora’s gracious parents.

This was my first time going back to Taiwan in almost 3 years, which felt like an eternity. I missed all of my friends dearly and was so excited to see them again along with Mora’s family.

We finally arrived at the Taoyuan airport in Taiwan after waiting through a long, 7-hour layover at the Incheon airport in South Korea. Exhausted like usual, we were fighting sleep on the drive back to Mora’s parents’ house in Daxi.

On the way back, her dad was nice enough to buy us some amazing ji rou fan (chicken & rice); it’s a simple dish, but trust me, you wouldn’t believe how amazing they make it. This made it even easier to fall straight asleep almost as soon as we got to their place. We of course first visited with her mom, brother (Jeff), and dog (Bruno).

Mora’s Grandparents’ House in Taiwan

Mora's Grandparents' House in Yangmei, Taiwan

After a much-needed long nap, we felt rejuvenated and ready to go out for our first night back in Taiwan!

A Happy Dilemma

First up was a trip to Mora’s grandparents’ house in Yangmei. Sometimes, my visits there can be a bit overwhelming because Mora has such a large family compared to me. So, it can be difficult at times trying to keep up with what everyone is saying and making sure I don’t say or do anything that might be considered rude or disrespectful in their cultures. Her mom’s side of the family is Hakka, which is another ethnic group of people in Taiwan.

I never want to be inconsiderate of any local culture, so being around many different family members at once can be a bit intimidating to try to juggle your focus & attention. Most importantly, I want to set a great example and make a positive impression.

Kindness Transcends All Barriers

However, her family is really kind & welcoming to me. They do their best to make me feel at home when I’m there. Her parents, siblings, and cousins especially always go out of their way to talk to me and make the night less stressful. I definitely appreciate that. But the kindness shown to me extends to her entire family.

For example, Mora’s gong gong (grandpa) doesn’t speak English. However, he has always been so sweet & kind to me. He has quite the personality and never fails to make us laugh. In addition, he is so fascinated with life in America and always asks questions on how things are compared to Taiwan. A lot of times, I will just sit with him on the porch the way I used to do with my grandpa and papaw, who are no longer with me on this earth. I really enjoy those moments.

Also, one of her uncles who speaks English showed me around his art studio where he makes many different items from various types of wood. He is so crafty & talented and was even kind enough to provide some gifts for my parents back in Tennessee.

Drinking With Taiwanese Relatives

Some of Mora's Family in Yangmei, Taiwan

Lastly, another one of her uncles doesn’t speak English but is always so nice and tries his best to communicate with me. That night, since he knew I was not a huge fan of kao liang (a type of Taiwanese liquor made from fermented sorghum), he was nice enough to get a bottle of Johnnie Walker from gong gong.

He really wanted to have some drinks with me, which I thought was pretty awesome! I more than happily obliged, and we enjoyed what I thought was going to be the grand finale of our night.

But as I would soon realize, the night was only just getting started.

Reunited With My Bros Living in Taiwan, My Home Away From Home

After leaving her grandparents’ house, we made an unscheduled stop in Zhong Yuan to see many of my best friends in the world.

This was kind of a spur of the moment plan that came out of nowhere. Based on our history dating back to 2013, this is par for the course. The spontaneous moments were often the most memorable, and this night was no exception.

Words cannot express how happy I was to see all of these guys again after being away for almost 3 years (despite my lack of smile in the 1st picture lol not sure why I was giving a Ben Affleck Batman stare).

As one drink turned into 10, the stories & jokes became more hilarious. When you have great friends to share great moments with, it does not matter where you are or what you’re doing.

It has never mattered whether we take a trip, have a BBQ, play billiards, or just have some drinks at the local convenience store; whenever we get together, it’s always the best time.

Family Feasts: For the Love of Food

Over the course of our time in Taiwan, there was one thing we never ran out of: food. From amazing meals my mother-in-law prepared to outstanding restaurants we went to with Mora’s family, we were in a complete food paradise.

Mother’s Day Lunch With Mora’s Family

This year, we celebrated Mother’s Day in Taiwan with Mora’s family. As you know by now, every celebration in Taiwan involves delicious food. We went out to a traditional revolving roundtable restaurant in Longtan, which specializes in seafood.

This type of restaurant is where many dishes are brought out to the table as they finish cooking. Once the food comes, you share with the group of people you are with. For example, if you want the fish that happens to be on the other side of the table, you can easily move the table around until the food you desire is in front of you; though, please be sure to be courteous to others in your group who might have not finished retrieving food.

The name of the restaurant was Lu Ye Xiangcun Canting; their seafood was OUT OF THIS WORLD AMAZING! In particular, the fried grass carp (pictured above) is a dish I will order every time I come to this mouth-wateringly delicious eatery.

Summary

Overall, this is one of my favorite restaurants I have ever had the pleasure of dining in Taiwan! This is an absolute must-try when visiting Taiwan.

Xian Bier Lunch With Mora’s Family

Mora's Family in Taiwan, My Home Away From Home
Mora, QBao (Nephew), PouPou (Grandma), Ma, EnXi (Niece), GongGong (Grandpa)

Aunt Cindy set up a big lunch in Taoyuan with many of Mora’s extended family (most not pictured above). Every time Mora & I come back to visit, Cindy always makes an effort to get all of the family together to catch up, share stories, & have a great time.

Close to Taoyuan High Speed Rail (HSR) station, we made our way to Xian Bier, another magnificent revolving roundtable restaurant. Not only do they serve amazing food, but they even make their own beer!

I loved their beer, and it paired really well with the food, especially the diced beef cubes. The Kung Pao Chicken was incredible; this is par for the course for Taiwan when it comes to Kung Pao anything.

When it comes to the rest of the food, the fish, basil pork, and fried tang yuan (sweet rice balls) were some of my favorites. Mora also loved the shrimp & cheese-smothered tomatoes.

Summary

Overall, when in Taiwan, you should give this place a chance; you will come away full & happy.

Mala Hotpot in Taiwan: Best in the World!

Ma La: Best Hotpot in the World! You can find this in Taipei, Taiwan.

Perhaps the most memorable dining experience came in Taipei at Mala Hotpot. Mora & I met up with her cousins for dinner; they are all really nice & friendly. We had always heard great things about the place, but once we saw Mike Chen’s video over it, we made it a mission to fit this into our schedule.

For those of you who have never had hotpot, you have to try it! I myself used to not like it due to a couple of subpar places I went to, but if you go somewhere high quality, you cannot help but love it.

Hotpot Spicy & Regular Soup Bases - Mala Hotpot - Taiwan

When you eat hotpot, you get to choose 2 different soup bases. Since you’ll be sharing them as a group, work together to choose the types that best suit everyone.

Next, you choose what kinds of meat & toppings you want to get started with. Once the soup bases heat up, you are ready to start loading it up!

Condiments Station at Mala Hotpot

Be sure to go to the condiments station and create the sauce best suited for your tastes. When you finish up there, head on over to the beverage area; they have a multitude of juices & soda, but they also have unlimited beer & wine. For me, beer was the easy choice.

Over the course of the meal, you are able to get as much meat & toppings as you want; there are 2 catches, however. First, the Australian Wagyu is an upcharge but is totally worth it. Second, there is a 2-hour time limit; have no fear, you will be in a food coma by the time the 2 hours are up.

When you feel you have had enough hotpot for one meal, round off your night with some delicious Haagen Dasz ice cream!

Summary

Mala is easily the best hotpot restaurant I have ever been to anywhere! When you are in Taiwan, you’re not doing yourself any favors if you miss out on this place.

Where Do You Feel Most At-Home?

I would love to hear your thoughts on where you feel most at-home. As you all know, for me, it’s Taiwan without question (2nd place goes to Italy). What place do you feel that special connection to? Let me know down in the comment section down below.

Navy Destroyer Ship in Tainan, Taiwan

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each & every one of them and responding. If you want to know something, ask away! Do not hesitate to contact us if you need anything at all or would like to chat! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling (safely)!

Disclosure: Please note that one or more of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and companies I use, and the income goes to keeping the site community supported.

Longest Flight in the World: America to Taiwan?

Last updated on August 2nd, 2020

America to Taiwan: Longest Flight in the World?

Most people new to flying and international travel start off with a shorter itinerary through the skies. Me? My first international flight itinerary, including layovers, lasted over 24 hours! Could this be the longest flight in the world?

Preparing for What I Thought May Be the Longest Flight in the World

As I prepared for my study abroad trip overseas back in 2013, I went through the usual checklist.

Pre-Trip Checklist for the Longest Flight in the World

To-Do List
  • Airline Tickets, Hotels, & Car Rentals – If you are not traveling via a study abroad trip, the first thing you must do is book your flight, hotel, & car rental. I recommend using Travelocity.
  • Luggage – Since I always traveled by car prior to my international explorations, I never really had any use for a bunch of heavy duty suitcases. However, with my impending trip to Taiwan, I needed to invest in quality luggage. I have had great luck with various brands over the years, but one I recommend most is Samsonite.
  • Laptop – People have their own favorite brands of laptops, and I have tested a few different ones out myself. The ones that seem to always be more reliable for me & last longer are HP. I am very happy with & recommend this particular HP.
  • Camera – Phones are great additional tools to use for photos & videos. However, if you are looking to upgrade your travel memories to share with your friends, family, or even just reminisce, I suggest getting a digital camera. Here is the one I use. I definitely prefer Sony and really enjoy the Sony Alpha mirrorless series; even some of the older versions are great, such as the a6400 and a6000. If you prefer the more heavy duty DSLR type of camera, then I recommend going with either a Canon or Nikon.
  • Backpack – I used to be a fan of Nike backpacks, but the ones I had were more for style & to showcase the brand than actual quality. I have since opted for ultimate convenience. This backpack is absolutely fantastic and is my favorite one I have ever owned. Not only is it waterproof, but it has a slot for your laptop inside, plenty of space for other items, a charging port for your phone, a side pocket to safely store your camera, a pocket in front to store additional items, and a slot on the side to store your water bottle. Do yourself a favor; if you need a backpack, get this!
  • Shoes – A comfortable pair of walking shoes is a must when traveling!
  • Warm Weather Clothes – While I do wear blue jeans & various colors of casual shorts, a must-bring on any trip for me is Nike basketball shorts.
  • Guidebook – It is always handy to have a guidebook on hand for the place you are visiting. Whether you want to know more about the history, recommendations for hotels & restaurants, or information about tours, you can find the right one for you here.
  • Travel Insurance – When going out of the country, I highly recommend protecting yourself with travel insurance with Travelex. In light of the recent pandemic, it is more important than ever.

New to Flying

Preparing for the Longest Flight in the World

Outside of a round-trip flight from Nashville, Tennessee to to Ontario, California when I was 14, I was a complete novice when it came to flying. Suffice it to say I had no idea what to expect on such a long journey; the longest leg of the flight was supposed to be approximately 16 hours.

How exactly can you prepare for taking possibly the longest flight in the world? What is it like to be up in the air for so long? Is it easier to sleep on longer flights?

The answers to the above questions come with travel experience. The more you fly, the more you get used to airplane food, lack of sleep, and constantly getting hit in the elbow by the drink cart.

Flying to the Other Side of the World for the First Time

Walking Through the Airport

Looking back 7 years ago to my first trip from America to Taiwan, I can still remember my sense of excitement as i headed to the airport. The anticipation ramped up even further once I got past security and saw my fellow study abroad participants in the waiting area by the gate.

All that stood between me and my destination was a series of flights along with layovers in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Tokyo-Narita, Japan.

Is It Really the Longest Flight in the World?

Plane Ready for the Longest Flight in the World

In terms of mileage, no, this is not the world’s longest flight. But can you really tell the difference whether you are in the air for 16 or 18 hours? In my experience, no.

I have been on many of the world’s longest flights, and for me, these become much more manageable when you break them down into segments.

1. Movies

After I get settled in my seat, I wait for the announcements to finish before browsing the flight’s movie selection. For those who don’t know, the vast majority of international flights provide you with individual screens on the back of the chair in front of you. I always begin every long flight with a movie marathon; it never fails to help pass the time.

2. Meal #1

Before you know it, flight attendants bring along your first meal of the flight. The type of cuisine typically varies by region, but they usually carry a local dish and something for less adventurous eaters. However, plane food is really a hit-or-miss if you aren’t flying business or first class.

3. More Movies

Following the first meal, I typically like to start another movie; this is sometimes interrupted by an hour-nap, which I always welcome. After my short nap, I finish whatever movie I started and continue busting through the rest of the movies I’m interested in one-by-one.

4. Meal #2

Then comes the familiar sight of flight attendants passing out the second meal of the flight. If it’s “dinner,” I usually get a glass of red wine to go along with my meal. However, when you’re flying across the world, there’s no right or wrong time to drink. Just be sure to not have too much; a hangover in the air is certainly not fun, and your neighbor would very much appreciate not being puked on.

5. 2-3 Hours of Broken Sleep

After the second meal, I usually am able to settle into a decent sleep. However, it never lasts for more than 2 or 3 hours. Sometimes, I am awoken by drink carts smashing into my elbow, a neighbor needing to use the lavatory (totally understandable, by the way), or turbulence. No matter how many miles I accumulate in the air, sleep is never easy for me. If I were staying in business or first class, that may be a different story as it looks extremely comfortable (depending on the airline).

6. Final Meal

After I wake up from my small amount of sleep, I usually am in a state of drowsiness for a bit. My mind is wired to know the final meal of the flight will be passed out soon. Sure enough, not long after the thought enters my mind, the flight attendants come bustling through with smiles on their faces and food in hand.

7. The Waiting Game Truly Makes It Feel Like the Longest Flight in the World

The time between the final meal and when you land at your destination is by far the longest part of the flight for me. There typically isn’t enough time to watch an entire movie; plus, your ears are pretty exhausted by this point, anyway. I usually try to close my eyes & relax for a bit, but my legs are often cramped. So, to combat this, I sometimes get up & move around the cabin to stretch my legs.

Eventually, the moment you’ve been waiting on for over 24 hours arrives, and you finally get to deplane. Countless times I have walked through airports such as Taoyuan International in a complete zombie state. By this point, I am basically just going through the motions of putting one foot in front of the other while trying to keep my eyes open. However, you soon find your battle with jetlag has only just begun.

What Is Your Most Memorable Flying Experience?

Airport Sign

We would love to hear about some memorable flying experiences you may have had over the years. In addition, tell us about the longest flight you’ve been on.

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each & every one of them and responding. If you want to know something, ask away! Do not hesitate to contact us if you need anything at all or would like to chat! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling (safely)!

Disclosure: Please note that one or more of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and companies I use, and the income goes to keeping the site community supported.

Public Speaking Fear: How Travel Helped Me Overcome Crippling Anxiety

Last updated on August 12th, 2020

Long Road to Overcoming My Fear of Public Speaking

Glossophobia: The Fear of Public Speaking

For my entire life, there has been one fear that has stuck out above all of the others combined: public speaking. This type of anxiety, known as glossophobia, was crippling for me at times; there are times where my mind would go completely blank under pressure. Some also refer to this as speech anxiety. This is my story of how I overcame it and turned a weakness into a strength.

For many people, public speaking isn’t really a big deal. Some are even a complete natural at it and can get in front of a large crowd without a second thought and improvise the entire speech or presentation.

I am not like these people. Throughout my life, I have been overly self-conscious of myself, especially when it comes to public speaking. Unfortunately, my speech anxiety was always pretty extreme, and I have always been embarrassed and ashamed of myself for it.

Storm Inside My Mind as I Succumb to My Crippling Public Speaking Anxiety, Glossophobia - Adam's Apple: The World

I have always feared making a fool out of myself in front of the entire crowd. What if my jokes fall flat? What if I’m boring to the point of making my audience fall asleep? Or even worse, what if they think everything I’m saying is stupid?

For some reason, my body would want to freeze up when I’m on a stage or in front of a class of people, and there are times I would be so nervous that my hands would shake. At times, even my voice would crack. I remember those moments so vividly as if they happened yesterday. I also still remember how embarrassed I felt as I tried to salvage the rest of the presentation while people looked on awkwardly in silence.

Overcoming My Crippling Public Speaking Fear: Glossophobia

The rational side of me knows that 99.9% of people don’t judge other’s presentations too harshly. I myself have heard countless mediocre or bad presentations without a negative thought. But being a perfectionist, I wanted everything I did to be the absolute best; otherwise, why do it?

A major problem and hurdle for me over the years was telling myself it’s okay not to be perfect. This was the first step to overcoming my glossophobia anxiety.

How Travel Helped Me Overcome the Horrific Speech Anxiety Known as Glossophobia

Overcoming Glossophobia - Adam's Apple: The World

Fighting Glossophobia by Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

However, I really started to notice an improvement in 2014 when I was an exchange student in Taiwan. Getting out of my comfort zone was one of the best decisions I ever made. All of the cultural differences actually helped me see things in a new light. Being in a new and unique environment was exactly what I needed to fight this speech anxiety I struggled with for so many years.

Nature of Classes Helped Combat My Public Speaking Fear

I was able to regain my confidence slowly but surely due to the nature of classes at CYCU, the local university in Taiwan. Instead of exam-heavy courses, most of mine focused on class discussion, group projects, and presentations.

In addition, since most of my classes were taught in English, and I was the only native speaker in all but 1 of my classes, the professors did rely on me pretty often to help lead class discussion on the day’s major topic. For example, I remember kick-starting a discussion on Taiwan-China relations in Dr. Gary Chin’s class and leading a debate over a Business Ethics case in Dr. Francis Diaz’s. It was nice to actually be the center of attention for once.

Since I came to know most of my classmates in all of my classes, it was easier for me to step in front of them. Since I already knew they respected my thoughts & opinions, I did not have those irrational fears or any form of speech anxiety. As a result, my presentations were mostly smooth, confident, informative, and even funny at times.

Turning the Corner Against Glossophobia

As I went through one successful presentation after another, I thought to myself, “maybe this isn’t so bad after all!” I owe so much of my confidence now to my year studying in Taiwan. Studying abroad is so important, and I highly encourage everyone to give it a shot if you have the chance.

Returning to America: Did My Prior Speech Anxiety Return?

I did worry that my crippling public speaking anxiety would return once I was back in front of a mostly American group of students. I certainly felt the effects of reverse culture shock after going back to America from Taiwan the previous year; would this also be another aspect of that? Despite these concerns, I told myself I would try to repeat what was so successful for me in Taiwan.

Adam vs Glossophobia: The First Major Test With My Public Speaking Fear

I had a few smaller presentations that went pretty well, so I felt good about myself. But the big test was the 20-30 minute research paper presentation I had coming at the end of one of my two undergraduate programs. If I could knock this out of the park, I would know I was finally rid of my nagging anxiety.

As one person after another gave excellent, well-detailed presentations, I found myself thinking I should be nervous. However, for some reason, I felt as confident as ever.

So, I got in front of the class and delivered arguably the best presentation of my life over Taiwan-China Relations, and after I finished, I couldn’t help smiling at how far I had come. Glossophobia was now just a word to me.

Overcoming Crippling Public Speaking Anxiety, Glossophobia - Adam's Apple: The World

I had finally made it through the desert of my mind. Public speaking anxiety no longer had control over me, and I turned a weakness into a strength. I have used what I learned in all of the job interviews I’ve had since then, and regardless if I get the job or not, I feel good about putting my best foot forward and not thinking about the what-ifs. I am very thankful for the incredibly immersive travel experiences I had; without going out into the world in a completely different environment than I was used to, I likely would have never defeated my public speaking fear.

Tips for Overcoming Fear of Public Speaking

1. Be Over-Prepared to Combat Glossophobia

I cannot stress how important this particular tip is, which is why I have it listed at number 1. To combat your glossophobia anxiety, you must know the content you are speaking about inside-and-out. Do not expect to simply roll out of bed and have yourself a smooth, well-spoken presentation.

Overcoming this hurdle often requires several hours of rehearsing your speech out loud, making corrections, and rehearsing some more. When you get up in front of the audience, you want it to feel like just another rehearsal. That’s the level of preparation you need; nothing less.

2. Make a PowerPoint & Note Cards to Ensure Your Mind Never Goes Blank

PowerPoints & Note cards have been absolute life-savers for me through the years. I highly encourage you to use these tools for your next presentation, even if you are naturally a great public speaker. I find they help keep my thoughts organized. As a result, you are less likely to stumble on your words. Even more important, you can avoid the awkward silences that ensue when your mind goes completely blank.

3. Clear Your Mind of All Negative Thoughts Before Your Time to Speak

In the past, the moments leading up to my time to get in front of the class, I would have a rush of negative thoughts & self-doubt. Instead of letting these thoughts come & go, I would dwell on them. As a result, I could feel my heart beating way too fast, my stomach churning, and my forehead sweating.

I implore you to learn from my mistakes; learn to let go of all negative thoughts. Before you get in front of a class, on a stage, or in front of a boardroom, take a few brief moments to block everything out from your mind. Close your eyes if you have to. Whatever it takes to get your mind in the right place. Once you learn how to stop defeating yourself beforehand, you are on the right path to having a great presentation.

4. Take a Deep Breath to Compose Yourself

One thing I always do before every single presentation or interview now is I stop and take a deep breath. This helps me shake off any last nerves, gets my heart pumping at a normal rate, and allows me to maintain composure & confidence, which are absolutely vital to being successful.

5. Learn to Accept Your Public Speaking Speech Anxiety

While you can make your anxiety more manageable, do not expect it to ever vanish completely. Public speaking anxiety is still a constant struggle, and your battle with any form of anxiety is never truly over; this is why I use these exact tips to help me each & every time. However, you can train yourself to tame it to an acceptable level like I have. Looking back to where I came from, I am light years ahead and could not be happier with the progress I’ve made. I even became an English teacher when I lived in Taiwan the second time around in 2015!

The path to getting where I am today was a long one, but if I can overcome this, you can do the same for whatever you feel is holding yourself back from reaching your potential.

Overcoming Glossophobia - Adam's Apple: The World

What Are You Struggling With?

Does my glossophobia public speaking fear resonate with any of you? If so, I hope my tips can help you alleviate speech anxiety to some degree. I would be happy to discuss it further with you and hear some of your stories down below.

In addition, what are some other fears & anxieties you have silently dealt with? If you have overcome them, how did you make it happen? If not, what do you feel is holding you back? I’m no psychiatrist, but I would love to help in any way I can, and I will always make time to chat.

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each & every one of them and responding. If you want to know something, ask away! Do not hesitate to contact us if you need anything at all or would like to chat! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling (safely)!

Discover Nara Park: Surrounded by Deer

Last updated on July 31st, 2020

Nara Park Deer Selfie

Nara Park Introduction

The place I’d like to introduce you to today is the beautiful & serene Nara Park, located outside of Osaka, Japan in the city of Nara. At Nara Park, you will find a peaceful, relaxing vibe, beautiful scenery, and be surrounded by sika deer everywhere (which is pretty awesome!). Mora & I heard about this place and of course saw all of the amazing photos online. So, we had to make sure to check the place out for ourselves while in Japan.

You might be wondering why the deer don’t run away at the sight of humans. The answer is easy; sika deer are protected in Japan. Therefore, these deer do not fear people and actually seem to really enjoy the company. In the U.S., I always like seeing deer when I’m outside early in the morning; however, due to fear of humans from always being hunted, I can never get too close. So, I was really looking forward to being in this type of environment.

At Nara Park, the deer are not cooped up; instead, they can roam free throughout the land. They enjoy being there, so why would they leave? Despite most of the deer having a nice demeanor, please be sure to remember they are still wild animals.

As we roamed around the park, we often saw several deer lying down and taking midday naps together. We didn’t want to disturb them, but we did take a handful of photos.

Nara Park Deer Asleep

Feed the Deer?

That’s right; not only can you feed the deer, but it is actually even encouraged! There are vendors set up where you can purchase “deer crackers.” Mora & I bought quite a few of these and had such a great time feeding them.

However, I was surrounded by a handful of deer at one point, and they were a bit more aggressive than the rest of the deer at Nara Park. One deer actually bit me in the side; the bite wasn’t too hard or painful, but it left a bit of a bruise. That deer really wanted his crackers!

Surrounded by Deer at Nara Park

Deer Selfies

Deer Selfie at Nara Park

Have you seen all of the selfies taken at Nara Park and wonder how people are able to get such good photos? Do you wonder if maybe there is someone there to help direct the deer for your photos similar to the viral monkey photos taken in Thailand?

I can tell you for a fact that when we were there, no one was there helping with photos. You pretty much go through the park at your own pace, similar to any other park really. And like humans, the deer also go at their own pace and do as they please.

Deer Selfie

Like with most animals, you can tell the demeanor and personality very quickly for each deer. We were able to get a lot of great photos, like the one above, but our favorite is the selfie you can see at the top of this post as the featured image. She was so cute and was super kind & gentle. This particular deer stuck with us for a long time, and it was hard for us to say goodbye to such a sweet animal.

Beautiful Deer

Beautiful Scenery

Nara Park is a really peaceful, beautiful place. As a result, I find this to be a perfect place to relax for half a day. If you enjoy going for scenic walks, whether alone, with your significant other, or with friends, this is the place to be.

Beautiful Scenery at Nara Park

There is also a temple located in the park for those who wish to visit and look around. I really enjoy looking at different forms of architecture everywhere I visit. While the U.S. goes for a modern look, I personally prefer the older, traditional styles found in Europe & Asia.

Funny Moments at Nara Park

A really funny & memorable moment occurred during our time at Nara Park. A deer actually tried to kiss Mora with me standing right beside them! Don’t believe me? Here’s the photographic proof. Luckily, Mora had her fan to turn down the poor deer. Rejection can be devastating; I hope he learns to cope with this over time.

Funny Deer Moment From Nara Park
“It’s Mr. Steal Yo Girl.” Nice Try, Deer

In addition, we caught another funny moment on camera when it looked like one deer was telling another a joke, with it appearing that the second deer was laughing. The deer here have very entertaining personalities, and I cannot wait to go back the next time we are in Japan.

Deer Laughing at Joke

The last moment we witnessed was a deer trying so hard to scratch an itchy spot on its back; if only we had our back scratcher with us, but alas.

Deer Trying to Scratch an Itchy Area

What are your thoughts on Nara Park? Have you ever been? If not, would you be interested in visiting? We would love to hear from you!

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each & every one of them and responding. If you want to know something, ask away! Do not hesitate to contact us if you need anything at all or would like to chat! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling (safely)!

Smiling Deer

Quick and Easy KOREAN BBQ at Home!

Last updated on July 23rd, 2020

Choosing a Grill for Our Korean BBQ at Home

Considering the pandemic we cannot seem to escape here in America, the normal celebrations that come with the 4th of July had to be altered. Mora & I thought to ourselves, “Why not just buy a Korean BBQ grill and have a great time in the comfort of our own home?”

So, that’s what we did. Mora & I have wanted to buy a Korean BBQ grill for years, and I’m honestly not sure what took us so long.

Our first choice when browsing through options was the electric grill famous YouTuber, Mike Chen, uses when he grills at home; he calls it “Big Bertha.”

You can imagine my disappointment when I searched for it, only to find that stock was currently unavailable. So, our quest continued, and after awhile, we came across the Maxi-Matic Indoor Electric Nonstick Grill Adjustable Thermostat, Dishwasher Safe, Faster Heat Up, Low-Fat Meals, Easy To Clean Design, Includes Glass Lid, 14″ Round.

No Big Bertha? No problem. Say hello to Big Betty, who accompanied us for our Korean BBQ at home feast!

Brisket On Korean BBQ Grill
The Moment Brisket Met Big Betty – A Match Made in Heaven

Shopping Trip – Kim Bros Korean Market

Now that we had chosen a Korean BBQ grill, it was time to buy all of the different types of meat. We decided to make a shopping trip to Kim Brothers Korean Market in Tampa (yes, we had masks on). You can find so many awesome Korean foods here including ttoekbokki (soft Korean rice cakes in a spicy sauce), fish cakes, dumplings, instant noodles, and a whole host of other goodies.

Kim Bros Korean Market - Dumplings
Dumplings

However, on this day, we were there for the thinly sliced beef brisket, LA Galbi (Korean BBQ short ribs on the bone), thinly sliced ribeye, lettuce for Korean BBQ wraps, banchan (side dishes), and Korean beer & soju.

Banchan (Korean Side Dishes) - Shopping for Our Korean BBQ at Home
Banchan (Korean Side Dishes)
Korean Alcohol
Korean Alcohol

After arriving back home with all of our groceries and stowing them away for the coming weekend, we decided to expand our menu; we would now be grilling on both days of the weekend. So, we ordered the following via delivery from Whole Foods: 2 large ribeye steaks, 2 chicken breasts, 4 ears of corn, 4 hamburgers, and a pack of 8 Nathan’s all-beef, bun-length hot dogs.

Day 1 would be for the traditional Korean BBQ, and day 2 would be a good, old-fashioned American cookout, all from the comfort of our balcony at our home. With the grill being electric, we didn’t need to worry about the hazards that come from gas & charcoal grills.

Day 1 – Korean BBQ

Saturday, July 4th is here, yet it feels quite strange considering the circumstances surrounding America in 2020. Nevertheless, we must make the best of a bad situation; few things in life improve our moods quicker than juicy, delicious Korean BBQ.

Mora & I completed the setup quite nicely; along with our comfortable balcony furniture, we brought a swivel, stand-up fan outside for added comfort. We sat the Beats Pill speaker, the grill, utensils, food, drinks, seasonings, and condiments around the glass table.

Korean BBQ at Home Setup
Korean BBQ at Home Setup

We could not have asked for more beautiful weather, and Domino seemed to really enjoy himself in his cat tree. To get us started, we had some celebratory soju bombs; for those of you who do not know this glorious concoction, it’s a mixture of regular soju & beer. For the remainder of the meal, we enjoyed a combination of soju bombs, Jinro grapefruit soju, and Korean beer.

The cooking got kick-started with a favorite of ours: thinly sliced beef brisket; this stuff is mouth-wateringly delicious. I typically just use salt & pepper with this type of barbecued meat, but sesame oil is also good with it. You just need to try for yourself to see what you prefer!

Grilling Thinly Sliced Beef Brisket & Ribeye
Grilling Thinly Sliced Beef Brisket & Ribeye

We didn’t have as many side dishes as you would normally see at your favorite Korean BBQ restaurant due to the table size; however, we did have rice, kimchi, and fish cakes to go with our meal. Side note: it is probably sacrilegious of me to say, but kimchi isn’t really my cup of tea; although, I have had spicy fried dumplings in Taiwan with it, and those were phenomenal.

Back to the BBQ, we incorporated the tried-and-true Korean tradition of lettuce wraps; these are so refreshing, and the lettuce acts as a nice wrapper for all of beef juice. Feel free to dress it up however you like with any side dishes, seasonings, or condiments. For example, perhaps you might enjoy some kimchi, onions, and bean sprouts in your wrap.

Korean BBQ Wrap
Korean BBQ Wrap

Next, we went with the expensive LA Galbi; these bone-in Korean short ribs are a staple for any Korean BBQ.

LA Galbi (Bone-In Korean Short Ribs)
LA Galbi (Bone-In Korean Short Ribs)

Lastly, for the main event, we enjoyed some thick, juicy ribeye steaks, which put us over the edge into a food coma. What a way to wrap up day 1.

Thick, Juicy Ribeye Steak for Our Korean BBQ at Home
Thick, Juicy Ribeye Steak
Juicy Steak
Juicy Steak

Day 2 – American Cookout

Moving on to day number 2, Mora & I (along with Domino) started it off once again with some refreshing soju bombs while enjoying the beautiful weather from our balcony. In contrast to day 1, this day was all about having an old-fashioned American cook. However, we still utilized the Korean BBQ grill, which once again did not disappoint!

Mora
Mora
Domino
Domino

First of all, the menu for the day consisted of some simple American classics: hamburgers, Nathan’s hot dogs, and fresh corn. After the spread we had the day before, this was more than enough for the two of us.

American Cookout - Nathan's Hot Dogs & Fresh Corn
American Cookout – Nathan’s Hot Dogs & Fresh Corn

Because we assumed this grill was designed solely for Korean BBQ, we weren’t sure how a typical American spread would turn out. We were blown away at how well-cooked the food was; as a result, it’s clear you can use this grill for just about anything!

American Cookout - Juicy Burgers & Fresh Corn
American Cookout – Juicy Burgers & Fresh Corn

Review: Korean BBQ Grill

As you can see, we had such a great weekend just enjoying each other’s company and enjoying some great food outside at home. The quality of this grill for the value is next to impossible to beat. In other words, we are both very happy with this product and can’t understand why we waited so long to buy it.

In conclusion, if you would like to replicate our results or even take it a step further, I highly encourage you to purchase the Maxi-Matic Indoor Electric Nonstick Grill . You will not regret it.

How did all of you celebrate the 4th of July this year? We would love to hear all of your stories as well as how you adjusted to the circumstances.

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each & every one of them and responding. If you want to know something, ask away! Do not hesitate to contact us if you need anything at all or would like to chat! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling (safely)!

Disclosure: Please note that one or more of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. I only recommend products and companies I use, and the income goes to keeping the site community supported.

What It’s Like Driving Through a Scary Typhoon in Taiwan!

Last updated on July 12th, 2020

Brief Typhoon History Lesson

So, some of you may be wondering what exactly a typhoon is. Basically, if a tropical storm is strong enough, it gets classified as either a hurricane, typhoon, or tropical cyclone. What is the difference between the 3? The naming convention is determined based on which part of the ocean the formation starts in.

For example, the term “hurricane” is used for the Atlantic and northern Pacific Oceans. “Typhoon” is used for the northwestern Pacific Ocean. Lastly, the southern hemisphere and Indian Ocean use the term “cyclone.”

Why do they have different naming conventions for the same type of storm around the world? I have no idea whatsoever.

First Typhoon Encounter

Back in 2013, during my first week overseas ever, a typhoon made landfall over Taiwan. I thought to myself, “why do I bring a dark cloud everywhere I go?”

It turns out, typhoons are really common in Taiwan. Unlike the US, outside of certain areas without great infrastructure and on the East coast, many of the buildings in Taiwan are built to withstand typhoons, including Taipei 101.

Where we were located on the northwest in Zhongli, we were mostly safe from harm’s way as typhoons generally come from the East and must go through the mountains first. My study abroad roommates (Mohammed, Jon, and Paktra) and I stayed up late listening to the typhoon. The wind and rain were so strong that water was actually leaking through our balcony door. To combat this, we used towels at the base to soak up any water coming in at the base.

Outside of a little water coming through the balcony, it was actually pretty peaceful just chatting in the dorm room, listening to the howling wind and pounding rain.

When we woke up the next morning, all was calm & peaceful. As we walked through the area surrounding the university, we noticed very little damage outside of some branches here and there.

Typhoon Parties

The next couple of years in Taiwan, I was introduced to a phenomenon known as typhoon parties.

It is very common for classes to be cancelled for multiple days due to typhoons, depending on the severity and speed. Both as a student and an English teacher, I remember getting together with roommates and friends and making the most out of bad weather and no classes.

The 4 key ingredients to enjoying yourself in the comfort of your home during a typhoon: safety, friends, food, and a whole lot of booze. Based on where I was located in Taiwan, I was never in any real danger, so as always, be safe, be smart, and if it’s possible where you are, have fun. Making lemonade out of lemons is something I always strive for because there is always some type of storm smacking me in the face.

alcohol
pizza

Driving Through A Category 5 Typhoon & Living to Tell About It

All of my previous experiences with typhoons kind of made me put my guard down, which could have been a very costly mistake.

Here is some backstory. Mora & I were on a trip to southern Taiwan in the city of Kenting, home of some beautiful beaches, one of the largest and most popular night markets in Taiwan, and scenic views.

We were staying in a gorgeous bed and breakfast. While not the fanciest of places you can stay, the charm would be hard to beat. They have grills stationed outside with breathtaking views of the beach from up high. This was perfect for a lovely, romantic night for just the two of us.

Mora & I were having such a great time in Kenting until things took a nasty turn. The night before we were going to head back via train from Kenting (south Taiwan) to Zhongli (north Taiwan), we became aware of a shift in speed, strength, and track of a typhoon off the coast of Taiwan.

Instead of it being a weak typhoon that was not supposed to make landfall until after we were back home, it was going to be a category 5 typhoon and hit the next day, which caused us to frantically search for what to do.

The school I was working for as an English teacher cancelled classes, so I was fine to stay another day and let it blow over, but Mora’s workplace, Fitness Factory, was not allowing her to do the same.

This totally sucked because the place we were staying had vacancy for another night, so staying would have been the best & safest thing to do. But because we didn’t want Mora to get in trouble at work, we decided to find a way to make it back through the storm.

We were running out of options until finally, one of Mora’s coworkers said his friend was actually in Kenting also and was planning to drive back the following late afternoon. He lived in the area, so we thought we caught a lucky break.

This was cutting it close with how fast the typhoon was moving, but based on the speed at the time, I projected we could make it through before we crossed paths with it. Wrong.

In order to kill time until our ride was ready to pick us up, Mora & I visited the local aquarium, which was really great. However, as we were leaving, we couldn’t help but notice how insane the wind had gotten, which prompted me to check the weather forecast immediately. To our horror, the typhoon had sped up even more, and there was no possible way for us to make it across the entire island without going through the typhoon.

Within 15 minutes of us making this discovery, our ride showed up to take us home. Words cannot describe how afraid we were as we departed Kenting, based on what we knew lie ahead. We were going into the storm. We knew it wasn’t smart, and in hindsight, we would have definitely prioritized our safety over a job, but this is one of the dumb decisions we were fortunate to get away with unscathed.

For awhile, outside of heavy wind, everything seemed to be okay outside, which gave us a little hope. Maybe the forecast was wrong?

As we drove through Taichung in the center of Taiwan, our hope quickly turned into terror. The wind was actually moving our vehicle around; as this happened, Mora & I just gave each other a silent, knowing look in horror.

stormy road

While on the interstate, we passed by a billboard hanging on its side just waiting to fall on some unsuspecting vehicle. We held our collective breaths for what felt like an eternity as we continued down the road.

Until finally, it stopped. As things slowed down, we stopped at a rest area to compose ourselves and catch our breaths. We had survived our foolish mistake. Never again will we allow anything to compromise our safety. So please, do not make the same mistake we did.

Do any of you have any hurricane, typhoon, or cyclone experiences you would like to share? Whether it’s good or bad, we would love to hear from you.

As always, please feel free to leave comments/questions as I will be reading each & every one of them and responding. If you want to know something, ask away! Do not hesitate to contact us if you need anything at all or would like to chat! Please hit those follow, share, & like buttons; just don’t eat the apple. Until next time, stay traveling (safely)!