Ten Years in Asia – Wow! What a Ride!

A few weeks ago, I passed my ten year milestone in Asia. When I embarked on my journey of self discovery so long ago, I never once imagined that I’d still be here after all this time. Going home during my first year was certainly not an option, and I had only been in China for a few weeks when I admitted to myself that I wanted more time embracing this new culture and lifestyle that I had chosen for myself.

And that’s the big thing here, I believe.

I think one of the big reasons why I’ve been so successful in Asia is because I had the freedom to choose my own life path and not one that was expected of me. No one really put any pressure on me to come home, get married, buy a house and have kids. My parents, more than anything, wanted me to be happy.

It’s hard to sum up ten years in one blog post, so you’ll have to start at the beginning of MSW if you want to learn the whole story. Or you can just have a look through the images and comments here to see which moments have stood out for me.

2003 

Winter Camp in China

I moved to Changchun City in Jilin Province in northeast China to become an ESL teacher.

My family and friends have been very supportive of our decision to stay in Asia. Growing up, my parents were constantly telling us that we had the freedom to make decisions for ourselves. They also constantly reminded us to take on new opportunities, and to have the courage to follow through on our decisions, whether those decisions were right or wrong. So I suppose I owe my parents a big thank you for teaching these lessons to me at such a young age. I obviously listened and learned them well.

Almost a Princess

Beijing Television Arts in our Land competition

2004

John and I

Everything seemed to fall in place after I had made the decision to stay on in China for a little longer. First of all, I met and fell in love with the man that has become my best friend and the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with.

After the Beijing competition, I spread my wings and flew a little further and followed my girlhood dream of being a singer, and I moonlighted as that for another two years before we moved to Taiwan.

2005

Sunset at Haad Rin Nai
In 2005, John and I embarked on our first long-term backpacking trip. Our travels spanned three months and took us through a number of countries in Asia, including a long train journey in China, Macau, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Hong Kong. John proposed to me in Bali, Indonesia, and shortly after that, Caleb entered our lives.

The Ring 2

Caleb

I also became a stepmom to my favorite little boy in the world!

2006

John and I

We moved to Taiwan. 

We started working at Gram English Center in Shulin. To date, Gram is still one of the best schools I’ve ever worked for. I was with them for almost three years. It felt like we naturally progressed into the next stage of our lives together, which was living abroad for a few years to save money and see the world. I don’t think we ever had a serious talk about staying on in Taiwan, it just seemed like a natural choice for us.

Little Lambs and Elves

2007

Carrie of My Several Worlds

My New Year’s resolution in 2007 was to start a blog, hence My Several Worlds was founded. (Note that my nifty MSW t-shirt was sent to me by Tshirtprinting.org.) I also launched a number of other travel related websites and started making a decent earning online.

Above the Clouds

We went on our first long motorcycle trip along the Central Cross Island Highway of Taiwan.

Discover Taipei

I was featured on the cover of Discover Taiwan magazine. We also found time to travel to Japan, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

2008

Then we got married in Mexico on December 10, 2008.

We spent a lot of time this year developing ourselves professionally. I started working as an editor and writer for LiveABC publishing in Taipei. I also started branching out by writing for a number of travel publications.

2009

2009 was a bit of a rocky year for me. After ten years of suffering from mysterious symptoms, I finally received a proper diagnosis and began treatment for Ankylosing Spondylitis. My recovery was a rough one, and I wasn’t able to move around a lot that year. Nevertheless, I still found time to travel to Singapore, quit smoking and get a tattoo in Taiwan.

2010

In 2010, I left Live ABC to pursue a full time career as a freelance writer. That didn’t last long, as I was offered a position running the day to day activities at Reach To Teach Recruiting.

I traveled on business quite a bit this year. My trip to Georgia in Eastern Europe was one place that I’d never dreamed of visiting until we landed our contract with the Georgian Ministry of Education. We also visited the Philippines for the first time.

2011

Borneo-0969

In 2011, John and I traveled to Kota Kinabalu, in Borneo Malaysia. I participated in the Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau’s 100 Fun Things to do in Taiwan, and I ended up winning NT$18,000. (Approximately $600USD, which was promptly spent on a Canon 7D). I also traveled to Europe for the first time. John wasn’t able to come with me, but I enjoyed the time on my own and I was able to meet up with a number of friends that I met while I was in China, including my dearest friends in the world Claire and Drew. That’s us in Copenhagen below.

Carrie and 100 Fun Things To Do In Taiwan

Copenhagen-1653

2012

Mom and Dad in Taiwan

2012 was a tumultuous year for us that was filled with ups and downs. We started the year off with a visit from my parents, who flew to Taiwan for the first time. We were also able to take them to Bali, where we got engaged, and where my father has always wanted to visit.

John and I became the new owners of Reach To Teach Recruiting in June 2012, and we received our APRCs (permanent residency permits) for Taiwan. I flew home in Canada in August for my parents 40th wedding anniversary.

My little brother Cody passed away in September, and while I haven’t wanted to write about it, I want to mention him here because he was and is a huge part of my life, despite the fact that I have lived away from Canada for so long. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him, and the only regret that I have about my choice to stay in Asia is that I didn’t know the man that he had become while I was away.

We’ve had some incredible journeys and we’ve experienced some tragedies, but we’ve come through them together in a land that we now call home. Here’s to another ten years of love, tears and laughter. And, of course, lots and lots of adventures.

 

Post Author: Carrie Kellenberger

I'm a chronically ill Canadian expat who has been living abroad in Asia since 2003. I moved from China to Taiwan in 2006. My husband and I have owned our own business in Taiwan since 2012. In addition to my own work, I've been writing professionally about Asia, travel and health advocacy since 2007, providing regular content to several publishing companies and travel publications in Asia and North America. Follow Carrie on on Twitter @globetrotteri or on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/carriekellenberger/.

19 thoughts on “Ten Years in Asia – Wow! What a Ride!

    Greg

    (April 10, 2013 - 12:44 am)

    I was touched by your story and wish you the best. As an expat for over twenty years, I could relate to many of your stories. May your future be just as rewarding as your past.

      Carrie

      (April 11, 2013 - 3:28 pm)

      Hi Greg,

      Thank you so much. I never expected to have all these incredible things happen to me in Asia. Time seems to move differently over here. 🙂

    Anne O'Connell (@annethewriter)

    (April 10, 2013 - 12:50 am)

    Hello Carrie,
    What a wonderful journey you’ve been on! I really enjoy reading about your adventures. I’m an expat Canadian too (grew up in Halifax). We left Canada in 1993 and are now happily living in Thailand 🙂

    I’d love to learn more about Reach to Teach. It sounds like a wonderful organization. I have a nephew who taught in Seoul for a year and I volunteer for a charity here that teaches English at 2 Thai government schools so the mission is near and dear to my heart!

    Have a great day,
    Anne 🙂

      Carrie

      (April 11, 2013 - 3:24 pm)

      Hi Anne,

      Thank you so much for writing. It’s always good to meet other Canadian expats. There seem to be a lot of us over here! I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about Reach To Teach. Our company website is at http://www.reachtoteachrecruiting.com. Feel free to message me directly if you wish. I’m at carrie@reachtoteachrecruiting.com. Where are you living in Thailand?

    Agness

    (April 10, 2013 - 6:47 am)

    Congratulations on such a milestone. Looks like it’s been an awesome ride. Wonderful photos, you look amazingly happy. Keep on inspiring people and wish you 10 more happy years in Asia :)))) Who knows, we might meet somewhere in SE soon 🙂

      Carrie

      (April 11, 2013 - 3:22 pm)

      Hi Agness,

      Thank you so much. If your e-tramping every brings you to Taiwan, please look me up!

    Julio Moreno

    (April 16, 2013 - 11:24 am)

    What an adventure. The ending was really heartbreaking. I have a younger brother and to be honest, not seeing him grow is probably my only regret from living in Korea the last three years. Have you ever made it out to Korea? It is such a wonderful country with so much to do!

      Carrie

      (April 16, 2013 - 3:15 pm)

      Hi Julio,

      Thank you. It’s been a bittersweet closing to the decade. I go to Korea once or twice a year. My trips tend to be short because I’m there on business. Next time we go, I’m hoping my husband and I can take some extra time to see some other parts of the country.

    Kristin of Be My Travel Muse

    (April 20, 2013 - 3:16 pm)

    Congrats on ten years of amazing growth and self-discovery, Carrie. So good to have met you and worked with you over the last few.

      Carrie

      (April 22, 2013 - 11:50 am)

      Thanks, Kristin! It’s been an amazing journey. It’s incredible to stop and think of all the people from all the different walks of life that I’ve met along the way. I’ve met some pretty incredible travelers/expats, yourself included!

    Josh Dent

    (May 12, 2013 - 7:38 am)

    Wow! What an amazing and powerful collection of stories. I have only been here 6 months. You helped me a lot getting here. I wish you many more success!

      Carrie

      (May 13, 2013 - 3:35 pm)

      Thanks, Josh. I am really glad to hear that you are enjoying Taiwan. I am sure there are many more adventures to come!

    Ngoc Hue

    (May 15, 2013 - 6:25 am)

    WOW! This is amazing! You are really inspirational Carrie! I’ve always been interested in teaching abroad and living abroad (especially Korea and Taiwan) although I am not a native English speaker. It makes me so worried about my chances of actually getting a position once I graduate from college. I hope that I will be able to do what I love and want to do just like you! You’re my role model Carrie! Thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

      Carrie

      (May 31, 2013 - 6:09 am)

      Thank you for your message, Hgoc. I hope you are able to live out your dream of becoming an ESL teacher. All the best to you!

    Jenny

    (May 26, 2013 - 6:32 am)

    My husband of 8 years is getting on a plane to Taiwan tomorrow. My 3 year old daughter and I will follow him out in a few months. I am a small town girl born and raised, never lived more than 45 minutes from where I grew up. I am so glad I came across your blog today. It has been greatly encouraging. I have so many fears about taking this journey but I suppose the bigger fear would be not going and always wondering, What if?

    Thanks for sharing, Jenny

      Carrie

      (May 31, 2013 - 6:08 am)

      Hi Jenny,

      It’s really nice to hear from you. I can imagine that it must be a pretty scary move for you and your family to be making, but I am sure that you are going to love Taiwan. The people here are very friendly and welcoming, the cost of living is cheap, and there are lots of opportunities for people of all ages. I think you’re absolutely right that you should be taking this chance, even though you’re scared. It’s only natural to be apprehensive, but I know you’re going to be just fine!

      All the best,
      Carrie

    Fili

    (May 31, 2013 - 6:41 am)

    That’s amazing, Carrie. Been following you for a good part of those years since you took up blogging, and it often feels like we share alot of things in common. Love the passion you have and the beauty you see in things. It’s inspiring.

    🙂

      Carrie

      (June 5, 2013 - 3:37 pm)

      Thanks, Fili. It’s been a pleasure to get to know you as well through your own blogging. I’m very grateful for the people I’ve met along the way!

    Craig

    (July 22, 2014 - 8:02 pm)

    Wow congratulations, what an amazing story!

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