I dragged my suitcase on the streets of Manhattan while dodging the slow-moving tourists, the mysterious puddles, and the uneven sidewalk.

Then I descended to the subway platform in an elevator reeking of pee. I counted down the seconds — ten, nine, eight, seven, minus one, minus two — it took an eternity for the doors to open.

What a pain to navigate New York City.

Yet I dread leaving this messy city. I dread leaving home, or I just dread the goodbyes.

The agony of leaving never occurred to me when I first started traveling the world. I was…


“Of all people, you’re scared of flying?”

I get that reaction whenever I admit to having flight anxiety. How do I even travel full-time if I dread the idea of getting onto a plane every time?

Ironically, the more I travel, the worse my anxiety becomes.

When I was 10, my mom had put me on a flight from New York back to Hong Kong alone. As she recalled, I didn’t linger at the airport, nor did I turn around to say another goodbye.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of myself,” I said to my mom and turned my sassy…


On a sleepy Sunday evening, John and I wandered into an empty bar in Hudson, a charming small town in Upstate New York.

“Where are you guys from?” asked the bartender.

He was perhaps curious why the two of us were strolling around a ghost town on a Sunday night. Every other New Yorker has gone back to the city to prepare for the next work day. Or it was his routine question for any visitors.

“Everywhere,” John said. “She lives in New York but she’s leaving soon for this big journey in South America. …


Motorcycle ride is a romance by default, especially for a backseat rider.

When I was five and fearless, I loved asking my then 13-year-old cousin to take me on an exhilarating motorcycle ride through the rainstorm, on the dirt path among the fish ponds and farm fields, in the rural area of China. I wasn’t even a backseat rider then — I had to sit in the front to make sure I was getting an unobstructed view.

Thankfully I’ve grown up to acquire some survival instincts, like, fearing for my life enough to not get on a motorcycle in the…


Taipei, Taiwan

Yeah… life sucks, we agreed and sighed, longing for an answer to life’s absurdity.

It was a breezy winter evening in Taipei when I walked home with my roommate Yayoi.

I remember our routine, awkward Airbnb introduction followed by the first night of an eerie silence in the 3-bedroom apartment. It was so quiet that even my slow breathing seemed like a disruption. I had just been back from Tainan, where people frequently laughed, chatted, and gathered for hot pots. Taipei instantly seemed much more aloof in a stark contrast to the cozy nights down south.

Strangely enough, I came…


Hi Daphne,

Thank you so much for your interest and effort in the application process. Unfortunately, we have made the decision to not move forward at this time. Ultimately, we had so many qualified applicants and a very limited number of positions.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Sincerely,
a nice enough editor who didn’t send a computer-generated email

I clicked away yet another rejection email. For a few minutes, I gave in to another round of silent meltdown, another thought of giving up on this writing career sh*t. It doesn’t even pay well, I sneered. Pretending like the 50th rejection didn’t hurt…


Ljubljana, what an intriguing name for a capital city. My love for the Slovenian capital started when I searched for its pronunciation on YouTube. No one really knows the origin of the name Ljubljana. Some say it stands for a flooding river. Others point out the Slavic prefix “ljub-” means to love. And I… will take the latter interpretation.

Train Travel Between Zagreb and Ljubljana


Tainan, Taiwan — In the narrow, intertwining alleyway of old brick houses, we paused in front of a rusty, sky blue door. It looked like a private home entrance without any business sign. I peeked through the mesh window and saw a mid-aged man conversing with a younger gentleman. Behind them was a modest cupboard with siphon coffee makers and an old-fashioned water dispenser sitting on top.

“Is this Nan-Shisan (南十三 / ‘South 13’)?” I asked, lowering my head to show my face through the mesh window.

The mid-aged man raised his eyes through his thin-rimmed glasses and signaled us…


New Yorkers simply don’t say no to pizza, whether it’s a dollar slice from 2 Bros Pizza or a classic coal-fired oven slice from John’s Pizzeria.

Being a New Yorker requires a strict adherence to the following rules:
#1: Never say no to pizza.
#2: New Yorkers rise above stupid rules.

For the record, all rules are stupid.

After 20 months of travel, I came home to the land of attitudes (correction: opportunities) on a nippy mid-April evening. Excited about spending time in New York again, I immediately took up Cameron’s offer to visit the Empire State Building.

Spring was…


Panicking, I scrambled to dodge bullets in the middle of a student slaughter in a contemporary museum. It was Battle Royale on steroids. Men in army green combat uniforms were sweeping the floor with their rifles. Students in white uniforms were running like flies. In a matter of seconds, the white shirts turned maroon. The bodies piled on the ground, lifeless.

I don’t recall how I reached an elevator and escaped the bloodbath. The elevator went upward and reopened on the 12th floor, the administrative office. Another round of bullets could be waiting as the doors opened. The military could…

Daphne K. Lee

Writing about humanly things. http://www.daphneklee.com

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