Worse than being homeless

I have been here for three years, but go “home/to my country of origin/back to my roots” once a year…torn between a genuine desire to see my family and the knowledge that my mother will have a cow if I don’t go (guilt?) or that something serious like death or worse might really happen to them.

I would like to know how often you go “home”? Why do you go? And do you enjoy the experience when you go?
I’m facing the trip in a few days, and while I look forward to it, there are also a few concerns:
My country’s not organised for tourists who are used to Thailand or Vietnam prices…it’s really hard to find cheap hotels, guest houses, etc. when I’m there. Public transport doesn’t exist so I usually find myself stuck in my boring, tiny hometown (I don’t own a car…eek!).
Anybody facing the same difficulties? How do you deal with it?

I go home to Britland once every two years, usually. I take a month off each time – that way, I get to spend a fairly respectable two weeks with the wrinklies and siblings, while still having time for a decent two weeks for a “proper” holiday in Europe (sailing a 50-foot yacht from Sicily to Tunisia this year – WOOHOO!!).

First thing I do on arrival at Edinburgh airport is rent a car for the duration of my stay.

I’ve made only three trips back to England in the last 17 years. The first one, a dozen years ago, was to introduce my Taiwanese fiancee to my family. That was a wonderful visit in every way. She stayed there to study while I returned to Taiwan. We broke up six months later (at her instigation). The next time was to say goodbye to my mum, who was in the terminal stage of cancer. That was not a happy visit. The last time, in the summer of 2000, was to see my brother and sisters and their kids – I loved every minute, felt that England had improved immeasurably (in Chelmsford, Ipswich and Leicester, at least) and become a really wonderful place to live. It made me wonder why on earth I was living in Taiwan, and it took me a while to feel settled here again after I returned.

My best advice to you would be to make those visits as regular as possible while your folks are still alive. My biggest regret in life is that I didn’t.

My condolences to you Omni. That must have been hard, and its something I dread more and more with each passing year.

Ditto. My parents are in their early 70’s and that is the main reason for my annual pilgrimage. While it’s always great to return home, the main reason for the trip is due to my aging folks. And their gratitude that I made the trip couldn’t be more evident. One year I also felt a compulsion to visit both brothers so flew Taipei-SF-Denver-Seattle-SF-Taipei. Never again. Taipei-SF-Taipei is enough.

I know a guy in his late 40s who’s lived in Taiwan for 5 years without leaving the island once. When I asked if he felt pressure to visit his mother who’s in her 80’s he told me no, she’s strong and will live another 10 years. What a fool.

I go back twice a year to see my boyfriend who in turn tries to come here twice a year. I always leave Asia with mixed feelings: I’m looking forward to seeing him and my grandparents, relatives and friends. But it’s a lot of stress as well. I’m always torn between staying at my family’s place from where I can reach most of my friends and relatives (if one of my siblings can spare a car), and spending some time at my boyfriends place in the northern part of Germany. I guess it would be nicer if I had more time than two weeks.

I like Germany a lot, the green landscape around my parent’s village, the great old houses in my boyfriend’s place, normal every-day life etc. but it always takes me a day or two to get used to being in Germany again: nobody noticing me on the street, everything more quiet, cleaner air, and everybody speaking German (while I have difficulties making whole German sentences without a single Chinese or English term in there).

Coming back here also always happens with mixed feeling. I live here, I feel at home, I love my life here. But I’ll miss my boyfriend awfully for the first couple of weeks. And I’m always scared I might not see my grandparents again.

If it wasn’t for my boyfriend, I probably wouldn’t go twice a year. But I’d certainly try to go once a year, at least as long as my grandparents are still there.

I’m about to go, been excitedly counting the days for two months and am as uneasy as always. I’m scared I’ll miss Taipei. But then, there will be so much to do and so many people to see, I probably won’t have time to think much about Taipei. And the two weeks will be over way too fast.

Expat’s fate, I guess :?


I’m at 3 trips in the 20 years since I left, but not much excuse to visit the UK now. Mom & Dad retired to France. That’s a lot more appealing for a visit, though I haven’t been yet. :blush:

I go 2-4 times a year. 2 times for visiting family and friends, combined with some business. My kids and my parents to see them on regular basis (not to become strangers to them). It is also useful for the kids to pick up and practice a bit of the local language while playing with their cousins and other kids in the neighborhood.

The other 0-2 times is purely business, just dropping by saying hello to the folks.

Mode of transportation is borowed/rented car or taxi + train.
It is always scary to get reports from my sisters regarding my parents’ declining health, so I am always standby to go on a moments notice.

I haven’t gone home for years now…My parents simply said…don’t go home…save your mullah…


Used to go back about every 9 months or so when I was living in Malaysia, usually for 2-3 weeks at a time. It’s a long way home and I just hate those trips on a plane, especially if it’s economy class.

Have been here since January last year with the exception of a visa trip to Malaysia in Feb 02.
Thus it’s nearly 15 months I haven’t been back to Germany and do feel a bit homesick. Might be the stress and pressure I am currently under at my job.

Usually I look forward to go back, have to get out of here and the comfort at home (will stay at my parents house) is certainly welcome - mum will do the cooking and laundry etc. …
I also take this time to see some old friends (those who still remember you) and relatives.
However after 2-3 weeks I feel it’s time to leave again and I long going back to wherever I came from to gain back my total independence; must also admit I get along much better with my parents since I completely moved out. Ok, it’s a big distance but then again it’s only a 13 hour flight or so and other things can be discussed on the phone (usually we speak every 2 weeks or so).

This year I plan to go back in April, there is also a huge exhibition about RC models not that far away I want to visit - one of the things I actually do miss.

Oh, and when back home I have total control over the TV’s remote and my parents car, so I won’t be stuck in this boring town of mine …

I’m certain it must have been very difficult… and I dread the thought of doing the same someday soon… I have resigned myself to the fact that my folks, both in their 70s, will probably go on to whatever is next while I am over here… I console myself by reminding myself that my brother still lives at home and my sister lives only 5 minutes away from them.

That is sage advice, undoubtedly. I get back at least once a year, and any time I get to the US for a conference, my folks fly out to wherever I am to see me. I also send my kid to live with my folks every summer, so they have a chance to see their only grandson and so that he has a chance to collect what one day will be happy memories.

Omni, thanks for the important reminder. Peace.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but does meeting maybe four times a year qualify as having a boyfriend?
Perhaps this could be a separate thread.

I go back when it is possible to take off the time. However, when I can take off time I usually feel that going home is a waste since there are still places in Asia that I have yet to visit. I spent years in the States, going back there to see relatives is really a big opportunity loss. But I do go back from time to time.

I’m just thankful that I wasn’t in a relationship when I decided to come to Taiwan. I don’t think I could have done the long-distance thing unless there was a specific time limit e.g. 2 years. And even then…wow!

I seem to have arrived at a new stage of my Taiwan experience…at the end of the last two years I spent ages with the should-I-stay-or-should-I-go debate. This time I just went and renewed my ARC without even really taking notice that it was the end of another year…I only realised it now!
I’m now wondering if I would ever go back if something had to happen to my parents…

Yes…and then, like me, you wake up and discover it is more than 17 years… :wink:

That has certainly been my philosphy. With so many wonderful experiences waiting to be had in Asia I just haven’t wanted to go home.

Unfortunately my philosphies don’t always work out the way I hope. In the close to 5 years that I have lived in Taiwan I have had to return to Canada twice. The first for the passing of my father and the second for the passing of my step-father. I would gladly have sacrificed a trip or two to Thailand to be able to have spent more time with them.

Now with a baby on the way, my wife and I are attempting to strike a more balanced approach; one that will bring us home more frequently. Not because I particularly miss Canada or because my mother needs me but because spending a little time every year with family is an experience to treasure as well.

Twice a year for me. 10 days over the Christmas holiday, a month in June.

I agree wholeheartedly with Omni’s observation.

I have gone home for both Christmases I’ve been here, and my mother came to visit me with my brother and his little family hoping to save up enough money to visit me sometime before I leave the island. But then I just turned 22 right before coming here so I am still pretty young. I am not sure that I will be going home for Christmas this year since it always sets me back about $1000 US, but my mother’s health is not that good despite being only 45 makes me wish I could be there more often.
Plus, I am not a big fan of visiting the US since 9/11 because of the overt racism and nationalism that I see there now. Last year was rather disturbing although it seems to have calmed down a bit this year.

I’ve been here for almost 2 years, and haven’t been home yet. Just can’t seem to find the time or money, although if I get accepted to the graduate program I’m applying to this year, I’ll go home for a month or so in the summer before school starts crossing my fingers.

I’ve been back to visit my parents about 6 or 7 times in the last 10 years–just a couple times for the first few years and then once a year for the last few. I understand how boring it can be just sitting around the house when you feel lke you should be doing something witjh your all-too-brief vacation. I never had a problem with getting a car, but my mom was ill for several years so it was hard to get out too much. My parents both died, my father quite suddenly, within a year of each other. When I look back on vacations past, visions of the beaches and cities of Southeast Asia of course dance through my head. But my fondest vacation memories are of us just hanging out at my parents’ house on a Sunday morning, cooking breakfast, reading the paper, and talking over coffee.

Ditto what Omni said.

Well, I’m back from my trip and it seems that my country, town and parents are slowing down with every passing year…

Driving home from the local pub at 23:30 closing time and not seeing any other cars on the road…frustrating.
Finding that my father seems to do everything really slowly, says “uhm” a lot, and keeps dropping things…scary.
Constantly being asked where I’m from…beyond weird.

But it was good to spend a week on the beach, watch some cricket, meet some new family members, and completely stuff myself with dead animals and the lovely wine of the region. Guess I’ll start planning next year’s trip…