Wendy’s January 2024 Founder’s Note: Laughter

2023 began with a horrific robbery where things I owned were ruthlessly taken away as my privacy was ferociously invaded. Yet, I spent the rest of the year laughing my tail off because I somehow became lighter.

In the 80s, I grew up in a house on a hill perched on the outskirts of downtown Taipei. Every room in my childhood home boasted a different color, and our “toys room” happened to be covered in deep red.

Often after dinner, my sister and I would unfold a large box – a dollhouse disguised itself as a suitcase but once opened, it was an entire miniature home laid out with a bedroom on one corner, next to a bathroom with a relaxing tub, there was also a kitchen even with a fridge full of a delicious array of plastic groceries and bright kitchenware. When my doll cracked the ice cubes from tiny blue ice trays, I was also staring at her life, fabulously constructed in a colorful package upon a vivid rouge carpet. From my gaze above the perfectly square box, her life was one that I had architected especially for her, and probably most likely the one my eight-year-old self wished to have later in life.

In 2023, I spent countless moments doing so. In times of awe, my thoughts would be lifted apart from my physical self as I stared at my experiences from above just as I did with the dollhouse. Except the adult version of me no longer live in a pretend dream, I simply and gratefully ask: How did I get here? Is this even real?

12 countries, each with distinct memories stored in different parts of the world. In November of last year, I found myself in the middle of Turin with a group of friends from Paris. The first dinner of the trip was at Maurizio’s parents’ home where the entire evening was accompanied by sparkling, white and red bottles from the Italian wine country region of Piedmont. A decadent assortment of gourmet chocolates placed on shiny silver platters was merely the welcome start to a sumptuous multi-course meal embellished by our names on place cards in the form of silver cars, reminiscent of FIAT as one of numerous Italian companies originated in Turin – one of Italy’s top entrepreneurial cities.

Place cards.
Place cards. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Chocolate-covered dried fruits.
Chocolate-covered dried fruits. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

With Maurizio’s parents – Max and Luisa – we conversed entirely in French throughout the whole evening. Of course, an unexpected but impressive surprise. As I admired a chocolate-covered cape gooseberry while sipping on a flute of sparkling Alta Langa, I suddenly hopped outside of my body and drifted to a dollhouse moment. Staring at my own shadow, in the elegance of a cozy home in Turin alongside local Italians and the warmth of a Parisian gang; I had to ask: How did a girl from Taipei then grew up in America end up here? 

Multi-course meal in Turin.
First of a multi-course meal in Turin.PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Alta Langa sparkling wine.
Alta Langa sparkling wine. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

We spent the rest of the delightful evening eating, drinking and storytelling. White truffles in Langhe was the backdrop to our following days, nourishing our souls with exquisite dishes, voluminous wines and boisterous laughter. Oh how we laughed! Though I happened to be the butt of most endearing jokes; we laughed until our stomaches ached, until the wine bottles emptied, until we could barely breathe, until it felt like someone whacked my head with a sledgehammer in the mornings. Hangovers get worse with age, but each painful morning was worth the infinite laughter from the night before.

Cape gooseberry.
Cape gooseberry. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Gourmet chocolates.
Gourmet chocolates. PHOTO WENDY HUNG

But then again, that’s how 2023 was splendidly spent. In Mexico City, we sang our hearts out to melancholic Mexican ballads at drag shows. I had no idea what I was singing along to, but the unknowing was compensated by pure glee. At the beach bar in the Dominican Republic, my cousins and I took so many shots of vodka that I morphed into a dolphin and dove into the Caribbean Sea without a care in the world. Laughing as we scratched enormous mosquito bites, learning to twerk while cackling until tears of hilarity rushed down our faces.

When I was young, that dollhouse looked pretty immaculate. My doll, or the life I thought I needed to have, was the dream that belonged to most girls I knew and still know. She also had a husband and children, living in a beautiful home, all of it defined fabulousness within the box of traditional ideals that met all of society’s expectations. Sometimes I ask that girl inside of me, if she would’ve been disappointed with the life she eventually leads. But how could anyone deny the joy of laughter that rings, sprightly crossing continents. With families, friends and strangers.

laughter
Caffè Platti in Turin. PHOTO NICOLAS STROHL

The act of laughing is just as addicting as coffee, once you taste it first thing in the morning, there’s an irrefutable desire to sustain the ritual. My 2023 began with a horrific robbery where things I owned were ruthlessly taken away as my privacy was ferociously invaded. Yet, I spent the rest of the year laughing my tail off because I somehow became lighter. Luxury goods can be stolen but I refused to let the theives take away my charisma, spiritual optimism, a thirst for discovery and the true love I feel from human gems I choose to surround myself with on once-in-a-lifetime trips and regular basis.

Here’s to a new year, and new experiences outside of a life we thought we should or can’t have. I expect to laugh evermore so, if I hadn’t yet already with my cup of joe.

Love,

Wendy's siguature

Wendy Hung

CEO, FOUNDER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

As the founder of Jetset Times, Wendy is an avid traveler and fluent in five languages. When she's not traveling, Wendy calls Paris and Taipei home. Her favorite countries so far from her travels have been: Bhutan, Iran, and St. Bart's because they were all so different!

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