From Nepal, Taipei, and Hong Kong to Paris.
For this year’s Founder’s Notes, I’m going to feature personal friends of mine making an impact in the world because of their positive outlooks and their insightful spirits. We all have them in our lives – women who if turned into wondrous chapters of books would be featured on glossy covers. Read here for what I wrote about Jenny.
Have you ever had a friend who came into your life so randomly that you wonder how in the world (quite literally) did the both of you ever cross paths? That’s the story of Yvonne and I. Both of us are Taiwanese and we met in…Nepal.
As someone who’s been unfortunately disappointed by quite a few friendships, I wasn’t sure if Yvonne was actually REAL! We first met in Nepal, of all places. Imagine this, two Taiwanese girls who have been educated in the Western World. We were both traveling with our immediate families during Chinese New Year, and we instantly became great pals. First, Yvonne has the physique of my younger sister. When you grow up having a sister as a best friend, it’s quite natural to think that you don’t need anyone else. Because…why would you? Or if anyone else comes along, it’s simply a fabulous bonus. Yvonne looks so much like my sister that even when she came to my parents’ apartment in Taipei, the guards uttered, “Miss Hung?” That’s how I had an inkling, this girl was meant to be in my life. For good.
Such an arbitrary encountering in Nepal took place three months before the traumatic 2015 earthquake which killed nearly 9,000 people and shattered major parts of the cities we visited. We were blessed and grateful to have the memories we garnered from the trip, including watching the sunrise in the Himalayas mountains where we took our very first friend photo together as I chatted with traveling American hikers (more like hipsters). Yvonne and I bonded so much during this trip that we knew we’d be doing a disservice to destiny if we didn’t stay in touch.
After Nepalese monkeys and elephants, we would meet during Christmas in our hometown, Taipei. What still takes my breath away with Yvonne is that after each of our conversations, I’m able to walk away and say to myself: ‘I learned so much today!’ We never gossip or hang onto the petty things in life. We chat about philosophies, life stuff (because there’s always a LOT of stuff with life), and how we can keep bettering ourselves. At the end of the day, we ultimately share the same values regarding our approach to lifestyles, and most importantly, family.
If anything, Yvonne has an utmost respect and a soft spot for my parents. In her eyes, my mother and my father are not only admirable entrepreneurs, but adorable human beings. She notices the most detailed reactions from my dear mother that I thought my sister and I were the only ones to ever notice. When it comes to our fathers, well, we have the same father. Physically, they’re both tall, slender, and lean. Both are successful businessmen dedicated to their families without question, not one single ounce of doubt. Both are madly in love with their wives and loyally devoted to their children. Somehow in this day and age, these qualities are not only hard to find, they’re to be treasured.
Something almost too good to be true is the lens Yvonne sees me through, and I often wish I could have the courage to wear such complimentary frames. She, to this day, remains to look at me as if I’m worth kilos of diamonds. Somehow, I’m incapable of comprehending her perspective. Once I told her about a relationship that I was painfully struggling with, she said without a blink of an eye,
“He doesn’t deserve you at all.”
It took me a full two years to understand what she meant, then I was finally able to truly let go. This is what true friends do – they see the best side of you before you can even recognize it for yourself. Yes people, this still happens when you’re in your late-thirties!
Earlier this year, I visited Hong Kong on a whim. A serious whim. A spontaneous trip decided a few days prior to takeoff. Yvonne, who lives in Hong Kong, planned every dinner as if it would be my last meal on earth. We’re talking the most tasty Hong Kongese BBQ pork rice at Dragon Noodle Academy, gazing at Victoria Harbour while chowing down Sechuan dishes in the utmost stylish Fu Rong, sipped on fancy cocktails at the sophisticated Pottinger Hotel: The Envoy, and indulged in local wontons in Sheung Wan. Through it all, we fought for the check like old Asian aunties, but she won every time. As we elaborated about life, love, and fulfillment, I often wondered, how does someone two years younger than me have wisdom beyond my own experiences? I truly believe it’s because Yvonne might simply be one of the most positive and understanding people I know.
Four years ago on June 22nd, she visited me in Paris on her way to a wedding in Greece. We spent merely 12 hours together sipping on afternoon tea at Angelina Café, strolling around the Tuileries Gardens, and took a photo of a cloud in the shape of a heart. Right? You can’t even make this up in movies! The sky was literally in agreement of our friendship, secretly whispering to me, “Wendy, you don’t have to protect yourself from this one. She’s a good egg.”
How funny is it that four years later, Yvonne visited me in Paris on the exact same day – June 22nd. This time, with her husband from a wedding when she blessed me with the role as her maid of honor. This time in Paris, we got to sip on cocktails at Bar Hemingway, devour the most delectable foie gras at Juveniles Wine Bar, and drink champagne at Café Marly with an epic view of the lit up Louvre right in front of our eyes. In our case, it’s certainly an understatement to say that life is full of surprises. I know deep in my heart, we were meant to meet in Nepal for a reason. A very sacred reason.
Beautiful Yvonne came into my life when I was beginning to lose trust in friendships, yet we met in the most unplanned part of the world then continued to meet in various cities. Through maturity and respect, she teaches me that friendships in our thirties can be even sweeter. Hand in hand while holding onto support, love, compassion, and wisdom. Life really does keep getting better!