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    He Put A Ring On It & Trip Planning Tips

    Hallo! Exciting things have happened since my last blog post… I got engaged! It is both super exciting and weird at the same time even though 2 months have already past since the proposal. If you’re curious as to my true thoughts on how the proposal went (knowing that I am a surprise ruiner), it went perfectly; even though we have been together for almost 10 years, I was 100% surprised when he asked on a beautiful 65 degree day, on our favorite beach during sunset. Wedding planning games have begun since then, and I’m sure I’ll be writing (or venting haha) about some of those #CHENCHALLENGES in the near future. There already has been a few.

    My fiance (weird calling him that.. okay, my partner? significant other? less weird) and I also took a 8 day trip to the beautiful, history-rich lands of Germany recently, specifically Berlin, Munich, and Rhineland area/Frankfurt. It was an awesome trip filled with many firsts including renting an AirBnB place instead of a hotel, navigating the German rail and local train systems, eating German food, and driving (or in my case, being a passenger) 125mph on the autobahn.

    Why Germany? Honestly, it was just fate… thanks to the flight pricing gods. We used Google Flights‘ Discover Destinations to check out which places would be cheap to fly to during specific dates. We saw that a few European cities were fairly cheap like Zurich, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and used the app Hopper to track flight prices. One day, we saw Frankfurt have $450 direct round trip tickets from JFK and immediately booked it. So, that’s how we chose Germany.

    Of course me being a planner, I planned out my itineraries for the trip beforehand. I used a bunch of different sources for “the best things to do in X city” but mainly from TripAdvisor and friend recommendations. I used Sygic Travel to plot all my points of interest on a map so I could group PoIs close in proximity together, then used TripHobo to plan out my day to day itinerary. I liked that Trip Hobo included suggestions on what’s in the area as well as included commute time (walking, car, train).

    Before my trip, I also wanted to get a no-foreign-transaction-fee card to use abroad. I used to have the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX (which had this and I miss dearly because it was awesome earning SPG points) but after the first free year, I couldn’t justify the $95 annual fee with my current spending habits – maybe we’ll meet again some day my friend.. Anyway, TLDR – I needed a free card that provided this benefit. There are a few no-annual-fee credit cards out there that include the no-foreign-trans-fee but I ended up going with the Charles Schwab Debit Card. I usually use cash abroad (many smaller shops and restaurants do not accept credit cards) and Schwab will reimburse any ATM fees. It is an online bank, so it is annoying that you can’t deposit cash directly and any money transfers from external bank accounts will take about 4 business days, but the customer service has been great so far, no annual fees, 1.0% interest for your checking account… it’s pretty sweet for an abroad card option. I do have to warn you that they do a hard pull on your credit (meaning their inquiry into your credit score will affect your score). So if you’re looking to get a loan in the near future, might not be a good idea to get it now. I didn’t have any problem using this card in the German ATMs BUT DO call them before your trip to notify them; I didn’t do this and I couldn’t charge anything to the card as they thought it was fraud.. ATM worked though.

    I hope these few tips are helpful in planning your next trip! Stay tuned for more posts on what we did in Germany. Guten tag!

    xoxo,
    Eileen

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    Tokyo-ish, Japan (August 2014)

    A street in Shinjuku, Tokyo
    A street in Shinjuku, Tokyo

    Konnichiwa! Hope everyone is well! Happy Lunar New Year to all who is celebrating. I am super excited for all the delish Chinese food my family is cooking up this weekend and spending time with my fam bam…… aaaaaand of course collecting the red envelopes (hong baos). Holidays has been a lil rough on my wallet, ya feel me?

    Anyways, my friend Thanmayi is heading off to Japan next month and that reminded me I needed to dig up my Japan travel guide, as I promised in my Honolulu, Hawaii post. See? I come through…. eventually.

    It was my second time in Japan in 2014 (although my first time was a blur as I was younger) and thankfully I made some kind of guide and remembered mostly where I went. I love love love the Japanese culture. Have always been obsessed with the food. Intrigued in their entertainment and technology – tons of gaming (yo I used to be a DDR master… for a 10 year old), anime (naruto in Japanese obviously… ok with english subtitles), cartoons (sailor moon FTW), makeup, and J-Pop. I even aced my New York State Global History Regents by writing my essay on the Japanese Industrial Revolution. So needless to say, when I found out I was going to Japan the first time.. and even the second time, I was LIT.

    Actually going to Japan and experiencing first hand their culture, their people, the FOOD (!!!) was amazing.. and kawaii. Because literally everything in Japan is kawaii (cute). 24/7. I spent some time in Tokyo but also some limited time with some cities outside(hence my title being Tokyo-ish) but if I could sum up the country in a few words from my experiences, it would be: cleanliness, efficiency, respect, technologically advanced while staying true to their roots. Tokyo is one of my absolute favorite cities to vacation; I would love to go back and explore other cities. Fortunately, we had a family friend who lived in Japan and spoke English, Chinese, and Japanese — I’ll be honest, because we had her around, we didn’t really need to communicate that much but I know others who have gone to Japan without knowing the language and have been able to get around fine. In general, Japanese people are very generous and will help you to the best of their ability. Their customer service in the service industry is top notch in my opinion.

    If you can recall, this was a joint trip with Hawaii in 2014 and I went with my family of 12. We try to get everyone’s input as to what they want to do, thus, it was a packed trip with activities. We only had a little more than 4 full days there and we wanted to do A LOT. More details after the jump.

    Me being kawaii 24/7 in Sanrio Puroland.
    Me being kawaii 24/7 in Sanrio Puroland.

    Tuesday, Day 1

    • Arrived at 2:15PM at Narita International Airport
    • Took a bus shuttle to our hotel, Keio Plaza Hotel (in Shinjuku) and checked in
    • Dinner at Tempura Restaurant near hotel (don’t remember name)
    • Walked around Shinjuku area near our hotel

    Wednesday, Day 2

    • Train to Tsukiji Fish Market (absolutely my favorite part of the trip. best meal of my life here)
      • Ate a sushi breakfast, walked the shops
    • Train to Ginza, shopping at Ginza
      • Bought toys at Hakuhinkan Toy Park
    • Geisha Show at Ginza
    • Train to Asakusa Shrine
    • Sukiyaki Dinner at Yonekyu

    Thursday, Day 3

    • Train/bus/tram to Hakone Mountain (for a view of Mt. Fuji)
      • Eat a black egg!
    • Tram/bus to Hakone Kowakien Yunessun (Water Park with Hot Springs)
      • Curry lunch
      • Hot Springs
      • Got our feet nibbed on by fish
    • Train back to Shinjuku
    • Dinner at Ramen Restaurant near Hotel

    Friday, Day 4

    • Train/bus to Diver City Tokyo Plaza
      • Gundam Front Tokyo
    • Train to Sanrio Puroland (aka Hello Kitty World)
      • Kawaii the f out
      • Hello Kitty lunch buffet

    Saturday, Day 5

    • Train to Nissin Cupnoodle Museum (my 2nd favorite part of the trip)
    • Train to Shinyokohama Ramen Museum (food court of the best ramen)
    • Train back to Shinjuku
    • Shopping in Shinjuku
    • Dinner at Sushi Go Around Restaurant in Shinjuku (don’t remember the name)

    read more “Tokyo-ish, Japan (August 2014)”

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    Disney World – Orlando, Florida USA Part 4

    I hope everyone had a beautiful and stuffed Thanksgiving yesterday! How does time pass so quickly? How the heck did Thanksgiving past already, and almost at the end of 2016? What? Didn’t 2016 just start? Ugh. What do you mean I went on vacation 4 months ago and still haven’t finished writing about it?

    Sorry! Work has been busy and I have been traveling for work/personal lately… so many things to do, so little time. Adulting is hard (did I forget to take my gummy vitamins today again? I don’t remember). But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, the magical world of Disney.

    I think I’ve been to Disney World 5 times now. Twice as a baby/kid, three times as an adult. Ha! And I will not go back until my future kiddies want to go to Disney World. However, Disney World is such a well run machine. They do try to make it really the happiest place on earth. Yes, the rides are for kids but the overall theme, decor, staff, music, feels makes you feel like a kid again. Bless up.

    Disney World is comprised of 4 theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, and Animal Kingdom; and 2 water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

    I went to Magic Kingdom a few years ago for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and it was the cutest thing. I heard the same about Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. If you could only go to Disney one day, I’d definitely recommend trying to go during these two events. And especially if you’ve never been to any Disney park before, Magic Kingdom is the OG classic… the heart of it all. Although the event itself usually starts at 7PM, but with your event ticket, you can enter the park as early as 4PM. Many rides are still open during the event. The event is so FRIGGIN cute, even if you are not a Disney fanatic (but enjoy watching children dressed in the cutest costumes trick or treat around the park).

    The classic Cinderella Castle shot.
    The classic Cinderella Castle shot.

    Anyway, I was only in Disney for 2 days and chose Magic Kingdom and Epcot for my 2 days. The company I interned for closed down Animal Kingdom for a few hours on a summer evening so that was pretty cool; they only have one coaster I believe, yet I remember that being pretty fun. Hollywood Studios only had 2 rides that are for ‘bigger’ kids: Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror but other than that, I didn’t think I would’ve wanted to spend the whole day there. I never went to the water parks so I can’t talk about those.

    In this post, I’ll go into:

    • Getting from Port Canaveral to Disney World via rental car
    • Accommodations
    • Magic Kingdom and Epcot
      • Overall experience/tips
      • Favorite and least favorite attractions
      • Food
    • Disney Springs

    Enjoy! read more “Disney World – Orlando, Florida USA Part 4”

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    Cape Canaveral – Orlando, Florida USA Part 3

    Hiya! Continuing my Orlando series, I’ll tell you what happened on Day 2, before I boarded onto the Cruise. We checked out of our hotel at Four Points, and drove to Cape Canaveral to drop off the car rental at the Avis near there. I’m almost certain that all the rental car places near Port Canaveral has a free shuttle to the Port for all the cruises. Since we had picked up the car around 9:30AM the day before, in order to stay within the “1 day” rate, we had to return it 9:30AM the day after. An important thing to know about rental car rates is that the time starts ticking once you get your car rental agreement/receipt. It doesn’t matter what your reservation time was. Each rental car place differs on the grace period, but I believe for Avis and Hertz, it is 30 minutes. So after the grace period, if you haven’t returned your car yet, they will start charging you at the disgusting hourly rate. So, we had to wake up earlier than planned and drive the 45 minutes (without traffic on Saturday morning) to Cape Canaveral. Luckily, the Avis manager working there was uber cool and when we asked him if Avis could store our luggage anywhere, he said he didn’t have space but he didn’t need our car yet so we could keep it for a few more hours at no additional charge. WOOT.

    Yes, I was planned to drag my suit case around if need be. There are places to eat within walking distance around the Avis rental place so you could just wheel your stuff to one location and chill there.

    Anyway, we were hungry (although a whole week of unlimited eating awaited us on the cruise) so we went to get breakfast. I yelped around of course and found Simply Delicious Cafe & Bakery with a 4.5 rating and 300+ reviews. Whaaaaaaat – pix looks good. Let’s go.

    Simply Delicious Cafe & Bakery
    125 N Orlando Ave
    Cocoa Beach, FL 32931

    Street parking was easy. There was a wait of 15-20 minutes for two peeps. Damn that place was busy. The portions are huge and the prices aren’t bad for the portion. I would definitely suggest sharing one plate between 2 people, especially if you’re just trying to hold your stomach over for a few hours before hitting that lido buffet ya feel me?

    Banana & Nutella Stuffed French Toast
    Banana & Nutella Stuffed French Toast
    Banana & Nutella Crepe
    Banana & Nutella Crepe

    We got a full order of the banana and nutella stuffed french toast and a nutella and banana crepe. LOL, we love nutella and banana. I think the food there is good, but not super amazing. Perhaps the other breakfast foods are good, but we both got chocolate filled dough SO that was way too overwhelmingly sweet. The amount of nutella they pump in there is just way too much. It was good for the first few bites but then I got so tired of it. Also, it’s super filling so if you’re going to try the stuffed french toast, maybe opt for the half portion (it’s $1 cheaper).

    The wait for the food took a while but the waitress was friendly. You pay the bill at the counter.

    After breakfast, we still had some time to kill so as my BF is a surf-enthusiast, we passed by Ron Jon Surf Shop and wanted to go in. This store is HUGE. Maybe killed about 25 minutes in there just walking around and looking at surfboards. Then, we went to Cocoa Beach for a few minutes to check out the beach. It was okay.

    We wanted to head back to Avis by 12:00pm, since the Carnival cruise check in started at 12:30pm (the port is only less than 10 min away). Luckily, we got bored of the beach and just decided to go back to Avis around 11:45am. There were already cruising families lining up for the shuttle. We were the last two to fit on the shuttle that left around 12:00 and with major traffic build up around the port dropoffs, it took us like 40 minutes to actually get dropped off. My family, who arrived in Orlando that morning, had actually checked in around 12:15pm, so I’m guessing 12:30pm is a lie and you can check in earlier than that.

    I’ll stop here and save all the cruise talk for another post. As always, let me know if you have any questions and thanks for reading!

    xoxo Eileen

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    Universal Studios – Orlando, Florida USA Part 2

    This is part 2 of my Orlando trip last month! Click here for part 1 and my short-versioned itinerary. Beware.. it’s a long post 🙂 How do I even choose where to cut it for a “read more”???

    BF was impatient waiting for the entire "Universal" to come around.
    BF was impatient waiting for the entire “Universal” to come around.

    Before I cut it, I’ll tell you the details and pics I go into in this post.

    • Getting to Orlando from New York
    • Getting to Universal Studios Area from MCO
    • Accommodations
    • Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventures
      • Overall experience/tips
      • Favorite and least favorite attractions
      • Food
    • Emeril’s Tchoup Chop Restaurant

    Woot, have fun reading 😛 read more “Universal Studios – Orlando, Florida USA Part 2”

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    Orlando, Florida USA (August 2016) Part 1

    #happiestplaceonearth
    #happiestplaceonearth

    My “big” vacation this year was a 8-day, 7-night Carnival cruise around the Caribbean that ported in Port Canaveral, Florida with my family of 18. Cruises, in my opinion, are the best, least stressful option for big group vacationing.. but I enjoy cruises regardless of the number of people going. While the more the merrier mentality goes here, it’s also even better when you have good company (but that’s true for literally any trip or life situation haha). I’ve heard horror stories before where people who originally had flights the morning of embarkation had flights cancelled or delayed or whatever and made them miss boarding the ship. I don’t think it happens frequently, but it does happen and was something to be aware of. Thus, many cruise forums suggested that people who had to fly into port, fly in the day before just incase. For me, it was an excuse to extend my vacation another day so I planned to fly in a day before, and also stay a few days after to make this flight to Orlando really worth it. (The rest of my family flew the first flight into MCO the day of (arrival around 9:30AM) and actually made it onto the ship before I did.) Now I’ve been to Orlando every single year for the past 4 years thanks to my job, so I went to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure twice, and Universal Studios Florida, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios once as an adult. The kid in me didn’t mind going again, especially since the BF hasn’t gone to the newer Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Diagon Alley) in the original Universal Studios yet and I haven’t gone to Epcot as an adult. SO! It was set. “We’re going to Disneyland World (and Universal Studios)!!!” I’ll go into my cruise experience in a later post but for now, here’s my short-version itinerary for the Florida portion:

    Day 1 – Friday

    • LGA -> MCO (6:30AM -> 9:05AM)
    • Pick up car rental at Avis Counter at MCO
    • Drive and check into Four Points by Sheraton Orlando International Drive (3,000 SPG points)
    • Walk to Universal Studios Florida
    • Rides
    • Lunch at The Simpsons Fast Food Boulevard (World Expo)
    • Butterbeer at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley
    • Rides
    • Walked to Royal Pacific Hotel to eat dinner at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
    • Took ferry back to Universal Studios
    • Watch parade and go on one more ride

    Day 2 – Saturday

    • Check out of Four Points
    • Drive to Cape Canaveral to drop off Avis car rental
    • Cool Avis manager says we can keep the car for a few more hours without extra charge
    • Eat breakfast at Simply Delicious Cafe & Bakery
    • Walk around Ron Jon Surf Shop and Cocoa Beach
    • Return car at Avis and take free shuttle to Port Canaveral

    Day 2 (Saturday) to Day 10 (Sunday)

    • #CaribbeanCruiselife (to be written about in later post)

    Day 10 – Sunday

    • Cruise ship disembarkation at 8:30AM, free shuttle to Avis Car Rental
    • Drove to Lake Buena Vista and returned car at Avis
    • Walked to Disney Springs to find free bus to Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel (10,000 SPG points)
    • Checked in to hotel
    • Took bus to Magic Kingdom Park from hotel
    • Ate lunch at Casey’s Corner (Main Street, U.S.A.)
    • Rides
    • Waffle break at Sleepy Hollow (Liberty Square)
    • Rides
    • Took bus to Disney Springs
    • Dinner at Earl of Sandwich
    • Walked around Disney Springs

    Day 11 – Monday

    • Took Friendship boat to Epcot
    • Breakfast at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie (France)
    • Oh you know, just roamin’ the world
    • Taco Break at La Cantina De San Angel (Mexico)
    • More world explorin’
    • Rides
    • Dinner at Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe (Norway)
    • Watch Chinese acrobats perform (China)
    • Watch Illuminations/Fireworks show (watched in Italy)

    Day 12 – Tuesday

    • Check out hotel
    • Uber to MCO airport
    • Lunch at Panda Express (really the only thing I crave for in airports)

    I’m going to break this into separate posts per day / theme park and hopefully remember to link it back to this post for easy access. Looking forward to sharing more details on this trip!

    xoxo Eileen

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    Being a Consultant and San Mateo County, CA

    Beautiful views along PCH
    Beautiful views along PCH

    One of the perks and also possible downfalls of being a consultant is that you travel. Sometimes, you travel a lot. To cool places, to weird “why does anyone live here” places. Maybe travel there every week for a year. Or get on a 12 hour flight for a 1 hour meeting. Most of the time you’ll get to eat extremely good food for free, stay at nice hotels (or not so nice, if your project doesn’t have budget… shout out to Sheraton Philadelphia Downtown…), and get to know your coworkers real well. You’ll build up points and miles so that your vacations are free. Any good consultant to consultant conversation involves what status loyalty you have with airlines, hotels (#SPGrulez), car rentals, credit cards, etc. ALL ABOUT DEM POINTS YO. It’s the “sexy” part of being a consultant but for most people, it’ll wear off after a while. You’ll get exhausted. Sometimes, you’ll be in a really cool city but you’ll only see the airport, the hotel, and the client site. Sometimes your weekends are cut really short. I had one project where I was traveling to Omaha, Nebraska for 2 months… leaving my house for my flight at 11AM on a Sunday and returning to my door step at 10PM on a Friday night. But all in all, I enjoy the travel still – I definitely have my job to thank for taking me to places I may have never gone to. My favorite trip so far was a one week trip to London, where I had my first business class experience (woooo flat beds!), got to stay in the Grosvenor House Hotel in Mayfair, had a drink at the Shard, and eat the best Indian food I ever had (yelp review for Dishoom here). It’s also a lot better when you have an awesome team to travel with… I got lucky that I almost always had awesome travel companions or I traveled solo so I was able to do cool things.

    My most recent business trip (I’m writing this on a flight to Tampa right now, so it doesn’t count yet!) was to Palo Alto, California / San Mateo County area for a client workshop. I arrived on a Thursday morning and left on the redeye Friday night. I had to work a good chunk of the time, but got some time after work to catch up with friends in downtown San Mateo and Fremont, and also drive along the Pacific Coast Highway by myself! The drive is so beautiful that I didn’t even mind the traffic. While it was a short trip, I wanted to share the meals and sights I got to check out! I didn’t go into San Francisco proper since I already been there (read about my trip in SF here) and didn’t want to deal with the traffic, but San Mateo County has some good eats!

    Details after the jump, but here’s my short list:

    Hotel: Sheraton Palo Alto (wouldn’t stay here again on own dime)

    Lunch/Dinner: Crawfish Fusion, Pancho Villa Taqueria, Poolside Grille (in Sheraton), Amber India, Ajisen Ramen

    Dessert: Bambu Desserts & Drinks read more “Being a Consultant and San Mateo County, CA”

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    Honolulu, Hawaii USA (August 2014)

    Waikiki Beach Sunset

    Hawaii is everything you’d think it would be. So chill. So relaxing. So beautiful. Warm. Beach. Sunsets. Tan. Waves. Surf. Expensive. Touristy. Drooling just thinking about those Hawaiian BBQ joints. Ah. WHY CAN’T DELICIOUS SWEET AND JUICY SHORT RIBS AND HAWAIIAN MACARONI SALAD BE WHOLE30 COMPLIANT?! (Here is a link to a paleo Hawaiian BBQ sauce recipe I haven’t tried yet and couldn’t find a paleo alternative to the macaroni salad.)

    I went to Honolulu for a short trip back in August 2014 with my family of 12 (yes, it does get more complicated the more people you have to plan for/manage in a vacation but could be more fun); this trip was joint with a week in Tokyo, Japan. Just being there for a few days was amazing though. I wish I could’ve spent more time there. The culture there is so chill and the natives seem to be pretty nice (that’s probably because almost all the natives I interacted with deal with tourists all the time). Yahh braddah. Total 360 from the NYC vibes. I remember seeing a lot of love for spam (yes, the canned ham); even McDonald’s featured spam in some of their sandwiches. Oh and long lines for the popular Hawaiian BBQ joints even at closing (~9PM). And an ABC convenience/souvenir store on every block. If you need some R&R, get your butt here. I’d love to go back and travel to other areas/islands. I hear the best way to experience Hawaii is just to rent an apartment and a car and just drive around to different areas on an island. I did thoroughly enjoy that our hotel was like 1.5 blocks away from the beach.

    Since I was asked about travel tips for Hawaii and spent some time trying to recollect what I did 2 years ago, I figured I’ll post it here hoping it helps others as well. As it was 2 years ago and my Squarm game wasn’t as hot back then, there are missing details from the trip. I’ll try my best to cover as much as I remember.

    More details after the jump, but here’s a high level overview:

    Thursday, Day 1

    • Arrived at HNL Airport at 1:26PM
    • Prearranged a shuttle (for the 12 of us) to the hotel from the airport
    • Checked into Aqua Queen Kapiolani Hotel (we arrived to the hotel around 3PM and check in did take awhile. I highly do not recommend staying at this hotel)
    • Dinner at Marukame Udon (Japanese)
    • Walked around/shopped close vicinity of the hotel
    • Checked out Waikiki Beach’s sunset
    • Because we ate dinner so early, ate a snack at Me’s BBQ (Korean, BBQ)

    Friday, Day 2

    • Grabbed breakfast at Tucker & Bevvy Picnic Food and ate at the beach
    • Morning beach time at Waikiki Beach
    • Commuted to Hanauma Bay by bus
    • Ate a quick lunch (nothing special, just convenient) at Hanauma Bay
    • Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay
    • Took bus back to Waikiki
    • Ate dinner (I forgot where)

    Saturday, Day 3

    • Grabbed breakfast at Starbucks near hotel
    • Commuted to Pearl Harbor by bus
    • Pearl Harbor Visitor’s Center
    • USS Arizona Memorial (free tickets.. details below)
    • USS Bowfin Submarine ($17.50/ticket as of today.. would recommend buying)
    • Lunch at Pearl Harbor (nothing special, just convenient)
    • Commuted to Dole Plantation by bus
    • Dole Plantation
      • Train, Maze, & Garden (Combo ticket is $20.00 as of today.. wouldn’t recommend any of them; if anything, only the train is decent as it’s a ride around the plantation)
    • Took bus back to Waikiki
    • Dinner at Hula Grill Waikiki (good food/drinks, but pricey)

    Sunday, Day 4

    • Breakfast (I forgot where)
    • Walked to Diamond Head State Monument (~50 min, 2.3 miles)
    • Hiked to top of Diamond Head (~2 hrs round trip)
    • Commuted by bus back to Waikiki
    • Lunch at Duke’s Waikiki (wouldn’t recommend lunch buffet)
    • Shopping for Souvenirs / Beach
    • Dinner at Uncle Bo’s (decent spot for dinner, don’t do the unlimited appetizers option)

    Monday, Day 5

    • Breakfast (I forgot where)
    • Beach day at Waikiki Beach
    • 1 hr surfing lessons (I think we went to Star Beachboys, but I honestly do not remember. I would yelp around)
    • Dinner at Rainbow Drive – In (long lines and not much seating but yummmmm!!!)
    • Walk around vicinity of hotel, last minute shopping
    • Ate free samples at Honolulu Cookie Company (lol typical asians)

    read more “Honolulu, Hawaii USA (August 2014)”

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    Washington D.C., USA (April 2016)

    The White House
    The White House

    8096063_friendly-reminder-that-in-an-alternate-universe_tb3161512

    I’ve been watching the latest season of House of Cards (just finished, actually… oh.my.g) and actually a bit of this 2016 presidential election. So it was a perfect time to go to Washington! (TBH, just needed a mini-vacation, and DC is a good weekend getaway from NYC.) I’ve always been intrigued about government, politics, and general US history and thankfully my travel partner (aka the bf) is a history teacher and used to work in politics… so it was definitely an interesting and educational trip.

    I didn’t do as much planning as I normally would’ve. I just knew we were going to hang out around the White House / National Mall area, since we were only going to be there for a short weekend (literally Saturday and a bit of Sunday). It worked out perfectly, as it left a bit of spontaneity and a more relaxed atmosphere. There were certain things I did need to prepare in advance, as tickets/reservations were or were likely needed, such as requesting White House Tour and U.S. Capitol Tour tickets, but if you don’t care too much about those attractions (full list here), you’ll still have a great time as there are many DC attractions not requiring tickets or advanced planning.

    When you’re booking accommodations for a short trip, stay downtown or near the National Mall. I was really hesitant to follow this advice in the beginning, as the hotel or Air B&B prices were higher than what I was comfortable paying, but after having stayed a block away from the White House, it was totally worth every penny for the amazing location to be able to walk everywhere (granted, I did score a decent deal on Hotwire; more on this later). If you’re staying for more than a few days, then it might make more sense to stay out of downtown and commute in. But you do not want to deal with parking, traffic, etc. if you’re just there for a short time. Suck it up, pay, and enjoy… you’re on vacation, after all. DC is also beautiful and on nice days, you’ll want to walk everywhere. And because you’ll walk everywhere, bring comfortable shoes.

    Here’s a short list of what I did:

    Day 0 – Friday

    • Parked car at nearby garage ($40 for whole weekend through SpotHero app)
    • Checked into the W Washington DC hotel
    • SLEEEEEEEEEP

    Day 1 – Saturday

    • Breakfast at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken
    • Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
    • White House Tour (*Tickets Required*)
    • US Capitol Tour (*Tickets Recommended*)
    • Library of Congress
    • Walking along the National Mall
    • Dinner at &pizza (we didn’t have time to eat lunch)
    • National Portrait Gallery
    • Washington Monument

    Day 2 – Sunday

    • Breakfast at Founding Farmers
    • Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool
    • Lincoln Memorial
    • Korean War Veterans Memorial
    • DC War Memorial
    • Tidal Basin
    • Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial
    • Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial
    • Eleanor Roosevelt Memorial
    • Thomas Jefferson Memorial
    • National Museum of American History
    • National Air and Space Museum
    • Check out of W Hotel and drove towards home
    • Stopped in Baltimore to eat crabs at L.P. Steamers

    read more “Washington D.C., USA (April 2016)”

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  • Travel Challenges
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    Los Angeles, California USA (August 2015)

    Santa Monica Beach
    Santa Monica Beach

    I’ve lived in New York all my life and I didn’t think I would be able to live anywhere else. Until I visited LA. Well, I still prefer NYC > LA, buuuuuut if I ever had to leave NYC, I would head to LA fer sure. Mainly because there is beach, weather is mostly awesome, food is so delicious, AYCE KBBQ is like $15, and I would try to attend all the show tapings. The traffic is meh but so is NYC’s. What was interesting is that I’m usually a typical Noo Yawker in sense of being very fast-paced, efficient, on-a-schedule, and everything is urgent and at first, the lax culture in LA really made me uncomfortable. I didn’t like the pace at all. But after a few days, I loved the chill, beachy vibes.. I could get used to this!

    We spent a total of 5 days in LA. LA is huge and you WILL need to drive everywhere, unless you plan on spending a lot of money on Ubers. Parking is pretty cheap compared to NYC though. We could have crammed everything we wanted to do in maybe 3 days, but I’m glad we took the time to enjoy each point. PLUS, I had way too much food I wanted to try. I’ll do this post a little differently than my SF one, but will of course still give a run down of what we did. I split the trip into East LA and West LA.

    Super long post, but here’s a quick run down:

    Day 1 (Arrival from PCH drive ~1:30PM) – East LA

    Day 2 – East LA

    Day 3 – East LA

    Day 4 – West LA

    • Lunch at Golden Deli (Vietnamese)
    • Stroll Little Tokyo Shopping Center
    • Stroll Old Chinatown
    • Eat dinner at Sushi Show (AYCE Sushi… As a sushi lover, BEST AYCE sushi place I ever encountered)

    Day 5 – East LA

    • Breakfast at 85°C Bakery
    • Griffith Observatory
    • Drive through Beverly Hills
      • Rodeo Drive
      • Niiiiiice, very expensive houses
    • Lunch at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodle (Ramen) (yes, again! so good)
    • Stroll through Hollywood Blvd
      • Walk of Fame
      • TCL Chinese Theatre
    • Dessert at Blockheads Shavery (Shaved Ice Cream) (yes, again!)
    • Santa Monica Beach (Last stroll before airport)
    • Return rental car at LAX

    read more “Los Angeles, California USA (August 2015)”