Posts Tagged ‘vacation’

Going On My First Trip to Asia

A month ago, I made the decision to go on my first official trip to China…to Asia actually. Back in January, I had a near meltdown because I read that Stephen Chow was doing a 20 city road tour in China to promote Mermaid and I so wanted to go. However, the nature of my job does not allow for me to go on vacation in February so I was incredibly disappointed, not to mention depressed. I damn near quit my job! I desperately wanted to quit my job, cash out my vacation pay & my sick pay and buy a ticket to one of the cities Stephen was going to be at and just enjoy it. There’s nothing I wanted more than to see him in person. I mentioned how much I wanted to quit my job so much that people started getting concerned for me and began to message me privately asking if everything was okay. Of course at the time, I wasn’t really sure if it was my job that I hated or the fact that I really just wanted to go on vacation and was upset that I couldn’t. Eventually, some old friends came through and talked me through an otherwise senseless action and I ended up not quitting and bearing it. The good thing is that I got to reconnect with a friend I hadn’t seen since 1995 and we talked more than we did in high school, ironically.

Anyway, a month ago, I came across an article that talked about a new Stephen Chow-themed restaurant that opened up in Shanghai. He doesn’t have anything to do with it but that was the tipping point for me. They were fans and I need to be among my people! I decided to go to Hong Kong & Shanghai.

I had asked two of my best friends that I usually travel with if they wanted to go but they were not able to go until possibly 2017. Alas, tomorrow is never a promise, so I decided to go on my own. After telling some people that I have decided to go possibly in May, a friend of mine told me he was going to be in Hong Kong in April as well as another mutual friend of ours who expressed interest in going. I figured it’s probably best if I could see friends at least one day out of my whole trip instead of being a solo traveler the entire time so I decided to go in April as well. I’m so excited I don’t even know where to begin with my itinerary. Luckily my mother told me about getting a visa for China. Otherwise, I would not have thought to get that in time.

I bought two Lonely Planet books, one for each city and I have to say, I am incredibly overwhelmed. So much that I don’t even know how to start figuring out my itinerary. I have so many questions but my main concerns are

A) What should I see most?
B) How do I eat vegan over there?
C) Are there really huge cockroaches flying around? Ick!!!
D) How much money do I really need?
E) How will I find my way around in Shanghai? I don’t know Mandarin.

I guess i should check out blogs and vlogs and see what others have said. I have one month left to figure everything out. Currently, I don’t even know where I’m staying at in Shanghai as I decided to do AirBNB and the owner has not given me the address. Hmm. Hopefully, I will get it before I leave for Hong Kong. As for now, the Asian adventures await…

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2015 Europe Vacation

Ahhhh, back to North America. Europe was amazing!!! I had a great time and I hope I get to do it all over again someday. Traveling overseas is not something I do very often. The last time I left North America was when I went to the Bahamas on the NKOTB cruise in 2013. I don’t know if that counts but I did have to get a passport to go there. And before that, I went to Paris in 2001 so it’s been a long long time.

My first stop was London. I was on a 10 hr flight to Frankfurt and then a 3 hr layover and then a 2 hr flight to London from there. Maybe I’m weird but good God, I love airplane food!! Of course, no matter where I go, I always order the vegetarian which got me an eggplant pasta dish but it was so good! Not sure what is wrong with me but I have an an affinity for pre-packaged food that has a partial hot pak and a partial cold pak. I think it has something to do with my daycamp days when they used to feed us government lunches.

Anyway, my first impression of London were of course, the hot men! So well-dressed, so well-mannered and god, that accent! Loved every second of London. The streets were clean, the sights were gorgeous, the weather was perfect. We went to British Museum, Kensington Palace (where Prince William and Kate live), Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, we ate Fish n Chips at Geale’s, visited the Tower Bridge, and ate all kinds of stuff. My goal on this trip was to try some form of Asian cuisine in each of the three countries I was visiting on this vacation. In London, we ate Chinese food at a place called Y Ming. Can’t say I was very impressed. We ordered Shanghai noodles, some kind of Empress pork dish, some steamed dumplings, and rice. Our bill came to $62.10!! I couldn’t believe how expensive it was! I had heard that British Chinese food was one of the best but if that is true, I would like to know which restaurant I should have gone to instead. My favorite place in London was Harrod’s. This was a gourmet superstore stacked with style, class & grace in a Vegas atmosphere! I wish I could have explored it longer but we were on our way to other places that day. I also got to eat breakfast at a place called The Breakfast Club with a friend who also happened to have gone to London the very same day I arrived. What a serendipitous event!

After London, it was off to Paris. We took a Eurostar train and just like an airport, we had to go through customs and everything. I wondered what it was that I would remember about being in Paris 14 years ago that would pop into my head. When I got off that train and got onto the underground RER, boom. It hit me. Major B.O. I don’t know if the locals are immune to it but the smell was horrendous. Like someone who was really angry with the world and wanted to punish society had figured out a way to bottle up their after workout scent and shoved it into a bottle and sprayed it onto the walls of the trains. It really traumatized me to the point where sometimes when I walk into a small street that reminds me of Paris, my brain can recall that scent and cause me to believe I can actually smell it and my face just goes sour. I mean, I would rather smell weed, which to me, also stinks; stinks like a skunk.

Other than that, we went to the Louvre, Notre Dame, Mont St. Michel, Palace of Versailles, Catacombes, Eiffel Tower, Musee de l’Orangerie, Fondation Louis Vuitton, and a shit ton of restaurants. We ate French food, baguettes, Japanese French food, ice cream, macarons, fancy dessert crepes, street crepes, savory crepes they call galettes, Indian French food, drinking chocolate, french snacks, sandwiches, and lots of European water. At Musee de l’Orangerie, I was introduced to the works of a Russian artist named Chaim Soutine. I was really moved by his paintings of tortured landscapes. They had a lot of expression in them. After going to so many museums and sights, I’ve found that it is really difficult to truly appreciate the magnificence of art when the place is crowded with tourists, cameras and cell phones surrounding you. I miss those days of old when no one had cell phones, you had to wait to find out if your photos came out good, people couldn’t find you unless you were home and you couldn’t change the plans halfway through through a text message. You actually had to follow through with when and where you said you would meet your other party. Imagine that.

My favorite place that we ate at was Breizh Cafe, as recommended by food critic David Lebovitz. We had to go through our hotel to make a reservation as we heard that they don’t like to make reservations for Americans. Sheesh! It was delicious though. I noticed in Paris that when people are unable to be seated and ask for suggestions for another restaurant, the workers are happy to direct them to another delicious place in the area to try whereas in America, it’s pretty much “Sorry, we’re full right now. But if you want to come back around 9:45 pm, we might be able to seat your then.”

My friend read that in Paris, they are very big on helping small businesses so big businesses are not allowed to have sales because that would take away from the smaller businesses. There are certain times of the year when a big sale will go on throughout the whole city and that is when you can find discounted items. I think it only happens 2 or 3 times a year. Unfortunately for us, it was happening June 24, the day after we were planning on traveling to Prague. It’s not that I wanted much but I’ve been searching for a round blue toile butter dish to replace the one I lost when I got evicted in 2003. I bought it in Paris and left it in the fridge. I completely forgot about it when I moved and have been searching for it ever since. It was beautiful. It was an off white color with blue floral designs around the dome, but not some much decoration that it covered up the entire dome. Just enough to let you know that it belonged in a place of elegance. I have been searching since 2003. I can’t give up now. Someday, I will find it. As a matter of fact, I think I will go searching for it today after I get a kouign amann for breakfast.

After 6 days in Paris, we flew off to Prague, barely missing the taxi strike on 6/25/15 that resulted in violence. I never liked Uber anyway. I’ve never taken any of these private rides but if I ever started, I would go with Lyft. They seem more down-to-earth and inclusive. Prague is a gorgeous city. We took a private airport transport service from the airport to our hotel and I got to see a lot of beautiful sights along the way. We stayed at Hotel Josef, which was a very modern hotel from the looks of the website. They offered a gym, sauna, free water everyday, slippers, bathrobes, coffee, we could cover our windows with an automatic woven shade, and the beds were nice and comfy. You can tell I don’t go to hotels like these very often. I’m more of a moderate hotel kind of gal. Just given me a bed and private bathroom and I’m happy.

In Prague, we visited the Charles bridge, Old Town Square, the Dancing House, Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, we saw the Astronomical Clock, the Powder Tower, and Prague Gardens. I also got to visit a Gastronomy museum which gave the history of cooking and kitchens from the Paleolithic Era all the way to modern times of today and even tomorrow! My favorite thing that I saw there was the kitchen faucet that had a blue light when the water was cold and then a red light when the water turned hot. The kitchen island also had a light that was turned on simply by brushing you hand along the side of the counter space. No switch, no indication at all that any kind of sensor was there to turn on the light. I’m so easily amazed.

We did a lot of walking on the cobblestone grounds which cause my feet to hurt a lot. I should have brought sneakers along. Not sure what I was thinking. The extra padding would have really helped. I spent a majority of the time looking for the butter dish in Prague but never found what I was looking for. It wasn’t really the cobblestone that hurt though. My feet hurt every day during the entire trip because we did so much walking throughout the whole day. I should have been more prepared. The things I loved most about the trip was seeing how beautiful all the cities were, the historic landmarks and architecture was jaw dropping. I also loved trying new food and comparing the Asian food over there to the Asian food over here. In London, I tried Chinese. In Paris, I tried Japanese. And in Prague, I tried Thai. London and Paris’ Asian food were pretty expensive but Prague’s Thai food prices were pretty similar to America’s, I would say. However, the taste is incomparable. I definitely love the Asian food in America much more than overseas. If I couldn’t have good Asian food in the city I lived in, then that is a deal breaker. I don’t care how hot the guys are over there.

My favorite part about this trip was just being in another environment with two of my best friends. One of them was good at planning out our trip, another was good at picking places to go, and I was good at directions so together, it was a perfect trip. I actually really enjoyed figuring out the subway system in each city although for Prague, it was such a small city that we did not end up using the public transit at all. London and Paris’ metro system was so efficient. We never waited more than 6 min for a train to come. Most of the time, they came within 1 or 2 minutes!! Amazing! Plus, the stations had stops everywhere in the city, unlike San Francisco which mainly only has 1 line going through the whole city. The rest of the way, you have to catch the bus and most of the time, you spent at least 20 min waiting for something to come. Another favorite part of the trip was our day trip to Mont St. Michel. This place is breathtaking. It was a 4 hour bus ride from Paris up North. I think we were in Normandy. Mont St. Michel is an island. We had a tour guide named Carine and I loved her. She was great. Her accent was so cute. She took us around at the castle up there and I honestly felt like I was on the set of The Hobbit, like that horrible scene in Desolation of Smaug where ugly Bolg fights with the beautiful Legolas in Laketown and causes his nose to bleed…

Imagine that place in the day time with bread shops and a blacksmith on the corner, or a fishmonger smoking outside his store, yelling out his daily catch. I took pictures and captioned them “Where’s Legolas?” That was fun to do. I also did it at the Prague Castle. It was funny because on my flight home, I actually did find Legolas as “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug” was playing on the plane from Zurich back home. What d’ya know. The worst part of my trip would be when I lost my phone. I was sad because I lost all my contacts and info that was on there. The only thing I was able to save were the pictures. I learned my lesson from my last phone back in 2013 that died right before I went on vacation. So when I got my new phone, I set up all the pictures to automatically go to my dropbox folder. Too bad nothing else went there unfortunately. Fortunately, I was able to take pictures from my friends’ phone and email them to myself. Here is my album. Enjoy. :0)

2015 Vacation

P.S. I have to say that it was so great to come back on the BEST DAY when #LoveWins. Love is love.

Girls Weekend Getaway

Had a great Memorial Day weekend!! Unfortunately, I threw out my back and wasn’t able to really sit up and type until now. I thought I’d just post a brief summary of my short vacation. My friend is getting married and she wanted a girls’ weekend getaway so we decided to go to Monterey, CA. We rented a vacation home out in Prunedale instead of getting a hotel room as there were 6 of us and it was a better option for us to stay in one place rather than 2 separate rooms. The place was out in Prunedale, CA and I highly recommend getting a vacation rental if you have the money to do so. So much more private and convenient. We had a house all to ourselves that was fully equipped. There was a fully stocked kitchen, 3 bedrooms,2 bathrooms, a living room with Direct TV, a dining room, a pool table, musical instruments (not that too many of us play), a hot tub, a dart board, a fireplace, a laundry room, and a basketball hoop. I loved every moment of it. I almost feel like I’m putting an ad to sell a house! haha!

We left Friday night and arrived at the place and went right to sleep. We were so exhausted from the ride. Saturday, we took a day trip down to San Simeon to go to Hearst Castle. We opted for Tour 3, which was the North side of the castle. I chose that tour because some of us had been to the castle already and some had not. Since none of us had done this particular tour, I figured it was best to choose something new. That was when we found out that this particular tour was coming to an end in June due to budget cuts. How sad for this to happen as this tour was absolutely beautiful. The rooms were gorgeous, even the bathrooms and stairwells were breathtakingly handsome. You can’t take photos with flash in there and I accidentally took a couple. I think the docent got upset with me at one point but was too much of a professional to yell at me. :0P After Hearst castle, we trekked back home to cook dinner for ourselves. Upon request, we made a salmon salad with a light citrus vinaigrette, and we also had a pesto linguini as our main course. And we had ice cream with pound cake for dessert. Ice cream is one of my favorites. I don’t know why I decided to eat whatever I wanted. I guess I really thought that since I lost weight on vacation eating whatever I pleased last time, that I would do the same this time. I can be quite illogical at times.

On Sunday, we were down to Carmel to have brunch at this place I found on Yelp called “Katy’s Place.” There was a 30 minute wait so I walked around and ended up buying a bra bag for when you need to wash your bra and keep it from getting damaged by the washing machine. I also ended seeing someone’s boob as she was putting on a wedding dress in the dressing room. I didn’t do it on purpose though. She just had a gap in the curtain and I was turning my head. I didn’t say anything so as to not make the situation awkward…I’m usually caught in awkward situations. At Katy’s, I ended sitting behind Nelson. I wasn’t sure it was them so I took to social media to try and find out. When we left, one of them had to get up and move so that I could get out and he was wearing a Nelson shirt. That’s when I was 100% sure it was them. I got the “Yes you can” vibe from him so I asked for a photo with them. I can’t tell them apart but I believe I was talking to Gunnar. He said, “How about a manwich?” and they stood on both sides of me while my friend snapped a photo. Apparently, they were on tour and had a show on Friday in Carmel, I later discovered.

Then we were off to Monterey’s Cannery Row and hung out over there. We rode surreys to kill time. A surrey is a type of bicycle cart that seats up to 6 people and 2 small kids. However, only 4 people can pedal. I felt like the Flintstone’s, riding around with our feet pedaling. It was hilarious because we were learning how to maneuver the vehicle and how to get everyone in sync at the same time. Pedaling for 6 people is difficult!!!! My thighs were burning after we finished. 3 of us went to get massages afterwards and 3 of us went biking riding. I chose to go bike riding as I don’t like people touching me. I now think I should have gotten the massage as that is probably how I threw my back out. Overexertion. I’m not exactly young anymore! After bike riding, we had dinner at Old Fisherman’s Grotto . I ordered a delicious Parmesan crusted Sea Bass that came with couscous and some vegetables. Then we headed to the movies to see Bridesmaids. This was my 2nd time seeing the movie and I loved it. There were storylines I wish they could have completed but it was still worth the $10 to see it.

The next morning was when we were scheduled to leave. While bending down to pick up a backpack, I felt my lower back suddenly drop and I became immobile. It was so painful and I was afraid I was becoming paralyzed. I don’t know what happened except that it must have been from all the pedaling I did the day before. All I can say is take care of your body, it’s the only one you’ll ever have. Even as I am typing right now, I am in pain and still out of commission. Anyway, and that was my “brief” summary of my weekend. Oh, and on my way home, I fell asleep and woke up just in time to catch a blue minivan on the freeway with the license plate “NK♥TB”. If I wasn’t in pain, I would’ve made my friend switch lanes so I can wave hello.

Here are some photos of my weekend:

Vacation Recap

Finally recovered from my vacation. I went on the New Kids on the Block Cruise to the Bahamas last week and had a blast. The purpose of this trip was to 1. See Kevin, 2. Get my license plate signed by the Knights, and 3. Hang out with friends. I accomplished most of these. As much as I’d like to go into details about my trip, I’d really rather keep those details to myself. However, I would like to list my highs & lows. I think I’ll start with my lows.

Lows:
1. Swollen ankles
2. Delayed flight home (SIX HOURS!!!)
3. Couldn’t go into ocean due to knee injury
4. Thirsty all the time due to sodium in cruise water
5. Didn’t get Jordan to sign my plate

Highs:
1. Saw my favorite “New Kid” Kevin
2. Got invited to VIP
3. Saw/Met lots of Blockheads I hadn’t seen
4. Kevin helped me get Jon’s signature on my license plate
5. Had a great time with friends
6. Lost 4 lbs. from all the walking/dancing/stair climbing
7. Had an awesome breakfast at 3:30 AM in Miami

I asked many of my friends if they would go next year if there’s another cruise. 95% said no, including me. However, if the cruise were to dock from the west coast for a change or if my friends decide to go on the boat through Carnival instead of Rose Tours, I might change my mind. It was a great experience, it always is.

Things to keep in mind for any cruise:
1. Bring your own water and plenty of it. PLENTY!!!
2. Get the seasickness patch, Scopolamine, from doctor
3. Get on the boat early
4. No need to bring too much luggage, I had a carryon
5. Try to get a cabin higher up so that your bathroom is easily accessible if you’re on lido deck
6. Wear a wristwatch

And now, back to my regularly scheduled programming of writing, performing, creating, admiring, and amazing.
But first, some photos:

Me & Kevin

Me & Danny

Best Breakfast Ever!

Lying on the airport floor

Vacation Response

Thank you for visiting. I’ll be out of the office for one week. If you’d like to leave a message, please leave your name, message and contact info after the post and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Though I’m sure no one will leave me any messages. Finger shy… :0P