Travel Tips | Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

This is a great tip if you are a frequent traveller (especially if you travel overseas). Thank you Maggie, aka,Travel Magnolia.

travel magnolia

IMG_5659_0286 What’s Wrong with This Picture?

In a perfect world, all electronics would use a universal adaptor/cord (the EU is moving in this direction with the mandatory cellphone charger standard). In reality, as I survey the pile of cords for the things I can’t leave home without, I am overwhelmed.  Of course, this trip is a bit unusual in that I will be spending much of it in places where I might not easily find replacements, so there are some redundancies. Nonetheless, if I were in charge (pun intended), there would be one all purpose cord, the US would go metric and there would be peace on earth. Just saying.

A quick (virtual) trip to Flight001 solved my organizational dilemmas.  Luckily, I always pack at least 48 hours ahead, so I have time for those last minute purchases.  A shout out to my friend and fellow photographer Sue is warranted, as I waited…

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Alone

Provincetown Pier
Provincetown Pier

This post is responding to Sylvan Landry’s Weekly Photo Challenge, Alone.

This image was taken this summer at Provincetown, Massachusetts.

This beautiful coastal resort town is surrounded by lush beaches and robust harbors.  At this particular landmark, you can walk along rocks in a formation of a long pier and admire this beautiful coast line.

Surrounded by this magnificent landscape, you can’t help but feel small and “alone” because the magnitude view of the massive ocean against the blue sky.

Most Stylish Friends

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “FAQ.”

Interview someone — a friend, another blogger, your mother, the mailman — and write a post based on their responses.

I have friends who are innately fashionable and have their own distinctive personal style when it comes to fashion.  They may be ordinary people but they have extraordinary taste.  So it was inspiring and fun creating “Most Stylish San Franciscan” blogs and  have my friends shared their thoughts from fashion, accessories, food to trends from a native San Franciscan’s point of view.  So enjoy these FAQ from Maggie, Rudy and Gordan.

Most Stylish San Franciscan, Maggie

Most Stylish San Franciscan, Rudy

Most Stylish San Franciscan, Gordan

Gordan
Gordan
Rudy
Rudy
Maggie H
Maggie H

Feelings and understandings.

#Motivation!

wanderingviolet

image

Did you ever feel like something’s missing but had no idea what it was? Did you ever feel like getting out of your skin because it was so damn suffocating in there? Did you ever feel like smacking people just because they weren’t listening to what you had to say? Did you ever feel invisible? Did you ever feel like running away,far away? Did you ever feel like being a bird on a clear,beautiful day and just fly? Did you ever feel like no one understood you but you? Did you ever feel like throwing a plate, breaking a glass and spilling stuff without any reason? Did you ever feel like screaming at the top of your lungs? Did you ever feel like setting fire to everything around you? Did you ever feel? If yes,I just wanted to tell you that you’re not alone. There’s so many of us here…

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ExtraOrdinary

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “(Extra)ordinary.”

Mundane and meaningful objects. Beautiful everyday things. This week, surprise us with something or someone (extra)ordinary.

Traditional Chinese Restaurent Front
Traditional Chinese Restaurent Front

Classic architecture from the past may seem mundane or ordinary to the natives, but it feels extraordinary to me.  I was lucky to do a quick historical sightseeing during my work trip to Beijing and stumbled upon this traditional building around Wangfujing district one afternoon.

This magnificent old restaurant front may be mundane to others, because it look just like other traditional architectures around Beijing, but it feels extra special to me.  The vibrant colors adore its ceiling and columns, the detailed artwork embellish the framed work beautifully, and the structure and style of architecture represent years of Chinese history.  It stands proudly in the midst of changes. To me, that’s ExtraOrdinary.

Beijing Realness: Part 3, Nine Interesting Facts About Beijing

Traditional Chinese Town in Beijing
Traditional Chinese Town in Beijing

In my opinion,  it is important to understand basic local culture and its rules as ways to travel safely in a new place when you are in a foreign city.  From this trip, here are some interesting local facts about Beijing:

  1. Ring roads:  Beijing is one of the few cities having “ring roads” (beltway) as its main infrastructure.  There are a total of six ring roads (Sixth Ring Road is the newest and remotest from central Beijing).  For example, the Olympic stadium, Bird’s Nest, is located close to Fifth Ring Road.
  2. Pollution:  Being one of the industrial cities and the main transportation hob, air pollution is real.  It is the main reason why people wear “medical mask” around streets due to the thickness of haze, not because they want to imitate the late Michael Jackson for his fashion trend.
  3. Traffic:  Car has the right of way, not pedestrians.  I learned this immediately because cars would not stop for you to cross the street.
  4. Iced water:  Getting bottled waters is easier than having a glass of iced water in restaurants.  It is not within Chinese culture to serve iced water to its customers. Instead, they opted “warm water” as the norm to hydrate the body.
  5. Burping:  I find it disgusting but it is culturally acceptable to burp in public.  I have people burping around me in the street, loud and proud.
  6. Smoking in the bathroom:  Smoking is not allowed inside the building.  However, many people take the short cut and headed to the bathroom for a quick fix.  So don’t be alarmed and catch people smoking in the stall when you try to use the bathroom.
  7. WeChat:  It is the most used app in China for its multiple functionalities.  Besides using this app to communicate with each other, you can also transfer money from one user to another user for its convenience.   So it is not a bad idea to download this app prior to your trip.
  8. Cash/ATM:  I had a hard time finding the right ATM machine to get instant cash. Check with your hotel concierge and your personal bank for the right ATM recommendations.
  9. Uber:  There are Uber service in Beijing and it is under China’s Didi Kuaidi partnership for this new venture.  By the way, taxi cabs don’t take credit cards so it is important to have enough cash on hand if you need taxi services.
Tiananmen Square, Beijing
Tiananmen Square, Beijing

Hopefully you find this information interesting and useful!  At the end of the day, it is all about using common sense for a safe trip!

Express Yourself

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Express Yourself!.”

Do you love to dance, sing, write, sculpt, paint, or debate? What’s your favorite way to express yourself, creatively?

Come on girls,

Do you believe in love?

Well, I got something to sing about it and it goes something like this …

Okay, I couldn’t help it and had to post this video by Madonna after I read the Daily Post’s topic, “Express Yourself”.  After all, this self – empowering anthem from the 90s was all about “Express Yourself” through catchy melodies, visually creative video and its strong “love thyself” message.

In real life, a simple task like how to dress myself on a daily basis is my best way to “express myself”.  Have worked with several designer brands in the past, it is within my DNA to dress accordingly, not necessarily to the current trend, but how I feel the moment.

To me, it is not what you wear, it is how you wear it that matters the most.  I have learned from the past that designers provided us with the tools, the trends and inspiration to outfit ourselves.  However, it is up to us to interpret these ideas and not be dictated by designers as the only way to dress ourselves.  If you want to feel comfortable, wear a nicely fitted cotton tee shirt, with a comfy jogger and Birkenstock (yes, Birkenstock is en vogue now) as your uniform.  If it is getting cold, add a nice cardigan or v-neck sweater for warmth and comfort (plus layering is always in fashion).

I stopped worrying about how people judge me with my outfits.  As long as I am comfortable and happy with my appearance, I know that I have done a good job on expressing myself through this outlet.

Me with Tom Ford glasses and Prada sleeveless tank
Me with squared glasses and sleeveless tank 
Just a simple tee-shirt from Marc by Marc Jacobs
Just a simple tee-shirt 
Classic tee shirt from American Apparel
Classic comfy tee shirt 

Beijing Realness: Part 2, The Food

Traditional Chinese Breakfast
Traditional Chinese Breakfast

Food plays an integral part of any culture and sometimes it is how people identify the country by its famous dishes.  Obviously China has many delicious and well known cuisines from each of its regions, so it was a treat for me to taste many authentic food when I was visiting Beijing.

For breakfast, we started out with “congee” (rice porridge), simple salted vegetables and the “infamous” 1000 years old egg (preserved egg with salted flavor, not real 1000 years old egg) to jump start the day.  If you prefer sweet, there was warm soy milk with Chinese donuts to satisfy this craving.

Traditional Chinese Dinner
Traditional Chinese Dinner
Shui Mei, Dim Sum
Shui Mei, Dim Sum

Dumplings were everywhere in Beijing and we had the opportunity eating this treat with other delicacies like shui mei.  The size of shui mei was bigger compared to what we have in the states.  The pork with chives, mushroom was substainable and juicier.  It was definitely a yummy dish.

Squids with Green Vegetable
Squids with Green Vegetable
Fried Oysters
Fried Oysters
Crabs
Crabs

Seafood was surprisingly fresh and not too “fishy” for my taste.  Chinese prefer cooked oysters to raw ones so they are flavorfully prepared.  Crabs is in season from October to November.  Our hosts loved the tender meat from the recent harvest and consumed five of them in one sitting because they were simply delicious.

Peking Duck
Peking Duck

I am not a duck person when it comes to its meat (it could be dry and hard to chew sometimes).  However, this Peking duck was mouth watering and the best duck meat that I ever had in my life.  The crispy skin melted in my mouth to start with and the meat was tender, the whole meal was beyond yummy.

Needless to say, I felt that I gained at least 10 pounds from this trip but it was all worth it with this divine experience.

Oceans, Beaches, Lakes, Oh My …

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Happy Place.”

This week, we want you to show us where you go to get your groove back.

I always find places surrounded by water is therapeutic.  Listening to the sounds of wave relaxes me, watching the blue sky connecting to the ocean or the beach soothes me, and walking around the lake with water rubbing against my feet makes me happy.

So without any doubts, any place connecting with water makes me happy!

Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Pocono Mountains Lake, Pennsylvania
Pocono Mountains Lake, Pennsylvania
Provincetown, Massachusetts
Provincetown, Massachusetts

Beijing Realness: Part 1, The Street

I had the opportunity visiting Beijing recently and was overwhelmed with its traditional culture, fast paced lifestyle, delicious food, and friendly people.

It was definitely a homecoming for me visiting my homeland, and I soaked up the native energy as much as I could during this visit.

One thing I learned about Beijing immediately was that automobiles have the right of way in this country.  So pedestrians have to be extra careful when crossing and walking around streets.

Please enjoy these two short videos filmed around Beijing streets as I explored the Forbidden City with more personal photos and experiences to come.