Tag Archives: Travel

Are you content?

Blog post #10

I took this photo in early 2020 before the lockdown in Canada on my trip to India. My favorite part about traveling is definitely meeting new people. Although most of the time the interactions I have with people are very short but the impact is always long-lasting.

My family and I were visiting historical Gurdwaras in Punjab which is a state in India. As we were walking to the Gurdwara I saw this crippled man who had the biggest smile on his face. I saw a few teacups around him which meant he was being fed and others were helping him out. We gave him some money and in return, he folded his hands to show his gratitude. This photo captures the beautiful smile on his face expressing his appreciation.

Sometimes we have everything we need but still can’t find a moment of peace and appreciation. We always want the next best thing, better than the last thing and the cycle never ends. By doing this we forget to live in the present moment and lack gratitude. When I said that the moments I share with strangers are short but the impact lasts for a tremendous amount of time I meant that I always find something to reflect on in my own life which contributes to positive change. Contentment is about peaceful satisfaction, it is when you are grateful for what you have and where you are in life, rather than wishing things were different (Beard, 2019).

I am grateful for all the interactions I have with amazing people when I travel to places. What are you grateful for?

References

Beard, C. (2019, December 27). 7 Ways To Feel Content With Your Life Right Now. The Blissful Mind. https://theblissfulmind.com/feel-content-right-now/

The things we take for granted

Blog post #9

This photograph was captured on my trip to India in March 2020. I believe that every picture has its own story and that everybody interprets it differently. When I look at this picture above, I could personally only think of two ways that one could possibly look at it. The first being, a picture of a little girl holding balloons, and the second being, of a little girl selling balloons. Now you may wonder which one of these two possibilities is true.

Sadly, this picture is of a little who can’t be more than 10 years old selling balloons to people. When I took this picture I didn’t really think about anything at all. All I saw was a cute little girl holding balloons and I thought I’d take her photo. Once I had taken her photo I immediately searched for my family who was ahead of me at that moment so ran to catch up with them. Reflecting back at this moment, I wish I had bought all of her balloons and treated her with some ice cream because she definitely deserves it. I wish I had talked to her, bought her new clothes, listened to her story, met her family. I wish I didn’t carry this regret of not doing anything to help her with me every time I looked at this photo.

I’m glad about one thing for sure though. This little girl is only a few steps away from Sri Harmandir Sahib also known as the Golden Temple which is also the world’s largest free kitchen. This free kitchen is also known as Langar in the Sikh faith. Langar is served not only at the Golden temple but at every Sikh Gurdwara around the world. It is completely free of cost and Sikhs do not discriminate against any religion, caste, gender, economic status, or ethnicity (“Langar (Sikhism)”, 2021). So, knowing that this little girl will never sleep on an empty stomach is comforting.

I will forever be grateful for the privileged life that I live. I am able to go to school and get an education which many children like this little girl don’t receive. It breaks my heart to see her working at such a young age. I hope that one day in the near future I get a chance to go back to Sri Harmandir Sahib so I can find this little girl and pay for her education.

References

Devashrayee, N. R. A. R. (2017, April 11). Inside the World’s Largest Free Kitchen. Vice. https://www.vice.com/en/article/ypx47x/inside-the-worlds-largest-free-kitchen

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, April 1). Langar (Sikhism). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langar_(Sikhism)

Wikipedia contributors. (2021, March 31). Golden Temple. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Temple

Finding Grace Amid My Travel Mishaps

Do you ever wonder about the timing in your life? While some situations could not possibly happen at a worse time, other events align just perfectly. Even when timing goes unnoticed, it is because of the seamless transitions which hide alternative consequences. In addition, various timelines are produced from both unpredictable events as well as choices we actively make, but to what degree one makes a difference versus the other is sometimes unknown. My mind often goes back and forth from questioning what more I could have done to prevent or allow something to trying to accept that I will never foresee all possible outcomes.

This was the case for me during my exchange in Australia. I struggled with constant regret over unaccomplished tasks, missed deadlines, and pestering thoughts of what-ifs because I knew I could have done more. I was upset at myself for something almost everyday. I felt like I kept “messing up” the timing of how things are supposed to be because of my slow and indecisive personality, and I worried that in my daily life, I was ruining God’s plan for me and so preventing Him from showing me what He wants for and from me.

Later on when I was riding the train to Katoomba, a thought suddenly popped into my head: God’s plan for me takes my personality into account. He designed the course of my life having already taken into consideration how my flaws and mistakes may interfere with it; He knows me better than I know myself. He is patient with me. Through realizing how broken I am without Him, I have finally come to understand that His grace was already and will always be enough. My mistakes still have consequences, but out of love for me, His grace extended to cover them all.

Even though I missed the deadline for on-campus student housing, I found residence from a family who only lived a 10-minutes walk away from the church I was attending. Even though I missed out on the Sydney Walking Tour, I bumped into two friends from Melbourne who I explored the city with that evening. Even though I missed out on meeting up with my friend from Vancouver and then visiting the Hillsong Church near her, I got to visit the Hillsong Church Hills Campus instead and met a group of lively, passionate students there. Just when I thought I ruined everything, He reminded me that I can still trust in Him, the One whose mercy and power redeems all.

Even now when I reflect on my university years, I see God’s grace throughout. If I had joined SFU’s Cheerleading Club any earlier or later than I did, I wouldn’t have met my close friend in university. If I had gone on exchange any year before 2017, I wouldn’t have been able to go on a field trip to Tasmania with my exchange classmates because it wouldn’t have existed yet. If I had graduated in five years instead of six, I may already be in the workforce by now, but I would have had one less year of schooling to figure out my passions. My post-grad life would have also been different because of the alignment of timing – the people I grew close with, the lessons I learned, the experiences I went through, and the time I had for self-discovery. When doing my Professional Development Program for teachers at SFU, I had the opportunity to go through the extra semester of foundation-building that did not exist for students in previous years too. It humbles and amazes me to know that God’s timing surpasses my limited, human knowledge of how timing even works. His plan is greater than any great human plan could ever be.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Isaiah 55:8-9


(Taken on Princes Bridge, Melbourne)

Read part 1/3 and part 3/3 of the biggest lessons I learned on exchange.

Paris Outfit Guide

Some of you may know from my Instagram but I was just in Paris with some of my friends. I was super stressed out before I went because I wanted to make sure I had the perfect Paris outfits. I didn’t want to look like a slob while everyone else looked like they could walk in Paris Fashion Week if they needed to. I was there for 10 days but I didn’t get a picture in every outfit, so I will be showing you a few that I managed to capture!

Outfit 1: Versailles

Shirt: Aritzia

Blazer: Aritzia

Pants: Agolde

Belt: Gucci

Shoes: Dr Martens

Purse: Gucci

Outfit 2: Day at the gardens

Sweater: Autumn Cashmere

Coat: Aritzia

Pants: Aritzia

Purse: Gucci

Outfit 3: Shopping

Sweatshirt: Acne Studios

Pants: Aritzia

Shoes: Air Force 1

Purse: Givenchy

Outfit 4: Mirror pics

Top: Aritzia

Pants: Agolde

These were some of the outfits that I wore in Paris! Keep an eye out for a “What to do in Paris” post. I had so much fun on this trip and am so grateful to experience this with my friends!

xx

sofia

How to spend a week in Lijiang? Enjoy your life in this Poetic old city in Yunnan

Lijiang is a romantic and prosperity old city in the northwest of Yunnan province near the Dali, it is the UNESCO Heritage Site and famous for the Old Town of Lijiang and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. This old city is every Chinese poet’s dream to live and write, every Chinese want to find love and meet the right person in this city. Today, when skyscrapers have seeped in throughout the entire world, but there remains something old, mythical and beautiful in this land, and I would say that Lijiang is the cherished old memory of China, this city represents the eternal ancient culture and romantic love.

Dayan-The Old Town of Lijiang

Dayan old town is the historical center of Lijiang City, which has a history going back more than 1,000 years. When you walk into this old town, which means you are walking into an ancient historical picture of the plateau. The ancient Naxi houses on the old street are surrounded by mountains and rivers, scattered and chic; the clear and transparent stream flows down the ancient bridge; the clear and bottomless river and the dust is not stained; The Yulong Snow Mountain in the distance towered into the clouds, standing tall and handsome. It such a beautiful town that attract billions of travelers from around the world visit, many students meet at this place and travel together, people come here to embrace nature and the love, this land is such a gift from the earth, It is the dream and happiness in my life, try to spend 4-5 days in this old town and feel the wonderful life in Lijiang!

Waterwheel
Flowers eveywhere
Stream flowing
Ancient Naxi houses

The night in Dayan old town is also gorgeous when darkness has fallen and lights are on, we can see the sparking lights in a myriad of houses. The crowds flowed down the street, every seat in restaurants is taken by people, everywhere hung with red lanterns and decorations, which gives this town up and down a bustling and lively atmosphere.

Lijiang at night
Have fun in front of the restaurant

LOCAL FOOD

Speaking of the local cuisine, the most famous one is Yunnan rice noodle, or we called the”cross-the-bridge rice noodle” which and has up to 30 tasty ingredients include the meat and vegetables, you can find the most authentic rice noodle in Lijiang! Moreover, I really recommend Lijiang Baba, which is a golden crisp and sweet local flour snack. For dinner or lunch pleasure, the Naxi Barbecue is the best choice for tourists, Naxi barbecue is a traditional dish in local with the main ingredient of pork belly, which can make for soup as well.

Yunnan rice noodle

Mu Fu Mansion

There is a saying in Lijiang, you can’t know Lijiang without going to Mufu, Lijiang was under the rule of the Mu family native chieftains during the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty. Today, Mufu become this most well-known tourist attraction where attracts tourists from worldwide and lets them visit the glorious history palace, and also a splendid architectural art garden. By the way, remember to bring the student ID or senior citizen pass, which can have a discount on the tickets.

cof
Mufu Mansion
Ancient Chinese Pavilion
Ancient corridor

Blue moon valley

Blue Moon Valley, which located the foot of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the god mountain of the hearts of the Naxi people. The water in this lake is from the ancient ice and snow that originated from the snow mountain glaciers melted down the cliffs, and then converged into mountains and streams. Eventually, crystal clear and sweet rivers formed in the deep valleys upstream of the Blue Moon Valley. The water consists of white limestone thus looks extremely pure. On sunny days, the color of the water is blue, and the valley is crescent-shaped. From a distance, it looks like a blue moon inlaid at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, thus locals called it ‘Blue Moon Valley’.

Jade Dragon snow mountain

I took many amazing photos with my sister here, we also saw many couples took their marriage photos here, they believe they will get the bless from snow god. Notice that the water in the lake really cold, so do not play water in a long time, due to that the water in Blue Moon Valley has copper ions in the water, so you cannot drink it although it looks pretty.

happy
Love

-IT IS BETTER TO SEE SOMETHING ONCE THAN TO HEAR ABOUT IT A THOUSAND TIMES-

-BEAUTIFUL YUNNAN IS YOUR NEXT DESTINATION-

Take me to Dali: Experiencing the folk customs of Yunnan

If there is a touch of enjoyable spring scenery in this world, it must be colorful Yunnan. The beautiful Kunming, the soft ancient Lijiang, the timeless and peaceful Shangri-La and the venerable Dali. Yunnan, a beautiful and clear place in Chinese people’s hearts, we always remember the clean landscapes, unsophisticated ethnic minorities, bright national costumes …this old southwest land is known for its beauty, richness, and magic. It has always been called the “myth” by the people, which attracts tourists from all over the world. The feeling of Yunnan is like a colorful cloud chasing another one, which showing colorful auras, flowing with a variety of dynamics.
Colorful Yunnan, South of the Colorful Clouds, if it’s the mystery land in China you’re looking for, then Yunnan is a place you will not want to miss.

The first stop we come is Dali, the fanciest city in Yunnan, it represents Cang Mountain and Erhai Lake, which was the capitals of ancient Nanzhao. Dali Listed by the Chinese government as one of the first 24 national historical and cultural cities and it became the first of the top ten charming cities in China.

Erhai Lake

According to locals, we know that Dali has four major scenery, the wind, the flower, the snow and the moon.

Cang mountain represents the snow and Erhai lake is the one which represents the moon, that looks as bright and clear as the moonlight. It is an alpine freshwater lake in Dali, the name Erhai means “Ear-shaped Sea”, due to its shape as seen by locals in hundreds of years. Erhai was also known as Yeyuze in ancient times, which hears more poetic than today, the whole city of Dali is surrounded by this lake, Erhai is the life lake for all locals.

It’s hard to characterize the beauty of Erhai with a single word, When the lake is calm and under the sunshine, it looks like a blue gem inlaid on the ground of Dali. The breeze blows, the lake is glittering with gold and beautiful flowing waves, all these things make it become one of the most popular spots among worldwide travelers.

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Due to the reason that the Erhai lake as an important food source for the local people, until today, we still can see some fishing men in the boat in Erhai. Different plants decorated around the lake, which makes everything looks like an oil painting.

Many spots are around the lake, you can get one map of Dali and Erhai from your hotel or any city station, tourist can rent the car or bicycle to riding, also the lakeshore include Erhai Park and many islands include Erhai Parkcan be explored by hiking, many beautiful islands are available to visit for people, choosing where you like and take the photos in these place, remember to bring sun cream because Uv is very strong.

If you have enough money, I highly recommend you book the gorgeous homestay which nearby Erhai, you can not find a beautiful hotel easily like this in other Chinese cities, otherwise, for those who want a cost-effective price, the recommended homestay living area is nearby the Cang mountain.

On the road, we always see the crystal clear blue sky with clouds, what a breathtaking view! Green hills, fresh air, bright sunshine, beautiful white clouds, bright snowy mountains, dreamy blue water, just like a burst of poetic painting! I began to enjoy the slow life of Dali, our journey is just getting started.

Dali

Shuang long town

As well as Xizhou town, Shuang long town is one of my favorite old towns in Dali, which is the hometown of Chineses famous dancer- Yangliping, the sun and moon palace nearby the Erhai is her private house, but now it is changed to become a tea shop, tourist can sit here and enjoy the afternoon tea and enjoy a peaceful time on side of the lake. Shuang long town was a small fishing village, now become a hot tourist destination in Yunnan.

Sun & moon palace

By the way, do not forget to try some local hand-made flower yogurt, there are several flavors for you to choose from, it tastes really great!

Flower yogurt

Butterfly Spring

Butterfly spring is located at the foot of Cangshan Mountain in Yunnan Province, southwestern China. It is about 7 kilometers away from the Dali old town and is a famous tourist spot in Erhai Lake. Butterfly Spring is a square-shaped spring surrounded by marble and has very clear water. The spring water looks like jadeite which presents a colorful light, there are many butterflies fly around the spring in the past but today it is infrequent to see. Moreover, you can wear folk cloth and take a photo with your friends or families, there are many beautiful styles you can choose, I picked my favorite Miao style dress with a gorgeous silver headwear.

Butterfly Spring
Wild Butterfly
My sisiter and I

Cang Mountain

Cang Mountain is located to the west of the Dali town and belongs to the Yunling Mountains. It has a rich variety of plants on the mountain, including the nineteen peaks and eighteen streams. The snow in winter is beautiful thus Cang mountain represents the snow in Dali. Tourists can take the ropeway or walk to the peak. In Chinese traditional legend, celestial beings are living on the peak of the mountain, when we stand on the top, it makes you feel that you are close to the fairyland and the gods.

Touch the sky
3920m

Visitors can see the whole Cang mountain and the Dali town in a ropeway, the view is awesome! Besides, there are many stores under the foot of the mountain that sell the oxygen bottle to alleviate the effects of altitude. If you come here in Winter, it’s better to rent a down coat because the top of the mountain is really cold.

Dail old Town

Dail old town is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Yunnan, known for its historical and cultural heritage, and vibrant nightlife. There are many bars, cafes, antique shops, tie-dye shops and galleries on the historic street. I highly recommend tourist come to shopping and eating in the old town, you never find a place like this which bring you into an ancient Chinese dream.

-Wandering among the beautiful mountains and rivers, or walking through the quiet alleys of the ancient city, or just sitting and feeling the ancient and mysterious breath of Yunnan-

Meet the “City of Angels”-Los Angeles

Los Angeles was the kind of place where everybody was from somewhere else and nobody really droppped anchor. It was a transient place. People drawn by the dream, people running from the nightmare. –Michael Connelly

Imagining you are walking on the Sunset Boulevard with palm tree and a breeze, feeling the warm sunshine and charming of Los Angeles. In this city, you can always find something fresh, different, and interesting after your exploring. Los Angeles is enthusiastic and passionate, it is also well-known as the historical city of the movie, if you are a crazy fan of Hollywood, just come and feel this culture! This week, I made a lovely LA travel guide list for introducing my favorite LA landmark sights. Now! follow me to this wonderful place in America and start this beautiful trip with me! when summer suns were glowing, you could not help but recall the cherished memory in Los Angeles.

Tips: Using Airbnb to book the hotel or BNB is really convenient and money-saving, besides, LA is much drier than Vancouver, water supplements are necessary. Moreover, because public transportation is not very developed in LA, so car rental travel is my relatively recommended choice!

Griffith Observatory 

Astronomy and stars, past and today, everything exhibited in Griffith Observatory is about the mystical sky. As the most famous landmark in LA, which located right across from the Hollywood Hills and offer a great place to see the English letters “Hollywood” on the Hollywood Hills clearly when you standing on the top of the Griffith Observatory. I suggested that it is better for tourists to achieve here in the afternoon, parking cars would be more easily, and you can see different views between noon and night, sunset scene of the Griffith Observatory is very beautiful, and you can capture amazing sunsets in many places in this park. In addition, the night view is so romantic at night, you can look at the high-rise buildings and enjoy the bustling city night scene at the observatory, the lights of the Los Angeles’ family at night are like the twinkling Milky Way galaxy. Griffith Observatory offers three different planetarium shows each day, it is not free and you need to pay for tickets, but it is really worth to see.

Address: 2800 E Observatory Rd, Los Angeles, CA 90027 USA

Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain is a hillside visionary environment created by Leonard Knight in the California desert area, which favored by most instagrammers and tourists around the world, wearing your most beautiful cloth and photographing here, notice that this mountain is in the desert, photos sometimes are misleading, it is really hot!

Address: Beal Rd, Calipatria, CA 92233, United States

The Getty Center

The Getty Center, one of the most famous cultural and artistic center with rich collecting art in this world, and impressive modern design. The museum also offers spectacular views of Los Angeles on clear days. Recent travelers loved the museum for its value and beauty, One thing is really awesome, the museum of such a magnificent art in the Getty Center actually does not need tickets, only the parking fee-15 dollars without time limitations. Additionally, this museum can be regarded as a heaven for arts-lovers, here they will find Renaissance paintings, royal french furniture, 20th-century, modern photography, baroque sculptures and more, I was really lucky to see an exhibition of Egyptian culture, I am literally a big fan of archeology so it was really exciting and unforgotten for me.

Address: 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, United States

Hollywood Universal Studios

Hollywood Universal Studios- the amazing themed amusement park with a variety of exciting and entertaining facilities that attract billions of people come and play every year, every tourist can not miss such a wonderful place and enjoy a sense of joy in LA!

I really like the”City Tour”, which is a car cruise about 45 to 60 minutes. Here you can see a lot of Hollywood scenes and techniques details, including the world’s largest set studio built by Spielberg as a consultant. One of the most impressive scenes is the Bates Motel, the man chasing our car with a knife. Moreover, the Walking dead and Mummy are also my favorites, you can only experience them in LA.

Disneyland Park & Disney California Adventure Park

As the oldest Disneyland in this world which built-in 1955, it has become the classical theme parks in the world and has been hailed as the happiest place on earth. You can see the first Disney castle in LA, it is not big or exquisite than other places, but it is priceless for Disney fans. By thie way, never miss the firework show at night!

Silly Symphony Swings

Moving to the adventure park, the Paradise Pier area included ‘Mickey’s Fun Wheel Ferris’ and ‘California Screamin’ is considered as the landmarks of California Disneyland, It is also the place where the fountain of water shows the world of color at night. Mickey’s Fun Wheel Ferris is not the same as an ordinary Ferris wheel, the baskets above are divided into two types: rocking and fixed, you can choose it by yourself, I chose the rocking one and almost spit out on it, I will never forget this feeling!

Hollywood walk of fame

Hollywood Walk of Fame has been recognized as a cultural and historical landmark by LA, no doubt that it is the must-see for visitors. In addition to more than 2,000-star medals with Hollywood celebrity names, there is also the famous TCL Chinese Theatre and the Oscar venue Dolby Theatre. To be honest, I actually hesitated to come here, because the online review is really bad. I heard that there are a lot of cosplayers who are forced to take photos and ask for money, but you know, how can I miss this place when I come to LA, I try my best to avoid them, the whole street was a little bit chaotic. I came to some street shop and bought some souvenirs for my family, overall it was an interesting experience, but I suggested that do not visit here alone.

Beverly hills

The name of Beverly Hills has long been known, It has the title of “the most prestigious residential area in the world” which represents wealth and fame. I have to say that this is my dream and I am a big fan of TV show-the real housewife of Beverly Hills, standing on the street will make you feel the charm of the world’s top luxury capital. After that, we went to the nearby Rodeo Drive, which is dominated by famous shops. It contains all the most expensive stores in Southern California, and each famous store has its own unique architectural style. All the famous jewelry and costumes are found here in the most gorgeous exhibition halls There is a saying here: “Don’t ask how much money, if you ask, which means you can’t afford it.”

Santa monica beach

Santa Monica is a famous seaside resort and one of the most lively places in Los Angeles evening, it is especially popular with local residents and tourists. The beautiful sea view is also favored by Hollywood directors, thus the pier frequently appears among major Hollywood movies. It’s already five o’clock in the afternoon when I arrive at Santa Monica Beach. I have enough time to step on the sand at the beach, played with water and take a leisurely ride to enjoy the scenery. In such a sunset, I forgot where it is and forgot what I was going to do later. There were only the boundless quiet and deep-sea level in the eyes, and the gradual sinking halo and the golden glow that was dyed in gold and red.

People cut themselves off from their ties of the old life when they come to Los Angeles. They are looking for a place where they can be free, where they can do things they couldn’t do anywhere else. –Tom Bradley

The Hottest ‘Instagramable’ Restaurants in LA you can’t miss!

It comes as no surprise that Los Angeles is a famous food palace, you can always find worldwide cuisine and some unusual restaurants in this beautiful sunshine city, food choices would never be repeated here. Want to know which restaurants are the hottest on Instagram now? let’s have a look together!

1.The Ivy (LA)

Flowers, artistic and vintage, those are bright features of this popular LA restaurant-the Ivy. If you want to have an unforgettable lunch in a wonderful garden, I really recommend you to come. Recently it has become a new favorite of the ins-bloggers, tourists and celebrities, if you are lucky enough, you can enjoy the cuisine while takes a close look at them. I really like the building itself, like the restaurant introduced that-a prettily decorated country-cottage rooms, distinctly, it looks really like a beautiful pastoral house of the grandmother in the 70-80s countryside, you feel really warm, comfortable and relax in this amazing atmosphere.

When you walk inside, you can see a big fireplace and the light yellow walls hung with retro plates, but compare with indoor, the flowery outdoor terrace with cozy sofas is my real love. Another adorable thing which really attracts my eyes is that every table was decorated with fresh roses, how romantic is it! Speaking of the food, the price is a little bit high and most meals are beautifully laid out. Besides, the lobster pasta is the signature dish and almost every table must be ordered. By the way, the fresh juice in this restaurant is my personal recommendation, I really like the apple juice which tastes really well. Noticed that this restaurant also needs an appointment, you can use OpenTable or just called the phone.

Address: 113 N Robertson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90048 USA

Phone: +1 310-274-8303 Hours: 08:00-21:30


2.BBCM-The Butcher, The Baker & The Cappuccino Maker Cafe

Have an amazing breakfast will cheer you up and bring a fresh new day! In my own view, this quote is definitely made for BBCM-the most popular restaurant in West Hollywood, LA. It opens daily for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, but the brunch and lunchtime are the busiest periods in a whole day, almost overcrowding! You can see a really long waiting line every day, which represents the popularity of BBCM, so try to avoid going there at weekends and vacation days! Also, making a reservation through bbcmcafe.com, OpenTable or phone call will help you to save time.

At first sight, all decoration of BBCM is based on white and designed in a modern simple style, which is totally different compared with the Ivy. The food is really really fresh and delicious, I believed the food placing is in a European style rather than American! My favorite is egg benedict and the smoked salmon croissant, Furthermore, the drinks are also nice and creative! I strongly recommend the specialty coffee beverages and craft cocktails, you will know that food is also the art when you see them!

color burst latte
Champagne flight

Address: 8653 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069 USA

Phone: +1 310-360-6900 Hours: 08:00-22:00


3.The Living Room (The peninsula beverly hills)

If you are not much hungry, but want to have some food and chat with your friends, the living room in peninsula hotel (Beverly hills) can be your first choice in this situation. The afternoon tea offered in this hotel spreads fame the overseas, which attract many people to come and taste. It also served breakfast, dinner and some snacks, pianist will play the piano in the evening, and you can enjoy a lovely time with some cocktail in this romantic and exquisite room.

Accompanied by the music of a classical harpist, The Peninsula’s legendary Afternoon Tea start. There are two types of tea sets you can choose, an optional glass of Champagne and a tower of traditional high tea requisites; I order the Champagne including one, which is more fit for the atmosphere I think. For the tea menu, I do recommend the black tea and matcha, which are really rich and delicious. Moreover, from sandwiches to bite-sized pastries and scones, all the desserts in the selection are really tasteful, whole snacks inside the tea set are well-prepared and value for the price.

Address: 9882 Santa Monica blvd, The Peninsula Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Phone: +1 310 975 2736

Travel guide to the insta-famous attractions for photo-shooting in LA

Los Angeles, a city of the Instagram-famous spots, there have many desirable walls (art background) that attract the worldwide Insta-fans come to take the photos! In Los Angeles, Melrose, downtown and Venice beach are the three main sites with those famous walls, today I will focus to introduce the guide of Melrose’s artistic wall.

Paul Smith-The pink wall

Paul Smith’s pink wall is undoubtedly the most popular ins-style wall in the United States, the oversized and all-pink wall is easy to frame and photographing, you can stand anywhere with a pink background to take a good photo (no need to worry about the crowd and the weather). You can even avoid the crowd and take photos around the corner, the works are still awesome!

Address: 8221 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046, United States

LA Angel wings

There is no specific address for the wing wall, it just on your way from the pink wall to made in la. You can definitely see it, so don’t be worry!

Made in LA wall

Address: Cisco Home, 8025 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046

Rainbows Wall

Address: The Paper Bag Princess, 8050 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046


-Different artistic wall on Melrose street-

“Love is everywhere”

Peer review 3

For my third peer review, I am going to read Rain Mutlu’s blog small steps in a big world

This blog is about traveling and photo sharing, Rain has loved freezing moments to keep them forever and she would be more than happy to share those memories with her audiences, she mentioned that she decided to create this travel blog where she talks about what kind of feelings the places she went to trigger in her and what kind of feelings they might awake in you. I believed this is a romantic idea that will create a bond with readers and express the emotion together through reading blogs.

Speaking of website design, this blog holds simple aesthetic with white and black, author decorates some visual pictures in each post, because it is a travel blog, so I would recommend adding more travel photo to replace other types of pictures, otherwise the online identity is not clear and may leads this website looks like a business or personal blog without certain theme. The scroll bar on the homepage as one of the first things viewers see when they go to her website is a good design that Rain can utilized to capture audiences’ attention, it is an important part to create interest and convey the blog’s identity in a clearer way, thus beautiful travel image is needed. Besides, the menu and category widget, which are very helpful to help her viewers choose what they want to read. Generally, more vivid designs for travel blogs may help increase the participation between the author and audiences, as it would make the reader more interested in this blog.

Moving to blog content, her blog posts are very interesting and I really enjoyed reading her travel experience. Compared to other travel blogs, this one is a little bit different, it focuses on emotional expression rather than traveling itself. In a recent blog, Rain said she wanted to focus on small and unpopular places in certain locations rather than traveling around the world and briefly talk about the must-seen-places, she shares many Vancouver spots, because this is a travel blog, it is better to write about other places rather than local, otherwise the blog theme needs to be more focused. Also, the featured image on the blog post needs more charming, which will attract more audiences to read the content and help her to increase the target audience, otherwise it makes them feel confused about the blog content. A few changes would make these posts even better, the typeface she will use also can be more unique in the future.

For marketability to their intended audience group, I think to create a specific theme and adding more attracting travel elements or design will help her to create a more unique and interesting blog, which become easier to market with a more specific group of readers. By the way, the automatic pop-up window is really disturbing for audiences so I do not suggest to install this. When I was reading a post intently, this window made me feel really annoyed and want to quit this website. Personally, showing Instagram photos on the homepage will help to increase awareness for this blog and bring traction. Some adjustment will attract more fans and prepare for Rain’s future blog marketing and digital monetization.

Overall speaking, Rain’s traveling blog is relatively different than other travel blogs, I will continue to read the website for new posts in the upcoming weeks and hope to see more interesting things!

who can reject a dreamy trip to Italy?

some of my photo collection, hope everyone likes it!

To Find Myself (Goodbye Vancouver)

I recently found this journal entry I wrote before I left for my exchange to Australia:

I left Canada with a lot of questions on my mind, hoping to somehow find the answers  in Australia. Lost at the age of 22, I had an inkling that flying across the world on my own and facing the anxiety of being lost itself would do something. And that’s okay I think. It’s okay to “start over” sometimes and be built up again in a fresh way.

 Having been around familiar groups of people most of my life, I want to know who I am without referring to other peoples’ preconception of me. What characteristics do I have?
 How do I make friends? How do people perceive me as a person/friend?
 What am I passionate about (so I can have some direction of what I want to do after graduation…)?
 Can I face and overcome challenges on my own?
 What does it mean to be alone but not lonely?
 What does it mean to be free? / What does “freedom in God” mean?
 Where do I belong?
 What do I value?
 What is the other side of the world like?!
 How do Australians communicate and interact with one another?

I hope that coming back, I will have as many of these questions answered. So stoked to have a meaningful time here in Oz!

Looking back, it was definitely one of the best experiences I had during my undergrad and I am so grateful for it!

Australia: The Search for True Freedom

I am a free spirit, always yearning to break free from the mundane to experience the wild. Sometimes I run to pretend that I am running away from my problems and anxieties. To me, the physical movement of running can express my desire for the emotional or mental need to move away from something. It’s a liberating feeling and the thought of it pushes me to run even harder. As I was running on the track one day though, I realized that there are two ways to look at it – “running from” and “running towards.” Am I running towards anything? Was I running towards anything during exchange?

I had always thought freedom meant escaping to somewhere far away. I went to Australia supposing that I was escaping my problems there, but as time went on, I realized that I was still stuck with them. I left Canada feeling confined in my worries and doubts, and arrived in Australia with a new set of worries and doubts. That was when my search for freedom began. From traveling into the city to be amidst the bustle to going on day trips to secluded beaches, and from sitting in coffee shops around my neighbourhood to flying to other provinces to explore their beauty – I loved it all. However, no matter where I was, I was still me – stuck with my own thoughts and insecurities. There was nothing physical that I could do to push them away. Away, away, away… That was the problem. I was always trying to run away, but never to anything. When Jonah ran away from God because he didn’t want to go to Ninevah, he ended up getting brought back to the same situation he was running away from. And that was how I felt. So, I questioned myself: which one would be more effective – “running away from” or “running towards”?

I found my answer one Sunday afternoon. I was sitting in Anthenaeum Theatre where Hillsong Church City Campus was held, and this one line stood out to me: “We are most free when we are in God’s presence.” Suddenly, it clicked. At the time I didn’t realize it, but now I know. (And even as I know the answer today, living it out in the different seasons of my life is still a challenge each time). I was looking for something dependable but flexible, constant but not a burden. It was a search for more than just freedom; it was a search for a way out of the mindset I felt trapped in and for an escape route from the life I didn’t feel like I was living right – answers that could only be found through a renewal of the mind and Christ-given transformation. Instead of running away from my troubles, I need to run towards God. I need to find and experience freedom internally before anything external can bring me joy.

If freedom is wherever God is, then I want to be wherever He is.


(Taken at Dandenong Ranges National Park, Melbourne)

Read part 2/3 and part 3/3 of the biggest lessons I learned on exchange.

Sources of Happiness

Snow in Cantonese: 雪 [syut3]

It was the last day of Blackcomb and PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola yesterday, so my family friend took us to the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola which I was two minutes late and missed it last time.

Some people dressed up as bunnies or unicorns jumpsuits, some children even added bunnies’ ears to their helmet to celebrate Easter. I managed to take a lot of photos of people smiling which makes me happy too. It’s heartwarming to see so many smiley faces that I don’t get to see so often in Hong Kong.

  • Showing her daughter how wonderful the nature is

Check out the other photos I took at Whistler here!

The post Sources of Happiness appeared first on lily in stripes.

Marine Wildlife at Stanley Park

Sea lion in Cantonese: 海[hoi2] 獅[si1]

Stanley Park is the place I would always want to go whenever the sun comes out. It’s my third time visiting Stanley Park since my arrival in December (fourth time in total because I paid a visit a few years ago). The first time I came for the sea wall, the second time I came for the cherry blossoms and the third time I came to show my father around.

It’s a sunny day and 420, I cannot think of other places to visit when downtown is filled with the smell of weed. Originally I wanted to show my father the cherry blossoms in Stanley Park so he can take photos, unfortunately, most of them have wilted already. I guessed the best time to visit was two weeks ago when all the flowers were in full bloom.

It was a bit disappointing not seeing the cherry blossoms in full bloom, so we just casually walked around the park and enjoyed the sunshine. While my father was taking photos of two ducks on the sea, I spotted a black smooth surface floating above the water and quickly dived again. We waited for several minutes and it appeared again. I immediately took some photos. Guess what is it?

It’s a sea lion!!!!!!

I have never seen a wild one before, I hope we’ll get to see more of them during our trip to Tofino in 4 days time! Let the travel marathon begin!

Click here for more photos taken today!

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The beginning of an Adventure

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The beginning of an adventure

In July of 2018, I set out on a road trip through the United States with two of my best friends, Alex and Rune.  In just 16 days, we visited 10 states, traveled over 7,000 kilometers, and took hundreds of photos.  We were able to travel on a small budget by living out of our car, pitching our tent in national forests, and staying on friend’s couches.  

We had spent the whole day driving from Vancouver BC to make it to California by dinnertime.  Truth be told, Alex had been craving In-N-Out burgers for years, and when he expressed the need to have one of their burgers on the first day of our road trip, Rune and I laughed and agreed.  For those who aren’t familiar, In-N-Out is a fast-food chain that sources local ingredients and is ridiculously affordable and delicious.  They’re able to keep prices reasonable by only having a few restaurants and restricting them mainly to California.

Alex, savouring the fabled In-N-Out burger after years of abstinence.

After filling ourselves up at the northernmost In-N-Out – in Grants Pass – we continued our drive into California.  As the sun was slowly starting to set over the mountains, we were setting up camp in a little clearing. We had followed an old forestry road near Gasquet, in northern California, and drove as far as the terrain would allow our small Mazda to go. 

Prior to setting out for this road trip, we had familiarized ourselves with the rules of dispersed camping and had applied for all the necessary permits, which allowed for a lot of flexibility with last minute accommodations on our trip.  By last minute accommodations, I mean setting up camp in the middle of nowhere.  We didn’t plan to pitch our tent where we did and had gotten lost a few times trying to find somewhere to sleep, but it was the most perfect mistake anyone of us could have ever made.  

At night fall, we were all wide awake, too excited to sleep, and thinking of the adventures ahead.  The sweet summer air was warm and inviting, and the stars were the brightest any of us had ever seen.  We were so far from any city, on the side of mountain overlooking a lush valley, there was seldom any light pollution.  This was it.  This was what spontaneous wandering was about, this is what traveling was about, and this is what summers were made for.

That night, we started taking silly group photos, which became a consistent theme through our road trip, as they progressively became more intricate and ridiculous.  This night was the perfect start to our summer adventures.


Looking to recreate this starry photo?

Use a low aperture, a slow shutter speed, and a tripod. Typically, night shots will require you to have a higher ISO as well. While a high ISO might brighten your image, be careful when using it as it creates more grain and degrades the quality of your image. These were the specs for my image:

Focal Length 18; 15 second shutter speed; F3.5; ISO 800

What to do in Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu is one of the most popular Hawaiian destinations simply for the reason that can offer almost every different side of the island life that Hawaii offers. With Honolulu and Waikiki Beach being a more metropolitan version of Hawaii and the North Shore representing Hawaii as a surfer’s paradise and more remote island destination, Oahu really does have it all. This past December my family and I decided to visit this island for the first time, and it easily became one of my favourite places I have ever been. Here’s some of what we did with our week on this beautiful island and ideas for what you can do on your visit here as well!

Visit The North Shore

The North Shore of Oahu is most of the islands most popular destinations outside of Honolulu, and for very good reason. With endless beaches and surf centred communities, the North Shore is this pinnacle of living the island life. Much unlike Honolulu, the North Shore offers a relaxed and serene atmosphere for visitors and locals to enjoy. If you’ve come to Hawaii to surf an enjoy some incredible waves, the North Shore is where you’re going to want to be as it’s home to some of the worlds most prestigious surfing competitions such as Billabong’s Pipemasters. If you’re not a surfer don’t worry, there’s many other activities to occupy your time here including shopping at local Hawaiian stores and a never ending amount of amazing food such as The Sunrise Shack for smoothies bowls and Matsumoto’s for shaved ice!

Waimea Bay & Valley

Waimea Bay & Valley are also located on the North Shore, but deserve their own attention nonetheless. Waimea Bay is an incredible beach to spend the day soaking up the sun on, and right across the street is Waimea Valley which is a great little hike to a pretty incredible waterfall. This hike is perfect for those of us who aren’t really hikers as it’s a very easy walk through some of Hawaii’s most beautiful nature that ends at one of my personal favourite swimming spots which serves as an amazing reward for the “hike” over there. Waimea Valley is also a historical landmark on the island of Oahu so while you’re taking in the beauty of the island and all it has to offer, you can also learn about the history of the island and how it came to be.

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach is on the east side of the island and is that incredible white sand, bright blue water beach that you went to the island hoping to find. This beach is perfect for relaxing in the sun or spending the day indulging in various different water sports making it the perfect beach for everyone to enjoy. For those of you who love a good hike, right by the beach is the Lanikai Pillbox hike which can be followed up with some well deserved time laying in the sand. I don’t want to sound dramatic but this beach is without a doubt one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen and definitely should not be missed if you find yourself on the island of Oahu anytime soon!

Hanauma Bay

I’m going to be honest, I was a little skeptical about going to Hanauma Bay as everyone that I had spoken to about it said that although it was beautiful, it was always way to crowded to actually be enjoyed. They weren’t wrong about it being crowded as this is definitely one of the islands most popular tourist attractions but despite the crowds I think this was one of my favourite activities we did that week! With some of the most beautiful and colourful fish and coral reefs, Hanauma Bay is the islands most popular and incredible spot for snorkelling. Even if you don’t plan on snorkelling, the beach alone is beyond worth the visit as it’s one of the most gorgeous areas of this island.

Diamond Head Memorial Hike

Another very popular tourist activity on the island of Hawaii is the Diamond Head Hike. This hike is a bit more difficult than the one at Waimea Valley but is still suitable for beginner level hikers. I’d recommend doing this one as early in the morning as possible as it does get very busy during the afternoon with tourists and hikers, but even if you can’t get there early the hike still worth the trip! The view of the island from the top of Diamond Head is uncompareable and absolutely breathtaking, plus you’re getting in some quality exercise on your way up there, does it get any better than that?

Spend the day on Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is without a doubt the most popular area on the entire island, and reasonably so. This beautiful, long stretch of sand and water is an amazing place to spend a sunny day as it’s got a beautiful view, endless amounts of amazing restaurants right on the beach, world class shopping and exciting water sports to keep you occupied for a day (at least). This beach in my opinion is the definition of the word fun and is a must see while you’re on the island. I came to island dying to go surfing again, but as I am far from a professional I was too scared to take on the gigantic waves on the North Shore so we opted to surf on Waikiki Beach instead which ended up being the most fun we had all week!

I hope this has helped those of you planning a trip to Oahu decide on the things you want to do while visiting the island!

Oregon Coast Video Diary

After our visit to Portland this past fall we made our way out to the coast for a night to enjoy the beautiful and serene views of western Oregon. Instead of outlining this amazing trip through words, I’ve decided to share a video travel diary that my extremely talented best friend Miranda Anderson and I made while we were visiting the Oregon coast, enjoy!

What to Pack: Summer in Europe

Planning on spending your summer vacation in across the pond travelling throughout Europe? If you are and you’re not quite sure what to pack, don’t you worry, I’m here to help. European summers are going to be hot and they are going to be busy, so packing as light as possible is going to be essential as nobody wants to be hauling a suitcase bigger than they are down crowded cobblestone streets in 30-40 degree heat so in order to avoid that, I’ve divided this post up into three sections must haves, could haves and don’t haves.

Must Haves:

Sunscreen

Sunscreen is going to be your absolute best friend during the summer in Europe as let’s be real, you’re going to be spending more time outside pounding the pavement and enjoying everything this beautiful continent has to offer than you will be doing anything else. For us Canadians everything is going to be more expensive once you’re there so be sure to bring your own sunscreen, it’ll save you a couple dollars and isn’t going to take up much room in your bag.

Money Belt

Europe is known for issues with pickpockets, so a money belt is going to be vital in ensuring you keep your money and important documents safe. Sitting right on your waist and underneath your clothes, a money belt is the perfect way to keep your important items somewhere you don’t have to worry about them being vulnerable to these sneaky thieves. A money belt will also be much cooler and easier to carry than a big purse or backpack in the high temperatures and beating sun. Be sure to be careful about where you’re storing your passport as well, sweat and humidity can easily cause water damage to a passport which could make your trip home a lot more difficult than it needs to be, having a waterproof money belt to store your passport in can easily prevent that!

Outlet Adaptor

Something that many first time travellers don’t realize when travelling to Europe is that there outlets are completely different than the ones that we have here. Adaptors are super affordable on Amazon and I recommend investing in a universal one so then no matter where you travel you’ll be set and won’t have to keep repurchasing new ones! If you have multiple devices that you’ll want to be charging at the same time, bring a small extension cord with you as well so you have room to charge more than one or two things at a time.

Light, breathable clothing

Light and breathable clothing is going to be a lifesaver throughout your travels. Not only will these clothes keep you cool, they’ll also be easy and lightweight to fit into your luggage. Light clothing won’t hold as much moisture such as sweat and humidity, and therefore will also not need to be washed as frequently which is always nice when moving from place to place.

Comfortable Sandals

When travelling Europe in the summer, a comfortable pair of sandals is going to be most important type of shoe you bring with you. Sandals that you can walk all day in are super important to have as after a day of non stop adventuring, you’re feet are going to get sore. In my opinion sneakers or running shoes aren’t ideal in the summer as you’re feet will get too hot and they are a pain to take on and off every time you want to stick your feet in the water.

Hats

Having a hat with you is a super easy way to keep yourself cool and safe from the sun. Hats are also a large part of European fashion, so having a fun and cute hat to wear as you travel around will help you fit right in with the locals!

Could Haves:

Backpack/Purse

Having a second bag in Europe isn’t essential and many people would warn against it, but if you plan to be carrying around multiple things everyday such as your camera, a book, a journal or anything else along those lines then having a small purse or backpack to wear around would be a good idea! Otherwise a money belt should be more than enough for your money, documents and phone.

Reusable Water Bottle

Big plastic water bottles that you can purchase from any corner store or market are cheap and a lot of the time recommended when travelling in Europe as drinking tap water can sometimes be worrying, but if you have room having a reusable bottle can be super handy to have and easy to refill.

Journal

These will undoubtedly be some of the most amazing days of your life, so having a journal to document your memories and experiences in is always a great idea if you have room for it. Although I doubt you’ll ever forget the trip and the time you spend in Europe it’s nice to be able to write down the smaller moments and the feelings you experience as those are something you might not immediately recall.

Towel

Towels are available at most hotels and can be purchased almost anywhere, but there are places that you won’t have one when you need one so if you can spare the room and avoid having to buy one over there to use for the beach or pool, bringing a towel from home can be very helpful!

Don’t Haves:

Valuables

Leave any valuable items that you aren’t going to need at home, this includes the necklace that has been passed through your family through generations and any unnecessary electronic devices. As mentioned above, Europe is known for pickpockets and thieves so don’t risk losing these meaningful items if you don’t need to. As you’ll likely be moving from place to place, it’s also very easy to lose items in the process or accidentally leave them behind so save yourself the worry and keep those items safe at home!

Thank you for reading, hopefully this helps those of you planning a trip to Europe this summer with your packing!

Greece in May (Part Two)

Continuing on from the first post I wrote about my trip to Greece this past May, after we left the beautiful and quaint island of Paros we sailed through Aegean Sea over to arguably the most popular destination in Greece, Santorini. Santorini is a place that I have dreamed of visiting ever since the first time I saw Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants many, many years ago and to my pleasure, my dreams of Santorini were not only fulfilled but surpassed. We’ve all seen photos of this beautiful location, but the photos do little justice to the magic that this place brings in real life.

Upon arriving to the island, we drove down to the Black Sand Beach where we were staying for the duration of our stay in Santorini to drop our bags before heading over to Oia to enjoy dinner and the world famous Santorini sunset. After navigating our way through the bustling and beautiful streets of Oia, we found the coveted lookout point for watching the sun go down over the island where we set up camp to enjoy some drinks and gyros. I don’t want to be dramatic, but the sunset we witnessed this night was one of the most magical moments of my entire life. This entire night I couldn’t help but be in complete and total of awe of what I was seeing and what I was experiencing. This was one of those moments where I had to keep pinching myself and reminding myself that this was real life because it simply seemed too good to be true. After the sun finally set and Santorini became illuminated under the night sky, we made our way back through the narrow and lively streets to turn in for the evening.

The next morning we woke very early and ventured back to Oia to see all the beauty this town had to offer in the daylight, and again, we were far from disappointed. We spent the first half of our day on the island exploring the streets and shops of Santorini and returned back to the lookout point we had been at the night before to take in the incredible view one more time before we moved onto other parts of the island. After we had taken in the last bit of our time in Oia, we travelled back towards our hotel and spent the afternoon on the Black Sand Beach and enjoying some of the local cuisine that was offered. To end off an amazing day and stay in Santorini, we again spent the evening on the Black Sand Beach after a barbecue dinner and pool party at our hotel playing games and drinking ciders out of the corner store drink cooler, which ended up being a fun filled night which I will never forget.

The next morning it was time to head off to our final Greek island, the island of Ios. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when heading to Ios as I had never previously heard of it, but this island ended up being the most perfect way to end off an amazing and crazy busy trip. With its white sand beaches and beautiful bright blue waters, Ios is the perfect island for relaxation. We stayed at Far Out Beach Club which is an apartment style brand new hotel that is located right across the street from an amazing beach and many fun water sports. After spending the first day on the beach soaking in the European sun and sand, we spent our last full day on the island swimming through caves, snorkelling over shipwrecks and hanging out on our own private beach that we took boat to for lunch. I couldn’t have thought of a better way to end our time on the islands than relaxing by the beach and enjoying the last bit of time we had with some of the amazing people that we were fortunate enough to meet on this trip.

The next morning we boarded our final ferry back to Athens where we spent our last night before flying home. Once we reached Athens we had one final celebratory dinner with a stunning view of the illuminated Acropolis. This was a trip that I have spent my life dreaming about, and I am so grateful that I got to do it at the age of 18 with my best friend by my side. These were without a doubt the most incredible two weeks of my life which I will never forget. For those of you reading this, I highly recommend making a visit to Greece at some point in your life. You absolutely not regret it.


Catching up with old friends

It’s my second solo trip and this time I’ve picked Toronto – a city where two of my best friends from primary and secondary school life. They immigrated to Canada over 6 years ago and rarely go back to Hong Kong. It’s my first time to visit them in Canada, in fact, it’s my first time to visit friends in a foreign country! The last time I met with them was already 2 years ago when we first entered university. That time we talked about the struggles of adjusting to uni life, reminiscing the good old days in secondary school. Two years later today, we are one year away from graduation and we start discussing worries of stepping into adulthood – internship, graduation, life and etc. It’s shocking how fast time passes which we are about to step into a new stage of life. We started to think more about our future and in a more mature manner, it was different from the time where we did silly stuff together in primary and secondary schools, but I am glad that we’re witnessing our growth despite our long-distance friendship.

Hope to see them soon in Hong Kong!

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Greece in May (Part One)

As a gift to myself for successfully completing my first year of University last spring, I decided it was time for to embark on my dream trip. For as long as I can remember my most dreamt about travel experience was island hopping in Greece, and this past May I was fortunate enough to fulfill that lifelong dream. After spending a few days in London with family along the way there, my best friend Miranda and I made our way from London over to Athens where we began what was the best two weeks of our lives.

Before arriving to Greece I was quite nervous about what the weather was going to be like as May is the very beginning of the peak season in Greece, meaning that we were fortunate enough to miss most of the large crowds and unbearably high temperatures. To be completely honest, despite my initial concern about whether or not we would be lucky enough to experience consistently sunny skies and avoid those spring to summer transition period winds, we were hit with a wall of humidity and heat immediately after stepping off the plane which is exactly what I went to Greece hoping for.

The view of Athens from the Dorian Inn

Athens was a city that I had previously heard many mixed reviews on as all though it is beautiful beyond belief, it’s no secret that this Greek metropolis is not known for its cleanliness and is rather better known for its crime and poverty. While I wouldn’t by any means suggest going for an after dark walk on your own throughout the streets of Athens, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I felt perfectly safe the entire time we were there and wasn’t bothered by the dirtiness anymore than I was in New York City or even in some parts of my beautiful home city, Vancouver. By the time we reached our hotel for the duration of our stay in Athens, The Dorian Inn, it was dark and almost time to call it a night so before hopping in to bed we decided to head up to the breathtaking rooftop pool and restaurant for a bite to eat and a celebratory drink for officially making it to Greece.

While traveling through Greece we were actually on a guided tour ran through the company Busabout, which I would highly recommend to any young travelers looking to travel on a budget, meet new people and enjoy a bunch of unique, once in a lifetime experiences. Busabout offers a variety of different travel styles and destinations, the one that we chose to do being the fixed Greek Island hopper. This trip was perfect for the two of us as for the both of us this was our first major trip on our own as adults and virtually everything was organized for us beforehand except for flights and a few meals here and there. The next morning was the first official day of our tour, but before meeting up with the group we have majority of the day to explore Athens on our own so after lying by the rooftop pool ad enjoying the sun for a few hours we made our way over to the Acropolis and began the trek up to the top where we discovered some of the most amazing architecture, history and views. After visiting the Acropolis we made our way back down to the Place where we shopped, ate our first authentic Greek meal for lunch and enjoyed some of the local Athenian culture before heading out early the next morning to our first Island destination, Mykonos.

At the Acropolis in Athens

After catching an early morning ferry out of the Port of Athens we reached the island of Mykonos in the early afternoon and made our way to our accommodation, Paradise Beach and were immediately welcomed with cocktails, activities and a beautiful beach. Although Paradise Beach is located a little outside of the main part of Mykonos, the hotel has a bus stop right out front of the property that will quickly take you into the heart of Mykonos for a mere two euros. Once we had enjoyed everything that Paradise Beach had to offer for a few hours, we made our way into Mykonos where we were greeted with the a delicious Greek meal and a beautiful sunset that we got to watch from the iconic windmills that sit on top of a hill right over the town.

The next morning we made our way down to the beach for breakfast in the sunshine and then gathered our things to make our way back into the town of Mykonos for the afternoon. We spent hours navigating the white, cobblestone maze like streets of Mykonos enjoying the local culture and indulging in some Ice Cream before heading back to Paradise Beach for a couple hours of beach time before the sun began to set on our last day in Mykonos.

The town of Mykonos

The next morning was another early one as we made our way from the island of Mykonos over to Paros. Before this trip I had no idea that the island of Paros even existed, but after our visit to this serene and authentic Greek Island there is no way I will ever forget it. Once we made our way to the adorable little boutique hotel that we were staying in for our time in Paros, we boarded our private (and air-conditioned) coach bus over to the other side of the island where we had the most incredible 4 course greek meal and ended the evening with some traditional Greek dancing and plate smashing which is an experience that I will always hold with me.

Upon waking up the next morning we were served a beautiful Greek breakfast beside the pool at the villas we were staying in and then immediately whisked away on our coach bus and down to the port where we boarded our private sailboat for the day. This day was without a doubt the most fun and exciting day of our trip as we got to spend the day sailing around the island of Paros, swimming through caves, eating the freshest of seafood all while enjoying the sunshine, view and some drinks. After debarking the boat later that afternoon we had a relaxing night in Paros after grabbing dinner on the beach and prepared ourselves to say goodbye to Paros the next day and hello to Santorini, which you can hear all about in my next post which will be filled with the details of our adventure from the last two islands that we visited on this incredible vacation!

Dawn

5 Reasons to wake up early – Travel Edition

Rise and Shine

*The above footage was taken by Sage Watson in Kathmandu, Nepal, and used in the introduction of his documentary The Beginning of a Journey.

5 Reasons Why

Early mornings have always been difficult for me. Difficult might be an understatement; rather, I resist early mornings with every fibre of my being. I either sleep through my alarm or have to set my first one 45 minutes before I actually need to start my day, with 5 subsequent alarms, each boasting a different ringtone. I say this because I know how difficult it is to get out of a warm bed at the crack of dawn, so believe me when I say that it should become a top priority when you’re travelling.


1. Catching the sunrise

There’s something special about waking up at the crack of dawn and watching the sun rise over a new city. Simple mornings have become under appreciated, as the hustle and bustle of city life and daily responsibilities have taken precedence.

Colorado, USA

2. Getting a head start on the day

Personally, allowing time not only for coffee and breakfast, but also time for me to wake up boosts my productivity and alertness throughout the day. When I run out the door in a hurry, the rest of my day feels rushed, groggy, and usually fairly unproductive. This is especially important when traveling, as I find myself trying to cover a lot of ground, or trying to fit in sightseeing in a tight schedule. For my most recent trip, this meant getting a head-start on our whole adventure: we departed Vancouver, BC bright and early, and were able to make it to California by the afternoon!

California, USA

3. Skipping the lines

The early bird gets the worm! Whether it be the Louvre in Paris, or the Taj Mahal in Agra, or the Grand Canyon in Arizona, escape the crowds by setting an early alarm. In addition to faster and shorter admission lines, the fewer crowds allow for better photo opportunities, especially if you’re one to visit popular sights.

Agra, India

4. Taking in the new city

Every country, every city, every town has its own routines and customs. Wake up with the city, observe and take part in the morning rituals, people watch, ask a local for directions, and enjoy a cup of your preferred morning brew.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

5. Mid-day naps.

While this isn’t a morning activity per se, it is the result of waking up early – especially if you’re anything like me, and you aren’t a morning person Naps are definitely underrated, and necessity when navigating a busy schedule. While travelling can be busy, fast, and sometimes hectic, it’s important to pause and take in your surroundings. Listen to the sounds of a foreign park, breath in the different smells, and let yourself recharge. I would be cautious of napping in public places when traveling alone just for your own safety and the safety of your belongings; however if you’re traveling with friends, family, or a significant other, this is definitely recommended.

Alex, taking a moment to relax in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, California, USA