As we go on, we remember…

Now that my semester abroad is over, and I’ve experienced all that I was meant to experience here and during this time, I have come up with a brief list of pointers when traveling/living in Asia.
1. Withdraw a lot of cash and don’t exchange all of it to the local currency of wherever you’re traveling. It’s a hassle to withdraw money at atms in foreign countries what with the fees and bank cards not working. If you have extra money to exchange, you won’t have as many problems and you’ll stay on a budget too.
2. Try to plan as little as possible. Things are way more fun, generally, if you don’t plan. And because of the variability of resources and transportation in developing countries, it’s better to just go with the flow. Save yourself from stressing out unnecessarily.
3. Get as many cheap massages as possible. I don’t know when and where I will be able to get a $10 full body oil massage for an hour in the states. They’re much better in Southeast Asia anyway in my opinion, haha.
4. Rice is rice wherever you go. Though you may not be accustomed to sticky rice, rice with vegetables, or fried rice, there is nothing special about rice. It’s cheap and filling but it’s not adventurous. Try lots of local cuisine and stay away from eating rice and chicken all the time (I am guilty of this).
5. Don’t be afraid to talk to people. Everyone you meet has a story and is pretty much willing to talk about themselves. You may be wondering why you care about other people’s experiences, but those are the exact experiences that could give you the necessary insight into where you might want to go, what you may want to do, how to do it, how to stay safe, and how to have fun. Plus, you will probably make a friend from a different part of the world who could change your life forever.
6. Allow yourself to change. Traveling in general will change a person. Whether you’re going cross-country or across the world, you’re bound to learn at least one thing that you retain for the long haul. When circumstances become difficult or even unbearable, just ride the waves until you hit the shore. Holding back and “sticking to your guns” or old habits will only hinder your personal growth.
7. People will stare. Get used to it. For you all who read my blog posts regularly, you know how I look. I am not the “standard” American most Asians think of when they picture “Yankees”. People of all kinds will stare at you, some will smile and some will frown. The most neutral thing to do, especially when you’re having a bad day, is to ignore them and carry on with your spectacular life. Chances are, no one will stop you and you’ll likely be hailed as a superstar for looking different.
8. Try not to have a routine. We easily create routines because, somehow, they make life more facile. When you create a routine it’s like you limit your willingness and potential to venture out of the box and see things that may positively alter your perspective. Save your routines for never 😉
9. Learn how to say “thank you” in the language of each country you visit. Nine times out of ten, people will feel better about themselves when they are thanked. Even if they did something as simple as step out of your way or give you directions, people love to feel appreciated. An added benefit is that you gain respect by speaking a bit of the language of a different culture.
10. Smile often. As “they” say, a smile is the universal symbol for happiness. No matter where you travel, or what you experience, smiling not only makes you feel and look better, it makes others happy as well. Smiling in itself has the potential to change the world. Think about the last time a stranger smiled at you; you probably smiled either outward or inwardly just thinking about it. That’s how powerful it is.
 
That’s just a pretty general list of hopefully helpful tips to employ while traveling, and I guess navigating this wild thing called life. All of the above tips have been curated from my experience here. Especially the rice thing and the staring thing. As a Nigerian, I love rice till the end, so it’s gonna be hard for me to beat that obstacle 100%, but I can get over people staring at me. I guess I can just smile at them, haha. 🙂
 

Say hello to the random pictures I found on my photobooth :’)

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Gonna miss these folks.

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Cambodian Adventure

 

Cambodia was the biggest adventure ever. 
 
Young, Yasmin, Andie, Rody, and I traveled there from April 24th to May 1st, essentially. We had two long layovers in none other than Singapore, yay! 
 
As soon as we arrived at Hong Kong International Airport, I knew the trip would be a blast. Though our flight was a bit delayed, and Tigerair has no space for my over-elongated legs, we were still excited and ready for an unknown experience. 
 
We got to Changi Airport around 2:00 am on the 25th and decided to watch a movie until some of us got hungry and tired. We then ended up falling asleep in the “Snooze Lounge,” which had very cool-looking but uncomfortable chairs to sleep in. The next morning, we gathered our belongings to check out of the airport to then check back in in order to catch our flight to Cambodiaaaaa!!! 
 
The flight to Cambodia was less than two hours, and let me tell you, the heat in that country in unlike any heat I have ever felt. It is not that hot in Nigeria, and it was not that hot in Phuket, Thailand… well maybe it was, but I couldn’t recall at the moment. So, when we touched down in Phnom Penh, we were over heated, over dressed, and as hungry as beasts. We found a tuk tuk that drove us into town and we bought bus tickets to head to Siem Reap the same evening. Unfortunately, the bus wouldn’t be leaving until two hours after the time we bought the tickets. If there is one thing I have learned from traveling, it’s that things don’t typically go as planned, so it’s better not to plan them. Go with the flow.
 
We got onto a bus that promised AC but only blew warm air out of the vents. We managed to survive the 10-hour smelly, sleepless, bumpy, overcrowded bus ride that was supposed to take only six hours, haha. That was the first part of the adventure. Though we planned on getting to The Siem Reap Hostel at around 8:00 pm the previous night, we ended up arriving at around 3:40 am on the 26th. We very much wanted to see the Angkor Wat temples at sunrise, so our tuk tuk driver gave us until 4:30 am to shower and be ready so we could head to the temples; mind you, the five of us got to our hostel at 4:00 am. Somehow we did it with no sleep and adrenaline rushing through our veins. It was so worth it, though, and the temples were breathtaking.
 
It’s amazing how the sun rises. One second it is dark and the only thing gleaming in one point in the sky is the moon, moments later, a few blinks later, the sun is vastly illuminating that portion of the earth. 
 
Not only did the sun illuminate the earth, but it was melting our skin, haha. The heat became even more and more real, and water became even more and more necessary. After viewing the Angkor Wat temples, we had traditional Cambodian meals of Amok and Lok Lak for breakfast, which were deliciously delicious! We made our way back to the Bayon Temples and surrounding ones before we decided it was a good idea to head back to the hostel to get some rest. At this point it was only 11:30 am but we had already gone through half of our day, haha.
 
During the evening we enjoyed happy hour at the hostel’s restaurant; they are not stingy with the alcohol they put in cocktails in Cambodia. We met cool people, played infamous drinking games, and made our way to Pub Street and the Night Market to check it all out. Of course I had my eyes and hands in the few shops that were still open that night, and I did purchase some things. It was so easy to spend being that Cambodia uses US Dollars as their main currency, with every value under $1 USD being Cambodian Riel. 
 
Alright, even though we were adventurous 20-something college kids in a different world, we were still pretty exhausted from our traveling the past couple days. When we saw one of the million spas offering $3 foot massages for 30 minutes, we all gave in, and boyyyyy did we enjoy that. We then roamed the street for a bit, relished chocolate and banana pancakes, and watched an impromptu dance performance in the street. Then we all decided we were pretty beat and went back to the hostel to catch some zzzzzzs. 
 
The next morning, we met with our tuk tuk driver and he took us to the killing fields and the war museum. Now I am not the hugest fan of history, but I was really interested in learning about the Khmer Rouge and the war and genocide that took place not even 40 years ago. The museum tour guide was so sweet and a victim of a mine explosion that took place after the war had ended: there are about 2 million land mines still left in fields in Cambodia that are taking lives and limbs very frequently. So unbelievable. 
 
After the war museum we were dropped off at Pub Street and had an amazing lunch at a tex-mex spot! Haha, when in Cambodia, eat fajitas, right? After lunch we found a beautiful spa and enjoyed oil massages that felt like pure happiness. They were able to fit the five of us into one room, which made the experience more special, for me at least. I mean if you have to get almost naked in front of anyone, at least let it be in front of the friends you traveled with, right?
 
Since we were scheduled to leave Siem Reap at 6pm to make our way to Sihanoukville, an 11-hour journey, we headed back to the hostel, which we had already checked out of, and snuck into our old rooms to have quick showers. We got on the “sleeper bus,” which is a bus with seats that are almost fully reclined, and managed to sleep somewhat comfortably for the following 11 hours, even though my legs were in the aisle or compartment next to mine most of the time, haha.
 
As soon as we got to Sihanoukville, we went to Ocheteaul Beach and just stayed at the hotel our tuk tuk driver took us to. Less than an hour after checking in, we spontaneously hopped on a boat going to Koh Rong and various islands for a mini-boat tour (nothing like the boat tours in the Philippines or Thailand). Koh Rong was such a pretty island with a zillion cute hostel-bars lined up along the beach. Definitely a hidden gem and worth visiting again in the future.
 
That night, we had dinner and drinks on the beach, played truth-or-dare, and went to a nearby club to partyyyy, before some of us got sick, haha. Maybe it was the seafood, or the alcohol, or the mixture, ewww. 
 
Either way, we went back up to Phnom Penh the next day by bus (our bus rides got increasingly better after the catastrophe that was Phnom Penh to Siem Reap), and stayed in a hostel super close to the airport for our flight the next afternoon. 
 
Somehow I came down with some serious sinus congestion, so when we arrived in Singapore the following evening, I stayed in our hostel while the others went to Chinatown to eat and explore Singapore for a bit. However, the next morning, we went on a walk to view the Marina Bay Sands. Singapore is cool and it reminds me of NYC, Cali, and Atlanta all in one. They speak both English and Mandarin too, which is great, and the living standard is comparable to various places in the US. I could see myself living there. 
 
Now I’m back in Hong Kong for the next week and a half, battling final exams and trying to enjoy the last bit of this alternate reality before I head back to the states.
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I’m sure these don’t look comfy.

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The Bali Dream

I feel like I’ve done so much that I haven’t really been sharing on my blog… well that would make sense, because I haven’t shared anything on my blog since I traveled to Thailand.
 
A couple weeks after I spontaneously booked my ticket to go to Phuket, I booked a ticket to go to Bali, Indonesia. I am not really sure what propelled me to make such an impulsive decision, or what even brought Bali into my head. I guess it was the fact that Tyra Banks traveled there for two months and said it changed her life for the better. Who would miss a chance to change his or her life for the better? Not this girl! 
 
I would have been fine traveling by myself, but really wanted some company to share what I anticipated would be an amazing experience. Unfortunately, the plane ticket was $350 USD and most of my friends thought that was too expensive. Luckily for me, I lured Casey into going! We ended up traveling separately and meeting in Bali. When I stepped on that Singapore Airlines flight, I immediately understood why my ticket was so expensive. Plush seating that extended past business and first class, personal televisions, blankets, pillows, MEALS, and alcoholic libations? For a 3 hour flight to Singapore? Amazing; such serendipity. It was also my first experience in Changi International Airport in Singapore, which is supposed to be one of the most fantastic in the world, I’ve heard. What kind of place comprises gardens, shopping destinations, food courts and restaurants, gyms and lounges, movie theaters and the like? I was just pleasantly overwhelmed with the whole experience and I hadn’t even gotten to Bali yet! 
 
I arrived in Indonesia in the evening and, after paying the $25 USD fee for a Visa on Arrival, waited in a very long line full of Aussies, Americans and Brits to actually receive my Indonesian visa. I have to admit, I was a bit worried that all the foreigners there would have similar attitudes to the ones in Southern Thailand. Instinctual judgment on my part. Anyway, after obtaining my travel documents, I decided to wait for Casey so we could find our hostel together. When he arrived, just about 2 hours later, we stepped out into the baking night oven and found a taxi. 
 
Surprisingly to us, our taxi driver spoke English very well, and that’s when we learned that Balinese people learn English at a very young age. During this trip I also learned that tourism is the primary industry in Bali, and before that it was agriculture. Never had I ever known that a province’s main industry could be tourism. That thoroughly explained the maturity of the sellers and their conviction when selling products. They knew just what to say to pique my interest: “Look at this beautiful scarf for you. These colors look so good on you. You can have it for $80,000 Rupiah.” I mean, I’m a natural negotiator and I also believe I should get what I like while the other party benefits as well. In the above scenario, I ended up purchasing the scarf and a beautiful beaded purse for $120,000 Rupiah, which is just under $12 USD. 
 
The Balinese are different… they are so special. Overall, they seem to maintain an equal ratio of realism, idealism and optimism throughout their everyday lives. The morning after we arrived, Casey, 3 other guys, Ibrahim, Tommy, and Kristian, and I decided to head to Seminyak to go surfing, woooooooh!
 
Among the many surf stands and shops set up along the beach, we were lead to one owned by a man named Bang Bang. The five of us changed into those long sleeved surfing shirts and got a very quick lesson before hopping into the water. I am a pretty athletic chick, but surfing is no freaking joke. I don’t know how many tanks of salt water I swallowed, or how many times my contact lenses nearly popped off my eyeballs. At least I can happily say I was able to stand on the board more than twice for at least seven seconds hahaha. However, this was incomparable to my male counterparts who seemed like near-surf gurus by the time our session had ended. 
 
That night, after the fun-but-strenuous activity, we decided to head out to Kuta, which has become the party town of Bali, after having been “invaded” by Australian tourists and surfers. No longer than two minutes after we stepped out of our van were we offered drugs. I guess I should have expected that. Naturally, we denied and went off to search for the most “poppin’” club amongst the dozens on the street. I forgot the name of the club in which I had a blast, but they had girls flirtily dancing in cages, a group on stage dancing to choreography, and a different club just one floor above! Of course I went on stage to dance with the group because the choreo was simple, and the music was great. The whole experience was a huge vibe session. Upstairs, they played techno music, which is much harder for me to vibe to, but after some persuasion, I was pretty much dancing the electric slide all night with whoever would join me!
 
The next morning, the five of us had an 8:30am date with a Bali tour. We started the tour watching a beautiful Balinese dance performance telling a story that amounted to: both good and evil are needed to have a balanced life. We then went on to see a waterfall, polluted by the rain, a still-active volcano, a coffee plantation at which Luwak coffee is made, Ubud rice terraces, Monkey Jungle, a wood carving shop, and another Balinese dance at the end of the night. It was a 12 hour tour and I’m sure I’m missing something there, but I was happy to have seen as much as I saw having only been in the wonderful country for a weekend.
 
Though the entire trip was amazing, I think I loved the white water rafting I participated in on the next day the most. I had never been, and I was as excited as a baby with a rubber band. We had a large crew of about seven people with us from the hostel; after we all changed into our rafting gear, we headed down 500 steep steep steps to the water. Omg, that must have been the most fun, scary, challenging, enlightening and experience of my trip to Bali and even here in Asia. I could go on for hours attempting to explain the beauty of the perfectly contrasted blue and white sky against the saturated pigment of the green trees, and the ongoing meticulous yet artistic carving of Balinese tradition on the stone walls of the forests… but that would take hours, haha. 
 
It was a bit of a struggle for me to return to my alternate reality that has been my actual reality for the past four months that is also known as living and studying in Hong Kong. I did it, however.
Like a day after being back in HK, I booked a flight to Cambodia with my pal, Young. Hey, you gotta make the most of what you have while you have it, right? Just as a further side note, Bali was by far my cheapest adventure. The hostel was only $9 a night and the entire tour was about $12, and the rafting $35. The most I paid for an authentic Indonesian meal was  probably $4.00 USD and it was mmm mmm mmm so scrumptious!
 
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Our first meal in Bali
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The crew at the Balinese dance performanceImageImageImage
Far view of the waterfall
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Resident cuties
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Marvelous
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Gorgeous stone carvingsImageImageImage
Gorgeous wood carvingsImageImage
Elephant cave
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Temples for daysImageImage
My beloved scarf ❤
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Batur volcano- still active
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The Luwak cat’s poop is what makes the most famous coffee in Bali.ImageImage
 

All the organic tea and coffee we got to try

 
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Beautiful Ubud rice terraces

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Casey with a monkey at Monkey Jungle

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More Balinese dancers

 
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Cheap go-to food

 
 
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Surfing lesson!Image

Spring Break: Thailand Edition

Well, it wasn’t actually spring break, haha. It was a self-made spring break after midterms, and it was much needed. Leo, Hakar, Emelie, Andie, Patricia, Cori, Sofia and I journeyed to the bluest waters of Thailand from March 19th to the 25th. After traveling to the Philippines and experiencing such marvelous culture, atmospheres, and beaches, I thought it would be hard to top that. After traveling to Thailand, I learned I can’t really compare the two. I mean, the people are totally different, and so is the culture. I’ve always had a mini-dream of going to Thailand, but I never did any research about the people, the language, or the customs. While there, I figured that the easiest way for me to characterize the people + the language is a mixture of Chinese and Indian. I the writing is insanely awesome, and it reminds me of Hindi and Arabic, while the people could honestly be from any part of Asia, as far as I can tell. They don’t seem to have a very distinct look about them, though I bet when placed next to a Filipino, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Japanese, I’d be able to tell who came from where. 
I also noticed in the stores that there was a severe lack of skin whitening products as there were a plethora of them in the Philippines and also here in Hong Kong. Does this mean Thai people are more accepting of the pigment of their skin? I don’t know. What I do know is that the elephant driver while we were elephant trekking, and a Thai toddler at one of the hostels we stayed both told me that we have the same skin color. I thought it was interesting and funny because I am clearly much darker than they are, but they choose to see themselves as brown as opposed to wanting to be lighter.
Anyway! Enough with the pondering… Since the eight of us were only in Thailand for five days, we had to make the most of every single moment, starting shortly after we touched down in Phuket! We got to our hostel at around 5:30 am and slept for no more than four hours. When we woke up, we were told that a van was going to come take us to an island safari tour where we could do cool Thailand touristy things. However, before that, we went to visit tigers at Tiger Kingdom.
Even though it was a bit scary, it was sad that they were clearly super drugged. I mean no amount of training will teach a wild beast to be calm in the face of thousands of different humans time and time again. It was still cool, though.
The island safari was pretty great because we got to do a bunch of activities and see some of the traditional Thai customs. We rode on a smelly ox, went canoeing with and against a powerful current; where Leo and Hakar tipped their canoe over, haha; learned how Thai people used to cultivate and harvest rice many years ago, watched a bit of Muay Thai (Thai boxing), which I happily participated in, rode on elephants, learned how to make the Thai specialty, papaya salad, and watched an elephant and a monkey show.
After spending the day exhausting ourselves in the most fun way possible, we went to dinner in Patong, which was loaded with tourists and locals, party promoters, and prostitutes… a great variety of people and things.
The next morning we got up very early to catch a van to the ferry that would take us to the Phi Phi Islands. These islands were really nice and more beach-like than Phuket Town and Patong. However, there were wayyyyy too many tourists for my liking. I just saw too many blondes with buff, tanned, shiny bodies everywhere. I love blondes with buff, tan, shiny bodies, but I love diversity more, and I didn’t really get a sense of that on Phi Phi. I did, however, love the shopping. In fact, I think that’s the most of what I did while there and maybe the only reason I would travel back to Thailand if not to visit different parts of the country. Here are some pictures of my journey!
I think he wanted to show me something…
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I made a good friend.
 
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This is how I beat the heat.
 
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Who needs a car when you have large-eared transportation?
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A bit of a convention Leo and I were not a part of
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Naturally, Leo was taking selfies on his GoPro.
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Our tour guide, Jasmine, showing us how rice was traditionally cultivated, which I found so cool
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A Muay Thai demonstration
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I was instructed to do this, I swear! Haha
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Jasmine teaching us how to make papaya salad… yum!!!
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The crew!
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Selfie pretending it was a boat party, haha
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Koh Phi Phi
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My eyes were obsessed with that rock and it’s colors.
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Standard hot dog leg picture with my beloved new scarf
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Coolest pool I’ve ever seen
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Sofia and Leo
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Cat massage?
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Oh yeah, Leo, Cori, and Andie got bamboo tattoos… impulsive people, haha. Leo enjoyed the experience the most, as you can tell!
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Too much shoppinggggggg… I didn’t mind.
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An artist doing his thing
 
 
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Glass blowing
 
 
 
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Andie, Cori, and Hakar
 
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How can the tide draw back so far? It’s like Cori was walking on water. Crazy…
 
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Next stop: Bali, Indonesia!!! Till next time, people!

A Day’s Adventure: Macau Edition

Writing blog posts is fun, but getting to the point at which I actually sit down to write a post has proven to be more tedious than I expected. I’ll try harder; I promise.
Last week my friends talked day in and day out about going to Macau for the weekend. (Macau is basically the Eastern Vegas, or, because Macau brings in more revenue than Vegas- as told by Casey- Vegas is the Western Macau?) Either way, we spent most of the week doing what we normally do, being exuberantly youthful, and didn’t really make any plans to go to Macau.
Saturday morning arrived and I was sleeping in, which seems to have become habitual for me when I don’t have classes or obligations. Ali and I heard several hostile-sounding knocks on our door.  Shaken from my slumber, I stumbled out of bed and opened the door to find Hakar and Patricia standing there, appropriately clad for a full day ahead… they were also very awake. Hakar asked for his sunglasses that he left in my room some days prior. I gave them to him without even considering what he might need them for. After they left, I checked my Whatsapp messages to see that Casey asked if I was going to Macau, and if so, the group was leaving “basically now.” I had completely forgotten about that trip. After quickly assessing whether I could get ready in the next five minutes, I did just that (surprisingly) and met the team; Hakar, Patricia, Casey, and Leo; on the first floor of the halls to make our voyage.
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We took the metro to the ferry terminal and rode a bumpy ferry to Macau, on which Hakar and I sang and danced in our seats while the others slept. 
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My friends are so pretty, aren’t they?
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Macau reminds me of a mixture between Las Vegas and Hong Kong. Maybe it reminds me of Hong Kong because of the Chinese people everywhere…I don’t know. Anyway, we walked around for quite a while trying to help three members of our group find a hotel. We stopped at the Wynn hotel and went up to the penthouse floor, just because the opportunity presented itself.
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After a couple hours of searching, those three went off while Casey and I decided to do a bit of gambling. We exchanged some of our Hong Kong Dollars into Macanese Patacas and first went to find something to eat. We walked around aimlessly for a bit then finally found a small dining establishment. After entering, I thought to myself, “Oh great, all the menus are in Chinese.” Good thing there was a picture menu on the wall, right? Wrong, haha. We ordered a plate of noodles, a plate of sauteed duck, and a soda which came out to be $230 Patacas. How does that make sense?? We were definitely ripped off, but at least the food was spicyyyyy and delicious!!
Casey decided to test the Hong Kong norm of people being allowed to drink openly in the streets by buying a beer at the convenience store and seeing if the cashier would ask him if he wanted it to be open. It worked! I followed suit, and we walked along the streets enjoying our beers and each other’s company before we started our short-lived careers as gamblers.
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Long-story-short, we learned how to play Sic Bo, and, after a niiiice winning streak, we lost all the money we bet. Maybe we enjoyed a little too much beer and company, haha.
Macau was fun for the day, but, honestly, I probably wouldn’t go back…that’s just me though.
 

Lunar Year Break: Philippines Edition

I think I will mention this time and time again: expectations will be the demise of any experience you have. I had absolutely no expectations for traveling to the Philippines, and I had the most wonderful time there. First of all, I had never even thought of the Philippines as a holiday destination until now; I encourage everyone to travel to the islands at least once. I remember expressing to my friends/roommates during the trip, Hakar, Emelie, and Casey that I didn’t have a single stressed or anxious thought in my head during the entire vacation. I was surrounded by a sense of peace and tranquility through the singing, laughing, partying, swimming, dancing and… the list goes on and on.
Typically, I don’t like traveling with large groups for obvious reasons, but at our peak of 13 people, our group was beyond amazing. Though we are all exchange students at PolyU, we have different backgrounds: American, Canadian, Swedish, French, Irish, English, Swiss, Dutch… I feel like I am forgetting some, haha. There were a total of 7 men and 6 women, so you can see how our conversations and interactions would be dynamic. Never a dull moment with our crew.
Six of us traveled early from Hong Kong to Clark on February 2nd, and took a bus down to Manila where we spent an evening shopping, dining, and playing pool at a bar near our hotel. The next morning, bright and early, we hopped on an hour flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa. When we arrived on the island, we waited for four of our companions and made our way to El Nido on a near-7 hour van ride. When we finally made it to our destination, we were all captivated by the serenity, beauty, and simplicity of the private beach parallel to the authentic cottages and palm trees. I wondered how the deep blue sky could so starkly contrast with the white of the clouds. Because we stayed inside tents during our time at this location, Verde Safari, we were able to wake up to the unending sky and sea, as well as go to sleep after counting the plethora of stars at night.
While in El Nido, we hiked to waterfalls, jumped off cliffs, relaxed on white, sandy beaches, did yoga on the white, sandy beaches, watched a lot of sun sets, ate a lot of grilled seafood and rice, drank a lot of rum-mixed drinks, visited many islands and lagoons, and of course took a lot of pictures.
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My great friends Casey and Quirein
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Philippine currency: Pesos
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My Swedish princess, Emelie, and I
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Street Meat in Manila
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The huge mall in Manila; there was also one in Puerto Princesa.
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Duhh, selfie
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Beautiful private beach at Verde Safari
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More of Verde Safari
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It doesn’t look as scary as it was. All I remember was my heart beating in my ears.
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The waterfall we met after the enduring hike
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I’ve always wanted to sip-sip out of one of these 😀
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Our wonderful tent for 3-4 days
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Cow? I don’t know. They were everywhere, though.
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We all looked so excited for the boat tour.
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One of the best meals I consumed in the Philippines, hands down.
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The whole crew 🙂
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The view of the zipline
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My new friend, Amalie, who I met on a tour
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Of course we had to check out the party scene
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Some rum and goji berry drink with a lot of calamansi (Philippine lime)
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And the buko (young coconut) shake! Best in the world.
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Back in Puerto Princesa, we went to the local fresh market to purchase some goodies to prepare for dinner. Apparently, the pink eggs are salted.
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Yes, everyone cooked while I took pictures, haha. Mommy would be proud.
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Hazel and KJ, our friendly neighbors.
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Duhh, selfie #2
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Boys with bikes… uh oh
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Safety first
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Man-eating crocodile!
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Baby crocs sleeping
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They cool their body temperatures by opening their mouths like this.
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My love, Hakar, being cool.
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There will be more Asian adventures to come, so stay peeled!

Happy Valley with Happy People

The first time I heard the words “Happy Valley” was in my Product Development class last year. It was in reference to a fictitious manufacturing facility mainly derived to illustrate the difference between private label and branded merchandise… anywho… When the class heard that, we all just smirked and giggled. Who would have thought that there is an actual place, actually named Happy Valley? Not I! Happy Valley is a race course, home to The Hong Kong Jockey Club. On Wednesday evening, a large group of us made our way to the race course to watch and bet on the horses that race every week. Image
I don’t know why, but I didn’t expect for there to be so many people there… not even just people in general, but Western-looking people. I guess because we were on Hong Kong Island where it tends to be more diversified racially.
What is a blurry picture but the manifestation of the unlinked and raw thoughts in one’s mind?
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The entire race course was a beautiful sight to see with all the luminescence of the buildings and the track itself.
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Before the next round of races took place, my girls and I made our way from the 7th floor to the ground floor to buy delicious-looking wieners. I can relate that experience to eating a Dodger Dog at Dodger Stadium— you have to do it at least once!
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Extra onions, WHOO!! For those who don’t care much about horse racing, try betting on a horse. I’m positive you will be in the mood to scream and shout when your horse goes flying by. I mean, I didn’t bet but I just loved being in that atmosphere. Everyone seemed so happy and in positive spirits… something definitely missing in NYC.
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All of the ants, all of the ants…
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Of course I will end the post with a selfie… that’s just the way to do it! Half of us ended up going out to Wan Chai for ladies night after the races. I’ll admit, I did go out… stayed out until past 3am and still made it to my 8:30am class the following morning. 
What a fun life.
 
 
 

City Chic to Island babe

Soooooo…. I’m going to the Philippines during our Lunar New Year break! Woohoo! I guess I’m less of a dreamer than I thought I was or there are just so many places to travel than I’ve ever thought about, because I never fathomed I would be traveling to the Philippines. I’ll be going with a large group of exchange students, some of whom I kind of know, and a lot of whom I will get to know extensively. So, from February 3rd to the 11th we’ll be chillaxin’ in Puerto Princesa soaking up the sun on the islands and, for me, getting browner haha. I’m happy to say I adapt easily to situations and environments so “I ain’t got no worries.” Also, it’ll be the first time I’ll be missing nearly a week of classes for reasons unrelated to sickness or family issues. YAY ME!!! I don’t think I’ve ever missed more than 2 days of school every academic year for the past a zillion years, so it’s about damn time! 
SIDE NOTE: Not that I’ve been having a problem controlling my appetite around here (mainly because of my weak stomach; that’s what I get for eating yogurt and granola for the majority of my college life), but I still gotta hit those crunches and sit ups if you know what I’m sayin… get this body looking correct for that beach!
I’m too excited to be an island gyal, finally!!!
Just a sneak preview to the island and caves that I will be all up in… courtesy of Google Images (:
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Amen amen amen!!!

The Big Buddha

Within this first week, this was the biggest trip I’ve gone on. I was less spiritual than I thought I would be because it was extremely touristy. People didn’t seem to have a problem with that though, which is really nice. A rather large group of us took the MTR past Disneyland, which I plan to visit, and made our way to the cable cars that we rode to the Buddha.
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Getting on the cable car was scary and exhilarating because we all knew what was to come!Image
And before we knew it, we were flying. I love that feeling of just losing control.ImageImage
Crystina was so scared, haha, but she was conquering her fears with this trip.
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The view was amazing, and probably more spiritual for me than the Buddha himself.
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I kept snapping pictures as we were getting closer; the excitement was definitely rising…
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Ahhhhh!!!!!
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Beautiful Crystina…
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Someone tell me God isn’t real…Image
On the way down with the sun illuminating Buddha’s back…Image
This part, however, was very spiritual for me.
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I’m looking forward to making a trip back there.

Buddies and Burgers

I was assigned a local student as a buddy to show me around the city and help me ease my way into this new season of my life. Her name is Macy and she is so sweet. She’s a second year student studying social work, so there’s a lot I can learn from her. On Friday after her classes, she met me at my dorm and brought me to a local burger place that sells traditional burgers and fries, I guess, haha. The menus and everything were in complete Chinese! I wonder how I would have ordered my meal without Macy. I must perfect my Cantonese pronunciation of hamburger, haha.
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I’m not a huge burger girl, except for your standard In-N-Out when in Cali and Shake Shack when in NYC, but this was great! 
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