Travel


I recently visited Nanjing and Shanghai during Chinese New Year, and I was able to see many of my friends and family members. My family told me, on this trip, that my great grandparents were once the original investors of the Shanghainese restaurant, 录扬村 绿杨村! Phew! All the holiday eating has made me swell in the middle a bit – time to whip out my new year’s resolutions!

Last week, I climbed the stairs up to my 21st floor office after lunch. Surprisingly it didn’t take too long, and I also found that our building was missing several floor numbers. t think I will be doing that every day after lunch! I’m also quite sore today from going on a ski trip yesterday with a group of 30 people. We could see the Great Wall at the ski resort, and I skied down the steepest slope twice! I had excellent coaching from a friend who grew up skiing in Switzerland. I had been stuck at the bunny hop, limited by my lack of boldness, but with some encouragement he saw that I could handle the challenge and I was happy to have succeeded! Maybe this is a sign of a bigger pattern in my life…hmmm.

Oh and actually, there was an even steeper slope available that requires you to sign a waiver before going down haha.

Most recently, a new friend I met presented me with the coolest bag I had ever seen. She happened to have two bags by the designer Jump from Paper. Out of the blue, she says “Do you want one? I have another one. Here, have it.”

It’s a 3-dimensional bag (a.k.a. a real bag) with an image of a 2-dimensional bag. It’s from the Charmer collection, and it’s named “Bonjour!” Looks like I need to take this Taiwanese-designed bag for a walk in Paris :). It’s also perfect for my macbook air!

Take a look yourself: (Below girl is not me!)

http://jumpfrompaper.com/collection/charmer/bonjour/

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We have been out of touch, my friend. I have been too busy traveling around and creating stories to write my updates and I’m sincerely sorry for the neglect I’ve placed upon you.

Today was St. Patrick’s day and after my work day (yes, I now work in Beijing), I went to another all-universities event at the Molly Malone bar on the ground floor of the Legendale Hotel. Although the event was hosted by Boston Colleges, I was invited by the Stanford alum community’s organizer. I met many interesting people… such as a Beida history professor and the director of the IPTV business, Umiwi.com.

Tomorrow’s a friend’s birthday and Saturday I have a hutong tour followed by dinner with some friends and this Sunday my home is hosting a party for my kungfu class.

There are many ideas roaming around this town….my head and thoughts are in a mess! I hope I have time to arrange them sometime soon! 🙂

Cheers to serendipity!

*Note – adventures in France (many cities), Morocco, Barcelona, Shanghai World Expo, Fujian, Chengdu etc… to be filled in within the near future after I return to the US to retrieve my travel notebook.

Please forgive me – at least a year has passed and much has happened. Let me first just jot down what happened tonight before I allow this to slip by as well.

Upon my arrival in Beijing I dove head first into the expat scene in the city, searching friendships and career inspiration. Tonight was potentially another epic highlight of my experience in Beijing so far.

The crowd of socialites and smiling friendly conversationalists always bring a glow to my heart as I browse through old familiar faces and new introductions. Each time I discover someone else more interesting than the next. This time – I accidentally bumped into a very old friend.

Doing my rounds and facing the crowd of unknowns with a few close friends, a finger from a nearby couch pointed at me and a young man said “YOU, I KNOW YOU.”  Shockingly enough – I did know him. He was an old family friend from Minnesota and we hadn’t seen each other since he left San Francisco much earlier that year. I did not even know he was in Beijing.

These are the magical moments that help define the size of the world. Cheers.

Anvers, Antwerp, Antwerpen…

Belgium

However you call it, I stopped by for a day in this French and Dutch speaking country to visit my friend Vincent before heading on to Amsterdam to meet Jing.

Vincent picked me up at the beautiful Anvers train station and we took a walk around the city at night after dropping off my luggage. He shared with me how Anvers really means “the hand” from the a story that Anvers was created from a hand of a giant that landed in the Schmeldts River.

Feeding the birds at Notre Dame before heading out to Belgium via Thalys

Feeding the birds at Notre Dame before heading out to Belgium via Thalys

The city itself is beautiful, their chocolate is good and their gaufres are famous. They are also known for their Belgian fries.

I just loved the buildings there!

I just loved the buildings there!

I mostly enjoyed my time looking at the Belgian architecture and musing over how wonderful life was to see the beauty of this world become more coherent and realistic one day at a time.

I visited London after my internship in Paris ended because it is one of the non-Shengen countries currently. I needed to re-enter France to begin my student visa, and I had never been to the United Kingdom so this was the perfect opportunity.

I stayed at the Astor Victoria hotel, which was right beside one of the main museums. I wasn’t really a museum person so I mostly took a large tour of London for 3 days by foot and via the tube. The tube was by far much more complex than the Paris metro system. One could also kind of see a difference in culture from the way the Tube was organized in comparison to the Metro.  In Paris, the metro was mathematically organized by numbers while every stop and every line had a name in London. Not a single number existed on the Tube! I was lucky enough that my Parisian friend generously lent me his Tube pass – all I had to do was recharge it and I was ready to go!

The Freeze Guy - but he only had one position for girl volunteers.

The Freeze Guy

I spent my first day walking around London seeing all the sites – I took a stroll along the river Thames at Waterloo beside the Shakespeare Globe where I had just missed the last-minute discount ticket sales for Romeo and Juliet. However, as I continued down the bank, the street entertainers appeared all along the river bank beside the London Eye. There was a guy who froze in random poses with different volunteers that he would position, to intense techno music. Then the volunteer and him would freeze for a good amount of time. He was reaaallly popular, and then he dragged me into it since most of the volunteers were guys. I took an 11 pound ride on the London Eye at discount price because I bought someone else’s ticket!

London at night

London at night

The second day, I walked beside Buckingham palace and Green Park, having a 99 ice cream: Vanilla with a flake (chocolate candy) along the way. I decided to make a run to King’s Cross to find platform 9 and 3/4 to spend a few weeks in Hogwarts before making it back in time to visit Trafalgar Square in the afternoon. I went to the Camden in hopes of finding Fish and chips, but found a British version of Haight-Ashbury instead. Fish and chips were extremely difficult to find in general, but instead of finding the stereotypical British meal, that afternoon I watched a very expensive showing of “The Proposal” with my friend Helen who I met in Paris. It was 13 lbs for a movie – I’d rather ride the London eye.

Platform 9 and 3/4: Taking a trip to Hogwarts

Platform 9 and 3/4: Taking a trip to Hogwarts

In celebration of my last day, I ordered evening tickets to Wicked online (the cheapest seats weren’t bad at all!) and in the day I visited the Tate museum, took a quick exterior glance at London Dungeon, a beautiful cathedral of sorts and a very random tiny “roman baths” which I found on the tourist map before heading back to “petty France”.  My last night, I had a last celebration at Gordon’s wine bar and took a long last glance in Accessorize before watching a really spectacular production of Wicked.

That evening, my friend Cristina and I found “Little Ben” just next to Victoria and had some blonde British beer just for fun. The next morinng I took a big breakfast before my departure to Paris encore!

London, over and out.