Thursday, February 11, 2016

honeymoon in st. andrews.

Honeymoon at The Algonquin, St. Andrews NB

Dinner at Savour in the Garden, St. Andrews NB

Dinner at Savour in the Garden, St. Andrews NB
Mmm, lobster cappuccino.

Dinner at Savour in the Garden, St. Andrews NB

Honeymoon at The Algonquin, St. Andrews NB
Proof I didn't take enough photos: I didn't even get a photo of the hotel in daylight. 

Honeymoon at The Algonquin / St. Andrews, NB

St. Andrews, NB
Fun game: Walking around, admiring beautiful homes, guessing how much they would cost if we decided to move to St. Andrews. 

St. Andrews, NB

Whale Watching on the Jolly Breeze / St. Andrews, NB

Whale Watching on the Jolly Breeze / St. Andrews, NB

Whale Watching on the Jolly Breeze / St. Andrews, NB

Whale Watching on the Jolly Breeze / St. Andrews, NB

Lobster Dinner / St. Andrews, NB

Lobster Dinner / St. Andrews, NB

Lobster Dinner / St. Andrews, NB

Ice Cream / St. Andrews, NB

St. Andrews, NB

Honeymoon in St. Andrews, NB

Honeymoon in St. Andrews, NB

Harbour Front Restaurant / St. Andrews, NB
It was cold on the waterfront, so we ended up spontaneously buying matching sweatshirts. I pretended not to like them, but not-so-secretly was thrilled.

Harbour Front Restaurant / St. Andrews, NB

Honeymoon in St. Andrews, NB

Honeymoon in St. Andrews, NB

Honeymoon in St. Andrews, NB

Honeymoon in St. Andrews, NB
I'm okay with schmoopy kissy photos when it comes to honeymoons.

Honeymoon in St. Andrews, NB

Honeymoon in St. Andrews, NB

Honeymoon in St. Andrews, NB

Honeymoon in St. Andrews, NB

Honeymoon in St. Andrews, NB
My husband is hotter than yours ;) 

Honeymoon in St. Andrews, NB

Sunset / St. Andrews, NB

Sunset / St. Andrews, NB

Deer in St. Andrews, NB
T had seen a friend's photo of a deer in St. Andrews and on our last day there, he said, almost angrily, "I still haven't seen any deer!" I was in the middle of explaining that deer don't just go wandering around town all the time, so a deer sighting isn't guaranteed, when TWO DEER JUST WALKED OUT IN FRONT OF US! T looked at me like, "See?" Ha!

Honeymoon at The Algonquin / St. Andrews, NB
Room service—a guaranteed way to feel fancier than one really is.

Almost 7 months ago, T and I went on a short 3-day honeymoon in St. Andrews, New Brunswick. We decided on this particular destination and timeframe for a few reasons:

1) With planning a wedding + getting married + all the "real life" stuff that needed to happen + + +, we decided on a shorter honeymoon so we'd have more time to spend with friends and family; after all, T and I live with each other in Beijing, and I only get to see my Canadian people in the summer.

2) We wanted to save money. Just like our thoughts on weddings, we agreed that honeymoons don't necessarily have to mean spending a ton.

3) Pretty much anywhere we went in Canada would be new to Tony and would have fun things for both of us to do.

4) We're lucky that unlike many people, we get a large amount of time off and are pretty much guaranteed to visit at least one new country each year (for example, we visited Cambodia last year and Indonesia this year), so there was less pressure to choose the "perfect" honeymoon destination.

So St. Andrews it was! We stayed at The Algonquin and while I would definitely recommend staying there, we booked a patio room and both agreed that the extra cost wasn't worth it. If we visited again, we'd just book a regular room.

I didn't take nearly enough photos, but then again, I think this indicates success at quality time spent together. Neither T nor I spent very much time on our phones, and because they're our cameras... We truly just enjoyed our time together, relishing each moment, as cliché as that sounds.

Highlights included dinner at Savour in the Garden*, friends surprising us with a bottle of champagne at the dinner, whale watching on the Jolly Breeze, playing board games in the gallery at the hotel, late night drinks on the veranda, coffee at Honeybeans, seeing deer while we were walking home, matching sweatshirts, lobster(!). Really, we just enjoyed spending our days wandering around, relaxing, and eating as much seafood as possible.

T and I agreed we would love to visit again someday, maybe for an anniversary.

*I had to add a special note about our dinner at Savour in the Garden: It was highly recommended to us by friends, but T really wasn't crazy about spending $72 each plus drinks on a meal. He grumbled a bit even as the first course was served, We're paying so much money for this little food?! I'm still going to be hungry when dinner is done! And then we tasted the food and were blown away! And after 6 courses, we were stuffed (I couldn't even finish dessert)! This really was my favourite experience of our whole honeymoon. We both discovered a love for "fancy" food; T discovered a love for champagne; and while I was a little nervous and unsure of which utensil to use for each course, it turned out T is a pro! So fun!

P.S. All posts related to our wedding, including our untraditional reception and our Chinese wedding.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

home sweet henan.

Just a few people... and this was 1 of 13 waiting rooms at the train station.

It's 5 hours on a high speed train + a 2 hour car ride to Tony's home.

T's "backyard" and neighbour's place.


I love exploring T's neighbourhood.



All of the homes are made with concrete and most are left unpainted. Businesses—think plumbers, electricians—write their names and phone numbers on the homes. Even 2 years later, I'm so fascinated by it. If it was my home, I think I'd be annoyed!


Some of the businesses have gone "legit" with stamps ;)

It's that time of year again, Chinese New Year / Lunar New Year / Spring Festival. (Is there any other holiday that is known by so many names?) Whatever you call it, T and I are back in his hometown of Gushi (pronounced "goose"), Henan.

He's sick, poor guy, and I'm still getting over the flu. As we do every year, we're eating dumplings and noodles, visiting family, and wearing sweaters and coats inside, despite it being above 0°C (18°C yesterday!) because concrete homes and people's reluctance to turn on heaters. And there are new babies to cuddle this year, and babies turned toddlers to play with and make laugh. I'm a hit with the kids, always.

The first year I came home with Tony everything was exciting and new, and I blogged almost every day. Last year was less exciting, with the exception of our Chinese wedding! And this year, I think I finally feel at home, and even a little bored, because everything just feels normal.

But I know it's exciting for other people and you might be curious, so here are links to make reading about my time in Henan easier for you:

Chinese New Year 2014: Day 1 / Day 2 / Day 3 / Day 4 / Day 5 / Days 6 & 7 / Days 8 & 9

Chinese New Year 2015: Our Chinese wedding!

P.S. Welcome to China...

Saturday, January 30, 2016

words for the weekend.


Throw in some episodes of Friends and Criminal Minds, maybe a few blogs and a book, and those are my plans for the weekend. Slash, it's what I've been doing for a month or so, ever since my heart trouble in Bali (not the romantic kind). Womp womp.

I'm not complaining, promise! But first myocarditis, now the flu—can't a girl catch a break?! Okay, maybe I'm complaining a little.

Now I'm off to make some tea... after I finish my allowed, once-a-day, watered down coffee.

Happy weekend, everyone! Do something fun and exciting for me!

Monday, January 25, 2016

bookmarked.


Here's what's been hanging out in my bookmarked folder for the last couple weeks:

// I have made this Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie more times than I care to admit.

// Have you heard of Honey? I installed it just a couple weeks ago and I've already saved $15. For real.

// Fellow Gilmore Girls lovers, have I got the keychain for you!

// Speaking of GG, I have been living in this pullover.

// I did marry him! So fun to rediscover my interview on Yes and Yes.

// Please be patient with those who have anxiety / They say sorry a lot because they’re genuinely afraid they’ve insulted you somehow / They ask if they’re annoying because they genuinely think they’ve somehow annoyed you

// "Just because students may have to sit in an office for eight hours a day when they are adults, doesn’t mean that they should have to start practicing it now as children."

// I think this may just be the best photo editing app ever.

// 10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be. I can feel this article giving me the side eye.

// Saying this is beautiful would be an understatement: Questions to ask yourself before giving up.

(Graphic by Emily McDowell)

Thursday, January 07, 2016

highlights from cambodia.

You guys, T and I went to Cambodia for Christmas vacation A YEAR AGO and I haven't shared any photos or a recap or anything on this blog, until now. (Except when I wrote "Tony and I argued almost every day of our vacation.")

At the time, the arguing sucked, and I'm sure there were a few times I cried or shouted or sighed, "Our trip is ruined!" But when I went through photos for this post, all I could remember were happy things. We had a really good time in Cambodia.

Angkor Wat sunrise

We started our trip in Siem Reap, where we woke up super early our first morning to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat sunrise

It was worth it.

Angkor Wat sunrise crowd

But let's keep things real... It was crowded and if I backed up, this was my view. 

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

I remember thinking how awesome it was walking over these old, uneven stones. It truly was breathtaking.

picnic in Angkor Wat

picnic in Angkor Wat

Our amazing hotel packed us a picnic and I remember thinking, If you had told 21 year old me—who had never been on a plane—that someday I'd be having a picnic at Angkor Wat, I would have laughed in your face. 

Angkor Wat

The grounds were much bigger than I expected. 

Angkor Wat

I remember just staring at all the details, basically being like, Wow! over and over again, the entire time.

Angkor Wat

Tony went to the top, but I chose not to because I am not good with heights. That stairway is much steeper than it looks here, I promise. Afterwards, Tony told me that I probably made a good choice because even he felt a little nervous coming down because it was so steep and the railing was a bit shaky. 

Side note: I've had a couple people scoff at me if they find out there's things like this I sit out while on vacation. My deal is this: If I think I will regret not trying something, I will make myself try it. If I don't think I'll regret it, why put myself through being (sometimes) super scared and anxious? For example, we visited Datong a couple years ago and I knew I'd regret not going into the Hanging Monastery. For this trip, I couldn't see myself regretting not climbing this staircase. 

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

We should have made sure to get a photo of the two of us. D'oh!

tuk tuk in Cambodia

Tuk-tuk selfies, always!


We visited a few temples and after each one, our driver would ask if we wanted to see another. Honestly, after a couple, we were kinda over it, but wondered if he would judge us if we opted to return to the hotel before noon. Finally, we agreed we didn't care. We had been up since 4AM after all, so we asked him to take us back around 1PM.

La Niche D'Angkor Boutique hotel

This is what we returned to. (Heart eyes emoji, am I right?) In Siem Reap we stayed at La Niche D'Angkor Boutique, which we booked through Agoda. It's probably my favourite hotel I've ever stayed at. And probably the only one where the hotel in real life is just as good, if not better, as what the website photos showed. 



Haha we were impressed by the pull top beer caps. 


So many pool-side drinks!





We both really liked Cambodian (Khmer) food. This was a sampling of different types of amok, which was my favourite dish throughout our stay; T's favourite was lok lak.


We visited the night market one night, and while a lot of the products were knick-knacks, we ended up buying a beautiful woven blanket. Before picking it out, we watched an older woman bent over a loom, weaving one of many blankets and scarves available in their small shop, which was really more of a stall. We were able to ask questions about technique, colour, material. The blanket is one of my most treasured souvenirs. 


We probably spent a couple hours hanging out at Sister Srey Cafe, where we ate lunch, read, and people-watched. 




We tried a few different drinks. All were great!

La Niche D'Angkor Boutique hotel

La Niche D'Angkor Boutique hotel

Again, you guys, heart eyes emoji. That pool and the greenery. I want to go back.


So much Angkor beer.


Pat Pat Guesthouse Otres Beach

Pat Pat Guesthouse Otres Beach

From Siem Reap, we took a bus to Sihanoukville, where we stayed at Pat Pat Guesthouse on Otres 1 beach. Again, we booked it through Agoda. It definitely wasn't as fancy as our previous hotel, but it was clean, the owners were nice, and the location was perfect. Plus, they had a pool table, which Tony loved.

Otres Beach 1

Otres Beach 1

Otres Beach 1


Every morning we would wake up, eat breakfast, and then cross the road and take up residence on beach chairs for the day, with the above views. I would drink an iced coffee, later some fresh-squeezed juice, eat lunch, then move on to cocktails or Angkor beer. 


Tony was convinced to take us on a 3-island boat trip for a day, and honestly, it sucked pretty badly, but it made for some memories (our boat almost crashed; giant, scary, flying bugs) that make us laugh now.


This moment! This photo! I cannot even believe that I am posting it on the internet but it is just pure happiness! This was after our sad boat trip, right after being returned to Otres, where we plopped ourselves at pretty much the first restaurant we came to because we were so thirsty and hungry. (The breakfast and lunch included with our 3-island boat trip were pretty sucky.) I ordered deep fried bananas with ice cream because how could I not? And as I ate them, I turned to Tony and said, "Look at me! I am sitting here, in my bikini, with my rolls (I probably pinched them for emphasis) hanging out, eating deep fried bananas and ice cream and I don't even care who sees! I am so happy right now! This moment is perfect! Today was perfect! Take a picture!"

This is probably a symbol for what my 2016 goals should be.


I couldn't help myself. I'm a 12-year-old boy.


Has there ever been a more photo-worthy lunch? Pineapple rice, pineapple shake, and beef lok lak with a side of Crazy Eights!




I was so excited to find ice cream because we had taken a very long, very hot walk in Sihanoukville and I kept whining, "I want chocolate ice cream!" I'm fun to travel with.


More Crazy Eights! This time beside a pool, with cider!


Vanilla Coke! Cherry Coke! Dr. Pepper! Grape soda! Convenience store heaven.


By this time, we had moved on from Otres (womp womp) but were still in Sihanoukville. I don't remember the name of the hotel, and while it was nice, it doesn't matter, because I am telling you, if you go to Sihanoukville, just stay in Otres. The beach is much nicer and much less crowded. Trust. 

Killing Fields Cambodia

Killing Fields Cambodia

We finished our trip in Phnom Penh, mostly because I wanted to visit the Killing Fields. It sounds morbid, I know, but I researched it beforehand and felt like we couldn't visit Cambodia without learning more about such a tragic but important part of the country's history.

I was a little worried that it would feel very touristy and that I would feel like I was somehow demeaning the citizens' and victims' experiences, but it was so respectfully done. When you pay the entrance fee, it includes an audioset with earphones and has a numbered playlist of sorts, so you can tour the site at your own pace, listening to information and stories from real people. Tony and I stayed together, but he listened in Mandarin and I listened in English, and we just stopped once in awhile to talk about what we were hearing and seeing.

We both agreed it was a very worthwhile visit and it made us appreciate the country and the people that much more. Everyone we met in Cambodia was so friendly, always smiling, and when you think about what happened there less than 40 years ago, well, it just brings things into perspective.

S21 Prison



S21 Prison

S21 Prison

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Another place we visited was the S-21 Prison, now known as the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. It was informative because they had rooms with posters, photos, and captions, but I did feel very haunted and sad while I was there, and almost like I shouldn't be there. Maybe I would have felt differently if we had hired a tour guide?

Eventually I told Tony I wanted to leave. It was after looking at victims' photos and I just kept thinking, If this happened to me or Tony, would I want people to see photos of us like this? I think it's important for people to know what happened, and bear witness in a way, even all these years later, but I think if this happened to me or my family, I wouldn't want to be on display that way, to potentially be remembered only as a victim, instead of the person I was, with a life and a smile. 

Bubbles Tea and Ice Cream Phnom Penh

On a more light-hearted note, across from the museum is Bubbles Tea & Ice Cream. Tony and I actually visited here twice, the first time being spontaneously the night before we visited the museum, after finding it on Trip Advisor. That first visit we shared two different ice cream flavours, and the second, we tried two different bubble teas. Nothing but positive things to say—the flavours were perfect and the staff were very friendly; the owner told us the story behind the business and a bit about his family, and one of the employees invited Tony to play dodgeball!




While we were in Phnom Penh, we stayed at the TeaHouse Hotel. There were a few customer service snafus, but overall, it was a good place to stay. The location seemed good and we loved their open-air lobby, which was a perfect place to hang out, talking and enjoying a drink. It's actually where we made our "Happy Plan 2015."

Now, let's see how long it will take me to share highlights from Bali... Meanwhile, you can read more of my travel adventures here.
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