Burlington Bound!

During the Easter long weekend, the boyfriend and I headed down to Burlington, Vermont!

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San Fran Fam Jam!

Hello all,

This is definitely a late post, but three weeks ago I went to San Francisco with my family! Although San Fran is quite close to Vancouver (well. comparatively.), it was my first time there.

The sun was out during our whole trip, which was nice when we got to San Fran, but not so nice as we road tripped by California. I had forgotten how hot it can get out there.

We did a bunch of touristy things such as visit Fisherman’s Wharf, including having a bread bowl of chowder. Apparently it’s considered a tourist trap, but I still went for it and it was good. The seagulls there must be pretty happy with all the people who throw unwanted pieces of bread to them after they’re down with their chowder!

I had wanted to go to Alcatraz too, but the tour was all sold out for the weekend that we were going. Instead we decided it was only right if we visited a museum or something to properly play the part of a tourist so we went to Ripley’s! Ripley’s Believe it or Not books were such a big part of my childhood it was cool to see their displays in person.

I must say that one of my favourite parts of San Fan was Chinatown. We came back three times over the course of three days for food. Something I found special was their dim sum. They sold them in stores and unlike everywhere else I’ve been in most parts of the world, you didn’t sit down in a restaurant to enjoy them. They’re packed up in a takeaway box and you eat it wherever you please. The dim sum places didn’t even have tables or chairs for you to sit, so that option was non existent.

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Chinatown was so authentic in San Francisco. If I don’t think about it too hard, it almost made me feel like I was back in Hong Kong. The mannerisms of people there, the language, the things they sold. Of course, there’s a lot of western influence intertwined but it didn’t make it any less authentic.

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My sister got me really hyped up for Ghirardelli’s factory, but when we ordered an ice-cream sundae there, it tasted like poop. Well, that’s a little harsh, but it definitely wasn’t worth the $11. I’ve had better chocolate (literally anywhere else).

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Our trip to Union Square was not eventful. It looked like a typical downtown region of any city, but the weather was really nice while we were there.

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ALSO, I never knew Japan towns existed. Chinatowns? Sure, everywhere. But San Francisco’s Japan Town was quite cool. They had so many geek wares there that I was trying not to freak out.

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10613079_10152440934504748_5513272189264340628_nWe lived a little ways outside of San Francisco, since we wanted a nice hotel that wasn’t overly expensive. I’d highly recommend everyone do the same since all the nice hotels cost a pretty penny inside the city. In the end we chose a hotel in San Mateo, which was close enough. We’d drive for about 20 minutes to get back to the city each morning, but that was no hassle with a car.

I wonder when I’ll have another family trip. This trip reminded so much of what it was like to be on holiday with my family, especially since it was a road trip. The past few family vacations always lacked a member or two — my parents and sister went to Vegas without me; my mom, sister and I went to Hong Kong/Japan sans my dad. You get the story. But family time really is the best 🙂

– Karen

Connecticut Shooting

Hey guys,

So I am not here to argue about gun control, but just a bit of a rant about the killer in general.

I was shocked when I heard the breaking news in the car as I was making my way to my last exam yesterday. At that point, the people on the radio said that the school was on lockdown and they could not evacuate anyone yet.

After my exam, I got the news of the results of the shooting. It sickened me.

At first, I was thinking about how wrong targeting an elementary school was. It is not the first time, of course, as history has proven, schools in general are a prime candidate for shootings. But thinking about those little kids just starting off their life, finally being taught skills and learning about the world around them, only to have this psycho come and end it all.

Then my thoughts went out to the parents. It must suck. That is putting it very very lightly. Their kids were just settling into the world. There are heart breaking photos out there of the crying parents, talking into telephones, waiting on news that hopefully their child made it out alive.

And that demystified why the killer would go for an elementary school. It as the hardest blow that he could throw. Have we not all been in school at one point of our lives? Especially in elementary school, when our parents put us in there to set us up for the rest of our lives. Killing there will affect everyone, since we can all relate. Also, killing innocent children will never fail to poke at our emotions.

Then there is also the perfect timing. Not even two weeks away from Christmas– a time of love, family and giving. How many families has he ruined? It also shocks the rest of the country–no– rest of the world, and causes us to think about our family, and how fragile human lives are. Adam Lanza, you really had it all planned out.

I never like to end my posts negatively, so I guess there is also the positive side of things– if you really can consider it that. Heroes emerged from the ordeal, such as the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, who was said to have thrown herself towards the gunman, putting the kids’ lives before her own. I have also read stories on how at least one teacher put herself between the killer, saving her students, but losing her life in the process. Their sacrifice will touch all who hear of their courageous act.

With Christmas drawing near, this massacre also causes everyone to rethink their blessings. Holding dear ones closer, saying “I love you” before it is too late, and cherishing family in general.

While the police is still trying to uncover his motives, it will be interesting to see what lurks in that guy’s mind, and fuelled his actions. He must have really hated society or something. However, I am disgusted by this event, and honestly, all I can think about is how much I hate Lanza right now.

My thoughts and prayers go out to those in Newtown, and to those who lost a family member or a friend during the shooting.

-Karen

My Journey to America’s Final Frontier

Yes, you would be right if you thought I meant Alaska. Amazing how Russia sold 586,412 square miles of land for only 2 cents an acre! But then again, Russia probably thought they were getting a good deal for this vast wasteland. Little did they know oil and natural gas would be found there.

My family and I went on a cruise to Alaska. My dad loves cruises, so for our family vacation this year we decided to go to Alaska. Cruises to Alaska departs from Vancouver, which is perfect for us. It also is one of the longer cruises, as it lasts for 8 days, 7 nights. Most of the cruises we went on in Asia lasted a maximum of 5 days since all the Asian countries were so close together.

I must say, I enjoy cruises here a lot more than I did in Asia. Everyone is more polite (and I am mostly referring to the passengers on it), and the vibe is just better.

We chose to go on the Celebrity Century. And by we, I mean my dad, since he plans all the family vacations. I liked the ship enough, but nothing made it stand out particularly from other cruise ships.

A view of the Vancouver Skyline from our cruise ship

We left on Sunday, the 24th of June. When we boarded, they told us our rooms were not ready yet. So everyone headed to the Islands Cafe for brunch. I do not know how many times I visited the Islands Cafe during the whole cruise, since it was the food joint that was opened latest and was a buffet area. For dinners, there was a more formal venue– The Grand Restaurant. Every family had their own waiters and assistant waiters, and ours came from Singapore and Croatia respectively. I always find it really interesting how the crew on a cruise ship always came from all corners of the world. In my cruise to Vietnam several years ago, the staff/crew had little flags of their home country right next to their name on their name tags. It never failed to amaze me how many different flags I saw.

Aboard the ship, there were performances at night. I particularly liked the night when they did a show they called “A Touch of Broadway”. Everything was so colourful! I also enjoyed Jay Mattioli’s magic performances. He incorporated a lot of dancing and jokes, keeping the audience entertained throughout his whole performance!

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Jay doing his thing

They also had a theatre, playing different movies everyday. I was so happy they showed War Horse (obsessed with Tom Hiddleston and Benedict Cumberbatch), the latest Mission Impossible (Jeremy Renner!) and then In Time (Cillian Murphy!) during my cruise. I really liked War Horse (though I have seen it before), and thought that Mission Impossible and In time was okay, but it was like a never-ending fangirling theatre. Well, for me anyway.

My dad alone in the fangirl theatre 😛

For this cruise to Alaska, we stopped at three ports. At one port, Juneau, I was surprised they had a little tribute to their beloved governor. And by tribute, I mean they make fun of her. 😛

For souvenirs, I really did not know what to bring back to my friends. I thought their dream catchers were pretty cool, until I turned the tag around and saw that it was proudly made in British Columbia. Now why would I go all the way to Alaska to bring back something I could have gotten at home? Plus, are not most of the people who visit these souvenir shops from B.C. anyway? Hmm. Anyway, I ended up getting a couple of ulu knives. Nothing says I had a good trip than bringing back knives for my friends.

Along the way, our ship also steered close to some glaciers so that everyone could take pictures and whatnot. I thought it was really beautiful how the glaciers actually looked blue like they do in paintings. It was also a bit traumatizing when you hear the ships’ pick clawing its way through the ice drifts in order to get closer to the glacier. The whirring and scraping noise made me think of the Titanic again and again. However, all turned out well and we did not end up having to evacuate the ship.

Nearing the glaciers. Here I was wearing flip flops and trying not to let the cold get to me.

Yeah, I know it is summer and we chose to go to icy mountains. Not my idea of a summer event, but hey, it was fun! However, when going out on the deck to take pictures of the glaciers and snow capped mountains, I had to wipe my eyes quite several times. Not because I was being dramatic and emotions were overwhelming, but because the winds were so cold it actually hurt. I was also the fool who decided to wear sandals out on the deck (being too lazy to go back to my cabin to change). Ahh, summer.

So overall, it was a very relaxing trip. I finally felt I could unwind after my hectic first year at university. I also gained quite a bit of weight seeing as how I was eating five (or more) meals a day, all being all-you-can-eats. Here you can have some pictures of my food aboard the ship:


I will now stop with the food spam.

So here are my tips for cruises!
– learn the ships’ layout after you get on. Take your time discovering where the restaurants are, where their lounges are, etc. It will help when you read your ships’ daily itinerary, or else you will panic and run around looking for their “Fiesta Deck”. Well, maybe not. You would probably ask a staff, but it is so much easier knowing your surroundings.
– always book your dinner reservations (they usually ask you during registration for your cruise). If you think you will figure it out after you get on the ship, good luck. I saw this huge line of people trying to do their booking after the ship set sail and they did not look happy.
– when you get your ships’ activity schedule of the day, look through it and circle things you want to attend then plan out when you will eat and how your day will look. Otherwise, you end up missing a show that you really wanted to watch, or a class that you intended to try out!
– always get off when you arrive at a port. It feels good to stand on solid ground after days of being on swaying ground. It took me several days after I came back home to adjust. I still felt like the floor was moving below me.
– watch your food intake. Haha, just kidding. It is a cruise. The chocolate fountains and dessert buffets are irresistible.
– pack formal wear along with your casual wear. And if you want, throw in a little smart casual in there too. Some restaurants and times of the day call for different attire. They may even not let you in to a restaurant if you are not in the proper attire.
– if you know you will get sea sick, get pills or those motion sickness arm bands ahead of time. You do not want to feel horrible during your amazing trip. I was seasick for the first two days until I gave in and bought pills. It sucked missing their awesome breakfasts during those days.
-go out on the deck. Enjoy the view. When else can you catch a glimpse of nothing but sea, stretching out to as far as the eye can see! It is as if nothing else exists and it is just you and the body of water you are on. The sunsets are also amazing. It is undisturbed and unobstructed by buildings one usually finds in the city.

Seriously, go out and enjoy the deck!

So that is all from me today! This post definitely came late, but I wanted to document my trip all the same!
Until next time!

-Karen