Posts Tagged ‘vacations’

Getting around Hong Kong

laelene Posted in video blog,Tags: , , , , , , ,
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As we gear up for our annual trip this year (to Eastern Europe!), I started looking back on vacations we’ve done and I can hardly believe that Hong Kong was already a year and a half ago. We were there during Occupy Hong Kong and some streets were inaccessible to vehicles. Luckily, it’s very easy to get around on foot and by metro, albeit very crowded.

Lots of folks had tents set up on the streets and there were barricades all over the roads.

occupy Hong Kong from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Our car managed to get in to a section that was closed down, but then there was nowhere to go, so we turned around and got waved on by a guy managing traffic clogs due to Occupy HK.

driving out of occupy from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

This is a quick glimpse of some tents and folks walking around. It was strange to be in such a crowded part of the city with absolutely no car traffic.

walking occupy Hong Kong from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

The MTR was quite crowded, particularly during rush hour, but all in all it’s quite orderly.

hong kong mtr commuters from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

There’s even a special machine for anyone with visual impairments. It plays music to help you find it.

mtr direction station for blind people from Mary Qin on Vimeo.

Escape Monthly November: Hawaii Box review

laelene Posted in reviews, subscriptions,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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This is the first true repeat theme that they’ve done, so of course I was curious to see how much overlap it would have with the previous box. I personally don’t feel this was as good as the first box and especially having received that one, this was rather disappointing. Even just looking at it without considering what I had previously, I didn’t feel like the value and variety were there. I guess I prefer boxes with more smaller items versus a larger-ticket item or some medium ones. I’m starting to carefully evaluate the value I perceive I’m gaining from these boxes to decide how much longer I’ll stay with them. Another box or two that are under par might make me end my subscription, but for now I’m really intrigued with the possibilities for next month’s box.

Escape Monthly is just under $40 per box (with code for 20% off your subscription – see end of post) and comes with a variety of food, home, skincare items themed around a city/region. Each box comes with a guide for that area. Boxes are sent monthly with no option to skip. They offer a referral commission program.

escape monthly november hawaii box products showing escape monthly november hawaii box info card escape monthly november hawaii box info card opened with details of products included(click to enlarge and read full messaging)

Everything here was new to me, so that was great for introducing me to different items. I like that some of them went full out with the British look while others are just products you might go for any day as you shop around.

Here’s what came in the box:

Moon Handbooks guide to Maui – Well, at the least it’s good that they didn’t send the same guidebook. Last time I got the Big Island and this time I have Maui, which are perfect since so far I’ve only been to Oahu. With all that new territory still waiting for me to explore, both of the guidebooks I have will be useful.

Hawaiian Host Kona Glazed Macadamia nuts – As always, I’m not into nuts (though macadamia nuts are at least tolerable and even enjoyable at times). What really kills this for me is the coffee flavoring, so I’ve passed it on to Panda for him to eat. I doubt another flavor would have persuaded me otherwise anyway though.

Hawaiian Rainforest Naturals Stress Release Bath Crystals – This was the only entirely new brand to show up and I think it’s pretty cool. I love bath stuff, so this will be great for my next bath when I’m looking to soak away the stress. This pouch is gently sweet and almost reminiscent of baby powder. I find it wonderful that the ingredients are responsibly sourced from the Hawaiian rainforest and I’d love to go there on my next trip. I’m curious what flower essences went into this one, which would have been a nice thing to outline along with the directions for use.

Royal Hawaiian Orchards Kona Coffee Banana Macadamia Crunch – Again with the coffee flavor! I think with one, that should have been enough for this box and they should have included a different flavor. I would have been fine with receiving the same flavor I did with the last box (papaya lime) since that was pretty unique and tasty. Unfortunately, I can’t stand coffee flavored stuff, so this has been put in Panda’s pile as well. Pity.

Honey Girl Organics Face & Eye Creme and Night Creme – This is the exact same thing from the last box. I wish they’d included any other products from this line, since I would have been happy to try those, but I don’t want repeats of the same items! I sure hope someone would want to trade for this. I’ve barely even used the first set since I have so many other products I’m using too.

Personal Paradise Noni Papaya Pineapple shampoo – We received this brand in the last box, but I like that we get to try their shampoo this time. I like how they have very tropically-inspired scents and I’m looking forward to how my hair will smell after this one. I like the packaging for this brand and I like the lotion that I got in the other box, which I’ve already used up. Now this is how to repeat a brand across different boxes.

Personal Paradise Noni Papaya Pineapple body lotion – This lotion is definitely a lighter scent than the coconut lime one I got in the original Hawaii box, but I like it as well. It’s so refreshing and the lotion is a great consistency. It absorbs into my skin really well and softens my hands right away! I’ll totally be using this until it’s completely empty too, just like the other tube I had. I’m glad I get to try another one of their lovely scents.

seashell lei  – The bonus item was again a lei, though a different design. I like the use of some cowry shells to change up the pattern and I’ll add this to my growing collection of seashell leis from Hawaii.

Well, it was an ok box, but I was to feel more excited about what I’m getting. I think something with koa wood would have been cool, like the bookmark I’d bought on my recent trip to Hawaii. What’s your impression of this Hawaii Escape Monthly box? If you want to sign up, try one of these codes (not sure which ones are still active): MYESCAPE or YULETIDE for 20% off the lifetime of your subscription or GIFTESCAPE for 25% off.

escape monthly november hawaii box info card back with preview of next month's box theme of europe

To round up the year is a more general theme, with all sorts of possibilities! I look forward to some European delights. This will help me decide if I should actively consider cancelling this subscription or if I should continue on for awhile. Bring on the good stuff!

[This post contains affiliate links. Signing up through them helps support my subscription and I’d be ever so grateful. 🙂 All opinions are my own and I received no compensation for this review. I just purchased this box and wanted to share what I got!]

4th of July Pittsburgh

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Last weekend, for the 4th of July, Panda and I went on our little vacation to Pittsburgh. He chose that city because we were looking for something within a 4-5 hour drive, didn’t want to do NYC again, and wanted to try a new city. I might have gone there once upon a time, but I don’t have a memory of it, so it’d pretty much be like going there for the first time anyway. We also planned for quite awhile to prepare Smokey for the trip, since he was able to book a hotel that allowed pets for free. It was a nice, quick getaway and there was a ton going on in Pittsburgh that weekend.

We started driving at night, avoiding all toll roads.

We started driving at night, avoiding all toll roads.

On the 4th, we went to join in the regatta festivities.

On the 4th, we went to join in the regatta festivities.

We walked across the bridge to get to the Carnegie Science Center.

We walked across the bridge to get to the Carnegie Science Center.

Pretty flowers!

Pretty flowers!

Outside the science center, we entered the Brain Maze.

Outside the science center, we entered the Brain Maze.

Do I weigh enough? Yes!

Do I weigh enough? Yes!

I had to put on a shirt since my shoulders weren't covered. Also had to tie back my hair.

I had to put on a shirt since my shoulders weren’t covered. Also had to tie back my hair.

The zero gravity machine letting me hang. I did all the tasks almost twice over! Total astronaut material here.

The zero gravity machine letting me hang. I did all the tasks almost twice over! Total astronaut material here.

Going through the stinky submarine. I could hardly breathe.

Going through the stinky submarine. I could hardly breathe.

I wanted to be served by a robot and get a commemorative cup, so we got some froyo.

I wanted to be served by a robot and get a commemorative cup, so we got some froyo.

The world through my heart sunglasses.

The world through my heart sunglasses.

The first time, we didn't have cash so we had to go hunting for change! Then it was up the incline.

The first time, we didn’t have cash so we had to go hunting for change! Then it was up the incline.

What a fantastic view.

What a fantastic view.

Up on this steep hill.

Up on this steep hill.

Looking down, it's a ton of greenery.

Looking down, it’s a ton of greenery.

On our trip back down the incline, we pass over the road with cars driving under.

On our trip back down the incline, we pass over the road with cars driving under.

The journey we made.

The journey we made.

Hey, we were up on the tiny round platform earlier!

Hey, we were up on the tiny round platform earlier!

Yelp helped us find this dinner spot.

Yelp helped us find this dinner spot.

Yum, cornbread and fried pickles!

Yum, cornbread and fried pickles!

How cute, the pizza has flavoring sides.

How cute, the pizza has flavoring sides.

Final morning and I take advantage of the Texas waffle iron.

Final morning and I take advantage of the Texas waffle iron.

Alright! Texas waffle. :)

Alright! Texas waffle. 🙂

On the drive back, I discovered some slippers I might want to get.

On the drive back, I discovered some slippers I might want to get.

Traveling with a kitty

laelene Posted in lifestyle glimpses,Tags: , , , , , , ,
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For the long weekend, Panda and I planned a little trip to Pittsburgh awhile back. Panda got it into his head that we’d bring Smokey along and it’d be a grand adventure, but as we started to train her for the car ride, I became concerned that she would freak out too much. However, it turned out far better than I expected and while I wouldn’t say Smokey is looking forward to another trip, she did seem to have moments of almost enjoying herself. She certainly did acclimate to the new hotel room very quickly, but the whole moving vehicle thing still makes her antsy.

I’m so proud of how she did! We made it home with no issues and boy has she been living it up. I’ve never seen her sleep so well. Well, it was quite the eventful day for her, so she’s pooped. I checked in on her earlier to find her sprawled out along my windowsill and she didn’t even lift her head up when I turned on the light in the room. Here’s a look at how taking our cat in the car for a road trip went:

On our night drive out of town, she found a few favs including this spot.

On our night drive out of town, she found a few favs including this spot.

Upon arriving at the hotel, she decided this was the optimal perch.

Upon arriving at the hotel, she decided this was the optimal perch.

The next morning she chilled in her new spot.

The next morning she chilled in her new spot.

We came home to find her staring out the window and eventually coaxed her to bed.

We came home to find her staring out the window and eventually coaxed her to bed.

This morning, noises outside made her suspicious.

This morning, noises outside made her suspicious.

Got a quick break of playing in before hitting the road.

Got a quick break of playing in before hitting the road.

She loved perching on top of the carrier.

She loved perching on top of the carrier.

Just trying to get some shut eye.

Just trying to get some shut eye.

A few times, she'd get overwhelmed and pant.

A few times, she’d get overwhelmed and pant.

She really loved having her paws on the center console and her feet on the back seat... leaving her belly to hang.

She really loved having her paws on the center console and her feet on the back seat… leaving her belly to hang.

Making sure this driving thing is working right.

Making sure this driving thing is working right.

"Is it over yet?"

“Is it over yet?”

Gathering herself for some zen moments.

Gathering herself for some zen moments.

Nauseous or sleepy?

Nauseous or sleepy?

Hanging on for dear life, lol.

Hanging on for dear life, lol.

Home! I see home!!

Home! I see home!!

365great Day 351: vacations

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , ,
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365great day 351: vacationsIt’s always nice to get some time off to go enjoy something outside of work, school, or your general obligations. Taking a vacation changes up a routine, offers a reprieve from any buildup of stress, and encourages people to explore a different environment. Sometimes it’s as simple as a day trip to a point of interest. Or, maybe you go all out and plan an intensive couple of weeks getting totally out of your comfort zone. Maybe you’re the type to revisit a favorite spot time and time again. If you’re like me, you revel in trying out a new city or country. Whatever the case may be, vacations are a chance to have some fun, relax, and step out of your “regular” life. When I was in China a few years back, I saw this group of Buddhist nuns – even they take vacations! No matter who you are, a vacation is a great break to work into your life.

365great Day 259: holidays

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , ,
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365great challenge day 259: holidaysHolidays are a time for people to celebrate, remember, and connect. They also make for a wonderful reprieve from the daily patterns of weeks gone by. They’re the perfect excuse for a vacation, whether a quick one over a long weekend or an extended one stretching for a week or more. For ones like Thanksgiving and Christmas, they are ripe with traditions and they’re an important time for families to unite. For many years now I only get a chance to spend time with my parents around this time, so it’s a time of year that I always enjoy. We often try to travel together to make it even more special, but hanging around at home is quite nice too. This year, that’s all I want since I’m so far from home I don’t get to stay much anymore. It’s great when we get to take some time off to reconnect with our loved ones.

365great Day 155: Thailand

laelene Posted in 365great,Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
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Learn more about 365great here.

365great challenge day 155: thailandThailand is one of the most amazing countries I’ve been to. It has a little bit of everything I love in a place: beautiful weather, gorgeous landscapes, fascinating animals, quiet beaches, sprawling bazaars, amazing food, a rich culture, and relaxation treatments. I enjoyed both Phuket and Bangkok for their very different experiences and I absolutely loved the tour I took, which included an elephant ride, lunch on a floating restaurant (and a chance to drift on a raft), splashing around in a cute park with waterfalls, and (omg) petting tigers. I had so much fun relaxing by the beach, getting a wonderful hot stone massage from a very nimble old lady, and getting rides from strangers on Phuket Island. I equally enjoyed roaming the streets of Bangkok where I had THE most delicious pad thai I’ve ever experienced. And then I’d wander off to the Chatuchak market to get my shop on. So much to do, see, and appreciate. Thailand is such a great country and I can’t wait to go back.

Check out some of my posts from my trip to Thailand:

Tiger baby [feeding a tiger milk]

Pet clam & sea snail [the cool creatures I found at the beach]

Burrowing clams [entertainment at the beach]

Tiger-rific [petting tigers at the Tiger Temple]

Fish spas, the newest craze [oh what a fun experience to have fish eat at your feet]

A story of shopping and sandals [when a trip to the market yields some laughs]

Serendipity [more on my rides with strangers in Thailand]

 

Sunday Social: fun times

laelene Posted in general blog,Tags: , , , , , ,
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Sunday Social
Joining in on Sunday Social ON Sunday this time! Yippee!

1. What is your favorite kind of surprise?
I’d have to say mystery boxes. While it’s cool to get surprised by a party (my amazing best friend did that for me before) or other unexpected event, I don’t really like being put on the spot. I’d much rather dig into a fun package with special treasures to be found. I’m pretty easy to please so I’m sure I’d be delighted with just about anything. Oh, and sweet little notes or messages are awesome too.

2. Flowers or chocolate?
Chocolate! I mean, I just love to snack and unless the flowers come in a pot, they just can’t compete with delicious treats. I have never been interested in bouquets of flowers – why would I want something that dies in a few days? A potted plant may not look as romantic, but it is so much more meaningful to me than a dead (or dying) plant. But I digress… I’m all about chocolate anyway. 🙂

watermelon sliced3. What is your favorite summertime activity?
Hmm… does eating watermelon count as an activity? I mean, living in California there are few things you can only do the in the summertime, but watermelons just don’t taste that great until it’s the right season! If I lived out east I’m sure it’d be exciting for the pool to open up or to be able to wear flip flops and more light clothing. Luckily, I can do that any time of year here.

4. Do you have any vacations planned this summer?
Absolutely! It kind of happened by accident, but Panda and I will be doing a mini vacation to Orlando. I unknowingly got roped into a timeshare presentation thing, but hey I’m down to learn more about it and get a nice break with my beau. This will help us last until late August, when the big vacation is planned! I would have been sad if we didn’t take some sort of vacation during the height of the summer months.

5. Favorite summer holiday?
4th of July. In certain states, it’s so much fun to play with fireworks. And in other states it’s fun to find a place to watch a fireworks show in the summer heat. I enjoy watching fireflies around this time too, and of course there’s the whole celebrating our nation part that’s pretty darn cool. That and Panda and I seem to be able to enjoy this holiday together every year.

6. What is your dream vacation?
Probably a 2-3 month giant getaway with Panda. I’d want to take him all around the world to my favorite places and explore some new countries with him too. This would involve a tour of Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden or Denmark, and hopefully a lot more. I’m not one to stay put in one location for extended periods.

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