Tag: travel

Koh Samui, Thailand

Koh Samui, Thailand

 

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to go to Thailand. When you live in the States you think of Thailand and you don’t imagine any place more beautiful! When my parents decided that we would be taking a week in Koh Samui, Thailand I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to feel the sun on my skin and the beautiful clear beaches! Because flights from Hong Kong to Thailand are so cheap my dad was able to get a really good price, especially since he planned ahead (for once!) I had never heard of Koh Samui but all of our family friends were saying how beautiful it was. When we told them that we were going for 5 days they were a bit confused. I was surprised at first because how could you stay in Thailand less than 5 days?? I soon understood that because Hong Kong is surrounded by so many beautiful areas, Thailand is just a weekend trip. I was astounded but then I soon found out why….

  1. Step one, make sure to check the rainy season before you book your tickets to a tropical and exotic destination. The weather forecast the entire week was rain and thunderstorms! It turns out the the rest of Thailand is in the dry season but the only part of Thailand that has a rainy season in the month of December is the island of Koh Samui.
  2. Book a resort or house that you feel comfortable or clean in because you never know how much time you will be spending in there.We stayed at the Ozo Resort and it was very nice and open. Not only was I confined to my room because of the rain, I was paralyzed from an extreme crick in my neck from sleeping with the air conditioning too low. Which leads to…
  3. Make sure to not keep the air conditioning too cold! When mixed with the warmth of the outside air it causes your muscles to contract and get stiff and you could possibly get a crick in your neck and end up being doped up on Thai muscle relaxers and looking sideways in every photo.
  4. Don’t drink or brush your teeth with the water! Thankfully we already knew this one but there is nothing worse than being sick on your vacation but I will say, it does get quite exhausting having to always worry about whether or not the fruit was washed in clean water or if the water in the glass is from a bottle… yes, I know these are my first world problems but my brother Blake ended up getting sick and having to sit at the hotel on the one day the sun decided to come out.
  5. When the sun FINALLY decided to come out, I must say it was gorgeous. We did the Ang Thong National Marine Park which had beautiful views and scenery. Of course there was a little rain storm but it’s the tropics so it’s expected!
  6. Since there was not as much to do we certainly ate to fill our time! The food was absolutely delicious. I have always been a huge lover of Thai food but having it authentic was amazing. Some of my favorite dishes from this trip were the Pad Thai (obviously), anyone who follows my social media knows that I loved the spring rolls, and the Penang Curry… read my other two Thailand posts to find out what else I found!

Unfortunately we were not able to do as many activities as we had hoped but when the sun was out it was beautiful and I highly recommend Koh Samui when looking for a destination in Thailand!

How to: Hong Kong

How to: Hong Kong

Last April my parents made the decision to move to Hong Kong which inspired me to write my first ever blog post. One full year and two Hong Kong trips later I am officially sharing my tips on How to Hong Kong!

1. Get an Octopus card. Unlike the States, public transportation is one of the most efficient ways to get around. The Octopus card can be used for the bus system, ferry, MTR (metro, subway), and most convenient stores. How do you posses one of these cards, you ask? The most convenient way to get one would be at the Hong Kong International airport as soon as you fly in. You may be tired and overwhelmed but save yourself some trouble and stand in the line to purchase the card, you’ll save yourself an extra trip once you’re ready to go exploring and you’ll soon find out that the lines tend to move pretty fast. If you decide to not get the Octopus card at the airport it’s no big deal, just type into Maps to find the closest station and you can buy and load one up there.

2. Make sure your Octopus card is loaded. You can fill your cards at any local convenient store such as Seven Eleven or Circle K, places that would usually be gas stations. I cannot stress enough that in order to load your Octopus Card you must have a minimum of $50HKD in CASH! They will not fill your Octopus with Visa, Apple Pay, Debit, etc. it must be cash so always have an emergency $50 in your wallet just in case your total gets away from you.

3. Understand that you are now experiencing an incredible part of the world. You’ll hear Cantonese, Mandarin, French, Russian, accents such as South African, Australian, and British. Hong Kong is by far the most diverse place that I have ever traveled to. As amazing as it can be to hear all of these new and interesting ways of communicating, it can be overwhelming to try and maneuver your way around a strange new city, which is why it’s so important to have the right tools to get around stress-free! There are two apps that my family and I find very helpful and they’re called Hong Kong Taxi and Mooveit. Hong Kong Taxi is perfect for when you are taking a taxi somewhere in the city. The drivers tend to speak little to no English and so this app is perfect for communicating with your driver on where you need to go! How it works is you search your location in their database and when it shows up it automatically shows you the address and the option to view the location in Cantonese so all you have to do is show the driver your phone! It’s incredibly simple…the only catch is that you may need wifi if you don’t have an international plan but luckily for you there is wifi almost everywhere!

                

The Mooveit app is great for navigating how to reach a destination by taking public transportation. I know that there are a lot of apps that do this but what’s great about this app is that it can tell you all the specifics and will even notify you of a direction change when you don’t have any wifi.

 

 

Now that you know how to get around it’s time to go see all that Hong Kong has to offer!

Where to go:

Peak Tram to Victoria’s Peak

Star Ferry

Junk Boat

Victoria Harbor

Observation Ferris Wheel

Lan Kwai Fong

360 Cable Cars to The Big Buddha

High Tea at The Intercontinental

Escalators in SoHo

Nan Lian Garden

Hikes: Tiger’s Head in Discovery Bay, Mui Wo, Peng Chau, Llama Island

Wan Chai

Kennedy Town

Our Favorite Places to Eat:

Miss Ho’s -Kennedy Town

Little Bao -SoHo Central

Le Souk- SoHo Central

Din Tau Fong- Tsim Sha Tsui

 

 

 

 

Brooklyn, New York City

Brooklyn, New York City

Before, when I imagined New York City I think Manhattan; crowded and touristy but mainly overwhelming. Perhaps the reason I felt this way is because the last time I went to NYC we stayed in Manhattan and just about crammed in every little touristy thing you can do in 3 days but most importantly I was traveling with my family of 4 (including myself) which is already overwhelming as is. If Chicago taught me anything it’s that your traveling experience is completely different when you are traveling on your own. My experience in New York City was similar to my Chicago trip in the sense that everything I did was planned by me and the friends that I was meeting up there and I couldn’t have been more excited to be the one in charge of my own vacation.

My flight out of MEM left at a convenient time of 5:20am, priced accordingly, then a connecting flight in my beloved Chi Town to finally end up at LaGuardia Airport at around 11:00am. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect and my traveling experience couldn’t have gone smoother. I left LaGuardia Airport in a black shiny new Suburban all to myself, boosting my ego and feeling like a superstar I roll into Brooklyn to meet my friend Courtney. The traffic wasn’t bad since it was the late morning and my ride took about 30 min and was only about $30. Courtney is one of my good friends from University of Arkansas who is doing an internship for the whole summer in NYC (Go Court!). The place she was staying was called EHS which was like student housing and it was located in Brooklyn. I had never stayed in Brooklyn before so of course, I was expecting grungy with suspicious people surrounding me.. but in all honesty, I fell in love with Brooklyn the first night I was there. Courtney was staying in Brooklyn Heights which is near DUMBO. Our first night Courtney took me and her childhood friend Jade, who was also staying the weekend in the city to the Brooklyn Bridge. We went around sunset and the views were so beautiful… Although, I give warning that the bike riders on the bridge can be ruthless and will run you over! That evening the 3 of us went to meet up with Courtney’s friend from work, Lane, who is coincidently attending UofA next year and also met up with Court’s cousin, Abby who was taking some summer classes in Manhattan. We went out for dinner and drinks in Times Square and as hard as I tried fighting my 3:00am wake-up, I wasn’t able to last longer than 12am that night…I’ll make it next time!

Next day, Saturday, I wake up early (again) to meet up with Elizabeth aka “Liz” for a day of brunch and shopping on 5th Avenue. Elizabeth is nannying for a family up in Fire Island and she was able to come into the city for a night or 2 to see me and her high school friend, Mimi, who was sweet as could be! I met up with Liz at the place where Mimi was staying with her cousin in Manhattan in Midtown East. It was a beautiful, quaint apartment that was filled with antique french style furniture and I absolutely fell in love with the lavish life as soon as I walked into the door.

After staying in Courtney’s place which was almost like a dorm or a hostel (haha sorry Court) and then getting a small taste of the lavish lifestyle staying in Manhattan with Mimi and Elizabeth I was very grateful to have been able to get a taste of both types of living. I, by no means, had any trouble sleeping on a deflating air mattress at Courtney’s and I definitely didn’t mind showering in a fancy bathroom at Mimi’s… I think the reasoning for me not caring about where I was staying was because it didn’t matter the circumstances I was living under, what mattered to me was that I was able to share this amazing city with some of my closest friends.

When Sunday rolled around I said my goodbyes to Liz as she headed for the ferry back to Fire Island and lonely girl made her way back over the bridge to Brooklyn ;). That night Courtney, Jade, Abby, Lane, and I went to a rooftop bar called Loopy Doopy Rooftop Bar in Battery Park in Manhattan. There were beautiful views of the skyline and Hudson River. I would highly reccomend this place to anyone who has a quick second to spare in NYC. They are famous for their cocktails because they put popsicles in them. I ordered a Peach Cocktail with the popsicle in them (which was of course extra, but I’m paying for the experience!) and it was absolutely delicious..in fact, I wish I had one right now 😉

Monday was supposed to be my last day, my flight was scheduled to leave around 6:00pm so me, Courtney, and Jade went to take a few pictures down by a dock in Brooklyn and then go for a casual lunch before I left for the airport. I gathered up all my things and I went my separate way towards the airport. When I got to the airport I noticed that my flight had been delayed and soon after that it had been cancelled. I had absolutely no negative feelings about my flight cancellation because this meant one more night with Court and one more night in the big apple!

That night, Courtney and Abby had already planned to meet up with some friends that Abby had met a few nights back. Courtney, Abby, Jade, and I went to 213 5th Avenue Rooftop Bar which was really nice! It had a view of the Empire State building and the city skyline. At first, being so eager, the night started off a little bit slow but as the Raspberry Mojitos started rolling in and after a few glasses of Pinot Grigio, Abby’s friends from the other night showed up; a group of Australian boys who had been traveling all over the US for the summer. Obviously, I was completely taken by their accents but I soon learned that they were quite interesting to talk to and it was really cool to hear about the places they had visited and sort of hear about their experiences…once again, there really is nothing better than meeting cool people in a cool city.

My last night in New York City was definitely one to remember, and I can only thank Southwest Airlines for canceling my flight so that I could have one last memorable night in the city that never sleeps.

My perception of New York City now: Well, I don’t really have one anymore. New York consists of so much that I can’t just limit it to a couple mediocre adjectives. But I will say this, New York is undoubtedly beautiful and these past 3 days showed me just how much opportunity it really has and I look forward to the day I get to go back!

Chicago, Illinois

Chicago, Illinois

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So back in December over Christmas break, Devon and I decided that we would do something spontaneous and adventurous during the second semester. Of course you and your friends always talk about how you are going to go to all these cool places and meet all these new people but it’s usually always just talk and no action.

This was definitely not the case for us.

As soon as we got back to Fayetteville we began deciding which places would be a good contender based on price, convenience, etc. After my cousin, Kenza, told me how cheap you can get a Southwest Airlines ticket there was no turning back. We found a $59 plane ticket to Chicago, IL making the round trip to be about $130. Of course we were ecstatic about the price but the fact that we were going to be able to go somewhere as awesome as Chicago, a city with an endless amount of things to do, was absolutely incredible.

We left for KC on Wednesday afternoon and our flight to the Windy City left at a very convenient time of 5:20am. In reality it actually was very convenient because it literally gave us all of Thursday to explore the city.

Of course, after Uber Driver Joyce almost killed us on the way to the hotel (she got 3 stars); when we arrived our room was not ready and there was no way of knowing what time it would be available. yay.

Exhausted… yet so excited that we are finally here we decide to not let this bump in the road of our journey get in the way of us looking fabulous in Chi Town!  We lug our packed suitcases to the Holiday Inn Express women’s restroom and continue to  transform it into our own vanity/dressing room. After contemplating outfits, redoing makeup, and after an hour of hard work our looks are finally complete. Of course, as we were finishing up, the very rude lady from the front desk asks us to “give her bathroom back”… which we thought was bold of her to say considering she is the reason we are currently homeless…

 By now, it’s 11:00am and we have been up and at it for 8 hours. In our first day we saw The Bean (typical), we ate lunch at the Field’s Museum but didn’t actually go in until Friday, and we went and had a deep dish Chicago style pizza that was to die for from Giordanos Pizzeria (not to be mistaken for Ghiradelli).

We finally get back to the Holiday Inn Express around 9:00pm and we are completely exhausted; first day was long but successful.

On Friday we woke up a little bit on the later side and we went to Field’s Museum, Observation Deck, and Shedd Aquarium, which by the way if you bring your student id you can get in for $5 instead of paying $40 for an adult ticket. We were blown away by the deal! The museums and aquarium were really cool but we were happy that we got discounts on both because we would have been a little bit disappointed if we had paid the full amount. The Observation Deck in the John Hancock Building was probably my favorite part of the day. We went up to the 94th floor around sunset and so the lighting was just beautiful reflecting off of all the buildings. We got a complete 360 degree view of the whole city and my pictures definitely don’t do the view justice….  For dinner that night we went to Eataly, a really cool place that was 2 stories. It kind of reminded me of a Central Market and a Whole Foods combined but then like 100x cooler because it had a Gelato bar and Nutella Bar for dessert but then on the second floor they had a restaurant with an open kitchen and fresh seafood displayed. Dev and I were able to sit at the bar so that we could see them cook the food which was pretty cool.

On Saturday we did a lot of shopping…4 hours actually. But we obviously had to start the day off with a nutritious breakfast so we went to a really cute brunch restaurant, and of course I can’t remember the name, but the food was so good and it was so close to our hotel we were able to walk. Of course we had to look cute and Devon insisted on wearing heels which was obviously a horrible idea…foolish girl. We definitely did not end up buying as much as we had anticipated…in fact, Devons dad shipped us 2 extra duffle bags for the additional stuff that we bought…talk about petty divas! After we went shopping we decided to head over to Wicker Park and have some delicious authentic tacos from Big Star Tacos. I really loved the Wicker Park area… it actually reminded me a lot of the midtown area in memphis except maybe Wicker Park was a little bit cleaner and had more to do. But it was definitely a hip little area with lots of diversity which is what I love. After that we had to squeeze in the Navy Pier and by this time the sun was starting to go down and the weather was turning very chilly, very fast so we did not stay very long… but it was still really cool to see. We noticed that there were a lot of boat tours which I’m sure would be really cool in the summer time so then you can see the whole city while out on Lake Michigan, which by the way looks like an ocean.

That night, our last night in Chi Town, we met up with 2 of Devons friends from high school who are living there now. Mitch, who is pursuing music and Max who is pursuing acting. Shout out to you both, it was so fun getting to meet new people in a new town which is ultimately what I love about traveling.

We had a great last night in the Windy City with friendly fun and we were definitely sad to leave. I am so incredibly thankful for a friend like Devon who shares the same kind of enthusiastic attitude about seeing the world. Sure, Chicago is still in the United States and it’s only our first trip…but you have to start somewhere. Chicago is a trip that I will never forget; it was a trip filled with endless laughter, adventure, a little bit of anxiety, and a little bit of stress; but most of all filled with excitement and appreciation for the things that are to come.

Now, here we are back in Fayetteville, AR …no longer living the lavish city lifestyle. Getting a little taste of what my life can consist of when I’m older, being able to travel so loosely, makes me a little bit more motivated in my time here in Fayetteville.

Back to being a couple of girls with champagne taste on a beer budget in North West Arkansas.

Pack your bags…They’re moving to Hong Kong!

Pack your bags…They’re moving to Hong Kong!

A few days ago I got some of the most exciting news that I have ever received. My parents are moving to CHINA, for my dads job obviously. Of course they had been debating it for a few months but I never would have thought that they would go through with it.

Finding out that the move was final I felt a lot of different emotions. I felt scared, excited, hopeful, but especially adventurous. Our entire lives my parents have showed my brother, Blake and I a taste of the type of extraordinary life we all crave. My parents have blessed us with unbelievable opportunities, especially in the aspect of travel. Not only am I excited about this move for selfish reasons, such as being able to experience new culture and see new places; I am excited for my parents. This is such an amazing adventure that they are about to go on and they have taught me so much about what a marriage is during this whole process. In this day and age it’s rare to come across someone who doesn’t have divorced parents. My parents have shown me that marriage isn’t a breeze, you have to work at it. My mother, who loves our home of Memphis, TN who has loving friends and a strong work foundation, is packing up her entire life and leaving it behind for 2 years. I can only pray that I have a love so strong that I am willing to sacrifice pieces of my life for the sake of my husbands dreams and happiness. Being the adventurous and (somewhat) open-minded couple that they are, I know that they will make the best of it and in these 2 years see as much of the world as possible.

Although I can’t help but feel jealous that they will be doing all this amazing traveling without me. I know that finishing up my degree at UofA is the most important thing for me. I always said that once I finish college I would take the time to travel and see for myself what the real world is like. So, when my parents told me the big news I decided to make a list of aspirations that hopefully I can complete in the time that my parents are so conveniently living across the world.

Traveling Aspirations:

  • Climb the ruins of Chichen Itza
  • Scuba Dive in Dominican Republic
  • Surfing in Costa Rica
  • Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  • See the Mona Lisa
  • Cage dive with great white sharks in Cape Town, South Africa
  • Walk the Great Wall of China
  • Go to the top of the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, NV
  • Sears Sky Deck in Chicago, IL
  • Hike to the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, CA
  • Swim with the pigs in the Bahamas
  • Learn how to fly a plane
  • Scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef in Sydney, Australia
  • Visit the city of Dubai
  • See the Taj Mahal
  • Attend Coachella
  • Ride camels in Morocco
  • See the ball drop in NYC
  • Sail the BVI with my family
  • Helicopter ride around the islands of Hawaii
  • Go to the islands of Thailand
  • Visit each of the 7 Continents once
  • Zip lining through the forests of Costa Rica
  • Stay at a Four Seasons Resort
  • Move to Hong Kong
  • Visit the Windy City
  • California trip with Elizabeth
  • Experience the Grand Canyon
  • Rio de Jeneiro in Brazil
  • Machu Pichu in Peru
  • Roman Coliseum in Rome, Italy
  • Go skiing in the Swiss Alps
  • Sun bathe in Santorini, Greece
  • Big Ben and London Bridge
  • Walk the streets of Spain
  • Go on an African Safari
  • Play with monkeys in Puerto Rico
  • Swim with wild dolphins
  • Go to NYC at Christmas
  • See the pyramids in Egypt
  • Attend a futbol game in Spain
  • Krka National Park in Croatia
  • Visit a marina in Capri, Italy
  • Swim off the Amalfi Coast in Italy
  • Go to the top of Seattle Space Needle
  • Watch Humpback whales in Resurrection Bay, Alaska
  • Hook a King Salmon in Russian River