Travel Diaries: Amsterdam

Hi friends! Today’s post, FINALLY, is my last installment of our trip to Europe – this one is all about our 3-day stay in Amsterdam. This post is way overdue, but I wanted to get it up before the new year – just in the nick of time, literally. Everyone who has visited Amsterdam comes back with raving reviews, so we were very excited to check the city out. We took the Eurostar from London to Amsterdam, which was only about three hours and $50. Travelling by train around Europe is such a fast and affordable way to get around the continent.

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Travel Diaries: London (British Museum, Westminster Abbey, Hamilton, and More!)

Hello, my friends! I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I keep forgetting to upload my travel blog posts. This was supposed to go up on Tuesday! Today’s post is the last post on our trip to London, which includes days 4-5 in the city. I have one more travel blog post, which will be about our three days in Amsterdam. It should be posted sometime in the next week, if not this one!

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Travel Diaries: London Part 1 (Including Covent Garden, Tower of London, Borough Market, and more!)

Hello, everyone! Today’s post is the first installment of my travel blogs all about our trip to London and Amsterdam back in September. I’ve split our visit to London into 3 different blog posts, and hopefully Amsterdam will only take one. Today’s post covers he first two days in the city.

Just as a note, I am horrible at travel blogging – besides the fact that I only travel 1-3 times a year, there’s a reason why I’m not a travel blogger!

This was my second trip to London, but my first time was with my high school when I was 17, so I’m not sure the first time even counts. To be honest, the first time I visited, I wasn’t entirely impressed and didn’t think I’d ever go back, but when my husband suggested it for our vacation this year, I was down for giving it another shot. It was 1000% more fun this time, and my husband and I were even saying it’s a place we could totally see ourselves living in for a year or so.

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Asia Travel Diaries: Hong Kong

Hi everyone! Today’s post is all about our trip to Hong Kong. To be honest, our stay here was super chill because we didn’t do too much. My parents are actually from Hong Kong and we’ve been back in previous years to visit family before, so we spent most of the trip eating, shopping, and visiting family. To be honest, most of the photos I took of this trip were of food, LOL. However, at the end of the post, I’ll list some places we visited during prior trips that I would highly recommend!

Hong Kong is such a fun city with so much to see. The official language is Cantonese, which I can speak, but you’ll easily get away if you only speak English. Hong Kong was a British colony up until 1997, so there are English signs everywhere, and those in the service industry can usually speak English fairly well. I find the culture in Hong Kong a very unique and distinct blend of East and West, moreso than any other Asian country we’ve visited so far.

Out of all the places we’ve visited, Hong Kong has my favourite public transit system (MTR) EVER. Not only is it very clean, but it’s by far the easiest for tourists to understand, it’s extensive, and it’s extremely efficient. Each of the 10 MTR lines have a name, but the colours are much easier for tourists like me to remember.

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Hong Kong is made up of three main regions: Kowloon, Hong Kong Island, and the New Territories, and they are all connected by its MRT system so that it’s easy to travel between the regions. Most tourists tend to stay in the Kowloon area because it has it closer to all of the main attractions and is more trendy. We stayed on Hong Kong Island because it’s closer to where our relatives live, and one good thing about it is that it’s quieter and farther away from all the crowds. While we would often have to switch trains to get somewhere, I didn’t find it to be a huge hassle because the city is so compact and the train systems are so efficient.

The hotel we stayed in was called iClub Fortress Hill. It was a really convenient location because it was a 5 minute walk to two MRT stations, as well as 5 minute walk to the bus station where we took the bus to and from the airport. The hotel itself was decent – quite new and modern-looking, clean, but very small. This isn’t unusual for Hong Kong, because the city is so crowded!

FOOD

One of my favourite things about Hong Kong is the food. After we dropped off our bags off at the hotel early afternoon, we went off for lunch at the famous Hong Kong establish, Tim Ho Wan. This is a dim sum place that is the second cheapest Michelin star rated restaurant in the world, which is what makes it popular with tourists and locals alike. It was our first time there, even for my parents. They’re known for their BBQ Pork Buns, which were absolutely phenomenal – crispy on the outside and gooey and hot on the inside.

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One thing to note about the service industry in Hong Kong is that the service isn’t great, at least in my experience. Hostile service is generally what I expect, and anything better than that always feels like a bonus! One thing that may also be a shocker to tourists is that a lot of restaurants may also give you a large bowl and a tea pot full of boiling water at the beginning of the meal. These are meant for rinsing all of your bowls, teacups, and utensils. I doubt that quickly rinsing all of your eating tools in hot water is going to help all that much without soap and a sponge – at this point you’re just sanitizing your stuff. But if it makes you feel any better, we never got sick from eating out…

Another affordable restaurant we tried was Australia Dairy Company. The owner of the restaurant worked on a farm in Australia in the 40’s, and when he returned to Hong Kong, he started this restaurant (hence the name). Similar to Tim Ho Wan, Australia Dairy Company is an establishment that is popular for both locals and tourists. We went at around 3pm so it wasn’t too busy, but this place usually has really long lineups if you go in the morning!

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This place serves a pretty traditional Hong Kong breakfast: buttered toast, eggs, milk tea, and macaroni with ham. The food is good, the service is abysmal – as soon as we sat down, one of the servers came over to our table and proceeded to STARE AT ME with a completely blank expression. For about a very long 10 seconds, we just stared at each other until he finally walked away. I mean…what?? It was probably the most awkward experience I’ve ever had in a restaurant. That was weird, but the service here was just hostile in general. ANYWAYS. The food here was good, but nothing I would line up for – they are known for their scrambled eggs, which are admittedly super buttery and creamy, but everything else was pretty average.

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On one of our last evenings in Hong Kong, we went to Social Place for dinner. I think I randomly found this restaurant through Instagram several months before our trip, and after showing my mom some photos, it didn’t take much convincing for her to be on board with us all going to eat here. This place is SUPER popular – we had a reservation at 8:00pm and we still had to wait until 8:30 to get our table. The food here is so freaking Instagram-worthy – I think they’re most known for their adorable baos (buns) that are so cute and aesthetically pleasing. I thought that the food might be more beauty than substance, but it was actually really unique and delicious! This place is pricier than your average dim sum restaurant, but it was so worth it.

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Hong Kong’s skyline is iconic, and you must take a trip to Victoria Harbour in Kowloon, where you get a beautiful view of the skyline. It also has a laser show in the evenings, although to be honest, I didn’t find it particularly impressive. This is also the place where you can take the Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island – it’s a short ride, but something I think you should experience!

View of Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong

You may have seen a lot of “influencers” posting photos outside these apartment buildings that have become very iconic in the last few years. When I first started seeing these on Instagram, I was like “WHY.” People live in these apartments, and it would be SO annoying to have tourists come and take photos of the place you live. How would you feel if there was a  never-ending parade of tourists outside YOUR apartment, causing a ruckus?? However, I was kind of curious about these apartments because they look very similar in style to where my relatives live, so I asked my parents if these apartments looked familiar to them, and they knew exactly where these apartments were located! Apparently my aunt and uncle used to live here when my cousins were young, and they still live about 10 minutes away now.

We went to see them in person while we were exploring the Hong Kong Island side – I was kind of curious to see how big the crowds would be. There was actually only one other couple there and they were being pretty quiet, so we decided to stay. BUT they did have a sign saying that you need permission and a permit to take photos there, and to respect the tenants and keep the noise down. I doubt that people follow the rules (we sure didn’t), but it just goes to show you that the noise and crowds is probably unbearable at times!

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We did not go to a ton of touristy places this time since we had already done most of them on our first trip, but if you are going to Hong Kong, here are a list of suggestions for places that are fun to visit, and pictures from our last trip (if I have them):

Victoria Peak: Gorgeous lookout point with views overlooking the Hong Kong skyline from above. Gorgeous at night, too!

View of Hong Kong from Victoria Peak
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Ngong Ping 360: One of the most scenic gondola rides I’ve ever been on, where you get to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy the lush green hills of Hong Kong.

Tsim Sha Tsui: Trendy area on Kowloon with great shopping, food, and close to tourist areas like Victoria Harbour. Also has great night life because most of the night markets area located here (see below). Also close to Mong Kok, which is a bustling area that is fun as well.

Night Markets: The two biggest night markets are Temple Night Market and Ladies’ Market. I’ve found in recent years there’s less food vendors and more vendors selling random things like cheap clothing, and fake luxury bags. I don’t really buy anything from these night markets, but it’s cool to look at.

Lantau Island: Lush island that also holds the Tian Tan Buddha, which used to be the world’s largest outdoor Buddha; although it’s no longer the largest, it’s still pretty dang impressive to see.

Lan Kwai Fong: If you’re looking for a place to grab a drink, LKF is Hong Kong’s bar district and is full of trendy restaurants, nightclubs, and bars.

Japan Travel Diaries: Tokyo, Japan (Part 1)

Hello, everyone! Today I am continuing my Japan travel post and writing all about our stay in Tokyo. I feel like it’s taken forever for me to get through my travel posts, and it’s because I’ve only posted one a week to spread them out and not inundate you guys with them. However, this means it feels like I’ve been dragging them on, so I’m going to try to finish them up this week. Tokyo will be the last installment, but I have split it up into two posts as there’s just so much to talk about. Part 2 will be up tomorrow! I also have to work on replying to comments soon, which I’m so behind on!

When people think of Japan, they most likely think of Tokyo. While a city like Kyoto is historical and traditional, Tokyo is a bustling modern metropolis. I especially loved Tokyo for all of the eating and shopping, but we visited a lot of interesting places here too! We spent 5 full days here, and two half days at the beginning and end.

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Japan Travel Diaries: Kyoto

Hi everyone! Today’s post is a continuation of my Japan General Observations post – I’m going to be talking about our first leg of our Japan trip, which was the city of Kyoto. We had five days in Kyoto, one of which was spent on a day trip out to Nara and Osaka, but that will be the topic of discussion the next Japan Travel Diaries blog post.

Kyoto is an old historic city full of culture and tradition; compared to the fast-paced Tokyo, it is a more “outdoorsy” and relaxing city. Apparently, there are over 1,600 shrines in Kyoto! As you’ll be able to see in pictures, there’s a lot of greenery here, which was quite different than what we saw in Tokyo. Read on to see what we got up to in this beautiful city.!

PS – I am sorry about all of the photos taken in portrait mode, especially ones that should have been in landscape. I noticed while looking at my photos that I did this a lot during the trip and I have no idea why! Also, I did not take a lot of food photos in Kyoto because I literally stuffed all the food in my face before I remembered that I was supposed to take a photo 😂

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