Oahu, Hawaii – Days 3 & 4

Welcome back!

Did you read about our first two days in Hawaii? You should! 🙂 Just click the link HERE. Taylor and I had a blast driving around Oaha the first two days together, but we had an even better time on the 3rd and 4th day!

We started our 3rd day the same way we started every other day…in the car. On this day, we were heading to the North Shore! On our way North, we stopped at the Aloha Stadium and walked around their flea market. The market is held every Sunday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and I truly believe it’s the best market for all gifts and souvenirs. You’ll also find the prices way better than anywhere in the city. If you can make it out, I’d highly recommend it. It’s $1 per person.IMG_8056They also offer tours of the stadium now! This was perfect for Tay and I. A little football and a little shopping. 🙂 IMG_8060.jpg2Once we were done, we finished the beautiful drive to the North Shore. The nice thing about Hawaii, is that it’s very easy to drive all over the island! Our stomachs were grumbling at this point, so we stopped for brunch at Cafe Haleiwa. This was such a sweet, locally owned place. I ordered their huevos rancheros with a cold brew latte and Taylor had their french toast! Both were amazing. IMG_8071.jpg1IMG_8074After stuffing our stomachs, Taylor told me that he wanted to stop at Turtle Beach. After complaining about how I didn’t want to stop because there wouldn’t be any actual turtles, I was proven very wrong. There were so many sea turtles floating in the ocean and it was really special to see them! I couldn’t get any good photos, but you can see the shadow of some in the picture above. Pictures would never do it justice anyway. You just have to be there. I switched over to metal straws last year to help save our sea turtles, so this was such a special moment. I’m glad he made me get out of the car. ❤ IMG_8073We continued our drive along the coast, and found a beach to rest on. The North Shore is famous for it’s massive waves, so we sat and watched the incredibly talented surfers. The waves were actually so big that nobody could even touch the water unless they were professional surfers. Not that I minded anyway, I wouldn’t dream of getting into waves that size. For some reason I didn’t capture any pictures of the big waves. I guess I was too mesmerized. LOLIMG_8072.jpgIMG_8109.jpgFor lunch, Taylor ordered a BBQ chicken platter from Winna Chicken and I ordered the garlic shrimp from Giovannis. (*peep the new hawaiian shirt 😉 ) IMG_8112.jpgNot to be dramatic or anything, but this was the best shrimp I’ve ever had in my life. ever. I’m still dreaming about it. I discovered all the amazing reviews of this place online and it not disappointed. We took our lunch and sat in the park overlooking the water. IMG_8113IMG_8117IMG_8119For a sweet treat, we split a Hawaiian ice. When in Hawaii right?! Untitled designWe were having the best time together!IMG_81101After stuffing our bellies with delicious food, we drove back to the apartment and showered off before watching the sunset on Ala Moana beach. A sunset in Hawaii is one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see in life. The colors are stunning and everything is perfect. IMG_8136IMG_8125Travel the World in Style-2IMG_8142.jpg

The next day was sadly our last day in Hawaii. To start the day, we woke up early and drove to Diamond Head. I completed this hike on my last trip to Hawaii and enjoyed it so much that I knew Taylor would love it too! It was a much nicer day this time around. IMG_8155IMG_8156Untitled design-3IMG_8151 Unfortunately, parking was full by the time we got there (around 9:30am) so we had to park a half mile away. Just keep this in mind if you plan on driving. I wouldn’t recommend going anytime later than 10am. When we were on the way off the mountain, there was a line of people trying to get up and it was extremely crowded.IMG_8168We chose to eat lunch at Waikiki Brewing Company after our hike. We ordered some nachos and the bratwurst sandwich. This was a really cool place and the service was awesome!IMG_8172.jpgUntitled design-4The rest of our day was spent shopping downtown and packing our bags for our return to China. 😦 IMG_8192This view didn’t make leaving any easier. Tay said he loved his first trip to Hawaii, and we’re already planning our next visit! Although we were only visiting for a few days, we had a blast driving around the coast and enjoying each other’s company. Trips like this are always my favorite.

Thank’s for reading!

xoxo

Oahu, Hawaii – Days 1 & 2

Aloha!

I’m so excited to write this blog post, because it’s about a trip to one of my favorite places in the world! Hawaii! This is my 3rd time visiting Oahu, and it never gets old. I was recently there in July for a week, so you can read about that relaxing trip HERE. Although this was my 3rd time visiting the beautiful island, it was my first time traveling there with someone!IMG_7991.JPGLet’s start from the beginning shall we? Taylor and I decided to visit Hawaii last week because it’s: a) a place I love and b) one of the only states he hasn’t been to yet. Airline tickets typically range around $700-$800 round trip from America, but we snagged tickets for only $400 round trip from China. We flew from Nanjing to Shanghai to Honolulu. The Shanghai to Honolulu flight was only 8 hours, and wasn’t full. Before boarding, we asked the attendant at the gate to change our seats to single rows by ourselves in the back, so we could lay down. Untitled design-2It was important for us to sleep on our flight, because we arrived in Honolulu at 8am and hit the ground running. After going through customs, we picked up our rental car and drove to my cousin’s apartment. She was away for work, so she let us stay at her place for the week. We’re so thankful! We changed into our swimsuits and started driving up the east coast. IMG_7957IMG_7992img_7978.jpgIMG_8012Untitled design-5After stopping at several lookout points and absorbing the beautiful views around us, we stopped for lunch at Kona Brewing Company on the harbor. We shared a few appetizers and enjoyed the warm weather. We ordered chicken wings, pepperoni rolls, and seafood soup to split. The soup was okay, but everything else was wonderful! This is a great spot to stop at if you’re in the area. Untitled designOnce our stomachs were full, we hopped back in the car and continued driving. img_8015.jpgIMG_8017How cute was our car? 🙂 If you’re visiting Oahu and looking for a less touristy beach, I’d recommend driving to Waimanalo Beach. It’s in a residential neighborhood, and there’s always free street parking. I think the sand and water are nicer too. IMG_2067-2DSC_0013-2We also stopped at Halona Blowhole Lookout so we could experience that small beach too. IMG_80011IMG_7999Untitled design-3After a day in the sun, we ate dinner at California Pizza Kitchen in Ala Moana, and then headed to bed. We were exhausted from a full day of traveling and exploring! (Just as a reference, Hawaii is 18 hours behind China.)IMG_80204

On our second day, we got dressed and packed our bathing suits for the road. Our first stop of the day was Pearl Harbor. We drove up the west coast and arrived at Pearl Harbor within 30 minutes. This is somewhere you absolutely need to visit if you find yourself in Honolulu. DSC_5625DSC_5614DSC_5628I visited this National Park during my first visit to Hawaii, but I was only 17. I’m really glad I had the opportunity to go back, because I didn’t fully grasp what I was learning the first time. They were doing renovations on the Arizona Memorial, so unfortunately we weren’t able to walk through it. However, the boat drove us around and it was free of charge. I really appreciated this. DSC_5608DSC_5621DSC_5610After a morning of learning and remembering, we got into the car and kept driving up the west coast. We stopped for a quick lunch at Island Plantation. This is a locally owned place and they had a great lunch menu! Untitled design-4The west coast of Oahu was really cool! The mountains were stunning, and it felt like we’d transported to a completely different island. The weather was cloudy and stormier, but we had a great time. IMG_8035IMG_80512.jpgLater that evening, when the sun began to set, we drove back to Waikiki and ate dinner at OMG Tacos. This place was sooooooo good. It’s very similar to Chipotle, and it was exactly what we needed after a long day. This would be a great lunch spot if you’re staying in Waikiki. IMG_8055.jpg

After eating, we went back to the apartment and called it a night. I hope you enjoyed reading about our first two days in Hawaii. The second half of our trip will be up soon! Make sure you’re following A World of Crazy for notifications about the next post.

xoxo

A Short Work Trip to Taiwan

Happy Sunday!

Taylor and I have been hanging out in Taiwan for the past couple weeks, and we just returned to Nanjing. We’re in the middle of figuring out some complicated Visa bits-and-pieces, so the two of us were flown to Taiwan for work purposes. This was our first time visiting Taiwan, and we had a great time.

Our flight out of Nanjing was super delayed, so we switched from a flight to Kaohsiung, to a flight to Taipei. Thankfully, it was only a short 2 hour flight. Once we arrived in the capital though, we had to take a 2 hour train ride south, to Kaohsiung, where we stayed for the next 10 days.1IMG_78482After breakfast each morning, Taylor got picked up at our hotel and headed to the school. While he was away, I would hang out at our hotel. I caught up on reading, worked on the blog, and watched TV. I’m not one to go out and about in a city I’ve never been to all by myself, so I didn’t do much.4IMG_78731During the evenings, we would eat dinner either around the hotel or downtown. Taiwan has some great night markets, which we spent one night exploring together.2We also found out that there was a Costco in Taiwan (PRAISE), so we had to go. The food menu was almost exactly the same as the American stores, so we ate dinner there for a little taste of home. We didn’t have our membership card on us, but I wish we did! I would’ve loved to stock up on snacks to take bake to China. 3IMG_7864We weren’t exactly tourists during our 10 day trip to Taiwan, but we’re thankful for the opportunity to see another country!IMG_7874I’m sure we’ll be back one day!

xoxo

Cambodia pt. 2 – Siem Reap

Hello!

I’m back with part 2 of our trip to Cambodia! Have you read about the first half? If not, I highly encourage you to read it before this one! Especially if you love the beach or need a little warmth in the dead of winter right now. 🙂

In my last post, I left off with us returning to Sihanoukville via the ferry. Once we got off the boat, we paired up with a European couple and took a Tuk Tuk to the local airport together. It took around 30 minutes, and the airport was extremely small. Since we were early for our flight (always aim to be early, not just on time), we sat around and chatted with our new friends. That’s the magic about backpacking! You never know who you’re going to meet along the way. Everyone has a unique story that’s led them to where they are, and it’s fascinating.IMG_7621IMG_7677We decided to take a flight to Siem Reap rather than a bus for several reasons. For starters, the flight was only $30 a person. A bus was $15 a person. Second, the flight was only 40 minutes. The bus was overnight and was estimated to take 10 hours. We really contemplated taking the bus because it was half the price AND there were bunks in the bus. However, we didn’t want to waste time. We needed to be up early the following morning, so we wanted a good nights rest as well. Untitled design-6I was pleasantly surprised by Siem Reap. This city in the northern part of Cambodia exists almost completely because of tourism. All the grand hotels and restaurants give the locals jobs and it’s truly thriving. I really thought Siem Reap was going to be a little dusty and empty city, but I was very wrong. It’s only growing! We checked into our hotel downtown, took hot showers, and headed straight to bed. The following day, we hired a driver to take us wherever we wanted for the whole day. He picked us up at our hotel at 6:30am and drove us straight to Angkor Wat. Siem Reap is famous for this massive temple and kingdom that was founded in the 12th century. What was once a Hindu temple, eventually transformed into a Buddhist temple.DSC_5605DSC_5629DSC_5632DSC_5674 We purchased tickets that gave us access to any of the sights we wanted for the whole day, which cost $37 each. The pass allowed us to enter any of the historical buildings we wanted for the whole day. We didn’t have a problem paying almost $40 a ticket, because they are doing an amazing job restoring these ancient temples. Angkor Wat sat untouched for years, so you’ll see a lot of natural destruction. Restoration first started in the 1860’s. 2DSC_5625DSC_5624DSC_56101DSC_5614I’d say we spent 4-5 hours walking through all the temples. I HIGHLY, HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend getting up as early as you possibly can. Tourists visit Siem Reap for the same reason – to see Angkor Wat. Even though we visited during February, it was still very hot and jam-packed with people. The combination of the two makes for an unpleasant experience. I’m sure it get’s even busier during the Summer months. IMG_76323DSC_5722DSC_5660DSC_5665DSC_5667We explored the temples of Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Ta Prohm (in that order). As you can see by the map below, Angkor Park is huge! You can truly spend all day here. map1_large.jpgDSC_57582DSC_5741DSC_5784DSC_5772Untitled design-7DSC_5763DSC_5764We called it quits shortly after noon because it was way too hot and there were way too many people around. We didn’t eat dinner the night before with all the traveling, so we were starving and exhausted. Learn from our mistake and stay fed and hydrated. We drove back into downtown Siem Reap and ate at the Paper Tiger. Taylor and I both ordered pasta and it was delicious! I’d highly recommend eating here. IMG_7649 Once we were done, we headed to a local school with Caring for Cambodia. Taylor was invited to speak about science and achieving goals. I’m so proud of Tay for sharing his educational experience and inspiring high school students who are about to make big decisions not only for themselves, but for their family! IMG_7662After an exhausting day exploring in the heat, we ate a quick dinner downtown and headed back to our hotel. We had another early morning, because we were flying back to Phnom Penh before flying back to Nanjing! IMG_7684IMG_7690Can I be honest with you? Here’s where I wanted to end the blog. The rest of our time in Phnom Penh was spent visiting the killing fields and S21 prison camp from the genocide that took place in the early 70’s. I didn’t want to write about it. I felt like it was depressing and I didn’t want to relive what we saw and learned. However, during our tour, they mentioned that if nobody talks about it, nobody will ever learn about the horrific loss Cambodia suffered. And if nobody hears, then we cannot learn from experience. Taylor encouraged me to briefly write about our experience.

Another honest confession. I never heard about the mass genocide in Cambodia, until now. I NEVER knew. The only mass genocide I knew about was the Holocaust. 3 We did the audio tour for both the killing fields and prison. From personal experience, while these tours were wonderful and full of information, I think this was way worse than visiting a concentration camp in Germany. (If you had a rough time with that, then this isn’t for you.) These tours are fantastic for learning and never forgetting, but they are not for everyone. I couldn’t complete the prison because my heart was aching and I couldn’t look at the photos. I listened to the full audio, but I physically couldn’t do it. IMG_7703IMG_7702.jpgThe only way I can end this post, is by encouraging you to learn. Although it’s painful to hear about the horror that occurred, millions of lives were effected and still are. Cambodia is still recovering. The only way we can prevent anything like this happening again, is by learning.

Cambodia pt. 1 – Koh Rong Island

Good Morning!

We’re back from Cambodia! Taylor and I had some more time to kill before heading back to work after the Chinese New Year. This place was high on Tay’s list of places to go in southeast Asia, so we set off for one week! IMG_73411We caught an early flight from Shanghai to Phnom Penh two Mondays ago. Our plane landed at 2:30pm, but we had to apply for a visa upon arrival. Getting a visa upon arrival was very straightforward and took little to no time. I would imagine it’s much busier in the summer so keep that in mind. You will need a small passport photo, but if you don’t bring one they will just copy your passport photo for $5. Once we were done, we took a 15-minute Tuk Tuk to our hotel. After checking in, we dropped our stuff off and headed into the city for some exploration. We decided to have some drinks in front of the Tonlé Sap river while the sun set.IMG_7321IMG_7326 If you’re traveling to Cambodia, your trip will be made easier if you download the Grab app. It’s their version of Uber. Not only is it cheaper, but you don’t have to worry about negotiating with a driver, you can pay through your credit card, AND their vehicle (even Tuk Tuks) are registered. **if you’re wondering what a Tuk Tuk is, it’s the vehicle in the righthand photo below. 2Taylor really wanted to eat at the F.C.C, so that’s where we headed next. Thankfully, it was just right across the street. F. C. C. stands for Foreign Correspondents club and holds a very special place in history. This was the hotel/restaurant that all the journalists from the Vietnam war would stay and write their stories. They had old black and white photos from the war covering the walls, along with various news articles. Oh, if walls could talk…IMG_7328The next day, we had an unexpected long day of travel. At 9:30am we took a van from Phnom Penh to the coast of Sihanoukville. What was supposed to take 4 hours, ended up taking 6. There was a lot of traffic and we stopped twice. We had a ferry reservation at 3 and we missed it. The last ferry of the day left at 4:30pm and we’re super lucky we made it in time for that one. While Sihanoukville is right along the coast, it’s very undeveloped and not the greatest. We sat on the beach while we waited for the ferry.IMG_7352.jpgWe were headed to Koh Rong Island for 3 nights! It’s a bummer that we missed a whole afternoon on the island, but oh well what can you do? Our speed ferry took 45 minutes! IMG_7367IMG_7365IMG_7372.jpgOnce we arrived, we walked down the beach to White Beach, which was an assortment of tropical bungalows that we’d be staying in for one night.4.jpgIMG_7408Untitled designIMG_7374IMG_7407.jpgKoh Rong is a total backpacker island. I was actually shocked to see how many backpackers were there. It would be really difficult to visit Koh Rhong if you weren’t willing to backpack. We saw a few travelers with their big suitcases, and they were struggling to get them up and down the sand. The island is still pretty raw and new, so you have to be willing to “rough it” while here. It’s not for everyone. There are an abundance of hostels to stay in (starting at $6 a night), and also various bungalows! Even though we stayed in bungalows the whole time, there’s not much to them. The electricity on the island goes out two hours a day, there’s no hot water, and AC is rare. Nonetheless, it’s a cool place to stay if you’re up for the beautiful views and the adventure!IMG_7497.jpgIMG_7496IMG_1134IMG_11362The appeal of Koh Rong is how affordable it is. As I said above, hostiles start at $6 a night and bungalows range between $30-$100 a night depending on the place. Not only are the accommodations affordable, but so are food and drink! Fresh fruit smoothies go for $1/$2 and meals vary between $5-$10. This is why the island is a prime location for backpackers who are traveling for several weeks at a time. Their travel funds can stretch far here. IMG_7411783EF95FD-9C13-425C-9A73-9405B23E3998.JPGIMG_7528.jpgUntitled design-3Our second and third nights were spent at the Treehouse Bungalows, which was just a short walk down the beach from White Beaches. We wanted to stay here the whole time, but they were booked during our first night. Our treehouse was simple like the previous bungalow, but situated directly over the water. We had the best view of the sunset, and could hear the ocean waves throughout the night.IMG_7421.jpgIMG_7420.jpgIMG_7419.jpgUntitled design-257179497943__B4C0D4ED-B49A-4A3E-B5AB-8FFF0FC966FE.jpgIt was snowing in Nanjing when we left, so it felt great to be in the sun for a few days! This is considered their dry season, so the temperature is hot. Some of the locals told us that the summers are miserable here. It’s hot AND humid and the bug population only increases (make sure you pack bug spray)! I couldn’t imagine being here with no AC during the summer months.3IMG_7540.jpgIMG_7537.jpgUntitled design-4One day, we decided to take a boat tour. This tour was only $10 a person and lasted 7 hours, so if you’re on a budget, this would be great! We snorkeled, fished, swam, were fed snacks and dinner, and got to swim with the sea plankton. This is a fantastic way to meet people from all over the world. If you get motion sickness easily, avoid this tour at all costs.IMG_7510.jpg13 nights in Koh Rong was the perfect amount of time for us! We were able to soak up some sun and beat the winter blues. When we booked our trip before we left, we booked a return speed ferry back to Sihanoukville at 4pm. We realized that the ferries ran behind on the way over, so we changed our reservation for 1pm instead. I’m so glad we did this because not only was our ferry running behind by an hour, but it dropped us off at a different port because of rough waves. We had a flight to catch to Siem Reap, so this was a wise move!! IMG_7616My next post will be about visiting Siem Reap and Angkor Wat!

xoxo

Chinese New Year 2019

Happy Year of the Pig! If you were born in the year 1983, 1995, or 2007 this is your year!!

Taylor and I are back in our second home and starting our new year by regrouping and relaxing. After a very busy few months traveling all over the states for the holidays, we’ve been taking a true “vacation” for ourselves.

Before jumping into our adventures within Beijing, I’m going to take it back a few weeks. I think this will make things easier to understand. Upon landing in China, we quickly realized that the whole country was shutting down for the New Year. To fight the 13 hour jet lag, we took a small trip to Shanghai with a couple friends who live in Nanjing too. We’ve been to Shanghai numerous times, because it’s only an hour (or 2 depending on the stops) train ride from Nanjing.  IMG_7046invite you to an anniversary party to celebrate their ten years of marriage!We spent a good portion of our time eating good food, walking around the People’s Square, and visiting the largest Starbucks in the world! I was in coffee HEAVEN! I didn’t know this was even located in Shanghai until a few months ago. The Starbucks Reserve Roastery was 2 stories high and was it’s very own coffee factory. They offer way more food and drink options at this location. I tried the butterscotch latte and it was the best latte I’ve ever had. I’m not sure if this was seasonal or available everywhere? It was new to me. 🙂5Processed with VSCO with g6 presetOf course it was packed with people, but you could spend hours here watching the coffee being made, looking at all the special merchandise, and even enjoy a pairing bar! This is something everyone needs to see when visiting Shanghai. I can’t wait to go back.IMG_7050IMG_7052Our friends are huge Disney lovers, so they hold season passes to the Disney Shanghai park. They showed us the beautiful Disney resort and took us to the Downtown Disney area. Taylor and I are excited to experience Disney Shanghai later in the year. We all grabbed dinner at the Cheesecake Factory before retiring back to our hotel for the night. Tay and I returned to Nanjing the next day.

Now remember when I said the whole country of China was shutting down for the Chinese New Year?? Well this created a small setback for us. Taylor wasn’t expected to return to work for several more weeks, and our city was becoming emptier and emptier. Instead of sitting in our apartment for days and days, we booked last-minute train tickets to Beijing! Bullet trains can take anywhere between 3-4 hours to reach Beijing from Nanjing, depending on how many stops it makes. IMG_7200The two of us love Beijing, and thought this was the perfect time to experience an authentic Chinese New Year! Whenever we travel to Beijing, we stay within the Sanlitun district because it’s the most western and a fantastic place to meet people our age who are also expats. There’s always something going on!3 We kicked off our second day by watching the Super Bowl at 7am at The Local. I’ve never seen so many Americans in one location within China before. It was so odd watching the Super Bowl this early and without all the dips and snacks, but it turned out to be really fun!2On Chinese New Year, we met up with friends who live in Beijing to visit some of the festivals. There were shows, food, and extravagant displays lining the parks and streets! By the way, it was freezing!!DSC_56044IMG_7233DSC_5644The whole day was spent exploring and immersing ourselves into a Chinese New Year celebration. DSC_5692DSC_56496DSC_5670I was really hoping to see a Chinese dragon show, but we couldn’t find one. Apparently it’s a southern China thing. However, they still had a bunch of performances that were super fun to watch. DSC_56537DSC_5657DSC_5698DSC_5703I loved seeing all the vibrant colors and different traditions China upholds every single year. They really know how to ring in a new year! 9DSC_56878After the celebration, we called it a day. We spent the next few days eating more great food and walking around Beijing together. It’s always nice to get away for a few days and experience something new!