Tag: travel

Cabo San Lucas

Cabo San Lucas

One of the best things about living in California is getting to go on weekend trips to Mexico! Cabo San Lucas is about a two hour flight from LAX, making it a perfect 3-day getaway for warm ocean water, beaches, amazing nightlife, and awesome diving. Below is a day-by-day itinerary to help you plan your trip!

Day 1: Arrive Cabo San Lucas

There aren’t that many flights that arrive and depart at convenient times for Cabo, so try to get there as early as possible! Unfortunately the customs line can be horrifically a couple hours of waiting (make sure you don’t even look at your cell phone, otherwise officers will catch you and send you to the back!) and the airport is about 45 minutes from the actual city. 

When you rent a car online, you might see deals through big rental companies like Hertz or Budget that only have you pay $2 per day for the car, so of course you’re thinking, wow what a steal! Unfortunately what they don’t tell you is that you’re required to pay for Mexican car insurance, which is actually about $40 per day. 

The best places to stay are near the marina since it’s the closest to all the nightlife! There’s tons of shopping in downtown, and make sure you always try bargaining since they give you extremely high prices if you’re not a local. Some of my favorite places to hang out at during the night are the Giggling Marlin, where they can hang you upside down and give you 3 shots for $10 while spinning you around, Squid Roe, which is the ultimate dance scene, and lastly Cabo Wabo, an older crowd but they have the best live entertainment and drinks rather than 16 year olds running around.

Day 2: Diving

If you’re an avid diver, Cabo is perfect for warm waters, 85 degrees during the fall and the best time to go is September through November. One of my favorite dive companies is called Cabo Trek, found at El Tesoro Resort right on the marina! The dive shop is run by a foreigner that has quality equipment and you can even get the boat all to yourself so you don’t have to worry about other divers getting in the way. 

Some of the best dive sites are the Arch at Land’s End, of course, where you can see colonies of sea lions. They act like dogs since they’re so curious and will tug at your equipment and try to mess with you. Another favorite is the Sand Falls, where you can dive down to about 90 feet and see a bend in terrain, like the horseshoe in Niagara Falls, and sand falls off the very edge into the abyss. 

Day 3: Heading back home

It’s awesome if you can get a flight later in the day back to the states, but unfortunately for us the cheapest flight available was early in the morning. Remember to take into account the extra 45 minutes it takes to get to the airport if you’re renting a car. And have a blast!

Below is my latest vlog on YouTube of Cabo San Lucas. Enjoy!

A Weekend in SEATTLE

A Weekend in SEATTLE

Since I’m only about a month away before departing for the Peace Corps, Caleb and I decided to fly up to Seattle to visit one of my best friends since childhood! A lot of the following will be great activities to fill your weekend trip but there are also personal touches here and there since we were visiting friends and catching up. 

First thing’s first: Din Tai Fung, the best place for dim sum and dumplings in Seattle! The location at Pacific Place Mall is brand new and we preferred going there over the original since we could leave our car in the parking structure and walk around afterwards. 

We headed to Pike Place, which is super touristy but I love going there every time I visit to see all the seafood, fresh vegetables and flowers, and all the crafts lined up in the shops. It’s a great place to get souvenirs as well! 

For a good view of the city, instead of going to the Space Needle, you should check out the Skyview Observatory – Columbia Center. Even though it’s not a 360 degree view, it’s the tallest viewing point west of the Mississippi and it doesn’t disappoint!

Gasworks Park is an old gasification plant that’s now a nice park to walk around and see the Seattle skyline from across the sound. You can also see lots of seaplanes taking off 🙂 Close by is the Fremont Troll, which is a short walk away! It’s a fun sculpture to take photos of, and then afterwards we headed down to some breweries! 

 

Fremont Brewing Company has a great selection of craft beer along with some tasty snacks to go with your drinks. My favorite was down the road at Schilling Cider House (because I love cider) and they have some interesting flavors including Habanero Raspberry, which was actually really good! It’s a fun spot to hang out with friends and play Jenga as well.

The next day we spent prepping for a Filipino party! My best friend decided to throw me a going away party since I’m leaving for the Peace Corps and invited all my friends in the PNW! It was a wonderful time eating my favorite foods and belting out karaoke!

On our last day we headed back to Pike Place to get some hum bao (steamed pork dumplings) and went to check out the Ballard Locks to see all the ships moving in and out of the harbor and the sound. Nearby there’s a farmer’s market on Sundays that has great food and crafts to check out! 

My best friend also persuaded me to try vlogging so check out my YouTube channel! 

Jet Set Candy

Jet Set Candy

Having traveled all over the world, I love keepsakes that remind me of the places I’ve been. Recently I flew to The Bahamas and brought jewelry by Jet Set Candy that was perfect during my travels, whether I was dressed up for a nice dinner at the resort or hanging out at the beach in my jean shorts and tank top. 

Not only am I an avid traveler, but also being a future pilot, I absolutely loved their stackable rings while flying across the US. Their Flying Colors Stackable Rings come in all sorts of fun colors and wanderlust inspired sayings – I want to collect them all! My favorites include “Chase Adventure,” “Explore Dream Discover,” and the “Mile High Club.” Wearing them inspires and reminds me everyday my love for seeing the world.

Of course, one of the most well-known symbols of being a jet setter is the airplane, and they have the perfect ring to showcase it: the Homeward-Bound Adventure-Bound Ring! Like the traditional Claddagh ring, which shows where the bearer’s heart lay, this ring tells the story of you. Dreaming of adventure? Wear the nose of the tiny plane outward towards your fingertips so the words “Adventure Bound” etched on the side is revealed. Point it towards you and the words “Homeward Bound” appears on the other side of the ring. It’s a cute way to get excited about all the adventures you’re embarking on and it’s perfect to stack with the Flying Colors rings!

While I was in the Bahamas, I loved wearing my Nassau Bahamas Luggage Tag Charm necklace! Each luggage tag charm has the latitude and longitude coordinates of the city, the IATA (International Air Transport Association) code, the actual airport name, and a cute symbol that represents the city. They have over 400 different charms unique to each city, and they’re always creating more so you can personalize each of your trips.

Jet Set Candy has hundreds of charms you can add to your necklace or bracelet for everything you can think of while traveling to commemorate your special adventure! From monuments like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, to symbols of the city like an Italian scooter, to overall wanderlust inspiration charms, they have it all. I paired my Nassau Luggage Tag necklace with the Mini Airplane Charm because of how much I love aviation and it also represents my love for exploring.

Mother’s Day is around the corner! What better way to show your mom some well deserved love than by gifting her beautiful travel-inspired jewelry that she will always cherish? All of the jewelry is made of precious materials such as sterling silver, 14K gold vermeil, and 14K solid gold that will last a lifetime. Jet Set Candy offers such a wide variety of jewelry and charms there is something to fit everyone’s style.

Even better, during this month of May you can use my code ‘ANNA10‘ for a discount on all of Jet Set Candy’s jewelry! Shop for fun wanderlust jewelry for yourself or for Mother’s Day!

XOXO

Anna

Top Travels of 2016

Top Travels of 2016

Death Valley, CA – March 2016

It’s crazy to see such diverse landscapes all over California! This was my first time visiting Death Valley because I wanted to see the Super Bloom with my friend Shandra (@HowIWishIWasAFish)! The Super Bloom only happens once every ten years, and the whole valley springs to life with beautiful fields of yellow flowers. 

Photo by Shandra (@Howiwishiwasafish)

San Francisco, CA – April 2016

Even though I’ve lived in California my whole life, I’ve never actually explored this city, believe it or not! I was here for a Structural Engineering event, but it was a great weekend getaway to see the Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Chinatown. Not to mention the man of my dreams asked me to be his 🙂

Whistler, Canada – April 2016

A beautiful weekend in BC backpacking through the wilderness. It’s an easy drive from Vancouver, but a not-so-easy hike to see vivid turquoise lakes; I highly recommend checking out Joffre Lakes during the summer! Another great hike to do is the Keyhole Hot Springs, where you can camp along the river.

Little Corn Island, Nicaragua – May 2016

A must-see place for travelers who enjoy getting off the beaten path at a cheap price. One of the most beautiful, remote islands I’ve ever been to, Little Corn has great lobster meals, amazing diving, and warm ocean waters. Even though there’s no electricity during the day or running water, it was one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been, not to mention we stayed in a bungalow right on the beach for $10 per night!

Tam Cốc-Bích Động, Vietnam – July 2016

Although Halong Bay was beautiful, I couldn’t help but to feel like a tourist being shuffled along with hundreds of other people – it just didn’t feel like an authentic experience. One of my favorite places in Vietnam though was Tam Coc, and a Vietnamese man paddled a tin canoe with his feet down a river through the beautiful Vietnamese countryside. 

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – August 2016

I was so stoked to not only check off the Olympics from my bucket list, but also go to my first South American country! I will admit the focus was on hockey more than getting to really experience Rio since my cousins are on the US national team, but it was a great time getting to experience this lively city and the Olympics. 

Page, AZ – August 2016

This was an awesome (but exhausting) weekend road trip with my man, sister, and best friend. We crammed Zion National Park, Lower Antelope Canyon, and camped at Lake Powell all in one weekend, but Lower Antelope Canyon was probably my favorite. I highly recommend doing the photography tour so you get more time to photograph the beautiful canyon, plus you don’t get all the insane crowds and people running into your photo.

Sacramento, CA – September 2016

This wasn’t really a travel destination per say, but I finally moved from my beloved hometown in Southern California after so many years! I am happy to say that Sacramento is my new home and so far everything is great. I love that I can walk downstairs from my apartment and there’s so many breweries and fun restaurants you can check out without having to drive anywhere! I do miss the ocean, but for now, I’m enjoying city life.

Baños, Ecuador – September 2016

I love going to backpacker havens where few tourists go, so naturally the “Adventure Capital of South America” was a big draw for me. There are so many outdoorsy activities, like hiking, white water rafting, zip lining, bungee jumping, and hot springs, that you could never get bored here. We even opted for a jungle tour of the Amazon Rainforest, and everything was so cheap we were paying in pennies everywhere we went. And of course, the famous treehouse swing “at the end of the world” is something you can’t miss!

Maui, HI – October 2016

I love tropical islands and scuba diving, and since I tagged along with my man to Maui for a week for an engineering convention, I decided to spend some time getting my Advanced Open Water Diver certification! People ask me, so what does that certification do for you? Not much, really, except go on advanced dives that require the cert and it’s one step closer to getting my dive master certification!

Havana, Cuba – December 2016

I had to check out Cuba before the huge flood of tourists since it’s slowly opening up, so I made Havana a priority this year. It was a completely different experience getting to see all the classic cars and how communism and the embargo has affected the country, but it was worth it. Unfortunately the food was a little disappointing, but the mojitos were amazing!

Looking forward to a new year of travels ahead! Next month I’m heading to Indonesia!

Where are you planning to travel this year?

Road Trip through the Southwest

Road Trip through the Southwest

There’s something about road trips, camping, and exploring the wilderness with your best friends that makes life just a little bit sweeter. This was my last hurrah in Southern California so we decided to head on a road trip through Arizona and Utah before leaving this stunning landscape behind.

When you look on Google Maps, driving from Los Angeles to Zion National Park doesn’t look so bad. Six and a half hours? No problem. We left LA at 4 PM on a Friday… And we didn’t reach Zion until 4:30 AM on Saturday. I’m always determined for an adventure so I’m fine with doing the full drive, but I feel bad for my compadres who were expecting to get a good night’s rest that night. It didn’t help that T-storms were striking and the rain thundered down on my Jeep, it was so loud.

We had no plan. So I drove to the Zion National Park Visitor Center, put my Jeep in park, reclined my seat, and slept for an hour and a half. I wasn’t expecting it to be so cold in the dead of summer! Granted, this was kind of a last-second trip so I just hopped in the car with whatever clothes I was wearing and was like, “Well we’re camping anyways, who cares!”

There’s a free shuttle from the visitor center that takes you to all the biggest attractions of Zion, so we hopped on and headed to The Narrows. Keep in mind you don’t need a permit to hike The Narrows if you’re going from the bottom-up. You ONLY need it for top-down. Hiking the Narrows was so worth it; the scenery was gorgeous and it was awesome getting to hike through the stream. As it got later in the morning I noticed the water flow was getting stronger and I would lose my balance a little. Good thing we turned around when we did, because there was a huge flash flood warning issued and the trail was closed off when we returned.

After checking out the other sites in Zion, we decided to drive an hour and a half out to Page, Arizona. We did some off-roading in my Jeep for the first time and camped out at Lake Powell right next to the water. It was absolutely beautiful taking a dip in the lake and also climbing onto the cliffs watching the sunset. The evening was perfect cooking dinner over the fire and doing some astrophotography.

We woke up at 5:30 AM to watch the sunrise at Horseshoe Bend (Just a tip if you’re an avid photographer, the sun peaks behind the bend at SUNSET not sunrise. Sometimes I miss little details). We had a photography tour at 8:30 AM at Lower Antelope Canyon, which I highly recommend over the regular tour if you’re into photography. The guides are really great about catering to your photo needs by stopping tourists that might get in the way, give you some tips for perfect photos, and you get double the time down in the canyon.

Last year I visited Upper Antelope Canyon, and out of the two places, although both are stunning, I recommend Lower Antelope. With Upper Antelope Canyon there’s so many people it feels like you’re being shuttled through a Disneyland ride line and it’s super packed. Even though we were on a photography tour in Upper, there were still a lot less people.

After the tour we hopped back in the Jeep and drove back to LA!

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Northern Vietnam

Northern Vietnam

Vietnam was a different experience than any other Asian country I’ve been to – so much in tact culture, delicious food, and natural beauty. The first night was spent in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, and the nightlife was great. Going down the streets crowded with people, hundreds of motorbikes zipping past, you get a feel for the culture in the cities. Bars on every corners have tiny little stools you sit on and look out at the streets and drink $1 beers and small delicacies like grilled quail and ice cream rolls.

The next day we headed to Halong Bay with Indo China Sails. They picked us up at the hotel and we drove about 4 hours out to the bay, stopping halfway at a tourist trap where they tempt you to buy Vietnamese goods. Unfortunately July is the rainy season (the best time to go is around November for perfect weather) so it was pouring rain the whole time. My sister and I shared a beautiful suite with a balcony overlooking the bay. The whole cruise was great – service, food, cleanliness – but it just felt a little too touristy and relaxed for me since I’m more into “off the beaten path” adventures. But Halong Bay was beautiful and still quite the experience!

Because of the torrential downpour, we didn’t get to do a lot of the activities that were originally mentioned on the cruise like seeing a traditional floating fishing village. We explored a giant cave (very similar to the one we saw in China) and spent most of our time indoors playing majong. Because tourism is blowing up and there aren’t any regulations about keeping Halong Bay clean, I noticed there was a lot of trash and pollution everywhere. It’s a shame to see that since it is an incredible place and a wonder of the world, so I hope that it’ll change soon.

Since our time was mostly spent indoors, we definitely spent some time at the bar… I had two drinks but my sister was definitely egging on my brother to drink head-to-head. Let’s just say my brother has never really had alcohol before since he’s 18, and the drinks were so tasty he didn’t realize the amount of alcohol he was consuming. I’m pretty sure he had 12 drinks (Dad was not happy when he saw that tab… and of course I was blamed to be the alcoholic) and decided that taking a bath was a good idea. Not a good idea. It was a very bad idea. And you can imagine what happened next: bok choy making a second appearance all over our bathroom floor. Thanks, Eddie, I really enjoyed cleaning up that one.

We drove back to Hanoi and toured around the countryside of northern Vietnam, Tam Coc, which was probably my favorite part of the trip because I love remote areas rich in culture. We saw ancient Buddhist temples, rode bikes alongside rice fields, and sat in a tin boat leg-paddled by a local Vietnamese man. It was very impressive that he could paddle this boat with just his feet! You float down the river and when you reach the very end, there’s a bunch of locals in boats with goods and force you to buy them. Yes, force you, because the guy paddling your boat is in on it and won’t paddle back until you buy something.

Communism and propaganda is still very present in Vietnam. In Hanoi there are bullhorns on every corner and five times a day, you’ll hear shouting in Vietnamese along with their national anthem playing. You’ll see all the locals just stop and listen, and the city filled with noise and motorbikes honking every which way becomes totally silent. It’s a rather eerie feeling, but very interesting to observe.

If you like cheap beer, excellent pho and spring rolls, and friendly people, I highly recommend adding Vietnam to your bucketlist!

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Mysteries of China’s Yunnan Province

Mysteries of China’s Yunnan Province

When most people think of China, they think of the Great Wall of Beijing or the hustle and bustle of Shanghai. Not many think of traveling to the green, mountainous region of the Yunnan Province in the south. Last time I was in China back in 2012 I visited the terra cotta soldiers of Xian, Shanghai, and Kunming. This time around was a short visit to Kunming to visit family, but the main focus was Vietnam (next post).

Air traffic control flow in China is awful every time I go; there is so much growth in this country that its infrastructure cannot handle it. We arrived in Shanghai from LAX at 7:30 AM and our flight to Kunming was scheduled for 8:30 AM. Unfortunately, it was “delayed until further notice” – no specific time given – so we just waited at the gate. And waited until 3 PM. We were so excited to finally get onto the bus to take us to the plane. And we waited another 2 hours sitting on the plane due to air traffic control flow. 5 PM came around and they let us off because it was “delayed until further notice. They took us back to the terminal, shuffled us onto a bus to a hotel but then turned around because they were all of a sudden ready… You get the picture. It was a mess. And it kept going all night just like this, back and forth, until 3:30 AM the next morning.

We had a full day ahead – our first stop was Jiaxing Caves, a UNESCO heritage site. It was huge and miles long inside, and the stalagmites were lit up with rainbow lights. Lunch at a traditional tea house with a never ending food supply, which was amazing. Chinese food in the US is nothing like what they have over there, and my favorite part is the assortment of about 20 different mushrooms and tofu. I never knew there were so many different types of tofu! We also made a stop at another UNESCO heritage site, the Stone Forest. My cousin took us to a Buddhist temple back in the city and we made an offering to the gods for good luck with incense and candles. I love how different the culture is here than in other parts of China!

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