EP. 9 & 10 – Hello Coromandel Vlogs! (New Zealand Trip Recap pt. 4)

I had about a few hours left in Wellington before I was due to head back to Auckland. I spent it at Oriental Bay and contemplated about life because it was so peaceful in the morning.

After two days in Wellington, Kendel suggested we visit Coromandel because it’s a must for any visitors. We headed straight to Coromandel after she picked me up form the airport and… wow, just wow.

The coastline is beautiful. It was a rainy and foggy day when we drove up there but it was nonetheless, breathtaking. The roads were windy which gave me a slight dizziness but 10/10 would definitely go back to Coromandel!

Wellington International Airport

We arrived just around dinner time where Kendel’s family cooked a delicious lasagna dish.

The next day, it was raining like crazy. I absolutely love the rain, it’s really relaxing but I’m still not used to warm rain, if that makes sense. During my time in NZ, Kendel and I got hooked on Teen Wolf so we spent the day watching episodes of Teen Wolf, and going into the downtown area to try to catch a hockey game. We also spent the rainy day playing Sims πŸ˜›

Got bless the day after because the hot sun came out on my last day in Coromandel. We went to Hot Water Beach which is known for its hot water… in the beach, haha. Kendel told me it’s a popular area and thing to dig a hole in the beach and essentially relax in the hole because the water in this beach is just hot.


Look at the contrast from cloudy to sunny!

My favourite place in the world is the airport but New Zealand definitely changes my views on beach. I mean, I live by the oceanside as well in Vancouver but it’s nothing compared to this!

EP. 7 & 8 – 2 Days in Wellington Vlogs (New Zealand Trip Recap pt. 3)

I’m not going to lie – my trip to New Zealand may have consisted of meeting Kendel but it was also a trip to scope out the country that I wanted to move (it’s still an option!). During my research, I fell in love with Wellington more so than Auckland and wanted to move to Wellington.

So, as you can imagine, my few days in Wellington was one of my favourite parts of the trip! Absolutely beautiful little city and would go back there in a heart beat.


Wellington Airport
 

THE BEST WAR MUSEUM I’VE EVER BEEN TO!

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

The famous bucket fountain on Cuba Street. The top bucket is missing when I was there!


If I lived in Wellington, I would, no doubt, take the Cable Car every weekend.

Seriously, can’t get over how beautiful Wellington’s harbour is….

2.5 days in Wellington is not enough! Good lord, I need to be back in Welly this moment.

EP. 5 | Sushi & Sims, and EP. 6 | Welcome to Devonport Vlogs (New Zealand Trip Recap pt. 2)

Oh, boy…

This recap is LONG overdue! I’ve been meaning to get through the rest of my NZ trip but life caught up with me. Anyways, enjoy this week’s recap! πŸ˜€



When we found our mutual love over sushi and the Sims, we both agreed that one day, we will just have sushi and play the Sims… well, Kendel and I can officially cross that off our friendship bucket list!

Massey University looks like it’s something out of California!

The beautiful Massey library.

… and their odd golden statue of a chicken wing.



The next day we went to explore Devonport. For those who are wondering, Devonport reminds me of Stevenson, BC. Anyways, it’s sooooooo beautiful. I absolutely love Devonport and if I had to pick a place to live in Auckland, it’s most likely be Devonport.

Wow, can we just talk about the beauty of New Zealand’s landscape? It’s a mixture of hills, flatness, greens and blues. I’m so used to seeing the beautiful mountains back at home, it’s refreshing to see a different landscape!

EP. 3 | A Day in Auckland & EP. 4 | Poutine Vlogs (New Zealand Recap pt. 1)

Happy Monday!

After one week of returning to the motherland, I’ve finally gotten around uploading my vlogs and choosing blog posts photos for my New Zealand trip.

If you don’t know, I travelled to New Zealand back in February to meet up with Kendel from Little Misadventures – talk about a bloggers meet up, eh? Before you get all antsy to comment about how unsafe it was to travel overseas for a stranger, Kendel and I have known each other for ~4ish years already?? We message each other every single day and we skype at least once a week. Literally, Kendel knows all my dirty little secrets, haha. Personally, I would advise against travelling overseas for a complete stranger without prior contact and established friendship.

Another part of my trip to New Zealand was also to check out the country. I’ve talked about moving over there but I needed to see the country beforehand. The two weeks in NZ, we hung around Auckland and I also checked out Wellington.

I did not know YVR had a life size chess board!

Air New Zealand is probably the best airline I’ve ever flown with! Delicious food, extremely comfortable seats, great entertainment selection, and awesome staff!

Flying to NZ has been the longest trip I’ve ever taken. It was about a 15 hours flight but extremely comfortable with Air New Zealand.

Canada meets New Zealand!

First meal in New Zealand!

It took some mental adjusting to comprehend that I’m half naked in the middle of February!

I chose to land on a day where Kendel had to write her last final exam sooooo the first day, we chilled at the beach for 20-30 minutes (got a tan!) before I spent about three hours in the mall by myself because Kendel was off writing an exam, haha. We also caught Deadpool which was a pretty good movie! Did you know kiwi movie theatres has NO ADS?! I mean, the theaters back at home probably runs about 2-3 ads before the movie starts and the rest are entertainment news and about 3-4 trailers buuuut to arrive early and all you see is trailers is amazing!

Of course I need a photo with an award winning chocolate ice-cream…

If you haven’t watched the vlog, I mentioned how awesome it is that NZ’s Chinese New Year is celebrated over an entire weekend in such a huge park ground. We only celebrate CYN with one 2-3 hours parade the following Sunday of the New Year Day.

I think in total, the first day we walked about 12km!



I wanted poutine and Kendel was interested in trying poutine as well so we Googled where is a good place to grab some. The restaurant was the bomb dot com and one of the things I would miss dearly!

I was really bummed out about the whole astronaut experience thingy. I legit thought it was a hands on experience and not just a crummy kids video! Most of the stuff I knew already from Chris Hadfield and various space movies.

Over the next couple of days, I’d share my recap of my two weeks New Zealand trip last month. Hope you enjoy them!

5 Tips to Saving Money on Your Vacation

I just got back from my New Zealand trip and it was amaaaaazing! I’ll be posting up pictures and recaps over the next few days/week!

But, I think everyone agrees with me that vacationing can be expensive. Whenever I plan my trips, I try to stick to my budget (aka budget travelling) but not limit myself to what a foreign city has to offer.

Skipping aside the generic tips on saving money (eg. finding cheap flights), here are some extra tips to saving money on your vacation(s):

Hostels can be your best friend.
I adore hostels. I mean, $30 per night?! Count me in! I don’t believe in spending $100+/night for hotels where A) you’re only there to sleep/refresh and B) it’s “stuffy” aka nothing fun to do. Hostels are cheap and fun! During my stay in Wellington, I stayed at YHA Wellington City and absolutely enjoyed it. Because the thought of sharing a community bathroom and room with 6-8 people terrifies me, I chose to chip in a few more dollars for an ensuite room where I shared a room with only three other females and had our own bathroom. If you’re interested in trying out hostels, check out this guide!

Skip the souvenir shops.
If you’re one to buy souvenirs for yourself and/or friends/family, this one can save you tons of money. In my local dollar stores, they sold a lot of Canadian keychains so when I was overseas, I checked the dollar stores for souvenirs (especially those dollar stores located in touristy streets). To my surprise, I found beautiful glass souvenirs for $2.50-$3.00 (whereas this would have costed me probably $8-13) and keychains for $2. I remember seeing a beautiful keychain for $8.50 and found a similar one at the dollar store for only $2.50! I did venture into souvenir stores for specific items I couldn’t find in dollar stores.

Speaking of souvenirs, carefully plan out who you want to get souvenirs for. Does Billy from two cubicles down really need a souvenir just because he purchased coffee for you a few times? I used to buy souvenirs for co workers and acquaintances. Now, I buy them only for close friends and family.

Stay in.
Travelling doesn’t mean you have to be outside 24/7. Stay in! I chose to stay in a few times during my trip in New Zealand and had no problem whatsoever. After x amount of days on our feet and damaging our wallets, one (or a few) days relaxing allowed us to replenish our energy and gave our feet and wallets a break. In Wellington, I chose to stay in at night time rather than window shop (and potentially spend more money) or hit the pubs. Plus, my hostel was doing movie night.

Don’t dine out for every meal.
During my vacation, we went out to eat for only for lunch and a quick snack from time to time. We never went out to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and rarely ate out for two meals a day. What we did was went out to eat for one meal and usually for dinner we hit the grocery store for stuff to cook or a huge precooked chicken that lasted for days. Just like dinner, breakfasts consisted of things found in the fridge rather than on the menu.

Pack what you have, don’t buy what you want.
It seems like a no brainer but I’m surprised by the amount of travelers that don’t pack what they already have (eg. towels, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc) and instead, buy them upon arrival. Some would argue it’s to save luggage space but you’re wasting money. I chose to pack what I need and in a small suitcase so it limits what I can buy on vacation. I think everyone is tempted to hit up the shops and see what fashion is trending in foreign cities. Because I had limited luggage space, I carefully chose what I purchased which helped me save a lot of money because I knew for a fact that if I had a bigger luggage, I would have purchased more. Yes, I had days dedicated to shopping during my trip but that didn’t kick me out of my budget.

Will you be travelling soon? And if so, where?
Share some of your money saving tips while on vacation!

My Trip to Alaska (and Seattle)

From August 17th-19th, Sergio and I ventured off to Anchorage, Alaska. It was both our first time traveling to Alaska and the only reason why we did so, was because the flights were dirt cheap! I personally wanted to take the cruise there but the cost and time off work hindered me. Regardless, Alaska was a nice getaway!

Catch us on the next episode of Border Security!
Arrived in Ted Stevens International Airport and was instantly greeted by a moose!

We flew Seattle since Alaska was considered domestic and it was cheaper. Round trip from YVR would have been $550-$600! For that amount of money, I would rather visit Montreal or something.

Spenard Hostel International

Our cab driver recommended Gwennie’s to us and it’s amazeballs. The portions were huuuuuge (America, you guys know how to eat!) and relatively cheap as well. The staff was a bit of a drag, but… eh.

Above: Fisherman’s Platter for dinner. Below: Breakfast at Gwennie’s

We headed to Downtown Anchorage aaaand it was interesting…

Being a tourist town, literally all of downtown was souvenir stores. They easily have 3 in one block, and franchises across the district. In Vancouver, we have a street of souvenir stores in Gastown and the occasional ones in Downtown, but not an entire district filled with them! And, of course, they sold pretty much all the same stuff.

We stopped into a mall which proves itself to be a bit funny. Typical American mall, the food was a bit funny:

From YouTube videos, I figured Americans called “bubble tea”, boba tea. Which makes sense because “boba” is like the Cantonese version of pearls or something. The drink was horrible but it was dirt cheap compared to the ones in Vancouver.

Whenever I travel to a new place, I usually buy a little stuffed animal from that city. Since I was in Alaska, I figured the polar bear stuffie would be suitable!

The next day proved itself to be so much better (the rain cleared up and sun was out!). During breakfast, we were a bit disappointed to learn how just how far all the major tourist activities were from Anchorage! Activities such as hiking a mountain or glaciers or even fishing! If the price wasn’t ridiculously expensive, it was the fact that the cities and destinations were 4-6 hours drive from Anchorage. I wish we knew that before so we could’ve rented a car and plan ahead.

Here’s the thing about Alaska: it’s rich with First Nations history, just like Canada is. There is a stereotype of Natives drinking alcohol excessively and I’ve never seen it first hand until now. I’ve seen Natives drunk at 11AM in the morning. At 5PM, a group of drunks were throwing beer cans at the bus and the driver! It’s ridiculous.

We checked out the Museum of Anchorage. It was nice but as someone that studied First Nations, majority of the exhibits weren’t entertaining and informing. #historygeekproblems

After the museum, we rented bikes to bike to Kincaid Park which was beautiful! The bike ride itself was brutal at some stages but for view was spectacular. We were literally on the edge of Alaska!

A panoramic view of the edge of Alaska. We were on a cliff and directly above the ocean
 

We even saw a moose! We’ve never seen a Canadian moose but at least we saw an American moose, haha.

The bike trial has a planet information board thing-y and being the
childish adults that we are, we decided to take selfies with Uranus.

After the bike ride, we decided to try reindeer meat, a classic in Alaska.

It’s not bad but I would prefer my regular beef/chicken wieners.

At one point of our trip, we came across the store that sold Russian items with a large cut out of Sarah Palin pointing somewhere and the quote “I can see Russia from here!”. The store was blasting with Russian music and it was slightly uncomfortable and disturbing to walk past that store.

Beef avocado taco… mmm….

We also discovered the state of Alaska has no taxes! I thought it was only Portland that didn’t have any tax but hallelujah, Canadians got another state to venture off to for no taxes! Granted, Portland is much more convenient for us.

Our last day spent in Alaska was split. We decided to check out the University of Alaska (and grabbed some tees from the bookstore) before flying back to Seattle again.

It was Sergio’s first time in Seattle so for the first time in my life, I checked out the Space Needle.

Typical Seattle stuff consist of shopping, clam chowder and Pike Market. I usually choose to skip the tourist-y stuff because Seattle is so similar to Vancouver and it’s so closeby, I don’t really feel like I’m leaving home.

The King and I roll from O’hana Sushi in Seattle

At our hostel, City Hostel Seattle! A bit far from the metro and downtown but amazing staff and rooms!

I get to cross Alaska off my bucket list! Although we didn’t do what Alaska is famous for, I’m still glad we got to check it out. If I decide to go back there again, it’s either by cruise or I’m planning ahead and renting cars!

Alaska was a nice city, with friendly people for the most part. If you can look past the drunks and how limited entertainment the city offers, it’s not a bad place to live, haha.

Right now, I’m getting my passport renewed aaaand saving for a two- weeks trip to New Zealand in February 2016! Gotta check out the country before I move there, right? I’m super thrilled and was told I’d definitely fall in love with that Auckland and Wellington.

A Beginner's Guide to Hostels

We’ve all heard about hostels and how cheap they are. You’ve probably seen the movie Hostel and avoid it like a plague. You probably have friends that stayed in a hostel for a few nights.

Regardless, hostels provides travelers an affordable accommodation for one night or for their entire duration of the vacation.

For many, hostels is not a first choice of accommodation for many people, mainly because they’re not familiar with hostels or hold untrue beliefs about hostels. When I first considered staying at a hostel, I was a little be apprehensive about sharing rooms with a bunch of strangers, especially washrooms as well. I grew up staying in nice hotels whenever I went on vacations, so “downgrading” to hostels was extremely different. But, the price difference was substantial so I stepped out of my comfort zone and tried a hostel and let me just say, I probably won’t be booking any nice hotels for ordinary vacations (honeymoons and all inclusive vacations are a different story!).

Today, I’m sharing you a guide into stepping into the world of hostels and how beneficial they are to traveling!

Prior to staying at hostels, I worked at hostels as well and know the “back end” of these places.

To begin,

Clear your mind of any assumptions you have of hostels. Just because they’re cheap, doesn’t mean they’re bad! Many people choose hostels because they’re affordable and safe. Many travelers from the age of 20 to even 50 stay in hostels! Get rid of any negativity stigma you have with hostels because they’re most likely false*.

*Everything differs from hostel to hostel, but like any good traveler, check the reviews!

They’re not filled with druggies, drunks, party animals and thieves. In fact, people staying in the hostels are probably some of the most culturalized individuals you’ll meet. Many travelers have backpacked throughout countries, and some are highly independent individuals. Talking to these travelers will most likely inspire you. Hostel guests are educated, well mannered and fun individuals! They’re open minded and extremely friendly.

It’s safe and clean. And not at all weird sleeping with other people. Hostels operate like any other hotel. They employ housekeepers as well and clean out the facilities. However, because you’re sharing washrooms (sometimes) with others, it’s most likely the fella down the hall that made a mess. The hostel staff tries to keep it as clean as possible, but for the price you’re paying, they’re not the typical around the clock housekeeping staff. Most locations of the hostel are situated in downtown areas, and nearly all hostels are equipped with storage lockers for valuables. However, I’ve left my phone and electronics in plain view and none of my roommates stole it. And no, contrary to the popular belief, it’s not uncomfortable sleeping with other people in the room. It’s like having a sleepover with some friends!

They’re cheap, so don’t expect much. You’re not paying $500/night so don’t expect everything to be a 5-start hotel. Some places will have you make your own bed (eg. put on the bedding yourself), and some are already made. Some hostels will charge you for towels and some will rent them for free. Some hostels provide guides and city maps, some don’t. Each hostel differs but in most cases, hostels are NOT hotels. They won’t cater to you like a princess. The staff will be there to check you in and out and answer any questions or concerns, but don’t expect them to carry your luggage to your room or hand you a toothbrush at 1am in the morning.

Keep an open and adventurous mind. Unlike hotels, guests at hostels are welcoming and fun! These people are the type of people you can grab a beer with at the local pub down the street. These are the guys that you will add on your Facebook account and the next time you travel to London, they’ll hook you up. Hostels are a fun place to meet new people and create friendships. Keep an open mind and don’t brush anyone that greets you! I’m not saying you have to be an extremely outgoing person to stay a hostel, but don’t be alarm when a group asks you to join them in their night out.

Hostels are fun! Unlike hotels where they have such a formal lobby, hostels are homes to some of the coolest common areas ever! It’s the place where guests come downstairs to relax and have fun and meet other guests. Most common areas are sort of like a living room or university student lounges – TVs, board games, couches, books, etc. At one hostel I stayed at, they even have a “theater” with movies playing until 10PM.

Hostels are family-friendly. Believe it or not, hostels are not just reserved for the young 20-something years old for a weekend getaway. Hostels can accommodate to families as well!

Tips and Tricks:

+ Bring flip flops (and maybe a bikini). Flip flops to keep your feet clean throughout the hostel and bikinis if your hostel doesn’t offer private showers (aka community showers).

+ Book and read reviews with HostelWorld, the biggest hostel booking website.

+ Remember, choose a location with good location, cleanliness and security rating.

+ Many hostels offer free breakfast. Take that advantage to save some money!

+ Also, many offer discounted tourists stuff. Ask the staff if they have any coupons.

+ Some hostels will charge for necessities such as towels, toothbrush, etc. Pack your own if you want to save a few dollars. Alternatively, some hostels require you to pay a deposit for their towel and then refund the deposit upon check out – ask if they do that.

+ Hostels are not meant for their guests to stay in their rooms for the night. Don’t forget to immerse yourself into the “hostel culture”!

+ Hostels offer private rooms with en suites, usually for a few dollars more. If you really need it, opt for a private room instead of sharing.

+ Hostels have great kitchens. Feel free to buddy up with someone to cook a meal and save some money.

+ Hostels are a great place to solo travelers. You can meet so many people traveling alone that wouldn’t mind buddying up for adventures! One of my friends, Jenny, traveled to Hawaii alone and 1.5 weeks later, she found herself with a lasting travel buddy. The two of them ended up doing everything together and built a great friendship, all thanks to the hostel they were staying at!

Hostels have an iffy stigma to them, but I honestly recommend everyone to try it at least once in their life. Step out of your comfort zone and throw yourself into the hostel culture! I think you might actually enjoy it!

Sure, hostels are not meant for honeymoons or such, but if you’re having a weekend getaway or a short vacation, opt for a hostel. Especially if you’re traveling alone! If you think about it – if you’re spending most of your vacations exploring the city, and returning to your bed at the evening for a 8 hours of sleep, why pay $500/night? You’re already asleep, it’s not like you can fully indulge in your hotel room. For me, it makes more sense to pay $30/night for a bed, a fun culture and spend my money elsewhere.