TRIP PLANNING: RELIVING MY DAYS IN PARIS

It’s happening guys! This is going to be the ULTIMATE TRIP for Retracing My Stamps.

I’M GOING BACK TO PARIS!

My Paris roommate/best friend, Stacey, and I are planning a trip to Paris with the aim to relive the days we spent in this beautiful city we once called home. Exactly 10 years ago, I was planning my move to Paris for a semester abroad. And today, I am making plans to relive those unforgettable moments.

Reliving-our-paris-days

CONFIRMING OUR ACCOMMODATION

I actually tried to contact my landlord in Paris to see if we can rent the same flat we lived in. Unfortunately she sold the flat a few years back. So we ended up booking a flat through Airbnb that is just a few minutes walk away from where we were. I can’t wait to see how Rue de Sevres looks like now! The cafe we spent most of our mornings at before school, the grocery store, the butcher shop, the bakery….OH MY GOD!!!

At the courtyard of our home in 2006 on Rue de Sevres, Paris.

At the courtyard of our home in 2006 on Rue de Sevres, Paris.

We had to climb 7 flights every day to go home, but the view was way worth it.

We had to climb 7 flights every day to go home, but the view was way worth it.

LISTING OUT THE PLACES WE MUST SEE

Stacey and I are both SUPER type A and created a Google Spreadsheet with a list of all the places we must visit. Here’s what we have so far:

OUR HOME: Rue de Sevres
OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS: La Marquis, this Chinese Place near Montparnasse, the crepe place by our school, the Greek place by our school, McDonald’s (Yes, I miss that curry sauce. Don’t Judge), and this Fondue place in St. Michel.

This is our favorite Chinese restaurant by Montparnasse but we don't remember the name!

This is our favorite Chinese restaurant by Montparnasse but we don’t remember the name!

THE CLUBS/BARS WE FREQUENTED: The Oz in St. Michel, this Irish Bar in Bastille, Duplex

The squad at Duplex plus some random couple making out. haha

The squad at Duplex plus some random couple making out. haha

PLACES IN PARIS CREATED UNFORGETTABLE MOMENTS: Pont Neuf, Jardin Luxembourg, Champ des Mars, Pont de Bir-Hakeim, Passage Jouffroy, Port de Clignancourt

Not bad for a flip phone camera in 2006.

Not bad for a flip phone camera in 2006.

These are places that managed to remain in our memories even after 10 years. So we can’t wait to see what they are now!

This is what we did every morning. We chill at Cafe Jav down the street.

This is what we did every morning. We chilled at Cafe Jav down the street.

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PLANNING A DAY TRIP TO REIMS

No trip to Paris is complete without a day trip to a nearby city. There are so many beautiful places to see within an hour or two train ride away. Instead of going somewhere we’ve been to, we decided to take a trip to Reims. Yes, we love the bubblies, but we chose Reims because it played such a significant part of French history. And of course, we can’t wait to soak up every drip of what Champagne has to offer, literally.

PLANNING A SHORT TRIP TO NICE

One regret that Stacey and I have, besides not moving to Paris completely, is not taking a trip to the South of France. We were so in love with Paris that we were reluctant to travel outside of it. This time we decided to spend a few days in Nice. We booked a beautiful ocean view room at Le Meridien on the beach (EEEK!!!!) and are super excited as we would’ve never been able to afford it as college students way back when.

Although we’re planning to relive our days in Paris but we’re also looking forward to explore some new areas of the city. So if you have any recommendations for us, please leave a comment!

Can't wait to go back!

Can’t wait to go back!

So far the planning process has been amazing. I can’t think of a better way to honor this experience and to celebrate my friendship with Stacey than to go back to Paris. Although, this time I’m not going to be charged for over packing as I have become addicted to packing light in the past decade. 

Stay tuned as I will be giving updates here so you can join me every step of the way.


Have you ever tried to relive a memory?
What did you do? Where did you go? How did it feel?
Share your experience here because I’d love to hear your story!

MY VERY FIRST TRAVEL DESTINATION – GUILIN, CHINA

My love for travel did not develop as an adult. For as long as I can remember, going to a foreign country has always been a norm. It’s part of my childhood. It’s part of ME!  I just didn’t know life another way. This is why I started my project to retrace my travel memories. Some of them happened when I was so young that I don’t remember the details. I just knew that it started when I was 1 year old.

Or so I thought….

Isn't this the cutest picture ever?!

Isn’t this the cutest picture ever?! You see that camel in the back!? 

Today I was going through some old pictures for my post about my horrific cruise down the Yangtze River and saw a picture that blew my mind!

It was a picture of my parents and I standing on the beach in front of Elephant Trunk Hill in Guilin, China! I was about 8-10 months old.

Date of Stamp/Travel: Beginning of 1985
Destination: Guilin, China
Trip Purpose: My first family trip ever

Guilin has always been on my bucket list! One of the main reasons is because I WANT TO SEE ELEPHANT TRUNK HILL!

I remember seeing a picture of it in my Geography book in primary school and instantly felt my heart skip a beat. It was gorgeous! Even after 20+ years, I still remember that grainy photo in my textbook.

Guilin is a city in Southern China that’s notorious for its heavenly scenery. People in China say “Guilin is where the mountains and water, the heaven and earth connect”. The stillness of the water creates a perfect reflection of the mountain and sky. Guilin is like a dramatically beautiful painting of nature that punches you right in the face. And Elephant Trunk Hill is its most powerful fighter.

SO I’VE BEEN THERE ALREADY? WHAT?!?!?!

I feel both accomplished and defeated at the same time! So I’ve BEEN to the place I’ve always wanted to visit, but I have no recollection of it.

Alright, I’m rambling on because I’m obviously still in shock. But I’m so grateful for retracing this travel memory of mine. I cannot wait until I have the opportunity to go back and experience the beauty of Elephant Trunk Hill all over again. When that happens, I’ll make sure I soak it all in so I won’t ever forget again.


Have you ever been somewhere but have no recollection of it? Have you taken a trip back? Did it look familiar? Where is this place? Share it with me!!

NOT-SO-COMMON MUST-EATS IN HONG KONG

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Since I grew up in Hong Kong, I often receive requests for a list of must-eats in Hong Kong. I hate it. Well…hate is a strong word, but compiling this list stresses me out.

FP-Not So Common Must Eats in Hong Kong

Do I give you a list of common dishes Hong Kong is famous for?
Do I direct you to places that are trendy right now?
Or do I have you go to all the places that I like to eat at?

I always end up putting together a list with items that make my friends go… UGH…SERIOUSLY?!?!?!?!

Yes! SERIOUSLY.

Here are some not-so-common suggested places that I think you MUST eat at when you visit Hong Kong.

KFC-HK

3 different flavors of Chicken Wings!

KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN

Oh yes. I never go to KFC when I’m in the U.S., but I always make sure I go when I’m in Hong Kong. The chicken is WAYYYYY juicier. There are all different types of flavors. And the sides! OH THE SIDES… Cream of Mushroom over RICE and Portuguese Egg Tarts?! YES PLEASE!

Curry Fishballs + Shiumai + Snacks

Curry Fishballs + Shiumai + Snacks

7-ELEVEN

Mm Hm…When I first moved to the U.S. and saw what 7-Elevens have to offer here… my heart broke. What happened to the SUPER delicious soy sauce peppered chicken wings? Where’s all the dim sum? You’re telling me that you don’t have noodles and soups?! The 7-Elevens in Hong Kong will BLOW YOUR MIND. Go to the food area, pick something up, put it in the microwave…then ENJOY.

Seared Salmon Belly, Scallop, and Wagyu Beef Nigiris

Seared Salmon Belly, Scallop, and Wagyu Beef Nigiris

Shrimp Sashimi

Shrimp Sashimi

Fried Salmon Skin

Fried Salmon Skin

Foie Gras Nigiri !!!!!!!!

Foie Gras Nigiri !!!!!!!!

Mini Scallop + Tobiko and Fried Shrimp Roll

Mini Scallop + Tobiko and Fried Shrimp Roll

GENKI SUSHI

So this is a chain sushi restaurant from Japan. It’s your usual sushi boat like restaurant that’s everywhere in Hong Kong. My friends in Hong Kong often make this judging face when I say I want to go there because it’s not “top notch”. Well, the quality of sushi at Genki is 10x better than your usual sushi joint in the U.S. and the price is less than what you pay for tip! I go at least twice every time I go home and I always eat like I”m a millionaire. Who cares about how much eat plate costs because the total never exceeds $25 USD per person! Buffet pants are strongly recommended.

Mango Crunch Cake

Mango Crunch Cake

BIRTHDAY CAKES AT MAXIM’S

My birthdays will never be the same without a cake from Maxim’s. For some reason, those Hong Kong pastry shops really got it down. The fruits are fresh, the cake is spongy, and the cream… oh the cream. It might not be your birthday, but just order one. My favorite is the mango cakes or the chestnut cakes. DO IT!

Smooth and strong Latte at Caffe Habitu

Smooth and strong Latte at Caffe Habitu

COFFEE SHOPS

There are soooo many cafes in Hong Kong. And the quality of that cup of latte is top notch. Hong Kong is a service oriented city and they trained their baristas well. Each cafe usually has its own quirk so just find one. Causeway Bay, Tin Hau, or the SOHO districts are good starting points. When you’re tired from sightseeing or shopping, find a cafe and enjoy.


Are there any not-so-common places you like in Hong Kong or your own hometown? Share it with me!

A MINI GUIDE : MACAU

FP - A Mini Guide- Macau

Macau will forever own a special place in my heart. It is where my father was born and raised. It was one of the first places I’ve ever been at tourist at. And it is home to many of my favorite dishes.

Once a Portuguese colony and now one of the most visited cities in the world, Macau has managed to achieve the perfect balance of old and new. You can stay at a brand new luxurious 5 star hotel upon arrival and then take a short cab ride to enjoy a classic Macanese meal in a century old restaurant.

MACAU BIBLIOTHEQUE

Coloane Library, Rua 5 de Outubro, Coloane, Macau

Macau is divided into 4 main parts (from North to South): Macau Peninsula, Taipa, Cotai, and Coloane. Each with its own special characteristics and must-sees.

The currency used in Macau is Macanese Pataca. However, the most commonly used currency is the Hong Kong Dollar due to the large amount of Hong Kong tourists. If you’re flying into Macau directly, it is recommended that you take out some cash at the airport as most places are cash only.

Cantonese and Portuguese are the main language spoken by locals. But it is not difficult to find locals who speak English and Mandarin.

Inside MGM Grand Macau

MGM MACAU, Avenida Dr. Sun Yat Sen, Nape, Macau

WHERE TO STAY

There is an endless supply of luxury hotels in Macau. And these hotels will ruin you as they did me. Macau hotels are at the highest of quality offered at the most affordable rate. So if you have a little extra budget, stay at one of the 5 star hotels! It will blow your mind.

This also means that the quality of their 3 star hotels are also quite high. So for me, the main factor in choosing where to stay is location.

I highly recommend staying in the southern part of the Macau Peninsula. You will be conveniently in the middle of everything. With a nice view by the water, you can relax in nice hotel when you’re not exploring. And the area has a fun night scene as well.

Red Market, Ave do Alm, Lacerda, Macau

Red Market, Ave do Alm, Lacerda, Macau

HOW TO GET AROUND

TAXI and WALKING is my favorite combination. Macau is so small that you can walk everywhere. Once you get tired,l grab a cab to your next destination. PERFECT!

The bus is actually very affordable and convenient as well. And it is a fun adventure! I took a bus from Senado Square to Black Sand Beach and it was one of my most unforgettable moments for sure!

The Venetian Macao, Estrada da Baia de Nossa Senhora da Esperanca, Taipa, Macau

The Venetian Macao, Estrada da Baia de Nossa Senhora da Esperanca, Taipa, Macau

WHAT TO DO

GAMBLE
You must not go to Macau and not gamble. If you don’t like gambling, at least visit a casino. Macau is where it is at now because of its casinos. If you grew up in Asia, you will know this about Macau. Since the beginning of time, everyone went there for the casinos. Go to Hotel Lisboa and people watch. I like standing their watching these older Chinese men screaming and shouting by the tables. This is how it’s been for decades! And of course, if you’re lucky, you might make some extra cash for your trip.

Hotel Lisboa, 2-4, Avenida De Lisboa, Macau

Hotel Lisboa, 2-4, Avenida De Lisboa, Macau

GET LOST + EXPLORE
Roaming the streets of Macau oddly can give you a similar feeling to roaming the streets of Europe. There are so many little cobble stoned roads that lead you through different neighborhoods. And Macau adds an extra element of surprise – are you heading into Portugal, or China? I love the blend of culture in Macau! One second you’re passing by a gorgeous cathedral and within 20 more steps, the smell of incense from the nearby temple starts filling the air around you. You never know what this one road will lead you to.

TRY MACANESE CUISINE
There’s nothing like it. A food baby of the Portuguese and Cantonese culture. Trust me, you’ll fall in love.

st francis xavier church

St. Francis Xavier Church, Rua Do Caetano, Coloane Village, Macau

VISIT THE OLD MACAU
The 5 star hotels, Michelin restaurants, brand new shops and casinos and all its glamor may be attractive, but promise me, take a look at the “Old” Macau. Visit the places that MADE Macau so desirable to these investors and developers in the first place. Try to spend 70% of your time outside of the newly developed zones, you won’t regret it.

Some of my favorites are:

RUINS OF ST. PAULS
HISTORIC CENTRE OF MACAU
SENADO SQUARE
HOTEL LISBOA
RUA DO CUNHA
THE STREETS OF COLOANE
ST. FRANCIS XAVIER CHURCH
BLACK SAND BEACH + FERNANDO’S
MA KOK MIU (A-MA TEMPLE)
RED MARKET

Portuguese Egg Tart at Lord Stow's Garden Cafe, Rua da Cordoaria, Macau

Portuguese Egg Tart at Lord Stow’s Garden Cafe, Rua da Cordoaria, Macau

WHAT TO EAT
I recently posted about the Must Eats places of Macau. If you have the time and tummy space, definitely follow that list! If not, at least find a place nearby to try these out:

MACANESE FOOD
PORTUGUESE EGG TART
PORK CHOP BUN
CRAB CONGEE
BEEF OR PORK JERKY
ICE CREAM at LAI KEI’S

However many days you decide to stay in Macau, you’re going to have a blast. I have so much love for this city, I can’t wait for you to see it!

Oh, and sorry for the old photos… the beauty of this project is that it allows me to retrace all the steps I’ve taken over the years. And looking at all these photos make me want to use them even though they seem quite outdated.


What do you like to do when you’re in Macau? 

PACK LIGHT: PACKING LIST FOR HAWAII (8 Days)

Packing for Hawaii is so much fun! I am a believer of packing light and Hawaii is the easiest destination to do so. The weather is warm, so your clothes are thin. The culture is laid back and casual, therefore you don’t need to bring too many accessories. It’s not a third world country, so you can pretty much purchase everything you need in the stores!

Packing List for Hawaii

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE YOU BEGIN

Destination: Maui and Oahu
Weather: 70-88 F/ 21-31 C (in July)
Duration: 8 days
Types of Activities: Beach lounging, hiking, paddle boarding and/or surfing, and watching sunrise at Haleakala
Accommodation: Hostel

These are the categories I usually consider before I pack because they give me an idea of what I will need to bring. Now I know that I will need to pack shoes for hiking, water sports friendly bathing suits, jacket and/or scarf for the summit, and extra items for the hostel.

Tip - Lay everything out so you can see what you're packing.

Tip – Lay everything out so you can see what you’re packing.

*DRUM ROLL* MY PACKING LIST FOR HAWAII

Wear On the Plane

1 Cardigan
1 T-Shirt
1 Bra
1 Pair of Underwear
1 Pair of thicker socks
1 Water Sandals/ Hiking Shoes
1 Leggings
1 Pair of Jean Shorts
1 Scarf

Clothes + Shoes

1 sundress
3 casual tops
2 nicer tops
1 cover up
1 pairs of jean shorts
1 pair of boardshorts
1 pair of quick dry workout capris
1 bra
2 bathing suits
4 pairs of underwear
3 pairs of quick dry socks
1 pair of flip flops

Toiletries + Make Up

Note – all my toiletries are TSA friendly.
2 Shampoo + Conditioner
1 Concentrated Body Wash (Dr. Bonner’s my FAVORITE)
1 Toothpaste
1 Toothbrush
1 Razor
1 Facewash
1 Face Moisturizer
1 Body Lotion
1 Deodorant
1 Contact Lens Solution
1 Extra Pair of Contact Lens
1 Eye Drop
5 Extra Hair Ties
1 Travel Sized Brush
2 Sunscreen
1 Tinted Moisturizer
1 Travel Size Eyeshadow Palette
1 Mascara
1 Make Up Remover Wipes
1 Solid Perfume

Accessories

1 Accent Necklace
1 Sunglasses
1 Beach Towel
1 Book

Hostel Necessities

1 Sleeping Bag Liner
1 Camp Towel
1 Pocket Laundry Wash

Tech Gear

1 Laptop
1 External Phone Charger
1 Water Resistant Phone Case
1 Headphones

My favorite - PacSafe 25L Backpack

My favorite – PacSafe 25L Backpack

There we go. And YES, all of this fit into my 25L Pac Safe Backpack. And YES, there were items I brought with me that I didn’t use/wear. And NO, I did not have a “I wish I brought…” moment.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

There are many benefits to packing light and it’s not rocket science. All you need is a little planning and you’ll be able fit everything you need in a carry-on too!


Do you think this is a good list for you? Are there anything you must bring with you when you travel?