Tag Archives: travel

TRAVEL : Prep


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LOOK! A Wild Post that isn’t about Cosplay has Appeared!

As much as I consider myself an adventurer, there are certain situations where I prefer being prepared for in advance instead of spontaneously jumping into the action. Traveling has always been one of those situations. Don’t get me wrong though. I totally understand when things don’t go to plan and “winging it” is a phrase I often say, but I know myself, and when I’m in a new place without having done little to no research, I find myself out of my element and prone to stressing out (flashback to my first time in Europe when I was 17-years-old and experienced my first bout of culture-shock).

I’ve since learned that being a little prepared goes a long way in keeping my peace of mind. (My first time travelling solo is a clear testament of this.)

With my trip to Japan closing in quickly, I’ve found myself stressing out a little bit as I’ve been slacking on the studying I had originally wanted to have completed by now.

I’ve decided that from now until my departure, to at least learn how to read Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji and some basic phrases for emergency situations. Now I don’t expect to have a superior understanding of the language by the time I leave, but I’m at least hoping to be able to read maps/signs or even a menu without pictures haha. It might be a very ambitious goal and if all else fails, Translation apps will be my best friend.

Outside of learning some basic Japanese, I’ve invested in a new DSLR camera, and I’ve taken it upon myself to learn the in-and-outs of this new toy of mine. Going to Japan and Korea has been a long time dream and I would like to document as much as I can~ I know, I know. Some people are annoyed by all the photo taking, and as usual— don’t get me wrong, I get it! It’s just I think Photography is a new hobby I’ve taken up and experimenting with it in Japan would be a pretty amazing experience! I think it’ll be fun to be on the other side of the camera for once 🙂 And don’t worry, I won’t live my trip only through the lens!

Anyway, I think that’s it for today, I’m going to get back to perfecting my Hiragana and making some flash cards. What an exciting Saturday night XD studying for fun haha~

I hope everyone is well! Any plans for the rest of your weekend? Did you ever experience culture shock? Or are you the kind of traveller who jumps straight into the unknown like a Gryffindor?

ALSO, if you’ve ever been to Japan or Korea, PLEASE chat with me~ I love to get some opinions and suggestions of what to see and do in the short time I’ll be there! To be honest, this trip of mine is pretty much just a giant food adventure. We all know how much I love food haha~

Much Love,
Sam ❤

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Ireland


It’s been almost a year since my mini trip abroad and I’m itching to get on the first plane out of here to experience it again, although, not quite for the same reasons as last year (unfortunately, responsibilities to school and work are the only things stopping me).

This time last year I was a bit in a bad way struggling with “real world” things and the typical twenty-something troubles like “where am I going in life / making terrible decisions / making crappy friends”. That’s why I essentially ran away to Ireland for a week and I fell in love. But not to be mistaken for one of those “chick-flick” falling in love with someone abroad type things— no. I fell in love with Ireland and I left my heart there.

Do you know why I left my heart abroad? Because Ireland offered me a sense of freedom that I felt I couldn’t get back home. However, it wasn’t only freedom from my worries~ it was freedom from my own negativity. This freedom and endless sea of positivity that I found in Ireland is why a piece of my heart will always rest there. It’s an experience that can never be taken away from me and it’s something I can always look back on when I’m feeling particularly lost.

Ireland taught me to find this freedom wherever I am and that once I find it, to always keep in sight. I won’t always hold on to it, but I will never lose it.

I didn’t do much drinking while in Ireland (in fact I can count on one hand how many drinks I had while I was there), but I didn’t mind that so much because drinking authentic irish beer wasn’t why I went in the first place. I might have mentioned this in one of the previous posts, but I went to Ireland because it was the exact opposite of home. It’s not a huge bustling city (at least, not what I witnessed), and the beautiful green space almost everywhere called to me.

I landed and based myself in Dublin but I spent most of my trip trekking; I guess you could say I fell for some “tourist traps” but I went to the ones that offered the most green. 🙂

Here’s are a few of my favourite moments:

I remember having a cup of coffee by the harbour at Doolin (on my second day in Ireland) and thinking it was a great start to the morning despite dealing with a bit of jet-lag. It was supposed to be cloudy and in Dublin it had been drizzling since the afternoon before, but once we left the city centre, it was all bright skies and sunshine.

My stroll at the Cliffs of Moher was amazing. There’s no view like that at home (not that I know of anyway) and it took my breath away. I remember sitting at the edge at one point just taking in everything around me in a state of awe. As much as the baby cliffs (at the Burren) were nice to see, the cliffs at Moher offered more green. I can still remember the earthy smells! Tt was also a pretty warm day and with the long trek, the open space offered a nice refreshing breeze. I wish I was able to express what I was feeling then and there better but as cliche as this sounds, there are no other words that could describe what it was like there. My time at the cliffs was definitely one of my favourites during my stay in Ireland.

Trekking in County Antrim, where the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge is, was also a trek to remember. For one it was really hot that day (I didn’t even need a sweater— that selfie I used as a feature photo in part one was taken then) and the view there is just as amazing as what Moher has to offer. The water there was so clear and such an amazing blue/green it was a sight to behold. I even crossed the rope bridge which for me and my fear of heights is quite the feat.

I even went to the Giant’s Causeway which is a very interesting place! Definitely a tourist-y thing to do but if you ever go, I do recommend listening to the history and stories the place has to offer. It’s a very crowded area though (or it was on the day I went) so don’t expect it to be as peaceful as the other places mentioned above.

Lastly~!

My trek at Glendalough in Wicklow was really great as well. It reminded me a bit of home because the hiking route had the same atmosphere as one of the mountains I hike. It was a calm rainy day but it was a nice kind of quiet that helped me with clearing my mind. I remember finding a spot by the lake and just sitting there with my journal and being able to write page after page after page— something I hadn’t been able to do then because I suffered from creative blocks.

Next time: I’ll talk about my side trips to Paris, Edinburgh, and London.
I hope you enjoyed some of the photos 🙂 if you want to see more photos let me know~
I’m pretty sure I can dig up a few more of my favourites!

Sam.

p.s: Can we just admire all the green wide open spaces and fresh air Ireland has to offer? ❤

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I Left My Heart Abroad


Trekking in Ireland

I never thought I’d say this about being home but it’s slightly bittersweet. My tiny trip abroad was good to me. A little too good maybe. But before I get into those post-trip feels I want to start at the beginning; let’s rewind to June when this idea was first born.

My trip was a spur of the moment plan that came to me after enduring a horrible week. I wasn’t running away exactly… more like going away for a very short time so I can breathe and think things through properly. And as you may or may not already know, once I get an idea in my head I obsess over it until I deem it a hopeless case. Well… I obsessed over this crazy idea for about two weeks. Two long weeks full of planning, crunching numbers, and tons of research; it was all I spoke about, thought about, dreamt about, and I swear I could practically taste freedom on my tongue. If it was possible to eat these ideas for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I most likely would have.

Researching involved hours in front of a computer (even browsing on my phone when I was in the car or the bus) and browsing through the travel books at work. Mapping out the best location for hostels/B&Bs, public transportation schedules, and alternative plans b through z was a long venture and Google Maps became my best friend along the way.

I probably annoyed my mother with the gigantic novel-sized texts I sent her way about these hostels, tours, prices, and savings for days on end; I very nearly went crazy. Ironic really… stressing out over the planning process for a trip that’s supposed to de-stress you… Either way, things started looking up by the end of that second week.

The next thing I know, my flight is booked. It’s official. I’m going to Ireland. Mid-June until August 1st I dedicated all my free time to work work work trying to save up tons of money to pay everything off and still have enough cash left over for food and spending in my pocket. If you’re a long time follower here, you may have noticed I didn’t update much (although, you could have just assumed it was another one of my regular breaks from the web)… Well work was why I disappeared… I worked seven days a week for nearly two months but it was worth it.

During this intense work period I was asked two questions by friends, family, and co-workers. 1. Why are you working so much/motivated to take on all these hours? To which I answered: I’m going on a trip. Upon elaborating, they asked me 2. You’re going by yourself?!

How does one decide to go traveling solo? Especially as a solo female traveler people tend to caution you “It’s dangerous/you shouldn’t go alone” before you even tell them where you’re going.

Deciding on traveling solo was an easy decision for me to make. I wasn’t going to stop myself from going on a trip because my friends couldn’t come with me. When I first thought of going to Ireland, I even contemplated and researched tour companies like Contiki, TopDeck, and EF College Break Tours so I wouldn’t have to go “alone”. I almost settled on a tour with one of them but decided against it in the end.

I remember being with a tour group for 10 days when I was in high school and as much as I enjoyed it, there were plenty of things I could have gone without seeing and places I wish I had gone to see or stayed longer in instead. Since this mini trip was for me, I came to the decision that I should just plan it to go the way I want it to be. And by plan, I mean make a list of all the things I want to see and then find the best and cheapest way to get to there (Try not to make your plans set in stone because stuff happens… and sometimes you just can’t do something about it– you’ll save yourself the disappointment this way).

After committing myself to this solo trip, the next question I got a lot was: Aren’t you worried/scared?

To be honest. I was a little worried because I’m prone to getting myself into odd situations but scared… not really. I’m used to exploring my city on my own so I figured it shouldn’t be too different. Besides, every place I chose to visit on this trip, (Ireland, England, Scotland, and France) I could get around in easily because I can speak, read, and write in english and in french.

“What is there to be scare of?” I’d ask them. In return my friends would ask me if I ever watched those “Hostel” movies (or whatever they’re called). When my answer was no, they told me not too haha.

Do people normally feel scared before their first solo trip? I imagine if someone was too scared to go abroad by themselves they just wouldn’t go without a friend. Although, I would definitely recommend going on at least ONE trip by yourself if you can. It’s something to be experienced. I don’t know if I’ll be able to describe what I felt exactly but I’ll try my best in my next post.

I’ll leave you with that for now.

Until Next Time~
Sam
P.S: I know I say this all the time but I missed you guys! It’s good to be back! I hope you’re all doing well! I’ll try to catch up on everything that’s been going on in my feed soon! 😀

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Adventure Time With Sam: A Weekend in New York


Our little crew in the big city (or rather, Central Park)
Mike, Me, Ang, Marco, & Alex

I just realized I never wrote about my time away from home so I thought better late than never! And then I went to look for any pictures I took of the adventure that kicked off my vacation and came to a realization. You’ll all think my friends and I are alcoholics because the only thing I have pictures of are the yummy drinks we drank.

Sigh.

Then I went to hunt through my friends’ photos and stole a few from them for the sake of this blog haha.

Anyway. On to the Adventure~!

Friday evening, July 20th marked the start of our journey to New York City. For some of us, it wasn’t the first time there, for others it was. Personally, it was my fourth time to the state, but my second time going with just friends.

Our bus left at 10pm? or maybe it was at 9h30? I can’t remember anymore and I don’t think I kept my paper/ticket.

We got to the border about an hour and a half into the drive and waited in line to go through the interview/customs process. One of my friends went first and I was called soon after to the worker next to his. My security guy wasn’t overly cold like my past ones were, and asked me only three questions. My name. Where was I going. And who was I with. When I answered the last question by pointing at my friend next to me and the others still waiting for their turn, he nods, smiles and says I’ve been cleared.

That was the shortest interview process I’ve ever had at customs. My friends’ laughed saying it was probably because my neon sweater made me look like a 14 year old (even though my passport clearly states my date of birth if the worker was quick at math). Sigh. Moving on.

The bus ride was pretty uneventful and I caught a bit of shut eye, but not much since buses aren’t as comfortable as trains.

Alex, Ang and her boyfriend Mike

Myself and Marco

We arrived in the city at 6am, took a taxi to our hotel The Double Tree by Hilton, checked into our rooms, freshened up and was back out hunting for breakfast. That took longer than we expected because we didn’t know where to go, which place was best, and the type of food my friends wanted. You all probably know me enough by now that I didn’t care what we ate as long as we ate soon. After being directed to a diner like place that had the typical eggs, sausage, potatoes, we settled into our booth and it was chow time.

I’m not much of a coffee drinker, but I downed two cups easily, especially since I knew we were going to be walking everywhere all day long. That’s when one of my friend’s pointed out a small difference between this city and ours. You pay for coffee with your breakfast and the waiter won’t ask if it’s separate bills. Actually, no restaurant in NYC asked us if it was a one tab thing and when we requested separate bills, they looked at us like we were from another planet. It was quite humorous haha.

After breakfast we took a long stroll in Central Park, lounged around for a bit and just took a breather to relax. Apparently the same weekend we were at the park there was a marathon going on so there were runners everywhere. It was interesting to watch and listen to all the cheering.

Our next stop of the day was Grand Central Station, FAO and the Apple store. Ahhh to be a kid again and to be giant men-children surrounded by gadgets. Need I say more about this stop of our trip?

After that, we hit time square, the M&Ms and Hershey stores, and our first bar of the weekend. In Time Square, they had blocked off the street for some sort of street sales so there was food and stuff to buy everywhereeee. My friend, Ang and I ate fried oreos. So unhealthy but soooo delicious. Urgh. Just thinking about it makes me crave some.

In the Limoooo it was a white one.

Look! our drink came with candyyy!

Moving on, we had one round at the bar before deciding to head back to the hotel for a nap because we were going to have a long night out later. We prettied ourselves up for this night out around 6pm and were out the door thirty minutes later. For some reason, we ended up in a limo, traveling in style to this chinese restaurant that had the best Szechuan dumplings ever. I swear. They were awesome. Once we finished chowing down, we went on our way to soho and bar-hopped there for the night before settling at the lounge/bar.

I don’t know how tequila is supposed to be done, but where I’m from, we do them as mini shots, we salt and lemon/lime. At one of the bars we had gone too, it was just tequila in these huge “shot” glasses. Urgh. Let me tell you, I hate tequila. Actually, both Ang and I hate tequila. It’s a dangerous dangerous drink, it burns and it’s not pleasant feeling in your stomach afterwards. Luckily, a waitress came back not a second later asking us if we wanted jello shot. Uh, did you even have to ask?! Anything to wash down the yuck of tequila.

The rest of the night, I stuck to candy drinks because they’re tastier (even though maybe a little more dangerous because it catches you off guard when you don’t realize how quickly or how much of said drink you drank).

Our drinking session ended around 2 am and someone had the genius idea to walk back to our hotel. An hour into our walk my friend’s boyfriend realized we were following the so-called genius idea of a drunk person and got the better idea of hailing a cab.

Once we got back to the hotel, we knocked out for the night.

Definitely not looking like tourists at all… Deciding where to go next.

Day two in the Big Apple was less eventful and much more relaxing. We just spent the morning lounging around, freshening up, and doing a little shopping. Once late afternoon came, the guys left us girls for the Chelsea match.

Ang and I decided to do the smart thing (unlike yesterday when trying to find a place to eat by winging it) and research what restaurants there were in our area. We walked around for a bit and came across this great italian restaurant and across the street from that was Dylan’s Candy Bar. It was perfect! Then on the way back, we found the LOVE sign.

Our last night in the city was spent relaxing some more, playing cards, listening to music and just talking. We stayed up until 3am laughing. It was great. I was a little disappointed I couldn’t make the trip back home with them but I wasn’t complaining because the next morning, I was on a plane to California. But that’s a story for another post. 🙂

Our last night’s card game.

Until Next Time~!
Sam

P.S: There are other photos but I’ll probably save them for a giant photo post of my summer 🙂

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I’m Alive!


In Central Park (Saturday, July 21st)

Hello everyone!

How are you all doing? 🙂
This post was supposed to be up yesterday when I landed in California, but with the Jet-lag, lack of sleep, and general excitement of visiting family I forgot. That’s fine though.

I’m not making a post about New York right now because it’s going to take a while to rave about all the crazy nonsense that went on there. I just wanted to let you all know I survived my trip to the Big Apple and landed safely in the Golden State.

I hope everything is going well on your end!

Until next time (Maybe tomorrow)
Sam~!

Flying over Dallas

Flying over California

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How a Procrastinator: Packs for Her Trip


Organized chaos of clothes and shoes

You may or may not be not be aware I’m leaving for New York today, and it may or may not surprise you that I haven’t packed yet. It wouldn’t be so bad if I were just going to be away for the weekend, but on Monday, I’ll be flying out to California where I will be visiting my mother until august, and upon my return home, I’ll be traveling up-north to a rented chalet with my friends. Yeah.

I probably should have packed already if I’m going to be living out of my backpack for 17 days. I even convinced myself I had enough time to pack later, when I got home from shopping this morning. Sigh. The life of a procrastinator.

But! Because I’ve mastered the last minute packing skills, I thought I’d show you how to save yourself from the stress it gives you and why you shouldn’t be like me, a procrastinator in all things.

First.

Decide whether you’re packing light. Since I’m only bringing one backpack, I have no choice but to pack light! The clothes you bring should be able to mix and match and hopefully, wherever you’re staying you would be able to do laundry!

Then, make a list of what you want to bring and get that stuff spread out on your bed, or your floor, or… both. Like me. You’ll realize when you’re packing light, you’ll cut that original packing list in half. It’s kind of like editing, you see a long sentence and you cut out the unnecessary words!

My list started with:                                   My list ended with:

2 pairs of pants                                            1 pair of pants
3 pairs of shorts                                           2 pairs of shorts
3 dresses                                                        2 dresses
8 shirts                                                           4 shirts
2 Pjs                                                                1 Pjs
2 “Night out” Outfits                                   1 “Night Out” Outfit
– fancy top + skirt                                            -fancy top + skirt
– fancy dress
1 pair of leggings                                         1 pair of leggings
1 pair of nylons                                            1 pair of nylons
3 hoodies                                                      2 hoodies
3 cardigans                                                  2 cardigans
2 slip on flats                                               2 slip on flats
2 pairs sandals                                            1 pair of sandals
1 pair of heels                                              1 pair of heels

Now, before you just dump it into your bag, this step is optional but it helps me decide how to organize my backpack so I don’t make a mess looking for something at the hotel/where I’m staying. On the same list above, depending on your itinerary and the weather, think up of sample outfits you’d like to wear for certain days. Stuff you won’t wear until near the end of your trip (or in my case, until I get to California where the weather changes depending on which city you’re in), will be at the bottom of your bag.

Stuff you need right away (like Pjs) or the next day’s outfit (also known as: what I’m going to change into once I get out of the bus in new york), should be at the top! The middle should somewhat be in the order you were planning on wearing it so you know where it is! If you change your mind on an outfit, at least you’d have an idea of where it would be in that organized chaos you call your bag. 😀

Of course that’s just for clothes and there still might be other things you need to pack like:
cameras/chargers/toothbrush etc etc etc. Add that to your list and once you start putting everything into your bag, check it off to make sure you didn’t forget it!

Ta Da!

That’s how I’ll do everything.
I’m kind of relieved now that I have a plan.
Makes me kind of wish I did it early but just wishing it won’t make it happen next time.
I’m pretty sure that I’ll be scrambling and following this process on my next trip.

🙂

Sam

P.S: I’m not sure if I’ll be able to update over the weekend, and if my blog is updated, then my attempt at scheduling posts was successful! I haven’t scheduled any yet so I’m not making promises. I hope you have a great weekend and you’ll most probably hear from me on monday evening California time! Or maybe in the morning if I can get some wifi at the airport!!

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