Tuesday Trip Back in Time – Jinan, China 2010

Jinan is a Chinese city that  most people will not find reason to visit. It does not have the cachet of the more famous cities of China such as Beijing or Shanghai – in fact, Jinan has the dubious honor of being known as one of the most polluted cities in China! However, my husband was born in and raised in Jinan until he was 15, and his maternal family still lives there. Therefore, we made plans to visit Jinan and some other cities for three weeks – March 2-23, 2010.

This was pretty significant in our relationship because at that point we had been dating for about a year and a half and I was going to meet half of his family. Needless to say, I was a little nervous. Compounding my anxiety was the fact that I don’t speak Mandarin well at all! Or understand much either. My parents are from Hong Kong and Guangzhou, areas where they mainly speak Cantonese – therefore, it would be difficult to communicate well with his family. I was also a little anxious because in China, the one-child policy has caused parents to be extremely protective of their single child – even more so for a son due to social and cultural ideas. I was well-aware that I could be found wanting by his relatives – a non-Mandarin speaking and short Chinese girl. Apparently their family is proud of their height (my husband is 6’1″, in contrast I am 5’….). Already a few strikes against me!

the symbol of Jinan in Quancheng Square

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Tuesday Trip Back in Time – Phoenix and Sedona, AZ

Once in a while I like to revisit my past trips and relive the experiences that I had on those trips. There’s the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly – but it always brings back fond memories and hindsight even the bad or annoying things get a nice sheen of nostalgia too!

a dramatic sky over the desert landscape in Arizona

The first trip I’ll be revisiting is the trip that my husband and I took to Phoenix and Sedona in Arizona, from 11/27-12/1 2011. Honestly, I had never really thought about visiting Arizona again (I had briefly gone to the Grand Canyon with my family as a child). It was actually a Groupon gone wrong that led me on this trip! Originally my friend and I had each bought a Groupon for a three day-stay at a ranch in Tucson, AZ that included meals, horseback riding, and a tour for only $64! It sounded like a great deal, and we decided we would both bring our significant others. Everything seemed fine – I called them to book a stay in late November after Thanksgiving and they had us down in a nice bungalow. I booked my airline tickets back in February (I like to book my tickets early… my downfall in this case!) and everything seemed pretty set!

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A Puerto Rican Ramble comes to an end…

goodbye to this gorgeous view!

It’s always bittersweet when a trip comes to an end – there’s a feeling that there’s still more to see, more to experience. Our trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico was coming to an end! As sad as it was to go, it was great to look back and see just how much we had experienced during our brief stay – and of course, start dreaming about coming back to check out everything we had missed our first time around! Continue reading

A Puerto Rican Ramble – Day 4

ziplining through the trees!

It was our last big adventure in Puerto Rico – ziplining! Definitely a first for me and one that I was looking forward to with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. I decided against bringing my DSLR with me (visions of my camera plummeting to the ground ran rampant through my head) so all pictures I have stolen from my friends who brought their more handy little counterparts. I felt naked without a camera!!!

The company that we went with was EcoQuest which runs the ziplines out of Campo Rico Ziplining, a large estate that’s only a short 5-10 minute drive from San Juan. They have several packages but we went with the Ziplining adventure, which includes a short kayak and some hiking through the woods, interspersed with 5 ziplines of varying speed. We started off at the main office, where we signed off on waiver forms to release them from liability should we somehow snap off the harness and plunge to our doom in a ravine filled with necrotizing fasciitis. Shudder. Maybe I was more nervous about this then I thought. Continue reading

A Puerto Rican Ramble – Day 3

just another gorgeous day in Puerto Rico!

Ahh…. our beach day. After our grueling yet extremely worth it day yesterday, it was definitely time for some much needed R&R. And thankfully, Mother Nature complied by giving us a gorgeous halcyon day with vivid blue skies scattered with fluffy clouds, a laser-hot sun for our sunbathers, and no rain in sight (as compared to yesterday when it was cloudy with scattered showers). It was definitely the picture perfect day for lounging around.

Our hotel La Concha has three pools and beach access, but I gravitated towards the infinity pool with a view of the ocean. It being September and therefore low season, it was actually pretty easy for all eight of us to get chairs right next to the pool together. I would definitely travel again during low season… I hate having to compete with people for good spots! Continue reading

A Puerto Rican Ramble – Day 1

It wasn’t until I opened the curtains to this gorgeous ocean view that I really felt like I was in Puerto Rico. It had slowly been settling in since we stepped out of the airport and into the warm, humid night (highs of 90 and lows of 75, anyone?), and even while Susie was haggling our transportation in fluid Spanish ($4/person including luggage to Condado!). But it didn’t really hit me til I was standing on the balcony, listening to the rhythmic thunder of the waves and feeling the heat on my skin.

I was on vacation! Continue reading