Dinner in Pudong and making Mango Chiffon Cake

Went out with my 3rd aunt, her son and his wife to watch Transformers 4 in 3D. (cries at the poorly written script)

And then we dinned locally in Pudong (Shanghai is divided into Pudong and Puxi, both are a river away)

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Menu: Baked chicken, Pineapple and Seafood Fried Rice, Salad, Flatbread pizza, and a mango dessert.

My cousin’s wife enjoys baking as well so when we got to bake a mango chiffon cake.

Homemade whipped cream = ❤

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Hanzhou you are gorgeous

An hour train ride away from the industrious metropolis that is Shanghai is the gorgeous “heaven on earth” Hanzhou. Decked in rivers, mountains, and historical sites, Hanzhou makes the perfect tourist getaway. My 3rd aunt and her husband live in Hanzhou and after promising her year after year that I would drop by for a visit, I finally got the privilege to do so.

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Gorgeous architecture against a foggy riverbank.

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We took a small boat across the Xi river to a famous but tiny island (the kind that foreign diplomats visited on their important business trips) After touring, I can understand why the Chinese government chooses to welcome their top visitors to this island. Beyond well-maintained, it came off with an ethereal aura that kept with me after departure.

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So many koi ponds (yess fish!) and these beautiful, brightly colored lily pads.


Afterwards with a quick bumpy bus ride, we arrived at (ta) pagoda. There is an entrance fee (reasonably priced). And cue an hour of exercise. Climbing the pagoda is extravagating, the stair steps are conveniently half as wide as their supposed to be. Honestly, they are no joke and I’m pretty sure people have died falling down these steps (I was clinging to the railing climbing down)

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(More photogenic cats, because how can you resist //so fab)

There were a lot of stray cats running around, one of them was lazily sleeping on some stair steps. It wasn’t the most photogenic but it was extremely friendly and almost followed us all the way home.

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We headed to my aunt’s apartment afterwards and for night went out for pizza. Walking there we came across a dog and her puppy (ahgd can I take you two home) and also the beautiful night scenery of a small riverbank


Hanzhou was all types of gorgeous. It was the kind of breathtaking that makes you forget your time and place. I highly recommend a visit to all traveling, especially if you make a trip to Shanghai, make sure to spend a few days in Hanzhou which is so conveniently close with modern transportation


Akihabara, Photogenic Cats, and City lights

We spent our last day in Akihabara, a sector of Tokyo famous for its electronics and manga/anime, video game merchandise.

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On the way there had breakfast on the bullet train!


I wasted about 500 yen on claw-machines for this adorable cat backpack (ugh should have known better) Other than that I didn’t spend much money (aside from food, food does not count!) Akihabara doesn’t appeal to me personally, if we had more time I would have loved to spend it in Harajuku, the crazy fashion district. Then my wallet might be actually empty, but for now I’ll still hunger after those nonsensical oversized sweatshirts and tees with deluded English.


More gorgeous Japanese desserts, too pricey to suit my appetite.

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We stumbled upon just another photogenic animal. Cats that pose for the camera are blessings sent from the sky.

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Bus transportation is as spontaneous as it is slow. Getting bored usually results in psychedelic lighting photos.

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Departed from Japan the next morning, but had this delicious waffle breakfast that was only 600 yen.

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5 Things I’ve learned about Japan



5 Things I’ve learned about Japan

1)      You will never be thirsty.  – Soda machines basically everywhere, thousands of types of soft drinks, I still haven’t tried them all. Unless you’re on a mountain where the drinks get to about 300 yen each and as stingy as me.

2)      Be as polite as humanly possible – because the people there are the sweetest people you’ll fine. They smile and offer hellos and thank yous. Elsewhere servicemen and women treat customers like crap, so appreciate it while you can.

3)      Eat lots! – so much good food, so little time. I kind of regret being loyal to my diet because I missed out on such gorgeously packed food at the convenient store. Never again, never again…

4)      Mostly everybody is fit and fashionable– we saw old men running up steep mountains (so jealous!).  And basically everybody wears gorgeous clothes that makes you feel like a hobo

5)      Keep a budget – it is so easy to overspend. As everyone else says, a trip to Japan is pricey. I saw a melon for around 4800 yen and small pack of strawberries for 1000 yen; dang when I get home I will stock up on all fruits and eat like a queen; crown please


538 meters Above Sea Level: Nikko, Japan

My friend describes Nikko as the place she found her pace in life. And when you take 4 hour ride away from Tokyo, down past sleeping villages, the quiet falls into place.
Nikko is a banquet of flowers. The town is colored in green then speckled again in coats of pink, purple, burnt orange, and bright yellow.

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Littered with monkeys, Nikko wears cautionary signs that warn visitors against carrying white plastic bags or flashing their food around. Passing a closed down bridge, we saw a group of monkeys eating and staring at us curiously. In another encounter, while we were at a merchandise shop, a parade of monkeys snuck in, in attempt to steal boxes of desserts. The shop keeper ran them away with a broom. From the remainder of our visit at shop, the monkey watched from a tree nearby, looking for another opening to break in.

Another main highlight was the waterfalls. A large one that barely overshadowed its siblings to the left.

Nom nom – food break!

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Approaching the lake, there were fishermen scattered across the water. It had just rained: apparently the best time to catch fish.

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In three words, Nikko is quiet, gorgeous, and absolutely memorable. While it was quite the travel (8 hours on the road), it was worth the time and expensive.
(when we got back at 11pm, I was half dead from the stuttering local train commute.)

Nasty can-flavored orange juice that didn’t help with the headache and ice cream along the way!



Silent Morning in Gion

Morning began with heading off to Gion, a part of Kyoto known for its Geishas. At 9am, the city breathed quietly. To my surprise, barely any shops had opened.

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Gion had its own distinct charm that set it apart from the rest of Kyoto. (the clouded green mountain backdrop behind the city was an gorgeous addition)

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After Gion, we walked to Kyoto’s Manga Museum. Ticket admission was decently priced at $3 for junior high to high school students, $8 for adults. The museum had formerly been a school but now devoted its grounds to a showcase and extensive library of manga volumes. There were also exhibits detailing the history of manga (which started from around the 1940’s) and others, more hand-on, letting visitors create their own manga strip or character.

I’m not the biggest manga fan, so I did feel extra sleepy afterwards….

Walking back to the hotel, we stopped by a small family-run restaurant. The menu was in all Japanese, no pictures, and that should have been the first sign to turn away. My curry rice with beef tasted like expired box mix and learning from that experience, I will make sure I understand the menu before I order.

(not-so-fabulous curry and other dishes)

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Exploring the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto (and the window shopping that ensues)

Second day in Kyoto resulted in 16 too many mosquitoes bites, sore feet, but an overall healthy fitness hike up a beautifully constructed mountain path.


First thing in the morning … donuts! 🙂 I may have loss my sense of what is expensive and cheap, but $1 (100 yen) donuts seemed like a pretty good buy. The store was “Mister Donut” and they doughnuts were freshly baked with a perfect balance of sugar and flavor.

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Upon arriving at the Fushimi Inari Shrine, i could see masses of uniformed students trailing behind their elderly teachers and another load of tourists armed with their cameras and smartphones aimed high.

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One consistent element of the temple was the fountains of running mountain water. There were stations of these supplied with wooden ladles and multi-language instructions on how to use the “holy” water. The water was not to be drunk but to be used to cleanse one’s hands. I highly appreciated these stations of cold mountain water, especially as we hiked closer to the steep mountain top because it was refreshing to wash our hands after sweating against the hot summer sun for hours.

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Also, there was a section of the temple devoted to colorful assortments of paper cranes that had been gorgeously complied into long strands.

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A lot of previous visitors adding their own wishes, prayers, and even lighthearted doodles onto decorated wooden plaques and notepaper.

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After getting past all the tourist traps – shops selling overpriced merchandise and attraction stands trying to get you to pay for your fortune, we finally got to see Fushimi Inari’s main appeal. There were tall red gates that crafted a tunnel path up the mountain and shrines along the way honoring the fox deity.





The atmosphere of the place was simply charming. It would be a wonderful place to live aside from the fact that you were a mountain-climb away from “civilization”.


Super photogenic dog that we met along our way to the top! 😀

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So thirsty after the long hike, I bought a few more soft drinks from the vending machine. The soft drinks get pricier and pricier as you go up the mountain 😦

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We headed to the Kyoto Train Station to have lunch at a ramen restaurant. I had a small dish of fried rice that costed $2, but it was one of the best i’ve had in a while.


Simple dinner, trying to enforce healthy habits!

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