Showing posts from 2017

Cuban City Life

Cuba has so many cities to explore, so if you are going to Cuba, make sure to visit more than just Havana! On our last day there, my friends and I did a little roundtable sharing about our favorite memories from the trip, and certain moments in Viñales and Trinidad kept coming up. The town of Santa Clara is all packed full of museums and colonial architecture to check out.
Expect live music where ever you go, as well as people hanging out in the streets. You can stop and make friends with a local very easily in any Cuban city. Everything was super walkable, and there are plenty of museums and cafes to keep you busy for days on end.
Trinidad is a picturesque little town
Trinidad could easily be mistaken for Antigua, Guatemala
How did we always snag a rooftop terrace at every AirBnB?
Of course no visit to Cuba is complete with a good chunk of time to meander the streets of Havana, and whoa was I blown away and surprised by the beauty of the place. We found underground jazz clubs, bunker a…

Roadtrippin' Cuba Style

When I arrived at the Havana airport late Friday night, my AirBnB host had arranged for a driver named Henri to pick up my group of friends from the airport. We stuck with him for all of our driving needs for the next week! Henri drove us all over the country- from Havana to Viñales, Trinidad, and Santa Clara, and back to Havana again. And I think this is the best way to go. Rather than booking seats on buses, we stayed loyal to our driver, and he catered the routes to our schedules and hunger pangs.
With our driver Henri- he was the best!
Henri took us to a little paladar where  we feasted on fresh fish and yams
The old cars were super comfortable and had big spacious back seats to sprawl out in and get cozy.
I would recommend bringing an auxiliary cable if you want to play your own music, because usb cables did not seem to work with their sound systems. Otherwise it might be 6 straight hours of reggaeton or Marc Anthony (which I'm frankly ok with). Snacks were a bit hard to come a…

Club Tengo Hambre

I knew Mexico City was going to be all about the food, and a bout of food poisoning wasn't going to stop me from eating every street taco in sight. My friends did a pretty good job of showing me around but when I heard about Club Tengo Hambre, I booked a ticket immediately. Club Tengo Hambre does unique food tours around cities all over the region.

Club Tengo Hambre's Instagram looks so tasty
My tour guide Mariana and I at the starting point- the Palacio de Bellas Artes
I opted for a Wednesday tour, and it ran from 11:00 AM until 2:30 PM. We made 8 stops in total and tried a diverse range of Mexican food- quesadillas, different salsas, tacos, Oaxacan snacks, chorizos, squash stew, blue and yellow corn, insects, street food and market food. I had a bit of a stomach bug so I had to skip out on a few of the stops but I wrote everything down and so I could return later and make recommendations to friends.

Mariana explaining the origins of this chorizo to the group
Brisket simmering awa…

Exploring Mexico City

There is so much to do in and around Mexico City that I know I am going to need to go back, despite having spent a week there over spring break. Mostly I just popped headphones in, tuned into a podcast, and walked (S-Town, anyone?!). My friends did show me around to some really cool stuff as well that I thought I would share here.

This is a borough full of canals for fun boat rides. You can load up on crazy micheladas before you take off, but since I am off booze, I stuck with bottled water and it was still a ton of fun.

View from the water around sunset
Drink topping selections
View of the boats
La Condesa/Roma
These are the neighborhoods where most of my friends live, and we had a nice weekend to explore, getting afternoon coffees in courtyard garden cafes, eating churros in the park, and digging around old bookstores.

Italian munchies in Mexico City's Roma neighborhood
Snacking in a park in Roma
At the churro shop with our nitrox coffees
Literal rainbows and sunshine
Centro Hi…

Cuba Libre

After a whirlwind two weeks around Mexico and Cuba, I am back in the routine of my work week in Hong Kong (not for long though, off to Malaysia this weekend for some scuba diving)!

Cuba moved me to write a lot, but I want to take some time to reflect before my sharing my thoughts. In the meantime, here is some video footage from my trip.

For a more in-depth look at the socialist system in Cuba, check out my article here.

Cheap Eats in Hong Kong

Hong Kong can be crazy expensive and drain a person's bank account pretty quickly if they aren't careful. That being said, in certain regards prices are still stuck in the past. Taxis around the city are suspiciously cheap, as is any labor, like going to a tailor or hiring a handyman.

When it comes to food, there's a simple rule for eating cheap: eat local. Don't let the Chinese menus written on the walls intimidate you; there is always someone around who speaks English to pipe in and assist, or you can just point at a photo on the wall or someone else's plate to show what you want. These types of meals can run you 30-50 HKD, as opposed to the 100-250 HKD minimum you'll drop at the trendy international restaurants of the city.

A row of local restaurants in Tai Koo all look like this
In local restaurants, ambience is totally irrelevant and the food speaks for itself. The more plastic stools and fluorescent lights, the better. You will probably be shoved into a ta…

Art District of Shenzhen

Shenzhen is a sprawling southern Chinese city of 12 million people. At first glance, it may seem like a grey expanse, but once you start exploring, you will find there is much more happening at street level. In fact, Shenzhen was named an official 'Creative City' by UNESCO, with good reason.

One needs only spend a day in the OCT Loft to understand how Shenzhen got the label of 'Creative City.' OCT Loft is an old industrial neighborhood turned art district, and it serves as Shenzhen's creative cultural center. Getting there is super easy: take the dark green subway line to Qiaocheng East, and go out Exit A. Walk straight out of the exit for a few minutes until you reach Enping Street, where you will turn right and walk another 5 minutes. You can't miss the place, as the whole district is oozing hipsters wearing baggy overalls and platform sneakers.

Near the entrance of the district
Cute little florist shop
One thing I noticed right away is that there is public art…

Weekend Getaways to China

Twice recently I've left Hong Kong for a weekend getaway to China. Americans automatically get a ten year visa now, and I am trying to make the most of mine while I am over here.

1. First up was Shanghai! Whooooaaaa what an amazing city. This trip was for work as I was chaperoning a group of students attending a Model United Nations conference, but the students and us supervisors had a lot of time for exploring during our long weekend there.

With my amazing students at the end of the conference
What a view of the Shanghai skyline from The Bund
2. More recently I went to Shenzhen to see my friends in The Red Stripes play a gig and made a weekend out of it. Shenzhen is across the border from Hong Kong, and you can take the subway to the border crossing, go through immigration on foot, and then hop back on the subway on the other side- super easy! I'll write more about the trip later; for now, here are some photos.
I went full baller for the weekend
No trip to China is complete with gr…

Hong Kong is Wonderful, But...

It's been almost four years since I first touched down in Hong Kong. It was my first time in Asia and I didn't know a single person in the whole city. My time here has been wonderful, but I will be moving on in June.

Hong Kong has been an almost perfect city to live in as an expat. It is safe, exciting, and beautiful. And everything works! Seriously, it's the most efficient and highly functional city I have ever visited. There is a healthy balance between city and nature. The food scene is like no other, and there are so many fun events and happenings to choose from any day of the week.

Four years ago- first time in my new classroom
All of this being said, there has been one thing that was a bit of a tension point for me these last few years. I have never been to a more materialistic place in all of my travels. Hong Kong has been eaten alive by consumerism. Whole neighborhoods are dedicated only to shopping. Malls take up city blocks and weekends are quickly eaten up by sho…