Friday, July 16, 2010

We *heart* the OC

Almost a month's a quick glance of our li'l getaway from our trip to the Oregon Coast in June! ( Not Orange County :) )

Any where along the coast is a great vacation spot if you ever want to get away and go somewhere quick for a few days. We stayed in Lincoln City - a quaint li'l town that's very family-oriented and just as important, doggy-friendly too! Don't worry about the lack of night life...LC is home to their gigantic 2-floor casino ;) (Yay Hanky for winning $250! Boo Lina for losing $40!)

Here are some more highlights:

Good eats of course! From street food to fine dining, everything was yum yum yum!

Hank drove another 2 hours from LC to get to Florence so we could go ATVing down the sand's his video clip of me driving like miss daisy. I swear I was going a lot faster than the video appears. heehee :)

The most romantic part of our anniversary was to start our own bonfire at the beach! The package came with snuggles (blankets with arms), a mat to sit on, a scary book, fire wood and all the ingredients to make s'mores with :) We skipped the horror stories and ate instead obviously :P

So there was our weekend away in a nutshell. In hindsight, we should've stayed at least one more night...we forgot to account for all the driving we had to do! But a big YAY for our first successful road trip (minus the fact that I forgot the camera at 6am and forced Hank to drive back home to pick it up...oops!) Next stop...Hawaii! By plane though of course :) 'Til October!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Road Trip #1

A whole year later after we said our "I do's", we decided to celebrate our first wedding anniversary by taking a road trip down to the Oregon Coast...I can't wait! Tax-free-shopping-marathons, ATV'ing along the sand dunes and, to no surprise I'm sure, eating everything in sight (while in stretchy pants of course!) is the plan :) Stay tuned for the updates + pictures!

On a side note, we're also very sorry for missing out on all the parties this weekend :(
  • T & T's BBQ
  • Pablo's PubCrawl
  • Orlando's 1st Birthday Party
  • Monica's Bridal Shower
  • Lisa's Baby Shower
...we'll be thinking of you guys! xox

Wedding Photos

As some of you may have noticed, our wedding website is now our personal blog :) In case you are looking for our wedding pictures, our photographer Kim Maru from Maru Photography, has recently featured us on her website. If you click on the photo below, it'll take you to her site directly as well.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

The End is Here

Hong Kong was the last and final leg of our holidays :( Our three days here went by really quickly but we were able to see and catch up with good friends and family along the way. Hank's aunt from Paris was here to visit too! Not too much else to report on about HK...all we did was eat, eat and eat some more. What else is new? :)

Hank & big brother Ben :)


Priscillia & her new baby girl Gabrielle

Us with Auntie Josephine @ afternoon tea

Found the hing dai BBQ house Den! BBQ goose on rice :)

Dim Sum with Hank's relatives

Hot Pot :)

The perfect way to end our Honeymoon Dessert! YUMMY!

Thanks for following our Asia trip these last three weeks...see you guys back home soon :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Motherland

My parents were born in Hanoi so we were really excited to visit the capital city to see where they grew up & stuff. We only had one day there so we booked our hotel in the Old Quarter so we could walk to popular sites like Sword Lake, The Opera House and St. Joseph's Cathedral.

Before we left Vancouver, mom wrote down her address on a pamphlet some where and of course, I forgot to bring it! We tried to email home prior to arriving in Hanoi but no response :( I knew they lived near the lake and the Opera House so we roamed around the neighbourhoods and tried to guess where they lived. We walked through alleys and small streets and tried to take as many photos as we could hoping that they could recognize the area...we were SO off and this was how we found out:

After walking to the cathedral, Hank wanted to walk back to the hotel because he really needed to go pee. The only problem was that we were REALLY far so I suggested that we walk into another hotel down the street. He hesitated for a second and decided to go in and ask. Hotels in the Old Quarter are super small and nothing like North American hotels where you could just go in and use their facilities without staff noticing. Sure enough, they didn't have a problem so he did his thing and back we went onto the streets of Hanoi.

As we approached a new intersection, we decided to pull out our map to figure out which route to take. We were both studying it when we heard somebody yell, "Linnnnnaaa?!?" We looked at each other for a split second then looked around to see who was calling my name. To our immediate surprise, it was my cousin from Guangzhou, China who was with her mom and my other aunt and uncle...from LA, California! What were the chances!?! To think that if Hank didn't need to pee or make that pitstop, we could've missed them all together!

After a nice dinner with all of them (our second dinner btw), my 2 aunts led the way and walked us back towards Sword Lake and showed us where they really lived! The 9 siblings and my grandparents lived in the top 3 floors of a yellow building right next door to the Water Puppet Theatre. Hank and I were on the opposite side of the lake! No where close eh?

We split up soon after they showed us a few more iconic places like where mom and dad used to go on dates and which ice cream parlors they'd hang out at. So cute! My aunt from Cali kept saying that she wasn`t able to recognize a lot of the city but luckily, these places were still around :)

When we got back to the hotel, we rested for a bit and I remembered that dad wanted me to call his childhood friend who I've never met before. Using broken Vietnamese, we carried on a decent conversation and before we knew it, he insisted on meeting in person and mumbled something and hung up. Five minutes later, we received a phone call and we were told that our somebody was waiting for us downstairs in the lobby! Hank and I basically went downstairs and followed some random stranger into a cab and took off. Pretty smart huh?

Luckily, we learned pretty quickly that the guy we followed was my dad's friend's son, Tuan. When we got out of the cab, he took us around the neighbourhood and showed us where my parents lived after they got married. Tuan then showed us the way to his home where we met the rest of his family. They are the sweetest people on earth - especially his 18 month old baby :) They shared a ton of stories about their past and showed us old pictures of their long friendship with my parents over a nice pot of Vietnamese tea. I wished mom and dad were with us so they could reminisce with them!

What turned out to be a really great night didn't end there...they didn't take no for an answer so the whole family took us out to eat late night was our 3rd meal of the evening! Too bad our stay was really short in Hanoi but for sure we'll be back :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Hoi An

Hoi An is a small little town in central Vietnam where tourists typically go to hang out at Cua Dai Beach or like us, go on serious shopping sprees! Majority of the shops that line the famous marketplace were very talented tailors who wanted our business. Since supply was higher than demand, there was a lot room to bargain...then bargain some more...and some more after that!

The process was relatively easy:
  1. Sit down.
  2. Decide what you want made either by bringing your own pictures or by going through their catalogues.
  3. Pick your fabrics.
  4. Get measured.
  5. The tailor provides you with an estimate.
  6. You say, "What?!!?"
  7. Tailor asks what you want to pay.
  8. Low ball them like no tomorrow.
  9. Tailor says, "Noooo."
  10. Threaten to leave.
  11. Tailor tries to negotiate.
  12. Low ball some more.
  13. Tailor says, "What?!!?"
  14. And repeat from point number 10 until both parties come to a realization that there's no more budging involved.
We got quite a bit made between the two of us...let's just say we had to buy another suitcase to bring everything home!

Hoi An amazingly enough hasn't converted into another touristy city yet despite the fact that it attracts tons of Australian and European tourists all year round. (We only crossed paths with one other Canadian couple from Calgary by the way!) It's a nice change to visit a small town that's truly authentic and not Americanized...yet! In about five years or so, we're sure a McDonald's or KFC will appear on a corner some where.

Speaking of restaurants, the cuisine here was just as authentic as the town was! Every meal was like a's really inexpensive to eat in Hoi An. Our meals that included 3-4 dishes of food and beer & fresh fruit shakes ranged any where between $6-$10CAD all together.

Our most memorable dinner was when we dined at a restaurant across the street from our hotel. Lots of storefronts in Hoi An are basically the first floor of the residents' basically, it's very common that the locals are running a restaurant with their own kitchen! It's quite amazing to witness the whole operation.

It just so happened that this one restaurant we went to became super busy so of course, the food took a really long time to prepare. The owner was so cute. Like so so cute. She felt super bad that everybody was starving so the first thing she did was she walked out of her kitchen with a tray full of shot glasses that were filled with homemade rice wine. Everybody cheered and clapped and she told everybody that she was really grateful that we were all dining in her home. As much as we appreciated the kind gesture, I took a quick whiff at it and it smelled like isopropyl
rubbing alcohol...clearly, the most logical thing to do was to pass!

Then, the owner went from table to table explaining to us that she was going to sing for us! Again, in appreciation of our patience, she wanted to provide us with free entertainment. Seriously, North American restaurant owners should adapt to some of these gestures! hehe. First, she sang (in English) a verse from the theme song of her favourite movie Titanic. Next, she explained to us that she never went to school to learn any English and she sang that song based on pure memory. Impressive! Then, she sang a popular Vietnamese love song about a guy who cut some other guy`s grass and at the end, the girl chose the new guy. For a second there, I thought it was kinda weird that we were on our honeymoon!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vinpearl Land

Flying into Nha Trang seemed to be one of the best experiences yet. The flight was less than an hour from Saigon and we were greeted by some hotel staff who presented us with a flower bouquet, cold refreshing towels and bottled water! The transfer itself was about 40 minutes and as we were approaching what we thought was our hotel, it turned out to be the "mainland" office.

Apparently, this was the hub where all their speedboats, ferries and cable cars existed to take their guests across a very big body of water (clearly, we don't know what it's called) to the actual hotel! We opted to take the cable cars across the sea despite Hank's phobia of heights. How could we not?! According to our pamphlet, it stretches 3320 metres, has a total of 9 Eiffel-Tower-like pillars that light up at night, is on average 40 metres above sea level (60m is the highest point), it can function normally & withstand typhoon level 7 and it only takes 12 minutes to get across :) was a bit frightening at times as we were faced with major overcast, strong winds and some rain while riding the damn thing but what mattered was that we made it in one piece!

Once we checked in, we were told that we had to carry our room keys every where we went...we understood why quite quickly. To sum it up, this resort was more or less a combination of PNE, Splashdown Park, Oakridge Mall and the Vancouver Aquarium. On top of all that, it's lined with a long Mayan-Riviera-like-beach from Mexico!

The system they have in place was quite'd have to wait for their "tuk tuk" or shuttle bus to take you to each attraction. Once you arrive at the gates, you insert your room key into the machine at the turnstile thingy and your picture appears on their screen. (We were wondering why they borrowed our passports!) There's no cheating here! It's easy though as there are no additional costs to go on rides, play arcade games, enter the aquarium etc. - it's all included in your room rates :)

What was also included was all of our meals. Seeing that you're in a VERY remote destination, you have to eat at this hotel! Breakfast, lunch and dinner was AYCE...sigh...there's no way of describing the experience but to mention that we are running low on tums :( Food was fab as expected - lots of Vietnamese, Asian and international cuisines to suit everybody's preferences!

The package we found for this hotel also included 2 foot massages, private fine dining experience at the beachfront restaurant and a photography tour around the resort. Wish we stayed here for an extra day - we had no idea the extent of how big this place really was and didn't have that much time to enjoy everything!

Upon our 5am departure (via the speedboat this time), they gave us two breakfast boxes so we wouldn't starve and presented us with a farewell gift! We totally thought they would just show us the digital proofs from the photo tour we did, but they actually printed them up, placed them in a really nice album and gave us a CD of all the shots. We love this place! Definitely two thumbs up and would recommend it to anybody visiting Nha Trang. (Don't worry, they didn't pay us to say that!)