Travel Blogging Challenge- Week 1 (Favorite Travel Photo and Intro)

I’m so excited to start off my 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge (you don’t have to be a world traveler to join this challenge)! This challenge showcases your experience through travel stories, cultures, foods, advise, lessons, and more. I encourage everyone to join and share your cool experiences, near and far! You can check out the entire challenge in the original post here! Please also visit Julie and Vikkilawman as they will be with me in this blogging journey!


Week 1: Your favorite travel photo of you and intro

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Yellowstone National Park

This is a photo of Buddy the Bison as he was about to walk across the bridge (about 3 feet from me) like a boss. This moment was phenomenal for me, because I had a fear that he was going to attack us (you never know, those horns are menacing). He ended up just walking right onto the bridge! It was the coolest thing in the world. Then, as all three of his hooves were on the bridge, he slipped! The poor thing! I was in between laughing and feeling sorry for him. It was so bizzare because the bison looked super cool and composed, with big, all-knowing wisdom eyes, I never expected that to happen. It took him about 30 seconds to regain composure and then crossed to the other side. We hung out with him for another hour, then moved on to view the geysers.


Intro

I’m one of those people people who never really knows what their doing. In life, I let my heart and impulses guide me, and trust that my wandering will lead me to happiness. One thing I never regret, is traveling.

I started my first trip by myself to Europe when I graduated high school, visiting my uncle in Norway. I’ve dreamt of traveling the world ever since.

Travel motto: Don’t count the countries that you’ve been to, but rather the experiences you’ve had in that country. 

Speaking of travel experiences, I was lucky enough to study abroad in Singapore, trek through jungles, climb volcanoes, explore colonial towns, climb a coconut tree, go back in time in a Medieval Festival, danced though the night at a full moon party, had dinner at a Robot Restaurant, motorbiked through Thailand, watch Broadway shows in NYC, and more! I’m so excited to share these stories with you.

I searched for remote work and now teach ESL online for $21+/hour. To save money, meet locals, and stay with them for free, I couchsurfed through 5+ countries.

When I graduated college, I met my partner, whom I now travel with. I’m so happy to be able to share all these beautiful moments with him. We’re both vegetarians, so you can imagine the struggle.

I think that’s it about me for now. I hope you find my posts interesting enough to follow my journey. Thanks for reading!! Welcome to my blog, and until next time! <3

 


Know any travel bloggers? Tag them here and join me!!! Let me know when you’re in, so that I can read your responses!

Thanks for reading! This is a response to the 21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge!

Read more of my posts from the Travel Blogging Challenge:

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

 

21 Weeks of Travel Blogging Challenge

Travel Heals the Mind and Body

Fulfilling one of my first goals of this month, I have created my very own weekly blogging challenge. This challenge showcases your experience through travel stories, cultures, foods, advise, lessons, and more. You don’t have to be a world traveler to join this challenge, I encourage everyone to join and share your cool experiences, near and far!

I’ve been on the road since I was born, but in a different sense. My parents were refugees and frequently move from place to place. Growing up, I want to take every opportunity to see the world, instead of sitting at a desk.  This challenge explores all my tips and tricks as well as things I’ve learned.

Week 1:  A favorite travel photo of you and intro
Week 2: Little known tips
Week 3: Funny story
Week 4: Misadventures
Week 5: Top three cultural foods
Week 6: Unusual travel activities/photos
Week 7: Inspiration for traveling
Week 8: Five favorite travel blogs
Week 9: Gross/disgusting stories
Week 10: Best adventures while traveling
Week 11: What’s in your backpack?
Week 12: Happy and sad stories
Week 13: Unique cultures encountered
Week 14: Top three favorite destinations
Week 15: Travel regrets
Week 16: Scary and cool travel stories
Week 17: Things to purge
Week 18: Humbling things learned from traveling
Week 19: Confessions
Week 20: Travel bucket list (countries/activities)
Week 21: Your challenge post highlights and what you’ve learned during this challenge

This post is meant to be fun and explores a wide range of your history and story-telling. Of course, I don’t plan to follow it to exactly every week. I’m so happy to have my blogging friends, as they made my journey through my first few months of blogging very fun and fulfilling!


Please also visit these amazing folks as they will be joining me on this blogging journey!

Know any travel bloggers? Tag them here and join me!!! Let me know when you’re in, so that I can read your responses!


May Reflections

I hate to copy everyone else and say that this month flew by so quickly.. but I really don’t have anything better to say… (I’ll try again next month). First of all, sorry for the MIA, everyone. This month has been unbelievably hectic! Between visiting my family (16 hours away) and moving to a new city (7 hours away), I have so much to do and so much to think about.

Time has gone, what have I done?

  • Made a trip to my home in the mountains and helped my family with a seemingly never-ending list of errands and chores (mostly things to do with electronics and calls to customer service centers). I don’t mind, it’s not often that I get to help out around the house, so I happily did it. Being the only really fluent English speaker (until the kids- my siblings- get older), I get to do most the bank/electronic/phone/internet calls while I’m home. I also helped the kids (my siblings) with their end-of-year tests- I remember a time where I had to take those. So, yeah, my trip was really 90% work and 10% play.
    • All the boring stuff aside, I celebrated mother’s day and my mom’s birthday that weekend! It’s all worth it to see her happy and have all four of her children by her side. Spent quality time with my brother and sisters. Took them (my younger siblings) to Six Flags Roller Coaster Park for a day out. We watched Guardians of the Galaxy 2. We made home cooked popcorn, buttered noodles, boba smoothies, and my very own Chi’s Special (vegetable-lasagne-4 cheese-spaghetti-eggplant-seaweed). We played Minecraft and manyyy board games.
    • My parents rode a roller coaster ride for the first time (we made them). They were genuinely terrified- I don’t think I’ve ever felt sorrier in my life. It’s funny how we always think our parents are invincible. When we look at the big picture, they’re really just humans. They have feelings and uncertaintain. Still, it’s very scary to see them lose control. Not doing that again.
  • Wandered around New York
    • Taking nostalgic walks through Central Park, East Harlem, Wall Street, and 14th Street.
  • Won Broadway Show Tickets
    • War Paint – A thrilling musical, showing how makeup and women played a role in history.
    • Wicked – Possibly my favorite Broadway show in awhile. I won my first in-person lottery tickets, it was so exhilarating. The vocals of Elphaba gave me chills and put me on the edge of my seat.
    • Miss Saigon – This show portrays the extensive amounts of hardships of Vietnamese women during the Vietnam War. I find it mind-blowing, that these events happen during the time of my parents’ generation, and that my parents and their loved ones undergo the terror of war.
    • Julius Caesar – We won tickets to Shakespeare in the Park. I’ve always had a hard time understanding Old English. This time is no different. I loved that they made it contemporary, and the Trump comparison is hilarious.
  • Learned how to use Instagram (I know, I know, what century are we in? Noob!).  I learned how to properly use the hashtag “#”. I’ve never cared too much for social media. I generally use Facebook to keep in touch with people, see what their up to, and share my adventures. That’s about it. Now, I have Instagram! Which is awesome, because I now have a place to dump all my travel photos! I’m still very bad at it, but if you want to check out my photos, my ID is winta_wanderland. I would love advice/tips to improve on it!
  • Shows/Movies/Books ~ I am so pleased to tell you that my partner and I have been keeping our TV watching to a minimum (at most 1-2 TV episodes a day). Back in the day, we would binge watch shows we like until we finish! In addition, I’m trying a couple of new genres of movies/books. So far, so good!
    • The Gunslinger by Stephen King – Though this isn’t typically the type of book I read, I finished within three days. I highly admire his smooth writing skills, and look forward to reading more of his works.
    • Brooklyn Nine Nine – Season finale already? Ugh. Another year, here we go. This show was very cool to watch, especially during our stay in New York City. We would to relate to this and that, try to identify the subway station, the food stand, and also understand all the references. 😉
    • Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – Drax is the absolute best. I recommend watching this movie just for Drax. <3
    • Malibu’s Most Wanted – a hilarious movie about a rich, white boy who is a gansta at heart.
    • Sausage Party – very crass humor, but surprisingly thought provoking, and brings up many controversial issues.

Our stay in NYC is coming to an end as we search for a new place in the wonderful city of Richmond, Virginia. It’s a relatively big decision for us because we have decided to get our first one year lease! No longer as nomadic as we used to be. Thankfully, The rent in Virginia is half the price for twice the size. We will even have our own balcony! And maaaybe a pool. I’m rooting for it.

My blog highlights:

Things I’m Thankful For:

  • My supportive parents. I’m reaching the stage where I am beginning to understand my parents and how many difficult decisions they have to face to raise four children. I personally think that’s too much responsibility for me. One. Maybe two. But not four. And bills. I have been drowning in bills, bills, bills since coming to New York. It’s amazing how carefree I was back in the day. I’m proud of my parents for being ultra sucessful – a house, three cars, four kids, a small business, and they get all their bills paid. Respect.
  • My loving partner and best friend. I can’t imagine why anybody would put up with me through my worst moods, laziest days, angriest rants, etc. for so long, but I’m so thankful I have him by my side.
  • My three fun and unique siblings. I can always count on them to make my day brighter.
  • Mom’s food. Because no one cooks like her.
  • This city, and all that it has to offer. I’m going to miss the vibrant people, the efficient and ever so frustrating subway system, the foods, the streets, the constant buzz of activity, and of course, the Broadway shows. 
  • Unlimited resources to learn and improve. How do I do life? How do I make friends? Where’s the next anime convention? How do I create a rocking cosplay from home?
  • Cars/subways/bikes/transportation in general.
  • Access to a roof over my head/cheap rent. I’m looking forward to having some walking room, a full kitchen, and a parking space for half the price.
  • People on the Internet/readers of my blog/awesome, supportive friends: You all make me glow.

Goals for June

Finding an apartment, moving in, adapting to a new city. I am, again, moving without a definite plan in my destination. There’s always that unsettling fear of whether or not I’ll find a job there. I’ve been fine so far, and thriving in New York City, so I doubt Virginia is going to be a challenge. I loooove the idea of being between the mountains and the ocean. I’m always excited for a prospect of living and exploring a new city. Here’s my chance to document the process on my travel blog. <3

My 3rd year anniversary with my partner is coming up. Gah! How have we gotten so far already? On the other hand, has it only been three years? After spending almost one collective year of long distance, we really learned to communicate better- I’m so proud of us. We’re both very stubborn and self-righteous, fought countless of battles, but at the end of the day, we still have each other on our highest pedestal. We’ve traveled to countless of places together and experienced a world of new adventures.

The kids are off school for the summer. And they have a summer goals list. I really need to rethink my own goals. It’s funny how kids have summer to be free and do nothing all year, and adults don’t have a “summer break.” Still, it shouldn’t stop me from making productive goals. 

Pick up some old hobbies: 

  • Learn some new tunes on my ukulele.
  • Create an Etsy account and make nerdy crocheted dolls to sell. I have some pictures of them here.
  • Finish up some video games on Steam and Playstation.

Blogging goals:

  • Weekly challenges! – I am hoping to participate in a weekly challenge with a couple of my blogging friends, let me know if you’re interested in joining!
  • Create my own award! With all the awards and love going around, I want to create a couple of my own awards to start a pay-it-forward chain!
  • Create my own blogging challenge for myself and others. Stay tuned for my upcoming travel/lifestyle/photo blog challenge!
  • More guest posts!


Thanks for reading! How is May looking for you? Have any awesome upcoming goals? Please share!!

Watch Broadway Shows for Less than $40 in New York City

What are my plans tonight? Oh, nothing, just going to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.

What are my plans tonight? Oh, nothing, just going to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway.


… Sorry, everyone. I’m really not that stuck up, I promise. I assume this is why a lot of people hate Broadway, thinking it’s where rich people go to lavishly spend all their money away. Well, I’m not rich. Not even close.

Of all things I could be doing, I never thought I would become an avid Broadway-goer. I have always loved musicals like Grease, Phantom of the Opera,Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, all Disney movies, and most recently, La La Land, but I have never been much of a theater-goer. But really, if the system allows me to see world class Broadway shows for cheap, I can’t say no… Part of me doesn’t want to write about this as it only increases competition, but I feel like it would also ignite bad karma.

We’ve all heard of Broadway before on TV shows, movies, media, etc. Broadway is a famous street that runs down New York City, known for its theatrical performances. It is one of the top tourist attractions of all time. The Broadway theater district runs from around the 42nd to the 57th street, where the famous Times Square draws millions of visitors from all over the world every day.

While Broadway shows typically range around $100-$500, we buy them at $20-$40 per ticket.

  • In the past five months, we have gone to over fifteen Broadway show tickets consisting of several Tony Award-winning & nominee musicals and other fantastic plays and off-broadway productions:
    • Hamilton ($200- face value)
    • Dear Evan Hansen ($200- face value)
    • Lion King ($30)
    • The Book of Mormon ($50)
    • Phantom of the Opera ($28)
    • Chicago ($37)
    • Kinky Boots ($42)
    • Cats ($40)
    • Sunset Boulevard ($55)
    • School of Rock ($37)
    • Miss Saigon ($39)
    • Present Laughter ($42)
    • Aladdin ($30)
    • Six Degrees of Separation ($32)
    • Avenue Q
    • In Transit
    • Arthur Miller’s The Price
    • And counting…

We did it, you can do it too.


Scoring these cheap tickets takes strategy, patience, research, and here is the secret (by order of preference):

Digital Lottery

Enter daily on each Broadway show’s site for a chance to win tickets.

  • This method is the holy grail of winning lottery tickets.  Most Broadway shows offer the option on their home page to sign up for digital lottery. We use Broadway for Broke People for the list of all the shows, their sites, lottery time, show location, and cost. The site doesn’t have everything and some information may be delayed, but is the source of a majority of our lottery wins. Since we live in New York, there is literally nothing to lose. Our best times of winning are week nights and matinee shows.

General Rush/Student Rush Only/Last Minute Purchases

Come to the box office when they open (generally around 10AM), and buy their first 30 tickets at rush prices (usually around $30-$40).

  • With popular shows, people will line up 1-2 hours earlier than box office open time. With not-so-popular shows, they may still have rush tickets available throughout the day. Personally, I’m not an early riser and usually not motivated enough to come to the box office at their opening time, but I have walked up to the box office an hour before showtime to ask for general rush tickets before. We purchased awesome seats to Miss Saigon using this method.
  • Student Rush Tickets, as the name suggests, are rush tickets only available to students. I keep my student card in my backpack at all times in case I ever feel like doing it.
  • Last minute purchases are super badass. You stroll up to the window at the very last minute and tell them that you’re only willing to pay for the show at their rush prices (even if their rush tickets are all out). The representative at the window will try to sell you the ticket at face value price, but you will stand strong. If the curtains open in the next minute, sure enough, they would rather sell you the seat for $30 than leave it empty. We bought our awesome Chicago tickets with this method.

In Person Lottery

  • This was the lottery system before digital lotteries took over. There is a 30 minute window, 2 hours before showtime, where you can put in your name to enter for a chance to win cheap tickets. These tickets are a little bit cheaper than digital lottery and requires you to be present at the time of drawing (exactly 2 hours before showtime). Wicked does daily in person lotteries, to which hundreds of people enter in. We haven’t won one yet, but hopefully, will sometime soon. 😉
    • [UPDATE!] I wrote this post earlier today, and we won lottery tickets to Wicked! The experience of entering lottery in person is so exhilarating- a feeling not so evident in winning/losing digital lotteries. I anticipated the winning so much, I felt that I was on top of the world! I was the 2nd person chosen for the winners. We paid $30/ticket in cash and went with it. It was a fabulous show, and well worth the money.

Standing Room Only (SRO)

Exactly as it sounds, you will be standing for the entire show. I’m not much of a stander, so I wouldn’t ever do this. The only one we have tried to do this one for is the famous Hamilton (which can cost over $1000 for a good seat). We came really close to getting the tickets, but not good enough.

Today Tix phone app

Awonderful resource for buying cheap tickets as well. Their prices are only a smidge more expensive than lottery tickets, and guarantees you a seat immediately. Today Tix also offers lottery chances exclusive to their app.

  • Because Today Tix already gives you seat sections to choose from, the cheapest areas are usually rear mezzanine (alll the way back), I think that lottery and rush tickets gives you a better seating option.
  • You also have an option to sign up to popular digital lotteries on there, with and increased chance of winning if you share on your social media sites!

Cancellation Line 

Finally, we’ve done a total of two cancellation line tickets, for Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen- valued at $400 to $1000 per ticket. These shows are typically booked out for months in advance.

  • By sitting in line until the show starts, you get a chance of buying the ticket at face value (cheaper than they could be, but not that cheap). 
  • CONS: This is my least favorite method of securing tickets, because there is no security. You might be sitting 7+ hours for nothing. I’ve met people who have waited 12+ hours in the day to see it.
  • PROS: If you only have one day to see the show and can dedicate an entire day to see it, then go for it. These are amazing shows and completely worth seeing. 

General advice that will help you score tickets:

  • Enter for digital tickets every day. Rain or shine. I can’t stress this point enough. You can’t win if you don’t play!
  • We visit Broadway for Broke People religiously for an easy access to the list of all the shows that have digital lotteries, the cost, the location, and where they will be.
  • Keep weather in mind. The more miserable it is, the better your chances are to get tickets.
  • We’ve bought last minute cancellation tickets through Craigslist before. It’s super sketchy with all the cheap tickets going around, but if they’re offering to meet you at the theater and wait for you to go in, it’s probably legit

That’s all folks, thanks for reading!! Best of luck in your Broadway adventures (and please, please let me know if my post ever helped you)!!! 

Excuse Me, Life Passing Through

2017 has been a year of revelations for me. The year where I finally understand all the things my parents tell me when they say, “I’ll tell you when you’re older.” Things that had once been so clear to me aren’t what I had expected them to be. People have changed. My perspectives have changed. My desires and interests evolved. I don’t understand the world as much as I used to think, and now that I have scraped off the tip of the ice berg, there is still so much to learn. 

Because of these discoveries, my path in life has changed. It’s not a bad thing, because I am wiser. The light may be fading, but what I do see shines brighter with intensity. 

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Statue of Liberty

Photo Challenge: Evanescent

Guest Post: Explore your city – Get lost in London

Happy Friday, everyone! This week’s guest blogger is Josy from A Walk and A Lark. Her blog talks about all the beautiful walks she takes with her husband in the UK, Japan, Canada, and more! I’m a very inspired by the photos she takes while walking. We decided to do a blog exchange on walking in our respective cities (her in London and me in New York). See my post on Walking Around New York City on her blog site and join us in taking exploration walks!


Do you like to explore your own city? Or do you ever just get a little lost to try and wander around a new area? Or, even if you have lived in the same place for a while, have you thought of planning walks close to home so you can properly explore?

I love walking and exploring around London. Winta and I thought it would be cool to share three of my favorite places to walk. I haven’t given an exact routes for any of these as I honestly think the most fun way to explore is just to walk and even get a little lost. I’ve done variations of these walks so many times – so these photos are from all different seasons.

Hampstead Heath
Since I moved to North London I spend more time wandering around the Heath than anywhere! There are so many different parts of the Heath to explore. I’ve written about the gorgeous pergola and hill gardens previously. I love this Western half of the park (close to Golders Hill park and the Heath Extension.) The woods in this area are simply lovely, and normally quite quiet. It is hard to imagine you are so close to central London!

We live close(ish) to the South Eastern corner of the park, so sometimes we start there and head past the bathing ponds towards Kenwood House. You can pop inside the house to see some amazing artworks, or wander around the grounds by the lake and past the bluebells. If you go around to the North Eastern corner of the park there are amazing views down to central London as well as a quiet path along the edge of the park.

The most popular area is the parliament hill viewpoint. I have never been up there when there is not some kind of crowd! Occasionally my husband and I wake up early and take a detour to the Heath on the way to work. Even at 7am on a weekday they’ll be a few people (and doggos) admiring the view!

Regents Canal
Regents canal has a 14 km path alongside the canal that meanders across London from Paddington, through Camden and Hackney ending in Limehouse where it meets the Thames. It actually goes on even further West past Paddington, but most walkers seem to stop before that!! You really don’t need a map for this walk (just follow the canal!) but if you’d like to see the routes, you can find them here.

I like the area near Paddington, in the area called Little Venice, where you can see all the beautifully painted house boats. Then the section that runs around Regents park where you can see incredibly opulent houses with gardens backing onto the canal. The walk goes right past London zoos bird houses so you might see some cool birds as you wander past.

The section near Camden is incredibly busy at the weekend. But you can stop off for some yummy food in Camden market! Then as you head East (you have to take a minor detour away from the canal between Kings Cross and Angel.) Then the secenry becomes gradually grittier as you get further into East London. The graffiti increases, but most of it is beautiful! It is like a mini art tour of London! If you don’t want to walk to Limehouse, you can turn off towards the Olymic park and finish your walk over in Startford if you fancy shopping. I’ve tried all the options and they are all fun in their own way.

I don’t think you can find any other London walk that shows so much of the city’s diversity. You’ll walk through green areas, incredibly posh areas as well as some more arty hipster areas.

Regents canal panda

The Thames Path
This is probably the most famous of the three walks. I always recommend visitors to London to take a stroll along the Thames, but it’s great for locals as well. The Thames path is actually an amazing route covering 128km along the Thames. You can see the whole plan for the walks here. But as you are just following the river, you don’t need to plan it – just walk!

My husband and I have explored south past Greenwich to the Thames barrier (which is a gorgeous quiet walk.) We’ve also wandered West near Syon Park and Kew Gardens. However the most obvious part to explore is Central London. We used to start near Tower Bridge or London bridge, and then walk along the South Bank past the Globe and the Tate all the way to Westminster and Big Ben. This is a perfect sightseeing tour of London. If you like the sun, walk on the South side of the river. If you prefer to escape crowds, walk on the North side. Or keep swapping by crossing some of the beautiful bridges along the walk.

Tips for getting lost:
Download city mapper to your phone. Then wherever you end up at the end of your walk, you’ll be able to make it home!!

Lastly if you prefer a more structured walk, check out the amaaazing Capital Ring walk that loops the whole way around London. These routes always start and finish near public transport. And they go through parks and woodland, along canals, and through pretty residential areas.


Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to check out Josy’s blog at A Walk and A Lark <3

Vietnamese Heritage

Celebrating my first Vietnamese New Year Tet in my motherland and experiencing traditions passed on for thousands of years. Wearing the traditional Ao Dai, holding red packets (with money inside), red and gold peace and prosperity decorations, and vibrant flowers of all colors for the best luck of the year.

A Blog Response to Photo Challenge

Practical Things to Know About Moving from a Small Town to New York City

This is a message to those who wish to move to the city, but are scared of the dreaded unknown. This is a message to parents or friends who have loved ones wanting to move to city and are afraid for them.

Everything will be okay. 

When I decided to move to New York City, I have been discouraged extensively by my family. It’s expensive, I couldn’t make it. It’s dangerous. People are cunning and untrustworthy. It’s too far from home and family. The list goes on. I have lived in small mountain towns for most of my life. For the past 10 years, I dreamt of seeing the world and living the city life. I wanted to try new things and make a change on my own. Family duties and education had tied me to these mountains for longer than I would have liked. I moved to New York without friends or family there. I moved without a job paved out or plans. My biggest fear is that if I don’t do it now, then I would never do it. 


Now, living in the Big Apple for almost a year, I can say a few things about the city- things I learned, things I wish I knew, and things I want to say to encourage people to make the big step.

Yes, it is expensive, but there are ways to cut the costs. This is perhaps the biggest obstacle for most people who choose not to move to NYC. To be honest, I was quite scared myself. With a few lifestyle changes, we learned to live well in this expensive city. Between my boyfriend and I, we spend about $1000-$1500 a month on everything. We lived in Manhattan and Staten Island in our time in New York.

We don’t buy furniture. All of our furniture have been given to us for free. We have brought home 50″ TVs, mirrors, beds (with bedbug covering), tables, chairs, shelves, printers, you name it. Free stuff are given every hour of every day. People in New York live lavishly and constantly move; we are always able to find people who want to make sure their things are going to good use. Our top three resources are Craigslist, Freecycle, and the curb. 😉 

Check out my posts on free things to do in NYC: Food and Music Festival in Brooklyn and Medieval Festival in NYC

Check out how I supplement income by working from home: Earn $18-30/Hour Working from Home & On the Road

Prepare for culture shock. Coming from a small mountain town in North Carolina, I have always been a minority. The two most exotic cuisines are Mexican foods and Chinese foods. New York City is a wonderfully cultured city. Here, in just one short subway ride, I see people from all walks of life.

Your apartment will be twice the price for half the size. For about $1000/month, we share an apartment with three other people. Our apartment had one small kitchen, living room, and bathroom. We had a 12×12 room with a narrow hallway. Luckily, there are ways to minimize furniture space through wonderful inventions.

Check out cool compact bunk beds storage furniture here!

It was much more expensive than our apartment in North Carolina, but we loved the area. Walking around the area, we can find food from all around the world. People were friendly and positive energy was in the air. Of course, the further from the city, the cheaper the apartment gets. You can easily find $500-600 apartments in the Bronx, Morningside Heights (north Manhattan), Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.

Public transportation is the best transportation. This is a huge change from where I lived. Instead of relying on a car to get me places, I learned to use the intricate subway system of the city. I love it. I can walk, bike, ride the subway/bus/ferry anywhere I choose. We purchased a CitiBike annual membership for $160, and it became one of our favorite free things to do together.

It’s fast and people are motivated. Either move fast or get out of my way. New York is truly the place to go to get things done. People here have places to be and things to do. It doesn’t mean that they’re rude, it’s just the lifestyle and culture of the place. I have never felt so alive and pumping with productivity as being in the city. While apartment searching, most of the roommates requirement listed “must have a job, cannot be a couch potato.” 

I have never gone negative with my finances while living here. The atmosphere and constant get things done attitude had inspired me to try so many different things. At one point, I had started to work three jobs at a time, not because I needed to, but because I wanted to try all these new things at once.

It’s a hub of constant activity and diversity. From the food, to the streets, to the clothes, to the people, New York has it all. The city is the ultimate place to experience new things. There are so many things to do. So many things to look at. Christmastime is a sight to behold. Halls decked with beautiful light and music shows. Fifth avenue bustles with shoppers and tourists. People laughing and smiling. Ice skating (please don’t go to Rockefeller) is amazingly romantic.

There are a million ways to meet people. Meetup, Couchsurfing, and Eventbrite are great resources for meeting and networking with people. From nerdy game nights to exercise groups to a party night out, they have it all.

Convenience, convenience, convenience! 

Dirt cheap international flights are a subway ride away. I subscribe to the The Flight Deal newsletter, which features daily dirt cheap flights from the biggest cities in the United States to all locations around the world. I have seen tickets to Europe as cheap as $100 dollars round trip! New York is the home to extensive interstate bus systems. For travels 5-20 hours away, I like to take an overnight bus as it is much cheaper than a plane ticket. For a five day getaway, we took a bus to Montreal, Canada for only $50!

Internet speeds are superior than the mountains. With little to nonexistent internet in the mountains, New York City is a wonderful heaven of free WiFi. All over New York are LinkNYC network that provides free google maps access, internet browsing, phone calls, and a phone/tablet charging station.

East Harlem has a wonderful network of stores nearby that made our stay heavenly. Just a few blocks walking offers parks, cheap grocery stores, laundromat, subway station, CitiBike racks, Indian cuisine buffets, karaoke bars, and more.

All things nature are man-made. With an area of about 460 square miles, New York City is home to over 30 parks, and of course, the famous Central Park. However, unless you go to upstate NYC, don’t expect to find any beautiful national parks and nature preserves. New Yorkers love to wind down at local parks after work by taking their pets out for runs, spend family time, or sit and read outside.

In contrast, NYC is home to the most impressive architectures. Some of my favorites places to admire beautiful architecture are:

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Brooklyn Promenade View of Manhattan
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Brooklyn Promenade Sunset View
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Brooklyn Bridge
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Times Square
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High Line

It was a combination of all these things that made me fall in love with the city during our first visit. There is nowhere quite like the energy of New York.


It was never our plan to stay in New York City permanently. Though there is a heartache to think that we will not be biking the beautiful Hudson River Greenway a month or a year from now, we both know that New York is not where we will will grow old. There is always a charm in the small town where I grew up. Each sunset over the Appalachian mountains, each beautiful autumn changing color, the fact that everyone knows everyone else, the hospitality and true friendships are endearing to me.

So, what’s next?

New York will always be a special place to me. It is here that I had truly become independent, and I had come out a better person. I’ve learned so much from the city. I’ve learned to speak better, to work efficiently, to think on my feet, to opened my mind and eyes, to get lost and explore. I have gained the experience I had set out to find. I can feel that it is time to set on to another adventure. We’re hoping to go to a few more Broadway shows and museums, then return home for some time to visit family. In the next year, we hope to pick up and start backpacking Asia.


Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment and some love. <3

Sunrise at the Wat

The sunrise view of Angkor Wat and it’s reflection on the water is an experience of a lifetime. 

But I was not told of the thousands of other people who were also trying to see that view every morning. Although the loud chattering and cramped standing space had destroyed the serene picture that I had expected, the history and architecture were impressive and made it worthwhile.

A response to Photo Challenge: Reflecting

Letter to a Friend Who Has Drifted Away

Dear Nad,

When my partner and I moved to this strange new city into a small apartment of five people, you were the friendliest, most honest, and easy to get along with. We went out, saw theater productions, cooked, watched movies/TV shows, and even decorated our apartment for Christmas together! We bonded on how much we hated our roommates and landlord. We had introduced you to our friend, who is now your bride-to-be! Eventually, we decided to move into another apartment together. That was when things went downhill, wasn’t it?

Looking back on our almost 9-month friendship, I really wonder what had happened to make our relationship so short-lived. I guess it could only be explained by our fundamental differences. How could I not see it before? The 15+ years of age difference between us, perhaps? Or maybe because you’re a sales manager, making the six digits income, while I work from home (which you consider “unemployed”)? You’re able to afford fancy dinners and take-out meals, while I enjoy shopping for food, cook, and eat. You have fancy suits, while we’d rather spend money on travelings and experiences. We are in every ways the opposite. I didn’t think that any of these differences were a problem. Apparently, you did. I suppose living together is a whole different ball game from being roommates.

I am thoroughly shaken up by our last fight that had ended in angry, hurtful, and cold words. I can’t just be like you, and act like it doesn’t matter. I have always been the ones who reached out to you, to hang out, to talk about our issues, to ask you how everything is going… always the first one to put out. Even to the last minute, I had tried to reach out to you, tell you that I’m feeling hurt that you cared less about our friendship than we did, telling us that none of this mattered.

Friendships takes work, and if you’re the one has expectations, you probably won’t get very far. Still, I should thank you. In the end, I have learned a lot from our unfortunate relationship.

Good luck to you.
Winta

05/29/17


Dearest Nerual,

It’s not you, it’s me. I have a quick temper and a self-righteous mind. I rarely apologize or meet halfway when I think I have been wronged. I recognize that as my flaw, and am trying to repair it. I don’t connect with people as well as I’d like to- socially challenged you might say. You know that about me. We used to be best friends, making terrible jokes, sneaking off to check out another city, spending time at each others houses, watching movies together, talking about boys, and harmless gossip. I’ve learned so much from you. You taught me what “punch buggy,” meant and took advantage of my lack of knowledge to beat me at the game, which it incredibly unfair. I’ll have you know I’ve learned to get much better at it.

There are no years quite like the high school years. It was before I had the freedom to do anything, and you had showed me the joys in life. Your life was incredibly different from mine. We each had our own family problems. I loved your family like my own. I was upset when you were upset, and happy when you were happy.

I’m not exactly sure what went wrong, but if it’s what I think it is, then I can’t believe I let some small fight and bad temper get in between our years of friendship. Over the years, I’ve made several attempts to reconnect with you, but was gently shut down.  We have both moved on since. You’ve relocated and had made a career out of your dreams. I’m only sad that I am not in the picture. I miss you a lot. I just need to realize that some things need to be fixed right away, or you can’t turn back time. I wish you all the best.

Winta

A Blog Response to Daily Prompt: Bitter

Exposed: A Blog Response from Kids

What if children wrote blogs?

As a way to spend more time with my siblings, who live 15 hours away, I had come up with an idea to ask them to write a weekly post challenge response with me. They have been very enthusiastic and we had lots of laugh doing this together. It’s also a great opportunity to help them articulate their thoughts and writing better as well as document the process to look back upon in the future. We had so much fun writing their first blog response that we decided to continue doing it!

I gave them the word and definition:

Exposed:
To make (something or someone) visible, typically by uncovering/revealing it.
“At low tide the sands are exposed” , “She exposed Batman’s true identity”


My brother, 3rd grader, wrote:

When my sister explained Exposed, I was about to do three things: explode, die, and suffer. In my head, I was thinking about throwing something at her. *Ahem..* I WANT TO THROW SOMETHING AT HER!!! AAAHHHHH!!! I was thinking that won’t go too well. 

So all I did was hold it all in. Not like “hold it all in until I explode!!” Kinda thing. Chi Thanh and I thought that Chi and Chi Tam said, “EXPO” So don’t think we think about that now. The title is in capital letters and underlined in bold letters so don’t even think about it. 

My thoughts on his response: I was at a loss when I read his answer, and how he associated “exposed” with explode, die, and suffer. When I called them to ask how he came up with his response, I learned that my sister Tam (sitting to my right in the picture above) had tried to explain in more detail what expose meant. In the process, my brother had felt like he was going to explode from suffering. His response has nothing to do with the definition of exposed, but it showed that what Tam has said affected how he felt about the word prompt. Since I told him to write whatever he felt, he just did what I asked.   


My sister, 5th grader, wrote:

When my big sister chi told me the word expose, I thought she said expo- you know, the marker. After she corrected me, the first thing I think about when I hear the word “expose” is radiation. Like when you’re in a nuclear war. You are expoed with radiation *Ahem* “AHH!!!! I’M EXPOSED TO TOO MUCH RADIATION. AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!” Heh. So funny.

Anyway, the second thing that comes into my mind when I hear “expose is showing something like “Oh no, I exposed my secret” or “I will expose the new medal of honor to you.” Wait or “Don’t EXPOSE your skin to the sun!” Wait, wait or “Don’t EXPOSE your answer to that person! Do You Get the idea? Come on, I just underlined and talked about it. Come on!!!!

My thoughts on her response: I never would have thought of EXPO markers when talking about “exposed.” It showed up in both their responses. For kids who don’t know more difficult words, they probably associate it with words that they know that is closest to it- work with what they know (which in this case is completely wrong). Props to them for trying though. My sister’s answer was definitely on the target with her radiation example. It’s hilarious that she used all caps to present the urgency of being exposed to something. She then proceeded to list several other examples with tons of caps and exclamation marks.


Overview:

Both my brother and my sister had used all caps and ended by making sure I knew that they knew they were responding to “exposed.” This led me to believe that they had collaborated on their response, maybe because unsure of what their writing about. My brother, who was distracted by Tam’s definitions, had gone off track with his response. To have their answers authentic, we will make sure not to affect the kid’s answers with our own definition. There is never a wrong answer with word prompts. Each of their responses had led me to understanding them a little more. In the end, the only important thing is for them to learn a little, spend some time together, and to had fun. <3


Thanks for reading!!! What are your thoughts on their response? On an end note, I will be visiting the kids in a few days. Yep, overnight bus for me. We’ve come up with a list of things to do at home, and I’m really excited!

A Blog Response to Daily Prompt: Exposed – Want to read more? Check out their blog response on “yarn” here!

The Time I Almost Fell Off a Coconut Tree

I’ve always been jealous of people who can climb coconut trees. Growing up in the Philippines, I loved the easy access to cheap coconuts. I’ve often sat and watched people climb up the trees with ease, grabbed a coconut from the top, and slide back down like a boss. 

In tropical and humid countries, coconuts are the fruits of choice. They are known for their many uses as seen in this awesome and catchy song in Moana:

On a hot and humid day, thirsty? We drink the coconut juice. Hungry? We eat the meat inside. The leaves are used to fire, basket-weaving, shade, and more! The trees are easily accessible, can be seen everywhere on the streets. I’ve always wanted to climb one. The problem: the coconuts are super high up in the air. Since there are no branches to climb up on, people rely on pure arm and leg strength. /ugh/

Being a less than capable climber, I mostly admire these coconut climbers from afar. While traveling in Central America, locals showed us new methods to help the coconut harvest process safer and go faster, and can be learned by newbies. Yes! The group of Italians who stayed with us were too smart to try something like this and had only watched us from the hut. My boyfriend, Cuong, who has always been more physically fit than me, climbed first on the tree about fifty feet in the air.

How it works: Using two rope loops, wrap them around the tree. One rope loops around your thigh, and the other rope is used to step on. You can lever yourself upwards by shifting the ropes up. See a video of coconut climbing in action here.

My turn. Still in my flip flops, I decided to give it a try. Skeptical of my abilities to go all the way up, I was hoping to maybe climb a few feet. Before I knew it, I was already a fourth of the way up the tree. Wow, it was easier than I thought. The ropes dug into my thighs and the tree scraped against my arms and and legs, but it was do-able! I decided to keep going, despite the lack of proper shoes.

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Two-thirds of the way up!

Two-thirds of the way up, the tree curved to the side, the ropes didn’t have enough friction to grab onto the tree, and slid loose. I lost my footing. My heart jumped out of my chest. 

I was so scared that for the next five minutes, I hugged and cursed myself for climbing so far up in the first place. One fall like that could definitely break a bone. After what felt like an eternity of panic, I realized that no one is going to be able to help me. I have to get out of this mess on my own. I decided to keep climbing up (since I didn’t know how to get down and that was a problem for future Winta).

The top of the coconut tree had dry fibery leaves, which made it difficult for the ropes to grab on. The coconut was more difficult to pick than I thought. I had to twist it a dozen times before it broke and fell to the ground. My first coconut picked from the tree. 

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Reaping the fruits of my labor.

As with any cat that climbs a tree and can’t get down, I looked at the ground faaaarr below me. I realized I didn’t know how to get back down. Great, fifty feet in the air and I’m experimenting on ways to pull the ropes and lever back down. After a series of trial and error, I was finally able to shimmy myself back down.

Here are a couple of celebratory pictures of my difficult climb:

I should also mention that both our climbs took about 20-30 minutes, and the locals probably take 5 minutes to go through the whole process. I imagine that they were highly amused by our determination through this ordeal. Despite my incredible thirst, I spent 15 minutes clumsily cutting open my coconut and drank the sweet, sweet reward.

I’m quite proud of this day, almost falling off a coconut tree, but reaching my goal. I came out with only a couple of scratches, aches, and bruises, but I had learned something new: that it was all possible. Perhaps, in the far future, I will climb for coconuts again.


Thanks for reading!! I would love to hear your thoughts on my dangerous heist in comments below. <3

The Drop Off

One of the most iconic hikes in Zion National Park, Angel’s Landing, is not for the faint of heart (or fear of heights) to navigate the part with narrow paths and sharp drop offs of over 1200 feet on both sides. Regardless, this is my favorite trail of all time. The views at the top are truly stunning!

A Blog Response to Photo Challenge: Danger

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10 Things to Know About Norway

Norway was recently declared the happiest country in the world, and rightly so. I love Norway for so many reasons. The country is gorgeous, and the people are free spirited and friendly. But my main reason was that it had ignited my love for traveling.

When I graduated high school, my uncle, who had immigrated to Norway over 20 years ago, insisted that I visited him in Norway.

Being born and raised in the Philippines, we’ve only talked to each other on the phones. I would talk to him for hours- about everything: my goals, school, culture, travels. When I expressed interest in Norway, he said that if I wanted to visit, he would fund my trip for me! Back then, I knew next to nothing about travel. Looking back, I realize that he must have spent a fortune for me to visit and do all the things we did.

I packed enough clothes for the month that I will be staying there. I chose them carefully, so as to not embarrass myself in front of people. I will be flying by myself to a foreign country, and will be meeting my uncle for the first time!

Culture

In the short amount of time I was there, I learned so many strange facts about the country. Here are some of my impressions:

Oslo airport smelled weird. That was literally the first thing I noticed about Norway, so I thought I’d write it down. If anyone else had been to Norway and experienced the same thing, please let me know so that I know I’m not crazy.

There were 20 hours of daylight. This is something I learned in books and school, but never expected to experience in real life. Depending on the time of the year, it never really gets dark in Norway. Mind blown. That aside, people really get up around the same time, and sleep relatively early. I had blinds in my room to keep the light from coming in.

Norway is expensive. Norway’s cost of living is almost twice the cost of living the United States. My uncle owns a repair shop in a mall, and I found out his shop was actually the size of a walk-in closet! He pays about $2000 per month to keep the shop, and only has the bare essentials for his tools and a small fridge and microwave.

Norway has very strict driving exams, and it is ridiculously expensive. There are four painstaking training stages to go through before he could even take the practice test. Each stage costs money. The entire process of training and test taking costs about $3000! If he fails any of the stages, he will need to repay and retake the training/test. To think I only spend $25 to get my driver’s license. My uncle had studied for years, and was very careful so that he doesn’t fail; while I was there, I hoped to help him study for the test. It was all in Norsk- bummer. We took the bus to get places. I didn’t mind that. I lived in a small town, I had to drive to get anywhere. Public transportation is a nice change of pace. I also noticed that instead of highway exits, Norway has roundabouts. Definitely different.

People are tall. Very, very tall. I come from a small town in the United States, so I don’t get exposed to that many tall people (or people, really), but I know when people are extraordinarily tall. The average height for a Norwegian male is almost 6 feet!

Norsk is unbearingly difficult to learn.  While I was there, I picked up on a few phrases, destination names, etc. I was very impressed that my uncle could speak it so well. Luckily, Norwegians also spoke English. Here is how to say, “How are you? Nice to meet you!”

Korleis har du det? Kjekt å treffe deg! 

People are overly generous. When I arrived in Oslo, my uncle and his friend had come to pick me up at the airport. Since my uncle didn’t have a car, his friend agreed to help drive us around on our road trips, while also taking a vacation himself. My uncle’s friends went out of their way to make me feel welcom. They took me out to restaurants, cooked me food, bought me clothes, and (my favorite) complimented me often! They showed me so many places; I felt incredibly spoiled. I went to my first IKEA there (again, I lived in a very small town). At the time, I thought it was a Norwegian mall- turns out it’s Swedish. It’s less cool, now that I’ve been to several IKEAs in the United States.

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Our backyard view of the lake

Geiranger Fjord

In 2005, Geiranger Fjord was listed as an UNESCO’s World Heritage Site for its beautiful fjord, carved in by glaciers. It is the host of several impressive waterfalls, including the Seven Sisters Falls.

Eight hours drive northwest of Oslo, Geiranger is surrounded by snow-covered peak, cliffs, wild waterfalls, and deep, green vegetation Geirangerfjord is a sight not to be missed.

The fjord was absolutely stunning. We had magnificent views of waterfalls, birds, mountain goats, and the valley. Here are some of my photo highlights of the trip:

The images speak for themselves. I felt as if I was in a lost paradise, a sort of part of heaven that I never knew about. We hiked, climbed, and trekked through places where we were completely in nature.

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View atop Geiranger.

We cozied up in this wonderful cabin for our stay there. Cooked ourselves a hearty meal as we spent time together.

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We rented a beautiful log cabin for the night.

Animals in the mountains seem to have no regard for tourists. While we were driving, a goat came by and stuck his head in our passenger window! Can we keep him please?

Vigelands Parken

Home to over 200 sculptures by Vigeland is Vigelands Parken, accomplished over a 10 year period. Vigeland Parken is also known to locals as the Sexy Park or red light district. When my uncle said that he was taking me to a red light district, I was both surprised and distressed. He told me that this park is just full of people, hanging around, naked. He refused to tell me any more.

It turned out it was just a park full of sculptures. /exhale/

Why was it called the red light district? All his sculptures are nude. Not many parks showcase nude sculptures, but this in this park, it’s the main attraction.

The park covers the Circle of Life- birth, childhood, young adult and finally old adult. It tells stories of betrayal, passion, hate, jealousy, mother’s love, regrets, death, and so many other emotions. Each sculpture seemed to tell a story.

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Together, we stand? (and make a good frame for a photo)
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The pondering twins.

There were so many fountains and gardens in the park. Walking through the entire park could take up an entire day!

Over the years, I’ve been to countless of parks, but I can honestly say there are none quite like this one. Impressive and unique. Worth the time to visit!


What made Norway a truly happy country to me is this: Despite the expensive cost of living, people have are carefree and don’t get stuck up on money. They spend on what they want, they are generous, friendly. My uncle, who owns a small repair shop in a mall, was so generous as to buy me a plane ticket to give me this amazing experience. His friends, who are perfect strangers to me, brought me shopping and bought me clothes, took me out to restaurants, made me food, and let me stay in their houses. It shows me people here just thought and lived differently from home. They care more about the other joys in life. So I ask myself this? Why can’t we all do that?

Looking forward to my next trip to Norway. 🙂

07/12


Thanks for reading!!! Questions? Comments? Let’s chat below! <3

A Step Into The Past: Medieval Festival in NYC

Once a year, the Medieval Festival brings to life the traditions and spirit of the Renaissance days. Manhattan’s Fort Tryon Park transforms into a medieval market town decorated with eye-catching bright banners and processional flags. Performers and festival goers dress in medieval costume and speak Old English. Visitors are greeted by medieval music, dance, magic, and minstrels, as well as jugglers and jesters. Costumed vendors will be on hand to demonstrate and sell a wide variety of medieval crafts as well as food and drink. The expected attendance this year is 40,000 people!

I’ve been fascinated by all things Medieval since I was little. I was brainwashed by tales of princesses, knights, queens, peasants, warlocks. Finally had the chance to go to a Medieval Festival was unreal. I whipped up the most medieval looking look (mind you, I’m not very fashionable): a scarf to use as a hood, a dark, flowy patterned dress, and a ribbon to braid up my hair. Good enough.

There was zero chance of rain, excellent; a perfect day wander into the Middle Ages. I was giddy like a child at an amusement park as we walked up to the Park’s entrance. Because the event was free, we donated at the wishing well that says “Prithee, Donate a Dollar!” The fort was a beautiful place to host a Medieval Festival, as it is surrounded by a lake, and in the middle the fort is a Medieval Museum. Since the museum is there year-round, we decided to save it for another day. Since there were events scheduled all day, we had no problems with finding things to do.

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Medieval Music

One of the most beautiful performances was this lady playing Medieval, Celtic, and world music on her harp. At one point, two people joined in with her singing. We sat on the ledge, listening to her relaxing songs for a long time. Beside her is a face painter, who paints children’s faces with butterflies, dragons, sparkles, etc. Everything about that moment was magical. <3 There’s something about medieval music that makes me feel light and wonderful.

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This rowdy group of performers, Three Pints Shy, is the best. They performed upbeat music with lots of humor in their lyrics. They mess around and drank mead during their performance. They were everything I imagined musical performers in the medieval ages to be like. They told stories through their songs of their adventures. They danced, they laughed, they fought. That’s my kind of life.

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Mead

Speaking of mead… We tried three different types of mead at the festival! I’ve always wanted to try out mead. Apparently, it is an alcoholic drink made of honey and water with a variety of spices, fruit, and grain. They were pretty expensive at $4 a cup. It tasted like a strong fruity wine. Yummy!

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Jousting Tournament of the Knights

And finally, what everyone has been waiting for. The festival ends with a thrilling joust by four knights, mounted on their steeds. The battle gets heated as the crowd cheers on for their knight in shining armor. When I read medieval age books, knights were always admirable, honorable, and courageous. Seeing them in real life is an amazing experience. In one of the final jousts, the knight fell off his steed, and they begin to sword fight to the death. Funny thing was, kids were there and loving it.

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And More!

There are wood carvers, artisans, storytellers, manuscript illuminators to demonstrate their craftsmanship.

The storyteller was very intriguing. I wish I have the ability to tell stories well. There’s an art to it; even I was hooked in her tales.

The jester was one of my favorites. He looked to be in his 80s, but juggling and jumping around like a child!

There was an awesome dragon right by the bonfire, but he was surrounded by people trying to take pictures with him that I didn’t get a closer shot.

There were tons of cool costumes that I wish I had.

Random Thoughts While Wandering Around the Festival:

  • I wish life was as magical, carefree, and fun (minus the wars) like the Medieval Era. – Maybe I should join a traveling Medieval group! My parents probably won’t endorse that….
  • Just saw Captain America… why??!??!?!!! It’s not Comic Con.
  • There are so many Links from Zelda! I guess that’s better than a superhero, but it seems to be looked down upon by hardcore Renaissance lovers- noted. 
  • Those giant turkey legs look good… too bad I’m vegetarian. /sigh/ 
Check out cool Medieval Clothes from $29.99 on Amazon here!

 

Thanks for reading!!!! Questions? Comments?? Let’s chat below! <3

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Having Problems? Keep Calm and Throw a Blanket Over It!

From the creators of Adventure Time, the Bravest Warriors proves to be arguably one of the best shows of all time. It is a mini-episode series that is exclusively on Youtube’s Cartoon Hangover channel. In comparison to Adventure Time, the Bravest Warriors is set in the future and revolves around four teenage heroes-for-hire who warp through the universe, saving cute little aliens from danger.

Browse Catbug Products on Amazon here!

About halfway through the first season, Catbug- half cat, half ladybug- joins the gang of heroes in their mission. Despite being ten years old, he demonstrates a child-like, innocent attitude with extraordinary problem solving skills. The audience loved him so much that the creators decided to keep him as a permanent character, along with others such as jelly kid, paralyzed horse, Impossibear, Plum, Emotion Lord, and more.

A lot of the lines in the Bravest Warriors are nonsensical, but hilarious:

“Throw a blanket over it! Put a little fence around it!” – Catbug, trying to fix their problems

Here’s the video where Catbug tries to put out a growing radioactive substance by throwing a blanket over it! This episode is the absolute best, must watch!

Catbug’s ineffective, but adorable and hilarious, problem solving suggestion of throwing a blanket over it shows how some people deal with their problems.

What I liked: 

  • Cartoon for adults (and kids)!! Whereas Adventure Time is geared more towards kids, the Bravest Warriors is definitely darker and crazier. There’s a reason why it’s on Youtube’s Cartoon Hangover Channel. 😉
  • Tonsssss of humor. Completely random sequence of events happen for no apparent reason, the show still moves on. Each character has their own quirk, but works together to save the world.
  • Teaches some deep life lessons. As seen with Catbug and the blanket, throwing a blanket over your problems doesn’t help. Good try, though! I feel adequately prepared in the event that aliens take over our planet.
  • Time and space travel, battle monsters, meet new alien friends, what’s not to love?
  • The mini-episodes are only 6 minutes long; the episodes are highly addicting, and could easily be finished within a day!
  • CATBUG!!! I’ve spent countless of hours searching for videos and pictures of Catbug, even made my very own Catbug plush!

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Not so fond of: 

  • It can get a little overwhelming (if you’re not into this type of show).

Questions? Comments? Recommendations? Let’s chat belowwww! <3

A Response to the Daily Prompt: Blanket

I Go Where My Feet Takes Me

New York has been especially beautiful lately. We were biking down Hudson River Greenway when I saw an excellent bench to sit with a great view of the water and the skyline. We brought our books and sandwiches, and have all the time in the world to sit and creepily watch people walk by.

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As I walked through Columbia University, I realized how much I missed college. There’s an energy on campus that is unlike any other.
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I can’t say I’ve ever been to a Flower Carnival before, but Macy’s does it right. How do you fill up an entire floor with flowers and maintain it for 3+ weeks? They worked magic, it smelled amazing inside. <3
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Springtime blossoms on the trees. Typical New York street graffiti.

 

A Response to Photo Challenge: Wunderlust

Mobile Income: Earn $18-30/Hour Working from Home & On the Road

Want to work from home or while traveling? Tired of your hourly commute every morning? Have passion (and patience) for teaching English?

People often wonder how travelers make their money on the go. Today, I’d like to share my experiences with VIPKID and ITutorGroup and how that made it possible for me to do all these things. Both are online education platforms, designed to teach English as Second Language to folks in Asia. It’s real and it pays. I have worked as many as 30 hours a week, but I’ve known people who have quit their full time jobs and made a career out of teaching online full time. Without further ado, let’s jump right to it!


VIPKid

VIPKid is basically an online education platform that allows you to teach children, aged 5 to 12, one-on-one classes through a teaching portal, sort of like Skype. The children can speak as little as no English, so you will rely on repetition and total physical response to teach. Goofy props are recommended ;).

See what it’s like to teach with VIPKid here.

The hiring process consisted of an interview and 2 demos. You must demonstrate your ability to communicate grammar concepts to kids. The process takes about two weeks, requiring personal documents and banking information for direct deposits.

Pay Structure:

  • Based on how well you do in your interview and demos, VIPKID will give you a base pay range of $7-9 per class (25 minutes). Already, you have an opportunity to earn $14-16 per hour from home.
  • In addition, there are up to $2 bonus/class for attendance and quantity of classes you teach. That is potential earning of $18-22 per hour.
  • Wait, there’s more. VIPKid often gives incentives during the spring and summer seasons with bonus potential of up to $5 per class. That is an earning potential of up to $23-27!

What I like:

  • There are no minimum hours required, yay! Flexible schedules weekly. <3
  • The children are sweet and funny. It is less of teaching and more of hanging out with them.
  • There’s an excellent community of teachers right beside you, experiencing your joys and frustrations of teaching together.
  • Powerpoints of 25-35 slides are provided for you. No lesson planning!
  • VIPKID has a high demand of teachers. I got scheduled from the first day of hire. Having a fun profile picture and an impressive introduction helps booking rates a lot.

Not so fond of: 

  • Teachers get six allotted amounts of no-shows before termination of contract. VIPKID shows no regard to family emergency, traffic, or health conditions. Once you hit 6 no-shows, they will terminate your contract.
  • The peak hours of teaching at VIPKID are based on Beijing time. That means very early work hours in North America. I typically set my hours from 7AM-9:30AM, which gives me room to do other things.

Requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree in any field OR Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education
  • I highly recommend obtaining a TEFL Certification. It is really the only thing you need to be able to teach. Certification typically costs about $12 these days for an online course on Groupon. 

If you think you might be interested in applying, click here for my referral link! Please make sure you’ve researched the program before you commit to the hours!


ITutorGroup

ITutorGroup is also an online education platform. Unlike VIPKid, ITutorGroup caters to adults as well as children. Unlike VIPKid, you will be teaching as many as six students at once, so be prepared.

See what it’s like to teach at ITutorGroup here.

The hiring process was very quick and easy. My interview only lasted 5 minutes; I was hired immediately. Because the interview was so informal, it seems that their biggest concern was determining your fluency and teaching experience. I never sent a proof of diploma for my BA degree, so I guess they took my word for it.

Pay Structure

  • Their base pay is $7.5 per class (45 minutes), which is very low.
  • However, their bonus system is what’s bringing in the money. Teachers get an additional $2-4 per student if they give a 10 star rating. So, if the class has five students, the teacher can earn as much as $27.5/hour!

Requirements:

  • TEFL Certification (or willingness to obtain it) – Certification typically costs about $12 for an online course on Groupon. I highly recommend getting one. 
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher in any field
  • Minimum of 1 year teaching experience

What I like: 

  • Teaching adults is a great experience and often has fun culture-exchange conversations.
  • Unlike VIPKID, ITutorGroup is more lenient with their no-show policies.
  • There is a high potential earning, with positive feedback.

Not so fond of:

  • Their bonus system is based on ratings, and makes me feel like I have to sell myself, for maybe a feedback.
  • Students who have IT problems with rate you negatively. There is a way to contest unfair feedback, however, so don’t worry.
  • ITutorGroup’s teaching platform is not as well done as VIPKID’s. The platform seems to be made by an amateur. Navigation is complicated, and buttons are confusing.

So there it is. There are pros and cons to both sides. I use ITutorGroup for a bonding experience and conversations with other adults. I use VIPKID for its more stable source income. I think they both are excellent sources of income supplement. It’s up to you to decide what’s best.

Questions? Comments? Let’s chat below!