Shanghai Views & Soup Dumplings

One of the most monumental experiences in 2019, was heading to China with my best friend Kristina. As someone who was born half Vietnamese & half Chinese, China and it’s language, was something I’ve never been exposed to. And when it’s your first trip to a side of yourself you’ve never known, and a place you don’t ever expect to come back to again, it’s okay to treat yourself a little bit. (*Click above to view our vlog*)

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We landed in Shanghai at 5pm, and after (quite literally) an elevated check in process at the Four Seasons Shanghai Pudong, we enjoyed a late night cup of tea, while looking over the nightlife of the Bund. Then it was off to bed early, to prep us for our full day in Shanghai. And what better way to start your first full day in a new country, than with an infinity pool overlooking The Bund?

After that we showered, we headed to the breakfast lounge, then finished getting ready before heading out towards the Oriental Pearl Tower and it’s beautiful glass floors.

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After we got through stomach churning views the Oriental Pearl Tower, we crossed the Bund using the underground Sight Seeing Tunnel (see vlog), in search of the best Xiao Ling Baos that Shanghai had to offer. Before heading to China, I watched every English travel/food show I could find, with episodes in Shanghai. I eventually came across, Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse.

Accompanied by Mario Batali, Emeril explores Shanghai, guided by a book ranking all the Xiao Ling Bao restaurants by flavor, skin thickness, and juice level. Top of that list, was a hole in the wall place (no English) that we found, called Jia Jia Tang Bao. Think you’ll get by with Google Translate in Shanghai? You’re probably right, at least until you walk in here. Google Translate seems to only translate languages written in left to right orientation. This restaurants menus only run in the old school top-to-bottom. By the end of it, we let the lady up front order for us. We had no idea what we got, but it honestly was the best soup dumpling I’ve ever eaten. Without needing any dipping sauce, each of those little dumpling had more flavor that I though possible, and great dough.

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No idea what we ordered

But it was hands down the BEST, juiciest, and most flavorful Chinese Soup Dumplings I’ve ever had.

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Then it was a quick trip to see the Yu Yuan Garden, before we headed back across The Bund, and towards the Shanghai World Financial Center (SWFC). You know those jaw dropping views of Shanghai you see on instagram? Wonder how they get such a high-up views as if they’re flying above the city? The SWFC is how.

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Hope you guys enjoyed our day in Shanghai. Tomorrow we’re off to Shanghai Disneyland! - Jen

Pink Panther Moods

 
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SO I DID A THING…

Sometimes you just need a drastic change in your life, and this year, it meant chopping off the long blonde locks (before below) & trying out all pink for the first time (after above). I’m turning 29 this year, and before I was “too old” to try fun colors (even though that’s not a thing), I wanted one last stab at fun colors before I turned 30. Don’t worry, I fully plan to rock pinks/lavenders again when my hair goes white. This will do for now.

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Year of the Dog

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Happy Lunar New Year!

It's been awhile since I've popped into to say hi. It's been straight back to work since I've gotten back from Europe. Of course in order to travel has hard as I do, a lot of work goes into it, to make trips like that happen. I'm happy to say though, with the new year coming into I have (of course) more trips planned for 2018. This April I will be headed to Disneyland (no surprise there), and this coming Fall I will be headed to East China and South Korea, with my friend Kristina. Here's to another great year! - JN

Château de Versailles

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Just when we thought Paris couldn't be more luxUrious, there was the Château of Versailles.

With a quick train ride, just 45 minutes outside of Paris, you could easily spend 2 hours to half a day, at this beautiful tourist attraction. Formerly the kingdom for the king of France, King Louis XIV, today it stands as a museum for French history, taking you back in time to understand the inspiration for French style & the lives of the monarch. 

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Of course when you find yourself in such a space that seems to literally be dripping in gold, you too, might be inspired to dress up for your visit, like I did. 

Of course, with it being a museum, keep in mind to have comfortable shoes. You'll want to be able to make your way through the entire inside of the Château, as well as the famous gardens in the back. Just be aware that the entire walk up to the Château & around the grounds, is riddled with uneven stonework.

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To enter the château

First of all, it's closed on Mondays, so plan your days accordingly, just like how the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. To enter the Château, save yourself some time & first buy your tickets on the left side of the courtyard, before the gates. About 60% of people who try to enter, see the line on the left side of gates, then join the line, only to be directed away to the ticket line. It's not hard to see why, since the doorway to the ticket room is a plain (almost unmarked) door on the left.

Once you do get inside though, and get through security, begin your self-guided walk through. If you're a big history buff, you can rent audio tours to wear. Depending on what kind of history you're into, there are different parts of the Château for you.

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Besides the actual history aspect, the hall of paintings weren't really my thing. My favorite was actually the walk-through of their living quarters, like the king & queens bedchambers, and of course the Hall of Mirrors (above). At some point you turn the corner, and almost everyone in your vicinity is in awe.  

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Do you see what I mean about incentive to dress up?

Anyhow, whoever told us we could do Château Versailles in 2 hours was lying. There's so much of the grounds to see! Due to the weather, we barely explored the Gardens, but we could have easily spent another 30 minutes there. Not to mention, there was also a special exhibit off the walk through course, that we really enjoyed. If you're in a rush, I would say, at least three hours, but half a day to really soak it in. All in all, definitely worth a visit! 

Coat from Express
Top from Zara

Getting around Paris on a budget

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We're off to the museums again today!

This time, we booked ourselves some tickets to the Big Bus Tour.  If you're like us & not a fan of following big groups or time constraints, this hop on, hop off tour bus works great for getting around. For €38, we got a two day pass to unlimited use of their buses. The Big Bus tours in Paris, have two intersecting routes, with double decker buses (some open on top), that take you around to most of the tourist attractions you would want to see.

Buses started at 9am, with one route picking up from each stop every 15 minutes, the other every 30 minutes. This included places like Grand and Petit Palais, the Arc de Triomphe (where our hotel is), the Louvre, Tour Eiffel, Moulin Rouge, Montmartre, and Notre Dame. Not to mention, there are headphones on board the bus for an audio guided tour of wherever you go, in 8 different languages. 

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Not to mention, there are headphones on board the bus for an audio guided tour of wherever you go. We started our day getting picked up at the Arc de Triomphe and heading to a short visit to the Petit Palais.

Then it was off to the Louvre

Despite this being my second visit to Paris, I was excited, since this would my first time inside the Louvre. (Last time to was shut down during Paris fashion week). 

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And of course, whilst I know that most people tell me it's slightly overhyped, we made a bee-line to the Mona Lisa. I can now confirm, that yes, it is smaller than you expect it to be & indeed in a very large room. Although not alone, it is on lone wall, and roped off. After we crossed that off the bucketlist, we wandered to other parts of the Louvre.

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The thing that makes me fall in love with Paris though, isn't their sweet confections, but their beautiful buildings. The Frenchs' attention to detail, from the grandeur of their arches, to their impressive vaulted murals, make their buildings beautiful works of art in their own right, in addition to the beautiful art pieces these buildings house. The French also have an admirable commitment to preserving their architectural history, and way of life. And for that, I will always appreciate Paris. Love, Jen

Coat from Express
Backpack from Michael Kors
Boots from Alexander Wang

Girls in Paris

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Good morning from Paris!

Hello everyone! Guess who's back in Paris! Last time I was here, was in September of 2016. I was two weeks into a solo backpacking trip & post my third ever Disney half marathon. This time though, I'm on a trip with the girls!

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Three girls, one week, and the beautiful city of Paris. I can't even begin to describe how excited I was, to start 2018 off this way. I've packed a little more than usual, I have more time here, and now we have each others company. You best believe that this trip is going to be a whole lot different than my last visit. It might be a little wilder, it might be a little girly (or a lot), but it'll definitely be a lot more stylish! You know, a girls girl kind of trip!

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For our first full day, us three girls were quite productive! We woke up early, had some breakfast at a cafe near our hotel, by the Arc de Triomphe. Then it was off to the Musée d'Orsay! We made our way, floor by floor, up to the famous clock up top. It was fun to see what changed since my last visit. Then it was across the Seine to the Louvre. Museum-ed out, we decided to leave the inside for another day, and we were off to the top of the Eiffel Tower (my first time up)! Lastly, we ended our night with dinner at Carbon Paris.

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Suddenly, everything I loved about this city was coming back to me. Coupled with the fact that I had been reading up on some French history & learning some more French words, this first day was more than I could ask for. I just can't wait to see what the next few days with these ladies have in store for more! Thanks for reading! Love, Jen

Coat & Top from Express
Backpack from Michael Kors
Boots from Alexander Wang