August 29, 2018

When in Paris – Maybe Don’t …

The poor, the homeless, the scammers. Paris, like other major metropolitan cites. It’s very multi-cultural and chaotic. With immigrants coming from all around the world, you might be walking around in the subway and wondering if you are in the middle east or somewhere else but this said-to-be magical, romantic Paris.
“Paris syndrome” sounds funny, but it appears to be a real thing. There are people who travel to Paris and realize that this City of Light is nothing like what they expected it to be. Sufferers have reported being traumatized by the experience, of fearing ever traveling again.
To balance out that negativity, here goes the famous quote from Ernest Hemingway,If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” Preparing trip to Paris can be whelming because there are simply just way too many classic, “must-see” tourists’ attractions.
But what do you really want to do? Do you really want to pay two hundred dollars for Moulin Rouge show? Is paying extra to go in all the Cathedrals’ special treasure rooms necessary? It’s okay to skip the crazy line (it literally takes hours, and it’s a high pickpocket activity) for Louvre Museum and just get a cute photo with the iconic pyramid and go. Here is the authentic reminder of factual reality. Keep reading if you’re interested to learn the don’ts and the common scams in Paris.

Don’t take a deep breath and look down
It’s no secret this “city of love” smells like urine, there’s garbage everywhere on the floor. The difficulty and expense of using toilets, just make the piss smell worse. But let’s not be too harsh on it, after all, Paris is Europe’s most densely populated city. We all know every major metropolis got the poor and the homeless. Parisians are aware of this issue though. The mayor invested 1,3 M euros in the cleaning of the city and is applying for the Olympic Games of 2024! That sounds pretty promising, non?

Don’t expect to see everything
We tend to put pressure on ourselves to try to see it all. But the “must-see” list for Paris can get really long and it might not even for you. If your stay is short, saving the rest for return visits is absolutely okay. It’s important to think about what brought us to Paris and work the schedule around it. Is it the art that attracts you? Or the history, the architecture, the lifestyle? If you couldn’t care less about Renaissance paintings and you happen to bring a kid, skip Louvre Museum. Get more of street Paris instead!

Don't assume people speak English
The not-so-friendly locals may make “Paris Syndrome” worse. But all you need are “Bonjour, au revoir, s’il vous plait, merci” and a genuine smile. If you try to speak in French, people are usually happy to help. When visiting a different country, speak a little bit of their language is very appreciated. Let’s all keep in mind we’re not in our own country, so don’t expect things to be the same back home. For example, Parisians don't add ice to their drinks. And be prepared to wait for a long time for your turn in the supermarket, or to receive your order in the restaurant. Have fun enjoying Parisian lifestyle. No rush and all romantic.

Don’t bother engaging with “activists” on the street
Or school girls with a clip board, or kids with roses, or woman tries to give you a “ring”. Being scammed really sucks! You probably won’t end up losing lots of money, but the fact that you get scammed because somebody is taking advantage of your kindness can really ruin one’s mood. With busy tourist attractions, professional scammers are working in groups and in any forms. Don’t lose your guard for kids or young, teen girls. Common scams are 1) get you to sign for a paper and request a donation. 2) give you a rose or a bracelet or a ring to and ask you to pay for it. 3) Offer to help out buying tickets in the metro. Btw, the metro machines do not take credit cards and debit cards. With all these situations mentioned above, you would become an easy target for pick-pockets. The key is to just firmly say no, avoid eye-contact and ignore them completely.

Don’t dine in touristy area
It’s no brainer that everything is more expensive in touristy area. And dining out are not cheap. French people would expect you to order wine in restaurants, and water doesn’t come in free. Don’t despair. Tap water is safe to drink and if you would like to save money on food, you can get some ham in the local supermarket, some bread in the local bakery, and make your own sandwiches to go. I wish I had done so instead of buying tons of granola bars for meals when I was a poor student. But I am sure work harder, earn more and have a bigger budget for food can be a good idea as well. Fruit paté, marzipan, cassoulet, glacé chestnuts, macarons… … uh oh

Don’t forget to take lots of photos and share in online
Old world charm, bitchy vibe. Paris is surly the most photogenic. If you don’t know how to frame, just search the location in Instagram, find the top eye-catching photos and compose the same. Tilt your head, chin down and forward, lift the arm from the torso and try different angles to look your best and the skinniest.

While loud Chinese tourists everywhere, streets smell like pee, food being expensive, and English probably doesn’t work, Paris can be not as romantic. But is Paris overrated? Just because one has unrealistic expectations of Paris, doesn’t make this city less remarkable. Get internet connection and share your memorable moments online. 

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August 7, 2018

Get Dopamine Rush with these Songs on the Road

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Mark Twain once said. Let’s seize the last of summer, put down your phone and get out of the door. Here’s the song list that’ll give you a great boost of wanderlust.

Rather Be (feature Jess Glynne) by Clean Bandit
We staked out on a mission to find our inner peace
Make it everlasting so nothing's incomplete
It's easy being with you, sacred simplicity
As long as we're together, there's no place I'd rather be
With every step we take, Kyoto to The Bay
Strolling so casually
We're different and the same, gave you another name
Switch up the batteries
If you gave me a chance I would take it
It's a shot in the dark but I'll make it
Know with all of your heart, you can't shame me
When I am with you, there's no place I'd rather be
N-n-n-no, no, no, no place I'd rather be
N-n-n-no, no, no, no place I'd rather be

Clean Bandit never disappoints us. This British group mixes electronic music with classical pieces, and they often have big time guest vocalists in their songs. This song “rather be” got violin playing in the chorus, singer Jess Glynne’s low and husky voice makes this mushy love song so warm and heavenly. Listening to it just makes you want you hold your loved ones and go see more of this world.

Run Away with Me by Carly Rea Jepsen
Baby, take me to the feeling
I'll be your sinner in secret
When the lights go out
Run away with me, run away with me
Baby, every single minute
I'll be your hero and win it
When the lights go out
Run away with me, run away with me

Up in the clouds
High as a kite
Over the city, city
We never sleep
We never try
When you are with me, with me
I wanna stay
I wanna stay here with you, ooh

Cause you make me feel like
I could be driving you all night
And I'll find your lips in the streetlights
I wanna be there with you, ooh

In Carly’s music video for "Run Away with Me," she leads the camera on a playful adventure around the world, shows super energy in every new city and gives fans a serious case of wanderlust. The song is annoyingly catchy but surly will put you in a great mood. It reminds you of your teenage self, naïve, passionate, fun and crazy about love.

A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton
Making my way downtown walking fast
Faces pass and I'm home bound
Staring blankly ahead just making my way
Making a way through the crowd
And I need you
And I miss you
And now I wonder
If I could fall into the sky
Do you think time would pass me by?
'Cause you know I'd walk a thousand miles
If I could just see you tonight
It's always times like these when I think of you
And I wonder if you ever think of me
'Cause everything's so wrong and I don't belong
Living in your precious memories
'Cause I'll need you
And I'll miss you
And now I wonder
If I could fall into the sky
Do you think time would pass me by?
'Cause you know I'd walk a thousand miles
If I could just see you tonight

We are all familiar with the scene in “White Chicks” when all the girls are singing out loud the song in the convertible car. The airy, breezy tune with the iconic interlude makes “A Thousand Miles” the top road trip song. Singer Vanessa Carlton had some success in the early two thousand but we have been missing her ever since. Vanessa’s also a pianist and a ballet dancer, she said her songs are a direct route into her heart and her brain. Just last month, she had put out a few singles. Her voice is still so lively, pure and heavenly like how we remembered.

Don't Stop Believin' by Journey.
Just a small town girl
Livin' in a lonely world
She took the midnight train goin' anywhere
Just a city boy
Born and raised in south Detroit
He took the midnight train goin' anywhere
A singer in a smoky room
A smell of wine and cheap perfume
For a smile they can share the night
It goes on and on, and on, and on
Strangers waiting
Up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlights, people
Living just to find emotion
Hiding somewhere in the night
Don't stop believin'
Hold on to the feelin'
Streetlights, people

This classic didn’t have a mind-blowing success when it was first released, but it surely has grown even more popular throughout the years. It’s used in movies, sports games (when team’s losing and it’s played to cheer people up), and tv shows (glee’s redo makes younger generation crazy for it as well) – everybody knows the lyrics. The song means well – it helps you see the light at the end of the tunnel, and give you some hope when social media makes you jealous of your friends taking vacations and you’re stuck with your office job plus kids to take care of. But seriously though, neuropsychologist approves that traveling to a new place gives your brain dopamine rush. You deserve a break and travel is such a great way to reconnect you to your loved one as well. Some of the highest levels of happiness are spending quality time with some of our favorite people. Motivated to plan out your next trip? To make your music-streaming easier, go to to book your WiFi pocket. Stable internet is crucial to a fight-free vacation!


Breathtaking Historical Destinations Must See in the East

It’s super amazing that we get to see some mind-blowing historical sites built by ancient civilizations thousands of years ago today. Here are some ideas for your next travel from the world’s most significant heritage if you are not tired of hearing all the “must see” and are up for making your bucket list longer.

Great Wall, China
The history of the Great wall can be tracked to more than two thousand years ago. It was first built during Western Zhou Dynasty (1122BC-771 BC) as a defense to northern enemy, aka Xiongnu nomads of Mongolia. The Great Wall stretches more than 21,000 kilometers in total, which means, you can see the Great Wall not only in Beijing, but in other 15 provinces as well.
There’s one particular section that we recommend in Liaoning Province, called “LiaoDong Great Wall” or the “Wild Great Wall”. This part was so well preserved that it looks the same as when it was constructed 600 years ago during the Ming Dynasty, and the view is stunning. But make sure you are extra careful when you’re visiting, because this part is not “developed” for tourist purpose, walls and stones are likely to fall apart.
Much of the Wall is regarded to be the largest cemetery in the world. Approximately 10 million workers died in its construction. It brought tremendous tragic to the people back in the days, but it played such an important role in Chinese history. In December 1987, the Great Wall was included in the World Cultural Heritage.
And now more than 10 million people come visit the Great Wall every year.

the Forbidden City, China
Being the largest ancient palatial structure in the world that covers 720,000 Square meter and consists of 980 buildings, the Forbidden City was built in 1406 to 1420. It was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty, served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government. After Republic of China (ROC) was established (1912), the last ever emperor Pu-Yi still lived in the palace for quite a while until the temporary cabinet of ROC asked him out in 1924. After a year of organizing, the Forbidden City was open to the public as the Palace museum.

If it’s ever possible to avoid the crowd, do that. It can get extremely crowded. And don’t expect to see tons of precious ancient royal treasure in the palace, because when ROC relocated to Taiwan, they took everything valuable to Taiwan from the palace. Thus, the treasures are in the National Palace Museum in Taiwan now. When you’re in Beijing, don’t skip the Summer Palace. It is a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces. Many people said that they enjoyed it more than the Forbidden City.

Angkor ruins, Cambodia
Angkor ruins in Cambodia along with Great Wall in China, Taj mahal and Borobudur in India are so called the four wonders of the East. This ancient old town was covered and disguised by the jungle for almost five hundred years until Henri Mouhout, a French explorer in the 19th century first found Angkor and he wrote “It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged.” Today, Angkor Wat is not only a symbol of Cambodia. His magnificent architecture and rich culture attract more than ten million of travelers a year from all over the world! (Well, Chinese people contribute a lot of course.)
This ancient city in Cambodia was the center of the Khmer Empire that once ruled most of Southeast Asia. This empire fell into decline, but not before building amazing temples and buildings that were later reclaimed by the jungle for hundreds of years.
The story these ruins tell is part of humanity’s story.

Taj Mahal, India
It was built between 1632 and 1653 AD by Shah Jahan, 5th Emperor of the Mughal Dynasty. And the story behind it is so romantic. Taj mahal is a memorial to Shah Jahan’s beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal after her death in 1631. She died after giving birth to the couple’s 14th child. The emperor intended to build a second grand mausoleum across the Yamuna River from the Taj Mahal, where his own remains would be buried when he died; the two structures were to have been connected by a bridge.
Since Taj Mahal is a mausoleum with a mosque, it is closed for the visitors on Friday. On Fridays, only prayers can go, plus, without the entry ticket. The visit timing is interesting: Sunrise to Sunset. And night tours are permitted between 8:30 pm to 12:30 am for a limited duration of 30 mins. Night time in this stunning masterpiece, how romantic is that?
Today, Taj Mahal’s gleaming white marble facade is suffering serious air pollution from factories and cars since it’s located in the busy, industrial city of Agra in northern India. And now it is turning yellow and green. Restorers have been using a paste of a clay mineral to clean the marble. It pulls away impurities from the surface and can then be washed off with water.

Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
There are about 80 pyramids that exist in Egypt. And the pyramids of Giza are the most famous and magnificent ones. Being the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, pyramids of Giza remain largely intact as well. They are located half an hour of car drive south from Cairo. And the Sphinx that’s next to the pyramid (a mythical creature with the head of a human and the body of a lion) has become the image when people think of Egypt. Its mysteries baffle researchers and are the subject of many conspiracy theories.
They’re over 3,000 years old, and people still don’t have a good idea on how pyramids were built or how the Egyptians made them so precise. Just seeing the photos of these pyramids gives me goosebumps…! Let’s hope there are more days off to come and enough travel money for whoever that’s reading this blog and go see these breathtaking historical destinations for real!
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