A Day Trip to Tianjin天津

A port city metropolis situated along the Bohai Sea in Northern China, Tianjin is China’s largest coastal city and currently ranks fourth largest in urban population following Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou. Meaning “heavenly ford” or “the place where the emperor crossed the river,” Tianjin has historically been the maritime gateway to the nation’s capital of Beijing. Because of its location, controlling Tianjin has been of crucial strategic importance in terms of the geopolitics of the area.

My Experience with Harassment in Istanbul

Solo travel can be an eye-opening, enriching experience. You can have some truly amazing conversations with locals or deep moments of self-reflection without distractions. On the other hand, solo travel can open the door to some extremely frustrating incidents, such as this one time I was forced to buy a carpet I didn’t want.

In this post, I look back at my trip to Istanbul and address some lingering fear and anxiety from the harassment I experienced.

The Incredible Leshan Giant Buddha 乐山大佛

The Leshan Buddha, fondly called, “Da Fo” or Big Buddha (大佛), is an amazing feat of ancient architecture and manpower. Carved into the side of Mt. Lingyun, the colossal statue at 71 meters tall (233 feet) stands over 1,300 years old and is considered to be the largest stone Buddha in the world – by far the tallest pre-modern statue. This sacred, ancient wonder of the world was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 and attracts millions of people every year, including Buddhist pilgrims AND ME!

Chengdu 成都: The “Special Flavor” of Sichuan food

Sichuan spice is no joke. Sichuan peppercorns are known for their mouth-numbing properties, while a plethora of other spicy ingredients can have sweat and tears running down your face. Thankfully, not all Sichuan-style dishes are so volatile, though! For those with lighter palates, Sichuan food can also be sweet, savory and refreshing.

Chengdu 成都: Land of Abundance

As the saying goes, those who enter the Sichuan area of China are susceptible to the persuasive charms of the lifestyle there: the slow-paced rhythm of work, the pleasant climate, the mouth-watering cuisine, the sounds of mahjong being played into the night…

Chengdu 成都: The Giant Panda Breeding and Research Base

The animal is puzzling. It does little to merit its popularity. In the wild, it spends all of its waking time wandering aimlessly to find food. Though it is a carnivore, there is little game where it lives, and the panda is not quick enough to catch it anyway. So it eats bamboo, and since…

The Strays of Istanbul

While walking around the city, one cannot travel more than a few steps without coming across one of the many cats and dogs freely roaming around. Over the course of my time in Istanbul, I learned that the city has a history of treating its strays well, but it wasn’t always so. During the early 20th century, many cleansing campaigns were implemented to rid the city of unwanted animals (mostly dogs) that represented noisy disturbances, dirt and danger from diseases, such as rabies.

My First Time in a Turkish Bath

Hamams, also known as Turkish baths, are public bathing houses dating back from the Ottoman times. Going to a hamam is one of those experiences that I felt I had to do in Turkey. A bucket list item, if you will. However, I admit I went into this experience pretty blind as to what to expect.

My First Time Horseback Riding!

Soft sunlight streamed down through branches gently swaying with the early afternoon breeze. Long blades of grass brushed across the broad legs of both the horse and rider as they rode through the Cappadocian landscape. Beautiful alabaster pillars rose high above them, silhouetted against a bright azure sky. The rider and horse trusting each other completely while riding in tandem to the relaxing sounds of nature…
That was what I initially pictured my first horseback ride to be like. In reality, although the landscape was breathtaking, the experience was comically awkward in how ungraceful it was.

A Roman Fortress and an Underground City

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous (but excited!) when our guide asked our small group if anyone was claustrophobic as we’d be descending far underground into some cramped narrow tunnels.