Tag Archives: traveling

#Rose Tea – Chinese Herbal Tea

13 Mar


However despite my mistaken belief that they loved #EnglishTea , I have since learned that the actually prefer #herbal teas.  This box for sal at the local supermarket is full of #roses for #rosetea. They also like #lavender tea, #chamomile, #jasmine, and others.  Makes the #cafe very fragrant!

Spicy Beef and Bamboo soup

15 Feb

#Spicy beef and bamboo sprout #soup with noodles.  Traditional Chinese dish here in Henan- made from #spices that numb your mouth :p

6 Tips For Researching Your Prospective Study Abroad Country

4 Aug

“6 Tips For Researching Your Prospective Study Abroad Country”

by Allie Mitchell via “ULoop

Studying abroad is one of the more exciting things to experience in college. It gives you a chance to see the world while possibly earning college credit along the way. You learn about different cultures and become more aware of the world around you.

Most people regret the decision to not study abroad while they can. They regret not going out of their comfort zone and leaving for a new experience and large perspective. Although, all of this is wonderful, but before considering studying abroad, looking into where you want to go, for how long, and any other things that are necessary should be priority number one. Continue reading

Before You Study Abroad in the UK: A To-Do and Don’t-Do List

10 Feb

“Before You Study Abroad in the UK: A To-Do and Don’t-Do List”

by Roslyn Kent via “Huffington Post

Failing to prepare is like preparing to fail; get organized, check off that list and do your research before you go overseas to the United Kingdom–you won’t regret be over prepared.

It’s normal to be overwhelmed by all the check lists, packing lists and shopping lists that you’ll undoubtedly be inundated with prior to leaving for your exchange in the UK. Emotions aside, the last thing you’ll want to deal with before you leave is the logistics of your exchange; unfortunately, your mom can’t do it all for you. Not sure what you’ll need while overseas? Here’s what you should and shouldn’t do prior to leaving for your whirlwind study abroad experience:

Don’t:

1. Overpack: You won’t be wanting to bring all your unnecessary bulky toiletries. You will be able to buy almost all of them there (unless you need to use specific brands) and chances are, they’ll be even cheaper overseas (hello Poundland!).

2. Buy a roaming package for your phone: Phone plans are dirt cheap in the UK (the cheapest you’ll pay is £5/month or at the most, £15/month, which will probably included unlimited data and lots of texting and calling). If you extend your phone plan from home it will still cost you more, especially for data–you’ll want data in case you get lost. Try to get a month by month plan so you’re not tied down to anything. If you can, sign up with Three Mobile, that way you can use your phone for free in 10 other countries in Europe!

3. Pay for unnecessary visas: Make sure you’re aware of exactly which visa you’ll need while in the UK. It’s likely your home university’s study abroad office will assist you in this, but avoid seeking advice elsewhere (i.e. from friends who’ve never studied abroad). If you’re a citizen of a commonwealth country then you won’t have to pay for a visa at all if you only plan to stay in the UK for six months. Research the different options and be wary of paying for a visa you won’t need.

4. Bring your hair dryer and straightener: If you want to avoid bringing home a broken hair dryer/straightener, it’s highly advisable that you buy a cheap one over there and share with your roommates. Oftentimes, North American hair dryers and straighteners aren’t equipped to handle the voltage of a UK outlet. If you’re certain yours can handle it then go ahead and bring it with you, if not, it’s better to be safe than sorry! . . .

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Photograph Award

10 Dec

Beyond Yonder Hills

The Photo “Beyond Yonder Hills” was selected by Judges as a favorite, making it a winner of the Staff Winter Selection 2015!

Cool Tools! Mochi Travel Wallet

25 Sep

Better Together Note Pouch v1

Who: Mochi Things

What: Note Pouch (basically a wallet, far as I can tel)–

Dimensions 8.7 * 5.3 * 1.4 in.
Weight 8.18 oz
Material Polyester, Nylon, Paper
Ships Worldwide From Seattle, WA, USA

Where: MochiThings.com

Why: This looks like it would be a great wallet replacement for your carry-on or backpack during travel! I really like that it has room for a passport and/or notebook.

How Much: $45.95 (If anyone tries this, I’d be interested in whether it lasts!

5 Aug

“44 Tips for Traveling in Italy”

by History in High Heels.

 

I get lots of questions about living in Florence and emails asking for tips for traveling in Italy. So I finally decided to put all of my tips and advice together in one place! I hope you find them useful and please share any tips you have.

1. Plan and Pre-Book major sights and attractions whenever possible, especially if you are traveling in mid-March (spring break) or between May and July.

2. Don’t use third party booking websites or companies. 
Companies like TickItaly will charge you an arm and a leg for a reservation you could easily make on the official museum website (or officially sponsored website) yourself. Here is a list of official museum/gallery websites:
Vatican Museums
Roman Forum and Colosseum (combo ticket)
Borghese Gallery (Rome)
The David (Accademia, Florence)
Uffizi (Florence)
Last Supper (Milan)
Doge’s Palace (Venice)
St. Mark’s (Venice)

3. Avoid restaurants with pictures of the food.
You can read more of my tips for selecting restaurants in Italy here.

4. Make the most of the high-speed train. 
It is only takes an hour and a half to get from Florence to Rome or Florence to Venice, and only thirty minutes to get to Bologna! Plus the trains are comfortable and reliable. They are my preferred way to travel around Italy. You can purchase tickets online or through a local travel agent in Italy. If you are in Florence, the lovely staff at FlorenceForFun can help you get great discounts!

5. Don’t let anyone help you put your luggage on the train or take it off.
This is a scam (mostly by gypsies) to force you to tip. If you are fine tipping, go for it, but be warned they are not the most upstanding characters.

6. Watch your bags as the train arrives and departs the station. 
Just incase somebody tries to hop on and steal something at the last minute.

7. Be prepared to lug all of your luggage down cobblestone streets and up stairs (and on and off trains). 
If your bag is too heavy or large to do this yourself, you need to rethink what you have packed! There are lots of streets and squares taxis can’t go down, so even if you cab it, you still might have another block or two to haul your stuff. Elevators can also be a rarity and you will often find random small sets of steps you have to navigate.

8. Bring a portable luggage scale, especially if you are traveling via discount European airlines. 
They are serious about bag weight.

9. Get up early every once and a while. 
Many cities, like Rome and Venice, have a completely different feel without the hoards of tourists. It is worth it to get an early start (especially in the hot summer) to get a different perspective of the city and to see many of the monuments not littered with people.

10. Always carry cash. 
Most places will not let you use your debit or credit card for smaller purchases and restaurants don’t split bills.

11. Wear comfortable shoes.

12. Look up if your bank has any affiliations in Italy (i.e. Bank of America and BNL) to avoid service charges and fees.

13. Unlock your phone and pop in an Italian SIM card. 
If you have an iPhone that is out of contract (i.e. over two years old) this is fairly easy to do and Italian SIMs are inexpensive.

14. Don’t forget sunscreen.

15. Don’t put cheese on seafood pasta. 
Despite how delicious the cheese is here, Italians do not put it on everything. . . . .

“READ MORE”

THE SECRET TO TAKE BETTER TRAVEL PHOTOS

31 Jul

“THE SECRET TO TAKE BETTER TRAVEL PHOTOS”

via “Bacon is Magic”

Have a DSLR and don't know how to shoot other than on auto? Read this about how to take better travel photos.

Travel and photography seem to go hand in hand. A month before my 2007 trip to New Zealand I wanted to take better photos than what my point and shoot had been taking.

Fortunately, my ex (you know the one I left to travel) is a great photographer and gave me an old Canon film SLR from the 1970s and a crash course on how to take photos.

I had never considered myself a creative person before that but I fell in love with photography. When I returned from New Zealand I bought a used DSLR. Ten thousand photos later I travel with a Canon 60D with three lenses.

I spend a lot of time reading about how to take better photos and my frustration is that most sites list the basics or get too technical there seems to be no in between– I get that we’re supposed to shoot in the golden hour but what next?

Well Beth from Beers and Beans has finally told me.

 

getting out of auto

 

Bethany is an amazing photographer. She isn’t the kind where you look at it and think wow that is a technically perfect photo she is the kind that makes you feel something and think wow I wish I could do that.

She just launched an ebook called Getting out of Auto and I cannot express how amazing this guide is.

Part One includes all the basics, the stuff that seems complicated like f stops and aperture. But instead of just stating what they are, she actually explains them in a way you can understand with lots of photos. . . .

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6 South African Foods that Look Delicious

7 Jul

“Swellendam Lake, South Africa” by Mad-Margaret

“South Africa never leaves one indifferent. Its history, its population, its landscapes and cultures – all speak to the visitor, to the student, to the friend of Africa.”

~ Tariq Ramadan

I still remember the first time I actively realized South Africa was a country in it’s own right.  Growing up in a small rural Mid-western town, my education definitely was more European focused than African.  What little I knew of South Africa was limited to the connection between a small city named Cape Town and the explorers of the 17- and 1800s.  

Then, my freshman year of college, I met the sweetest young man studying abroad from South Africa and attending my honor’s courses.  He was such a kind student, hard working, and seriously brilliant.  College was the first time I really had a chance to talk with foreigners and people from the far-off countries I had previously only dreamed about.  There was something exotic and exciting each time I could say: Voila! I have now spoken with a person from ____________ country!

He used to tell me about his country, describing the beautiful places he was homesick for and the culture he would have loved to share. His stories permanently marked South Africa on my list of “Someday to visit places.” 

After doing some research on the country, I’ve discovered that, in addition to the locations he mentioned, I’m kinda looking forwards to the food as well 🙂  If you are going to visit a new country, it’s pretty much required that you try out their best dishes and the following 6 are a must-try for me!  

If you get a chance to travel or study in South Africa, let me know how the local versions taste! 🙂

1. Boerewors

This past 4th of July, my family BBQ’d pork steaks and hot dogs on the grill.  In South Africa, they call this “Braaing” and they prefer to throw Boerewors on the grills.  Boerewors are the South African version of Polish Sausage — it is  a varying mixture of meat (primarily beef with lamb and/or pork) and spices.  According to my friend, the dish is traditionally crafted from scratch; no running to the store and picking up a package. It takes work and time, but it’s well worth the effort!  

If you’re interested in making your own, I found a recipe that looks promising here on Food.com.

2. Bobotie

Bobotie is a baked egg-custard dish with minced meat, fruits, and spices inside, and I’ve got to say I’m desperate to try it out. The pictures all just look so good!  Made of Beef or Lamb combined with various dried fruits (Apricot, Dates, Raisins, etc.), Indianesque spices, and topped with an egg-based sauce, the dish is very popular in South Africa. And no Wonder!  I love anything vaguely cassarole-ish, and they say this is a great variety.

Good-Looking Recipe available from Nigella

3. Koeksisters

I’m picturing something “Spike Cake” or “Lemon Cake” tasting (which I like anyway), but they say these are actually better.  It probably depends upon the recipe (some are more cinnamon-based, some are more ginger-based, others thrown in lemon with a dash of vanilla), but these little treats are supposed to be the bomb-diggity.  Most of the recipes I’ve found show a cake-based foundation, fried to perfection and then topped with some sort of sweet glaze or sauce.  They remind me of the Twists our bakery sells here in China 🙂  

Best-looking Recipe I found was on Food.com, but there are some others here and here

4. Potjiekos

Translating as “Pot Food”, Potjiekos sounds like something my grandmother and mom would love to make. They are always making the famous “Blessing Vegetable Soup” out of whatever vegetables are in the cabinet on a cool fall day.  Potjiekos sounds remarkably similar.  In the olden days, South Africans cooked over the fire in a Potjie (Cast Iron Pot), making delicious stew recipes that would descend through the ages.  Unlike my grandmother’s soups though, this fire was always outside! The food is added in via layers ~ Meat first then layers of different vegetables in order of the time it takes to cook them.  Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes, Onion, Garlic, Carrots, Tomatoes, Broccoli, any veggies you want to throw in.  The result is a homey kind of stew that sounds soooo good!

Find out more about the process and recipes here at Potjiekos World

5. Chakalaka

I’m going to confess that half the attraction for this dish is the name ~ “Chakalaka” just sounds pretty awesome! 🙂  The dish itself changes a bit depending on the recipe, some are more of a salsa consistency while others look somewhat like a chili.  Chakalaka is not actually a dish in and of itself, rather it is a sauce or relish added to meats, curry, bread, etc. as a garnish to spice up the flavor.  I know some people who add it to chicken and say it’s the best for adding a touch of jazz to the taste!  Most recipes, though not all, include beans, onion, garlic, ginger, curry/chili powder, tomatoes, corn, peppers carrots, and other vegetables.  Mmm-mmm Good!

I found a pretty yummy-sounding recipe here on Food Network UK that I think I might try soon.

6. Melktert

Of course I haven’t forgotten dessert, and these Melkterts look like a must-try.  In fact, we’re going to test out the recipe below this month at my family’s fish fry.  It’s an egg-custard like pastry, but with a uniquely South African touch to an originally Portuguese concept.  The crust is made and the custard either baked within or added just before serving.  Apparently, it’s more milk than egg and if you add cinnamon to the milk first it is even better.  The custard has a buttery, sweet taste and you can add cinnamon and sugar on top.  I can’t wait to try it!

I’m combining two recipes from here and here.

Luoyang Peony Festival

23 Apr

Luoyang Peony Festival!

Follow up on part one of my Luoyang visit! You can see my post about the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, another beautiful site to see in the area 🙂

Did you know that for a long time the Peony was actually China’s official national flower? And it started right here in Luoyang, where the Peony was the flower of kings and noblemen.   Now, there are many types of Peonies grown in the gardens of Luoyang, and those gardens are opened up to visitors during the annual Peony Festival!  

Every year from the middle of April until the middle of May, the Peonies bloom and visitors from around the world come to check them out.  The festival itself is during the peak time, usually April 15-25, when the flowers are at their most stunning.  

There are many, many Peony gardens you can see, for example the Luoyang National Peony Garden (it was too busy so our tour bus couldn’t reach it; we checked out another garden) is said to be the very best.  But there are many others you can see, like the one we visited. It was much smaller, but still breathtaking!  You can check out China Highlight’s post for a list of options and prices!

You can reach Luoyang via Train (approximately 4 hours from Beijing and 8 hours from Shanghai) or by Flight, and the price to the gardens isn’t too bad. There are lots of hotels and restaurants to check out, and many other sightseeing activities for your family 🙂

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