Oh, the places you’ll go!

Look at that! Two blog entries in one week! This must be some sort of world record! I kid, I kid… But before I dive into today’s blog, I just wanted to let everyone know – because obviously, my blog sees loads of regular visitors, so that’s why I’m using the word “everyone” – which reminds me that I haven’t set up Google Analytics on this new domain yet – that I reread my previous blog entry and made some edits to it. My blog entries are statistically unproven 99% word vomit, which means I don’t reread or edit my blogs after I click “publish”. Apologies if you’ve noticed any pronounced grammar errors in my past entry!

Anyhow, I met up with two of my longtime friends today, and on my way home, the get-together made me daydream about all the places I wanted to visit in my 20s and 30s.

I have been friends with these two ladies since I was 13-years-old. We first met online on a Neopets forum called “Dizzy Cafe”; in later years, it was called “Delirium” and “Aura”. They were the first ever online friends I met in person. This was back near the beginning of university, in 2007 or 2008. Now, at 25-years-old, the three of us are moving into a brand new stage of our lives. I recently graduated; Jess just finished teaching her first year in Korea; and Niki just got engaged. On my way home from the get-together, I counted the years that we’ve known each other, and I couldn’t believe that I have known these two women for over a decade of my life. We met up today because we all recently came back from a trip overseas, so we decided to meet up so we could catch up on each other’s lives. At The Drake Hotel’s Sky Yard patio, we chatted Hungary (Niki), Korea (Jess), Brazil (me), along with general updates about our lives.

It was the discussion about the countries we recently visited that stood out to me the most. Ever since I’ve been back from Brazil – it’s been a month since I’ve been back! Can you believe it? – I’ve been bitten by the travel bug. Today’s conversations really had me thinking: What are the top places I want to visit before I turn 40?

So on my way home, I made a mental list, which I will publish here, in no particular order:

  • Australia: Mostly because I really want to visit the Great Barrier Reef!
  • Egypt: I want to do a double whammy of both Cairo and Alexandria. Alexandria because I was obsessed with the Ancient Library of Alexandria when I was a kid. How grand it must have been, to carry so many culturally important scrolls and documents within its rooms. Although it’s no longer standing, it still fascinates me (and saddens me) that so much was lost in that fire. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could somehow time travel to a day in time when the library was still standing? Its semi-replacement, Bibliotheca Alexandrina looks to be a worthy of a visit though. I am not entirely sure why I want to visit Cairo, but for some reason, that Egyptian city fascinates me too. Also, Egypt has the pyramids! An obvious must see.
  • Tibet: I have an impression of Tibet being a naturally stunning country. I am not sure if it would be an ideal place to visit when I am young and loving cities, but from the photos and videos I’ve seen, Tibet just looks beautiful!
  • London, England: Their long history and their modern culture are so interesting! Plus, London is a rather short flight away from Toronto. Very do-able for a 20-something-year-old.
  • South Korea: Food. I love Korean food. I also want to get LASIK surgery done there.
  • Japan: I think I might leave this place until after my 40s. I’ve heard Tokyo is very expensive, and I don’t think I can afford that right now, especially with OSAP payments coming up!
  • Greenland: I definitely want to visit Greenland one day, and hopefully before my 40s too. The photos and videos I’ve seen of the country are absolutely stunning, and it seems like one of those naturally beautiful places that would take your breath away!
  • Hong Kong, China: I have never visited Hong Kong since immigrating to Canada when I was a kid, so I have no recollection of what it is like as a city. As a city lover, I define Hong Kong as the city of all cities. Its skyscrapers, huge population and superb transit system are things I would like to experience. Plus, I can almost speak the language fluently, so that’s a huge advantage for me!
  • Shanghai, China: I have heard stories about Shanghai’s smog problems, but regardless, I would still like to visit the city. It looks like a stunning, up-and-coming city in China, so I want to be able to be apart of it as it grows! I also want to visit a city where I can learn and practise my Mandarin.
  • Taiwan: Mainly because of their food.
  • Sao Paolo, Brazil: I wasn’t able to leave the Sao Paolo airport when I visited Brazil this summer, but because I’ve heard lots of great things about it as a city from my friends in Brazil, it has entered into my list of places I want to visit! I hear that it is the most multicultural cities in Brazil, and is much much bigger than Toronto in size. I love cities, so these characteristics are something I want to check out!

The list is obviously incomplete because I am sure there are dozens of other places I’d like to visit but I can’t think of them right now! What do you guys think of my list? I’ve contemplated on adding places like Venice or Rome on to the list, but I feel like they can be left for a later stage in my life rather than in my 20s or 30s.

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  • This looks like the most unappetizing dish of food ever, but it's got an amusing story behind it. (Well, I think it's amusing anyway.) So I'm a solo East Asian female traveller, right? Imagine me walking into a Spanish tapas pub of sorts by myself, not knowing a lick of Spanish and trying to understand how this pub works. (It was highly recommended on @foursquare.) ⁣
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I stood at the bar for like, 10 minutes trying to get the attention of one of the bartenders, but he just continued to look over my head. It was packed in this pub – at least two groups of #RealMadrid fans hanging around, decked out in full gear! – so what with busy bartenders and waiters, no one gave a two-shits about this East Asian girl standing and looking helplessly at the bar. Fair enough.⁣
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Finally though, I managed to get the bartender's attention and ordered a mojito. (Also recommended on @foursquare.) The bartender yells at his co-bartender buddy, and I apparently have to wait some more for this mojito to arrive. After a bit, I'm tired of standing around, and walks over to his buddy's side of the bar and looks at him expectantly.⁣
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This guy is cuuute. The top half of his face reminds me of @oscar_emboaba – the eyebrows, the eyes, the hair. But he still takes ages to give me this damn mojito and the free plate of tapas that comes with it. The whole meal cost only €6, but I still want my food, thanks.⁣
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Anyways, after what must've been 15 minutes since walking through the door of this tapas pub, I'm finally served my food and drink. The mojito turns out to be way bigger than the #Foursquare tips said; it's about maybe 3 to 5 times the size of a normal glass of mojito in London or Toronto. The free tapas were decent, but nothing to shout about.⁣
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While I was eating and drinking though, I had to entertain myself with either my phone or the hustle bustle of the venue. That meant a lot of people watching. A lot of people watching that included the groups of local Real Madrid fans – figured that  I should leave for the stadium relatively the same time as they do – and the cute bartender.⁣
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(Continued below...)
  • Looming history. 🇪🇺 #Brexit
  • Seoul's gate to its soul... 🏯🇰🇷
  • One of my least favourite things about London is the tiny train carriages. When you're underground, the last thing you want to do is also be crammed in a tiny carriage with a bunch of strangers, cringing at the intimate butt-to-butt contact when the train is in motion.

So when I arrived to Seoul and saw these beautiful and spacious subway trains, I knew that I needed to take a photo before I left the country. 4G/LTE data service! Heated seats! Room to stand! Plenty of dangling straps (at different heights)! Big fat clean windows! Designated seats for elders and pregnant women! Designated seating areas for wheelchair users!

Fuck, as I'm writing this, I feel a slight flu of "TTC isn't too bad" coming on. 😕
  • A little bit of Bavaria before the London winter ends. 🌲🐕
  • This photo turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. I took it just before I sat down for a dumplings and noodle soup meal at one of the stalls. The market was supremely busy during the last few days of the year. It's also probably the only venue I went to in Korea that wasn't very friendly to English speakers. Many of these stalls are managed by ahjummas (grandmas), and their English skills aren't very good, so it's a bit difficult to ask them questions about the food or about your order. There are translated menus you can take a look at though, so if it's just a matter of ordering and eating, English speakers will do just fine!