July 8, 2008


I'm back from a fantastic Nordic vacation with my parents who were visiting for two weeks. We covered Norway, Finland and Estonia and experienced Stockholm's amazing archipelago. I must say, Norway is definitely one of the most beautiful countries I've ever visited — I'd love to visit again if it wasn't so freakin' expensive!!

The wonderful thing about living in Europe is that you can travel such a short distance and be immersed in another world of a different culture, language and people. Oh, and who can forget the 5-6 weeks of vacation per year? :)

Here are some recaps of a few more of my past trips...

Swedish Lappland (mid-April)

Christian came to Sweden for a week to visit me and we took a 3-day trip up to Kiruna in the arctic circle. We took an overnight train up north and right when we arrived in Kiruna at 10am we were taken straight into the wilderness for a serene dogsled ride with Alaskan huskies. For lunch we stopped in a forest camp and had a delicious Sami meal of reindeer meat and potatoes with lingonberry sauce while sitting around a campfire on warm reindeer fur. Our musher, Stefan, recalled a story of when he was hiking in the area and just encountered Mats Sundin in the middle of the arctic woods!

In the afternoon we suited up for a snowmobile tour to the town of Jukkasjärvi, home of the original Ice Hotel. We were joined by 4 others, who just happened to be from Toronto as well (small world!) I only rode in the back on the way there, but it was an exhilarating experience. The Ice Hotel is built along the Torne River, from which all the ice for its construction was farmed. There's a huge ice factory right next to it that farms all the ice for next year's ice hotel as well as for exporting to the Absolut Ice Bars in Stockholm, Copenhagen, London and Tokyo. Inside the hotel we saw the Ice Church, where many couples get married, the original Absolut Ice Bar, and of course, the artist-designed rooms and suites, which were really amazing.

I had the chance to drive the snowmobile back, but we hit a lake with really deep snow so when I tried turning, we started leaning over too much and toppled into the snow. And it happened again. And again :P Whoops. After making Christian faceplant into the snow 3 times I decided it was time for him to drive again. We arrived back to our base camp at Lake Alta and had a dinner of more reindeer, potatoes and lingonberry sauce (yum!) Because we were so far north, the sun didn't set until 10pm and even after sunset there were a few hours of twilight. That meant we had to wait until midnight to even have a chance to see any glimpse of the Nothern Lights. So after dinner we just hung out in the sauna and socialized with two other guys visiting from Germany until our tour guide came by at midnight to pick us up to take us to some mountain for a better view.

Our guide was pretty skeptical of our chances of seeing it that night though so he just brought us back into town to our hostel. I had been pretty much resigned to the fact that we probably wouldn't be seeing because 1) peak season was only November - March, 2) we were only staying one night and nighttime only lasted 2 hours 3) the last occurrence was 2 weeks prior. Once we got to the hostel, I got out of the van and made a beeline to the door — that's when our guide told us to look up. Lo and behold, it was the northern lights dancing above our heads!! At first when I looked up I didn't think it was anything since it just looked like a streak of milky clouds, but then it turned into green curtain streaking the sky. It was sImply amazing!

The next day we just explored the town of Kiruna, which didn't have much to see except a nice Sami-styled church that was named the most beautiful building in Sweden in 2002. We had an overnight train to catch back to Stockholm but when we arrived at the train station, we encountered Slovak signs all over the place and even the train station sign said Bratislava. It was really quite confusing until we noticed a film crew further down the tracks!

Russia (early May)

During Valborg Sweden had another super long weekend so I took advantage of the extra days off and headed off to Russia with Melissa. We spent 2.5 days in St. Petersburg and visited Peter and Paul Fortress, Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood, and the Hermitage, and explored the Nevsky Prospekt and Mariinsky Theatre areas. We took an overnight train to Moscow and I must say I was highly impressed by the comfort level of our couchettes. I was actually really apprehensive about the overnight trains because I read that they were pretty dirty and ghetto, but this train was actually the fanciest one I've ever been on: plush carpet, 4 beds (instead of 6) ready-made with nice linen and real pillows, free toiletries kit with slippers, breakfast box in the morning, and a car attendant serving free tea and coffee.

Moscow was beautiful and unbelievably clean, despite everyone from St. Petersburg telling us that it was dirty and there was nothing to see. On the contrary, I enjoyed it more than St. Petersburg, and it seemed more Russian to me, whereas St. Petersburg felt too European. Our Moscow sightseeing included the must-sees like the Kremlin and Red Square, touring around the metro system and visiting the ornately-decorated stations, window shopping at GUM, and exploring most of the central districts on foot. I ventured on my own to the New Tretyakov Gallery, the modern art museum, to see the the famous works of Russian avant-garde artists Malevich, Tatlin, and Kandinsky.

Since the entire country was preparing for Victory Day on May 9, Lenin's tomb was closed off so we couldn't visit it. We also tried getting ballet tickets in both cities but they were all sold out :(

Copenhagen (mid-May)

I absolutely LOVED Copenhagen — it is by far one of my favourite cities: lively atmosphere, vibrant art and design scene, amazing contemporary architecture, and super friendly people (they don't even seem Scandinavian!) Whenever my friend or I were looking at a map on the street there was always someone stopping to ask whether we needed help. One couple even directed us to a huge outdoor flea market nearby, where I snatched up some cheap finds: a scarf, tank top, and bag all for $9! The vendor that I shopped at suggested us to lunch at a popular patio restaurant on the canal so we rode our bikes over for an amazing meal out in the sun. The rest of the weekend in Copenhagen involved the obvious tourist sites like walking along Europe's longest pedestrian street, Strøget, visiting the colourful Nyhavn harbour, exploring the community of Christiana, riding bumper cars in Tivoli Gardens, visiting the The Danish Design Centre, checking out all the contemporary architecture dotted throughout the city, and of course, making the trekk to see the Little Mermaid sculpture.

Posted by mich at 12:44 PM | return | dreams [0]

June 13, 2008

Scootering in Spain

I just came back from a 5-day trip to Barcelona, where I met up with Monzi visiting from Toronto. The weather there was actually much cooler than in Sweden, but it was nice and refreshing.

One of my favourite things about Barcelona is the wonderful architecture of Antoni Gaudí dotted throughout the city. Gaudí-designed buildings and public spaces such as the Sagrada Família, Padrera, Casa Batlló, and Parc Güell, and public street furniture like whimsical lamps and benches give the city such a unique and fantastical character.

The highlight of the trip was renting a scooter for a day and riding from Barceloneta beach across the entire city northwards and all the way up to Mount Tibidabo, where we had a breathtaking view of the city. From Tibidabo we scootered over to the western hill, Montjuïc, site of the Olympic stadium and Mies van der Rohe's beautifully simplistic Barcelona Pavilion.

I absolutely loved Barcelona's Gothic Quarter and El Born areas for their labyrinths of narrow alleyways filled with boutiques, cute cafés and restaurants, public squares, medieval architecture and random street performances. Everywhere you walk there's a surprise at each turn, whether it be a beautiful massive cathedral, bullet holes left intact from the Spanish Civil War, a cloister courtyard that was home to 13 geese (each goose represents one year in the life of the martyr Santa Eulalia), or a performer twirling sticks of fire.

I also checked out the Picasso Museum, which had been set up by Picasso himself and to which he personally donated a huge collection of his early works. I was completely blown away with his Las Meninas series, in which he painted 44 stylized interpretations of Velázquez's famous painting. Another great museum I visited was the MACBA (Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona). Since I came here the morning of my last day I only had enough time to check out an exhibit on Barcelona's Francesc Torres, a multimedia and conceptual artist focused on themes of memory, culture and politics.

I was really looking forward to amazing food on this trip but was slightly disappointed. I guess we weren't going to the right places, but we encountered undercooked chicken or almost raw minced meat at several restaurants we chose x_X Thankfully Paul, who had lived in Barcelona for 2.5 years, met up with us a few days later and took us to a great place by Port Olympic and we enjoyed seafood paella on the beach. We did it Spanish style too, starting our lunch at 3:30pm and eating until 5pm — it was a fantastic meal with good food, nice scenery, beautiful weather, and great company ^_^

Posted by mich at 11:43 AM | return | dreams [0]

May 30, 2008

Alive and Kicking

Peek-a-boo. I know it's been a long hiatus since I've last blogged... I had some database problems that took me a while to fix, and after that most my free time was occupied by exploring Stockholm or travelling (the vacation kind) every other week :P I just came back from a weekend trip to Copenhagen and I am completely in love with that city: amazing modern architecture, stylish interior designs, vibrant energy on the streets even in the wee hours of the night, random public art/sound installations throughout the city, extremely bicycle-friendly, and super friendly people. But more on my trip later. Here's some updates from the past few months I've been M.I.A.

Grad School

The biggest update is that I'll be moving to Hong Kong in the fall for grad school starting in September. I got accepted into their one-year MDes program in Interaction Design (with a scholarship to boot!)

I basically had no life in January and February as I was applying for my schools. On top of preparing my portfolio and motivation letters, the killer was applying for the Swedish schools that asked for a ridiculous amount of work: Malmö University had a hard-core design assignment (imagine doing a full CSC 318 project by yourself!), while Konstfack in Stockholm required a thesis proposal and then some. I was asked in to an interview with Konstfack in front of a panel of 5 faculty members. It was probably the most intense interview I've ever experienced, during which they grilled me on my thesis on emotionally expressive communication devices and the current/future ethical issues within the design field. The program at Konstfack is Experience Design, which encompasses a wide variety of disciplines, so they were planning to accept only one student each from a different specialization (architecture, sound/light design, interaction design, etc.) to create a small "dream team," I guess you can say.

In the end I was actually accepted into all my schools, including Parsons School of Design in NYC (however, with prestige comes ridiculously hefty debts, even after taking into consideration my scholarship offer.) The Swedish schools seemed really attractive, especially with the free tuition, but I'm not sure if I'd be happy living here in Sweden for another 2 years (especially in the winter.) Hong Kong seemed like the best choice for me since it's specialized in Interaction Design (Parsons and Konstfack are not), it's a short, yet intense, 1-year program, the expenses won't entirely break my bank account, and it'd be another interesting change of environment (perhaps I'll even improve my Cantonese too!)

Vienna and Bratislava

The day of my last deadlines for grad school apps, I jetted off to Vienna for a well-deserved break! I didn't have too many expectations of the city but when I started exploring I was absolutely amazed by the beauty and extravagance of all their historical buildings lining the streets. I visited the Mozarthaus, which was Mozart's biggest, most expensive and prestigious apartment he owned — it was also where he wrote The Marriage of Figaro, gave students piano lessons, and gave intimate performances for Hadyn and other important contemporaries. Having grown up playing piano, it was such a surreal experience for me to walk through the apartments of one of the world's greatest composers.

Of course, what would a visit to Vienna be without a night out to the symphony? My friend and I picked up last minute tickets at the Musikverein for a performance by the London Philharmonic. Aside from the fact that the last-minute ticket holders had to stand in the back the entire night (my poor legs and feet!), the performance was really nice. The next evening we attended marionette show of The Magic Flute, which was sung in German, but visually stunning nonetheless. We learned that it takes 3 years to master the art — to just make the puppet walk takes 3 months to get it right.

Since Bratislava, Slovakia is just an hour train ride from Vienna, we had made plans to make a short stop to explore the city. Coming straight from Vienna, which I was not ready to leave, I didn't really enjoy my time there. It was cute and quaint, but there was nothing really to do except to see the buildings and architecture in the Old Town. The contrast of the atmosphere of the two cities was quite surprising, given their proximity.


In Sweden we had Good Friday and Easter Monday as holidays so it was an extra long weekend... perfect for a vacation! I headed to Berlin that weekend and my first impression the first night was that I amazed with the slew of Asian restaurants everywhere, including Vietnamese (yes, I'm deprived in Stockholm!) So of course, I had to go out for a bowl of Pho and I also tried a really fun Indo-Malasian restaurant completely decked out with tropical plants and gigantic paper umbrellas... the food there was great too :)

Berlin is a fascinating city that's still quite rough around the edges. While it has an oppressive history and is filled with historical remains and sites, it has amazing modern architectural buildings, a thriving art scene, vibrant atmosphere on the streets, and so many great museums (we visited the famous Persamon Museum, the Daniel Libeskind -designed Jewish Museum, and a contemporary art museum.)

My friends and I joined the free walking tour that took us to the main historical sites like Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Holocaust Memorial, Hitler's Bunker (which is now just a nondescript parking lot), Berlin Wall, Book Burning Memorial, Checkpoint Charlie, and Humboldt University, which boasts 29 Nobel prize winners including Albert Einstein.

Hang tight... more travel summaries in later posts!

Posted by mich at 7:36 PM | return | dreams [0]

February 9, 2008

Happy Year of the Rat!

Gong hei fat choi! ^__^ For New Year's Eve my Chinese friend and I prepared a small dinner for a few friends and it turned out quite well! On the menu we had cucumber salad, borscht soup, Peking duck, homemade dumplings, tea leaf eggs, and soy sauce chicken - I was quite impressed by what we pulled off! I took a bunch of pictures so I can show my parents... they won't believe it otherwise, haha.

This evening I was invited out to a new year dinner at a Chinese restaurant with a Chinese group I had just met. It was a bit weird for me though because they were mostly speaking Mandarin and Swedish so I couldn't understand anything unless they spoke to me in English o_O I was so fascinated though by how they just switched back and forth between Chinese and fluent Swedish, it was pretty cool. The dinner was my first taste of European Chinese food (something I had been really reluctant to try) but it wasn't too bad. The cuisine was more northern-China style so it was quite heavy and saucy, which I'm not used to.

So it's finally February, thank goodness. It felt like January would never end with all my endless nights slaving away in front of my computer. It was such a brutal month for me and I swear I almost turned into a zombie with the little sleep I had. But I did manage to squeeze in a few fun activities to keep my spirits up.

Dinner at Koh Phangan
For a friend's birthday we went to to a really great Thai restaurant called Koh Phangan. Right when you walk inside it feels like you entered a tropical paradise of beach huts, bridged walkways, waterfalls and caves. It even had a "rainstorm" in the middle of dinner. The food actually wasn't too bad. I just ordered a simple vegetarian plate of pad thai, but at $25 that was the most expensive pad thai I've ever had!

Colombian Night
My Colombian roommate gathered her Colombian posse over to our place one evening and cooked us a dinner of arepas, chorizos, and beans. Very yummy indeed. They continued the festivities into our living room by cranking up some Latin music and taught the non-Colombians some salsa dancing. That was great fun, but I was stepping all over people's toes :P

I attended my first symphony concert here watching the Stockholm Philharmonic one afternoon. It was so nice and I got all nostalgic for my symphony-going days with Christina back in Toronto. The repertoire they played that day was a modern set - very punchy, playful and oddly rhythmed, which is something I wasn't used to hearing but I thought it was so fantastic.

Hawaiian Pub Night
Every last Friday of the month my office holds a pub night. This time it was a Hawaiian theme to bring some sunshine to our dark and dreary Scandinavian winter. Some people acted as bartenders all decked out in Hawaiian shirts and mixed colourful fruity drinks complete with umbrellas and pineapples. The Hawaiian island music and leis were the perfect finishing touches... totally made me want to go to Hawaii!

Riga Cruise
Last weekend a group of us took a cruise to Riga, the capital of Latvia. It was an overnight boat trip and everyone was prepared to party and take advantage of the duty free alcohol prices, but our tiny boat was hit by a storm by 9pm. With the extreme rocking and shaking, most of us ended up with pretty bad motion sickness, including yours truly. We finally made it through the night though and spent the next day exploring the city. Riga is pretty small so we were able to see most of the main sites within the day. It still seemed pretty European though... I was expecting more of a Soviet feel. We boarded the ship again that evening and for the ride back we armed ourselves with motion sickness pills. The storm on the second night was actually even worse than the previous but luckily we were already lying down in bed by that time. What an experience... I'll stick with bigger boats next time to Finland and Estonia thank you very much!

Posted by mich at 10:42 PM | return | dreams [0]

January 11, 2008

Holiday in Göteborg

For the holidays I had 11 days off so I spent most of the time hanging out with Paul over on the other side of Sweden. Even though Göteborg (pronounced yur-teh-boor-ay) is the Sweden's second largest city, it's really quite small and compact. I was really starting to miss Stockholm's metro system after the entire week of waiting for trams and buses in the miserable rain.

I did the typical tourist run of the city exploring the Old Town, city centre, and various museums. I was quite disappointed with the two art museums: the fine art museum only had one exhibit of mish-mashed works by a local art collective and its Hasselblad Centre featured a photographer whose works weren't enthralling to me, and the Röhsska Museum was a design and decorative arts museum but the temporary exhibit featuring a video and sound installation was the only thing that stood out for me. The Museum of World Culture was a surprisingly fantastic however, and the building itself was a gorgeous work of architecture. I spent over an hour in one of the feature exhibits called Trafficking, about the human trafficking of women and children mainly for prostitution. It was so appalling reading and watching videos of horrible stories that have taken place in all parts of the world.

Göteborg is the birthplace of Volvo so of course I had to visit the Volvo museum. Unfortunately Paul and I didn't realize how far it was from the city centre so our trip took about an hour. Since we also slept in super late that day we arrived to the museum at 3:30... and the museum was closing at 4. Amazingly there was another pair of visitors that arrived at the same time as us and the museum employees told us to take our time to explore. We didn't realize how big the museum actually was and ended up taking 2 hours to watch an intro film and to walk through all the exhibits. Although I'm not a big car person, I love looking at old-fashioned cars and I'm such a big sucker for the whimsical designs and colours from the 50's. They also had a section for experimental prototypes that was really neat. It featured environmentally friendly concept models including one that actually cleaned the air when being driven!

On my second last day in Gothenburg, the rain finally stopped and we saw sunlight for the very first time! We took advantage of the weather and took a nice ferry ride out to the archipelago to visit one of the islands. We took a quick walk around and admired the quaint traditional Swedish houses, which are mostly wooden and colourfully painted. I love them... I couldn't stop snapping away!

Since Paul's a dancer at the Opera Company I had the pleasure of watching him perform in Askungen, a fun and colourful adaptation of Cinderella. The performance was great... I think that was my first time watching a modern dance performance rather than a ballet so it was quite different and interesting for me.

Posted by mich at 11:57 AM | return | dreams [0]

December 25, 2007

God Jul!

I hope everyone is having a wonderful white Christmas back home! I'm spending the holidays with my old family friend who's working in Göteborg (Sweden's 2nd largest city on the other side of the country). Here it's +6 degrees and rainy, yuck.

I arrived in the city on Christmas Eve and by the time my train came in at 2pm the sun had already disappeared! :( Paul took me back to his place and we snacked on different cheeses and knäckebröd (Swedish crackers) while catching up. It was wonderful to find out how much of a foodie he is and that's all we talked about until dinner when he made me a delicious dish of couscous with stir-fried veggies, raisins and walnuts. Then we relaxed by the TV and watched Sex and the City (I had never seen it before believe it or not) while pigging out on dark chocolate and drinking glögg. Mmm living the lazy life!

This morning we totally slept in and made crêpes that we ate with various combinations of nutella, cheese, honey, lingonberry jam, and butter. We couldn't really call it brunch since it was 2:30pm by the time we sat down to eat! There's a pattern that's starting to repeat itself: we just can't stop talking about food! Living in Sweden, it's so expensive to eat out that you don't really have the same luxury of eating out all the time as we would in Toronto or HK. So we just fantasize about all the food that we miss back home and just drool over the places we'd eat at when we go back to TO or HK... it's quite pathetic really! Paul however is a master in the kitchen so I'm hoping to learn some cooking tips from him during my stay :) He whipped up a simple but yummy Christmas dinner of Swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce, mashed potatoes and green beans.

Posted by mich at 8:09 PM | return | dreams [0]

December 14, 2007

Frankfurt Weekend

Last weekend I headed down to Frankfurt on my own, mainly to check out one of Germany's oldest and largest Christmas markets. It was my first time in Germany and I really enjoyed it, but the language barrier was a bit difficult sometimes. Here in Sweden everyone's extremely proficient in English, so when I arrived in Germany I was a bit surprised at first that not many people spoke or even understood English. I've completely taken for granted the fact that everyone in Sweden knows English!

Since Frankfurt is mostly a financial hub, there's not that much historical or cultural attractions to see, but I did visit three excellent museums: Museum für Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art), Deutsches Architekturmuseum, and Schirn Kunstalle Frankfurt. The MMK had an amazing photography exhibit featuring the works of an American who persuaded her way into some of the most private spaces kept away from the public and documented what goes on inside, including an HIV research lab, death row facility, cryo-preservation unit, Microsoft prototype house, nuclear waste storage area, and headquarters of the KKK. The images were powerful enough on their own but reading the descriptions and background behind each shot really put me in awe. The architecture museum was small but it still had some interesting exhibits like Shrinking Cities that examined social, political, economic and architectural factors for population loss, Contemporary Architecture in Korea, and Gaudí Unseen that put some of Gaudí's unfinished works and ideas on display. The Schirn Kunsthalle's Art Machines Machine Art was the most fun and engaging of the three. It looked at artist-created machines that produce unique and random art and examined the role of artist as engineer and the machine as the art but also the "artist." Viewers were also invited to interact with the machines, thereby becoming part of the art-making process. I felt like a kid again going to all the different stations — two hours later I left the gallery with 4 pieces of original artwork :D

I spent my two evenings walking through the Christmas market. It really required those two nights to see everything in the market since it's SO massive... it goes along various streets and alleyways and spills into not one, but two public squares. I really didn't buy much in the markets, just a cute Santa Christmas ornament and a wooden figure that "smokes" when you open him up and put an incense cone inside. I mostly spent my money on food! That weekend I didn't sit down once to eat because I did all my eating at the street markets. It was the most unhealthy thing, but it was so fun to try all sorts of food from the various stalls (tasty too!) Some of the things I had included: a foot-long sausage, greasy deep-fried potato pancakes with apple sauce, dark chocolate covered fruits on a stick, humongous pretzel, broccoli and cheese pizza, corn on the cob drenched in garlic butter, apple-cinnamon glazed almonds, and a hot mug of apfelwein. I also saw my first Starbucks since arriving in Europe (there's surprisingly no Starbucks in Sweden considering they're the world's heaviest coffee drinkers after Finland), so I caved and treated myself to a 4€ small cup of gingerbread latte (but I was so disappointed they didn't have my peppermint hot chocolate *cries*).

Posted by mich at 5:13 PM | return | dreams [0]

December 2, 2007

Paris, je t'aime

Last weekend I took a trip to Paris to meet up with Jason, who was visiting from Hawaii. I figured it would be nice to see an old friend, and what better place to hang out than Paris! The temperature was a glorious 10° C and the sun was still shining at 5:30pm. I didn't realize how much I really missed daylight — I felt so happy! Poor Jason though; being so spoiled by tropical weather he was suffering in the coldness and getting the sniffles, while I was basking in the "warmth." It was also great to be able to use my French again. People actually spoke back to me in French so I guess my French wasn't so terrible.

I arrived in Paris Saturday morning after only getting 2 hours of sleep the night before, waking up at 3am, taking a 1.5 hour shuttle bus to the airport, flying for 2 hours, and taking another 1.5 hour bus into Paris. Such is the cost for such cheap airfares: the buses end up costing more and take twice as long as the flight itself. Over the course of the trip Jason and I visited the Rodin museum, Notre Dame, went up the Eiffel Tower at night (but we just rushed around the balcony since we were absolutely freezing from the 1 hour wait for tickets), shopping along the Champs-Élysées, climbed up l'Arc de Triomphe, and explored the Montmatre area. We didn't really go on a hard-core sightseeing run and so it was a pretty relaxing trip, which was a nice change of pace for me. A lot of the time we just stayed in restaurants and cafés chatting and EATING! Since I first arrived in Europe I haven't really dined out but in Paris I totally pigged out... and it felt fabulous! Duck, rabbit, pasta, fruit tarts, crêpes, and French pastries, yummy yummy! You can't find this sort of good food in Sweden :(

On our last day together Jason had a flight to catch to Rome so we checked out of the hotel at 6am. After that I was left on my own to explore so I went to la Défense in the downtown area. Since it was still too early to do anything I lounged around at a café with my newly purchased French design magazine until the streets (and myself) started to wake up. I did some shopping, exploring, took another break at the nicest McDonald's I've ever seen, and then walked an hour to the bus station (but I was told that the walk was only 20 minutes.) In any case, my back felt completely broken from carrying my big backpack the entire morning. I really didn't pack that much, but I asked Jason to help me buy a sleeping bag from the States (plus a few cans of macedemia nuts :P), and I bought quite a bit of stuff, and tons of heavy magazines. Buying the magazines before I reached the airport was actually pretty dumb because I ended up having to pay an overweight surcharge for my bag at check-in. It turned out that I could have easily found my magazines in the airport terminal, DOH! But I really wasn't sure with these tiny airports so I erred on the safe side.

Even though this was my 2nd time in Paris, everything felt so new and exciting to me once more. I completely fell in love with the city all over again. The weather was gorgeous, people were so friendly and happy (as opposed to Stockholmers), I understood the language, and it reminded me again of Montreal — I didn't want to come back to Stockholm! The saddest thing was that I had to resort to do my shopping in Paris... definitely not the cheapest option, but still considerably cheaper than Sweden!

Posted by mich at 6:06 AM | return | dreams [0]

November 7, 2007

Hej from Stockholm

Here I am in Stockholm. It’s been 4 days now and I still haven’t seen the city yet. I’m living in the suburbs 20 minutes away from downtown by metro and I’ve just stayed in my area trying to settle in since I arrived on Saturday evening.

At the airport before my departure I just didn’t want to go anymore. My flight over was miserable and depressing and I had no appetite when they served us meals at 1am and 6am. I had a 3-hour stopover in Warsaw, where I became hungry and thirsty with no Polish money and so utterly bored because there was absolutely nothing to see or do at the terminal. The place actually kind of reminded me of the airport in Beijing – both felt as if it had been frozen in time in the 70s.

Flying into Stockholm lifted my spirits a little as I saw the lights from above. It was so pretty, you could see the contours of all the islands… it reminded me of glitter scattered a in a curving, swirling pattern. The first thing I noticed when I landed was the piles of snow on the runway! It had snowed the night before, but it was all melting. Lugging my two overweight suitcases from the airport to the apartment was a struggle to say the least. When I couldn’t find elevators I was forced to take my luggage two sets of long escalators down to the trains. I seriously thought I’d topple over with them, but I was able to manage an efficient method… it was still pretty scary though.

Travelling from the airport I had these first impressions: people here are pretty stylish, it’s quite multicultural, it’s not as clean as I expected (quite a bit of litter), and there’s TONS of graffiti all over the place, even worse than Montreal if you can believe that. Can’t really say much else since I haven’t been to the central city yet, but hopefully soon!

My apartment is in Akalla, at the end of one of the metro lines. It’s right next to the metro station and 3 supermarkets, and it’s a 7-minute walk to my workplace. The place has 2 bedrooms and living room housing 4 people, and I have the huge living room. Tons of space, but unfortunately I’ve got barely anything to fill it up. I’ve even got a private balcony which would be really nice in the summer. However, it’s very sparsely furnished so it feels quite barren, and the only thing separating my room from the rest of the flat is a curtain. Not bad, but it’d be nice to have a desk and a real bed (I’m currently sleeping on a futon that caves in the middle when I lie on it), but that’ll change hopefully. Still don’t have internet at home so I feel quite disconnected.

On my first day here I did some grocery shopping downstairs. Food’s pretty expensive in Stockholm but not as bad as I expected. Cashiers don’t help you bag anything and if you use their plastic or paper bags, you have to purchase them along with your grocery items. Next I checked out a big mall in Kista (pronounced shista). I love how Swedes love hardwood flooring – they had it at the airport and the mall food court. There were 3 coffee stands scattered throughout the mall but the sitting area for those areas looked more like café lounges with plush sofas and chic tables and chairs – and they all had hardwood floors for their space :P My final stop was… IKEA! It was so incredibly busy and I had a mini spree shopping for a few necessities: hangers, laundry basket, storage containers, and an alarm clock. The alarm clock was an unfortunate purchase. Since it’s a windup clock it tick-tocks really fast and LOUD that I had trouble falling asleep that night. Then I was awoken in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall back asleep from the ticking. I stuffed it under my bed to muffle the sound, but it didn’t really help. To top it all off, the alarm never rang in the morning so I woke up only 15 minutes before I had to leave for work the next morning. Argh! Luckily I got a super sweet Sony Ericsson phone from work so I’m now using that as my alarm. I’ll give a summary of my workplace after the end of the week. Oh, and back to IKEA – they don’t have the equivalent of the $1 breakfasts that they do back home!!! The food at the IKEA restaurant was quite expensive, while their products are about the same price or cheaper than Canada.

ikea_entrance.JPG ikea_dinner.JPG

Many people have been wondering why as a Canadian I’d want to come live in Sweden. “Why trade snow for more snow?” they ask. Personally I love having seasons, and I couldn’t live somewhere that’s warm all year round and especially not somewhere that rains instead of snows during the winter. The thing I’d have a hard time adjusting to is the daylight hours. The sun here sets at 3:30pm and I think it sets at 2pm in December. The funniest looks I get are when people find out I’m not a hockey fan and I don’t drink coffee (apparently Swedes drink the most coffee per capita in the world after the Finns.)

I never had the chance to write about my last week before I left so I’ll do it now. In short, it was filled with gatherings: farewell dinner with friends at Fred’s Not Here, my last good Chinese restaurant dinner with relatives, a yummy dinner cooked by chef Wen San at her brand new condo, lunch with the March Entertainment crew at Penelope’s, and having my last amazing Utopia shrimp burrito with Eyal. I also played my last floor hockey game with my beloved team and I got to end my season with a sweet goal :P

I miss everyone back home but I’m so happy to get all the emails and messages from people! Send me your mailing addresses if you want a postcard or snail mail, you know how I love writing letters!

Posted by mich at 4:40 PM | return | dreams [0]

October 19, 2007

The Final Countdown

After over 3 months of waiting I'm counting down I've entered the last couple of weeks until my departure... 14 days left! *inhaaaale, exhaaaale* I couldn't wait for this moment to come but now the nervousness is hitting. The guys over there found me an apartment with 2 other roommates, but I didn't have the chance to ask any questions about it. I've never lived with any strangers before so the idea is a bit nerve-wracking, especially considering how anal I am about my personal space. Eek.

What I'm dreading the most, however, is the packing — how will I manage to pack a year of my life into just 2 suitcases (and under 50 lbs??) Being the pack rat that I am, my room's a treasure trove of things amassed throughout my lifetime (or more simply junk, as my family would call it) and I'll feel like a part of me will be cut off. Sounds a bit silly I know, but every so often I can spend a whole afternoon going through my room and just sit there looking through photo albums, postcard collections, birthday invitations dating all the way back to nursery school, old magazines and the like. My biggest dilemma was deciding which and how many cameras to bring with me. I've finally settled on just my digital ones because I'm betting that film developing/processing is pretty expensive over there (like everything else) — so my Nikon D70s, Leica D-Lux 3, and Rolleiflex Minidigi (big, medium, and tiny) :P As for book I'm worried those will completely weigh me down: 4 recipe books, 5 travel guide books (for Europe, Stockholm, Sweden, and Scandinavia), plus my design & leisure reading books (Anna Karenina, 100 Things to Do Before You Die, Houses of the World, Mapping, The Modern Girl's Guide to Life, and of course, my sketchooks.) Then all my necessities like coats, winter clothing, boots, sheets, etc. Oi... what a challenge.

Oh, and about my new Leica... I love it. I tried it out on my Pennsylvania trip and I'm pretty happy with the pictures, especially with the wide 16:9 format. All the reviews I read complained about the noise at high ISOs, which is a bit of a drawback, but it's not as bad as I had anticipated — plus I don't shoot at such high ISOs too often anyway. The main reason I went with the Leica was because it's like a pocket-sized SLR; it shoots RAW (although the RAW files are gigantic... 20 mb!), does bracketing, manual exposure, and a whole bunch more stuff that I haven't yet read about in the manual. Plus, it's so purdy!!

Posted by mich at 1:30 PM | return | dreams [1]

October 12, 2007

Thanksgiving Road Trip

I went on another road trip last weekend, and surprise surprise, I did all the driving... again. This time it was 1500km, whoaa baby! Chris and I went down to Pennsylvania mainly to go to Grove City's crazy outlet mall. Since we made it a 3-day trip we headed further down south to Pittsburgh first for some sightseeing. Besides the Andy Warhol museum, where I learned that Warhol grew up in Pitts, there really wasn't all that much to see or do. The city is actually quite pretty- it's surrounded by rivers and each city block has a different styled bridge to cross the water. I only saw about 15 bridges along one river, but I read the city actually has 446!!! The downtown core though was so dead on the weekend and all the shopping was closed, so we drove 10 minutes out into the suburbs to hit up the big malls.

We stayed at a motel in New Stanton about 45 minutes south of Pittsburgh, which actually worked out well for us since we had decided to drive a little further south to check out Frank Lloyd Wright's renowned Fallingwater House, which is built over a waterfall. Because we didn't make tour reservations at least a few weeks in advance, tours were completely sold out so we just walked around the exterior of the house instead. It was still quite an spectacular thing to see, especially in the fall.

It was about a 3 hour drive back up to Grove City, so we were left with only 3 hours of shopping by the time we got in at 4pm. Unfortunately, the mall closed at 7pm on Sundays which was 2 hours earlier than the rest of the week, booo. We hit up the Banana Republic outlet first, where we bumped into everyone: my mom's friend and daughter (whom I had also bumped into the last time I was in Grove City!), Christian's friend Yit and his friends, as well as Cass & co. Funny how such random events get clumped all together. After shopping, Christian and I checked into the Super 8 (where everyone else was staying too) and were giving our card key for a room. When we opened the door however, there was someone in the shower and a girl walking around &mash; we were assigned to an occupied room. The receptionist downstairs was absolutely mortified and couldn't figure out the problem, so we headed out to dinner in the meantime. Yit was scaring us because he said that when they checked in without a reservation, the girl had told him he had the very last available room. We had a reservation online, but were starting to get worried that the motel was double booked. Luckily by the time we returned to the motel, they had everything sorted out.

On the last day we went back to the mall by 10am sharp to finish up the rest of the stores we had missed. I went to my favourite store, Jimmy'z, where everything was 40% off, so I went completely buck wild. They also had clearance items that were already marked down by 50%, plus had an additional 60% off. I ended up with some great pairs of jeans that actually fit me well, and even found one for $12! How could you go wrong with that? I think everything item I bought that weekend was < $35... most of them were actually less than $15. The only thing I was disappointed about was the fact that I only really needed new running shoes (my current ones are now 9 years old and counting, and have outlived 2 other pairs). I found a couple styles that I really loved (and were super cheap), but none were in my size :( Now I'll have to look for them up here, but they'll be at least double the price. And if you all are feeling sorry for Christian about my shopping bonanza, don't. 'Cuz he shopped more like a girl than me, having bought twice as much as I did!


Last Friday I made my own Thanksgiving meal since my family was still away in Asia. I slaved over the kitchen for 3 hours, but I must say I completely outdid myself. I made sweet dumpling squash stuffed with pepper and wild rice, provencal roasted chicken with honey and thyme, and maple sweet dumpling squash. It was only the maple squash that didn't really turn out — even though I left it in the oven for twice as long as the recipe required, it still wasn't fully cooked so eating semi-raw squash was blech (thus, I didn't include the recipe at the bottom).

Sweet Dumpling Squash Stuffed with Peppers and Wild Rice

3 small Sweet Dumpling squash
6 pablano peppers (a mix of green and red is nice)
1 1/4 cup uncooked wild rice/brown rice mix
veggie broth
1 small onion, minced
olive oil or butter
salt and pepper

Bake whole squash until tender-firm to touch, but not totally soft, about 40 - 45 minutes. Set aside to let cool.

Cook the wild rice/brown rice mix with veggie broth instead of water.

Blacken the pablanos either under the broiler or by holding over a direct flame on the stovetop. Get them evenly charred all over and close them up in a plastic bag to steam and cool for about 20 minutes. The skins should easily peel off. Remove the stem and seeds and cut the pablanos into strips.

Once the squash has cooled, slice off the top in one piece and scoop out any seeds and strings. Cut around the sides and top of the squash to remove the flesh, taking care not to scrape too close to the sides of the squash so it remains intact. Dice the flesh.

Add some oil or butter to a skillet and sauté the onion. Add the squash pieces and sauté until tender all the way through, 5 - 10 minutes. Add the pablanos and rice and cook for a few minutes together until the flavors mix a bit together. Adjust salt and pepper.

Source: vanesscipes

Provencal Roasted Chicken with Honey and Thyme

1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, excess fat trimmed and giblets removed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 shallot, sliced
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 lemon, zested in large strips
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey

3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

For the chicken: Season the chicken cavity with salt and pepper, to taste. Stuff the chicken cavity with the shallot, half the thyme, and lemon zest. Set a v-rack or regular rack in a roasting pan, and brush chicken with a bit of the olive oil. Whisk the honey and remaining oil in a small bowl. Dip the remaining thyme in the mixture and use it to brush the chicken all over with the honey mixture. Season bird with salt and pepper, to taste.

Tuck the wings under the back, cross the legs, and tie them with kitchen string. Place the chicken breast side down on the rack and roast until the back is golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and turn the chicken breast side up. Cut the string where it holds the legs together and open up the legs a bit. Baste the chicken with the pan drippings, using the thyme sprigs as a brush. Roast the chicken again until the breast is golden brown and a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 170 degrees F., 20 to 25 minutes more. Transfer the chicken to a carving board, and let it rest 10 minutes before carving.

For the sauce: Remove the rack from the roasting pan. Put the pan over medium-high heat, add the water, and stir with a wooden spoon to release the brown bits that cling to the pan. Strain the pan drippings into a small bowl and spoon off the fat. Whisk in the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, shallot, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Carve the chicken and serve drizzled with the sauce.

Source: Food Network

Posted by mich at 6:49 PM | return | dreams [1]

September 28, 2007

Weekend in the Bruce

I was utterly exhausted this past week. I came back from a weekend road-trip to Bruce Peninsula, which was fantastic except for the 13 hours I spent driving. The ride up was scenic and gorgeous; in addition to the wonderful farmlands and colourful trees I spotted 2 vultures by the roadside, a field of wind turbines, and an old-fashioned streetcar-turned-diner.

On the first day Christian and I arrived at the northern Bruce Peninsula at noon, unloaded at our wonderful B&B at Miller Lake (completely built by the owners themselves), and first headed to Dyer's Lake, which had some really interesting flat rocks creeping out into the Georgian Bay. We then spent the rest of our afternoon in Bruce Peninsula National Park, particularly around Cypress Lake where we started our hiking journey that lead us to the tall cliffs along the bay. The views were stunning throughout our trek along the Bruce Trail from the "wave pool" and caves of Half Indian Head, to rock climbing down into the Grotto (with an underwater passage to the Georgian Bay) and climbing back up to Boulder Beach, which was a huge expanse of, you guessed it, boulders. By the time we reached this area, Christian and I had just grew so tired of rocks... our ankles and feet were in complete pain after that rugged hike. The national park extends to the other end of the Peninsula so we drove over to Singing Sands beach facing Lake Huron to watch the sunset. For dinner we headed back to Dyer's Lake to eat at Applewood Inn, a quaint little restaurant recommended to us by our B&B hosts. Christian's soup and fish were delicious, but my veggie curry didn't taste at all like curry... more like tomatoes...? We shared a scrumptious fresh blueberry crêpe with ice cream afterwards which made up for my non-curry dinner. Afterwards I tried some super long exposure shots of the moonlit lake with my film SLR so I made Chris wait around for me for 30 min, hehe. I just submitted them for developing, but I hope they come out!

The next morning we woke up to a lovely breakfast of the yummiest raspberry blueberry scone (I'm trying to get the recipe from the host), fresh berries, eggs, bacon and toast with homemade jam. We high-tailed it to Tobermorey, situated at the northern tip of the Peninsula, where we took a ferry out to the Fathom Five National Marine Park (apparently this is the scuba diving capital of Canada). We ferried around the various islands and got off at Flowerpot Island, which is famous for its towering flowerpot rock structures that were carved out by pounding waves. On our way back to Tobermorey, the ferry took us to see two of the 22 shipwrecks in the park. The ferry had a glass-bottom floor so it was sooooooooo cool to see the shipwrecks. up close.

On our drive up the Peninsula the previous day we encountered the funniest signs for the Tobermorey Sweet Shop (for example, "Losing Weight? Fight Back! The Sweet Shop") so of course, we had to step inside. We ended up getting a single scoop of raspberry chocolate ice cream (deeeeeelish!) but the "single scoop" was really soup bowl jam packed with at least 3 scoops! And it was only $2, woo!

Being the sole driver on the trip, I had to drive us all the way back home after our exhausting weekend... not fun. Only upside was that I was able to make pit stops whenever I felt like it so I stopped a few times to take some pictures of the gorgeous road-side scenery. I've realized that I'm completely obsessed with wind turbines. And my bf seriously needs to get his license.

Posted by mich at 8:57 PM | return | dreams [0]

August 22, 2007

Reasons Why I Can't Wait to Go to Sweden

[Source: New York Times]

Yeah baby!

It's also the world's best country for women because it's such an egalitarian society. Men in Sweden apparently do more housework than men anywhere else in the world... now why can't others follow suit?

Posted by mich at 5:03 PM | return | dreams [1]

June 22, 2007

There's a Party in Sweden's Pants, and I'm Invited!

My dream is coming true... I'm finally moving to Stockholm, ja!

These last few weeks have been a complete whirlwind for me. I had four job interviews: 2 for Toronto, 1 for Denmark, and 1 for Sweden. Unbelievably, I was hired on the spot for all 4 — I had never been hired on the spot before in my whole life. I had planned on relocating early in the fall but hadn't been applying anywhere in Toronto, so I was surprised to get called in for interviews for contracts. I couldn't pass up the opportunity for a project management role (that eventually leads to full-time), but the company was understanding enough to let me only do a short 4-month contract with them when I told them I was looking for jobs abroad :) In the following weeks, I phone interviewed with the European companies, who were initially looking to hire for Aug/Sept, but were willing to wait until November after the end of my contract. I was pretty torn between the 2 offers because the job in Copenhagen seemed a lot more interesting than the one in Stockholm, but on the other hand, I had always wanted to live in Stockholm. In the end I decided that I should go more for the experience than the actual job... and the fact that there's a party in Sweden's pants had a little something to do with it too:

Posted by mich at 3:17 PM | return | dreams [1]

June 5, 2007

New England Road Trip

Last week my family took a vacation where no one was actually left behind (our first one in 7 years!). Our main destination was Boston to visit my cousin's newborn baby, but we ended up booking a resort in Cape Cod 1.5 hours away from the city. We ended up only doing one day in Boston, where we hung out with my other cousin during the day checking out the Museum of Fine Arts and MIT's Strata Centre by my favourite architect, Frank Gehry (with all the money we shelled out, why couldn't the UT comp sci students get such an awesome building like this?!?) In the evening we drove all the way up to Chelmsford, which was faaaar &mdash we were almost at the New Hampshire border &mdash to see my other cousins and to play with the adorable new baby. The next day we ventured out to Newport in Rhode Island, where we took the scenic Ocean Drive, walked along the Cliff Walk overlooking the ocean, and visited a the gorgeous Bellevue Avenue historical mansions. In the evening we stopped at a factory outlet mall in Wrentham for some shopping, but I couldn't justify any purchases for myself after my shopping craze in HK. On our last full day in New England we drove around Cape Cod visiting the various towns (Hyannis, Yarmouth, Chatham and Orleans) and they're beaches and harbours. We bought 3 fresh lobsters and made ourselves a homemade lobster dinner back at the resort, yummy! On the drive back to Montreal we stopped in New Hampshire for some tax free shopping in Manchester. I scored myself my first pair of rollerblades and my very first laptop, a Sony Vaio, yay! Gotta take advantage of the exchange rate, y'know? ;)

In Montreal I went to see the Once Upon a Time Walt Disney exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, which was the only North American stop. It was a fascinating exhibit that looked at Disney's various inspirations ranging from literary and cinematic sources to classical art and architecture and that included original sketches, storyboards and design backgrounds of Disney's golden era that spanned from Snow White to The Jungle Book. I never had an appreciation for Sleeping Beauty's angular and stylized medieval look, but after having a chance to see one of the huge background paintings close up I noticed all the amazing detail and graphical patterns (and only using solid blocks of colour) that went into the forest scenes, I was in complete and total awe. Another highlight of the exhibit was the screening of the beautiful short film Destino, which was a collaboration between Salvador Dali and Disney that began in 1945 and was finally completed in 2003. Of the many exhibits I've been to, this one was definitely the BEST one I've ever seen by far (but I may be teeny bit biased!) If anybody is in Montreal this month (Coach Canada even has a super duper $10 deal for trips between Toronto and Montreal!) definitely check it out since it closes at the end of June.

The main reason for our stop in Montreal was for my sister's convocation at McGill. Thank goodness her music faculty was small so the ceremony only lasted a little over an hour, unlike the U of T ones that go over 3 hours. The best part was the reception afterwards with all the amazing food that just kept on coming and the delectable desserts. After all that food we had to walk it all off with some shopping at Simons before having a late dinner at an Indian restaurant at St. Laurent/Sherbrooke, which had the best Tandoori chicken I've ever tasted.

Posted by mich at 11:53 AM | return | dreams [0]

May 1, 2007

Reflections on China

Here are some of my reactions to several things on my travels through the motherland:

I was prepared for the squatters, but my first mainland toilet experience was quite traumatizing. I was forced to use the public washrooms on the streets, and boy, were they ever public. Upon entering the facility, I was faced with a whole row of women just squatting there doing their business. No stalls, no doors, just low dividers! I freaked out and rushed back outside. I kept going in and out trying to muster up the courage to use the toilet and when I finally got the guts to go, I hid myself in the very last stall furthest away from the entrance. Yech, I felt so icky afterwards.

The drivers in China were all crazy. They had no respect for the rules of the road, traffic signs/lights, or other motorists for that matter. If they weren't honking for one reason or another (and they were ALWAYS honking — we didn't need alarm clocks to wake up at 6am every morning), they were charging through crowds of pedestrians or bikes. Even when crossing an intersection on a pedestrian walk signal, you still have to watch out for oncoming cars/bikes/mopeds, otherwise you'll most definitely get run over. The most appalling thing to me was that vehicles don't yield to anyone or anything, not even ambulances in emergency. I couldn't believe my eyes while I was watching an ambulance trying to crawl its way through an intersection for 5 minutes while all the crisscrossing traffic was zooming and weaving around it. I guess the only privilege you get from using sirens is not being honked at for obstructing the vehicles, sheesh.

After the first couple of days in China, I made a vow to learn Mandarin after the trip because I realized that Cantonese does jack all for you in the most part of mainland. In difficult situations when no one understood English, I resorted to Cantonese, hoping that there would be similarities with some key words. It rarely worked, especially in northern China, but sometimes it was still worth a shot. I tried ordering congee in Guilin using the Cantonese word jook, but no one understood me. Apparently over there they referred to it as rice porridge, but in Shanghai they knew it as zhou, which was close enough for them to understand me. Another time, in Yangshuo I wanted to know whether the vendor had a new doll other than the floor model but he didn't understand the word "new" nor the Cantonese word I tried using, sun. Fortunately I remembered how to write out the word for him (I guess those 9 years of Chinese school paid off), and the guy finally understood and exclaimed xin! What a big difference. By the time I got to Shanghai I picked up a tiny bit of basic Mandarin and was able to go into a convenience store and ask what kind of food the old woman was pushing me to buy. She knew I didn't understand much so she started making mooing sounds to explain that it was beef! Completely adorable.

There's no such thing as lineups in China... just crowding around. It also doesn't matter if you're lining up behind someone for anything, someone will push and bud you. Someone might even go and bud that offender. As annoying and frustrating as it was to me, it's so normal over there and no one really cares or thinks twice about it.

I was a bit disappointed by the food — nothing we ate ever compared to the Chinese cuisine in Toronto. Having to eat Chinese food twice a day of basically the same dishes with slight variations on the tour can get quite sickening and have you craving for McD's. In Beijing we were excited to have amazing Peking duck, but we were presented with a mediocre dish that wasn't even prepared the proper way. In Shanghai, I waited 20 minutes at a stall famous for Shanghai dumplings, xiaolongbao, but those too were nothing remarkable. In Xi'an though we had a great dumpling dinner, during which we sampled 16 different kinds including interesting ones like pumpkin, walnut, curry, and roasted butter, and some that were shaped as pigs and fish!

But aside from all my rants, China was an amazing cultural experience and I only wish I had more time to explore it. Next time I'll probably trek along the Silk Road or venture to Tibet, and hopefully no more hospital visits!

Posted by mich at 2:30 PM | return | dreams [1]

April 29, 2007

China Trip Summary

During my stay in Hong Kong the first week of the trip I became really scared and reluctant to visit mainland China because of all the horror stories about Beijing from friends and family and because of our encounters with annoying and rude mainlander tourists visiting HK.

Beijing turned out to be much better than I expected, and I actually ended up liking it a lot. The average city dweller was not as uncivil as everyone had led me to believe and the sights were absolutely spectacular. In the four days we were there, we explored Wangfujing Snack Street (dedicated to street food ranging from tame dumplings and chicken skewers to more adventurous fare such as beetles, scorpions, grasshoppers, and seahorse), Tienanmen Square, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, the Great Wall, the Ming Tombs, and Temple of Heaven and also got amazing foot massages. I only wish we had more time there because all the cultural sites were colossal. I had no idea how massive Beijing is — it's 70 times the size of Hong Kong, and Hong Kong is actually pretty large in area. Beijing has one large avenue whose width spans about 8 lanes wide and lined with majestic buildings the size of entire city blocks, that when lit up at night reminds me of Las Vegas. I was most surprised by how nobody knows any English still (how are they supposed to host the Olympics next year?) and the taxi drivers are all incompetent: they either 1) don't know their way around the city, 2) can't read maps or 3) can't read at all.

The other cities on our itinerary included Xi'an, home of the impressive Terracotta Warriors, Guilin, where we did a cruise down the beautiful Li River, and Shanghai, which we didn't see much of besides the hotel and hospital. We had also initially planned to go off on our own to Suzhou and Hangzhou after the tour, but obviously things didn't work out. Besides the hospitalization, the rest of the trip was great. My favourite spot was Guilin, which is where you would find the epic Chinese mountain scenery from classic scroll paintings. On our first night there Christian and I asked our tour guide, Ken, where we could find bike rentals for exploring the area. It turned out that Ken owned a biking club and he took us on a private bike tour for a couple of hours. It was amazing riding through the more remote parts of town and having the mountains tower right over you. Back in the city though it was a bit treacherous riding through busy intersections with no traffic lights. I guess after surviving the streets of China on a bike, riding in Toronto is easy as pie!

That was a quick rundown of my trip, but I'll write more about it later!

Posted by mich at 1:40 AM | return | dreams [0]

April 23, 2007

Need a Vacation from Vacation!

I'm back from China, and boy was it quite the ride. The first couple of weeks were great, but the trip took a horrible turn as we ended up in a hospital in Shanghai for our entire 3rd week. Christian first got sick in Guilin so I took him to the hospital on the morning of our last day there. The hospital was so ghetto and dirty, I couldn't believe it was a medical facility... and they used razor blades to draw blood for blood tests?! OMG, it was simply hong bo. Fortunately our tour guide was able to come by and help us to communicate with the doctors. It turned out that Christian was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection and was prescribed antibiotics all within the span of an hour. It was quite miraculous that we were able to leave and catch our 11am flight to Shanghai with the rest of our tour group. We thought everything would be alright afterwards, but he grew really sick again in the afternoon once we arrived in Shanghai and I took him to the hospital. What was initially supposed to be an overnight stay in the hospital, soon turned into 2-3 extra days, and in the end we spent our last 6 nights of vacation at the hospital (we left for the airport straight from the hospital). It turned out that Christian had ended up with really serious kidney infection that had triggered the urinal infection, probably due to the exhaustion from all the travelling.

In the beginning we were absolutely terrified. It was so hard to communicate with the doctors and nurses because we didn't know Mandarin, they didn't understand Cantonese and could only speak very little English (even though our hotel told us this hospital had a foreign department), and we couldn't contact our tour guide, medical insurance company, tour service, embassy, or my mom in HK. I was feeling such despair, and when they told us to pay 800 RMB for one night stay plus 10,000 RMB before being treated, we were freaking out over the 10,000 RMB (like, why?!) For the longest time they didn't tell us what the extra charge was for, then they finally said it was a "foregift" (what??) They later found the proper translation and said it was a deposit. In the end everything turned out alright. My mom called me that first night and said she had found a relative in Shanghai that could help us out, who turned out to be super nice and helpful and came to visit almost every day.

We were so so lucky that we ended up in Shanghai when we did because the hospitals there are the best in the country; our hospital room was really nice and clean and we even had a plasma tv hung on our wall (thank goodness for CNN and HBO). But what a long and distressing week it was.

Posted by mich at 10:20 AM | return | dreams [2]

April 3, 2007

I Heart HK

I've been in Hong Kong now for 4 days now and it's fabulous, except for the super hot weather and construction 24/7 (even at 3am on the weekend!) Nothing's changed much since the last time I've been here 3 years ago, but this time I'm staying in the central area on Hong Kong Island with Cass instead of out in the New Territories with my relatives. It was a big jump adjusting from <10 degree weather to 28 degree weather with 80% humidity. Luckily though, today's pretty chilly at 14 degrees but the rain and clouds kinda suck. The great thing about Hong Kong is that no matter what kinda of itinerary you plan, every day eventually leads to shopping... either at one of the gazillion malls, stores, street markets or vendor stalls. Even the tiny narrow hallway leading to Cass' apartment turns into a girl's clothing store by day.

My first day here was SUPER long. I arrived at 7am and just hit the ground running. Cass took Christian and I around Causeway Bay for lunch, shopping, and just some exploring. We also hit the arcade, where we played a series of 3-person mini games, and raced against each other in Mario Kart. I also tried my hand at trying to pick up a cute piggy toy with those flimsy claws but with no success. In the evening we went to a really nice lounge on the 30th floor of a building that had a gorgeous view of the HK skyline at night. Afterwards we strolled along the harbour in Tsim Sha Tsui, tried some fried chicken wings at McD's for "sui ye" before crashing at 3am.

In the past few days we also braved the crazy shopping crowds in the street markets of Mong Kok, ate the best croissant I ever had at Arome Bakery in Causeway Bay, had dinners with family, explored the financial district in Central, had one of the best dim sums ever in City Hall (normally I find the Chinese food in TO so much better, but this was an exception), rode the world's longest escalator up to mid-level of Victoria Peak (it took like 30 minutes!), and visited my mom's apartment where she used to live in Tsim Sha Tsui. Yesterday my uncle took my mom, Christian and I to Stanley, a pre-colonial fishing village that now looks like a British seaside town. It was a really neat place where we got to check out the outdoor Stanley Market, explore some residential areas, climb to the temple, which is one of the oldest on the island, and walk through the Murray House, which originally stood in Central but was dismantled and re-constructed on the opposite side of the island. It really had a European flavour to it, and most of the people who I saw were European all sitting at the British-style pubs. I've actually noticed quite a few French people here too... it's pretty funny to hear more people speaking French in HK than I ever do in Toronto!

Our last few days here will be pretty exciting, as we'll be visiting places that even I haven't been to before including Macau, Ocean Park and Lamma Island. Gotta get down to some shopping now!

Posted by mich at 8:48 PM | return | dreams [0]

March 29, 2007

Leaving On a Jet Plane

Well, today's my last day of work and it's truly been a great ride. I've met some awesome people and although it's sad to leave, it's time to move on to bigger and better things. First up: my trip to China! The time has finally come after so much anticipation. My flight leaves tonight and I'm not even finished packing... what a good start! I was really excited initially for the plane ride, but this week left me feeling exhausted. Considering how I never sleep on planes, I'm not sure how I'll handle the 20 hour flight and then stay up for the full first day in HK. That's a full 2.5 days of no sleep... can't say I've even pulled that feat in school o_O

I'll try to keep an update on my travels... time for me to jet!

BTW, if anyone would like a postcard email me your addy!

Posted by mich at 7:42 PM | return | dreams [0]

March 8, 2007

Nuit Blanche Montreal

Aaargh, I posted this entry up, but somehow it didn't get saved so I had to re-type it. *sigh*

CN DerailementI'm back from my Nuit Blanche weekend in Montreal. We were fortunate enough to have fantastic weather the entire weekend— tons of snow and mild temperatures. Because of the snowstorm last Thursday, the huge CN derailment in Pickering hadn't cleared yet by Friday so there were concerns of the Via Rail trains being delayed at least 2 hours. Christian and I were really lucky in not having to bus it up to Oshawa to catch the train from there, and only ended up being delayed 25 minutes. (As we found out later, the next train after us at 6:30 wasn't so lucky; passengers had to take the bus and then transfer to the train, which ended up getting into Montreal at 2am. Yikes.) We got in at 10pm, dropped off everything at Vanessa's place, then headed out to Rockaberry's to indulge in some massive apple and strawberry/peach crumble pies with huge heapings of ice cream. Needless to say, I had no appetite the next morning for breakfast or lunch... whoops.

Snowed InOn our walk through McGill towards the Eaton Centre, we randomly bumped into Karman, who was just visiting for the weekend as well. We decided to meet up again later that night for the evening's festivities and went our own separate ways. I only had one destination that afternoon, and it was Simons of course! This occasion was quite record-breaking... normally I spend at least 2 hours in the store, but this time I was in and out within 30 min (so unheard of, eh?!) I wasn't too wowed by the collection this season, and I also felt really reserved in spending money on clothes, knowing that I'd be going shopping crazy in HK soon. I just ended up getting a turquoise knit sweater with nice big buttons that was on sale :) We killed the rest of the afternoon walking up St-Denis, strolling around the plateau and picking up our mandatory bagels from St-Viateur. For dinner we went out with Vanessa and Jeremy to Chinatown to try Restaurant Uyghur, which features cuisine from China's Xianjian Uyghur Autonomous Region, a remote, Muslim region in Western China. The food's an interesting blend of Chinese, Russian, Pakistani, Afghani, and Turkish cuisine. We had fresh hand-made noodles served with stir-fried lamb and vegetables called Laghman, fried meat dumplings (a little on the cold side though), stir-fried green onions and beef and a hot pan of curry chicken with veggies. Overall the food was pretty good, and nothing close to the typical Chinese food I'm used to.

Boingy BoingyDinner went on a bit later than we wanted so we missed the 8pm fireworks at Vieux Port. Our group made our way to Vieux Port where we met up again with Karman and Rick at the Montreal Science Centre, then walked around checking out a fresco on ice decorated by public participation, a silent disco dome and buskers at Place Jacques Cartier while eating our freshly rolled tire sure neige. We waited in line to get into City Hall where we watched some professional ballroom dancers strut their stuff, and later on, watched the public learn some moves.

Jérôme Fortin's Paper SculptureThe highlight of the evening was definitely the Museum of Contemporary Art, which was free all throughout the evening. The lobby was host to Les Imprudanses, an improvisational dance match between two professional dance teams, while the upper level showcased a set of 3 exhibits entitled Ingenious3 featuring Jean-Pierre Gauthier, Jérôme Fortin, Guy Ben-Ner. We saw some amazing kinetic, sonic and visual installations by Gauthier, massive wall pieces by Fortin that were constructed using rows upon rows of tediously folded printed material like mangas and maps, and a humourous instructional video by Ben-Ner that complemented his treehouse sculpture made with IKEA furniture pieces.

DovesAfter a good two hours at the museum we walked along Ste-Catherine to St. James United Church for The Organ Ogres performances. Not being a huge organ music fan, I thought it was just so-so. At 3am we went across the street to Édifice Belgo, an old building full of small gallery spaces, which really reminded me of U of T's art building on Spadina Circle. The best exhibit was the fantastical Foulard en Cou, where walking through a set of pink gauzy curtains revealed dreamy paradise filled with a raining cloud fountain, a swing set hanging from the ceiling, a video projection of a woman in a peacock headdress playing the harp, a fluffy cave, and white doves freely roaming around. I held a dove and it liked me so much that it wouldn't let go for the longest time, so I ended up walking around with a bird on my hand.

FloatingOn our way back to Place des Arts we happened upon an impromptu snowball fight between us pedestrians on the sidewalk and some strangers atop the balcony. I was doing well avoiding the snowballs, and even ducked a huge slab of snow coming towards me. Jeremy, however, decided he wanted to "protect" us from the slab and punched it, which flew towards my face. That was swell, thanks buddy! :P Finally, we checked out a small music performance and grabbed some greasy fries from La Belle Province before calling it a night at 4:30am.

We slept in until noon the next day, bought our stash of smoked meat from Schwartz across the street, and brunched at an great place Jeremy discovered called Caffè ArtJava on Mont-Royal. They're really well-known for their coffees, but their breakfast plates are absolutely fabulous. We tried each others different dishes and each was such a unique take on traditional breakfast fare. I must say that the french toast I ordered stuffed with cinnamon apples was the best french toast I've ever had. I must go back next time!

Posted by mich at 4:30 PM | return | dreams [0]

September 1, 2006

Chilly in the Suds

I've been here in Sudbury since Wednesday for work and will be leaving this afternoon. Initially I was dreading the trip for fear of extreme boredom (so I packed a couple of books, my DS, and iPod), but it turned out quite alright... I haven't even touched any of my books. Most of my off time was spent either at the gym or pool in the morning or eating and exploring with my colleagues after work.

At this one good restaurant we went to for dinner called Respect Is Burning, our waiter did a magic trick where he took our bill, poked a hole through it with his pen, took out the pen and the hole disappeared. MAGIC! I was impressed.

My perception of the city was pretty dreary - polluted, dusty and rocky - but they have a really nice lake (apparently there's 300 of them in the area) and there's actually grass and trees! :P My CEO took me and my colleagues for a drive to see the Big Nickel. We went during sunset, which was the perfect time for a really nice view of the nickel and the huge gigantic smokestack off in the horizon.

Posted by mich at 9:32 AM | return | dreams [0]

August 25, 2006

Back To Cleanliness

This past weekend I went up to a rented cottage on Lake Simcoe with a bunch of friends. It wasn't really what I expected- the place was very musty and dingy and furnished with the tackiest sofas and trinkets left over from the 70s. Camping would have been nicer; at least I would have been in a clean tent rather than sleeping on on sketchy mattress (thank goodness for my sleeping bag!) Both nights were a bit rainy, but on our second night we were so set on roasting marshmellows over campfire that we had a campfire regardless of the weather. Mmm, yummy marshies. Overall the weekend was pretty relaxing... actually a bit boring, considering there was nothing really to do at Sibbald Point Provincial Park besides a 30 minute hiking trail and canoe/kayak rentals were unavailable across the island. We amused ourselves with football by the beach and a frisbee game called Cups. The rest of the time was occupied by watching videos on the laptop, a long game of Trivial Pursuit, Poker, and cooking. And no, I didn't poison anyone with my french toast or omelettes!

Here are other events that happened since my last post:

Taste of the Danforth - I went down to the Harbourfront with my family and Lilly for a free boat tour on the Kajama ship, but it was all booked up for the rest of the day :( So we headed up to the Danforth for a late lunch and stuffed ourselves with chicken pita, pork skewers, watermelon, and ice cream crpes. I don't think I've ever eaten so much on the Danforth, or had such good food (thanks to Lilly, who knew all the good food stands)! We later went to the Eaton Centre where Lilly and I teared up the stores... we make good shopping buddies: we go fast! The evening invovled more eating; this time at New Sky restaurant in Chinatown (one of the only downtown restaurants that can rival uptown), where my parents treated Christian to a birthday dinner. What a day of WAY too much food!

Birthday party at Raq 'n Waq - The evening started off great; I was having a fun time seeing friends I haven't seen in a while and having JT played (just for Mike) :P ... until someone started having a little too much fun and I played babysitter for the rest of the night and the next day. *hai* No more birthday parties for him!

Oakville Dragonboat Festival - My team won another medal! This time we got gold in Division C. In our last race we shaved off a whopping 10 seconds from our first 2 races. We even beat the time of the winners in Division B! The most classic part of it was having our whole team go up and perform the Carlton Dance when we accepted our medals.

Visitor from California - Jason was in town last week so we got together and chatted over iced capps. I hadn't seen him in 2 years since my trip to California, so it was great to catch up. He told me he got a job in Hawaii (!!!!) that he'll be starting soon. I'm so happy for him! And now I have a place to stay in Honolulu :P

And finally, after having spent the enire summer looking for it, my mom's friend found my LeSportsac fanny pack at an outlet store in the states, and for less than half the retail price! It will be perfect for when I volunteer at the Film Fest. I'm ecstatic!

Posted by mich at 9:30 AM | return | dreams [0]

August 10, 2006


I'm back from a long weekend in Quebec City. Aside from the 45 minute walk from the train station to our B&B with heavy bags through the rain, it was a nice and relaxing trip of exploring, shopping, and eating.

Upon arrival we walked straight into a big crowd of costumed people and massive 15-foot giants being prepared for that evening's parade. Apparently, we had stumbled upon Les Ftes de la Nouvelle France, and sure enough, walking all through Vieux Qubec, streets were closed off just for pedestrians and mini villages were set up at various venues. At Place Royale we tried a caribou and duck pt, which turned out to be surprisingly good. We caught some action happening at an open-air auction where people could bid on prizes using their "card money" they earned during the festival. That evening we had dinner at Caf Times, where we tried an amazing seafood linguine. The decor was very bold and mod, but their soundtrack and video screens were playing Cline Dion the entire time, which was a bit on the weird side.

The next day we had a poutine lunch at Chez Ashton - mmm big chunks of cheese curds! The rest of the afternoon was spent walking all around Vieux Qubec, visiting festival venues, walking around the Citadel, and watching the big parade. Early evening we took a shuttle bus to Montmorency Falls to watch Spain's performance in the fireworks competition. Although we waited for 3 hours in the freezing cold, the spectacular show was worth the wait. Upon arriving back in the city, we headed to Le Bel Gauffre for something nice and warm - an amazing pizza on gauffre with herbed mayo for dipping.

On Sunday morning Christian found us a great place for brunch hidden off the main touristy streets with the cutest address: 8 1/2 Ste-Ursule (and just across the street was the street number 9 3/4!) Anyway, at this caf we tried the best omelette ever, and struck up a conversation with a middle-aged couple from Calgary who had driven 5 days to get to Quebec... wow, hardcore. In the afternoon we took a 45 minute bus ride out to Les Galeries de la Capitale solely for the purpose of getting our Simons fix (and omg, they *finally* have a website). It's one-third the size of the Montreal one, but at least it was much bigger than the one in Old Quebec. I still managed to shop there for 1.5 hours (and scored a cheap OBEY tank too!) After busing it back into the city, we walked around the Citadel and along the Plains of Abraham. For our last dinner, we ate at Le Lapin Saut, a cute traditional french country restaurant on Petit-Champlain, where we ate... bunnies :X Sounds horrible and cruel, but was it ever delicious :P We started off with les rillettes de lapin, which was a spread for bread, then I had a rabbit in two sauces: two mustards and maple. The meat was so tender and the sauces were amazing. We finished dinner by pigging out on strawberry cheesecake.

I think I always gain weight after vacations... hm, I wonder whyyyy!

Posted by mich at 11:34 PM | return | dreams [0]

July 5, 2006

Shopped 'til She Dropped

During the Canada Day weekend, my parents and I were quite the patriots- we headed south of the border *hangs head in shame*. But seriously, if you're not going to celebrate in Ottawa, what point is there in staying here for the lame/non-existent celebrations in Toronto? So my family hit the road and drove down to Grove City, Pennsylvania, where there just happens to be a super duper humoungous factory outlet mall. SO many stores and so many sales; it took us 2 days to go through the whole place. They had a Coach store that was milling with women holding armfuls of bags, purses and wallets. I joined in the craze and got a cute shoulder sling bag. I also scored myself a pair of Adidas running shoes for $30(!!!), and I went absolutely buckwild at Bath & Body Works, where all their lotions, body sprays and shower gels were $5. *jackpot!* I also have a new favourite American store now called Jimmy'z, - carrying a unique style that melds together punk, rock, and surf - where I bought myself a few tops for a measly $4. The biggest doorcrasher I found was a funky Fossil bag that went from $60 straight to $10. How could I resist?! All in all, it was a completely satisfying weekend of shopping. For a 5-hour drive, it makes for a reasonable shopping destination.


On a completely different subject, what the hell is going on with this World Cup? It's turning into a disaster. How can a bunch of old has-beens, who beat out my 3 favourite teams when they barely even survived the round-robins, make it into the final to play another team who can't play for their life that make a sport out of diving on land? My head keeps shaking like a bobble-head doll. I'm boycotting the World Cup on Sunday.

Posted by mich at 10:19 PM | return | dreams [0]

May 27, 2006

Montreal Trip Continued

As for the rest of my Montreal trip, it was quite uneventful. Saturday my family went out for breakfast at this tiny place called Chez Dusty's, then went to Simons for 45 minutes (enough time to browse but not to try anything on), went up to the Mont-Royal cemetary (the rainy weather had miraculously opened up to sunny skies right when we got there and disappeared when we started to leave), and dinner in Chinatown with relatives, including my dad's cousin, who I haven't seen in like a decade. After dinner, we went over to my dad's cousin's place south of Montreal in Brossard, which was an area I had never ever been before. It was aweseome to actually see the skyline of Montreal across the river as I never enter or exit the city from that direction. The neighbourhoods in Brosssard turned out to be really nice- reminded me of the houses back in Kanata. We got a grand tour of the house and played some pool, and found out my uncle is actually quite the pool shark.

We went home Sunday afternoon after a 2-hour shopping spree at Simons. Halfway through the drive, we hit construction that caused huge traffic backups, so my dad took us on a scenic detour along the 1000 Islands Parkway. There were tiny islands dotted along the river that were big enough only for a house. How cool would it be to live on a house island? Boat in the summer, walk along the ice in the winter. I wonder whether they have cottages there to rent out in the summer.

Posted by mich at 12:08 AM | return | dreams [0]

May 26, 2006

Food Poisoned :X

On Wednesday evening I went out to dinner at East before heading to the TSO's Salute to the Tonys performance. Our seats were on the main floor so they were pretty close to the stage. The show was great and the conductor turned out to be a hilarious character who played along with the singers' antics. I'm not sure if I was a big fan of all the vocals though... sometimes they seemed to take away from the orchestra. The soprano singer was absolutely awful, and none of the singers or the choir could sing in sync (but I must say, the baritone and tenor were amazing singers on their own).

In the middle of the night, I woke up feeling reeeaaallly sick. At first I thought I was terribly dehydrated so I had some sips of water. But no. This was something bad. I ended up having to run to the bathroom throughout the night and morning until my stomach completely emptied itself out. It left me so exhausted I ended up sleeping most of the afternoon away. And what did I have for dinner? Just a simple dish of satay tofu and veggies... not even meat. I'm never going back to East again (and neither should you)!

Tonight I attended my very first baseball game. The game was... *yawn*, but I had a good time just chatting with Cass and attempting to be part of a wave. The Jays were actually winning, but I needed to leave early because my stomach was still in a bit of pain. On a day where I couldn't eat anything, I was surrounded by food stalls selling fries, pizza, ice cream... *drool* Waaaaah :( I ended up just eating half a sandwich consisting of lettuce, tomatoes and cucumber but my grinding stomach later made me realize that raw veggies are much harder to digest than meat (which I was trying to avoid).

Posted by mich at 11:29 PM | return | dreams [0]

May 20, 2006

A la belle province

I'm spending my Victoria Day long weekend here in Montreal, where it's cold and dreary. My parents and I left the house at 11am, but had to run errands first before actually hitting the road at 11:45. We got into the city at 6pm and my parents decided that they wanted to stop over at my aunt's house to check out the living conditions (my aunt and uncle pretty much live with my cousins in Boston now so the place rests unoccupied). Well, it turned out that my dad missed the highway exit to my aunt's place so we continued further to the next ramp. Everything after that was a scene of madness. Since my dad hasn't been back in the Laval area in a while, his sense of direction got a bit rusty. Then add in a new townhouse development/village and you've got a family hitting dead-ends left, right, and centre trying to get out of the maze. After 20-30 minutes of driving around the mini-village, we finally found an exit to the main road after asking a resident. We started heading in the right direction towards Henri-Bourassa but my dad underestimated the actual distance of the street to reach the intersection, so he turned around thinking that we had been going the wrong way. I kept insisting we consult our antiquated map from 1990, and it was only after we backtracked past where we had originally started that we realized we were initially heading the right way all along. We wasted an hour wandering around and ended up just skipping my aunt's place and going straight to my sister's. *haaaiiii*

For dinner I convinced my parents to try out the Spanish restaurant La Sala Rosa that I went to last month. This time we ordered garlic shrimp (not as tasty as last time), potato and onion omelette, chicken and seafood paella, and this evening's special of grilled quail in honey with onions and grapes. I was a big fan of the quail, omelette, and flan that we had for dessert. It turned out that the paella comes with a salad and flan, yet the first time I went we never got any flan; we were cheated! I don't think I've ever had flan that amazing before... I even considered ordering another one. *oink oink* But really, the flan wasn't that big and it was shared between the 4 of us. And on the last piece that my sister and I were splitting, she claimed I didn't cut it properly in half, so in her attempt to even things out, my half went flying across the table! Oh what a waste!!

I finally uploaded my pictures of my trips to Ottawa during Winterlude and Montreal during Easter here.

Posted by mich at 10:26 PM | return | dreams [0]

April 18, 2006

Easter Weekend In Montral

It was a chilly and windy weekend in Montreal and now I'm getting sick *cough cough*. I had a fun time, although my sore legs are still trying to recuperate from all the walking we did. And after my legs get better I need to hit the gym to undo all the eating we did >.<

On Thursday Christian and I took the 5pm express train where it turned out that we had business class seats. So there were plugs and tables for us to watch videos on the laptop and for me to do some Flash work. We got into the city at 9:30 and cabbed it to my sister's place on St. Laurent. The three of us then went to Santropol, a really cute restaurant that has a really unique selection of sandwiches (minted ham sandwich anyone?). I wanted to try the Sweet Root sandwich, which consisted of nuts, raisins, apples and carrots, but they were completely out :( So I opted for a yummy Millet Pie that was very wheat-y and came with some sort of sweet and spicy ketchup. After our filling dinner we walked back to Vanessa's place and watched a couple of episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

Friday morning I woke up early to squeeze in some Flash work before everyone else woke up. At noon the three of us walked over to St. Denis for brunch at Caf Fruits Folies, where we all ordered different variations of french toast dishes. After eating, Vanessa went to the McGill to do work, while Chris and I walked up St. Denis towards Mont-Royal. We stopped into a cute boutique called Nahika and I found a cute tennis-style Groggy tank (I think this is the third time in a row where I went to Montreal and bought a Groggy item, haha... why don't Toronto stores carry them?!). Afterwards we turned onto Mont-Royal to check out used CD stores, walked about 20 minutes down the avenue, doubled back to St. Denis, then walked back down towards downtown. Once we made it down to Square St-Louis, we veered off the main road and found ourselves on Prince Arthur, a quaint pedestrian road dotted with restaurants and cafs. We made it across to St. Laurent, down to Sherbrooke then back across to St. Denis to continue down to St. Catherine. We walked on St. Catherine towards Place-des-Arts to meet with Sunnie, but on the trek there Chris had to have his mandatory fill of poutine at La Belle Province ("the working man's fries" says he!). After meeting with Sunnie we walked to Les Ailes de la Mode to pick up Chris' friend Thuy from work, then went back to Place-des-Arts to meet with my sister at 7. Vanessa suggested a Spanish tapas place that all her friends recommended, so we decided to eat there for dinner. The only problem was that she wasn't exactly sure where it was on St. Laurent, only that it was "north of her place". Ok fine... a bit of a hike, but no one was really that hungry yet. By 8:15 we were still walking up St. Laurent looking for the place, legs sore, bones chilled, and tummies growling. We gave up shortly after that (it turns out we turned back less than a block away!), and walked another 20 mintues to St. Denis to a Caribbean restaurant called Kalalu. It probably took another hour or so before we could eat because the service was pretty slow. We had Creole cigars (spicy seasoned beef, pork, crabmeat, scallions, and pollock in a spring roll wrap)and Accra (cod fish cakes fried and served with a lime pepper mayo and a mango dipping sauce) as appetizers, which turned out to be pretty good. However, the pork of my Griot dish was too dry, so it was kinda hard to eat.

On Saturday Christian, Vanessa and I headed to St-Viateur Bagel for a bagel sandwich brunch. It was pretty cool to see how they make bagels in the wood burning ovens; and of course I had to get a dozen Montreal style bagels to take home (but apparently you can order them online too!). Afterwards, as my sister headed home to study some more, Chris and I took the metro downtown to shop at Simons. He actually thought I was joking when I said I needed 2 hours in the store. But we really stayed there from 2-4:00 while I scoured the whole store and came out with 4 finds :) Next stop was the Museum of Contemporary Art to check out the Anselm Kiefer exhibit. For dinner that evening, we decided to give the Spanish restaurant another chance. This time, my sister had looked up the exact address and intersection of La Sala Rosa. It was only a 20 minute walk but we ended up having to wait an hour for a table >.< In the end, the wait was definitely worth it; ordered fried squid, garlic shrimp, fried goat cheese, potato and onion omelette with spanish sausage tortilla, sauted zuccuni, peppers and tomatoes on a nest of potatoes, and finally a chicken paella with vegetables. The food was absolutely scrumptious, but the fried cheese was definitely... interesting, to say the least. Later in the evening Christian and I headed to his friend's birthday party at a club called System. I didn't realize how smoky the club would be (they still allow smoking in bars/clubs) so I had to leave after half an hour because I was seriously suffocating. Yes I'm a big party pooper. So we headed back to my sister's area and met up with my sister and her friend at Frites Alors! for greasy snack at 1:30.

The next morning Chris and I walked over to Rockaberry's for drinks/lunch/dessert. My sister wasn't exaggerating when she said the pies there were amazing. I couldn't believe the selection they had, and it took us a while to finally decide on the apple crumble pie (warmed up, of course!) with a big hunk of ice cream. Christian's friends from the previous night dropped by to hang out for a bit. Afterwards, we went over to Schwartz's deli to endure the 20 minute lineup to get a piece of their famous smoked meat. Our final destination was a walk around Vieux Montreal before going to the train station to head back home.

Posted by mich at 5:44 PM | return | dreams [0]

March 13, 2006

Take Me Back To Asia...

It seems like everyone around me is flying off to Asia this year: my aunt & uncle are on their way to Japan and China as I type this, my mom's going to HK and China in April, my sister's going to Taiwan & HK in June, and a handful of friends going at different points during the summer. And reminicsing about all the fiascos we had with Chris and Kris makes me want to go back even more! The closest thing to being part of the real thing is going to see the Mamechiyo: The Art of Kimonoshow at Magic Pony.

Speaking of shows, I'm pretty disappointed in myself for having missed the deadline for the Gladstone Hotel's call for submissions to this year's Contact photography festival. I had planned on submitting my entry last week but got so caught up in other work that it had completely slipped my mind. Another missed opportunity :(


So last night I decided to go for Korean food at Joon's at Yonge/Sheppard. They're known for their Joon's Special, a huge plate of meat and vegetables that cooks at your table on a portable gas stove. We ordered 2 specials: chicken and cabbage with rice noodles and mozarella cheese (yum!), and seafood with veggies and long noodles. We asked them to tone down the hot sauce (I swear, it was on practically every single menu itme)... however it turned out spicy in one and super spicy in the other. You won't believe how much my dad was complaining... if it's not Chinese or French it's no good. So we just ordered him bowls and bowls of rice. We also ordered a hot stone bowl of Bibimbob (beef, veggie, and egg on rice), and although we had specifically asked not have any hot sauce in it, the dish arrived when a huge section of hot sauce embedded in the rice. Needless to say, we could have all turned into fire-breathing dragons after dinner. But if you're totally into spicy food, their specials are amazing!

Posted by mich at 10:11 PM | return | dreams [0]

February 8, 2006

Curse You Global Warming!

This past weekend Christian took me on a trip to Ottawa for Winterlude... but since it was so unbelievably warm and rainy, it might as well as been called Waterlude! :( It looked promising as we rode the train up Friday morning and saw snow out the window, but once we arrived in Ottawa we were greeted by rain. Because of the terrible weather, most events and activities were cancelled. In sum, most of the weekend was spent indoors eating (much to the chagrin of my waistline).

On Friday we had taken the early train at 7am and got into Ottawa at 11:30. We located our bed & breakfast in ByWard Market, and my goodness, the place was absolutely stunning! It was the kind of decor I admire in those architecture mags: stylish, minimalist, European with funky accents and colours. It was a 3-story place where our bedroom was on the first floor, kitchen, dining and living room on the second, and 2 other bedrooms on the third. I spent the next little while taking pictures of the house. Oh and I must talk about the towels. So thick and soft, you can't even keep them tied around your body because they're SO thick! And the blankets... soooo soft! Haha ok I'm finished. We had lunch at Blue Cactus in the market and had the worst waiter who kept ignoring us. Then we walked around Chteau Laurier and neared Parliament Hill, but the weather was dreary and rainy that we headed into the Rideau Centre for some shopping. Afterwards, we chilled in our room while pigging out on poutine and watching TV. Tom Cochrane was performing at the Snowbowl stage on the canal in the evening so we checked that out for a bit, but we didn't know any of his songs. The canal had been opened that day just for Winterlude, but it was only safe to walk across rather than to skate. So then we walked down to Confederation Park to check out the ice lounge and ice carving competition that had started that day and was to continue until Sunday at noon. For dinner neither of us were that hungry so we decided to have some small apetizer dishes at Milestone's. For over 30 minutes our blind waitress didn't even acknowledge us so we were just sitting there starving away (what's with all these bad waiters?). Finally the host that had seated us realized we had been ignored and got another waiter to serve us. The only upside was that everything we ordered was on the house as an apology. Sweeeet. That evening I tried ice wine for the first time, and it was surprisingly bearable- doesn't burn like the normal wines! I managed a whole half glass worth and I didn't even end up with a pulsing headache... miraculous!

Saturday morning we woke up at 8:15 for breakfast upstairs. Our innkeeper, Anthony from New Zealand, turned out to be an amazing chef and had made us yummy orange strawberry smoothies, and a plate of fruit florally arranged and eggs benedict with creamy hollondaise sauce. *smacks lips* We had been exhausted from the day before and I had problems sleeping with my really puffy pillow, so we just crashed for another couple of hours after breakfast. In the afternoon we took the Sno-Bus to Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, where they have Snowflake Kingdom, North America's largest snow playground. But once we arrived, all we saw was mud, melting mounds of snow, and people standing at the closed entrace letting everyone know that everything was cancelled. How sucky is that? We considered stealing a Bloc Qubecois sign (unfortunately they were secured too well to the lamp posts) before heading back across the river. There was no point in travelling to Dow's Lake either since everything was cancelled there too. We had lunch in the market again at Zak's Diner, where their meals are really fit for two people. We had a yummy strawberry milkshake (dessert #1) and each ordered a sandwhich but we could only manage to eat half: that's how big the meals are o_O. We hung out for a while at the Rideau Centre, then went back to our B&B, where the sleepy head crashed for another 2 hours while I surfed the internet looking up Shih Tzu dogs that I want. His name will be either Puppy or Guiseppe, but Christian suggested Max()... LOL, nerd much? :P I had my hopes up that perhaps later in the evening the canal would be fit for skating, but because of all the rain it was completely closed >_< We walked back to Confederation Park to check out the progress of the ice sculptures. Some were turning out great, but everything was slowly melting. You could see everything dripping; I felt so bad for the sculptors working so hard when their pieces probably wouldn't even see the light of the next day. We saw a CTV reporter commenting on the Winterlude activities, declaring that the only thing you can do this weekend is to see the ice sculptures... for now. We walked up and down Elgin, back up to the Snowbowl and caught a bit of a fire busker performance, then took pictures of the cute Ice Hog mascots running around amongst the crowd. We headed back into the market where we stopped into Oh So Good!, where they have a craaazy assortment of interesting cheesecakes. *droooool* So many to choose from! I decided on a mango raspberry cheesecake (dessert #2) and had a nice peach black tea to warm me up from the cold. We went back to our B&B (I love how it's in such an amazing location!!) where we rested a bit before heading back outside to get Beaver Tails (dessert #3). This time, however, it ended up pouring rain and we had to run back home protecting our poor beaver tails from getting soaked. I enjoyed my scrumptious apple cinnamon tail while we watched a funny chinese movie called Kung-Fu Mahjong.

The next morning for breakfast Anthony had made us berry smoothies and AMAZING custard french toast using thick french bread. [Aside: I tried out the recipe on my own when I got home, but the egg mixture didn't end up soaking all the way through the bread :( Continue reading down below for the recipe.] In the morning the weather was 6 degress so there was no way anything would be going on for Winterlude. After eating, we packed up our bags then took the bus to the Canada Science and Technology Museum. The place looked a lot smaller than what I remember 12 years ago, but inside was totally renovated. Although the Ontario Science Centre here is a lot bigger, all the exhibits are old and grungy that I remember being scared to touch something so dirty and germ-infested. The museum turned out to be so much fun and I actually learned some really neat things (like what the heck Sanford Fleming is famous for, haha... omg I'm such a nerd). We stayed there for 4 hours and took the bus back downtown. By this time it was 3pm and we were starving, but all the restaurants in the market were closed in the afternoon between lunch and dinner. After walking around the whole market trying all the restuarants, we finally went back to Zak's again (it's open 24 hours on the weekend, y'know!), where I had a Chicken Fajita wrap with onion rings (<--- sooo gooood!). Again, the wrap was so massive that I ended up saving half of it for the train ride home. Aftewards we went into Zone, a house and home store that carried some amazingly designed kitchen ware and home decor. I bought myself a mug with an infuser, the first time I've seen one since I bought one for my dad 5 years ago. We picked up our bags from the B&B and walked to the bus stop. We were so close to Confederation Park so we decided to go down and check out the finished ice sculptures. Poor sculptures!! So many of them were destroyed, and a few sculptors had given up on their works. By the time we finished circling the park and headed back up to the street I finally saw a taffy stall, but we had no time to make any! :( We took the 6:15 train back home and arrived to Union at 10:30; then I travelled another hour back home and got in at 11:30.

Snow sculpture on Friday night
(man's right hand already broken)
  Snow sculpture on Saturday morning
Custard French Toast

5 eggs
2 cups of milk (whole or 1/2 & 1/2)
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon nutmeg
French bread cut into 1-1/2 inch slices

1. Combine eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla & Nutmeg
2. Place sliced bread in a glass cassarole pan.
3. Pour egg mixture over bread - spinkle with additional nutmeg. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
5. Cook in greased pan until golden brown on both sides. Top with powdered sugar, fresh berries and a dallop of whipped cream.

Posted by mich at 9:11 PM | return | dreams [1]

November 23, 2005

I Miss Disney (already)!

I got back from Orlando last Friday only to be greeted by a nice flurry of snow! Throughout the week of vacation I enjoyed comfortable weather in the low-mid twenties (perfect summer temperature for me!) with the occasional light shower scattered throughout one of the mornings. It was the first time I ever got to sport summer attire during the autumn/winter season :) I've come to the realization that November is the best time to travel for a number of reasons:

1. November's the worst month of the year here- a dreary, sombre mood of remembrance that falls in between the glorious fall colours of October and the joyous winter wonderland that arrives in December
2. Low season = cheap airfare
3. Southern locations are comfortably warm and not too hot
4. Less tourists = no lineups in Disneyworld = more fun in one day!

Overall the trip was super fun, yet exhausting. Our schedule for 6 days were as follows: wake up at 7am, make breakfast, catch shuttle bus to Disney, play play play, return to the resort at 10 or 11pm, prepare lunch and dinner for the next day, sleep at 12 or 1.

Daily Highlights

Day 1: Toronto to Orlando
Woke up at 3:30 am for 6:30 am flight, ate the best bagel I've ever had in my life (french toast flavour from The Great American Bagel), arrived in Orlando at 11am, stopped at Outlet mall on the way from the airport to the resort, shopped shopped shopped with huge backpacks still on our backs, pushed around huge backpacks in carts while grocery shopping, running around taking pictures and videos of our massive resort suite.

Day 2: Magic Kingdom (Part 1)
Took ferry boat to Magic Kingdom, snapped a billion pictures of everything upon entering the park, figured out the magic of FastPass, went through Tomorrowland, Frontierland, Adventureland, and a bit of Fantasyland, got sopping wet on Splash Mountain, bought funny Splash Mountain picture, ate Mickey Mouse ice cream bar, realized that It's a Small World is actually a great ride.

Day 3: Epcot (Part 1)
Rode a boat ride through a greenhouse where we saw Mickey Mouse pumpkins and 9-pound lemons, went on a hang-gliding simulation ride, waited an hour through technical difficulties only to experience a yucky space simulation ride that applied a G-force of like 5 million on you (that was a lowlight), visited Mexico, Norway, and China Pavillions, travelled 65mph on Test Track, met Tigger and Eeyore in the UK Pavillion, watched fireworks.

Day 4: Animal Kingdom
Rode an African safari through a wildlife reserve, explored detailed African and Asian villages, had the daylights scared out of me being chased by dinosaurs, rode a cute spinning roller-coaster, meeting holiday Eeyore, Tigger and POOH!, pigged out on yummy Ghirardelli cheesecake sundae in Downtown Disney.

Day 5: Magic Kingdom (Part 2)
Endured 90 minute timeshare presentation at the resort, rode The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh twice, visited Minnie Mouse's house, met Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Chip & Dale, rode Splash Mountain and Buzz Lightyear twice each without lineups, bought Minnie Mouse ears, watched a spectacular fireworks show.

Day 6: Disney-MGM Studios
Screamed my head off on the Tower of Terror (who knew it was actually a pretty good ride?!), played in the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, watched a super crazy car stunt show, sat as an audience member of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, learned to draw Goofy and Stitch in animation class, watched the Fantasmic light show, walked down New York street dressed in millions of Christmas lightbulbs along with sparkling snowfall.

Day 7: Epcot (Part 2)
Took a greenhouse tour and held a Mickey pumpkin, visited Canada, UK, France, Morocco, Japan, US, Italy and Germany Pavillions, shopped at Mitsukoshi dept store in Japan, had a beautiful crane carved out of candy by Miyuki, had yummy Mickey ice cream bar and funnel cake, ate our only non-homemade meal at Landry's Seafood for dinner.

Day 8: Orlando to Toronto
Woke up at 5:30 am for 8 am flight, rode with scary cab driver to the airport, arrived in Toronto at 10:30 am, had my first taste of Chinese food in over a week (I was deprived)!

Take a look at some of the pics here.

Posted by mich at 8:29 PM | return | dreams [1]

November 10, 2005

The Happiest Place On Earth!

Early flight tomorrow morning. *yawn* See y'all in a week!

Posted by mich at 10:07 PM | return | dreams [0]

October 16, 2005

Design Monkey (No Longer A Bum!)

Guess who's going to Disneyworld in November?! mememe! I'm ber excited for a vacation, especially seeing how I'm going to be worked for the next 3 months (more on that later). I've booked a place through my family's timeshare called Sheraton Vistana Resort, which looks spectacular, aaaand it's located right across from Disney. Apparently, after you visit you can't go back for another 4 years because it's so popular.

So last week I applied to a job on Tuesday evening, then got a call for an interview Wednesday, had the interview Thursday morning, got the job Thursday afternoon, and started my first day on Friday. Whew. And to add to all that, on my first day I was handed 3 projects from the get-go, worked all day without lunch break until 7pm, and have to continue working through the weekend from home for a deadline tomorrow. :X

I'm working for Mindblossom on a 3-month contract to work on a holiday promotional campaign for eBay France. So basically I'm designing and producing ads, banners and whatever other promotional material for the Christmas season. I did some designing this weekend but hit a road block when I realized my computer doesn't have a font that I need to use in my designs. So now I'm twiddling my thumbs waiting for someone from work to send it to me.

I already realized earlier this month that doing corporate/commercial/ad stuff really isn't me; if there's one pet peeve of mine, it's advertisements and the commercialization of everything. But I do think I can learn alot from this job to become a great designer/developer and maybe start my own company further down the road and concentrate on things within the arts & culture industry. Emmm, let's see how it all turns out.

Posted by mich at 3:14 PM | return | dreams [1]

October 5, 2005

Update On My Boring Life

My life is so blah right now I don't even have the motivation to write about it on a regular basis. So now I'm doing batch updates :P

I volunteered a bit for the McLuhan International Festival of the Future that was last week. Not very fun since there wasn't a big turnout and because everything was super disorganized. The upside was that I got to go to the events for free and got to attend some really interesting talks and discussion panels.

As for the status of my contract with Princess Cruises, I was assigned to leave from LA on November 12, but I'll be deferring it again to start sometime in December. If my sis and I get assigned to the same ship that'd be pretty cool.

I just got a tutoring job last night through Sam to tutor grade 9 French twice a week, so I'll be starting that tomorrow. Holy cow, I can't believe I'm actually going to making some money, woohoo!

Two weeks ago I attended a fashion show by Amber Delicious to celebrate the opening of her store. Here are a few pictures I took that night:

Posted by mich at 10:47 AM | return | dreams [0]

September 2, 2005

Random Post For The Day

I want a Lensbaby 2.0!

So I've been hired by Princess Cruises to work as a photographer. They originally assigned me to set sail from San Fracisco (!!) Oct. 21 but I wouldn't be able to leave until early November when my parents get back from their cruise... so now I'm waiting for a reassignment. When I first heard I was hired I was so happy but now that I've been thinking about how different everything will have to be for 6 months (that's a long time), it's going to be a tough adjustment. Lots of mixed feelings, sadness especially, but I feel so lucky to even have a chance at something like this that I know I would regret it if I didn't do it now. In the meantime, I'll be so super busy... I was just hired last week to create a website for a new council at U of T for integrating all the performance and visual arts across all three campuses, and at the same time, integrating U of T into the Toronto's cultural scene, sort of trying to follow Harbourfront Centre's program. Then there's also finishing up the flash site for the fashion designer, touching up some fashion shoot photos for people buying prints from me, doing some corporate designing, and volunteering for the Toronto International Film Festival and the McLuhan International Festival of the Future. The film fest starts next Thursday! I'm super excited! I'll be working at Roy Thompson this year for various gala nights... hello red carpet!

Posted by mich at 7:09 PM | return | dreams [0]

August 22, 2005

The Road Not Taken

The interview for the photography job with Princess Cruises went really well last week. I think I have a pretty good chance of getting the job, and right now, after having contemplated the idea of it, it's something that I would really like to try. The only downside is that it's a 6-month contract, meaning I'm away from doing anything else computer or design related. My mom's especially concerned that I'll be missing so many career opportunities here and by the time I come back it will be hard for me to get back into the game. Of course she brings up some valid points, but I feel this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and if I don't do it, I'll regret it later on in life. And what is 6 months out of your whole entire life? Just a blip.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

- Robert Frost

Posted by mich at 10:15 PM | return | dreams [0]

July 10, 2005

My New Toy

Haven't updated in a long time so this might be a long entry!

The big news first: I finally got a digital camera! The Nikon D70s.
Yup, I've crossed over to the dark side, but it's come to the point where I it's about time I go digital. Especially with the fashion photography course I'm taking, digital is the way to go.

Ok now let's recap on my last few weeks....

The last weekend in June I went camping at Algonquin Park's Mew Lake. I got attacked by vicious black flies, but other than that, the trip was fine and dandy! We got into the campsite at around 11pm Friday night and ended up having to set up our tents using the car headlights as our light source. The next day we rented canoes and paddled around Canoe Lake, then did a little hiking trip to an outlook. Unfortunately those were the only outdoorsy activities we got to do. Most of our time was taken up being iron chefs.

For the Canada Day long weekend Christian and I went to the nation's capital. We got in by bus on Thursday at midnight. We stayed at a cute B&B about a 15 min walk from Parliament. On Canada Day we checked out the events going on at Parliamnet Hill and Major's Hill Park, walked about Byward Market, and went to the National Gallery for the Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and the Renaissance in Florence exhibit. We took a lunch break at Byward Market for Chris' mandatory poutine meal, then headed back to the gallery to look at the permanant collections. At 3pm we headed back to the B&B to rest while it rained outside. Mr. Sleepyhead passed out for a couple of hours and left me to go off walking around by myself! When he came to, we had dinner at a Thai restaurant at Byward, then headed to the Hill to catch Sam Robert's performance and the fireworks. The scene after the fireworks was nuts. We were pushed and shoved around and packed like sardines walking down Wellington St. We made a pit stop for Beaver Tails at the Market before attempting to meet Thy at the Aristocrat Suite she was staying at for the night. Unfortunately, with a faulty set of directions we totally missed the hotel and walked all the way down to the Museum of Nature area. By the time we figured out where the hotel really was it was already 12:30 and we were beat so we just headed back to the B&B :(

On the Saturday we watched a bit of the changing of the guards on the Hill, visited the Museum of Contemporary Photography, made necklaces at Sassy Beads in the Market, and had a patio lunch at Black Tomato, where I had a tiny bit of alcohol with my meal. Big mistake. I developed a headache and was so tired after lunch that I needed a nap nap in Major's Hill Park. That evening we took the bus to Kanata, met up with Jon and we visited our old houses- they looked sooo much smaller than we remembered. The good ol' days... *sigh*! We went out to dinner with Jon and his parents at a Texan restaurant then retired early with plans to wake up at 5am the next morning (haha, yeah right!) The next morning we woke up at 6am and explored downtown during sunrise before heading back to the B&B for breakfast. We didn't do much else that morning before we had to head to the bus station back to Toronto.

This weekend has been quite busy as well. Friday night was the opening ceremony for the Toronto Street Festival. Chris and I checked it out at Yonge Dundas Square- we saw Great Big Sea perform and Les Girafes Urban Operetta, which was basically a parade of red elephants on the street. Not as impressive as the Malaya Winterfest closing performace, but still a fun spectacle nonetheless. Yesterday morning I had to wake up at 7am to make it down to Ryerson for our first fashion shoot with models and make-up artists. Everyone was split up into pairs except my group, which consisted of 3 people. More people to split up the time with the model plus a SUPER SLOW make up artist didn't leave our group members much time to photograph. I only got to start shooting after 3:30 (we were supposed to finish by 4). It was pretty stressful and that day only confirmed how uncomfortable directing and managing people. I did come out with some nice shots though... hopefully everything will go better during the next shoot. Later in the evening I went to the Harbourfront Centre's Electronic Music Festival with Chris and Mike, and later met up with my sister and her friend, and Tony. We ended up having Indian dinner in the eastern part of the city at 11pm. The food took FOREVER to come which was driving me crazy. To top it all off, I asked for my dish to be mild, but it turned out to be spicier than everyone else's dishes! It's official- no more Indian food for me EVER AGAIN! Five strikes. Thanks again to Tony for driving me and my sis home :)

Today my family and I went to E.D. Smith Farm in the Niagara Escarpment for cherry picking. It was pretty fun aside from the burning heat, my out of control allergies, and the 40 minute wait in line to get into the fields.

Posted by mich at 10:49 PM | return | dreams [2]

June 29, 2005

It's Revived!

Holy moly, my domain expired and I didn't even realize it until I got back from my camping weekend in Algonquin. I'm just worried about all the e-mails I missed while my e-mail addy was out of service :S

Now I gotta start packing for my trip to Ottawa for the long weekend. Can't wait! Happy Canada Day everyone!

Posted by mich at 11:46 PM | return | dreams [0]

May 28, 2005

Partially Unemployed Bum

I'm employed part-time as a photographer. Wooo! Should be fun going around Toronto to explore all the architecture, neighbourhoods, and attractions. Now I can put off buying an expensive digicam since the company will be lending me their Canon Rebel. I'll get to play around with the camera and see how I actually like working a digital SLR. I was considering dropping my Fashion Photography course at Ryerson in order to save money towards a Nikon D70S... but I think I can keep it for the moment :)

Yesterday afternoon I visited Sandra with Wensan, Chris Tang, and their friend. I baked Mrs. Field's Oatmeal Raisin cookies for San, but they didn't turn out as good as another recipe I usually use (I'll post the recipe later). But I'm glad San and her family enjoy them! :) And it was nice seeing Sandra looking well, lively, and back to her complaining self :P

I had a phone interview on Thursday with The Medea Group for a programmer/designer job, and now they want to interview me in person this upcoming Thursday. I'll be meeting with the CEO and President of the company- how intimidating is that?!

Last weekend was the Victoria Day long weekend. I went up to Montreal on Sat. with my family for a mini family reunion. Did the mandatory bai san on Mont Royale, then chilled out at my sister's apartment for a bit before going to dinner to meet up with my cousins from Boston, my cousin Lawrence's new Venezualan wife, and uncles, aunts, and grandma. The next day I went on a shopping bonanza at Simons. I was in the store right when it opened at noon (and it was already a zoo), and stayed there until 2:45 :O I don't think I've ever gone that crazy before. By 1:30 I was already starving, yet the shopaholic in me kept saying, "Must.... keep... going...". So after 2 rounds of purchases I ended up with 2 asymmetrical zip-up sweaters (one of which is Groggy!!), 2 tanks, a halter top, a white sheer t-shirt w/ asymmetrical neckline, socks for my kitten heels, and a black sheer sleeveless with a pink halter underneath. I was such a happy girl afterwards. But I had to restrain myself from buying anything else while walking around the downtown shops until 5pm. Over the weekend I was pretty productive (aside from the shopping mission). I read a short book that taught me how to create a web site in Flash, and I started reading my Flash Savvy book that I ordered from Chapters.

And speaking of productive, I finally got my portfolio site up and running. I still have to do some tweaks here and there, but here it is: www.elusiveness.org/portfolio.

[Edit: added Oatmeal Raisin Chews recipe]

Oatmeal Raisin Chews

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup salted butter, softened
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cup (8 oz.) raisins
1/2 cup (3 oz.) walnuts, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. In a medium bowl combine flour, baking sodea, salt, and oats. Mix well with wire whisk and set aside.

3. In a large bowl blend sugars with electrical mixer set at medium speed. Add butter and mix to form a grainy paste. Scrape down sides of bowl, then add honey, vanilla and eggs. Mix at medium speed until light and fluffy.

4. Add the flour mixture, raisins and walnuts, and blend at low speed just until combined. Do not overmix.

5. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto ungreased cookie sheets, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 22-24 minutes or until cookies are light golden brown. Immediately transfer cookies with a spatula to a cool flat surface.

Makes 3 dozen without walnuts, 3 1/2 dozen with walnuts.

Posted by mich at 12:55 PM | return | dreams [1]

May 6, 2005

I Miss Japan!

Today marks one year since the beginning of our adventurous Japan trip. I can't believe how fast time flies by. The next time I go back, I want to spend at least a month exploring the entire country from one end to the other... but only after I'm rich enough to support that kind of living! :P

Looks like my student career still hasn't ended yet. I just registered for a fashion photography course at Ryerson instructed by Struan. I'm pretty excited for it. I don't normally do people photography so this is a fun opportunity to explore and learn about this specific style.

Posted by mich at 11:18 PM | return | dreams [0]

February 24, 2005

I Miss Reading Week

Only a few days back into school and I still reading week. Apart from that terrible weekend that kick started my break, I had so much fun (too much fun perhaps)! Tuesday was the CSSU ski trip at Blue Mountain that was one misfortune after another (missing ski trip money, bus pickup was 2 hours late, waited another 2 hours after skiing 'cuz the driver lost his keys). But the skiing in between all the mishaps was great :)

The rest of the week was spent in La Belle Province de cheese curds with Chris. Too much playing and not enough work, which is why I've been sleeping so late ever since I got back :( But it was all worth it as I had a blast in Montreal. The highlights of the trip included:

- shopping at Simons and along St. Denis (Miss Swiss has become a new fave store) :P
- eating tire sur neige, roasting marshmellows and tubing down the snow slide at the Festival of Lights
- making breakfast burritos and pasta at Vanessa's place
- visiting the William Kentridge exhibit at Musee d'Art Contemporain
- encountering funny crazy old men hitting people in the head with sticks used for roasting marshmellows

Posted by mich at 1:45 PM | return | dreams [0]

September 13, 2004

Back from Sunny California

Just got back to Toronto Friday evening and it feels great to be back in Canada. Loving the weather here compared to the stifling heat in Los Angeles, bleh! Out of all the cities I visited, I loved San Francisco the most: beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, so picturesque, and so much to see and do. I took so many pictures; I kind of went buckwild with my 2 cameras and took around 20 rolls of film. Yikes. Too much to write about my trip, but I'll just list the memorable highlights (and lowlights :P)

San Francisco (Aug. 27 - Sept. 2)
- standing at the front of the cable car riding up to Fisherman's Wharf
- walking down the crooked part of Lombard Street
- climbing up and down Telegraph Hill twice
- seeing all the wind turbines on the way to Yosemite National Park
- trying various ethnic cuisines with Rupert and Esther
- ferry tour to Golden Gate bridge and around Alcatraz island
- eating clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl
- shopping in Haight Ashbury
- hanging out with Rupert and Esther the my last night: gallery opening, exploring Chinatown alleyways, and Italian dinner in North Beach
- the Mexican souvenir shop owners wondering if I was married
- all the homeless/drunk/crazy people on the streets

San Diego & Orange County (Sept. 3 - Sept. 6)
- 4 hours of sleep the night before catching my 6:30am flight to San Diego, then almost falling asleep at the San Diego Zoo
- exploring Balboa Park and the Musuem of Photographic Arts
- walking across the border to Tijuana and shopping with Julia in the arts and crafts market
- a Mexican store owner wondering whether I wanted a wallet, or a purse, or a watch, or a husband, or a boyfriend
- eating a band-aid in my pizza and drinking a Kahlua mix to sanitize my mouth
- sleeping on the "haunted" sofa bed
- kite flying and taking a trolley tour around SD with Jason
- dinner at Cheesecake Factory with Jason in Orange County
- all the homeless/drunk/crazy people on the streets

Los Angeles (Sept. 7 - 9)
- pulling into the ghetto Greyhound station and feaking out that it was actually my stop
- leaving my wallet on the Greyhound and having it stolen by one of the 4 people left in the bus behind me
- driving along Sunset Blvd and Mullholland Drive with Daniel and getting lost about 5 times
- spending the whole day at the Getty Center
- seeing Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive
- learning some Italian from Marco
- the slummy/run-down/ghetto streets in between all the sights to see
- the hot, smoggy, sticky weather... yucky

Santa Monica (Sept. 9 - 10)
- seeing all the colourful, clean streets after being in LA
- the super clean hostel that was a 2-minute walk from the beach
- visiting the beach for the first time on the trip and watching the sunset
- walking along Third Street Promenade and watching the street performers at night
- waking up at 6am my last morning to watch the sunrise from the beach

Posted by mich at 1:09 AM | return | dreams [0]

September 4, 2004

Yikes, I'm Melting

It's so hot today in San Diego. It's only mid-morning and I'm boiling hot walking around on the streets. I just got into the city yesterday morning by plane. Had to wake up at 4am, catch the subway to the Oakland airport for my 6:25 am flight and arrived at 8am. Checked out the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, and explored the Gaslamp District, which is where I'm staying. Today I'm off to Tijuana for a day trip... it'll be my first time in Mexico. Kinda excited, yet kinda nervous from hearing about what it's like down there.

Posted by mich at 1:40 PM | return | dreams [0]

August 29, 2004

Lovin San Fran

Here I am in San Francisco. I got in last night at 10:30 pm Pacific Time, but my cousin thought I was arriving at 11-something. We finally ended up meeting each other after midnight because he was circling outside the terminal looking for me at the curb while I was waiting inside the terminal. I tried calling his cell phone but the pay phone I was using was so messed up- no one could hear me on my end. I don't know how many people I had to ask to get change for a $1 bill. That night even though I was super tired (couldn't fall asleep yet again on the plane ride), I went to bed at 2 am, which was really 5 am for me.

This morning I woke up at 9 am being fried by the sun. I sleep in the corner of the living room that has huge 2 storey windows on both adjacent walls. It felt like I was in a greenhouse. Apparently, today is the second time this summer where it is actually HOT in SF (the first time was yesterday). I really was anticipating it to be a lot cooler here, but instead I thought I was gonna melt. In the morning I went around with Rupert and Esther to City Hall, the San Fran public library, and Union Square. In the afternoon I went off on my own and took the Powell-Hyde trolley (I got to stand on the outside at the very front!!) towards Fisherman's Wharf. I got off at Lombard Street first and walked along the world's most crookedest street. Then I went to Ghirardelli Square, walked along Municipal Pier to get a look at Alcatraz and the Golden Gate, then continued on to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. Next was Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill, which was a bit brutal to walk up but provided some beautiful views of the city. I walked all the way down through this hidden path that an old man directed me to, but it was the wrong direction that I had wanted. I kind of circled the bottom of the hill but realized that the street I wanted to get to could only be reached if I climbed up the hill AGAIN. So that's what I did. I followed the map to get to the intersection I wanted, and then realized that I was just there before the old man told me to go somewhere else... and I saw him again jogging up and down the street! I had gone in a complete circle up and down the darn hill. I walked through North Beach, which is basically Little Italy, then walked down Grant through Chinatown. I found this fortune cookie store where you can actually watch the workers make the cookies, which was pretty neat! Rupert told me about this one bakery on Grant that, according to him, has the BEST egg tarts ever. Unfortunately, when I got to the bakery, it was already closed :( I walked back through the downtown area and took a peek inside the San Francisco Shopping Center, which has *curved* escalators. Seven floors of them!! I thought those were SO cute! I got back to the apartment at around 8:30 and waited for Rupert and Esther to come back home. At 9:30 Rupert took me to the Mission District for dinner at a Mexican place called Poncho Villa, where I tried a burrito for the first time :P We also had *real* nachos and tried them with different types of salsas, for which the restaurant has earned a ridiculous amount of awards. I also saw what real tacos are supposed to look like... nothing like the ones at Taco Bell!

Posted by mich at 2:53 AM | return | dreams [0]

August 24, 2004

Almost Ready to Go

Everything's booked for my trip to California. I leave this Friday evening, but I still have lots of things to do and personal projects to finish up (including my Japan scrapbook).

This is what my scheduling holds in store:
Aug. 27: fly from Toronto to San Francisco in the evening
Aug 28-29: San Francisco
Aug 30: day trip to Yosemite
Aug 31: day trip to Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur
Sep 1-2: San Francisco
Sep 3: fly from Oakland to San Diego in the morning
Sep 4: San Diego
Sep 5: day trip to Tijuana, Mexico
Sep 6: Newport Beach
Sep 7: bus from Orange County to Los Angeles in the morning
Sep 8: LA
Sep 9: Santa Monica/Venice Beach
Sep 10: fly from LA to Toronto in the afternoon

To do list:

  • :: finish buying furniture and accessories from IKEA for my bedroom
  • :: see the Turner Whistler Monet: Impressionist Visions exhibit at the AGO
  • :: BBQ
  • :: As You Like It production at High Park
  • :: finish Japan scrapbook
  • :: finish reading California guide books
  • :: watch Garden State
  • :: Toronto International Film Festival volunteer training session
  • :: convert to American currency
  • :: PACK!
Posted by mich at 3:55 PM | return | dreams [1]

July 29, 2004

Qualms of Travelling Alone

Earlier today after talking with a co-worker, I was convinced that I should go on a trip to California alone. I was going to be adventurous and brave. I told my mom about my plan and she was fine with it, and I even came thisclose to booking a ticket. But then, nervousness struck as I thought about walking the streets of LA at night by myself... and I chickened out. Time to reconsider the solo travel idea again.

Pros: totally new and different experience, become more independent and rely soley on myself, learn more about myself, push myself further and test my limits, forces me to be more outgoing

Cons: just considering a trip alone makes me nervous, it'll be quite lonely at times, a girl travelling alone can be unsafe, don't get to share my experiences with anyone

Tomorow I'll try to muster up some more courage.

Posted by mich at 12:41 AM | return | dreams [0]

June 3, 2004

Home Sweet Home

Although I loved being in Japan and Hong Kong, once I came back to Canada I realized how good it feels to be home. I'm loving this balmy sunny weather, and I missed driving around in my car with the windows rolled down. The first morning back, I was so taken aback how green it was outside... before the trip, the grass was still yellowy from winter and the trees were just starting to bud, and in Japan and Hong Kong all I saw was pavement. I also can't get enough of fruits and vegetables; I can't tell you how deprived I was while I was in Japan. Their oranges costed 100 yen each (which is like $1.30)!! It was ridiculous.

On the flip side, I am totally missing hearing Japanese and interacting with Japanese people. They just always put a smile on my face and made me want to bow all the time. And the way they spoke was just so CUTE!!

I get back my pictures from the trip tomorrow, and I'm super excited! I'm already debating what kind of album to get since it's a mix of APS and 35 mm shots... sticky back or pockets? What kind of labelling system to use? Mix everyone's sets together or keep them separate? Hmmm, decisions decisions.

I watched two movies yesterday: American Splendor and Matchstick Men. Both were excellent movies. American Splendor mixed film with comics with documentary to tell the story of a file clerk who made comics about his every day life. Matchstick Men was brilliant; the ending totally caught me by surprise... and I must admit, as much as I don't like Nicholas Cage, he was pretty amazing in this movie.

Posted by mich at 2:50 PM | return | dreams [1]

May 30, 2004

I Missed My Bed

Well, I'm back from my trip to Japan and Hong Kong! I got back on Thursdsay and slept for 16 hours that night (and next day... hehe). There's too much to write about my trip, but in short, Japan was a beautiful country full of gracious, sweet and kawaii (cute) people, yet it was so RAINY and FREAKIN' EXPENSIVE. It rained practically every day, so when we went to Mt. Fuji and Mt. Aso (an active smoking volcano) all we could see was fog, which I was quite bitter about. Although the rain made us miserable at times, we still had a great time in Tokyo and backpacking around the rest of Japan. The very last night we were caught in a typhoon, which soaked my shoes, my jeans up to my thighs, and my umbrella to the point where it started to leak. But good times trying to find our way back to the hostel! As for the expenses, I was hoping to just spend $1000 CDN for the 2 weeks in Japan, but it ballooned to $1500. My poor wallet.

On the other hand, Hong Kong was warm, sunny, and CHEAP! Did some sightseeing at night of the gorgeous buildings all lit up in a multitude of colour. Oh and of course, shopping!

Since it was my first time in Japan, here are some things that I noticed when I was there:
Fruits and vegetables are a luxury (it was killing me) :: no one talks on their cell phones... they text message instead, while they walk, ride the subway, and even biking :: there are umbrella locks but no bicycle locks :: the toilets have heated seats, along with buttons for a spray and to play music/waterfall sounds :: people really do bow all the time :: shopping bags are bagged to protect them from the rain :: stores have umbrella bagging contraptions for people before they enter :: girls would rather walk/hike in their stiletto heels and trip and fall than be caught dead not being dressed up :: department stores have really great food :: people really don't speak English!

Trip overview
May 6-7: Toronto-Narita-Tokyo
May 8: Tokyo
May 9: Tokyo-Mt. Fuji-Tokyo
May 10:Tokyo-Kyoto
May 11: Kyoto
May 12: Kyoto-Nara-Osaka-Kyoto
May 13: Kyoto-Himeji-Kyoto
May 14: Kyoto-Fukuoka
May 15: Fukuoka-Aso
May 16: Aso-Tokyo
May 17: Tokyo
May 18-20: Tokyo
May 21: Tokyo-Narita-Hong Kong
May 22-26: Hong Kong
May 27: Hong Kong-Toronto

I'll be developing my pictures soon so I'll write more about specific places later!

Posted by mich at 11:06 PM | return | dreams [0]

May 5, 2004


Wooo, the big day is finally drawing near... JAPAN TRIP! I'm getting excited. I'm still barely packed but I still have all of today to go shopping and get everything together. Unfortunately, I'll be missing the series finale of Friends, the season finales of Alias and Survivor All-Stars as well as the Jason Mraz concert :( But those can't compare to travelling! Better get back to packing.

Trip to Japan
Airplane ticket: $1300
Japan Rail Pass: $350
Travel backpack: $140
18 rolls of film: $45
Playing charades with the locals: Priceless

Posted by mich at 11:46 AM | return | dreams [1]

April 3, 2004

I Say We Spring Forward a Month Instead of an Hour

Still one more week of school, then exams, and then JAPAN! I'm so excited about it, but I don't have too much time to do research and plan what we're going to do there. But I did take the time to list out a bunch of interesting links on the side that I've accumulated while reading up about it. Sushicam and Tokyo Boy are a couple of fun blogs I like to visit. Tokyo Boy's page is a moblog, which means he blogs from his mobile phone. How nifty is that? I actually set one up myself using Mfop2. I tried it out and it works great, but I won't be able to moblog while I'm in Japan because apparently the wireless network over there is far too advanced for the cell phones here. Dagnabbit, we're living in the stone age!

Posted by mich at 4:25 PM | return | dreams [4]

March 1, 2004

Land of Cheese Curds

Wow, it's March already. I didn't realize it until I looked at my agenda. I flipped the page to the next week and it hit me: what, my birthday's next week?! Already? Noooooo!! Just 2 more years + 1 week until my quarter-life crisis.

I put up some of my pictures from Montral here. Now that I don't have any more assignments this week I'll write about my trip to Montral... drumroll....

Thurs. February 19
I took the 5:00 p.m VIA Rail train and sat in first class (oooh :P). They had so much yummy stuff for me to enjoy like trail mix for a snack, salad, dinner roll and peppercorn steak for dinner, and apple flan and chocolate cups for dessert. Too bad I don't drink... I could've had so much free alcohol, HAHA. For most of the train ride I was studying for my Operating Systems midterm, although it was really hard to manage my textbook, binder, and study notes on my lap and the tiny little table. I got into the city at 9:30 and headed straight to my sister's residence. I did some more studying and slept at 2am.

Fri. February 20
I woke up at 9:45, did some more studying, then headed out at 1pm to Beri-Uqam station to pick up a 3-day metro pass. The sucky thing was that they only sell the passes at Beri, so I had to spend money on an extra metro fare, hmph. So the day's objective was to get shots of places I used to visit around Montreal for my photography assignment. I went down to Chinatown, Notre Dame, and Vieux Montral/Port to take some pictures. The tourist places that are normally so busy and crowded in the summer were totally dead, which was what I wanted to capture in my photographs, but I got quite bored (and cold). I met up with my sister at 3pm and travelled to Mont-Royal Station. Around that area we went "grocery" shopping for snacks and "breakfast" (ie. marble cake), and that was where I bought cheese curds for Christian. I thought they looked so gross upon seeing them for the very first time... I couldn't believe they were even edible (but they're actually really good)! Afterwards we walked around the Plteau and went to Parc LaFontaine, where there's a huge pond (looks more like a canal) for skaters. We then headed towards Sherbrooke station; I took out a map to see how much further we had to walk to the station and some cyclist stopped to give us some "help". He went on to explain the structure of the metro system, and then kept talking to us about his travels around the west coast. He knew how to say "thank you" in 63 languages and started going over them with us. Holy crow, I thought he was going to go through all of them, but luckily had to head off to the library before it closed. Haha, he was entertaining, but we were freeezing! We headed to Place des Arts for the festival of lights and watched fireworks at 7:30, then went to an Ethiopian restaurant called Blue Nile for dinner. The place was really full, so we were directed to another restaurant, Abiata, which is under the same management just down rue St. Denis. The food was really interesting and was served on the LARGEST plate I had ever seen. We had to eat with our hands by using flat bread to pick up our salad our meat. The restuarant had really nice decor and the service was great, albeit a little slow.

Sat. February 21
For breakfast I had cheese curds melted on a dinner roll... yum! Haha... it took a little getting used to, but I was hooked on the curds after that. In the morning my sister and I went to the Universit de Montral, then took a mini metro tour, visiting the areas around Outremont, Parc, and Acadie stations. My sister went back home at noon while I continued on to Mont-Royal station and took a bus up Mont Royal. While riding the bus I finally figured out where that park that resembles a beach in the summer time is located!! (It's at ave Mont Royal and ave Parc) I took a couple of pics on the mountain, where many people were cross-country skiing... it was cool to see the mountain in the winter. Went back to the res, where I also met up with my youngest sister. In the afternoon all three of us went shopping at Simons and Les Ailes de la Mode.
I didn't buy much- just a black 3/4 length sleeve blouse and a pretty dress from Simons. After all the stores closed we dropped by the festival of lights again, then went restaurant hunting for dinner. Our first choice was a Spanish restaurant but we found out that it was out of business. Then we walked all the way back up to Sherbrooke to a Tibetan restaurant that we saw the night before, but didn't realize it was closed for Tibetan new year (?). So then we picked a Thai restaurant called Thai (so original) and the food was pretty good but I don't remember what any of it was called! That night I studied some more for my OS midterm *yawn*.

Sun. February 22
Uncle and aunt drove us back to Toronto, where we had a HUGE yummy dinner with the family at our house.


Here are some pics Vanessa took on her digicam:

Posted by mich at 8:19 PM | return | dreams [0]

August 26, 2003

My Weekend

This past weekend was quite enjoyable. On Saturday morning I took the train up to Montreal and got there at 3 pm. I met up with my friend Lucy from P.E.I that I met back in 1999 in Montreal who now works in the city. We started off at Plteau Mont-Royal and walked down St. Laurent through the Latin Quarter, where I bought a cute little bag for $15. We continued walking down to Vieux Montreal and enjoyed the festival of Nouvelle France. Afterwards, we walked back up to the Eaton Center where I picked up my backpack from a locker, then took the mtro to Outremont to have dinner at a quaint Brazillian restaurant called Senzala. On our way back to the mtro we stopped by a great ice cream parlour that is claimed to have the best ice cream and sorbet in the city. I tried 2 sorbet flavours: pear and strawberry. Boy were they yummy! And they were made with real fruit!

That night I stayed at my aunt's place, where my cousin and her 2 kids were staying on a visit from Boston. The next morning I woke up at 7:45 am and couldn't go back to sleep because the kids were invading my sleeping area! I went out to dim sum with my relatives for brunch, then went off shopping on rue Ste. Catherine. Of course, I headed to Simons (I think I spend an hour and a half in there)! I bought two striped 3/4 sleeve blouses and a hair band. I was on the verge of purchasing more stuff but I had to control myself :P On top of that I bought the book Le Petit Prince as well as Kelly Clarkson's CD. Oh, and my cousin helped my get the iRiver SlimX 550 from the states! It's so nifty! Anyway, in the afternoon my parents and sisters arrived in Montreal and picked me up at McGill, then we headed to my sister's residence to help her move in to her new home. We went out to dinner at Chinatown, then took a stroll around View Montreal and watched some buskers. That night we stayed at the lovely Queen Elizabeth hotel.

On Monday morning I had brunch with my mom and sisters at Chez Cora. I've seen the lineups at this place during the weekends and they are crazy. You'd think it's because the food is amazing. But I tried 2 dishes and both were just OK, nothing special. Plus, the food is overpriced. After brunch we went to Simons for a bit then met up with my dad and relatives to head to the Mont Royale cemetary. I headed back to Toronto afterwards with my aunt, uncle and grandma while the rest of my family stayed for the week.

And now I have the whole house to myself for a week ;)

Posted by mich at 12:33 AM | return | dreams [0]

June 23, 2003

Vegas, Here I Come

Today my family booked a trip to Las Vegas for next week! We're staying at The Venetian located on The Strip across from The Bellagio... oooh...aaah! I want to experience that Ocean's Eleven moment when the gang admires the fountain to the playing of Debussy's Claire de Lune.

The Venetian is modelled after Venice, Italy with canals, gondola rides, and a replica of St. Mark's Square. This is perfect as I love Italy and have never been to Venezia! :P Not to mention the room we're staying in: it's 700 sq. ft. with a sunken living room! Woah baby! The hotel also has the Guggenheim Hermitage Museum, which is designed by the one and only Rem Koolhaas. At the moment it has an exhibition called American Pop Idols, which is all about Pop Art. Cool, that's where I'll be!

One thing I definitely have to see is the Grand Canyon. My only motivation to visit Las Vegas in the first place was to be able to see the canyon. Maybe I can catch a Cirque du Soleil performance if I'm lucky. Dunno what else there is to do in Vegas... any suggestions?

Posted by mich at 11:50 PM | return | dreams [1]