MEXICO 2017

MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
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MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
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MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
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MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
MEXICO 2017
I would never have chosen to come to Mexico in May, knowing how hot it'll get. As a native Texan, I'd say Texas is pretty dang hot in May. I can only imagine how much hotter it is in Mexico! But my little sister. She decided to get married in Mexico. In May, of course. Well, since I'll be in the area, might as well come a week before the wedding to explore around the Yucatan! Bring on the loads of cenotes, ruins and beaches! Yes, it was super humid. Yes, I was super miserable. Yes, I still had a great time!

NOTE: Cochinita Pibil, Poc Chuc and Chaya are some of the trademark dishes and drinks of The Yucatan.

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// TULUM //
Where me and V started our Yucatan adventures. Far from uber touristy Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Though it seems Tulum is likely heading in that direction in the near future, seeing as things have cleaned up quite nicely in Tulum Centro. But one can still find a few hole-in-the-wall restaurants scattered about. It's these very places that we did not hesitate to venture into. After all, if loads of locals go here, it must be good and affordable! Other than the pleasant cheap foodie finds in Centro, it's a pretty chill life in Tulum. Tulum Ruins is only a 15 minute colectivo bus ride - followed by a 15 minute walk - from Centro. And nothing but beaches, beaches, beaches with endless resorts and hotel boutiques along the coast. By taxi alone, it takes over an hour to get from north to the southern part of the beach! All in all, it's a great beach getaway alternative from Cancun and Playa.
>> STAY : Secret Garden, Howlita
>> RECOMMEND : Beaches!, Tulum Ruins, Gran Cenote, Spend a day at Nomade.


// VALLADOLID //
This little town is a joy to walk around! With it's little pastel colored buildings and rustic Spanish colonial architecture. There are many cenotes to explore in the area, conveniently, there's one in Valladolid! Only a 10 minute walk from plaza mayor! Chichen Itza, of course, is the main Mayan ruin attraction in these parts, although Ek Balam is the less crowded (and better) option to check out. By night, we caught street performers doing a cultural dance (Jarana yucateca) in plaza mayor! Such a treat! Yes, Valladolid is a nice mix of authentic nuances and touristy vibes. We enjoyed it here!
>> STAY : El Meson del Marques (Highly recommend!)
>> RECOMMEND : Many beautiful cenotes in the area! (Def check out Cenote Zaci because it's actually in town), Chichen Itza, Ek Balam, Tienda Chocolate Shop for their cold chocolate drink, Cafe del Profesor Pitagoras for a quaint place to chill.


// LAS COLORADAS + RIO LAGARTOS //
The sole reason why we made a visit in Valladolid - the famed man-made Las Coloradas pink lakes are a mere 2 hours away! We contemplated about renting a car in Valladolid, but waited til the last minute to rent one and, instead, opted to hire a driver for the day. A much more expensive option, but hey, how often do you see pink lakes? Ever? After a quick stop at Ek Balam Ruins (30 minutes from Valladolid), we were well on our way to Las Coloradas. Happily speeding along with a broken speedometer towards pink lakes and pink flamingos. Now upon first sight, gosh, it's a stunner! To be greeted with epic salt mines and the whitest beaches, flanking these giant pink lakes ... it's mesmerizing, simply put. A pain to get to as they are in the middle of nowhere. But so worth it!
>> HIRED DRIVER FROM VALLADOLID : ~2,000 Pesos

// PLAYA DEL CARMEN //
Aside from quickly checking out the touristy markets of 5th Avenue, I've spent all of my time at the equally touristy The Royal Resort prepping and partying it up for sister's wedding. Life sure was good at The Royal! Who doesn't like all-inclusive luxury resorts? With a jacuzzi in the middle of your bedroom?? Bluntly put: No, I didn't do any exploring in Playa del Carmen!
>> STAY : The Royal Playa del Carmen

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When: May 2017
Temp: 85-95 F
Cities: Tulum, Valladolid, Las Coloradas, Rio Largartos, Playa del Carmen
Transportation: We flew in and out of Cancun. Rode buses (ADO) to and from each destination. Once at the desired destination, we try to save money and not take an overpriced taxi to our hotel, opting to walk the 10-15 minutes in the heat with our luggages instead.
Stay: Refer to individual cities above.



-jin-

CANADA 2016 // NEW YEAR'S in MONTREAL

MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
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MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
MONTREAL // NEW YEARS 2016
Tickets to Cuba - waaaaay too pricey for New Year's 2016.
So we went to Montreal instead.
Eh! Why??
Well, really, it was the cheapest international trip we could find for a quick New Year's getaway.
Eh? You say.
I really can't give you a good reason other than why not?

Coming to Montreal was a lot like our New Year's trip to London back in 2007. The weather a bit on the drabby and grey side of things. And cold. Really, really cold. The only difference between the two was that Montreal had snow. In fact, all phases of snow going on at the same time, making trekking around laborsome and slow. Snow fluffy stuff that us Southern Texans aren't prepared for in life. Should we have gone to Montreal on more favourable conditions? Quite frankly: yes.

But cheap plane tickets!

I'm sure this city is quite lovely and beautiful on other seasons of the year. Other than that, I don't get what the lure is. It seems like an extension of the party scene for young New Yorkers wanting a quick getaway. Or a nice mini family vacation on a budget for the New England fam bam. Because it was simply too snowy to enjoy the parks, we often found ourselves going on constant foodie adventures. Nothing more.
With that said, would like to thank Hanh, Adelon, and Sophia for pointing us in the right direction with their list of recommendations. Not surprisingly, most of it 'Must Eat' rather than 'Must Do'. We did eat a ton of good food, though. That - I ain't complaining about!


-jin-

JAMAICA 2013

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I've meant to blog about me + V's mini trip to Jamaica last week, but life, man, life happened. Some good friends from Arkansas visited town, mini photoshoot session, days upon days of new job orientations, Houston for Turkey Day, then back to Austin just in time to meet up more out-of-town guests. Whew. All that in just one week! The Holidays are most def officially in full swing!

And now, sick as a dog as I finally have the time to type this out. Much of the trip details are a bit hazy, thanks to the copious amount of free alcohol drank every freakin' second we were there. Morning, noon, night. Maybe in our sleep. I'm not sure. Kinda felt like it, though! Except during KF + Jeff's wedding, but even then I can't guarantee everyone was 100% sober! Uber fun, laid-back, destination weddings in tropical heaven - how can you not not leave this place without a drop of alchy touching that tongue??

Yah, mon.

But honestly, that's really all you can do when you've spent most of your time in the bubble of the good island life. Yup, 3.5 days of sun, alchy, beach, alchy, ocean, alchy, food buffets galore, alchy, spa time, alchy. There really wasn't enough time for us gals to venture out of the resort due to wedding preppage. (Me and V did somehow manage to squeeze in a brief tour excursion to The White Witch of Rose Hall. Some pretty spooky stuff for being nearly all legend!) As for the dudes - V, the groom and the groom's bro had quite the colorful misadventure(s) in the span of 4 hours leading up to the wedding. It just wasn't all about snorkeling and ocean swimming and canoeing like we all thought it would be. Like it should be. Something about spotting seahorses and drifting off to Cuba and falling out of canoes and saving lives and rowing a boat with one arm and washing up on the wrong part of the shore and getting mistaken as a Cuban. Yah I know! Hard to believe all that happened in 4 hours! But it did. You should ask them some time!

Yah, mon.

Anyways, this trip may not be V and I's ideal vacation. We're more into the nitty gritty, down n' dirty, get wonderfully lost sans map traveling style. But hey, makes for a nice 2 year wedding anniversary celebration for V and I. Double yay for double weddings in Jamaica! Kinda like a ... double rainbow! Yah, mon!

besos ... jin.

CANADA 2013

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Me and V headed on over to Vancouver for Vince's family reunion a few weeks back and I must say: Vancouver, you're alright. You're not as lackluster as we thought you were on our last visit 7 years ago. But what do ya expect from a quick day trip? Our bad. This time around we took the time to get to know the city. And man, did we go places in Vancouvertown! We took a 4hr bus tour around the city and checked out the vast expanse of beautiful Stanley Park and grazed up and down Granville and dabbled a bit in North Vancouver and re-explored Gastown and Chinatown. Yah, it's not so bad here. The nature-y backdrop added a nice, serene experience to the mini touristy adventures around town.

Aside from the usual touristy stuff, 2 things I def recommend if ya ever find yourself in Vancouver. Numero uno: Lavender Latte from Cafe Medina. Get it. If not for the lavender, go for the ambiance. It'll make ya wanna stay all morning! Numero deux: Samesun Backpacker Hostel. I know, right? I love hostels. Never had a bad experience in one and never thought I'd stay in a hostel outside of Europe, Asia and South America. But we did and it was awesome. Not only were we walking distance from everything, but there's something about the hostel vibe that makes ya wanna explore everything with eagerness. Oh! And the people you'll meet! Me and V shared a room with 2 cool Aussie dudes. Both in their 30s, both full of interesting travel stories. As I've mentioned before and I'll mention it again, world travelers are probably one of the easiest groups of people you'll ever talk to. You know how you get together with your siblings and conversations are totally candid and unhindered, peppered with bunch of joking moments? Yah, it's kinda like that. =)

So. Vancouver. Lavender lattes and hostels. Dooo it.

besos ... jin.

THE BAHAMAS 2007

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The Bahamas may not be the most surreal spot I've visited in the world, but they sure do know how to do the slow island life right! The water's a little too blue, the sand a little too white, a lil too much sun. And time? There's a lil too much of that here, too! But like most picturesque tropical locations, they always seem deceptively perfect in photos. In reality, they're either insufferably humid or a haven for mosquitoes. Which The Bahamas has both of. Making it quite a challenge to enjoy a lot of things, like hike through the caves of Gold Rock Beach or dine on Cracked Conch or even sip on them Bahama Mamas. Yeah, eating and drinking took a lot of effort! Stupid mosquitoes. And heat. The only time we had a break from Nature's minor annoyances were when we were under water. Snorkeling. But hey, we make it look easy in the pix, eh? ;-) Yah, mon!

besos ... jin.

MEXICO 2007

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One last trip right before it became unsafe to cross the border. Unbeknownst to us at the time, but if we'd known, I'm pretty sure we would've stocked up on more tequila. Haha! (C'mon. Why else would you go to Juarez??) Thinking back on it now, it's crazy how easy it was to hop on over to Mexico from Texas! No passport, 35 cents to walk across, grab some tequila, 30 cents to walk back into Tejas. Repeat the next day. Repeat the 3rd day. Although getting caught up in a sandstorm whilst coming back into Texas on that last day sounds a bit ominous for things to come. I can now say I've been in a sandstorm, dust devil, hurricane, tornado, flood, drought AND snow ... in Texas! (Why I'm still living here is beyond me!)

besos ... jin.

CANADA 2006

A few snaps from me and V's day trip to Vancouver back in October 2006. When getting across the border without a passport was easy breezy. What's not easy breezy was learning the hard way just how pricey Canada can be! Like getting taxed twice. By Canada and the Queen. Not cool. Not cool at all. Despite the 'extortion', heh, we made the most of the short time we had in 'The Great White North' before heading back to Seattle, like checking out Chinatown and Gastown, but we would like to explore more of the outdoorsy recreational fun that Vancouver is renown for on our next trip back. Only a 4ish hour bus ride from Seattle!

throwback travel thursdays // vancouver 2006.
throwback travel thursdays // vancouver 2006.
throwback travel thursdays // vancouver 2006.
throwback travel thursdays // vancouver 2006.
throwback travel thursdays // vancouver 2006.
throwback travel thursdays // vancouver 2006.
throwback travel thursdays // vancouver 2006.
throwback travel thursdays // vancouver 2006.

besos ... jin.

MEXICO 2006

throwback travel thursdays // tijuana, mexico. 2006.
tijuana, mexico. 2006.
tijuana, mexico. 2006.
throwback travel thursdays // tijuana, mexico. 2006.
throwback travel thursdays // tijuana, mexico. 2006.
throwback travel thursdays // tijuana, mexico. 2006.
tijuana, mexico. 2006.
tijuana, mexico. 2006.
throwback travel thursdays // tijuana, mexico. 2006.
tijuana, mexico. 2006.
tijuana, mexico. 2006.

Steph didn't believe me + Anthonette when we said that we wanted to make a day trip to Tijuana. Why the heck not? It's only a 30-minute train ride from San Diego! And Steph still didn't take us seriously as me + Anthonette talked to an informative bellhop, checked out a map, walked over to a kiosk, bought our tickets and stood at the designated platform for the train ride straight to Mexico. Only then when we started to board did Steph had a minor meltdown.

"It's dangerous in Mexico!"

I remembered Anthonette and I exchanging looks,

"It's like being in a 3rd world country! We're all from 3rd world countries!"

"Trinidad does not look like Mexico. What if we end up in a Mexican jail??!"

Hmmm. I suppose the streets of Trinidad aren't the same as Nigeria or Philippines.

"Steph, what the hell are you going to do that will make you end up in a Mexican jail??!"

"You never know!"

I think at this point me and Anthonette were gawking at Steph, but honestly, in my opinion, I don't think anybody will mess with 2 black people. So I said it,

"Nobody will bother us ... I'm with 2 black people!"

And with that, we hopped on the train to Mexico.

We garnered celebrity status attention while roaming Avenida Revolucion. Not because we were an unlikely trio of black-asian-black (if Nausheen was with us, we'd really be a sight to see!), but because Steph, well, looked scared shitless the whole entire time. Even after a successful haggling bid (Anthonette has some sort of weird attraction to lude souvenirs), discovering 3 margaritas for $1, pointing out every pharmacy in an attempt to cheer up our dear Steph the Pharmacist (20 in an hour!) ... home girl still wasn't having it. Not even a donkey moonlighting as a zebra could loosen up Steph. So after a few hours, we headed back to San Diego. But not without the most awkward verbal exchange ever with our sassy taxi driver before walking back into the states, which I'm sure proved Steph's point even further.

But I gotta admit, because of Steph's sourpuss attitude (sorry, hun - it was kinda comical!), this has got to be one of my more memorable and entertaining trips to Mexico. Makes for great stories! (As Anthonette had plugged into her MOH's speech at Steph's wedding years later. Can't believe I've made it in that speech!) When's the next trip to Tijuana, ladies? ... Steph? =P

besos ... jin