TRAVEL | My dream honeymoon… spending a week in Maldives!

Maldives Reethi Faru review

We recently stayed at the Reethi Faru resort in Maldives for our honeymoon, and I got a lot of questions from people about my experience, so I wanted to share some thoughts about this resort. In addition to my review, I’ll also cover what I paid for this resort, and travel and logistics.

The experience

As with most people, Maldives was a major bucket destination for me. I’ve been wanting to come here for my honeymoon for as long as I can remember, and I am very lucky that my amazing husband was happy to allow this dream to come true for me. Pre-COVID had initially booked a different resort, but when the pandemic happened, we had to cancel the other resort. A few weeks into the pandemic, this deal came up (see Pricing info below) and we had to buy it. We’re really happy we did get the deal, because we got to go to a traditionally very expensive destination for a fantastic price.

We stayed in an overwater villa, which was part of the deal we got. I had heard that beach villas are actually preferable for those who come to the Maldives often, but since it was our first time, we had to stay in an overwater villa. It was everything I had imagined, and even more. It’s really hard to describe just how beautiful Maldives is. The water is crystal clear and completely transparent, you can see to the bottom and all the fish swimming around even while standing on land. There’s so much fish and wildlife, and it just feels surreal to be in the middle of the Indian ocean swimming on a sandbank with nothing around you.

Maldives Reethi Faru review

Thoughts about my stay

The good:

  • For the most part, the service here was AMAZING. Every one will say hi to you as you walk by, and ask how your stay is going. We had some incredibly attentive servers at the buffet restaurant and at the a la carte restaurants (shout out to Sina and Sateesh!)
  • The food at the main buffet was delicious with a very wide selection of different items each day, so we never felt bored or tired of the food.
  • There was a ton of fresh tropical fruits available each day. My favourites were watermelon and papaya, but I also got to try fresh guava for the first time.
  • Everything is very clean. Our room was cleaned twice a day (towels are changed once a day but you can request additional changes). I usually don’t like using “public” bathrooms as I prefer to use the bathrooms in our room, but even the public bathrooms were super clean and well maintained.
  • The air conditioner in our room was strong, which we appreciated because it was HOT the entire time we were here.
  • I got two massages and both were fantastic. The spa is really serene and a wonderful environment to get some relaxation.
  • Prices for drinks were pretty reasonable, especially since we were on an island in the middle of the ocean and everything had to be delivered via boat.

The not-so-good:

  • We made it very clear when we booked our stay that we were coming for our honeymoon, but that wasn’t acknowledged at all during our trip. We saw pictures of people getting special flowers laid out for them in their bed welcoming them here for their honeymoon, but we didn’t get that. No one even said happy honeymoon to us. It actually made us wonder what makes this trip a honeymoon over just another (expensive) trip.
  • The food and service are both relatively inconsistent. We had some really great food and service by some venues/people, but others were really bad. 
  • We had a few issues with the restaurants messing up our bills. Because we were not on an all inclusive plan, we had to pay out of pocket for certain things. We went to two different outlets where they tried to charge us for things we didn’t order. We had to argue with them back and forth about it, which really dampened our trip.
  • The house reef had a lot of really good fish to look at, but the coral comes up really high so even when you’re swimming out to sea, you are likely to cut yourself on coral. I cut myself on coral and the dive centre people just told me to wash it with fresh water, but later it became infected and I had to go see the on-site doctor (who happened to be Canadian!), and he told me that it’s been happening quite often lately where people are getting cut by coral and the cut getting infected.
  • They advertise a number of different restaurants on the island but we found that a few of them shared the same kitchen, so they served the same food. 

Overall we had an enjoyable time. The service we got from a few of the restaurant servers definitely made up for the lack of other things.

Maldives Reethi Faru review

Logistics and transit

We flew Singapore Air from Vancouver to Singapore, stayed overnight at Changi Airport at the Ambassador Hotel in T3, and then flew to Male the next morning. After we arrived at Male, you had two options for your transit to the resort – you could either take a seaplane, which would be more direct as you’d fly straight from Male airport to the resort; or you could take a domestic flight to a smaller airport and then take a speedboat to the resort. We did the latter, as our one way transit was covered in our package (more info about that later). 

The total trip end to end was 44 hours long, which was way too long.

The flight from Vancouver to Singapore was actually a lot more pleasant than I expected, even though it was nearly a 17 hour flight. The food was great on board (I miss airplane food so much), and I especially loved the selection of instant noodles available. There was also a good selection of movies, which I took full advantage of. Being a flight to Asia, everyone was super diligent about mask wearing, and there were no issues at all with anyone not wearing a mask.

The stay overnight at the Ambassador Hotel was also pretty decent. I was happy to be able to shower and change into fresh clothes, and sleep in a real bed, before our next leg of the trip. The hotel was pricey at around $350 for just a 10 hour stay, but we got two meals included as part of our stay, and honestly it made the trip so much more palatable. I highly recommend booking an airport hotel if you have an overnight transit because it can help make the rest of your trip less exhausting.

The flight from Singapore to Male was short, at under 4 hours. The plane was older so there was no in-flight entertainment, but I had downloaded some Netflix shows on my computer so I was able to watch those. Again the food was great, and I took advantage of another Singapore Air flight to eat their instant noodles.

Once we got to Male, we had to wait over 3 hours for our local flight. There wasn’t anything to do in the airport, so we just sat there waiting. The flight itself was short, just 20 minutes, but the domestic airport was extremely disorganized and most of the travelers (from Europe) were not wearing masks while waiting at the airport or on the domestic flight, so we felt very uneasy waiting at the airport.

The last part of the trip was a speedboat ride. The speedboat ride was supposed to be 40 minutes but it ended up being over an hour because we did not go straight to our resort, rather the boat dropped off other passengers at other resorts and ours was the last one. I heard from other people that depending on how many resorts they go to, it can take over 1.5 hours, so just keep that in mind if you choose this option. The domestic flight + speedboat connection is cheaper than taking the seaplane. A seaplane ride round trip is around US$500 per person, but the domestic flight + speedboat connection is just US$350 per person, round trip. We only paid US$175 per person for our domestic connection because the rest was covered in our package.

We arrived at Male airport at around noon, but we didn’t get to the hotel until 6PM that day because of the waiting in between connections. Reethi Faru is on “island time,” which is one hour ahead of Male, so by the time we got here, it was already sunset and dinnertime, so the first day was really a wash.

Maldives Reethi Faru review


We got an amazing good deal on our stay, which included:

  • 7 nights in an overwater villa
  • Half board (breakfast and dinner included, but no lunch or drinks)
  • Sunset cruise
  • 15 minute free massage
  • 15 minute free photography session which comes with one photo (you can buy additional photos)
  • One way transfer via speedboat and domestic flight, and then half price the other transfer (US$175 per person)

We paid US$1,600 for the package (approximately C$2,400 at the time after conversion) via Travelzoo, which is a phenomenal deal for the Maldives, especially since there was no limit on the dates to travel (you just have to use it before the end of 2022), so we came during the peak of their high season in February.

If you don’t follow Travelzoo, you gotta because they have so many amazing deals for travel to fancy resorts. I’ve been a subscriber for years and I’ve encountered several really good deals, but this one is probably the best. We had been looking to come to the Maldives for our honeymoon even pre-COVID, and the resort we had originally booked (and canceled) was over double the price of this resort, for less nights, less meals included, and no transit included. The star rating and reviews were similar, with Reethi Faru edging out the other resort by a little bit.

In addition to the above price we paid for the package, we spent another C$1,200 on food and drinks, and $500 on activities, such as a dolphin safari (SO worth it), two massages for me (the first one was significantly discounted), and renting some equipment for activities in the water.


I got asked a lot if I recommended Maldives, and honestly I don’t. The distance is the #1 reason why I wouldn’t recommend it for someone living in North America. I think that we’re really lucky to be relative close to a few very beautiful destinations, for example all of the Caribbean is just marginally less beautiful than Maldives and it’s only a 5 direct hour flight for us in Vancouver. I think that if it is a bucket list destination for you then 100% you should do it once to experience it, and then you can go back to travelling to closer locations where you don’t spend 2 precious vacation days in transit.

I did have a good time, and I’m really glad I went because it was a dream destination for me. It was also wonderful to experience it with my husband.

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TRAVEL | Cruising for the first time with Celebrity Cruises

For our five year anniversary, the boyfriend and I took our very first cruise together. It was also our first time visiting Florida, leaving from Fort Lauderdale, with stops in Key West and Nassau, and returning back to Fort Lauderdale after four nights. The ship we were on was the Celebrity Infinity, which is one of their older, smaller ships.

As a first time cruiser, the four nights was long enough to get a taste of cruising. We booked a veranda (balcony) room that had gorgeous views of the Caribbean Sea. We really enjoyed our time on the ship, but we’re not sure we’ll go back anytime soon. I’ve summarized my top pros and cons for anyone who is considering taking a cruise.


1. It’s a fantastic way to see the world from the comforts of a ship

We boarded the ship from Fort Lauderdale, stopped at Key West and Nassau, and came back to Fort Lauderdale. We’ve never been to any of those cities, so for us it was a great way to see all of the cities without being too exhausted. We love the Caribbean, all of our tropical vacations have been to this area because the waters are just so beautiful and turquoise. There are also so many islands in this area that makes it hard to visit all of them without breaking the bank. A cruise ship is a fantastic and easy way to jump on one vessel that will take you to all of these islands. The cruise company basically helps plan your vacations for you via their onshore excursions as well, so everything is easy in one straightforward package.

2. The food and service are amazing

Different from an all-inclusive resort where you might only get 3 non-buffet meals per week of stay, you can actually eat all of your meals at a 3-course, sit down, a la carte restaurant on a cruise (except for the lunches that are stopped at a port). We ate most of our meals in the main dining room, and the food was downright amazing. We basically ate like kings all 4.5 days we were on the ship. Each meal was a 3-course meal with appy, main, and dessert, and each dish was similar to what I’d get if I went to a semi high end restaurant. Some of the menu options included steak, prawns, lobster, scallops, lamb chops, jerk chicken, and more. Each night, half the menu changes with a new rotation of dishes to try. If you’re a purist, there are also menu items that stay the same every night. My boyfriend had steak 3 nights in a row.

The service is also some of the best I’ve ever had. Our server in the main restaurant took such good care of us. I love lobster, and he offered to bring me an extra lobster tail on the night they served lobster. Our drink server at the main restaurant remembered my drink orders every night and would offer to bring it for me the next night. Everything was just so attentive.

There is a lot of entertainment on the ship, and we went to a few shows and club nights. All of the people hosting these events were so lively and full of energy, and seemed to genuinely want people to have a good time.

3. It can be an inexpensive all-inclusive vacation

We love all-inclusive vacations to Mexico. We both work quite a bit so we love just relaxing and lounging and doing nothing when we’re on vacation. We figured cruising is another great way to do that. For a 4 night cruise, we paid around C$700, which is not bad when taking into consideration our room level (veranda, versus inside or just oceanview), and all of the food and amenities on board.

When we booked our cruise, Celebrity was doing a promotion where you can pick two out of four “perks,” to enjoy on board. The options were free pre-paid gratuities; drink and alcohol package; internet package; and $300 on board credit for the cabin. We picked the drink and alcohol package, which means all of our drinks on board were now free (normally they are not), and also the on board credit, which means we were able to book our excursions essentially for free. Even after booking our excursions, we still had money leftover in credits to pay for the gratuities, which means that those were “free” (to us) as well. The only thing we didn’t have was the internet, which is fine because we just unplugged for a few days which was a nice change.


1. The other cruisers aren’t always the most pleasant people

I’m not sure if its just because we left from Florida, but the other guests we encountered on the cruise were some of the most unpleasant people we’ve ever met on vacation. Don’t get me wrong, not everyone was unpleasant, some of them were extremely nice, but there were enough unpleasant encounters to put us off cruising forever.

Some examples of the people we met include people who made the server (who is from Indonesia and has an accent) repeat stuff over and over again because they kept saying they couldn’t understand him. We had the same server and we understood him just fine! Another woman tapped her room card on the counter when the service was slow, and kept sighing loudly. We were in line in front of her so imagine how we felt. The elevators were pretty busy on some nights, and when we were in the elevator one time, it kept stopping at different floors to let people out, and this one lady complained loudly that the elevator was servicing people other than her.

Like I mentioned earlier, the service on the cruise was for the most part very good, way better than the all-inclusive resorts we’ve been to, but the other guests’s entitled and rude attitude really are making us think twice about cruising again.

2. While you are on the water, you’re not close to a beach

One of the things we love doing is being on the beach. While you are on the water, the beach isn’t always super accessible. We thought we would have more opportunities to go to the beach, but we really only had one day where we were at the beach. There is a pool on the ship but it is very small and very busy, so we didn’t use that and mostly opted to sit on our private balcony. We missed being at the beach, and the one day we were able to swim in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean was such a wonderful experience.


I did have a generally positive experience. I would highly recommend splurging a little bit and getting the veranda room. There is nothing compared to waking up in the morning and having breakfast in your robe, sitting on your private balcony, and overlooking the blue waters. Room service is included in your base rate, and we definitely took advantage of this pretty much every morning.

I think next time if we were to do another cruise, we might try the pacific coast, leaving from LA to go down to Mexico. While we do love the Caribbean, at certain times of the year there are no direct flights from Vancouver to Florida, so the transit there was brutal.

We had a great time cruising with Celebrity, and I would definitely cruise with them again (if we do decide to do another one).

Travel review – Iberostar Paraiso Beach in the Riviera Maya, Mexico

I’ve done so much travelling in the last little while, it only makes sense that I try to catch up in my travel posts. The boyfriend and I went to Riviera Maya in September, 2017. We traveled as a couple with the boyfriend’s friends, a nice group of 9 people total, including four couples. It was my second time in the Riviera Maya area and honestly it’s one of my favourite relaxing vacation spots. The first time we stayed with Grand Bahia Principe Tulum, which was an amazing resort with the most incredible food and service. This time we opted for something different, another chain – Iberostar – mostly because there were way more activities that you can do here compared to Grand Bahia Principe. The Iberostar Paraiso resort grounds includes four full resorts with varied luxury, as well as a conference centre. The resort grounds were big but definitely walkable.

I have so many thoughts about this, so I ended up organizing it into pros and cons lists. In general I had a good time; it was a super relaxing trip and it was also a good mix of things going on, such as activities to do as a big group or just with your significant other. They had a shooting range where you can shoot BB guns and arrows, as well as a full gym with fitness classes (I didn’t end up taking advantage of this). There was also a shopping centre on the resort properties that hosted a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants (included with the all-inclusive), as well as a club.

One main thing I didn’t like was the inconsistency in service. I saw people who worked at our resort also work at others on the same grounds, so I’m not sure why there’s that inconsistency.


  • The beach is beautiful, sand is very smooth, not very rocky, and the water is very clean with very little kelp and other things floating around. The water was so clear that we could see angel fish swimming around underwater while we were standing in the water.
  • The pool is very beautiful, lots of options for loungers and cabana beds. We would go later during the day and even with a big group of 9, we were still able to find lounge chairs in a row. There are a lot of options for quiet versus party areas, and there is also pool volleyball, pool basketball, as well as a nice waterfall.
  • The service at the pool and beach were fantastic, there were people who came around regularly asking if we needed anything, and also taking away our empty cups. The service as the swim up bars was also very efficient.
  • The alcoholic drinks were AMAZING. The best I’ve ever had for an all inclusive. It was never watered down, and the drinks were also made consistently between bars / bartenders.
  • There are a lot of food options so that you don’t just choose between buffet or a la carte. The taco place at the shopping centre was AMAZING. We went there pretty much every day. The Star Rock Cafe was also good, albeit the service was very questionable (particularly from older servers, the younger ones were good). I love the room service option as well, since on some evenings we were craving snacks and they had room service included with the all-inclusive. The food wasn’t the best but it was nice to have fries and nuggets delivered to your room!


  • Check in was very slow and inefficient. We had emailed the resort weeks in advance to request a room on a higher floor, but when we got there they didn’t have such a room available. They were helpful to try to group everyone’s rooms near each other, and on the first night they put myself, my significant other, and one other couple in the Presidential Suite so that on the second night we can check into a room closer to the other couples. While this was appreciated, they had told us the Presidential Suite had 2 bedrooms and a connecting living room, when in fact it was just the one bedroom with the second couple having to sleep on futons in the living room, which were extremely uncomfortable. Finally on the second day when we checked into our actual room for the trip, the communication was very confusing and inconsistent, and the change in rooms wasn’t updated in their system completely, so we had a lot of issues trying to book a la cartes and other activities that required room numbers. It just seems very inefficient that such a big resort requires the guest to go back and forth between the check in counter and the activity counter to confirm the changes, and that the change isn’t actually made in their system.
  • We noticed that service is very inconsistent. Sometimes it was fantastic, other times, particularly when the person seems to be more in a management position, the service is severely lacking. We were at the Japanese restaurant with the group, no one explained to us how the menu worked, when we tried to order both the sushi and the appetizer, the server gave us attitude because we could only pick one. If that was the case, why not explain the menu to us.
  • The buffet food was just okay, we didn’t really go to the buffet much because the food was pretty bland and there weren’t that many options or changes day by day.
  • Housekeeping was inconsistent even though we tipped the same amount of money every day.
  • The air conditioning was set at 22 degrees and could not be changed. It was very very hot and humid out so this was kind of unfortunate as even 1-2 degrees lower would have been better.
  • The men in our group got sick from eating at one of the beach restaurants (#9 on the map). For some reason the women ate at the same restaurant but did not get sick, don’t know how that happened.
  • The beds were very uncomfortable and the sheets were rough. For a hotel that is advertised to be 5 stars, I definitely would not say that is the case.
  • The first few days we were there, there weren’t that many trolleys to help bring us around. While the walk from lobby to beach isn’t terrible (10 minutes), the days were very very hot and humid, so more trolleys would have been appreciated.

Overall, we’d probably not go back to this resort again. The experience was generally on the positive side, but It didn’t wow us enough to want to go back, and we’d more likely want to try out other resorts.

Travel review – The Douglas, an Autograph Hotel in Vancouver, Canada

Last December, I was offered the chance to stay at The Douglas, an Autograph Hotel in Vancouver through L’Oreal Luxe. This hotel is part of Marriott’s family of hotels, part of the Starwood Group, and is a boutique hotel within their brand. The Douglas has 188 guest rooms, 10 suites, and is built to LEEDS standards. The decor inside is super West Coast, i.e. lots of wood, plaid, and almost with a cabin feel. The hotel had just opened in October of last year, so everything was brand new. That being said, for a supposed five-star hotel, I was actually very disappointed with my stay.

Check-in was relatively smooth, the lobby is located on the 6th floor and it was a bit hard to find the front desk but there was a person near the front door who directed me upstairs. There were no issues once I got to the check in desk, and I was quickly given my key cards to the room. The room itself is beautiful – ours had a view of the city which was gorgeous at night with the beautiful city lights. Our room had a king size bed, with a large sofa-bench, a very large flat-screen smart TV, desk, as well as a fully stocked snack bar and mini bar.

The bathroom was absolutely breathtaking, with a very large walk-in shower with a rainfall shower head. There was a separate area with the toilet for increased privacy. There were also marble accents throughout the bathroom that is luxurious and impressive. The best part is that all of the bath and body products used at the hotel are by AESOP, an Australian luxury and natural beauty brand. The shower head had really good water pressure and it was just an enjoyable experience overall.

The bed was super comfortable. It was paired with high thread count sheets which made sleeping there very enjoyable. We had plans to go out in the evening and the boyfriend found it hard to peel himself away from the bed because it was so comfortable. It is a brand new hotel though, so the beds are all new, I can’t say if in a few months if the beds will developed dips.

Both the bedroom and bathroom were immaculately clean. I always wear slippers because I don’t like walking around barefoot, even in my own home, but I felt fine in bare feet at the hotel. TI was very impressed with the room and bathroom and have nothing negative to say.

Now to why I was disappointed with my stay. For a five-star hotel, you not only expect a luxurious environment, but you also expect top service. The service was completely lacking at The Douglas. I was surprised to find, upon check-in, that the room only included a robe and slippers for one guest. I immediately called housekeeping to request a second set, expecting that it would take a while for it to be delivered. We went out for dinner and came back, and a few hours later, still no robe or slippers. I’ve honestly never had this happen at any hotel I stayed at. If I call housekeeping for something, it’s usually delivered within the hour, if not right away.

Secondly, I was surprised there was no bottled water. While we’re not big drinkers of bottled water since we know how clean Vancouver tap water is, this is a hotel so I assume most guests are from out of town. Since that is the case, if they aren’t offering bottled water for environmental, there should be a sign that says the tap water is clean, or offer some kind of service to bring up filtered water. There was no such substitutions offered. Instead they are charging $2 for bottled water through the mini bar.

Additionally, for a five star hotel, it does not offer complimentary Wifi. You actually have to pay for internet. It’s $8 for basic internet or $15 for high speed internet. Honestly if places like Starbucks and McDonalds can offer complimentary internet, hotels should too. It’s too basic an amenity not to have it.

Another thing I noticed was the inconsistency of service. Since we were offered to stay at The Douglas through L’Oreal, other bloggers had booked their stay a few weeks prior to our stay, and I noticed that some of them were offered extra treats upon check in, for example housekeeping would come by with complimentary dessert. I’m not sure if it was just because I stayed closer to Christmas, but this just seems odd that the service is so different between guests.

That being said, I did post on Instagram during my stay that I was disappointed with the lack of robe / slippers, bottled water, and complimentary internet, the front desk manager called our room and said that they will immediately bring up the robe and slippers to be brought up, and also offered us complimentary internet for our stay. We did eventually get the robe and slippers, and they had also brought up some jugs of water, but the complimentary internet didn’t end up working (we still had to go through the payment option, which we ended up not opting for in case there was still a risk of being charged).

Maybe I’m spoiled now because I stayed at the ultra luxury The Adelaide Hotel in Toronto, which is also a Starwood hotel, but I just found the stay at The Douglas to be mediocre at best. The hotel is shiny and new but that’s pretty much all its got going for it at the moment. I surveyed a few other people who had stayed there through L’Oreal and the conclusion was all the same – the hotel is just meh. For $350+ a night, there are better places to stay at in the city, and I likely wouldn’t recommend The Douglas.

P.S. the hallway signs weren’t fantastic, it took us a while to figure out where our room was located because see below… at first it looks like there are no rooms above 1158…

And then we saw it…

That being said, the elevators are super cool and appropriate for this Instagram age.

I was invited for a complimentary stay at the Douglas Hotel after a L’Oreal media event. All opinions are my own.

Travel review – The Adelaide Hotel in Toronto, Canada

I received pretty positive feedback for my last travel post, so it has encouraged me to write more about travel. I was in Toronto for work early last month, and I stayed at The Adelaide Hotel, located at the corner of Bay and Adelaide. This hotel, if you are not aware, was formerly the Trump Hotel, and had changed their management, name, and branding at the end of July 2017. I was really excited about staying at this hotel because of its proximity to the office, and also because of its luxury 5 star rating.

I was honestly in awe of the hotel when I first arrived. The hotel is now run by Marriott, and my previous favourite hotel chain was the Westin, which is also run by Marriott. What I loved about the Westin was that it smelled AMAZING as soon as you walk in. The Adelaide Hotel also has a distinct scent which isn’t overpowering, although it doesn’t smell as good as the Westin. In addition, the decorations in the lobby and throughout the hotel is a dark purple theme, with accents of black and white marble and grey, which translates to rich luxury.

Check in was very fast and smooth, and they were also very accommodating of my request of a king bed room, even though my room type wasn’t guaranteed because I was travelling for work and my company had just a room block set up.

In terms of the room itself, it wasn’t too spacious (last time I came to Toronto for work, I stayed at the Fairmont Royal York, which had bigger rooms), but it was a good size for my needs. It has a generously sized and well-lit closet, as well as a very nice bar area that offered a Nespresso machine and espresso pods. The bed is probably one of the comfiest hotel beds I’ve slept on in a very long time. The mattress was very soft but not saggy, and seemed relatively new since it did not have uneven sagging anywhere. The bedsheets were also very soft and comfortable, just the way I like it.

The bathroom is huge, probably the size of my bedroom at home. It offers white granite or marble or some kind of stone all over the walls, a giant tub that is big and deep enough to fit two people comfortably, as well as a double-doored rain shower. The shower even has a little seat that helps to make exfoliating and shaving easy. The toilet was located in a separate small room with its own door, which is quite hygienic.

Service here is very good; the hotel offers turndown service which is something I haven’t experienced in a while. There is meticulous attention to detail which translates into a very clean and comfortable environment. The small touches made this a very memorable experience.

Now for some dislikes… to be honest there weren’t many. The only thing that really bothered me was the type of toilet paper they used. For a luxury hotel, the toilet paper was very thin and not that soft. The other small thing was that the desk in my room had a type of leatherette top which was very dated and scratched up, which took away from the luxury feeling of the room.

I generally had a very positive experience staying at this hotel, and would definitely come back.

New York quick travel guide – do, stay, eat, skip

I haven’t done a travel guide in more than seven years, but I was recently in New York and I wanted to share my travel thoughts with you. The last time I was in New York was before 9/11. I was really young so I don’t remember much, so it was really nice to be back in the city. Despite it being such an old city and already pretty developed over the last 20 years, I still feel like a lot has changed. We were there for eight days total and had a great time, ate a ton, and did a lot of sightseeing. That being said, at the end of it, I was pretty glad to be flying home.


  • Buy a New York Citypass, which gave us access to 6 different sites / museums for a really reasonable rate of $122 USD + 20% off if you buy online in advance. The best part wasn’t saving money on the various tickets, but bypassing all of the ticket lines. The only real line we had to wait in was when we first picked up our Citypasses at the Natural History Museum, other than that we skipped right to security for all of them. You pick up your pass at the first of your 6 sites, so pick one that has more ticket booths, such as the Met. The Natural History Museum, 9/11 Memorial Museum and Empire State Building all had massive lineups.
  • Visit the Empire State Building with morning and night tickets. We went up once during the day, and then again at night. The difference was actually pretty big and we loved both views. If you can only go once, definitely go at night. It’s much quieter, shorter lines, and the view is amazing.
  • See a Broadway show. We watched Wicked, after it was on my bucket list for nearly 10 years, and it was so amazing. We purchased our tickets off TodayTix and saved ourselves a ton of money. The tickets are face value, but you don’t have to pay any ticket processing or service charges, which can get super ridiculously high. We also had a coupon code to save $10 off our first order. You don’t know which seats you will be getting, but we ended up getting amazing seats in the front of the rear mezzanine right near the centre of the stage. You can save $10 off your first show if you use my code ILMNQ.
  • If the weather is good, definitely rent a bike in Central Park. We went in the fall so the weather was perfect, and the fall foliage was beautiful. You’ll need at least a 1 hour bike rental to do the entire park without riding too hard (think leisurely).
  • The 9/11 Memorial Museum was gut wrenching but a must see.
  • If you are from Vancouver, definitely fly Cathay Pacific. You get treated like you’re on an international flight, with pillows, blanket, and MEALS!! Plus you get two free checked bags per person, which is unheard of for any North American carrier.


  • We stayed in an AirBnb in East Village. It was walking distance to Soho, Nolita, and a TON of different restaurants, shops, and nightlife. It was also super close to multiple subway lines so it was convenient to get to both uptown and downtown. AirBnbs are illegal in New York unless the host also lives there, so you’re likely to share common space with the people who live there. It worked out really well though, our hosts were very nice, and it was nice to have our own bathroom.


  • Eat lots and lots of pizza. We had Prince Street Pizza twice because it was so good. Definitely ask for it extra crispy because then it’s extra hot too. So delicious, and we’re pretty sure regular pizza is ruined for us now.
  • Enjoy some spicy lamb noodles at Xi’an Famous Foods. If you are noodle lover, you have to try this place. I highly recommend the lamb cumin noodles, they are AMAZING. There are several locations in Manhattan, and they are all equally busy. We went here 3 times, so you know how good it is.
  • If you have the budget for it, I highly recommend trying a traditional New York steakhouse (for the science, you know). We did one the same evening we went to see Wicked, and it was an amazing date night. The steaks, while expensive, were delicious and definitely something different from what we have at home.


  • We took a red-eye in but couldn’t check into our AirBnb until 4PM, which means we were walking around like zombies for the first day. I don’t recommend that unless you can find a place to crash for a bit when you first land. We ended up taking a nap in Central Park.. on a bench… like homeless people… *shifty eyes*
  • Top of the Rock. It was just okay, another observatory. There are so many in New York, and this one was probably not as impressive as the Empire State Building.
  • Staying in New York the entire time. We were there for 8 days and honestly by the end of it, we were getting a bit bored and homesick. One of the options we were talking about was doing a day trip to Boston or DC, but we didn’t end up doing that. Next time, we’ll definitely try to do more day trips instead of staying in one city the entire time.
  • Taking the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. I went the first time and remember it being a bore. Instead, do a cruise around Manhattan at night where you can see the Statue of Liberty close up but not having to stay for a long time and wait around for ferries. The cruise we took was the Circleline cruise included in the Citypass.

My Seattle trip and other life tidbits!


Through a recent conversation with MizzJ, I realized that I haven’t done one of these life “recaps” in a while. Nothing really has happened in my life recently that warranted a blog post; it’s been rather uneventful actually. However, last weekend I went to Seattle for an extended weekend trip so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to highlight some of the little things that’s been happening in my life.

Seattle trip

Last weekend, we went on an extended weekend trip to Seattle! I haven’t actually traveled around the city of Seattle since maybe the early 2000s, so it was nice to stay for a few nights, relax, and see the city.


On the 2.5 hour drive down from Vancouver, we stopped for lunch at a Hawaiian restaurant in Everett – Kama’aina Grindz (on TripAdvisor). This was one of the best meals of this trip; the food was super fresh, the service was amazing and prices were very reasonable for the quality of food. I had the Hawaiian Style Ahi Poke; the tuna was very fresh and the sauce was tangy with a bit of spice. The boyfriend had the Blackened Mahi Mahi Hoagie; the fish was also very fresh and tasty, and the yam fries were SO GOOD. We both really liked this restaurant, and would come back again.


We stayed in Bellevue, a city east of Seattle, because there were better hotel options for cheap, and the parking was also free. The hotel we chose (after what seemed like weeks of indecision), was the Sheraton Bellevue. I’m surprised it didn’t rate better on TripAdvisor because we had a really good experience here; the room and bathroom were both super clean and the staff were friendly. We got a free upgrade to a Club Room, which also included complimentary appetizers from 5-8PM every day, complimentary breakfast from 7-10AM every day, and free wifi. The bed was the highlight of the room – it was so comfy, soft and BOUNCY!


We didn’t do much crazy sightseeing, it was mostly a weekend of eating, shopping and relaxing. On the Friday, we went to Bellevue Square for shopping. On Saturday, we explored Pike Place Market, satisfied my inner Starbucks fangirl, and also went for lunch at the award-winning Pike Place Chowder. We both had the New England clam chowder and half a dungeness crab roll. The chowder was really yummy but I felt it was a bit oversalted (the boyfriend was happy with his, and he’s not a chowder fan to begin with), and the dungeness crab roll was good but a bit bland. Together they worked well together but if you were eating both by itself, it may not have been so good.


For dinner on Saturday, we went to Crab Pot in Bellevue. As a lover of seafood (or just food in general), I was excited to try this place out after seeing photos of it all over Instagram and posted by friends on Facebook. The food was mediocre – I didn’t have high expectations for that – but the experience was great. It was so much fun smashing the crab shells with the mallet and eating with our hands. If you’re in Seattle, I definitely recommend checking this place out. It’s a bit pricey for what you get, but it’s a fun experience. For those of you who live near a Boiling Crab, sorry but Crab Pot doesn’t compare so just continue eating Boiling Crab.


On Sunday we made our way back home, stopped at a few places to stock up on some US-only products (like vanilla coke and cherry coke!), and also stopped at the outlet. I did a ton of damage this weekend, which means I can’t buy anything for the rest of this month AND all of next month, maybe even until summer.


Other life tidbits


I went to the Justin Timberlake 20/20 Experience Part II concert in early January. It was my first time seeing him in concert and also the first concert I’ve been to in probably 2 years. JT is amazing in person, singing and dancing with so much energy and dedication. He was also extremely humble and kept bowing to the audience to thank them for their support. Also I liked that he didn’t have an opening act, just a short 10 minute intermission. The entire concert was 3 hours and he sang and danced the entire time (apart from that 10 minute intermission). If you’re a fan of good music and good entertainment, definitely recommend checking out a JT concert – he is really that sexy!


I also went to my first Canucks game ever in January with the boyfriend. I’ve never been before because tickets are usually way too expensive, but the boyfriend got tickets for Christmas so he took me. It was a really epic game – the one against the Flames where there was a line brawl 2 seconds into the first period and then Tortorella got suspended for storming the Flames’ locker room.

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Other than that, life is still normal. I hope you guys have had a good year 2014 so far!

Las Vegas Trip!! [photo heavy]

I went to Vegas for a few days before I started my new job, just as a mini vacation for myself. We stayed at Vdara, which is a non-gaming hotel a part of the MGM Grand family of hotels. I will do a separate hotel review later because I have some strong feelings towards this place.

The purpose of the trip wasn’t to gamble or the night-life, rather it was to get some good shopping and eating time. We basically shopped every single day we were there for at least 12 hours a day. The only day we didn’t go shopping, we took a tour to the Grand Canyon which was also very enjoyable. We ate at a buffet twice during our time there, and also had Cheesecake Factory and some Italian food as well.

Me at Wynn before we ate at the Buffet there. Wynn had one of our favourite interior decors.


The Venetian… some fobby guy taking photos and me =)


FOOD! We ate at the Wolfgang Puck cafe/restaurant inside the Crystals shopping centre.


Me in front of the Bellagio fountain. The fountain show was beautiful but a little short *sad face*


At the Grand Canyon! It was a great day to go because it was mainly cloudy, so the temperature wasn’t too cold or hot. Halfway through our tour, the sky opened up and we watched the sunset. If you are planning to do a Grand Canyon tour, I highly recommend Grand Adventures. The buses are the smaller 10-seater ones so you can really interact with your tour-mates. Also our guide, Alfonso, was super nice and very knowledgeable. The drive there was very long but he entertained us with facts about the surrounding area during the drive. I had an amazing time.


I’m trying to jump here, but the shutter speed was too fast to catch it (it would take the photo as I start to jump off the ground) and my friend didn’t have very good timing, so we kept failing.


The view from our hotel at night time. Las Vegas is beautiful at night and this beats views of the strip at night, in my opinion =)


My next post will be my haul!

A Travelers Guide to Makeup

In this post, I will attempt to show you how I try to pack for trips. I’m a minimalist when it comes to makeup, as long as it looks clean, I’m good. Also I usually try to travel light, especially because I know I’ll probably be buying a lot of things on the trip (especially if I’m flying, duty free is dangerous!). So here are just some basic things I usually like to travel with.

For base makeup, I bring one bottle of liquid foundation (Bourjois Healthy Mix) and one powder foundation compact (Jill Stuart Moist Silk Powder Foundation). The powder foundation can double as just powder used to set makeup, and also be used on lazy days.

For eye makeup, I just bring one neutral palette (Lunasol Skin Modelling Eyes in 01 Beige Beige). I tend to wear more neutrals than anything else these days, and I find that a neutral palette can be worn either for the day or spiced up for the night. Depending on if I think I’ll be going out at night, I may bring a grey/black smokey palette for that extra kick, otherwise its neutrals all the day.

For cheeks, I bring two blushers (Jill Stuart Mix Blush Compact in 09 Little Bouquet and Rock & Republic Contrived Pressed Blush in Call Me). I like to have one rosy-pink blush with me for night-time looks and one peachy, highlighter blush for daytime wear. They can also be coordinated and worn together, one as the colour the other as the highlight.

For lip products, I bring one peachy gloss (Paul & Joe Lip Gloss G in 04), one red lipstick (Chanel Rouge Allure Laque in 75 Dragon) and one peachy/neutral lipstick (YSL Rouge Volupte in 26 Tender Peach). The peachy lip stuff are for the daytime and I can either wear just lipgloss or lipstick on its own (YSL Rouge Voluptes have a satin, almost gloss finish), or layer on top of each other for extra plumpness. The Dragon Rouge Allure Laque is more for nighttime looks, especially for nice dinners.

I believe that brushes are essential to bring on a trip. I can sacrifice not bringing an additional eye palette and instead bring brushes. Brushes really make or break your look, and they don’t necessarily have to be good brushes, just any brushes. I like to bring a blush brush (top, no idea what brand, was purchased by my dear Macnunu at IMATS), three eye brushes (MAC 239, MAC 226 and a mini flat liner brush from Sasa) and one powder brush (Sonia Kashuk). Eyelash curler is also essential. And of course other things that I promptly forgot to photograph, like eyeliner (MUFE Aqua Eyes) and mascara (Clinique High Impact Curling Mascara).

Everything fits nicely in my Cath Kidston pouch and ready to stuff into a suitcase.

Beijing 2010: the Temple of Heaven (pic heavy)

Me in front of the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests at the Temple of Heaven park.

I made it a priority on my trip to Beijing this year to revisit the Temple of Heaven. I haven’t seen it since more than 10 years ago when I came to Beijing with my grandfather. I didn’t visit the Imperial Palace or Great Wall this time because I was just there about four years ago.

Basically the Temple of Heaven is where past emperors went for prayers, I believe twice a year, for good harvests and hope for peaceful country without war or any other problems. The park is pretty big, but because it was so hot out that day, we just went to see the Hall of Prayers for Good Harvests and then left for somewhere air conditioned.

Me again. You might be wondering why I have an umbrella when its sunny out. Well thats why, because its sunny out. It was maybe 38-39 degrees out that day and the sun was brutally hot. I wore sunscreen and everything but in order to not burn myself, I used an umbrella. This is actually common practice in China and many other Asian countries.

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