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nighttime skyline view from Harbour City

We just got back from my trip to Hong Kong & China, & our bags are all unpacked; the clothes are all washed, folded, & put away. I thought I would have time to blog during my trip, well, at least write a little each day, but I was so very wrong. Each day was packed full, & my sleep schedule was so out of whack. Every night I wouldn’t go to bed until close to 4am, & every morning I would wake up around 9am-ish & not be able to fall back to sleep. I was running on a minimum of 5 hours of sleep each night, & I would run myself ragged in that dreaded high humidity & nearly unbearable heat during the waking hours of the day. Well, at least I was able to keep up-to-date on my travels through InstagramFacebook check-ins.

Thank God for free Wi-Fi & phone card SIM cards with data plans! I was able to use my smartphone in Hong Kong by purchasing a phone card-like SIM card with a reasonable data plan for one flat fee at the airport. These SIM cards allow you to make local calls & surf the Internet using an LTE data plan, & when you run out of data you can just purchase a new SIM card at a participating store. It’s very disappointing that these SIM cards can only be used in Hong Kong & not in China. In China, if you want to buy one of these types of SIM cards for your smartphone, you have to go through a strict process (including showing your ID or passport), & they are quite expensive. Our hotel in China offered to help us secure a SIM card for our smartphones, but we declined on the basis that we didn’t want to spend that kind of money & we most certainly did not want to have to submit our identification. In other words, it was just too much hassle. In order for us to communicate daily with Jian’s relatives, Jian took one for the team & used the International roaming plan his company set up on his company smartphone. He was conscious not to over-use his data, so as not to give his company’s accounting department a heart attack.

 

So, let me tell you that arriving in Hong Kong at 6 o’clock in the morning is great, but at the same time, it sucks! Nothing, & I mean NOTHING is open at 6 in the morning except a few breakfast restaurants & some coffee shops. What can a person do when it only takes him/her 20 minutes to unpack their bags & get settled into their hotel room, & it’s still early as hell? Well, we just made a go of it, & proceeded to start our day with the rest of the crowds heading off to work in their office finery. Why did we even think it would be a good idea to grab breakfast at 8 o’clock in the morning in the near sweltering heat? Who knows, but we had a great time nonetheless.

As per my usual forgetfulness, I completely forgot to take my own pictures of our hotel room. We stayed at the Marriott Renaissance Harbour View Hotel in the Wan Chai district. Our hotel room was small (if you think in terms of American standards), but it was extremely functional & practical. I absolutely loved our hotel room & all its tiny glory. I felt right at home in all of its Asian compactness & sensibility. Of course there is the age-old notion of “a hotel room is only meant for you to shower, sleep & store your luggage”, but we fully utilized our hotel room, taking rest breaks in the afternoon so we could recharge our batteries & head out for a night of eating, drinking, & shopping.

Please excuse my terrible lack of hotel photos. I really wanted to show you a glimpse of what our room looked like, so I had to unfortunately borrow a few stock photos from Trip Advisor. A quick disclaimer: ALL IMAGE CREDITS BELONG TO TRIP ADVISOR.

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Well, that’s all the time I have left for today. I’m trying to gather even more photos from Jian’s smartphone. I will try to update again sometime within this week. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

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Hello February! Both of my parents’ birthdays are in this month (Dad’s on the 8th, Mom on the 18th). It’s also a significant time for Chinese New Year (which falls exactly on my dad’s birthday this year). As you may know by now, each Lunar Calendar year corresponds to an animal in the Chinese zodiac. When the new year falls upon your zodiac sign, it becomes a significant time for YOU. This becomes your so-called “make-or-break” year…if you are superstitious like I am. When it becomes the year of your zodiac sign, you must wear something RED EVERY SINGLE DAY FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. It could be something small like earrings or a bracelet (guys could even use a piece of red string tied around their wrist). Or it could be something large like a t-shirt or socks. The absolute best way to ward off negativity for the lunar year is to wear, & I am not jokingRED UNDERWEAR. I’ve done the red underwear thing before, & it actually worked for me. The key is to buy a whole bunch of inexpensive red underwear (so you can turn all of your laundry pink), so you can cycle through them during the week. This lunar year falls on my zodiac sign, so I’m going to wear a red bracelet. I haven’t decided if I’m going to go all out & do the red underwear thing this year or not.

This year has barely just begun, & I’m already swamped with activities. I’ve had so many friends & family celebrating birthdays in January. Both of my parents are celebrating their birthdays this month. Chinese New Year is a huge deal in my family. We go through the ritual of cleaning the entire house to sweep out negative energy, & most importantly, we change our bed sheets on the Chinese New Year’s Eve, to signify the changing of the year. I am also going on a ton of trips this year. In just this month alone, I’ve already got two trips planned. Next weekend, Jian & I are going to play in the mountain snow in Lake Tahoe, CA. (We can’t wait to take our All-Wheel-Drive Audi up to the mountain snow.) Then, the weekend after that, the whole family is going to San Diego to celebrate my mom’s 70th birthday. I can’t wait to spend some more fun time with my favorite nephew & niece.

Also planned for this year, I’m going back to San Diego in the summer for Comic Con. I already got my 4-day passes, & I really hope I get to meet my favorite actor in person this time…not just watch him from afar at some stuffy panel discussion. Jian & I are currently in the process of planning two other major overseas trips for this year. We really want to go back to Guangzhou, China to visit Jian’s maternal grandparents who are unable to travel. It would be really wonderful to spend quality time with them again, since Jian is one of their favorite grandchildren. We hope we can snag another awesome package deal like last time, & have another layover in Japan again. I have really been itching to go back to Japan with Jian & show him other incredible cities. However, I do realize that we tend to mostly visit Asian countries whenever we plan major vacations, so I have finally convinced Jian to go with me to London, England. Hooray!

I am in the very early stages of planning the London trip. I am making spreadsheets, & lists, & reading lots of travel guides. I am going through my usual over-organized pre-trip planning. I am just way too excited to be visiting a European country for the first time. Just like my trips to Shanghai & Tokyo, I am going to photo-blog the shit out of my London trip. I will probably get obnoxious. I’m not sure yet. Well, I never know how to properly end my blog posts. So, cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

Uniqlo Coming To San Francisco via Refinery29

Ok, I am not a religious person, but I must say “Hallelujah!”  Yes, yes, yes!  My wishes have been fulfilled!  My absolute, most favorite clothing brand of all time, UNIQLO, will be opening several new store locations throughout the world  within the near future, & guess what?!  My local city San Francisco is on this list of locations!!!  Yes, that means that my all-time favorite clothing brand from Japan will be opening a new store near me, sometime in the future.

For those of you who have never heard of this brand, UNIQLO is a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer & retailer with affordable prices.  UNIQLO’s fashion style has been compared to GAP clothing, but with the retail price tag equivalent of H&M.  What started as an affordable unique clothing brand only sold in Japan (as are most Japanese clothing brands), UNIQLO has expanded its International branches & now have retail stores all around the world including: Hong Kong, mainland China, Thailand, Russia, Taiwan, etc. with it’s only U.S. retail store residing in New York.

Right now the very famous Japanese clothing brand UNIQLO is conducting a major expansion project & is expecting to open more flagship stores & smaller shops in various cities around the world including: New York (Manhattan), Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Connecticut, New Jersey & London.  Some, or most of these stores will most likely not open any time in the near future, as UNIQLO is also geared to create a new clothing collection with Lady Gaga’s stylist: Nicola Formichetti (which will probably debut first).

Here are some of my quick thoughts on UNIQLO’s expansion project:

  • More retail stores are scheduled to open in New York, especially in the Manhattan district.  I personally, don’t understand why this should or needs to be done, since Manhattan already has a 5-level flagship store that is more than capable of meeting consumer demand.
  •  I’m not quite sure how the New Jersey store will come to be, since most New Jersey-ites schlep themselves across the Hudson river all the way to New York to do most of their major retail shopping.
  • Connecticut?  Really?!  Well, I guess if that’s what you want, but I don’t really see the point. (Please refer back to my New Jersey comment.)
  • I don’t have much to say about the “windy city” Chicago, since I don’t know much about that city itself…but I’ve heard it’s a growing fashion hotspot, so I can kind of see how a UNIQLO retail store might work out there.  We will have to see after its first year’s sales stats.

Last but not least…

  • I heard about the rumor of UNIQLO planning on opening a California retail location since last year, & my immediate (instant) thought was that Los Angeles would be the first California city to have a retail store.  I think I am on track with the correct prediction.  I just have a gut feeling about this.  Los Angeles has a larger Japanese population compared to any Bay Area city near San Francisco, including S.F. (not that ethnicity should matter).  Also, Los Angeles is considered to be one of the largest fashion capitals in the world.  So, I really wouldn’t be surprised if Los Angeles opened up a retail store first.  It would make more sense.  In fact, I would be more surprised if San Francisco opened up a retail store before Los Angeles.

It doesn’t matter if it’s not anytime soon, just as long as they do actually open a store location in my local city.  I just can’t believe that this rumor is now confirmed to be a fact.  I have visited the New York Manhattan flagship location, & the various retail locations around Shanghai, China.  Also, I often shop at the various retail stores scattered around Tokyo (in Japan), including their exclusive t-shirt shop in Harajuku called UT UNIQLO…& I can definitely say that…being one of UNIQLO’s biggest fans…I am so overjoyed to hear this exciting news!!

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