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I have a moderate amount of things to tell you. My trip to Lake Tahoe, Ca with Jian turned out to be a success! We had a great time, & let me just say that once you stay at the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain, you can never go back to plain old Marriott (which in case you didn’t know, both hotels are owned by the same umbrella company). Jian & I both enjoy & prefer to stay at Marriott & Marriott affiliated hotels when we travel. We earn tons of rewards points which we can use on various amenities at the hotels, & use to get free nights. So we used out points to stay one night free at the Ritz-Carlton in Truckee, Ca.

The hotel was so swanky & luxurious. You’re right in the middle of all the ski slopes & powdery snow. We really felt like we were in the middle of a snowy wonderland. Everywhere you go throughout the hotel grounds, you will be asked for your room number (because the staff is strict about letting only hotel guests use certain amenities versus the North Star ski lift  guests), then the hotel staff will address you by name. I felt like a VIP guest when they recognized our names.  We truly felt as though we were staying in an upscale lodge-y cabin. The hotel was so beautiful. I only wished I had taken my little nephew & niece. They would have loved it.

When I go on vacation, I often forget to take pictures of my hotel room. To me, there isn’t much point. It’s a box with a bed, a dresser, a desk, & some lamps. Do you really want to see my toilet & shower? This time, I lazily tried to take some decent pictures of my room.

Our room was pretty cozy. It was not quite a suite size, but it wasn’t small by any means. I mean, hello, we had a sitting area AND a gas fireplace. We could even open the windows onto the extremely narrow “balcony” (if you could even call it that. I’d call it a sliding glass door that fully opens, so you can feel like you’re outside.). We didn’t have much of a view of anything spectacular. Unless you count the main gondola station as a nice view. We had to keep the drapes closed for most of the time because there were too many kids staring directly into our room from the gondola station.

Speaking of gondolas, yes, they are fast & efficient. However, no, I still do not like them. Against all of my fears of heights & free falling, plummeting to my untimely demise, I sat in a gondola. Jian & I wanted to see what was going on down at the North Star village, & let me tell you, it wasn’t anything spectacular. There were a few mediocre family restaurants, lots of timeshare real estate offices, & most of the shops sold over-priced outdoor gear. We were debating on whether to go ice skating or not (I’m an intermediate ice skater, & Jian is a beginner), but the ice skating rink looked more slushy than firm, like it was in desperate need of some Zamboni TLC. I will firmly say that swallowing my fear of heights to ride a gondola was NOT worth it. The entire ride down & back up to our hotel I was white-knuckle squeezing the seat cushion & cursing up a storm. Jian tried to reassure me or tried to get me to admire the view, but I just couldn’t wait to get out of our death trap. It didn’t help the fact that we stopped every few feet to let the oncoming gondola pass by us before we could move again. That was the worst part for me, all I could focus on was how much our gondola was swinging back & forth. Well, I got at least one photo out of it.

So, later that evening, we made reservations at our hotel’s more formal hotel. I wanted to join Jian in having a few cocktails, but for whatever reason (maybe it was the high altitude) I was feeling tired, so I only drank one. Our dinner was lovely. The service was fantastic, but I guess that’s to be expected at a high-end hotel. The food was not so fantastic. It was good, but nothing spectacular. The filet mignon Jian ordered was slightly over-cooked, & the greens on his dish was over-salted. I ordered a roasted duck dish that was supposed to include crispy duck skin, but the skin on my duck was nowhere near crispy. The rest of my dish was adequate, but not memorable. The only dish we were really wowed by was our appetizer. It was a pappardelle pasta & mushroom dish that was very delicious & well-seasoned.  That’s what made us happily anticipate our main course dishes, but ended up being disappointed. Our one consolation was that our cocktails were good, not too strong or watered-down. Our favorite meal was the room service we ordered. We didn’t even stay at the restaurant for dessert, so we went back to our hotel room & ordered dessert from the room service menu. We ended up choosing a plate of cookies & two glasses of milk (in which they only brought us one glass). Of all the cookies we ate, my favorite was the chocolate chip. The other cookies were too sugary sweet.

  
I was a little surprised that there were so many families with young children at the hotel that weekend. I was kind of expecting more young adult couples at the hotel…you know…knocking boots, since it was Valentine’s Day weekend. However, I was quite relieved that the hotel played it low-key that weekend, & didn’t go overboard with the lovey-Dover decorations or advertisements for romantic couples massages & dinners. Over all, we had a blast playing around & taking long hikes in the snow. We played a game to see who could step in a snow bank & see how far down their foot would fall into the snow. Amazingly, we only got snow in our shoes once, & it didn’t even make our feet wet. Thank goodness for Scotch Guard! Spraying that stain repellent all over our shoes really worked wonders & kept our shoes dry the entire time. We were a little sad to leave such a swanky hotel, but we’re happy to be going home to wash all the salt off our car. Until the next trip…cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

 

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I believe I would consider myself a romantic person. There was a span of time in my younger life when I was a voracious reader of sappy, sometimes erotic, romantic novels (“bean flickers“, a raunchy term Jian would often call them). I would throw myself headfirst into these saccharine-sweet predictable stories, & let myself become easily bedazzled by the male hero character. I could imagine myself in those stories, as the female lead character, often painting wildly vivid scenes in my mind as I was reading those books. (I still do read those types of books sometimes, but let’s keep that as a secret between me & you.) I also enjoyed watching romantic movies (ugh, I hate the term ‘chick flick’). During that time in my life, I even tried to write my own romance story. I got into reading & writing Fan Fiction, & once attempted to write my own story. It didn’t quite pan out the way I had liked, so I ultimately kept my writing hidden & locked away from the world.

Yes, I would say I’m into romance. However, I’m not crazy about all of the fluff that comes along with it…fluff such as: candle-lit decor, overflowing bouquets of flowers, boxes of chocolates, stuffed animal bears,  etc.. I don’t mind a quiet dinner for two, or a surprise getaway, but it doesn’t have to be flashy, showy, or smothered in hearts & flowers (a reference I borrowed from a famous book trilogy). I prefer the subtle approach. That’s mostly the reason why, even though I am all about romance, I don’t particularly enjoy celebrating Valentine’s Day. It’s more than just the over-commercialization of the holiday. Romance should be displayed every day, not just for one wallet-cringing, budget-busting day.

This is where I try, unsuccessfully, to segue into the next part of this story…my trip with Jian to Lake Tahoe, CA. We didn’t even realize Valentine’s Day would fall on a weekend, let alone this upcoming weekend. We had been planning for months to take my All-Wheel-Drive Audi station wagon (which my friends have lovingly named it the Storm Trooper) up to the mountains & play in the snow. Seeing so many photos on the Internet of other Audi car owners taking their cars to snowy terrain had made Jian & I quite envious. So, we put our feet down, & made the firm decision to do the same with my car. Using his rewards points, Jian was able to score us a swanky room at the Ritz-Carltom hotel in Lake Tahoe, on the North Shore area. We were so excited that we booked a free night’s stay at such an extravagant hotel that we completely forgot about V-Day. It wasn’t until we looked at the dates we booked, when it finally dawned upon us. What a pleasant surprise.

This spur-of-the-moment trip to Lake Tahoe, & staying at the Ritz-Carlton is just about the most romantic thing we can think of doing within our limited budget. We are not planning on ordering room service & spending the quiet evening alone in our hotel room. We are planning on eating at the swanky French restaurant inside our hotel, & then going outside to play in the snow, freeze our butts off, & get our pants uncomfortably wet. We are not skiers or snowboarders, but we do enjoy playing around in the snow, & the one winter sport I enjoy is ice skating. I can’t do any spins, jumps, or axels; however, I can skate correctly, skate well, & skate backwards. (I’d like to credit my two years of childhood ice skating lessons for those achievements.)

We aren’t going to put emphasis on Valentine’s Day (we hardly ever do, anyway). However, we do understand that it will be Valentine’s Day weekend, & we will enjoy spending our time together in the snow. I just hope we don’t get snowed in. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

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:

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