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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:

 

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:

My sister (a newly single mother) recently visited our house with her two incredibly amazing children. I’m not saying they’re amazing just to be a doting aunt. These kids truly are incredible. Perhaps it’s because as the years go by, we grow closer and closer in relationship. I absolutely adore my sister’s kids, & they adore me as well.

One time my nephew pulled me aside & told me point blank to my face that he thinks of me as his second mom. True story, bro. However, I’d like to believe that I’m the cooler “mom” because I discipline the kids without yelling at them or scolding them the way my sister does. Granted, she is their actual mother…but the kids & I are tight too.

This past week rushed by in such a blur. My sister brought her kids to our house on their one-week school break. It felt like they were only here for a few short days. We, as a family, took the two kids to explore the downtown of the big City by the Bay. The kids made their first trip to Chinatown to buy traditional-ish costumes for their school performance. Then we took them to eat organic ice cream after a quick lunch. The next few days after that became such a blur I can hardly remember all the events that happened. We took the kids up to the mountains (which were eerily lacking snow). Actually we were in the mountains for two reasons: 1. The kids have never been up in the mountains before & have never truly experienced snow, & 2. My sister had to take care of a real estate project involving our former family vacation home. My sister’s kids were so excited to be up in the mountains & touching snow for the first time…although it was only a small barren patch of icy snow. We stayed at a very comfortable hotel overnight & the kids got to run around in the beautiful lake town full of lush nature.

We celebrated my mom’s (a.k.a. Grandma) birthday up in the mountains, took the kids to play around the creek, & had a fun overnight road trip. The kids were so captivated by the snow & the nature all around us. We had such a great, memorable time renting a mini-van & having lots of good laughs along the way. Alas, the kids were sad to go home. They made their Grandma a cute birthday card, but also drew a sad face on the back of it. When asked why, my nephew replied, “…because we are sad to go home. We want to stay here longer.” My niece, who usually has an I-don’t-really-care attitude even asked, “Why do we have to go home?” as we dropped them off at the airport.

I am so drained, physically, from this past week…I had to force myself to write this week’s blog post. There’s more stuff that happened that I want to write about, but my mind is stuttering right now, so I better sign off before I get more incoherent. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

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