"Give Me One Day & I'll Give You a Thousand Years"

Here I am, sitting in my hotel room in Hangzhou, exhausted from the day. This morning, after  brief visit to the Bund and Nanjing street in Shanghai, we traveled to Hangzhou, an old Chinese capital years and years ago. What I like the most about this city is it's importance in the history of China (also beacause and it's clean and beautiful). We mainly visited Xi Hu (West Lake) and it's bloody gooooorgeoussss. The landscape is mind blowing with the green mountains over the lake. It's literally like the Chinese paintings! The place has also temples and gardens, so it's really nice place to walk around. However, the temperature is incredibly high and the amount of visitors is just too much. I know China is a crowded place, but you don't really know what "China is crowded" means until you've actually stepped foot on Chinese soil and see the sea (more like ocean) of people. Worst part of it all, Chinese people aren't always the most well mannered people. The amount of times someone walked into me, (despite having enough space to walk by without shoving themselves onto me) without apologies is impossible to count. People shout, push, pull, cut lines and do all sorts of things that most people would probably condemn in the West. But, despite all of this, I am really enjoying my time in China. There's so much culture and the scenery is to die for.

We ended our day with a cabaret show at the Song Dynasty Town (it's a bit like a Song Dynasty themed amusement park). The Romance of the song Dynasty was crraaaaaazy! The show is based on Hangzhou's history and mythology. The show consisted of singing, dancing and acrobatics. I thought it would be a cheesy show, but it really wasn't. It's totally exceeded my expectations. I found out afterwards that this show is actually one of the top three famous cabaret shows in the world (the other two are shows in Paris and Las Vegas). It's such a shame they only show in Hangzhou. I think it's just as good as a Cirque du Soleil show.


Up In The Air

There are so many reason why a person can hate flying. You're confined to a seat for a long time (in my case, it's a 15 fifteen hour flight from Toronto to Shanghai), a non stop engine sound in the background, the smell of recycled oxygen or you could be simply scared shitless because of all the terrorist attacks that have occurred in the past. The list could go on and on. But me, I LOVE flying. I love being in the plane.I love plane food, I love the smell of the plane and I love sitting there, in that seat, looking out the window and be in the clouds. It's amazing to be up in the air and see the small, tiny houses and cars down there. Some of the urban planning designs are really great!

While landing in Toronto, I got the see the city's cityscape with the CN Tower in the background. This is one of the reasons I love flying. You get the see views that you'll never otherwise be able to see! I wish I had take a picture. But, I just couldn't stop starring and by the time it clicked in my head that I need to capture this view, the plane was already turning around, getting ready to land. I've flown quite a few times in my life and I always make the same amateur mistake. I always get distracted by the amazing sight that I completely forget to immortalize it. Usually, this is when I'd end my post saying that I won't make the same mistake again, but I know I will, so I won't.


See You Soon, China

This is it. I leave in less than 24 hours! I am slowly getting more and more excited. Being Asian, I am often asked if I have ever visited China. The sad answer is no. Although, in my defense, I was born in Taiwan... so it's normal that I've never been to the Mainland, especially when I moved to Canada when I was five. That being said, I still haven't finished packing! I am usually not this last minute, but I been busy lately. Plus, after my exam yesterday, I needed some time to relax, so I went to La Fontana with a few of my closest friends for drinks and dessert. It was so great to sit down with them and talk about the most random things!

Lounging outside before the rain
While I am super psyched about my trip, I am also a bit nervous. The ending leg of my vacation is a three day stay in....... TOKYO, JAPAN! And, trust me, I can't wait! But, due to the fact that I took Japanese this summer, my dad is expecting me to put in practice everything I have learned. Can you feel the pressure? Because I sure do. What if I unintentionally offend someone? What if I am not polite enough? It's so easy to be impolite when speaking in Japanese because there are so many forms of politeness. I guess I will have brush up on my Japanese on the plane.


また後で (mata ato de) : See You Later

My Japanese class finally came to an end. I wrote the final exam this past Thursday, after spending the entire night cramming all kinds of grammar rules and vocab. Let's just say it was a long, long, long, long night. After the exam, we all went for lunch at Sakura, where we surprised our teacher and TA with flowers and thank you cards.It was actually a super sad moment. We literally spent everyday together for the past two months and a half. Oi sensei was so kind and patient with us, it was unbelievable. She always walked into class with a huge smile, while all of us sat in there with our tired and annoyed faces - I actually feel guilty now. Soyama sensei, our beloved TA will be so dearly missed. Every afternoon we've spent in class with her was always filled with laughter and funny stories. So many times I wanted to skip class on a sunny afternoon, but I was never able to do it because of her. The thought of missing her class always made me feel so bad, so I never skipped. Although, very often I would just sit there half asleep, not listening - I am honestly a really bad student aren't I? I am super grateful to have gotten two such great instructors.

I am also grateful for the amazing classmates I had. They are kind and funny. Everyone got along amazingly and we all became friends, which was totally unexpected to me.  I was never the type of person who didn't get along with classmates, but we befriended each other so quickly and often hung out after class.They made learning Japanese that much more enjoyable. I grew quite close with a few of them and I am so glad to have them as friends. On Thursday night, JP invited us over to his apartment for a "graduation" party. It was a bittersweet moment because while we celebrated the end of the class, it also reminded us that what had brought all together in the first place is leaving all of us. If I was intoxicated when I left, I think I would've cried. We all promised stay in touch with each other. But you know how it is - it's always easier said than done.


一 期一会 (ichi go ichi e)

Recently, my classmates and I went to the Montreal Japanese Canadian Cultural Center for a Japanese tea ceremony demonstration. I didn't have much knowledge about tea ceremonies, so I was looking forward to it. Although I wasn't actively participating in the ceremony (I was merely an observant on the side, as there were only two spots available for students to join), being part of a ceremony is much harder than it seems. As guest, you are sitting on your legs during the entire time and not allowed to move around or shift positions. I am not going to lie, there were moments during the demonstration where I was falling. All you do is watch the tea master prepare tea according to the Way of Tea!  On the other hand, as a host, you are required to serve tea following a sequence of precise movements. A complete formal ritual can last up to four hours!

An important part the tea ceremony is the concept of 一 期一会 (ichi go ichi e), which literally means "one moment, one meeting". It pretty much translates into that each moment is unique, and must be lived to the fullest and treated with the utmost sincerity. This saying goes hand in hand with tea ceremonies as the objective of the latter is to clear your hear of all distractions and really focus on the present moment.  

During the demonstration, matcha was served. Even if only two of my classmates got to participate in the ceremony, the rest of us still got to drink some matcha. I've always heard that matcha served in the rituals were always quite bitter, and hence why a sweet is always offered to the guest before they drink the tea. Likewise, I was offered some azuki mochi right before receiving my bowl of matcha. To my big surprise, there was only a tiny bit of tea in the bowl, and the matcha wasn't bitter at all! It was delicious! If given the opportunity again, I'd love to be part of the ceremony. Who knows, maybe I'll get an invitation from a tea master when I go to Japan next month!

Samia & I enjoying some Sencha after the ceremony


When I say Sake, You Say Bomb

Rainbow bomb
Saturday night,  Lynn and I had dinner at Deville before heading to Imadake for drinks, where things got quite interesting. I started off the evening with a glass of plum wine, waiting for the others to arrive. Then suddenly, this cute guy from the table next to us gave us half his bottle of plum wine!  Totally unexpected, but definitely appreciated! Too bad he was with two other girls. Next thing you know, a bachelor party walks in. The Asian groom-to-be was dressed as a women with a "Cheap Asian Whore" sign. For a low price of $1, we got to spank him with a leather belt. He walked around Imadake, asking to be spanked and ended up chilling at a our table for a bit. He was crazy, but so were we. The more the merrier, right? Of course, who goes to an izakaya without having sake bombs? Definitely not us. And so we ordered rainbow bombs which ended up splashing over my brand new BCBG silk shirt. I had not had a crazy night like this in a long time. Met some cool people and had tons of fun (except the next morning when I saw my shirt stained like no tomorrow). The cheap Asian whore definitely made our night unforgettable.