BootsnAll Travel Network

Chinese cupping

November 19th, 2009

I am now a proud owner of 15 circular hickeys, I mean bruises 🙂

Chinese Cupping is an ancient practice use to treat and heal colds, back pains, knotted and strain muscles and generally drawing out the toxins in our blood. So here’s how it works – heat is trapped in a glass cup and then placed on your back. The heated cups suck up your skin, which is supposedly sucking out the toxins. For me, it felt like I had a massive vacuum on my back attempting to suck the life out of me! The procedure isn’t painful at all. Relax is key. The tenser you are the more the cups pull at your skin. It didn’t help that my friend who was with me, was cracking jokes. Every time I chuckled, the fifteen cups on my back clanked with me, which made it uncomfortable.

After ten minutes, the cups were off my back, and there I was branded with 15 circles. (Mom don’t freak out – I’m ok) They say the darker the circles are – indicates the amount of toxins in your blood.

A true healing power? Possibly. I did sleep like a baby the following day.



an island girl at heart

October 18th, 2009

It really doesn’t matter how long you’ve been away….once you step foot on your home soil, you can’t help but feel so welcomed. The memories start flooding in your head and pouring out one by one (the good and the crazy). Island cruising in my beat up corolla, endless hotel parties, beach bbqs, getting chased by boonie dogs all the way home hahaha….

I’m glad I made the trip home. It’s an awesome feeling being back after being away for such a long time. My two weeks flew by but it was definitely well spent; quality time with the fam, reconnecting with friends whom I haven’t seen in nine years, witnessing breathtaking sunsets, lounging at the beach, stuffing my face with Chamorro/Filipino food. Dang, just when I was getting use to the island life again….time runs out and it’s time to go.

Home – our feet may leave, but not our hearts. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes


My last Guam Sunset at Fujita Beach


finally a trip back home

October 7th, 2009

and possibly my last adventure for 2009 (well maybe) haha 🙂

I know I’ve said this before, but I’m going to say it again: I love Chinese holidays! A week ago from today (Oct. 1st) marked China’s National Day, the 60th anniversary of the founding of modern day China. Most Chinese get eight days off during this holiday celebration; I’ll be taking two weeks. Traveling within China during a holiday is chaotic, and I can attest to that, so I’ve decided to get out of the country. Where have I decided to go? South Korea for two days and then I shoot off to the motherland, Guam for two weeks! It’s been nine years since I was last on the island; I’m definitely overdue.

While in SK my mom shot me a note saying that the island was expecting a typhoon the day of my arrival. (what a way to welcome me home eh). It would’ve been a total vacation bummer, but fortunately the typhoon flew pass the island. I’ve been here for a week now and it’s been awesome. The weather is great. It’s hot and sunny most of the time with a few short showers here and there to offset the heat. I forget how humid the island gets. I’m at three cold showers a day! Stepping out of the nice, air-conditioned, newly reconstructed AB Won Pat Airport; sweat came streaming down my forehead and my body began to perspire almost immediately. I sat outside not complaining, but laughing out loud to myself (as I wipe off the sweat dripping down my face). My dad stared with a puzzled look as he was pulling up in his truck. Haha. Gosh, it feels good to be back.

Anyway, I spent this past week catching up with family, relatives and friends. I played the tourist card and dropped in on all the touristy areas. I took a stroll around the island and I have to say that not much has changed. It’s as if I never left. I did notice more abandoned buildings and homes scattered around the island. But in spite of all that, Guam is still the same, beautiful as ever.





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I’m alive :)

September 22nd, 2009

Ni hao! Yes, I know I’ve been MIA. I’ve been neglecting this blog of mine and I apologize. Wow not one single entry for the month of August, and with Sept coming to a close, I deserve the “ultimate slacker award”, if there was one.

In my defense, it’s been quite a busy month. A lot has changed. I work for a new school now, I started a band, I left my bachelorette pad (ha!) and moved into a two-bedroom apartment, which I share with a spunky, city gal from Jersey, Jazmin! Jazmin is also a teacher at my school; she loves to cook, has a passion for music, she loves to go out and dance; heaps of fun with her always. I’m not too sure if I can keep up with her, but I’ll sure try. (work hard, play hard right?) Love her to death. Did I mention she loves to cook? haha 🙂 We’ve been roomies for over a week now, and I swear I’ve gained five kilos already.

Anyway, here’s a quick note on how I’m doing, feeling, etc…

Eight months in China – How do I feel?

Awesome. I’m learning a lot about the Chinese culture and I’m adapting well. My Mandarin Chinese is still crap but it has improved dramatically from when I first started a few months back. In fact, I can hold a conversation in Chinese now, so I’m stoked. Although, i think my English is pretty much shot! lol 🙂 Overall, I’m having an epic time.

How do I like Dalian?

This city sure has grown on me. It’s like a second home now. It’ll always have a special place in my heart.

How’s teaching going?

I feel so lucky. I work for a great school, I have the greatest kids; and I’m not just saying this because they’re my students. They truly are good kids. Not once did I have to raise my voice /discipline any of em’ — they frickin’ rock! I do admit, that there are days where I’m just completely drained at the end, but if my kids leave happy it’s all worth it for me.

Am I homesick?

Call me crazy, but no. I’m extremely family-oriented, so some may find it a bit odd that I don’t get homesick. I do video chat with my family and friends quite often, so that could explain why being away is easy to bear.

I say this all the time…but dang time flies. I’m still in awe that a year has passed already. Exactly one year ago today, I was sitting at café on Khoa San Rd in Bangkok, Thailand enjoying my first Chang beer and a scrumptious bowl of massaman curry. And today, here I am still on the road, living in China.

Life is good.

Here’s a year of travel highlights:

Yogjakarta, Indo
Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Hong Kong
Beijing, China
Seoul, South Korea
Teman Negara, Malaysia

There’s more to see, more to learn…

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Chinese Name 赵 慧 美

July 28th, 2009

I finally got around to adopting a Chinese name for myself. Of course it had to meet the following criteria:

1) must be a name with meaning that I can relate to

2) must be easy to pronounce (duh, it’s no good if you can’t say your own name right?)

3) it should be somewhat easy to write

therefore it was an easy pick. Drum roll please………………………………………… 🙂

My Chinese name is……….. Zhào Huì Měi 赵 慧 美 ….. Pronounced: jao/huay/may

So what do you think? It’s pretty much my English name translated over with an additional third character at the end. (赵 last name: dizon +wisdom: sophia + 美 beautiful)

A Chinese name usually consists of three characters, but it’s still common to have a two-character name. The final character in my name is a rather common one amongst Chinese names. And it so happens that the word “beautiful” is my ultimate favorite English word – so it made sense to add it on.

So there you have it folks! I can’t get any more Chinese than that. Living in China – check! Learning Chinese – check! Take up a Chinese name – check!

Sahweeet. Now I can finally fill in the [Chinese name field] on forms AND properly answer the incessant question: “What’s your Chinese name?”

As of today, I am no longer going by Sophia. It’ll be Huì Měi to all of you (in China anyway)


a lot has happened while I was gone..

July 17th, 2009

I’m sitting here at the SK airport once again waiting for my flight back to Dalian – the longest layover ever! Seven-hours! Sheesh. But I figure it’ll be good time to catch up on my site and upload photos. I’m extremely drained. My eyes are shutting down as I type this. I’m on my third cup of coffee, but it’s not helping. So I’ll be quick and I’m apologizing now for any randomness and writing errors.

First and foremost, I finally got my Chinese work visa! Yes, finally. This work visa grants me a one-year stay in China. Which means no more flying in and out and no more extensions! A very good thing because I’m already running out of pages in my new passport!!

My five days home came and went. Man, it flew by! I miss my family, friends and my dog already. Had a sweet ass time kicking it with my nephews and nieces, who have grown so much since I last saw them five months ago. My five-year-old nephew Donovan rips it on his razor scooter now! It freaked me out. I really thought he was going to eat pavement going at the speed he was going down the hill, but he didn’t! Pheww! Anyway, a lot has happened while I was gone. I was caught up on a lot of things, which got me thinking – did I pick a bad year to move abroad? Hmmm… I’ll break it down for you:



Jeng and Nickie!! Thanks for the pics – Nathan is a handsome little guy. With all the cute babies running around in our fam I’m convinced that we have awesome genes lol 🙂

Joce and Brian!! It was awesome seeing you guys! Badillo twins!! – very exciting! Any chances of naming one of em’ Sophia?

Roxanne –Send me photos asap!! Or I’m sure Tash will have them up on facebook before you even make it home from the hospital lol


Vina and Virgil on their new addition, Cara!

Min and her husband on theirs, baby Nesta!

Mike and Courtney on their second child, Brooklyn!

see what I mean….I’m missing out on all the babies!!:( I’m not even done yet… my list continues…

GRADUATION Congrats to my…

Big sister Susan!! I’ll see you in October!

Trace and Kay (Registered Nurses) and Jill (Graphic Design)!!

I wish I could’ve been there to see you guys walk but know that I was there celebrating in spirit – Proud of you girls! Sheila you’re left….:)


My friend Valerie and her hubby!! And My friends Jon and Megan!!

Oh and Birthday shout outs to the JULY babies!! Dad, Iris, Sheila and Julie!! LOVE you guys!!

Yep definitely missing out on heaps of stuff this year. But nah, no regrets. Things happen for a reason and I’m having the time of my life. If I missed naming anyone in my congrats list, I apologize. Super exhausted at the mo, and I’m close to crashing out on this airport chair. Overall, I had a sweet short trip home. Three hours left in SK…. I’m going to take a nap. Hopefully I don’t over sleep and miss my flight 🙂

Signing off… See you guys in China, currently nowThe Land With No Access to Facebook!

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facebook, family, five days

July 11th, 2009

To add to my ramblings in a previous blog about China blocking websites, China added yet another site to their list – Facebook. It’s been blocked for a week now. Ugh. Mother-effers. I guess I’m going to have to find another country to live in now. I’m kidding. Hopefully, it’ll be back up soon. (crossing my fingers)

But it doesn’t matter at the mo, because I’m going on vacation, a short vacation that is! Literally. Five days! My school is flying me home to get my work visa. Sahweeeet! I leave in a few hours! Woo hoo! I’ll probably suffer extreme jetlag but I don’t care, because I get to see my family and friends!!

Looking forward to waking up with my nephews, stuffing my face in Mexican food and spending countless hours lollygagging on Facebook and Youtube…. because I can!! LOL 🙂 Block that China!!


bday cake for seth, mooncake for me!

June 25th, 2009

My handsome nephew/godson Seth turned one today! Happy Birthday Seffy!! Thanks for the pictures Iris – give the little guy a gazillion HUGS & KISSES for me!! I love you guys!


Future heartbreaker 🙂


Well, I finally had my first Chinese mooncake today and I gotta say, I’m a big fan!

Mooncakes are considered a Chinese delicacy. They are round pastries, typically embossed with a Chinese character/design, filled inside with classic Chinese sweets such as, red bean paste, lotus seed paste, jujube paste, nuts, eggs, etc… The Chinese celebrate a Mid-Autumn Mooncake Festival every year in August when the moon is at its full. In China, the full moon represents the gatherings of family and friends. The significance of this festival comes in two forms – 1) honoring the Chinese goddess who lives on the moon and 2) honoring the story of how the Chinese over threw the Mongolians by passing cryptic messages using the mooncakes.

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Savoring my first mooncake, filled with a lotus seed paste, sesame seeds & chopped nuts – Yummers. I had three in one sitting which is probably a little too much; being that these tasty things are rich and heavy. Oh well… I enjoyed eating them…probably as much as my nephew enjoyed eating his first bday cake 🙂


China tips :o)

June 20th, 2009

Interesting Observations & Tips to help you fit-in ~ Enjoy! 🙂

(Dalian based with a few encounters in other cities)

1. Screw the queues! There are queue lines for a lot of things – subway/bus/train station, super market, some restaurants, shopping malls, banks, etc…. and for the most part, no one follows it! I had a few experiences at the train/bus station of people constantly cutting right in front of me. Eventually, I learned to push and shove my way (not all the time) through chaotic lines. Tip: When in line don’t leave too much space between you and the person in front, because someone is likely to cut in front of you. OR you can screw the lines all together and go straight to the head of the queue lol

2. Pedestrian walkways. I don’t understand why they have these because 1) no one uses them and 2) if you do use it, cars still have the right of way, so you still have to watch out. I’ve had two close calls with a taxi and one actually came close to nipping my backpack in Xi’an. In Asia, no one stops for pedestrians. (I can’t stress this enough). Tip: Jaywalk across a disorderly street filled with unyielding taxis and motorists’ lol – just remember to look both ways

3. Vehicles(cars, taxis, motorcycles) can just about stop anywhere they want and park anywhere they can fit their butts in. Sidewalks are their favorite spots. People on foot must go around the cars by stepping off the sidewalk and onto the road. Then again, potholes and uneven pavement is all too common here; so we’re probably better off walking on the road anyway. The other day, I watched a taxi stop in the middle of the intersection (literally) to pick up some people with luggage. He popped his trunk open and started to load them in one by one. And again all this is happening in the middle of the street during rush hour. The traffic he was causing and the honking from others didn’t seem to bother him at all. Note: Car honking is prevalent, some for good reason and some for no apparent reason. You’ll be crossing the street and getting honks from cars coming at you from 40 ft away. Honks don’t faze me anymore. I don’t even bother turning around.

4. Get in on em’ bootleg DVDs. Watching illegal copies in China is practically normal. You can find them anywhere and at 6RMB ($1) a pop; so who wouldn’t? Tip: Save your dealer’s# because they tend to move shops frequently to avoid being caught. If you’re lucky you might even get caught up in an undercover police raid – that’ll be fun! (well, not really)

5. Eat street char (kebabs) and drop your skewer sticks on the ground! For those who know me I don’t litter. Having said that, I had a really hard time doing this one. Four months in China and my grand total of skewer dropping is at a whopping “5”!! (And I only did it because my Chinese friend I was eating with swayed me to). Still a bit weird for me; so I prefer to keep my sticks on the table or toss em’ in the bin. Anything non-recyclable; skewers, napkins, cig butts are thrown directly on the ground all day, all night. At the end of the night, cleaners come out to sweep the streets and scoop up all the garbage. And this cycle is repeated the every single day. Tip: I guess…do what the locals do and drop em’ skewers! OR Not. You can just opt for the nearby trash bin 🙂

I’m sure as my time here rolls on, I’ll have more to jot down…

Father’s Day shout out to my Dad!! Can’t wait to see you in October! Love you.

Wǒ Ai Nǐ !!


SK in a nutshell

June 10th, 2009

Gyeongbokgung Palace, Korea’s largest palace from the Chosun Dynasty.


Make sure to catch the changing ceremony of the royal guards at the palace, complete with traditional Korean music, bright colorful costumes and flag bearers.


Hyangwongjeong Pavilion


The N Seoul Tower aka Namsan Tower. It has the best view of the city, especially at night.


Left the big city, caught a 4 hour bus ride to the little town of Sokcho for some trekking at Seoraksan National Park. The Ulsanbawi hike (900m) itself was relatively easy; I’d say the only semi-challenging part was the last stretch to the summit. You have to trek up a vertical-faced metal staircase to get to the top of the rock.


At the top


All smiles at the Sokcho DMZ with Simon – North Korea and the Sea of Japan in the backdrop. The closest I’ll probably ever get to NK. Well maybe, we’ll see lol


After Sokcho/Seorasksan I caught a bus to Gyeongju (Kyongju), a city with history dating back more than 1,000 years. Gyeongju was the capitol for the ancient Silla kingdom. You’ll find heaps of burial mounds (of Silla kings) scattered through out the city; with most enclosed in parks. It’s usual for residents here to hang out/ have picnics amongst the mounds. The weather was perfect during my two day stay, so I found myself laying out with my book one afternoon beside a mound. A little eerie, you think? Well, maybe a bit 🙂 I think they’re fascinating.

Cheomseongdae, one of the oldest surviving astronomical observatories in East Asia. Built from 365 stones, representing the days of the year, and twelve stones at its base, rep the months of the year.


For more trekking, I headed southeast of the city to Gyeongju National Park (Mt.Tohamsan side) which is about 30 mins by bus. You’ll find the Bulguksa (Pulguksa) Temple and the Seokguram Grotto , containing a 8th century stone Buddha – Both temples dubbed by UNESCO. On a funny note, I fell asleep on the bus ride to the park; the bus driver was kind enough to wake me up when we got to my destination lol 🙂 3614383142_307e9b598a.jpg

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