5 on 5 – February 2017

2 months into my project and I’m already behind because of the Chinese New Year vacation. Though if we look at the Lunar calendar, I’m ahead of schedule….(Not buying it? Me either)

Here’s a belated 5 on 5 shot in Shanghai. 

Sending lots of love out into this great big world.



Taco Bell in Shanghai


That’s right! Your favorite (or most hated) taco restaurant (I refuse to call it Mexican food) has returned to China. Taco Bell first opened in China in 2003 but shut down in 2008. 13 years later, they’re back!

As an American expat, I felt it was my duty to visit this brand new eatery and see what all the buzz was about. Check out our video about our visit!



Stay hungry,



Do you ever start a project and your lazy, self-doubting personality gets in the way of  you finishing it? Yeah, that was me.

I spent WAY too long wondering whether people would make fun of me for making a vlog. But guess what? I DID IT ANYWAY!

Hallelujah! It feels so good to finally finish something. I had a lot of fun making this. It’s a much better use of my time than Netflix (shh, Netflix, I still love you). And you know what? From just ONE VIDEO, I’ve learned so much about vlogging and YouTube.

So here it is. I’m so happy to share this with everyone. My first ever vlog/travel guide taken during my travels to Hong Kong.

I hope 2017 will bring more vlogging and videos. I think 2017 is going to be a big year for me and it’d be great to have it recorded.

I’ll be heading to Japan in 3 days for Christmas. I can’t wait to see all the beautiful illuminations and to spend time in one of my favorite cities on earth, Tokyo.

Have a great day y’all.


5 on 5 -December 2016

One of my best friends whose photography I love & admire participates in a monthly photo challenge with some of his photography friends. On the 10th of every month, they post 10 photos shot on that day. Sometimes there’s a theme, sometimes there’s not. The results are always beautiful and it serves as a monthly reminder to get out there and shoot, even when your schedule seems too busy.

I don’t feel I’m on their level so I’ve created my own beginner version called 5 on 5. This is my first time trying this but I hope to continue each month.




Hope everyone is having a nice Monday.







Fall at Tianping Mountain

I absolutely adore fall. It’s beautiful. It’s romantic. It feels full of endless possibility. The air is cool, the sweaters are soft, and everything tastes like pumpkin or cinnamon.

Unfortunately, China doesn’t have quite as many places to see fall as Japan. But fortunately for me, one of the top 4 places in all of China to see fall leaves is about an hour from our town: Tianping Mountain.

dsc_0044 We arrived around 9:30am and already there was a line of cars and hundreds of people queuing up to enter. Most were large tour groups who had traveled from other parts of China just to see these leaves!

dsc_0087Many of the hiking trails with the best views of leaves were packed with tourists. It was interesting to watch. Like ants going up a hill.

dsc_0050We chose a more quiet path away from the big crowds. It was beautiful and scenic. I liked that there were many different options in hiking paths. There’s stone pathways, more rocky climbs, and a paved road that loops around the grounds if you’re not big on hiking.


At the bottom of the mountain was a temple, food vendors, a clown show, and small games you can play to win stuffed animals. I got my Katniss on and shot some arrows for 20 RMB.

Mid-November is one of the best times to see fall leaves at Tianping Mountain so if you live nearby, this weekend is a great time to go. The entrance fee is 30 RMB for adults and they’re open from 7:30am – 5:00pm.


Random tibdit – while we were in Suzhou, we went to see a movie and by random coincidence, we ended up finding the Guinness World Record Largest Permanent 35mm screen. It measures 34.6 m (113.5 ft) in length and 26.8 m (87.9 ft) in height.

suzhou_guinness_movie_theaterWhile it’s grandeur can’t be denied, it doesn’t seem very useful. The screen is extremely tall but since most films are shot in a 16×9 aspect ratio, most of the screen isn’t utilized.

Still, as a film nerd, it was exciting to see in person.

I’m sitting here in my brand new Uniqlo sweatpants, purchased on Chinese Black Friday. I was so surprised that some of our orders came in THE NEXT DAY. Our apartment’s mail room was a hot mess of boxes. I can only imagine how busy they’ve been since 11.11.




11.11 – Chinese Black Friday

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Today is 11.11 which has two significant meanings in China.

First, today is single’s day or anti-Valentine’s day. 11.11 was picked because of all the ones in the date. Most single young people use this day to get together for food or drinks.

Second, today is China’s version of Black Friday or Cyber Monday. The very popular online shopping site Taobao hosts it’s largest sale of the year where you can get products at half price. Brands such as Nike, Adidas, Lacoste, Gap, Nine West, and more have products available. We even saw cars on sale! How crazy is that?

But you have to be quick. People have been preparing their carts for months leading up to this day. When midnight hits, you have to be ready to click buy.

There’s even a gala leading up to the big day with appearances by well known stars. The gala is a mix between a variety show and QVC where online users can participate by voting on certain actions the stars will do or purchasing the items the stars are showing the audience.  David Beckham, Kobe Bryant, and One Republic were in attendance.This year Katy Perry was set to  headline the event as a “global ambassador” in Shenzhen, but pulled out because of “family matters”. After watching the Louis C.K. Portlandia episode, we all know what that really means…

11.11 is the biggest online shopping day in the world, far exceeding Black Friday in America. Last year, 91.7 billion RMB was spent on Taobao’s Double 11 day. That’s over 13 BILLION U.S. dollars in just ONE DAY.



Needless to say this day is a BIG DEAL here in China and many man hours are spent preparing for this event. I found a short video (in English) on some of the behind the scenes prep.

This year we picked up a few sweaters ($22),  puma sneakers ($59), cute sweatpants ($14.50), and a 4 foot decorated Christmas tree (only $2.94!).

There’s still roughly 10 hours left for today’s sale. Head over to www.taobao.com to browse the deals.