It all started here...

It all started here...

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Blessed! A Year of Traveling 2015

Before taking our first trip for this year overseas, I looked back at my record of places that we have visited in the past couple of years. We have been truly blessed with these traveling opportunities around the world. With the recent happenings around the globe in the last several months, I can't help but thank God for giving us the time and resources to visit these places as a family when they were still safe and worry-free. I would have serious doubts if we were to go back to these places nowadays, as the political scenes constantly changing from day to day. I don't think we would be brave enough to even repeat that one day when we took our own private tour to Priene, Miletus, and Dydima on that port day at Kusadasi, Turkey for just the three of us less than a year ago, in February 2015. Whenever something bad happened to a place where we have been, my heart sank and couldn't help but think of our time spent there. The shootings in Cairo, Tunisia, and Istanbul all took place at the spots where we were in such close proximity of. I am sure most travelers feel the same way but none of these will spoil the precious memories of our time there. For that I am thankful!

January -- Carnival Inspiration

2015 was a busy year of traveling for my family and me. We started off with a last minute 4-day Baja cruise on Carnival Inspiration in January, just for a bit of relaxation. It was easy because we did not have to fly anywhere. There was no planning needed and our intention was just to enjoy a few days of quietness. We were surprised to find a couple of friends on this same cruise so it made even more interesting.

February -- NCL Jade Mediterranean B2B cruises

Our big trip of the year started in February, when we planned a family cruise in the Mediterranean on NCL Jade. It was ET's first time to Europe so it was a big deal for us. One major problem for us at the planning stage was dealing with the miles redemption for flights. After seats booked and confirmed, Iberia kept changing our itineraries without notifying us ahead of time and separated us on all our flights, we finally cancelled all the mileage redemption with them and bought tickets for Turkish Airlines. Much easier and simpler, even though we would be flying economy instead of business. When we have to fly such a long distance, we usually like to make it worthwhile either combine it with a land tour or taking back-to-back cruises. This turned out to be 21 cruise days for us on this western and eastern Med cruises. What a fabulous time we had! What made it even better was to bumped into friends whom we have met on our previous cruise.

May -- Crown Princess Wine Country Coastal Cruise

Now, this was a trip that I had not planned on taking and reluctantly agreed to go at the last minute. At the request of some old friends, son and I joined this week-long cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver leaving MOR behind to hold down the fort. It turned out to be a very pleasant trip with wonderful weather and amazing scenery throughout. Going under the Golden Gate Bridge as we sailed into San Francisco was an unforgettable experience!

July -- Diamond Princess Grand Japan Cruise

Our second big trip of the year came in July, when we flew to Japan and met up with family members from Taiwan for a 19-day Grand Japan Cruise on the Diamond Princess. We figured that Japan is close enough for FIL to get to from Taiwan and it won't be as strenuous as having him fly over half of the earth to join us. Being on the Diamond Princess and explore Japan was quite an experience, very different but enjoyable. We spent a couple of days pre-cruise on our own and then a couple of days post-cruise before joining an organized land tour to other parts of Japan. I would love to do this cruise again, but next time, I would just skip the land tour part and do everything on our own!

October -- Road trip to Morro Bay

After coming back from Japan, we were fully involved in the planning of our annual big revival meetings scheduled for the first part of October. It was nice to be able to take a short trip up the California coast and spent two nights in the little town of Morro Bay after the meetings were done. It was definitely refreshing and relaxing, to say the least.

November -- Sinorama China Tour 

We joined a land tour to China in November, just the two of us, mainly to check out the city of Guilin where we visited in 1988 on our very first trip to China. Things have changed and mostly for the better. This tour took us deep into the rice fields and minority cultures in the Guangxi Province of China. We also took our third Yangtze River cruise, this time from Chongqing to YiChang. 

Every trip is a learning experience and we enjoyed every minute of it whether it be good or bad at the moment. Many people keep complaining and looking at things negatively because things do not always go their way. Have eyes of compliments instead of criticism will help make the trip happier. Learn from the mistakes and ready for problem-solve will turn a tourist into a traveler. 

We don't know what the future holds but we know that as long as we are able, God willing, we will continue to travel and appreciate the world that was prepared for us. We certainly have fond memories of each place we visited and look forward to new cities we will set foot on in the future.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


Carnival Inspiration -- Day 4, January 22, 2015

Waking up to a beautiful morning when we reached the last port on this cruise--Ensenada. 

Morning has broken...

God's recreation of the new day!

Port in Ensenada

We were docked on that far end last year.

Checking bags before exiting

The dog!

A lazy walk around town after the shuttle ride.

Our favorite spot in Ensenada.


Back to the ship

Many seals, or were they sea lions, at port.

Our ship was delayed leaving port because of a medical emergency.

Only one photo of our dinner--Carnival still serving escargot.

This ends our short four-night getaway cruise on Carnival Inspiration.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Sea Day Brunch

Carnival Inspiration -- Day 3, At Sea, January 21, 2015

Carnival cruises have something called "Seaday Brunch" on their At Sea days. This is basically a brunch served in one of the main dining room with quite an extensive menu. It is a nice way to start the day when there is no rush to go on shore and nothing much to do on board. Here is the menu.

This is also a good time use the special drink coupons since we don't usually drink.

Caesar Salad

Flamin' Tomatoes soup

Fresh fruit platter with cottage cheese

Grilled Salmon Filet with a side of bacon

Hey Porkchop

Steak and Eggs

Fat Stack Pancakes

Caramelized Cheesecake

Double Chocolate Brownie

I confess, we went all out after looking at the menu. We shared all these food between us and enjoyed every bit of it. The food was wonderful but as always, the service here is lacking, probably because of the many people they have to serve at that time. 
Needless to say, we had to skip lunch that day.

Snacks before dinner from the Taste Bar

Dinner--don't remember what this is though.