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Challenges of Life Abroad

naiyangbeachthailand

To follow up on my previous post, i’d like to spend some time today expressing some of the challenges of life abroad.

1.Being away from family

Returning home becomes harder and harder to leave! Despite developing close friendships abroad there is nothing quite like relaxing at home with your family.

When you live abroad, you maintain a particular memory of how life is/was back home, and do not fully realize that things are changing and happening there just as things are progressing for you in your adopted country. When the realization sinks in that life back home DOES tend to go on without you it can be a little difficult to come to terms with.

That being said, you come to appreciate and highly value the little things and moments you took for granted before you left and realize how precious time is.

2. Problems seem a lot worse

If you have some sort of issue you are dealing with, whether it be a broken bone, conflict with a colleague or a personal relationship…the lack of familiarity around seems to make every conflict or issue seem a lot worse.

It is not uncommon for people to fantasize about escaping from the daily grind, and for those of us who live abroad, the escaped-to life is the one we’ve chosen. As our roots are likely elsewhere than our current location, in face of a conflict, we may wish to escape back to “real” life”. The potential impermanence of our current location sometimes make the prospect of taking flight more attractive and worthwhile than the fight.

3. You have difficulty relating to others

Your identity has been “a traveller” for so long, and you’ve experienced so many different realities, groups of people, and manners of living that the lines become blurred. It is hard to express what you’ve seen and experienced and you may feel a level of disconnect at times.

4. There is so much uncertainty in your life

Life of expats is often fairly transient. People tend to come and go fairly quickly so it is difficult to develop long term relationships. Also, it is hard to know what you will be doing in the upcoming months/year/etc as you often sway between wanting to return to your home country and staying overseas (or alternatively, moving to a new destination) so it is hard to fully develop roots and a sense of feeling at home.

Like anything, travelling has both positive and negative aspects. Overall, despite the difficulties at times, life abroad has primarily positives to offer in terms of life experience and overall enjoyment. Are there any challenges you’ve faced while living overseas?

 

 

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4 Perks of Living Abroad

For those of us who are considered part of the expat community, the concept of “travelling” takes on an entirely different meaning. The idea of backpacks, booze and beaches is replaced by realities of bills, work and daily annoyances of interactions and events experienced everywhere, but are heightened due to unfamiliar territory and new rules and regulations that keep one guessing on every move/decision they make.

 This post is going to be a two part serious highlighting the positives for today (because we should always start with the positives right?) and then the negatives i’ve experienced throughout the past 3 ½ years of living abroad.

 A Few Perks of living abroad:

 1. More disposable income

For many twenty-somethings living in their home country, most of their income is tied up in necessities such as car payments, student loans, rent/mortgage, etc. and little is left over for entertainment

For many an expat….a contract is provided which includes flights, builds accommodation costs into the salary, etc.

 So, generally speaking, we can afford that fancy dinner with all the bells and whistles normally reserved for special occasions, somewhat pricy new clothes, etc. on the regular.

 2. Busier social life

 Though the work load is anything but minimal (arguably one works many more hours living abroad) the absence of family and familiar friends and faces leads to more of a focus on building relationships with friends met abroad. The shared experience of having left your own country to live abroad leads to (most) people being warm and welcoming and developing close nit friendships.

 3. More opportunities to travel

 Unlike many areas of the world, North America is not well equipped for budget travel so generally one does have the opportunities to impulsively jump on a plane and jet off to a foreign local on a whim.

 If one is living abroad (particularly in Europe) there are a plethora of budget airlines and inexpensive beachy destinations at your doorstep so, if you are looking to escape the daily grind for a little or a long time, it is usually doable.

 4. Opportunities to experience other cultures

 While I’m not discounting the value or joy in travelling to various cities, spending 2-3 days at a time in a particular destination does not give you and accurate perception of a people or culture. When you are living in a new country you are able to fully experience the people and culture of the place as have daily interactions and develop friendships with individuals from a variety of countries and backgrounds.

 These are a few of the main things I love about living abroad. Do you have any to share?

 

 

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Pics of NYC at Night

Hey hey!

Hope you all had a fabulous weekend! 🙂 I currently have an unanticipated day off due to a tropical cyclone hitting HK….aka Asia’s version of a Canadian snow storm…school closed! Whoohoo!

I braved the storm for a tasty Mexican lunch at El Taco Loco with Anthony and now I am (finally!) catching up on my blog posts. As I have plenty to fill you in on regarding past travels, recipes and restaurants here is a short and sweet post with some night snaps I took this summer in one of my all time favourite cities…NYC :).

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Hope you enjoyed the pictures of NYC at night!

 

 

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Liebster Award!

liebster award 
Hey hey! Sorry for the lack of posts lately! I was in the midst of moving to Hong Kong and had a bit of a wait for a consistent internet connection in our apartment! 
 
Hong  Kong North Point
 
 
Over the next few weeks I will be updating you on various travels, restaurants and recipes from the summer but firstttt I want to thank Drea from Travels with Drea for nominating me for the Liebster Award in August! Sorry for taking so long Drea I didn’t anticipate how crazy the past few weeks would be!

For those of you who don’t know, the Liebster Award is an award for new bloggers who have less than 500 followers to and is a means of getting to know the blogger community, gaining a bit of recognition for your blog, and a piece of encouragement to keep it going! Here are the answers to the 10 questions posed by Drea as well as my 10 blogger nominations!

1. Why did you start your travel blog?

I started my travel blog as a means of documenting my travels and sharing my love of world food, providing what are hopefully useful travel tips to others, and ideally the blog will eventually provide a source of income!

2. If you could go to any place in the world, where would that be and why?

Hmm…there are quite a few! Greece and Eygpt are quite high on my list as i’ve been fascinated by their rich histories since I was a child. But after reading the book “Married to a Bedouin”, I seriously want to go to Petra in Jordan and go camping in one of the caves with the locals!

3. What are your top 3 must have items when traveling?

A neck pillow is a MUST for lengthy air travel…particularly if you are unlucky enough to get stuck in one of the middle seats!
A pen/notebook (and a good book to read!)
Comfortable shoes!

4. What was your favourite place that you have visited?

I loved living/travelling around Thailand! (i’ve been back to visit 3 times since living there if that is any indication!) The people, the food, the incredible scenery (and having a few great friends that live there) make me consider it my home away from home!

A few other favs are the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Spain.

5. If money was not a factor, what would be your dream job?

My dream job would be writing about food and travel full time!

6. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?

Thailand (again)

7. Who is your favourite travel blogger?

I really love Adventurous Kate! I love that she inspires young women to travel on their own!

8. What is one piece of advice you would give to someone who has never traveled before?

There are a million reasons NOT to do something and a million ways to make something happen. Life is short and travel is one of the richest forms of education you can give yourself. Make it happen!

9. What do you do to overcome writer’s block?

Drink copious amounts of coffee!

10. Who inspires you?

In no particular order:

I’m a big Anthony Bourdain fan…I love his writing and travel shows!
Malala Yousafzai- I read the book “I am Malala” recently and watched a few of her interviews and this girl just wow’ed me with her positivity, desire to instil change and maturity beyond her years.
Amanda Lindhout- Her book “A House In the Sky” was literally one of the best (yet horrific) books i’ve ever read. Her resilience following her horrible experiences is mind blowing. As a fellow Canadian and female traveller I found her writing spoke to me.

Thanks again for nominating me Drea! Here are my 10 nominations and questions:

I nominate:

Mark & Stefy at Born 2 Travel                                                                                                                                                                      

Isabela at Izzie Travel

Tracy at Travels with Tracy

Nick at Nick’s Travel Blog

Stasia  at Travel Lust Blog

Elena at Gringa Espanola 

Andrea at The Cheap Travel Blog

Anwesha at Peanuts On The Road

Shawanda at It’s All Travel

Ellie at Untranslated Adventures

Questions:

1. What do you feel your greatest accomplishment has been as a traveller?

2. Who or what inspired you to travel?

3. List your top three bucket list items (i.e. places or activities while travelling)

4. What is the tastiest dish you’ve tried while travelling?

5. Do you have any favourite travel authors/shows?

6.  Do you have any embarrassing travel moments?

7. Do you have a particular goal for your travel blog?

8. What is your fondest memory of travel?

9. Who is your preferred travel companion?

10. What is a life lesson you have learned from travel?

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Foodie Friday: Easy Peasy Avocado Tzatziki

avocadotzatziki

Hey hey! Happy Friday! Hope you all have fun and exciting plans for the weekend! I’m off to NYC and Philly today for a week with my family, and am looking forward to seven beautiful days of quality family time and delicious dining! 🙂 Before I head out i’d like to leave a quick and easy recipe for Avocado Tzatziki with you all. My spin on Ms. Iron Chef Cat Cora’s Avocado Tzatziki to be exact! 🙂

One of my favourite pastimes is reading cookbooks and daydreaming about all the drool worthy dishes I find in them! Cat Cora’s Cookbook “Cooking from the Hip” is no  exception. I have literally book marked nearly every recipe in there to try!

But, the recipe which stood out to me the most, was her recipe for Avocado Tzatziki. I love love love tzatziki and can’t bear to eat Greek food without it! Though it is a traditional accompaniment for Greek fare, tzatziki has gotta be one of the most versatile condiments out there! Dollop some on meat or a salad, use as a sandwich spread, dip in some veggies..the possibilities are endless! :). The addition of avocado to this classic dip adds a nice thick and creamy texture to the mix! Don’t let the unarguably unappetizing appearance fool you (gooey yogurt does not exactly make for the sexiest of food pictures) ….this recipe is delish! 🙂 As an added bonus, this dip can easily be whipped up in under 10 minutes! Enjoy!

Avocado Tzatziki
 
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A quick and easy recipe based on Cat Cora's Avocado Tzatziki recipe :)
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 Cup Greek Yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper
  • ½ cup of shredded cucumber (I used a mandolin for this part to further simplify things)
  • 1 Avocado chopped into small chunks
  • Two cloves of garlic, finely diced
Instructions
  1. Toss ingredients together in a bowl. Chill until ready to serve.

 

 

 

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Best Shanghai Street Food

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There is nothing I love more than finding little gems of restaurants and eats that are (literally) produced in a hole in the wall. Anthony and I stumbled upon this magical street food restaurant by chance when we were visiting the Sinan Mansions Beerfest and were searching for an ATM. Despite having been completely full, after indulging in copious amounts of food, we were unable to bypass the delectable smells and vision of the golden brown pan fried dumplings atop a large bamboo steamer.

Upon biting into the dumpling I swooned at the combination of the perfectly crisped exterior and the savoury pork interior. Between mouthfuls I gestured a clumsy “han hap” (translation: “very good!” In Mandarin) to the warm and friendly stall owner who beamed with a smile. Now, hungry for more, we ordered a few xiao long bao (Shanghai soup dumplings) which were equally tasty and flavourful.

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The kind woman showed us a few of her other dishes such as steaming bowls of noodle soup, which undoubtedly were delicious, but we unfortunately had no room for a full meal at this point.

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This place is definitely worth wandering down to Chongqing lu for the tasty treats and lovely owner. And, at a price of 2 yuan (about 25 Canadian cents) for 4 dumplings…this place is a steal! This tiny shop offers the the best Shanghai street food I have ever had the pleasure of trying. Let me know if you check it out and what you think! 🙂

*This shop is located at 197 Chongqing lu…near the corner of Fuxing Lu and Chongqing lu, Shanghai*

 

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Hey hey!

Happy Friday! I hope wherever you are in the world you and managing to find time for some fun in the sun! My summer is flying by (perhaps due to the fact i’m on holiday and my days have been spent enjoying a life of leisure?) Thus far this summer I have managed to take advantage of much of what Ottawa has to offer as well as frequented a few foodie gems in Toronto this past weekend (info coming soon).

One of the things I have been enjoying most whilst relaxing in my parents house is once again being able to cook in a proper kitchen! The kitchen in our (now previous) apartment in China was “minimalistic” at best, residing in literally only a corner of our living room, and consisting of a wonky hot plate, one gas burner and little to no counter space. (Ahh the joys of spacious Canadian living!) Despite still being able to whip up some magic in a small space, counter space, multiple burners and a variety of cooking utensils has left me with a feelings of relief and joy. I’ll enjoy it while it lasts..as I imagine I will be unable to use the adjective “spacious” to describe our kitchen in our new apartment in Hong Kong.

 The sunny, warm weather (it is currently 26 C here and gorgeous) leaves me craving fresh, light and colourful dishes…such as this Spinach Salad with Smoked Salmon, Goat’s Cheese and Spiced Pecans:

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The credit for this recipe has to go to my mom…who first wowed me with it and then I replicated it. This savoury, flavourful salad is full of crunchy goodness and makes a surprisingly filling lunch or light dinner! Enjoy!

Smoked Salmon, Spinach and Goat's Cheese Salad with Spiced Pecans
 
Prep time
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Author:
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 cups raw Spinach
  • 2 Oz Goat's cheese, crumbled
  • 3 oz Smoked Salmon
  • ¼ cup Red Onion, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup Pecans (roasted with 1 tsp brown sugar, ½ tsp of cumin, ½ tsp paprika and ½ tsp of curry powder)
  • Dressing: 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Instructions
  1. Toast pecans over low heat with spices, set aside.
  2. Mix together olive oil, maple syrup, dijon mustard and lemon juice.
  3. Layer salad ingredients, starting with spinach as a base, sprinkle onion, smoked salmon, red onion, and roasted pecans. Pour dressing over salad. Eat and enjoy!
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Summer in Ottawa!

Hey Everyone!

I apologize for the lack of posts for the past two weeks….I was in the midst of packing up my apartment in China, travelling to Ottawa, and enjoying some much anticipated catch up time with family and friends! I will be based in Ottawa for the next 4 ½ weeks with a bit of travel in between. I’ll be taking an impromptu trip to Toronto this weekend with my cousin and heading to New York City and Philadelphia with my family for a week at the end of the month. Along the way i’ll be keeping you updated on tasty eats and travel tips and weekly summer recipes.

I have been residing at my parents house in Ottawa for the past week and a half and have been fully taking advantage of the warm summer weather and wealth of events/activities/eats this beautiful city has to offer. Ottawa is an incredibly picturesque city, and while lesser known and a bit quieter than its larger neighbours Toronto and Montreal, it is unique in its own right and has endless aspects and activities which appeal to locals and tourists alike.

Here are a few things i’ve been up to thus far this summer in Ottawa:

 Enjoying Canada Day fireworks in Downtown Ottawa: As Ottawa is the Capital city of Canada, it is only to be expected that Canada Day is well-celebrated in Ottawa. Many tourists and locals flock to Downtown Ottawa on this special day to enjoy the outdoor concerts on Parliament Hill and fireworks show. We got a prime view of the fireworks from atop the National Arts Centre, which is open to the public on Canada Day.

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Trying out a few summer recipes: Despite my lack of posts, I have not ceased in the slightest in experimenting in the kitchen this summer! I will be posting new recipes soon (back to “Foodie-Friday” next week!) but here are a few food porn photos to tie you over in the meantime!

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Grilled Halibut Lettuce Wraps with Tomato Salad and Homemade Tzatziki  

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 Cheesy Grits

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 Smoked Salmon, Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Salad with Spiced Pecans (courtesy of my Mom!:)

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 Healthy Mexican Bean “Pizza”

Pho at Pho Bo Ga 2: One of my all-time favourite meals is Vietnamese Pho! One of the favourite haunts of myself and my friends in Ottawa is Pho Bo Ga 2 on Somerset Dr. Open till 5 am, this cozy little joint can easily satisfy those late night cravings!

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Bluesfest: Contrary to its title, “Bluesfest” seems to have on offer anything but Blues music! This week-long outdoor musical festival located at Lebreton Flats in Ottawa, is considered to be one of the most successful outdoor festivals in North America. This year was the 20th Anniversary of the festival, and along with it came (and an ongoing) great lineup. Lady Gaga, Blake Shelton, Lady Antebellum, The Killers, Cypress Hill, Third Eye Blind, and the Barenaked Ladies, to name a few. This festival is always good fun (when the weather is right) and worth a checkout if in Ottawa in early July.

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Im looking forward to sharing more of what one of my favourite cities (and others) have on offer! 🙂

 

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Blue Frog

Hongmei Entertainment Street, 
30, Lane 3338 Hongmei Lu, 
near Yan’an Lu 
虹梅路3338号虹梅休闲街30号, 
近延安西路

One of the things I miss most from Canada is going out to a bar and ordering endless amounts of greasy appetizers. Crispy fried chicken wings, nachos oozing with cheese, sliders, etc, are North American bar staples and, although fattening and unhealthy, are in my opinion the ultimate comfort foods (for an occasional treat ;)). Sadly, my experiences when ordering said foods in other countries, particularily in China, have been less than desirable. Soggy, tastless and just overall disappointing has been the norm when it comes to ordering North American appetizers.

Until….I went to Blue Frog. On a sunny Friday afternoon my friend and I decided to head to Blue Frog on Hong Mei Lu to enjoy the patio and warm weather. Blue Frog is a roadhouse-style eatery boasting an extensive burger menu, salads and an American style brunch menu. It has a feeling of comfort and is a nice place to start off a night out with friends. We decided on ordering a few snacks to go along with our drinks not expecting much, but I have to say…they exceeded my expectations.

Our Order:

Nachoes: The nachos were loaded with cheese, chili, lettuce,peppers and salsa with a nice side of guacamole. My biggest complaint with North American food in China is the skimping on ingredients. As an average Canadian, I loveee my big portions and these Nachos did not disappoint.

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Sliders: The sliders had thick beef pattys that were moist and tender and a nice layer of cheese,but unfortuately, the dry minibuns detracted from the taste of the meat.

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Mushroom Skewers: The mushroom skewers were quite tasty. Marinated with a garlicky buter sauce with a side of fresh mango salsa, these were something pleasantly out of the ordinary and gave of the illusion of adding some “healthy” vegetables to our meal.

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You’re probably thinking…whats so exciting about nachos and sliders? Well, when youre living in a foreign country sometimes nothing tastes better than a reminder of where you’re from. While nothing too fancy or out of the ordinary, my order at Blue Frog succeeded in meeting my cravings for a little taste of home. But…I have yet to find chicken wings during my food adventures that can satisfy my cravings!

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Foodie Friday-Baba Ganoush

babaganoush

Hey hey!

Haappy Friday! 🙂 It is that lovely time of the week again to wind down, relax and forget about the turbulent nature of your week with a few tasty treats 🙂 I hope you are choosing to take advantage of this beautiful outdoor weather this time of year! Seeing as it is deck season, I imagine most of you will be catching some rays while enjoying the delightful smells wafting from your near by BBQ :).

One of the benefits of patio and bbq season (besides the obvious BBQ and sunny outdoor weather) are the exciting array of dips, sauces and spreads this time of year brings! Regardless of how well seasoned or marinated a piece of meat, bread or veggie may be, for whatever reason, it seems there is nothing more satisfying than slathering said item in a savoury spread!

One of my all time favourite dips is Baba Ganoush. For those of you who have never tried this…boy are you ever in for a treat! 🙂 Baba Ganoush is a middle eastern dip made with roasted eggplant. This creamy, garlicky, savoury and sweet dip tastes incredibly rich but is, shockingly, healthy and light. It tastes AMAZING on some grilled pita bread, as a topping for your salad or sandwich, as an accompaniment to grilled meat, you name it! As an added bonus, it is a very low maintenance recipe and can be quickly thrown together for that last-minute potluck or get together! Enjoy!

Baba Ganoush
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 2 Large Eggplants
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tsp fresh parsley (dried works as well)
  • ½ Tsp paprika
  • 1 Tsp Tahini paste (sesame paste...available in your regular grocery store)
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • ½ Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Tsp Sugar or honey (optional)
Instructions
  1. Grill Eggplants on bbq until charred on the outside and soft on the inside (about 15 min). Let them cool for about 10 minutes.
  2. Once eggplants have cooled, cut in half and scrape out insides with a fork.
  3. In a bowl, mix together eggplant, lemon juice, cumin, garlic, parsley, paprika, tahini, salt, pepper, olive oil and sugar (if using). Mash with a fork until your desired consistency. Alternatively, you may add all ingredients into a blender until smooth...but I personally prefer a chunkier consistency). Garnish with a pinch of paprika and parsley and chill until ready to serve.

 

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