Top 10 Moments of 2017

As the 2017 year comes to a close, I wanted to stop and reflect on the year that has passed. While there is so much hate and negativity going around in the world, when you stop to think about life, you really only remember the good things. Just like anyone, my year had ups and downs, but at this time I am realizing how small and trivial the downs were, and how uplifting and exciting the ups were. These are my top ten moments (in chronological order) of 2017. I hope this inspires you all to think back on your year to remember all the amazing times.

1. February 2017- The last meet of varsity high school swim career was everything and more that I could have asked for. I was the captain of the team and we were in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for our conference championships. We had all trained super hard the whole season and were excited to see what we could do as a team. To be honest, I was not confident that we would be able to pull out a win, simply because we had a fairly young and new team. The gold medal came down to the very last relay, in which I was swimming. All we had to do was beat one relay team to snag the championship. As nerve-wracking as it was, it was the most amazing race of my life, full of nothing but excitement and adrenaline. As the anchor of our team touched the wall ahead of the other team, we broke out in tears of immense joy. The absolute highlight of my high school swimming career.

2. February 2017- I always knew that I wanted to travel to New Zealand before I graduated high school, and I got the opportunity to visit the beautiful country on a school trip in February. We spent 8 days doing everything from hiking, camping, luging, white water rafting, and visiting and staying in traditional Maori housing. It was a beyond incredible experience (though I have to admit, mentally challenging at times, especially during the hiking) and I am so lucky to have visited the country. I hope I can visit this amazing country again soon!

3. March 2017- One of my favorite parts about living in South East Asia is being able to travel around easily at a fairly low cost. At least once a year, my family goes on a quick vacation to a SEA beach destination. This year we went back to Phuket, Thailand for spring break and stayed at the Meridien. As usual, the beach was clean and beautiful, perfect for a little getaway. We spent our days lounging on the sand and spent our evenings exploring restaurants throughout the town. This five day trip with my family definitely made it into the top ten moments of this year.

4. June 2017- Of course one of the highlights of this year was this milestone, Graduation! It was a crazy and hectic time of the year, but I was so unbelievably lucky to have so many family and friends around me to celebrate. I was one of those people who just loved high school, so this moment was sad as I was saying goodbye to so many people and places, but also exciting as I started a new journey.

Graduation blog post:

5. July 2017- Instead of coming back to the US for the summer (like we normally do), my family stayed in Asia and I was able to travel around a bit. My mom had a business trip to Seoul, and since I had never been I decided to tag along. Although we were only there for 3 days, we saw and did so much. From exploring the local malls to going to the Korean spa and eating lots of yummy Korean food, it was a blast.

6. July 2017- Every summer my family and I go to our lake cabin in Northern Japan for a few weeks to hang and spend time with family. Last year, we discovered what I like to call a hidden gem of the Tokyo area, Karuizawa. Mainly known for it’s outlet shopping mall, the beautiful suburb is filled with secret spots that are amazing. This year we took a day off from lake life and spent the day shopping, going to the hot springs, and visiting the cutest little vintage shops. Definitely a day well spent.

7. July 2017- Although this was an extremely sad time, it was also a very memorable time. After 18 years of living in Singapore, it was time for me to say goodbye (more like see you soon!) to my beautiful little island. As most of you probably know, I have so much love in my heart for this country. It was fun for me to spend time really appreciating all the things I love about Singapore and doing a little bit of exploring at home. The last week spend at home was full of family, friends, laughs and of course some Din Tai Fung and a Tiger beer for the road:)

8. August 2017- One of my biggest dreams came true this year not only as I started college in LA, but also as I began my career as a collegiate athlete. There have been so many “pinch me” moments these last few months as I’ve experienced things I’ve never dreamed of doing. From my first collegiate swim practice and swim meet to living the LA life, college has been everything and more I ever wished for.

9. October 2017- While being away from home was hard, I was lucky enough to have my dad visit me for a week in early October. We spent the weekend hanging around Downtown LA and Santa Monica, eating to our hearts content. As a foodie, it was a much needed break from the college food scene (though I have to admit, our school has really good food). We found amazing eateries everywhere from Santa Monica Boulevard to Sunset. It was such a fun weekend with my dad, and I was lucky to have him with me.

10. December 2017- After the first semester in college, it was so nice to be home with my family for the holidays. I had counted down the days, and it was definitely one of the best holiday seasons yet. I was lucky to have 2 1/2 weeks at home and spent so much of that time with my mom, dad, little sister and doggy. There was lot’s of Christmas shopping, yummy food, cooking, cheers-ing and laughter. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the year.

Here’s to an amazing 2017 and an even better 2018!

Happy new year!

Top 10 Things to do in Singapore

Planning on visiting Singapore or always wanting to visit? These are my top 10 things to do in Singapore. It may only be 31 miles wide and 17 miles long, but the beautiful island is PACKED with fun things to do!

1. Eat! I know this may sounds basic, but eating may be the national pass time of Singapore. With a rich sense of culture (and a diverse culture) the variety of amazing foods and restaurants to try in Singapore is infinite. You can go as local and authentic as eating at the Hawker stalls (outdoor food courts) or dine in style at Celebrity Chef’s restaurants at the iconic Marina Bay Sands. A couple famous Singapore dishes I would highly suggest trying are Chili Crab, Chicken Rice and Laksa. (Blog post on my favorite Singapore restaurants to come!)

2. Spend some time at Marina Bay Sands. The iconic three-tower building is full of shopping, food and culture. Whether you’re looking for some high end shops, a museum or some really good food, The Sands is the place to be. And step right outside the doors to find my favorite view of the country, a 360 view of the Central Business District and the Marina right on the water.

3. Visit Little India and get a Henna tattoo. I know this is one of the stereotypical “touristy” things to do, but I still think it’s worth the visit! Little India is an area in Singapore filled with Indian stores and restaurants. The decorations and bright colors liven up the streets. Henna is an Indian plant based temporary tattoo. You can find little shops all over that do henna for $5-10, and they’re beautiful.

4. Take a walk down the Singapore River. The river runs through central Singapore, and is surrounded by Clarke Quay and Boat Quay, both of which are filled with cute little restaurants and cafes, perfect for Sunday brunch.

5. Ride the bus or MRT (underground subway). One of the best things about Singapore is how complex and useful their public transportation system is. Granted, I’m still learning how to use it, there isn’t anywhere on the tiny island that a bus or train can’t get you.

6. Spend a day walking through Orchard Road (downtown) to experience the diverse nature of Singapore. Start out at the Ion mall to see all the high end designer boutiques, and make your way to other malls, like Lucky Plaza, to experience the more local and down to earth malls.

7. Evening drinks at Lantern at the Fullerton Bay hotel. While this is on the pricier side, the incredible evening view of the Marina Bay Sands right by the water is worth it. Lantern’s drinks are delicious and the atmosphere is perfect for a fun night out. To top it all off, you get the perfect view of the MBS laser show, reflecting off the water.

8. Spend a day at Sentosa, a little island south of Singapore (it is connected). With sandy beaches and beach clubs, a day at Sentosa makes for the perfect getaway. Whether you are with kids at the water park or sipping drinks at Tanjong Beach Club, it’s always a good time.

9. Spend a few hours at the Singapore Art Museum. This small and quaint museum is constantly changing their exhibition, but is always very impressive. Their showcase of original and different art makes every trip enjoyable. I’m definitely not a museum person, but I do love this museum.

10.Spend the night at Clarke Quay. Right along the Singapore river, Clarke Quay is the nightlife hub of Singapore. Whether you’re looking for a nice restaurant, a swanky bar or a fun club, Clarke Quay has it all. Every night it’s brightly lit and full of lights and life!

If you make it to Singapore, let me know and let me know what you did!

Top 10 Travel Tips

YAY because school’s finally out for spring break and we’re leaving for Phuket in 12 hours:) So to get in the spirit, here are my top 10 travel tips:

  1. Travel in style. While traveling is super exciting and fun, the actually airplane ride can be kind of grueling. I’ve always felt like dressing for the flight and having cute travel accessories with me always makes the plane feel a little more chic. Dress comfy, but cute; yoga pants or jeggings with a flowy top always fits the part. Passport covers are another way to feel a little more high-class. Right now, I have a white Kate Spade passport cover with gold polka dots, and I am 100% obsessed with it! Carry-on a cute bag so you can feel classy while shopping at the airport (tax free!).
  2. Turn the plane ride into a spa session. I was watching a Shay Mitchell video once and saw that she used face masks while she was on the plane. At first that sounded insane, but once I gave it a shot I was sold. My favorites are the hydrating face masks from Sephora or the Freeman Beauty masks. Now I have to warn you, the people sitting around you are going to look at you and whoever you’re traveling with may pretend not to know you, but there’s nothing better than walking off the plane and starting your vacation with a perfect face.
  3. Bring some coloring books along. I am definitely a sucker for watching as many movies as I can on a plane, but sometimes I just feel like I need a little change, something different to do, so I find that coloring is exactly what I want to do.
  4. Plan out where you’re going to eat. I know this is super “food nerdy” (is that even a word?!) of me, but researching restaurants to eat at before you go on a trip somewhere is amazing and makes life 10 times easier. I’ve also found that walking around the streets can be a little bit overwhelming (especially where there are so many restaurants to choose from), so doing a little research ahead of time can help to ensure that you find a local, safe, awesome place to eat.
  5. Pack smart. I have always been the person to over-pack, but there have been times where I have found myself in need of something that I don’t have. A lot of times this has to do with the outfits I have (or don’t have) with me. If we’re going to a city, I tend to pack way too many jean shorts and tops/shirts and if we’re going to the beach I always pack tons of casual beachy clothes. This would normally be okay but I’ve found myself in the past being in need of a nice outfit for dinner while we’re at the beach, or in need of a swim suit in the city. So what I do now is always have one super casual outfit, one city-wear outfit, and one outfit that would be perfect for a nice dinner. This just makes me feel safe and prepared for anything. 
  6. Try to avoid taxis/ubers as much as possible. While it’s so nice to just call an uber at the end of a long day of sightseeing, I’ve found that using local transportation, whether that be the bus system, the subway, or a tuk-tuk is a super fun way to get immersed into the culture. You get in the flow of the local’s daily lives and get a sense as to how they live. It’s also a great way of seeing more of the place your visiting, instead of just sitting in a car. 
  7. Take pictures, but also take time to disconnect. Trust me, I am a sucker for finding the perfect Instagram photos, but I also try to disconnect from my phone and social media while I’m traveling. Since I only have wi-fi at the hotel anyway, I find this pretty easy, but it can be difficult to try and stay off of Facebook and Snapchat during dinner. That being said, take tons and tons of photos. I’ve never regretted taking a photo, but there have been so many times where I wished that I had a photo of some view I saw. 
  8. Try to plan your own days. As easy as it is to just sign up for a tour, the amount you learn while planning your own day and trying to figure out your way around a new place is incredible. It gives you a chance to interact with locals, deal with the currency and maybe even try to learn the language. None of which would happen if you relied solely on someone else the whole time. But that doesn’t mean you can’t spend a day doing something completely different as a tour!
  9. Try new foods. This has always come pretty naturally to me as I have never been a picky eater, but for those of you who are, try to push yourself outside your comfort zone a little bit and try a food or dish you’d never thought you’d try. There have been plenty of foods I’ve looked at and was hesitant to eat, but once I did I was glad I did. You don’t get the chance to try truly local foods that often, so don’t pass up that opportunity.
  10. Have fun! It’s so easy for us all to get caught up in the daily grind, whether it be school, work or anything else, so when you’re traveling and exploring a new culture, try to leave that all behind and soak in the beauty of the country. There is so many eye-opening experiences you can have while you’re traveling, so make sure you don’t let that get overshadowed by other thoughts.

As one of my favorite quotes goes, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”. Happy traveling!