Happy Chinese New Year!

Thought I would take a look back on my trips to China. Here are some of my favorite photos:

China_17The Forbidden City on a smoggy day.

China_6Street food vendor in Shanghai.

China_4A photoshoot.

SummerPalace_4Fun activities at the Summer Palace.

Night_1The National Centre for the Performing Arts.

Night_2A futuristic food cart in Beijing.

Banos, Ecuador

I have this habit of falling in love with a picture on the Internet, then becoming obsessed with going to that destination. 

The first time this happened was with a National Geographic picture of Angkor Wat. I was lucky enough to visit the exact place where the picture was taken, and sure enough it was even more amazing in person. 

It happened again when I visited Banos. 

We took the 4 hour bus ride from Quito to Banos and checked into our hostel, the Princesa Maria. Like after every trip we were starving, and decided to eat llapingachos at a stall in the market.

Meat with a fried egg, rice, salad, beets avocado and delicious fried potato cakes all for $2.50.

After that, we took the dollar bus up the mountain to La Casa del Arbol, where I was able to “swing at the end of the world”.

After taking turns on the swing, we headed to get the last bus to Banos as the fog rolled in. It started to get a little chilly, and a man was sitting outside his restaurant asking us if we wanted hot chocolate. 

It was the most delicious chocolate I have had in a long time. It was so unique and had a creamy texture but without the heaviness of milk. It warmed me up before we took the ride back down the mountain.

I saw a picture of Banos on the Internet a few years ago, and as with any epic picture, I figured I would never get a chance to go there. 

I think what I’ve learned from my travels is that the world is a small place full of big surprises. I never thought I would go to the Great Wall of China, and I ended up climbing it twice. I never thought I would see my mother’s country, and here I am sitting in the warmth of it’s sun.

Quito, Ecuador

Ecuador is the most beautiful country I have ever visited. I’d like to now admit that I am completely biased since I am half Ecuadorian, but as the plane approached the runway, the sun illuminated the beautiful mountains and I felt at home.

We arrived at our hostel with growling stomachs, and decided to go to a restaurant two blocks away called Achiote Ecuadorian Cuisine. 

We went all out. Llapingachos, Patacones, Fritada, all washed down with a tall glass of Chicha. As we ate a man played sad love songs on on the guitar.

I am so honored and excited to have the privaledge to visit my mother’s country, and I can’t wait to explore more. Next up, Banos.

Bogota, Colombia

I won’t lie to you, you first meal in Colombia was McDonalds. After arriving at midnight, we were starving and it was the only kitchen that was open. 

I like to think I redeemed myself the next morning with breakfast a a restaurant called La Puerta Falsa. I had a melt in your mouth tamale accompanied with hot cocoa. 

Afterwards we went to El Museo del Oro. The museum has the biggest collection of pre-Hispanic gold work in the world, and gives insight to what things were like before Europeans came. 

After that, we took a cable car to Monserrate which gives a great view of the city. Unfortunately it was a rainy day but it was still a beautiful sight. 

Finally we had dinner at a restaurant called  San Alejo and had Sopa de Ajiaco. In a movie called Ratatouille, there is a scene towards the end where the grouchy food critic tastes a dish and he is sent back to his childhood. That is exactly what happened when I tasted this soup. 

The smell transported me back to my grandmothers kitchen. The taste lifted my spirits and the warmth was exactly what I needed on a rainy day. 

Bogota is a great city. There are great things to do, great food to eat and wonderful people. I was glad I was able to spend a day here while on my way to Ecuador.