Cat on an Overseas Trip – Part I: Travel Accessories

O, you are leavin? I'm coming too...

O, you are leavin? I’m coming too…

Women and cats. Those of us with gentle souls can’t help it. Those squishy, baby-sized furry creatures with their big sparkly eyes — sadistic predators though they might be in the animal kingdom, their sweetness and affection towards us bring out the instinct to protect almost like we would our own children. I brought my four-year-old Schubert from the county animal shelter to live with me when he was just five months old. Now he’ll be going with me on this big trip, despite many people telling me to leave him here in someone else’s care.

Taking any pet halfway around the world is a big decision. Continue reading

See What Washington D.C. Looks Like at Night

Every night when dark settles over the District, bright lights around the city’s famous landmarks power on, creating a magnificent glowing aura around it. Even if you had traipsed around the city snapping shots of yourself in front of memorials and monuments earlier in the day, it’s worth the trip to come back out at night and see them again in a, well — different light. A thinner volume of visitors and cool night air makes the walk all the more pleasant. Not to mention a creative, romantic date idea! Continue reading

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios

I’m a huge Potterhead, I am. I’ve read the entire series twice over and seen (all) the movies at least four times. While researching the trip, I became aware that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is actually part of Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure theme park, and couldn’t help feeling a bit worried that HP World might be too small or too watered down, but my fears are now equivocally nixed. HP World is every bit as magical as everyone says it is, and overall, Islands of Adventure is as exciting as the main Universal Studios park. Continue reading

The Ollivander’s Wand Shop Experience

The wizard’s apprentice ushers about 10-15 people from the queue formed outside the shop, into a room lit just enough to make out a staircase built against wall shelves holding stacks and stacks of boxes (presumably) containing wands. A dark figure, back towards the crowd, begins to move on the landing of the staircase once the small crowd gathered has situated themselves.

Soon, you’ll realise that it’s an actor in wizard costume, the presumed shop proprietor. The wizard welcomes you to his shop before going on to pick one audience member for the reenactment of the scene in the movie, where Harry Potter meets Ollivander the wand maker and is told that “the wand chooses the wizard.” Continue reading

What to Expect from a Tour of the United States Capitol Building

Heading up to the U.S. Capitol Building

I love the architecture of the Capitol Building, inside and out. If you love it as much as I do, you’ll be happy to know that you can tour the Capitol Building for free, provided they aren’t closed for special events. During off-peak season, it’s easy to just walk in and join a tour slot. I suggest advance online booking if you’re visiting in the summer.

Headsets, which are handed out after the obligatory welcome film, is how your tour guide will talk to you about the Capitol Building’s standout features, (as well as call to group members who straggle a little too long at one spot for the tour guide’s comfort.)

During the tour, don’t be surprised to find your gaze focused upwards more than half the time.

Continue reading

Luray Caverns in Shenandoah Valley

Heard about Luray Caverns from a neighbour and decided to check it out when gal pal Liz flew in last weekend. It’s one of the many commercial show caves in Virginia that do guided walking tours through the caverns, brightly lit with dazzling yellow lights to feature spectacular speleothem formations that you’d never see anywhere out in the open air.

A mini adventure in semi-darkness, more than 100 feet below ground? Yes please!

Early morning last Sunday, Liz and I jumped into my trusty grey Civic and drove two hours westward from Washington D.C. to the town of Luray in the Shenandoah Valley. We arrived at a car park very full of Washington D.C. license plates, and a long line already formed at the entrance to the caves. Luray Caverns must be quite beautiful if it attracts half a million visitors every year. Continue reading

A Magical Time at Disneyland in Orlando

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Cinderella’s Castle in Main Street USA

Ahh, Magic Kingdom. That wonderful place where dreams comes true. It lies in a city called Orlando, somewhere in the upper central region of Florida, attracting about 17 million visitors annually. Even if you never visit theme parks, make an exception for the famous Magic Kingdom. Just once.

To get to the gates, hop into a car, a taxi or a shuttle service; then wait for a monorail that will carry you through the air to a dock by the man-made lake, where a ferry known as Joe Potter awaits to bring you to the other side.

Speedboats zooms past on the twinkling water as the ferry boat chugs along towards shore. Our anticipation grows as a white castle with blue-roofed turrets draws ever closer. Finally! the journey to Magic Kingdom draws to a close. Continue reading

Six Things You Can Still Do During The Shutdown: New Mexico Edition

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Two days before I was to jet off to Albuquerque, I realised something. The shutdown meant that I couldn’t visit two major attractions I had pinned on my list. Carlsbad Caverns and the White Sands Monument were both run by the National Park Service.

Those were the my main reasons for planning this trip. I wanted to cry.

But I couldn’t cancel it now. My flight and hotel had been booked on no-refund Priceline deals. I would still have to forgo the hotel bookings in Carlsbad and Alamogordo, and spend extra for new bookings in Albuquerque. Besides, I didn’t want to cancel – this was my first solo road trip and I was excited!

I’d also have to rearrange my trip itinerary. There’d be less road tripping and more time spent in Albuquerque. Here’s what I ended up doing on a three-day trip there: Continue reading

Eight Things You Can Still Do During the Shutdown: Washington D.C. Edition

DSC_0295_zps1c018a1bThe hotel’s been booked. Bought your plane tickets. Requested a few days off. You’re all packed and ready for your upcoming trip. Even mapped out all the quintessential Washington D.C. museums and monuments you want to visit. And then, the government shutdown happened. Oh no! Sightseeing plans foiled. Money down the drain. Leave wasted. Trip ruined.

No, wait. It’s true that the famous museums and monuments are what visitors flock to D.C. for, but there are free places and spaces in the District that may be less obvious to tourists, but no less worth visiting. Here are my suggestions: Continue reading

Experiencing Niagara Falls with the Maid of the Mist

The massive volume of swirling, gushing water at Niagara Falls would immediately captivate any onlooker’s attention.

It sure captured the imagination of Annie Taylor, a 63-year-old American schoolteacher and, of all things, an amateur daredevil stunter who became inspired to secure her notoriety by being the first person to ever go over the Falls. As if that wasn’t enough, she was to do it riding inside a wooden barrel.

Racing towards the cliffs at high speed, water exiting the Niagara River tumbles off the crestline, covering 10 metres in a second and creating a heavy mist towards the end of its’ downward trip into the gorge. Niagara Falls, a series of three waterfalls (Horseshoe, American and Bridal Veil) that sit between the border of New York, United States and Ontario, Canada, is approximately 50 meters in height, allowing the water just about five seconds to hit the bottom. (For comparison, the Washington Monument is 555 meters.) Continue reading