Snapshots of Beijing

1. A walk through Ritan Park, close by my sister’s home.
2. Jetlag is a blessing in disguise because I get to spend quiet mornings alone with this little guy.
3. Celebrating my sister’s birthday at Na Jia Xiaoguan with salt-baked chicken wings.
4. Perfect lamb slices for hotpot at HaiDiLao.
5. Need to get me one of these for blocking out the Grenada sun!
6. Wish they would sell Taro pies and fried chicken wings at American McDonald’s too.
7. Morning milk bottle
8. Striking architecture in Beijing downtown
9. Love my new coral walking shoes from Muji. I want to buy everything there!
10. Rickshaws all lined up at the hutongs.

This is Beijing

I’m visiting my sister for a month in her new home in Beijing. This is my first time to Beijing, so I’ve been soaking in all the sights and sounds (and unfortunately, pollution) around me. Here are some photos from my first few days here! If you’d like to follow along as I journey through this city, stay up to date with me on Instagram @rhuynh.


Snapshots of DC

1. T-Rex from Natural History Museum// 2. Crabs from the fish market (Free samples of whole crabs!)// 3. National Holocaust Museum// 4. Best fried chicken recipe ever// 5. Washington Monument drive-by car snapping// 6. Dorothy’s slippers from the American History Museum// 7. Eastern Market on a lazy Saturday morning// 8. Rootbeer tasting for the awesome start-up rootbeer brewing company, Thunder Beast// 9. Batman trilogy + midnight showing! Because we are hardcore like that.

Catching Up

It’s a been a whirlwind of traveling for us as we’ve been trying to make the most of our time back in the US. In the last 5 weeks, we’ve been through 6 states (and DC!) and have spent more than 50 hours just in travel time alone. Crazy! It’s been an exhausting few weeks, but it has been so nice seeing all of our loved ones and getting to spend even just a little bit of time with each of them. Here are some of the highlights.

We flew into NYC from Grenada at 2 in the morning and were graciously greeted by my friends Hoi and Nick, who hung out with us in the city until it was time for us to hop on a bus to D.C. On our way back, we got to stop by Grand Central Station to check out the new Apple store.

We spent a few short days in D.C. to see my sister and my baby nephew, Elijah. :) This little guy has stolen my heart. No time with him is ever enough!

We made it back to Jersey a few days later to hang out with our friends Bryan and Karina. They knew we’d been missing out on a lot of good food in Grenada, so they spoiled us and fed us so well! Homemade Korean soondubu, cheese fondue, seafood/sushi buffet and plenty of Dance Central action going on here. Luckily, nobody got any pics of that.

On our flight back to LA from New York, we got bumped to first class because of a flight scheduling mix-up. We didn’t realize we’d be served dinner on the flight (food by Michael Chiarello!), so ate beforehand, but still tried to scarf down as much of the yummy food as we could. Maybe too much.

Ahh, glorious Los Angeles. I have to explain that when I say Los Angeles, I’m really talking about the entire southern California area. We technically live in Chino Hills (San Bernardino County) and spend a lot of time in Orange County cities like Irvine and Costa Mesa. But it’s usually too hard to differentiate between all the places for non-Angelinos, so for the sake of clarity, I just say Los Angeles. I rarely venture out to the “real” Los Angeles areas like Hollywood or Santa Monica or downtown LA. You’ll usually find me in Alhambra, Rowland Heights, or Garden Grove chowing down on some yummy Asian food.

We spent a day up in Big Bear by the lake with Dean’s family. We’d never been up there before, so it was nice to visit when it wasn’t overly crowded by skiers and snowboarders.

Our next stop was in Flagstaff, Arizona where I got to see my girls (and their girls)! I’ve known these lovely ladies since junior high, and I’m so grateful that we’ve gone through so many stages of life together. Love staying up late chatting girl-talk with them. Thanks, Gracie, for hosting us!

And let me introduce you to the new Mr. and Mrs. Nick and Hoi Mau! You’ve probably heard me brag about them before, but just in case you haven’t, these two are awesome. :) I had the distinct pleasure of being in their wedding in Phoenix, so I got to spend lots of quality time with the bride before and during her big day! They are off enjoying their honeymoon now, so hopefully, they’re having a blast.

The pic on the right is a shot of Esther and I enjoying our morning coffee/juice on the hotel balcony, after spending the night together at the hotel without our husbands. Scandalous, right? ;)

And now we find ourselves in the beautiful, quirky city of Portland. Every time we visit, we find something new that we love about this city. I love that it’s super charming and full of character. I love that it’s a foodie town and that DIY is an everyday thing here. I love that it’s not just cool or trendy to be eco-friendly; it’s woven seamlessly into the daily routines of the city. I love that you can find a thrift store on every street corner. And on random buses floating around town too.

We’ll be leaving Portland soon and will be headed to San Francisco to meet up with Dean’s family for a mini vacation before heading back to LA for a few days. After that, you’ll find us in DC for the remainder of the summer. See you on the flip side. :)

Craft Stores in Grenada

When I heard that there were a few craft stores in St. George’s (Grenada’s capital and “downtown” area), I was super excited to check them out with a few of my friends and fellow crafters here! Here’s a little tour for you. :)

 Our guide, the lovely Marieke! 

They have a few fabric stores here that remind me a lot of the ones found in LA’s fashion district. Bolts and bolts of fabric line the walls in a multitude of colors and fabrics. They didn’t really have any cotton prints (like you’d use for quilt-making or crafts) that I saw. But they did have a nice assortment of vintage buttons. Oh, and bananas. :P

And here is THE craft store of Grenada. The entrance is this unsuspecting doorway on the left, and the craft store is located right above a doctor’s office. The store itself is pretty tiny – probably about 10′ x 15′ total. And with the counter taking up about half the width, and shelves lining the opposite side, there leaves about 4′ x 12′ of walking space. It was kinda squished with six of us in there. :)

Honestly, I was pretty disappointed with the selection I found. They had a random assortment of curling ribbon, tissue paper, streamers, yarn, felt, embroidery floss, and a few odds and ends here and there. They did have nice assortment of spray paint, which might come in handy some day. But overall, the quality of the products were akin to those that you’d find in a dollar store back home. And because all these items are probably imported from the US, their prices are easily five times what you’d pay for them at home. I decided to pass on the craft items and work instead on creating projects with local materials and recycled items. And I will definitely bring more craft supplies with me next time!

on the reggae buses headed back


Welcome to Grenada!

I’m happy to say that we made it safely to the island! We’ve spent the past two weeks just settling in and getting adjusted to life here. It’s very different, to say the least, but I think knowing that we’re here purposefully has helped us make the best of the situation. There are many new and strange things to get used to, but for the most part, I think we’re settling in just fine. Thanks for all the prayers and positive words that have helped to support us and given us the encouragement to enter into this next stage of our lives. We are so grateful for each of you!

We arrived in Grenada on Saturday, January 7th, and spent the first week sightseeing and doing some touristy things. What I love most about traveling, though, is getting to know the local people and learning about the different ways that they live and work and play. One of my favorite things to do when I travel to a new place is to find a local grocery store/market and just walk down the aisles and marvel at the different food items and products that they have. I remember during our time in France, I was just in awe when I walked down an entire aisle devoted to cheese. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven (It was seriously that awesome. They even subdivided the aisle into different cheese types, like bries, appetizer cheeses, cooking cheeses, etc.) Anyway, I thought it’d be fun to give you a few observations that I’ve made thus far about this beautiful island that we now call home.

Surprisingly, we’ve found that most of the food here is quite expensive. In fact, we’ve found that most things are at least as expensive as home, and sometimes are 3-4 times as much. A large part of this is because most things need to be imported into the island, so everything is marked up quite a bit. For example, a friend of ours recently purchased a single bell pepper from the grocery store the other day. Guess how much she paid? It cost $15EC, which comes out to about $6USD! Crazy ridiculous.

So local food must be much cheaper, right? Yes and no. We’ve found a few items – things like bananas, mangoes, papayas, and eggplants that are relatively inexpensive (less than $1/lb), but I honestly still pay less for them in the US (maybe not the papayas). I know we’ve been spoiled the past few years having super fresh, plentiful, affordable produce in California, so I’m slowly adjusting to the price differences. I do appreciate the farm-fresh eggs that are available every Tuesday on campus! They come out to about $3 for a dozen, but hey, it’s local and organic. :P

The most commonly found meat item here is chicken, but even that is hard to find fresh. Most grocery stores carry only frozen meats, and it usually consists of about 70% chicken, 15% pork, 10% beef, and about 5% seafood. We did visit the fish market in town this weekend and were able to buy some super fresh fish that we hope will last a few meals!

If you’re interested in hearing more about the food in Grenada, and well as some recipes that I’ll be sharing in the future, make sure to stay up to date on the food blog that my sis and I have.

Since we moved to the island, we’ve discovered that everything seems to move much slower here.  Everything, that is, except the buses. These mini-buses or “reggae” buses, as some people call them (because of the reggae music that the drivers listen to, although we’ve heard everything from Adele to hip hop), fit anywhere from 14-20 people, depending on how many people you can cram into a row. Each row technically has 3 seats (2 stationery and 1 fold-down), but I’ve seen them cram 5 people into a row before. Oh, and don’t worry about seat-belts for each passenger; none of the buses here have them in the back.

So the way these buses work is that each bus has a driver and a second helper whose job it is to look out for potential passengers, open/close the sliding bus door, adjust seating arrangements to maximize bus space, collect bus fares, and exchange greetings/insults with other bus drivers/helpers. As the buses wind their way through narrow, curvy roads at dangerously high speeds, they honk their horns sporadically at seemingly random times. In fact, as I’ve been told, a honk in Grenada can mean many things: I have space! Do you need a ride? Watch out, I’m coming around the corner! You’re too slow – I’m passing you. Hello! And of course, Get out of my way! 

The weather here is a balmy 80°F pretty much year-round. There are basically two seasons: wet and dry. Apparently, we’re in the dry season right now, but things have been pretty wet around here. We’ve gotten showers almost everyday, but they mostly last between 5-15 minutes, and then get sunny again. As such, we try to keep an umbrella in our bags when we go out, and even some emergency ponchos that we were told to bring. It can be pretty warm on sunny days, but it’s still quite comfortable in the shade. Particularly if that shade happens to be under a palm tree by the beach. :D The water really is incredible, as all of our friends have told us. It is this beautiful shade of turquoise, and the temperature is just warm enough that it’s comfortable, but just cool enough that it’s still refreshing.

We’ve been told that Grenadians are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. When you pass people in the streets, it’s customary to offer a greeting. It’s considered rude if you ignore someone. When we get on the buses, we try to remember to say hello and thank you to our bus drivers, and the same goes for our grocery store clerks too. When I was at the grocery store the other day, one of the workers passed by and checked if I was doing okay. I asked him about some of the local foods, and he started explaining some recipes to me. An elderly lady passed by and joined our conversation, adding in her version of the recipe. I was surprised by their friendliness and eagerness to help. Tourism is the #1 industry in Grenada, so I guess the locals are all usually very friendly and happy to meet foreigners.

As I’ve mentioned before, life moves at a very slow pace in Grenada. Everybody seems to be very relaxed all the time, nobody’s in a hurry, and life is just super chill. Most stores and business are closed on Sunday, and banks are closed the entire weekend. Many businesses close shop quite early on the weekdays too, some even at 2 o’clock. This can get frustrating sometimes, especially with the med students who don’t seem to have very many minutes to spare in their days. For me, it’s been a welcome change of pace. I’m finding unusual joy and satisfaction in doing mundane tasks these days. Tasks like taking a trip to the grocery store or cooking a meal seem to take twice as long here, but I’ve been learning to enjoy the process.

We miss home and all our friends and family dearly, but I think we’re excited for what God has in store for us these next two years.

I’ll try to update frequently about our life here on this island, but I do hope to get back into craft and DIY posts too. Resources are scarce and different here, so we’ll see how I can make do!

I’ll leave you with a few glimpses of our life here. :)

in St. George’s
hiking through the rainforest
fresh fish from the market
 and Grenadian cheese!
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