2024 Unforgettable fireworks on the Champs-Elysées in Paris

2024 Unforgettable fireworks on the Champs-Elysées in Paris


Celebrating on Champs Elysees Avenue

I love visiting Paris! It is a fantastic city that has something for everyone. The Champs-Élysées remains the place to be to celebrate New Year's Eve 2024. It’s a popular spot, over 300,000 people visit it every day and yes it’s crowded day and night. We heard there might be over a million people gather on Champs-Élysées in Paris to see fireworks this year. It is recommended to stay somewhere walking distance to the Champs-Élysées. If you want to see the new year's eve fireworks on the Champs-Elysées in person, you’ll have to arrive early (no later than 9pm) to snag the best spots. Also, from 5pm onwards, you should expect stations to close so be sure to get there early.

When the clock strikes 12 in the evening, splashes of bright colors shoot from the foot of the picturesque Arc de Triomphe. The fireworks show lasts for about 10 minutes. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or first time in Paris, experiencing New Year's Eve in Paris is an unforgettable adventure! This could be a fun ideas on your bucket list. 🙂

Champs-Élysées around 5pm

Champs-Élysées around 5pm

Crowd control barriers were set up everywhere

Crowd control barriers were set up everywhere

Champs-Elysées around 5pm

建議要來跨年倒數, 最好是訂在Champs-Élysées附近走路能抵達的酒店, 因為除夕當天很多條線路的地鐵到了下午5點前就停止營運, 然後路上很多地區主幹道又封路, 蠻混亂的, 如果太早進來, 可能只能在街上閒逛或者坐在餐廳裡等, 很多店也都蠻早關的, 我們是在酒店待到差不多9點左右再出去.

大約是5點左右的Champs-Élysées已經有許多人潮, 附近街道已有佈置防護柵欄, 我們下午5點多進去附近超市買東西, 因為元旦很多店都沒開, 5點半左右出來, 看到許多警車和警方人員抵達維持秩序, 已經進不去原先可以進去Champs-Élysées的街道, 警方要我們繞道而行, 如果一定要通過柵欄, 就必須出示酒店或者餐廳的預約.


Champs-Elysées around 9pm

我們9點出來酒店的時候, 街道上全都是大批人潮, 大家都在想辦法要進入Champs-Élysées, 每個街道的關卡都被警方用柵欄圍住, 這時連出示餐廳的預約警方都不給進, 超級frustrated, 因為人潮太多根本看不到前方, 來回走了差不多四、五條街後才發現, 原來有一個街口是可以進去的, 必須需要通過安檢, 但是因為入口街道完全沒有告示, 前面又擠了大批人潮根本看不到哪裡才能進去, 警方也不會和你說, 只是一味地讓我們走到最後面街道去, 等走到了最後面, 那裡的警察又說不能進入, 叫我們去前面

Crowds made their way into the event

From 9pm onwards the crowds began to pour in

France gets the party started | Huge crowds expected for Paris’s New Year’s Eve fireworks

進到香謝麗舍大街已經差不多10點左右, 據說現場大概有超過100多萬人, 法國這次出動了6000民警察和憲兵在場確保所有人的活動安全, 這時的位置已經在後半部, 但還是可以看到凱旋門, 每隔一段時間都會有投影放射, 現場有DJ放音樂, 時不時還漂著毛毛小雨,現場氣氛很嗨, 一場表演接著一場, 將能量維持在巔峰!

Great fireworks show of the Arc de Triomphe 煙火秀

今年2024的奧運會因為是在Paris舉行, 凱旋門上投影了許多和奧運有關的視覺藝術(聽說明年奧運Paris酒店價格已經平均一晚1000歐左右了!),差不多站到快3小時腿已經快斷掉, 終於到了跨年重頭戲倒數時間, 大家都引頸期盼一起倒數10,9,8, 7...1, 此時凱旋門上方的音樂煙火表演將活動推向高潮, 煙火設計非常有法國風格, 精緻中帶有優雅走浪漫路線會舞動的煙火,很驚艷!

Paris new year countdown 2024
Paris new year countdown
Paris new year countdown fireworks 2024

Chaos to leave

煙火結束後大家開始散場, 不曉得為什麼街道還是被警車擋住, 警察站成一直列看著我們, 街道只剩下三分之一的路可以出去, 那麼大批的人從香謝麗舍大道一湧而出, 其實有擔心會出現推擠事件, 果真在走出那個狹小街道的時候, 我們是懸空被架出的, 根本沒有辦法控制左右前後, 只能被人潮推出, 如果有人跌倒的話那後果真是不堪設想啊..
Big Sur California

Big Sur California

California United States

Big Sur is probably one of the most famous and celebrated California destinations in terms of natural beauty, but for various reasons it’s never been high on my to-go list. Partly because the pandemic has limited my travel options, and partly because I finally put in the time to research the area, I was finally curious enough and took a 3-night trip there in early May, 2021. Well, now I’m a believer!

6 Big Sur Attractions You Must Not Miss!

Big Sur consists of a roughly 30-mile stretch along the California coast on the famed Highway 1 between Carmel and San Simeon. Here are some of the places we visited on this trip from north to south.

1. Garrapata State Park Bluff Trail

This is a stretch of mostly flat trails on the bluff along the coast. On the trail there is a cute little bridge that crosses the Soberanes Creek, and you can enjoy awesome views of large waves crashing against the sea stacks and cliffs.

2. The Calla Lily Valley

Did you know calla lilies grow naturally in the wild in swampy areas? I’ve seen calla lily patches in the past on other hikes but never made the connection. Look for “Garrapata State Beach Parking” on Google Maps (and some cars parked on the dirt patch on either side of Highway 1). After you park, look for the “Garrapata State Park” sign and you’ll see a narrow trail that goes down towards the beach. Head north to get to the little valley full of wild calla lilies! I think peak bloom season may be earlier in March or April, because many of the lilies we saw were already wilting/dried up. At the valley of the lilies there are some steps that go up to a trail that takes you back onto the highway, at a point a bit north of where you parked. Here you can get a full view of the valley of the lilies from the top and walk back along Highway 1 to your car (or you can go back down and back-track on the trail, and go further south where the trail leads to a stretch of beaches).

3. Bixby Creek Bridge

This is probably one of the most iconic sights associated with Big Sur. The bridge was built in the 1930s and is quite impressive. There are some areas both north and south of the bridge where you can pull over to get a view. This is a view north of the bridge at “Castle Rock Viewpoint”.

4. Buzzard’s Roost Trail (in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park – entrance fee required)

There are a lot of trails (and camping) in this huge state park, but this was the only hike we did here. This trail starts at Big Sur Lodge near a small creek, and is about 4 mile roundtrip (took us a little over 2 hours). You slowly zig-zag uphill towards Buzzard’s Roost view point, and there are many pretty wildflowers along the way. You can then make a loop from the top to get back down, though we ended up going up and coming down the same way. It was still quite foggy when we made it to the peak on our morning hike, so we did not get the famed view of the coast from the top.

5. Pfeiffer Beach (entrance fee required)

The Keyhole Arch at this beach may be the second most famous sight associated with Big Sur – it’s a popular sunset photography spot, as the sunlight streams directly though the keyhole at sunset, especially during the winter months around the winter solstice. My picture of the Keyhole Arch here is from 2016 (when we made a detour on a drive from SF to LA). On this most recent May 2021 trip, it was so windy on the beach the wind-whipped sand bit into our exposed skin like a million little needles. We quickly snapped a few pictures and ran back to the car, and didn’t even get a proper view of the Keyhole Arch (which really was just a few more steps north along the beach). There are a few other arches and cool rock formations here, but the Keyhole Arch gets all the glory because of the sunset phenomenon. Pfeiffer beach is also known as the Purple Beach, as the sand is purple from the manganese garnet deposits that wash down onto the beach from the surrounding hills. To get to this beach, take Sycamore Canyon Road (which requires a sharp right turn if you’re coming southbound) off Highway 1. It’s a 2-mile, very narrow, not really paved, road with turnouts that leads to two parking areas for the beach. Both parking areas are a very short walk to the beach. 

6. McWay Falls (Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – entrance fee required)

A short ¼ -mile walk from the parking lot leads to a deck overlooking the beautiful McWay Cove and the McWay Falls. It is a small waterfall and we didn’t see it at first. There are a few other (longer) trails in this park, but they were all closed during our visit, though may be due to recent fires/rains rather than the pandemic? We also noticed a lot of people parked off Highway 1 just before the park entrance, so you can get a view of the cove and waterfall on the highway without actually entering the park. 

Where to Eat?

There aren’t a lot of dining options at Big Sur, but enough that if you wanted to eat at a different place for lunch and dinner each day over a 3-4 day trip, it is still possible. Here are two of my favorites on this trip.

Coast Big Sur (49901 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920)

Art gallery and café, you can get a nice lunch here and enjoy a beautiful view of the Pacific Coast with your meal. Don’t forget to try one of the soft-serve options for dessert!

Big Sur Bakery (47540 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920)

This a good breakfast/lunch spot nestled amongst pretty fruit trees and gardens, flanked by a couple small art galleries. They have also recently started (restarted?) serving dinner starting at 5pm. This fried chicken was very juicy and flavorful, and the purple sauce was a horseradish crème fraiche, and it was really, really good!

Where to Stay?

Big Sur Lodge (Family friendly)

This is where we stayed on this trip. Situated right in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, staying here also gives you complimentary day passes to all 3 state parks in Big Sur (Pfeiffer Big Sur, Andrew Molera, and Julia Pfeiffer Burns). All the units are cottages of different sizes. We chose the Kitchenette Cottage that had a bedroom with a queen bed, a living room with a pull-out couch, and a kitchen that included a refrigerator, stove, microwave, a small coffee maker, a toaster, and basic kitchen supplies (pot, pan, dishes, utensils — bring your own cooking oil, salt/pepper). There is a café at the main lodge, but the main restaurant was still closed due to the pandemic. The accommodations here are basic but clean and comfortable; there is no Wi-Fi, and cellphone reception was spotty at best, but the location was great and allowed easy exploration of the area.

Glen Oaks Big Sur (Adults preferred)

I would’ve liked to stay here during this trip, but by the time I found this place there weren’t good options for the dates I wanted, since most units are double-occupancies only. The lodging options range from hotel rooms of various sizes to cabins and cottages with kitchenettes. All the rooms and cabins/cottages have views of or decks that look into the woods, the décor seems rustic but modern, and overall these accommodations are probably luxurious compared to Big Sur Lodge. And all rooms have Wi-Fi! Haha.

[avatar user=”Joyce” /]

Other Practical Tips

  1. Download offline Google map of the area. As alluded to above, cellphone reception is overall pretty minimal in Big Sur, and most of the restaurants we went to didn’t offer Wi-Fi either. Download an offline map before your trip and you’ll still be able to search for various sights and navigate between sites during your stay.
  2. Fill up your gas tank before you get to Big Sur. There are gas stations in Big Sur but they are understandably pricey, as it can’t be easy to truck gasoline into Big Sur.
  3. Carmel is only about 25 miles north of Big Sur (about a 40-min drive), so one of the nights we drove up there for dinner. It makes a nice side-trip if you have a longer Big Sur stay (or want different dining options), also a good option if you want to restock groceries for a longer stay. Just remember this stretch of Highway 1 does not have street lights! So definitely drive carefully if you’re getting back to Big Sur after dark. 


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How Coronavirus Has Changed Everyday Life

How Coronavirus Has Changed Everyday Life

United States

March 19, 2020 was the day the coronavirus social distancing began in California and has now escalated to complete social isolation. Starts from Wuhan, China, now the entire world is under tremendous pressure and stress.

The virus spreads like a wildfire, we are powerless and helpless. Some of the most well-known celebrities have tested positive for COVID-19. Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, Boris Johnson, Prince Charles, Pink, and more.  Some who’ve already died tragically of the virus. It is sad. No one knows if life will ever go back to the way it was before.

Grocery stores and large retailers like Costco and Target have implemented changes to deal with social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic. Costco now require all shoppers to wear face masks while inside the warehouse. The same is true for Home Depots, you can’t enter without properly cover your face.  Many people are getting frustrated and bored at home but we also need to be considered to others.


Whole Foods is asking shoppers wear masks. However, masks are not mandatory to enter the store. You can still find some shoppers have no mask on. 

Customers shopping at Wholefoods have their face covered

All the cashier wear masks and gloves and the plexiglass installed at the checkout station.

Plexiglass installed around registers

L: Shoppers maintain distances of 6 feet apart from other people. R: The staff has a plastic visor on

Nijiya Market

Shoppers are waiting in lines

Shoppers face lines at Nijiya market

Nijiya: update on coronavirus

Downtown Castro Street

Downtown MV

Delivery Robots

Since we need to minimize human-to-human contact. Tech companies have stepped up to get more robots out in force to deliver. Robots can deliver essential items (drugs or meals) to people who purchase online and are quarantined at home. This can also help to reduce cross-infection since robots are immune to infection.

Food/Grocery delivery robots are getting popular in the local area

Grocery/Food Delivery Robots

Line to Enter Trader Joe’s

Line to Enter Walmart

The World’s Largest Light Illumination”Kingdom of Light” at Huis Ten Bosch Park, Sasebo, Japan

The World’s Largest Light Illumination”Kingdom of Light” at Huis Ten Bosch Park, Sasebo, Japan

Japan Japan

Burj Khalifa | The World’s Tallest Building

Huis Ten Bosch is known as one of the biggest theme parks in Japan. In addition, this theme park is sort of a Dutch Disneyland, with the whole idea being a recreation of an old Dutch city.

Huis Ten Bosch holds “Kingdom of Light” as an illumination event every year. Their Christmas light extravaganza runs from November into March and has millions of Christmas lights. In other words, this is the best time to visit Huis Ten Bosch. If you are planning a trip to Kyushu around Christmas & New Year, you may want to visit this spectacular winter wonderland!

After research, I decide to take my family (2 aunts and my mom, average age 65+) to Kyushu for the New Year holidays. And, where else can you enjoy a classic new year eve celebration with music, fun and fireworks? Huis Ten Bosch come into my head. Not only this place is like an adult’s Disneyland, but also a memorable, family-fun way to celebrate an awesome year of fun.
Read more info about Huis Ten Bosch.

Huis Ten Bosch Entrance Gate

Waiting for the Canal Cruise

It can’t be Amsterdam without Canal tours

We arrive the park around 10pm and don’t have to wait in line for too long. The canal is covered with rainbow colors in the evening and when canal cruisers pass, illuminated fountains are sprayed. Meanwhile, the outside weather is about 1-2 celsius degree so it’s nice to stay inside.

Light and Fountain Canal

Light and Fountain Canal

Canal Cruise at Huis Ten Bosch

Visit the Dutch Village in Huis Ten Bosch

Japan’s Secret Dutch City

Japan’s Secret Dutch City

Good outdoor seating area to eat and enjoy the view.

Huis Ten Bosch at night


Huis Ten Bosch food court

Huis Ten Bosch Food Court

On New Year’s Eve, there is a live concert with DJs and Japanese artists at center stage, which leads up to a countdown to midnight and fireworks celebration. At midnight, 8000 fireworks launched into the air over the water. This is the largest New Year’s Eve fireworks in Western Japan.

Huis Ten Bosch New Year Countdown Fireworks

Huis Ten Bosch Countdown Fireworks

Huis Ten Bosch New Year Countdown Fireworks

Huis Ten Bosch New Year Countdown Fireworks

Huis Ten Bosch Countdown Fireworks

Huis Ten Bosch Countdown to Midnight

Huis Ten Bosch New Year Countdown Fireworks

New Year’s Eve Fireworks | Huis Ten Bosch

Bring your dogs! It’s a dog-friendly theme park!

Huis Ten Bosch Countdown Fireworks

Huis Ten Bosch New Year Countdown

The tower is the landmark of Huis Ten Bosch. It is beautifully lit at night.

tower city in  huis Ten Bosch

Tower City

The Most Impressive Firework Display for New Year’s Eve in Dubai

The Most Impressive Firework Display for New Year’s Eve in Dubai


Burj Khalifa | The World’s Tallest Building

When I think of where to celebrate the New Year’s Eve, Dubai’s spectacular New Year Eve firework display at the Burj Khalifa come to my mind. The city is known for hosting a magnificent display of lights every year. People travel to Dubai to have an experience of a lifetime.

The Burj Khalifa is located in Downtown Dubai, next to the Dubai Mall. In the New Year Eve, security was bolstered everywhere to ensure public safety. Make sure to plan ahead as roads and access to the Downtown area will be restricted after 8pm for crowd control. It’s almost impossible to get in unless you enter the mall hours before the show starts. Even then, getting a good spot at The Dubai Mall is extremely hard. 

Dubai Mall | Dubai doesn’t do anything small

The Dubai Mall is located right next to Burj Khalifa. This is the most popular location for watching the New Year Eve’s fireworks show. This Mall is gigantic. It’s got not only shops (over 1200 stores), department stores, food outlets, but also has a indoor ski resort, ice skating rink, movie theater, waterfall and an aquarium. The architecture is jaw dropping!

Dubai Mall on New Year’s Eve
Dubai Mall decorations
Roads are closed in Burj Khalifa downtown area
Burj Khalifa fireworks to ring in 2019

Roads are closed and barriers set up inBurj Khalifa for crowd control. Hundreds of thousands headed to the family viewing areas in Burj Khalifa to witness the iconic show. The area is swamped a few hours before the fireworks. It is extremely difficult to walk back to the hotel from the Dubai Mall.

Huge crowd waiting across the Dubai mall
People wait to witness the fireworks at Burj Khalifa
Manzil Hotel NYE pass

The hotel stuff told us as long as we have this NYE pass, then the security will let us come back to the hotel. Well, it turned out the security guard at the Dubai Mall doesn’t recognize this pass. We had to try other routes in order to get back to the hotel. It was quite frustrated.

Hotel Manzil Dotwntown

Finally got back to hotel Manzil Downtown to watch the fireworks.

Burj Khalifa fireworks to ring in 2019

The fireworks are lit just after the stroke of midnight. We get back to Hotel Manzil Downtown just in time to catch a good spot to watch from.

The fireworks display at Burj Khalifa on New Year’s Eve in 2019

The duration of the fireworks display is about 20 minutes. Emaar host the world-renowned firework display on the world’s tallest building this year (Emaar is the master developer of Burj Khalifa). The fireworks display on New Year’s Eve is phenomenal!

The fireworks display at Burj Khalifa on New Year’s Eve
Fireworks explode around the Burj Khalifa in Dubai.
Lasers beam from the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building
Visit Hohenschwangau Castle in Winter

Visit Hohenschwangau Castle in Winter


Füssen to Hohenschwangau Castle

We choose Fussen as a home base town (less than 10 minutes drive to both castles) as the closest and convenient place. The main attraction is still Neuschwanstein castle. We went to Hohenschwangau Castle so that we could at least see one castle (Unfortunately Neuschwanstein castle closed on 12/24 and 12/25) during this trip. Hohenschwangau Castle is the birth place of King Ludwig II. All of the furniture and fixtures are original.

Walk up to the Hohenschwangau Castle

Climb to reach the castle’s entrance – on a very long ring road.
Hohenschwangau castle


The childhood home of King Ludwig

You can visit the castle of Hohenschwangau on a guided tour and learn of all the history of King Ludwig and his family. The 30-minutes English guided tours give a good glimpse of King Ludwig’s life. You will explore rooms on two levels with the King and the Queen’s bedrooms, the Tasso room, the Oriental room, etc. and one of the most impressive rooms is the Banquet Hall. The castle is still in quite good condition. It was lived in for many years by the young Ludwig II as this was the home of his father, King Maximillian II and used as a summer and hunting residence.

That’s Neuschwanstein Castle!

I didn’t realize that these castles were so close together. It’s totally worth it to take the tours of both castles in the same day. The castle is beautiful in winter with great views of Neuschwanstein Castle.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Horse drawn carriage

Since it was so cold, we decided to get on a horse drawn carriage on the way back to the ticket center (for just 2€ each person).

The Fairytale Castle – Neuschwanstein Castle

We found a great photo spot for Neuschwanstein Castle. Both of the Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disney Land are modeled after Bavaria’s Neuschwanstein Castle. Even thought we didn’t get to visit this time, we were very happy to see it. It was so pretty with the snow!
Neuschwanstein Castle in Winter

Füssen to Innsbruck

The drive from Füssen to Innsbruck (via B179) was so pretty. We stopped by Restaurant Zugspitzblick in Biberwier real quick for some photos.

One Awesome Day Trip in Hallstatt Austria

One Awesome Day Trip in Hallstatt Austria


The drive to Hallstatt is very scenic and passed some lake viewpoints just like these in Sound of the Music. We were on a trip from Vienna and had about 2 hours to wander around.

Hallstatt Old Town

People often said that Hallstatt is Austria’s most beautiful lake town. After being there for just a day, there is no doubt why this is the most Instagrammed town in Austria. It is truly spectacular with the beautiful mountains surrounding it.

Hallstatt serves as a relaxing break between Vienna and Salzburg. Just browsing here for a few hours and you will fall in love. After all, this is Austria’s oldest salt mining town and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Hallstatt lake

Hallstatt Winter

Very Touristy!

After lunch we marched straight to the spot for the “Classic Village Viewpoint”.
Hallstatt tour groups

The area is absolutely packed with tourists. Therefore, ff you want to enjoy the tranquility that Hallstatt is famous for, it’s better to arrive before 10am or stay there the night and leave in the morning. However, most of the tourists on day trips leave by 5pm. Also, Hallstatt is mostly closed during winter but cafes and souvenir shops were still opened.
Hallstatt Tourists

This is the postcard picture!

View of the lake

What a joy to see the snow dusting the wooden houses up the slope and the mountains surrounding the lake. Meanwhile, from the viewpoints, you can see dozens of elegant swans on the water’s edge.

Central Square Marktplatz

This is a beautiful Austrian central square with fountain and the buildings are closely grouped and display the typical Austrian architecture. The old town by itself can be toured on foot in within one hour. So just walking the little village streets is amazing! The views are spectacular. Above all, if you every want to see Hallstatt in snow, plan your trip near and after Christmas. We are very happy with the snow on the rooftop, roadside and basically every horizontal. That blanket of white everywhere just adds a little touch to the quaint little town.

Waterfall channeled through the town

Mountain water rushing between the buildings creates a spectacular view!


Fresh trout.

New Year’s Eve Magic in Chiang Mai, Thailand

New Year’s Eve Magic in Chiang Mai, Thailand


Chiang Mai has always been a popular destination for the Christmas and New Year holidays. Every restaurant and bar is packed full and street vendors can be found all along the major streets. Fireworks, sky lanterns, delicious food, and all manner of party objects to add to the atmosphere.

Thai traditions for this New Year Eve’s celebration

Thai people often exchange gifts or cards with family members and friends during this day. They celebrate in their hometowns with family and friends eating, drinking, and preparing meals together. It is also common for Thai people to pay a visit to their local temple to mark the changing of the year with good luck and prosperity either on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. Making merit and giving alms to monks are common. It’s the Thai spiritual way to begin the new year with peace of mind. If you want to catch a unique cultural experience, I recommend you go to one of the prominent temples in Chiang Mai.

Wat Phra Singh (Gold Temple)

For the most memorable experience, try to coincide with a festival.

To receive blessings from the temple

De Naga Hotel Chiang Mai

For four nights we stayed at De Naga Hotel, a small bed and breakfast located in the historic old city of Chiang Mai. Only 5 minutes walk to the Tha Phae Gate. The location was perfect, close enough to walk to many shops and restaurants. After our new year eve dinner, we walked around the Tha pae Gate and the night market that leads up to it. 

De Naga Hotel New Year Eve Buffet

De Naga Hotel Traditional Thai Live Music & Dance

De Naga Hotel Buffet

Chiang Mai Night Market

Chiang Mai Night Market

Tuk Tuk

Wat Phan Tao Temple at night

Next to the famous Wat Chedi Luang, the entire temple was made from teak wood and had been previously part of the royal palace. The monks began their ceremony around 10:30pm. Thousands were gathered here with the monks to spend the last few hours of the year in meditation and chanting in a serene candle-lit hall. The place was fully candle-lit, lanterns hang from the trees, and the water was lined with sparkling lights, which made the atmosphere feel even more magical.

Lanterns twinkle in the water in Wat Phan Tao Temple

New Year’s Eve Magic in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Pray with the monks at the Wat Phan Tao

Wat Phan Tao Temple at night

Along the banks of the river

This was the scene along the banks of the river in Chiang Mai during the New Year’s Eve celebration. We spent a while just absorbing the environment and watching all the different folks light their lanterns. The candle was placed inside the lantern, the flame then heated the air within the lantern causing it to rise into the sky until the fire went out. According to tradition, releasing a lantern in the sky symbolizes new beginnings and good luck.

Dozens of people lined along the banks of the river

Beautiful lanterns released into the night sky

Lanterns light up the river

Tha Phae Gate

Tha Phae Gate was the place to release lanterns. This was the most central location for the countdown to midnight. As it got closer to 11pm, we joined lots of people at the main square near Thapae Gate in releasing lanterns into the sky. We had bought one big lantern to let off for good luck in the new year. As the clock counted down to zero, you saw thousands of lanterns released into the sky. We made a wish and released the lantern. Our lantern floated into the sky and joined the hundreds of other lanterns disappearing into the darkness. It was such an amazing night. We had lots of fun! The experience celebrating the new year in Chiang Mai was an unforgettable one. The last day of 2017, I felt blessed and grateful and being with awesome friends who make the world a better place.

Letting off lanterns

SFFC lantern

SFFC lantern

Chiang Mai New Year Countdown

The square was filled with Thais and tourists from all over world enjoying the celebrations together. It was truly spectacular to see hundreds of sky lanterns floating up into the night sky.

SFFC lantern

Our own milky way of lights!

Sky lantern during New Year’s Eve in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Watch dazzling fireworks illuminate the night

Must See Temples in Chiang Mai’s Old City

Must See Temples in Chiang Mai’s Old City


We spend four nights in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There are a lot to do here day or night. Temples are still a central part of Thai life so we decided to do temple hopping during the day time. There are lots temples in Chiang Mai. We set out to see four temples for this trip. As always at temples in Thailand, made sure to dress properly and act respectfully. Shorts, T-shirts, bare shoulders, and any overly casual clothing should be avoided.

Wat Phra Singh Temple วัดพระสิงห์วรมหาวิหาร

Founded in 1345, Wat Phra Singh is the most elegant and culturally significant temple within the old city of Chiang Mai. The grounds and buildings are beautiful and spiritual.

Wat Phra Singh Temple

Main Chedi

The oldest structure on site is the main chedi, which was constructed in 1345 by King Phayu to enshrine the ashes of his father, King Khamfu. 

Wat Phra Singh Woramahaviharn

New Year’s Eve at Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai

Main chedis (pagodas) at the Wat Phra Singh (Gold Temple)

The golden yellow Chedi is blindly bright in the sunlight

Monks sat in the traditional lotus position in front of a sacred Buddha statue

The decoration inside is also quite rich. There is a brocade-like gold and red pattern on parts of the roof and back wall behind the altar.

Wat Phra Singh Woramahaviharn

From Wat Phra Singh, you might want to go on to Wat Chedi Luang, which is just a short walk away. In addition, another important temple within the walls is the oldest: Wat Chieng Man. It’s another short walk away

Wat Chedi Luang Temple วัดเจดีย์หลวง

The original temple dates back from the 14th and 15th centuries. Wat Chedi Luang was possibly the largest structure in ancient Chiang Mai, Thailand. It must have been the most impressive temple back then. The chedi was mostly destroyed within a few hundred years of its construction. 

Wat Chedi Luang Temple

Inthakhin Pillar Vihara

Why Can’t Women Entry Inthakhin Pillar Vihara

A sign outside reads, in part:

“Women are prohibited to enter because they menstrate. It is believe that it humiliates and ruins the sanctity of the city pillar. Besides, men who dress inappropriately are not allowed to walk in. It is believed that any disobeying of the rules will cause social instability.”

Inside the main prayer hall, the altar is backed by a magnificent standing Buddha

Wat Chedi Luang Temple

The pagoda has been partially reconstructed

Wat Chedi Luang Temple

Wat Chiang Man วัดเชียงมั่น

Wat Chiang Man is Chiang Mai’s oldest temple, which was constructed at around the city’s development in 1296.

Wat Chiang Man

Wat Chiang Mun

Wat Chiang Mun

Elephant Chedi

The Elephant Chedi is the oldest construction within the temple complex. In addition, you can recognize it from its life-sized brick and stucco elephants carrying the upper levels of the construction on their backs. They are guardians that had been standing watch since 1296.

Wat Chiang Man Elephant Chedi

Wat Chiang Mun

Wat Chiang Mun Elephant Shaped Tree

Wat Phan Tao Temple วัดพันเตา

Wat Phan Tao is next to the famous Wat Chedi Luang Temple. Particularly, the entire temple was made from teak wood and had been previously part of the royal palace. It is one of my favorite temples in Chiang Mai.

New Year’s Eve at Wat Phan Tao

At night, thousands were gathered here with the monks to spend the last few hours of the year in meditation and chanting in a serene candle-lit hall. The place was fully candle-lit, which made the atmosphere feel even more magical. 

New Year’s Eve at Wat Phan Tao in Chiang Mai

Pray with the monks at the Wat Phan Tao

Life Lessons Learned From Climbing Mount Fuji in Japan

Life Lessons Learned From Climbing Mount Fuji in Japan


Beginner’s Guide to Climbing Mount Fuji

Let me start off by saying I am not an experienced hiker. Also I don’t exercise regularly (kinda out of shape). I don’t know the technical ins and outs of hiking. All I know was I had always wanted to hike Mount Fuji but never got around to it. Climbing Mount Fuji was one of the hardest, yet most rewarding experiences I have had in my life. I was glad I did it, pushed myself to the limit and felt more alive. 🙂

Official Climbing Mount Fuji Season:
Yoshida Trail: July 1 to September 10, 2017

Two Day Climbing Mount Fuji Equipment List: Backpack, sunglasses, gloves, sun hat, warm hat, thermal underwear, waterproof trousers, warm fleece jacket, waterproof jacket with an attached hood, hiking boots, wool socks, gaiters, head lamps, hiking Stick, etc.

Fuji Subaru 5th station 富士山五合目

Altitude: 2305 meters
There were tons of people in the Subaru 5th station. We took Yoshida trail (吉田). There are 4 main trails leading up to the summit of Mt. Fuji. If you are a more experienced climber and prefer it to be less-crowded, consider taking other paths such as Fujinomiya (富士宮), Subashiri (須走口) and Gotemba (御殿場駅) trails.

Even if you have no intention climbing Mount Fuji, you can spend some time in the Fuji Five Lakes area. It is a really nice resort area. Lake Yamanaka, Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Saiko, Lake Shoji, Lake Motosu.

Yoshida trail – Started climbing Mount Fuji! Departed at 11:17am.

Mt. Fuji 6th Station 富士山六合目

Arrived at 12:18pm. Altitude: 2390 meters
Mostly pebbles and red soil trail. The walk from 6th – 7th Station was wide enough to fit the crowd, to pass others and climb at your own pace.

Mt. Fuji 7th Station 富士山七合目

Arrived at 2:04pm. Departed at 2:40pm. Altitude: 2700 meters
My level of commitment increased as we approached station 7. There was no turning back you just had to move forward. Station 7 was almost all giant rocks where you need to use some arm works like rock climbing but still manageable. Getting difficult!

Toilets cost 200 yen entrance fee. Like most places in Japan the toilets worked and were clean, although no fancy high-tech toilets.

Mt. Fuji 8th Station 富士山八合目

Arrived at 6:08pm. Departed at 6:18pm. Altitude: 3250 meters
This was where weather changes drastically, I added three layers of top and wore snow hat here.

The sun had almost set and the clouds had completely enveloped the world below.

Mt. Fuji 8th Station Tomoe Kan 富士山八合目トモエ館

Arrived at 8:25pm. Altitude: 3400 meters
By the time we reached our mountain hut, it was already dark. We checked in and were given bags to put our shoes in. Ate curry rice for dinner and got ready for bed. There were not much water to brush teeth or wash hands. The hut had no private bed, just a sleeping area with a pillow, sleeping bag and a hook to hang your bag above your head. I didn’t know if I’d be able to sleep (turned out I slept for about an hour).

Sunrise from 8th Station Tomoe Kan 富士山本八合目トモエ館

A sunrise with clouds was so beautiful. Watching it from Mt Fuji was magic. The view made it worth all of the effort!


Departed at 5:50am.
After hiking for not too long this morning, my chest was instantly a little tight due to the altitude. I was having more trouble breathing. We tried to walk slowly and took multiple stops and it helped.

Mt. Fuji 8.5th Station 富士山八合五勺

Arrived at 6:17am. Departed at 6:22am. Altitude: 3450 meters

Mt. Fuji 9th Station 富士山九合目

Arrived at 7:15am. Depart at 7:20am. Altitude: 3600 meters

Top of Mt. Fuji 富士山山頂

Arrived at 8:10am. Departed at 9:25am. Altitude: 3756 meters
Finally, after our legs had started to give out from the long ascent, we approached the summit. Unfortunately the post office and restroom were not opened yet…

Back Down | Mt. Fuji 8th Station – 5th Station 富士山八合目 – 五合目

Arrived at 11:20am. Departed at noon. The hard part was just beginning! The climb down took us almost 6 hours since we took a lot of short and long breaks. There were tons of volcanic rocks everywhere causing you to slip and slide down the hill. At some points, I lost patience and tried to run down like other people did and sprained my ankle. Tendon strength took about 3 months longer to build up. My tendon was still relatively weak to support myself and the weight I was carrying. The hike down sucked. I just wanted it to be over. Also no place to purchase water after the 8th Station. I was hydrated for too long. Afterwards we were absolutely exhausted.

Lessons Learned from climbing Mount Fuji: Always takes your time (slow down especially when hiking down hill), be patient. It takes time to get strong. It takes patience to keep with it until you get there. Don’t give up, take a break whenever you need it. When I sprained my ankle I was ready to call an ambulance but it seemed to be a lot of trouble to get one. Afterwards we managed to walked down slowly. Trust yourself, you can do it!

Checked in Hotel Konanso Yamanashi

After we arrived Ryokan I was vomiting and couldn’t keep anything down. It was still hard to believe that we had actually climbed it. Glad we made it back safely! Climbing Mount Fuji was on my bucket list and I was glad I did it. Every step was worth it. This is something you’ll never forget in your life!

Ekstedt | Stockholm | New Nordic Cuisine

Ekstedt | Stockholm | New Nordic Cuisine


3 of us had the 4 course menu and 2 had the 6 course. We got to try everything. I also did a non-alcohol drink pairing and it was great. The restaurant uses fire as its key ingredient. Cook in old Scandinavian ways,  giving flavor to meat and fish through fire and smoke.

Reindeer heart taco

Reindeer heart taco

Cold smoked mackerel, kohlrabi and pine

Oysters (served complimentary)

Bread / Dried deer, vendace roe and charcoal cream

Juniper baked turbot, white asparagus and bottarga

hay-flamed dairy cow, wood-fired oven baked cabbage and salsify

Birch fired pork, turnip and lovage

Wood fired oven baked almond cake, rhubarb and herbs


Stockholm | Vasa Museum

Stockholm | Vasa Museum


Vasa Museum

It’s a must see in Stockholm! Even if you have little interest in ships, this is definitely worth seeing. The Vasa is the most well preserved 17 century warship in the world. More than 98 percent of the ship is original, and it is decorated with hundreds of carved sculptures. Vasa never made it out of Stockholm harbor. It sank on its maiden voyage in 1628. Nearly 400 years later, it is magnificently displayed to light your imagination.

The museum is well designed to allow visitors to experience the ship at different levels. To maximize the visit, do a guided tour (about 30 minutes) and also watch the movie in the auditorium. It will bring you even closer to the whole story.

Vasa Museum Stockholm

Stockholm Food Festival

The food festival occurs during the first week of June (1 – 6 June 2017) in the King’s Garden Park. Many of Stockholm’s local restaurants serves food during the festival and cover everything from traditional dishes to international cuisines around the world.


After visiting the food festival at King’s Garden Park, we took a stroll along Standvagen. It was also on the way to the Vasa Museum. This seemed to the center for cruises, buses and water taxis. From here you will get a European city feel. Beautiful view of fine architecture on one side and the seaside on the other.

2017 ASICS Stockholm Marathon

The course is regarded as one of the world’s most scenic marathon routes. Runners pass buildings such as the Royal Palace, the Royal Opera, the City Hall and the Houses of Parliament.

Stockholm Old Town

This was our 2nd time to visited the old town, strolling down the various cobblestone streets and alleys is a must. Lots of nice souvenirs shops and cafes around. If you have time you might as well explore the Noble Academia Museum. Changing of the guard is also well worth seeing in the royal palace.