Beijing Travel Diary Pt. 1: Summer Palace

Decided to dedicate a sole post to the Summer Palace since it is, in my humble opinion, the best thing about Beijing. The Summer Palace is a Chinese imperial park and has a great blend of historical architecture and garden landscape. The park is huge, with 743 acres of land and over 3,000 royal structures. Tickets are 60 yuan (~ $9) which include all special exhibits. Below are some of the highlights:

Kunming Lake is my favorite part about the Summer Palace. Given the ‘dragon’ boat costed 20 yuan (~$3), it was a no brainer to ride across the lake. We saw different angles of important pavilions and bridges, including the Tower of Buddhist Incense and 17-arch bridge as shown below.
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Longevity Hill was the first place we trekked up. This is mainly a secluded area where all temples are located.
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Suzhou Market Street (Suzhoujie) houses over 60 shops and was one of my favorite things about the park as well. It is situated at the Black lake, and the sidewalks mimic the river streets in Suzhou, China. We ate lunch near lotus leaves here! An awesome painter who focuses on Chinese paintings is also located in Suzhou Market.
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Every detail is so intricate: each and every pillar is well-maintained and it is #lookupseason for every ceiling (lol).
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Here are the box seats where the royal family watched theater and plays in the past.
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In many cases at the Summer Palace, you can see the elderly practice Chinese calligraphy using this water dispenser brush tool. Calligraphy is a dying art, so it was nice to see lots of people practicing on the floor.
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Keep your eyes peeled for future Beijing posts since I still have so much more to cover. In the meantime, check out a vlog I made of Beijing!
Cheers,
Amanda

Maui Travel Series: Kapalua and Honolua

Kapalua Coastal Trail

Even though it’s not really a hike, Kapalua Coastal Trail was by far my favorite trail because of its stunning views. The trail covers 1.7 miles, and hugs the coastline where you can witness the waves crashing onto the bedrock. The beaches along this coast are also beautiful- I’d spent my last day in Maui swimming in Kapalua Bay. img_2455img_2493img_2475

Honolua

Honolua Bay is a great place to snorkel due to the gentle waves and clear waves, but because it rained that morning we’d visited, we couldn’t go into the waters. Nevertheless, it offers a beautiful view of the cliffs. However, the short 10-minute walk through the jungle was my favorite part. There were numerous tropical trees, wild chicken, and stray cats. I would say it’s an interesting experience!img_3920img_3943img_3958img_3944

Village Walking Trails

Although the views here are great, I’d wished I skipped this hike. There isn’t too much to see except the lake at the top of the trail (which has a family of ducks swimming around the waters). If you’re looking for great vantage points, avoid this trail. It is, however, a great place to workout and burn calories. img_4006

If you haven’t seen my Maui blog from December, check it out below! Our previous post which goes in detail about Road to Hana, South Shores, and Upcountry Maui is linked here. Thanks for visiting and keep your eyes peeled on the final segment documenting Maui’s delicious food.

-Amanda

Maui Travel Series: Road to Hana, South Shores, and Upcountry

As promised, the second Maui travel series segment featuring Road to Hana, South Shores, Upcountry, and surprise- our hotel!

Upcountry Maui- Haleakala National Park

Haleakala is the place to make the journey if you want to see a gorgeous sunrise or sunset. Most people wake up during ungodly hours to make the 3.5 hour trek up to Haleakala, but we opted to see the sunset instead. We were met with the most vivid colors around 5:50 pm, which turned into pastel, pink skies after sundown. So worth the trek, even though the drive down is a bit scary. You might be able to catch a glimpse of nenes (state bird) and cows!

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Alii Kula Lavender Farm 

A bit overhyped, but the farm (with mountain air and lavender scents) was a good break from the resorts and beaches. I enjoyed how peaceful it was to sip some lavender coffee while enjoying what the views had to offer.img_2977

Road to Hana

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Road to Hana is prided as one of the world’s best drive. With its lush greenery and hidden natural gems along the way, it’s easy to see what it is lauded as such. As people have noted before, the road is very twisted and windy, but very doable if you go at a slow pace (10-15 mph).

I usually don’t pay for apps, but this one for $4.99 (Road to Hana Gypsy App) was very needed. You can turn the app on before you hit the town of Paia, and the narrator points out notable landmarks & provides historical information along the way. We saved so much time because we didn’t stop every time we saw cars parked.

My favorite stops include: Waianapanapa State Park and its black sand beach, Keanae Arboretum and its rainbow eucalyptus trees, and Koki Beach (red sand beach). Don’t forget to stop by local stalls to buy fresh Hawaiian products such as smoothies and macadamia banana bread. We got ours from Hana Farms.

Overall, the drive is super scenic which makes the 10-12 hours round trip worth it. It rained in the morning that day, so while it was hard to see certain vantage points, we were able to witness multiple small waterfalls along the drive (caused by rain runoff).

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South Shores 

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South Shores of Maui has some of the most beautiful beaches on the island. I’d loved driving along the coast and making pitstops all the way from Kihei to Waimea. Some of the beaches were so small that there was no indication of the beach name. We stopped a couple times in Kihei and loved Ulua Beach in Makena. We ended our southern trek at Ahihi – Kinau Natural Area Reserve, which was perfect for snorkeling.

Wanted to include my hotel experience in this post as well. I had a blast lounging by the pools and looking at wildlife during my stay. Yes, I say wildlife because there were sooo many animals (parrots, flamingoes, swans, koi fish)… img_2338

If you haven’t watched my Maui video yet, which was shown in a previous post, check it out below:

Thanks for visiting and stay tuned for my next Maui travel segment featuring Kapalua and Honolua.

-Amanda

NYC Diary: Part III

Behold, my final NYC travel installment. For the majority of my last few days, I alternated between walking the city by foot and visiting museums. Did some shopping in Soho, grabbed some Momofuku ramen/MILK in East Village, visited Wall Street, made a brief pit stop at the NY Public Library, and took a walk in Central Park (again). In addition to viewing exhibits at the Met, we also saw some modern art at the MOMA.

A tourist trip cannot exclude a journey to Statue of Liberty so we carved out time for that.
Part I is linked [here] and Part II is [here]. Thanks for visiting!
Amanda
Statue of Liberty

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NY Public LibraryIMG_9648The MetIMG_9872IMG_9904IMG_0017MOMAIMG_0138SOHOIMG_9397Wall StreetIMG_0065Momofuku Ramen14088887_1073681672687812_369264165_nMILKIMG_0028

5 things: The LA Perspective

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It’s been a while since I’ve published a “5 things” post, so I’ve decided to compile five different photos featuring various points in Los Angeles.

Photo #1 is from last summer’s sailing trip in Marina del Rey, where we witnessed the most stunning sunset.

Photo #2 was taken from US Bank Tower, which will soon have a protruded observation deck that allows tourists and locals alike to get a glimpse of Downtown Los Angeles.

Photo #3 shows the last rays of sunlight from underneath the Santa Monica Pier.

Photo #4 features a delicious sushi dish from Tsuri, a well-acclaimed restaurant and bar located in Hollywood.

Photo #5 shows the popular but loved tourist trap-spot: Urban Lights at LACMA.

Thanks for visiting and hope you’d enjoyed this post! -Amanda

 

Today Was A Good Day (Hawaii edition)

IMG_5405For today’s weekly photo challenge, I am showcasing a highlight from my Hawaii trip. My family and I woke up at 5 am this day and drove half an hour to Lanikai beach in an effort to catch the sunrise. We missed it by a mere 3 minutes, but still enjoyed the stunning colors of the changing sky and ocean. Would gladly go back to relive that day again! Stay tuned for part 1 of my Oahu travel diary that is to come within the next 2 weeks!

-Amanda

Inspiration

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If you have been following Flying Neon Lights for a while, you can observe that Tiffany and I spend a good portion of our time at the beach. The ocean breeze, rolling waves, and breath-taking sunsets constantly leave us inspired and motivated to take on the day. Instead of a usual photo of our home base, Ocean Beach in San Francisco, I am posting an image of sunset at Ocean Park in Santa Monica. Thanks for visiting and hope you are enjoying your weekend! -Amanda

5 things: Lost in Transition

Although Tiffany and I strive to be consistent with our content, we sometimes forget to post certain photos on to Flying Neon Lights. Here are some random photos throughout the year that we are now only compiling into a post.

-Amanda

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IMG_0694<New Orleans’s City Park>IMG_0947<Tiffany’s hair bun>IMG_4426<outfit details>1616<SF’s view>IMG_98505 things to cap off the post.Thanks for visiting!

Muse in San Francisco

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Those of you that read our blog on a consistent basis know that Tiffany and I love Golden Gate Park. It is not only our favorite location to shoot in San Francisco, but also a place we visit regularly with our friends and family members. This particular wall projects a satellite image of the city and sits at the observation deck in the De Young Museum. Be sure to see this 360 degree view of SF if you ever have a chance to visit. Hope you enjoy your weekend! -Amanda