Hangzhou, China

This one is about my favorite city in China: Hangzhou.
At the time when England was being raided by Vikings, Hangzhou was the biggest and most modern city in the world. And it remains, in my opinion. one of the most beautiful and advanced cities in China today. Like Marco Polo himself put it, Hangzhou was the “most beautiful and magnificent city in the world”.

Hangzhou is the only city in China where I have been more than three times except for Beijing and Tianjin, and would gladly take any opportunity to visit again. So what is so great about it?

The good: The touristy part of the city is very green and clean. There is pollution like most cities in China, but it’s nowhere near Beijing’s. The city is very modern and the people are civilized and polite within local standards. The people are also very friendly and willing to help their fellow Chinese travelers as well as foreigners. The view around the West Lake is fantastic. And the city’s location is great, making it very convenient to visit neighboring cities (Suzhou, Shanghai, Huangshan, etc.). And finally local food is delicious. There is also a tea museum free of charge, which for some reason is not very famous. For anyone interested in Chinese tea, this is a good place to visit. The tea fields outside the museum are great for a walk and one can visit a small community of tea makers that borders these fields. Tours won’t take you here but I promise the atmosphere will be hard to forget; and there are plenty of chances for good photography.

The bad: Not all the parts of the city are as clean and modern as the parts closer to the West Lake (since those are the ones most visited by tourist). And since many people also realize all the good parts I just wrote and many more, Hangzhou gets many visitors and can be very crowded during holidays.

What visitors shouldn’t miss: West Lake, He Fang Street, Long Jin tea, Dong Po pork, Xiao Long Bao (dumplings)

Tianjin’s Traditional Candy

When Chinese people think about food in Tianjin, China two things instantly come to mind 狗不理 (goubuli) dumplings and 麻花 (mahua) traditional fried snack. However how about really traditional and local things? things that people now in Tianjin remember from their childhood for example. Here I post two types of candy that are engraved in Tianjin people’s hearts:


This is a traditional “blown candy.” The person who makes them is called a 吹糖人 (chuitangren), although I hear the candy itself can also be called 吹糖人 which literally means “person who blows candy.” The candy is blown like a balloon and molded into different shapes using only the mouth and fingers. When the candy cools it becomes hard and fragile.
The one in this picture is supposed to be a tiger, though it looks more like a ferret…



This is a traditional “drawn candy.” The person who makes them is called a 画糖人 (huatangren), and like the blown candy above I hear this can also mean the candy itself, which literally translates as “person who draws candy.”
Here the melted candy is pour onto a metal plate in different shapes that will hold together once the candy cools off and solidifies. It is not as fragile as the blown candy once cool, and it can be eaten.

This particular one is a Chinese short sword with a ring hanging from the blade (the ring was a separate piece of candy that was really hanging loosely from the main piece).

Korean Church

A beautiful church very close to Gangnam district in Seoul, Korea. It is not on a busy street as one would expect, but rather tucked inside a small neighborhood.
This building is proof of the power and influence Christianity has in Korea. In a country that seems religiously divided between Christianity and Buddhism, this building bears witness to the increasing number of people (and funds) available to this faith.



maoThis restaurant is one of my favorites in Tianjin. The food here is delicious, but that is by no means its only feature. The restaurant is called “八一三鸭子楼” that could be translated word by word as “813 duck building.” Allegedly Mao Zedong ate roasted duck in this place years ago on August the 13th, hence the number “813.” The place is obsessed with Mao’s persona. With black and white pictures of him talking to the cooks and waitresses, every corner of this restaurant is a reminder that the chairman once approved its cuisine.

Not content with pictures of Mao adorning the walls and menus, the restaurant owner decided to put up some pictures on the wall of the current Chinese leaders tasting food, again allegedly, from this restaurant.


And the decorations are not the the only thing that would catch a foreigner’s eye. The English translations in the menus can also be quite amusing.


A quick “bonjour” | Namaste, Montréal (Canada)

I finally made it.
I had been waiting for this trip so long, you can’t even imagine. One of my long-term goals was getting to Montréal and I made it. This trip was unbelievable even tough it was extremely fast. Mixed emotions, many plans ahead and a welcoming ambience made me reassure this is a city I want to live in.

Since the moment I stepped into the cozy neighborhoods with a wood-like smell I knew this city was going to be wonderful. I stayed in a room in Candiac South Shore: safe neighborhoods and extremely quiet. The houses seemed from a fairy tale, everything in order, everything clean. Even tough this is far from the city there is easy and fast transportation to get to Centre-Ville. But if you are looking for practicality I recommend looking into BnBs right down at Centre-Ville, Candiac South Shore is more of a residential area and consumes valuable time (and money!) to move from one place to another. I was lucky my hosts dropped me at Panama Station at Brossard where I took a  Bus 45 Candiac – Montréal ( $3.25 aprox). It takes 35 min to get to Centre-Ville.




I strongly recommend buying an OPUS+ at the Metro. It is a transit card from $10-$13 CAN but it works for any public transportation all around Montréal for 24 hours, as many times you want! It is definitely easier to carry one card than to be looking for spare change every time you need to move around the city, and absolutely cheaper!
The metro is extremely easy to understand and use, even if you haven’t use one ever in your life I am sure you will figure this one out.

This is a city full of youth, nevertheless there is a remarkable contrast between innovation and antiquity. The Centre-Ville is very well-known to be very artistic and have a hipster-look  with a blend of modernism. Montréal has a lot to offer, it is clearly worthy to walk and walk and just walk. The weather is wonderful and the security is great, so enjoy it! (My visit was made during July, so the weather allowed me to walk and explore a lot).

I love this picture! the contrast between innovation and antiquity is lovely.


Places I quickly visited:

L’Oratoire Saint-Joseph de Mont-Royal is colossal. It is hidden on top of the hill with an excellent view of the city. It takes from 10-20 minutes to get from the Centre-Ville to L’Oratoire.


Lac Memphremagog – Magog is quite far from Montréal (2hrs by car), but it is a must if you have the time and transportation aid (from relatives, friends or hosts). I loved it! It is a super friendly park and a beach with a very relaxing ground, meditation ambience or just a  family  (or lover hee hee) getaway.




There is something very useful you must know,  the schedule the Canadians  have is very peculiar. Most of the shops and convenient stores were closed between 5 and 7 pm, so say goodbye to those cravings before or after dinner. And yes, you will have to anticipate your shopping because you will find some ghostly streets past 5 pm.

As well, the parking spaces are pretty complicated, they are full of rules and restrictions that will make you think more than twice to park in that juicy spot you just found (in case you plan to rent a car).


As I was walking through the neighborhood I noticed Canadians have hockey rinks located in certain places, as soccer fields in Mexico. We have soccer fields everywhere in Mexico! and every time a recreation park opens the first sport-place we build is a soccer field.


The french got the best of me. I finally understood the challenge of moving throughout a city (alone) using a language you don’t master. Just so you know, this city was my motivation on waking up early on Saturdays for a whole year to finish the Basic Level of french. I am looking forward to master the language as soon as I move to Montréal next year. Even tough everybody speaks English around the city, everything and everyone tries to communicate FIRST in French, so I got a chance to practice as far as I could.

I am doing an unbelievable effort to accomplish my goals and to get to Montréal is the main one that leads me to many. I am truly grateful to the wonderful Tiscareño family who opened their arms and made me feel welcome as soon as I met them. Thank you for answering all of my questions, even the silly ones (hehehe), and being open and honest about the city´s pros and cons.

I am looking forward. Excited, thrilled and with tons of very juicy plans ahead before I reach to my wonderful destination again: Montréal.


“It is astonishing how much enjoyment one can get out of a language that one understands imperfectly.”
― Basil Gildersleeve

A mystical village | Namaste, Mazunte (Mexico)

What didn’t I love about Mazunte? Every corner, every little store, every sight.
This extraordinary beach is located in Oaxaca, Mexico, along the Pacific coast. Eventhough it can be somehow tricky to get there, I assure you…it is totally worth it !

I went backpacking with my best friend along the beaches in Oaxaca, and Mazunte won the gold medal by far! Since the moment we entered this hippie-like village, I knew it was going to be special.

There are many ways to get to Mazunte. We arrived to Huatulco International Airport so it was easier to get there. The easiest path to take is by walking to the carretera (highway) and take a taxi colectivo or colectivos (taxi cabs that take many people along the way [fare: $20 mxp]) camiones (buses) to Pochutla [30 min]. When you get to Pochutla ask for camionetas colectivas to Mazunte [fare:$ 10 mxp, 30 min max].

Mazunte,“mizontle” in Náhuatl (a well known, but not spoken, language in Mexico) refering to an specific kind of tiny crabs living in the area; with only one main street Avenida Paseo del Mazunte this paradise becomes more subreal when, it seems like, most of the population is foreign.

Most of the shops, houses, restaurants and hotels in Mazunte are eco-friendly. Every place I went to was in a thrifty-mode concerning the environment and the energy. Everything was organic, cruelty free, vegetarian and even vegan (have in mind that this kind of food is not easy to find in Mexico). We went to Cosméticos Naturales de Mazunte, we bought an organic sunscreen and a hair conditioner: excellent quality and not harmful to the environment! Look for this mini store, it is incredibly organized, very welcoming has numerous products.

We stayed in this gorgeous hotel-hostel Posada Ziga. I honestly don’t know how to call this compound  because we couldn’t believe the great services they had to call it a hostel, but too cheap for a hotel, they call it posada. We were looking for a place to stay for one night, in the second I saw the sight….I fell in love. My room was splendid: 2 double beds with mosquiteros and fans, one private bathroom (inside the room), a little terrace with 2 hammocks ($600 mxp per night). I think this is an amazing place to stay with friends, if the total price is divided by your friends, so spending the night could be extremey cheap and safe.

Punta Cometa is a must when you visit Mazunte. It is located at the far west end of this gorgeous beach, this rocky cape is located  in the southermost point in the state of Oaxaca. Unfortunately, the sky was extremely cloudy that day, therefore we were not able to see the sunset: the main attraction in Punta Cometa. Eventhough our luck, the sight is beauteous and leisurely, we loved it!

There are many ways to get to the top, ask the locals for the easiest way for you  (pssst….they told us: walk along the beach, heading to Punta Cometa, there is a little baywatch cabin [with a First Aid symbol], go to the right by the stone steps [between restaurants], and follow the path). By the way, don’t forget tennis shoes and bug spray (50 min from bottom to top)

This is the easiest path to Punta Cometa
Punta Cometa


I must say, the beach is gorgeous. I loved the fact that it was not very populated, it was kind of desolated. The beach is 1 km (0.62 mi) long, there is plenty of space to relax and have lunch, the sea right in front of you.




Mazunte stole my heart, magnified my spirit and recharged my energy.
I am definitely coming back, so I can renew my mind and renovate my body.


“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul”

Namaste, Mazunte.