I’m currently 2 days away from my Taiwan vacation and I am beyond excited to go home. For anyone who grew up in another country knows that when you’re going home you need to bring some local gifts for your relatives and friends.
So here’s my list of gifts I am bringing back:
- Genuine Maple Syrup: I know~ Not that original but my relatives really enjoy receiving the genuine maple syrup that comes in a glass bottle.
- Genuine Canadian Chocolate: I came across Purdy Chocolatier and thought it was the perfect store for exactly what I was looking for. I was looking for something that had a nice box, high quality chocolate, and Canadian made. I bought 3 boxes of no sugar added chocolate and also 3 boxes of regular chocolates.
- Genuine Canadian Ice Wine: Go visit your local LCBO for some awesome selections of Ice Wine and I would highly suggest choosing a bottle that has a nice box/container so it’s easier to pack/travel with.
- Lululemon: Taiwan does not have any lululemon stores and it’s also a great high quality gift for someone close to you. My mom loves to work out and do yoga so this is the perfect store to purchase anything for her.
- Oh Henry! I don’t ever recall seeing Oh Henry in Taiwan so it makes it a great gift for my younger cousins and family relatives.
Overall, you need to understand what your home country have or don’t have, because that missing gap can ultimately make the most perfect gift for your loved ones. It goes back to the old saying, “you always want what you can’t have”.
Hopefully my list helped some fellow Canadians!
Until next time.
I had the craving for some Taiwanese crab stir-fry so I made it!
Here are the ingredients I used:
- 6 Garlics
- 3 big slices of Ginger
- 4 Green onions
- 8 Blue crab – cleaned with the crab roe separated into another bowl
- 2 eggs
- Soy sauce
- Rice wine
If you’ve never cleaned the crab here is a little picture I drew to help explain from a top down see through view of the blue crabs anatomy.
NOTE: purple = removal.
- You open the crab by opening the stomach which the triangle in the middle of the crab and you lift and break that off
- Pry open the shell and the body by lifting the pointy corner and holding onto the legs
- From inside the shell, remove a clear sack from where the mouth would be and remove the crab roe (coloured in orange and red) inside the corner of the shell and set that in a bowl
- From the body, remove the gills and cut the body in half
- Lastly, crub clean the shell part of the crab
- On med-high heat, start with garlic,and ginger then add in the crabs
- Add in about 1 tbsp of soy sauce and a capfull of rice wine
- Stir-fry until the crab is red then add in the green onion (you can also add basil to enhance the taste)
- Mix the crab roe with 2 eggs and drizzle that all over the cooked crabs
- Stir-fry until the eggs is cooked to your liking
I ate the crab stir-fry by mixing the crab roe and eggs with white rice. I also had some kimchi on the side to breakup the seafood taste. I made this based on how I remembered my grandma making it and it turned out great.
Hopefully, you can enjoy some authentic Taiwanese recipe right in the comfort of your own home!
Until my next food craving~ I’ll post more original recipes by me!
Vancouver is beautiful, refreshing and such an amazing place to go for a short vacation.
I was able to save a lot of money on hotel and transportation fees because I stayed with my friends. However, if you need to look into hotel and transportation needs then I would suggest the following:
Find a place to stay:
- Airbnb – A great place to search for bed and breakfast offered by the local people and your host will normally provide you with great suggestions on where to visit and how to get around the city.
- I stayed in Marpole, Vancouver which had mediocre Asian food, and I’ve heard that Richmond has much better Chinese/Taiwanese restaurants.
- Expedia – Search for hotels and read their reviews based on customers’ experiences.
Find ways to travel around:
- Car Sharing – Try and sign up for Car Sharing programs like Zipcar, Modo and Evo.
- You need to pay a fee to use these cars.
- My friend used ZipCar and the app was extremely easy to use and you can park the car anyways that has the designated parking for that car sharing company.
- Vancouver Bus System – It was very easy to take the bus in Vancouver if you have Google map.
- The fare was $2.75 per trip without using the Compass Card (which is $6 to purchase then you just reload it).
What did I DO in Vancouver?
- Granville Island
If you have ever been to Vancouver, then you would know that the traffic can get hectic and also extremely busy… so we decided to bus to the Granville Island Market!
- I was craving fresh produce, so we headed straight into the public market and started to browse around for fresh produce and also some gifts for me to return home with.
- There was a neat little shop that offered handmade pet treats which the ingredients are all derived from a vet nutritionist.
- We came across a broom shop which intrigued us because it looked like the type of brooms Harry Potter would use.
- I was able to find a new adventure hat and also enjoyed the lovely weather in Granville Island.
2. Pacific Spirit Park
It was a very cool experience to go to Pacific Spirit Park because it had a nice nature trail and also a dog friendly beach. The view was decent, and it was nice to be near the water. The fact that there was a lot of dogs playing in the water made the place much more enjoyable.
3. Vancouver Seawall
The bike ride along the seawall is definitely something you need to do in Vancouver. It makes you appreciate the water, nature and the beautiful city itself. Overall, it’s about 9 km around the seawall and it took about 1 – 1.5 hours to finish the bike path. The weather was beautiful and there is washrooms and stands for water along the way as well.
I absolutely love visiting my friends in Vancouver and I’m fortunate to have friends that enjoys the same thing as I do.
Here’s a golden rule for staying with friends – never expect them to pay for everything… such as, gas money to take you to places, picking you up from the airport, etc. Always remember to pay them back in one way or another, because you’re there to enjoy time with them and not expect them to be your tour guide 🙂 Just a common courtesy reminder.
“Never let any distance get in between a friendship that’s worthy to cherish and preserve.” – Travel By Mind.
My name is Rebecca (I prefer Becca) Chiang and I’m the author behind Travelbymind.
I was born in Taiwan and lived in my home country for 10 years then I moved to Canada and never left after that. As a kid, I was never able to travel anywhere because my family was not able to afford many family vacations. My childhood was filled with art and Chinese calligraphy competitions because I love art and it was a great way for me to earn spending money and/or free stuff at a young age.
My parents were divorced when I was 7 years old, so I didn’t grew up having both of my parents by my side. I learned at a young age what it’s like to not have money, and what it’s like to be suffered by money. I work hard to better my life and to provide my own stability without relying on family or my boyfriend, so I can take control of where my life is going.
Originally, I was going through school to become a physiotherapist but I soon realized that I can’t handle blood or bones… so yes I changed my career path to business. Knowing that I will need to pay for my school I chose to go through Fanshawe College for 3 years and received a 2 year marketing diploma, and an advanced Business Administration Marketing diploma. Then I wanted a university degree so I took an 12 months accelerated program and received a Bachelor of Commerce from Nipissing University. I interned at my current company since my second year of post-secondary education and today I’m currently working in my company’s marketing department doing exactly what I went to school for.
After working at my company for 7 years, I was able to lock in 20 days of vacations and some financial stability because HWPO – Hard Work Pays Off. Now I can travel with more money in my pocket and more paid vacations then the average 26 years old travelers. With that being said, I’m always stuck in between the mindset of whether I should travel earlier and enjoy the experience or work hard and go travel when I can? Because sometimes we all can be fed up with a 9-5 job.
“Work hard to escape life and not for life to escape us.” – Rebecca Chiang
Here’s the different sides of me:
I’ve done jiujitsu for 3 years now and I’m a 2 stripe blue belt 🙂
Have you ever get to a point in your life where you needed a new start? To other people you may look like you have your things together but inside you are just a mess?
We travel by mind because it brings us peace, as we travel to the one place we want to be. Our mind is equipped with the best imagination tool, and it’s up to us on how we travel with our mind. Often, we turn to Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. to live through other people’s photos, then lives through our mind, and for those of us that wants it bad it enough it becomes our own reality.
In August 2015, I quit my job the first time in my life with no job lined up for me and I decided to move back to Taiwan. I sold off everything, paid off my debts and moved back home. That’s right! I did what I never thought I could! I was going through a very hard time in my life and I needed my family to help me get back up. My siblings and I have been on our own since I was 16 and I thought it was time for me to go back home. I spent time with my family, learned to cook traditional Taiwanese food, traveled all over Taiwan with the purpose of finding myself again.
Within 2 months, I was able to improve my mandarin, my relationship with my family members, reliving my childhood memories and piece together the missing parts of me. However, I realized Taiwan is no longer where I wanted to call my forever home because it just wasn’t what I’m used to anymore. As much as I enjoyed the culture, food and being with family, I knew that my career opportunities is still back in Canada.
My company rehired me back in Nov. 2015 and now I’m back to exactly where I was before, but more recharged, inspired, prepared and matured. 2016 was the best I’ve felt in a long time and I love where I am now.
Never be afraid of taking chances, but be afraid of missing out on the chances that you didn’t take.
Pictures from my 2 months of soul searching:
As a couple, it’s always nice to travel somewhere every month or so to stay motivated and refreshed with better perspectives. I always start my weekend getaway with a goal in mind, which is to experience something new. My boyfriend and I love seafood, so I always keep our budget in mind as well.
Where does everyone start their trip researching? Google, expedia, blog posts, social media and so much more! The point is that there is always resources out there that can help you inspire your next trip,you just have to put in the work for it.
I have been craving seafood for awhile and London, ON just doesn’t offer a great selection of fresh seafood, so being 2 hours away from Toronto I know I needed to try and find my seafood fix there. I started by searching for seafood restaurant in Toronto and Rodney’s Oyster House showed up with a rating of 4.2/5. I was convinced by their website, google rating and also the customers’ reviews.
Long story short, Rodney’s Oyster House can be described with 2 words, fresh and delicious! They want to show their commitment to their seafood quality and freshness by displaying all their seafood livestock at the front of their restaurant so you can eat knowing that it is very fresh.
Here’s the list of oysters I tried:
- Village Bay Small – Favourite
- FRESH and clean tasting – It was smooth, creamy and very clean tasting
- Sauce: Cocktail sauce, squeeze of lime and a little dash of horseradish
- Price: $2.28/ Oyster
- South lake small
- This was my second favourite oyster as it was still smooth and creamy but it doesn’t have as clean of a taste as the Village Bay Small.
- Sauce: Spiced vodka, and squeeze of lemon
- Price: $2.34/ Oyster
- Duxbury Primes
- I had to try their most expensive oyster to compare it to the cheapest one and I must say I actually prefer the south lake small over the Duxbury Primes because it was not as chewy and Duxbury Prime wasn’t really that different.
- Sauce: Cocktail sauce, squeeze of lime and a little dash of horseradish
- Price: $3.80/ Oyster
- Village Bay Large
- This was good but it was way too meaty for what I like, it was still clean and very fresh tasting
- Price: $2.81/ Oyster
- Sauce: Squeeze of lemon and a dash of horseradish
- Marina’s Top Drawer – Pacific Oysters
- The waistress told us that the Pacific oysters has different texture and taste then the East cost oyster, which is definitely true. This pacific oyster had a fishy taste, chewy texture and definitely has a fishier finish than the other oysters.
- Price: $2.15/ Oyster
- Sauce: squeeze of lemon
Overall, my boyfriend and I had 16 oysters and shared a type of ale beer brewed from Kingston, ON. We spent ~$50 and we were more than happy to spend that on the service and experience we received. I would definitely recommend this restaurant for a fun couple lunch, or a nice girls brunch as well.
But obviously, a Toronto getaway can’t be completed until you book in a hotel. After I made my reservation I was able to find a hotel in the heart of downtown Toronto for ~$227 (+$25 parking till 12pm the next day) and I was happy with what I paid. We stayed at the Bond Hotel Place, it was clean, small but very trendy so I would definitely recommend this hotel for couples that wants to stay on their budget.
My hotel purchase:
- I was able to collect 1.75% cashback with my BMO World Elite Cashback Mastercard, and from using the card I was offered a choice of a high or low floor. I picked high floor and was given the top 18th floor.
- I’m 4 hotel stays away from achieving my silver+ status for my expedia membership. For more information on the expedia+ membership levels, you can read it here.
I can never leave Toronto without buying my favourite Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake, because they are awesome!
Never go line up for the cheesecake during any time after 12PM, because they are always busy. When they have a lineup you are only allowed to buy 1 per person, and that is never enough for me. I always show up around 8:30 – 9:00 AM to make sure there’s no line and I can buy as many as I want!
Overall, my trip to Toronto was a success and I think it helped my boyfriend and I strengthen our relationship, refreshed our perspectives and made us appreciate each other that much more.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”
– Saint Augustine
Call in and cancel it.
I’ve had my Scotiabank American Express Gold Card for a year now, and I cancelled it because I don’t want to pay the $99 in annual fee.
This is still the promotion:
I’m pretty sure I didn’t need to spend $750 to receive my 30,000 points at the time when I signed up, so always watch out for the initial amount you need to spend to get your bonus points.
While I had my AMEX card I was able to take advantage of the points system and went on 2 trips with my points:
- 2 nights of hotel in LA
- Round trip from London, ON to Vancouver to LA then back to London
From their website they claim:
- 4 Scotia Rewards points on every $1 you spend at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, on dining and entertainment.
- It’s always in the fine print for what you get, and personally I only get the 4x points at:
- Swiss Chalet
- I live in Canada and not many places accept AMEX, hence why I cancelled it.
- It’s always in the fine print for what you get, and personally I only get the 4x points at:
Here’s the tip to get another year free or some other perks:
- Call and cancel your card and they will transfer you to the retention department, where they will offer you:
- Rebate for the $99 annual fee
- $60 voucher in travel credit
- 11.99% interest rate on the credit card for the first 6 months on the credit card if you don’t cancel.
- Of course, someone like me don’t care about these short term perks so I refused all the offers and cancelled it anyways.
I personally believe it’s easier if I just collect with my BMO World Elite Cashback MasterCard, where I collect 1.75% cashback on all purchases.
- Their promotion is 4% on all credit card transactions for the first 4 months and 1.75% cashback after that.
- Roadside assistance is another perk offered by this credit card as well
- Extended warranty insurance – the coverage double the original manufacturer’s warranty for up to 1 additional year
- 25% discount at National Car Rent and Alamo Rent A Car
- Travel and medical protections ofup to 2 million dollars
- Here’s the catch, if you have savings then you can get the annual fee and account fee waived, so go into a BMO branch and ask about it.
I don’t get paid to talk about the credit cards, so don’t think I’m bias with my credit card comparisons.
Right now I will be using my BMO credit card for all purchases and my no annual fee Costco MasterCard on all groceries (3%) and gas purchases (2%).
Make your travels affordable by doing some research on the free benefits you can receive.
So start researching and start travelling.
To escape life.
Every day, every minute, I’m always imaging what it would be like to escape to a different country right now. What is it like to quit my 9-5 job and just work for myself?
Why can’t I take that big “quitting” step? I know I need stability and understands that I have necessities to pay for day to day to live. I’m very responsible and is great with my money. I have a normal marketing career where I developed my marketing skills for over 5 years in many different marketing aspects and skills. I absolutely love everything about marketing, and if you understands your customers’ needs, then you are more than half way there.
My first blog post consisted of some of the perks and cash backs I like to collect because it helps me to save up for my trips faster. I will write out a blog post to share on the little saving and perks I receive from memberships and the credit cards I use with some tips and tricks on how to get them and avoid costly mistakes. All opinions are mine and I just like to share tips on how I make my trips “a bit” more affordable.
I travel to inspire and educate myself with different cultural norms, expectations, standards and moral values. When I travel to places by myself, I find that I discover a little bit more of myself. I do not let my necessities stop me from taking affordable trips, because traveling is what recharges my soul and heart with more courage to look forward to my next big challenge in life.
Why do you travel?
April 10 – Purchased my ticket – Booked off work.
Now, I’m just trying to patiently wait until the day of my departure.
How do I prepare for a trip back home?
Depending on my schedule, I would normally look for tickets 2 months prior to buying my ticket back to Taiwan. I am going back in June is because:
- Ticket prices in July – August is much higher
- I love being in the sun and I like being back to Taiwan to enjoy the beautiful scenery of old towns and mountains as much as I can.
- I find it much more satisfying to enjoy my bubble tea in the summer time, and plus I can get a tan out of the trip.
Overall, the tickets in August was going to cost me ~CDN$ 1800 with 30 hours flight duration. This is not a trip you want to spend 30 hours flying and waiting for, so that’s why I made the decision to go back in June. The ticket price I got was about CDN$ 1100 with 20 hours of flight duration, and trust me I am much happier to fly 20 hours than 30 hours.
For those that likes discounts, I like to check out EBATES for any small cashback on my purchases, but please be careful reading the special conditions because I thought I was getting back 8% cashback on my Expedia.ca purchase but realized it was not meant for flights… LESSON LEARNED.
With that being said, I have earned about $9.86 in 1.5 months so far on the little cash backs I’ve been collecting.
The stores I’ve received cash backs (depending on promotion) on are:
- GROUPON – 3% – 6%
- Amazon.ca – 1% – 4%
- Sephora – 2.5% – To stock up on some general makeup
- Dynamite Clothing Canada – 6% – Refreshing my work clothes
If you like any perks, benefits, or cash backs then I would definitely recommend you check out the website – here.
Items I’ve purchased through GROUPON:
- Hotel Deals – I would compared Expedia (points and ebates cashback) with GROUPON (groupon’s extra coupons and ebates cashback)
- Accessories – Their bracelets can be cheap at times but overall, I think the quality is good for what you paid for
- Hair Product – I purchased my flat iron from GROUPON and it still works great and it only cost me CDN$ 45
- Interested to also take advantage of GROUPON perks?
- Check out the website here
Items I’ve purchased through Amazon:
- Since I am going on a long trip I felt like it was a nice time to buy a new carry on suitcase and travel pouches, and I just so happen to see Ebates having 4% cashback on amazon.
- Samsonite Carry On – I purchased mine for CDN$ 107.44 (in the screenshot) and it’s now priced at CDN$172.97 and I believe the deep blue is actually the cheapest one when I bought mine so if colour is your thing then I would suggest wait it out and see if the discount changes to another colour. I personally love the little perks from PRIME as ,which I didn’t know about before maybe I’ll write a post about it along with other membership perks.
- Hopsooken 7 Sets Travel Organizers – These travel organizers are still priced the same, but I give it a 3/5 since it does what it suppose to do. I feel like the zipper can be better and the materials can be a little bit thicker but overall for about CDN$ 20 I’m happy with it.
Overall, this is what I’ve done so far to prepare for my trip back home to Taiwan and I cannot wait for it! This is my first blog post and I hope it can be insightful to at least some of you on the little perks I’ve found lately through the wonderful world of internet.
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous