I’m sure some of you may be thinking that my main reasoning may be pretty obvious. I spent this whole year in Japan, working at a magical kingdom, and traveling Asia, so of course my year must have been amazing, right? Well, although those things were all pretty wonderful, there were other factors involved that made this year so much better than any I have ever experienced. At the end of the day, it was not about the opportunities I was given, it was about what I chose to do with them and how I grew as a result.
My entire life I have always been so happy and comfortable living in Southern California. Everything about it: the community, the geography, the beach, the valley, the food, and the comfort... it is just part of who I am. Above anything, I have always said that I'm in love with Southern California's weather. The weather never changed and that's how I liked it (especially because I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to the cold). I'd see my relocated friends post pictures about the seasons and I'd simply laugh to myself. I had only ever seen seasons in pictures and I used to think, "wow that sucks for them." In my head, I was experiencing seasons through pictures just as nicely, only I was in a tolerable temperature. I thought everyone was only acting like they loved season change. In my world, I was the one who had it better, right? Well, I only just found out recently that I was wrong. DEAD WRONG. I'm sure plenty of people may want to rub it in my face and say "I told you so" when I say this, but after experiencing my first autumn, I love seasons.
What I learned from trying all the Christmas Food at Tokyo Disney:
Japan's idea of Christmas is very different from America's. While an American Christmas is traditionally defined by gingerbread, peppermint, and festive baked goods, Japan sees Christmas in another light. The incorporation of reds and greens was definitely still present, but all the details that I grew up loving were no where to be seen.
It was new, exciting, and very different than what I was expecting! Giving all these new treats a try was quite the experience.
This one is for all the Disney Foodies out there! I absolutely LOVE food. Love it. And I had heard about some tasty things to try at Hong Kong Disney and they surely did not disappoint. From precious little dumplings to cool and delicious ice cream, it seems as though they just can't go wrong! So many of their snacks are unique to just Hong Kong, and are definitely worth a try.
1. Mickey & Minnie Chocolate Covered Oreos
If you love Oreos, these treats are for you! One of the first places you pass when you enter the park is the magical bakery on main street. This is where you can find these little friends and are perfect if you don't want anything too substantial. Of course Oreos are already delicious as it is, but these are even better when they are chocolate covered and look like our favorite mice!
The Royal Banquet Hall in Fantasyland has an incredible variety when it comes to food! You can come here for curry, pizza, Japanese food, DUMPLINGS, and many more options. Out of everything in this cozy little restaurant, the dim sum is by far the yummiest and the cutest. These little pork filled buns are shaped like the most adorable little pigs and are bound to warm your heart!
3. Mickey & Minnie Ice Cream Bars
Mickey Ice Cream bars are a staple at all the Disney Parks, but Hong Kong takes it to the next level! When you come across ice cream carts you can choose between Mickey OR MINNIE! While Mickey is vanilla ice cream coated with a crisp chocolate shell, Minnie is strawberry ice cream with a hard chocolate shell only the backside only. If you look closely you can see some of that chocolate dripping from behind Minnie's ears! This opens the door for some of those ice cream lovers who might not prefer chocolate. I love that more variety is offered, but the original Mickey Ice Cream Bar will always be my favorite!
4. Pineapple Bread
Pineapple bread is something that is so sweet, tasty, and very unique to Hong Kong as a region. Even the pineapple bread I found at 7/11 was amazing, but the one at Disneyland is even better because it's actually shaped like a pineapple! This little treat can also be found at the Main Street Bakery and hopefully yours will be cuter than the injured one we got.
5. Donald & Pooh Bear Donuts
Aside from the fact that the donuts were melting in our hands, eating these was just the most delightful experience! I imagined that these treats would be mainly cute and not as yummy, but they are far from mediocre. My expectations were definitely exceeded. They can also be found at the Mainstreet Bakery! As you can probably tell, that bakery cannot go wrong.
6. Small World Ice Cream
Whether you want your ice cream in a cup, cone, or waffle basket, this quaint little ice cream stand right by Small World won't disappoint! I got a simple vanilla ice cream in a chocolate sprinkled covered waffle cone. It was heavenly, but I would surely recommend the waffle basket! It seems to be their specialty and they had a few different options to choose from including ice cream topped with chocolate banana, mixed berries, or peaches!
7. Iron Man Waffle
Right on Main Street is a sweet little waffle cart with Mickey Waffles as far as the eye can see! Because the Iron Man Experience had just recently opened, they had a limited time Iron Man Waffle! It tastes just like the Mickey one, but of course the eating experience is even more epic because you're eating Iron Man's face. I personally prefer the one's at Disneyland in California (maybe I'm biased?). but they definitely took care of any waffle craving that I may have had!
8. Mickey Pizza
Pizza is already amazing, but it's twice as good when it's shaped like Mickey! We got this slice of heaven in the Royal Banquet Hall in Fantasyland (same place as the piggy dumplings). If you like adorable food, this is a GREAT option. If you're looking for quality pizza? Mmmmm, maybe try to find something else. It was still good!.... but at the end of the day it is still amusement park pizza.
9. Egg Tarts
The egg tarts are ALL over Hong Kong in various Chinese bakeries. The Bakery on Main Street sells them as well and is a great place to try this native treat if you don't come across it elsewhere! The flaky pastry is filled with a baked egg custard and is best served warm. I wasn't too sure about it when I first bought it, but it was definitely a MUST TRY for me!
10. Fried Squid
In Adventureland, there is a cart that sells "Safari Snacks" and this includes the park famous FRIED SQUID! The fried squid is pictured in Brenna's left hand and is packaged in a clear plastic wrap. It's extremely course and difficult to chew. I personally wasn't a big fan, but I know people in Hong Kong go crazy for it. That's okay! If you're anything like us and decide that you don't like the squid, you can get caramel popcorn from the same Safari Snack cart instead!
That's it for all the treats we tried at Hong Kong Disneyland! If you end up going, have fun in a magical place eating even more magical food.
Have you ever had people say to you "hmmm.. I'm not sure if that's the best idea" ? Let me tell ya, I definitely have. Regardless of how many people advised me against going to South Korea, I decided to make Seoul my next destination anyway. It may have been a tad risky, but I’m beyond thankful that I made this decision, for this experience has truly changed me. You see, this was my first trip as a solo traveler! Very exciting, I know.
This trip was definitely one for the books. Although South Korea was wonderful, I really wanted to see the part that maybe wasn't as glamorous. I was ready to drive away from the flashing city lights to see a new sort of attraction that I never thought I would ever see. Hours away from Seoul, and through the countryside lurked an ominous northern neighbor that I had heard so much about. You know how it is, sometimes when you hear so much about something, you are left dying to experience it for yourself.
Recently, I had the pleasure of going on my first trip all by myself. From this journey, I have learned that there’s something special about traveling alone. You learn things about the world and yourself that you may not have gained otherwise. From this journey, I can confidently say that I am coming back a changed individual.
When I decided to attend Chapman University in Orange, California, there was one thought wandering in the back of my mind: “HOW COOL WOULD IT BE TO HAVE A JOB AT DISNEYLAND?!” It wasn’t necessarily an idea I was getting my hopes up about, but I was planning to giving it a try. The summer leading up to my freshman year of college, I was constantly refreshing the the audition website when BAM! There it was! My first opportunity to be a part of this magical company! I watched “audition tip” YouTube videos to get myself prepared and hoped that would be enough. I anxiously awaited the day I would get to perform for the casting directors and (hopefully) show them that I deserved to be working for the Walt Disney Company.
I just hit my 7 month mark and halfway point of living in Japan! This experience is flying by, but I’m so incredibly grateful for everything I’ve seen, everywhere I’ve been, and of course everything I’ve eaten! Here are some of my favorite places and experiences captured with “1 Second Everday.” Since I first got here, I have been documenting every day and every adventure in video, and I’m so happy that I can share it with the world. Here is Part 1! Part 2 will be out in April 2018.
In addition to my “1 Second Everyday,” I also picked 3 of my favorite memories while living in Japan. It was difficult to pick just 3, but these adventures will always hold a special place in my heart.
Before moving here, I was told stories about how incredibly kind the Japanese people were. It was something I accepted as fact but did not truly experience for myself until arriving here and fully immersing myself. If there is one generalization I feel comfortable making about these people, it would be regarding this particular characteristic. It is quite unbelievable at times, and I end up in shock regarding the generosity and patience that a great majority of people have. For the most part, they are a very communal group of individuals and it is evident that others’ feelings are taken into consideration in most situations.
The first time I was really amazed by the kindness in Japan was when Brenna-chan and I went to Nagano. We decided to hop on the bullet train to see the snow monkeys during our second week, and didn’t really know what we were doing or where we were going. When we arrived at our final train stop, SURPRISE… I witnessed my first snow fall and it was magical!.. But also, my pocket wi-fi had no service and we no had idea how to get to our hostel. I had a screenshot of where it was supposed to be, but no real concept of where that was. We went to a convenience store in hope of getting some sort of help, but it wasn’t easy. The boy at the desk knew absolutely NO English and at this point the only thing we knew how to say in Japanese was “arigato" (thank you). I showed him my phone and he gave us a paper map of the city. He was able to circle where we wanted to go and where we currently were, but he seemed to be getting frustrated because he wasn’t able to assist us more effectively. He was relatively helpful, but there was nothing else that could have been done when communication was limited and google translate was unaccessible. We both left saying the only Japanese word we knew and simply hoped for the best as we set out into the crisp winter night.
So, I wanted to write my first post about my Mount Fuji experience. From the perspective of the general public, I would say that there is a common misconception regarding what it is actually like to hike Mount Fuji. The glorified sunrise from the top is usually what’s posted on Instagram and is the only thing people see, but there is so much more to this adventure than just the highlights. So.. Here we go!
Wow. Fuji was quite the experience, and definitely not what I had anticipated. Before I moved to Japan, Allister and I were already talking about hiking Fuji together (aka 7 months ago). It was a MUST-DO bucket list item that we never actually imagined we’d end up doing… but we did.