Brackley Beach

I can’t believe we’re already a week into August. This summer is going by so quickly! Last week, my sister and I revisited Brakish, where I enjoyed the arugula salad with feta, pumpkin seeds, cranberries, cucumber, tomato, raw broccoli, barbecued Atlantic salmon, and raspberry vinaigrette. It’s such a fresh, flavourful, delicious salad, and I’m glad I ordered it again. The salmon was perfectly cooked.

There was some salad left over, so I ate it for lunch the next day, alongside a banana-oat muffin smeared with peanut butter, some blackberries, and delicious sweet and salty trail mix. My favourite parts of trail mix are always the cashews and pecans.

Seline and I were so lucky, because we had the opportunity to go to Prince Edward Island’s beautiful Brackley Beach. Brackley is about fifteen minutes from Charlottetown, and “offers miles of pristine sandy beaches and majestic dunes with various nearby attractions to enthrall all guests to the region“. Seline and I enjoyed wading in the water, reading in the sand, and biking around the area.

For dinner, we biked to the Dunes Studio and Gallery, where Seline had lamb shank in Massaman curry, veggies, and rice. I had two appetizers – one massive seafood chowder with chives, and an incredible cashew pesto flatbread with caramelized apples, brie, vodka-infused cranberries, and scallions (incredible). I also ate so much of their daily bread, which was studded with chillies, cheddar, and chives. It tasted perfect when dunked into the creamy broth.

For dessert, we shared the strawberry shortcake and their daily special, the sticky date pudding. The macerated strawberries tasted awesome with whipped cream and biscuit, and as usual, the sticky date pudding was to die for. It was lovely served alongside fresh vanilla ice cream and berries.

Some things:

  1. Looking at the Dunes menu before going – Seline had the third option, the lamb shank
  2. PEI schedule
  3. List of requirements for a cool scholarship that Seline found

Few more things…

  1. I made a virtual poster for the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children
  2. List of things to do in New Glasgow, another area of PEI. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the opportunity to go
  3. Thank-you letter for our landlord

Our beautiful PEI home. Goodbye, lovely house on North River.

Seline and I have an obsession with Leonhard’s Cafe and Restaurant. I normally eat their salmon and avocado eggs benedict, which is absolutely delicious, but since we went later in the afternoon yesterday, I felt like something more lunch-y. I ordered the beet and goat cheese tart, which was topped with candied pecans. This is the most delicious tart I’ve ever eaten.

A completely different note – Sal and I love Small Print Board Game Cafe. Our favourite games are kind of lame: Quoridor, Guess Who Disney Edition (!!), something about funding the expeditions, Word on the Street, and Last Word.

Another day, Seline and I went to Piatto Pizzeria. It reminds me of Famoso Pizzeria in Waterloo, which I’ve been to quite a few times. I think I still like Famoso’s pizzas better, because they are more generous with their toppings. At Piatto, I ordered the arugula salad with gorgonzola, candied pecans, dried cranberries, and balsamic. In terms of pizza, Seline had the barbecue chicken pizza with caramelized onions, and I liked my goat cheese, proscuitto, and pear pizza. It was on the salty side, with the goat cheese and proscuitto, so I wish there was more sweet pear.

For dessert, Sal had vanilla bean ice cream, and I had a mason jar of creamy, flavourful tiramisu.

Another evening, Sal and I dined at the Pilot House. It’s one of our favourite PEI places. This time, she had the chicken gnocchi, and I ate the warm Cajun seafood salad again.

Pear and cream cheese pie with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream for dessert. This pie was great, but I’m not a big pie fan.

Yesterday afternoon, Seline and I went to COWS Creamery for our last dose of delicious Charlottetown ice cream. Seline had a scoop of vanilla and a scoop of chocolate, and I enjoyed my Cow-nadian Moo-ple ice cream (maple with swirls of syrup and crushed maple cookies) and pumpkin patch.

One of my favourite lunches was from Mavor’s Restaurant, where I ordered an award-winning grilled cheese sandwich. It was smeared with pear compote and stuffed with ricotta, cheddar, Gouda, and bacon. The bread was also a superstar – it was potato rosemary bread with plenty of butter. I loved this lunch, as well as the little side salad.

For dessert after lunch, Sal and I shared the chocolate lava cake with two scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Dinner from Lobster on the Wharf – I had the seafood pot pie with green beans and boiled new baby potatoes with butter and sour cream. Seline had their striploin with mushrooms and onions, plus coleslaw. I also had a lemon-poppyseed salad, which was a little boring.

Dessert was amazing. I’m a huge carrot cake fan, but don’t find good carrot cake very often because I’m a cream cheese icing snob. The cream cheese icing has to be perfect! And this one was. The cake was actually served warm, with the creamy, cheesy icing slightly melted. YUM!

Last but not least, a peaceful lunch at the office, starring peanut butter and banana, croissant, a banana-oat muffin, yogurt, more peanut butter, blackberries, and awesome trail mix.

IMG_3332

Seline and I are flying back to Vancouver (actually, Toronto first, then Vancouver – we have a one-hour layover) TOMORROW! We loved our time in C-town but are excited to come home, too.

CHOWDER FRIES in C-Town

Good morning!

Food-filled post ahead, guys. First of all, my sister and I are going to Cavendish tomorrow! It’s a touristy beach town in northern Prince Edward Island. We’ll be catching a 10:30 AM bus tomorrow and arriving in just over an hour. Both of us are really looking forward to it. I’ll be sure to take lots of photos.

Yesterday, Seline and I went to the Pilot House, where she had a striploin with mushrooms and asparagus. I had the warm seafood salad, with seared Cajun-spiced haddock, salmon, trout, shrimp, and scallops on mixed greens with cucumber, tomato, and lemon. I ate this last week, and had to order the same thing again. It’s so good – especially the goat cheese. Before our entrees, Seline ate a plate of calamari, and I had a cup of seafood chowder with a buttermilk biscuit. THE. BEST.

 

For dessert, we shared a delicious cookie pie topped with two scoops of ice cream and plenty of whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and nuts. Seline is not a dessert person, but she did enjoy this.

 

Couple of other things:

  • Seline stopped coming with me to school. Now, she’s staying at home to do some other things.
  • I chose my courses, but because there’s a time conflict, two of the courses were not added. I’m keeping in touch with my advisor to figure things out.

 

Yesterday, Seline and I went to the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market. One of my favourite vendors makes incredible focaccia bread. I had the maple-pecan focaccia, and Seline enjoyed her caramelized onion focaccia. I also had a pretty good iced London Fog. We chatted in the booths and ate our focaccia. 🙂 It was a really enjoyable morning, because I only work afternoons on Wednesday.

 

This maple-pecan focaccia was unbelievably delicious. The creamy, slightly eggy (?) topping was my favourite part.

 

The next couple of photos are actually from last week, when we were ALSO at the Pilot House. Seline ate the BURGERNATOR, which was stuffed with a big beef patty, deep-fried harvarti, all the normal burger fillings, AND a generous scoop of barbecue pulled pork.

 

I had that incredible warm seafood Cajun salad. Guys… I’d marry this salad.

 

For dessert, we savoured a sticky date pudding with vanilla ice cream. Dare I say – one of the best sticky date puddings we’ve eaten so far?

 

A fun day downtown, including: playing chess at The Great George hotel, a historical building. Neither of us can play chess, so this was a disaster.

 

Confederation Landing is a couple blocks from the “main part” of downtown. Seline and I ate COWS Creamery ice cream, looked at the water, and even bought sunglasses. Mine broke, and she didn’t bring a pair.

 

Seline and I are obsessed with this bookstore in downtown Charlottetown. It’s called The Book Emporium. We go at least four nights a week, to read, chat, and look at some new books. Last week, Seline bought three books for the price of two – The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials by James Dashner, AND the first book of the Harry Potter series.

Also, we always go to a place called Receiver Coffee Company, where Seline gets iced tea.

 

It looks like we’ve been going downtown and having fun every single day (which is true, because we have), but a large part of my time in PEI is spent at the university, where I have been working on a number of tasks. When I’m not working on UPEI-related research, I’m helping other people with miscellaneous tasks here and there. Check out my office space!

By the way, yesterday, I ate an ENTIRE BAG of that chocolate bark with caramelized nuts. It was heavenly. I just couldn’t stop!

 

Row House Lobster Company was another place that both of us were really looking forward to, and it did NOT disappoint. I had a stunning lobster gnocchi, and Seline had a lovely striploin with sauteed vegetables. We shared a chowder, as usual, and had bread pudding for dessert.

 

On Saturday, I went to the farmer’s market. The Charlottetown Farmer’s Market is in a nice building, and some vendors sell their goods outdoors.

 

I returned from the market with an array of delicious food – croissants, banana walnut bread, blueberry-lemon crumb cake, and a tasty brownie.

 

Another day, Sal and I went to Terre Rouge. This was one of my favourite restaurant experiences in Charlottetown so far – perhaps one of my top three? I had the lobster cannelloni (a word that I can never spell), and Seline ordered the creamy mac and cheese for her entree. We were given a lovely amuse-bouche: strawberry with mint and creamed goat cheese. Then, we shared a seafood chowder with a cheddar biscuit before we ate our entrees.

 

For dessert, I absolutely LOVED this miso gelato with lemon-blueberry cake, cream cheese frosting, caramel sauce, and chocolate ganache.

 

On Sunday, Seline and I did an escape room (TOTALLY a post on its own, right there). Beforehand, we had lunch at Brakish, near the water.

 

We started with a big platter of CHOWDER FRIES! You guys! This is hands-down my favourite fries dish. Ever.

Then, Seline had a grilled chicken wrap, and I ate a barbecue salmon salad with feta, blueberries, dried cranberries, and pumpkin seeds.

For dessert, I ate up their chocolate mousse with coconut whip.

 

This lovely meal was from Merchantman, where Seline ate crispy chicken tacos and fries. I had the seafood pappardelle with perfectly-seared scallops and mussels. I wish there was more parmesan on this dish, but the scallops were 10/10 perfection. Our dessert was a sticky toffee pudding, and we ordered another scoop of ice cream after.

 

Walking around the waterfront…

 

And that’s it! I’m actually at work, so I will get back to work. Have the best day, and I can’t wait to post more on our Cavendish adventures.

A Week in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Good morning everyone. I hope you are all having a lovely week so far. I am certainly having a great week.

55302611202__AA58788D-0948-45F2-A40C-302EECB4616F
Mom’s homemade banana muffins, to which she added chocolate chips. I wish I could eat some of these muffins – they’re my favourite.

My friend’s mother is the dean of Applied Human Sciences at the University of Prince Edward Island (I told her that I was interested in trying a research job), and she recommended that I speak to a researcher who focuses on physical activity/sedentary behaviour (main focus), food intake, health, responses to exercise, and metabolic risk. That’s why I’m here!

I volunteer an average of seven hours per day. Normally, I start at 9:00 and finish at 4:00, but have a shorter day on Wednesday and a longer day on Thursday. There will be 24 or 25 work days in total, and I will end up with approximately 170-175 volunteer hours. I have been tracking my hours on an Excel document.

 

I’ve only done a few days here so far, but I have been helping to design banners, posters, and a new website for the Active Living Lab. I am also reorganizing the informational sheets for biosafety, standard operating procedures, and emergency response plans. I will be supervising a Breast Cancer Walking Group program every Thursday evening on campus. As you can see, I have been doing a variety of different tasks, and every day is exciting because there are plenty of new things to learn and do.

In our free time, Seline and I like going to the library (I recently read The Clearing by Heather Davis, which was a beautiful tale of two lives in different points in time), walking around downtown, and enjoying the sunshine.

We had lots of COWS ice cream – here, she had the Messie Bessie and the Wowie Cowie. I can’t quite recall what was in both, though I know there were chocolate flakes, toffee, and caramel swirls involved. I had the Peanut Butter Cup-Cup, and a scoop of Moo York Cheesecake. Both were divine! Maybe one of the best ice creams I’ve ever eaten?

Seline and I joke that we’ve been in Prince Edward Island for about a week, but we can already navigate downtown Charlottetown without Google Maps. The downtown area is not as large as the downtown areas of Montreal, Vancouver, or Toronto, but has a special charm that I can’t seem to explain.

The colours here are so vibrant (these pictures are unfiltered!), and I can’t stop snapping pictures of Seline.

We stopped by the Charlottetown Visitor Centre, to take a look at things to do nearby, and Seline picked up this escape room brochure. I booked the escape room for this Sunday, so I’m looking forward to giving it a shot with Seline.

Mmmm, seafood. You guys! I’ve always wanted to come to SIMS Corner Steakhouse and Oyster Bar, and YAY, we finally did.

  • spicy and creamy seafood pappardelle for Seline (she generously donated all of her mussels to me, and they were unbelievable)
  • lobster rigatoni with garlic-herb crust for me (the massive chunks of lobster in here were top-notch)

For dessert:

  • sticky date pudding topped with a massive scoop of caramel ice cream from COWS creamery, and plenty of luscious toffee sauce

On Saturday (or was this Sunday? I have no idea because I wore the exact same outfit), we went to the Charlottetown Art Museum. There was an exhibit called Shame and Prejudice: A Story of Resilience. It was very powerful and thought-provoking.

One of my favourite exhibits was a video that showed various forms of snow, paired with a voiceover that discussed the role of these different types of snow in Indigenous culture. The museum, overall, was larger and more intriguing than we’d expected, and we liked it a lot. To enter, you can donate however much you want.

  • Me: What do you want to do for dinner today, Sal?
  • Seline: We’ve been planning to cook at home for a week already, so…
  • Me: You’re right. We should cook at home. We have some ingredients in the fridge to use up.
  • Seline: But I kind of want to eat at another restaurant.
  • Me: Me too. I know a place called RedWater Rustic Grille.
  • Seline: But shouldn’t we cook at home?
  • Me: We could, and we probably should…
  • Seline: Let’s just cook at home tomorrow.

Then we walked into RedWater Rustic Grille!

Here, Seline had a steak with garlic mashed potatoes and baked radishes, and I ate two apps instead of an entree. I had the lobster ravioli with beet pasta, and a platter of seared scallops with pancetta. Both appetizers were delicious! To follow, Seline and I shared a gorgeous chocolate torte with whipped cream, vanilla ice cream (we got two extra scoops after!), and a smear of cinnamon chocolate. We inhaled this dessert because it was truly so good – rare in my book, because most of my favourite desserts are a warm/cold combo, while this torte was served cold.

Another day, Sal and I went to Leonhard’s Cafe and Restaurant. I had a chai latte to start, and Seline ordered an iced tea. I debated between the salmon eggs benny and the guacamole eggs benny (seriously, how do you choose between smoked salmon and avocado?), but the kind waitress offered to give me one of each. Served with flavourful crispy potatoes and a fresh garden salad, I enjoyed this brunch so much. For dessert, we shared their famous vanilla roll.

Some random things:

  • UPEI fitness schedule
  • apparently now Seline likes macarons?! I’m very confused about that.
  • I made scrambled eggs with cheddar and spinach one day, cooked in plenty of salted butter, and they were lovely!
  • homemade chai latte, which I will drink more often. I like making chai lattes at home because I can control how much milk/tea leaves/honey go in.

Last night, Sal and I went to a place called Brickhouse Kitchen & Bar, also in downtown Charlottetown. Seline ate the steak frites, which came with beautifully-flavoured Grana Padano garlic fries and chimichurri (garlic and parsley) sauce.

I had a unique dish called the seafood pot pie, which was topped with the tastiest, most comforting biscuit crust. Buried underneath? Cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, haddock, and scallops, swimming in a creamy butter sauce. This was one of my favourite meals so far.

For dessert, we shared a pecan pie. The pecan pie was topped with homemade vanilla ice cream and served with a scoop of freshly-whipped cream. Another incredible dessert.

That’s it for now! We still have plenty of places that we want to go to, and hopefully will soon be able to check ’em off our list.

Have a wonderful rest of the week.

Night Markets, Eel Rice, and Airport Adventures | Last Days in Taiwan

Hello, everyone!

I hope you are all having a wonderful week so far. It’s now Friday morning, and I’m happy to be back home with my family in BC. Next Thursday, I’ll be flying off to Australia, so I’m thrilled to have some time to unwind, unpack, and… repack.

But first, let’s look at some eats!

On one of our last days in Taiwan, we had breakfast at the buffet at our hotel, the Taipei Hero House. I ate two plates, and particularly loved the steamed bun (mantou), pickled turnips, Taiwanese braised pork rice, and sautéed cabbage.

At Yum Cha, a dim sum restaurant, we ordered:

  • siu mai with pork and shrimp
  • wok-fried beef strips and wide rice noodles
  • eggplant with spicy pork and salted fish
  • glutinous rice and chicken in a lotus leaf

Another morning, I had a lovely quiche from a coffee shop in the airport. This quiche was labelled as “chicken and vegetable”, but I didn’t detect a single piece of chicken in here. That was no problem, though, because it was stuffed with onion and mushroom – it was super flavourful.

IMG_5253

That night, Dad and I went to a night market called Raohe Street Night Market, which primarily caters to tourists. First up: an oyster omelet with plenty of sweet and sour sauce. I love oyster omelets, and this was a great way to kick a the night of eating.

Then, I ate:

  • deep-fried taro ball filled with cheese
  • deep-fried taro ball filled with red bean paste and salted egg yolk (unpictured)
  • taro milk
  • cheese bubble waffle
  • stinky tofu with pickled cabbage
  • Taiwanese tempura with pig blood cake (made with pork blood, sticky rice, broth, and steamed or cooked in a hot pot)
  • wheel cake filled with radish
  • wheel cake filled with cream
  • bolo bao (pineapple bun) filled with vanilla ice cream

The next day, Grandpa and I went to a botanical garden in Taipei and ate dim sum. The creamy salted egg yolk buns will always be my favourite.

We enjoyed food at a Japanese grill for lunch before watching a movie. The restaurant was packed with people, and the line extended for a block! Everyone in the restaurant ate very quickly, and I felt like I didn’t have time to enjoy my meal to the fullest.

I ordered the small steamed rice box with eel. I love eel (unagi), and my mom used to make it for me all the time when I was little. On the side, we enjoyed deep-fried oysters with Japanese-style “tartar” sauce, sautéed vegetables, grilled squid, blackened pork kebabs, and miso soup.

Then, we went to watch The Death Cure. Guys. If I’m not eating, sleeping, or studying, I’m probably somewhere obsessing over some YA novel or its movie. Anyways, The Death Cure came out early in Taiwan (as most movies do), and I watched it with my great-aunt, dad, and grandfather. Sorry Seline – we planned to see the midnight premiere together. 😥 No regrets on my end, though. Definitely need some more time to process it.

I thought the movie was absolutely electrifying. I like the Maze Runner series more than Divergent, and I felt like the movies certainly did the books justice. It is also refreshing to have a courageous, yet emotional, male lead in a dystopian YA film. The Death Cure had funny snippets of dialogue and expressions that added comedic relief – interlaced with shocking parts that I never saw coming. Did anyone else see this yet?

After the movie, my mind was muddled with bombs and explosions and moral corruptness, and we went to Starbucks for some coffee and chatting. Dad and I also had time to go to Carrefour (similar to Wal-Mart), where we picked up some slippers to bring home for guests.

After some more walking, and shopping in old Taiwan’s local market, we ate wontons. These wontons were smothered with a delicious sesame sauce, soy sauce, and plenty of scallions. They were delicious!

IMG_5373

At the Taoyuan International Airport, more food: delicious soup dumplings with soy sauce and ginger. I love soup dumplings, but would never believe that an airport could make such tasty ones. This was lovely, and I had a great mug of dark hot chocolate from Godiva.

IMG_5379

Then I established this lame, but exciting-to-me, list!

Things I got to eat in Taiwan:

  • beef noodles
  • soy milk
  • Chinese donut
  • bean curd
  • fried oysters
  • milk tea
  • beef intestine salad
  • tian bu la (tempura)
  • pig blood cake
  • shaved ice mountain (bao bing)
  • mochi
  • pineapple bun
  • glutinous oil rice
  • fried cruller in a baked flatbread (shao bing you tiao)
  • stinky tofu
  • fried stinky tofu
  • taro milk
  • braised pork rice with eggplant
  • oyster omelet
  • beef rolls

Things that I sadly did not have the opportunity to enjoy:

  • egg pancake (dan bing)
  • salt and pepper chicken
  • ba wan (Taiwanese glutinous meatballs)
  • fried buns
  • pineapple cake
  • scallion pancakes
  • gua bao
  • sun cakes

Twelve hours later, I found myself giggling with my sister back home!

At Earls, my family enjoyed lunch together. My plate included fried salmon with a dill and pepper sauce, buttery asparagus, and jasmine rice with scallions and fried onions. This meal was incredibly flavourful, and it was great to eat salmon again!

IMG_5393

That is it for today, mes amis. 🙂 I hope you all have a fantastic Friday.

10 Lessons from Exploring Cambodia with my 90-year-old Grandfather

I kicked off 2018 with a trip to Cambodia with my 90-year-old grandfather. Although I am certainly no travel doctor or gerontologist, I did learn numerous lessons about travelling with a senior that may be beneficial to others planning vacations with grandparents or elderly parents.

To start, let’s clarify the context: my grandfather is quite healthy, living with my grandmother in their quiet apartment in Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver. While he enjoys walking, my grandfather prefers to avoid hills, and walk only for short periods of time. He has limited mobility in his knees and takes daily vitamins and medication. His vision and hearing aren’t as good as they were a decade ago, and he is used to taking regular naps and having early bedtimes. Nonetheless, my grandpa is curious, loves to learn, and wants to see as much as he can. Fortunately, Grandpa doesn’t have any dietary restrictions, but prioritizes his health by munching on as many fruits, vegetables, and nuts as possible. Since he grew up in rural China and spent most of his life in Taiwan, he speaks perfect Mandarin and has been learning English for his previous four decades.

On the other hand, I grew up in Coquitlam, British Columbia, where I wholeheartedly consider myself Canadian. Moving to Ontario for school meant that I spend only a few weeks per year with my grandparents. I am an organized, though spontaneous (and overly-inquisitive), explorer when it comes to travelling. I like to know exactly where I will eat, and which menu items I’ll order, but at the same time, like to leave room in my schedule for impromptu hikes and photo sessions.

IMG_4192

There are countless reasons to travel with older adults you love, but the hassle often holds people back. Despite the logistical considerations to take into account, travelling with a grandparent or elderly parent is a rewarding, enriching experience. Many special memories were created during our trip to Cambodia, and I gained a valuable appreciation for my grandfather. Most importantly, the time that we spent together was a gift that I will cherish for a lifetime. Here are ten tips that I would offer to anyone travelling with an elderly loved one.

  1. When you have the opportunity to plan the destination for your vacation, find one that suits everyone’s needs. When my grandfather first asked where I’d like to go after our trip to Taiwan, I responded “Cambodia!” in a heartbeat. Looking back, while my experience in the Kingdom of Wonder was truly once-in-a-lifetime, my grandfather faced several challenges, from the bumpy tuktuk rides to the steep staircases in ancient temples. Perhaps it would’ve been equally memorable if I’d chosen a relaxing cruise, which is typically geared towards guests of all ages. Note: consider the terrain of the destination (ideally paved, flat, and even), especially if your companion has knee or hip issues. Additionally, try to stay in one city for at least four days. Grandpa and I spent four days in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, and this was just the right amount of time to visit the key tourist attractions, eat at all the restaurants I wanted to try, and spend some afternoons sipping coconut water by the hotel swimming pool. I also found it very valuable to involve my grandfather in the trip planning. As much as I wanted to climb mountains and wade in beaches spontaneously, it was better to hear his ideas and compromise. From my experience in hospitals and senior homes, I know that it is critical for older adults to retain independence; everyone should be actively involved in making decisions. In the end, I found that his priorities, which included time to relax in the hotel, shorter walks, and indoor seating in restaurants, contributed to a better, more restful, experience for myself.
  2. Find a hotel with lots of amenities. Since Grandpa often spent afternoons in the hotel while I checked out local attractions, I knew it was important for the hotel to have elevators, a lounge, swimming pool, or possibly a spa. One of my favourite memories from the trip was getting a traditional Khmer (Cambodian) massage in our Siem Reap hotel with my grandfather. Both of us were tired from exploring ancient temples in the early morning, so following his afternoon nap, I booked a couple’s massage room for us to experience a Cambodian spa treatment. Not only was this a refreshing change from the traditional massage, we had the opportunity to chat while stretching with the lovely therapists.
  3. Travel insurance is essential, regardless of the type of trip, particularly if your grandparent has medical conditions. We completed our travel insurance forms a month before the trip, though it could take even longer if travelers have pre-existing medical conditions. Bring extra prescriptions just in case. I am lucky because Grandpa has always been highly diligent about his medications. If not, however, I would set an alarm on my phone to keep dosages consistent. A few weeks before the trip, we also visited a travel doctor to fill up on travel medications and make sure we were up-to-date on vaccinations.
  4. Pre-plan for dietary restrictions. Each morning, Grandpa likes to have a few scoops of Fiber One and some sunflower seeds, so we made sure to pack enough of those necessities. For myself, I brought homemade muffins and a few peanut butter and chocolate LARABARS to snack on during the long plane rides. Though Grandpa is not picky, he definitely has food-related preferences. For instance, I learned that he adores fresh coconut water (less than forty cents in Cambodia!), hot soup, boneless fish, and vegetables. Eventually, we were able to figure out which restaurants provided tasty and customizable meals that would satisfy both of us.
  5. I learned that nighttime flights can be extremely draining, and are best to avoid. Travel during the right time of day. Seniors may lack the energy they use to have, so early-morning or midnight flights are exhausting. Grandpa and I found that mid-morning, or early-afternoon, departures were the least draining. I have terrible memories of travelling with my dad when I was little – he would insist on arriving at the airport five hours before the flight (I wish this was a joke), and I would sit around while he played games on his cellphone. As a result, I’ve always been very last-minute with airplane rides, normally arriving at the gate minutes before the final boarding call. Grandpa finally cured me of this terrible habit by suggesting we arrive 2.5 hours early to make sure we get through all the lines rush-free, and use the extra time to sit and have a nice meal.
  6. Like most, or maybe all, other parts of life, open communication was essential. I learned to warn Grandpa in advance if there were any long walks, and he often reminded me that he would prefer to take an elevator instead of the stairs. With good communication, no one will be offended if you want to go off on your own. Wherever I am, I like to have some alone time, and so does Grandpa. When I wanted to see the Kampong Trach caves, Grandpa was more than happy to watch TV at the hotel. Similarly, I was totally okay with him doing some morning aerobics while I slept in.
  7. Pack as lightly as possible, and count on doing laundry at the destination. We brought minimal clothing and travel-size everything, knowing that navigating the airport would not be fun with excessive and oversized baggage. Ideally, we’d pack carry-on only, so we wouldn’t have too much luggage to handle. Remind your loved one to bring comfortable shoes that are easy to remove and put back on. When we visited the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh, the heels of both of Grandpa’s running shoes snapped off (yes, both – how does that even happen?). We were very lucky to find a shoe store nearby and fit him with a soft new pair of walking shoes. On a side note, printed maps may actually be helpful! In Cambodia, I was completely lost when Wi-Fi was nowhere to be found, so I was more happy than embarrassed that Grandpa packed an old-fashioned paper map (and was a master at using it).
  8. Three key words: pack activities sparingly. Create plans that allow for freedom and flexibility – you don’t have to do everything together as a group. Instead, try to look for destinations that allow both of you to pursue your own needs and interests, and then reunite for meals. I learned to be more patient and understanding, and rather than rushing Grandpa, I allotted more time to each activity. Essentially, after each round of sightseeing, there should be some time to slow down, eat, or relax to rejuvenate. This tip was especially challenging for me, because I always want to jam-pack each free moment to the second. I discovered that, for the most part, one activity before lunch, and one activity after lunch, is enough. A slower pace, I learned, does not mean that I experience less. Rather, spending more time on each activity resulted in a more fulfilling experience. Avoid a packed schedule to allow time for early bedtimes and potentially naps in the afternoon. My grandfather is accustomed to afternoon naps, so we made sure there was sufficient time on most days, for him to return to the hotel to sleep. For instance, a typical day in Cambodia looked like this:
  • wake up naturally at around 8:00 AM
  • go for a walk in nearby area (beach, market, etc.), and/or relax in the hotel
  • walk or ride a tuktuk to a restaurant for brunch
  • head back to the hotel to drop off Grandpa
  • Grandpa watches TV, then takes a nap, while I go on a hike, explore caves, or visit temples
  • go back to the hotel to relax with Grandpa, and make dinner plans
  • walk or ride a tuktuk to a restaurant for dinner
  • head back to the hotel to rest
  1. Hire drivers if the city does not have good public transportation. I wanted to visit Cambodia primarily to experience the breathtaking Angkor Archaeological Park, a series of impressive monuments that testify to an exceptional ancient civilization. Since Angkor was quite far from Siem Reap, the closest city, we hired tuktuk drivers for the entire day to take us from one region of the park to another. Likewise, airplane rides are tiring and stressful enough; it is often worthwhile to book a driver to help with luggage and pick you up from the airport, then drop you off at your hotel. During long car rides, such as the three-hour ride from Kep in southern Cambodia to the airport in Phnom Penh, I reminded myself to ask the driver to make frequent stops for us to use the restroom, and move around to avoid discomfort from the drive.
  2. Choose activities wisely. Consider museums carefully. While most museums are air-conditioned and chilly, with tile floors, the National Museum of Cambodia was bright and humid. Furthermore, there were many flights of rickety stairs. There are few things that both Grandpa and I enjoy doing, and eating is one of them. Supporting arts, history, and cultural heritage is another. While we were in Cambodia, I made it my goal to find hospitality training restaurants that benefit students in the long-term. For instance, we enjoyed flavourful, delicious Khmer meals at HAVEN in Siem Reap and Friends in Phnom Penh, both of which train street children and orphans to cook (and eventually gain employment) and fund their studies in the meantime. Comparably, our favourite centre, Daughters of Cambodia, rescues young girls from the sex trafficking industry by giving them shelter, physical and mental healthcare, and employment (cooking and baking in the café, massage therapy in the spa, sewing for the souvenir shop, and more). Grandpa loved learning about the great causes behind each of these organizations, and he was always happy to buy souvenirs from them.

Above all, enjoy the peaceful, uneventful moments. On my previous trips to France and Nepal, being a tourist came first, with volunteering coming in as a close second. In Cambodia, however, I learned more about my grandpa than I’d expected. Grandpa often shared stories about his youth in 1950s Taiwan – memories that were triggered by the sandy roads, whirring motorcycles, cheerful street vendors, and stray animals of Cambodia. Initially wary about speaking English to the smiling servers and shopkeepers of Cambodia, Grandpa became bolder and happier. He was so charming to everyone, enjoyed every meal, and laughed lots. He had sufficient sleep, and gasped in delight at tiny details: unique leaves or trucks or characters in the Khmer language. These hilarious, simple, and touching moments were truly unforgettable – even more than the temples I’d photographed or amok dishes I devoured.

If I am ever lucky enough have the opportunity to do so, I would not hesitate to travel with my grandfather again. I wish you all the same: a wonderful trip, full of precious memories, with a grandparent or elderly parent you love.

IMG_1849

Delicious Cambodian Meals and Bokor National Park

On our last day in Siem Reap, Dad, Grandpa, and I had dinner at HAVEN.

  • I ate the fish amok, which was the #1 fish amok that I’ve eaten in Cambodia so far. It was perfectly curried and coconut-scented, with just enough lemongrass, ginger, and chili to add flavour without overwhelming the delicate fish. Best of all, the amount of rice paired perfectly with the amount of amok.
  • Grandpa’s lok lac included vegetables, a fried egg, and plenty of peppery sliced beef.
  • Dad enjoyed the calamari with lime aioli, as well as a bacon cheeseburger with fries.
  • For dessert, I loved the banana bread with coconut crumble and mango-passionfruit ice cream, which I swapped with Dad’s caramel ice cream.

The next day, we had breakfast in Phnom Penh since we took a night bus. We ate in Raffles Hotel, where we had the breakfast buffet. I ate mango yogurt x2 and two blueberry muffins, along with two delicious Cambodian baguette sandwiches with fish pate, fresh dragonfruit, cheddar cheese, banana bread, and a very tasty slice of toasted rye with butter and papaya jam.

Before we knew it, we arrived in Kampot, which was a 30-minute tuktuk ride to our hotel in Kep. Our hotel was truly a tropical resort, with too many palm trees to count and two sparkling pools.

On our first day, we spent time at the Kep National Park. We walked for around 25 minutes before turning around to walk back down the hill. Despite completing just a small amount of the trail, we were rewarded with a lovely view.

That day, we liked our dinner at The Sailing Club. The photos did not turn out as expected since it was quite dark, but it was incredibly tasty nonetheless.

  • spicy Khmer chicken noodle soup
  • garlic baguette
  • crab cakes with spicy aioli and fresh vegetables
  • fresh white fish with vegetables and spicy garlic coconut sauce, steamed jasmine rice – this was mine, and it was hands down one of the top three savoury things I’ve ever eaten. The flavourful coconut sauce on the tender, flaky fish, paired with plenty of gently-sautéed vegetables and rice was heavenly.
  • cheeseburger for Dad (unpictured)
  • crispy fried banana with coconut ice cream and caramel sauce

The next day, we loved our brunch at La Baraka. We started with drinks, as usual, and I ordered tea with milk and sugar. Our meals arrived shortly after:

  • shrimp fried noodles in a pineapple for Grandpa
  • Croque Madame with fries for Dad (I tried some of his Croque Madame, and it was delicately fried and loaded with flavour from the ham and cheese enveloped within)
  • two fried eggs, bacon, salad, bread, and pineapple juice for me
  • garlic bread to share
  • dessert of chocolate fondant with vanilla ice cream

Next, we went to Bokor National Park. It was a 90-minute drive from our resort in Kep. We had the opportunity to explore the legendary buildings from Cambodia’s colonial days, but were sad to miss the waterfall which is only “active” during rainy season.

I learned: Established by the French as a hill station in 1925, Bokor has been abandoned twice, during World War II and the Khmer Rouge period. The area including Bokor ‘mountain’ was established as a national park in 1993, with its 1,500 square kilometres spanning four Cambodian provinces. Despite substantial illegal logging, it’s home to leopard cats, gibbons, hornbills, civets and sunbears.

The Old French Palace was hauntingly beautiful, built by French settlers before 1920 for French social elites in Cambodia.

Renovators did add a wonderful curving road to the top of the hill, making Bokor much easier to access.

Today is our last day in Kep, or Cambodia for that matter, and I will really miss this incredible country. Soon, we are heading back to Taipei for a couple days and then flying to Macau for a short period of time.

Now, Dad and I are off to visit the Kampong Trach caves and I look forward to updating with more soon.