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TULUM CITY GUIDE

March 13, 2018 Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico




I discovered so many good eats while wandering in the hotel zone in Tulum. I stayed at an airbnb in downtown Tulum but took a taxi and went to Matcha Mama, which is conveniently tucked in a picturesque spot. Another popular place is Raw Love Cafe which has a similar vibe and menu to Matcha Mama. I spent about a couple of hours in the area, walking around and window shopping. A lot of cool, hipster places and I loved how a lot of shops sold products from Mexican designers. I would recommend renting a bike and biking around the area since there are plenty of shops, eats, and sights to see. For some reason I can't find the name of the taco truck where I had ceviche, guacamole, and a taco but it's located in the hotel zone (same strip as Matcha Mama). My advice would be to either yelp, Instagram, or wander into a restaurant and check their menu. Also, a lot of restaurants and cafes have free WiFi which had stronger reception than using my data. 









Staying in downtown Tulum had a different vibe than staying in the hotel zone, but I would have to say I preferred staying away from the hotel zone. You're able to come across locals and have an authentic cultural experience, although Tulum has become touristy over the past years. I biked around everywhere with my friend Sarah from our airbnb which was located next to many restaurants downtown. We didn't have much on our itinerary except to go with the flow and relax. Thank you to everyone who gave me tips on recommendations for my Tulum trip! We yelp'd some places to eat nearby and we ended up going to Burrito Amor three times - it's addicting! Also there are local favorites such as Taqueria Honorio where tacos cost only 8 pesos...which is equal to about 43 cents! 

Luckily we got blessed with amazing weather so we looked up cenotes and beaches to go visit. I would recommend looking up places you're trying to visit on Instagram first so you can see what the place looks like. In my experience google hasn't always been accurate. I went to a beach based on tripadvisor and google's recommendations, but arrived to find out that it was actually a hotel's beach. Also, the pictures on google weren't accurate and was bummed to find that the beach was filled with seaweed. 

The last day was spent in Cancun and my friend and I checked in at a hotel nearby, The Westin, because it was only ten minutes from the airport. The weather was sunny and perfect for just laying on the beach and bumming around. 

Where to eat in Downtown Tulum:
-Taqueria Honorio (cheap, yummy tacos and also a popular local spot!)
-Antojito La Chiapaneca (another popular spot for tacos)
-El Camello Jr. (local favorite)
-Del Cielo (if you're craving some American brunch)
-Burrito Amor (popular spot, more of an American version but still good)
-Raw Love Cafe
-El Pollo Bronco (rotisserie chicken)
-Prieto (lovely cafe)
-Flor De Michoacan (delicious popsicles!)

Sight-see:
-Cenotes! I only had the chance to go to two, but I really enjoyed my time. I went to Gran Cenote, a popular spot but heard that Cenote Nic Te Ha is another great spot if you're in Tulum.
-Mayan Ruins (didn't get to go but definitely on my list next time I visit!)

Tips:
-Exchange money at Cancun's airport - they don't charge a service fee.
-Rent a bike! Best part of my trip was biking everywhere, so fun and a perfect way to get around Tulum.
-Go to cenotes in the morning when it opens or close to closing time. I would suggest to go before noon because it gets really crowded after noon. Also, find out their entrance fee (typically cash only) and hours they're open. Some cenotes don't allow you to enter 45 minutes before closing.
-Check your phone plan and see if you have service in Mexico. I have Verizon and my phone plan covers free talk, data, and text message in Mexico.
-Bring a book to read or download an app so you can listen to an audiobook! I'm currently listening to Tiffany Haddish's audiobook, The Last Black Unicon - a must read/listen! She is seriously so hilarious! People may look at you crazy because you can't stop laughing.
-Stay hydrated! I bought bottled water at OXXO (which you can find easily) and found it to be the cheapest. Restaurants will up-charge for bottled water so I suggest buying water ahead of time, which you can bring around with you.
-Take the ADO bus to Tulum, it is way cheaper than taking a taxi. One way cost me about $15 USD compared to $60-70 USD if I took a taxi. The bus is clean and has AC! Also check the times as it runs about every hour or so depending on where you're trying to go.
-Haggle with the taxi drivers as a lot of times they will overcharge. Also I was told you don't need to tip taxis.
-Say hola! and smile :) Small gestures such as learning short Spanish phrases go a long way and also if you're in another country, why not learn their language?
-Don't carry a lot of money with you. I only brought as much as I would need for that day, about 1300 pesos (about $70 USD) per day. If I was going to go sight-see, I would bring extra money that would cover taxis and entrance fees. A lot of times I had money leftover.
-Wear comfortable shoes and items you're ok with getting dirty. I brought my Birkenstocks, espadrilles, and one sneaker to wear throughout my trip. I also brought totes and bags that I didn't mind throwing away or tossed around.
-Bring an external battery to charge your phone because you'll want to take pictures of everything!









Love, Sharon

DON'T QUIT YOUR DAYDREAM

March 7, 2018




I can't speak for everyone, but I'm glad I didn't quit daydreaming and decided to take a risk and go for what I love to do. In my experience it was difficult convincing my parents that I wanted to pursue an unconventional job as my career. Especially since my parents immigrated to the States from Korea I wanted them to be proud of me. I often found myself lacking interest in school and would skip classes, forgetting that I would later regret it because it affected my GPA. I started working in high school and worked different jobs to be financially independent. My first job was at Panera and later on worked at a bank, a bookstore, Nordstrom (didn't help my spending habit), and at one point wanted to be a hygienist so I worked as a dental assistant. After working different jobs, nothing piqued my interest and I told myself I couldn't work a 9-5 job because I was unhappy. I wanted to be my own boss but I didn't know what I wanted to do in life.

Fast forward a couple of years and I discover my newfound hobby, photography. I started posting photos on Instagram and realized I was able to monetize by working with different brands. I was still in college at this time but decided to quit working as a dental assistant and focus on school. I was slacking off in school and decided to put school as my top priority so I could graduate. All of my friends had already graduated and I was still stuck in school, my parents would joke that I was getting my PhD. Luckily I graduate and pursue photography full time which has opened many doors and opportunities to travel. Travel has allowed me to be open minded and see the world in a different perspective. I'm still daydreaming about one day opening my own coffee shop, going on mission trips with my parents, writing a children's book, and work with amazing organizations such as Charity: Water, UNICEF, etc. I love what Humans of New York is doing and want to follow in his footsteps, bringing awareness to people's stories around the world. I'm always fascinated hearing about people's lives and the story that shaped who they are. I would love to use my platform for good and give voice to those that don't have one.

My advice is to make your dreams a reality and don't quit daydreaming! I know I need to take my own advice as well, but you all have gifts and talents that are being put to waste if you're not using them. I know it's not always easy and there are circumstances that may prevent you from doing so, but why not take a chance if you can? At least make an effort to go for it! One of the questions I always get is how I started blogging. Its always the hardest, but first step is to just do it. I'm not telling you to quit your job because it's not always realistic, but you can always start and see where it takes you. Go the unconventional path and do what you love as cliche as it sounds. Don't let a certain salary be your definition of success, my definition of success is finding happiness in what you do.

Also, I have received a lot of questions about traveling. A majority of my trips are not sponsored and I pay for most of my travels. I will have a post up about how I'm able to go on trips, tips on saving money, etc. If you have any questions leave them below!





Love, Sharon

WEEKEND STAYCATION IN D.C.

February 27, 2018 Washington, DC, USA





Over the weekend I had a mini staycation in D.C. and it was the perfect way to unwind and end the last weekend of February. I live close to the nation's capital but don't go into D.C. as often as I would like due to traffic and I somehow manage to always get a parking or speeding ticket. I played tourist and booked my stay at The Line Hotel, which is located in Adams Morgan and walked around to old and new favorite spots. I was fascinated by how much D.C. has changed! I love that Bluestone Lane came into the city because it's one of my favorite cafe's and I always make sure to stop by when I'm in Philly or NYC. Few of my favorite spots in the city are U Street, Georgetown, DuPont Circle, and Adams Morgan. Here are few of my suggestions and also thank you to everyone who gave me recommendations in D.C.!Eats & Drinks:-Le Diplomate, still on my list of places I need to go. This was the most recommended place by everyone!-Rose's Luxury, on my list as well I heard the line starts an hour or so before opening!-Colada Shop, I stepped in but couldn't really have anything due to my dairy allergy, but love the space and I've heard only great things about this place!-Sushi Taro, Sushi Capitol, two sushi places I still need to try but I've heard amazing things about these two. -Bluestone Lane, they're opening one in Georgetown soon! There's one in DuPont Circle and the space is lovely! They make the perfect avocado toast. It's also right next to a library :)-Sakuramen, oh my one of the best ramen spots! -Donburi, so so good! Came here twice after trying it out for the first time, I recommend the sakedon!-Sweetgreen, always a favorite! There are multiple locations but they just opened up a spot in Georgetown :)-Brothers & Sisters, inside The Line Hotel! Had breakfast here before I checked out and I enjoyed their small plates. -Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, I finally had a chance to go after missing so many opportunities while in Chicago. I had their dark chocolate truffle (dairy free) and it literally melted in my mouth - I'll be back!-Bluebottle Coffee, La Colombe, Wydown Coffee Bar, The Coffee Bar, a couple of coffee spots!
Shopping:-Aurate, minimalist fine jewelry heaven!-& other stories, love their simple graphic tees. -Little Leaf, an adorable succulent/plant shop!-Bridge Street Books, Idle Time Books, two amazing bookstores!-Cos, walked in and fell in love with their sleek and minimal design.
Have you been to D.C. recently? Any favorite spots?






Love, Sharon

LOVE YOURSELF

February 22, 2018



I'm currently listening to Justin Bieber's Love Yourself as I type this, thanks for the inspiration JB. I was asked to share my thoughts on self-love after sharing my post on mental health. I think self-love is something we all struggle with. We're our worst critic and there's always a flaw we can pick about ourselves which I believe leads to unhappiness. But when you find at least one thing each day knowing you are blessed, you slowly find yourself becoming positive and less upset about the little things that don't matter. I think it's one of the reasons why I love traveling. Traveling has always been an escape for me, but also a reminder to be grateful for the opportunity to even take time and explore other parts of the world. I love learning about other cultures and traveling has really opened my eyes and perspective on how lucky I am to even have access to clean water.

For the past four to five years since I've started posting on social media, I found myself slowly losing myself. I was already very insecure, but social media magnified my insecurities. I always told myself if only I lost a x amount of weight I would be happy. I didn't love myself and it showed through my demeanor, I was miserable and constantly obsessing over my appearance. Obviously, looking a certain way doesn't equate happiness if you're rotting on the inside. I would constantly compare myself to everyone and wonder why my life wasn't like how I planned it out to be. One thing I learned was to stop being so hard on myself, we all have different timelines. I needed to learn patience and know that sometimes God redirects our plans and future. It took me about six and a half years to finish college and I didn't have any goals in life. I felt like a failure. I wish someone had told me to stop focusing on what I don't have but on what I already have. I had trouble seeing how wonderful my life was and always found something in my life to complain about. Once I prioritized my life and rebuilt my relationship with God, family, and less on what I owned I discovered happiness. Of course I still have my bad days but I learned to focus on the good. Yes, my life may look amazing on Instagram but there's so much more to my feed that I don't share or post.

I would also like to emphasize how important it is to have encouraging, positive people in your life. I was in a toxic, emotionally abusive relationship for years that left me hating myself. Know your self worth! Surround yourself with people that genuinely want the best for you and love you for you. Don't give up on yourself and hope you take time to find gratitude in the little things.

What are your thoughts on self-love? P.S. these lovely self love notes are from Jasmine Dowling's shop.

a flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. it just blooms




Love, Sharon

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