T – Traveling Tips

Do you enjoy traveling? I do. I enjoy every aspect of it. From the moment I book the airline ticket to the moment I am unpacking upon my return home, traveling is my bliss. I believe it’s the aspect of living a different life whether it be for 2 days or 2 weeks that makes traveling such an attractive pursuit for me. And, it doesn’t matter if it is a business trip, a family trip or a vacation, any time I can be in a difference city, sleeping in a strange bed (not like that) or eating different food, I am happy.

About six years ago, I got a new job and was thrilled because I never spent more than three weeks at home. It was so much fun. In a year, I went to Lake Tahoe, New York City, London, Hawaii, Dallas, China, Los Angeles, Arizona and China again.

Then five years ago, I moved to China and for two years, I didn’t travel at all. It was killing me. Especially begin so close to so much that had yet to explore. It was frustrating, but I was trying to start a business in a foreign country and needed to stay put.

But, once that third year hit, I couldn’t take it any more. I had to travel. We started traveling for work. I went to Singapore, Vietnam and Tokyo and my nomadic nature was satisfied.

So, here are my tips on traveling that I have learned over the years. They have helped me travel with less stress and I hope they help you as well.

  1. Book everything as early as possible. I mean everything. Airfare, hotel, car, transportation, dinner reservations, attraction tickets, etc. On a recent trip to Hong Kong with my mom and brother, I booked the cable cars to the Big Budda on Lantau Island. When we arrived there had to be 500 people in line and we walked right past them all because I had purchased the tickets online.
  2. International flights, get to the airport early. You never know what might happen. You can pick good seats on the plan, you can upgrade if you roll like that. If you are like me, I can’t eat on the plane. Long flights and stomach issues don’t mix. I arrive early to enjoy the great choices of food at the international terminal. In Hong Kong, it is the Popeye’s Chicken. So random, but so good.
  3. When you exchange money, make sure you they are just exchanging your currency for the place you are going. I once exchanged RMB into USD and they converted it into HKD first. I lost money on that deal.
  4. Jetlag – I covered this in a previous post. In order to explore the world, you have to deal with it.
  5. Just be patient. When you travel, you are oh so on everyone else’s times schedule. And, if that schedule changes, don’t take it personally. Shit happens. Patience is the best advice I can give you.

So, that is what I have learned from a lifetime of traveling. For me, I can not and will not every stop exploring this amazing world we live in.

What are your best traveling hints and tips?

S – Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb

I did it and I lived to talk about it (post about it).

Definitely the highlight of my trip was doing the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb.  It was way more amazing then I even imagined it would be.

We had a great guide named Richard who had a million great stories.  Our safety guys name was Rhys who was super sweet.

Point of no return!

Here are some of the photos we got from the climb.  They wouldn’t let us take a camera so we are stuck with their photos. But, I understand why.  If I had my own camera the climb would have taken all day.  There was so many great views from up there.

I covered just over 1 mile going up and down; 1,400 steps.  We were rigged up like sky divers and constantly clipped into a safety line that runs the entire length of the climb.  It was perfectly safe.  The views were just breath taking. I am so happy I got a chance to experience this.  It is truly why I love traveling and experiencing new things.

Next time, I am doing the climb at night.

R – the Rocks

I have decided that if (when) I move to Sydney Australia, I will have to live in the area known as The Rocks (TR).

The Rocks is a small, eclectic, fashionable, mysterious, touristy, but charming little neighbored just next to the City (what they call Downtown Sydney).

It reminds me of The French Quarter (FQ) in New Orleans and Georgetown (GT) in Washington, DC . I went to college in New Orleans and although I wanted to, my parents were not about to let a young impressional 18 year old live in the Quarter.  What could I do, they were paying the bills.  For law school, I lived in DC, but for practical and cost reasons again I didn’t get the chance to live in my dream neighborhood.

I just love these small eclectic areas of town that although they are frequented by tourist, they don’t loose their charm.

All these areas have the following in common (FQ, GT, TR):

  • 1st floor old and new retail/restaurants and bars (Ralph Lauren next to an art gallery that has been there for 100 years)
  • 2nd floor apartments/condos w/balconies (in the quarter, they are still reasonable, in GT and TR, pretty expensive)
  • alley ways that have the coolest shops (Alley Cat Jazz, Blue Note Club, I will find out tonight)
  • Wine bars/coffee shops (not Starbucks)/brewhouses
  • tourist shops
  • One great breakfast spot – (Clover Street Grill, Peacock Cafe, Pancakes on the Rocks)

Allow me the pause here parenthetical to extol the greatness of Pancakes on the Rocks.  Any place that serves ice cream with pancakes is greatness in my book.  Please don’t drool on your keyboard.

What is your dream neighborhood and what makes it so special? 



Q – Quay

As in Circular Quay. 

Very cool area of Sydney adjacent to the CBD where all the boats dock.  You see ferries size boats taking people to Manly and Watson Wharf and cruise ship size boats taking people all over the world.  There are several great restaurants in this area and quite a few characters such as this aboriginal  performer you see here.  No exactly authentic, but entertaining.

Her are a couple more photos of this beautiful area of Circular Quay in the Sydney Harbor.


What I really want to discuss is this word quay.

Why have I never heard of this word before? I had to look it up to see if it meant what I thought it meant.  And, it does.  It is a pier, wharf, or dock – platform built out into water where boats and ships dock.

The pronunciation of the the word is even more of a mystery.  I naturally pronounce it how it sounds, with a “kewa” sound.  It is actually pronounced “ki or key”. Or is it?  I did more research (love the internet) and apparent there is more debate as to how to say this world then you might think.  And, a bit of a surprise considering I have never heard of this word until I arrived in Sydney.

Click here for the great quay pronunciation debate.

Have you heard of the word quay and if so, how do you pronounce it? Are their quays that are called quays in the US? 

P – Population

I am always curious about the population of cities I visit.  Mainly because when I moved to China, I was fascinated and shocked about the fact that within a 150 mile radius of where I live is the entire population of the United States. Let me spell that out for you.  Within a 150 mile radius there are more than 300 million people.

That is just amazing to me.

There are 10 million people in the city of Shenzhen, where I live; 25 million in Shanghai, my favorite city in China, 19 million in Beijing and 8 million in Dongguan where I work.  In all there is a total of 1.3 billion people in China.  That is a hell of a lot of people.

So, when I heard about the population in Australia, this time I was shocked and fascinated.

There are only 22 million people in all of Australia; 22 million.  In a place that has a land mass bigger then the United States there are only 22 million people.

300 million in the US and 22 million in Australia.

The US doesn’t feel overcrowded.  At least not where I am from.  I figured that Australia would be even more spares.  Although 85% of the population live within 50 km of the coast line.  In a way it just doesn’t feel like there is a lot of people in this city.  We went to play golf today at The Australian yesterday.  A private club that was established over 130 years ago.  Even though it was raining, we were the only people at the course that day. Even in the rain, you would never find an empty golf course in China or the US for that matter.

Having dinner at any major restaurant in any major city in the world and you would need to make reservations at least a day in advance.  For some restaurants you need to make reservations weeks in advance.  We had dinner at one of the best seafood restaurants in Sydney.  It is called Manta.  There was no one at the restaurant.  We got right in.

In general, it feels like fewer people are in this city and that is a strange felling for me after living in congested Southern China.

But, there is one other population fact the I believe Australia has every other nation beat.  There are more sheep in China then people.  I am talking 4x more sheep in Australia then there are people.  If the sheep every got together and wanted to take over, they would have no problem.

Moral to this story, keep the sheep happy.