Saturday, April 4, 2015

Chillaxing March

March was a pretty good month with about 2 weeks of down time and another 2 weeks working on a different project. So here's a short update of what I did during my down time. =)

Once a week date night with hubby.

First attempt making Chipotle style Chicken Burrito Bowl with Cilantro Lime Rice was a success! Found the recipe here and it's actually pretty easy to make.

Got my Executive Health Exam done, dental check done, and my 1st credit card approved! Our health insurance here is pretty good as I was given a full body examination free of charge. The dental check-up was also very thorough with a set of full mouth X-ray and free cleaning and scaling of teeth. I'm glad that I finally got approved  for a credit card coz it's hard to get a cc without credit history or credit score here. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Houston Work Trip

Just returned from my work trip in Houston and it's time to catch up on my blog. I'm always happy to be able to travel for work, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to travel to Texas for my first out-of-town job. =) For the past 1.5 weeks, I've been privileged to work alongside a team of people who are at least 2 levels above me. Even though I was just a 'kehlehfeh', it turned out to be a great learning experience and a pleasure working with 8 nice and helpful guys (I was the only female in the team). :P

My 'home' in downtown Houston for 8 nights with a view of our office building and a welcome cookie. =) 

Our office was at the 57th floor of the 2nd tallest building in Houston...pretty cool view huh! :P

Even our lunch was served with a good view. Notice the 'Please Do Not Touch'!

They just moved to this office few months ago so everything looked new and nice. Spot the huge TV in the conference room? My boss asked me to play the 1st episode of China Rush 3 on that TV...haha! :P

Yummy food (including Tex-Mex) for lunches...

and dinners...I should be gaining some weight right? =P We went to a pretty good variety of places for dinner...Cyclone Anaya's Mexican Kitchen, McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant, III Forks Steakhouse & Seafood, Brennan's, Damian's Cucina Italiana, and Shula's Steak House.

Flights were pleasant as well with Delta Comfort...thanks to the Silver Medallion that I got for free. =)

Weekend in Austin

After Colorado, I had the opportunity to visit another new state in the US. This time, it's Texas. Been hearing and using the word 'Austin' quite a lot in the past few years and thanks to Ali's invitation, I finally had the chance to visit this city. It was a short but fun weekend exploring the live music capital of the world. =)

March 21-22 (Saturday-Sunday): Austin

Texas State Capitol

Random sightings on the streets of downtown Austin. =P

The entire city was flooded with people and there were live music and concerts everywhere in conjunction with the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival. IThe atmosphere reminds me of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Hiked up Mt Bonnell for a view of rich people's mansions by the lake. :P

Another popular thing in trucks! 

Clockwise: Grilled Vegetable Sandwich @ Ale House; Rib-eye bulgogi with Kimchi Fries @ Chilantro; Quesadilla @ Taco Cabana; Claypot mushroom @ Asia Cafe; Black Out donut @ Gourdough's.

My FOC 'Airbnb' in downtown Austin. Thanks Ali for the warm hospitality and curry mee!!

It was rainy and cloudy all weekend and the weather turned sunny just as I was leaving.

Taobao...from China to US

In search of hubby's travel backpack for our upcoming adventures, we first looked on Amazon but most of the popular brands cost more than $100 and we didn't want to risk spending so much money on a something that we don't know about the quality. Then I found the exact same backpack that I've been using for 3 years since China Rush on Taobao for only $47 (RMB287 incl. free shipping within China). Not a bad deal and most importantly, I love my backpack and I can certainly vouch for the quality. =) So I'm gonna share the process of how a rookie like me bought something from Taobao and successfully shipped it to our home in the US. =P

Bought this Acome Santana 55L backpack on Taobao hoping that they can ship overseas.

As you can see from the timeline above, there was a time lag of about 1 month before it was shipped out from the warehouse. After I submitted my order online, the shop staff messaged me to inform me that they don't ship overseas. I didn't respond for a few weeks coz it was CNY holidays in China. When I finally replied in March asking about the status of my order, they apologized that they couldn't ship overseas and told me that I could get a full refund. I didn't want a refund coz we wanted that backpack. :P 

So I searched online for other options of shipping stuff from China to the US and found dotdotbuy (ddb). The first thing that I had to do was to get Acome to ship my backpack to an address (a warehouse) in China given by ddb. Fortunately, the staff at Acome was really cool about it and helped me change the address and recipient info immediately. The backpack was shipped out of Jiangsu and arrived at ddb's warehouse in Shenzhen within 2 days. Very efficient indeed. =)

Honestly, I didn't know how much it would cost to ship the backpack from China to US coz I would only find out after ddb received the item and checked the weight/dimension. But I decided to risk it. :P The backpack is actually not heavy but the dimension is the one that caused the shipping cost to be more expensive. The cheapest shipping option available was $37 ($216) by SAL, almost as expensive as the backpack! Since we've never heard about SAL, we bought extra insurance for RMB12 just in case our package got lost in transit.

I was expecting to receive the package after 1 month coz we used the cheaper & slower option, but surprisingly it took only 2 weeks for the package to be shipped from China to US!

I was also able to track the package on USPS's website...not bad!

The very well wrapped-up package...the remote control to show how big the box is.

Evidence that the backpack has been through many checkpoints...haha! 
Jiangsu - Taizhou - Humen - Shenzhen - LA - Birmingham - Madison

Paid a lot more than the cost of the backpack to get it all the way here but it's worth it. Love this new backpack! My blue one looks so old and saggy beside!