Tag: travel

Fun in the sun (Part 1)

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).
Emilynne, our excel whiz , traveled to her home away from home to the sunny and humid group of islands in the Pacific.

Last October/November I took a short hike halfway across the world to visit my sister for her semester break in the Philippines. A lot of the school holidays in the Philippines do fall,slightly suspiciously, during major Catholic Feast Days. This means that the Triduum of All Hallows, Christmas, and Holy Week are all holidays that the children may observe with family.

Traveling pictures in the airport.

Look at the handwritten plane ticket.

Once I heard about this break, I jumped at the opportunity to visit my mom and my sister, travel a bit of my parents’ home-country, and (most importantly) soak in some sun and warmth!

We did a small amount of traveling, but kept it relatively simple for this go-around as two of my friends (pretty much my sisters by everything but blood) were flying in and out of Manila via slightly different itineraries. My friend Radhika and I got in one evening and our first stop was Taal Vista Resort in Tagaytay, about an hour south of Manila. The resort has a stunning view of the Taal Volcano.

Taal Volcano in the distance

Look closely and Taal Volcano is the island in the middle of the lake.

Yes, that is an active volcano. In fact, people are not allowed to settle on the island, and even the resort we were staying in is technically within the danger zone. It’s hard to believe that this is an active volcano, which had quite a bit of activity as recently as July 2011, when you look at all the lush foliage surrounding it.

The best sights to see in London and Wales

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).

Sandra, our data guru, shares her travel highlights in the unexplored parts of London and Wales.


L- R. Stonehenge, the White Hare in Llandudno, Titern Abbey, and Bath.

My brother and I traveled to the UK at the end of December to sight-see and visit our grandma and
uncle in the south of Wales. Since we’ve both been to London before, we skipped the standard tourist
stuff and took a lot of day trips before heading to Wales. Here are a few highlights from our trip:

London. Royal Ballet, one of the top ballet companies in the world, is a must see if you’re a ballet fan
or appreciate grace mixed with athleticism. Try to catch a performance with principal dancer Alina

Sightseeing tip: If you’ve been to London before and London Pass isn’t economical, Days Out Guide
offers 2 for 1 promotions with a valid travelcard from a rail station (must have the National Rail logo;
travelcards from London Underground won’t work) and it includes some attractions, such as the London
Eye, that aren’t covered by London Pass: http://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/2for1-london

Stonehenge. A UNESCO World Heritage Site and on my bucket list of things to see. The henge is roped
off so you can’t touch or wander among the stones unless you sign up for a special dawn/dusk viewing.
It was very cold and windy there so make sure to wear lots of layers if you visit in the winter!

Bath. Who doesn’t want to see the city where Jane Austen’s characters go to recuperate? Ok maybe
just me. The city of Bath is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and has the only hot springs in the UK.
We took a tour of the Bath Abbey Towers (hilarious yet informative tour of the history of the abbey),
explored the Roman Baths, sampled the spring water at the Pump Room (tastes like warm iron, gross),
and ended the day soaking in the thermal waters at Thermae Bath Spa.

Tintern Abbey. Tintern Abbey is the first Cisterian monestary in Wales and inspired William
Wordsworth’s poem “Lines Written a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” and Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s
poem “Tears, Idle Tears.” The surrounding Wye Valley has beautiful scenic walks along the River Wye; a
perfect diversion while waiting for the next bus back to Chepstow!

Llandudno. Llandudno is the largest seaside resort in Wales and has a Victorian promenade and the
longest pier in Wales. The town has loose ties to Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland as Alice Liddell, the
“real Alice,” spent her summers there. Most attractions are closed in the winter, so after walking along
the promenade and pier, we searched for Alice in Wonderland statues scattered around the town (there
are four: Alice, White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, and Queen of Hearts).

Explore London with Brooke

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).

Brooke, our amazing Store Marketing guru, took a getaway trip to London with her husband.

Big Ben in London.

You can’t miss Big Ben when visiting London.

It’s been at least 2 and ½ years since we’ve had couple time for longer than a couple of hours…alone..no kids…no diapers…no nap schedules to work around. It was time to get away and for us to be kids again.  We have two girls and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law generously volunteered their weekends.  We definitely owe them one or maybe two.

Honestly we could have gone anyway (even into Boston), but it was magical to be across the pond (on an island of sorts) and somewhere my husband Josh had never been – London, England.

After hopping the overnight flight, we arrived to a rainy, cold day…this picture pretty much sums it up:

A happy couple in London.

Notice the grey skies in the background.

Instead of wallowing or going to take naps (which would have been a treat all in itself!), we hit the department stores because they are such a wonder overseas.  I definitely recommend popping into Harrods, House of Fraser, and Topshop.  They have food halls, amazing displays and the hippest fashions – things that will be popular here in a year or so!

This was also the perfect day for a bus tour around the city – both to get oriented and to take a rest, and also stay out of the rain. The guide was great and super enthusiastic. We got to see all things quintessential London, and also got to stop for some fish and chips (with mashed peas of course!) and then on the Tate Modern museum.

Tower of London on a cold December day

The Tower of London has been standing since the 11th century.

The mix of super historic (Tower of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral) with the modern city of London really was striking, and on top of it all – the city was all dressed up for Christmas.

House of Fraser decked in holiday cheer.

We loved how the House of Fraser went all out to deck the halls.

A taste of Thailand: Bangkok

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).

Kelly and Cristy, part of our power house sales team, traveled to Thailand for the first time together. Read more about their adventures here.

First stop: Bangkok.

The song is right. One night in Bangkok WILL make a tough man humble! What a modern and bustling city. I think it must rival NYC as the city that never sleeps. What stuck out to us here was the contrast of how very modern the city was but with so much history and culture sprinkled through it. Looking out over the city from our hotel room were tall hotel buildings surrounded by small bazaars and restaurants…and every few miles you would see the amazing tips of a golden temple reaching up through the craze as if to say “Don’t forget me!”  Riding down the street in our Tuk Tuk we would pass busy merchants, 7 Elevens, and school children in uniform making their way home…..and then right in the middle of it all, a Spirit House cloaked in fresh flowers and a glowing candle no doubt recently lit by a very thankful Thai. Even walking through the markets crammed with vendors selling all types of food and wears you would be passed by monks in their vibrant orange robes making their way on some errand. Such an amazing contrast and a constant reminder of where the Thai people came from and what they hold sacred.

We were able to get in a visit to one our favorite manufacturers while in Thailand (think girls knit dresses and boys French Terry bottoms!). Mahin and Samsuk were kind enough to take us to dinner on our first night in Bangkok to ‘debrief’ us and make suggestions on things we shouldn’t miss while in Thailand. Their best suggestion, in our opinion, was the Weekend Market. Wow! This was a shopper’s paradise. This HUGE shopping market was filled with stalls of vendors selling anything from antiques to traditional Thai spices. This market had it all! My favorite was the contrast between vendors…one stall was selling ornate textiles made by hand and loom in the same fashion Thai’s have been making textiles for centuries and next to him was a very hip young woman selling these amazing clutches that she had made herself. Beautiful handmade leather clutches and wallets that had then been spray painted with designs or embellished with studs and embroidery. I’m bummed I didn’t buy one for myself. Kelly was excited about the stations for quick foot and back massages as we spent quite some time wandering this vast marketplace!

The food was amazing everywhere we went. I must admit that both Kelly and I brought granola bars from home on this trip just in case there wasn’t much for us to eat…neither of us eats very spicy foods
(although Kelly is MUCH more adventurous than I!). I’m very glad to report that any spicy-phobic’s out there need not worry. You are able to order everything ‘mild’. We ate very well and both brought most of our granola bars back home. I gained 5 lbs eating as much ‘Drunken Noodles’ as I could get my hands on….not a pretty dish but Holy-Heck was it flavorful!

London, Paris, Prague

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).

Priscilla,  a customer account manager and blogger, recently returned from a whirlwind trip to London, Paris, and Prague.

Tips from a first time European traveler:

1)      Be able to carry your luggage without assistance
2)      Bring the best walking shoes you have
3)      Eat everything over there!  Stuff your face because you will definitely walk off all those calories.

After you’ve got those down, here are the highlights of my trip and things that I think you should see and do.

London: If you’re in London, you must have tea at Fortnum& Mason.  This was a definite highlight of my trip.  Their duo of scones served with Somerset clotted cream and strawberry preserve is mouth-wateringly delicious.  My picture does not do it justice.  Fortnum&Mason has been around since the 1700s and their carousel theme runs throughout the entire store.  After a duo of scones and a Jubilee blend pot of tea, stroll over to Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guards.  Rumor has it that the guards do not leave their post until they are relieved from their duties.

Duo of Scones at Fortnum & Mason

Changing of the guards

Paris: If you find yourself in Paris, purchase a Paris Museum Pass and have a picnic under the Eiffel Tower at night.  We grabbed quiche and sandwiches from Rue Cler, a bustling street lined with markets and cafes that locals frequent which is just a stone’s throw away from the Eiffel Tower.  We lugged our delicious treats and situated ourselves with a picturesque view of the tower as the sun set.  The Eiffel Tower lights up every hour on the hour once it gets dark.  Sit back and watch it twinkle and shine in the Parisian sky.  The best part about this is that there are no lines, tickets, or security guards.

Twinkling Eiffel Tower

Prague: If you are in Prague in the fall, bring a warm jacket and hike Petrin Hill.  Since I am a born and bred San Franciscan, I haven’t really experienced different seasons and the leaves changing.  On two separate occasions, we hiked up Petrin Hill once to visit Strahov Monastery/ Brewery and the second time to visit the Hunger Wall.  This was a tiring ascent to the top but the views here were breathtaking.  I loved the juxtaposition of amber colored leaves to the colorful buildings that decorate Prague’s skyline.  Make sure to enjoy their dezerty there (no really, that’s how they spell it).

View from Petrin Hill.

Beijing to Shanghai: Part II

To help everyone at Tea “go there,” we make a yearly contribution to each employee for international travel and exploration. Upon their return, our Tea travelers write blog posts to share their adventures with all of us (and the world).

Cindy Young, the manager of technical design at Tea, recently traveled to China. Read on about her adventures!

In addition to all the Mid Autumn festival excitement, there were other highlights of my China trip that I am eager to share.  Since it was a short trip, I did not plan any big excursions to the Great Wall or Forbidden City (for I’ve also had the fortune to have toured those places back in 2006), instead I decided to engage in more normal activities to appreciate the locals’ everyday lifestyle.

Every morning, I went out for a run around the neighborhood or nearby park to experience the locals’ daily activities. Roaming through local neighborhoods and parks in both cities, I discovered pockets of street vendors, food trucks and pedi-cabs.  There were a wide variety of street vendors serving up fresh-made dim sum and steamed buns, scallion cakes, meat and fish balls and other interesting delicacies.  I couldn’t resist and had to sample some fresh steamed veggie buns for breakfast.  They were so tasty and only $1 RMB ($.15/each), irresistible!

A big part of any culture is food, and the Chinese cuisine is anything but boring.  Peking duck is a popular specialty, and only at the finest restaurants will you experience the proper taste and texture of such a dish. They are delicately carved with choice of crispy skin or not (my recommendation, try with skin) and served in sandwich style between steamed buns or roll style with a thin crepe.  Complementary plum sauce and scallions or pickled condiments completes this delicious dish.

Due to the high population of Buddhism in China, vegetarianism is very prevalent.  I am not a vegetarian but I love vegetarian dishes and was able to enjoy a remarkable lunch at Elaine’s Vegetarian Restaurant and Bar, a beautiful little restaurant that sits beside the Luoma Lake in Shunyi, a suburb of Beijing.