Recap: All About my Cuba Trip!

Dear Friends,

It has been a super long time since I last posted, and this one is way overdue as well, but here is my Cuba trip with my boyfriend, Jessy! We went in mid-August, after he finished his exams, for a short 4 days.  I had been working in my summer internship so it wasn’t possible to leave work for too long.  I wish the trip was longer but we had a great time.  Keep reading to find out what I thought about Holguin, Cuba!

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I planned this trip for Jessy and I as a 4 year anniversary thing.  I am actually a very anxious person who secretly revels in curating every detail and having things play out to my plans, so I sorted through like a hundred other resorts before settling on one called Paradisus Rio de Oro in Holguin, Cuba. We were not disappointed by the way!  Also, I went and bought many products from the drugstore including immodium, insect repellent, sunscreen, afterbite… you name it, I was prepared to die.  To my surprise, we did not get bitten by mosquitoes once nor did we get food poisoning!

It was a 3.5 hour flight with Sunwing airlines to Holguin and then another 1 hour bus ride to the resort.  It went mostly smooth and the humid weather was not difficult to adjust to as Toronto in mid-August felt exactly the same.  Checking into the hotel was easy as well, and the employees were so kind.  A tip- if you want to book this hotel in the future or any other Caribbean hotel/resort is to look up Trip Advisor reviews for the best rooms (Corner, large windows, upsize bed etc) and email them ahead to request an upgrade and they will usually do it for you for free if available.  The resort also had an assortment of A la Carte restaurants as well as the buffet, and I emailed ahead as well to make bookings for a different a la carte restaurant for us to try every evening, as if you try to book once you are there, you are most likely too late and the restaurants are full.

So speaking to our resort experience, I think I can say we both really enjoyed it!  Jessy had his complaints about the lack of wifi and the heat sometimes, but overall, Paradisus Rio de Oro was a very relaxing experience for both of us.  The resort was not packed with people; we actually met many couples from England and some from Canada on vacation and the swim up Pool bar was the place to be.

We made a huge mistake by going too hard on tanning the first day and got sunburnt… so for the rest of our trip we mostly chilled at the pool by the shade.

I almost forgot to mention the beach!.  It was a beautiful white sand beach connected to the resort, but the length of the beach was shared with other adjacent resorts- so on the first day we walked too far out and noticed the patrons had different coloured towels!   We didn’t really use the beach as much as the pool, as it was very windy and sand would get everywhere.  An awesome thing about this resort, though, was it offered free snorkeling,  paddle boating and an activity called Catamaran.  It’s a must try! The Catamaran is a small sailboat with two prong shaped things sticking out of the back.  The driver took Jessy and I in the ocean, and the boat goes FAST!  We got a great view of the islands and the ocean in between wiping splashes of seawater off our eyes.  It was also a huge thrill as we constantly feared for our lives; the boat went so fast it felt like we were going to fall off the whole time.  But it was so worth it.

I’ll talk about one more thing as this post is getting too long … the FOOD!  First of all, like I mentioned,  I was so scared that Jessy and I would get food poisoning and/or hate the food as USA has an embargo against Cuba, but the food was both SAFE and YUMMY!

We had breakfast at the buffet every day and my favourite was definitely the Spanish omelette, which is more like a quiche without cheese.  We avoided anything that could rot in the heat like cheese and dairy.  Another great thing was All you can eat Mangoes, which I helped myself to in huge portions every day.  They’re Mexican mangoes, which are not as great as the yellow ones back home, but I really had no complaints.  We also tried 3 a la carte restaurants:  the Japanese, the Cuban, and the Mediterranean.  The Japanese was shit, as we should have known, but the Cuban and Mediterranean were amazing.  I had lobster on both days and thinking about it now makes my mouth water.  I would say the Cuban restaurant was my favourite though, as it was an open air restaurant so we got a beautiful view of the Palm trees and the setting sun as we ate dinner.  (I also booked our dinner times based on the sunset times in Holguin for those days; I am that detailed.)   Jessy’s favourite order was the Club Sandwich.  It sounds weird that a seemingly vanilla item would be that great, in Cuba especially, but it was SO GOOD.  We ordered it through room service the first night and Jessy was hooked.  It was toasted white bread with grilled chicken, ham, egg, melted cheese, tomato, and lettuce.  Literally it had 4 kinds of protein in there, which explains why he loved it.  So every day he would order it, either through room service, or he had the chefs at the poolside restaurant custom prepare it for him.

So that was our trip!  I am so happy we went, and it was a great bonding experience for us.  It was the first time in a long time we were away from our phones and away from our problems back home.  Aside from a bit of bickering at the airport, we did not argue during this entire trip, which is a record!   It has been a bit over 4 years with him now, and although we still have our ups and downs, we are definitely much happier than ever before.

PS. My pink bikini as well as the bronze/ black bikini in the photos were both from Aliexpress. (BEST website for cheap bikinis and cheap anything!)

Please leave me a comment or a question if you have one!

Much Love,

Boki

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My Fitness Journey: The Girl who Sucked at Sports but Found Herself in Weightlifting

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(If you’re wondering) Bikini: Top – Aerie, Bottom – Victoria’s Secret

Hi friends,

I’ve missed you all 5 of you who read my blog. (just kidding)  It’s honestly been over a year since I’ve had the time to write a new blog post, but I felt inspired today to write about my fitness journey so far, and to be as authentic as possible in the Sea of Staged Perfection on instagram.

I’ve always been aware of my body even as a young girl, and wondered why I had fatter arms and bigger thighs than all the other girls.  I was never overweight or obese, but never skinny.

On top of that, I am a clumsy wreck most of the time, have no hand-eye coordination, and can’t even run properly.  (I have come to terms with the clumsiness part because my bf think’s I’m cute)

As I steadily gained weight throughout puberty into middle school and high school, I had the mindset that I am doomed to be really fat one day, because I have no talent for exercise, running, and sports.  I had uniforms in my high school, and my pants began to become too tight to breathe, and my skinny jeans too tight to button up.  Out of fear, I decided to make a change.

In grade 12, I discovered Blogilates and the Instagram world of people’s oatmeal photos and fitness progress pics.  I finally became convinced that I have the power to change myself.  At a max weight of 132 pounds at 5’5 after a well-fed cruise the previous summer, I started running on the treadmill and doing Youtube workout videos, as well as adopting a super-healthy diet.

As much as I love eating healthy and have a passion for vegetables (and I still do now), it took a toll on my family, friends and my boyfriend, because I became scared to not “eat clean”.  I did not want to eat the same home-cooked Chinese dinners my mom made because I couldn’t input that into MyFitnessPal, felt contempt towards my boyfriend who always wanted to eat out, and brought lunch while my friends ate out on the weekends.  These things threatened my weight loss, but also it alienated me.  I checked the scale every day, and finally I was at 122 pounds, and my jeans fit once more.  I really felt like I was in control, but I was not truly happy.  In retrospect, my friends, it is indeed VERY difficult to maintain a positive mindset rather than a self-deprecating mindset in a weight loss journey.

In the summer after 2nd year in Uni, my family moved quite North of the city, physically alienating me from my friends.  I did not find an internship either, so to make myself feel accomplished and productive, I started going to the local gym.  This was an intimidating experience at first as until that point I have only really done Blogilates and have used the gym at school periodically, never daring to try heavy weights.

That summer, I finally had the courage to ask someone to set up the bar for me to squat, something I’ve always wanted to do.  The first week, I managed with much difficulty, squatting with the bar.  The second week, I tried adding 5 pound plates.  Then it increased to 10 pounds, and 25 pounds.  My max was maybe 30 but I couldn’t quite get it right.  On top of that, I enjoyed working out my shoulders and triceps (not really any reasoning behind that).  I felt strong and happy because of the progress I made.

Fast forward to 3rd year uni, school was even more stressful than the year before and due to lack of sleep and eating crappy outside food often, I had no motivation and energy to go to the gym.  I lost weight – and a lot of my muscle, and went down to around 115 pounds.  I knew I was losing muscle and looked more ‘fat’, but at the same time I didn’t feel horrible as I am light for my height I suppose.  Inside, though, I felt guilty every week I did not go to the gym.

In May of this year, I finally have an internship near my university, and what more reason to pick up a gym routine after work?  It was disappointing at first that I could not even squat 25 without failing.  I did not beat myself up, and next week I tried again.  Then I tried to squat 30. 35. Maybe 40?  I had a routine at first of Lower body (aka BOOTY day), a day for all upper body, cardio, and a day of whatever as long as I go to the gym.  I’ve gotten lazier now and sometimes more occupied with meeting up with friends after work so I try to maintain twice a week – at least completing an Upper and Lower body work out.

Writing this post to you in July, I am still in my fitness journey.  But I am no longer as guilty as the girl in grade 12 who feared Chinese food and white carbs.   I don’t blame myself for not going to the gym every day that I can; some days I don’t feel like it, but then next week I just go harder.   I don’t blame myself that I didn’t increase by the same amount of weight that I lifted the week before, and aim for small victories.  I still hate doing abs, but my love for growing my booty and doing leg workouts seems to help with maintaining a somewhat flat stomach.

If you get anything out of what I wrote in this blog post (which got pretty long, my apologies!), then it is that you have the power to inspire your own changes.  It is never too late to take care of your body, eat better, and lift weights for the body you’ve always wanted.  My friends, it is so satisfying to see your muscles grow, because that is evidence of your hard work!  Nobody can give or take it away, which is what makes it beautiful.

Comment below and share with me about your personal fitness/health journey! I would love to read about it ❤

 

Love,

Boki

 

FOODIE DIARY: WOOFLES AND CREAM

Hello Again! ❤

So homegirl here is always down for novel dessert ideas, and I was really turned on by the idea of a Fluffy warm HK-style Egg Waffle (or Chicken egg Boy) with Ice cream when I heard about it.  I mean they have ice cream on a Belgian Waffle, or Ice cream inside a Fish Waffle (the adorable Korean ones)… so this actually sounds amazing and palatable.  The price point of these waffles aren’t too bad either, they will set you back maybe 6-7$ max.

I got the black/white Sesame waffle with a Mixed ice cream (vanilla-matcha swirl) and the bae got the Cookies and cream waffle with Matcha ice cream.

Now you’re probably wondering if I am going to talk about the “But”.  Well yes…

First of all, this place isn’t at a very prime location; it’s at Peachtree plaza, so quite east in terms of Toronto.  Secondly, the store is so small and understaffed and really needs better investors (my boyfriend actually asked the cashier why don’t they get more investors, lol)  and as a result, we had to wait 30 minutes to get our waffles.

Lastly, and most importantly, the waffle wasn’t exceptional.  It was barely warm and not crispy enough on the outside and fluffy soft on the inside like the Tin Tin ones from Pmall.   The ice cream wasn’t bad though, but how could you mess that up, right?

Overall, the dessert itself is nice as an after-dinner type of thing, but don’t expect it to be amazing and mind-blowing. Because it just wasn’t.   I do feel bad for the tiny little under-staffed store though.  They’re trying their best.

If you go try this, let me know if you like it!

xo

Boki

MUSINGS: WHEN YOU ‘CHOOSE HAPPY’

Hello! This is gonna be a kind of heart-to-heart post that I spontaneously wanted to write.

So flash back a year ago, I was a really different person.  I was full of negativity, self-loathing and despair and I constantly wanted to be sad, too… because I knew a part of me wanted pity and attention from other people.   I was very jealous of basically everyone around me and I judged myself so hard.  Also, I would tell one of my best friends about it all the time.   She had her fair share of rantings and expression of unhappiness, so in a way, I enjoyed how we bonded…..although it was over mutual negativity.  I also became a judgemental and contemptuous person, towards some of the closest people to me.  I got angry at one of my best friends and held grudges just because I felt like it.  Every little thing she did pissed me off and I found reasons not to like her.

Eventually, all this negativity affected people I expressed it to; it was constant complaining and being upset at this or that, and it really wears someone down hearing about it so often.  I am so thankful to one of my besties for calling me out on that – and it was SO easy – I decided to stop.  If I wanted to be negative I kept it to myself and eventually told myself it wasn’t worth it.  Because dwelling in sadness is a waste of time; a waste of life.  Spending any second being sad could be a second spent being happy and doing the things that I love to do.  Life is really how you make it, and I realized, that Choosing Happy is so liberating.  Happiness is a choice.  I’m not trying to generalize for anybody who is going through something different, but I am trying to say that I go through something myself, and I’m on my own path to figure things out.  For me, liberating myself from my thoughts was how I could be happy.

In the recent months, I saw this happen to the very best friend who called me out.  I don’t know if it was work stress, a lack of downtime (quality time alone to chill), or a build up of something else, but she became a girl who got mad at every little thing that her friends did.  She was irritable and kind of like a ticking time bomb.   She would be happy one second, then at one thing, have her mood turned 180 degrees.  My best friends and I let this go on for a while, but I decided I needed to tell her.   When I finally did tell her, it was so easy too – she just decided to let that go.  She realized too that she could be so happy to let the little things go and to move forward living life as a positive person – by choice.

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Be a little silly my friend

If you’re going through something like this because of a stumbling block happening in your life, know that you will get through it, but why not get through it being positive?  I really believe that God puts the right things there for you at the right time, so if this applies to you, I’m happy I wrote this post 🙂

much love,

Boki

FOODIE DIARY: FRESH OFF THE BOAT

Hey lovelies!   I’m so excited to write a post about this place because I’ve been seeing the hype on instagram for a couple weeks now, and my love for lobster rolls is unbounded, so I had to come try this!

Fresh off the Boat is located at Queen / Spadina; it’s a tiny little shop, so tiny it’s easy to miss, and there’s a vintage, nautical decor happening here.  The menu is short and simple, laid out on one of the walls, and I chose the Lobster Roll (14.95 + tax).  They have a whole shelf full of Sriracha bottles and a little utensil station with Lemon water if you fancy.

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On the other wall there are photos and artwork of fishermen and fish, and Rope hanging from the ceiling, going with the Nautical theme.

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Anyway, on to the FOOD!  My lobster roll was indeed amazing, with a buttery bun and the lobster meat was well marinated and buttery.   I added Sriracha and lemon juice to top and omg, I can’t.  Also, the fries were really good, crispy on the outside and tender mushy on the inside.  I honestly have nothing bad to say about this place other than the price.  For around 16$ that I paid, the roll was tiny, probably the size of my palm and I finished it in 2 minutes.  So you can imagine.

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My friend got the Softshell Crab sandwich, and that was BOMB, from what I tried of it, but I can’t say too much because I didn’t eat the whole thing! 🙂

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Overall, I think Fresh Off the Boat is definitely worth the hype and worth trying, but I wouldn’t choose to go back again because of the price.

Hope you enjoyed this post and I’ll see you at the next one 🙂

xo

Boki

REVIEW: ACTIVATED CHARCOAL MASK

Hey there, Mr. Steal Your Girl is here with a review for YOU today on the Activated Charcoal Mask. *ooooh, ahhhh*

A little disclaimer: I forewarn you, friends on the internet, that the charcoal will make a HUGE mess EVERYWHERE. Prepare to clean up your bathroom after you do this.

So I did some research on masks that help draw out impurities, because I feel like Bentonite masks aren’t quite strong enough for my deep set sebum (gross, I know).  I heard really great things about Glamglow and so I looked up its ingredients; the most important one in the mask is ACTIVATED CHARCOAL.  It’s like normal charcoal, but heated to increase its absorption power.  Hospitals give this to patients to absorb drugs or alcohol when they get an overdose because Activated charcoal can absorb the toxins before they get into their bloodstream.

If it’s edible, it’s definitely OK for the skin.  I also don’t really want to be set back $80 to get a tiny jar of Glamglow, which I totally would if I was a balla.  As well, being the Screw-the-rules type of girl, I googled if anyone has tried to make a homemade mask with this ingredient – which not to my surprise people did.

So I went and bought a pack of Activated Charcoal pills (meant for disgestive issues) at Shoppers for $10.99; I opened the pills by twisting the caps, and then mixed this with some clay mask I already had on hand (use any brand with Bentonite), and added just a tiny splash of water to get the paste mixing properly.  Then I applied it to my face and left it there for 12 minutes and washed it off using my Clarisonic.

Here’s where it gets messy.  The charcoal will get into the nooks and crannies of your skin, such as the wrinkles in your fingers and under your finger nail, and wherever your face has a wrinkle too.  It’s impossible to get all the black out without using a Clarisonic or maybe a towel if you don’t own one.  Consider yourself warned, girlfriend.

The Results?  Many of my little blackheads and sebum plugs began to come out, which is pretty cool, but the Activated Charcoal did not remove them completely.  The really interesting part was that after I used this mask, really deep/old cystic acne/sebum I had from last year that is trapped under my skin but isn’t red nor active anymore — started to come to the surface to form a pimple.  Don’t know if this is a good and bad thing that a zombie pimple basically happened, but it gives me the chance to extract it later.

TLDR;  This mask brought some the trapped sebum and black heads which are deep under my skin to the surface, but they did not disappear after I washed my mask off like I hoped it would do.  However, it may work better for some people more than others depending on how old and deep your blackheads and stuff are.  It is very drying so make sure to moisturize well after.

If you do give this a try, please let me know 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this post!

xo

Boki

FOODIE DIARY: MILDRED’S TEMPLE KITCHEN

Hey loves!

So yours truly is obsessed with Instagram (follow me @bokikwok !!!) and I honestly have been seeing so many people rave about how great these pancakes at Mildred’s are and I just HAD to try them.  I made my boyfriend go with me as my “birthday meal” instead of a usual fancy dinner.
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We started with some scones of the day, and we got the original Buttermilk one and a Blueberry scone.  Girl at this point I was already so hyped for ONLY the pancakes like I had tunnel vision, but these scones were amazing!  I didn’t expect anything less from Mildred’s.  The whipped butter was awesome with the scones which were already hella crumbly and buttery but the plum marmalade thing on the right wasn’t as great.
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Okay, so THESE were the Insta-famous Blueberry Pancakes that EVERYBODY is obsessed with.  What is the verdict?  They were super fluffy, buttery, rich, and the blueberry compote was amazing too with it.  There was also a subtly lemony flavour that cuts through the richness of the cakes.  These are not your typical flat, lifeless, and soggy pancakes, my friends.  The bae and I had problems trying to finish this by ourselves.  Seriously.

The only downside to these fluffy pancakes was that in order to get them so fluffy and airy there is alot of butter in them.  At some point I felt like the buttery-ness was too much.  The sweetness of the syrup was also too much for me too; the bottom of the pancake was saturated with maple syrup which made it too sweet to eat.

Overall though, I had an amazing experience at this place and would definitely come back here to share the pancakes with my girlfriends (Boyfriend doesn’t like brunch).  These babies are definitely made to share.

*WARNING* Do NOT attempt to try to devour the entire stack on your own! Heart attacks impending. *

If you try Mildred’s or this post has inspired you to try it, let me know if you like it!

xoxo

Boki