adventure

ritz carlton macau

MY $1700 STAY AT THE RITZ CARLTON MACAU

During my Hong Kong trip this past winter, after a short soiree through Japan, my friend and I decided to take a quick trip to the Sin City of the East, Macau. As in my usual attitude towards “nothing but the best”, we decided to stay in one of the best hotels we could muster in the Las Vegas of Asia, the Ritz Carlton. We booked the Carlton Suite with a 1 King bedroom, 1.5 marble bathrooms, complimentary wine, and a fully automated bidet, which I’ll get to in just a minute.

Ritz carlton macau

No joke, this hotel room was 13,500 HKG for one night, which converts to about $1700 USD a night. Using my Chase Sapphire Reserve points, we were able to reserve this room for only about 40,000 points.

Getting to the hotel was a challenge in itself, as we navigated the maze that was the Galaxy Macau complex with 6 different hotels, 3 Michelin star restaurants, and a massive casino.

We took the elevator up to the 51st floor to check into the hotel. In front of us were two large desks, occupied by two receptionists, and surrounded by rather large vases. Towards the back were sweeping views of downtown Macau. You could see the Macau Tower, MGM Macau, and Wynn Macau, amongst a few. I sat down at the desk as a woman checked me in, asked for the usual information (although a bit skeptical at what a 23-year-old such as myself was doing at a resort like the Ritz Carlton), and proceeded to give me details about the room.

We took the elevator down to the 35th floor, walked down a long, calmly lit hallway lined with even more large vases, and stepped into the Carlton Suite.

rtiz carlton suite macau bedroom

The king bedroom had it’s own chandelier, love seat, tv, automated curtains and blinds, and was connected to the luxurious, top to bottom, marble bathroom.

ritz carlton suite macau bathroom

The bathroom was covered in marble, had its own chandelier, hot tub, his and her’s vanities, a rain shower, a powder room, and a fully automated bidet with a remote control. This was the most advanced toilet I’ve ever seen, even compared to Japan, with buttons to lift up the seat, light-up the bowl, and even air it out.

ritz carlton suite macau living room

The living room had more vases, a little study area, a half bathroom, a wine cabinet, and another bed.

ritz carlton welcome package

Before arriving, the staff had laid out a welcome package for us, complete with a complimentary bottle of red wine, and assorted fruits, chocolates, and macaroons.

ritz carlton

They even wrote me a hand written letter to welcome us to the Ritz Carlton. Now that’s some VIP service!

view from ritz carlton macau

Overall, we had a great time in Macau. The Ritz-Carlton was one of the nicest hotels I’ve ever stayed at in my life. It’s unfair to compare Macau to Sin City. It’s another animal entirely, and definitely a city worth visiting again!

 

Quito, Ecuador

It’s that time again. In less than 10 hours from now, I’ll be headed abroad once again. Destination: Quito, Ecuador. It might be the new year talking, but thinking back, I never really envisioned myself travelling abroad as much as I am. It may even be the best experiences of my undergraduate career. Coming into college, as a freshman I knew nothing about what I wanted to do with my life or even what I wanted to do in college. Studying abroad has served as that answer.

These next 2 weeks will be another adventure, but different than my experiences experiences. Madrid was my first experience abroad and alone. It allowed me to learn more about myself, the people around me, and taught me a lot about the Spanish culture. Toulouse was different in the sense that it compounded on the knowledge and experiences I’ve collected in my Experience Bank from Madrid, and allowed me to open my mind to engineering in Europe and engineering standards abroad. I learned a lot about the culture, but I also met with companies, collaborated with engineers, and got up close and personal with an A380.

For the next 2 weeks, we will be exploring Ecuador while interning with companies for social good in Ecuador, finding problems, performing case studies, and developing solutions. Quito will combine my past study abroad experiences with the Silicon Valley Workshop that I was a part of last year. It will allow me to speak with entrepreneurs who have started social start ups in Quito for the betterment of the Ecuadorian people. We will be visiting startups like ROMP, the Range of Motion project in Ecuador working to provide prosthetic and orthotic care to those in need. We will also be visiting Inga Alpaca, a family owned business working to increase jobs through producing goods made of Alpaca yarn. I’m looking forward to another adventure in Ecuador. If my past experiences have anything to show for it, it’ll be another journey to add to my Experience Bank. For news and updates on my journey, be sure to check out this site often.

The Experience Bank

What is the meaning of life?

No, I’m not trying to pose a question with a philosophical solution to the ultimate question, but it does beg the relatively simple question, “What do you want to do with your life?” Most people would say they want to have a stable job, a family, settle down, make a lot of money, retire, live happily, but none of these responses really answer that question. People have a tendency to pursue happiness. While there can be misconceptions about how to attain happiness, it is in our nature to pursue it, and to find meaning and fulfillment in our lives. People have conceived various solutions to satisfy this craving, from religion to government, to satisfying our curiosities, but we are so busy cultivating our intellectual skills in the pursuit of successful careers, that we neglect the pursuit of happiness. Very rarely do our solutions satisfy that need for happiness. In response to that problem, I’d like to propose another solution, the experience bank.

Your Experience Bank is a collection of many firsts throughout your lifetime, from big firsts like your college graduation, your first job, your first car, your first house, your first child, to little milestones like your first time driving, first love, first road trip, first time injured, first time abroad, and so on.

Throughout the course of your lifetime you’re constantly depositing experiences into your experience bank. It provides a glimpse into you, your identity, your being. These very experiences shape who you are as a person, both good and bad.

I’ve had many experiences that I have deposited into my experience bank. Experiences like being involved with Business Professionals of America, an experience that has helped me grow personally and socially, attending the University of Illinois, an experience that has helped me understand college and understand what my identity means to me, starting SnoHassle or FreeSkies, experiences that have allowed me to grow my skills in entrepreneurship while expanding my knowledge beyond the field of engineering, going abroad for the first, second, and third time, an experience that has shaped my understanding of the world and ignited my insatiable desire to travel. These experiences have allowed me to learn more about myself, and have shaped my identity. It is because of these experiences, consisting of both actions I’ve taken and those I haven’t, that have determined my future, and allowed me to attain happiness. The actions you take and the decisions you make over the course of your lifetime can be both good and bad, slowly carving out your identity, and filling that bank.

It is at these crucial moments in your life that a few important questions must be asked. Is that experience worth adding to your experience bank? Where do you draw the line? How does this experience shape your identity? Some experiences can grow you while others can hurt you physically, mentally, and psychologically. Some experiences may be illegal, some can compromise your morality, some can hurt those around you, some can test your honesty, your character, and your trust. It can be wonderful to fill your experience bank with every experience possible, but it’s also important to understand that certain experiences can mar your identity and degrade your character. Not all experiences can be controlled by you, in fact, many of them have been imposed on you, both good and bad, but it is in your power to make the most of that experience and shape it in a way that benefits your experience bank.

So this is the challenge I propose to you. Take it upon yourself to fill your experience bank with the best experiences. When making decisions throughout your life, think about how it affects your experience bank. Will having a stable job, settling down, earning a lot of money, or retiring grow your experience bank? When you’re on your deathbed, it’s not about how much money you have or what your job was, it’s about how you’ve filled your experience bank, and what you’ve experienced.

 

La Villa Rouge

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It’s been one hell of a week. I arrived here last Thursday night, and it’s been quite a ride since. Toulouse is a beautiful city, with great people, and the program has kicked off with a great start. Not going to lie that it hasn’t been a struggle adjusting, but it’s been an experience. So far, when we haven’t been exploring the city, we’ve taken courses on aircraft economics and safety with our first exam tomorrow, can’t wait for that. With the time that we did have in the city, we explored on our own and also had the opportunity to explore the city with a guide.

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On Monday we had the opportunity to visit downtown Toulouse and explore some of the cultural buildings that encompass the city through a guided tour. Toulouse is home to over 450,000 people and is the fourth largest city in France in addition to being the center of the European Aerospace Industry. The buildings in the city are mostly made of brick and dirt from the Garonne River, dubbing Toulouse with the nickname of “la ville rouge”. Some of the buildings are made of stone, however, this is uncommon since the stones come from the Pyrenee mountains and are difficult to. Being in the heart of Midi Pyrenee, we learned about the architecture and the occitan culture that has influenced the city.

First up on the trip was the heart of city, Capitole! We were lucky to get in since it is usually being used to house an event. The building was originally constructed in 1190. While the building, as it stands today, wasn’t built in any single time period, the interior dates back to the 16th century while the facade was built more recently in 1750. The building was once used as the as the seat of the government as Toulouse became known for it’s wealth and influence. Today the building houses the city hall, Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse – an opera company, and a symphony orchestra. It is known that you must be very talented to perform here. One unique fact about the plaza outside the city hall was that local officials wanted to keep the appearance of Capitole as untouched as possible, so they declared that any business around Capitole needed to color their signs gold, to keep with the history of the gold and silver mines surrounding the city. Even McDonalds wasn’t an exception.

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During this tour, we saw many boutiques and art around town. The history of the town was displayed through this art. We saw a few monuments and fountains were the people of Toulouse gathered engaging in conversation. There were some paintings on the ceiling in front of some boutiques that told stories of Toulouse such as the love for rugby and how Toulouse plays a large part in the Aerospace society.

Later in the day we visited La Basilique Saint-Sernin, a beautiful church built between 130 and 1385 at the site of a previous basilica which contained the body of Saint Sernin, the first bishop of Toulouse, in c. 250. While most of the basilicas were made of stone, this one was made mostly of painted brick to mimic stone. Inside of the church we learned a little bit about the architecture printed on euro bills.

Another place we visited was the Couvent des Jacobins. One of the many unique characteristics of the building is something the locals affectionately call, the “Palm Tree”, a 22-meter high column with groin vaults banding up in a shape similar to palm tree fronds. The monastery also features dark blue and red stained glass windows that allow light inside the building to change from cold light to warm light as the day goes on.

I’ve enjoyed the trip thus far and can’t wait for these upcoming weeks. Keep checking for more updates!

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