You can read about Edna’s adventures over on her blog, Expat Edna (aliteration is so convenient!), or on twitter @ednacz. We firmly recommend both. Warning: eat before you go anywhere NEAR her “5 Best Things I Ate In…” posts. Seriously. ALSO, be sure to wish her and her own hubs-to-be a big congrats on their recent engagement! Very sweet + absurdly adorable Parisian engagement photos here. You are welcome.
Favorite Place: I’ve been to some amazing places, but if I had to choose just one, I’d say Shanghai. It’s my second home. I’ve made 20-some visits in my 23 years of life, and I am blown away by how amazing the city is, and just how in love I am with it, every.single.time. To be even more specific, my favorite place is the French Concession (fun fact: until I was 18, I thought ALL of China looked like the French Concession).
More importantly, favorite meal: Uh, this changes on an hourly basis. Depending on when you ask me, it could be pad thai, dim sum, chilli crab, or noodles from a Chinese hole-in-the-wall. I especially love every home-cooked meal my family prepares for me, especially in Shanghai. As for proper meals, I’ve had amazing experiences at Mozaic in Bali, Oso in Singapore, and Verjus in Paris (why do all the best restaurants have monosyllabic names?). Um, sorry I kind of didn’t answer your question at all.
The moment you caught the travel bug: Hard to say; I’ve been traveling since I was a baby so I grew up thinking everyone took 12-hour flights to China and spent their summers in a foreign country. However, I can definitely pinpoint when I caught the expat bug: at 18, when I moved abroad for the first time and spent a year in Dalian, a seaside city in northern China. Changed my life in countless ways, and I’ve become a serial expat since because of that first incredible year abroad.
First experience traveling alone: When I was 8 I flew to Shanghai on my own. I vaguely remember the flight attendants letting me sit in first class for a bit.
Ever been (or thought you’ve been) in imminent danger while traveling?: I may or may not still be scared of the dark, which means I’m super paranoid after nightfall. So I always think I’m going to get stabbed or kidnapped, when in reality I don’t think I ever truly have been in imminent danger.
Though there was that one time I was the victim of a drive-by boob grab from a guy on a scooter, which I did not see coming at all. So my sense of safety is really, really off.
Worst hotel/hostel experience: A generic resort in Batam, Indonesia. Some friends and I wanted an easy getaway from Singapore so we went to this island that’s only 40 minutes away by ferry. We spent most of the weekend by the pool, eating overpriced resort food and drinking liquor we brought in from duty-free. The worst part was Batam’s been built up to be a resort island, so there wasn’t really anything else to do as an alternative. The resort itself wasn’t terrible, and I had fun with my friends, but I hate that we spent most of the time on the hotel grounds, doing nothing.
Best hotel/hostel experience: It’s a tie between the Windsor Plaza in Saigon and Number 31 in Dublin. Saigon was a birthday trip, so we splurged on an executive suite on the top floor with a panoramic view over the city(picture below) and free wine and canapés every evening. But Number 31 is just cozy personified. It’s in this historic building that used to be a famous architect’s home, located in the heart of Georgian Dublin with the best breakfast in Ireland. Saigon wins on the views and free wine; Dublin wins on breakfast and charm.
Favorite family vacation: Minus the yearly trips to China, I think we’ve only taken two family vacations (because, well, flying four people to China every year is a drain on the vacation budget). So between Disneyworld and Atlantic City…Mickey and Minnie definitely beat the Jersey Shore.
Must-have packing item: iPhone. I was going to say camera, but the iPhone camera is pretty decent these days. Plus there’s GPS — I would be dead in a ditch somewhere if it weren’t for the iPhone’s GPS system in Maps.
Most unbelievable travel experience: Superlatives are not my friend. I can’t decide between cruising through the Three Gorges River in China, going to the Ice Festival in Harbin, or crashing an Irish army barracks in Galway and climbing out the window at 5 am.
A literally UNbelievable experience though was when I took a long-distance bus from Dalian to Taiyuan. It ended up lasting 22 hours, and the bus drivers were also running a FRUIT-SMUGGLING operation, so I ended up getting Cask of Amontillado-ed in the back of the bus with all these Styrofoam boxes of fruit. It meant I couldn’t move, or sleep, or go to the bathroom for 22 hours. At one border, the police came on to do a sweep, and the bus drivers quickly threw a sheet over these boxes, then tried to bribe me to stay quiet — with fruit from the boxes. The entire time I kept thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding me. I cannot believe this is happening.”
Favorite “I can’t believe I’m doing this” moment: Seeing the fireworks on New Year’s Eve in Sydney Harbour. It was at the very top of my bucket list. I was super worried at first, we arrived very late and it didn’t look like we would have a good vantage point. I was adamant that I had to see the fireworks with the Sydney Opera House in view or I couldn’t cross it off my bucket list.
We kept walking around until we got ridiculously lucky and were somehow let down into the Rocks, with the Harbour Bridge on our left and the Opera House on our right. When the fireworks went off, it was so unreal and unbelievably amazing I kind of cried a little bit. It was by far one of the best nights of my life; there was so much happiness and incredibly electric energy all around. I still look back on the photos from that night and cannot believe we actually did that.
Place you can’t wait to return to: Singapore for one, because that’s where my fiancé currently lives and long-distance ain’t no bed of roses. I’m just going to say Asia in general: southern Thailand for the food and sunsets; Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, for the beaches and snorkeling; Vietnam for pho. And of course, as always, Shanghai.
Place you can’t be paid to return to: Taman Negara, Malaysia. It’s one of the oldest rainforests in the world, and I am NOT a jungle person (I went on this trip with my fiancé and male flatmate; it was most definitely their idea). The place looks straight out of the pre-historic age; I half-expected a dinosaur to come out and eat us during the night safari. Also during that safari, we watched a guy get bitten by a snake and blood started spurting out of his wrists Kill Bill-style — so that was kind of a deterrent.
Any exciting trips coming up?: London! I’ll be covering my first Olympics as a journalist. My dream career since I was a kid has been to work at the Olympics, so I can die happy after this.
Dream vacation: A cruise to Antarctica, or anywhere in Scandinavia to see the Northern Lights. So basically, anything at the poles.
Favorite tourist attraction: Oh I’m such a sucker for tourist attractions (have you seen my Beaker RTW page)? My favorite would probably be – surprise! – the Bund in Shanghai. Every single time I go it makes me smile and I end up taking a ridiculous amount of photos, even though I’ve been there and done that a hundred times.
Favorite “I’m trying not to look like a tourist” attraction: The Infinity Pool at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Nearly everyone there IS a tourist, as only hotel guests are allowed access to the pool — but everyone up there acts all cool, as if there’s NOTHING EXTRAORDINARY about the view and it’s like they’re just at their condo pool or something.
We want YOU to be our next jetsetter! (See what we did there? Uncle Sam style?)
Happy 4th of July, now go eat a hot dog!
the romantic & the wino