Tips for planning and packing for living abroad

Tips for planning and packing for living abroad

By Greg Hung


Greg is a World Explorer, Film-maker & Travel & Technology Serial Entrepreneur has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom.

This article applies to:
Travel film-makers
Travelers that want to pack their luggage smarter
Expatriates relocating to another country

Tips for planning and packing for travel
Greg Hung – World explorer, Film-maker, Travel & Technology Entrepreneur

I have been traveling abroad since 2009 where I have enjoyed Europe backpack trips, Hiking adventure trips to Machu Pichu, and upscale Asia adventure trips with camera gear. My experience with these trips have taught me to make better choices.  For my next upcoming trip I will be traveling with plenty of camera gear and my personal luggage that will come along with me to what could be a 1 year working holiday.

How to maximize carrying space at minimal cost

What you will need

  1. measuring tape
  2. travel scale
  3. a smartphone – to calculate volume and convert between pounds and kilograms etc

Step 1 – Read the baggage policy rules of the airlines you will use the most

If you think of this as a game you cannot play smart and effectively if you do not know the rules. The rules depend on which airline you will fly with the most.

How many bags do they allow?

Check the airlines that you will be traveling with the most to figure out what their baggage policies are. I’ll use Allegiant airlines  as an example. At the time of writing they allow you to bring on $35 for the first and second bag.  Hint: you’ll want to bring the second bag since you’re paying for it.

What are the weight and size restrictions?

The bag must be under 40 pounds and under 80 linear inches.

What are linear inches?

Linear inches is a term used to describe the sum of the length, width and depth of your baggage. For example my large suitcase has the following dimensions which works out to 65 linear inches.

32l 22w 11.5d=65 linear inches

Step 2 Picking your luggage

Tips for planning and packing for travel
The mothership

 

This will be my largest suitcase. I call it the mothership. My requirement is to maximize the carrying capacity at the lowest cost. I want to make a smart choice, and to do that I wanted to figure out how to measure the performance of the suitcase (see my calculations below). Other considerations that I think are important to factor in are the weight, warranty and convenience features. Convenience features that I think are useful are telescopic handles, aesthetics, 4 wheels,and a peg to connect a luggage strap to connect to other suitcases to tow it.

How to measure the performance of a suitcase

To calculate the carrying capacity get the dimensions of your suitcase using a measuring tape or refer to the website of the company that made it. To weigh the luggage use a travel scale. My friend Agnes got me one years ago, but I only opened it a couple days ago and I highly recommend it.

The calculations

32l 22w 11.5d=65 linear inches

8096 volume cubic inches (calculated by multiple L X W X D)

weight -11lbs

To measure the performance of the suitcase I wanted to see how much carrying capacity this I’m getting for this luggage for the weight.

The calculation. 8096 cubic inches / 11lb’s

= 736 of cubic inches per pound.

Okay so this suite case meets the requirements of allegiant, but the performance doesn’t  mean anything to me until I compare it to another product.

I compared it with one of the newer suitcases by Hey’s and got the following figure.

Heys Delta large

30 X 21 X 11= 62 linear inches

6930 volume cubic inches

11.6lbs

= 597 of cubic inches per pound.

Okay so this means 139 cubic inches more space per pound with my existing suit case. I like it! Remember to consider other factors that you value like 4 wheels, or if it looks super sleek. We all have different priorities.

Allegiant charges you $35 for 2 checked bags. In this case it would be foolish not to get a second suitcase.

My second checked in luggage

Tips for planning and packing for travel
Storing camera gear and tennis rackets in the the Briggs & Riley

 

Briggs and Riley

L30.5 W 15  H16.5

weight 4.5lbs

volume cubic inches 7548

performance = 1677.6 of cubic inches per pound.

I bought this suitcase to carry a DSLR camera slider. I originally bought a carrying case for my slider and I used it when traveling throughout Asia. I didn’t bring my slider as it weighs under 10 pounds and this case doesn’t have wheels. It hurt my shoulder and the handles eventually broke. Please learn from my lesson. WHEELS on your luggage is a good idea. So this Briggs and Riley piece is a high performer. Yes! I will keep this and it provides a lot of carrying capacity for the weight.

Tips for planning and packing for travel
This DSLR camera slider has to travel with me. You need wheels to travel with this

 

Summary for checked in luggage

Total storage for checked in luggage

8096 + 7548 = 15644 volume cubic inches

combined 15.5 lbs

Allegiant requires that checked bags must be under 40 pounds so I have have 24.5 lbs of allowance for my stuff.

So my two pieces of checked luggage will meet the airports requirements for weight and size. I will try to look for luggage tags to so I can connect and tow them together as I will also have my carry on and unless you get a smart cart I will only have 2 arms to pull carry-ons.

update: I went to the local travel stored called Wanderlust travel in Kitsilano and I got a detachable tag to connect large suitcase to the handle of the Briggs

Some airlines like jetstar do not look for how many pieces of luggage, but care about the total weight of your checked in luggage. For example their starting weight allowance is 20kg, which works out to about 44lb’s.

Keep in mind that these weights are without anything in them so don’t forget to weigh your luggage again and check them against the weight requirements. Pre-purchase additional weight allowance on-line before you arrive at the airport to save from paying more at the airport. Planning does take time, but gets rewarded.

Now for carry-on luggage

Step 1 – Read the rules

this is important as each airline will apply different rules Allegiant allows 1 personal item (purse, backpack or laptop computer) and a carry-on bag.

The carry-on bag requirements

9 in. H x 14 in. W x 22 in. D (22.9 cm x 35.6 cm x 55.9 cm) under 25lbs (per their website but I think they mixed up their depth with their height) (allegiant)

18 in H X 14.17 inches W X 9in. D for combined weight of 7kg or 15.43 lbs (Jetstar)

Step 2 – What to bring on carry-on

I bring the important stuff like my laptop, lens, and camera equipment. You want to keep your valuables on your check in luggage that with you at all times. Sometimes you are vulnerable when you need the restroom, which means it is a good idea to make a friend with your airline passenger or you can bring it with you to the restroom. You also may want to entertain yourself or do some work so bringing a book, tablet or laptop is a good idea.

Tips for planning and packing for travel
The travel scale on my back pack

 

My backpack

I’m choosing a backpack because it has wheels, telescopic handle, and has decent carrying capacity.

21.5H X 13.5W X 12D = 3483 volume cubic inches

weight 10lbs, 4.5 kg

performance 348 volume cubic inches  per pound

I compared this to a hey’s 21 inch carry on suitcase to get a relative comparison.

21 X 15.5 X 9.0= 2929.5 volume cubic inches

7.2lbs

406.87 volume cubic inches per pound

okay it looks like I’m losing 58.9 cubic inches per pound based on the weight, but we are allowed a personal item so what can we do with that?

* Personal Item. The one (1) Personal Item such as a purse, briefcase, laptop computer, small backpack, or small camera must fit completely underneath the seat in front of you, and must not exceed maximum size of:
7 in. H x 15 in. W x 16 in. D (17.8 cm x 38.1 cm x 40.6 cm). They don’t specify the weight so to capitalize on this you may want to put heavy stuff on the personal item. For Jetstar they do not specify the weight, but it must be able to fit underneath my seat.

camera bag

I have a camera bag that I used for my camera gear. I was going to sell it, but it can used around my shoulder and I know it fits underneath the seat. So here are the calculations.

W10 X 11H X 8D in = 880 volume cubic inches

1lb weight

performance = 880 volume cubic inches per pound

This camera bag is an incredible performer!

Tips for planning and packing for travel
3 bags all attached together for easy transport in the airport
Summary for carry-on luggage

With the camera bag and my back page I have a combined of 4363 (28% of my checked luggage) volume cubic inches per pound at a combined weight of 11lbs. This meets the requirements of both airlines

Summary: Combined total carrying capacity and weight

Carrying capacity 4363 + 15644 = 20,000 volume cubic inches

Weight 26.5lbs   20kg 44lbs (check in luggage),   15.5kg (34lbs)  backpack (15.5lbs 8kg)

Performance = 754.7 volume cubic inches per pound

Updated measurements for the curious

I stuffed my suitcases with most of what I will be packing to get a sample weight I’ll need to purchase my weight allowance. Based on the weight with my luggage I may have to reduce the weight on my check in and carry on luggage.

 20kg 44lbs (mothership check in luggage suitcase),   15.5kg 34lbs (2nd checked in suitcase)
Total check in weight 35.5kg or 77lbs
Backpack (15.5lbs 8kg)

Article Summary
Tips for planning and packing for travel
converter + is a great app for converting currencies and weights

Planning and make good choices about your luggage can save you money, maximize your storage capacity, and give your a better traveling experience.

In this article I have have given you tools and a performance framework for figuring out how well how your luggage performs against each other. Here are some key takeaways

* Know the rules of the game – I know it can be intimidating, but read the baggage policy of the airlines you will fly the most
* know what your traveling requirements are – are you going on a short trip, photography or videography, or relocating your life
* Equip yourself with tools – smart phone applications can help convert currencies and weights, travel scales, and measuring tape empower you to make good choices  tip: an app I use for converting currencies, weight, volume for iphone is called converter +
* Luggage performance – I have developed this method of calculating performance of the luggage to use a factual way of determining carrying space per weight
* Don’t forget to weigh your luggage again after packing!
* Purchase the appropriate baggage allowance on-line to save money

Vancouver Kickstarter project for Canadian Expat in Australia launches

Vancouver Kickstarter project for Canadian Expat in Australia launches

Vancouver Kickstarter project
Vancouver Kickstarter project

By Greg Hung and Samantha Zhang


Greg Hung is a World Explorer and a Travel & Technology Serial Entrepreneur. Originally from South Africa, Greg moved to Canada in 1988 and has called Vancouver, BC Canada home since 1995.  He developed a successful IT corporate career and has filled roles such as Network Manager for CORIX and Business Team Lead for Worksafe BC. He developed a strong entrepreneurial drive during the MBA Technology program at Simon Fraser University Beedie School of Business, which led to the creation of a series of Internet Travel information & entertainment  related companies under the ChicVoyage Group

Click here for the Kickstarter campaign

The video for the Canadian Expat in Australia Kickstarter campaign

In December 2011, Greg left his managerial job, sold his apartment and traveled to Asia for a month and a half with his SLR camera, filming modern high definition Asia footage during this trip. When he returned to Vancouver in January 2012, a friend introduced him to the Departure’s travel show and the idea of creating a travel show of his own took seed.

He returned to the corporate world in April 2012 for a year. For seven months he worked during evenings and weekends during his free time to produce 30 high definition inspirational travel videos and a modern Asia travelogue called “ChicVoyage in Asia”.  The ChicVoyage in Asia blu-ray is now available on Amazon.com and the digital download of the series can be found on the ChicVoyage Productions website.

The next chapter: Down under

Greg has a strong belief about staying true to yourself and following your heart and passions. For Greg this translated into a strong internal pull to Australia throughout the year and he began to envision a travelogue adventure web series in Australia. The global livability rankings from EIU had listed 4 of the top 10 cities in the world in this region. This solidified the plans for Greg.  He began attending a popular local Internet Marketing meetup called Internet Masterminds.  There he met Samantha Zhang, an American entrepreneur that enjoyed some of the videos.  They agreed to partner on a Kickstarter Project called “The Canadian Expat in OZ” – a series of Cinematic travelogue adventures available in 4 of the most livable waterfront cities in the world (Sydney, Auckland, Melbourne, and Adelaide).

Vancouver Kickstarter project
City of Auckland, New Zealand. One of the world's most livable cities. Image courtesy of TheVirtualNetwork.com.au

Unlike the popular Departure’s  travel web series. The Canadian Expat in OZ travel web series will feature attractions, hidden gems, food, local perspectives and some surprises along the way. This is not a backpacker hostel type trip, but instead of staying at hotels Greg plans to use AirBnb almost exclusively for a completely different travel experience. Think of a Sandstone apartment 300m away from the famous Bondi beach or staying with a local couple in the Southbank Arts Precinct in a modern apartment in Melbourne. We can expect storytelling and high cinematic production value.  If we have a successful Kickstarter campaign, Greg is excited about the possibilities of bringing a cinematic style with a strong story to the travel genre.

Our audience is in for a treat as the Canadian Expat in OZ will also be featuring the up and coming Australian city Brisbane and the town of Cairnes, where Greg will be sharing the Great Barrier Reef experience. Have you wondered what it’s like leaving your job, friends, family and home behind to pursue the adventure of traveling in Australia? If you have, but didn’t want to take the risk yourself, here is your opportunity to experience it from the comfort of your home.

There will be some valuable perks such as special backer access updates which will provide an itinerary with maps with the exact co-ordinates of the places visited with a geo-log trail that will display the journey that Greg has traveled within a city.

Vancouver Kickstarter campaign
Vancouver Kickstarter travel film campaign video. At Olympic Village with Greg Hung and Samantha Zhang

Greg says “I’m excited about the adventure and sharing a modern cinematic Travel adventure in Australia and my life.  I’m happy to meet Samantha and can’t believe that this Kickstarter campaign is going to launch soon!” She has provided great input and we have put together some interesting and useful perks for backers of our campaign. Technology has made a lot of this possible. The power to create with cameras, Meetup groups, AirBnb, YouTube, Vimeo, and Kickstarter. We are living in a time of amazing opportunity. I hope that Samantha and I have good timing!

Greg will be setting off for his adventure at the end of April 2013.

How can you help?

The most direct way would be to contribute to our Kickstarter campaign. Other ways you can help are to spread the word using social media by clicking any of the social networks you belong to on the floating bar on the left. Thanks in advance for your support!

Get inspired for the Grand Canyon – Video, pics, geo-map, and itinerary – Chicvoyage Travel

By Greg Hung

Greg Hung Kickstarter
Greg Hung Kickstarter


Greg is a World Explorer, Film-maker & Travel & Technology Serial Entrepreneur has directed, shot, edited, and produced over 30 high definition travel and lifestyle related videos on Youtube videos in addition to producing ChicVoyage in Asia – modern travel adventures on the Amazon.com store. He has been instructed by globally renown SLR Director and film-maker Phillip Bloom.

Get inspired for the Grand Canyon – Video, pics, geo-map, and itinerary – Chicvoyage Travel

Day 1

The idea of going to the Grand Canyon came after a scheduled Las Vegas trip. This trip was scheduled for April and I was hopeful that there would be sunny weather. I decided to visit the Grand Canyon Southern Rim to take this amazing attraction off my bucket list. I booked a car rental from Las Vegas airport and proceeded to take the 5-6 hour drive from Las Vegas to Bright Angel Lodge at the Grand Canyon National Park. I had missed my first flight from Bellingham to Las Vegas and so I began this drive around 9pm. There are long stretches of this drive especially during the last hour where it is pitch black. Watch your speed on the highway as there are wild life that cross the roads and they are patrolled by police. I got freaked out when I saw a pair of glowing eyes in the dark that I think came from an elk that I almost knocked over. I actually got pulled over by an officer, and I was fortunate enough to get let off without a ticket for the first time. I arrived inside the park gate around 2am in the morning with the toll gates closed and checked into the Bright Angel Lodge for a night. The staff at the lodge were friendly and I looked forward to some sleep before waking up at 5am for sun rise.

Tip: Rent a GPS device if you are making the drive to the Grand Canyon
Tip: Drive under the posted speed limit for your safety and that of the wild life as well to avoid speeding tickets
Tip: The Bright Angel Lodge is an excellent choice for great value. Book well in advance to get rooms.
Tip: Get a map and guide to the park from your hotel. It will help you plan your visit

Day 2

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon sun rise

I woke up early in the morning for the sunrise at the Grand Canyon. One of the benefits of the Bright Angel lodge is the amazing proximity to the Grand Canyon view. You are literally a minute walk away or less depending on your room from the Grand Canyon views. It was cold in the morning, but I was happy it was dry. It was an amazing sun rise and when I saw my first view of the Canyon I was in awe. I have never seen anything like this and if you watch the Grand Canyon video I believe you will agree this is awe inspiring. I had a good breakfast at the Bright Angel lodge to provide some energy for the day. The plan was to film footage of the main view points along the desert view drive. I was told by the staff at Bright Angle lodge that you will get amazing views of the Canyon at most view points, but the Watch Tower is popular stop.

Grand Canyon
Breath-taking views along the desert view drive

 

My first stop was the Moran point and after a series of stops I finished at the popular Desert View Watchtower stop. I got there late just before sunset and the tower was closed. You can expect a good walk from the parking lot to the Watchtower viewpoint and fresh spring water taps to fill your water. It definitely worth to check the sites along the desert view drive, but not necessary to go all the way to the Watch tower . I spent night two at the Yavapai lodge as there wasn’t room available at Bright Angel. The Yavapai doesn’t offer the prime location that Bright Angel does and expect to pay more, but your rooms are close to the market area.

Tip: Don’t settle for cafeteria food at the Yavapai. There are many options in the park that are a short drive away

Day 3

Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon Visitor Centre

On day 3 the plan was to do a quick hike. I went to the visitor center where you can park your car and take a bus shuttle to the hiking location. I picked the South Kalibab trail and took a quick hike down. Along the path I bumped into people that were doing mule rides, an interesting experience to try for next time. You can see different views from the hiking trails that descend down that are worth your time if you want some good pictures.

Grand Canyon
Hiking on the South Kalibab trail

Tip: Come well prepared for the hike. Sun glasses, sun screen, water, appropriate hiking shoes are some suggestions.
I recommend watching the Grand Canyon video if you need some inspiration to visit!

Sample Itinerary

Day 1
  • Book car and GPS from Las Vegas Airport
  • Get something to eat at the airport or Las Vegas
  • 5-6 hour drive to the Grand Canyon National park at Southern Rim
  • Check into hotel and settle in
Day 2
  • Take pictures of the Grand Canyon sun-rise by the Bright Angel trail
  • Have a good breakfast at the Bright Angel Lodge
  • Follow the desert view trail for a day of picture taking
  • Photograph the WatchTower before sunrise
Day 3
  • Breakfast at the Market
  • Park at the Visitor Center
  • Get some info on the hiking trails
  • Catch a bus to your hike of choice
  • Do the hike or see it on a mule ride
  • Dinner


View Grand Canyon Southern Rim in a larger map

Travel and Technology: Live Speech translation demo English to Mandarin Chinese is almost here

Next time I'll talk about these topics Could I build a life and friends in Taipei and what adventures did I have ? How did I survive and figure out the basics such as how to eat and find a place to live ? Was Taiwan what I thought it would be?

Language can play a huge factor in shaping the experience you have on your travels. If you can’t speak the primary language it can become a barrier for simple things such as getting directions, ordering food, and more complex things such as having conversations. This was the experience I had traveling to Beijing where almost all the people I came across did not speak much English. I had trouble ordering my lunch (good old pointing didn’t work) and finding eye drops. I decided to check the Internet today to see how technology has evolved to help us conquer these language barriers. It turns out my timing was good.

In November 2012, Microsoft’s Chief Research officer demonstrated technology that translates English to Chinese Mandarin in real-time. Watch the youtube video (start at the 7:30 mark).

You can get more information here

There is another technology in the form of a smart phone application for iphone and Android that has some early potential. I was first introduced to it by a friend who demonstrated the app called “Word Lens”. The application allows you to point your smartphone’s camera at a written Spanish word and instantly convert it to English on your phones display. Very Cool. Unfortunately Chinese is not yet available, but language such as French, Italian, and Spanish are. For more information on Word Len’s I’ve include a link to the application on the Apple store click here. There is a video below with a live demo.

A Christmas experience in Shanghai,Singapore, and Vancouver

We are nearing another holiday season in Vancouver. The pace at office begins to slow down and become more social and relaxed. The Christmas trees and decorations at the office, retail stores, public spaces, and apartments lobbies signal the season has begun. In Vancouver cold weather, rain and sometimes the chance of snow are also part of the experience. You might be doing last minute Christmas shopping, going to parties for your work, going to parties for your friends, or you might be throwing a party of your own. On Christmas day most shops are closed except movie theaters and Chinese restaurants.

It was this time a year ago when I was filming and traveling through Shanghai and Singapore around the holiday season. I had escaped the holiday obligations for gifts with friends and family back in Vancouver. In Shanghai there were Christmas trees and decorations up at the hotels and malls.

Greg Hung in Shanghai
Greg & Jeff in Shanghai, Xin Tian Di

I was fortunate to know my local friend Jeff who invited me to a local party in Shanghai. The entrance would be a respectable gift for a secret Santa and some booze.  I purchased some quality tea from the Shanghai museum. The host of the party lived in a good sized apartment and offered us some beer and food. We looked at some photos on his television and then put on fights from the UFC. Later we would do secret Santa where I won a hot pot set, which I traded in for something I don’t remember. I was lucky to get a ride back to downtown Shanghai from the apartment which was about 30-40 minutes from the person I gave the hot pot set to. So it all worked out and felt very much like a Vancouver Christmas experience.

Jeff's Secret Santa Gift
Jeff's Secret Santa Gift
Tea could be a good secret santa gift
Tea could be a good secret santa gift

I arrived in Singapore several days before Christmas to spend time with my Grandmother, cousin, Aunt, and new nieces. I must admit that there is no replacement for spending the holidays with your family. We had a Christmas tree set up with some gifts already there. A signal that I was running out of time to get gifts for my family in Singapore. I had plenty of time to explore the central areas such as Little India, Orchard Road, and the Marina Bay. Marina bay had lights set up to recognize the season, Little India didn’t have much set up, and the Orchard area had a tree with bright lights. There were huge crowds out to take pictures of the lights and to publicly enjoy the occasion outdoors. My grandmother cooked us a Christmas dinner that we ate at home. After the dinner it was business as usual with the family winding down getting ready for bed. I went out in search of some action by going down to Marina Bay area. I was disappointed to see that it was very quiet, everything was closing early, and it started raining.

Marina Bay Singapore Christmas Day
Marina Bay Singapore Christmas Day
Orchard area Christmas eve, Singapore
Orchard area Christmas eve, Singapore

After spending Christmas in these 3 different cities I see that it is recognized and celebrated similarly. The chance of a white Christmas is most likely to happen in Vancouver, but the usage of lights, christmas trees, the spirit of giving, and time with family and friends are common elements. Wouldn’t it be interesting to a get a glimpse into how it is celebrate in other cities around the world?

 

 

ChicVoyage in Asia is a collection of modern travel adventure documentaries showcasing must-see attractions, food, culture, nightlife, and unique adventures with local friends in popular cities in Asia.

Greg Hung
Greg Hung

Originally invited to participate in his best friend’s wedding in Taiwan Greg took the opportunity to extend the trip and see more of Asia. In December 2011 Greg went on a journey to cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Guangzhou, Xian, and Taiwan. After a month and a half in Asia he returned to Vancouver determined to produce a collection of 6 entertaining, inspiring, and informative travel adventure films to share Asia with the world.

 

 

Top things Vancouver locals enjoy doing in Summer

I’ve lived in Vancouver since 1995 and have traveled to South Africa, New Zealand, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Taiwan, Peru, Mexico, Las Vegas, Paris, Rome, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Xian, Turks and Caicos, Toronto, San Francisco and so on.

Greg Hung
Greg Hung

I enjoy keeping an active lifestyle, enjoy eating and trying a variety of experiences. With this in mind here are some top things Vancouver locals including myself enjoy doing:

1. Vancouver Seawall – I’ve yet to find a city in my travels that rivals our 22km seawall. The seawall is a paved path set aside for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy amazing natural views that Vancouver has to offer. It begins from Coal harbour wraps around Stanley Park, goes through False Creek, past the Science World, and finishes at Kitsilano Park. To sum it up it is long. My favorite area is along the False Creek and Athletes Village Seawall. At False creek you have separate lanes for walkers and cyclists and an amazing view. You can also catch the Aqua Bus at David Lam and cross the water to Granville Island to visit the market and get something delicious to eat.

Vancouver Seawall
Vancouver Seawall

 

2. Vancouver Asian Food – It is hard to find a friend or colleague in Vancouver that that does not enjoy the great options for food we have in Vancouver. However, I believe that Vancouver locals enjoy an excellent variety of Asian food that from Chinese (Sun Sui Wah) , Shanghai (Shanghai Wonderful, Shanghai River) , Taiwanese (Wang’s Beef Noodles, Huang’s Beef Noodles), Korean, Vietnamese (Au Petit Cafe, Thai Son), Malaysian, Cambodian (Phnom Penh), and East Indian. Other food experiences to try include Dim Sum, the snacks at the Summer night market in Richmond, food courts in Richmond (Richmond Public Market, Aberdeen, YaoHan), or Bubble tea cafes (Pearl Castle, Bubble World). Using Yelp on your smartphone is also a great idea. You can filter for restaurants that are in your location, fit your budget, well reviewed, type of food you want, and includes the contact information. What an awesome app.

In this entertaining and informative video Greg Hung and Catherine film a beginning to end of the Dim sum experience at one of the top Chinese restaurants Sun Sui Wah. Catherine is a locally born Vancouverite and will share some of her favorite dim sum dishes and even an education on tea etiquette.

 

Vancouver Dim Sum
Vancouver Dim Sum with local friend Catherine

3. Vancouver Coffee houses – Walk into a starbucks or a JJ Bean during a weekday or weekend morning and you will see evidence of how popular coffee is with the locals. Vancouver has a strong coffee culture that supports a variety of coffee shops that provide different experiences. Some of my local favorites for the quality and strength of the coffee and ambiance include: Bean Around the World, JJ Bean,  and Cafe Artigiano. There is strong support for Starbucks, Tim Hortons, and even internet friendly coffee shops like Waves, 49th Parallel, and Blenz.

Vancouver Coffee
Vancouver Coffee at Main Street 49th Parallel

4. Beach Volleyball – Vancouver active locals love to organize BBQ’s and beach volleyball games at the beach. You’ve got a beautiful backdrop of the mountains and downtown to enjoy while you play. Popular beaches to play include Kitsilano and Spanish banks beaches. It is free as long as you bring your own volleyball, net, and friends.

Vancouver summer volleyball Spanish Banks
Vancouver summer volleyball Spanish Banks

5. Hiking –  Vancouver locals love to get outdoors especially during the summer. A popular weekend activity to is to organize a hike with some friends and bring your hiking gear (water, appropriate shoes, clothing, lunch) and take pictures. It’s a great way to get some exercise, social time, and adventure. Some popular trails are the Grouse Grind located at Grouse Mountain, but some locals prefer other trails due to its populatiry. Another option is the Stawamus Chief Hike, which rewards you with amazing views at the top of any of their 3 peaks.

 

Here is a video of the Stawamus Hike experience


Our Mission:
Inspire and inform people to travel and discover the world by visiting every inspirational destination.

www.chicvoyagegroup.com

Entrepreneur Greg Hung sold his home and left his job in Vancouver BC, Canada to pursue his dream of building a global company ChicVoyage, dedicated to sharing travel experiences Chic style. In 2011 his journey took him to Montreal, Whistler, Turks and Caicos, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Guangzhou, Xian, and Taiwan.

 

Producing a Travel Documentary – ChicVoyage in Asia

Producing a Travel Documentary

Almost a year in the making after departing for Asia in December 2012 I will be receiving the first batch of high definition Blu-Ray copies of ChicVoyage in Asia from my supplier. if you go to our subsidiary website Chicvoyage Productions travel store  you will also see  ChicVoyage in Asia now available for sale as a digital download .

I never would have imagined the amount of time and passion it would take to complete a film project from beginning to end. Filming videos and putting together music videos for youtube is one thing, but taking video footage and producing it into a entertaining and professional show is a much larger undertaking.

I have a new level of respect for film-makers after going through the process of planning, filming, and post production. When I left for Asia I had an idea that I wanted to film video and eventually produce a travel show; however it wasn’t crystal clear what the format of the show was going to be.

When I got back to Vancouver I knew that I had captured some amazing footage and unique travel adventures in my month and a half.  Originally I created a music video from my time in Asia, but it wasn’t the appropriate video to showcase the adventures I had. My friend introduced me to a travel adventure show called departures by two Canadians that inspired to begin working on the show.

To have the technology to be able to capture that experience in high definition quality and share it does satisfy something internal in me to build and share. Traveling and filming provide me an opportunity to pursue my passions and film provides the platform to document it.  The actual process of producing a show provides additional opportunities to tell a story and invoke inspiration through visuals and music. I’ve always enjoyed music and I’ve hand picked tracks that are modern, fresh, and what I’ve felt are relevant for the particular country.

It is an amazing time to be able to have an opportunity to do this. I hope you’ll check out the trailers and purchase ChicVoyage in Asia also available on Blu-Ray in the Amazon Store.

Here is a special personal recount of the experience in Beijing and Xian. If you like it please comment and I can write more about the other cities in Asia.

Beijing

When I set foot in Beijing it was super exciting to be in the city to be able to film famous structures such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China. What I didn’t expect in Beijing was the experience of going to the Centro Jazz bar in Beijing to experience the live jazz, the color ambiance, the smell, great drink, and company. This was one of my Beijing highlights and I manage to capture some of these elements on the film. Even though I’m no stranger to a the Chinese culture living in a dense Chinese population living in Vancouver BC Canada I did feel like an outsider not being able to speak Mandarin. I didn’t anticipate how little English would be spoken by the people I met throughout my trip in the hotels, bars, restaurants, and in the street. Catherine Lu and my good friend Linh were very helpful during my trip there and helped me find my way in Beijing and feel welcome. ChicVoyage in Beijing is a great introducing to Asia and great footage of the attractions such as Forbidden City are a given. What I believe is original about this adventure is including the experience of a night club in Beijing, riding through the Hutongs on a rickshaw bike, and getting a chance to experience some of the best Peking duck Beijing has to offer.


ChicVoyage in Beijing – Included in ChicVoyage in Asia

Xian

I had a short 2 day stay in Xian with the main goal to see the Terracotta warriors. I found Xian to be a city that is overcrowded with traffic and loose with the rules. You’ll find motor bikes riding on the sidewalk or taxi’s that only stop to pick you up if it’s convenient. I had a good first night filming at the City Wall, but spent over an hour trying to get a taxi back to my hotel. In the end I had to call the hotel to call a taxi to pick me up. The Terracotta experience more than made up for the first night. My tour guide Koko said I was extremely luck to get a chance to film all 3 pits at the museum as it is usually so overcrowded with people. For me seeing the Terracotta warriors was gratifying in the sense that I knew I had seen a unique worldwide attraction with a long history. I love the montage in ChicVoyage in Xian and I hope with the music I’ve picked you will enjoy it as well.

Trailers from some cities covered in ChicVoyage in Asia


ChicVoyage in Xian – Included in ChicVoyage in Asia

 

 

We’re Back – The blog is back, new website and new adventures

 

The ChicVoyage website is now complete. Our website has been in development for the past year and was a larger project than originally planned. I hope you enjoy the new site and find it Chic and a place you will come to visit for high quality travel content.

The first draft of the website actually came up while I was in Xian, China and around that time we lost the original blog. So this is our first blog post since late in 2011, and before that the blog was the most active area of the Chicvoyage website. I hope to use the blog as an active channel to share valuable content related to travel and film with you.

I created the ChicVoyageGroup which is a parent company for ChicVoyage Travel and ChicVoyage Productions.  When I first began the website there was just ChicVoyage. You may be wondering what happened since then. Well I traveled in Asia for a month and a half and I discovered a love of travel and video. When I returned back to Canada I decided that the focus for 2012 would be on developing travel films based on my adventures and travels around the world in 2011. So here is a quick  guide

ChicVoyage Travel

  • Experiences – Find high quality pictures and short video tours of destinations around the world. We will provide independent and first hand reviews of our experience to help you plan your visit. You can also expect to find sample itineraries if available and custom maps of the attraction locations.
  • Experience Designer – Create your own idea for a travel experience or create one you have already been on that you would like to share
  • Blog

ChicVoyage Productions

  • Portfolio – A sample of the video work we do
  • Travel Store – A location to purchase and download quality travel films. Currently I have produced films for Shanghai, Singapore, and Providenciales Turks & Caicos Island. There are films for Hong Kong, Xian,  Taipei, Beijing, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Napa Valley, and the Grand Canyon in the works. This is what I’m most excited about for 2012 and recommend you check out. Here are few pictures to spark the imagination.

 

An introduction to Xian, China and the Terracotta warriors

After Bejing, ChicVoyage will be visiting a city in China, famous for the Teracotta warriors . Xian is a 13 hour drive, 1100km south west from Beijing, in the Shaanxi Province. An economy flight from Beijing to Xian is 2 hours long and you can expect to pay $200 US in December. I must admit that I did not know much about Xian until two months ago prior to planning this trip. The primary reason for our visit to Xian is to see the Terracotta warriors known for their rich cultural history. After writing this article I’ve learned that there is more to this city of more than 8 million people.

information about the Terracotta warriors
Travel wiki claims the Terracotta Warriors  are the most popular tourist attraction in Shaanxi and one of the most on the whole in China. According to Wikipedia, the collection of warriors and horse sculptures were made in 210-209 BC to represent the armies of Qin Shi huang, the first Emperor of China. The purpose of the sculptures was to protect the emperor in the afterlife, who was buried with 8000 lifelife warriors, 30000 weapons, and approximately 100 chariots with horses.  The site was only discovered in 1974 , is known as  an eighth “wonder of the world”, and was recognized as a world cultural heritage site by Unesco in 1987. Further  information and pictures available on the unesco website.

thanks to naturalscience1 for this video

If you have an appreciation for culture and history and are interested in how the Terracotta warriors were made and the secrets that science has revealed I recommend this video from National Geographic.

History
Xian is more than 3000 years old and in ancient times was known as Chang’an. For 1000 years the city was the captial for 13 dynasties and a total of 73 emperors.According to  Travel wiki , Xian is the undisputed root of Chinese civilization.

Interesting facts about Xian

  • It is known for its rock music, with underground music centres in China. It is home to contemporary Chinese sats Xu Wei, Zhang Chu, Zheng, Jun.
  • Xian is the home town  of the Golden Bear (Berlin Film Festival) and is the only place in China to claim double, Golden Bear, award-winning Chinese directors.
  • Xian is China’s leading training centre for engineers. Many domestic and international telecommunication venros have set up R and D centre and factories in Xian.
  • Xian has one of the largest internet bars in the world with 3000 computers! Online gaming is very popular and has hosted worldwide game competitions such as ACON5, CEG2006, and WWCG2006.
  • Xian has the worlds largest city wall: 12m high 18m wide. Biking around this wall is recommended as a must do. It takes 2 hours. Bikes can be rented on the east and south gates.

Night life

Based on my internet research here are the variety of nightlife options.

1) Bell Tower – the tower is located at the center of the city and at night it is illuminated to provide a colorful backdrop for Chinese malls and restaurants. Here is an informative short video on the Bell Tower on a short travel show clip by Samantha Brown from the travel channel.

2) Movies – You can catch a move in Chinese at the Pang Gog Cinema close close to the Drum Tower at No. 61 Zhubashi Jie. There is another cinema at No.323 Dong Dajie northwest film city. Please check travel china guide for more details. In my opinion one of the benefits of watching a movie here are to catch the latest titles and treat it as an entertaining way of picking up some Chinese

3) KTV – I’m hearing about KTV as popular entertainment in Taiwan and according to travelchinaguide KTV is popular with students and working people in Xian and large cities in China.

4) Tang Dynasty diner and dancing show – Out of the 13 dynasty periods, Travelchinaguide claims that the Tang dynasty was the most popular and glorious one.  This artistic show offers a modern interpretation of ancient china through the use of dancing, singing, musical instruments, and poetry. Check out this high quality video clip courtesy of dmjcosnard.

ChicVoyage visiting Beijing soon

Beijing is our first stop on a month and a half long visit to Asia in early December. Here is a little bit of research I wanted to share before the trip.

The essentials

China Visa

To begin, the first thing to do before booking your trip is to get a Chinese Visa. Here is a good site about the requirements for Canadians. From my experience, you can save yourself one additional trip to the visa office by printing out the forms prior to your first visit and get your passport photos completed. The visa office will only take a limited number of people a day so be there before opening time with your completed application. The  contact number for  the Visa office  is (604) 734 – 0704. The office address is 288-1338 West Broadway, Vancouver. You can also try avoiding all the hassle by hiring a travel agent to do this on your behalf.  Here are two contacts who can help you with this:

Sundeck Vacations
John Wong
604.728.0569
Richmond, BC

Travel Gallery
Betty Tan
604.879.6883
Vancouver, BC

Currency

The currency in China is called Yuan or Renminbi. One Canadian dollar as of today is equivalent to 6.09 CNY. I’ve been told by the local store where I got my China sim card that foreigners are limited to withdraw a certain denomination a day so it was suggested to buy at least $1000 CDN worth of Renminbi locally before I leave.

You will also want to visit your doctor to make sure that your immunization is up to date, and make sure you have travel insurance.

TIP: If you have an iphone I recommend downloading “Exchange LE” to convert worldwide currencies on the fly. If you don’t have an iPhone try the Fairmont’s currency convertor.

TIP: Check that you have the appropriate electric plug adapters for China. I was told by a London Drugs employee that most modern electronics such as Iphones do not require a convertor so save yourself some money.

Overview

Beijing is located west of North Korea between the Yellow Sea. Beijing is known as the capital of China, is the country with the world’s largest population and was host of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Beijing’s has the second largest population after Shanghai with a population of 17.55 million people in 18 districts. It is the political, education, and cultural center of the country that offers many historical sites and important government and cultural institutions.

Beijing’s time is known as the China Standard Time (CST) and runs 16 hours ahead of people in the Pacific Time (PST) time zone, which includes Vancouverites. So currently looking at the iPhone world clock its currently 12:10pm. One way that I do time zone math is to add 12 hours to the current time, which would be the same time but you exchange the pm for am and then add the additional hours.

12:10pm + 12 hours = 12:10am plus 4 hours which equals 4:10am

Beijing is known for its flatness with only 3 hills found within the city limits. The configuration of Beijing is that of concentric rectangular shaped ring roads. Most of the tourist sights are located in what is called the old walled city and enclosed by ring road two.

Beijing districts
Beijing districts

picture courtesy of wikitravel.org

XiCheng District – this covers the northwestern part of the central city and includes the Beijing Zoo and National Concert Hall.

Dongcheng – this covers the north eastern part of the central city. This includes the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and Beijing Central Station

XuanWu District – Southwestern pat of the central city

Chongwen District – Covers the south eastern part of the central city and includes the Temple of Heaven

For more information about the inner suburbs please check out Beijing wiki travel.

Highlights of the tourist attractions Beijing:

  • Tiananmen Square – This is located in the Dongcheng district. Wikipedia calls it the third largest public square and is also home to the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. It has cultural significance as it was the location of several important events in Chinese history with the most recent being the protests of 1989.
  • Forbidden City – Wikitravel claims this is the most important palace that was home to the Imperial court during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. This site was protected during the Cultural Revolution from the Red Guards. Detailed information is available in the China Travel Guide
  • National Stadium – Better known as the Birds Nest this is located in Chaoyand district and is the symbol of the 2008 Olympic games.
  • Da Dong Roast Duck – Located in Dongcheng district Da Dong was recommended from a local who used to live in Beijing. Currently ranked as the # 3 place to eat in Beijing on Trip Advisor. Summarizing the variety of latest reviews from Trip Advisor I expect high prices, excellent Peking Roast Duck that is carved at the table, drinking, laughing, good food, upscale location, and free drinks waiting at the bar. Can’t wait!
  • Hutongs – These are narrow street alleys that are on the outskirts of the Forbidden City and I’m told visiting Hutong’s are a way to experience how the local Beijing Chinese culture and how they live.
  • Temple of Heaven – Located in Chongwen district my readings confirm that this is a worthwhile place to visit, a symbol of Beijing, and is a larger palace than Forbidden city. The reason is that Chinese emperors considered themselves sons of heaven and did not want to live a palace large than what was built for heaven.
  • Summer Palace – Located in the Haidan district it is known as the largest and most well-preserved Royal Park in China
  • The Great Wall of China – Our trip to China is not complete without scheduling dedicated time to view the largest man-made monument ever built. In 2007 the great wall was listed as one of the world’s wonders of the world, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means it has special cultural and physical significance to the heritage of humanity.  In 220 BC during the Qin dynasty the wall was built as a fortification defense against the invading Mongol’s. It is 8,851.8 km and can be see seen from Space. According to TravelChinaGuide, the most information rich internet resource I’ve come across, the Badaling section of the great-wall is the most well preserved, and is located in Yanqing County 70 km north of Beijing.

Night Life

Based on the top Google searches for “Beijing Nightlife”, the Sanilitun bar street is most popular with ex pats and tourists as well as locals. Located West of Gongti North Gate in the Chaoyang district the MIX Bar seems worth visiting. What I expect is a mix of Western people and locals,  attractive women, and high quality sound and lighting. There are two floors with the first offering comfortable seating and the second offering French and Italian cuisine with music.

mix bar beijing
mix bar beijing

photo courtesy of clubzone.cn

The other up and coming area for nightlife is in the Hou Hai Bar Street. The Beijing impression calls No Name Bar  “hands-down one of Beijing’s best”. It is is located in Qianhaidongyan, Shichahai, XiCheng district by a lake.  It is known for scenic views, a welcoming atmosphere popular with locals, and a hidden gem due to no name on the door.  I’m expecting friendly staff, good modern music, a long drink list, and to make a reservation.

That should cover the Beijing plan for now. Hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post and will tune in for the post visit blog post with the pictures and HD video footage of must see attractions, restaurants, and nightlife for Beijing.