Saturday, December 31, 2016

First Class from Boston to Dubai via Etihad Airways and American Airlines

Vacation has officially begun! On this trip, we will be ending the year with a bang in Dubai.  After 4 nights in the United Arab Emirates, we will make a quick stopover in Doha, Qatar for half a day, fly to Thailand, take a ferry to Koh Lipe Island for a few days, take the ferry to Langkawi, Malaysia for a few more lazy beach days then finally eat our hearts out in foodie metropolis Singapore.

For lodging, we are using our Hilton points to stay at the 5 Star Conrad & Waldorf Astoria in Dubai and Intercontinental in Singapore.  We will just get a beach bungalow in the islands.

I packed "Lightly" this go around. I ALWAYS over pack and have too many electronics, dresses, shoes, makeup etc.  This time, I stuck with just one luggage and NO carryon.  My camera bag will be my personal item.

There will be a total of 8 flights and 6 of them will be First Class.  The other two are "puddle jumpers" more smaller domestic budget airlines and we will be riding with the "common folks." aka Economy Class. (guys... I was kidding, wasn't trying to be a snob!, Get a sense of humor!)

When the Mo and I first started vacationing together, we considered ourselves "backpackers".  We would lug around 40-50 pounds of bathing suits and flip flips on our back taking public buses with the locals.  Although we are still "backpackers" at heart, time has changed and we got older and "wiser." Also, we discovered how to maximize our credit card points to travel better.  (Another post on that to follow)  Since then, we've been meticulous on how we spend money and which credit cards we use to maximize points for our travel. Correction: Mo enforces all the rules, I just spend the money.

For our first two flights, we redeemed our mileage for Etihad First Class.  Etihad is the national airline of the UAE and has won many prestigious awards.

Since Etihad doesn't fly from Boston, they set us up with their partner airline, American Airlines and we flew on the A321.  This isn't a common aircraft on this route as it's usually reserved for longer transcontinental itineraries.   We parked our car at Woburn Anderson Station and took the Logan Express into Boston. 

Although we were First Class passengers, we didn't have access to the lounge. Screw you American Airlines for only allowing International First Class Passengers in your lounge! Oh well, we hung out in the food court, charged our electronics and checked emails and FB.

The flight was quick, only 45 minutes, I watched one episode of "Blackish" and had a glass of champagne.  I felt special.  Kathy Bates from Titanic and American Horror Story was on our flight. 
Check out the video here. 

*** Disclaimer** I've never made videos before, I literally downloaded the program about three hours before my JFK flight.


We had a 24 hour layover in New York and caught up with some friends and family before our trip.  I discovered an amazing bagel shop with more than 15 cream cheese flavors and ate some delish empanadas!!! soooo yummy!!

We arrived to JFK with 3 hours to spare and hung out in the new Etihad lounge.  The booze was free flowing, there were showers, and we could eat dine in the buffet or order food a la carte.  See video below.


Minutes before our planned departure time, the lounge attendants came by to advise us it was time to board the plane.  There were long lines for economy but we went to a separate line.  Once onboard, we were asked what we wanted to drink and provided with some dates and a refreshing towel. 

The flight itself was sweet! For about 13 hours, we were wined and dined.  We hung out in the "lounge", changed into PJ's provided by the airline, had a wine tasting, took a shower, ate filet mignon, TWICE, cooked by the onboard chef and slept like a baby on the lie flat seats. See the video here! We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Etihad First Class Apartments from JFK to AUH

Stay tuned for more videos from Dubai showcasing the grand NYE's fireworks from the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world to a waterpark adventure at the famous Atlantis, the Palms Resort in Dubai.

Kim & the "Mo"

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Awesomeness at Mill City BBQ and Brew

Lowell has lots of international eateries but yet to have a TRUE southern joint serving amazing slow cooked barbecue specialties.  Sure, the Village Smokehouse was a big deal when it first opened its doors many years ago but the food quality sure went downhill once their main focus became the college crowd nightlife.

The Mo and I heard about Mill City BBQ and Brew a few month ago but finally made our way there with Dom and Dary.  We entered through the back where there is a cute patio area with pub style stools and small counter for drinks.  The restaurant used to be the old "Trainview", once our old stomping grounds MANY years ago.

Friday, September 16, 2016

FIRST CLASS - $16,000 flight on World's Best Airline

First Class on Cathay Pacific 777-300ER (extended range) is probably one of the coolest things I've done in my life. The airline has won consecutive awards for "World's Best Airline" by Skytrax, based on a survey of 19 million passengers from around the world.

To achieve our incredible journey, credit goes to my husband, the Mo, who does all the research on which credit cards to open and I do the fun part...just rack them up!

For the trip from PNH (Phnom Penh Cambodia) to BOS (Boston, MA USA), it cost 67,500 American airline miles.  American Airlines and Cathay Pacific are Oneworld alliance and travelers get to redeem their points on airlines within the group.

The current going rate for anywhere in "Asia 2" to continental United States is now 110,000 miles ONE WAY , almost DOUBLE what we spent.  If we were to pay cash, the one way flight would costs more than $16,000 PER PERSON.

I was very apprehensive of the booking.  Cathay Pacific only releases one first class seat per flight to be booked in advance.  As the date approaches, additional tickets may become available, but there are no guarantees.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

I did a 5K every week for 10 weeks and here's what happened

Hi! My name is Kim

I started my journey to "Running" back in January 2016 where I was actually only walking. I wrote a blog post about my First 5K in the Good Times Spring Series and I must have jinxed myself because I later injured myself for a couple months (the injury wasn't even running related), Nonetheless, I didn't complete all 10 races in the Spring Series. I returned to the Summer series with a goal to complete all 10 races! 

Here's what I learned.... 

Image via Ted Tyler / Jim Rhoades

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Colombian cuisine at Asados Dona Flor

While we were still on our adventurous streak, the Mo and I went to Asados Dona Flor on High Street for lunch.  The area used to be my old neighborhood, back when I was 5 years old living on Chestnut Street. We would knock on strangers doors to buy frozen "limbe" and I have fond memories of walking to the store with my grandma and buying things with her sandwich bag full of coins.  This is also the time of my life where my older brother thought it would be comical to tie a rope around my neck and herd me on the street like as if I were a cow.

Although the restaurant doesn't have a website, the Colombian restaurant opened its doors about 8 years ago.  The exterior looks a bit shabby but once you walk in the restaurant, it boasts a great Hispanic cultural ambiance.

Wonderful Brazilian bites at Romeo & Juliet Cafe

Usual, I'm the one that picks where we go for our weekend meals but today, the Mo suggested we try Romeo & Juliet, a Brazilian eatery that he discovered on Yelp.  I was a bit apprehensive at first but I gave him the benefit of the doubt without having a chance to read the reviews.

We arrived at what seemed like an abandoned restaurant in a "rougher" area of Lowell on a side street between the transitional housing center (homeless shelter) and the infamous Appleton Street.  The small restaurant had a private parking lot on the side of the building.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Spicy Chinese delicacies at Sichuan Gourmet Burlington

Cheng Du Spicy Dumpling $6.95
I LOVED Mr. Chan's so it was bittersweet to see Sichuan Gourmet  moving into the location of where my beloved Mr. Chan's Asian Bistro used to be.  There were times where I would frequent the prior Chinese restaurant three times a week! (Yes, my weight reflects it)  Despite the restaurant being gone, I am a fan of Sichuan Gourmet. I've dined at their Billerica many times and a huge fan of their authentic Sichuan cuisine.

My coworkers and I went on a Wednesday at noon and the place was already jammed pack.  There was a wait for a table, I couldn't believe it! The restaurant had only been open for a short period of time but word has already got out.

Girl's Night out at Del Frisco's Grille - Burlington, MA

The girls and I decided to hit up Del'Frisco's Grille in Burlington, MA for Restaurant Week Summer 2016.  It was a nice cool summer day so we opted for patio seating, overlooking the parking lot.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sunday Brunch at Tavern in the Square Lowell

There's a new place to imbibe in bacon bloody mary's and mimosas in Lowell. Tavern in the Square recently added another location at the Crosspoint towers, the new home to Kronos.  We've always been a fan of the Burlington location for Sunday brunch and decided to give the latest addition a try.

Sunday brunch buffet is offered between 10 AM and 1 PM for $19.99/adult and $9.99/child (not sure what age).  We arrived at 11:30 AM and the place was already buzzing.  There were ample seats inside as well as on the outdoor patio.  Since it was a hot summer day, we opted for the AC indoors.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Dine out Boston Summer 2016: Tuscan Kitchen Burlington

Boston's "Restaurant Week" or "Dine out Boston" is currently being featured at many Boston restaurants along with dining establishments in the suburbs. I love that Burlington offers great places to eat so we don't have to go into the city every time we want a decent meal.

To kick off restaurant week and to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary, the Mo and I headed to Tuscan Kitchen in the newly renovated "District" area (where my company did most of the site lighting!!) I love it there. Tuscan Kitchen hosted our holiday party, many of our business lunch and dinners and I've attended a few of their special events in addition.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Biggest and best burger in Lowell at Bishop's Legacy

We like Bishop's Legacy. The owners are super nice and the food and drinks are affordable.  On nice days, we like sitting on their patio, soaking up some rays, people watching and sipping their take on the Moscow Mule.  The Moscow Mule is one of my favorite summer drinks and Bishop Legacy's has its own "Lebanese" twist by incorporating muddled lemon and mint into the ginger beer and vodka concoction.

The Bloody Mary with tabbouleh is also good.  Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern staple made with parsley, mint, Bulgar, onion, olive oil and lemon juice.  If you are unsure, ask for the blend on the side and try a little.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Senmonorom special spicy soft shell crab

So here's a restaurant that we've been to a bunch of times and I've blogged about it on more than one occasion but this post will be short and sweet.

TRY the SPICY SOFT SHELL CRAB! It's out of this world! Of course you have to like fried things, and "kroeung" spices but it's definitely a different dish to try in Lowell and not your usual fried calamari that every other Cambodian restaurant in Lowell offer.

Senmonorom Spicy Soft Shell Crab $17.95

Monday, August 8, 2016

Pho and Thai lunch combos at Cilantro Woburn

I've blogged about the Vietnamese pho at  Cilantro in Woburn before but today my workers and I ordered off the lunch menu.  For under $10.00 bucks, one can get a chicken broth soup, a choice of an appetizer (fried spring rolls or crab rangoon) and an entree of curry or stir fry.  Protein options include tofu, pork, chicken, or beef. You can even get seafood for a dollar more.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Sunday Brunch at Connector Cafe in Lowell

The Connector Cafe and Grill in Lowell is great place whether you want a hearty fat-ladden meal or a healthy gluten-free paleo plate.  We went on a Saturday morning and small restaurant was pretty busy.

We snagged a table for two and the waitresses came by with hot delicious coffee. I usually don't fuss about coffee but this one was really good, so good that I saw customers coming in just to buy the coffee.  The best part is, the coffee is bottomless! 

They also serve a "Bullet proof' coffee with Kerry's Irish butter added.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Booze lunch specials at Osteria Nino in Burlington

Osteria Nino on Third Ave in Burlington caught my eye when they started to offer lunch combo specials. For $9.50, guests can choose a panini, pizza or pasta dish from a special list - in addition to a glass of wine or beer AND a huge garden salad. That is a STEAL!!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Luxurious brunch at the Taj Boston

For celebratory occasions (or if you just $86.00 to blow), the Rooftop Sunday Brunch at the Taj Boston is a must.  The all you can eat buffet is served on a higher level of the elegant hotel overlooking the Boston Public Garden.  The menu features quite the selection of charcuterie cured meats, cheese salad, sushi, raw bar, Indian and Western entrees.  There is also a made to order omelet station as well as a Belgian waffle station.

We were a group of girls in Boston for a bachelorette/birthday party and we all love to eat! The rooftop Sunday brunch perfect for us.   I was so excited to be greeted by the raw bar station! There were crab claw, oysters and colossal shrimp. Screw the pastry offerings nearby, I was diving into the seafood offerings.

Taj Boston Rooftop Sunday Brunch
 The oysters were a bit on the skimpier side and the crab claws seemed like they had been prepped hours or days in advance but it was still good.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mexican Lunch for under $6.00 bucks in Woburn

My coworkers and I were talking and the average lunch will set you back more than $10.00 for a sandwich, chips and drink at most deli shops or take out joints.  We stumbled upon Xtapa Cantina Mexican Restaurant in Woburn Center and decided to give it a try.

Similar to most other Mexican restaurant, warm complimentary tortilla chips were served and each guest had their own cup of salsa. I loved that I didn't even have to ask because I sure do love to double dip! The chips were nice but the salsa was a bit on the watery side.

The $5.99 lunch menu was pretty extensive. There were tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and taco salads. Each meal was served with rice and refried beans.  For protein choices, there was chicken, pork and beef.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Sizzling Kitchen in Downtown Lowell

I've been meaning to try Sizzling Kitchen in the old T&M Vietnamese spot since it opened its doors late last year.  I've heard good things and that they serve macaroons, pho and Italian pasta on the same menu????

The Mo and I finally made our way there on a weekday night and we were the only dining patrons at 7 PM.  Service was friendly and quick.

We started off with some traditional eggrolls (because you know how much I love eggrolls!) and their Signature Sizzling Kitchen specialty rolls. It featured teriyaki beef, rice, kimchee, scallions, and mushrooms.  It reminded me of bimbim bap in a rice paper roll. Tit was delicious but a bit overwhelming with the different flavors and textures.

Eggrolls (3) for $4.00

Sizzling Kitchen rolls (2) for $5.00

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Loui Loui Seafood Boil in the suburbs of Boston

The Mo and I haven't really been venturing out to try new restaurants much but we kept seeing Facebook friends pics and updates about this new seafood boil restaurant in Stoneham.

The restaurant opened back earlier this year and is located in a strip plaza. Parking is plentiful.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Good Happy Hour Specials at Lui Lui

One of the cons of living in Massachusetts is the restriction of booze related Happy Hour Specials.  Restaurants and bars can offer half off appetizer specials but they cannot discount anything alcohol related as a "special". Pricing has to be consistent throughout the day/week.

Luckily for us, we live 13 minutes from the New Hampshire border and Nashua has some great Happy Hour specials. Pizzico and the Billards has some great specials where you can imbibe without feeling broke.

The Mo and I were Nashua on a random Tuesday night and wanted to grab some food. We saw a sign by Lui Lui that read "All Day Happy Hour" on Tuesdays so we turned into the parking lot.  I haven't been to this place since HIGH SCHOOL! 

Since it was a week night, the place was pretty empty.

We were seated in a booth and the server brought over some menus.

Monday, April 18, 2016

I ran my FIRST 5K in the Good Times Running Series in Lowell

Last week, I bit the bullet and signed up for the Good Times Running Spring Series. I've never done a 5K before nor have I ever run outside before. I'm not sure why I signed up, I just did it.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Sok San Beach Resort in Koh Rong Cambodia

The Mo was adamant that we spend a few nights on the remote island of Koh Rong in Cambodia. At first, I was a bit apprehensive. I read that there was limited electricity, no AC and expensive food and drinks. What would we do all day?

After some research, I found Sok San Beach Resort, a Khmer style beach resort on Koh Rong Island with its own restaurant, beach bar and most importantly, AC!  Coincidentally, the crew of Survivor stayed in this resort while filming the popular reality TV show on the island.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Phnom Penh - Off the Beaten Path

If you've already done the Royal Palace, Wat Phnom, Tuol Sleng museum etc. (or aren't interested), here are 10 fun ways to pass time in the busy capital of Cambodia.

1.  Dinner & a Movie - VIP Style 
Deadpool was released in the states while we were in transit to Cambodia.  The Mo couldn't wait to come back to the states to watch the R-rated comic book film starring Ryan Reynolds.  We headed to Major Cineplex the new Aeon Mall by the Russian embassy in Phnom Penh

VIP tickets are $15.00 each and includes an alcoholic beverage and snack. There is a separate waiting area for VIP guests with plush couches and a bartender to serve the complimentary drink and snack for each guest.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Otres Beach 2 - the best beach in mainland Cambodia

Otres Beach 2
One can argue that Sokha Resort has the best beachfront location in Sihanoukville, but I beg to differ. Although the beach is nice, its limited to guests staying at the resort.  Therefore, it lacks the character of a Southeast Asian beach.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Infinity pool at Queenco Victory Beach Sihanoukville

To get from Siem Reap to Sihanoukvile, it was a short 45 minute flight.  The flight costs a little over $100.00 after all the taxes and fees but the Mo paid a little bit more and upgraded us to business class.

There are no jet way in Sihanoukville and everyone has to deplane using the stairs provided and walk into the airport whether you were an economy ticket holder or greater.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Best boutique hotel in Siem Reap with private plunge pool

Finding accommodation for our vacations can be overwhelming.  For each trip, I browse many websites such as,,, for international travel and sometimes and for domestic travel. I read a good amount of reviews and view hundreds of photos before making a selection.  Even after I make a selection, I often cancel the reservation and make new ones before the trip if a better opportunity is available.  Luckily most websites have free cancellations up to a few days before the actual trip.  Some even have a "Pay Later" option so my credit card doesn't even get charged.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Best Loc Lac at Mahob Khmer Restaurant in Siem Reap

Mahob Khmer was conveniently located a short walk from our stay at De Sarann Villa in Siem Reap Cambodia. After a long morning of temples and waterfalls, the Mo and I walked to Mahob Khmer for a late lunch.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Khmer Cocktail Class at Asana

Sure, most people go to Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat but the resort town has much more to offer in addition to ancient temples and ruins.  Most itineraries revolve around early morning sunsets at Angkor complex, afternoons in the markets or by the hotel pool (or for some, even more temples!) When the sun sets, there's lively Pub Street.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Airport Lounges and transit tours at Seoul Incheon International

After arriving to Seoul from JFK via Korean Air, we had over 13 hours to kill before our next flight.
It took us about 45 minutes to get off the plane, through immigration and into the arrivals hall.  Seoul Incheon International Airport is one of the top and cleanest airports in the world by many affiliations.  Although I've never seen it, I've heard there's a Golf course, ice skating rink and casino on the premise.  They also have lots of cultural exhibits and performances throughout the facility.

One of the best features includes the free transit tours offered to ticket holders with layovers in Seoul.  There are options for short 1 hour tours or city tours up to 5 hours.  You can mix and match and take as many tours as you want, as long as it fits within your layover time.  The The motor coach bus are spacious and comfortable and the tour guide speaks English.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

JFK to ICN via Korean Air's 747 Prestige Class

The Mo has become quite the "miles" expert and booked us one way Korean Air Prestige Class tickets from JFK to ICN and from ICN to REP (Siem Reap, Cambodia) using accrued miles earned from previous trip in addition to miles earned from credit cards.  The 2 flights costs us about 75,000 SkyTeam miles each along with $200.00 addition for airport taxes and fees, which is a STEAL compared to the average costs of $3,814.00 for the flights.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Nico Ristorante in the North End

We decided on an early pre-show dinner at Nico Ristorate in the North End because there was a Groupon special, pay $35.00 for $60.00 worth of food.  Since our show was at 6:30 PM, we tried to reserve our group for 4:00 PM but the only available slot on Opentable was at 3:30 PM.  On the bright side, there's free street parking in the North End on Sundays before 6 PM (then it turns into residential permit parking only) After driving in torrential rain and running down Hanover street wet, we arrived at the restaurant to find out we were the only patrons there.

The server was not welcoming, he told us to remove our Starbucks coffee off the table. I didn't even think of that and I totally forgot. We were trying to warm ourselves up.  I didn't mind putting it away but he could have asked us nicer.

We didn't have much time to settle in when he came back with bread and ask us for our drink order. What's the rush? We were the only ones there at 3:30 PM!!!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Jacquet French crepe recipes

I'm a huge fan of crepes but I don't really have what it takes to make the delicate thin pancake.  The temperature has to be right, the flour mixture has to be accurate and the time on the pan has to be almost exact for it to be perfect.  I say screw it, I found these delicious premade crepes at Wholefoods  and came up with a few "semi-homemade" dishes on my own. Each package came with 10 crepes and was about $4.49.

The crepes are made with "pure butter, cage free eggs and high quality, non-GMO products."  They are absolutely soft and delicious eaten alone or part of a recipe.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Recipe: Asian seared tuna salad

Alright, it's the first week of the year... I guess that means its time for new (or old) resolutions to eat better. Tonight, I made an Asian seared tuna kale salad. What makes it Asian? I suppose the water chestnuts, beansprouts and sesame ginger dressing.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Executive lunch at Strip by Strega

To end the year, the Mo and I headed into Boston for some "last night" debauchery. Before we did that, we enjoyed the city before the sun went down.  We checked into our hotel and hopped on the T towards the Boston Common and strolled around the park.  There were lots of tourists and families out and about the area.

Roasted Duck and noodle soup

After a long night of drinking and partying, I wanted something easy on my stomach.  The original plan was to go out for dollar oysters, brunch and bloody mary's but I just couldn't do it.

We drove from our hotel to Chinatown and paid $15.00 for parking at Chau Chow since street parking wasn't available. I didn't want Vietnamese Pho noodle soup since I could get that in Lowell (and I'd be going over to the in laws to eat that later) so I looked up "Chinatown Boston Noodle Souip" on Yelp and Hong Kong Eatery came up.