Chernobyl Photos, Ukraine 2018

Only 10,000 people visit Chernobyl a year and I was one of them in 2018.

This December I went to Chernobyl during my visit to Ukraine. It’s funny that so many people talk about visiting, but as a Ukrainian, it didn’t cross my mind until my husband mentioned it. Many of my relatives, and my husband who suggested it in the first place, were scared of the potential dangers. My mother on the other hand, got really excited and asked to came along.

So the three of us went on a day trip to this fascinating place that only 10,000 people a year! I’ll give you more details soon, for now, check out the photos:

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What’s it like to live in Ukraine?

Two expats talk about what it’s like to live in Ukraine and what they do or don’t like!

Although I spent most of my life in the Czech Republic, I am originally from Ukraine. I got to visit during Christmas 2018 and I like to visit every year or every other year. I only ‘lived’ in Ukraine until I was three and a half, so it didn’t really count. When I visit, I love being there and I wonder what life would be like there.

I also follow Quora. Out of all the newsletters I subscribe to, it’s the only one I actually open and read regularly. Based on the questions that you click and the interests that you select when you sign up, it’ll learn exactly what you like. Today, I saw a question about Ukraine and I couldn’t help clicking. Here it is: https://www.quora.com/What-do-you-like-and-dislike-about-living-in-Ukraine

What do you like and dislike about living in Ukraine?

Thank you Alain Belanger for this answer:

I’ll answer this as an expat living in Kyiv for the past 18 months. It’s an outsider/foreigner’s perspective and it’s also the perspective of someone who has a job that provides an income that most Ukrainians could only dream about. With those caveats, here are my thoughts. Let’s start with the likes:

  • It’s inexpensive. Food, rent, utilities, transportation, restaurants, etc, it’s all cheaper than in my home country of Canada, cheaper than in the “West” in general.
  • The people are fairly friendly and welcoming, despite my poor Ukrainian and Russian language skills, I’ve still had mostly positive experiences. It’s also pretty safe as long as you’re reasonably street wise and exercise a normal amount of caution.
  • A lot of tourist gems that are usually little known in the West. Many interesting and historically rich towns and cities and beautiful landscapes.
  • It’s close to the EU, as well as Russia, Turkey, large parts of the Middle East, etc. Reasonably cheap flights aren’t that difficult to find.

Now for the dislikes:

  • Poor infrastructure. Roads, rail, ports, airports, parks, etc can be in very bad shape.
  • Pervasive corruption. It’s behind the scenes and doesn’t emerge much in day to day life in an obvious way. I’ve never been shaken down for a bribe, but it’s a serious problem nonetheless that is holding the country back and those in power aren’t doing enough to combat it.
  • The huge inequality and poverty. Labor just isn’t valued much and salaries are pitiable. In my work place my Ukrainian coworkers are paid a very small fraction of what I’m being paid, for essentially doing the same work. The unfairness of it jumps out at me, but the fact is that teachers are severely underpaid and undervalued in Ukraine, but native-speaker foreigners can command high wages.

Here’s another answer by Oluwaseun Oloruntegbe:

What I like about living in Ukraine

  1. It is relatively peaceful and safe. Regardless of the recent crisis in the East and Crimea, it still feels safe to live here.
  2. Cheap and quality internet access – both WLAN and 3G/4G. Internet access does not get any cheaper than it is in Ukraine.
  3. The food – I love the variety. I love that fruits are available and affordable in summer.
  4. The people – I love the sensible ones, I don’t care much for the stupid ones.
  5. Winter – it’s beautiful and white until it becomes unbearable (for a short while)
  6. Springs – helps me appreciate the beauty of life after a cold and colorless winter
  7. Autumn – I love the yellow leaves – makes me appreciate the beauty of life
  8. Transportation – getting from A to B in Ukraine is as easy and affordable as it gets. You don’t have a car, not a big deal. Just take the metro, mashrutka, train, taxi, uber, tramvai, trolleybus etc. as everyone else. Even car owners park at the metro station and take the metro. I know I do (only I park at home).
  9. Family – I love that many Ukrainians still value family values
  10. Family – My family is here and I love waking up to their beautiful faces everyday.
  11. Affordable living – for a beautiful and capital city like Kyiv, it is fairly affordable as are other cities in Ukraine.

What I don’t like about living in Ukraine

  1. Winter – it’s wet, cold, slippery, and mostly unnecessary
  2. People – I don’t care for people who have made alcohol and cigarettes the center of their lives. I despise those who abuse others (including children and women) under the influence of alcohol
  3. Low salary – I think I do well for myself but I hate seeing people, who work hard for so little, suffer
  4. The politics – it’s weird and confusing. I think Ukrainians can do better than the people they (or are forced to) elect to represent them
  5. Labor migration – I hate seeing the best people (character, intelligence, and entrepreneurship wise) migrate to the United States or the European Union. Ukraine needs its best people to grow at a faster rate
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Everyfelt: My Etsy Store Got a Makeover!

Some of you may already know that I have an Etsy store that I work on when I’m not traveling, writing, YouTube video making, playing with Smiley and working at my 9 to 5. It’s been on the back burner for a while but I was still making sales, so I decided to refresh it and see what will happen!

Check out some of my new product pictures, either below or directly in my store:   https://etsy.me/2Xc5quv

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Free Coffee in NYC: Pret A Manger

In case you were wondering, yes, they do have pumpkin spice lattes that can be vegan or not! There’s nothing basic about enjoying some pumpkin spice in the fall time! *glares at haters*

New York City is known for being expensive! We have lived here since August and I can confirm this, however, there are ways to visit or live here on a budget. One thing that we have done, is traded in Starbucks for a much better coffee chain Pret a Manger.

Not only is the coffee here delicious and cheaper than at other chains. They give you a free first coffee and they had a great card that rewards you for your loyalty. This card is digital and you can use it through your their app. You can also save your payment information which allows you to pay by scanning your unique barcode directly from your phone.

Although you will often come in to Pret and see a long line of people, the line will move at lightning speed. This is because they only make fancy coffees for you and if you want a regular coffee, you can pour it yourself! They have a cute little coffee bar with four options: decaf and three different brews as well as several kinds of milk, including nut-based dairy-free milks! Of course there’s also sugar, cinnamon and cocoa.

So basically, you come in, scan your barcode, pick a size and you do the rest yourself. No one gets the chance to mess up your order and you are in an out as quickly as you need. Of course, you can also bring your own thermos to illuminate plastic waste and you are welcome to hang out in their seating area for as long as you want.

In case you were wondering, yes, they do have pumpkin spice lattes that can be vegan or not! There’s nothing basic about enjoying some pumpkin spice in the fall time! *glares at haters*

Check it out:

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Chinese New Year Parade in Manhattan, NYC

The highlight of the day for me was two dogs, a husky and a golden retriever dressed in traditional golden Chinese lion uniforms. Just like the ones that are worn for the lion dance!

Yesterday, on February 17th, we went to see the Chinese New Year Parade in Chinatown! As you may already know, Isaac and I lived in China for two years before moving to New York. We ended up going to the parade with a friend who we met in Shanghai! It was the first time we saw her since we had payday sushi and it was great to see her!

Our friend had actually been to this parade before so she convinced us to meet her for brunch at Jing Fong at 10:00. We thought it was ridiculous to meet so early when the parade didn’t start until 13:00, but she just said to trust her and we’re glad we did!

The brunch at Jing Fong was interesting. You need to keep in mind that we didn’t enjoy our time in China as much as our friend, so while she thrived in the chaos of Chinese waiters yelling and carts of mystery food rolling by, we felt like we were back in a place we didn’t love. Also, although the official menu had a lot of vegetarian and vegan options, this dim sum brunch did not.

So even though we were less than two blocks from our favorite vegan dim sum place, we were stuck eating the same two overpriced dishes, one of which was a dessert. It wasn’t the best experience but if you’re a meat eater and want to enjoy a new culture, I think you’d like this place!

The way ordering works, is that everyone gets a ticket – sometimes there will be several groups of people at one table if it’s crowded. We had two older Chinese gentlemen sitting with us which was interesting. When the carts come by, you can take plates of food and they will stamp your ticket in the correct category: small, medium, large, special, etc. Each category has a set price that is tallied up at the end.

Just like in China, not everyone at Jing Fong speak Chinese. It was really difficult for us to communicate with them to find out if things were vegan or not. Even though Isaac speaks basic Chinese! It also took 20 people to explain that we wanted two separate tickets for our group – even the two men sitting with us got involved in explaining what we want. This was a typical problem for us in China – simple things became a huge ordeal to explain and solve.

We left the restaurant after about an hour – when we first got there, it was only half full. On our way out, there were hordes of people standing in a line out the door. When we got out onto the street to find a spot to watch the parade, it was no different. There were already thousands of people standing and waiting for a parade that wouldn’t start for two more hours!

It was lucky we came early, although we did had another friend who came out at noon and he managed to find an ok spot to watch from as well. But if you want a guaranteed great spot to watch from, definitely come early. The earlier the better!

As for the parade itself, I wasn’t too impressed but I may be a little jaded. There were many impressive dragons that got better the later it got. Those and the lion dancers were amazing. But like all parades in New York, in between the cool performers were people campaigning and I hate that every parade is so political.

The police department performed too and that part was great, but I could have done without all the boring stuff in between! If you haven’t been to Chinatown or New York before, you may not know this, but most police officers in Chinatown are Chinese or of Chinese descent, which is really cool!

So this was our third parade in New York. The other two we had experienced were the Caribbean and Halloween parades and they both had similar boring political fillers in between the cool stuff. I guess they don’t get the necessary funds without agreeing to include these? I’m not really sure to be honest.

All in all, the Chinese New Year Parade was interesting to see. I definitely recommend seeing it at least once, especially if you haven’t been to China and want to experience the culture a little. The crowds to get in an out are also very authentic, and if you think being smushed by crowds of people is unique to New York, don’t be fooled and read about my description of my daily rush hour commutes in Shanghai!

The highlight of the day for me was two dogs, a husky and a golden retriever dressed in traditional golden Chinese lion uniforms. Just like the ones that are worn for the lion dance! Did you get to see the parade? Tell me about your favorite part in the comments below.

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I’m Running Behind – So Here’s Photos of Smiley

It’s been a really busy week and I’ve realized that I have nothing to write about today! I will be going to the Chinese New Year Parade in the afternoon so you’ll have an interesting post about that on Tuesday. But today, I have nothing to share with you except adorable photos of my rescue pibble Smiley!

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$2.75 Ferry Ride with a View: Rockaway Beach to Manhattan – NYC

Why overpay for a crowded cruise full of tourists when you can take a $2.75 (regular MTA fair) ferry ride!

Why overpay for a crowded cruise full of tourists when you can take a $2.75 (regular MTA fair) ferry ride! It takes about an hour and the views are spectacular. As you can see in the video below, it can get a little windy but sometimes there’s a rainbow waiting for you!

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Love as Blue as Hawaii – Published at Last

Stephanie lives on a beautiful campus in Hawaii, has the perfect group of friends, and can’t help but feel like life is about to begin. But try as she might, she can’t seem to figure out where her almost-fiance Kevin fits in the picture—or why she keeps seeing her friend Kai’s face instead.

Stephanie lives on a beautiful campus in Hawaii, has the perfect group of friends, and can’t help but feel like life is about to begin. But try as she might, she can’t seem to figure out where her almost-fiance Kevin fits in the picture—or why she keeps seeing her friend Kai’s face instead.

Love as Blue as Hawaii is a short romance story and it was published yesterday, February 12th in an anthology. Surrender to Passion includes three other steamy stories above love – perfect for Valentine’s Day!

You can buy Surrender to Passion on various platforms including Amazon and Barnes&Noble. If you read it and would like to help me get the word out, please leave a review either on Amazon,  B&N or Goodreads!

If you don’t already know, this story has been in the making for over 5 years! It would mean a lot to me if you took the time to buy the e-book, like my author Facebook page or subscribe to my author website!

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Make Up, Break Up – A Short Story About Betrayal

In this short romantic comedy, 22-year-old Helen faces one betrayal after another from the various men in her life. There’s her lying long-term boyfriend, inappropriate hostel boss, violent ex-boss and at least one condescending cop. Finally, there’s her dangerously sexy ex-boyfriend who has settled down with a vain skinny bitch and has forgotten all about Helen. Or has he?

Tomorrow, a lifelong dream is coming true for me. My fictional romance story is getting published in a steamy anthology! But I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow… today I’m here to tell you about another story.

In this short romantic comedy, 22-year-old Helen faces one betrayal after another from the various men in her life. There’s her lying long-term boyfriend, inappropriate hostel boss, violent ex-boss and at least one condescending cop. Finally, there’s her dangerously sexy ex-boyfriend who has settled down with a vain skinny bitch and has forgotten all about Helen. Or has he?

Make Up, Break Up is a short fictional comedy/romance story inspired by the crazy expats living in Prague. I came to Prague when I was almost 4 and spent 20 years being one of those crazy expats that all the locals complain about.

One thing that I have noticed living in Prague as an English-speaker is that there are very few if any, rom-com stories set there. So, I decided to write one. Writing my other story, the one that will finally be published tomorrow after years of puling teeth. This one, on the other hand, came out in a matter of days!

You can grab a free copy of it by clicking on the link below. If you chose to share your email address with me, I will occasionally (once a week tops) email you with updates about my future fictional writing!

https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/ivYyPZiI

Break Up, Make Up

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Last Firework Display of Summer 2018: Coney Island, NYC

In the summer you can experience fireworks on Coney Island every Friday as long as the weather is good. We only managed to go on the last day and we’re assuming these fireworks were extra special because they can’t be this good every Friday!

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