Apr 19 2021

St. John’s Church 圣约翰教堂

St. John’s Church at 18 Shixi Jie,Canglang District, Suzhou, built in 1881. Photos by Feng Guoyin.

苏州圣约翰教堂: 苏州市沧浪区十梓街18号


Apr 18 2021

An open house

Passing by this house, there are many people milling around: ha, an open house. Upon checking, I found it on Zillow, which estimates it at $869,845: 3 bedroom/2 bath, 1,775 sq ft. It listed on April 15 – only a couple of days. It built in 1920 on an 0.11 acres of land, last sale occurred in 1994 for $250k. Property taxes in 2020 was $13,572.


Apr 17 2021

Tampa, 2021

Tampa is the third largest city in Florida, after Jacksonville and Miami. We’ve been there before, during one of our four Disney trips to Orlando. 

The state of New York, is in fact smaller than Florida in size and population:

  • admitted to the Union: 1788.7.26 / 1845.3.03
  • largest city: New York / Jacksonville
  • area total in sq mi: 54,556 / 65,757
  • population: 19,336,776 / 21,733,312
  • median household income: $64,894 15th / $53,267 40th

Our itinerary: 

Apr 17 2021

Bradenton Beach

Bradenton Beach is a city on Anna Maria Island, 60 miles south of Tampa Int’l Airport. The population is 1,278 in 2018 estimate (1,657 in 1990 census and 1,482 in 2000 census).   

It has a post office and a library. The long wait at Anna Maria Oyster Bar, must be tourists like us. 


Our goal was Anna Maria Oyster Bar on the Pier but it was an hour wait.


… So we ended up at The Bridge Tender Inn & Dockside Bar, at the foot of the Historic Bridge Street Pier, looking out to the lighthouse on the Sarasota Bay. It’s a dive bar heavenly good, with live music. Many diners come by their kayaks, canoes or speedboats.  


Apr 16 2021

Flight delays and cancelation

For many years, the airlines have been keeping their departures on time, and usually arrive early.

That was before the covid-19.

My first air travel post pandemic is hardly recognizable: delays after delays, and out right cancelation. 

Because I’m traveling with friends and we’re trying to coordinate one taxi. So I checked to confirm the departure time of the flight – there, I found two problems.

One: the delays. Two days prior, it was four hours and one day before was two hours of delay. 

Two: the departure times varies, from 7:05 to 7:18, both were way ahead of said time at purchase, which was 7:30am. 

What’s going on? What if some travelers count on that little extra few minutes?

Then the evening before the departure came the third problem: our flight is cancelled. Hotel and car rental have to be changed, at additional cost. If my memory serves me right, this is my second flight cancellation, the first within U.S.

The hotel and car rentals, all have to be changed, at higher price. The car rental in Tampa is especially expensive, more than $100 a day. Why?  

The middle seats are kept vacant, hopefully the airline can make their bottomline met.

Apr 15 2021

Options, options

Each builder has its own ‘design’ center, even they go an extra step to say that their staff members are NOT Interior Decorators, and bear no responsibility for buyers’ dissatisfaction. The staff is there to take your order/selection. Our ‘designer’ however, did give us some pointers, and on a few occasions, told us to do it on our own for less.

During our meeting, at times, it could get very noisy as more buyers come and chat on top of one another. Don’t know why don’t they have our meeting in a smaller room with doors that could close.

This is the most indecisive experience for us: deciding on an item as large as the color scheme of the house, to flooring or countertop, and as small as the color of the grout, cabinet knobs n handles, and which side would you put your soap dispenser on the kitchen sink.

Apr 14 2021

The club house

The clubhouse is done by April 2021 even some residents already moved in in 2020 (a few pre completion photos by others). It seems, the clubhouse is NOT the first thing a community developer to complete in Florida.

Our HOA (homeowner association) fee covers the clubhouse, so it’s free to us. It has five har tru tennis courts and six pickle ball courts, a café, etc. The decor of the main entrance area is very inviting.


Apr 14 2021

From Sarasota to Bradenton Beach

Brid Key Park @ Sarasota

Dry Dock Waterfront Grill @ 412 Gulf Of Mexico Dr, Longboat Key, FL 34228 is a very busy place. Gulf Of Mexico Drive is the only way on that narrow stretch of road. We went at 5:15 on Wednesday: the parking lot is full and the waiting time is 60-90 minutes for walk ins. As I was re-directed to the front door, I got a close look of the place. Yes, it’s on the water but the ambience is NOT tranquil. We left. As we walked to the parking lot, saw many diners scatter around waiting. A group youth even have their drawing pads out and about

A cute squirrel 🐿️ @ Coquina Beach on the Gulf of Mexico.

Then onto Bradenton Beach …   


Apr 14 2021

Cresswind by Kolter, 55+

5063 Simons Ct,
Lakewood Ranch, FL 34211

This community within Lakewood Ranch has 650 single family homes, ranging from $300k to $600k, 1,515 to 3,574 sq ft. The HOA fee is rather low: $200-$300 per month.

Among the few we’ve seen, this builder’s materials are the best, while others use more of decorations to sell. One thing I like it a lot is the side panel of the kitchen island/counter is covered: it looks nice.

Apr 14 2021

Grove @ Lakewood Ranch

10670 Boardwalk Loop
Lakewood Ranch, Florida 34202

Lakewood Ranch is more than twice the size of Manhattan. So its downtowns are substantial and cosmopolitan. This restaurant is one of many. The service is good, but slow – comparing to New York speed -:). The food is decent. We sat outside comfortably. Although one day reached 90 degrees during our stay, and noon is clearly hot, but mornings and evenings could use a thin sweater.

Info Center is a short walk from Grove. It was not open, by appointment only.

We visited two builders. The first, Lorraine Lake by Lennar. It uses a trailer home/office by the entrance, manned by two guys. Someone pooped without flashing it; and Cresswind by Kolter.