We are almost done! Truth be told, I’ve been a bit sick recently so stuck at home with time to edit photos and whatnot lol. Today we’re going to Lijiang (丽江), a city in the northwest of Yunnan province, to look at the historic Old Town area. Like any good day, we start with a couple bags of chips in the car.
We had a meal (lunch? Breakfast? How do I remember timelines almost a year afterwards?) at this place on the side of the freeway, where we had chicken soup. I wish I could tell you more about it because it was delicious and there was some kind of special method for cooking it but, alas, memory does not serve me as well as it did in my youth.
A China Mobile shop near our hotel! The Naxi ethnic minority lives in this area, so you can see their language on a lot of signs – like here, the smaller characters underneath the Chinese 手机 words show the Naxi language translation.
And here we are at the Old Town – my uncle works in the tourism industry, and this city is a really big spot for tourists (mostly Han Chinese, not international, I think) after having been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Frogs, according to my uncle our tour guide, are important to the Naxi people because they’re…resilient and strong? Do not remember, pls take all info with several hundred grains of salt.
My brother and I tried bubble waffles for the first time here! When we were in London, there was a bubble waffle place on the corner of Chinatown that we would always pass and think about going into but never did because of the huge lines that were always there. So we are late to the trendy food party and it is indeed fun to eat, and fluffier than regular waffles.
We walked around Old Town going in and out of buildings and shops. These are some signs showing the Naxi language, which a nice old man started explaining to my dad and I.
You can’t super see, but this picture on the right has one of those stone lions that sit outside buildings and there is a BABY LION BREASTFEEDING. This is the interior decor of my dreams.
In December my family went to Vancouver for a lil family holiday. I took some photos and heeeeere is a blog post about it a whopping four months later! I always feel the urge to apologize when I am tremendously late like this but I wonder if 1) if that is necessary (because like 3 people read this blog, 2 of whom are my cat and my brother, and it’s not like there is a real ~deadline~ with ~consequences~* for my fun time blog) and 2) if it’s annoying (because I get annoyed when YouTubers spend the first eight minutes of a video apologizing for something being late). OK that said, I still feel bad about my travel posts being late because it feels awkward talking about a winter holiday when Vancouver is no longer in winter mode… The next big trip I take is going to be in a couple months to Rome (!!!!!), so hopefully I can make those blawg posts happen in a time frame that makes sense.
The Vancouver airport! I thought the way First Nations art was featured was really cool. To me, the US and Canada are like sibling colonists who killed mass amounts of indigenous people for our new nations, but Canada seems to be doing a slightly better job at respecting indigenous populations than this lovely home of the brave land of the free etc etc.
We arrived at night and took a taxi to our Airbnb, which was actually in Burnaby and not Vancouver itself so it was a bit of a longer transit time than initially anticipated. I didn’t check the address of the Airbnb when I booked because I assumed all the places that popped up in the Vancouver search would be in, you know, Vancouver. Lesson learned, I guess.
We walked around our Airbnb to find dinner and decided on a ramen place. They had dog butts on the walls for you to hang your coat, which I thought was a cute interior decor moment lol.
This trip was over Christmas, so right after my fall semester had ended. Unfortunately, I did a real dumb thing right before finals week and spilled water all over my laptop. Fortunately, the professor for the class that I lost my term paper for gave me an extension, so I spent the first couple days on holiday writing that again. In the afternoon once I finished, I left to meet the rest of my family who had already begun their day of touristing. On this particular day our agenda was to visit Capilano Suspension Bridge Park.
And we’re here! All the lights were up for the holiday season, so it was very festive and Christmas-y. We started with a guided tour of some totem poles – I think I remember our tour guide telling us all except a couple of the totem poles inside the park were carved by indigenous people (i.e. not white people co-opting the practice), so that was cool! Some of the totem poles represented clans and some told stories. I don’t think I have a picture of the story I found the most interesting, but it was the origin legend of mosquitoes. It involved, among other things, a giant who carried a basket to put children in for meals, so for the rest of the trip my brother and I would snicker about getting a basket whenever we were around annoying children. I would not be a good babysitter, lol.
Nature! Trees! Walking amongst the greenery!
Once it got dark, the lights turned on and really ~shone~*. (Pun initially unintended). I will say that I’m certain my toes almost fell off from the cold, but it’s probably my bad for wearing slip-on Vans and not, you know, sensible winter shoes.
And that’s the end of our Capilano Park day! Very cold, very pretty, very marvel of technology (but I didn’t read the descriptive plaques on how the bridge was constructed so cannot know 4 sure).
Another day was spent at the Vancouver Art Gallery, which was an absolute dreeaaaam. The temporary exhibition they had going on featured Guo Pei, a Chinese fashion designer, probably best known for the huge trailing yellow gown Rihanna wore to the Met Ball a few years ago. Her work is, obviously, beautiful, but I think it’s the combination of Chinese history, legend, and culture with her haute couture that makes it unique.
All of her mannequins were shown with platform shoes in reference to ancient trends in Chinese history.
This jumpsuit is a dragon, and the blue dress is a phoenix.
(There is no city or place name for this past the province that I was definitely in, because I am afraid I don’t remember… a clear sign I need to finish this series already lol)
We start our day in a town that I do not remember, because I had just started my period and was feeling nauseous and Very Not Good and did not pay attention when my uncle said where we were. My brother and I just kind of strolled throughout the town while our parents and aunt/uncle went off to the original touristy destination, and it was nice to get a breather from the nonstop sightseeing my aunt/uncle are big fans of. We just got to wander around together and pop into stores that caught our eye, and be flattered by light-up café signs that say the sweetest things.
A group of kids were having a dance performance performance at the town square (? Is there a better word for this?), so we sat for a bit while I tried not to feel like barfing and watched them.
I think my brother took a few of these photos while I was feeling pained and pitiful, so pls reach out if you would like to hire him for photography jobs!!
Hey friends, I’m back! And we’re almost done with my China photos from this summer! Today we’re still in 大理 (Da Li), and we’re gonna start off with a bunch of photos of our hotel ~
I think I had plenty of time for hotel photos bc my mom did that mom thing where she yells at everyone to get ready right this second we are late and everyone else is waiting and then when we’re ready, she isn’t for another fifteen minutes. Is this a My Mom thing or a Chinese Mom thing or an All Mom thing? Lmk, it’s an epidemic.
I mentioned last time that my grandpa is part of the Bai ethnic minority in China, and this hotel is an example of Bai architecture! 白 (bai) is the word for white, so obviously that color’s very present here.
Off to breakfast! My aunt and uncle wanted to show us this regional specialty called er si (饵丝), which is a kind of rice noodle. The Yunnan province is famous for its rice noodles in general, but er si is thicker and chewier than regular rice noodles.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to do my travel blog posts in a more timely fashion, and today we are going to continue not doing that! (I’m completely kidding, I have no such resolution.) Today we’re in Dali (大理), which is the city my grandparents are originally from and the medieval capital of the Bai kingdom, which is the ethnic minority my grandpa belongs to!! Thank u Wikipedia that was cool 2 kno!
My photos start at a restaurant, and I have not much to say about it other than there was a lot of food but unfortunately I wasn’t a huge fan, as this province, where my dad’s family is from, is one known for very spicy food; Yunnan is to the south of the Sichuan province, aka Szechuan aka spiciest fuckin’ food ever. I can’t handle my spice and am a disgrace to my family and ancestors, so u kno, I deserved to starve at this lunch.
We ate at this restaurant on our way to Dali with some childhood friends of my dad, and after eating went to visit their house. So that was a car nap for me and some games on the phone involving llamas (or maybe alpacas?) absorbing other llamas (possibly alpacas) to become the ultimate llama god. He’s sixteen. I don’t know what the kids are up to these days.
It was really interesting seeing my dad’s friend’s house! All of my family members live in apartments in the city, so this is the first time (in recent memory, at least) I’ve seen a house in China that’s quite a bit larger, with multiple floors and a bit of a yard.
I’m working on a cross stitch of a Van Gogh painting, so these framed huge cross stitches were really cool to see! Each floor had one of a different plant, but I liked these the most.
My dad’s friend’s son (lot of relationships to keep in mind lol) recently got married, so they still had decorations up from that 🙂
& off we go again!! To Da Li for real 🙂
We’re heeeeere! We unloaded at our hotel and set off in search of dinner. I was pretty tired and it was rather late, but my aunt and uncle are intense tourists and leave no time for silly things like rest when there’s shit to see and dishes to eat.
We are going to get right into this next segment of my summer travels without dwelling on the absolute eons that have passed since my last update. In this segment – hangin’ out w/ my bb brudder + my grandpa’s 80th birthday + a visit to my great-grandparents’ graves.
When we last checked in, we flew from Yinchuan to Kunming, which is the capital of the Yunnan province where my dad’s side of the family is from. It’s nicknamed the ‘spring city’ because of its agreeable weather, in that it “always feels like spring” and is not too cold and not too hot. That is absolute bullshit, as far as I’m concerned. Spring city my ass. That place gets COLD in the winter! I was way salty about that during my gap year when I spent time there. False advertising. Still a lovely place, but false advertising.
OK moving on clearly I’m still not over feeling victimized by weather 3 years ago
First things first after getting off a plane and setting your bags down – eating!! My grandparents and my aunt cooked this delicious table of food for us. Hot top if anyone’s ever in the Yunnan province, it’s known for its amazing wild mushrooms. There’s like a billion kinds, all are delicious, some are very expensive, and I could eat them forever.
My brother and I also wanted to eat rice noodles (米线/mixian), so we went to a lil shop outside my grandparents’ apartment to stuff our faces some more. One problem with Chinese food in China is that it’s really fucking spicy, especially in the southern provinces, and I can’t handle my spice. So I guess that’s the problem with me, huh? Anyway, that’s why my noodles broth is clear and my brother’s bowl is all red and yummy looking. (The underpants are a thing I saw and LOL’ed at, bc putting ‘greedy little bear’ on your genitals is an opportunity rife for sexual innuendo, and I’m not sure they were going for that.)
I’m back I’m back! And just like every travel diary I’ve made, I can barely remember what happened here but I’m gonna do my best to talk about it!
Little brothers – good for holding your water bottle, not so good for texting back.
I spent a little under a week in Yinchuan with my mom’s side of the family, but we didn’t do a ton of stuff outside the house slash I didn’t take a ton of photos, so this is a bunch of shit we did crammed into one post, including shopping, noodles, hot pot, visiting my grandpa’s grave, and leaving for Kunming.
It’s a belated travel diary again!! I’ve started school/work/interning/regular life again but I started going through my photos from China – here’s part one of (I think) eight, recapping my two weeks in China in August. I have such a floaty memory it’s a wonder I remember anything about this time lol. Also, bc I was kinda shitty about photos, these aren’t all from the same day just kind of…mooshed together where I thought it would fit/be convenient/make sense. Just a head’s up that there may be weird time skips 🙂
My flight to Beijing left from SFO, and as I live a few hours away from San Francisco I took a shuttle in and completely conked out during the drive. I have anxiety about basically everything, so that includes travel and means I try to get to the airport with 3 hours to do nothing but wait. I’d much rather be waiting at the gate knowing I’m ready to go as soon as they are than spend a little extra time at home and sweat buckets of anxiety grossness in the security line. (I’ve learned this the hard way; my mom is one of those people who thinks “oh it’s fine, we have time!” and my dad and I are the types where you can never get to the airport early enough. When my mom controls our itinerary I’m just a complete mess and 9 times out of 10 we will miss our flight/train/whatever.)
This painting by my gate is by Juana Alicia and Emmanuel Catarino Montoya – it’s called ‘Santuario/Sancutary’. Airports are kind of stressful and grumpy places, but I’ve always appreciated the sentiment found in them, of coming and going and reunions and new beginnings. Kind of like the opening/closing scenes of Love Actually, lol, where Hugh Grant as PM is like ‘look at all these people loving!’
My flight to Beijing kicked off with a fun security video featuring a chubby baby panda, so right up my alley of interests lol. I read a bit of 1984, watched Mike & Dave Need Wedding Dates (which I’d give a 3/10, and that’s really only so high bc I did laugh and I very much enjoyed Kumail Nanjiani and Jeanie/her husband), did a lil cross stitching, and tried to sleep.
The best thing to see upon landing is that wonderful red DELAYED sign !! I think I ended up leaving for Yinchuan at the time I was originally supposed to arrive there, so that was very fun. My family came to pick me up at, like, 1AM and we went to get a quick bite at a late-night dim sum place before heading home.
On this day, my frond Olive and I headed to LA, city of angels, city of girls with very long fingernails, city of The Broad art museum!!!!! We did a couple other things too, but the main attraction was obviously The Broad.
(Above is my attempt at a cute handwritten title card, done with the back pages of my planner and photographed with my phone and messily cut out with my old Photoshop app. Ta da. Am I happy with it? Not really. Am I so unhappy with it that I’m willing to spend more time learning how to do it better right now? Also not really. Maybe when I’m like 72 I’ll be a self-taught PS master.)
We went to Sprinkles Cupcakes, which, if you’ve spent any time at all on Instagram, you’ve probably seen a photo of their cupcake ATMs. A basic bee’s pilgrimage, honestly lol. The writing in the ceiling circle (what an awful description, but lmk if you can think of a better way to refer to that lol) is an ice cream recipe from Benjamin Franklin, I think. How cerebral/historic/cool, right? I appreciated that.
The location we went to had both cupcakes and ice cream, and I prefer ice cream over cake so I got a cupcake sundae type thing with salted caramel ice cream and a vanilla cupcake covered with sprinkles. A word of warning – the salted caramel flavor is super fucking salty. The girl working warned me that it would be and I even tried a bit and decided I liked it, because my usual gripe with salted caramel ice cream is that there’s too much ‘caramel’ and not enough ‘salted’. I was wrong, y’all. I was so wrong. It would have been all fine and good if it were a kid’s cup of ice cream, but it was larger than I expected and after a while it just tasted like a salt water rinse had accidentally fallen into a vat of ice cream. I had a lot of feelings about it.
OK lol moving on from the ice cream tragedy, we also took a walk around the UC Irvine campus. These lockers are from the art department and the stickers say “everything is not going to be ok”, so in case you were wondering if things were going to turn out alright? They’re not.
The Broad!! Pronounced like “road”, for us non-locals. Admission is free but tickets are popular, so you can either reserve tickets online for the next month (so, for example, tickets for July are released on the 1st of June) or wait in line at the door, which is what we did. I think we got there at 9 and they opened at 10, but it wasn’t a huge deal because we just sat and chatted. I don’t mind waiting in lines too much, which I think is a bit of an uncommon feeling re: queues. I guess I look at it as an opportunity to hang out with whoever you’re with, or if you’re alone, catch up on some reading or something like that. (Obviously DMV lines etc are hell on earth – this sentiment really only applies to voluntary ‘fun’-ish lines like art museum admission.)
An infinity room! Yayoi Kusama’s famous infinity rooms were very very cool. Still undecided as to whether the strict time limits are a valuable part of the artistic experience or just annoying as hell. I didn’t take a ton of photos on my camera as I was freaked out because of the time limits, so I just kind of waved my phone around and tried to take it in.
The paid exhibition going on at that time was for Jasper Johns. We just did the free stuff.
Another day, another severely belated travel diary! Spring semester ended for me a few days ago, but during spring break (so at the end of March) I went to visit my best frond in SoCal, where she goes to sk00l with Peter the Anteater at UC Irvine. I stayed with her and her boyfriend (and their lovely dog) and we had a good few days of hangin’ out, art museum-ing, and eating lots of food, all of which are so so so nice any time but even nicer for ~long distance friendships~* like ours.
These photos are from the day we went to Laguna Beach, which you may know from esteemed reality TV show starlet turned lifestyle guru/Something Corporate bassist’s wife Lauren Conrad’s host of TV shows. Or at least that’s how I know of the city, lol. We started off at the Laguna Art Museum, then had lunch at Urth Caffé and had a long walk by the beach terrorizing anemones. (In our defense, we didn’t realize they were anemones. We didn’t know what the fuck they were, as the most marine education we have had is from Finding Dory.)
Laguna Beach has an art museum, which was $5 entry for students but PRICELESS FOR CULTURAL IMPACT. Just kidding I think pricey art museums are bullshit and another way the bourgeoisie keeps lower classes down by depriving them of intellectual stimulation. Not to get all heavy and Marxist on ya ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Anyway I never turn down an art museum! The exhibition they had going on right then was on Tony DeLap, who is LITERALLY LIKE 90 YEARS OLD NOW AND STILL KICKIN’. I mean, what a legend. Lol, DeLap was one of UC Irvine’s founding art professors and his work focuses on abstract sculpture and minimalism.
A lot of abstract/contemporary is very befuddling to everyone, including me, a self-proclaimed art luvr. It’s like, what is this red block? What does it mean? Why?? An article I read forever ago and keep going back to and foist upon anyone who listens to me for more than two seconds is this one from Salon, which describes abstract art and how it interacts with our brains from the perspective of a neuroscientist and his research. Basically, abstract art forces our brains to work in a different way than we’re used to and that’s why it bothers most people – super interesting and eye-opening and everyone should read the whole damn thing.