It’s the long-awaited finale to my photos from the trip to Rome, Italy I took two summers ago! I thought to myself the other day “hey, did I ever finish that Rome travel series of posts?”, checked the blog, and no, I had not. There was one more to go. So here we are, a full year and a half into my COVID lockdown life, unsure when I’ll venture out on international travels again, looking at photos of Rome. I don’t recall much about this day, but remembering what little I do feels so odd now. Like when I watch a YouTube vlog that I don’t realize was pre-COVID, and I have an automatic reaction at so many crowds gathering unmasked. How odd that it once was that I never thought twice about all this and plowed through crowds fearlessly to get the best view of an old pretty thing.
This was the Borghese Gallery, and they didn’t allow photography inside. But holy shit, this was a good art museum. Like, top three I’ve ever been in. Maybe even top one?! The paintings and sculptures are all beautiful, but the interiors are similarly gorgeous – marble, cornices, the works. I have no better words to describe this other than: holy shit, so fucking good, I’m dying to go again.
One more thing I’ll say before we leave for the gardens – the café staff were quite rude here. I made a mistake in my Italian when ordering and the guy helping me laughed, turned around and said something to his coworkers, and then they all laughed. I hope now that I was reading into it, but I think based on context, tone, and body language, they were laughing at me. And it was pretty shitty! That’s the last commentary I’ll leave in this post – we walked around the park after, all the way back to Piazza del Popolo and then to our hotel near The Pantheon.
What time better than midterm season to look back at my time in Rome, eh? We start in the Pantheon, which is actually unreal. Even with all the people there, like the Chinese couple I saw using it as an opportunity for a photoshoot (I am srs, this man had a huge variety of intense camera lenses and the woman had multiple scarves to do outfit changes as she posed it up), it is ~breathtaking~. Very much one of those buildings that you see in person and stop in your tracks and go, I understand what the postcards are about! Shit!
There are lots of fun facts that I learned from the audio tour on the Rick Steves in Europe app, but I have forgotten them. I do remember that this altar has changed according to the dominant religious and theological views of the time. Now, it’s Jesus and a Catholic cross, but back in the earliest days it was for Jupiter, the Ancient Roman god.
I always wonder what the people who work gift shop and custodial and everyday kinda jobs at these fancy tourist spots think about. To them, are we just fools gawking at their everyday background? Do they ever stop to look up and gawk themselves?
This is Rafael’s tomb! I was reading the little plaque about him and thinking about his life and work and getting all in my feelings and started to tear up… and then I heard a conversation behind me between a couple Americans that went something like –
Mom: Look, Rafael is buried here! The man the ninja turtle is named after!
Son: Oh my god. Wait. RAFAEL IS DEAD?!?
– and then I was snapped out of my feelings and had to stifle laughter. Americans deserve our reputation for being horrible guests in other countries.
OK out now! The square in front of the Pantheon is so busy all the time and it still blows my mind how so much modern life just happens in and around ancient buildings.
Our hotel walls were painted to appeal to hapless tourists like us.
I did the first half of the Rick Steves’ audio tour on his app today, starting at the Campo de’ Fiori. During the day it’s kind of like a farmer’s market vibe, but I get the impression a lot of the vendors just target tourists rather than it being a place for actual Romans to shop. One of the guys selling cabbages yelled “Konichiwa” at me which was a surprisingly racist start to my day.
Loved this show of EU solidarity!
The center of this square has a statue of a monk called Bruno, an outspoken Dominican priest who ended up getting kicked out of Italy, the Calvinists, the UK, the Lutherans in Germany, before finally getting burned right here by the Inquisition. Chilling, right?
I spent a little over a week in Rome this June with my dad – here are the photos!
We stayed in a hotel right next to the Pantheon, so it was a really good distance from touristy attractions. This was my first time in Italy/Rome; it felt a little surprising, in that it’s not a location that I’ve seen a lot of or thought a lot of so I didn’t have that many preconceived expectations about it. Anyway, Rome is a city with a orange/red/yellow and green color palette. The younger people all look like they’re fun at pubs and pool parties. The older people look like that too. And I’m into it all. So now I’m head over heels for both France and Italy.
I started this day wandering around semi-aimlessly by myself. My dad was doing work at the university, so I set out to meet him but took my time to look at whatever caught my eye. I wasn’t very on top of planning/researching, so I’m afraid I didn’t know what a lot of things were until later in the evening when I looked them up. This is the Capitoline Museum, which I reached after crossing a terrifying roundabout.
The Vittoriano, or Altar of the Fatherland, is for Italy’s first king, Victor Emmanuel II. The Capitoline Museum is behind it, but this huge marble edifice is what originally caught my eye and set me started on a path through an intense roundabout and a huge flight of stairs in the heat.
I so enjoy walking around by myself in a city – it’s freeing and fun, to think of nothing but what you want to do in a city where no one knows your name and you don’t know much either.
Now the evening! The Pantheon was literally a one minute walk from our hotel and, I mean, how wild to have slept next to this building for a week. To think about how much life this building has witnessed is entirely mind-boggling; from marriages to religious services for the Roman gods at first to the Catholic church it is today to modern-day tourists like me to travelers passing through ancient Rome to locals using it as a meeting point for drinks after work, it’s been there for all of it.
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.
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.