Travel

rome 🇮🇹 walking around in the day & the trevi at night

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.

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Life & Ramblings

july ’19 // month in review

1. a weekend in sf

July flew by, which is obvious because here I am two weeks into August writing this post lol. I spent a weekend in SF with my bf and my brother and I have a lot of photos to show for it! Otherwise, I have already completely forgotten most of what I did in July – so it’s a good thing I have some photos to fill this post up with.

A mural in the Mission of Carlos Santana.

This is SF’s City Hall! I’d never been there before and we just kind of stumbled across it, but now I finally know the location of the trendy photos everyone takes with those trees lol.

After walking around the Sutro Baths a bit on our first day there, we found a hot pot place in Richmond for dinner. They were very popular and busy so we had to wait, but it was worth it for all you can eat delicious hot pot! While we waited we walked around the area and got donuts down the street at Golden Donuts.

I saw so many lovely plants decorating the entry ways of houses and I felt really ~inspired~* for when I move into my own (room in an) apartment in September.

The Heath Newstand was a very cute, hipster, SF artsy type shop (or at least it felt like that to me, an out-of-towner). I loved the greeting cards and the books they had, especially the travel and art section.

We wandered into a good few random boutiques on the second day, and I was absolute heart eyes at all the art supplies at The Aesthetic Union. I do this thing where I take photos of things I want to buy but won’t let myself buy, like these compliment cards. (I think I do this because I’m pretty frugal with money and feel like I can DIY cards instead of buying them, but I feel liiiiiike it’s weird that it makes me feel an inordinate amount of guilt to buy a nice piece of art that makes me happy so maybe I should talk to a therapist about that.)

My bf saw this tent and said “omg, it would be perfect for Luna!”. I picked it up and saw that, wonder of wonders, it was actually intended to be a cat tent! Then we looked at the tag and it was almost $200, so we put it back to wait for the day when we are millionaires and can spend $200 on a cat tent.

This was outside a school – it says “curious and courageous”. :’)

The murals across SF are so so nice. These are from a brewery that we walked past, and the one above was in the Mission.

2. things i liked a lot

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui: My best friend from high school gave me this book while I was visiting her in LA, so this was my July read. It’s an illustrated memoir and pretty fast to get through because of that, and it was the first graphic novel type book I’ve read that hit me like a non-illustrated one would. She writes and paints with such care and skill and it felt so big to be able to read her story and her family’s history. I saw parts of myself and my Asian immigrant family in it, especially when she wrote about her relationships with her parents and their life in Vietnam. Other parts I couldn’t see us in at all. It feels intimate and foreign all at once, but most of all, it’s exactly what the quote on the back says – “a book to break your heart and heal it”. It was UCLA’s Common Book last year (? I think?) and I’m really :’) to have it as a memory of a visit to my best friend from high school for the school I’m starting at soon.

My Mango wide-leg jeans: I was going to take a photo of these, but honestly it’s the middle of August already and I just want to publish this post lol. Maybe I’ll add one later. In any case, I have the tag in my travel journal which is further down this page in my Rome journal spreads, so you can kind of see what they look like. On me, a person who is firmly 5’3, they look nothing like they do in the picture because they skim the top of my feet and are not culotte length – so that’s why they are my wide-leg jeans and not my culottes, lol. I got them in Rome with my dad and I’m really into the aggressively wide-leg look! I’ve realized lately that I’ve become very blah with my style, wearing the same things all the time, and it bugs me because I remember being into putting outfits together and having fun with experimenting like that. I’m trying to remember that feeling and also trying to dress in a more interesting way – it’s not worked out yet, but we’ll see where we get lol.

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe: This is a webcomic about the Greek gods that I kept seeing Instagram ads for and my god, they know exactly what kind of people to target with those ads, because I caved and clicked and I’m obsessed with this comic now!!!!! I have push notifications on (and I only have notifications turned on for like 10 apps on my phone that are ‘important’ like banking and messages, not even Instagram!!!) so I know immediately when a new update is up!!!! I LOVE THE GODDAMN THING AND I’M EVEN THINKING OF CONTRIBUTING VIA PATREON!!!! …Anyway, this is a webcomic mainly about Hades and Persephone and I adore the artist’s style of art. It deals with things like sexual assault and toxic parenting really well, and it’s fun and gorgeous to read. I cannot believe an Instagram ad for Webtoon brought this into my life and knew exactly what I wanted. I also know full well that I was a child with a book of 101 illustrated Greek myths that I read cover to cover at least twenty times so, you know, that last sentence is a complete lie.

3. things i did not like a lot

Photographers, Instagrammers – Stop Being So Damn Selfish and Disrespectful from Paul Reiffer’s blog: If you’ve gone anywhere in the past few years, you’ve probably taken a photo for the ‘gram or helped someone take one for the ‘gram or seen a lot of people taking pics for the ‘gram. And, like, this is not to be old man yelling at a cloud about it, but I think we all need to look critically at our photo-taking habits and reassess whether we really need a photo in this lavender field right now. I like Instagram as much as any Gen Z gal, but it’s hard to deny how narcissistic it can make us, as well as how a photo op can be incredibly disrespectful to lands and people. Reiffer is a photographer who wrote this blog post after seeing the lavender fields in Provence overrun by people trying to get their shot. I think Instagrammers, Chinese wedding shoots (idk about other groups bc I’m Chinese? But omg the Chinese wedding shoot thing is like. A WHOLE THING. It’s wild.), photographers, and normal everyday folk alike have a hand in this, and I think Reiffer could have been a little more self-aware of the role he and his fellow photographers have played. Overall though, it’s an interesting read from a photographer’s perspective.

These weren’t people wanting to enjoy the view – or even capture the scenery to share and enjoy well into the future with friends. These are people so obsessed with their own sense of self-importance for the sake of a few instant “likes” on their social media profile that they find it perfectly acceptable to trespass, steal, disrespect the workers and their land – all in the name of “influencing”.

+ how I don’t remember anything else from this month lol

4. camera roll

Something Shalom said to me after I read one of her Instagram captions that really fucking ~spoke to me~ after a week of feeling hardcore imposter syndrome and freaking out about what I’m doing and where I’m going. I wrote it in my planner and I’m trying to remember it still.

I finally finished journalling my Rome trip!

Saw this on my Instagram explore tab, went :o. You guys think it’s true?! I’d like to try it out the next time I’m writing a paper.

Luna’s turned five!!!!! This was my bf’s birthday cake, so don’t worry, we didn’t serve her chocolate cake lol. We just put Luna-appropriate candles on it and gave her extra tuna for dinner. 🙂

I also screenshotted this from somewhere on Instagram (I think someone’s story) and I’d like to read her book. I struggle a lot with the feeling of constantly disappointing my parents, and it would be more OK if I didn’t have accompanying not-super-high self-worth/-esteem. I’m learning every day that it’s not my job to satisfy my parents’ needs and wants; sometimes people are unhappy because they want to be, not because of me.

While sorting my clothes into piles of keep and don’t keep, I tossed my bf’s sweater to the side. And Luna jumped on it immediately, curled right up, and fell asleep. Can you believe this little bub?!?!?? Ach, my heart.

VERY USEFUL BANANA INFO !!

5. goal recap

THE GOOD

  • Got prescription sunglasses
  • Went through all my clothes and got rid of a whole bunch via consignment/donation
  • Applied for my UCLA student ID card
  • + some other miscellaneous school stuff
  • Took my cat to the vet for her annual check up
  • Started working on my cross stitch again
  • Finished my travel journal for my trip to Rome

THE NOT GR8

  • Did not donate various items of furniture that I’ve been meaning to do 4 4evr
  • Did not seriously look for/apply for scholarships
  • Completely stopped writing in my planner so I don’t know what I wanted to do but did not lol

That’s all for July! If I do August on time, I’ll see you in two weeks lol.

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Travel

lijiang 🇨🇳 china travel diary

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.

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Travel

(belated) vancouver travel diary 🇨🇦

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.

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Travel

yunnan 🇨🇳 china travel diary (pt. 6 of 8)

(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!!

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Travel

dali again 🇨🇳 china travel diary (pt. 5 of 8)

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.

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