2013

Dang this blog is old. 2012 and 2011 and 2010.

Happy new year!

1. Venice canals in LA with Jenn Wang.
2. Maggie visited Califoria with Derek and we hung out at DT Disney. I also went to SD!
3. Went to Albuquerque to interview with Intel…
4. and then Houston a few days later to interview with Schlumberger. Traveling alone (gratis) was pretty fun and I didn’t mind it. And then Seattle at the end of April for mom’s birthday. And that’s when I got a job offer from MiaSolé!
5. After accepting my job offer I immediately dyed my hair red and started my final set of LA adventures as a resident. And then took a full-car road trip up to Norcal with Stanley. We stopped by Santa Barbara, Solvang, SLO and Santa Cruz. Oh and I went vegan and gluten free.
6. Apparently I have no pictures from June. I did make another trip down to LA to pick up the rest of my stuff, but I guess I was mostly settling in at work.
7. Family reunion with babies! Also Layla visited me in Cupertino.
8. Went to Six Flags, made a bunch of amazing address stamps and went from vegan to vegetarian! Stanley came up for his birthday and also I hung out with Alan and Tung.
9. Went to LA for Stan’s friend’s (Charissa and Sean) wedding.
10. Made a birthday cake for Rose/Kristen and had boozey game night #1!
11. Uneventfully turned 24, and went to Minnesota to visit Je and Wisconsin to see Heather.
12. Finished Ben’s giant UCLA painting! Drove down to LA to pick up Stan’s snowboard. Stayed at the Nittler cabin in Tahoe for a few days and snowboarded. And finished the year strong with a lazy two weeks of shut-down! :)

It’s been a big year full of big changes and growing up. And I like it!

leaving LA

Backtracking a bit in the timeline of my life to get my blog caught up…

I accepted the offer from MiaSolé (Alt-0233 to get e avec accent aigu é) at the end of April. It was a bit of a rush, since I had also gotten an internship offer from Baxter for which I needed to respond ASAP, while still waiting on MiaSolé to go through second and third round interviews, and decisions. To save time, we conducted Skype and phone interviews so I didn’t have to fly up to norcal for a day. It all worked out, and I heard back in time to not be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Happy! Everything worked out pretty much perfectly, and I set my start date for 5/29.

I spent the majority of May in LA packing up my apartment, having lunches and dinners with some LA peeps (Phyllis, Frances, Daniel, Layla, Dorothy. Neel…) and finishing up some research things. I had started my vegan + gf diet May first, but I was wary about buying a bunch of groceries right before moving out, so the first couple weeks of my new eating regime pretty much sucked. Now that more than a month has passed though, things are a lot better. But not to get distracted, back to my last month in LA.


One of my weekends was spent hitting up my LA bucket list spots with Stanley (Beverly Hills sign and farmer’s market, Culver City Steps). The BHFM was pretty big; some things seemed a bit overpriced but not unexpectedly so for BH. We picked up some cherries and fresh squeezed OJ (yummm) and I don’t remember what else, and headed to Century City to watch the matinee (11:30ish!) Iron Man 3. During the movie I ate like two pounds of cherries and didn’t get allergic, which was amazing and I loved it. But then my stomach was full of cherries…

Culver city steps was pretty awesome, much more intense than I had expected. Instead of parking on the bottom and actually perusing the steps like normal people, we drove to the top and just took a look at the view. We went a few flights of stairs down and up, and I was surprisingly tired after just a few steps! I think because the delta elevation is really high with the taller-than-normal steps, I was out of breath in just a few seconds. Seriously would have been a great workout had Stanley and I been prepared. Oh well, next time!


During the last LA weekend, I went hiking with the MAE boys (Lucas, Cristhian, Raymond, Grant + Grant’s brother)) to the Hollywood sign. The trail we chose (starting at Canyon drive) was probably around 6 miles round trip with all our extra excursions.


It took us about four and a half hours from start to finish, hilariously long, because we lunched at the top and took a million breaks in between. Grant’s brother also has juvenile arthritis so he was hurting; we waiting for him and rested a lot. (But he seemed to be in a much worse condition than I was, I wonder what made him think hiking was a good idea?) We went to the peak to see the back of the sign, and then to the front for a more scenic view.


(You can see DTLA and Griffith Observatory in the background of the above picture!) I’m glad I finally did this trail, but probably wouldn’t do it ever again. Recommended as a one-time adventure.

The next day was spent in Arcadia – I hung out with Stan, Wes and Yao getting boba and other misc things. We stumbled upon a batting range + miniature arcade which was fantastic! Since it was a super small arcade (which still had the essentials) the machines were really cheap and we spent a little more than an hour there. We played air hockey, pacman, DDR (I missed it, I used to play daily during my summer in RISD) wrestling, and skeeball. Pretty much all my favorites. And all for less than five bucks! Skeeball was only 25c! What a deal, seriously.

The last weekend of May, Stanley and I road tripped up the 101 and 1 from LA to Sunnyvale, stopping at SB, Solvang, SLO and SC on our way up. Still editing pictures so that post will be next :)

curly hair

When left alone to air dry, it seems that my hair has maintained about 70% of its curliness compared to 16 years ago. I guess that’s refreshing, and it’s nice to know that daily use of a hair straightener doesn’t seem to permanently damage my hair too much. Although maybe it would be different if I dyed my hair red-blond again like last year. All the hair on my head is relatively “new”…

I’ve been exercising every (week) day which has become a nuisance in the hygiene department. I’m just not down with showering every day. I guess I can rinse in the shower and use dry shampoo? I’m glad I’m Asian and can get by without seeming like a grody person.

My wish to travel has been granted! I was starting to feel a bit stir-crazy but luckily I landed some interviews away from California and I’ll be traveling to ABQ and IAH gratis in the coming week and I’m super excited for the adventure :)

summer travels part 4

Day 6: Arrival in Bangkok, Wat Saket, wandering
Day 7: Wat Pho, Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo
Day 8: Ayutthaya day trip, Khaosan market/area
Day 9: Chatuchak marketplace
…then home!

Layla and I arrived in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, and decided to KTFO at our hostel until whenever. We ended up lazily waking up in the late morning, and making a vague plan for the day.

First order of business was to get us some Thai bahts (exchange rate about 30 THB to the dollar, same as NT$), preferable from a Citibank where I would be able to feelessly withdraw from an ATM. The nearest one was a ways away, so we looked up a bus route on Google maps before heading out. Near our hostel was a Thai bank, from which we exchanged just a bit of cash for the road. Then we made our way to the bus stop, which was an adventure in itself.

Bus stops in Bangkok are more like general bus slow-down areas. There are not always signs posted/visible, especially at busy intersections, and the bus only stops if you flag it down. On each bus is a driver and a fare collector. The fare collector carries a cylindrical container that rattles with coins and rolls of tickets: tell him/her your destination and pay up, and s/he’ll return the appropriate change along with a ripped up ticket. Buses with A/C cost about 16 baht per trip, double that of a ghetto wooden non A/C bus. All this we learned from a nice white guy riding a bike, getting his morning Thai tea near our “stop.” Thanks, stranger!


We got ourselves some Thai tea as well, as per recommendation of said white guy. It came in a bag, surprisingly, as we found out later all street foods do. Here I feel obligated to note that Thai tea in Thailand tastes just as good as Thai tea in California.

We headed to a mall (Central World, maybe?) and wandered around for awhile. Layla decided to get a haircut (for 100 THB = $4), and I adventured around the huge mall shopping for misc things like phone cases (not cheap!) and earphone jack plugs and Asian BB creams. I found a giant UNIQLO at the top level, where I bought a pair of jeans, parachutey PJ pants, and shirt 😀 While we waited for my pants to get hemmed (for free, thanks, UNIQLO!) we went outside to peruse the mini-market on the streets surrounding the wall. I got a shaved ice dessert with misc things in it, and some fried chicken parts. When we finished at the mall, we were ready for our next adventure.


Since we knew where we were on a map (not always a guarantee) and our next destination was just along the street for a mile-or-so, we decided to take a tuk-tuk instead of a bus or taxi. It was important to me that we ride on one during our trip, so we seized the opportunity! The driver of the empty one we flagged down tried to extort us (I think he said 100THB?), but having already taken the bus we knew how cheap travel could be. We took the ride for 40 THB (I think) :)

We got to Wat Saket (Golden Mount Temple) and got to see a view of the city from the top. I was happy to overlook a city full of green trees, compared to Los Angeles’ concrete jungle.


Next, we tried going to the Grand Palace, but it had closed for the day already (at around 4 or 5). The infamous tourism swindlers were at the entrance, ready to bring us on various alternative! boat! trips! instead, but we rejected them and decided to wander across the street and get some food. I had some mango sticky rice (40 baht) but the rice tasted salty? so I just ate the mango itself. So yummy :) After dinner we headed home to ktfo; I slept and Layla went to adventure at Khaosan Road.

On our 2nd day in Bangkok, we woke up early and headed to Wat Pho for our Thai massages! It cost about 350 THB for an hour of massage, which was a great experience. It was cool to see how the masseuses manipulate their bodies to massage yours, and it was obvious afterwards that “Thai massages” in the US are toned down versions of the original. We also took a look at the biggest reclining Buhhda in Thailand, which had giant 10+ ft tall feet made out of mother of pearl.


After Wat Pho, we got on a bus to head to the Samphram Elephant Ground and Zoo. The ride was about 40 minutes and took us far from the city. 600 bahts later, we were in the zoo!



It really depresses me to think about animals that should be wild but have been trained for humans’ entertainment (and not practicality, ie horses). The first show we watched involved two guys pulling around a number of crocodiles and doing tricks, but it was primarily things like not getting their heads/hand bitten off, which just required the crocs to stay still. (Less unnatural, since crocs spend like 90% of their lives staying still.) But the elephant show we watched was super depressing, because they made them dance with one or two of their feet in the air, and shake their bodies and heads around, and ahhhhh it made me so sad and I don’t want to think about it anymore. Our ride around the park on the elephants’ back was not as depressing but still kind of sad, since with all the gear + guide on the back we must have been 4-500 lbs. (Although I just looked it up on wiki and it says the average Asian elephant weights about 10,000 lbs. Maybe it’s not a big deal after all…) But we got some amazing pictures! So I’m mostly glad about that.

On our way back to the city, it started crazy thunderstorming and raining. The bus we were on (a non A/C one) started leaking in a number of places, through the roof and windows, and the wooden floor got soaked. It was definitely an experience, especially noting that the locals were not phased at all.


The next day, we had our day trip tour planned to Ayutthaya, the old capital city of Thailand. Our tour cost 1800 baht/person, and included a bus ride to the ruins, a few stops some temples and landmarks, and a boat ride back down the river to central Bangkok. It was really nice to get away from the smelly city, and have a planned day instead of just wandering around. (The city was really hard to get around and not especially tourist friendly.) The picture above was taken at the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace, where the royalty still visit sometimes during the summer. Compared to the Summer Palace in Beijing, it was tiny… but still pretty interesting to see the Chinese influence/gifts to the Thai.


The actual ruins of Ayutthaya were really amazing. I’m not sure how much of it was restored, but it seems like a lot of the ruins are in great shape. There were super tall monuments and steps in tact, everything made out of brick. You could see where the buildings and rooms were set, with some doorways still around. A few years ago (15 or 20, I think) there was a big flood in the area, and there were still water damage marks on the sides of the ruins (and buildings in the surrounding villages). Crazy to see how time passes.


Delicious pad see ew from the street! For less than $2. It really hit the spot; Layla and I devoured it in minutes.


We got back to our hostel and rested a bit before heading out to see Khaosan Rd. The area we stayed in is a popular place for backpackers to stay, and so there were a bunch of American/European style bars and restaurants a few streets away. It was a weird backwards culture shock to walk down a street with loud English music playing and drunk young people having fun. It definitely felt a little bit out of place! On the street there were many carts selling typical “Thai” food (for the tourists) so I tried some pad thai. Tasted very similar to the US version, but not orange! And no peanuts!


On our last day in Thailand, we took a bus north to the Chatuchak weekend market. It was a huge market with all vendors for everything over a large area, maybe a square mile big. We wandered around and saw shops selling toys, furniture, artwork, clothes, Ikea-type shops, pet fish, other animals… it was ridiculous how many shops there were crammed together. Oh yeah, we even saw a bunch of stalls selling used/worn/dirty American sneakers? If I had more money and space in my luggage, I would have definitely bought more stuff! As it was though, I left the market with a couple of colorful tanktops ($3 each), some voodoo keychains, a giant safety pin, and a mango rice :) It was super delicious and I want more.

I wouldn’t really recommend visiting Bangkok as a primary destination. It was difficult to get around, and a lot of the interesting things (besides temples) were far from the city. I was kind of disappointed and thrown off by how low-tech and dirty the city was, but I guess that might have been post-Taiwan-relativity. But I’m glad I visited, and now I have a better idea what to expect from a Southeast Asia trip :)

summer

Yesterday we had a picnic party in Torrance for Layla & Dennis’ birthday. It’s pretty crazy to think that we’ve all known each other for five years already! But I guess that’s how college goes. Layla and I made food at her house in Torrance and brought it over to the park – I made some “bruschetta” of matzo, home-made pesto, tomatoes, and Parmesan (capitalized according to wiki!) flakes on top. They were tasty :)

We also brought a watermelon, but without a knife. So I busted out my handy dandy new Leatherman Squirt and we cut it open. Except when I brought down the knife to the watermelon rind, little did I know that I was pointing the blunt side down and sharp side to my finger… and I made a nice, clean cut into my finger. It bled a lot, but I had emergency bandaids on my so no big deal. I let it air out last night and today I’ve wrapped it in gauze-tape. Oh yeah, and I finally used the H-shaped band-aids correctly for the first time ever!

(After we cut the watermelon, pretty easily with my knife, we scooped out the inside of half completely and wore it as a helmet. Basically awesome. It was good to see Chris Wasson again 😀 )

Today is my last day of self-proclaimed vacation. I woke up at around 11:30 and I’ve got some errands/things to do (aka laundry) before my full-ish time research work begins tomorrow. I need to find some way to constantly remind myself that I want to finish the project by the end of summer… because I do, but the day-to-day motivation is hard to find. Whatever, today is my last totally guilt-free day, and I’m going to spend most of it playing Diablo 3. :)

I realized that I hadn’t posted a picture of my new haircut yet – it’s been two and a half weeks and needs daily styling to not look like a fro. Excited to see what happens as it grows longer. I’m actually surprised to find that my hair keeps its curl when it’s short. I have mixed feelings about that, since most pixies aren’t curly. I’m prepared not to cut it anymore and just let it do its thing for the next 18 months or so.

Gap top, J crew cords, pseudo free Korean glasses. I need to tailor/fix all my slightly-too-low cut tank tops in preparation for this summer…

hair

Omg my bicep is 25 cm

Yesterday’s workout was the hardest so far. (I’ve been to TBC four times now.) We did HELLA lunges and squats, and then more of them. Today sucked and I was miserable walking like a penguin awkwardly all over campus. I never really thought UCLA was that hilly, but now that every slight angle or step makes me cringe, I definitely am noticing it more.

I decided to get my hair cut at Aveda to a pixie a week after I get back from my sister’s wedding. That gives me a week to play with my hair and cut off essentially as much as I want for funsies and mess around until I get it all chopped off. These are the hairstyles that I’m thinking of trying:

In the above picture I have cordially photoshopped my face on top of various celebrities’ faces. I tried to do a good job (ie 10 seconds) matching saturation and hue for each picture. I want to try: at the shoulders, at the chin, possibly an angled bob? maybe a fade????, various lengths of bangs and parts, and maybe a fauxhawk before cutting it to a pixie. This’ll be really fun and I’m really excited!!!! I don’t think I’ll be doing any color, since it’ll be a waste of $15 and a few hours to buy dye and then dye my hair and then cut it off. But maybe… dark blue? red? purple?

PS. Miley Cyrus, Anne Hathaway, Nicole Ritchie, Natalie Portman, Diana Agron, all from Google