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Cypress Tree Tunnel

A friend once told me that there’s so much to do in California and a part of me didn’t really believe that. I’m not sure why I couldn’t believe my friend but boy was I wrong! I read this article from Thrillist: The 28 Most Beautiful Places In California You Didn’t Know Existed and it changed my view of California. Scroll through the pictures from the site and you’ll be amazed at how beautiful California is.

This article inspired me to visit some of the most beautiful places in California. So one day, I asked one of my friends, Stacy, “Hey, are you free to travel in a few weeks?” She said, “I sure am!” Next thing you know, we booked our flights and planned every minute of the trip.

Fast forward few weeks later.

Thanks Tim for the ride to the airport! By the way, this guy eats his McMuffins with ketchup. Stacy and I don’t. Just saying.

Our primary exploration was located north of the Bay Area. So we flew from Orange County to Oakland to save time. Then we Uber’d from the airport to a city next door to rent a car. We could have rented a car from the airport but it was actually a lot more expensive to do that. You’re paying more for convenience to have the rental car right there when you land at the airport.

We got our rental car and the adventure officially began. But. Food first. We went to Sivan’s Cafe in Hayward. Stacy and I both got chicken with garlic noodles. It was good but it may have been a little too garlic-y. They gave us a lot so we saved some for later.

Travel Tip: When you’re on a road trip for several days, buy a gallon of water per person. We made a stop to buy some water at a market nearby. It’s nice to have easy access to water when you’re traveling rather than buying water bottles at every gas stop.

From Hayward, we drove two hours up north to Cypress Tree Tunnel. We were playing La La Land sound track on repeat on our way there. It definitely made the car ride a lot more fun. When we were less than a mile away, we could see the secluded area with all of the trees.

Don’t mind us talking and the bumpy road but look at the trees!

We made it on time before the sun was about to set. But then again there was really no sun that day because it was gloomy and drizzling. We were the only ones there. It was completely quiet and a bit eerie.

At the end of a tunnel was a museum that was closed for the day. It was a bit eerie to see it there but the whole area felt so peaceful.

Listen to the beauty of nature:

We didn’t stay here for too long. Leaving the area was quite bumpy and a bit of Indiana Jones so we wanted to make sure we still had some light to see the road.

From Cypress Tree Tunnel, we drove two hours up northeast towards Sacramento for our AirBnB stay. We had a chill night in Sacramento. We microwaved our leftover noodles from Sivan’s Cafe and watched Friends on my iPad mini. We called it a night since we had to wake up early for the next site.

 

 

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Happy Va(LIN)tine’s Day Eve!

I was contemplating for hours whether or not to ask the big question that could forever change my life. Even though so many friends and family were supportive of me asking the question, I was still feeling reluctant. I had never done this before so I was a little anxious about it. I decided to just sleep off the contemplation and figure it out the next morning.

The next morning came along. I woke up and was still puzzled. I only had a few hours to decide what to do with my future. Somehow, I came to a conclusion, “Go big or go home.” I decided to go big. YOLO.

I quickly but safely went over to Target to buy a poster and some sharpies. Then at home, I printed out enlarged faces of his and mine. That was probably the hardest part to figure out but luckily my friend, Kevin, was able to help me remotely.

I printed out our faces under Fast Draft to save some ink but that was kind of a bad idea because both of our faces got faded. Well, my face was faded but still recognizable. His face on the other hand was all purple and discolored basically. I had to reprint a portion of his face.

Once the printing was all done, I had to cut and put the pieces of our faces together. Then I had to write the big question on the poster but according to my friends, asking the question wasn’t forward enough. They suggested to turn the question into a statement and I did just that. Again, go big or go home.

Right underneath the bold statement, I glued our faces onto the poster. Then I was finally off to go do my thing.

Before entering through the doors that was going to determine my fate, I proudly took a picture of my last minute masterpiece in front of the venue.

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As I entered, someone stopped me from moving forward. Someone stopped me because they were jealous of what I had made. Someone didn’t believe in fate.

I am somewhat kidding about that last paragraph. Ok, but enough of me being dramatic! I’m not a dramatic person ever so that was kind of fun. As you can see, I made a poster for Jeremy Lin. I decided to have fun with this because I’ve never made a poster for any games or concerts.

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I went to my third Lakers game ever and this time it was against the Washington Wizards. The first two times that I’ve gone, they were both against Houston Rockets.

I ended up not being able to take my poster into Staples Center. The security guard said it was too big and the color was too distracting. In minutes, I had to throw away that fun cute looking poster. It was sad for a good 10 minutes but then I got over it because the Lakers were playing well in the first half of the game. In the last quarter, things started spiral down for the Lakers. Unfortunately, they ended up losing against the Wizards by 6 points!

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Some blame that they lost because Jeremy Lin wasn’t able to see my poster. I may have to agree on that. I’m sorry Lakers for the loss but it wasn’t completely my fault. I hope you understand.

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Though Jeremy Lin was never able to see my VaLINtine poster and though the Lakers lost, all in all it was good to see the Lakers play live at Staples Center. It’s always different when you’re watching the game in person than at home. The ambiance is much more exciting when you’re sitting next to true Lakers fans.

Thanks Ann, John, and Derek for inviting me to watch the game with you guys! Next time, let’s try to get free tacos! Go Lakers!

(Security guard, I have forgiven you for throwing away my poster. I know you were doing your job.)

Tech Tuesday: Anker

I decided to add this new feature in my blog called Tech Tuesday where I’ll share with you my most recent findings of technology gadgets or news within this field. I love how technology is advancing quickly and it won’t wait for us to catch up. With that, let’s get started on my first Tech Tuesday post.

The iPhone 5/5s battery life gets drained pretty quickly especially if you’re running a few applications at once. Even for the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, the battery life can diminish easily due to the new iOS.  I’m not sure how you feel, but I tend to feel uneasy when I realize my battery life is in the red zone! I used to carry my charger everywhere I went. As odd as it may sound, I would constantly be on the lookout for outlets at restaurants or at my friend’s house so I could charge my phone. I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t the only who did that! Well, at least hope not…

I guess I could have purchased a car charger but those can be expensive and inconvenient. I always got paranoid that my car battery would die from charging any phone because it actually happened to my friend once.

I got tired of worrying if my iPhone was going to make it alive after using the GPS on the road for an hour or so. I knew I had to do something about this epidemic issue. I somehow remembered awhile back meeting a blogger of I’m Not The Nanny and From Left to Write at V3 Digital Media Conference. On the side, she writes reviews on new cell phones that she receives every few weeks from AT&T. She told me how she owns a portable charger because some of the phones’ battery life weren’t that strong. Thanks to her, I decided to look into portable chargers!

Prior to my research, I had to lay out my expectations of what I wanted from this portable charger. One. In general, I charge my phone 2 to 3 times a day. I wanted a charger that could recharge my phone twice from 0% to 100%. Two. I wanted it to be small in size and light in weight so it’s convenient to carry around. Three. It had to be affordable! I didn’t want to spend more than $40 on the device.

After comparing brands and reading reviews, I decided to go with Anker 2nd Gen Astro 6400mAh External Battery. It met every single expectation I had. This can charge my iPhone 5s fully twice. It’s even faster to charge on this external device than plugging my phone to an outlet. It can easily fit in my smallest purse. Lastly, it went under my budget, costing $32.39.

One downside about this charger is that it takes about 4 hours to fully recharge the external battery itself. It sounds pretty long but if you just charge it overnight, then you’ll be good to go the next day. One of my favorite features about this charger is that once it’s fully charged, it will automatically stop itself from charging beyond 100%. This works the same for your iPhone or tablets where it will not be overcharged by the portable device compared to charging it from an outlet. When your device is overcharged, it will decrease the sustainability of it in the long run.

Also, this Anker device is convenient in so many ways. Sometimes you’re not on the road long enough to fully charge your phone from your car. With Anker, you can bring it along with you wherever you go while it’s being charged! Hence, it being portable.

My external charger at one point stopped working. I wasn’t able to recharge the device itself. So I called customer service and informed them of my issue. They responded that it could have been a production error. They professionally apologized and said that since it was under warranty for a year, they would ship a new one out to me. It arrived promptly and I was one happy customer again.

Even though I had to get a new one, I wouldn’t mind purchasing another product from Anker. Overall, I like the quality of the product I purchased and I valued their customer service!

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Eat Pray Love Journey – Day 4 – Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

I went to Canada! Canada, I tell you! Canada!

Well, before I went to Canada, I explored Bellingham for a little bit on my own. I went on an adventure to look for stamps! I walked half a mile to one UPS store but found out that they weren’t opened until an hour after I got there. Unwilling to wait, I walked back towards my hotel and started Yelping places that had office supplies. Luckily, there was Office Depot which was a lot closer to my hotel than UPS. I’m not sure how I didn’t think about Office Depot earlier but I initially had a hard time thinking about where stamps can be purchased other than the post office.

My walk to Office Depot was an interesting one. For example, there was a guy selling marijuana. Let me elaborate, he was one of those guys holding a sign that pointed to the pot shop. I didn’t realize that Washington legalized medical marijuana. When I got to the plaza with Office Depot, there was also Costco and Starbucks. I noticed that in the parking lot there were a lot of cars with the license plate from Canada. According to Christian, a lot of Canadians come down to Bellingham to stock up on food from Costco! Interesting, right? Anyways, I got my stamps and sent my postcards away for my lovely friends and family to receive back at home!

On my way back to the hotel, it started to drizzle but I didn’t mind it at all. I really wanted to embrace mother nature while traveling and I sure did. The air was so cold but it felt so nice with the fresh air. Also, it was nice to see some colored leaves!

By afternoon-ish, Christian picked me up and we were off to Canada! Whee! The drive from Bellingham to Vancouver, BC was only an hour long! It’s like going from Orange County to Los Angeles.  Going through the border wasn’t bad at all. We just had to show them our passport, tell them where we’re going and why.

I noticed all the residential streets that we were driving by had so many beautiful houses and trees lined up so perfectly. We randomly stopped by a wealthy neighborhood to check it out.

There was this huge park in the middle of the neighborhood that had these tall trees and it was just breathtaking!

I never thought you could have such a mesmerizing park in your neighborhood like this one!

I was seriously so excited to see so many leaves on the ground!

As we were driving, I realized how uncomfortable or odd it was to drive with the lights and road structured this way. Makes me feel a little claustrophobic on the road! Naw mean?

Our first official stop in Vancouver was to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. There’s a small cost for parking and admission was $32.95. If you have AAA, you can get a discount! The Suspension Bridge was built in 1889. It stretches 450 feet across and 230 feet above Capilano River.

Here are some pictures to show you what this park was all about:

We were at the park for a good two hours or so. There was a lot of walking and sight seeing to do! Pictures don’t do justice of how amazing this park is with the bridges and them trees! One random thing about this park was that everyone was able to take a pumpkin home! It was part of the admission fee! There were pumpkins laying around the front area of the park so you could just pick one up and go! I really wanted to take a pumpkin and tell everyone it was from Canada but I obviously didn’t. I didn’t want to get in trouble by border patrol. Maybe next time…?

Our second stop was to see the Olympic Torch! Go to Yelp for more info.

Can you imagine this whole place being packed with people full of pride and excitement for the Olympics? There must have been so much adrenaline going on here back in Winter 2010! It was quite eye opening to see those skyscrapers surround that monumental torch. Though it wasn’t lit up, it was still inspiring to see this and know that dreams came true for many athletes.

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The Olympic Cauldron is located near a harbor which has a great view of the water and of Vancouver! Well, I think that’s still Vancouver in front of us.

There’s also this view in the picture below! The colors on the trees and on the ground! It looked like I was a little photoshopped in but this was all real! I may be annoying you about the fall colors but it’s just that, you don’t see them much in sunny SoCal so I get really excited to see them elsewhere!

Our last stop before the sunset was at Queen Elizabeth Park. This park was definitely not just an ordinary park. There was a conservatory, Japanese like garden, streams, dancing fountains, and the list goes on! There was so much to see at this park!

As we were on our way out, we noticed that a proposal was about to happen! So we sat on a bench and watched it like a movie! Weird thing was that we didn’t see the guy pop the ring out. Either we missed that part somehow or it’s a Canadian tradition to not have the ring. We went with the latter.

After a happy ending, we were finally off to dinner! We went over to an authentic Chinese restaurant. According to Wikipedia, there’s a large community of Chinese Canadians in Vancouver. This all came about in the 19th century when British Columbia hired Chinese people to build the railway. Read Wikipedia for more information! Great history to learn!

We went to this restaurant on the wrong day and time. There was a Chinese organization having a Halloween party so it was packed! Luckily, they made an exception to seat us all the way in the back. It was fun to people watch.

I’m sure the guy and his wife in the picture above felt out of place. By the way, I ‘m not sure why people carry their iPads around and use it as an actual camera. I see that a lot with older people.

We wanted dim sum but obviously that was not possible especially with this banquet going on. Instead, we just ordered pan fried noodles with seafood.

We also shared the beef with vegetables.

Everything looked and tasted good but I probably wouldn’t come back here again. Not that I would anytime soon because it’s in Canada…The food wasn’t anything too spectacular because it was the same as any other authentic Chinese food I’ve tried. I can easily get these two dishes from Orange County.

After dinner, we were finally on our way back to ‘Murica! It took a little more than hour to get back because the line was long at the border check area. Once we got back to Bellingham, we treated ourselves to some ice cream at Mallard!

It’s a cute little mom and pop ice cream parlor where everything is handmade from local and organic ingredients! This popular ice cream shop in downtown Bellingham has 4.5 stars with almost 200 reviews on Yelp.

They’re unique flavors like Olive Oil or Chocolate Rum sets them apart from your usual ice cream chains.

I got the Apple Pie in a waffle cone for about $4 and oh my goodness, it changed my life. I didn’t know it was possible for an apple pie flavor to be in ice cream form! It was so good that I was tempted to get another one!

It was so late that I had to stop myself from getting another scoop. I will never forget that Apple Pie ice cream. That ice cream was a perfect way to end my Canadian excursion!

Thank you so much Christian for driving me around in Canada! That was definitely one Canadian adventure! I’m really glad that we got ice cream afterwards. At the same time, I’m kind of not glad because I really miss that Apple Pie.

Seattle, Washington

Eat Pray Love Journey – Day 3 – Seattle, Washington

I left Sacramento in the afternoon to fly over to Seattle, Washington! Whee! I checked the weather there before leaving and of course, it was raining. So I had to bundle up for the first time for the fall weather in my new water resistant peacoat!

Thanks Briana for dropping me off at a really nice and spacious international airport in Sacramento! I really can’t wait to hang out with you when you’re back in SoCal! Finish strong in pharm school!

The flight from Sacramento to Seattle on Alaska Air took about two hours.

I landed before my friend was able to pick me up. So while I was waiting, I decided to FaceTime my friend, Elaine, who was at the beach! She was chilling under the sun with a few friends. It looked like she was on a real vacation compared to me!

Can I just tell you how much I love technology? Elaine and I both laughed hysterically because we were FaceTiming. I don’t know why it was funny but I guess it just seemed out of the ordinary for us to be FaceTiming like that where I’m at the airport and she’s at the beach. Oh technology, you’re awesome!

When I got picked up by my friend Christian, he brought his friend Karl with him who is a Seattle native. The three of us went to downtown Seattle to hit all the fun spots that Karl knew of. We went over to the Public Market Center – Pike Place Market where fish is thrown in the air and fresh flowers are sold.

Did you know that Seattle natives don’t use umbrellas? So I basically looked like a native until I took this picture in front of the Public Market sign.

Check this video out where we saw a guy with a Starbucks cup balanced on his head and a fish thrown at him! Well, not directly to his face but thrown at the cup to knock it down!


This place was packed with high energy even though it was cold!

Karl said that whenever he’s at the Public Market, he always goes to Beecher’s Handmade Cheese for some homey mac and cheese! So we did just that!

My $5.75 Original Mac and Cheese was perfect for the rainy and gloomy weather in Seattle. Next time, I want to try their  Mariachi Mac and Cheese which has a slight spicy kick to it. I would highly suggest checking this place out as Yelp has given this cheesy restaurant 4 stars with more than 1,200 reviews!

The original Starbucks was located nearby so we went to check it out. The line was going out the door! I didn’t get anything but it was nice to see where America’s Starbucks addiction originated from!

I had to take a picture with lady Starbucks but I didn’t realize she was a little bit scandalous there.

We walked across the street to see the Pacific Ocean! Christian said, “This is the same ocean from California!” In disbelief, I just kept looking at the ocean to see if it was really the same ocean from California. (Sarcasm, my friends. Sarcasm.) It got super windy there but it felt really nice to experience a new change of weather for once as a SoCal native.

Karl shared how he also goes to Mee Sum Pastry for some BBQ Pork Buns so we had to check it out!

We started with something savory with the mac and cheese and ended with something sweet! The BBQ Pork Bun was also perfect for the cold weather. They served us fresh pork buns where the BBQ flavor was juicy and sweet stuffed in a warm bread! We just stood there on the sidewalk, enjoying every single bite of it. That reminds me, I want to go look for some good BBQ pork buns in Orange County or in LA. Who’s down to go with me? Ok, cool. Thanks.

Because I have a sweet tooth, I really liked this place! I was so tempted to get another one but I was so stuffed from the mac and cheese and this! Yelpers definitely liked this place. They currently have 4 out of stars with more than 323 reviews.

After exploring much around Pike Place, we went over to Space Needle! We didn’t go up the tower but walked around outside and inside. We couldn’t spend much time here as we had a long drive back home. It was definitely a defiant moment to see this historical architecture in person!

Thank you Christian and Karl for driving an hour and half to and from Seattle to pick me up! Thank you, thank you Karl for joining this spontaneous adventure and giving us a tour of your hometown!

 

Eat Pray Love Journey

I recently decided to quit my stable job after working there for more than three years. I learned and grew a lot from my time there but it was time that I try something new. It’s called, “YOLO!” That’s right. You only love octopus. Just kidding. You only live once! Holla!

Actually, my friends would call it my Eat, Love, Pray journey like the book or the movie that featured Julia Roberts who traveled to rediscover herself.

After leaving my job on a good note, I was ready to treat myself to something exciting like travel to Peru or Costa Rica! It seems like Peru has become the new place to explore. Europe was so last year…Just kidding. Europe is still amazing in my books and I wouldn’t mind going there again. All my co-workers were telling me how I had to go to Peru. The only expensive thing about it was the flight there but other than that, everything like the food and hostels/hotels were cheap! After talking to a dozen people inside and outside of work, I was pretty set on going to Peru.

Except. I had no one to go with. Well, let me clarify that I do have friends but the whole Peru thing was just all bad timing. It was either they didn’t have the money or couldn’t take enough time off to travel with me. So I had to think of Plan B immediately!

One important lesson I learned when I traveled for the first time a few years to Europe was that it’s best to go somewhere if you know someone who lives there! I know it sounds like an obvious statement but it makes life so much easier! Thanks to my world traveling friend, Charlotte, she knew someone in all the countries we visited when we went to Europe and made our experience in Europe so memorable and stress-free.

So for my Plan B – Eat, Pray, Love Journey (EPLJ), I had to do just that. Visit friends who were living all over the place in Murica! It took two weeks of texting, calling, and being on my laptop to figure out the logistics for my whole trip.

I was able to figure out majority of my itinerary in a timely manner but there were some things where I just had to wing it for the spirit of spontaneity and YOLO-ness.

For the future posts coming up, I’ll be sharing my adventures in the different cities and states I visited. It may be a long journey to share but it’ll be a fun one to read!

Bear Flag Fish Co.

  • Who? Derek, Phil, Jerry, and me!
  • What? We ate some mighty fresh fish!
  • Where? Bear Flag Fish Co.
    7972 East Pacific Coast Highway
    Newport Coast, CA
  • When? Dinner time.
  • Why? Jerry treated us out for dinner because we surprised him at his graduation! He was so happy to see us that day that he cried. Just kidding, he didn’t cry.

So we stood in line to order.

We were able to beat the crowd on time!

We started off with Ahi Poke and some thick tortilla chips.


And we shared a huge tub of New England Clam Chowder.

Finally, I got two fish tacos.

Here’s a close up. Aren’t they beautiful?

The fresh fish and the variety of items on the menu definitely makes me want to come back for more! For more information on Bear Flag Fish Co. make sure to check their reviews on Yelp.

Thanks for dinner, Jerry! Glad you picked this place! Congratulations again!