California

Day in Downtown LA

I’ve hung out in Downtown LA many times before. There’s so much history, art, culture, and food that I always find something new. Even if I don’t find something new, the old is still good.

What I like the most about going to DTLA aside from the challenges of finding parking and the busy one way streets is going there with my friends. Especially if it’s their first time exploring the area, I love showing them the beauty of DTLA.

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BeeJay, Peter, and I hung out in DTLA before it got too crowded on a Saturday afternoon. We made our first stop at Grand Central Market for brunch. I’ve shared about Grand Central Market on my blog here before. Last time I was here, my friend and I ate at Anna Maria’s. This time we ate at Tacos Tumbras a Tomas. It’s another good spot for Mexican food. On Yelp it has 4.5 stars with more than 650 reviews.

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They were quick to make our food fresh and delicious. We all got something different but I got scrambled eggs with chorizo and a large side of hash brown and tortilla. They gave me so much that I needed help finishing it!

After our hearty Mexican brunch, we had to walk it off. We walked over to The Bradbury Building. This place never gets old. Every time I walk into this place, I’m still amazed by its architecture and I think about the happy ending from the movie 500 Days of Summer. Well, it’s a happy ending depending on how you take it.

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Then we walked a block behind The Bradbury Building and went to The Last Bookstore. We walked through the maze of bookshelves and luckily, we didn’t lose each other!

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The last time I came here, I somehow missed the records section!

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There were so many vinyls with deep history rooted in them. These are music the older generation like our parents or grandparents grew up with. It was these music that set the mood in their living room or set the tone of their generation.

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I love how The Last Bookstore is able to maximize their space with artworks on the wall and broken clocks as planters.

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Even though we made a few stops in DTLA, we actually walked around a lot and got hungry again! To beat the traffic, we drove back down to Orange County and we went over to Hamji Park in Buena Park. They’re known for pork ribs, pork soup, and pork everything.

I’m sad to share with you that on Yelp it only has 3.5 stars with 132 reviews. They are still relatively a new restaurant in the Orange County area so I’m sure people are still learning about the restaurant.

But! In K-town (in LA), they have 4 stars with more than 1100 reviews on Yelp. So you know it’s good. I think the reason why the OC location has a lower rating is because they’re simply new.

Actually that might not be the only reason. My mom has this Korean theory that within the first three months from when a Korean restaurant opens, the service and food are great. They want to prove to the world that they’re awesome which they tend to live up to for at least three months. But! After those three months of the honeymoon stage pass by, my mom believes that the service and food go downhill from there.

I hope this isn’t true for Hamji Park at the OC location because the food has actually been really great for the past five times I have gone.

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I still enjoyed what we got that day after a long day in DTLA! We all shared the ribs and the pork stew with potatoes. It hit the SPOT especially since we were pretty hungry. Look how beautiful the food looks!

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Ok, one thing I do want to share is that I was actually surprised how the food came out pretty quickly. We ate an odd hour like 4 in the afternoon. There were only a few groups there. So I get it, they weren’t busy and so they poured out their heart and soul to make only our food. But!  It just made me think that this was all prepped beforehand and they just reheated the food.

But why was this still so good? I don’t know. Let’s not think about this too much because I do love their food.

Anyway, we ended up leaving Hamji Park with leftovers and feeling happy with a full stomach!

Thanks Peter for driving us around! I’m glad we didn’t get lost on our way to DTLA and back home to OC! Sorry Peter & BeeJay that I left my my DSLR behind that day. Thank you for understanding.

 

 

 

 

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The Yosemite Five

Last year, I got the chance to start the new year with a road trip to Grand Canyon! It was my first time hiking in the snow and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends to adventure with!

I was fortunate enough to travel again in the start of this new year! I went to Yosemite for the second time in the span of 9 months. Though my first time to Yosemite was in the spring, I was more curious to experience Yosemite in the winter with the snow!

On our way from SoCal to Yosemite, we made our first stop at Benaddiction in Fresno. We were pretty hungry after driving so many miles and found a place to eat via Yelp. It’s a small restaurant that can probably fit a max of 30 people. Due to the small capacity of the restaurant, the wait for us to be seated took some time. We saw hangry customers leave after waiting several minutes. If you plan to check out Benaddiction, keep in mind that it’s a small restaurant, it gets busy, and they close at 3PM!

Benaddiction is known for their breakfast and brunch entrees. I ended up getting a burger because it was past lunch time by the time we got seated and I wasn’t feeling breakfast. The burger was packed with a huge slice of tomato and shredded lettuce. The burger wasn’t anything that special as I expected but it did the job filling me up since I was hungry!

After lunch, we kept driving north until we got to our AirBnB place. We had a hard time finding our place since the street signs were hidden and it was getting dark too. We circled around the neighborhood for quite a long time and somehow we found it after lucking out on a turn!

Note to future self: Check-in at AirBnB place before the sun sets so it’s easy to find especially in rural areas where they like to hide street signs and house numbers.

Once we got to our AirBnB place, we chilled for a bit and then prepped for dinner. We had some fancy lasagna from Costco with a side of corn and garlic bread. We raised our glasses with Martinelli’s Apple Cider and made a toast for our trip! Can’t go wrong with that! While we were eating, we played some classical music in the background and ate with our pinky’s up. We fancy.

We went for a walk in the dark after dinner. Literally, it was pitch black outside. I had to hold onto some hoodies to make sure I was walking in the right direction. I may or may not be afraid of the dark. Don’t judge!

It was beautiful outside seeing some stars but it was also scary. I wasn’t sure if some animal was going to pop out of nowhere. It was just the five of us walking down a lonely road.

We ended first day with an episode of The Man in the High Castle. It was my first time ever hearing about it but I surprisingly enjoyed it. I think everyone else knocked out except me and maybe one or two others. I can’t remember who knocked out because I was really into the show.

The next day, we packed our lunches in the morning and headed out officially to Yosemite National Park!

We actually had a rough start to Yosemite. We entered the park and we were required to put chains on. We purchased some chains from Walmart earlier and that was not a good idea.

I repeat it was not a good idea.

Probably for a good hour, we struggled with them chains. They were straight up real chains with links on them.

First, we had a hard time putting them on in the cold, very cold weather. Once we got them on, we were driving around and something was not right. We heard some clunking noises. As we were driving, we passed by a bunch of Asian tourists standing outside. They were watching us drive by and the look on their faces was priceless. They looked concerned for us. Oh, you could tell they were deeply concerned.

We pulled over and thought we knew where the clunky noise was coming from so we tightened up the chains. Then we started driving again but heard the noise again! We pulled over for two or three more times to tighten things up. We were pretty confident for the first few times that we figured out where the noise was coming from but at some point, we were like, “Let’s be safe and just go back and buy new chains from that guy.”

We backtracked and bought chains from the guy on the side of the road. That was probably the best idea ever. Those chains were thin, easy to put on, and definitely quiet. And no tourist looked at us weird.

I think we spent two hours in total trying to figure out our chain issue. BUT! It was great teamwork and we all learned something new that morning. Too bad we don’t have a picture of us with the crazy chains. Maybe some moments aren’t meant to be captured.

Ok, now onto the fun stuff! We didn’t hike any strenuous trails since they were all closed due to the weather. We made multiple stops within the park and took a brisk walk to see some beautiful sites!

Tunnel View

On our way to Bridalveil Fall

Bridalveil Fall

Even though the picture below is blurry from the mist, I still had to share it because there was so much potential in this picture looking beautiful.

Yosemite Valley

Major PC to Kevin! Thanks for taking this awesome shot!

On our way to Vernal Fall

Photo credit to whoever was at the bottom either Kevin or Susan! 


We ended up not being able to hike up the whole trail to Vernal Fall. It was blocked off midpoint because of the snow. It was still nice being able to hike up halfway and have our lunches up there with the drizzle.

We were able to make a lot of stops within one day and experience the beauty of Yosemite with the snow. There were moments when it was snowing and felt so magical! Going to Yosemite during the winter is a MUST! It’s a complete whole different experience compared to any other season.

I heard that you’re able to ice skate somewhere outside in Yosemite. If the opportunity comes around again to go to Yosemite during the winter, I hope to ice skate then!

The trip was short and sweet! I’m thankful that we played in the snow and that no car was damaged from the chains! Yay, us!

 

Big Horn Mine Hike

I was on Instagram one night and noticed that Patrick Manalo, a photographer in the SoCal area who I follow on IG, posted some scenic pictures that just seemed so different from any hiking pictures I have ever seen! I looked into where he had gone which was Big Horn Mine and then I just had to go too!

By the way, I have no idea how I found Patrick Manalo on Instagram. I’m pretty sure he was on my Explorer page and I found a lot of his pictures aligned with my interests such as food, travel, and adventures.

I posted some information and pictures about this hike on Facebook to see if anyone wanted to join me on this adventure. A good amount of my friends were interested so I created a Facebook event to get the ball rolling. I planned about one month in advance because I knew this hike wasn’t just going to be a simple morning activity that friends can stop by. It was going to be an all day thing.

I’m a planner so I had a rough itinerary planned out so my friends knew what to expect throughout this whole adventure. I ended up being pretty on point with my agenda but below is the schedule you might want to follow accordingly if you plan to check it out:

  • 8:30am – Leave Orange County
  • 10:00am – Arrive at  Grassy Hallow Visitors Center to purchase a $5 Adventure Day Pass. This is to pay for parking. Apparently you can purchase this ahead of time at REI.
  • 10:15am – Begin the hike. Take breaks and pictures. Go into the mine!
  • 2:00pm – Approximately the time we got back to our car
  • 2:45pm – Lunch at Ichi Ichi in Rowland Heights and milk tea at Tenju Tea House
  • 5:30pm – Arrive home and rest

If you can, I suggest that you pick up the Adventure Day Pass ahead of time. Grassy Hallow Visitors Center doesn’t open until 10:00am sharp! If you hike earlier in the morning, you will be able to avoid the crowd at the time. By the time we got to to the mine, we had the whole area to ourselves so it was really nice to enjoy the scene. An hour later, there were probably more 20 people onsite and we weren’t able to take decent pictures.

Here are some tips to share with you about this whole hike:

  • If you’re going to get there before 9am, you might want to dress warm (in March). We were surprised how cold it was that morning. It was forecasted to be high 60 degrees and low 40 degrees. Once we started hiking, it definitely got warm.
  • I was not able to find an exact address to get to this site but if you type in Big Horn Mine or Glassy Hallow Visitors Center on Apple or Google Maps, it will show up. It will be fine to follow those directions.
    • You are going to lose reception once you are up in the mountains. Prior to your drive, save the location on your map. Follow the directions from Business Insider on how to save a map without Wi-Fi.
    • If you forget to save the map, just know that if you drive by Inspiration Point first and then Grassy Hallow Visitors Center, then you’re heading towards the right direction. There will be a dead end and you will see a lot where you can park. Don’t forget to hang your parking pass up!
  • After you park, it can get a little confusing on which trail to take because there are a few different ones. You will see a white gate and right behind that gate is the trail you want to take to see the mine. This hike is a little less than 4 miles round trip.
  • There is another trail you can take that is to the far right of the white gate. It’s a skinny hidden trail. I think that trail might be the longer route, 8 miles round trip. You might be able to see an empty cabin and see some snow if you take that route. There might be some restrictions from experiencing the whole hike based upon weather.
  • Make sure you have hiking shoes on that are sturdy and waterproof. There were a lot of uneven and sharp rocks so it was nice to have my feet protected. If you wear your regular Nike shoes, you’ll definitely feel the pain. I recommend waterproof boots also because when we went into the mine, there was a stream that the guys accidentally stepped in.
  • Make sure to bring:
    • Headlamp – It’s nice to use this when you’re in the mine over your smart phone and it feels cool to wear one
    • Extra socks & shoes – Just in case you step in water and it’s nice to wear a fresh pair of socks and comfortable shoes after the hike
    • Water – You’ll get thirsty in the beginning of the hike because of the uphil
    • Sunglasses, hat, & sunscreen – It got pretty sunny on our way up so make sure to protect yourself from burns

Ok, I hope those were some helpful tips for you! I did a lot of Googling and reading Yelp reviews.

Onto the fun stuff, pictures!

Inspirational pose at Inspiration Point-

Inspirational friends-

When you see this, that’s when you know you’ve made it!

This is what the view looks like when you’re actually there!

Ok, Tim got some pretty cool pictures. I’m a little jealous.

Above all of these unprotected metal posts was a mine shaft! We had to climb up some old wooden planks to get there. It was a little scary but we made our way up. To get through, we had to limbo our way into this gated fence. This mine shaft was pitch black and dead quiet but with friends and flashlights, we were able to make it out alive. I wish I had taken pictures here but I didn’t want to risk dropping my camera in an unfamiliar area with minimal lighting.

You will definitely want to check out the mine. We walked pretty deep into the mine but stopped at some point because it was getting too hard to see where the trail was leading us.

Afterwards, we went back outside and took more pictures!

I have no idea how Tim and Edward got up there but all I can say is that they were brave.

By the time we were done touring around the main site, it was getting crowded there. As a result we weren’t able to take a good selfie group picture! 

Going downhill was quick and easy. We probably got back to our car in less than 45 minutes. It was so much easier than going up!

We had some thin Oreos on our way down and it definitely brightened our hangry mood. Thanks Edward for bringing them! Once we got to our car, we changed shoes and got comfortable.

We ate in Rowland Heights since it was on our way back home. Then called it a day. After hanging out with each other for 8 hours, we concluded that we were all best friends at a friendship level of 4. Who knows what that level really means but what matters is that we are all best friends! #insidejoke

Thank you Cindy, Stacy, Edward and Tim for joining me on this hike! It was a lot of fun singing in harmony during the car ride. This hike was a nice short and sweet one day get away from Orange County!

Grand Central Market – Ana Maria’s

When you are in LA, you have to eat something there. You just have to! When I was there, I initially wanted to try EGGSLUT but the line was long and I was hungry! I was not so willing to eat there because of the wait. According to some friends who have been there before, they said that the line may look horrendous but apparently it goes by pretty quickly. Eggslut is located in Grand Central Market – Downtown LA.

Grand Central Market is in a huge warehouse kind of building with countless food vendors covering every corner imaginable. Another way to describe this place is that it’s like an indoors swap meet but for all sorts of cuisines ranging from Mexican to American to Asian food. They also have a juice stand, a fruit stand, and a little bakery. Anything you are craving for, it is certainly there!

Since Eggslut was out of the picture, I was left to pick only one amongst numerous food stands. I was pretty indecisive about where to eat so I circled around the market quite a few times. Two or three too many times. I knew I wanted Mexican food after seeing so much meat piled up but mind you that there were multiple taco stands here with the same price. I just didn’t know which one to pick specifically.

I ended up just going to the one with a decent amount of people standing in line. I went to Ana Maria’s and ordered a tostada and treated myself to a glass bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola. I rarely drink soda but I thought it would go well with my tostada and it sure did. The tostada and the drink together totaled up to $7.50. The drink was a little more expensive than expected.

I love tostadas. I remember the first time I tried one was at my friend Jessica’s house back in high school of our sophomore year. It was either a late night snack or an early breakfast where we just put beans over the tostada and sprinkled some cheese over it. It was so simple yet so perfect to munch on!

After that day, I begged my mom to get some beans, cheese, and tostadas. I tried to make it at home but it wasn’t the same for whatever reason and I had not tried one since then probably. The tostada from Ana Maria’s at Grand Central Market was a tad bit fancier compared to Jessica’s only because it had meat and some vegetables. It was basically like a burrito but on a flat taco shell. It was just the right amount to fill me up with my soda on the side.

If you’re curious about Ana Maria’s, check out their Yelp as they have plenty of positive reviews about the food and the quick quality service.Next time, I’m definitely getting Eggslut!

 

The Bradbury Building

In my head, I have an unofficial bucket list of places to check out in the LA area. The Bradbury Building has been on my list for the longest time and I finally got to experience it! If this place looks familiar, it’s because it’s been in plenty of movies. In particular, it was in my favorite indie movie, 500 Days of Summer. This building was at the end of the movie where Tom had an interview with his dream job and met Autumn.

We were only allowed to go up one flight of stairs but we weren’t able to actually walk around the floors. It wasn’t necessary to explore upstairs because the architecture from ground zero was amazing enough. The geometry of the structure and the detailed iron work on the elevator and the railings made me speechless. Once you walk into this quiet yet powerful building, you will be taken aback by its beauty.

Lewis L. Bradbury, a gold mining millionaire, wanted an extravagant building to be constructed. He hired George Wyman to be the architect of creating this $500,000 (now worth more than $11 million) masterpiece that was built in 1893. Currently, the building is the headquarters for the Los Angeles Police Department’s Internal Affairs and other government agencies. For more information about The Bradbury Building check out Wikipedia.

Yes, I just gave you a link to Wikipedia. It was actually pretty resourceful.

To see the building in person, go to 304 S. Broadway in Los Angeles, California. After visiting the place, treat yourself out to all kinds of food at Grand Central Market which is across the street from The Bradbury Building. Literally, they have all kinds of food in there.

Thanks Linda for being a tourist with me at The Bradbury Building. I hope you were in awe of it as much as I was.

 

Old Towne Orange

I love Old Towne Orange. Go there in the day time and you will be able to experience its decorative architecture and rich history. Go there at night, you will experience the romantic side of it. Whether you go there when the sun or moon is out, you can easily enjoy your time there to eat or even to walk around. There’s plenty of places to grab a meal from all sorts of cuisines. I recently came here with Linda to walk around and have fun taking pictures.

I used to be a rebel back in the day. I would break the rules and block doors when I wasn’t supposed to do. Just kidding!

I don’t think Linda and I were able to thoroughly walk around Old Towne Orange. You know what that means, right? We just have to come back here and be ready for another adventure! We’ll walk around, take some pictures, grab some food, take more pictures, check out some antique shops, more pictures, and then treat ourselves to some dessert. Thanks Linda for checking out Old Towne Orange with me!

The Chandelier Tree

Our very last stop for the night was at The Chandelier Tree. I somehow knew about this place awhile ago through Pinterest or Snapchat. I kept forgetting to check this place out until Aaron mentioned it!

The Chandelier Tree is an iconic spot in Los Angeles, California. They’re perfectly located in one of the most trendy areas, Silver Lake. This is a one of a kind front yard that has 30 vintage chandeliers gracefully hanging on a sycamore tree.

According to LA Times, “Marriage proposals and wedding photo shoots are commonly held beneath the tree, and locals often show off the tree to visitors. The sycamore has appeared in music videos, and five film location scouts list the location in their books.” Now that all makes sense why it looks so familiar!

It was quite a magical night standing underneath the tree and looking above at all the chandeliers. I have to come back here and bring my DSLR to take nicer pictures. These pictures certainly do not do justice of how beautiful everything is in person. I was in awe of this house right when I saw it. It was like love at first sight.

If you want to learn more about The Chandelier Tree, check out their Facebook page and Yelp! To visit them, go to 2811 West Silver Drive in Los Angeles, CA 90039.

Thanks Aaron for showing us The Chandelier Tree! Thanks Aaron, Alex, Elaine, and Junie for joining me spontaneously to explore Los Angeles due to my travel bug.