history

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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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!

The Last Bookstore

Yes! I can also finally check off The Last Bookstore from my Unofficial LA Bucket List! They are known as the largest bookstore in California with 20,000 square feet of space! They have more than 250,000 new and used books! Can you believe that? If not, you will have to check out the store to believe it!

I can be at this bookstore for hours! There were books literally everywhere. It’s not even a joke. You will not be bored of all the colorful books and artworks that cover this bookstore. Here’s the plan for your weekend in downtown LA. After checking out The Bradbury Building, I highly suggest you to take a 6 minute walk to The Last Bookstore on 453 South Spring Street in Los Angeles, California. As I mentioned in my previous post, at some point treat yourself to some food from Grand Central Market which is nearby.

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 Capitol

I finally got to see the White House! I mean, the White House in California! In other words, the Capitol! Briana and I probably had the time of our lives taking pictures with a selfie stick in front of the Capitol. I don’t know what it is but selfie sticks are fun!

Alex and Justin joined us a little later for the fun with the selfie stick!

We look like a happy family there, right? Right! After taking millions of selfies together, we finally decided to go check the Capitol building!

During the security check, they thought the selfie stick was a weapon! We almost had to leave Briana behind. Just kidding, we wouldn’t have left her alone. Luckily, the security guards knew what a selfie stick was so Briana was good to go.

We walked around for a good hour in the building. There was so much rich history and beauty to the building that I felt like we could stay there forever. Unfortunately, our parking meter didn’t allow us to stay there that long. For the short time we had, we saw a good chunk of the Capitol.

We explored outside to see the garden but we had a hard time finding it. So here are some pictures of trees:

I would love to come back here and spend more time in the museum and just soak in more of its history. It was a little surreal to be at the Capitol because you grow up learning all this stuff from textbooks. Thanks Briana for making this trip to the Capitol possible! Thanks Alex and Justin for hanging out with us for a short period of time!

Beauties of Cambridge

Second day of Boston was still hot and humid, but it was all worth it as I was able to venture out and see more of what defines Boston. Anywhere you go in Boston, you’re bound to bump into some sort of historical platform.

As I was on my way to check out Harvard and MIT, I saw this:

Reflection Pool

Reflection Pool

The building to the far left is the Christian Science Church, then to the right of it is a school and corporate offices. The water in front was created by the Christian Science Church. It’s called the Reflection Pool, literally because you can see the reflection of the buildings. When you see the Reflection Pool, you become overwhelmed by its beauty of simplicity and art.

Anna suggested that I check out Flour Bakery and Cafe for lunch since it was near MIT. There, I had a refreshing and very filling roast chicken sandwich with mashed avocado and jicama.

Lunch at Flour Bakery and cafe

Lunch at Flour Bakery and cafe

After lunch, I walked over to MIT where it had a contemporary look to it. There were some unique designs of the buildings on campus.

Perhaps, MIT's amphitheater.

Perhaps, MIT’s amphitheater.

I found a hidden garden on a rooftop of a parking structure near MIT. It was definitely a secret little area.

MIT's Rooftop Garden.

MIT’s Rooftop Garden.

I hopped onto a bus and headed over to Harvard. When I got there, their graduation ceremony had just ended! So there were a bunch of empty chairs all over campus. I saw some graduates there and wanted to give them a hug to congratulate them. I was proud of every Harvard graduate I saw though I had no idea who they were.

Harvard Undergraduate Post-Ceremony

Harvard Undergraduate Post-Ceremony

The campus is extremely small. You could probably walk across the campus in about 7 minutes. Though it’s small, the campus is so beautiful because of its architecture but mainly because of its history. The brick buildings and that library of theirs. Oh geez. It’s intimidating but so monumental.

Harvard's Library. You need a student ID card to enter the library!

Harvard’s Library. You need a student ID card to enter the library!

I wasn’t at Harvard too long just because there was actually not much to look at since the campus is small. So I walked around Harvard Square which is a few blocks of stores and places to eat. For dinner, Anna and I went over to Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square. It’s a gastropub that has a neat layout of the restaurant. It’s a packed two story restaurant with a patio for people to eat outside. I got the bacon cheeseburger and was more than satisfied with it.

Bacon cheeseburger at Russell House Tavern.

Bacon cheeseburger at Russell House Tavern.

I was stuffed from the burger that we had to walk it out. So we just walked around Harvard Square and watched some street entertainment.

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