A Snapchat Study of Sacremento, Day 2

4/23/17, Sunday

Commentary: (Read along as each picture or video appears)

-It was cold that night, so I curled up in my sleep, causing this to happen.  It’s a blister of some sort I think.  It has since healed.

-As a thanks for letting us stay in his house, we did his dishes while he was still sleeping in the morning.

-We wouldn’t have time to pack up after church, so we had to do it now.

-Cruising in his FJ Cruiser.

-City Bible Church, a church plant that meets in a high school auditorium.  Great church with solid teaching.  Also coffee and bagels every Sunday.

-My mom special requested that we go to this place after seeing it on Diner’s Drive-Ins and Dives.

-Too much cheese.  Just the way I like it.

-No odd balls here.  Everyone got the squeeze burger.

-After lunch we still had time to kill before our flight, so we walked to this place.

”Take a look, it’s in a book..”

-When in Sacramento, see the capital, right?  But first, stop by the rose garden in front of it.

-Supposedly, this was a good spot to take a picture since it’s in the background

-We walked all the way around it to get to the front

-If Epic Meal Time ever needs another “Muscles Glasses”, I know just the guy.

-Do it for the snapchat.

-Only because everyone else was doing it.

-It was time to catch our flight.. And say bye to the giant airport bunny.

Never gets old.

-I bought one macaron from Ginger Elizabeths.  We ate it now as a snack.

-We sat next to this man.

-Back in Southern California, where my nose is safe from Sacramento allergens

-We had Chinese food, since we had non-Chinese food all weekend.

-Lots of sitting that day.

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A Snapchat Study of Sacremento, Day 1

4/22/17, Saturday

Commentary: (Read along as each picture or video appears)

-Woke up at 6am.  You’d think it would okay since I wake up at 7am every morning for work.  But since it’s Saturday, waking up at any time before 9 can be hard.

-We arrived at John Wayne airport.  We got there early on purpose so we could have breakfast and Starbucks.

-So accustomed to dealing with LAX security and traffic that we arrived too early.  Note to self that we can sleep in an extra 20 or 30 minutes next time.

-Unfortunately, I can’t sleep on airplanes.

-Sweet Snapchat filter.

-What’s the story behind the giant bunny in Sacramento’s airport?  Beats me.

-Got picked up by my sister who was “running late”.  As always, she’ll never turn down an opportunity to pose for a picture or video.

-I not so secretly pinned that MTG advertisement card there back in July 2016.  I was pleasantly pleased and surprised that she kept it.

-Met up with our parents who arrived the day before and sister’s boyfriend for brunch at Cafe Rolle.

-Foie Gras Sandwich.  What more need I say?

-I don’t drink coffee, so instead I snap the moment.

-My sister lead us to this really nice rose garden, but unfortunately it was closed/reserved for the day due to a wedding.

-So we proceeded to walk around it instead of through it instead.

-The perfect season for roses.

-A mouse’s mansion.

-Casa Yu = sister’s boyfriend’s house.  This is where I would be spending the night, in his office.

-We watched Planet Earth in his home theatre and had tea while my nose recovered from Sacramento allergies.

-Apparently, just around the corner of his house, is the Sacramento River.  So we walked along it.

-Had to seize the photo opportunity of course.

-We found a dock.  Imagine what this might have looked like a year ago during drought season.

-Persian food for dinner as our parents met his parents.

-Some people just have to take a picture of everything don’t they?

-8:30pm on a Saturday night and this place is still quite packed with a line out the door.  Vanilla ice cream sandwiched between mango and strawberry fruit freeze.

-15,435 steps.  I normally have to do some jogging to reach that number.

 

A Weekend in Portland, Day 3

7/10/16, Sunday

For this morning, I woke up to find Lauren sneaking out to get people coffee.  He tasked me with making breakfast with whatever was left in the fridge, that is 1.5 packs of turkey sandwich meat, 3 pieces of cheese, and 7 pieces of bread (end pieces included).  I took the opportunity to do some experimenting, making a reverse sandwich (meat-bread-meat) and turkey wrapping the last piece of bread.  Don’t worry, I still made normal grilled sandwiches for others to eat (though I did burn one..).

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We woke up early so that we could clean up the house and finish packing our things.  We didn’t want to rush before checkout time.  When we finished, Eddie took a moment to teach us how to shave like a man (ie. use a man’s shaving kit).  It’s an interesting process, and perhaps someday I’ll have enough facial hair to put it into practice.

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We checked out and left for our next destination, Blue Star Donuts.  Despite being a Sunday morning, there was still a long line out the door.  The unrelenting cool wind didn’t really help either.  Still a bit health conscious, but curious about the hype, I shared an apple cider fritter with Travis.

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After second breakfast, we went to the Lan Su Chinese Garden.  It wasn’t as extensive as the Japanese garden, nor was it nearly as big, but it was still pretty cool to walk around.  If I had infinity money, I would love to have a backyard garden similar to it.  My only gripe with the place is that it’s in the middle of the city.  Which means that sometimes the peaceful atmosphere is marred by the fact that there is a tall business building in plain sight.  Nonetheless, plenty of photo opportunities.

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We decided that we wanted to check out the tea house in the garden.  None of us had tea this whole trip, so it was enticing.  The ambiance was nice, and it’s certainly been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a good cup of tea.  Ignoring the fact that they just serve you Tao of Tea brand tea and it is a place titled as its product, it was a good time.  It was a nice chance for the six of us to relax and kind of unpack the trip a little bit after all the walking, eating and hiking.  Serving the tea in mini teapots or gaiwan tea cups depending on the chosen tea leaf was a nice touch too.

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When we were done with tea time, we explored the last bits of the garden.  We did the Chinese fortune sticks thing and had a story time led by Lauren.

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We got back to the car and deduced that we would have just enough time to go to Pine State Biscuits.  We ordered our lunch to go and ate it pretty quickly in the car.  We were supposed to try this place out earlier in our trip, but we weren’t able to.  Great Sunday afternoon food.

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Anyway, we had a plane to catch, so we drove to the airport to return our rental van.  And this was the moment that Eddie discovered bananas in his duffel; they were placed there by Katrina earlier in the morning.  We took the shuttle to the airport from the car rental area and split with Travis, since he was on a different flight.  We got through the TSA okay and were early to our gate.  The perfect end to a good trip, right?  Wrong.  Our flight was delayed by about 30 minutes.  And though our pilot did a really good job of pushing the pedal to get us to LAX pretty much on time, we ended up being stuck on the plane for another 15 minutes.  An international flight had landed at the same time, and they got to deplane first.  This would have been fine, but the air stopped working, so we were sitting in a slow heating oven..

Despite that, I very much enjoyed this trip.  It was a cool change in scenery (and weather) and Portland people are so nice.  Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more so if I were a coffee snob.  There were many parts of the trip where it didn’t feel like we were too far from home.  A little essence of Downtown LA here and some Downtown Pasadena there.  Should life force me to move out there, I wouldn’t be mad at that (I think).  It was a great mixture of food, friends, adventure and living in an Airbnb was cool too.

Until next time.. (where we’ll ride this thing!)

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A Weekend in Portland, Day 2

7/9/16, Saturday

Eddie, Lauren and I woke up early to tag team-cook breakfast.  Eggs, toast, sausage, bananas, peanut butter and jelly; all pieces of a well balanced meal.  We had to make sure it was ready by the time everyone was done with their morning routine.  With only one bathroom for six people, I’m surprised we never had to fight for it.

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After breakfast Eddie, Lauren and Travis went to Stumptown Coffee Roasters to pick up drinks for everybody.  I hung back as I had some emails to tend to.  The girls were tasked with cleaning up and making sandwiches for our hike later(no misogyny intended!).

We planned to do a 5 mile hike around Multnomah / Wahkeena falls for the brunt of the day.  It’s a loop, so it’s not like it was 5 miles out and 5 miles back, thankfully.  True, I was a little intimidated by it when I first heard we were going to do this.  It’s been a while since I was this active.  The trail was about a 40 minute drive away, so we suited up, packed our sandwiches and headed out as soon as we could.  Since it was still pretty early in the morning, we found a good parking spot at the foot of the trail.

First impressions?  Green everywhere and lots of it.  Certainly a nice scenery change from some of the dusty hiking trails of California.

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As the hike description promised, we were set to see 8 waterfalls; each as cool as the next.  Unfortunately, after seeing the first one, it began to rain a little bit.  Yes, we all knew the weather forecast leading up to this weekend, but we decided to do the hike anyway.  You’re only in Portland once right? (not really, but it was a recurring joke throughout the weekend)

Take a look at these pictures and infer what could be wrong:

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If you said “Eddie, Katrina, Lauren and Stacy are intelligently clothed for the weather, and Josh and Travis are not”, you are correct.  In fact, even if I wanted to be, I don’t own any sort of rain gear.  Travis and I just had the cotton jackets that you see.  Luckily, I last minute tech-switched to jeans instead of shorts and threw my umbrella into my backpack.  As for Travis, he trekked on as is; he went about as if a Pokemon with swift swim.  After a few uphill switchbacks, it began to rain harder.  I felt silly using my umbrella in front of Portland natives, but it was better than being soaking wet.  The rain and the uphills certainly made things a little miserable, but still we pushed forward and made the most of photo opportunities.

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I kept waiting patiently for Eddie to say something along the lines of:

vPD5S87(his favorite gif)

..but he never did.  Or maybe he did, I don’t know, the rain can be noisy.  We battled many more instances of uphill walking with scattered breaks here and there.  Lauren did an excellent job of making sure we didn’t burn out.  Eventually, we reached a plateau and the grey clouds turned to white; the sun broke through and just like that, all our negative thoughts were washed away.

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It was all downhill from here, in a good sense of course.  We ran into a couple of park rangers and they warned us of the rocky path going down.  It wasn’t treacherous or anything, but wet rocks can be slippery.  Eddie slipped and fell on his bottom at one point.  As the road smoothed out, I had a chance to take a creeper shot of Eddie and Katrina taking a creeper shot of Lauren and Stacy.

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We hit a fork in the road and were a bit confused as to which direction to go.  Upon further inspection of a sign, we saw we got some help from previous hikers:

IMG_3673(dead end, you’re welcome // Wakheena falls ->)

After a few more downhill switchbacks, we found a waterfall for premium photo opportunities.  Though, it did take a bit of effort to get to.  We had to scale some rocks and hop across logs.

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Then, we took a lunch break.

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We finished off the trail that lead us to Multnomah Falls.  It’s famous for being Oregon’s tallest waterfall.  In hindsight, it was very smart of us to start the trail where we did.  Towards the end, we came across many people and parts of the trail became congested.  The “real” trail start had a visitor center, gift shop and food carts; a real tourist trap.  Parking was a nightmare by the time we left.

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We went back to the house to rest and shower.  It wasn’t long before some of us were hungry again, so we headed out to dinner early.  We decided to go to Cartopia, an encirclement of food carts where we could share and try all the things.

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Next on our to-do list was going to Apex Bar.  Not a beer guy either, I enjoyed their water while others indulged.  Other than enjoying how silly my friends can be when they are slightly inebriated, we spent some time at the pinball machines.

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**I feel like I should note for my readers that my friends indeed drank responsibly.

To top off the day, we went to Voodoo Doughnut.  They have an interesting assortment of doughnuts, many of which are just too gimmicky for me.  Feel free to see for yourself.  Anyway, I ended up sharing a Viscous Hibiscus with Travis.

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We actually brought back our doughnuts to the house to eat.  It also gave us a chance to celebrate Lauren’s belated birthday with a fruit tart.  And that was it for the evening, we were too tired to do anything else.

IMG_3678Adventure is out there!

A Weekend in Portland, Day 1

7/8/16, Friday

I was rudely awakened by my phone’s alarm at 3:45am.  I sat up immediately and turned on the lamp by my bed; I didn’t want to accidentally go back to sleep.  I did my normal morning routine, and gathered my things to head off to the airport.  At this hour, the roads were super clear, so catching my 6:30am flight would be a breeze.  The hardest part was probably waking up.  We had planned this trip months in advance and it was finally happening!

I got my car to the airport and got through TSA just fine.  As expected, I ran into Lauren and Stacy right away; followed shortly by Eddie and Katrina as I refilled my water bottle by the drinking fountain.  When we boarded, we were told that it would be a full flight.  Despite that, I found myself sitting next to an empty seat; the seat that was for my girlfriend.  So, I spent a portion of the flight sadly staring out the window as the sun rose.

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It’s hard for me to sleep in a plane anyway.  Before you get too confused, she couldn’t make it to the trip as some things changed last minute, that’s all.  I did manage to rest a little bit from sheer fatigue.  I later made the poor choice of drinking orange juice on an empty stomach, so I felt kind of gross for the rest of the flight.

It began to rain when we finally arrived in Portland.  Funny enough, it stopped raining whenever we were outside.  It rained as we got our rental car, but not as we were walking to it.  It was also the same van that my family rented during our SF trip.  We made our way to brunch at Screen Door.  We had to wait a little bit, partly due to having trouble finding parking.  Frankly, it was worth it.

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I regretted ordering 2 pieces of chicken, one was probably enough.  After brunch we stopped by Heart, for coffee, on the way back to the car.  Not big on coffee, I instead enjoyed a good conversation with Stacy while the rest of them ordered their drinks.

Our next item on the agenda was Powell’s Books.  I wasn’t expecting much from a bookstore.  I just heard that they have everything, which to be fair, they did.  We split up to wander around for a bit.

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I suddenly came upon this.  Tip#1 on how to get Josh’s attention, tell him about something that is rare or unique.  I just had to go in.  They required you to get a pass too.

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It was pretty cool.  They had a lot of old books from as far back as the 1400’s.  I was afraid to touch anything, though I did find this little hidden gem:

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After seeing every book known to man, we went to the Portland Japanese Garden.  We got in just in time to join a tour.  It was lead by a kind old lady that enriched us with the knowledge of Japanese gardens, how to tend to them and the philosophy behind every little aspect.  If there weren’t so many people around, it would be a nice place to go to just sit around and be still.

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Look at them, they can’t even be off of their phones to enjoy the moment (just kidding!)

Eventually, we checked into our Airbnb.  We settled in and relaxed as we waited for Travis to arrive.  His flight was later than ours, and as the replacement to my girlfriend’s spot, he would complete our group.  We got reacquainted and caught up before we went to do groceries next.  In addition to food for a few meals, we needed to get water, as the Airbnb tap tasted questionable.  On the way to Safeway, we came across this comical sign.

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For dinner, we decided to go to Nong’s Khao Man Gai.  Upon first glance of the place, Lauren and I got really excited because it felt like we were in Thailand again.  It certainly tasted it like it too!

 

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(probably the most authentic Thai food I’ve had outside of Thailand)

For dessert, we went to Salt & Straw.  Despite the fact that it started to rain a little bit, we waited in the line that went out the door.  We passed time by making Spongebob references; among other silly things.  I ended up sharing a flight with Katrina and Stacy.

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(double fold vanilla, honey lavender, freckled woodblock chocolate and sea salt with caramel ribbons)

We couldn’t finish it.  So after all the ice cream melted, Katrina agreed to mix them and drink it all for absolute bathroom priority at the house.  She made it seem easy.

We headed back to the house where we slowly got ready for bed.  Sure, the night was pretty young, but we’ve all been awake too long (except Travis).  I did get a chance to teach everyone my favorite dice game, 10,000.  It’s one of those games where I don’t really hope to win, rather I hope everyone participating has fun and gets into it.  Our winner for the night?  Katrina!

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And that pretty much signaled the end of the day.  Tired, we all needed our rest as there was plenty more adventuring to do tomorrow.

 

A Weekend in SF, Day 3

7/4/16, Monday

Once more, we woke up early.  We needed to check out and beat everyone else to it.  First item on our agenda was to head back to my sister’s apartment in Sacramento.  We had brunch plans at Cafeteria 15L, where we would also be meeting up with her boyfriend and her boyfriend’s mom.  After we crossed the bridge and got out of the city, we quickly pulled over to nearest the Starbucks, which happened to be inside a target.  This gave us a chance to grab a quick bite and pause for a bathroom break before the long ride back.  My brother had the privilege of driving the rental car for this leg.  With clear roadways, he got us back in record time.  Back to hot weather.

Recently, my sister had been complaining about a spider problem in front of her apartment.  I don’t think too many of us thought much of it until we saw it for ourselves.  The walkway and stairway leading to her front door was like Shelob’s lair.  Or the way she likes to describe it, “Halloween decorations”.  Spiders are bigger in Sacramento I think, at least this one that I found:

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After putting some things down, we made our way to brunch.  It was a pretty nice pick for a place to eat.  After exchanging greetings we were seated as we made a reservation in advance.  I was pretty satisfied with their Mexican Skillet.

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For some reason, I was extra hungry that morning.  My siblings kept offering me what was left on their plate and I found it so hard to say “no”.  This restaurant has a bathroom that turns you into a vampire.

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(no reflection!)

Just kidding, it’s a giant window between the girl’s and guy’s bathroom, disguised to look like a mirror.  Don’t worry, it’s just the sinks that are like this, the rest of the bathroom is concealed as normal.  Clever nonetheless.

After brunch, my sister wanted ice cream (again), so we went to Gunther’s.  They have chili dogs and sandwiches on their menu, but I wonder who has actually ordered it.  Anyway, I ended up sharing a fruit freeze/ice cream with my sister.

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Afterwards, the lot of us went back to my sister’s apartment to hangout before our flight.  We passed the time lounging around and watching Netflix together.  The day before, my brother bought a couple packs of Beanboozled jelly beans for us to play with.  In six tries, I managed to get only bad flavors.  Sad day.

To move around a little bit, we decided to go and walk around the nearby Walmart.  It was funny, everyone ended up buying a little something.  Then we gathered our things, said our goodbyes and headed to the airport to catch our flight.  Despite being in the last group let on board of a Southwest flight, I was able to get an aisle seat in the 9th row.  It was a full flight too.

After that trip, I still fail to see why some of my friends, peers and acquaintances ran away to Northern California.  True, my sample size was just SF (busy city) and Sac (quiet city).  Yes, sometimes people just want a different scene.  Yeah, it was just a weekend.  And I’m sure it works both ways in that people don’t think much of LA and Southern California; but they regard it so highly?  Not my cup of tea I guess.

A Weekend in SF, Day 2

7/3/16, Sunday

We woke up early again, but we weren’t able to find a church that we wanted to visit.  Instead we had our own mini-service within a hotel room; complete with Bible reading, Hymns, Doxology and The Lord’s Prayer.  After, we went down to the hotel lobby to redeem our breakfast buffet coupons given to us yesterday.  The food instantly brought me back my time in Thailand.  Why?  Because thanks to the Asian population in SF, they had a section for Chinese breakfast.  The only thing they were missing was thousand year old egg.  Anyway, here’s the play by play of what I indulged in:

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After our huge breakfast, we agreed earlier that we wanted to visit the Museum of Modern Art.  It was our mom’s idea, but it’s not like anyone objected.  No one was mad at the idea of it, so we walked over to spend the day there.  I didn’t really know what to expect.  I mean, the last time I went to a museum was in college, and even then it was a requirement for a class.  I snapped a few photos of the things that interested me:

First exhibit.. the all red bathroom!
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It’s true what they say, you can only capture so much of art in a picture, so for some things, I didn’t even bother trying to take a photo.  7 extensive floors of sculptures, paintings, photos, videos, architecture models, mobiles and even an experimental choir.  It reminded me of how ridiculous modern art can be sometimes.  Some pieces were literally piles of trash.  One piece was blurry black and white footage of the slums of SF, and when you put on the headphones, you’d hear a lady read some propaganda in a monotone voice.  There was still some cool stuff in the museum, so I will not discount it entirely.  Out of it all, I enjoyed the more “normal” oil paintings.  Particularly, this one:

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(Probably because it reminds of MTG art)

After seeing every floor, we started heading back.  We were pretty tired from taking the stairs floor to floor, so we had a quick snack at the nearby Super Duper Burger.  I guess we had worked off our huge breakfast.  Before we got back to the hotel, we made a detour since my sister wanted ANOTHER drink from Bottle Zup.  We didn’t rest too long as we were going to head out to Fisherman’s Wharf.  The day before we made reservations at Scoma.  We chose this place because my family wanted to celebrate my birthday there; it looked promising too.

When we got there, we walked around a bit looking in the Crazy Shirt, Candy store, Game/Puzzle shop and Spice store.  I always enjoy spicy sauce shops when I see one, as you’ll find random sauces that you’ll never see, such as this:

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It’s a good business model.  The store had a wide array of sauces, dry spices, bbq sauces, salsas and even samples for you to try.  The store even offered a sample of the infamous ghost pepper sauce.  Of course, you have to sign a waiver first.  I had the opportunity to try it, but decided not to.  I had already sampled a handful of extra-extra-hot sauces and didn’t want the exponential heat to overpower me.  Besides, when my sister-in-law tried it, she seemed disappointed that it didn’t leave her writhing and frothing on the floor.  I’ll save my own disappointment for another time.

Then we went to dinner.  The reservation was worthwhile as some people had to wait upwards to an hour just to get seated.  When we got there, the place was littered with people waiting outside, inside and at the bar.  For good reason too, their seafood was quite fresh.  I ordered their Shellfish Saute Plate:

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(lobster, crab, shrimp, scallops… yum!)

For dessert, my sister recommended that we go to Bi-Rite Creamery.  Unfortunately, when we got there there was a long line out the door and it was already cold, windy and foggy.  I’m not really big on sweets or ice cream, so it’s hard to say if the wait was worth it.

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I noticed that because we drove around in a van, we got honked at a lot.  Not even for any reason; there would be cars in front of us and the car behind us would be spamming their horn until they eventually darted out and sped down the bus lane.  I know it wasn’t just us either, because I saw other vans get some hate as well.

A Weekend in SF, Day 1

7/1/16 Friday Night, 7/2/16 Saturday

My family and I went on a trip to San Francisco.  We don’t get to do all that much as a whole family anymore since my brother got married and my sister started nursing school.  Since she’s in Sacramento, the location was probably appropriate.

The trip had an interesting start as my parents and I arrived at the airport the night before.  We pretty much left right as we got home from work and we were already aware that the flight was delayed by half an hour.  We would be mad but the flight was only half full.  If I wanted to, I could have had a whole row to myself (and that row could be isolated with a empty rows in front, behind me and to my side.  This was my first time flying out of Burbank airport, I was legitimately worried.  I had heard horror stories of this airport from my previous coworkers.  The stories involved planes almost T-boning each other on the runway and aborting landing because a plane was taking off when they weren’t supposed to.  The shorter runway also makes for abrupt braking whilst landing.

By the time we landed, picked up our rental vehicle and checked into the hotel, it was pretty close to midnight.  We didn’t even get a good night’s sleep as there was some sort of convention in town.  As a result, groups of hispanic adults were running down the hallway and talking loudly until 2 in the morning.  The hotel walls are pretty thin, so unfortunately I was able to hear their conversations with clarity.

We woke up early the next day to pick up my sister from her apartment and my brother and sister-in-law at the hotel they stayed at.  Before we started the long drive down to SF, we stopped by Starbread; a filipino bread bakery recommended by my sister.  They are famous for their Señorita Bread:

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(basically biscuit rolls with extra butter and added sugar)

 

A couple hours later, we arrived in SF where the cooler weather was quite welcoming.  For some reason, every time my family and I come here, we have lunch at Nieman Marcus’s cafe.  It’s a tradition now I guess?  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like a Nordstrom’s Cafe, people actually make reservations here and the food is pretty good.

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I think people like to eat here for the ambiance and view

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After lunch, we had a chance to walk around and shop a bit.  At Uniqlo, we used their free photobooth:

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Since Uniqlo has a bunch of windows and mirrors, certain parts of the store were significantly hotter.  As my sister took off her jacket and tied up her hair, she was baffled by how I remained in my jeans and jacket.  Not sweating yet, I figured I was fine.  And that’s when I had an epiphany; I wear and shirt and tie 6 out 7 days a week.  Being over-clothed is normal to me now.  After my sister found some things at H&M and my brother looked at some shoes, we came across a tea shop.  I ordered a fresh oolong tea, but to my dismay it was still sweetened.  Other than that it was a nice concept and a nice find.

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(glass bottles are so in right now?)

We then met up at the hotel to rest a bit.  When we initially checked in, the hotel only gave us my brother’s room.  When we came back, my room (shared with my sister) opened up, but for the longest time, our parents’ room wasn’t available.  We complained and they gave us tickets to use at their breakfast buffet tomorrow.  Which to be honest probably doesn’t even make up for paying for a room but not having it for pretty much the whole day.  When we settled in, my sister and I found that we had to share yet another bathroom with a see-through door.

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(luckily it only allows you to see their essence if their super close to it)

We walked around some more and then had dinner at an Italian restaurant.  It was kind of cool since you could tell the place had some history to it.  I got the spaghetti and meatballs as that’s usually a good way to gauge a restaurant.  See how they make their simplest dish.

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Before we went back, we went to a Ghirardelli shop to have dessert.  I passed on the ice cream and such; too sweet for me.  Instead, I played the game of “see how many pieces of chocolate I can fit into a fixed price tin”.  To answer your question, a lot.

Day 7: Sawasdee-Bye Thailand

2/21/15, Saturday

It was our last day in Thailand, so we enjoyed the breakfast buffet one last time.

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The day was ours and we could go about it at our own leisure.  My uncle’s flight was in the morning so he left us shortly after breakfast.  Without our tour guide, there was no real agenda.  So we went back to the Platinum Fashion Mall.  I actually picked up more shirts from that same place and got some ties to compliment my assortment.

I did a lot of sitting today; my feet felt so sour for some reason.  It made me realize that I’m used to sitting at least 9 hours a day normally.  After we were done with Platinum, we walked back towards Central World for lunch.  We saw that there was a Saboten, a katsu place highly regarded by my cousin.  He goes there every time he is in the Hong Kong airport.  The food was really good, it reminded me of my trip to Japan so many years ago.  They gave you everything too; the cabbage salad, the mortar and pestle to grind your sesame seeds, and even green tea ice cream to top off your meal.

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Of course, leave it to my dad to order fish and chips..

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We walked around Central World one last time before we decided on a place for dinner.  We decided we wanted something easy on our stomachs, since we would be flying tonight.  We settled on a ramen shop named Chabuton, it won some TV award.

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This means that every non-Thai meal we had was Japanese.  Funny.

We had a red-eye flight, so we went back to the hotel to pack up and shower before we left for the airport.  Personally, I’m not a fan of these late night flights, although I can understand the logic.  I would prefer to wake up and leave rather than spend another day first.  I mean, we ended up paying for another night of the hotel room just so we had a place to regroup and relax at.  Alas, what’s done is done.

So, we gathered our things and said farewell to Thailand, where our Thai dating service number would stop increasing at 40.  We flew into Hong Kong where we had a 5 hour layover.  We had some breakfast foods before leaving there.

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I wasn’t feeling too great, and I’m still not sure why.  I was queasy but not food poisoned.  I was not sick or feverish either.  Maybe I just dislike traveling that much.  I will say I did a pretty good job of sleeping during the flight back to Los Angeles.  I only watched two movies, Fury and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.  Both were entertaining.

We arrived at around 6am on Sunday.  As soon as we got back home, I immediately unpacked and put on my running shoes.  I ran 4.5 miles.  I wanted to earn my shower after the flight.  Wanting to refrain from Asian foods, I went to In-N-Out as soon as it opened (10:30am).

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God bless America!

Fun trip overall.  Could see myself going again.  Back to reality now.

Day 6: Let’s Ride an Elephant

2/20/15, Friday

More breakfast buffet in the morning!

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Today we headed to the Samphran Elephant Ground & Zoo.  We got there so early that we were probably the second ones in.  Because of this, we basically had VIP treatment for the first hour or so of our day there.  By that, I mean we had the park to ourselves.  This zoo was cool because they had elephants in the middle of the park where you could buy bananas or sugar cane to feed them.  And so we did.

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It’s a little scary in the sense that the only thing separating you from these elephants is a waist high wooden fence.  Elephants are smart.  Some of them wouldn’t start chewing until there mouth was full of goodies; since they knew you would keep handing food to them.  There was a nearby sink to rinse your hands off after touching the elephants.  Some elephants knew how to turn it on and drink from it.  These animal feeding posts were common throughout the park.  The bananas could also be fed to some monkeys in cages.  There were also some fish ponds to where you could cast out handfuls of fish food.

The clock struck 10am and that was when tickets for elephant rides were open for sale.  So we hopped on it.

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It was my first time riding an elephant, and it was a pretty cool experience.  Sitting on it was a little bit more unstable than I had imagined.  It’s funny how you ‘tip’ the elephant.  It’ll grab money from your hand and give it to the handler.

After we were done with that, we stopped by the cafeteria for a snack / small lunch.  Only my sister and I ate, while everyone else just had a bag of chips.  More cafeteria food, yum!

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There was also a vendor for crocodile soup, but he wasn’t open at the time.

This zoo also had shows like the previous one we visited.  Samphran featured a magic show, elephant show and crocodile show.  We caught most of the magic show.  It was mainly meant to entertain kids as all the tricks were just magic trick shop items.  No real sleight of hand or illusions.

The elephant show was pretty entertaining and arguably better than the one at the tiger zoo.  It was more focused on the history of how Thailand discovered and used elephants.  Some of it was fun (elephants playing soccer!) and another involved cannons and fire to reenact war times.

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The crocodile show had an English commentator so that helped with the shtick.  It was the same material again except a lot of time was spent asking for tips from the audience.  The funniest portion came from the commentator.  Every time the handler put his hand or head inside the crocodiles jaws, the commentator would call him “Mr. Hand-Inside-The-Crocodile”.

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After the shows, there wasn’t too much else to do, so we went to lunch (2nd lunch for my sister and me).  We went to a little restaurant by a river filled with floating plants.  More seafood!

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Once we finished up, we headed to The Platinum Fashion Mall.  If you could take 4-5 night market’s worth of vendors and pile them into a mall space, that’s what this place was.  It was pretty cool, albeit a little confusing to navigate.  We got lost a couple times.

Thailand seems to have a lot of little start-up brands.  Although all the clothing lines are somewhat similar, they all have a unique name, logo and touch to it.  Presumably, they start on the streets and eventually work their way into a Mall such as this, where they could be better recognized.  They make it big once they get a real storefront or become a chain.  I ended buying a few button-ups from this place.

Once more, we headed back to the Central World by our hotel to find a place for dinner.  We settled on a place called Kalpapruek, a place that my uncle frequents during his business trips.  It was kind of like a Thai version of a Cheesecake Factory; higher end familiar dishes with some variety.

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We walked around a bit afterwards because the night was still young.  We found a giant Groot.

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I took another break from running since I saw the pattern I was following.  By nightfall, the Thai dating service number increased to 36.  It didn’t increment till dinner time though, so we were beginning to think it was disappearing.