Travel

[New Youtube Video] BURNING MAN 2018 FILM

Finally finished and uploaded my Burning Man 2018 video! Since I get so many questions from friends and strangers about my experience, I decided to compile some of the videos I took during my week there. I tried my best but there is so much left unsaid that can only be felt if you were there or have experienced it.

Hope you enjoy the video! Don’t forget to like and subscribe too :)

xx

[San Francisco] Fort Funston (ie. Dog's Disneyland)

Who: Humans who like to hike + dogs who love nature/play
What: They say Fort Funston is "Dog's Disneyland." IT'S TRUE.
Where: Fort Funston, San Francisco, California 94101. There is a huge parking lot off of Skyline Blvd. There is a sign that tells you where to go and where to park.
Why: If you love your dog, you must bring him/her here! Your dog will be super happy and therefore make you happy. What used to be a military fort has now become a popular off-leash dog park and beach with a ton of trails. You can stroll on the various trails, meander on the beach, and hike along the cliffs. It is the only park in the GGNRA (Golden Gate National Recreation area) that allows off-leash dogs.

There are typically HUNDREDS (yes I know) of friendly, well-behaved dogs for your dog to play and socialize with.

My dog is normally very happy. But never have I seen him THIS happy. If you love your dog, bring him/her here and he/she will have the best time!

Being next to the Pacific, it can get very windy and cold. Bring a jacket!

 Love at first sight with the Ocean!

Love at first sight with the Ocean!

[Guizhou, China] A Look into the Buyi (or Bouyei) Tribe 布依族

Buyi / Bouyei Tribe (布依族)

buyi-tribe-weaving

This week (mid-March 2017), I took a 3-day excursion to Guizhou, China to visit a village inhabited by the Buyi tribe (布依族) to take a close look at their rich heritage of craftsmanship into plaid weaving.

To get to the village, I took a 3-hour plane ride from Shanghai to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou and then another 1-hour high-speed train ride to Guanling (关岭). From there, I took a 1-hour car ride to a village close to Anshun (安顺), where many Buyi people reside. 

History

A sub-clan of the Baiyue Clan (百越名族), the Buyi ancestors have been living in the Southern and Northern river basins for around 4000-5000 years. Referred to as "Zhongjia" (仲家) by historians, the Buyi tribe is most-known for their rice-farming heritage.

Currently, the tribe is comprised of over 3.2 million people who live mainly in Guizhou, Yun'nan and Sichuan provinces. 

Clothing

With over 3,000 years of cultural inheritance, the Buyi people's traditional clothing has become part of their identity.

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buyi-spinning
buyi-tribe-guizhou

The Colors of Buyi

Mainly inspired by their rice farming culture, their garments are made with locally grown cotton and traditional crafting techniques such as indigo wood root dyeing, Buyi plaid weaving, brocade, batik, tie-dye, embroidery and silver ornaments making.  

The colors and patterns of their plaids are mainly inspired by their beautiful environment: surrounding blue skies, white clouds, evergreen mountains and clear waters. 

Symbolism of the Plaids

The plaid patterns are characterized by a complex arrangement of tiny squares within squares lined within a grid. The grid symbolizes their motherland, China, while the squares represent the multitude of scattered clans spread across the country. The tiny squares within represent the Buyi people in the clans.

Reflecting their harmonious relationship with nature, specific patterns take the shape of waves, thunder storms, mountain curves, contour of terraced fields, rice grains, fish bones, birds, sunbeams and more.

buyi-tribe-women
loomweaving-buyi
weaving-technique-buyi-tribe

Purpose

What an enlightening experience to see these lovely crafts entirely made by hand by these women. Which brings me back to the main purpose of my trip: to learn more about their culture, history and capabilities and help them raise cultural awareness. In short - to help the Buyi tribe sustain their traditional handicrafts and heritage by connecting them with pertinent parties (eg. artists, designers, brands) so they can market their product and sell them at a price that's well-deserved.

YAN Artisans, the organization I'm working for, aims to establish sound institutional structures and sustainable business mechanisms to help them build connections and partnerships with modern markets in the fashion industry. So... Potentially interested artists, designers, fashion enthusiasts or anyone who's keen to learn more - feel free to private message me!

 Me trying to wrap glutinous purple and yellow rice in a leaf

Me trying to wrap glutinous purple and yellow rice in a leaf

 A local lunch in the village

A local lunch in the village

[Orlando] A February Summer Toast

Snapshots from my 4-day escapade from snowy New York earlier this month.

 Flying over snowy New York 

Flying over snowy New York 

A premature toast to summer - where else to go but the "happiest place on earth?" I've been to all the other Disney parks most more than once, but first time in Orlando! Bucket list item checked!

Finally fulfilled my childhood obsession/fantasy of visiting (ahem, I meant attending) Hogwarts. Butterbeer, you were a little too sweet though...

 Ready for Epcot, Disney!

Ready for Epcot, Disney!

 The Dragon atop Gringotts in Diagon Alley - he breathes out real fire once in a while!

The Dragon atop Gringotts in Diagon Alley - he breathes out real fire once in a while!

Sunshine and magic, turkey legs and lemonade, palm trees & salty breezes-
with lots of love from Pooh bear & friends:

Thanks for reminding me of my youthful spirit again, Orlando x

 Diagon Alley! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios <3

Diagon Alley! The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios <3

 Meatballs &amp; spaghetti at the Italian restaurant where Lady and the Tramp had their first kiss! (Tony's Town Square Restaurant, Magic Kindom Disney)

Meatballs & spaghetti at the Italian restaurant where Lady and the Tramp had their first kiss! (Tony's Town Square Restaurant, Magic Kindom Disney)

 Big huggie with Pooh at the Crystal Palace while buffet feasting x

Big huggie with Pooh at the Crystal Palace while buffet feasting x

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 A whimsical, all-you-can-eat buffet with some favorite friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood (oh hello Pooh, hello Piglet, hello Eeyore) at the Crystal Palace inside Magic Kingdom

A whimsical, all-you-can-eat buffet with some favorite friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood (oh hello Pooh, hello Piglet, hello Eeyore) at the Crystal Palace inside Magic Kingdom

 Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom

Cinderella Castle, Magic Kingdom

 Magic Kingdom fireworks above the castle

Magic Kingdom fireworks above the castle

 Buffet lunch at the Tusker house with Safari Donald Duck and friends! Best food of the Disney restaurants. Amazing grills and stews at this colorful Harambe marketplace restaurant inside Animal Kingdom

Buffet lunch at the Tusker house with Safari Donald Duck and friends! Best food of the Disney restaurants. Amazing grills and stews at this colorful Harambe marketplace restaurant inside Animal Kingdom

 Expedition Everest, Animal Kingdom

Expedition Everest, Animal Kingdom

 Animal Kingdom sunset

Animal Kingdom sunset

 Can't enough of the trees

Can't enough of the trees

[Quebec City] A Magical Getaway

I never kept an exact count of all the cities I’ve been to but my best guess is around (at least?) 150. Every city is special in its own way and I think more often than not, our judgments or views of certain places reveal more about our own biases and character than about the towns or areas themselves. I frequently get asked the question, “what’s your favorite city and/or country?” and I admit that rarely answer directly. I believe that my experiences are usually so subjective that my response would not be the kind that my inquirers are looking for anyway.   

Quebec City, however, has to be one of the most charming cities that I have ventured to. It is certainly one of the most beautifully-built cities in North America. My heart had surrendered to the white serenity beneath me the moment that I glanced out of my window seat on the busy-buzzing Bombardier Q400 that I embarked from Toronto.

 The view outside my downtown Quebec apartment

The view outside my downtown Quebec apartment

It was a Friday afternoon, late-March, and the temperature was still below freezing. I could feel my bones tremble and my hairs shiver but somehow I felt strangely refreshed—blithe and carefree. Although I hadn’t set foot in this city since I was 2 years old, it felt familiar, welcoming and homey. A local couple generously offered me and my dad a free ride from the airport (I was baffled at first but I came to realize that Canadians are just incredibly kind) and even a mini-tour of downtown Quebec City.  

During my two and half days there, the wind blew incessantly and the temperature continued to wither (it dropped to -10 degrees Celsius or 14 degrees Fahrenheit at one point), but something in the air of the city warmed me from the inside. Nearly everybody I met, from the concierge of the apartment I was staying at to random elderly woman at the local boulangerie, smiled and reached out to help me even before I thought about asking for assistance. Perhaps for the first time ever, my mind joined my heart in the idea that it letting my guards down in a foreign city would be alright; I can consciously and freely lose myself at peace. A chosen, mindful surrender to the unknown.  

 Rue St-Jean

Rue St-Jean

One of the oldest cities in North America, Québec City has a remarkable history and is the only town in the continent outside of Mexico and the Caribbean that still has its original city walls, ramparts, gates and bastions.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me that the city is secretly covered in magic dust. The first recognized European settlers arrived in 1608, headed by a French explorer man by the name of Samuel de Champlain. The area quickly developed and became the capital of New France.  Although the city was turned over to British rule in 1759, a lot of the French heritage remained.

 Me on Rue du Petit-Champlain

Me on Rue du Petit-Champlain

Rue du Petit-Champlain, located in the Basse-Ville or “Lower Town,” of the Old City, is the oldest commercial street in North America. Picturesque and exquisite, the architecture style and buildings are reminiscent of 17th and 18th century Normandy and Northern France; the streets, now lined with colorful boutique shops and bistros, seem to be unaffected by time.

 Since apparently pictures are worth a thousand words, I’m going to let my photos speak. in all honestly, I would say none of my pictures is able to capture even a bit of the city’s ineffable charm.

P.S. I will be detailing some of my marvelous meals here in subsequent posts. 

 7pm sunset in Quebec City

7pm sunset in Quebec City

 View of Basse-Ville and the St. Lawrence River from the Citadel&nbsp;

View of Basse-Ville and the St. Lawrence River from the Citadel 

 Horse carriage on the street of Quebec City

Horse carriage on the street of Quebec City

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 View of the St. Lawrence River from the bar inside&nbsp;Chateau Frontenac

View of the St. Lawrence River from the bar inside Chateau Frontenac

quebec-city

[Reykjavik] Downtown Guide Part 1

Reykjavik, Iceland's not-too-large capital, is a beautiful and eclectic city that’s showered in colors and packed with vigor. Merely 2 degrees south of the Arctic Circle, the city receives only 4 hours of sunlight during the darkest Winter days and bakes in sunlight for almost 24 hours a day in the Summers. As Iceland’s most populous city (~120,000 inhabitants), it is also the country’s most exciting urban playground. Here you can find first-rate restaurants, large shopping malls, interesting museums, queer shops and a “legendary” nightlife that the Icelanders are proud of (which apparently is now gaining reputation as one of the most fashionable and chic European party city). 

After roving around the Icelandic countryside for 6 days straight, I felt a little displaced to be back in the city again but relieved as well. I probably saw more cars within 20 minutes roving around Reykjavik than I did altogether for the past week outside of the town.

I stayed at Hlemmer Square, a boutique and cozy hotel located near the edge of downtown Reykjavik. It is conveniently situated—walking distance from all the necessary landmarks or a 2 minute drive from just about everything. There’s no on-site parking but it never took me long to find street parking around the area.

Hlemmer Square
Laugavegur 105, 105 Reykjavik, Iceland
+354 415 1600 | http://www.hlemmursquare.com/

Strolling around the streets is highly recommended. The sidewalks and roads are nicely paved and drivers are usually passive-friendly. The houses and shops are painted in jolly bright colors and you'll find street art printed on the walls easily. Walking around aimlessly is an adventure by itself!

 Downtown Reykjavik&nbsp;by day

Downtown Reykjavik by day

 Downtown Reykjavik by night

Downtown Reykjavik by night

Harpa Convention Center and Concert Hall
Austurbakki 2, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
+354 569 6700 | http://harpa.is/

The Harpa is built along the shore where the city touches the sea, on the east side of the old harbor. Reykjavik’s conference center and home to the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra, the Harpa is an amazing modern Nordic architectural achievement. Deploying light, color, movement and their interactions, the Danish-Icelandic leading architect and artist Olafur Eliasson used panes of clear and color-coated glass to design a building that seems to shimmer and glitter with the reflections of the surrounding sky and sea. Doesn't it remind you of a kaleidoscope? There are usually many exhibitions and concerts available to the public, but even if you do not attend an event, be sure to come and check out this gorgeous piece of art and check out their gift stores.

 Harpa Convention Center in Reykjavik

Harpa Convention Center in Reykjavik

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsu
Tryggvagotu 1Reykjavik 101, Iceland
http://www.bbp.is/

Very close to the Harpa is Iceland’s famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsu (aka “the best hotdog in town”). What? Yes. Dubbed by Forbe’s magazine as the “world’s most famous hotdog vendor,” this little establishment has been here since 1937. Even President Bill Clinton stopped here during his visit. Cutting straight to the chase, the iconic item on its menu is the “ein með öllu” hotdog or the “one with everything” as it is affectionately referred to as by the locals. It is a lamb-based hotdog covered with a variety of condiments like ketchup, mustard, fried onion, raw onion and remoulade, a type of sweet mayonnaise dressing made with capers, mayonnaise, herbs and mustard.

  Bæjarins Beztu Pylsu hotdog

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsu hotdog

A bite into it and I understood why some claim it to be the best hotdog in Europe and why it is good enough to be part of Iceland’s traditional cuisine. Different from pure beef or pork hotdogs, the lamb is tender and juicy. However, my favorite part of it was the surprisingly pleasurable crunch of the crispy fried onions. It perfectly complemented the scrumptious sausage and sauces. Iceland does not allow any the import of any meat or animals, so naturally all the meat sold here is free-range, grass-fed, organic and hormone-free. That probably partially explains why meat is expensive here (like everything else here) but also why they're especially tasty. 

Last but not least, the loaded hotdog only costs 280 ISK ($2 USD), which is cheaper than anything else you can find in Iceland. Please do not leave Iceland without trying this place. Although hotdogs are almost ubiquitous in Iceland, you'll regret not having tasted a true Icelandic hotdog the way locals eat it until you’ve tried this messy goodness.

 Hallgrímskirkja church
Skólavörðustígur 101, Reykjavík, Iceland
+354 510 1000 | http://www.hallgrimskirkja.is/

Installed at the top of a hill in downtown Reykjavik, this tall white Lutheran church is the largest church and the sixth tallest structure in Iceland (at 73 meters). It is a major Icelandic landmark and its roaring stature can be seen anywhere from downtown Reykjavik and even from miles away from city center. 

  Hallgrímskirkja&nbsp; church in Reykjavik

Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavik


[Solvang] A Day in Little Denmark

Location: Solvang, California
Date: April 2014

Solvang, CA is a little city in the Santa Barbara County around 130 miles north of Los Angeles. Founded by Danish immigrants, the whole city is Danish-themed. It's touristy, but in a cheesy-cute sort of way. It makes a good day trip from LA. And for a while you feel like you've stepped into one of Disney's wonder worlds following the whole evil-takes-over mayhem and the protagonists are living "happily ever after." 

 Downtown Solvang

Downtown Solvang

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solvang_road
 Cookies and cream.. Mmmm :)

Cookies and cream.. Mmmm :)

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 Sunset in Solvang

Sunset in Solvang


Succulent Cafe

Address: 1555 Mission Dr, Solvang, CA 93463
http://www.succulentcafe.com/

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  Pork Belly Porchetta  -&nbsp;chili buttered white beans, cippolini onions, wild arugula, chili oil {$27}&nbsp;

Pork Belly Porchetta - chili buttered white beans, cippolini onions, wild arugula, chili oil {$27} 

A local gem. I was led here after a chitchat with a local resident I'm glad I followed through with her recommendation since there aren't too many choices here in Solvang (understandably) and none of the restaurants listed on the brochures sounded particularly attractive. I didn't have high expectations to begin with but this blew my mind. I've dined at more than enough restaurants in Southern California but this one really stood out. I am thoroughly impressed by the quality of the dishes considering what a small town it resides in. The homey/rustic feel of this eatery only made the experience more charming. 

The restaurant also sells a variety of homemade artisanal products such as "orange chamomile marmalade" and "beer mustard pickled carrots." Um... Cuuuute!

  Roasted Baby Beet Salad -&nbsp; point reyes blue cheese, frisee, toasted hazelnuts,&nbsp;shallot, blood orange-pomegranate vinaigrette {$10½}   Creamy Carrot Soup &nbsp;($8½}&nbsp;-&nbsp; Delicious. A must order! I've never had better carrot soup in my life.&nbsp;

Roasted Baby Beet Salad - point reyes blue cheese, frisee, toasted hazelnuts, shallot, blood orange-pomegranate vinaigrette {$10½}

Creamy Carrot Soup ($8½} - Delicious. A must order! I've never had better carrot soup in my life. 

[Arizona] Upper Antelope Canyon

Date visited: March 2014
Address: Navajo Nation, Arizona (near Page, Arizona - around a 15 minute drive)

The Antelope Canyon is a "slot canyon”: a narrow chasm created by erosions in the sandstone after flash flooding for over thousands of years. The mystical and elegantly worn canyon walls were formed through relentless crashing of sand-carrying rainwater as they moved through the narrow passageways (especially during the monsoon season).

Divided into the Upper and Lower canyons, the Antelope Canyons located just outside of Page, Arizona. Currently the most popular and frequently visited slot canyons in the American Southwest, there are a few different companies that offer daily guided tours to the canyons. Here’s a list.   

The following are some snapshots I took on my magical journey throughout the narrow halls of color when I visited on an early afternoon in March 2014. The subtle, changing patterns and hues change depending on the amount of sunlight available that day (as well as on the season).

 Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

 Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

 Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon

 Trickling sand

Trickling sand

 Wolf cry

Wolf cry

 Little girl looking into the light

Little girl looking into the light

It’s beautiful—beyond what words can describe!

[Ocho Rios] Rainforest Bobsled Jamaica at Mystic Mountain

Date: March 2014

Apparently one of the most popular things to do in Jamaica is the Bobsled at Mystic Mountain. A description of what it is can be found on this tourist website: 

Bobsled Jamaica
The most thrilling part of the visit, however, starts at the Railway Station, a picturesque replica of an early 1900s Jamaican railway station. Here, daredevils can climb into a custom designed Jamaican bobsled and try their hands at the tropical version of the Olympic sport of bobsledding. The track features a gravity-driven plunge of 3,280 feet with twists and turns. You control the speed of your descent with an in-sled handbrake, allowing for either a leisurely ride or a pulse quickening dive to the bottom (speeds up to 40 miles per hour). Once you come to a controlled stop, you and the bobsled are slowly raised back to the Railway Station through the forest on an elevated tramway, where you can opt to bobsled again, traverse the rainforest on the zip line adventure, visit the gift shop or glide down the water slide into the blue waters of an infinity pool which features breathtaking views.

bobsledjamaica_forest
 Ski lift ride up Mystic Mountain towards the Bobsled ride

Ski lift ride up Mystic Mountain towards the Bobsled ride

mysticmountain_dance
 On the bobsled!

On the bobsled!