Sunday, February 03, 2019

2018 Winter adventure day in NYC

On the final day of 2018, I took my cousins on a full day adventure in NYC. Below is a recap for future reference. I was surprised we managed to fit so much into one day!

stop0: jersey city

We started our day by taking a leisure stroll to Jersey City waterfront. The sun was out so we managed to enjoy the view of lower Manhattan skyline and the ferries. After some sightseeing, we took the Path train from Exchange Place to World Trade Center. Don't forget to load up on subway cards (can be used for both PATH train and NY subway trains).  Info on path: and subway

stop1: downtown

We walked through Brookfield winter garden to see the LED lights. It was relaxing and fun! C. wanted to see the Ground Zero memorial fountains so we skipped the inside of the Oculus hub. At Fulton Center C. introduced me to a bubble tea chain called Gong Cha. I've never been a huge fan of bubble tea but decided to try white pearl (it's interesting). After the fountains we walked to City hall and took some pics of the entrance to Brooklyn Bridge. Surprisingly busy on a cold day.

stop2: chinatown

We took a MTA bus from City hall to Chinatown. This was a request by cousins as I don't typically walk around Chinatown unless I'm meeting friends for food. We didn't get any food and it was getting close to lunch time so made our way to St. Marks for lunch.

stop 3: lunch

Given it's lunch time, St. Marks was kind of dead. No yakitori place was open. Some of the other places I had in mind didn't work out given they didn't have non-gluten options. We ended up getting lunch specials at a place (forgot the name) which was okay. Hopefully in the future we can try
okonomiyaki at Otarfuku and/or udon west.

Stop 4: midtown

We took the subway to Grand Central to browse Kinokuniya bookstore. Sadly didn't have time for NYC library or exhibition, but we were sort of in a hurry to head to karaoke before it got too late.

Stop 5: karaoke

Karaoke duet near 35th st, opens at 2pm
We made it to karaoke and managed to sing for an hour before heading home to NJ on the 33rd St Path train.

Post NYC

After our multi-stop NYC tour we relaxed with some anime.
My pick: Tsurune (show about archery club, very well animated and very relaxing for a sports genre)
D's pick: Zombieland Saga (zombie idol show with a very wacky cast)

New Year's eve dinner can be pretty packed depending on the place and time. It was raining pretty hard and still relatively early, so we took my aunt/uncle and cousins to a local beer garden called Zepplin Hall.

It's always fun having visitors who want to explore NYC so I look forward to our future adventures too.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Seattle 2018 Trip

Huge shout out to my cousin Diana for being a fantastic host on my recent trip to Seattle. Feel free to use my travel notes as a guide for your future visitors (including myself!).


Starbucks Roastery (Seattle location), Capitol Hill)
I took a leisure walk to this place on my first full day. I ordered a coffee ((Pantheon 2018, pour over) and did some people watching (so much to see!). On my last day I went to the shop again and got some freshly roasted beans (also Pantheon). They of course also have food options, tons of coffee (made with your favorite brewing method) and plenty of Starbucks Reserve goodies. I can't wait for the NYC roastery to open up soon.

Seattle Center International fountain
Best place to enjoy a bit of sun (on those sunny days in Seattle, lucky me!) and people watching. and also a great place to snap a pic of the Space Needle.

I looked into the music a bit more when I was organizing my trip notes and found some great resources below:


KEXP tour (Seattle Center)
Having listened to KEXP live in studio performances podcast, I was intrigued by the station tour and also the setup of the space. They have a rotating coffee place and also a record store in the lobby. The tour was clearly well-advertised because we had people from all over the world (including Scotland and South Africa). I haven't watched too much of their youtube channel but it is also very popular around the world. The actual studio had glowing, pulsating blue LEDs that are surprisingly calm (note for my future lighting project, ha). I was really impressed with the massive CD library. Each CD also had personalized notes from the DJs. The collection is already being digitized and everyone was relieved to hear that the CD notes will also be scanned and stored as part of the effort. The space had a lot of neat artwork, this one showing the skyline of Seattle was my favorite.

Mount Rainier National Park (2 hours drive from downtown)
Earlier this summer I went to the Grand Canyon and caught the national park fever. Given Seattle is so close to several national parks, I had to visit one! After searching, I found a tour group called Evergreen Escapes and went on a small group tour to Mt Rainier.

We got lucky with the weather and had possibly one of the best days ever for hiking. We were surrounded by beautiful colors of the fall and also amazing old growth trees/forests. I'm glad I took this tour closer to the beginning of my trip (since I traveled from East coast and still woke up at 3am on my first few days in Seattle). The tour specs included a round trip from downtown in a comfortable van. Our tour guide also provided water, snacks, and lunch so we didn't have to bring much. I would definitely do this same trip (perhaps a diff season) and other outings with this company again.

Underground Tour (Pioneer Sq)
I went on this highly recommended tour when I first went to Seattle but my cousin Diana hasn't experienced it yet (because tours are for tourists, not locals)! We joined a bunch of people during a weekend session and had fun walking around underground and looking for purple glass (skylights).  If you go on this tour, you will be causing sidewalk traffic jams like proper tourists. I enjoyed the storytelling part of the tour more so than the so-called 'relics' and 'artifacts' but decide for yourself! 

Theo Chocolate Factory Tour (Fremont)
On the last full day of my trip, I woke up to a gray and rainy day. I skipped my plans for the zoo/garden and ventured out to Fremont for a chocolate factory tour instead. The tour gave a description of the bean to bar process, a peak inside the factory through clear observation room, and of course chocolate samples. I picked up some bars at the store afterwards.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

2018 Summer Recap

I dug out my old canon digital camera this summer and took it with me on several trips. After several trips and months, I finally got around to organizing the photos and took the opportunity to recap some of my trips and memories. These listings are not quite as detailed as some of my previous travel logs/trip reviews but I figured it's best to be brief and give my readers just the highlights.

Grand Canyon, Arizona 

(by scenic drive from Phoenix and through Sedona and Flagstaff)
I had a great time travelling with a large group of relatives. Some highlights are the tea lounge in Flagstaff (be patient and get some of their fresh brewed ice teas) and sunset pink jeep tour of Grand Canyon . I enjoyed the music museum in Phoenix, too.

Governors Island, NYC 

(by ferry from Manhattan BMB, 8 minutes)
Go enjoy the sunset on extended Fridays and Saturdays. Rent a bike from bike rental place or get a Citibike pass for travelling around the island. Have some ice cream from blue marble ice cream (the main booth in food court takes credit card, the small cart is cash only). The oyster bar is a great place to party and enjoy the sunset skyline views. There is also a bbq near Brooklyn docks (cash only) that offers tasty chicken sausages and grilled chicken sandwiches. I had the DUB pies truck during a movie night but sadly they are not part of the regular food truck lineup.

Read more after the break...