During my bestfriend’s birthday month, Sherry and I planned a second trip to Big Sur since our last trip was really sad (it was raining and the highway was closed ?). This time we decided to save up and spend big at the Hyatt, Carmel Highlands for a night. Usually I would not spend that much for a night at the hotel, but it was a special occasion after not seeing my best friend for a long time. Here are the spots we stopped at:
We drove from San Jose straight to Big Sur to see Bixby Bridge first. The weather was nice and sunny and we were able to see the ocean view.
After seeing the bridge, we went back to Downtown Carmel for lunch and after that, we went to Carmel beach. It was the beginning of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place period and many places were closed so we got a simple lunch. We then headed to McWay Fall for a hike but the hike was closed. We were still able to get pretty close to the waterfalls though.
We headed back to the hotel for dinner and rest. It was the first time I got to learn how to make a fire in the fireplace. Soaking in the jacuzzi alongside the fire pit and listening to lo-fi music was so relaxing.
The view from our room
The next day we hiked at Point Lobos State Reserve before heading back home. Point Lobos is definitely a location that you should visit while in California. This easy/moderate hike has both forest and ocean views and it is not crowded.
The trip was short (2day/1night), yet fulfilling. I prefer one-on-one time with a friend so we can both focus on updating each other’s life. I will plan more trips like this in the future.
Wow, what can I say to my boyfriend who invited me on this trip?! I am also very grateful to his family for letting me stay with them at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki. It was my first time visiting Hawaii and I had a great time.
1st day: The Pearl Harbor and the Dole Plantation.
It was very sad, but inspiring listening to what happened to thousands of Americans who died on December 7th of 1941. It was surreal seeing the memorial on the top of the Arizona, the tome of 1177 seamen who died after the attack of Japan on Pearl Harbor. If you are a history person, I recommend visiting the Pearl Harbor while you’re in Hawaii. The Dole Plantation is pineapple heaven! We spent almost half an hour in the world’s largest maze, thanks to my boyfriend’s amazing navigating skill. The plantation also offers the plantation tour, which takes you around their tropical fruits’ plantation. We were not interested in the tour but got the pineapple ice cream in the plantation mall instead. The dole whip had a very strong pineapple taste, it was delicious!
After visiting the plantation, I got a poke bowl from Yama’s Fish Market on the way back to our hotel. It was so fresh and delicious! I ordered the spicy wasabi ahi poke, ocean (seaweed) salad, kimchee cucumber, and hijiki rice. As someone from Norcal, it was strange for me to see the cashier packing the rice, the salad, and the poke all separately, so I had to unpack and mix them myself.My boyfriend and I chilled at the hotel until dinner, and we had dinner with his family at Marukame Udon. The waiting time was around 40 minutes. I got the Niku Udon and shrimp tempura. As a soup lover, I love myself a boiling hot bowl of soup but it was not hot enough. My boyfriend loved how warm it was though. On the other hand, the way they serve their eggs will keep me coming back.
2nd day: Zip-lining and Waimea Falls Park and Botanical Gardens
Another first off my bucket list. My first time zip-lining at CLIMBWORKS was scary and exciting at the same time. I do not dislike height, but I am adventurous enough to try it and I totally recommend it if you want a little bit of that adrenaline rush. There were 8 lines in total and we got to do it in a group of 10, which made it even more fun. Sightseeing, listening to the historical facts of Hawaii, and zip-lining with my special someone made this whole trip memorable. The zip-line, honestly, was the highlight of my whole trip.
The lunch spot was 10 minutes from the zip-lining spot. The Hawaiian shrimp scampi from the Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck was very garlicky and tasteful. The portion was small for its price, but its flavor was addicting. In the same lunch spot, there were multiple food trunks selling different cuisines. My dessert was yogurt with berries and condensed milk at Ono Yo.
After lunch, we visited the Waimea Falls Park and Botanical Gardens. The admission was around $15-20 per person. The walk to the waterfall was short, but I saw a diverse variety of tropical plants on the way. It almost felt like the Avatar movie by James Cameron while you’re in the middle of this hot, moist biome.
3rd day: Pillbox Trail hike and the Beach.
The trail was a 45-minutes drive, Northeast from Waikiki. The hike was very steep so wear your most comfortable pair of shoes. Much different from Californian hikes, you can enjoy the ocean view almost every 5 minutes on your way to the top. It was very high and windy at the Pillbox stop, but you must hike here at least once in your life to appreciate this unforgettable ocean view. After the hike, we stopped by Lanikai Beach, Kailua. The water was too cold for me to swim so we only sunbathed.
We had curry at NinNin, Waikiki Yococho for dinner. It was my first time trying Japanese Curry. I am more of a soup person but the curry was very tasty.
1. Ahupuaʻa is an old Hawaiian term for a large traditional socioeconomic, geologic, and climatic subdivision of land.
2. I nā mālama ‘oe i ka ‘āina, na ka ‘āina malama iā ‘oe means If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you.
3. Dole Plantation holds the world’s largest maze, and best pineapple ice cream, imo.
4. Daily, there are 2-9 quarts of oil leaking out of the USS Arizona’s sunken wreckage.
5. Poke is a 2-syllable word, means “cut-into-chunks in Hawaiian.
After seeing Korea and Taiwan, I visited my homeland for 2 weeks. Visiting Vietnam leaves me great memories with the country I grew up in. I was born and raised in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. I became a US citizen 5 years after my family moved, but I consider myself very attached to the Vietnamese culture and customs. Vietnam is still a developing country, but I find myself amazed every time I come back since there’s always something new to see.
HO CHI MINH CITY
I mainly used my time in Saigon to visit my family members/friends and to eat lol. I took my boyfriend and friends around District 1 for some sightseeing at Cho Ben Thanh (Ben Thanh Market) and the Bitexco Financial Tower. Here are some views of the city.
After a few days in Saigon, we landed in Da Nang in the afternoon and we planned to spend the rest our evening at Hoi An. It took around 35 to 40 minutes to get from Da Nang to Hoi An by taxi. The town has a warm and vibrant atmosphere, filled with food stalls and restaurants. Hoi An is popular for its unique yellow-painted walls, but these are only visible during the daytime. If you google Hoi An, you’ll know what I am talking about. Unfortunately, we did not have much time to stay in Hoi An and see it fully. Hoi An is beautiful during both daylight and night time, so the next time you visit, make sure set aside at least 1 day here.
The next day we bought our tickets to Ba Na hill. I suggest planning at least half a day in Ba Na since the cable car takes a while from its base to up the mountain. The view and the architecture of the bridge was amazing. It can get very crowded on the bridge, so you should either be there early or close to their closing time for some nice shots.
The third day in Da Nang we rented scooters to ride around the city and saw Marbles Mountain and Linh Ung Pagoda. The heart poles are the signature feature of the Love Lock Bridge, looking across from the famous Dragon Bridge. We got to the Marbles Mountain around noon. This area is known for the numerous marble quarries that surround the area. We took a quiet hike up to the Marbles Mountain overlook for some nice views of the city and beach.
After climbing up the Marbles Mountain, we rode our scooters to see Ling Ung Pagoda on the Son Tra Peninsula. This pagoda contains the biggest Lady Buddha statue in Da Nang, along with a charming mountain landscape and amazing view of the ocean. We enjoyed Mi Quang so many times when we’re in Da Nang and I recommend that to everyone.
Ha Noi is popular for its dishes such as bun cha, pho, bun dau mam tom, cha ca, ca phe trung, etc. The first night there we had Cha Ca La Vong (107 Nguyễn Trường Tộ, Hà Nội, Vietnam). This restaurant is popular in both Vietnam and abroad for their fried fish paste and fermented shrimp paste (mam tom). The next morning, we had pho for breakfast before leaving for Huong Pagodas. The only pho place that I recommend to everyone is Pho Ly Quoc Su (the main store is on 10 Ly Quoc Su, Ha Noi).
Day 1 in Ha Noi: CHUA HUONG (HUONG PAGODAS and HUONG TICH CAVE)
Day 2 in Ha Noi: TRANG AN, NINH BINH
Trang An and Ninh Binh are must sees if you are in Hanoi, Vietnam. It took around 2 hours to drive from Hanoi to Ninh Binh. We first visited Bai Dinh Temple which consists of the old temple (which you cannot visit) and the newly built complex. After lunch, we headed to Trang An Scenic Landscape
Ha Noi had a bad storm the next couple of days so we could not go to Ha Long Bay (another reason for me to go back to Vietnam next time). Ha Long Bay is also another must see location if you ever visit northern Vietnam. We instead met up with my middle school friends, played card games, and chilled at coffee stores around Hanoi.
1. Trang An/ Ninh Binh: $81 including lunch
2. Perfume Pagodas: $42 including lunch
3. Hotel/Accommodations: ~ $200 for 2 weeks
4. Food: ~ $150 for 2 weeks
5. Taxi/Transportation: ~100
6. Flights within Vietnam: ~$300
➡️Total without accommodations: $673
➡️Total with accommodations: $873
? Must Eats:
Any Vietnamese food that you can find, AND DO NOT GO FOR FUSION!!!
Di San Van Hoa Trang An (Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex)
I love wearing a cute and comfortable outfit, taking a stroll to my favorite coffee shop, and tasting the warm latte. This winter, I was in love with Temple’s Spiced Mocha. There are many things I love about winter in Davis, but I love layering the most.
It’s always fun to mix and play with different colors and materials so winter is a great season to show off your styling skill. Winter is about bringing out your sense of style and being comfortable with what you are wearing. Here are 3 outfit ideas that I hope you can use as inspiration.
❄Outfit 1: The first outfit includes a long-sleeve top, overall, and booties. I accessorize this outfit with my Charles and Keith handbag and my ring set. Color coordination is important when it comes to patterns. A pink or neutral top would go well with my red and blue-lined culotte. I choose a tan long-sleeve top for my look to bring out the brownness of my overall and to suit the weather better.
-Tan long-sleeve top from Forever 21
-Plaid brown overall from Forever 21
-Black booties from TOMS
-Rings from Forever 21
❄ Outfit 2: The second outfit’s theme color is grey. I match my patterned pants with a plain grey sweater to avoid using too many patterns. I also accessorize my look with a ring set and a wine-colored bag. This bag ties this outfit together, and also gives it a pop in color. The pants and the bag are the 2 main elements of this look.
-Plaid Print Pants from Forever 21
-Grey Sweater from H&M
-Bag from Charles and Keith
❄ Outfit 3 : The last outfit is the warmest of them all. Just kidding ?, I meant the color though. For this outfit, I also have checked pants and a plain long-sleeve top. This outfit has a similar concept as compared to the 2nd one; however, I want to show you my experimentation with different colors. My checked pants are navy with rust and white, so I choose to pair it with a plain white/cream long-sleeve. I top my look with a very saturated-brown, fuzzy teddy coat and a black bag.
The wet winter of 2019 left its mark on my heart with its super blooms. Across from Kaiser Permanente in South Davis, I found this huge field of yellow flowers which looked so gorgeous and delicate under the golden sunlight. Usually this kind of field would not stay bloomed for a long time so when I got my eye on it, I told my good friend Faith and we got some beautiful shots on the Picnic Day weekend. Faith is the photographer who took many of the photos for my blog so thank you, Faith for giving me your time and best effort.
This time I put together a simple, elegant, and summery outfit that would go well with the flowers and my story. What I wear here:
This would be the first time Bailey appeared on my blog. She has been the source of happiness after a long school + work day of mine. Khai and I adore her and her wittiness as a senior dog. Bailey is a mixed shih-tzu and she’s 8 now.
The story began with my friend’s dog, Clifford, who was adopted from the YOLO Dog Shelter in Woodland. I enjoyed Clifford’s company so much that one day, my friend Richard, Khai, and I went to visit the shelter to look at dogs for fun. That was the first time we saw Bailey.
We left without a dog that day since I was so concerned on how to take care or afford a pet. Before having Bailey, I was scared that I wouldn’t be a good owner and I rather look at other people’ dogs than not being able to take a good care of mine own. A week later, I drove back to the shelter by myself and took Bailey home on November 27th, 2018.
5 months of having Bailey has taught me lots of things: giving dog baths, googling for symptoms, and learning what she likes/dislikes, etc.. She is basically my first child who does not complain but she does cry though. She cries whenever she wants to go for a walk or when she misses us. She loves sniffing people, but we call her sassy for not letting people touch her. Bailey is also super protective of Khai and I, even with her 11-lbs body.
Seeing Bailey getting closer to me and learning tricks makes me want to adopt another dog. If I really want another dog, I’ll probably adopt. Don’t get me wrong, I freaking love puppies and I can’t stand puppies’ cuteness; but visiting the shelters changed my mind about buying a dog. As a college student who has to work for my own expenses, I wouldn’t drop that amount of money ($500 and up) to buy a puppy. Instead, I can use that $ to buy Bailey’s food/supplies/toys for months. I respect everyone’s decision and this is mine. You should do what you like if you can absolutely afford it. I still hope that you remember “The Ones In Need Are The Best Breed”.
I don’t think you’ll ever know how much you mean to Khai and I, but you curling up into a ball, getting excited for walks, and kissing us on our faces tell me that you are happy here. I am glad that we saw you at the shelter. I wish you were never abandoned so you would never lose your trust on humans, but you’re with us now. You are a big part of my life and I’ll try my best to be there for you Bailey, besides the time I have to leave for work to buy you food. Khai and I love you so much. Moah!