Hikes Travel

Honolulu for a Week

The pandemic took a toll on all of us, physically and mentally. Nonetheless I cannot complain about how much I have learned to enjoy being at home with my family and dogs. Fortunately things started to open in June and more people are vaccinated so Stanley and I planned his birthday week in Oahu, so called The Gathering Place.

Day 1:

As soon as we arrived on Saturday noon, we got our baggage and car then headed to Nico Market at Pier 38 for lunch so we can start explore Waikiki right away. We started off our hike series easy at Diamond Head trail which took us an hour to complete. Elevation was steep at the stairs but the breeze helped and the view was amazing. We then chilled at Waikiki Beach before dinner at Seoul Tofu House which has the best tofu soup I’ve ever tasted.

Day 2:

We started our second day with an acai bowl from the Sunshack before heading to Manoa Fall. The trail offers a refreshing breeze that you can only find in the rainforests of the Hawaiian islands. The forest is flourishingly green and dense which made it a pleasant walk. We got socked in the rain while hiking to the waterfall and it reminded so much of my childhood in the country side in Vietnam where my cousins and I would casually storm out the alley when the rain comes to enjoy the cool water on our faces in the hot and humid summer. We then relaxed at Waikiki beach before our sunset cruise in the evening.

Day 3: West Side

We decided to spend our third day on the west side of the island since we were gonna meet up with a photographer for a photoshoot. The Ma’ili Pillbox hike was moderate, but we hiked at the hottest time of the day. We both got sunburnt the next day, so I recommend bringing a lot of sunscreen and aloe vera gel.

Some amazing photos from our shoot at Makua Beach by Amanda

Day 4: Day 4 was planned for exploration on the East side of the island. We first drove through the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, visited the Byodo-In Temple (which is only 15 minutes away), went to the Pillbox hike, and finally ended the day at Lanikai Beach.

Day 5: Hanauma Bay, Koko Head

It took us some extra effort to make a reservation at Hanauma Bay since they do not let people drop in during the pandemic; anyhow, we got our tickets and visited this beautiful bay around 10AM. We spend the whole morning snorkeling and I was amazed at how many colorful fishes we saw and how close they were swimming next to us.

After Hanauma Bay, we had a quick lunch and completed Koko Head trail in pain LOL. It is for sure the hardest hike of our trip since I previously snorkeled and did not have enough water.

Day 6: Northshore

We climbed the Crunching Lion first thing after we got to the North side of the island. I recommend everyone who wants to try this hike to wear appropriate clothing and footwear since this is a gorgeous hike but it can be very steep and slippery.

We then had lunch at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, which is over rated for my taste. We stopped by Shark’s Cove for another dip. On the way back in the afternoon, we stopped by Dole Plantation and Green World Coffee Farm for some souvenir purchases.

Day 7:

We spent the last full day in Oahu at the Waimanalo Sunflower Farm and Halona Beach Cove before our flight back to San Francisco. It makes me so happy whenever I see a farm of sunflowers, especially in front of massive mountain ranges. We then experienced Thai massage with a view as a birthday present for Stanley.

The last place we visited was Halona Beach Cove, a beautiful secluded beach on the East side of the island. The water is pearly blue, but the waves were too strong for us to swim that day. Around noon, we packed our stuff and got on our flights back to San Francisco. Goodbye Oahu! We both had an amazing time.

Thank you for reading and have a good one!


Solo in Washington

I was lucky enough to do this me-time trip to Washington in November, 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. With extra caution, I had an amazing solo trip that showed me more of my nature-loving side and gave me lots of time for self-reflection. 2020 was a year full of doubts, heart-aches, and self exploration. Not being able to see friends and relatives made me sad, but it allowed me to appreciate Mother Nature so much more. It is funny how I am writing this on the last day of December, 2020. Happy 2021 you guys!

Day 1: Mount Rainier National Park

My day started with a cup of Starbucks and some chicken strips so I wouldn’t have to stop during the day for lunch. The drive from Bellevue to Mount Rainier was full of autumn colors. I first stopped by the White River and a short 1-mile hike near the beginning of Mt. Rainier National Park. Morning air, chilly winds, yellow trees, and Folklore songs will remind me of this day, in which I visited Mt. Rainier National Park by myself and met some friendly hikers toward the end of my daytrip.

Day 2: Olympic National Park

The second day in Washington, I drove around Olympic National Park, visiting the High Ridge Nature Trail at Port Angeles, the City of Forks, and the Roh Rain Forest. I left Bellevue around 9AM and got home around 8PM. Do not tell my mom I was at the park all by myself LOL. To be honest, it was scary. It was worse during sunset when it was dark and cold, but it was quite an experience I am proud to speak about. If you are a fan of Twilight, you must visit Forks. The city became popular because of the movies but there are many hidden beautiful hiking spots and beaches. The Roh Rain Forest is a must see if you are in Washington! Make sure you plan your stay so you can visit all the cool spots at the Olympic National Park.

Day 3: Downtown Seattle

My middle school friend and I drove around the city to see the fall colors and to try Coffeeholic House. Their coffee is amazing!!! I also had to stop by Pike Place Market for the clam chowder since they have the best chowders I have ever tried. It was a chill/catching-up date with my 13-year-friendship friend and I treasured every second of it.

Day 4: Leavenworth

I spent some time in Leavenworth for the festive atmosphere on my last day there. The Bavarian-style village is decorated in Nutcracker theme and you can find people holding cups of German beer on the street eating hotdogs. It was gloomy but it created a totally different vibe from the city. Cloudy mountains, Christmas lights, and sprinkled walks with my hot coffee were worthy and magical for my last day in Washington. Hopefully I can visit next year during Christmas so I can visit the Reindeer Farm.

I drove back to Bellevue and caught my night flight back to San Jose right after dinner. That is it for this blog. If you would like to see more of my travel photos, check out my IG’s stories. Besides that, happy new year, stay safe, and GOOD LUCK!

Hikes Travel

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite Tunnel View

I wonder what I accomplished or crossed off my bucket list in 2020 since there are many unfortunate events happening this year. Time slips away more quickly if you do not have memories to hold onto. The 3-day Yosemite trip was a highlight of my year. It also marks the end of a wondering period and the beginning of where my life picks up its pace.

My boyfriend and I stayed in Sonora for more affordable accommodation and it’s an hour drive from the park. We did not mind driving and were traveling on budget with my 2 dogs, so we opted to stay at Heritage Inn, Sonora. We drove from Sacramento at 3 AM and got to Yosemite around 6:30 AM. Here are some shots at the Tunnel View.

My fascination for Mother Nature really showed when I only drove in circles around the park and stopped on the way for photos at these grand and massive rocks. The first impressive location at Yosemite was the El Capitan meadow, located between the El Capitan and the Cathedral Rocks.

After viewing the El Capitan meadow, we headed to a parking lot to hike the Yosemite Fall (upper and lower). I brought my dogs so we only saw the Lower Yosemite Fall up close, but you can see the Upper Yosemite Fall from other locations.

Yosemite is dog-friendly; however the dog-friendly trails are very limited so I advise to plan ahead or not bringing your dog at all if you want to conquer harder hikes. We then took a stroll to the Cathedral Beach Picnic Area and rested before heading back to the hotel on the first day.

The next day we came back to hike the Vernal Fall, but dogs were not allowed up there due to unpaved roads and the altitude. We still walked for 2 miles up and down to get some views from above and it was absolutely spectacular. Vernal Fall and Mist Fall are still on my hiking bucket list.

After the short hike, we drove to see Glacier Point before heading back. There was a lot of driving and enjoying the view from my car’s windows. Taylor Swift’s Folklore album can be a great playlist for the drive around Yosemite as well.

2 short days at Yosemite yet many memories that last a lifetime. This is the first national park that Bailey and Bowser visited. Another camping trip so I can be away from the light pollution and watch the stars at night is necessary when nature is all we got.


Mini but Big Sur Trip

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.

Thank you for reading & have a good one!


The Rainbow State ?

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.

Thank you for reading and have a good one!


Beautiful Vietnam

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. 


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 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.

? Budget:  

  1. 1. Trang An/ Ninh Binh: $81 including lunch
  2. 2. Perfume Pagodas: $42 including lunch
  3. 3. Hotel/Accommodations: ~ $200 for 2 weeks
  4. 4. Food: ~ $150 for 2 weeks
  5. 5. Taxi/Transportation: ~100
  6. 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!!!

?Must Sees: 

  • Di San Van Hoa Trang An (Trang An Scenic Landscape Complex)
  • Bitexco Floor 52 (Bar)
  • Hoi An (during the day and night)
  • The Golden Hand in Ba Na Hill  

Thank you for reading and HAVE A GOOD ONE!


4-Day in Taiwan

Day 1: Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall, Taipei 101, Lungshan Temple, Guangzhou Night Market 

We landed in Taipei around noon. After getting our rooms at Finders Hotel, we went out for lunch (beef noodles soup) and started exploring right away. Unluckily, we visited the National Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall on a rainy day, but it was still nice. We got to watch the last Changing of the Guard ceremony for the day. We then took the MRT to Taipei 101 for gift-shopping. The admission fee to go up Taipei 101 was too expensive so we passed on that. Just looking at the building from outside was already impressive enough.

We then walked to the Lungshan Temple. The temple was filled with the scent of incense, flowers, and visitors praying during Dharma Day which celebrates the Buddha’s first teaching on the full moon day of the 8th lunar month.  We then walked to Guangzhou Night Market next door for dinner. My friends and I got to try various Taiwanese street foods, and eventually settling for hotpot as the main course.  

Day 2: National Revolutionary Martyrs’ Shrine, Taiwan National Palace Museum, Fish Market, Shilin Night Market

The Beef noodle soup was amazing yesterday so we got it again, except at a different place. I also bought a kumquat tea before we started exploring. We visited the National Revolutionary Martyr’s Shrine and Taiwan National Palace Museum on our second day in Taipei. We got to watch another Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the shrine. The palace is famous for its jade bok-choy. I must say Taiwan National Palace Museum is one of the biggest museums I have ever visited. The museum is huge and I leave it you to grasp its size for yourself when you visit.

In the afternoon, we had a small meal at the Taipei Fish Market (臺北魚市). You can buy anything ranging from boxed sushi rolls to king crab. I ordered a grilled king crab and scallops. The seafood was so sweet and fresh. If you’re like me and love seafood, you can literally spend a day here to satisfy your seafood craving. 

At Shilin Night Market, I tried the ice cream burrito, intestine noodle soup, and beef buns. The ice cream is very similar to what I had in Vietnam with a different twist- the cilantro is in the ice cream. I bought a small cup of the intestine noodles soup and the added spiciness made it very delicious. Lastly, the grilled beef bun was crispy on the outside and savory in the inside. 

Day 3: Kaohsiung (Fo Guang Shan), Tiger and Dragon Pagodas, Rueifong Night Market

We took the high-speed rail to Kaohsiung for our third day. Kaohsiung is known for Fo Guang Shan which is the site of a huge Buddhist temple. I love the scenery and the interior of the main hall. One thing I remember from a lady preaching there is the phrase “Having everything also means having nothing.” We then took the taxi to the Tiger and Dragon Pagodas in downtown Kaohsiung. 

We enjoyed dinner at Rueifong Night Market. The pictures below were some events happening at the market. I adore these people for the effort they put into their work each night at the market. Going to the night markets in Taiwan every night gave me a unique perception of the people here. They are spiritual, friendly, and hard-working. 

Day 4Ruifeng, Jiufen Village, and Raohe Night Market

Our group opted for a simple and cheap Taiwanese breakfast on our last day here with fried egg, fried dough fritter (油條 yóutiáo), and hot soy milk (豆漿 dòu jiāng). The portion was small so we got to order 2 of everything at a cheap cost.

To get to Jiufen we had to take the train to Ruifeng  which took around 40 minutes. We then caught the bus to Jiufen Village. On the way to the bus stop, we tried the 85°C bakery’s coffee (85°C is from Taiwan), which I like very much back in the U.S. We explored Jiufen Village amidst the summer heat. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes since the village involves a lot of walking up and down hills. This picturesque village inspired the theme for the movie Spirited Away. If you’re a fan of Studio Ghibli, then this place is a must-see. I loved the architecture and surroundings of the village.  

We had soup dumplings (xiao long bao), stewed bamboo, and rice for lunch at the village. It was absolutely delicious. Xiao long bao is a must-try in Taiwan. We were traveling on a budget, but I heard Din Tai Fung had the most perfect soup dumplings. Besides lunch, I also tried the grilled snails which were also tasty!

We concluded our Taiwan trip with an amazing and beautiful day spent at Jiufen Village. The next day, we flew to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam.

? Budget:  

  • 1. Hotel for 4 days: $250 for 2 ($125 each)
  • 2. Taxi from Airport to Hotel 1100NT for 4 ($9 per person)
  • 3. Meals for 4 days: 3000NT (~$100)
  • 4. MRT per day 200NT (around $13 for 4 days)
  • 5. High-speed tail to Kaohsiung: $50 one way, total $100. 
  • 6. Training to Ruifang total $5

➡️Total without accommodations: $227

➡️Total with accommodations: $352

? Must Eats: 

  • Beef Noodles Soup
  • Beef Bun
  • Tiger Fresh Milk Boba
  • Soup Dumplings

?Must Sees: 

  • Jiufen Village
  • Chiang Kai Shek Memorial Hall
  • Taipei 101
  • Night Markets (as many as you can)
  • Fo Guang Shan



6-Day Korea Travel Guide

Hey there, hope your summer has been going well- no sunburn, lots of water, sleep, and great company. I spent my summer in super humid places in Asia this year. On this post, I’ll share with you my experiences in Korea and my tips for future travelers. I will share with you my budget, itinerary, and favorite dishes that are must-try if you go to Korea.  

Day 1 (7/15/2019): Our flight landed at 5:30 PM local time so we didn’t have much time for exploring besides visiting Namsan Tower that evening. It was not an easy hike up the mountain, but if you enjoy hiking and some exercising then go for it. Many people also take the bus up to the tower as an alternative to exercise. The admission price to go up to the observation deck is 11,000. After we saw Namsan Tower, I got a late night meal at a local noodle store on the way back to the hotel.

 Day 2 (7/16/2019) Changdeokgung Palace, Bukchon Hanok Village, Namdaemun Night Market

For breakfast, we ate oxtail porridge near the hotel. It was plain, but many Koreans recommend it as a cure for hangovers so we gave it a try. We spent the first full day in Korea visiting Changdeokgung Palace and Bukchon Hanok Village until through the morning till afternoon. We walked the majority of the time since the palaces were close to our hotel. We got lunch near the Bukchon Hanok Village. In my opinion, I ate my first authentic delicious Korean meal here.

Day 3 (7/17/2019) Jogyesa Temple, Gyeongbokgung Palace, National Folk Museum of Korea, Qwangjang Market, Myeongdong Cathedral, 2D Cafe

We visited Jogyesa Temple (조계사) on our way to Gyeongbokgung Palace. I was amazed by the arrangement of lotus flowers and colorful lanterns around the temple. This temple plays a leading role in Korean Buddhism and I noticed the large crowd coming here to pray often. The main hall of the temple holds 3 golden massive Buddha statues were awe-inspiring to gaze upon. We then continued on to Gyeongbokgung Palace, which served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty of kings that ruled Korea centuries ago. After, we went to the National Folk Museum of Korea which is conveniently free of charge and located on the palace grounds. After a long morning of walking around, we enjoyed lunch at the Netflix Street Food Featured Vendor at Gwangjang Market. It was delicious and the owner was very hospitable and welcoming. 

Day 4 (7/18/2019) DMZ tour, KBBQ, Myeongdong Night Market, and the Cheonggyecheon Stream

We spent our fourth day on a tour of the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone) – visiting the North/South Korea Border and getting to how Koreans make Ginseng. We got back around dinner time and we had Korean BBQ at a local restaurant that was recommended by our tour guide. After that we strolled around the Myeongdong Night Market and the Cheonggyecheon Stream. If you are looking for a good date location, Cheonggyecheon stream fits the bill. When I went, what stood out to me were the musicians playing music as ambiance, the numerous couples hanging about, how the skyscrapers rose above looming over the stream, and the orange aura that the lights provided.  This stream is a must see in Seoul and you will find that walking along it during the evening feels very relaxing.

Day 5 (7/19/2019) Busan

We took a train to Busan on the fifth day. I was slightly concerned about how expensive the ticket fare was; however, the ride offered great views of the Korean countryside. The train from Seoul to Busan took 2.5 hours. If you want to spend lots of time in Busan, I suggest staying over night or leaving Seoul early. We got to Busan around noon welcomed by gloomy weather. The taxi driver took us from the station to Haedong Yonggungsa temple. Along the way, we saw the second longest bridge in Korea, Gwangan Bridge. We saw the beaches while we were driving along the bridge. Locals said that Busan is has many beautiful beaches and is a summer holiday destination. In order to get to Haedong Yonggungsa, there was a short uphill walk where the road was lined up local food and drink vendors. From the temple, we had an amazing view of the ocean.

After visiting the temple, our taxi driver took us to the world famous Jagalchi Fish Market. Some of you might enjoy the restaurant experience more, but personally I love going to markets where I can see my food being made. There is just something about being able to see your food, picking it, and witnessing it being cooked fresh. I indulged in the best crab of my life there. We got the freshly boiled snow crab, live baby octopus, fried fishes, and Korean pancakes (which is also my favorite). We did not have enough time to visit the highly recommended Gamcheon Culture Village as we had little time between the end of our meal and our train ride back. Instead, we walked around the market and bought some souvenirs. We got back to Seoul near midnight. Considering how late it was and how tired we were, we opted for some instant noodles from the local mart next to our hotel for a late meal. 

Day 6 (7/20/2019) Bongeunsa Temple, Deoksugung Palace, Han River, and Star-field Library

We started our last day visiting Deosugung palace. Before heading out, I enjoyed smoking hot bibimbap in a stone bowl at a restaurant near the hotel. As mentioned earlier, we visited several palaces all of which belonged to the Joseon Dynasty. When you go to Seoul, I recommend buying the palace bundle where you can get a cheap fare that allows for admission into all the palaces for one price. After visiting the palace, we had instant noodles by the Han river. Instant noodles are on a whole other level in Korea. You can cook your instant noodles in many convenience stores. I bought a shin ramen and kimchee packet. Ugh, it was such a good and cheap meal.

Afterwards, we headed to the Coex Mall in Gangnam. The Star-field library is a giant bookstore located inside there and is very popular place for both tourists and locals. Its unique architecture and giant bookshelves attract many visitors daily. It was the best bookstore I’ve visited thus far. While you’re here, make sure to capture some boomerangs of the escalators. We then walked to Sul-bing Dessert for some shaved ice.

That concluded our Korea trip, and we then headed for Taipei the next day.

? Budget

Flights to all 3 countries and back: ~ $1600 from 7/15 to 8/9 (plane fare fluctuates depending on when you travel):

  • 1. Accommodation in Korea: Center Mark Hotel. 6 nights of a single room for around $550 ($275 per person) 
  • 2.Train to Busan ~100,000₩, Taxi in Busan ~9,000₩
  • 3. Metro, bus, or taxi ~5,000₩ per day (taxi will be cheaper if you travel in a group) 
  • 4. Meals for 6 days
  • ➡️Total in Korea with accommodation ~$549
  • ➡️Total in Korea without accommodation ~320,000₩  ~$274 

I exchanged $300 into ₩ when I landed in Incheon Airport so that covered everything plus some gifts I bought for friends. 

? Must Eats:

  • Black Bean Noodles
  • Netflix Ahjumma Noodles and Dumplings 
  • Bibimbap in Stone Bowl
  • Soft Tofu Soup
  • Shaved Ice
  • Instant Noodles by the Han River
  • Fresh Snowcrab

? Must Sees: 

  • The Palaces
  • Jogyesa Temple
  • Qwangjang Market
  • DMZ tour
  • Cheonggyecheon Stream
  • Yonggungsa Temple
  • Star-field Library

Thank you for reading and HAVE A GOOD ONE!

Hikes Travel

Carmel & the Breeze

“Returning home is the most difficult part of long-distance hiking. You have grown outside the puzzle and your piece no longer fits.”

– Cindy Ross

This year I live in Sacramento so it has been really hot starting June. The temperature can get up to 110°F mid day. In addition with everything going on with America right now, going on a hike seems to put our minds at ease. Last weekend I went with my family to Carmel-by-the-sea and got to explore this gorgeous and full-of-bloom trail which left us all amazed.

The difficulty of the trail is dependent on how far you want to walk to get close to the ocean. It started out very sunny which was perfect for the ocean view. The clouds moved closer to land by the time we were finishing up the trail which blocks the warm sunlight, but it created this picturesque scene.

It was not crowded the day we visited the trail and everyone kept distance from each other so we felt safe and at ease. The trail is the nicest when it’s sunny so make sure you check the weather before coming. There is a steep walk down to a secluded beach which offers a different view from above that I also recommend you trying.

The hike took us about 2 hours to complete and I would rate it a easy/moderate in term difficulty. I hope you find the read interesting enough to make you want to get out and explore. It is definitely one of the nicest easy hike I have been to.

Thank you for reading and have a good one!