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    September Favorites + Life Update

    Hello beautiful! It’s been such a long time since I have actually blogged. I have basically been gone for the whole summer! Life has honestly been really crazy for me, but in a lot of good ways. I started to do more creative work at my full-time job; I worked on a short film, which was recently nominated as a finalist for a competition called LA On Location; I am re-discovering my love for videography, photography and films; I’m drinking in all of the good experiences and knowledge that I have been consuming this past summer

    There is a lot more I want to say and share in this blog post, but I’ll leave that for the end so that I can talk about my September favorites! I want to use this Monthly Favorites to mostly talk about my favorite experiences and show off my favorite photos, but I will throw in a couple of favorite products and books as well.

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    Lifestyle Travel

    10 Things I Would Repeat in Japan

    All the months of dreaming, watching travel vlogs, admiring photos and reading every resource I could find on the internet filled my brain as the realization hit me — the dream of going to Japan was finally coming to life.

    I could still feel the sensation of the airplane hitting land after 11 hours of being airborne. I was sleep deprived, jet lagged and tired, but I was more than ready to get off the plane. As I finally walked off the plane and onto Japan land, I couldn’t think of a better way to start this trip than with the amount of intention and excitement that I had inside of me.

    That happiness and excitement led me to a series of wonderful experiences and moments in Japan. To say the least, my Japan trip was enriching, exhilarating and rejuvenating. Everything about the country is so intrinsically different from the US that I find myself thinking about going back to relive this beautiful country.

    I could write about all of the different things I did in Japan, but to sum it up, here are the 10 favorite things I did during my 10 day stay in Japan and that I would 100% do again when I go back to Japan.

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    Lifestyle Travel

    A Weekend at Coachella Valley Music Festival

    After 4 years of admiring past line ups, poring over my friends’ pictures of Coachella and watching countless videos of what the Coachella experience is, I finally got to experience it for myself this year. Of course, the media can only do so much to capture these moments since it is honestly something that needs to be truly experienced, but I wanted to document some of the beautiful moments and struggles that made this first Coachella experience something special.

    So if you are curious, here’s a break down of what happened!

    THURSDAY

    PRE-COACHELLA // CAMPING

    TL;DR: We left Los Angeles at 5:00AM to get a camp spot at Lot 5, met some really cool and friendly camping neighbors, slept a LOT and explored the Coachella camping grounds.

    My boyfriend Austin and I left Los Angeles at around 5AM and managed to get a decent spot in Lot 5, which is only a 5-10 minute walk from the venue. We got two camping spots stacked on top of each other, so we had plenty of room for both of our cars, three canopies and one huge 8-person tent.

    One of the best things about camping at Coachella is the sense of community. It seemed that it obvious from the start to our neighbors that Austin and I were camping newbies at Coachella, but they were very welcoming and offered to help us set up our canopies and tent. We learned that one of our neighbors was from Arizona and the others were from near Santa Barbara. It still astounds me that so many people from all over the country, and even the world, come to Coachella.

    After we set up the campsite and recovered from our early morning excursion, we checked out the camping grounds and the camping center, which is the central hub for all of the Coachella campers. We found all the amenities such as the general store, food trucks, booths, artworks and an activities tent chockfull of things to do during our weekend stay. They also had a huge dome like structure with millions of lights for their silent and not so silent disco.

    FRIDAY

    DAY 1

    TL;DR: Day 1 SUCKED due to various reasons: a strong special brownie, dehydration, grogginess, hunger and boyfriend almost passing out from all of the above. Aka Coachella: 1 // Us: 0

    The rest of my group finally joined us for Day 1, excited for the weekend to start. Little did we know that this day would be a complete shit show.

    We left the venue pretty early in the afternoon (around 1 or 2PM). This turned out to be the HOTTEST time of the day. Five minutes into walking towards the venue and sweat was already dripping down my back. In addition to the intense heat, we had also eaten a special brownie before leaving. This made us tired and groggy the entire day.

    To get a sense of what the tiredness and grogginess looked like, here is a picture of us napping in the Gobi tent. Shout out to the Gobi tent for being our home base at Coachella!

    Because of the heat and the grogginess, Austin almost passed out due to dehydration during Francis and the Light’s set (very cool set, btw. I’m a fan). This was probably the worst thing that could ever happen on the first day of my first Coachella, but luckily the Coachella community looked out for us. Some passersby gave him water and calmed both of us down, while the security guards that were posted told us to get rest in the shade. I guided Austin out of the Gobi tent and into the shade next to the misting fans, which thankfully helped him a lot.

    Day 1 was also the day that I blew too much money on unhealthy, overpriced food. I remember eating an oily Cuban sandwich, Monster fries and a corn dog.

    To be completely honest, I was so tired and sleepy by nighttime that I hardly remembered the xx’s set except for Intro. I also remember attending Travis Scott’s set and hearing him say, “I better see all y’all mofo’s getting in that mosh pit.”

    And that was it. By the end of the day, I could sense that the overall mood of the group was ending on a negative note. Despite the day’s events, I still hoped that the rest of the weekend would be better.

      

    SATURDAY

    DAY 2

    TL;DR: This day was so much better than Day 1! Top highlights for this day were seeing Two Door Cinema Club, Bon Iver and Lady Gaga live. Also, shout out to our “sugar daddy”, Ricky, for hooking us up with drinks.

    After the dreadfulness of Friday, my group and I took what we learned from Day 1 and started it on a better note. We drank alcohol and took *other* recreational goods that would not have us tired and groggy like the brownie. We arrived at the venue much later in the day (around 4PM). We were immediately introduced to our “sugar daddy”, Ricky. Surprisingly, he got us all drinks at the Absolut tent (I’m still not sure how we ended up getting there).

    Much of the day was spent taking lots of pictures of each other and of the artwork, trying out moscow mule ice cream, hopping on to the massive ferris wheel and experiencing dope sets from Two Door Cinema Club, Future, Bon Iver and Lady Gaga. I made sure to keep myself awake by drinking coffee and only spent money on one overpriced order of two small Pilipino fusion tacos (can’t really avoid overpriced food at this point).

    Day 2 was hands down better than Day 1, and by the time I fell asleep, I was excited to see what Day 3’s adventures would bring.

      

    SUNDAY

    DAY 3

    TL;DR: SO LIT! This day convinced me to come back again and re-experience another crazy Coachella weekend. Top highlights: Kendrick’s set, The Antarctica dome and our amazing camping neighbors for helping my jump my car.

    Day 3 was honestly the perfect end to a crazy, illuminating first Coachella experience. I’m not sure how to put it into words, but I will try.

    We made sure to check out places that we couldn’t get to go to during the past couple of days, such as the Sephora booth and The Antarctica dome. The 360 visual experience inside the dome, Chrysalis, was so incredible that I saw it again at the end of the night.

    The line up was incredibly stacked, starting with Mura Masa at the start of our day, and Porter Robinson and Madeon later during the night, which was an incredible last performance even while sober. Austin and I *dropped* during this set and it finally kicked in once it ended. We jumped around from Hans Zimmer, Lorde, Kehlani and finally, Kendrick Lamar. I wish I could fully describe Kendrick’s set into words to recreate the experience, but these things are better experienced in person. AKA go to Coachella next year to experience the wonders of live music while on another level!

    Unfortunately, the night did not end without a hiccup. It turned out that the battery for my car died over the weekend, so I turned to a camping neighbor who happened to be awake at 2:30AM. Not only did she have jumper cables, but she also offered to drive her car over to mine and help us figure out how to jump it (we were all had 0 experience with jumping cars). After poring over the manual and getting all the cables to link up to the correct spots, my car was brought back to life.

    And so the hiccup faded and as we fell asleep, we left the serendipitous weekend behind us.

    THE LESSON

    Every trip has a lesson, and as I drove down the 10 Higway with music from the Coachella weekend flooding through my veins, I finally realized the purpose behind this experience. At the Antarctica, the 360* visual experience called Chrysalis shows incredible visuals that replicate a metamorphosis. I realized that Coachella was exactly what Chrysalis was – a metamorphic experience that acts as a vehicle for self-discovery, renewal, and creation of new life and feelings. Despite the obvious struggles at the beginning of the weekend, the music and the good vibes from the great people I was surrounded with uplifted everyone’s spirits. The weekend could not have ended on a more rejuvenated and refreshing note.

    Coachella also introduced me to drug culture in music festivals, and helped me fully recognize it on another level. It’s something that is not spoken about explicitly, but it is still silently appreciated and understood.

    All of these moments and memories have made me excited to see what the next Coachella will bring.

    Overall — Coachella, I am ready for you next year!

    If you have read this far, thank you so much for being interested and curious about my journey at Coachella. Please leave a comment below if you went to Coachella this year, or let me know if you’ve ever had a “metamorphic” experience similar to this. I know I have been on a small hiatus, but I promise to have more blog content (and hopefully more video content as well). Stay tuned!

    Los Angeles, California Travel

    The “La La Land” Staycation Experience

    Staycations can be the most cost effective way to enjoy your weekend, holiday or vacation. You don’t need to sit through long drives or plane flights, and you definitely don’t have to break the bank to have a relaxing, fun break. Fueled with my one day trip at Downtown LA, I decided to take it a step further this past President’s Day weekend by planning a surprise staycation trip for Austin’s birthday and booking a hotel room in Los Angeles!
    If you read my Downtown LA blog, you’ll know that I am loving the idea of being a tourist in my own city. I figured that having an actual place to stay in a certain part of LA would make it easier to explore and gain more exposure to the area. After tons of research, Yelp reviews and phone calls, I made arrangements for a one night stay at the Magic Castle Hotel, a small gem in Hollywood.

    GETTING TO THE HOTEL
    The Yelp reviews all raved about the hospitality service in this hotel, and those reviews were true to their word. Service at the Magic Castle Hotel is AMAZING. I called in earlier to see if I could arrange for balloons to be left behind in our room to surprise Austin, and they graciously allowed me to dump balloons in their hands and to even check in my bag early. Parking in their garage was $13 per night, which is actually pretty cheap compared to other hotels in the area that charged $35+ for valet parking, so for hotel standards, the price was a steal since I will take $13 over $35 any day. We didn’t get to go inside the club, but the view of it was amazing.

    THE MAGIC OF THE HOTEL
    When I finally brought Austin in, the hotel concierge handed us champagne glasses with sparkling lemonade and went through a spiel of the amenities and the room service and it was honestly a list that was too good to be true — free unlimited snacks, free beverages, 24 hour pool, complimentary breakfast, free wifi, free board games, free on-demand television…the list goes on. It was a sweet tooth’s heaven.

    We got into our hotel room and as expected, Austin was surprised with the balloons I arranged. But that wasn’t the only thing — the room also came in with a birthday card signed by hotel management, two cupcakes and more sparkling lemonade in the fridge. So sweet! The room was small and quaint and definitely not a 5 star hotel, but everything was well kept and tidy when we arrived, and the bed felt super comfy!

    Amidst all the stress and the preparations, I managed to snap pictures of the hotel complex interior and the room we had. Staying here honestly felt like I time traveled to a more retro period of Los Angeles. I would definitely check out the Yelpers who reviewed the hotel if I were you because they definitely have proof that this hotel’s service is top notch. We got lots of hot apple cider and snacks, grabbed free breakfast in the morning, and utilized their on-demand television services and DVD player to its fullest.

    THINGS TO DO
    For the weekend, we hiked at Runyon Canyon, which is a 2.5 mile hike up steep terrain (prepare to be sore afterwards!). If you want a good workout with beautiful scenery of the Hollywood sign and the skyline, I definitely recommend hiking at Runyon Canyon. There was even a love lock gate similar to the Love Lock Bridge Paris!

    We also walked around the Hollywood strip and stopped by a cafe called Otus Thai Kitchen and Coffee to do some work and study (because retention is important). I got the caramel latte and their super popular kai kata.

    Living on the west side during my whole time in LA doesn’t actually feel like “La La Land” as the media wants you to think. But taking the short drive out to Hollywood and exploring the little treasures hidden in the city really did feel like I was somewhere magical. It was a short yet sweet staycation with the boyfriend, and I can’t wait to keep exploring more of LA after this.
    This post was NOT sponsored in any way. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
    Los Angeles, California Travel

    A Day in Downtown LA

    Although I have been living in Los Angeles for nearly 5 years now, there are still areas within this monumental city that I still don’t know. Downtown LA is definitely on that list. I have visited DTLA before, but I can still count the number of sparse visits I have had on my hand. So when my boyfriend Austin and I finally booked a Paint Nite in the heart of DTLA, I knew that this was also an opportunity for me to explore a piece of my 5-year home a little more in one day.
    Whether you’re traveling from much farther away or you live 20 minutes away, Downtown LA is perfect for a one day outing. If you’re interested, check out how I spent my day in DTLA!

    PARKING
    Like much of LA, parking is terrible in DTLA, especially during the weekend. We found parking in one of the lots that charge $10-20 for the whole day. It’s still pricy, but at least it covers for the whole day and you don’t have to worry too much about it once you pay. If you’re lucky, you can find street metered parking, but that only covers for several hours at a time, which can be inconvenient if you want to spend more time out in the city.

    THINGS TO DO
    Paint Nite
    Paint Nite is essentially a painting class that you take while drinking an alcoholic beverage (although drinking is not required to paint, it definitely gets interesting + boosts your confidence level when you have a buzz going while painting). They have tons of paintings and locations to choose from. Austin and I reserved spots at the Paint Nite in the El Compadre Restaurant, which is right next to the Staples Center. We went inside, chose seats, ordered drinks and began painting once the class started. It was honestly so much fun! Although the teacher sped through the lesson, she was very experienced and understanding of everyone’s skill sets. At the end of the paint session, Austin and I brought home our own versions of Flight of the Fireflies. If you want a fun girl’s night out, a date with your significant other or even a date with yourself, I highly recommend it! GroupOn usually has deals for Paint Nite, where you can get the tickets at nearly half the price, so I definitely suggest going through the GroupOn deals first before purchasing!
    The Last Bookstore
    If you know me, I absolutely love books and consider myself a bibliophile. So it isn’t a surprise when I say the bulk of our day in DTLA was dedicated to The Last Bookstore. This was my third time at this bookshop and it never fails to disappoint. It’s smaller than Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon, but The Last Bookstore is still very sizable. Austin and I spent around 2-3 hours after our Paint Nite session, just roaming through the shelves, stopping to read excerpts from books and admire all of the tomes poking out through the shelves. We spent a lot of time upstairs on the second floor looking through the sci-fi/fantasy novels and examining the artworks. I usually am tempted to buy books whenever I go to a bookstore, but that day I resisted the temptation and reaffirmed myself that I would be coming back again to buy a book one day.
    Walking Around
    Honestly I had a lot of fun aimlessly walking around DTLA for the fun of it. It’s much grittier than what I am used to on the westside, but the architecture and food that permeate the air are rich with culture. Don’t be afraid to stop and window show or take pictures of the city like I did!
    DINING
    7th Street Cafe
    This cafe was one of the closest to The Last Bookstore, so we took a stroll to the location to grab dinner. 7th Street Cafe is a pretty small cafe with limited seating. However the food is very decadent and savory. It’s perfect for when you have “drunchies” and “munchies”– delicious and heavy on the carbs and fat. I tried to be healthy with their California Benedict, but I was definitely eyeing their loaded fries and their famous chick on a stick combo. It will be something to look out for when I go back.

    Although we did not do too much during our day and didn’t fully plan out what we were going to do after our Paint Nite, it was refreshing to be in a part of Los Angeles that I wasn’t used to. It is important to still be a tourist in your own city, regardless of how much time you have lived in it. Everyday is  a new experience for me, and visiting DTLA was one of those new experiences that help to broaden my perspective of LA. Sometimes exploring the city you live in can almost be taken for granted, but this year I want to make sure I explore more of this little piece of home I have constructed.
    Las Vegas, Nevada Travel

    A Weekend in Las Vegas

    After 4-5 hours of sitting in the car, the sun sank below the horizon and the nighttime began to fall. Just when I thought it would take even longer to get there, the bright neon city lights appeared, glowing in the dark like beacons. Las Vegas was finally here.

    Last weekend, I went to Vegas for the 23rd birthday of one of my best friends, Andrew Acedo. It had been a year since the last time I went, so I was really excited to finally spend another weekend in Sin City. Here’s a short summary of what we did!

    H O T E L
     
    Vdara. My friend decided to go big and upgraded our rooms to suites. The room I stayed in was probably one of the biggest rooms I had ever stayed in for a group of 20 people. It was complete with a kitchen, dining table, living room area, master bedroom and two bathrooms.

    D I N I N G
     
    Fat Tuesday. The classic Fat Tuesday drinks are a must-have when you visit Vegas. My favorite is the Bellini with Strawberry.
     
    Marilyn’s Cafe at Tuscany. I GO TO THIS PLACE EVERY TIME I’M IN VEGAS. This cafe is honestly a hidden gem in Vegas that not many people know of. If you pop in after midnight you can get their steak and eggs (or as my friends like to call them, “steggs”) FOR ONLY $5.99! They come with hash browns and buttered toast.

    The Buffet. I would only recommend this place if you’re celebrating a special event since it is super pricy at around $40 per person for brunch. You have plenty of options to choose from such as Asian, Latin, Mediterranean, Tandoori and so much more. Although the food is delicious, I felt that I didn’t get my money’s worth since I already felt full after 2 plates.

    Taco Bell Cantina. When you walk into this particular Taco Bell, it’s like you are walking into a club environment since it is complete with neon lights and club music. You can even purchase alcohol on top of their regular menu items. I bought three of their tacos and tried some of their alcoholic Baja Blast, which was really yummy! I definitely recommend this place when you’re feeling the munchies after a night out.

    C L U B B I N G

    Steve Aoki at Hakkasan. Steve Aoki was super hype and constantly threw out free T-Shirts to the audience. The club itself, however, was very small with the amount of people that came and I constantly felt like I was being shoved back and forth as people kept pushing towards the front of the stage. Steve Aoki’s set also went way too long and ended at 3:30AM. My friends and I were still down to get the steak and eggs at Marilyn’s Cafe afterwards though!

    Jaws at Jewel. I personally liked this club and DJ better since the music was easier to sing and dance along too. The crowd also wasn’t as bad as Hakkasan. I danced the night away until 2:00AM when some of my friends and I decided to grab something at the Taco Bell Cantina.

    As the motto for this weekend was, “Chase dreams, not drinks”. If there’s one thing I love about Vegas, it’s that it gives you the opportunity to be bold with the people you’re with. Vegas isn’t Vegas without the people you’re with, and I’m very blessed to have celebrated this birthday trip with some of the funnest, craziest, most down to earth people.

    Thanks for reading! If you want to see more, here is a highlight travel diary video of my trip in Vegas!

    Beauty Lifestyle Travel

    My Travel Essentials Packing List

    It’s finally the holiday season, and for many people, winter break is finally here! Many people have large travel plans lined up for the holidays and need a packing list, so I thought I would share my own list of travel essentials that I have curated for any season and occasion!
    1. Backpack. Bring a backpack that is able to fit everything you need such as make-up, book, planner, etc.

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      My all-time favorite backpack is my trusty Everlane Twill Snap Backpack, which does wonders in fitting all my essentials in one place and even has two side pockets to put your water bottle or any other small items.

    2. Carry On Bag. For small trips I only bring two bags to fit everything I need. Clothes, accessories and shoes usually go in my second carry on travel bag.carry-on-bag

      This one is Cath Kidston’s travel bag, which is both beautiful and spacious in design. It even has a shoulder strap to make it easier to carry.

    3. Water bottle. It is so important to stay hydrated, so bring an empty water bottle with you before you go through security and fill it up before you board on the plane.Camelback Waterbottle.png

      I recently purchased the Camelback Eddy from Amazon and I absolutely love this bottle. It works as a sip cup so you don’t have to tilt the bottle and cause any accidental spills (like I usually do). I’ve found that I stay more hydrated with this bottle since it’s so easy to use. It’s definitely a must when you’re out on adventures!

    4. Beauty essentials. My toner water, make-up wipes, body oil and natural DIY deodorant are my holy grail products for traveling. They’re travel-sized, portable and meet the TSA requirements since they do not exceed 3.4 ounces.Beauty Essentials.jpg

      After a long day of exploring or even on the plane, I use the Target generic brand of Neutrogena’s make-up wipes to remove my make-up and then go in with Lush’s Breath of Fresh Air toner water (it really does feel like a breath of fresh air on your face. Anasol’s extra virgin olive body oil works for hair, face and body, but I mostly use it as a facial moisturizer and it feels very hydrating and smooth! Of course, my homemade deodorant makes me smell fresh and odor-less every time I use it in the morning.

    5. Accessories. Your accessories and wardrobe should cater to how the weather will be. I usually either bring a comfy hat for sunny days, or a scarf and beanie to stay warm.

      accessories

      The hat is from Q, and the scarf and beanie are from Forever 21.

    6. Camera. Last but not least, I always need to bring my camera to document my travels and relive my adventures and memories.Camera.png

      Although I mostly use my trusty iPhone 6S to take wide shots, I use my Canon T3i and 50mm lens for beautiful, crisp close up photos and videos.

    Is there anything missing on this list that you always have on yours? Let me know!

    Northern California Travel

    An Ex-Train-eous Escape from LA to the Bay

    I love the Bay. I love San Francisco. I love the cobbled streets, the beautiful Victorian influenced architecture, the unique counter culture vibe, the plentiful access to public transportation and the feeling of looking outside of a window on a rainy day in Chinatown and realizing that I am in The Golden City. It is the City where origins of the Beat generation still thrive, where a rich source of activism continues to flourish, and where I hope to live someday.

    Usually, the time spent traveling to San Francisco has always been by car. Just take Highway 5 in California and you’re there within 5-6 hours. However, I had an opportunity to travel to the Bay by train to partake in “The Great Train Escape” for NaNoWriMo, where Californian WriMos use the long train ride to the Bay to just write. From LA, it took 11 hours to reach the Oakland station riding along the coast.

    Here is a brief overview of my experience traveling solo:

    The Train
    The train ride itself went very smoothly. I was assigned a seat and after I was checked in by the train conductor, I was free to roam around the train. I spent most of my 11 hours at the observation deck of the train, which had a gorgeous view of the coast once we reached the Malibu area. I would suggest packing your own food since lunch and dinner there was horrendously expensive for small portions. Their snacks and alcohol choices were pretty decent, and I had a nice glass of wine while writing and enjoying the view of the sunset.

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    Staying at Alameda
    Alameda is its own small island just a short drive away from Oakland. I stayed at an AirBnb with a wonderful host named Laura (definitely recommend her if you have access to a car). Although it is a very peaceful and beautiful place, the closest Bart station was farther than I would have liked so I still had to take a Lyft or Uber to get there, which was slightly inconvenient for my budget. However, it was a nice place to stay and was very close to both the Oakland Jackson Train Station and the Oakland Airport.

    Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
    It was a rainy day, so there was hardly a line at all. It’s a small bakery with very few seats and a small counter space facing the window. I got the Pistachio donut, which was a good combination of savory and sweet. Of course, I had to take a picture of the famous sign placed on their wall.

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    The Workshop Cafe
    I split most of my time in San Francisco writing at cafes and exploring as much of the city as I possible could. One of the first cafes I went to was The Workshop Cafe. This cafe is interesting because it works very similar to workspaces you would find at a library. Just find a table, check in and order some food to be delivered to your seat. You can also order at the front when you first enter.

    I absolutely love this place and wish they had one in LA. It’s a great place to eat, get work done and even have a drink after your day of productivity. I wrote a good amount in just the few hours that I stayed in this workshop. Reserving a workspace is free for the first 10 hours. After that, it’s $2 per hour. Not bad if you really want to be in a working, productive environment.

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    City Lights Bookstore
    This bookstore was so beautiful! I especially have an attachment to this store as an English major. For one of my final classes in college, I took San Francisco Literature and learned about the Beat Generation and that Allen Ginsberg sold copies of his poem, Howl, at the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco. Currently, it houses diverse forms of literature and exclusive City Lights publications and poetry.

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    Reveille Cafe
    Right when I walked in and heard Frank Ocean’s album playing in the background, I knew this was the perfect coffee shop for me. The set up is unique due to the circular interior design and the large windows that face the streets of Chinatown. I treated myself to an almond latte and avocado toast. Despite the hefty price for brunch, it was the best decision ever. I felt so inspired looking out at the window with my laptop in front of me. There was plenty of seating and enough outlets. I would definitely come back again.

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    Cable Car
    This was my first time using the famous cable car line and it felt much like a slow mini rollercoaster making its dips and turns. It’s very straightforward and takes you to iconic landmarks such as Lombard Street and Fisherman’s Wharf. One important thing to note is that it does take awhile to get on the returning cable car ride back to downtown since crowds of people flock the line to head back. If you hate long lines, I would suggest taking an Uber ride back, which is only $4 more than the cable car ride back to Downtown.

    Ghiradelli Square
    Although I didn’t see much of Fisherman Wharf due to the rain and the evening darkness settling in, Ghiradelli Square was a nice little square filled mostly with gift shops and, of course, Ghiradelli shops selling mounds of delicious chocolate. The lights filling the streets and corners of the square reminded me so much of the holidays. I had dinner at Lori’s Diner closest to the square, which is a nice family-oriented, sit-in diner. Don’t let the Yelp reviews fool you! Always come in with an open mind and you’ll be surprised. I came in and ordered a clam chowder and it tasted pretty good to me!

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    Downtown San Francisco
    On Saturday night, downtown was vibrant and colorful with activity. The store lights were shining and the holiday lights were twinkling. Everyone was already enjoying their holiday vacation in The City.

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    The Haight
    This was a very cool and hip location with good food and unique shops lining the whole street. They have clothing stores that sell 50s style dresses, gypsy streetwear and other unique shops. They even sold taxidermy animal heads in one of the stores. I couldn’t stay long since I wanted to continue writing for NaNoWriMo at the time I was there, so I ate dinner at a place called the Street Taco, which had excellent taco bowls for around $10, and walked around for a bit before taking the bus back to Downtown.

    Of course, my trip could not have been complete without a picture with the beautiful International Orange colored Golden Gate Bridge.

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    This was my first time traveling alone since I studied abroad in 2014. Two years of staying within Los Angeles built up an anxiety of traveling alone for long periods of time. The new, tense political climate also increased my anxiety to venture out in the open. But I remember this quote from John Green’s novel, Paper Towns:

    “It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”

    I knew that I had to force myself to break away from my comfort zone, to challenge my current mental state and to tell myself that fear should not paralyze or mobilize me. It should encourage me to challenge what I fear and to combat it with strength and courage. For so long, I have stayed within the comfort of my own skin and bubble. It’s time to accept that we may have constant fears and struggles, but it should motivate us to improve, to strengthen that skin by exploring new places, spaces and people.

    If you have been wanting to travel somewhere, but have held yourself back due to the fact of traveling alone, I implore you to just do it. Take that “extraneous” step towards letting go of those fears and doing what your heart desires.

    Lifestyle Los Angeles, California Travel

    The Ultimate Camp Flog Gnaw Experience

    I hardly ever go to music festivals. Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube and Soundcloud has made studio recorded music accessible and shareable at our fingertips. Music is now a resource we can consume very easily. What I sometimes forget about, however, is that listening to recorded music is not the same as experiencing music. Camp Flog Gnaw reminded me of what experiencing live music meant and why I should take advantage of more music festivals.

    To say the least, Camp Flog Gnaw was a momentous experience. On the first day, Austin and I arrived at Exposition Park a little past 1:00PM. There were countless of carnival games and rides, delicious food trucks and concession stands lined up on all sides, tons of merchandise stores to buy Golf Wang and musician-branded apparel, and two concert stages for the performances. The one thing I didn’t like (besides the overpriced festival food, which is a given at this point) was that artists that were performing on either concert stage overlapped with one another, so it was a matter of choosing who you were okay with not seeing and who you were dying to see. Fortunately for us, none of the artists we wanted to see overlapped with one another, so we experienced all of our favorite musicians and their performances in the audience.

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    Kehlani

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    Chance the Rapper

    There’s no way I can share this experience through pictures and have it something my readers can fully understand. Even if I had taken videos along with these pictures, it still wouldn’t be the same. I urge you to invest in a concert or festival of musicians you enjoy and do more than listen — experience it. Music has the power to bring people together and connect with one another. It has the power to speak and vocalize through the blend of voice and sound. Many of the artists were vocal about why they have a passion for music. They weren’t afraid to address the political climate. They were real and they were raw in their songs. To me, music never felt as powerful as it did that day.

    You can indulge in the consumerism that has embedded itself into music festival culture. You can consume all the good food they have to offer. You can take advantage of all the free goodies they entice you with. You can do anything that a music festival offers — just as long as you put the actual music experience first. That’s what makes it worth it.

     

    Portland, Oregon Travel

    A Weekend in Portland

    Cool autumn days, sparkling waterfalls and mouthwatering food are just some of the things that come to mind when I think of Portland. The strong feeling of wanderlust was so overwhelming that one day I just picked a weekend in the middle of October and decided to book a flight with my boyfriend, Austin!

    By chance, we chose a particularly rainy and stormy weekend. Remnants of Typhoon Songda were expected to hit the Northwest Pacific that very weekend we were visiting, so Austin and I had to re-think our itinerary and plan for the rainy weather — aka buy rain gear that we never really needed until now.

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    Fortunately, the time spent in Portland was still incredible despite the weather changing every 15 minutes, because like they say,”Keep Portland Weird”. No matter the weather, there is always a way to enjoy a slice of Portland’s weirdness. If you happen to go to Portland on a rainy weekend like us, you can follow along with our itinerary:

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    FRIDAY EVENING

    1:00AM: Our flight was delayed by two hours, but we arrived safely to our beautiful room in a neighborhood only 15 minutes away from Downtown Portland.

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    DAY ONE: SATURDAY

    10:30AM: After a lot of pre-planning, we thought that renting a car from Enterprise would be more economical during a full day of running around Portland.  This actually saved us a lot of money in the long run when we went to Beaverton and Multnomah Falls since an Uber drive would have been more expensive for both trips compared to one rent-a-car (thank you Uber calculator for letting us figure that out in advance!)

    11:00AM:  We decided to have breakfast in one of the most popular tourist stops in Portland, Voodoo Donuts! We went to the one on Davis street to avoid the crowded lines in the Downtown location. We only waited about 10-15 minutes before we were called to the front of the line. We ordered two small coffees for the long day and four delicious doughnuts – Blueberry cake, Arnold Palmer, Maple Bacon and Mango Tango. Unique, flavorful and definitely sugary.

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    12:00PM: After our major sugar rush from the doughnuts we devoured, we drove to Multnomah Falls, a beautiful waterfall location less than an hour east from Portland. Although it was slightly overcast, the 542 ft waterfall was still a sight to behold. These pictures don’t do this waterfall justice. It’s a view you have to see for yourself.

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    3:00PM: For lunch, we went to Hapa PDX for some hot ramen. Hapa PDX is a food cart that we chanced upon while walking down the street after we found out Pok Pok was closed. There were also several food carts in the same area, and even had communal area complete with a tent and heaters to provide warmth from the incoming storm.

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    5:00PM: We drove to Beaverton to visit Oyatsupan Bakery, which is owned by Austin’s cousin, Julie. The bakery has a modern vibe with a Japanese flavor. The bread and pastries remind me a lot of 85 Degrees here in Southern California. If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend this bakery for the authentic Japanese pastries, the beautiful aesthetics and the friendly owners.

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    6:00PM: Powell’s City of Books is hands down one of my most favorite places in Portland. It is one of the largest independent bookstores in the world and a must-go for all book lovers. If The Last Bookstore, a library and the largest mall in the world came together to form a brainchild, it would be the Powell’s City of Books. Dozens of brightly colored rooms flow with a millions of books, filling every wall and corner. Being the book nerds we were, we wandered around for hours and read until 10PM.  I even finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in one go.

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    10:00PM: We had a late Egyptian Halal dinner at one of the food trucks in Downtown Portland called Gyro Place. It definitely hit the spot after a long day of reading into the night.

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    11:00PM: Our last excursion for the night was spent at Ground Kontrol Arcade, a Portland version of Dave and Buster’s except filled with dozens of arcade games. We bought a drink and spent the rest of the night using up all of our change and playing pinball, old school fighter games, and a Simpsons game.

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    DAY TWO: SUNDAY

    11:00AM: We had a late brunch at City State Diner, a wonderful diner that has the best eggs benedict. Also, mimosas were only $5.50!

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    12:30PM: A funny thing about Portland is that they call their weekend market the Saturday Market, even if it’s a Sunday. Unfortunately because of the storm warning, not many vendors were in the area for the Saturday Market, which was disappointing because we heard Saturday Market was a sight to see when packed.

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    2:00PM: The rain began to pour as we headed to the Portland Japanese Garden. Despite the cold rain, I still ended up having a lovely time admiring the changing colors of the trees and flowers, and couldn’t help but smiling over the koi swimming across the pond.

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    4:00PM: We took a break from the rain at Powell’s and Starbucks, where we read some more and drank coffee before heading back to the airport.

    6:00PM: We checked out of our AirBnB and made our way to the airport to end the short, fun-filled weekend.