First Impressions: Cali Living


It’s only been two weeks since I’ve flown in to LA and already it feels like it’s so easy to blend in.  Although at the moment there is no permanent address yet ~ (we’re living in a suitcase going from one place to another and yes I can’t wait to have my own pots and dishes)… do remind me when I start regretting once we’re fully settled and I’d wish we were traveling again.

It’s been 13 years since I’ve been back in this part of the world, yet because of media I realized that you can feel like you’ve been in this country even without visiting it.  I don’t know about you but from where I come from, our movies and tv series mostly took place in the US.  Imagine Modern Family, Brady Bunch, or even Simpsons being the family you meet on the elevator.

Surprisingly, people around here all seem to have their own persona.  It felt like a lot of people want to be stars when I paid a visit to Hollywood, and they could be, in an instant if someone discovers them there.  I drove by the Pollo Loco where Brad Pitt used to work as a chicken mascot, just to make ends meet before he became the star he is today.  And the hotel where all the big stars used to stay, and the neighborhood where Shirley Temple lived and where Marilyn Monroe died. It’s crazy if you think how these people changed lives the moment they got into showbiz, not necessarily for better or worse. When walking the streets in downtown LA, everyone you see is a different person. Their taste in clothing or choice of music defines who they are, or even how they walk and how they talk.  And that seems to be important to them, they have to have a personality.

One more thing I noticed is how big this place is.  It drives me nuts to see the 405 highway to have so many driving lanes and how bad traffic gets because everyone is driving a car on their own.  The other day I heard on the radio that one highway going to San Diego is being expanded to 15 lanes on each side. That’s 30 lanes of a highway! Crazy!

Enough first impressions, take a photo tour and see the things I’ve snapped and eaten so far in sunny Cali.dtlaofficine Brera

Downtown L.A.
cityscape downtown LASheraton Lounge

The Awesome Grand Central Market Grand Central Market LAist

Old and new
old and new

Historical part of DTLA, Bradbury Building
Bradbury Building old historic area LA

Off to the beaches: Manhattan B, Venice B, Long B, and Oceanside
Manhattan Beach PortOceanside beach Manhattan Beach Venice Beach surfers Beach life Venice Beach Venice Beach life LA life Van Gogh Mural Oceanside california Oceanside CA California Life Long beach

San Diego San Diego skylineSan Diego Pacific coast skydiving Catalina Island

And lastly Agoura Hills Agoura hills 2 Agoura hills

Tropical Paradise

Despite being born in the Philippines, I haven’t really had the chance to travel around my own country that much.  I guess its the same as most other nations, many of my friends haven’t even seen their own country’s landmarks.  So many travelers from around the globe travel thousands of miles just to see sea turtles in my country, while I fell into the trap of choosing destinations that allowed me to check off my list almost all of Southeast Asia.

So, after quitting my job recently in Shanghai, I decided that I will take a break and go back home to be with my family.  My boyfriend also wanted to come visit, so we made a plan to travel for a bit.  I chose Dumaguete because I had been to the Apo Island marine sanctuary ten years ago with my mom and fell in love with the corals there.  And on the map we saw that Bohol and Cebu are not too far either, so we flew in to Dumaguete and flew out from Cebu.  In between we took a 5 hour bus ride to get from Dumaguete to Cebu.

I must admit though, that the travel in this journey was indeed one of the most painful ever. Lol. We ended up enjoying snorkeling in Apo Island a bit too much and came home with a really bad burn.  The worst part was we didn’t realize how bad our skin was feeling only until evening, it was like a gradual roasting.  By the next day we could barely get out of bed – and this was also the day we had chosen to take the 5 hour bus ride to our next destination.  The bus arrived late, of course… and when it came, all passengers scrambled to save a seat – because reserved seating does not exist yet.  I was high-fiving myself in pain from the bad sunburn, hot humid weather, and all the other passengers pushing each other to get on the bus.  Luckily we were welcomed into Cebu with a very nice garden hotel, and we were able to book through the hotel a Bohol day tour for the next day which was very convenient.

Scroll down below to see some of the photos we took on our trip.

Twin Lakes Dumaguete Philippine scenery Philippine sunrise Philippine coast Philippine beaches Zamboangita Visayas sea turtle Dumaguete to Cebu Montebello Villa Baclayon Church Bohol Bohol Church Bohol Church 2 Travel Photographer Amanda See Photography Travel Diary janeamandasee Bohol on the road Butterfly sanctuary Garden Green Chocolate Hills Bohol hills Philippine Sea


Dumaguete – Kav’s Beach Resort. Details here.

Cebu – Montebello Villa Hotel. Details here.

Swimming with Dolphins

Just last week, we went to Apo Island near Dumaguete in the Visayas region of the Philippines.  Our main goal was to see the famous corals of Apo Reef, which I had seen 10 years ago and still remember to this day how beautiful it was when I was still in my teens.  Colors of gold, purple, different shades of blue and green used to fill the bottom of the sea in the marine sanctuary of the island, but recently two typhoons had struck the island and destroyed the beautiful corals in the Sanctuario.  Despite this, marine life is still very busy and bustling underwater, and we got the chance to spend a day on the opposite side of the marine reserve, where we saw countless huge Pawikan turtles and had a good day swimming with the dolphins.


Perhaps one of the best things about Shanghai is the ever growing number of great restaurants that you just can’t get tired of.  Once again Barbarossa does it with one of their new additions in Xintiandi – Calix.  Fusion food, consisting largely of seafood and beef, and offering classics like surf & turf all the way to new combinations like kimchi pork belly wrapped in steamed soft baos.

I got lucky and had the chance to shoot their fresh menu, along with taste testing the delicious food.

Calix BodyCalix drinks

Of Spices and Indigo Dreams

India never ceases to amaze me.  Every time I travel to this country, the moment I step onto it’s soil I feel every part of me tingle with a different kind of energy. I had heard before from other travelers that the moment the plane doors open, each destination they go to has a different scent for them. To me India has this effect.

Just recently, during the Chinese new year break, my partner and I traveled to different parts of India, particularly Hyderabad, Jodhpur,  Jaisalmer, Bangalore, and Kerala.  We had a total of two weeks for our whole vacation, and at the end of the trip it felt like I wanted to stay longer. I felt like a cattle being dragged to the airport to be shipped back to the concrete jungle where I live.

I’m so excited to share with you the photos from that memorable trip.  You may be overwhelmed with all the color, but I hope I’m able to share the wonderful experience that we had through this visual diary.

First stop: Hyderabad. Main things to see were: Golkonda Fort and the Taj Falaknuma, which was a royal home turned into a luxury hotel.

Golkanda FortGolkonda Fort2Taj Falaknuma HyderabadTaj FalaknumaTaj Falaknuma India

After just two days in Hyderabad, off we went to Jodhpur, the famous blue city of Rajasthan.  The buildings were not all blue, as I originally thought from seeing pictures from National Geographic.  Still, it was surprising to see how so many houses used indigo, which according to locals was used because it was believed to keep them cool in the summer, and has mosquito repellant properties.

JodhpurJodhpur blue citywomen in indiaMarketplace JodhpurBlue cityRajasthanJodhpur Rajasthanclock tower JodhpurRajasthan IndiaMehrangarh FortIndiaMehrangarh Fort JodhpurTravel photographyincredible indiaUmaid Bhawan PalaceIndia travel photographyTravel photography indiajudaist templeIndia photographerIndia lifestyle photographerIndia travel photographershadowshappy Indian man

Rajasthan has always been my favorite region in India.  It’s where all my pre-conceived notions of the country are brought to life. Most other places have become developed and no longer feel as historical as this region.

Onward we move on from Jodhpur to Jaisalmer by taking a train ride.  It’s a must to take the train for people who really want to experience as much of India as they can.  Aside from the beautiful scenery you’d get to see, the experience of traveling with locals is altogether a story of its own.

sheep herdJaisalmercatching sunrisemorning in IndiaCamel rideEndlessJaisalmer Rajasthan

From the dry desert of Jaisalmer, we took a sleeper train ride to Jaipur, and then took a plane to Bangalore.  There we spent a weekend just relaxing,  we didn’t get to take much photos in Bangalore but to give you an idea, it’s a modern city where you could easily find different types of cuisines, and overall feels more developed.

After two days in Bangalore, we flew off to Kerala to see the famed backwaters. A backwater is basically a part of a river where there is little or no current because it is obstructed by either land or a dam, so the place has a general feeling of calm.   Kerala has many places you can visit, we chose three, namely: Cochin, Thekkady, and Allepey.

We saw a Kathakali performance in Cochin, rode on elephants in Thekkady, and stayed in a houseboat in Allepey.  You can do so many things in Kerala you can’t even imagine how to fit your time, especially since moving from one place to another already takes up quite a bit of time.

I think it was a good way to end our trip in Kerala, we got the peaceful energy and took it back home with us to Shanghai.

KeralaFort CochinIndian ThaliKathakali KeralaLush KeralaTropical Keralacow marketBuffalo market IndiaTropical IndiaThekkadyThekkady elephantLush paradiseTravel photographerAllepey KeralaTravel photojournalHouseboat Kerala