Category Living

The Road to Hana: Maui

These past 2-3 years have been a real blessing to me in terms of traveling.  Even though I had a full time day job for the past two years, I still got the chance to travel to countries I hadn’t been to before (despite the limited number of leaves I could take).  I feel so grateful that at my age, I’ve been able to travel to most of East and Southeast Asia, some of Europe and America, and am continuing to visit places I haven’t been to or revisit the ones I really love.  Naturally, human nature makes us a bit greedy, and I admit I often think or dream of what other places I’ll land up in someday.

Last weekend, my partner and I along with some friends, flew to Hawaii to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.  We spent 4 days in Maui, enjoying delicious food and soaking up fresh air.  It felt good to be connected to nature.  These days we rarely get the chance to be disconnected with technology and media, and when you’re at the beach or somewhere far away under waterfalls without cellular signal, then you have no other choice but to sit back and enjoy the view.

You might be wondering why the title says “Road to Hana.” Though Hana means ‘work’ in Hawaii, it’s also the name of a small town in Maui which a famous highway leads to.  The highway to Hana was made in such a way that as you go along that road, you get to stop by some of the most beautiful spots on the island.  Scroll down below to see some of the things we saw on our trip too. 🙂

The big island (Honolulu) as seen from the top of Haleakala Crater, Maui.
TrekkingBig Island Maui Observatory Accordion player Haleakala Crater drive Kihei in Central Maui is a great place to make your base. Aloha life Flowers A typical cafe in Paia, a charming beach town. Cafe des Amis Maui Black sand maui Paia Maui Oneuli Beach, with black sand made up of ground lava. Check out the exposed layers of cinder and lava on this picture:Oneuli BeachThe road to Hana continues on and we made several stops along the way.Road to Hana 'O'he'o Gulch Haleakala drive Maui Road Hawaii plants vast natural landscapeHawaii beachmaui waterfalls Kula Lodge Maui Hawaii plant lifeWaterfallsTravel Photographer 7 sacred pools 'O'he'o Gulch hikeRecommendations:

We stayed in Kihei in an airbnb which was as lovely as the owner, details here.

If you’re planning to travel the road to Hana, I highly recommend downloading this App which is like a GPS tour guide. It costs only $5 and gives you information so you don’t miss out on the best spots. We wouldn’t have known which stops to make without this incredible app.

Every Friday the town hosts a party in different parts of the island. Check out this link for info where the next party will be.

Have fun!

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

More than a Midnight in Paris

Paris was everything as I imagined it to be.  My first time to visit was in November 2013, and all the photos in this post was from that visit.  So many things have happened since that time, and now I feel that if I go back it would probably feel so different.  It’s hard to imagine that one day Europe will cease to exist as a continent, if we are to believe war and prophecies of the EU falling apart, as well as Baba Vanga’s prophecies of Europe being Muslim occupied in a few years time.

Instead of thinking about the dim future, I would like to remember Europe with its old charm.  The music that plays in the streets, the pastries, beignets, coffee cups, stranger’s smiles, that general lightness in the air.

I was so excited on my first visit to Paris, I wanted to see so many things and I remember there was even a Paris Photo exhibit at the Grand Palais exactly at the same time when I was visiting.  Although at that time I was more excited to just be in the city with my then boyfriend than really any architecture or art in Paris itself, we still managed to see so many things and I’ve grown to appreciate them more after some time.

Traveling is amazing that way, sometimes you don’t see the beauty of something until much after, like when you accidentally see those old pictures and remember what it felt like during that trip.

Grand PalaisGrand Palais ParisPhoto ExhibitParis PhotoParis Photo exhibitSacre CoeurSacré-Cœur BasilicaFrench streetArc de TriompheChamps-ÉlyséesParis skylineEiffel TowercarouselParis landscapeNation station parisstreet fashionflower marketParisian buildingParis street signcultural dancersyellow flowerEiffel tower and notre dameFrench flagcute bicyclelittle girl chasing pigeonsvandalismLe ConsulatMagical ParisLouvre museumLouvreLouvre ParisPont des ArtsPont des Arts ParisLove lock bridge ParisColorful ParisMontmartreSeine RiverRomantic Parisjardin du luxembourgjardin du luxembourg ParisInvalidesCannons of Les InvalideTour EiffelVersaillesPalace ParisPalace of VersaillesSun God emblemVersailles ParisVersailles mirror hallFrench historyBlack and white tiled floorPalace VersaillesAutumn gardengrand palacehuge gardenscultpuresAutumnCornerAutumn leavestwo swansserene lakeflock of sheepsheep

Best of the French Wine Regions

Dalai Lama quote

“There is no one who is born under an unlucky star, there are only people who don’t know how to read the sky” – the Dalai Lama.

This travel post may be a bit late but I thought it would be unfair not to share because of the story behind it.  I wasn’t always traveling and I didn’t have that much passion for traveling until the first time I stepped into Europe.  It wasn’t so much the destination, I think.  It was the mere fact that this was the first place I traveled more than 15 hours by plane to, ON MY OWN.  It scared the hell out of me of course.

I guess I can be called a late bloomer, I started traveling long haul alone only when I was 23. And I can still remember how my flight went like it just happened yesterday.  I was traveling on a semi-mutilated passport which I freely blame to the poor quality of passports being issued in my country.  I knew I could get into trouble and I was praying non-stop to reach Europe.  And while on a stopover in Moscow on my way to Paris, the immigration officer told me this was illegal! I must have looked so pitiful that in the end they just let me through, and I reached my destination without any more questions.

French food

From Paris I took an RER train to reach Dijon, the capital city of the Burgundy region in the Eastern part of France.  You may have heard of one of their most famous products – the dijon mustard.  It was a beautiful time when I went, even though it was late November and the weather was starting to get cold.  I saw everything through rose tinted glasses, La Vie en Rose, since it was my first time to fall in love and be in Europe.

Dijon tower

My boyfriend at that time who was a local in Dijon, took me around everywhere.  I thought everything was wonderful, except for the part where my French was limited to “ça va bien, et toi?”  But aside from my vocabulary, everything else felt magical in my newbie eyes.  Don’t get me wrong, I had traveled to different parts of the world before, but just not on my own.  So this was the first time I felt traveling independently.

Like many European cities, Dijon had a lot of history and retained it’s historic charm.  Many of the houses in the city center kept the old facade, as you can see in the photos here.

Dijon skylineFrench streetMusée des Beaux-ArtsArtist at workDijon travelFrench architecture

I had the chance to experience how local life was, we made meals at home, and even tried making macarons.  Even though the macarons didn’t end up looking as good as was in the shops, it was still pretty delicious.

homesnoopyfailed macaronsdijon museumschurchcatholic churchtravel photographyDijon FranceAu Clos Napoléonescargotmushroomsfresh market

Bourgogne was not too far from Dijon, so we set aside a day where we drove out into the countryside. There we were greeted with beautiful vineyards and vast greenery.  Sad to say I have very strong “Asian genes” when it comes to drinking alcohol – what people know as a form of allergy to drinking in that your liver can’t filter down the alcohol as well as other people.  I turn extremely red with a few sips! So I’m not a big wine drinker, but if you are, Bourgogne would be a delightful stop.

BourgogneFrench countrysideBeaujolaiswine regionvineyardsBourgogne vineyardsburgundy

I would recommend if you’re planning to travel to these regions, to get a local guide or host so you’ll be able to enjoy your trip more. Remember, a lot of things you’ll see won’t be translated, and having someone local to tour you around just makes the experience more enjoyable.