Category Travel North America

Old Wild West

I never understood the fascination people had about horses in Texas, until I surrounded myself with horses.  Last weekend we went to Texas and had a great time in Dallas and Austin.  Dallas had huge expanses of land owned by locals who kept ranches, while Austin had the younger metropolis vibe – with streets full of Saturday night party-goers and late Sunday morning brunch scenes.  The Dallas we saw was a very quiet city, where you could go on horse riding for a whole day if you wish.  So to say it was very peaceful.

Marshall Creek Ranch was my favorite thing about Dallas.  They had beautiful horses which they let run free in the golden hours after a long day of carrying people like me around.  The thick forest on their backyard is there for them to explore, and the volunteer wranglers in the ranch feed them with treats after a good gallop.  The ranch dogs run wild and free too, and quickly warm up to visitors like me, hoping to get a pat or a treat as they rest their chins on my knees or sit under my feet.

The truth is, this is all quite a new experience to me.  I grew up in a city far from wild things like horses.  I’ve only ridden a horse twice before, and both times with a wrangler walking next to my horse when I was a kid.  So feeling like I missed out on some of those experiences made me jump to the opportunity of riding on a horse in Texas.  And it was exhilarating.

A weekend in Beverly Hills

Over the weekend, we got the chance to stay at a very upscale hotel in Beverly Hills, the SLS Luxury Collection Hotel.  From a design perspective, the interiors were designed with a focus on fashion and current trends. I was not expecting to see an AK-47 gun or a 5 foot tall black horse as lamps in the lobby, nor the backlit poster of Penelope Cruz adorning the entire wall of the reception area on my floor as I stepped out of the elevator.  For designers who love pop art and not just subtle clean design, this is a place to check out.

More than just staying at a nice hotel, we also got the chance to try out our friend’s highly recommended restaurant – Scratch. They make everything from scratch, from their butter, to their breads… not just that, but if you’re adventurous, try out the 16 course meal which the chefs will prepare for you, only letting you know what ingredients they’ll be using, and not telling you the sequence or combinations of how they’ll use the ingredients.  They change their menu every month on top of that. It’s a very bold concept created by a group of chefs, there are no servers in the restaurant, and the chefs who create the dish also take the time to explain to you what their creation is.

Such a lovely weekend. 1

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Driving through Napa and Sonoma

We’re not really big wine drinkers, or any kind of alcohol for that matter, but if you’re visiting San Francisco for a couple of days and you have enough time to go to Napa and/or Sonoma, you should definitely go.  Not only will you learn interesting information about different types of wine and how they’re made (plus taste all of them if you wish), but you’ll get to see the beautiful landscape too.

Believe it or not, the distance between Napa and Sonoma is just about 13 miles, 22 minutes away by driving, and yet the short distance creates a subtle difference in climate and soil – which in turn creates a huge difference in the taste the grapes produce for the wine.  We’re talking about 10-20 degrees fahrenheit difference between one place to another, on any given day.

Check out some of the pictures from our trip to the wine region…
Napa Valley Wine region Travel Wine Region Sonoma Wine Valley Wine Valley Rosé all day Stacked wine barrels

A Song for Tea

Right in the heart of San Francisco, I found a gem of a shop that carried precious tea from China and Taiwan.  Unlike how we describe wine through different terms like being full-bodied, fruity, etc.; I still cannot put a finger on how to describe my green tea experiences in life.  Let’s put aside all the different teas of the world for now and just focus on the humble teas from China and Taiwan.  I could relate it to fine tobacco in that only connoisseurs who really take the time to go through the different kinds of leaves and how they are processed get to appreciate the beauty of it.

It’s not the same as getting a bag of widely distributed Earl Gray tea and knowing that every first steep or cup would taste the same, because the flavor is measured to taste the same.  When you’re dealing with rolled tea leaves, sometimes the flavor comes gradually and only gets stronger after having a first rinse.  Thus the phrase “good things come to those who wait,” applies well here.

Although it does take a little more effort and time to prepare Chinese tea leaves compared to easily dipping a tea bag into a hot cup of water, it only makes sense to enjoy the slower process of it. The art of slow living… as some may call it.  Song Tea SF Tea shop San Francisco Tea ShopOn the table Song Tea interiors Tea Lifestyle Lifestyle PhotographyIf you fancy doing a tea tasting or want to get some good tea in SF, head on over to Lower Pacific Heights and visit Song Tea & Ceramics at 2120 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94115.

Weekend Camping Trip to Yellowstone: the Video

Hey guys!  I’ve just released a short video of our camping trip to Yellowstone.  Please forgive me if the video quality is not yet that great, I’m just starting to do more and more videos – investing in equipment and knowledge, etc.  It’s a work in progress, but I’m happy to share the memories we had from the trip.  Enjoy!