Beijing Travel Diary Pt. 4: Great Wall,Yuanmingyuan, Temple of Heaven, etc.

Here is the last post which covers all the remaining recommended Beijing tourist attractions! In addition to the Great Wall, Yuanmingyuan Park (Old Summer Palace), Tiantan (Temple of Heaven), and Qianmen, I also visited the Bell & Drum Tower, Hutongs, Ming tombs, and shopped at Wufujing, but I won’t be focusing on those activities.
Yuanmingyuan Park is the old summer palace which was mostly destroyed during the Anglo-French allied forces attack in 1860. The park can be split into 3 different regions – Yuanmingyuan, Wanchunyuan, and Changchunyuan gardens. Sitting by the lake in Yuanmingyuan is so peaceful and highly recommended if you have ample time on your hands.
You can see ruins here (not pictured) and lots of lotus flowers, which can be seen in the Changchunyuan garden.
The Great Wall @ Badaling
Getting to the Great Wall is honestly a struggle but a must when visiting Beijing. The best way to get there is by joining a 1-day tour, because the Great Wall is located ~1.5-2 hours away from central Beijing. I heard tourists must be wary of taxis since they often unethically drop people off mid-drive to the location.
We were dropped off near the Great Wall Museum (which is free btw), and rode a cable car to watchtower 8 ’North 8th Tower’, the highest point on the wall. Badaling is the most well-maintained region of the Great Wall, but is also very crowded. Still worth a visit, since this area contains thousands of years of history.
Tiantan (Temple of Heaven)
Tiantan is an imperial sacrificial altar where Chinese royalty worshipped their deities. Here is the ‘Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests.’ Chinese royal architecture was very intentional; 4 pillars symbolizing the four seasons, 12 pillars equating to 12 months, the other 12 pillars symbolizing 12 hours 2x a day for a total of 28 pillars. In addition to the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, there’s also the ‘Imperial Vault of Heaven’ and ‘Circular Mound Altar,’ which are other important structures located in Tiantan.
Qianmen translates to front gate, and it is very centrally located near Tiananmen and famous shopping areas.
Until next time,

5 Things: Summer Checklist

Every year, I have a mental checklist of adventures and goals I want to accomplish before the end of summer. Among the items on this list always include good eats, sunsets, rooftop views, and tons of exploration. Below are some of the things that I have done so far this summer season. I encourage everyone to have an ongoing bucket list as well! Thanks for visiting.

Drinks and fruits near the poolside IMG_0941Exploring DTLA from above IMG_1279Kebabs and Wraps IMG_8227The Commissionary – getting work done at coffee shopsIMG_1117Sunset-watching on the roofIMG_1266

5 things: Lost in Transition

Although Tiffany and I strive to be consistent with our content, we sometimes forget to post certain photos on to Flying Neon Lights. Here are some random photos throughout the year that we are now only compiling into a post.


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IMG_0694<New Orleans’s City Park>IMG_0947<Tiffany’s hair bun>IMG_4426<outfit details>1616<SF’s view>IMG_98505 things to cap off the post.Thanks for visiting!

Guide to San Francisco Part 3: Golden Gate Park

As promised, here is the last segment of my guide of San Francisco. This post is exclusively dedicated towards Golden Gate Park, which is probably the location Tiffany and I visit most often in SF. If you look closely, you can recognize the places we’ve photographed our fashion posts here.

1) Shakespeare Garden: A small, quaint garden. It caters to the more peaceful side of SF, and is a popular place for wedding and prom photos.


2) Music concourse: Features a range of notable museums: Academy of Sciences and De Young. In addition to excellent galleries and exhibits, both museums offer stunning rooftop views.

Academy of Sciences- seen from the top of De Young

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De Young at dusk


3) Japanese Tea Garden: It is the oldest public Japanese garden in the U.S., offering a peaceful environment filled with cute bonsai trees and koi fish. Also has a tea house visitors can try.


4) Botanical Gardens: Plants in this garden are showcased from all over the world. I can recall plant collections from Africa, New Zealand, and the Mediterranean.

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5) Conservatory of Flowers: An indoor garden enclosed in a wooden, Victorian structured greenhouse. There are also tons of beautiful flowers in the outside surrounding areas, tended by the staff year-round.


6) Disc golf: A 18-hole game in the middle of Golden Gate Park that involves throwing a disc (or frisbee) into baskets strategically placed on the course. Played as if in golf, but with a disc instead. More info here.

Alas, this is the end of my 3 part “Guide to San Francisco” series. Thank you for reading!


Guide to San Francisco Part 2

Part 2 of Guide to San Francisco is here!

1) Wood Line in the Presidio: Andy Goldsworthy designed this artistic park attraction here in the Presidio 4 years ago. He laid out eucalyptus trees on the ground to form a curvy line, that, in his words, “draws the place.” It is located near Lover’s Lane, a paved road where soldiers during the war walked on to meet their lovers.


2) Bernal Heights Park: Stunning views of San Francisco south of the Mission District. This area is almost always sunny, which is ironic because the photos posted below were captured on a foggy day. The hike up is approximately 10-15 minutes.


3) Lyon Street Steps: These steps offer gorgeous views of the Palace of Fine Arts dome and San Francisco Bay, and is a great place for people who want to burn off calories running up and down the steps. It is located right next to Pacific Heights and near the wealthiest families in SF, notably the Getty Family.


4) Union Square is the shopping center of the city but I actually enjoy the architecture and lights more than the shopping itself. Here is a picture I took back in January:


5) Yerba Buena Gardens: If shopping isn’t your cup of tea in downtown SF, you can walk a couple blocks and visit Yerba Buena Gardens. It contains a grassy area that is perfect for picnics, and has a bowling and ice skating center. Here are some photos of our picnic at this public garden.


6) Mount Davidson: Hello nature lovers, this is another great hiking spot! Mount Davidson features a giant cross, which is dedicated to the people who perished during the Armenian Genocide. The views of the city are great as well.


7) Pacific Catch Restaurant: Located at my favorite part of Sunset District (Irving and 9th), this place offers Asian fusion food. The natural lighting and interior design is super nice here too.


8) Andytown Coffee Roasters: The location is not too ideal (Outer Sunset Lawton and 43rd), but the scones and drinks here are great. I ordered a Snowy Plover and Soda Currant scone.IMG_9759

8) Manna: Good Korean food in the Inner Sunset


Thank you for reading! Stay tuned for my final installment of Guide to San Francisco featuring Golden Gate Park.


Ode to Summer: Guide to San Francisco Part 1

As summer has officially winded down, I’m taking the time to reflect on the places I’ve visited in SF over the past few months. Though I was born and raised here in San Francisco, it wasn’t until this summer that I have truly taken the time to throughly explore this diverse city. From hikes (with views) and trying out new restaurants, I definitely can say I’ve expanded my perspective of SF. Here is a guide to San Francisco through the lens of a native- told Part 1 in this post.


1) Fort Point National Historic Site is located right below the famous Golden Gate Bridge. It served as a coastal fortification during the Civil War, and is open to the public for free from Friday- Sunday. It is such a treat coming here because it isn’t an extremely well known attraction, even for SF natives. Secret: views of Golden Gate Bridge are the best from this place.


2) Grand View Park/ Turtle Hill: This elevated park is located right in the middle of residential Sunset District. You can see the Transamerica Building in the distance as well as Sutro Tower. The 16th Steps, which were designed by volunteers, are also located on the way to Grand View Park.

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3) Land’s End/ Sutro Bath: Sutro Baths was once a public bath, but now the ruins are for all to enjoy. If you walk up the trail a bit further, you can see the hidden labyrinth on the Land’s End hiking trail. Another view of the bridge can be seen here as well.


4) Clarion Alley Murals: These murals were already featured in Tiffany’s post but I’ll talk about them here as well. This alley is full of murals illustrated with various patterns and shapes- addressing statements and thoughts of the Mission community.

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5) Twin Peaks- More grand landscape views overlooking the city. Unlike most vistas, however, Twin Peaks is accessible by car.


6) Coffee lovers-try out Philz. The mint mojito is a classic.


7) Off the Grid: Food trucks every Friday evening at Fort Mason. Kamikaze fries shown below.


Thank you for visiting! Stay tuned for Part 2 coming soon!


A day in the life: Cupcakes and Murals


Hi everyone!

This past weekend, Amanda and I headed over to the Mission District of San Francisco. Showcasing thrift stores, boutiques, and a wide variety of brunch places and coffee shops, this district was no doubt packed with both tourists and locals. We stumbled upon Clarion Alley, a colorful and vibrant alley decorated with various murals boasting political statements, iconic figures, and eccentric patterns and shapes. We were even lucky enough to observe an artist at work! The other half of our day consisted of us baking red velvet cupcakes from scratch with a couple of our other friends, which turned out pretty photogenic and delicious. Thanks for visiting, and I hope you all have a fantastic week!

— Tiffany

On Top of San Francisco


Hi everyone!

This past weekend, my family and I climbed up Turtle Hill to catch a bird’s eye view of San Francisco. We went during golden hour, and the sunlit rays made the city look even more stunning. In these photos, you can faintly see famous SF landmarks: Golden Gate Bridge, Transamerica Building, Coit Tower, Golden Gate Park, etc. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

– Amanda

Seattle’s Threshold


A threshold could be the starting point of an experience, event, or venture. To me, Seattle’s Market Theater Gum Wall was such a threshold. Covered with an array of chewing gum in all colors and extending nearly 15 feet high, this wall was different than any tourist attraction I’ve ever visited. It was slimy but colorful and creative. Quite a change for germaphobe, I might say…

Thanks for visiting!

– Amanda