LA Diary: The Getty Center

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Hey everyone!

Pulling these photos up from the archives, they were too pretty not to post! Amanda and I frequented the Getty Museum a while back and were impressed with the variety in art and beautiful outdoor spaces. Some of our favorites are posted above, I especially loved the room we were in the fourth photo of me and Amanda. Let us know what your favorites from the Getty are! Also, if any of you have any recommendations for museums around LA or SD, let us know! We’d love to visit them and we would appreciate it! Have a fantastic day,

Tiffany

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.
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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.
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You can see ruins here (not pictured) and lots of lotus flowers, which can be seen in the Changchunyuan garden.
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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.
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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.
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Qianmen translates to front gate, and it is very centrally located near Tiananmen and famous shopping areas.
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Until next time,
Amanda

Beijing Travel Diary Pt. 3: Food

Hi everyone,

Here is the food segment of my Beijing Travel Series. Hope you enjoy and thanks for visiting!

Cheers,

Amanda

Beijing Roasted Duck 
The roasted duck in Beijing is different than the ones I’d tasted growing up; duck in China has all fat removed, which is a much healthier alternative. The wraps are also thinner than the bread I am accustomed to.
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Kungpao Chicken
Sweet and savory chicken, with a slight spicy tinge. It’s the closest thing to orange chicken here in the states. Kungpao chicken contains chicken, peanuts, vegetables, and chili peppers.
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Mapo Tofu
Hailing from Sichuan province, Mapo tofu is spicy tofu drenched with red pepper sauce. There’s also minced beef mixed with the tofu.
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Beef Noodle Soup 
Being such a noodle fanatic, I was so excited to see practically every restaurant serve beef noodle soup. The name indicates what is in it, there’s Chinese noodles, vegetables (bok choy), stewed beef, and beef broth.
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Zhajiangmian
Did you know Zhajiangmian (in Korean Jajangmyeon) originated in China? Zhajiangmian are noodles drenched in bean-based sauce. There’s actually an extensive Chinese-Korean history entwined with this dish: see the Facebook video below for more information
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Night Markets 

 

Night markets are an integral part of Asian food culture. I went to the Wangfujing night market, which had different foods ranging from crab to sausages. Definitely check one out when you’re in the area!

Beijing Travel Diary Pt. 2: Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Jingshan Park, Beihai Park

Part 2 of my Beijing series is dedicated to the Tiananmen area. The Tiananmen area is the entry point into other tourist attractions, such as The Forbidden City and Jingshan Park, which are north of Tiananmen.
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We spent about 30 minutes in the Tiananmen Square and visited the Tiananmen Tower. There’s also a huge and well-perserved museum called National Museum of China that has lots of Chinese artifacts. If you have a spare day, definitely visit since it’s free and informative. <Rhinocero-shaped bronze wine vessel from Western Han Dynasty: 202 BC – 8 AD>
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The Forbidden City is where the Ming and Qing royalty resided during their reigns. Like the Summer Palace, there are thousands of pavilions and structures in the Forbidden City, and it is very easy to get confused with the layout. Honestly I have no idea which courts I saw or not, because pretty much everything looks the same.What I am sure of however, is that we visited the Meridian Gate and saw the surrounding buildings around this area. Look at the details of the pavilions!
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Jingshan Park is only 1 yuan (15 cents!), and offers a stunning view of the Forbidden City after an uphill trek. The gardens are small but still gorgeous.
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Beihai Park is another imperial garden located in central Beijing. The Nine-Dragon screen is located in Beihai Park and is still well-maintained after centuries of wear and tear.
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Cheers,
Amanda

Beijing Travel Diary Pt. 1: Summer Palace

Decided to dedicate a sole post to the Summer Palace since it is, in my humble opinion, the best thing about Beijing. The Summer Palace is a Chinese imperial park and has a great blend of historical architecture and garden landscape. The park is huge, with 743 acres of land and over 3,000 royal structures. Tickets are 60 yuan (~ $9) which include all special exhibits. Below are some of the highlights:

Kunming Lake is my favorite part about the Summer Palace. Given the ‘dragon’ boat costed 20 yuan (~$3), it was a no brainer to ride across the lake. We saw different angles of important pavilions and bridges, including the Tower of Buddhist Incense and 17-arch bridge as shown below.
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Longevity Hill was the first place we trekked up. This is mainly a secluded area where all temples are located.
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Suzhou Market Street (Suzhoujie) houses over 60 shops and was one of my favorite things about the park as well. It is situated at the Black lake, and the sidewalks mimic the river streets in Suzhou, China. We ate lunch near lotus leaves here! An awesome painter who focuses on Chinese paintings is also located in Suzhou Market.
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Every detail is so intricate: each and every pillar is well-maintained and it is #lookupseason for every ceiling (lol).
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Here are the box seats where the royal family watched theater and plays in the past.
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In many cases at the Summer Palace, you can see the elderly practice Chinese calligraphy using this water dispenser brush tool. Calligraphy is a dying art, so it was nice to see lots of people practicing on the floor.
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Keep your eyes peeled for future Beijing posts since I still have so much more to cover. In the meantime, check out a vlog I made of Beijing!
Cheers,
Amanda

Beijing Travel Diary: ‘Back to the Motherland’ Video

As mentioned in a prior post, I compiled a short travel vlog documenting my 1 week experience in Beijing, China. Going back to the motherland was truthfully such a cultural shock, as the customs and pace of life are vastly different from what I was accustomed to back home. But hey, I guess this is the dilemma of most Chinese-Americans growing up here in America?

Beijing has lots of traditional architecture, having been the official capital of China since the Ming Dynasty. Most tourist attractions literally look exactly the same, namely the Forbidden City and Summer Palace, since both places were homes for the royalty in the past. See if you can spot the similarities in the video above!

Stay tuned for more blog posts about Beijing, and enjoy!

Cheers,

Amanda

 

 

Portland Part 3: Fusion and Food Trucks

Finally, the last segment of my Portland series. Sorry for the delay and enjoy all the food.

Pok Pok

Ah, the quintessential representative restaurant in Portland. You may have heard of Pok Pok as it is famed for transforming from a street cart to a well-known restaurant brand with locations in Portland, New York, and Los Angeles. Prior to trying Pok Pok, I was doubtful whether it would live up to its hype. My meal at Pok Pok was nothing short of amazing, however, because the staff was attentive and gave suggestions on how to best taste each dish. Everything was so flavorful. We ordered the Fish Sauce Wings, Cha Ca “La Vong,” Khao Soi, and Khanom Jiin Naam Ngiaw.

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The fish sauce wings are classic. The wings were so crisp and seasoned with the perfect amount of spices. It reminds me a bit of the chicken wings at San Tung in San Francisco. A must get at Pok Pok.

Cha Ca “La Vong” (pictured left) is its signature catfish marinated in rice. The fish had just the right amount of flavor and was very refreshing among meat dishes.

Khao Soi (pictured right) is its Thai curry noodle soup. We ordered the beef version and it was cooked just enough so that it was chewy but not too soft. The soup was the perfect dish to accompany the chilly weather in Portland.

Khanom Jiin Naam Ngiaw (not shown): I’m not a huge vermicelli fan, but this dish was supplemented with sauces that added more flavoring to the noodles. Although it was well-worth, I wished we got the papaya salad instead of the vermicelli.

28th & Division Street Cart-A-Palooza

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We randomly stumbled upon this food truck area since it is located two blocks away from Pok Pok. Cart-A-Palooza is clean and the options here are endless. We came here at least 5x in two days, no kidding. From Hapa PDX, we got their tonkotsu ramen which served as the perfect lunch for a rainy day. My brother always bought the California Sushi Burrito at a nearby food truck as a snack. The Thai food truck, which served Pad Thai as well as Pineapple Fried Rice among their vast menu, was nothing short of generous at a reasonable price.

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Nong’s Khao Man Gai

IMG_4878IMG_5058.JPGYou’ll probably look at the menu and wonder why this food cart is so popular. Their signature dish is chicken served as either light, dark, or a mix of the two along with seasoned rice. It’s so simple, but hits the spot since it reminds me of food carts in Asia.

Gyro Place

IMG_4394Located in the same Downtown food truck vicinity as Nong’s Khao Man Gai, Gyro Place is the top choice for Mediterranean and Egyptian food. The lines for this particular food cart are longer than nearby Mediterranean food competitors. I got the large chicken over rice and it was very flavorful. The chicken wasn’t dry and the hot sauces added the perfect touch. The only minor con was that the food took a while to prepare.

IMG_4867Along the same food cart block, we picked up an order of seafood paella. Although via photos the dish looking delicious, it *honestly* wasn’t. The seafood had a lingering frozen taste which made the paella seem not fresh.

Stumptown

IMG_5010I can safely say I am a coffee addict, so it was a no-brainer to stop by Stumptown for a morning coffee. I got the cold brew which I enjoyed, while my dad tried their chai tea latte.

Blue Star

IMG_4804IMG_5019Oh man was it a struggle to get donuts in Portland. The locals we encountered did not like Voodoo Donuts at all, stating it is “just donuts with cereal on top.” So we opted for Blue Star. We stopped by twice on our first day to get our share, but alas the location we visited was out. On our second day, we made it our mission to purchase some Blue Star so we called one of the stores and inquired for their peanut butter and jelly donuts. The jelly had a hint of spice and it was such a strange but addicting flavor. We tried their matcha one at their airport location as well.

Salt & Straw Ice Cream at Wizbangbar 

At Pine Street Market in Old Chinatown, there’s an ice cream shop called Wizbangbar which supplies Salt & Straw. I’ve had my fair share of Salt & Straw since there’s a location in Los Angeles, but my family never tried their ice cream before so it was high up on our eatery list. I got the Lucky Charms ice cream that didn’t really taste like Lucky Charms (which is good in my book since I don’t like overly sweet desserts). Definitely recommend as a pit stop if you’re in the area.

Potbelly 

I was starving when I ordered a mushroom melt at the airport so I totally forgot to take a photo before scarfing down my sandwich. I did, ironically enough, take some footage which is in my vlog linked below:

Thanks for joining me as I traveled down memory lane! -Amanda

April Highlights

Didn’t get to go to Coachella, but had a great month of April. I compiled a bunch of highlights from my short stay at home in San Francisco as well as adventures around Los Angeles. My definition of fun is somewhat lame because I basically just visit coffee shops and eat 24/7. I did end up driving north to Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve where I saw stretches of poppies in full bloom. I picked up a couple vintage items at Melrose Trading Post as well. Location descriptions are in the video. It’s my first time doing this type of video, so let me know if you like it. Have a great beginning of May!

Amanda

Greater Portland Day 2: Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, Forest Park, and Mt. Tabor

Day 2 in Portland involved going to a handful of gardens and city parks.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

This year’s Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest fell between March 24th – April 30th. We visited the farm right at the beginning of the festival, which wasn’t the most optimal time since many of the tulips were still budding. Nevertheless, it was great to get away from the city and see the nearby vineyards and sprawling fields. You can catch the festival within the next few days until April 30th.

Note: do not be like ill-prepared me and wear your nice sneakers to Wooden Shoe. Rain boots are a must since the fields are wet from the constant Pacific Northwest rain.

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Woodburn Premium Outlets 

We didn’t have any plans to go mall shopping while on vacation, but Woodburn Premium Outlets was so close to Wooden Shoe that it just made sense to stop by. Woodburn Premium Outlets is like any other outlet, but I couldn’t pass on no sales tax in Oregon (Los Angeles sadly has 8.75% sales tax & San Francisco has 8.5%). I bought a couple blouses and a North Face jacket (for $30!!!).

Forest Park 

Located 10 minutes away from Downtown Portland, Forest Park hugs the west side of the city and boasts roughly 70 miles of hiking trails. You’ll understand why it has to rain constantly after visiting Forest Park because the whole thing is filled with lush greenery. There are multiple entrances into Forest Park so keep the GPS at bay. We took the Wildwood Trail and stumped upon this mini waterfall shown below. Forest Park is definitely one of my fave gems in Portland.

IMG_4754IMG_4785.jpgPS: We also saw a beautiful view of Downtown Portland on the way to Forest Park and couldn’t help but stop by for a quick snap. IMG_4706.JPG

Mt. Tabor Park 

We visited Mt. Tabor the morning we left for the airport but I decided to cram it in this post. Visiting in the morning meant we encountered locals making their morning jogs. The view of downtown Portland is also nice from here. IMG_4862.JPGIMG_4830.JPGIMG_4854.jpgThanks for visiting and stay tuned for the last Portland segment which will feature food + drinks. Hold on tight because it’s a long one! -Amanda