Motherland: Happiness As Simple As That

My mom and I went on a trip away from civilization in a remote area in China. This was for sure not the most glamorous place to visit nor the most quaint town to live in. I wouldn’t necessarily choose this place, if it’s not for my mother.

The trip was hectic, but so worth it.

Hammered silver jewelry and rose petals filled pancakes that repeat themselves on nearly every street. Ethic minorities who pride themselves on their hieroglyphs and exotic cultures. Overnight train where two triple bunk beds are cramped into each tiny compartment.

A liberating and humbling realization of traveling is to experience the differences among people, and learn to embrace them in spite of it. The notion that we are all inhabitants of the same planet yet we live such different lives, pray to different gods, but can still share a raw genuine human connection is just so rad. Here’s some magic to share from a remote part of my motherland, where people lead the simplest and happiest lives.

Yunnan, China

After a week long bus trip, my mom and I flew back to our home city, for my grandma’s birthday.

My mom used to take me to Hong Kong every break to visit my brother and cousins. And Hong Kong has since become one of the places in which I dream of living. Returning to Hong Kong, I find everything as I left it – as if I’d merely step out for a bite in the middle of a game, then returned, years later, to resume it. A week in this wild city is honestly not enough. And then I’ve come to a realization that you’ll probably never feel that your time spent in one city is ever enough.

Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Shek O, Hong Kong


Love always,





Chicago: Where You Are Your Most Authentic Self

They say that there are feelings you can never find words for, and you will learn to name them after the ones who gave them to you. I’m doing just that, except for me it’s with all the places I’ve been to.

My best friend and I have a few traditions, and traveling every summer is among the most consistent of all. Why are we best friends? I honestly don’t have an answer for that.

We are inherently different in many ways – we have completely opposite personalities, and our logic reasoning contradicts. She, is crazier than I am. I think we can safely say that. Where I am timid or hesitant to make my presence known, she stands right beside me. She makes no apologies and gives zero fvkc. She is a lesson in taking up space – and as a woman – that’s a vital revelation.

Yet we are not so different. We see things from almost identical perspectives. We both come from a long line of fighters, a honest place. There is one doctrine we always hold dear to our heart – on the face of any matter, we act with raw instinct and absolute candor.

Chicago is the sixth city we’ve been to together, and embarrassing stories happened all the time to say the least. They are messy, crazed, and amusing. To mention but a few, in Seattle, we attempted to put in a song request at a club, and of course, no one cared. We then missed our flight back to San Francisco because of a detour to get boba. And during this trip in Chicago, we went out with our Airbnb host and her friends only to get charged extra for the same consequential reason. Just typing these already makes me chuckle a little.

Below I have curated a list of highlights of my time there. Do read on and bookmark these spots if you are planning on a trip to Chicago one of these days.

To do:

  • Willis Tower
    • As an iconic landmark of Chicago, Willis Tower is the tallest observation deck in the city. It offers sensational panoramas of the entire downtown and the extended coastal line. A recent addition – the Ledge – all-glass balconies extending four feet out allows you to look down to the street from the 103rd floor. (Tips: if you plan to take some good photos at the balcony, have your poses ready ahead of time as every person only gets about 30 seconds due to the long line of people waiting.)
  • Navy Pier
    • If you’re a kid at heart, Navy Pier would no doubt be your favorite adventure. This corner city is sort of like a carnival. It contains some rides, a Ferris Wheel, a Shakespeare Theatre, a Children’s Museum, an oddly large number of beer gardens, and even miniature golf.
  • Lake Front Trail
    • A nearly 20 mile recreational area that runs along the Lake Michigan. The waterfront promenade boasts sweeping views of the entire harbor. You’ll find many locals running, walking their dogs , or chilling on the bench.
  • Millienium Park
    • Located right downtown, Millennium Park is one the most stunning bits of urban planning in the city. While there, don’t miss the Cloud Gate sculpture, locally known as “The Bean.”
  • Oak Street Beach
    • We didn’t make it this time due to a time constraint, but Oak Street Beach has always been on my bucket list as it consists of two of my favorites – beach and skyscrapers. If you’re traveling to Chicago in the summer, a beach visit is a must!

To eat/drink:

  • The Hampton Social
    • If you’re anything like us, you’ll probably fall in love with this place as soon as you see the the stylish, nautical interior. Serving up seafood and beach-themed cocktails, The Hampton Social hosts live music events, and offers a breezy hangout space just as the Hampton getaway.
  • Bridge House Tavern
    • Brunch by the river walk. This is the place to go if you like to accompany your meals with a nice view.
  • Lao Sze Chuan (on Michigan Ave)
    • Lao Sze Chuan is known for its modern interpretation of classic dishes. The atmosphere of this place is more upscale than your usual good Chinese restaurants. Not many people can handle the Szechuan hot spicy, but this restaurant is definitely worth a stop.
  • I|O Godfrey Rooftop Bar
    • For an undeniably beautiful view of Chicago, head to the Rooftop Bar, perched on the top floor of the hotel Godfrey. Just keep in mind it can get very crowded on weekends.
  • The Allies at Soho House
    • Very rarely will you find a place that can serve up morning pastries and latte as well as it does evening cocktails, but Allies is one of the few. My recommendation is head over for a cocktail or two after a long day of exploring. A beautiful interior, and a prime location inside the exclusive Soho House are just the icing on the cake.

Chicago is the place where I get to be my most authentic self as I am taking the most steps I’ve taken for myself in a long while.

Plan a trip and hop on a plane, with or without a companion. Go stare at the vast universe. Acknowledge your trivial existence as well as your absolute importance.

I’m doing just that for myself, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

‘Tis all.

Thanks for reading.


Love always,





Toronto: Home Is Where The Family Is

Toronto is the city that always holds a special place in my heart, because of the people, and the memories that followed. This weekend getaway consisted of: family reunion, speaking home dialect, celebration of middle-school friendships, and rose-tinted memories filled with nothing but love. To top it off, my brother and I got a picture together in as long as I could remember, and we didn’t even look alike (。-_-。).

This trip was made possible in large part thanks to my cousin, who was studying abroad in Canada, and to celebrate her completion of the program was conveniently taken as an excuse for the two families to gather in Toronto, where my brother and his wife now reside in.

Just as re-reading a book at a different stage of life would allude to new visions, re-visiting a place for a different purpose would give you an experience unlike something else. My last visit to Toronto was part of my high school graduation trip, in which I got to fully explore the city in the span of two weeks. Three years later, I was back to this city. It felt familiar, like visiting an old friend, yet intriguing, as this time I was with my family.


Family trips don’t happen often as I grow up, and my last memory of the four of us – my parents, my brother, and I – being together was already two years ago. My parents are not naturally expressive people when it comes to parenting. Many times they attempted to be caring, loving, things came off as ugly – gentle reminders became nagging grumbles, occasional chitchats became hypersensitive fights.

The teenage me was especially rebellious, impulsive, and careless. There were times when my mom and I needed to communicate in letters – it was writing that allowed us to take all the space and time that we needed to sort out the emotions and put together the thoughts. I still remember her handwriting was so firm, so angular. There were strikethroughs scattered here and there, but nothing big enough to affect readability. During my most paradoxical stage of life highly dominated by adolescent hormones, my mom sought out a written form of communication that turned out to be the most effective buffer in the relationship between us. We resorted to a common ground through working to understand the misunderstandings. After all, “I love you” and “I’m sorry” and even “I don’t really give a shit about you” are communicated more through actions than through words.

Something I never said too much – I love you. My parents never said it much, either. And I thought I’d be different, but I guess I’m not. Don’t be mistaken if I appear to have received an unhealthy upbringing (although that is kind of the direction this took, my bad). I truly feel more than grateful for the independent and soft spoken role model my mom has embodied. A sentence like “I love you” is never extra, is never too much of a sweet note to end a phone call with the family, with the loved ones.


Okay, before I digress into more childhood story, below are the spots I personally love to stop by in Toronto:

To Do

  • High Park
    • Best time to go: late April for the cherry blossoms or September for some fall colors.
  • Toronto Islands
    • A short 15-minute ferry ride will take you to another world of idyllic picnic spots, car-free streets, and beachfront attractions. I spent a day here biking around and enjoying the nature. I have to say the Toronto’s growing skyline from across the harbor is the reason alone to visit.
  • Niagara Falls
    • It is about two hours from Toronto, easily accessible by casino buses. There are also ice wine breweries around the area for those who are interested.
  • Kensington Market
    • Located right next to Chinatown, Kensington Market hosts a number of diverse restaurants, specialized groceries, and self-employed vendors, from vintage jewelries to ethnic fashions. Tip: remember to haggle to get the best deal!
  • Ireland Park
    • A green, quiet corner nestled inside the Metropolitan area. At here, you can appreciate the Toronto skyline in peace, and a handful of bronze sculptures, of course.
  • Cloud Gardens
    • An indoor garden located in downtown Toronto, open only in the mornings on weekdays.
  • Chestnut Hill Lookout
    • Known as the perfect makeout spot in Toronto, it is hidden in a residential neighborhood. At here, you can overlook the entire Don Valley Parkway.
  • Montreal
    • As a historic hub of the nation, Montreal exudes a slice of old Europe in a pie of magnificent architectures. It is an overlooked town that you don’t want to bypass if you’re not on a time constraint. It takes about six hours of drive or an hour by plane from Toronto, but spending a day or two here is plentiful.

To Eat

  • Jarbistro (Japanese fine dining, set off by a chic interior design of light wood and exposed brick)
  • Sake bar Kushi (Sushi & grilled Japanese eats, with striking dark wood interior traditionally decorated)
  • Fishman Lobster Clubhouse Restaurant (Hong Kong style seafood creation, ft. king crab, gigantic lobster, and mean-muggin’ fish)
  • Lavelle (rooftop bars / French eatery / brunch)
  • The Porch Toronto (rooftop venue for cocktails & brunch)


(Additional photos of Toronto Islands and Montreal from my last trip in case you wonder how they look like:)


This trip was so short, yet so sweet. I miss this place already.

As always, thank you for reading.


With love, warmth, and all other good things





Yosemite Valley: The Spring Playground

If you haven’t noticed, I have a thing for national parks. Specifically, I’m most comfortable in workout gear and the only slightest idea as to my exact location at any given point in time. I find comfort in falling off the grid and abiding a different clock than the outside world. And Yosemite gave me an exact experience where the charm hasn’t been overshadowed by the deluge of modernity. It is something that I’ve always longed for.

We didn’t leave Irvine until 9:30 p.m. on Friday due to the little detour to Summer Land (aka the school music festival that for once with a decent lineup). After a four and a half hour drive singing our heart out to Eason Chan (the ultimate roadtrip song obvi), We arrived in Oakhurst, the small town where our Airbnb was located. Hidden in a valley, it was an exquisite gabled cabin with a triangular roof. Standing on the balcony, you could hear the silvery sound of the running creek and the water splashing the rocks. Outside the cabin, you would find a million stars shining bright in the sky. It’s like the wish would really come true if you made one… ya feel:)

Yosemite was such a resilient playground where we were welcomed with idyllic views and vigorous energy. The scenic drive into the park was only a small taste as to what you’ll witness once in the valley. The trails varied from staircases to flat fields dipping below the waterfalls. The streams were in full force raging with water from melting snow. We maneuvered across the creeks with the least amount of water-to-pants contact.. but only to get drenched in the mist flowing off the falls. Here I included a list of the spots that my friends and I went to during our time at the park:

  • Glacier Point
  • Lower Yosemite Falls
  • Bridalveil Fall
  • Mirror Lake

Although we were only able to visit a few spots due to the heavy traffic and the limited amount of time, we had zero issues filling our day. When you hate something there are millions of words to describe it, but when you’re happy, that’s it – you’re just happy.


Stay adventurous,