Friday, December 31, 2010

Colander Boat Ride

These funny looking bowl-shaped boats are all over the place along the coast.
What the boats look like

My dad chartered a private boat to explore the islands off Nha Trang. Our first stop was a dock at a nearby island. We wanted to go snorkeling but it was too windy and the surface water was very rough, so this guy came along to offer a "glass-bottomed" boat ride. We hopped in!
Taking a ride on the colander boat

It was the funniest and coolest little boat ever. Here we are looking at the fish & coral below. Raelene and I are thinking of starting a business on Catalina and offering these boat rides & a narrated tour to people. It's way better than a kayaking trip!
Looking at the coral & fish

Our captain, braving the seas to show us the reef below. I'm sure it wouldn't be hard for us to learn how to navigate a boat like this!
Our captain

Fun times on our colander bowl boats!
Me & Rae

Fruit anyone?

Tropical fruit
I'm not sure the what the name of this fruit is in English, but if you do a literal translation of the fruit's Vietnamese name it would be called "breast milk". Awesome. It's pretty good, although it has a curious slimy texture. If anyone knows what this fruit is in English, let me know!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Beep beep, honk honk

Our helmets!

It's funny, that's what you hear all day long, beep beep, honk honk. The motorbikes and cars talking to each other. I just wanted to quickly recap our first couple of days so far...

Our flight from Incheon was delayed about 40 minutes, so we finally made it into Ho Chi Minh a little after 11pm. Although that leg of the trip was considerably shorter, about 5 hours, it was definitely more uncomfortable. It's just hard having to sit on another flight after just finishing such a long journey already. Of course, a nap and the onboard entertainment (watched The Other Guys) helped me get through it. My dad picked us up from the airport and took us for a midnight pho meal (yes, there were people out eating pho at that time of night!) before we settled down for the evening.

My dad bought Raelene and I each a helmet, so we spent most of our first day touring the town on the back of a motorbike. We were riding in style, with a helmet and face mask to shield us from the dust (the picture above doesn't show us with our face masks, I'll have to load that one later.) First stop was breakfast, had some egg rolls and a yummy bowl of bun bo hue. We then visited the Reunification Palace, former home of the South Vietnamese presidents. It was a very interesting place, and my Lonely Planet desribes it perfectly, "Time has stood still here since 30 April 1975, a slightly scary thought. The striking modern architecture and the slightly eerie feeling you get as you walk through its deserted halls make Reunification Palace one of th emost fascinating sights in HCMC." We read that description after visiting and laughed about it, because that's exactly what Raelene and I were talking about as we were exploring the building. It definitely felt a little eerie, and everything looked like it belonged in a movie or another era. After that, we visited the long narrow aisles of a couple of markets, learned how to cross streets, did some errands, then ended the afternoon with a treat at a street corner ice cream shop where we watched the rush hour traffic flow by.

We had a very early start this morning and left the house at 5:30am to explore the South-Central coast for a few days. Today's destination was Nha Trang, a resort town a little over 200 miles north of the city. Although it's not too far in distance, road travel is at a much slower pace and it took us about 11 hours to get here. We did make a few stops, including lunch at a restaurant right on the beach--what a view! The strip of beach and hotels here reminds me of the hustle & bustle of Waikiki.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Dance

It may seem like mass chaos at first, but you soon learn that being on the vibrant and bustling streets of Saigon is taking part of a performance, a song and dance of the city's people coming and going. The soothing hum of motorbikes plays in the background while honks and beeps provide an ever changing beat. This is the music for a beautiful dance, of motorbikes, cars, bicycles, and buses whizzing and weaving amongst each other. Nothing is choreographed, which is the most impressive part about witnessing this performance. Individuals play their own tunes and take their own paths, but they do so together on one stage, and thus create a living and breathing piece of art, a dazzling show of people on the move.

This is how we spent our day, taking part in the performance, soaking up Saigon's sights and sounds on the back of a motorbike. It was fun and quite an adventure, and I'm still blown away by how they do it--how the riders and drivers are able to manage such small spaces, how they can get so close without ever touching, how they plunge straight into traffic without fear, how they make it all seem effortless, seem like a choreographed dance. It is a thing of beauty, what they do, but I must admit that two words sum up what I thought and said to myself most of the day..."HOLY SHIT!" So many times, it seemed like we were going to bump into the person next to us or crash head on with the person in front of us. Of course nothing ever happened, and I was left again and again, laughing about the thrilling close ecounters.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Incheon layover

Three movies, three magazines, three meals, many naps, and 13.5 hours later and we've survived the first and longest leg of the journey. My butt hurt and my feet swelled, but other than that, it wasn't so bad. I'm so glad I woke up early to go for a morning 3 mile run before we left for the airport. It was nice to get a workout in and have my muscles moving for a bit before sitting for so long.

At Incheon for a quick layover before boarding the 5 hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City. It's 2:16am at home, and 7:16pm here. This is a beautiful airport and I'm looking forward to checking more of it out and doing the city tour on our trip home.

Looks like we are about to board!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mission accomplished

I've managed to pack pretty much everything I was hoping to bring into what you see here. No major sacrifices were made, which I'm happy about. We head off tomorrow morning, holy crap! Well, see y'all in a few weeks. Hope everyone had a great Xmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Oh, packing woes!

Stuffing 3 weeks worth of belongings and necessities into a backpack is very difficult, espeically for an overpacker like me. What to take? Everything! What to leave behind? Nothing! It really shouldn't be that hard, considering I survived 6 weeks in Europe on just a backpack. I've done it before, I can do it again, right? Theoretically, yes. But in actuality, it's tough. Especially when the high temperatures of the places we're visiting range from 20F to 90F. That's a 70 degree difference!

What do I want wear on a 13hr+5hr flight?
How many pairs of shoes will I bring?
Should I pack the scarf?
Will all this fit?
Hope I don't forget anything!
Oh, packing woes!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

T minus 4 days

T minus 4: 2nd to last day of work (so much to finish up!), gym, dinner with the MRods & December (yay, haven't seen them since summer!) and Alie

T minus 3: Last day of work, Xmas Eve happy hour at the Huntington House

T minus 2: Xmas with the Fam, one last load of laundry

T minus 1: Country Strong with Milena, gym (hopefully), freak out, pack, dinner with Dominique before she moves to Maui, freak out some more...

T minus 0: LAX>ICN>SGN Yay vacation!

Monday, December 20, 2010


"If you want to become the best runner you can be, start now. Don't spend the rest of your life wondering if you can do it."
-Priscilla Welch

Instead of thinking that I can't or wishing that I could, like I so often used to do, I'm finally just doing it. I'm pushing, I'm going, I'm putting one foot in front of the other, again and again. I'm discovering new parts of myself, that I can, and I will never have to wonder.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lovin the rain

It's been raining the past two days straight and I'm lovin it. Forget 80 degree weather, who wants that in December? Give me grey. Let me hear raindrops. Make me feel like it's actually winter.

Other things that have been making me happy lately...
Foggy mornings and cool overcast days
Trees turning beautiful colors
Seeing Orion & Cassiopeia in the night sky
The fresh scent of Christmas trees

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I want a brave love
One that makes me weak in the knees
I want a crazy crazy love
One that makes me come undone at the seams
-Kiss the Flame, Jewel

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday morning reflections...

Life. Maybe it’s about discovering yourself anew with each experience you have. About finding your path, becoming who you want to be. It’s expressing yourself and your love in new and better ways. With all the struggles and triumphs along the way, the stumbles, tears and fears, but also the strength, courage, friendship, support and love. It’s about putting these pieces together, making the connections, knowing that these moments have greater meaning and seeing the beauty in such a revelation. Life tugs to align itself in small and perfect ways. It all happens for a reason, happens exactly the way it is supposed to, it all comes together perfectly. This gives me hope, keeps me believing in the journey that I am on. Breathing life, appreciating it, sharing it. I welcome more and more of it, of life, love, happiness, and the world.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Grand Canyon B&W
Grand Canyon, North Rim

Friday, December 10, 2010

You know you're Asian when...

Asian household remote

...your family puts plastic wrap around the tv remote control to protect it. I acquired my grandpa's tv a while back, and yes, that is truly Saran wrap on the remote. I wasn't surprised to find it like this, and although it's kind of embarrassing, it's also a hilarious reality. We Asians like to protect our gear and make it last as long as possible, and if we couldn't keep the original packaging, then plastic wrap would work just as well.

Even more embarrassing? I must admit that I can't escape my upbringing. I got an iPhone 4 a few months ago, and it was about a week before I gave in and finally peeled the protective plastic cover off the front of the phone. I actually would have kept it on longer, but it was covering the earpiece and I couldn't hear a darned thing when I made phone calls. Yes, I am Asain and I cannot escape it.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


"It seems to me we can never give up longing and wishing while we are alive. There are certain things we feel to be beautiful and good, and we must hunger for them." -George Eliot

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


Bench & tree
Grand Canyon, North Rim

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


“But as my father helped me see, the important thing is to try to do the right thing at the time. The decisions you make, the actions you take—they accumulate over time, they shape you, they give you direction. Over the years, I made one decision after another. I learned from my mistakes. I kept on swinging."
-Apolo Ohno, Zero Regrets

Monday, December 06, 2010

Writings from the past

Going through boxes of old stuff at my parents house, I recently discovered some journals from my past. They were from the high school and early college days, an interesting time that makes for very amusing reading. My late teens and early twenties, as with many people, were a time full of angst and trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. It's when we first truly venture into the world. It's when questions, relationships, and adventures are new and intense, when so many things are analyzed and agonized over, when every experience feels so significant. Although these moments may not be meaningful in the same way they once were, there's still something special about them, special because of what it did mean once upon a time. Here is one entry that I came across...

February 2002
Adam called yesterday and startled me with an apology for not being the friend he should have been, for never thanking me and giving me the credit I deserved. It was the nicest and most honest apology I’ve ever gotten. I was so surprised by it, because I never thought it would occur to him—it actually never really occurred to me. But everything he said was just so special. It made me feel good and made me think, “Hey, maybe I’m a better person than I think I am. Maybe I can do and be better and deserve better and not have to settle for anything in life.” Because really, I don’t think about stuff like that most of the time. You just live your life, hoping that someone will see something special in you, see something more than you even see. And Adam did that a little for me. He always has. “You give and you give and you give—and you never asking for anything in return. And no one gives you the credit and respect you deserve.” All I wanted was for him to SEE me. And maybe he does now.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


"This was one of the hardest parts-just staying focused and knowing there would be light at the end of the tunnel, even if you don't know quite how long the tunnel is, even if you almost can't see the light. You just have to have faith to keep going."
-Apolo Ohno, Zero Regrets

Friday, December 03, 2010

I Run Because...

Good morning Long Beach!
Morning run along the beach.

I run because…
I have never been a runner
I never thought I could be a runner
To get a glimpse of the “runner’s high"
It is hard, it is rough, it is a tremendous challenge
Overcoming the challenge is extremely rewarding
It pushes my mind and body to another level
The sense of accomplishment feels so good at the end of a run
I want to feel like I can be a runner
I want to be able to say that I am a runner