San Francisco Day 4: At Last, the Bridge

September 17, 2015 § 5 Comments

I saved the Golden Gate Bridge for my last full day because I figured it would involve a lot of walking, which I was finally up for doing by Wednesday.

Kaiti and I started our day at Turtle Tower, a well-known Vietnamese restaurant in the Tenderloin area. She recommended I get their chicken noodle soup, which was good, but came with so many noodles that they sucked up all the soup before I had finished even half the bowl!

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While planning for my trip, I had read that Tenderloin was to be avoided, but I couldn’t be sure how sketchy it really was. Kaiti seemed to be fine walking through it by herself.

After our brunch, we walked around the area trying to buy a box of tissues for our drippy noses (I had forgotten to bring my usual cache), and I decided that those cautioning against traveling through Tenderloin had the right idea. Everything was run-down and far less cute or well-maintained compared to the rest of the city. There were also a surprising number of Vietnamese restaurants — interesting that these businesses coexist peacefully alongside the sketchy Tenderloin population?

Random passport cover on the street

Random passport cover on the street

We finally found some tissues at a Walgreens. The ramshackle bodegas we tried were no help.

Then, onward to the bridge! For some reason the address that Kaiti put into her Lyft app directed us to the other side of the bridge, so we drove back and forth across it for no reason (including paying the extra tolls?!). At least it saved us the effort of walking across it I guess.

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I saw quite a few of these GoCars around the city. Three wheels with hardly any visible protection from the elements/other cars — doesn’t look very safe to me?!

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San Francisco Day 3.2: Walk, Eat Until You Die

September 14, 2015 § 5 Comments

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I didn’t have definite plans for the afternoon, which is why I somehow agreed to the grueling hike over and up to Coit Tower from the Ferry Building (I think Kaiti was trying to kill me). It’s only a mile from the Ferry Building, but the last bit consists of 400 stairs, and I really thought I was going to die. I would’ve been fine if I weren’t sick, but alas, my body barely managed the climb.

Fresh-faced at the beginning of our journey

Fresh-faced at the beginning of our journey

So far away T__T

Halfway to the tower, but still so far away T__T

I took a lot of breaks LOL

I took a lot of breaks LOL

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UGHHH KILL MEEEE

Blackberries on the way up?

Blackberries on the way up

The views at the top of Telegraph Hill were a small consolation. The bottom level of Coit Tower had a cool wraparound mural and small gift shop. We didn’t go up the tower elevator because we didn’t want to wait in line, and sadly, we did not see or hear any parrots.

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Looooong Bay Bridge

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San Francisco Day 3.1: A New Morning

September 11, 2015 § 6 Comments

By Tuesday, I felt a bit better — still congested, achy and now coughing, but able to move around more and finally bring my camera (Olympus OM-D E-M5) out in the afternoon for some better quality photos.

Kaiti and I started our day early, heading out at 7 a.m. for a double whammy breakfast at Craftsman and Wolves and Tartine.

C&W is known for their Rebel Within, a poached egg inside a muffin speckled with green onions, which was reminiscent of Chinese scallion rolls (hua juan). I also couldn’t resist picking up a fig tart because they were so pretty!

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We got to Tartine before 8 a.m. and there was already a line forming outside. I was full, but we ordered a cup of bread pudding, a mini lemon tart and a pain au jambon (ham croissant).

I’m always drawn to bread pudding on dessert menus because I love bread and pudding. Yet somehow I’m never completely satisfied, I guess because I always expect it to be breadier? More like French toast maybe? Tartine’s bread pudding had the texture of watery scrambled eggs. I’m not saying it was bad, but I probably shouldn’t order bread pudding anymore.

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San Francisco Day 2: Staying Alive

September 8, 2015 § 5 Comments

I spent most of my second day convalescing in Kaiti’s bed while she was at work. #Mondayblues

In the morning, I managed to walk around the corner for some breakfast (and to buy three more boxes of tissues at CVS).

Flour & Co was a cute little bakery where I ordered a bowl of oatmeal, which I figured was good sick-person food. It was humongous. I also grabbed a lemon olive oil biscuit to nibble on throughout the day.

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For dinner, Kaiti and I went to Palm House in the Marina neighborhood. At 5:30 p.m., the place was practically empty. The decor was super cute, with colorful birdcages hanging from the windowed ceiling. If I had a house with a sunroom, I’d totally decorate it like this!

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Smiling through the sickness

Smiling through the sickness

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San Francisco Day 1: The Agony & the Ecstasy

September 5, 2015 § 5 Comments

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I was SO excited for my trip to San Francisco last week…until I started feeling sick the night before. By the morning of my departure, my sore/scratchy throat had developed into a full-blown cold, complete with aches and congestion. Great.

At least I had Departures to keep me company. (The website is lame but the print magazine is superb.)

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Normally when I fly, I prefer to sit by the window because I don’t use the bathroom often, but I had booked my flight on Expedia and they didn’t allow me to choose my own seat. At the airport, the guy at the counter said the only available window seat was all the way in the back, so I decided not to move.

Luckily for me, by the time everyone was on the plane, the two seats next to me were miraculously empty despite the rest of the flight being full!

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YAAAAAAAAAAAS

One straggler came aboard at the last minute, stopped by my row, checked his ticket and kept on walking. I cheered silently and envisioned lying down to sleep peacefully…until the flight attendants decided to move the guy back to my row for whatever reason!

So much for my idyllic plans. Without a window to lean my head against, I barely slept at all. It was my first time flying Virgin economy, and I was astonished to discover that they weren’t going to feed us at all on the six-hour flight. Not even peanuts! Food was for purchase only. That just seems inhumane?? And certainly makes first class look extra enviable…

After a sleepless flight of endless shifting and nose-blowing — I wasn’t sure if my sore butt was from being sick or being old — I took a taxi to Kaiti’s place downtown. I noticed that the door of the car had a little mirror, which I assumed was to prevent passengers from hitting cyclists on the way out? Pretty cool. Never seen it in NYC before. We just get a sticker that says “Look before you exit.”

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Death In The Family

March 1, 2015 Comments Off on Death In The Family

My grandpa — 爷爷 — died this morning.

He was more than 90 years old, and his health had been declining for years. The most recent pictures I saw were of him lying in bed in some kind of hospice, curled up with his eyes tightly closed and a thin tube wrapped around his head going into his nose. He didn’t look comfortable.

My dad told me last month when he showed me the pictures that my grandpa was no longer able to eat or digest food, thus the feeding tube. 爷爷 wasn’t tall from what I remember, but he was still healthily hefty just a few years ago, but had wasted away to skin and bones.

He had dementia for the past number of years as well. He had started forgetting who we were even in 2008, the last time we went to China as a family. Grandma would admonish him to say hi to us. “Who?” he’d say. Dad would have to introduce himself. “It’s me; your son.” 爷爷 would smile and nod. “Ah, yes, good.”

I have a picture of him from when I visited Shenyang by myself in 2010, when he could still feed himself and get around slowly with his walker. “Sometimes grandpa remembers who I am … but usually not,” I wrote.

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An Afternoon at NYC’s First Cat Cafe

December 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

meow parlour storefront

Last Monday, Meow Parlour opened to much fanfare. Finally, New York gets its own permanent cat cafe! (I believe Cat Town Cafe in Oakland has the honor of being the first in the U.S.)

The first time I visited a cat cafe was in Hong Kong (pictures here and here); it was definitely more of a cat-themed cafe that happened to have pet cats — lots of tables and chairs with a full-fledged menu of kitty-shaped things.

In contrast, Meow Parlour centers on the well-being of its four-legged tenants. There’s lots of open space to sit and play with the cats, which are all up for adoption through KittyKind, plus nooks for them to hide in if they’re tired of human interaction. As my friend Jennifer said, it’s so hard to resist wanting to take one home!

I donated to Meow Parlour’s Kickstarter immediately upon learning about it, thus securing myself a reservation for two this past Saturday. When I arrived at 2 p.m., all but two of the kitties were sleeping (I think there were about eight total?), so I chilled and took in all the cat-friendly decor.

sleeping kitty

meow parlour cat cafe

The black hoop is a wheel for them to run on!

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