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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Where Are The Women?

August 18, 2015 § 1 Comment

The other day I went to go see Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and was struck by the 20 minutes of trailers that played before it. Not because they were so long, though it has gotten pretty ridiculous, but because of how testosterone-fueled many of them were.

The two that stuck out most were In the Heart of the Sea and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi — they’re movies with men, men and more men. In the former, Chris Hemsworth’s wife gets one line, and the rest of the story portrays how the crew of men get stranded at sea by a giant whale.

And there isn’t a single woman in the two-and-a-half minute trailer for 13 Hours. It’s a war movie, so…no surprise there.

Both these films are based on true stories, so arguably there isn’t much the filmmakers could do to include more women. But it’s dull (to me) to see men’s stories told over and over again with barely even the presence of women. (And it did make me wonder what the world would be like if women were in charge instead of men; I’m not saying there wouldn’t be any wars, but I’ve no doubt they would be less destructive.)

The recent study about lack of diversity in movies — “women made up only 30.2 percent of all speaking or named characters in the 100 top-grossing fictional films released in the United States” — rang true in Mission Impossible 5 as well. Other than Rebecca Ferguson, there were only two other women (with or without lines) in the whole film…and they both die shortly after we meet them.

There’s also a scene toward the beginning of the movie where Jeremy Renner and Alec Baldwin are sitting in front of a panel of judges, trying to justify why IMF should or shouldn’t be disbanded. The row of at least eight judges were all old, white men. Only a couple of them even talk! How difficult would it be to just throw a woman on there? Or a person of color?

But no. Men are the default. Every eastern European thug, every security staff member at the secret Moroccan plant, all men.

I would feel so disheartened if I were an actress. Where are the roles in big movies? There isn’t even the excuse that you’re not pretty or white or young enough; you’re a woman, and there’s only room for one or fewer of you.

You Play, I Watch: Video Game Playthroughs

July 26, 2015 § Leave a comment

I first started writing this post two years ago when I was actually going through this phase. Back then, video game playthroughs (also called Let’s Plays) were niche. Nowadays, Pewdiepie is practically a household name, Twitch sold for $1 billion and the phenomenon even got its own South Park episode. What a time to be alive.

Why would you spend your time watching someone else play a video game? is the resounding question from the confused masses. Back in 2013, I told a friend about my newfound pastime and he unflinchingly called me a loser. LOL.

My main reasons were usually a combination of:
1. no money
2. no time
3. no skills/too lazy

But the bottom line is, once you find a YouTube personality that you like, it’s simply entertaining to watch his or her playthroughs. (I don’t watch the ones without narration.) Since I already watched other vloggers on YouTube, it was a natural leap to combine that kind of casual, friendly familiarity with a love of video games. For me, it only works for certain games that have a story worth watching, but with the right narrator, the experience can be just as fun or engrossing as a good movie. And all for free!

Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness

Two years ago, Pokémon XD was inadvertently the first playthrough I watched. I already subscribed to TheJWittz‘s channel and the series caught my interest because I had started but never finished the game myself. This can wholly be blamed on Yawen’s brother, who back in the day somehow managed to delete everything on our Gamecube memory card, thus wiping all my progress. I was too distraught (and lazy) to play through it again.

It was interesting to see the game played from someone else’s perspective and compare JWittz’s battle style with mine. More important, it opened my eyes to the world of playthroughs — no longer did I have to be deprived of experiencing games old or new just because I didn’t own the right console or couldn’t finish a game.

Unfortunately, JWittz got sidetracked by the Pokémon World Championships and Pokémon Rumble U (which I found dull), so he stopped uploading XD videos.

Journey

Weeks later on a particularly boring weeknight, I found myself lying around the apartment and looking up lists of the best recent indie games so I could check them out. I decided on Journey, a beautiful game that I never would’ve been able to play myself because I don’t own a PS3. It’s a short game, and the whole thing lasted about the length of a movie.

I liked GhostRobo’s upbeat narration. He seemed just as amazed with the gorgeous landscapes as I was; it was like we were journeying together!

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