Photos Of My Mom Enjoying Things

My mom has fallen into the Asian stereotype when it comes to cameras and phones: no pic, no proof. Therefore, all the pics, all the proof. Our recent trip to Berlin (my sister lives there; she visited her, and I skipped over from Chengdu) proved a conflict of lifestyle interest; as she tripped and stumbled across towns and attractions with the screen in front of her face, we became a bit impatient with the whole concept of ‘needing’ a picture. When she asked me to take photos with my camera, I became belligerent and refused– unless she posed like this.

Here is a series of my mother hopefully enjoying the view without a screen in front of her face!

Neue Castle
Rose marble corner in Neue
A garden by Charl
Roman bathhouse
An ivy terrace garden
Canola field in Poland

Four Sisters Mountain

I had the opportunity to hitch along on a mini road trip with some Chinese friends during Chinese New Year. We headed to Danba, a Buddhist town hidden in a gorge in the mountains north of Chengdu, and hiked a little bit of the Four Sisters mountain– a stretch of a mountain range featuring four peaks, one of which is the glorious ‘older sister’.

The ride to Danba took around 8-10 hours, but the journey was a huge part of the experience. We wove in and on and through mountain peaks and valleys; passed many small Tibetan villages on the way, characterized by stone-stacked walls painted with Buddhist swastikasconch shells, and the dark red cheeks of sunburnt and chill bitten denizens.

This was my first time out of the city. I drank in blue skies and the lush greenery; the rock formations of cliff sides floating precariously above us; the fresh, dizzying thin air in high altitudes. Much of China’s most stereotypical traits– as a nation, people, and country– stood out to me: the sheer scale of the mountains felt like a looming acceptance of fate, for who was I but a speck on this God-sized rock?; the opportunistic private 1 RMB restrooms for a family to make a buck on anyone’s bladders; dirt roads for miles lead to modern, paved roadways lined with silk flags for a breathtaking postcard picture. I remember driving through a dusty, deserted-looking town only to view on my left an incredible temple built on the side of a mountain/sheer cliff, facing a turquoise blue river.

The Four Sisters mountain is also quite impressive, the tallest of the Qionglai mountain range. The ‘bigger sister’ seems to glow in a permanent spotlight: while the ‘younger sister’ peaks are typical dark juts into the skyline, the largest peak shines on its own, the aggressive jag topped with snow reflecting the sunlight. When we started the hike from Rilong town, we were already at ~3000 meters above sea level. As someone who loves hiking, and regularly hikes when I’m home in Seattle, I didn’t expect it to be so difficult to climb a staircase– but the altitude is a real and formidable challenge. We didn’t hike *up any peak, but the base trail was peaceful, pleasant, and brought us to a beautiful viewpoint near the base of the mountain.

Dan climbs up from the jankiest restroom– a couple of boards propped against a mountain side
Adventures at high altitudes
This bridge was a site of Kuomingtan X Cultural Revolution battle
Tibetan designs at our first B&B, laced with sausages
Sausage laced views
Dan befriends a stick bug
The cliffs of Danba


Tibetan flags. Usually decorating a stupa, prayer flags hung up high are believed to maximize their positive effect.
The Four Sisters
Tibetan flags point to the “sea of clouds’ weaving through mountain peaks
Goats are found wandering highways and cliff sides

Tips before you visit:

  • Don’t be shy and embarrassed by the altitude struggle. Buy canisters of oxygen at any outdoor outpost (there are several in more populous backpacking towns), and drink lots of water.
  • Dress in layers, bring a hat. The sun is strong up there, but so is the wind.
  • You’ll be stuck in a car for awhile, weaving through gorges, valleys, peaks, and tunnels. Don’t forget to look up: you might see a herd of cows or goats, precariously perched, grazing as you pass on by.
  • Bring toilet paper. Also, most privately owned ‘rest stop’ toilets will cost 1 RMB.

Chengdu, Early January 2017

New year, new camera.

I took a stroll around the block for some of the pictures of Chengdu’s alleyways. Other pictures are from a lovely Sunday trip through the Wang Jiang Lou, a park hosting a plethora of bamboo species, common, exotic, and rare.

Chengdu has a similar color palette to Taipei: the greenery of leaves against the flat shades of grey cement. 
A neighborhood game of mahjong. 
A back alley barber shop. 
The winding back alleys of the city provide Chengdu with some air of romantic mystery.
Graffiti isn’t a common sighting; this radical splash hasn’t been painted over yet, and offers a welcome deviance from governmental order and control. 
Trees are painted white help reflect sunlight and prevent the bark from splitting due to temperature change. 
The bamboo groves house different public areas for exercise, tai chi, or if you look closely: chef’s phone call breaks during lunch. 
This lady maintains a serious face as she dances along with the community Chinese orchestra concert greeting the new year. 

Tokyo, December 28- January 1

Happy New Year!

I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Tokyo with my father and brother during this New Year. We sent 2016 on its way with bowls of hot ramen, sticky daifuku, and a whole lotta walking.

Here are some pictures of the trip– click for captions. For a comprehensive map of our travels during these five days, scroll down for the Google Map with categories for shopping, eating, sight seeing, free wifi, and more.


To use this map yourself, take a look and toggle between the layers to hone in on what you need during your travels! Some quick travel tips:

_I used the Maps.Me app to navigate between wifi spots.
_Tokyo provides a free wifi for tourists for up to 14 days.
_Cash, cash cash– buy Yen before you arrive; the ATMs will rip you off.
_Buy discounted subway tickets in the airport before you get into the city to save boku bucks.
_Bring your passport with you for tax-free shopping!

Taipei on Monday December 27

0900 – 1000 hours

High of 61, low of 55  | Possible precipitation (60%)

Travel through Song Shan and Xinyi districts by bike

Taipei eslite
Eslite Bookstore/Taipei New Horizons
Eslite Bookstore parking ramp
Oil barrel plants
Most construction sites on major roads or boulevards are decorated with living walls, a sign of climate conscientiousness and eco friendly design. Here are industrial oil barrels repurposed– the giant construction going on in the background will be the ginormous Taipei Arena on Guangfu Bei Road.
Garden songshan
The converted tobacco factory of the Songshan Creative Cultural compound hosts a ‘baroque’ style garden
A quiet corner of the Songshan Cultural Creative compound.
Bike Taipei
My ride through Taipei, outside of Good Cho’s Cafe

Taipei postman drops mail off at Good Cho’s

Usually not the person who snaps pics of their food, but the smoked duck bagel sandwich is my favorite sandwich in the world.