Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 3 (Part 4) - Little Tokyo

January 25, 2016 (continued): The next place I checked out was mainly the Japanese Village Plaza area in Little Tokyo. Making my way from the Go For Broke Monument, I passed by some interesting art along the way.

On the side of one of the buildings in the Japanese American National Museum is a mural entitled, Moon Beholders by Katie Yamasaki.

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Further down the street beside the other building of the museum is the OOMO Cube, a giant rubix-like cube with different facial features from all different backgrounds and ethnicities you can mix and match to show that we are more similar than different. I added my mean “frowning in the sunlight” mug to the equation on one of the mirrored sides of the sculpture.

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I then ventured towards the Japanese Village Plaza. Out in front is a replica of a Japanese fire lookout called the Yagura Fire Tower. It was actually designed by a Korean-American architect David Hyun in 1978.

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Inside the plaza is small but has a mix of Japanese themed shops specializing in nik naks, toys, clothes and beauty. There are also a few restaurants, sweets and bakery shops and a Japanese market.

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In the courtyard are traditional, Japanese wishing trees where people write their wishes on small pieces of paper and tie them to the bamboo tree. In normal tradition the tree is later thrown into the river or brought to a shrine and set fire to in order for the wish to come true. I just thought it was a lovely scene in being able to visually see people's hopes and dreams in colorful, physical form.

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It was starting to get late, and I was getting hungry so I went to try a nearby ramen restaurant Shin-Sen-Gumi which in Little Tokyo is located across the street from the Japanese Village Plaza. At this location there is usually a line of patrons waiting to get in, pretty much any time of day but it usually moves fairly quickly. They sell only one type of base broth and then you choose from a variety of toppings including a miso butter bomb, to tomato paste and mozzarella(!!). I got one of the suggested combinations of kimchi, garlic chips and a poached egg. It was delicious, the noodles were nicely aldente, the toppings added a nice texture and flavor variation that helped cut the richness of the broth.

It was also surreal to see non-Japanese chefs cooking the ramen who conversing in perfect Japanese. At the same time it made me ashamed in my own lack of fluency.

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I finished off the night with dessert at the Mikawaya store back in the plaza, where they have a variety of different flavored Japanese mochi ice cream. Here is the cookies and cream version. 美味しかった! (It was delicious!).

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Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 2 (Part 4) - Sunset Blvd Street Art

January 25, 2016 (continued): I decided to finish off my day with a walk around Sunset Blvd. I thought things would be open at night but only a few restaurants were still going. Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to be wandering around at night alone, but I enjoyed the walk and came across some interesting street art along the way.

An amusing switcheroo.

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Love this message, and I do believe in signs. This was most definitely one of them since after this trip, I decided to move to LA.

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Was this a tribute to Zombie Boy?

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I passed by the famous celeb hub, Chateau Marmont.

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I had also spotted this eerie scene of a stuffed animal hanging upside down from a telephone wire. Later googling reveals conflicting theories, either it’s by a girl gang or artist Manny Castro and Hearts Revolution are behind it.

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Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 2 (Part 2) - Venice Beach & Pier

January 25, 2016 (continued): Since I was in the nearby Venice Canals, I thought I’d pay a visit to the famous Venice Beach. Little did I realize, that this beach spans a vast width along the coast with the pier and boardwalk looking closer together on the map, it was definitely not in walking distance. Having now visited the boardwalk and Muscle Beach a couple times, the two areas could not be more different. My moments on the pier were calm and serene with only a few people scattered across the beach. Plus it was probably because at this time it was winter and the winds were brisker than usual.

I do like how the lack of people in the area, gives the photos sort of a dreamy, chill vibe to it.

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Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 4 (Part 2) - Lombard St, The Presidio, and Lucasfilm

January 22, 2016 (continued): To get from Chinatown to Lombard St, I rode on my first San Francisco tram. It was a slightly traumatic experience, because the seats were already crammed and I had my big gear bag and heavy winter coat so I was trying to sit down but the tram had already started moving. That coupled with the steps slick with rain I slipped and almost fell out, but luckily the other passengers reacted quickly and held onto my arms while I grabbed onto the bar.

After composing myself from nearly having my life flash before my eyes, I got off at my next stop. There were already a few people gathered taking selfies on the top of Lombard St and it’s winding road. It was a cool bucket list thing to see, but am glad it was on my way to other destinations because it is not as big as you expect it to be and not sure if I came here specifically it would be worth my while. It was interesting to see how the cars would have to carefully swerve each tight corner, especially with the wet roads.

After all the walking I was getting a bit weary and peckish, so I stopped for a little lunch and relaxation. I googled nearby spots, and an Indian restaurant, Curry Leaf came up - it sounded like the perfect place, as I was craving something warming to eat. Also having lived in Hawaii for a while, I had missed a lot of the good Indian restaurants I grew up eating while in New Zealand.

Along the way there were a couple more cool street art murals as well as an interestingly named theater.

At the Curry Leaf, I ordered the butter chicken with jasmine rice and a garlic naan bread. It was the perfect antidote to the mixture of cold, wet, and hungry attitude I was feeling, and it hit the spot. The portion could have probably fed two people!

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To work off my huge lunch, I walked towards The Presidio, a former military outpost that was now part of the Golden Gate Park filled with tons of trails, museums, mini parks, and my next destination, Lucasfilm. I’d read during my research that tourists can come by and visit the lobby area where many of the iconic characters are displayed.

Outside Lucasfilm was a fountain with statue of Yoda, there is kind of a special, funny meaning to him for me personally. As a baby, I was nicknamed Yoda, because when my dad first saw me when I was born, I apparently resembled the wrinkly little alien. Hopefully I wasn’t as green as he was! 

Inside the lobby, there were many costumes and statues of all the iconic Star Wars characters, a storm trooper, Boba Fett, and of course Darth Vader himself. Also displayed were many of the awards the company had won. Personally, I would have been excited to see something from my favorite of the Lucasfilm franchises Indiana Jones, but it was a cool experience nonetheless.

Later, I explored a little more around the park - it was so expansive you could almost get lost! It even had its own Starbucks there! Again, I would have loved to walk around more but the rain was picking up and I wanted to get to my other sights to see!

Travel Diary: Seattle Day 5 - Bits 'n Pieces Travel Day

January 18, 2016 (continued): For this day, my visual documentation was limited due to a mixture of being burnt out from the previous day’s adventures and it being a traveling to the next leg of my tour day.

Below are just some random photos from my phone that I did manage to capture for that day.

I started off with breakfast at The Crumpet Shop since I was craving something pretty light from all the heavy eating I was doing the past few days and it was in walking distance from my hotel which was a bonus. It kind of amused me that such a “posh and proper” cuisine as tea and crumpets was right across from a Showgirls - I guess that’s the diversity of Seattle for you!

The Crumpet Shop makes crumpets from scratch so I was eager to indulge - I ordered the Pesto Tomato Parmesan and a Lemon Curd Ricotta flavors. The crumpets were fluffy, soft pillows of goodness, and the ingredients tasted fresh. I highly recommend stopping over their for breakfast or a snack if you’re in the area.

I had some time to kill before my flight, so I explored a little more of Pike Place Market. I was finally early enough to witness the famous fish tossing amongst the vendors. Got another fortune from the Zoltar outside the magic shop.

I walked around the nearby area and saw some cool street art along the way. Stopped off in the flagship Nordstrom store, where there was a Diptyque candle the size of my head -the photo doesn’t do the size justice.

I walked around the nearby area and saw some cool street art along the way. Stopped off in the flagship Nordstrom store, where there was a Diptyque candle the size of my head -the photo doesn’t do the size justice.

On my way to the airport, I spotted a cool mural. It’s funny, as I was taking this photo, a girl who was standing near me for a while also decided to take a photo. Is this like yawning, you see someone do it so you’re also compelled to do so?

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Finally reached my destination at the airport where I waited to board for the next leg of my adventure, San Francisco.

All images taken by me via iPhone6.

Travel Diary: Seattle Day 4 - Belltown

January 18, 2016 (continued): Walking back to my hotel from my day about town, I got to go through the trendy Belltown neighborhood. I enjoyed the colorful (literally and metaphorically) stores, restaurants, architecture, and art. Below, are some of the highlights of my walk through, including a mannequin sporting a new clothing trend perhaps? ;)

Travel Diary: Seattle Day 3 - Antiques & Wall of Gum

January 17, 2016 (Continued): Walking back from the dock near the waterfront, I stumbled upon an interesting antique store, full of mid century modern vignettes and the creepiest looking life size Mickey Mouse statue I’ve ever seen. Seriously, the photos doesn’t capture the eeriness I felt coming close to it.

Having some time to kill before dinner, and I being in close proximity lead me to the infamous tourist attraction, the Gum Wall. It had actually been recently cleaned for the first time in 20 years but had already started accumulating a mass of chewed up gum again. It is an odd thing to be known as an attraction but I guess I like odd things, still, it was pretty gross thinking I was standing near a spit mountain, as displayed by my face below.

Across from the wall of gum, was something I was more inclined to stand near and see - a great wall of art! It was fun to study it piece by piece, trying to figure out what message was being stated or creative expression being shown.

All photos taken by me via Canon 70D.

Artsy Abbot Kinney

The other day, I went on a little excursion to explore the famous Abbot Kinney Blvd in Venice. I’d heard how heavily gentrified it had become and was now the go to place for artists and the like. Even upon exiting the parking lot, there was mural after mural, street art after street art painted on gates, shop exteriors, sidewalks, etc.  I was a kid in a candy store - it was akin to being in a free outdoor art gallery, everywhere you turned was a hidden little pocket of artistic expression. The mix of cool, eclectic shops and palm tree lined street added to the fun vibe of the area. I highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in LA.

All photos taken by me on my iPhone 6.

LA: Art of the Street

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Couldn't resist a life imitating art moment!

Couldn't resist a life imitating art moment!

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Back in college I was obsessed with street art and pretty much bought every book I could find on it. That's part of why I love LA because it has reignited my love and nostalgia of environmental art. Since my instagram was starting to become a documentation of just this, I decided to share the ones I didn't post but still loved enough to take. There's so many I haven't captured yet because I've spotted it as I was driving, and anyone who's driven in LA knows how hard it is to find decent parking even just for a minute (also because driving here still terrifies me a little!). 

Can you take a guess on where these are located? Or if you know of any must see's - let me know in the comments down below!