Travel Diary: Los Angeles Day 3 (Part 2) - DTLA and The Last Bookstore

January 25, 2016 (continued): The next place I wanted to check out was The Last Bookstore which was in walking distance from Grand Central Market.

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On my way there, I spotted another cool electrical box with the Egyptian God Anubis, painted in a way that reminds me of Sanna Annukka’s scandinavian style animals.

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I passed through the Historic Core of DTLA with many beautiful buildings having an architectural style dating back to the early 1900s.

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Upon entering the store, I could see why this was a highly recommended place to visit as it was part art installation/gallery, part bookstore. There were sculptural pieces made of books everywhere in the main room, including the checkout bar station.

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When coming from the front the room to the left is the art/design books section, so of course it had to be filled with little bits of artistic expression. On the walls were these beautiful, largely detailed pencil(?) drawing murals. The back of the room had a large gallery of paintings in different styles, from thrift store chic to modern, contemporary works.

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Even the stairway area had little bits of art thrown in, albeit a bit creepy, even more so when I was editing this image and noticed reflected in the security mirror, that there was a person standing in the stairwell.

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Hanging above the stairs was a gothic-esque sculpture.

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Further up was an art installation reminiscent of something out of Harry Potter, where the books come alive appear to be “flying” out of the bookcase.

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Part of the upstairs has a few mini shops selling cool vintage trinkets, to paintings, to stationery bits and bobs.

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Once you reach the end of the loop of mini shops, there is an entrance to the upstairs part of the bookstore. Here, are even more sculptural book wonders, from little windows, to a lit up cave.

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Also sprinkled throughout are more artsy influenced installations including 3D murals, color categorized bookshelves and various vintage sculptures.

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Their inventory of books is a mixture of new, and secondhand with a few hard to find thrown in. I would recommend visiting whether you’re a bibliophile or quirky art connoisseur!

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On the way back to my car, I spotted a few more representations of DTLA’s eclectic mix of artistic inspiration like this pretty black and white building.

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To the *ahem* creepy.

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To the amusing.

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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Weekly Update: LA - Craft and Folk Art Museum

Been busy, busy - it’s the 2nd week in on my weekly update and already late and didn’t document much of it. Oops!

October 15: I did manage to go to the Craft and Folk Art Museum on Sunday and it was a pay what you can day as opposed to the normal $7 admission. I guess the whole museum consists of one main exhibition that changes every so often, this time it was art regarding The U.S.-Mexico Border: Place, Imagination, and Possibility.

The museum had some interesting and thought-provoking pieces, one of my favorites being Cartonlandia by Ana Serrano which was a sculptural collage created from recycled materials including postcards and cereal boxes to illustrate the slums scattered around Latin America.

This is a very small museum with only a couple floors and while I think supporting art is important, I’d probably recommend going on a Sunday where you pay what you can - as there are a few other free museums with the same amount of pieces available. But you can decide for yourself as you can see below some of my favorite pieces that I saw there.

After the museum I went for a walk around the neighborhood and captured some shapes and street art that caught my eye as I went by.

Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 5 - Mission District & Clarion Alley Murals Super Post

January 23, 2016 (continued): My mission (no pun intended) was to make it out to the artsy Mission District for my last day in San Francisco. In the morning, I caught the BART and headed over there. Emerging from the station, I definitely felt the shift in the type of environment than where I spent most of my time in SF. I wanted to try breakfast in that area since I’ve heard of a lot of good, new, restaurants that opened up. Walking around, I immediately saw that it wasn’t going to be an easy feat getting in for a quick bite anywhere, I couldn’t even fit the whole line in the picture!

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I was going to post a huge long rant about my less than stellar experience at Mission Beach Cafe for breakfast, but I’d rather not tarnish this post while there is the awesomeness of the murals coming up. Lets just say that while researching their site for this post, a disclaimer on Yelp popped up that said that this restaurant is in the bottom 5% sanitation wise. That pretty much encapsulated my time there, and it looks like they haven't really improved since I was there a year ago!

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Following my breakfast it left a pretty bad taste literally and figuratively, but it was washed away when I stopped by the Clarion Alley Murals. It was an explosion of color, intricately painted murals, political messages, and a few <ahem> interesting sculptures. The following super post were all taken on my iPhone, I didn't want to lug around my big camera so apologies for the quality.

Also found in the alley, it looked like a musician wasn’t too happy with his latest songwriting attempts perhaps?

After spending the majority of my time in the alley, I explored more of the district and visited a few shops I had heard about including The Pirate Store. It is what the name suggests, selling pirate / fantasy themed items, but it also had a lot of cool, interactive elements like a mini museum where you pull the rope and something comes down or you can look in the drawers for different specimens etc.

There were many more murals dotted around the district, a green lady, plus those multi-colored Victorian houses that’s so iconic to San Francisco that I love so much. I loved that even their tree grate had a Dia De Los Muertos theme.

Visiting the Mission District was definitely an experience, and was a fusion of new and old coming together in an eclectic mix. If you’re artistically inclined, I do recommend stopping by, as there is a lot to absorb creatively in many forms.

I headed back to downtown to grab my things and ventured to the airport to my final leg of the tour, LA. At the SFO airport was a stunning sunset that emerged after the rain and it was the perfect bittersweet goodbye to one of my new favorite cities.

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Weekly Update: LA - Supermoon, Sunsets, Street Art and Stuffing My Face

October 2 - October 14: I’ve decided to try to incorporate a weekly, visual diary on the blog. I wanted to start documenting things more frequently again, as I did with the photo a day challenge on my instagram last year - it was a nice reminder of what I did on a particular day. I feel like it will also push me to explore again and spark my creativity, as I’ve kind of got into a rut of the daily grind of get up, go to work, get home late, go to sleep and do it all over again. Hopefully it won’t be too boring, though I have a strange fascination of seeing someone else’s day to day life, even the mundane tasks, maybe it reminds me that we’re all human at the end of the day. I also like to mentally bookmark interesting places that they go to for when I someday visit that place. These will most likely be shots from my phone and when I remember to document things so they probably won’t be artistic masterpieces, just random recorded memories.

Let’s begin! Yes, I realize October 2 - 14 is more than a week but I had some images I wanted to share before I thought to start this so I’ve included a bonus round.

October 2: My drive home from work was made a little bit brighter (no pun intended) due to the huge supermoon that hung in the sky at the beginning of this month. I wish I had my DSLR with me to capture the true size of that thing, it was like a bat signal in the sky it was so ginormous.

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I’ve been on a health kick as of late, working out everyday and eating better, so cooking more at home. I tried out this recipe of Roasted Carrots with Farro, Chickpeas and herbed Creme Fraiche. I subbed the farro for brown rice and the creme fraiche for the tahini sauce in the substitution part of the recipe. It came out pretty tasty, I think I overcooked the carrots a little, but the sweetness of the heirloom carrots made it come out caramelized and slightly crispy which was a nice added texture.

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October 3: Supermoon round 2, while waiting in traffic in Beverly Hills.

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October 4: Sunsets and supermoon while leaving work again. I like how in the last picture you can’t easily distinct the moon from the street lights but in real life it was as the song suggests, like a huge pizza pie!

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October 7: Started off the weekend at Black Dog Coffee where my favorite Avocado Toast is. This is the Deluxe Avocado Toast and worth every penny, its size is hefty and you have to hold it with two hands because it is stacked high with goodies. A large slice of bread is covered in avocado, arugula, fresh, soft melt in your mouth burrata cheese, tomatoes and drizzled with pesto and balsamic vinegar - heaven on toast!

Later, I spotted a little Lucille Dog (?) art on a clean up your dog’s poop sign.

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October 8: I treated myself to one of my favorite ramen in LA, the Spicy Vegan Miso Ramen at Jinya Ramen. I feel like if you can make a tasty vegetarian/vegan food, then you’ll be pretty good at making the other items on their menu. Unlike a pho place I tried that shall remain nameless whose vegetarian broth had less taste than if they just put water in there as the soup! Anyway this Vegan Miso Ramen is not missing any flavor and manages to retain the umami-ness that other normally pork-based broths have. This ramen contains soft tofu, onion, green onion, spinach, crispy onion, garlic chips, black garlic oil, chilli oil, sesame seeds and thick noodles. I had to add one of the best things about ramen, an ajitama egg (marinated, soft-boiled egg) to the mix. Even though it is named “Spicy” it is definitely a tolerable heat that doesn’t overpower the meal and you can still taste other flavors.

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October 9: The next couple of days had the most gorgeous sunsets, the sun was like a glowing fireball and the skies hued in pastel.

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October 10: Leaving work, the sunset had set the sky on fire again.

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Earlier, I said I was on a health kick, but I don’t deny myself things that I’m craving and it’s actually helped a lot than when I’ve dieted in the past to not completely restrict myself - because you end up thinking about it more than just having a little taste. SK’s donuts are heaven in a shop as they are open 24 hours, rotating out freshly made donuts throughout the day. Their cronuts are some of the best I’ve tasted as they have a nice crunch to them that most others I’ve tried have failed to capture. I just got a simple selection, a chocolate sprinkle, red velvet, and a cream cheese filled donut with oreo topping. Their cakey donuts are delicious, decadent, but not too heavy.

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October 11: A little bumper sticker wisdom on the drive home from work, “I am a leaf on the wind… watch how I soar.”

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October 12: A serendipitous moment of parallels, a man with a red and white striped shirt standing in front of the red and silver striped Peterson Automotive Museum.

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Later that night, I went to grab dinner in West Hollywood, and spotted Salt & Straw’s ribbon art on the side of their store. I first tried them in Portland last year - delicious, innovative ice cream.

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October 14: Finally working on editing my video diary from my west coast trip last year. I’ve been procrastinating, since it’s been a steep learning curve teaching myself Premiere Pro. I’ve edited videos in the past in iMovie but I wanted more control over certain elements so that’s why it’s been taking a while but I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. Any tips would be appreciated!

That’s it for this “week”. I will try to finish up writing for my west coast trip travel diary series and post those as well!

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: San Francisco Day 4 (Part 1) - Chinatown

January 22, 2016 (continued): I began my fourth and final full day in San Francisco, with a little rain and getting my Art Deco fill at 450 Sutter St. When I was researching places to visit in SF, this came up as a must see and it was perfect that it was near my hotel. It is known for its “Neo-Mayan”, Art Deco architecture and was designed by Timothy L. Pflueger. The golden interior in the lobby is stunning! I wanted to take more pictures but the security guard was giving me a suspicious side-eye so I quickly snapped a couple and then left for breakfast.

For breakfast, I decided on something lighter since I’d been having my fair share of heavy comfort foods - my body was craving something a little healthier. I yelped places in the nearby area and came across Native Juice Co. it was the perfect choice since it was literally down the road. I ordered their You’ve Got Kale smoothie (consisting of kale, pineapple, banana, coconut milk, and coconut water) and the ultimate millennial choice, Smashed Avocado Toast (pain au levain, maldon sea salt, lemon zest, micro greens, and chili flakes). I also got a coffee for the road to keep me going for my big adventure for the day. Verdict on the food - the smoothie had a nice flavor and I know some people get put off by having vegetables in their drinks, but having had a few smoothies in my day you don’t really notice it with the inclusion of banana which kind of neutralizes most flavors with its creamy sweetness. The Avocado toast was definitely decent but I think the large chunks of sea salt kind of left of an inconsistency in the general bite flavors as some were too salty and some not enough.

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My first big exploration of the day was the nearby Chinatown. I’d heard how iconic it was before visiting and why not connect to my Chinese roots while here. Walking through, you could see many of the familiar local vendors hawking their wares from China that you see in many other Chinatowns.

Had to get a pic of this interesting, yet creepy form of advertisement. I saw another fellow photographer grab a snap as well after me hehe.

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Further into Chinatown, I saw what set this one apart for me personally - it was the multitude of vibrant art and architecture adorning each street you turned down. My art heart was in love.

While I did enjoy visiting this neighborhood and wished I had time to look around a little longer, the rain had started to pick up, my gear was getting heavier with every step and navigating the narrow, steep, crowded sidewalks while also trying to avoid getting impaled in the head by everyone’s umbrella was wearing on me a little. So I decided to move onto my next destination, Lombard Street!

Travel Diary: San Francisco Day 2 (Part 2) - Haight-Ashbury

January 20, 2016 (continued): When going to San Francisco, with an interest in the funky and artistic, you must visit the iconic Haight-Ashbury district - birthplace of the hippie movement.

Getting there early, a lot of the shops weren’t open yet so it gave me time to explore the street as a whole. I was instantly attracted to the vibrancy and vibe of the street’s facades, with enough interesting street art to fill my camera roll to my heart’s content, colorful Victorian architecture, and bits and pieces of the weird and wonderful.

Once the shops started opening I visited a few including Wasteland where I found the exact Jean Paul Gaultier jacket Cher wore in Clueless.

Also paid a visit to the original Amoeba Music store, widely known for being one of the biggest independent music chain stores. It felt like they had every music, movie, poster known to man - their catalog was huge and slightly overwhelming!

All images taken by me and opinions are my own.

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.