Saturday, July 8, 2017


now i know this is super late. i was busy with finals and making exciting plans for my big central european adventure in the fall. it has been creeping up fast! anyhoo, we are traveling back in time to the second half of my trip in washington dc in april. i knew i wanted to go back to rock creek park, a national park in the middle of the city. this was one of my favorite places to visit when i lived in dc. also, there are some cool diplomats' homes along the way. luckily it was a sunny, but cool day.

the area of the park that we visited has pierce mill. it was closed (it really is not open much), but it was nice to revisit. this was my favorite quiet place when i lived here.

to walk back to the metro station, i decided to take a trail. i do not know why i never bothered when i lived here. it is a fun little trail where you have to jump rocks and walk on logs to get over the little creek. it was such an enjoyable little stroll.

this looks so posed, but i promise you it is not.

the next stop was the chesapeake & ohio canal (c. 1831), which was used to transport cargo until 1924. it's a nice little walk with interesting, old industrial buildings. unfortunately, the water was drained, but there was a nonimpressive puddle?

we also ate at dean & delucas, a little gourmet marketplace. it is a bit pricey, but i really do enjoy it. i visited a few times when i lived in dc. i had a samosa, iced latte, and a coffee dessert.

we also visited the old stone house (c. 1765) in georgetown. it is the oldest building in the city (and pre-revolutionary!)

we then made our way towards the new smithsonian, the national museum of african american history & culture. as i have said before, this was part of reason i wanted to revisit. dummy me realized too late i had to score tickets months in advance. the week before my trip, tickets were sold out until july! every morning, 5 tickets are released for certain times same day. the past 2 days i woke up at 7 to try, but failed. luckily a worker at the hostel said he once had asked one of the workers if he could get in and they let him. i attempted to try this method.

when we reached the museum, i asked one of the workers if it was in any way possible to get in and she answered, nothing is impossible. that optimism. we were corralled to a little walkway where a few other people were waiting. we waited for about 45 minutes with a few people ahead slowly being let in. fortunately for us, over 20 people in a tour group did not show up. i jumped for joy. 

my favorite art piece.

the exhibit on the founding fathers and slavery.

probably my favorite artifact. it really speaks for itself. the person who donated this, it was her grandmothers.

a slave cabin from south carolina.

crazy facts about angola: 1) the property was once a few plantations, and 2) it was named after the area of africa that most slaves came from. so much bad decision making.

man it was so uncomfortably busy, but i am so glad i able to even just get in the building. this was definitely the highlight of the trip for me. and it was exciting to see how far people travelled to experience the museum. also, it was cool to see how happy people were to learn and also see important objects, concepts, and events of their own life being reflected in a museum to share with others. true story: i tried to get an internship with the museum when they were still putting it together. clearly i did not get it.

broken glass from the 16th street baptist church. in 1963, 4 little girls died when white supremacists bombed the church.

a tower from angola penitentiary.

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union station.

the next day i did not have anything planned, but my dad wanted to go to arlington national cemetery. i forgot just how big and hilly it is. sooo many hills and it was the warmest day.

a little treasure found between the hostel and union station

governor/justice earl warren, a california legend. may not have been perfect, but was ahead of his time.

robert f. kennedy's grave. i wonder what would have happened if he became president?

the arlington house, where robert e. lee, the general of the confederates, lived.

the view from the highest hill. you can see the washington monument, lincoln memorial, capitol building, old post office, and pentagon (not pictured).

our day ended a bit early and we were already close to the airport, so we called it a day. 

my cute donut at the airport.

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now for a little review for the hostel we stayed at. i will be honest it was not my favorite, but the price (and availability) for a private room was really good (especially for the area). the whole time i lived in the city, i don't think i ever visited the NE quadrant. i decided to stay here because it was close to union station. the walk to the station was always really pleasant (so many quaint homes).

i will say, it was a bit of a party hostel. i am boring and like the quiet, and the common areas were never quiet. the rooms were, but we could not get wifi on the 3rd floor. the private room was nice, the only problem was there was this weird window that if someone was in the bathroom next door, the light would shine through. really, the biggest complaint is the bathrooms. there were not many and one of the showers did not work. overall, this did not bother me too much. i'm easy to please and understand you get what you pay for. overall, things could be better, but i enjoyed my stay

i will say, the workers were very nice and without one of their comments on how to get in the new smithsonian, i would not have thought nor have the courage to follow through. so thank you stranger.

i really do like how they wrote a welcome note for me. i am a sucker for this kind of stuff.

another view of our room

the view from my top bunk. we were next to a church, so i would hear the bells ring every once in awhile. so pleasant :)

i joked that it was nice of them to hang a picture of me and my dad.

now for a song. i am continuing the musical theme. i have been so enamored with broadway. recently i watched the great comet & in the heights on repeat. this time, i am choosing my absolute favorite song from the great comet, 'no one else.' so so beautiful and i love the piano in this. oh by the way i am hoping to buy a digital piano by the end of the year (i already got rid of a dresser and a 3rd of my clothes to make room). i highly recommend watching a bootleg of this musical (there is always a way online). the best way to describe it is a modern electro/pop/musical about tolstoy's war and peace. it's a wonderful clusterfuck. some honorable mentions are 'the duel,' 'charming,' 'natasha & the bolkonsky's,' and 'in my house.' enjoy!


Tuesday, May 30, 2017


i had been planning on returning to DC for a awhile now. last year, i almost booked a flight to return during memorial day weekend (which funny enough was the same weekend i arrived in 2014), but suckered out when i thought about how impulsive i was being. i chose the end of march because the snow is all gone, it is a government holiday in california (cesar chavez day), and it is around the time of the cherry blossoms (and lucky for us, i picked a good weekend to see these damn blossoms). 

as with boston, this was a go-go-go trip. after work during a wednesday last month, i went to the airport with my dad and took a red eye to boston. it was a rough ride. once again, i could not really sleep, but i had a blow up neck rest (which is such a genius invention). i always fly jetblue, but unfortunately they cut down their flights, so we took american airlines which has such a wonderful entertainment system. soooo many movies!!! i watched la la land, which i really enjoyed.

my redeye mugshot.

after arriving in boston, we took a short plane ride to arlington virignia, and then a metro ride into the city. the first stop, was my old place. it's funny how i remembered the exact route from the station. i would take that route everday before work. also, i never realized i lived by the projects. everyone kept to themselves so i never though twice. it looks exactly the same.

ronald reagan airport

my old place. it's huge, but i also lived with 16 people.

after, and also from memory, i tried to find prat manger. the last time i went there was in boston, but i had been many times when i lived in dc. man i wish we had some in la. it's decent/cheap coffee and delicious/convenient food.

we then mad our way to the national mall and tidal basin. i wanted to see the cherry blossoms the first day, because the next day it was going to rain and the blossoms are delicate and fall easily. it was busier than i had ever seen it but not too bad (it was a friday). even though it was not sunny, it was so pretty! you never know when the peak days are going to be until they start blooming and luckily this was the week. also, not too long before we arrived there was a crazy late snow storm and luckily the buds did not freeze. 70% of trees blossomed.

now some history (because i find is so interesting). in 1912, the mayor of tokyo gifted the trees as a token of friendship. we would then get involved in a war with them 30 years later. history is funny like that.

the jefferson memorial.

yea, people still picked them. i wanted to smack them so bad.

the washington monument.

above the cherry blossoms, a relevant message at my favorite memorial.

for all my visits to dc, i always take a picture like this (2006, 2010, 2014, and now 2017).

japanese pagoda.

the korean war memorial (my other favorite).

as with the fdr memorial, i always visit willie j. foster at the vietnam war memorial. do i know who this fella was? no. during my 8th grade school trip, all the students were given a carnation to dedicate to a veteran. i chose willie.

i knew for dinner i wanted to go to nando's, a portuguese/mozambican chicken place (i went last time i was in the city). luckily, it was across the street from our hostel. i wish we had these in california.

we then checked into our hostel (more on our stay in the next post) and called it a night.

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the next day was rainy (boo) and a museum day (yay). we got up earlyish. i made a friend in the kitchen. i forget her name, but she is a young woman from uruguay who works as a child caretaker/tutor in rural florida. when she went to florida, it was the first time she had been on a plane and out of the country. i always like to ask people what is the biggest shocker of the united states. she told me it was the availability of vegan food.

a cute little coffee shop down the street. it is an ethiopian coffeehouse with tons of photos hung up.

the first stop was the newseum. my most favoritist museum i have ever been to. i went last time and i knew i wanted to come back. it meant so much more for me this time. i think that is because of current politics (boo). i appreciate free (or free-ish?) press so much more now. unfortunately, one of my favorite exhibits was gone. i do not remember exactly what it was called, but it had interesting relics. one of them being a journalist's car that had a bomb hidden underneath. the journalist died. 

up ahead these are a few of my favorite artifacts. to add, one of my favorites (that is not pictured) is about the "conspiracy theory" known as cointelpro. spoiler alert: it was not actually a conspiracy theory. i studied cointelpro back in the ye old days of college.

a sign from berlin (i will be going there this year!)

looking up a east german death tower.

tippity top of the death tower.

bob dylan's draft of one of my favorite songs of his.

about the black lives matter movement.

part of the flagpole from the 9/11 terrorist attack on the pentagon.

the camera gear of bill biggart, who died in 9/11.

my blab: photojournalism is the form of art i appreciate the most. some people connect the most to movies, photos, dance, music, art, but for me it is photojournalism. it makes me feel the feels the most. it allows me to learn the most. i think it is because it incorporates both history & art, two of the most important things in my life. it tells a story. this may sound very controversial, but you know those people you meet who are very patriotic when it comes to the military & veterans. that's how i feel like towards photojournalists. they risk their lifes to tell the truth in the most accessible way for the public, pictures. and they die for the cause. 

in the museum, there is a memorial for journalists who have died because of their work or during their work. this includes those caught in an ambush, prisoners of war, or assassinated while abroad or at home (to name a few). every year they have a ceremony and unfortunately add more names. one of the most recent names, and most well known, is alison parker, the news broadcaster that was killed point blank while on virginia live television, or the charlie hebdo killings.

after, we went to the national museum of the american indian to get some delicious fry bread. i looovvveee fry bread, but it is hard to find. the next stop was the spy museum. my dad wanted to go. they made us memorize our secret identity's and they never tested me. i prepared myself, but no worker asked me for my identity. not gonna lie, i was disappointed. on a side note, some interesting artifacts was an umbrella gun & a little camera for a pigeon to wear around its neck.

the last stop of the day was the capitol building, my old stopping grounds. the weird thing was it did not feel very familiar, then again i didn't really spend time in the main building. it is not where the offices are and fortunately i never had to give anyone a tour.

the building i worked in (and also the same pose as before).

the supreme court building.

and across the street from the supreme court, a church with a message.

we then just went to union station for dinner and returned to the hostel and called it a night.

now for a song. i am on a showtunes streak. it also seems appropriate because this musical had its start in washington dc song. my favorite sone from dear even hansen, 'waving through a window.'