Wednesday, April 29, 2015


most of the day was spent on angel island. actually, angel island was the reason this trip came to fruition. my sister visited a month ago and i thought, "i want to go, i'll just plan a trip up north."

to reach the island, you have to take a ferry from either tiburon or san francisco. we decided to enter through tiburon, a little coastal/railroad town. fun fact: angel island used to be connected to san francisco, but became an island when the glaciers melted during the ice age.

good latte, but philadelphia's cafe olle is still da best.

the island is ran by cal parks and has two important histories. 1) it had military presence from the civil war to world war ii. to add, ships entering through the west were searched for diseases and illnesses and sailors were quarantined on the island. during the twentieth century, part of the island was 2) an immigration station. people coming from asia, the middle east, and some european countries were processed at angel island. the island was known as the ellis island of the west. this was really why i was interested in visiting.

the visitors' center

alcatraz with its own cloud. straight out of a scooby-doo where are you? episode.

we circled the entire island, which was much bigger than i had thought. all together, that was 6 miles with lots of inclines. i was very sore.

one of the coolest things about the island is how there are really no fences keeping you away from the main artifacts on the island, the buildings. most of the buildings are boarded up, but you can still approach. some of the buildings (located at fort mcdowell) are from the early twentieth century and you can enter them. only the infrastructure is left, but it is really cool; reminiscent of a zombie apocalypse.

camp reynolds (west garrisons), c. 1863, was established out of fear that confederate soldiers would invade san francisco during the civil war. it was used as a detention/discharge camp until the early 1900s.

camp reynolds housing

fort mcdowell (east garrisons) replaced camp reynolds and was used as a recruit depot and discharge camp. the fort was very active during wwi and ii. after wwii the fort closed, but currently park rangers live on site in the old homes. the old guard house has a museum, but unfortunately it was closed due to short staffing :(

the old mess hall.

also on site is a museum on the role the island played in immigration. the museum is located in the old detention building, which also housed pows during wwii. i was happy to learn that the museum is transparent about its dark past. asians, particularly chinese were segregated and treated harsher than other nationalities. the station was also a place where people were forced to give up certain parts of their culture and assimilate. the one fact that i realized was the irony of how ellis island is treated like a mecca in american history. it is a national park with high tourism and much more funding, while angel island is a state park (which is still great but has it's limitations, i.e. funding), has less tourism, and less funding. both sites are so important in telling the history of the united states' diversity, but both do not have equal recognition.

some chinese immigrants would etch poems into the walls. not so fun fact: the paint has lead.

we had lunch on the island. the island has some fancy park food. pictured is a caesar salad with a twist (i don't know what the twist was), a cuban sandwich, and potato salad.

after taking the ferry back to tiburon and driving to sausalito, we stayed at the hostel for a bit and then returned to downtown for dinner. we ate at aurora's, an italian restaurant.

i had a pizza with prosciutto and parmesan.

an of course no italian meal is complete without tiramisu.

now for a song. i have recommended so many songs from glen hansard, but here is another one: "renata." enjoy!

Friday, April 24, 2015


last week, my dad and i went to northern california. it was bit spontaneous (i only planned it a little over three weeks ago). i did not realize at the time, but the overall theme of this trip was california military history. we left really early in the morning. one of my favorite things about roadtrips is seeing the sun rise. everytime i leave for norcal, i always watch the sun rise over the grapevine.

...and cows

our first stop was richmond. i wanted to stop at the rosie the riveter / wwii home front national historic park (yes that is the official name). it is right along the waterfront where war ships were built for wwii.

next was the marine mammal center, which is located in marin headlands national park. it is pretty much a hospital for seals (mostly elephant seals and sea lions, but also harbor seals). this year, there have been more seal pups in the center thus far than any other year in the last 40 years. the seals are orphaned and underweight. on a lighter note, seals are adorable.

to learn more, click here.

it's like he is looking right at me -squeal-

we also made a stop at the marin headlands visitor center, which is literally 100 ft. from the hostel. 

as always, i stayed in a hostel. the hi marin headlands hostel is by far my favorite hostel i have ever stayed at. it was almost like camping in a cabin. it kind of reminded me of my time in 6th grade camp. the hostel  is located within marin headlands national park. the park is north of san francisco and consists of multiple old military forts and tons of trails.

the hostel building is from the early 1900s and was originally the infirmary for fort barry. it was also used as an intelligence center during the vietnam war. we stayed in the coed dorm style rooms because all the private rooms were reserved. the room took up almost the entire top floor and had eleven bunks, but we picked a good weekend. at most, there were only 8 other people. this was also a different experience because most of the people in private rooms were families with little kids. i have never stayed in a hostel that allowed children.

it's actually a lot bigger than pictured (there is a building behind it)

for dinner we went to downtown sausalito. i had fish tacos and coffee ice cream.

after dinner, my dad wanted to drive around the national park and see what there was to see. to our surprise there were a ton of old batteries that were easily accessible. it was nice how the nps doesn't block these from the public. they don't really advertise it to the public and all the doors/windows are sealed, but you can climb on them and see beautiful views of the coast. most were built during wwii.

the batteries were probably my favorite thing to see from the trip. they have this beautiful balance of the past vs. the present and nature vs. human creation. most are falling apart (pretty much anything made out of metal) and have plants growing around them. they are in ruins and have graffitti. it is like an urban playground. most of the railing and a lot of the stairs are missing (or are full of tetnis), so you have to improvise. 

battery alexander 

batter mendell (the biggest one we saw)

the spooky hallway

the stairs that take you to the spooky hallway

the lookout

we also went to battery wallace. the stairs were missing, so you had to hold on to the railing and drag yourself up an incline. it was fun.

battery wallace reminds me of the hunger games. soviet-esque.

the beautiful sunset at our hostel.

for the most part, i have really good luck with san francisco and weather. last year, i was there for 4 days in january and everyday was clear, bright, and over 70 degrees. unfortunately on this trip, the first day was the only really clear day. oh well.

now for a song! 'the wheel' by sohn.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


a couple weeks ago, i went to hollywood. on most accounts, i really try to avoid going there. i find hollywood tacky (the bad kind), really dirty, really busy, and kind of boring. it really is just a tourist trap, therefore i mostly stayed inside the hotel.

my sister, who lives in northern california, was in hollywood for the tcm film festival. this is like christmas to her. even though i did not partake in the festivities, i stayed with her and my aunt at the hollywood roosevelt hotel for the experience. it is very nice, but i did they maintained their old style. most of the hotel is more modern swanky, but the lobby and some of the hallways do have a more historic look.

this is one of the few times that i actually took the socal metro system. i really love taking public transportation, but most of the time it is impractical in los angeles county.

one of the hallways

the lobby restroom is so pretty.

for lunch we went to the whistle n' pig (c. 1927)

i planned on laying out in the sun by the pool (because that's what you do when you are in an old hollywood hotel). my first day there, the hotel was so crowed and overwhelming, i decided to stay in the patio. 

grauman's chinese theater

fortunately the second day, the pool was not as crowded.

like i said, i do not enjoy hollywood very much. therefore, my weekend was pretty uninteresting with just laying out, reading a book, watching tv, and shopping around the area. really soon i will be on a little trip to northern california. i am excited. we are staying at a hostel that was an old military building. fun stuff ahead...

now for a song! i am a fan of grimes, even though i find it annoying that people would compare me to her when i had blue hair. i do not like all her music, but she has a few really great songs. 'realiti' is a new one that did not make it on her upcoming album. it may not be everyones taste, but enjoy!