Tag Archives: architecture

The Dating Years: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo & Hearst Castle

As we approach our second wedding anniversary next week, I’ve decided to embark on a new blogging journey — The Dating Years. I’m sifting through all of my old photos and videos from the five years we dated, looking back at some of the adventures we had before becoming husband and wife. There were many! It only makes sense to include them in this blog. After all, it’s a big part of what brought us together in the first place, our knack for traveling, seeing new places and trying new things.

In May 2009, we drove up to San Luis Obispo from Los Angeles. Our first road trip as boyfriend and girlfriend. If you’ve ever driven along the Pacific Coast Highway in California, you know what a treat that is, in and of itself.

Driving up the PCH

Driving up the PCH Continue reading The Dating Years: Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo & Hearst Castle

From a Grand Palace to Grand Reptiles in Bangkok

The Grand Palace in Bangkok is the very definition of opulence. It has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam since 1782 and is only partially open to the public as a museum, since it still houses several royal offices. The large complex also features other buildings and pavilions, including Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). Everywhere you turn, you see some amazing building or detail, it’s almost overwhelming. Everywhere you turn, you also see droves of fellow tourists … and their parasols.

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Seriously,though, what an incredible place. Again, you have to cover up before going in. If you don’t have a wrap, they provide you an outfit.

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Southeast Asia Vacation Part 2: Bangkok’s Ornate Temples & Bustling Streets

Bangkok, Thailand, seems to be a popular destination among people who travel to Southeast Asia. Personally, I think we could’ve skipped it. That’s not to say we didn’t have fun there or that the city doesn’t have anything worthwhile to offer, but we could’ve happily gone without a big-city experience during our vacation.

We were surprised during the drive to our hotel to see such a sprawling city with so many high-rises and skyscrapers — wow! I’d argue there are way more high-rises in Bangkok than in L.A. We also spotted numerous mosques and halal-friendly hotels and buildings, which was a first for us (we’d never seen entire hotels with a golden dome on top).

From humongous billboards along the highway and super luxurious shopping malls to crowded markets and dilapidated homes along the Chao Phraya River, Bangkok was a hodgepodge of sceneries. Here’s the view from our hotel, the Hotel Icon Bangkok. It was nice, our room was spacious and clean, and the hotel provides free shuttle service to the main avenue where you can catch the train.

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Our favorite Siem Reap temple & the Cambodian Circus

I mentioned in my previous post that Cambodia wasn’t what we expected. It’s a very poor country. At least in Siem Reap, we saw many dirt roads and wooden shacks on stilts. If you’re one of the tourists who stay in a hotel in the center of town, you may not really notice the level of poverty. The area by the Angkor Night Market and Pub Street is littered with restaurants, shops and hotels.

Our hotel, however, was quite removed from the center of town. We had to drive over many dirt roads, huge potholes, past dozens of stray dogs, past many bareboned homes where residents killed time outside watching a small TV set or lying in their hammocks, past many hole-in-the-wall local businesses — hair salons, barber shops, massage parlors, seamstresses, mechanics, laundromats — to get to our resort. It was one of those experiences that just puts life into perspective. Especially the night we were riding back in the tuk tuk and a roach flew smack dab onto my chest! Will came to my rescue. But seriously. Our hotel even had literature warning against giving money to child beggars (or buying things from them), as it encourages the cycle of begging and keeps them from seeking a proper education. We had to turn down many children during our visits to the temples.

So, on to our favorite day in Cambodia. To visit Banteay Srei, we had to take the tuk tuk about an hour outside of Siem Reap. This ride gave us the chance to see the Cambodian countryside. We drove past many rice paddies (dried up, as the dry season had just ended) and lots of farmland, skinny cows and chickens, past kids playing in the dirt pushing soda cans with sticks, past locals relaxing next to their cows outside. There was a curious sensation of being near the ocean and feeling the ocean breeze, even though we were nowhere near the ocean. Beautiful, lush, serene. Take a look:

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Banteay Srei is unique in that it’s built out of red sandstone and it’s of a much smaller scale than many of the other temples in the Angkor area. Continue reading Our favorite Siem Reap temple & the Cambodian Circus

Southeast Asia vacation Part 1: The Ancient Ruins of Siem Reap

Living in South Korea presented us the perfect opportunity to travel around Southeast Asia. It’s one of those parts of the world that’s just so far from California, that we’d likely never visit it otherwise, I’m kind of ashamed to admit. (Unless Will had to go there for work, which is very possible.) So, we decided to vacation across Cambodia and Thailand on our way back to the states.

Why Cambodia and Thailand? We didn’t know much about either country until we started to research and plan our trip. In the end, the many ruins, temples and paradise-like beaches lured us there.

Our two glorious weeks of vacation kicked off in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Tip #1 when traveling to Cambodia — bring U.S. dollars! You’ll need them for everything, most importantly, to pay for your tourist visa (they don’t accept credit card) and then for pretty much anything else in-country. Let’s just say we learned this the hard way, having flown in straight from Seoul with only South Korean Won in our wallets. Continue reading Southeast Asia vacation Part 1: The Ancient Ruins of Siem Reap

Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain

I read about the Banpo Bridge Rainbow Fountain months ago, when we first got to Seoul. Just hadn’t made my way out there. The same day we returned from Busan, we headed out in the evening to go see it. It’s located at the Banpodaegyo (Banpo) Bridge over the Han River, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like. A large fountain shooting out the side of the bridge with different colored lights. At night, the fountain moves and sways to the music.

I was surprised to see several food trucks in the little park area there when we arrived (I think they’re the only food trucks I’ve seen in Seoul), and there’s a small promenade where you can sit on the steps and enjoy the water and light “show.” Other than that, there’s not much else to see and do here. You can cross under the bridge and check out the cool-looking glass buildings that appeared in Avengers: Age of Ultron (remember the Korean scientist’s lab?), but there’s not much there, either, except for some cafes and shopping. Someone told us the buildings house event spaces? Not sure.

It was drizzling that night, but still enjoyable.

Food trucks!

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Candid shots of Seoul this week

Having a relative visit us here in Seoul has (thankfully) forced me out of the apartment this week. Here are a few candid shots from the last few days I thought you might enjoy:

Hadn’t seen this part of Incheon International Airport before. Pretty futuristic looking. 

Incheon International Airport

Came across this demonstration on the one-year anniversary of the deadly Sewol ferry disaster (must watch video — so many people!).

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Continue reading Candid shots of Seoul this week

Springtime in Bukchon Hanok Village

Spring has finally arrived in Seoul. The temps have miraculously, overnight, shot up to the 50s, 60s, even 70 this weekend. Woo! Thought the warm weather might never come.

The sunny weather on Saturday was perfect for taking Will to see the Bukchon Hanok Village, which he hadn’t been to yet. I didn’t take many photos, since I took so many last time, but here are a few new shots below. It was SO busy! Way busier than when I went in November, but it makes sense. The warm weather has drawn everyone out. We ate some of that amazing shaved sorbet at Savoureux, walked past a cute flower shop, discovered one of many handmade jewelry shops in Samcheon-dong — Eunnamu — with some beautiful pieces, and ventured through the many walkways and narrow streets of Bukchon.  Continue reading Springtime in Bukchon Hanok Village

The hidden hangouts of Seoul City Hall

I’ve been curious to visit the new Seoul City Hall building since I first saw it. Its striking wave-like glass design makes you wonder what kind of modernities you might find inside. Here’s a picture from a previous post in case you’ve forgotten:

The new Seoul City Hall. It's the glass building in the rear that looks like a wave. The former city hall in front is now the Seoul Metropolitan Library.
The new Seoul City Hall. It’s the glass building in the rear that looks like a wave. The former city hall in front is now the Seoul Metropolitan Library.

Little did I know, you actually can go on a self-guided tour of new (and old) City Hall — they make it easy by providing small booklets that guide you step-by-step through the various things to see. I was just looking for a place to grab a drink and do some work, so that was a pleasant surprise.

A bit of background before I take you on part of the tour. The new City Hall opened not that long ago in 2012. It has 13 floors above ground and five floors underground, and is designed to be eco-friendly, of course.The former City Hall, which sits in front of it, was turned into the Seoul Metropolitan Library. Continue reading The hidden hangouts of Seoul City Hall