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I feel as though it wasn’t that long ago that I was talking about my family’s quick weekend jaunt to Monterey Bay. At that time, Jian (& probably my little bean too) was itching to travel. It was his idea to go away for an impromptu weekend getaway to temporarily satisfy our wanderlust after a prolonged vacation drought due to that nasty virus going ’round. I know we’ve already been to Los Angeles & Las Vegas multiple times since the pandemic restrictions in our state have eased, but we’ve only gone to visit specific family members & only went out to pre-selected places that were not typically prone to major outbreaks. Since the pandemic crashed down on us, & more importantly since we’ve created our own tiny human, we haven’t really taken a family vacation that was solely for ourselves & not for some family event or celebration holiday.

Shortly after coming back from Monterey, Jian started seriously looking for a new job & very quickly plunged himself into the interviewing pool. He had been thinking about changing jobs for quite some time, but decided that now would be the best opportunity for him to transition to a new environment. Before we knew it, Jian had landed himself a big corporate tech job. It was a very important milestone in his career & a major cause to celebrate. Luckily for us, through a delay in the process of some paperwork Jian’s official start date got pushed back which granted us a few extra days to spend some quality time together, just the 3 of us. It also gave Jian some much needed rest & relaxation time in-between jobs. This gave him the brilliant idea to go on another family road trip again. We had just a little more than one week before he would start his new job. So we decided to take a proper vacation. We waffled back & forth over where we would go, but ended up settling on our trusty go-to vacation spot: Los Angeles. (Again. *Sigh*)

This time on our travels, we ended up booking our stay at a super swanky, elite hotel. I mean, when Jian says he wants to splurge & indulge the family, who are we to turn him down? I haven’t done a hotel room tour in a long time, somewhat because it’s so tedious to edit all my photos; mostly because my little bean won’t let me use the computer for more than 2 minutes before she tries to grab the wireless mouse & keyboard to play with. On this trip, we chose to stay at the West Hollywood EDITION Hotel. The EDITION hotel series is an elite boutique set of hotels owned by the Marriott Hotels parent company & designed by Ian Schrager, the man behind the infamous Studio 54 in New York City.

Back in 2017, we stayed at the London EDITION Hotel in the Soho neighborhood of London for my early birthday celebration. When I first found out about this series of elite boutique hotels, I had figured that it would be an impossible feat to be able to afford staying at any of these hotels, ever. Then, by a sheer stroke of extremely good luck, we were able to grab one of the most incredible deals of a lifetime when we booked our stay in London. I mean, it was nothing short of a miracle we were able to book our stay for a mere fraction of the standard rate (which was triple what we paid). I never thought we’d ever get that lucky again, but this time it was by no means of luck that we were able to book a stay at another EDITION Hotel.

Right before this trip Jian had said to me, “We always drive by that hotel when we are in L.A & keep saying we would love to stay there one day but never actually do it. Why don’t we do it now? Why don’t we once & for all book a stay at that hotel?” So, after some consideration about saving money, we let ourselves splurge & indulge a little bit. We don’t splurge like this very often, & this was definitely a special occasion, so why not?

Also, I should note that on top of being a high-level rewards members through the Marriott BonVoy program, we also got a special employee discount, which grants selected family members of Marriott branded hotel employees special benefits. On top of the very generous BonVoy rewards upgrades, we also got a slightly discounted rate for our stay. We had originally booked a Loft Room with a king-size bed, which is already a very spacious size, but then we got upgraded to a Premier Suite. That 2-room suite was larger than our first apartment! Here is a look inside our posh hotel suite. (Side note, I’ve never stayed in a suite-sized room at a hotel ever in my life.)

As you can see from the photos above how fabulous this room was, you can pretty much guess that we tried to take advantage of this room during our short-but-sweet stay. Our little bean is just learning how to walk right now, so we let her explore around as much as possible. Crawling is our bean’s specialty, but she can side-step (we call it crab walking) around a room as long as she’s holding on to a table ledge, a straight wall, or a chair.

On this trip, we really let ourselves be truly lazy. Aside from our usual early morning wake-ups (because our little bean wakes up at the same time everyday like clockwork), we’d spend our mornings lounging in bed letting our bean crawl around the bed while watching the morning news on TV. Then we’d slowly get ready for the day & head out by mid-morning. At home, we’re usually up & ready for breakfast before starting work, but whenever we’re in Los Angeles we tend to forgo breakfast time so we can take more time to get ready & pack our things for the day’s outing. We will grab a mid-morning coffee at one of our go-to coffee spots (i.e. Alfred, Intelligentsia, Verve, or some other hipster spot nearby). By that time, we’re ready for lunch.

When we go out with our little bean, we try to limit our activities & only explore one or two districts/neighborhoods not too far from our hotel. We will grab an early lunch & try to get our little bean to take a nap. Our little bean is barely over one-year old, & we haven’t yet fully tested her endurance for an entire day’s outing. Therefore, we limit our activities so we can minimize any chance for a fussy freak-out in a public place. On this trip, we decided not to let our relatives know we’d be in town & just keep to ourselves, the three of us. We had considered telling everyone, but since our vacation was planned very on-the-fly, we thought it’d be inconsiderate to call upon our very busy relatives at the last-minute. That helped in making our trip even more relaxing. We didn’t have to rush anywhere to meet people & such.

Overall, we had a truly relaxing vacation. We didn’t have to rush from place to place. We didn’t pack our days with too much driving, & you know how pain-in-the-arse it is to drive anywhere in Los Angeles. We really just took the time to enjoy being with each other & eating good food. Our little bean got to spend quality one-on-one time with her mama & papa. She also got to take a much needed break from her maternal grandmother, who was spoiling her too much to the point of enabling her new bratty behavior.

Since writing this post Jian has already settled in nicely at his new job, & we are already planning our next vacation to Los Angeles again in May. My nephew (a.k.a. my cousin’s son) is graduating high school & heading to military school on a scholarship, lots of May birthdays in our family, & my aunt will have fully recovered from having major surgery done. There’s just so much to celebrate! We haven’t quite worked out all the logistics yet, or whether or not we are actually going back to L.A, but we can definitely say that we are feeling that wanderlust bug again, but this time we are itching to travel out of the country. Maybe we’ll start small & travel outside of our state first, like, Jian wants to go back to New York where he grew up after immigrating to the States. Either way, you know I will write about it when the time comes. Until then, cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

I went on a quick road trip to Monterey Bay this past weekend with Jian & our little bean. We had a really fun time taking a scenic drive & enjoying the good weather. Our main purpose on this trip was to not only introduce our little bean to a new place, but to take her to a proper aquarium (the Shark Reef attraction at the Mandalay Bay casino hotel in Las Vegas does not count). All in all, we had a great time eating lots of seafood, hanging out at the Cannery row & the wharf areas, as well as exploring spots that were new to us, like the Lighthouse district & the hipster spots in the downtown area.

Jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium

One thing I reluctantly decided to do while we were in Monterey was to book a spa massage at our hotel. Jian always encourages me to take advantage of the extra amenities (anything other than ordering room service) at the hotels we stay at on our vacations, but I am always stopping myself & making excuses not to do anything extra. I find it to be too extravagant & expensive. Doing things like getting a spa massage makes me feel selfish (in a non self-care kind of way), & I’d rather spend the money on my little bean instead.

This time Jian convinced me to book a spa appointment & treat myself to a massage. I guess he was feeling extra generous that weekend, specially since he got a new job working at a mega brand name tech company. He said he could handle our little bean by himself for an hour or two, having some quality father-daughter time. So, I bit the bullet, pushed aside all of my inner overreactions & excuses & booked an appointment. Well, I’ll just say it outright. I was simultaneously looking forward to getting a tension-relieving massage & looking forward to getting it over with.

I have had a couple of spa massages in my life. This wasn’t my first experience. Most of those past experiences were a waste of time & money, & a few of them stood out as being exceptionally memorable. Well, only one massage experience stands out in my memory as being the best massage I ever had & it was at a family-style ranch resort. My sister had plans for her kids to go swimming in the pool, learn how to feed chickens & ride horses all while my mom & I made plans to get shiatsu massages. That masseuse worked out every kink & knot in my body to the point of hurts-so-good pain. I nearly cried “ouch” out loud. I could feel every single nerve ending & muscle in my body being electrified in the best way imaginable. I was basically having a massage-gasm. It was incredible.

On this trip, however, I did not have the same experience, not even close. Don’t get me wrong. The masseuse I had in this experience was an absolutely delightful woman. She could not have made me feel more comfortable & relaxed. It was through my own stupidity, though, that I did not properly communicate or express my preferences.

Throughout most of the massage, I was feeling so ticklish all over my body. The masseuse noticed me wincing once in reaction to being tickled, & had asked me to tell her if I was feeling ticklish, but I was feeling too embarrassed to say anything after that. The appointment went very well. We had a fun time talking to each other & telling stories about our families. The massage itself was satisfying. It wasn’t a rock-my-world experience like the one I had before, but it was still adequate. I didn’t exactly feel like all my knots & kinks were relieved, but I did feel more relaxed & calm. Over all, it was a soothing massage.

Most often, almost always, when I think about getting a professional massage I stop myself with my own self-insecurities & weird quirks. First off, I’m very insecure about my own body image & shy away from professional massage therapists from seeing my exposed body rolls. Oh, & never mind my apprehension in changing my clothes in the shared dressing room. Next, I am not sure if I am supposed to keep making polite small talk, or if it’s ok to be quiet, like, am I being rude if I don’t engage in a friendly conversation? Also, I am never sure how much I am supposed to give in gratuity, & who am I supposed to give it to (i.e. charge the gratuity to my bill, or directly tip the professional in person?). Then, there are more news stories popping up about spas being fined for having pervy, handsy employees. Lastly, it’s the massage oils that deters me from getting massages; well, it’s more like the smells of massage oils that deter me. I just can’t stand the smell of any massage oil/lotion/product.

This is a big issue for me. Never mind the fact that I feel like an absolute grease ball afterwards, but I just can’t get rid of that unpleasant plastic-y coconut-y smell. I understand that not all massage oils smell bad, but the ones that I have encountered have all evoked an unpleasant feeling for me personally. Immediately after the massage, before I put my clothes back on, I vigorously wiped myself down with a towel. It was useless. In my mind, I still felt greasy & sticky afterwards. The smell, oh the smell!

The massage oil smelled like a cross between plastic & old cooking oil from a sketchy Chinese restaurant. I could not wait to get back to my hotel room for a thorough scrub down in the shower. I even made sure to scrub myself twice with extra body wash & my loofa towel, but the scent still lingered everywhere. Not even dousing myself in cologne could mask the odor smell of the massage oil. For the rest of the day, I couldn’t help but feel paranoid that all I could smell was the scent of the massage oil all over me. Maybe it was some sort of psychological reaction I was having, & I was so fixated on the smell that I was imagining that I could smell it everywhere. That was the perfect time for my quirky OCD behavior to pop up & drive me crazy.

Just the aroma of any massage oil is enough to turn me away from getting massages in the future, but I believe that with more careful planning, & communication on my part, I would probably get more massages in the future. Oh man, I wish I could go back to that ranch resort again just to book another epic shiatsu massage. Hopefully that resort has survived through the pandemic. Right now though, I don’t think I will be interested in going to a spa for quite a long while. Until the next time, I gotta work on being less ticklish. Cheers, all!

Today’s song of the day:

Whose idea was it to travel in the hottest time of the year? Yes, it was our joint decision to travel during the hottest heat wave California has ever experienced in 150 years, but to be fair, we did’t know any of that until we were well on our way through the desert & far, far away from home. Ever since my big brother & his wife officially moved to Las Vegas, Nevada 5 months ago, Jian & I were making plans to bring our little bean to visit them. Of course other things kept pushing back our plans, like: going to Los Angeles for my aunt’s 60th birthday party & attending our friends’ wedding celebration party. So, last month, we packed up our bags & baby gear & high-tailed it through the unbearably hot California desert, all the way to the equally unbearably hot Nevada desert.


lunch time!

Along the way, we stopped to eat delicious meat at the restaurant of the local cattle ranch. Jian didn’t want to make too many pit stops because the further away from the Bay Area that we got, the hotter the weather got, & we didn’t want our little bean to overheat & get dehydrated. However, she had other plans in mind & decided to make an explosive poop diaper on the way to our first layover in Bakersfield, California. Luckily I always keep an emergency spare change of clothes in her diaper bag, so I was able to quickly clean her up & go on our merry way. The drive to Bakersfield was the start of the weather getting super hot, but it wasn’t until we actually reached Bakersfield when we finally hit the 10-inch thick cement wall of heat. From that point on, nothing would dip below 100 degrees fahrenheit, not even at night.


We made an overnight layover in Bakersfield, California before arriving at my brother’s new place. Finding his new house was proving to be a bit of a challenge. Jian & my brother kept going back & forth over which GPS app was the most accurate at finding his address since my brother now lives in a brand new neighborhood development that apparently isn’t updated on Google Maps yet. One contractor working on the upgrades to my brother’s house said he could easily find the address on the WAZE app, but none of the others. Meanwhile, Jian couldn’t locate my brother’s newly developed neighborhood on WAZE (or even Google Maps) at all, but he was able to find it on Apple Maps.

After all of the ruckus regarding which GPS app could find my brother’s new house, we reached our destination. Oppressive heat aside, we were super excited to spend time with the side of my family that I don’t get to spend nearly enough time with. I am always vacationing with, spending time with, or visiting my mom’s side of my family including my 2nd older half-brother & older half-sister, but I hardly ever get to spend time with my oldest half-brother from my dad’s side of the family…or even my dad’s side of the family that is still based in Japan. This week was one of the most special, meaningful, & memorable week’s that I will always remember & cherish. Our little bean really got to spend quality time with her aunt & uncle as well as her oldest cousin, who was in town at the same time as us, looking at potential wedding venues. Jian & I were so happy that our little bean got to develop a good relationship & bond with that side of my family that I don’t often talk about.

Spending an entire week at my brother’s house really helped our little bean become comfortable in her new environment. She really took to the new house well, & got settled in almost completely on the first day. I was just happy to be able to spend quality time with my oldest brother with whom I’ve always had a close bond with (not just because we share the same now deceased father). It must have been a little weird for my brother to see his baby sister become a mother herself, but it was great to see him take on the uncle role to my little bean, & she just adores her uncle. My sister-in-law was just as equally awesome at being a new aunt. Every time she walked into the room, my bean would ask my sister-in-law to carry her & play with her. Jian & I also had fun just relaxing & hanging out with my brother (who is one of the best brother’s you’ll ever come across, ever).

hanging out with her toys

Towards the end of our trip Jian & I decided to do the cheesy, clichéd touristy thing & bring our little bean to see the infamous Las Vegas Strip. There was not much for us to do in this melt-your-face-off hot weather but to stay inside the shopping malls & get lost in the maze of hotel casinos. So, we only ended up taking our little bean to a few selected places on the Las Vegas strip. Our little bean got to experience her first tour to an aquarium when we visited the Shark Reef Aquarium at the Mandalay Bay hotel. She was relatively okay when we were looking at all of the lizards & snakes at the beginning of the tour, but once we descended lower where all of the exotic fishes & sea animals swam around, our little one wasn’t too happy to be in such a dark place. It wasn’t long before she started fussing, which was our cue to high tail it out of there & head to our next spot. It was too hot to do anything outside (even walking between hotels was not a good idea). So we browsed around the Caesar’s Palace Forums shopping mall before heading home to change our little bean’s giant 💩 diaper.


On the next day we ventured back out to the Strip again, to see the famous seasonal flower display at the lobby of the Bellagio hotel. Every season or major holiday, the lobby garden at the Bellagio hotel changes into something dramatic & spectacular. This time the theme was a tropical paradise along with a giant replica of a treehouse (with furniture inside), & a massive feature display depicting Mother Nature as a huge flowering tree. I wish I had photos to show you, but there were just way, way, way too many tourists crowding the whole area, & since we were trying to be very vigilant about possible COVID-19 super-spreader events, we decided to take a quick walkthrough then go to our next spot. Jian had the brilliant idea of taking the 3 of us back to our old stomping grounds for good eats & eat at our favorite Japanese-themed restaurant for some delicious (yet Vegas overpriced) ramen. This was when our little bean decided to showcase her best behavior & let the parents have a leisurely lunch with a few delicious cocktails sprinkled in between.


Overall, we had an extremely memorable & meaningful trip to spend time with my big brother & sister-in-law. We are truly grateful & appreciate the time we spent with our family. I am super happy that my brother & sister-in-law not only got to properly meet my little bean, but they got to build a bond together, & that means more than anything in the world. I cannot stress this enough, but I really do have one of the best brothers in the whole world. It was a little sad to be leaving Las Vegas, & knowing that it’s not going to be so easy to be able to see my brother so easily anymore after he moved out of California. This was a super fun trip, & a real test to see how Jian & I as parents could handle a baby in the middle of the desert during one of the hottest times of the century. We really do have one of the best baby’s in the world. She is a real trooper, even when she soils herself on the road with no nearby rest stops or gas stations. It seemed like our little bean could handle this long road trip better than us parents ever could…& on that note, I shall end this post with one final photo of us at our last layover in Bakersfield before finally heading back home.

Why does our little bean love hotels so much???

Today’s song of the day:

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