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A few weeks ago I took a small trip to Washington DC. I accompanied my mom to DC so she could attend the wedding of a friend’s daughter. Now that my mom is widowed, she often does not like to go to places by herself, especially since she used to have a very special person to do everything with & now suddenly doesn’t. My other siblings are all much older now living in far away places, married, divorced, with children of their own, or often traveling for work. My mom lives with me, & I take care of her (a.k.a. keep her company). I enjoy all the time I spend with her, especially since we get along so well, almost like sisters but still maintaining that mother-child boundary. I had such a blast going with my mom to DC. We turned her wedding invitation into a small sightseeing trip. We tried not to let the soggy weather bring us down.

Well, what an eventful trip we had. Before we left home, we checked the weather forecast & knew that there would be rain on most of our days in our nation’s Capitol. However, we were not fully prepared for the looming hurricane (named Joaquin) supposedly meant to barrel right into the east coast states. Lucky for us the hurricane was first predicted to hit our region on the day after we were flying back home. Then, later it was reported that the hurricane didn’t even touch the region we visited at all, & instead the hurricane hit other south-eastern regions. Needless to say, we still got hit by a case of the rainy day blues. We prepared by bringing our own umbrellas & raincoats. I thought I had brought the proper pair of boots for the rain, but after three years of owning these cheap H&M brand water-resistant shoes, it gave up on me. It just happened to be on the big day we were planning on visiting the Smithsonian’s history museums.

We started out our morning by first visiting the National Monument. (We had no idea you had to reserve tickets months in advance if you want to go to their observation room.) Everything was going great with our umbrellas out, our raincoats zipped up, & our feet warm & dry in each of our boots. Out of nowhere, I felt a rush of coldness overtake my feet. That’s when it hit me that my socks were soaked through & the insoles of my shoes were getting soggy. It was the most uncomfortable, unpleasant experience for a neat freak like myself who always has to keep her clothes clean & must always wear clean socks. I thought the rest of my day was going to be ruined until the museum gift shop saved my life (figuratively). My mom felt bad for my situation (& I think she was getting sick of hearing me whine about my wet feet), so she bought me a pair of American flag themed socks. The socks looked so tacky, but I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth, so I generously & graciously wore the socks. Surprisingly the cheesy socks were thicker & much more comfortable than the original socks I had worn…& THEY WERE DRY!!! I also had to stuff my shoes with paper towels to dry them as much as possible. 

After that wet socks fiasco, we had the most amazing time at the MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY. This was by far our most favorite & memorable museums. I could spend an entire day in this place & never be able see everything. I would definitely come back to this museum again & again.

OH MY GAWD!! IT’S JULIA CHILD’S KITCHEN!!!

Let me interject at this point by saying we didn’t take many pictures on our trip. (I know…what a shame, since there’s so much history to be captured on film.) Every day we encountered wind & rain, loads of city construction, hoards of obnoxious tourists blocking everything with their unnecessarily oversized cameras & country bumpkin mannerisms, & it was hard to take pictures in museums with a camera phone in one hand & an umbrella in the other hand.

At the last minute we decided to rent a car instead of using Uber &/or public transportation, so we could get around in the rain easier as well as have the freedom to go to more hard-to-reach places. We truly got to explore a more local side of Washington DC on this trip. We took my mom to restaurants & shops she would normally never set foot inside of, let alone hear about. One of the restaurants we got to try out was called Succotash. It was across the street from our hotel & had only been open for two weeks. That was my mom’s first time trying authentic Southern cooking.

Another memorable eatery we visited was Maketto. It’s one part restaurant, one part clothing store, & one part coffee shop. I would like to pause here & say that I have never met people more friendly & warm than the employees working at Maketto. They really made our soggy day feel good. We made a pitstop to have a cup of coffee, & for Jian to browse through his favorite Japanese clothing brands (he broke down & bought a great t-shirt). The coffee barista mixed up my drink order, so he graciously offered me a complementary pastry. Their hospitality made my day.

Other notable places we visited…one I must mention is The Round Robin Bar at the Willet InterContinental Hotel. This bar is nearly 200 years old, the oldest existing bar in all of DC, & has been graced with the patronage of many presidents past & present. We first heard of this bar from watching a show on TV, & were quite surprised we were able to get seats at the counter even when the hotel was hosting a busy Republican National Convention event. We had a few cocktails & snacks, chatted with a retired couple sitting next to us, & sped off to have a quiet Thai dinner at a restaurant called Rice in the hip Logan Circle neighborhood. We found an awesome ice creamery (Dolcezza) that served Portland, Oregon’s famous Stumptown Coffee (but these beans were roasted in NYC, not PDX). That’s how we capped off our night. Handmade craft gelato & Stumptown coffee.

Along the way, we visited two more Smithsonian museums: Air and Space Museum Natural History Museum. My mom got her biggest wish granted. She finally got to take an up-close look at the infamous Hope Diamond. It is so beautiful, but looks a lot smaller in person than it does in pictures & on TV. I’d still like to own one for myself…an un-cursed one of course. While walking through the aquariums & the oceanography exhibits at the Natural History museum made us all crave seafood, so we made a beeline to Sushi Capitol for some delicious nigiri-style sushi. Hey, that’s kind of what happens when you see all those fishes swimming around in their tanks while on an empty stomach. I ended up eating 21 pieces of sushi all by myself. My all-time sushi eating record is 22 pieces. There’s a popular sushi restaurant near my house that once had a customer who ate 90 pieces of nigiri sushi in one meal. They challenged me to beat that guy’s record, but I don’t think I could do it. Not even my dad could do it, & he’s the only person I know who could match my sushi eating record. Let me add in that it’s not easy to eat so much sushi, even though they look bite-sized…especially with the extra fatty pieces. Those types of fish tend to stick to your stomach & make you feel fuller, faster. All that sushi rice only adds to the fullness too.

Finally, the wedding day comes around. The daughter of my mom’s best friend is getting married to her law school sweetheart. My mom has been friends with this family for over 40 years, since before she immigrated to the United States. Even I know this family well. I was born at the same time as this couple’s son. We grew up together. I babysat this boy & his little sister. Now she’s getting married. She had a quaint, small wedding in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. While my mom was celebrating & dancing the night away, Jian & I took the opportunity to visit the popular Jack Rose Dining Saloon. We also heard about this place from watching TV, & learned that this place houses well over ONE THOUSAND NINE HUNDRED bottles of bourbons & whiskeys. Jian & I are diehard, hardcore whisky/whiskey/bourbon fans. (My dad would be so proud.) Next to Multnomah Whisky Library on the west coast in Portland, Oregon…this place is our east coast Mecca. Our eyes nearly bugged out of our heads when we browsed through their extensive (for lack of a better word) phone book sized alcohol menu. We had a whisky tasting experience to remember for a lifetime. Plus, I got to eat my all-time favorite dish: Scotch Eggs!!! I take my hat off to our whisky sommelier. I want a job like hers some day.

I tried a whisky I’ve been wanting to try for a very long tim: Kavalan Whisky by King Car Group. Hailing from Taipei, Taiwan and a two-time 2015 Whisky Magazine award winner, this whisky was crisp, sweet, a little smoky with a spicy ginger aftertaste. I thoroughly enjoyed this dram even though I’m not much of a spicy whisky fan. The bottle I tried was called Kavalan King Car.

We capped off our evening by looking for a coffee nightcap. Jian found a place called Slipstream, a hybrid coffee shop & bar. Yes, I said coffee AND cocktails. Needless to say, we chucked the coffee & desserts idea & drank more alcohol. No, Jian was NOT too tipsy to drive. He kept his composure & alcohol consumption to a reasonable amount. He’s not a reckless drinker, no matter what. [INSERT STERN GLARE HERE] i, on the other hand, let loose because I wasn’t driving that night. I got a little tipsy & kept texting my mom in Chinese. We all had a great evening & end to our trip. I was not looking forward to packing my suitcase in a tipsy state, but. I powered through it anyway.

I am looking forward to the next time I get to visit Washington DC again. I had a great time. Cheers.

Today’s song of the day:

“HiyHiy” by Lostboycrow

 
I got back from my cousin’s wedding in one piece. Thank heavens! Usually when I go on vacation, I like to take an obscene amount of photos, but it was just too damn HOT & HUMID to do anything other than sip cocktails in the air conditioned bar or lounge around in the pool. Well, at least my aunt took enough photos on her camera to share with everyone.

I had a great time in Puerto Vallarta. My cousin had a super chillaxed wedding. It was full of celebration, love, family, & a huge bright pink elephant in the room known as drama. I’m not going to address the “pink elephant” whatsoever, other than to say it was there in full effect. That is all. My cousin looked beautiful in her white dress & veil. I was a little taken aback by the bright emerald green ties & navy gingham shirts worn by the groomsmen & the dark gray strapless dresses worn by the bridesmaids, but otherwise, the decorations were simple & tasteful. My family really knows how to eat, drink & party hard.

The hotel my cousin & most of our family stayed at was aptly named Villa Amor. It was a rustic hotel nestled on a small cliff side, overlooking the beach. The place I stayed at with my mom & brother was a modern all-inclusive resort 10 minutes away from my cousin’s hotel. When I say the resort was all-inclusive, I mean that all food, drinks, & amenities are included in the price of the vacation package. All you really needed to pay for was gratuity & the resort’s private taxi costs. It was easy to get around town & explore as well as lounge about on the beach.

  

  

Despite the muggy, almost unbearable humidity, we all had a blast celebrating my cousin’s wedding. There was plenty of eating & drinking, as well as tons of dancing, games, karaoke at a local dive bar, & golf cart riding. There was even a small Lip-Sync performance during the rehearsal dinner. Seeing my male cousin wearing pink socks & singing along to 80s music is pure comedy!

  
I am so burnt out from this trip. I still have a load of laundry to wash, a dress or two to dryclean, & a suitcase to put back into storage. No, wait. I still have to use my suitcase. In 3 weeks I’m heading off to San Diego for ComicCon (a.k.a. SDCC). I’m going to spend a few extra days in SoCal before & after ComicCon, just to avoid the rush of traffic from all the travelers heading to San Diego for this epic event. I am very excited for ComicCon, but I’m not exited about the packing experience. I feel like I just finished packing & unpacking from my trip to Mexico. Oh well. Here we go again. Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Cash Machine by Hard-Fi”

  

The time is upon me. I am finally going to Mexico for that oh-so-special destination wedding I’ve been mentioning on this blog. My cousin is finally getting hitched, & the whole family clan is high tailing down to Sayulita (a.k.a. the Puerto Vallarta region) for a long weekend of partying, rain, scorching heat, & high humidity. It’s going to be a blast. I’m not very keen on attending weddings, so I’m anxious eager to get this show on the road & over with. One thing that I’ve never mentioned about myself is that I enjoy packing suitcases for vacations/trips. I’m not exactly sure why I enjoy this mundane task. Perhaps it’s the ‘extreme organizer’ side of my personality that can really shine in this area. Or it could just be that I like packing & stowing things away into little tiny compartments like a Japanese bento box. I get a special thrill when I’m able to pack a shitload (pardon my French) of toiletries, clothes, accessories & such into a small rolling suitcase without breaking the zipper or the scale at the check-in station. (There were TWO times when I was able to stow a full-size umbrella into my suitcase & not break the umbrella or the suitcase. Except, I did poke a small hole in one of the incidents.) Every time I pack for a trip, I like to stock up on little travel sized toiletries (i.e. toothpaste, hair products, drug store medicine, etc.) & make list upon list of things I need to pack & things I need to get squared away in preparation for my departure (i.e. place travel notices on credit cards, add International travel feature on mobile phone plan, place a vacation hold on mail & newspapers, etc.). No matter how much I try to scale down the amount of items in my suitcase, I always feel like my luggage is going to burst. Through my many travels over the years, I feel like I’ve somewhat learned how to streamline my suitcase packing, but I’m still somehow over-stuffing my suitcase. So, recently, I invested in a space saver garment bag (well, two to be exact…one for me and one for my companion). This space saver bag was not cheap, but it was well worth it. I only wish I had purchased one a long time ago, it would have made all of my trips to Asia so much easier! As per most of my travel-related products, I purchased this space saver garment bag (a.k.a. Spacepak) from the Flight 001 store.

spacepak collage1

spacepak collage2

I’m going to try this out & see if I like it. It’s just one more thing to help keep me on top of my organizational game. I’m so excited to finally celebrate my cousin’s wedding in Mexico! Cheers!

Today’s song of the day:

“Move On Now by Hard-Fi”

move on now hardfi

My husband & I were so excited to visit Taipei for the first time, we definitely were planning on going nuts with our camera & take tons of photos.  Here are some of the best highlights of our photo album.

Yes, graffiti is everywhere.  It’s not really a shocking thing in most countries, but we were still excited to see street art throughout the city.  This type of art really amazes us, & these big murals are so cool.

Like I’ve mentioned before, my female friend who got married is from Taipei.  She was showing our big group of friends around town, & as we were walking to the subway station, we passed by this small shop selling funny t-shirts.  All of us thought these two shirts in particular was very fitting for the occasion.  The first shirt on the left says “My husband is the greatest”.  The second shirt on the right says “My wife is never wrong”.  Our group thought it would be funny to buy these shirts for our friends who were getting married that weekend, so they could wear them on their wedding day.  Alas, they begged us not to get them, so we didn’t end up buying them.  It would have been a funny story if we did get those shirts!

It was very interesting to see new/modern buildings mixed in with the older/traditional buildings.  The city itself is quite clean & orderly, however, the older buildings feel a little run-down & worn-out.  This is quite a dramatic contrast against the vibrant background of the bustling cityscape.

Image

Photos courtesy of: http://www.walllbase.cc

The time has finally arrived!  Tomorrow, I am jetting off to Taipei, Taiwan.  I am incredibly thrilled to attend my friends’ wedding. (We are close friends with both the bride & groom.)  Also, being able to visit a place I’ve heard so much about since my early childhood is exciting.  I am so ready for this trip… I can’t wait to post photos soon!!  Cheers.

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