Skybar on Sunset

Last weekend I reunited with one of my old friends Theo, who is super great at photography and took these pictures of me. We went to Skybar At the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood because we thought it would be a nice place to have some dinner and take pictures at the rooftop. We wanted to go during golden hour so the light would be nice outside. The photos online definitely make the hotel seem more high up that it actually is, but it was still gorgeous nonetheless. The Mondrian hotel is chic and clean with lots of minimalism and clear glass walls. It was impossible to find street parking so we had to opt for the valet which was over $15. Based on reviews, Skybar is supposedly one of the finest and busiest outdoor pool lounges in Los Angeles. We went on a Friday night, but it was very empty and not a lot of people were there. The bar and lounge area was still very picture-esque, but it still felt like something (ambiance) was missing.

We ate at Ivory on Sunset, which is right next to Skybar. They're pretty well-known for their brunch menu, but the dinner was still pretty decent. I had the Spaghetti Pomodoro because I love pasta and it didn't disappoint. The portion and flavor was definitely a little overpriced though. Sometimes I feel like I've been in Los Angeles for too long and that I've become desensitized to the glitzy and beautiful rooftop views of the city. I definitely didn't feel that indifferent when I first moved here for college. Overall, it was a great day catching up with a friend and seeing more of the other side of L.A. since I'm always in downtown!

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Wonderspaces Pop-up art exhibition: a photo diary

On Saturday, Melina and I took a trip to San Diego to visit our friend Steve and to visit Wonderspaces, a super interesting pop-up exhibition that showcases sixteen different art installations for this month only. It was about $20 for students and $24 for adults, which is kind of pricey for the experience, but overall the exhibits were super cool. We thought the outside looked a lot like Coachella because the vast dry land and huge sculptures — turns out, a lot of the same art for Wonderspaces was used in Burning Man and SXSW. I don't want to give too much away for those who want to see this place for themselves, but I loved the neon tunnel and an exhibit that looks like you're in a sky full of stars (I didn't take a picture of it because it turned out blurry). After, we got some ramen and boba around the area. We thought it was hilarious how even though we left Los Angeles, it felt like we were doing the same thing in San Diego that we usually do...as if we were getting boba and ramen in Little Tokyo or Koreatown. 

In other life news, I started my first week as an intern at Circa, a digital news outlet for millennials under Sinclair Broadcast Group and I love it so far! Excited to update and hopefully share content as time progresses. 

No (s)pain, no gain

If you uproot a plant and replant it in new soil, chances are, it will have difficulty surviving, yet alone thriving.

If you do the same to a human, it is likely that the person will have the same problem.

A large-scale example would be the story of how my parents emigrated from Hong Kong and Taiwan to the U.S. with little to no knowledge of the English language to start a new life.

A much smaller scale example is what I’m currently feeling at my study abroad program in Valencia, Spain.

This weekend, I spent a lot of time exploring and reflecting (shout-out to my lost passport) while most of my friends went on trips around Spain or to different countries. I embraced discomfort, didn’t mind getting lost, and enjoyed being alone in my thoughts.

One thing I discovered was how much I admire the slow and colorful way of Spanish living. Restaurants and stores close in the evening for siesta, or short time of rest, and open back up later in the night where everyone goes out drinking or dancing. As one of my friends put it, “Everyone loves to drink, dance, and naps are required? This is the place for me!!”

While exploring, I noticed that people eat very slowly at restaurants. During lunch, everyone is just laying back, looking into each other’s eyes, talking, laughing, or smoking cigarettes. People eat at coffee shops alone and read the newspaper with no smartphone in sight. At first, it would throw me off (the waiters take forever and a day to get the check), but I learned to at least try to appreciate this rather than become impatient with it. With them, there is no hurry, no eagerness to move onto the next activity.

Spaniards live so joyfully. In such a busy and over-stimulating world, sometimes there is nothing more healing than intentionally enjoying the little moments, or just peacefully basking in simplicity and silence. 

Amidst all of the walking (that my sedentary self is not used to), the emotional rollercoasters due to a string of unlucky events, the constant need to sleep (most likely the cause for the emotional rollercoasters and walking), I have come to realize that my attitude towards life needed a change.

I’m always waiting for something to happen. Or when I am doing things and living life, I’m almost always thinking about what’s next. My head is always stuck in the past or in the future. This mindset makes it hard for me to truly enjoy things. I exist but I am not present.

A few weeks ago, I remember wishing the second semester of my junior year would end so I could be on summer break and go to Catalina Island, Seattle, and Spain. When I was on Catalina Island, I couldn’t wait to go to Seattle. When I was in Seattle, I couldn’t wait to go to Spain. Now I’m in Spain, and there are times where I can’t wait to go home. Why can’t I just enjoy what is good, right now?

When we focus our minds toward things that are idealized and faraway, we become too busy to notice the most wonderful and life-changing views that occur along the way. 

The truth is we’re probably never going to get to the “destination” that will change what’s within us. No glorious cathedral, crazy night out, or beach view truly holds the power to reconstruct how we love, talk, live, and interact with one another. The adventures we crave, chase, and anticipate after are actually within us — only if we allow them.        

Waiting for something better to come prevents us from enjoying the things, people, experiences, and people around us.

If we start to notice the little things like how beautiful the walk from the apartment to school is and admire the insightful things that every person brings to the room, the uprooted plant might actually be watered and grow. It is then that we might be able to to truly find happiness in the present understand the beauty in the things that surround us.

Sleepy in Seattle: a photo diary

A couple weeks ago, my roommate and I decided to take a spontaneous trip to Seattle! We hit most of Seattle's most famous landmarks in one day. We (mostly me) were both super exhausted (and still sleepy) from finals and it was a nice little trip to take before she went to New York and I went to Spain for the summer. 

In front of a vintage store at the University village of University of Washington. We were sad that the cherry blossoms were no longer in season. 

In front of a vintage store at the University village of University of Washington. We were sad that the cherry blossoms were no longer in season. 

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A kind stranger took this photo for us at Kerry Park, thank you Jerry Lum.

A kind stranger took this photo for us at Kerry Park, thank you Jerry Lum.

A Go-Pro picture with the beautiful views of Seattle!

A Go-Pro picture with the beautiful views of Seattle!

The Chihuly Garden and Glass had some incredible works of art! 

The Chihuly Garden and Glass had some incredible works of art! 

The 14th Factory turns barren land into a diverse and interactive visual masterpiece

Last week I got to go to 14th Factory with my friends and it was so incredible! This is my review that I wrote on it for the paper in addition to some pictures we took.

Located in an abandoned 150,000-square-foot warehouse in Lincoln Heights, one wouldn’t think much of The 14th Factory museum’s unassuming, all-black exterior. However, inside holds an immersive and mesmerizing universe like no other.

The museum features 14 interlinked art installations that showcase video, sculpture, paintings and live dance. Founded by British and Hong Kong-based artist Simon Birch, the museum was created with the intention of making the space not an ordinary experience, but a journey of discovery.

Birch and his diverse team of 16 artists from China, Hong Kong, the United States, United Kingdom. and Canada took this everyday space and transformed it into a haven of interdisciplinary and socially engaged art that draws from American and Asian cultures. Around every corner, the museum offers diverse, socially conscious and interactive works of art.

According to the museum’s website, Birch was inspired by the 18th-century history of the Canton region called Thirteen Factories when developing the project. Birch even invested $1 million of his own funds toward the project, which originally had a $3 million budget.

Birch stated in the 14th Factory website that he wanted to create a space where people could open “a new alternative space of collaboration, production and transformation,” combining the old and new.

The 14th Factory creates global community and unity through existential messages and social justice through the representation of minority artists and subjects and original, dramatic pieces of art. In between the dramatic installations, visitors move through tunnels in complete darkness, adding to the mystique.

While all the individual exhibits have the ability to leave guests constantly amazed, a crowd favorite is The Barmecide Feast, designed by lead architect Paul Kember and his team. Introduced as an interstellar meteor that breaks open in the middle into a room inspired by the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, guests can experience an exact replica of the bedroom from director Stanley Kubrick’s set. Kembers’ uncle and great-uncle were both designers who worked on the original sets in Kubrick’s film

Visitors are allowed a timed visit of two minutes, similar to the restrictions at the Museum of Ice Cream for the sprinkles pool and The Broad for Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room.

The final exhibit, The Inevitable (The Final Challenge: Death and Rebirth) by Birch and Eric Hu, is as shocking as it is fascinating. The film installation features Birch’s beloved red Ferrari being destroyed on screen in slow-motion from various angles. In the next room, the physical pieces of the destroyed Ferrari are on the table for view.

Birch created The Inevitable after his diagnosis diagnosis with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and was told that he only had six months left to live. After the life-changing incident, Birch realized that material wealth can be absolutely insignificant, according to Forbes magazine

Other iconic exhibits include The Crusher, a room with 300 pitchforks suspended from the ceiling that look as if they could fall down at any minute, representing revolution.

The various film installations showcase a wide range of subjects, including one with 300 Chinese fighters in slow motion and Tannhauser by videographer Scott Sporleder, based on a concept by Birch that features vacated apartment buildings in Hong Kong.

While Los Angeles is a cultural hub for art, few are as enlightening as The 14th Factory. With its collaborative and innovative approach, The 14th Factory weaves the past, the present and the future together by uniquely displaying art inspired by Chinese history, all while giving a voice to artists of color.

Coachella 2017 — Serendipitous in the desert

This is my second time going to Coachella and it’s definitely been an entirely different experience than last year. Last year, I went for only two days and covered it as press so I felt a lot of stress to remember each set and write an article about it after. It was definitely amazing because it was my first Coachella and I’ll never forget how Ice Cube brought out N.W.A. This year, I went with the same group of people but it was a lot crazier. We lived in an Airbnb an hour away so it was a lot more inconvenient than when we stayed at Indian Wells, which was only 15-20 minutes away. Some artists that we saw this weekend were Banks, Future (who brought out Drake!), DJ Snake, Travis Scott, Kendrick Lamar and Phantogram! We also spent a lot of time chilling in the beer garden which was really fun. The food was really expensive but I loved eating the huge Japanese hot dogs and the lobster fries. The weather was absolutely scorching and it was extremely dusty and dry. Our group lost each other a couple of times, and it was so funny because almost everybody was dressed the same or looked the same so I thought almost every single person I passed by was one of my friends. While we were on the way to the shuttle, my friend Vianna heard Desiigner’s “BRRT” and saw Desiigner and two members of Migos (Takeoff and Quavo) outside of their hotel. We got to meet them and take pictures and it was such a random moment! Such two weeks ago, Migos was supposed to headline USC’s annual concert but the concert got canceled so it was pretty surreal to meet them IN PERSON. Coachella is definitely an oasis of music, fashion, and food and I’m thankful to have attended for two years in a row. It’s a little too exhausting and crazy at times, so I definitely have to think about whether I would want to go next year. My mind says yes but my body says no.