Taipei: Summer 2K17

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As part of my summer holiday, I’ve decided to take a few weeks abroad. The first country I visited, Taiwan, I spent a week in. Most of my extended family lives in Taiwan, and so I’ve been visiting Taipei (the country’s capital) on and off for a solid 2 decades. Also, since I’ve been visiting since I was a infant, I know a lot of local places and don’t usually go visit tourist-y areas because what’s the point, you know?

I stayed in New Taipei, in one of my grandfather’s buildings (he’s a real estate developer and mainly builds apartments/condos). Right down the block was a night market and right below us was a 7-11. For those of you that don’t know what that is, 7-11 is basically like a drug store/ gas station store that is amazing anywhere but in America. I’ve been to the Japanese equivalent and the Taiwanese version and both contain amazing fast food in comparison to the United States. 

But I digress. So the first thing that I had to do was get my nails done. I went to Rue 216, which is in Taipei–right near MinQuan E. Road Section 3. The ladies there do such a fabulous job and there are an obscene amount of colors to choose from. The gel nail set and regular manicure set are cheaper than anything you can get in Southern California. I got jewels placed at the top and picked a nice pinky-peach color for the Summer. Honestly, this is my favorite place to get my nails done in Taiwan and trust me, there are a shit ton of places you can get them done. But my Aunt is friends with the store’s owners and she is honestly so nice and accommodating to like scheduling/services so I would 10 out of 10 recommend. 

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Now, there is a lot of really good food in Taiwan. Some of which they are particularly famous for and most of which you can grab at the local Night Market. Some Night Markets are more famous than others. My personal favorite is:  

  • Raohe St. Night Market (Fuyuan St. Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan) 

The Night Market has some seriously dope ass food. Like you’ll find all kinds of stuff to eat, some of which you only see on like food shows about bizarre foods on the Food Network or Bravo or whatever. And it honestly is so good because the produce is so fresh and everything is super well seasoned. Like those vendors have been there for decades and they are like 3rd or 4th generation because their whole family has basically been working it. So not only are Night Markets basically an iconic part of Taiwan, it is so worth it because of the cheap, delicious food and all the extra goodies you can buy there.

The weather is pretty unforgiving in the summer. Taiwan is an island, more near the equator than many people are used to, and its capital city Taipei is in between a valley which only makes the heat worst. It’s a sweltering, oppressive heat that kind of makes you want to faint. I’ve had heat exhaustion so many times when I visited there during the summer it’s insane. So stay hydrated, always try to be indoors unless you’re walking somewhere, and the air conditioning will be your new best friend. 

One of my favorite restaurants to go to in Taiwan is Saboten (address: 100, Taiwan, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, Section 1, Zhongxiao West Road, 66號) which is a tonkatsu place that is known for their 1) sesame salad dressing and 2) their 25-layer pork tonkatsu. The entree is juicy, crispy, and tender and is accompanied by a few side dishes, miso soup and rice. I ordered the pork tonkatsu and shrimp tempura combination and it was honestly so good. The restaurant has a bit of a wait but it is totally worth it. The atmosphere is super friendly and rowdy, making it a great family place. 

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Another restaurant which I like to go to is Daniel’s which is in the Brother Hotel, located in Taipei, Taiwan. Daniel’s is an Italian restaurant (I know, Italian in Taiwan?) that is so good if only because the ingredients are so fresh. The first dish I ordered was the Caprese Salad which was composed of a variety of tomatoes, beets, basil, arugula, and topped with a dollop of buffalo mozzarella and caviar. The highlight of this dish was most definitely the buffalo mozzarella. You want find something like this in America. The cheese is made out of buffalo milk and is both creamy and delicately flavorful. 

CapreseThe second dish/ entree I ordered was Bistecca which was basically strips of rib-eye steak with saffron rice garnished with peas, caviar and tomatoes. The rice had a strong saffron flavor that wasn’t too overpowering, despite the intimidating colour. The steak was well-cooked and also very savory. I would 10 outta 10 recommend. 

steak The last thing on my list of things I ate at Daniel’s include a tiramisu that was both sweet, spongey, and decadent that was topped with gold flakes and accompanied by two pieces of biscotti. It was the perfect way to end my dinner. 

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Well, that’s all for now. I’ll be back later with some reviews on places I been in Japan! 

xoxo Megan 

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What to Pack on a Carry-On: Minimalist Edition

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Oh, the carry-on bag. No one ever really knows what to put in this bag because unless you’re a frequent flyer and have totally gotten over the whole idea of checked baggages–you don’t really want to put a lot on your carry-on right?

Well personally, I try to put as little as possible into my carry on. Don’t get me wrong, when I travel I do bring a lot of stuff with me–I just cram all that stuff into my checked baggage instead. Of course there’s always a danger that the airline will lose your luggage and that’s why you don’t leave anything vital in there: money, credit cards, documents, IDs, etc. I could lose my checked-in luggage and be fine because my carry-on is perfectly well equipped to save me in dire situations. I mean I wouldn’t want to lose my checked-in bag because that would suck and I would have to re-purchase a lot of my favorite clothes/shoes/etc. but it wouldn’t be the worst thing to ever happen to me. 

Now, in terms of the carry-on–as you can tell from the title I live by a very minimalist standard. 

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I keep things simple. No luggage that I have to put in the overhead compartment and definitely no bulky backpack that I have to lug around everywhere. Just a nice, medium sized purse that will hold everything that is vital and essential to my well-being and mental health. So in the photo above I have:

1. My trusty Louis Vuitton Never Full in size GM (that’s the medium-size right?). The bag was a graduation gift from my parents and has served me very well for over 2 years. 

2. In the marble and gold casing is my laptop, that has been fully charged and already has several movies and books pre-downloaded onto it. As much as my phone is super handy, having to hold my phone up to my face and read really small letters/ look at tiny images isn’t the way that I want to spend a 10+ hour flight. 

3. Earphones, obviously. 

4. My pale pink passport book that I use to also hold my tickets/ visas/ IDs/ credit-debit cards. Basically it’s an XL wallet that I use to also conveniently hold my travel documents. 

5. A book (in replacement of the magazine that I will buy at the kiosk in the airport), because sometimes nothing feels better than holding a solid book or magazine in your hands. 

6. Water–that I will purchase once I’m passed the security line because it’s important to stay hydrated on a plane. It gets really dry and it’s not comfortable at all if you’re really thirsty and don’t trust the water that the flight attendants serve on the plane (like me). I’m sorry but I don’t know where that water came from nor how long its been sitting in the plane waiting to be used. (Yes, I’m a brat–we’ve established this already I have no idea why you’re even surprised). 

Now for the close up of the smaller items: 

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1. The neck-holder things: yes, I know that this magically appeared. I honestly forgot to add it into the original photo and was too lazy to retake it. Sue me (actually don’t, because I can’t afford lawyers LOL). But anyway, really essential if you want a decent sleep on a particularly uncomfortable plane because the neck support is ESSENTIAL. 

2. Eye Drops: Personally, I use the Systane Gel EyeDrops because they’re super moisturizing and almost form a protective film over your eye that keeps it from drying out super fast. Dry eyes can lead to tension headaches and eye aches that can make your plane ride that much worse if you don’t keep everything nice and wet. 

3. Hair Tye- Do I need to explain?

4. Lip Balm–also essential and self explanatory

5. Medications: which can include Advil, Melatonin, Dramamine, Tums, Xanax (if it’s LEGALLY prescribed to you kiddies!!! 🙂 etc. It’s a personal preference kind of matter. Personally–between my raging insomnia and the screaming babies that I just now that are going to be on my flight I stick with Advil and Melatonin. But, whatever works for you.

So yeah, that’s it. Like I said, super minimalist. If I were to lose my checked-in bag at least I would have all my documents, IDs, and money with me to fake my death, purchase new belongings and start a completely new life in whatever country I decided to visit. Just Kidding. Not Really. 

Obviously this is under the assumption that you do have a checked bag. If you have a carry-on luggage instead–well, none of this applies to you. Or at least only some of this applies to you. Carry-on luggages are so much more complicated because you have to make sure everything liquid is under 100ML (or only adds to 100ML?), in a clear bag, and a bunch of other rules I don’t bother to know because I never use carry-on luggages. 

Yes, I know, how discriminatory of me. Oops. 

 

The Three Sisters’ Death Hike

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I just want to start this with a thank you to travel insider for showing me this particular video and convincing me for some reason that this hike was good idea. Whoever said life was about the journey and not the destination clearly hasn’t taken the hike to get to the Three Sister’s Waterfall hike in San Diego’s Cleveland National Park.

That being said, the destination made the brutal hike totally worth it.

It took an hour and a half to drive from Orange County to the parking lot that would lead to the entrance of the hike, which was deep in Cleveland National Park and involved going off road for a solid 10 miles. Not something my car was exactly equipped for but me and my friends survived so that’s always good…? The road gets very twisty and anyone susceptible to car sickness can easily get nausea from this road trip. Very Easily. 

The hike starts off deceptively calm. The first quarter mile of the 2 mile hike is mostly just up and down slopes in gravel and sand. Beware the poison ivy though, there is definitely a lot that you have to walk through. But, nothing too major, right? Then all of the sudden the first cliff drop appears and you have to scale down a ridiculous incline with the help of several ropes that have been tied to nearby boulders by previous hikers.

Pro Tip: Definitely bring gloves because one wrong move and you can slip (which I did) and end up with really nasty rope burns (which also happened to me). 

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Then it’s a matter of going up and down hills that are basically just made out of rocks and sand. Not only that but they’re incredibly slippery rocks too, so make sure to wear shoes that have amazing grip or you’ll be slipping and falling into the nearby river or to your death off the cliff (either one). 

There are multiple ways to make your way through the hike and get to the waterfalls but the easiest way is directed by bright red arrows that have been spray painted onto the rocks. Don’t try to go any other way, you’ll just end up either lost or taking a harder/longer way around. 

The whole thing will take about an hour and a half to get through if you go at a reasonable pace. By the time you reach the destination though, you’ll want to keel over and sleep. Water was so important, as were the Cliff Bars we bought at the gas station before even embarking on our trip. I brought two huge water bottles and finished both by the end when we got back to the car at 6PM. There was a third water bottle waiting for me in the trunk that I basically chugged. 

The waterfalls were beautiful. Like actually stunning. And a perfect place to get your Instagram post fix if you wanted to have a helluva amazing picture on hand. The first waterfall of the three, you have to hike a bit higher to get to– but the waters from there lead to the second waterfall. The second waterfall is the one that the hike initially leads to and ends in a pool of crystal clear water that feels cool and refreshing. I was so glad that I wore my bikini under my hiking clothes, because you best believe we all stripped down to jump into the water after that miserable hour and a half hike.

 

Fair warning though: The currents are particularly strong and can lead you to be pushed around and at some point off the edge of the pool, and onto the third waterfall. That’s usually the waterfall everyone slides down because a natural rock slide has formed and it’s so incredibly smooth that it makes sliding easy. Plus at the bottom of the third waterfall is a sand pit pool so it makes the landing incredibly soft. No danger of impaling yourself on rocks then. But you want to slide down by your own choice and not because currents decided to push you down, sending you tumbling down rocks with the help of very forceful water.

Honestly sliding down the third waterfall was so exhilarating and made the trip worth it. As an adrenaline junkie it was everything I could hope for. Fast, slightly dangerous, and entirely rewarding. 

It’s funny (well not really) because we heard so many helicopters fly over the waterfall. The hike is known for people getting broken legs and arms so there is always a need for someone to be air lifted at some point or another. All of us were taking bets on who would have to end up needing the helicopter (and thus footing the bill) for all of us to fly back to civilization. Most of the money was on me because I’m so accident prone. 

Luckily we all survived. LOL. 

Anyways, to round this whole thing up. The hike was brutal but the waterfall slide definitely made the whole thing worth it. Just make sure to go on a sunny day, avoid the poison ivy/oak, bring climbing gloves, have shoes with really great grip, and charge your phones because you might end up calling a helicopter. Ta ta! 

“This Summer is Gonna Hurt like a MF”

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It’s finally summer! The honest to God, highly-anticipated and best time during a person’s life whilst they’re in school. Yeah, college is great but I count down the days to summer the moment I have to attend classes again. With summer comes the beach (if you live in Southern California, this is an almost guarantee) and seeing all your old friends (who’ve returned home from their respective colleges) as well as an endless amount of sleep. And as a person who has went 22 hours continuously sleeping, summer is the best time for this. Now, as part of the whole summer aesthetic, there’s also the attempt to get the perfect summer body.

It’s probably not going to happen because if we’re all perfectly honest, by the end of the semester/quarter—motivation is low and most people just want to catch up on sleep. Which is totally understandable. The first day after summer I slept for 18 hours straight in an attempt to catch up on all the sleep I missed during the actual school year. Sleep is important and hot summer days make the best conditions to find a nice sunny place to lay out and take a nap (or stay inside and sleep on your bed—either way…SLEEP).

But, exercising is important to your overall general health and not just a step you need to take (besides clean eating) to get a good summer body.  I’m in the personal belief that summer is the best time to work out and get the body you want for the rest of the school year. It’s 3 months of uninterrupted days where you have almost no excuse to not work out because there isn’t school or any internships knocking on your door telling you that you have something to do. Unless you picked up a summer job but even those are just usually part time and you can totally work around them.

What I’ve taken to doing, now that I am in summer and actually have time to work out, is a mixture of different methods so that I never get bored.

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Generally, I go to Corepower at least 2 to 3 times a week.  There’s a great one in Westwood that’s located right next to a Whole Foods, which I go to after each class to buy a juice or smoothie. YUM.

The place, Corepower, is a little pricey but if you get the Student’s Black Tag Membership, you’ll pay a set price for 3 months (your whole summer) and have unlimited classes. It’s great and totally worth it.

Corepower isn’t like most yoga studios. While they do have normal yoga and heated yoga, Corepower also has a special little class called Yoga Sculpt. And Yoga Sculpt is literally the only class that I take there. It’s an amazing work out that will have you sweating so profusely with your muscles shaking after class and deliciously sore the next day.

Yoga Sculpt is a combination of cardio, yoga, and light weightlifting. Obviously, the class routines vary each time you go, but there is a general principal present of you’re probably going to feel the burn (not probably, most definitely). I 10 out of 10 would recommend for any person who is looking to get a really good work out with all the benefits of yoga put in as well.

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Besides Corepower, I’ve also signed up for classes at my local CardioBarre. My first CardioBarre class almost made me cry with how much my muscles were shaking and burning. It’s a total workout and a perfect way to burn massive amounts of calories.

The premise behind CardioBarre is that you are basically doing ballet (without actually doing ballet) and lifting weights while you’re doing it. There’s more of a focus on your core/glutes and a lot of miniscule movements that last for several sets that will have your core and your glutes burning by the end. There’s a wonderful deal that they give to first timers of four classes for $35. Which is way cheaper than most places will ever give because each class is generally $25 depending on what studios you end up going to.

I’ve yet to try PureBarre yet in DTLA but I definitely heard some great things about it and so the studio (which is very similar to CardioBarre apparently) is on my list of exercising places to try. So is City of Angels boxing.

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The third and final part of my routine (at least in the I need to pay for these-portion) is Bespoke Cycling in Downtown LA. It’s a cycling studio that I honest to god love way more than any other cycling studio that I’ve been to. Including the infamous Soul Cycle. The work out is amazing and the music is perfect and gets you so pumped up.

I don’t know if anyone has told you this or you know from experience, but the playlist that an instructor puts on during a work out is so important to the general vibe and amount of engagement that occurs in a class. Yeah, the instructor themselves have to be good but the music has to be better because it’s what creates the atmosphere.

Now, if you’re not wanting to pay for all these classes that’s fine. Corepower will let you try a week free and Bespoke instructors can sign in up to 3 guests (if you have a friend that already goes and knows them that would be helpful in this situation).

Furthermore, it’s summer. Go to the pool and swim laps. Swimming is one of the best ways to work out your whole body and you won’t even feel your sweat. Also, you’ll be getting tan the whole time because you’ll be outside so you know kill two birds with one stone. Running is a great idea to but your arms wouldn’t get as much as a work out that swimming can give.

If you want to be super pro/extra, go swim in the ocean. I did that a couple of summers ago and trust me when I say that swimming in the ocean and fighting against waves is one of the hardest ways to work out/ push your body. But you will feel amazing after (that’s if you don’t drown from exhaustion first).

Anyways, the whole point of this post was to motivate you (whoever you are) as I try to motivate myself (and it takes a lot to motivate me). But considering that I don’t want to look like a potato anytime soon, this summer would probably be a good idea to start on that venture. Summer is the time to work out, catch up with old friends, sleep, and tan (if you live in a sunny area). At least, for an unemployed college student it is. Travelling is great to and I have a couple trips planned that I absolutely can’t wait to go on, of which you will definitely be hearing about. Because as evidenced by this blog, I like to share experiences and I definitely want to hear all about your experiences. Give me work out suggestions people!!! 

Ride those good vibes everyone!

 

And yes the title is the same as the Maroon 5 song, which is why I put it in quotes. Also, I love Maroon 5. 

In-Flight Entertainment Extravaganza

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For those of you who have traveled extensively, at some point or another you have to take that dreaded 10 to 15-hour flight. It’s not fun, but incredibly necessary when you’re trying to reach a destination that is basically inaccessible any other way (unless you want to go by train or ship, both of which would take a helluva longer time). We all have our different ways of doing with this flight. Some people pass the f*** out, some people can’t sleep so they binge watch airplane movies. But really, you just do whatever you have to do in order to get through hours of being in a flying metal death trap.

That’s hyperbolic because flying is actually the safest way to travel. More people are killed by cars each year than being on a plane (but also there are more cars and cars are cheaper so of course, statistically, more people are killed by cars and that doesn’t mean people don’t die on planes-BUT ANYWAY ON WITH THE POST).

So here is my list of ways of how to get through a 10 to 15-hour flight (I’m pretty sure no flight goes longer than that because the airplane would run out of fuel but don’t quote me). As a person who has traveled to and from Taiwan every other year in order to visit family—I am well versed in how to keep myself occupied (it’s a 11 to 13-hour flight depending on which way you’re coming from).

#1 Take a Melatonin and Pass the F*** Out (or just sleep w/o the Melatonin)

Depending on whether or not you have a tolerance to melatonin, you’ll want to start at the 3mg pill (just one). For people who use it often, maybe a 5 mg pill (again, just one—don’t be stupid and f***ing overdose yourself). This is the absolute best way to pass time. Your sleep can last anywhere between 8 to 10 hours—if you’re lucky (not necessarily undisturbed but close enough). Sleep is a wonderful way to let yourself rest and get ready for the crazy trip you have undoubtedly planned. Also pro-tip: keep yourself awake prior to your flight so that you’re actually tired and schedule (if you can) to land in the day time so that you can adjust for jet lag.

Here’s what melatonin looks like: 

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#2 Download a f*** ton of movies/ TV shows onto your laptop and/or iPad/Tablet

Pick out all the movies/ TV shows you want to watch/ binge. Have it all add up to around 10+ Hours (that’s like 4 to 5 movies or a few seasons of a show—but like mix and match because variety is the spice of life). Make sure to do the downloading at least a couple of days before because it can take a while and you don’t want to get excited about potentially watching a movie only to find out it didn’t finish downloading as you get on the plane. I highly suggest that you download E-Books just because it’s less space. Also charge your device because 100% battery is important (and bring that charger onto the plane, there’s usually an outlet and unless you completely passed out like I told you to in suggestion #1, you’re going to need to recharge at some point to stay functional). Airplanes don’t always have the programs you want to watch, nor are they always free. So rent from iTunes, download from Netflix—whatever you need to do… 😉

Here is a list of some of my go-to movies/ TV shows:

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#3 Grab a book…or 3?

So this is based on your preference. And how much you’d like to carry. Some people really like holding a physical book. Others are fine reading electronically. Either way determine how much you’re willing to carry or (once again) charge your device and bring the charger with you (honestly, we’re so electronically dependent now it’s kind of sad but awesome at the same time…?). There are a lot of great books out there, really. But you’re talking to a confirmed (not really) bibliophile, so I’m biased. Or if you would rather have pictures to be visually stimulated, grab some magazines from the travel pop-up shop in the terminal. There’s always like 10 everywhere you go.

Here are some of the books I’ve been reading/want to read (and find relatively interesting):

#4 If you’re a student, get work done.

This is actually the most unlikely suggestion that I will give. But I wanted to say it because, technically speaking, it is a good idea. No one does it though. It’s hard, to write a paper or do anything that requires research when you don’t have access to the internet (unless you paid for the WiFi, which, if you’re doing on a 10+ hour plane ride…WOW). But if you’re productive and a little OCD, have the research done already so all you have to do is write the paper. That’s under the assumption that you are doing a paper for a class, if you have a worksheet that’s so much easier because you don’t even have to take out your laptop/tablet.

#5 Podcasts!

I actually love podcasts. They’re great. I find it very entertaining to listen to people as if they are actually with me and talking to me without ever having to engage in the discussion because that’s mentally draining. It’s more like background noise you use while doing other stuff, like errands (in other situations). But I guess if you’re on the plane, you can just completely tune in. It’s not a bad idea, you might learn something (or not).

Here is a list of podcasts that I enjoy using as background noise (and occasionally listening to):

P.S. if you can’t tell by my choice of podcasts, I’m really into reality TV

#6 Music

If you have Spotify premium and can download music onto your phone, or if you actually still have an iPod and can download music, it is honestly the best way to have some background noise as you’re reading or just helping you fall asleep. Everyone has their own music preference; thus I’m not going to really suggest anything because I don’t know your music taste.

#7 Walk Around!

It’s honestly a good idea to walk around every now and then on the plane. You don’t want to stay seated for long periods of time, or else you’ll subject yourself to the possibility of blood clots (is really rare unless you’re old, but you never know). Plus, it’s a good way to stretch you legs and let your butt have a break from carrying most of your weight.

#8 Food!

If it’s a long distance flight, there’s usually free snacks/drinks. You’ll really want to eat/hydrate on the plane and all you have to do is ask the flight attendants. Be polite. And that’s all I have to say on the subject.

Honestly, a person’s way of doing things whilst flying is pretty personal. Everyone has their own thing that they like to do. These are just some suggestions in order to ease the way for a particularly long journey. They’re all pretty self explanatory and I don’t think it would have taken you too long to figure it out. So really, just take my lists of favorites as movie/TV show/ book/ podcasts ideas to see if they’re something that could potentially entertain you for a few hours.

Have fun and have a safe flight (not that you can do much to control the safety of a flight)! 🙂 

 

 

The Balayage Adventure

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As I am currently avoiding studying for finals, I’m going to be writing all about my Balayage hair adventure.

For those of you who don’t know, “Balayage, taken from the French word meaning “to sweep”, is a freehand technique in which swatches of hair are sectioned and hand painted against a backing board with a lightening agent” (google search).

So, unlike ombre-where your hair is going from darker at the top to lighter at the bottom, Balayage is like placing random highlights throughout your hair in a sweeping motion that is supposed to make it seems like waves (on a beach?). I don’t know, that’s just the impression I get, I swear.

Anyway, I’ve done quite a bit of searching for hair stylists that will do this kind of technique and who are good at it when it comes to doing Asian hair. Here’s the problem with Asian hair guys—if you try to lighten it or bleach it in any way, the hair will more than likely turn orange first before any other color. So I needed to find someone who could give me the hair I want without making me look like an Oompa-Loompa.

After an extensive amount of research for stylists both in Los Angeles and Orange County—I came to the conclusion. I wanted Guy Tang to do my hair. If you ever watched YouTube, specifically beauty gurus, you would know that Guy Tang is the one who did Michelle Phan’s hair way back when Michelle Phan was still consistently posting videos (pre-2016). Since then he has exploded and done the hair of many other people, celebrities included. Because of this, Guy Tang hasn’t taken on any new clients for the past 6 or so months—last I checked. Thus, I continued on with my journey to find my perfect Balayage stylist.

Now after a couple of weeks of searching, scouring through yelp pages of both Los Angeles and Orange County—I found a few stylists that I felt were preferable. They were all generally 4.5+ stars and had a decent set of reviews. But the one that stood out to me the most was the Brian Guy Studio—mostly because on his yelp photos I saw that he was friends with Guy Tang!!

On the Brian Guy Studio Yelp Page, they have a really easy appointment system set up straight online. You can pick the style/cut/service that you want, with the stylist that you want. Then the system pulls up a bunch of availabilities so that you pick the one that is best for you. I eventually set up an afternoon appointment with Kim for a Balayage and cut.

Side Note: Initially I had hair that hit about the beginnings of my rib cage (it used to be at my hips). So I’m generally very used to having long hair. But I was so tired of it and ready for a change. Thus, I made the decision to chop all of it off.

When I got there, I only had to wait a few minutes for Kim to finish up with her previous appointment. Once it started, Kim was really clear about what she could and could not do based on my current hair type and color.

I have a lot of red tones and my hair is generally pretty wavy and frizzy so I couldn’t cut it too short or else my hair would fuzz up a lot. Plus, Kim had to work extra hard to get all the red out of my hair or else risk it looking all orange.

Kim really knew what she was talking about and definitely took care of me and my hair really well. She pointed out all the messier areas of my hair and explained to me that my previous stylist had used too much razor, which made my hair look way unhealthier than it actually was.

Besides coloring my hair, she also toned it a couple of times after washing in order to get a purer color (which I totally appreciated). Guys, I’ve seen what my hair is like when it isn’t properly toned and honestly before I felt like I was an actual orange (like the fruit).

Anyway after coloring my hair, Kim chopped it completely off to my shoulders and put layers throughout it to give my hair more body. In the end, I honestly loved the way it looked so much more than any previous hair cut that I have ever gotten.

Here is the before picture:

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Here are the after pictures:

 

I highly recommend going to Brian Guy Studio in Orange County. They are really amazing and attentive. The whole process only took 2.5 hours which is so quick when you think about the amount of work that was actually done. I had the best experience at Brian Guy and I’m absolutely infatuated with my hair. I feel like a person’s hair style is such an integral part of their overall aesthetic, and it’s so important to take good care of it and have it in just the right way that meshes well with the vibes you put out. 

How To: Be a College Model…?

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Just Kidding. Not Really. Okay, so I’m not an actual model, but I have a lot of friends who are! And I have friends who are photographers for relatively prominent brands as well (humble bragging, yes, yes).

It just so happens that Sunday night, one of my model friends (Liberty) asked me if I wanted to be part of a new shoot for the Summer Campaign of an Energy Drink brand (can’t really tell you which one until they release their summer product…haha sorry). Basically, our photographer friend (Kiersten) works for the Energy Drink company and needed girls for this shoot. 

As part of my Year of Yes (even though I am in no way a model) I said of course! Plus, I wanted to help my girl Liberty out, ya know. Anyways, after texting back and forth with Kiersten- I finally picked an outfit (actually I picked two but I wore the first outfit for the first half of the shoot and the second outfit for the second half of the shoot). 

The general vibe that I was given was basically “Coachella” theme. Except Coachella is not my aesthetic and I didn’t go to Coachella so I didn’t have outfits ready for that occasion. So this is my basic interpretation. My style is pretty minimalistic and for any of you who have been to Coachella, the festival is anything but time to be minimalistic. 

*I wish I had pictures for you guys but I didn’t have time during the shoot to just take photos of my outfits alone-we were honestly running around everywhere. 

So the two outfits were: 

  • White V-Neck (distressed and with choker) from HoneyPunch and Jean Shorts from Madewell
  • Off the Shoulder, White and Blue Striped Shirt from Bloomingdales and Jean Overalls from Madewell
  • Diamond and Gold Bar Necklace from Kate Spade
  • Adidas Super Stars 
  • Socks: Fuzzy blue and white stripped from Target 🙂 

Now for makeup. Here’s a list of the products I used. 

  • MAC Prep + Prime (primer)
  • Josie Maran Vibrancy Oil (foundation)
  • Clarins Instant Light Concealer 
  • Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light (setting powder) 
  • Benefit Hoola Bronzer (contour) 
  • NARS Blush in Orgasm 
  • Nudies Nudestix All Over Face Color Glow in Hey, Honey (Highlighter #1)
  • MAC Mineralize Skin Finish in Soft and Gentle (Highlighter #2) 
  • Too Faced Chocolate Bar Eyeshadow Palette (just the milk chocolate shade in the crease) 
  • Bourjois Liner Feutre in Noir 
  • Charlotte Tilbury Full Fat Lashes 5 Star Mascara in Glossy Black 
  • Kevyn Aucoin Eyelash Curler 
  • Anastasia Brow Whiz in Dark Brown 
  • Charlotte Tilbury Lip Liner in Pillow Talk
  • Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Very Victoria 

I know, it’s a lot of makeup. But when I actually put it on it didn’t look like I was wearing a lot of makeup-it was basically a bunch of my skin/my lips/my face but better vibes. Except that I wore a lot of highlighter, because I’m a highlighter fiend, to the point it looked like I was dripping. 

Okay, also let’s just talk about how I started my day by only eating a salad. I didn’t want to bloat during the shoot and I thought a salad would be a good idea. In hindsight now that I’m writing this–a salad is not a good idea. You’re going to be so hungry and so exhausted by the end–so for any of you actually thinking of doing a photoshoot or are real models…EAT SOMETHING. A salad almost killed me in terms of survival level. 

The photoshoot took place mainly in Downtown Los Angeles. The drive wasn’t too bad despite the fact that we were leaving campus around 5 PM and traffic was kind of hectic. But we (the group of girls and photographer-Kiersten) survived! I have so behind the scenes photos for y’all and here they are: 

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Honestly, I can see why Cara Delevingne needed an IV drip during Fashion Week for exhaustion. Because after 3 hours, I was ready to plop on the floor and just pass out. People don’t seem to realize how exhausting doing a photoshoot actually is. You’re standing outside most of the time, braving the elements (even though we’re only in SoCal, but like for real models who have to go to extreme places-YIKES), and walking around doing random poses that the photographer wants. It takes a certain kind of stamina that I thought I had but apparently I don’t. 

Try it. You’ll be surprised how exhausted you are by the end of it. 

Overall, it was a pretty fun experience. I met some really awesome/ chill girls at the shoot and the photographer (Kiersten) was super nice and she is super talented.  While I definitely wouldn’t do this long-term (not only do I not have the physical aesthetics for it but I also don’t have the stamina), it was a fun experience! 

Once the Energy Drink company comes out with their Summer campaign commercial, I will definitely be posting the photos so stay tuned for June!  

SIDE NOTE: Once I got back to my apartment, I cooked a BIG bowl of bolognese pasta and ate it all. I also passed out from a food coma after that so now I have a bunch of work to do…YAY ME!

The World is Ending this April

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I’m being over dramatic. I really am. And usually I don’t put much weight in the word of astrology in terms of how it affects me on a day to day basis–but, with how horrible my month is going right now I can only assume that because FOUR PLANETS ARE IN RETROGRADE, they are the reason why everything is going crazy.

Now, you ask me, what is retrograde? What does it mean for a planet to be in retrograde? Well let me explain.

Retrograde motion is an APPARENT change in the movement of the planet through the sky. It is not REAL in that the planet does not physically start moving backwards in its orbit. It just appears to do so because of the relative positions of the planet and Earth and how they are moving around the Sun.” (NASA)

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(I think all these photos of space are pretty so I’m just going to insert them willy-nilly.)

Yes everyone I did just cite NASA–because I trust NASA on science things more than any other organization. Biases, biases. But let’s see you build a rocket that can leave Earth’s atmosphere and orbit the Earth (Yes SpaceX, I’m talking to you).

Okay, so which four planets? Well it’s:

Venus (who has been in retrograde since March 4)

Saturn (who only goes into retrograde once a year, so why in the world did it have to be the same month as 3 other planets? Who knows, maybe the universe hates us and because 2017 is the weirdest year to happen, ever).

Mercury (the ever-infamous Mercury, which apparently goes into retrograde all the time in order to screw up our lives and make everything inconvenient. Of course, it would also pick this month-YAY US).

and Finally…Pluto (who is not even technically a planet anymore but I grew up learning that Pluto is a planet and so I will stick to that, also it still orbits around the Earth just like all the other planets and thus its gravity also affects their movements aka the vibes that are sent out in the universe that have basically been screwing us over this month).

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Now, all these planets will be in retrograde until May. Which basically means the month of April is a tidal wave of bad things happening.

And a lot of bad things did happen.

I got my first B- on a Quiz and Paper in my history class (which sounds okay to most college students but I’m trying to get into Harvard Law here, and I can’t do that if I’m performing on the same level of mediocrity as the people who believe that “C’s get degrees”–okay?!?!?!? [can you tell how much Law school stresses me out??]–no offense to people who don’t need to go to grad school and are just cruising-go you, I don’t have the same luxury).

I slept through several of my alarms and was 10 minutes late to my German class (yes, I’m learning German) and 30 minutes late to my Social Sciences class (on another day).

My car broke down, got a scratch in the parking lot, and I ran out of gas on the way TO THE GAS STATION (irony..?).

Not to mention this is the month my period comes, so I’ve just been on a rollercoaster of emotions of which I am having a harder than usual time handling because of all the bat-shit crazy stuff going on in my life (besides my failing grades and missing classes, which I won’t talk about because I get super heated just thinking about it).

Anyways, in an effort to try and balance out the negative vibrations that are being sent through the universe because of the four planets retrograding and put my spiritual balance back on a firm equilibrium–I have become desperate and purchased healing crystals. 

Yes, healing crystals.

I know. But at this point, I’m so desperate I’d perform a pagan rooster sacrifice. Except I don’t know where to get a live rooster. So, that plans moot. 

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Moral of the Story: Prepare yourself for the rest of this month (even though there are only a few days left–oops. HAHA) Buy some crystals. Perform a few voodoo spells. Maybe even do a pagan ritual sacrifice (ROOSTERS NOT PEOPLE OKAY). Meditate. Do what you have to do to get over this month and hopefully, May will be better. 

Hopefully. 

Sometimes Snakes are People

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I love that we call disloyal, sneaky people snakes now. As much as I like the actual animal—it’s a rather apt description for people who are generally cold and slither around like a f***in well…snakes.

Now, people who know me well know that above all else I value loyalty and honesty. To an almost absurd degree. If you prove yourself to be a disloyal hoe, the speed in which I cut you out of my life is so fast you’d miss it even if you didn’t blink.

So either we’re in a time in society in which there are more snakes than normal (or maybe it’s just part of the human condition), or its predisposed toward people in my generation. The former I find to be more likely than the latter. After all, this phenomenon of pettiness and underhandedness I have observed, is not limited toward people of my generation.

But you know how everyone likes to blame things on Millennials. 

Anyway, the quandary is what in the world happened to loyalty and honesty. Usually when your friends with someone, you’re under the impression that you are close—emotionally, mentally, physically (in terms of comfortableness—which is rare for a person like me who hates to be touched by anyone—platonically or otherwise). So why in the world do some people feel the need to gossip about you (the general you not you, personally speaking) as if you won’t find out. As if you didn’t trust them to keep your secrets. Snitches get stitches and wind up in ditches, ladies (and gents, if you’re actually reading this).

I honestly could care less if the truth isn’t nice or pretty, I’d rather have it than a lie. Lying to me is such a breach in trust and is totally unforgivable. I don’t care if you’re trying to “spare my feelings.” You know what would have been nice to my feelings? If you didn’t like to me like the little bitch you are. (HAH. Sorry got mad there for a second)

Recently I made dinner plans with a friend (not going to release a name because not here to call people out, unless it’s in a general, round-about way). About an hour or two before, she texts me to let me know she’s sick and can’t make it. That’s fine, if I was sick I wouldn’t want to go out either. No problem.

Pro-Idiot move on her part to post on her Snapchat 2 hours later at 10PM that she’s at a bar.

Okay. Here’s the thing. If you want to go out to the bar when you know I just want to have a chill night—fine, I don’t care. Tell me. Sometimes I’d rather go out to a party than have a chill night too. No one’s feelings are going to get hurt from this development as long as you are HONEST. See because if you aren’t honest with someone it’s basically saying you don’t respect them. And that’s just insulting.

Now, some of you who read this might think it’s a petty thing to get mad over. Yeah, probably. Maybe not though because you know it starts out as lying about plans. Than it turns into—“oh people have been talking shit about you? I had no idea.” (Lie, because I know you’re the one who started them) Then it turns into “Oh yeah I’ll pick you up at the airport” only to find that your friend doesn’t show up and you’re stranded at LAX, waiting to call for an Über that’s lost in the airport and you’re an hour late to meet your parents who are like “why didn’t X pick you up?” Well I don’t know, I thought she was but now she’s not answering my texts. Great.

So it escalates. You give snakes an inch and they’ll take 10 miles. Sneaky little a$$holes that they are.

The mantra used to be “honesty is the best policy.” Whatever happened to that? Also, what ever happened to having your friends back and defending them if some random girl/guy who doesn’t even really know them decides to talk shit about them? Actually, what happened to not talking shit about people at all because you know you aren’t innocent so why don’t you shut up. Where did human decency go?

Does human decency even exist?

Who knows. Too young for that. I’ll need to observe the larger world first. Who knows maybe I’m only experiencing this because I’m in college and even though everyone is in their late teens and 20’s, they still act like they’re in middle school.

My take on it is though, is that people who do these things (gossip, lie, be disloyal) either are just flakey people in general and if you don’t have the patience for that you need to cut them OR they’re so bored with their lives they have nothing better than to talk about you because nothing else is filling their time.

I say this because I found out a close friend of mine had been talking about me behind my back. First of all, I’ve been busy with typical college things (assignments, essays, midterms, projects, community service events, newspaper writing, horseback riding, etc.). So my schedule was busy—I don’t have time for petty people. I don’t say these things to brag because what I’m doing pales to what other college students at my University are doing—I have friends who barely have time to blink because they are so busy.

But when it was finally brought up to me (thank you for taking so long to tell me, friends—I remark sarcastically) I confronted her.

And the first thing she said was “Who Told You”. HAH. That’s not the concern, you idiot. The concern is that you were a disloyal, dishonest, snake who wasn’t adult enough to talk to me about any concerns you had to my face because you are a coward. Grow a back bone.

Final message: I guess what I’m trying to say is do better. Be better. Don’t be a snake because no one likes or trusts a snake. I might not be the nicest person but at least I won’t lie to your face. I won’t be overtly rude either because I grew up with manners. but I’m not going to lie to you.

Summer 2016: Tokyo and Nikko

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Japan is definitely one of the best places I have traveled to so far. With a trip coming up to Hokkaido over the summer, I want to reflect on this past summer where I hit up Tokyo and Nikko—both of which were beautiful in their own right. Tokyo is a bustling metropolitan city, whilst Nikko (pronounced Knee-Ko) is a town in the middle of a beautiful mountain just north of Tokyo—surrounded by rivers and temples that have been there for hundreds of years.

Now, despite the fact that Tokyo is a big city—it is nothing like New York nor LA. Tokyo is so clean in comparison, and so very organized. The metro system is really something to admire. Everyone travels by the metro, it’s a little expensive to take the taxi everywhere especially when you’re a tourist who can’t speak Japanese. (I’m not the right kind of Asian for that)

One of the first things that we did was hire a local to take us on a semi- “tour” to show us around. After walking through the Tokyo Gardens, there is a boat that will take you to the Asakusa (a district in Taito, Tokyo, Japan). From there we had a great lunch.

Now my observation is that sushi, of course, tastes better in Japan than anywhere else. But now I’m expanding that observation to cooked fish as well. My grandmother (who was on the family trip with us) ordered a mackerel dish. Usually, I’m terrified of eating mackerel because in the United States it has such a strong, fishy taste that it’s almost unbearable to eat. But in Japan, eating mackerel was almost like eating butter. The fish was cooked so tenderly, the flavor was absolutely explosive.

Anyway, after eating, we took a short walk to the Asakusa shrine which really was big, beautiful, and full of tourists. At one point I was pushed over because there was a celebrity there (no one that I recognized) and some really big cameras. People immediately started crowding around (mostly the tourists) and I walked the other way because honestly, could care less.  

Asakusa Shrine

Post-Asakusa Shrine, my family and I headed back to Tokyo and hit up the Tokyo Skytree. It’s a huge tower that you take a special elevator to get to and from it you can see the whole city skyline. The views are actually amazing. You can see all the little neighborhoods, cars driving around, and if you really squint-people. It’s like looking at a little toy set or ants–crawling around going on with their lives totally oblivious to the fact that hundreds of people are watching them from a tower hundreds of feet up in the sky. (LOL not creepy at all…)

Tokyo SkyTree

Now, one morning my grandfather and I decided  to go to the fish market. In order to go to the fish market you have to take the metro (the very first train offered in the morning which is at like 6 AM). Why that early? Because that’s the time that the fishing boats pull in and all the fresh fish are given to vendors to either pack and sell to restaurants or be chopped up and served right there at the market. The market we ended up going to was Tsukiji Fish Market, which was about a 10-15 minute train ride away from our hotel in Shinjuku. Granddad and I ended up going to a restaurant in one of the alley ways and ordered chirashi (sort-of?). The sushi was so fresh and so amazing. It’s the closest a person can get to eating fish straight out of the ocean without having to go on a boat and actually go out. 

Look below at the beautiful colors. Have you ever seen tuna so deeply red? And on the far right is a very pink Toro (fatty tuna) which is beautifully chopped up in a way that you can still see the perfect marbling that causes the fish to melt in your mouth. The salmon is a gorgeous orange where you can still see the white veins, I’ve honestly never seen salmon with such a deep orange color. And the scallop was out of this world. People rarely get scallop right. Sometimes its just way to dry. Other times it tastes so fishy you can’t even put it in your mouth. This scallop I would eat every day for the rest of my life if I could. 

Tsukiji Fish Market

After jaunting around Tokyo for a couple days–shopping, eating, and just generally seeing the typical touristy sights, my family and I headed to Nikko (which involved several train rides including one ride on the bullet train!) 

The shift to the country side is dramatic. From big, towering buildings and hundreds of people the Japanese country side is quiet, peaceful, and really green. When in Nikko, you have to visit the onsen (hot spring) which are within a lot of their hotels. But even if there aren’t, I’m sure you can find public ones within the town where you can soak in hot spring water and have great skin after because of the amazing minerals in the naturally heated water. 

Nikko has a lot of shrines deep within the mountains that encircle the town. The Shrines are old, beautiful, and have cute little souvenirs you can buy to keep as a memory and help support the Shrines. Essentially there was a lot of gold leaf and intricate details. Also, there are a lot of elaborate water fountains/ water wells where you can take water from a ladle and drink straight from the river. The water is beautifully crisp and clean and will change your definition of what tastes good in terms of water (I personally don’t like Arrowhead or Dasani but I’ll take Kirkland or Crystal Geyser). 

Nikkō Tōshō-gū

Nikko also has a national park that will take you deeper in to the mountain. Now the weather here (and in Nikko in general) is very different from Tokyo. Tokyo was sunny, hot, and slightly humid. Nikko was cool, misty, but without being windy. My hair always felt kind of wet but the cool weather wasn’t necessarily cold–if you know what I mean. Anyway, within the mountain is the gorgeous Kegon Falls which you get to by going underground and walking through a stone cold tunnel. There were a lot of little kids there (most likely in elementary school) having a field trip. Can I just say how cute Japanese Elementary kids are? They’re all in their uniforms, lined up and walking with cute little smiles on their face 🙂 

Kegon Falls Nikko in comparison is so green. 

Honestly, I can’t wait to go back to Japan. Highly suggest it everyone. 

Also apologies for this not being too detailed on the whole how much everything is and what to book and where to book because my granddad took care of everything since this was basically my belated graduation present (they live in Taiwan and so we had to schedule this after my first year at University).