Sunday, October 12, 2014

Writing Again!

I've decided to start writing again. I stopped writing because i was digging deep in my thesis project, trying to publish my first author article and rediscovering my interest in reading (fiction, and reading for work never really stops)

Despite not writing on this blog, I've made progress. I've traveled, read a bunch, moved to the next step with my relationship with M, got a pet, and published my first author research paper.

I've decided to start writing again because I enjoy it and I miss it and it provides a release for the many thoughts that rummage through my mind.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fear of traveling

I am naturally a "risk analytic". I do not take risk unless I know everything I could possibly know about the event and weigh the benefits to be much greater than the risk. Another reason I prefer CDs to stocks, but that's a different story.

Any situation that takes me out of my comfort zone is always riddled with fear. My comfort zone consists of things I've come to expect everyday, i.e. grad school activities, work, church and home. Anything remotely distance to this becomes a risk, traveling is one. My common sense gets clouded with doubts and  in my mind, I quickly think of the zillion things that could go wrong. The what ifs, maybes and the assumptions.

Interestingly, that is also one of the reasons I travel. Not only to learn about places and cultures, but also to understand that different does not mean wrong.

Fear of traveling is like fear of the unknown. We are quick to judge, even hate what we don't know. Traveling has taught me to be patient, less judgmental about peoples way of life and accepting of cultural differences and beliefs.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Space Center Houston

To infinity and beyond!

I found myself in San Antonio, Texas several months ago for a conference, and afterwards I decided to take the 4hrs bus ride to Houston to visit my dear brother.

It was fun! We don't see other often so it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up and visit places he enjoy.

One of the places we went to was the Space Center Houston.


We took pictures of ourselves in front of old space shuttles, I believe this particular one is called Explorer.


Then, we took a ride that tours the different facilities within the grounds, including the one housing Saturn V,  and the Mission Control room (the old one).







After the tour, my brother and I went down to the plaza for lunch and goofed around afterwards.

(By the way, if you are going to put on a space helmet (like I did below), sanitize the inside first, everyones face goes inside that thing.)



Despite the blazing heat in the middle of March, it was fun, and educational. Not a lot of things are.

To infinity and beyond!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

From Blogger to WordPress!

I have moved! My blog that is. I transferred the content of my blog from Blogger to WordPress a few days ago, after so many days of thinking, reading and deciding if this was indeed the best decision to make.

Things will look a lot different, and the layout of my blog will continue to change (for a while) as I slowly get use to the new system. I am not tech savvy, so I have been going at it pretty slowly.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Golden Gate Bridge

Note: I wrote this blog post over a year ago (I know!), but never got around to posting it. So, here it is.

"Pull yourself together, man." Who said this? Anyone? Anyone? No? Well, it was what Argus Filch told Hagrid before Hagrid led the kids into the forbidden forest (in Harry Potter). And it was what I told myself as I hesitated walking the Golden Gate Bridge. Ha ha, I see my "nerdiness" showing.

After walking miles on the Shoreline Park in Mountain View the day before, I readied myself for another test of endurance (or lack thereof) the next day. I wanted to walk the Golden Gate Bridge. If you don't know, the bridge is close to 2 miles in length. You could walk all the length from the Presidio side to the Marina side and then choose to take a boat back (for a nominal fee, I suppose), or walk back if you are up to it, making a total of almost 4 miles forth and back the bridge. I chose to walk forth and back the bridge.

There were people hanging around the valley beneath the bridge taking pictures or simply strolling around. Then there were brave souls running, biking on the trails or getting ready for the long walk across the bridge.

My goal was to walk up and down the bridge (in one piece). However, I didn't trust myself to do it, so I spent a while walking around and taking pictures and looking at Alcatraz and Angel Island and talking to people about the history of the Ford underneath the bridge.

A view of San Francisco as I began walking up the bridge

Alcatraz Island

Angel Island

I found this lovely hummingbird while walking around and wanted to take a picture of it. Little birdie won't stand still, so I ended up taking dozens of snapshots hoping the perfect one is hidden in the couple dozen pictures. This was the best one of the bunch. Lovely capture!

Halfway through and I was definitely proud of myself. 

Having walked up and down the bridge, I was tired but still very much alive. I took more pictures and wandered aimlessly in tiny gardens and little souvenir shops.

Although The ride into San Francisco took a couple of hours, rather than be tired, I was energized as I saw the famous orangey gate. The Golden Gate and its surroundings are incredibly photogenic and I was so glad I took the train ride into San Francisco from San Jose.

Add caption

Monday, January 20, 2014

Going to a Cenote in Mexico

    Cenotes are beautiful pits or sinkholes that expose groundwater. Close to the end of my trip in Mexico, I had the opportunity to visit a cenote. Coming out of Uxmal with the intention of heading back to Cancun, a tiny village lies outside of Uxmal with a small but beautiful cenote. Well out of the main road, the path to the village is not tarred and jagged, with curves and sharp bends and shrubs brushing the sides of the car, till at last we reached the cenote. Almost cavelike in appearance, the cenote was not visible until I descended down a slippery stair case into the cave below. 

As I stepped down the stairs (that's me in polka dots), I heard flies whizzing past my ear, felt the hot, humid air getting stronger and the splash of water as people jumped into the cool cenote.

Within the cave, there were virtually no instructions about diving into a cenote, just a bright yellow rope to hang onto after the dive. Same rope will provide an anchor to head out of the water. At first, several people stood around watching, but before long, there were shouts, and rush of adrenaline as people jumped into the cenote.

Soon, there were cries of encouragement for me to jump as well, but I know my limitations. I'm an ok swimmer and a terrible diver and I certainly wasn't ready to try out my poor skills just yet. Nevertheless, it was very lovely to see the cenote, a naturally occurring beauty with a history vested in Mayan culture, sacrifices and practices.

Hard to imagine that few distance from where I stood a beautiful sinkhole (cenote) was providing fun and adventure and refreshing coolness to locals and people from all over the world.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

How I saved money on international travel in 2013

Simple, Airbnb!

Airbnb is a platform provided for individuals to rent unoccupied space for a short while. It's secure, safe and cheap. And for a student like me, with minimal funds to live on and even smaller funds to travel with, it's a god-send and an answer to my prayers.

My very first Airbnb in Cancun, Mexico.
I had a room and  private bathroom to myself. Roomy and sunny, the house is traditional and warm, just like its hosts. Having travelled around the world, my host were very knowledgeable and adventurous. I learned so much, not just about the vicinity I was staying in, but about Mexico and several other places around the world. They suggested a restaurant on my second day and I had amazing Mexican food there. I saw and chatted with locals in the park few blocks from the house.

Airbnb in Merida, Mexico.
Merida is old-new, modern, eclectic and charming in an appealing sorta way. And the place I stayed in reflected that quite well. Very different from my Cancun airbnb, but no less, spacious and neat. It is located just about 3 blocks from cathedrals, museums and restaurants. During the day, the bustle is subdued and quite, but at nights, the streets come alive. Street shoppers, street hawkers, street carnivals, street restaurants....the streets become an embodiment of entertainment in Merida. There was no shortage of things to do and because of the airbnb home I stayed in, I was right in the middle of it all.

Airbnb in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Let's call this airbnb home the resting point after a day of eating, dancing, swimming, clubbing and window shopping down the valley in Montego bay. I came here with my school friends and we had fun through out. Our hosts were very liberal and we had a lovely time with them every morning sipping that awesome Blue Mountain Jamaican coffee and talking. Because the house is situated on a hill, we took walks every morning, just to watch the sun rise above the city below. We walked and talked with locals each morning and by the time we were leaving, most of the locals, having recognized us by now were waving good bye.

 If I had chosen to stay in a hotel in Jamaica, not only would my pocket book suffer for it, I would miss out on this lovely view, as all the hotels were down below.

Airbnb in Kingston, Jamaica.

I didn't take good pictures of the place we stayed in Kingston, because we barely stayed in it. We were out quite honestly 70% of the time, and slept the remaining 30%. But the Kingston airbnb was the biggest one of all. Located in an almost estate-like neighborhood. 

 Aside from being so much cheaper than the typical hotel, I think Airbnb provides a culturally immersive experience for travelers. I learned so much from my hosts, and the locals. And just getting to know more about the offbeat locations is also very fulfilling.

I plan to use Airbnb more in the future.