Christmas Ornaments, Fremont, California, USA

Hope everyone has a safe, fun and HAPPY NEW YEAR! Posting again Sunday I think. :)

Take care,

Joyeux Noel Christmas Ornament, Fremont, California, USA

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year!

Bear Under the Christmas Tree, Fremont, California, USA

As promised (to my cousins), it's the photo of the bear resting under the Christmas tree. Doesn't it make you want to nap, too? Great time at home with the family! :)

Blog Update: Be Back Soon!

Been out of town for the holidays - will post more when I'm back on Monday!

"Golden Zephyr" Ride, California Adventure, Anaheim, California, USA

Golden Zephyr ride at California Adventure!

Christmas Time at Disneyland, Anaheim, California, USA

Crowded as it was, Christmas time is a great time to be at Disneyland! We were greeted with surprisingly warm weather, but the sky high Christmas tree, castle covered in icicles and holiday parade made up for the lack of winter weather! This was at the parade - local cheerleaders did a routine to Christmas music before the Disney characters started coming out.

"Soarin' Over California" Ride, California Adventure, Anaheim, California, USA

Soarin' Over California is officially one of my favorite rides in the Disney Theme Parks! For those that haven't been on it, its a simulator attraction in California Adventure, that flies you through beautiful and familiar sceneries throughout California. Not only that, they add a dimension of smell so that you can become familiar with scents to some of the locations. Over crashing waves, through Downtown LA by night, above the majestic Golden Gate Bridge, down snow-covered mountains full of skiers, its an impressive array of California beauty. Felt so real! This was a photo inside while we were waiting in line.

"It's A Small World" Ride, Disneyland, Anaheim, California, USA

It was after 10pm and after a long day, we were preparing to leave Disneyland. Before we did, we decided on one last ride - It's a Small World. Sitting down for a slow-moving ride is always a nice treat after my feet were sore from the non-stop moving around throughout the day. Decorations from all around the world, holiday-themed, with children singing christmas carols was all intricately designed to promote peace around the world at a child's point of view. This was one of the displays towards the end of our ride.

King Triton's Carousel in Motion, Disney's California Adventure, Anaheim, California, USA

...And there it goes!

King Triton's Carousel, Disney's California Adventure, Anaheim, California, USA

'Twas a long day park hopping between Disneyland and California Adventure! Arriving not too long after they opened, and leaving shortly before they closed, we sure were exhausted. I had a lot of fun though! Of course, enjoyed taking photos of everything too. This is King Triton's Carousel in California Adventure - wonderful by night! This is the ride before it began. Will post a photo of the ride in motion shortly after!

The Train around the Christmas Tree, Long Beach, California, USA

First use of my new point & shoot - the Canon S90. It's made for someone that wants more manual features (SLR type controls) and I like it a lot so far! Of course, I'll still use my SLR but I just needed something more portable that I could bring around all the time (I feel uneasy when I don't have a camera on me). This is a photo of the Christmas tree at Tracy's house and the winter wonderland decorations surrounding it, complete with an old fashioned black train and people ice skating on the clear mirror surface.

Bamboo Forest, Arashiyama, Kyoto, Japan

Lovely lush green bamboo forest in the Arashiyama area of Kyoto.

Christmas Decorations outside Tokyo Tower, Tokyo, Japan

The trees were adorned with ornaments just outside the Tokyo Tower. Could see my reflection (although small) in this silver one...

Gingerbread House Street, Los Angeles, California, USA

When you are busy and engulfed in the working world, sometimes its nice to be able just feel like a kid again! Gingerbread house making (more like graham cracker house making) was so much fun! This is our street lined with 6 different colorful houses covered with snow-white frosting and a colorful array of candies. That second one on the right, well that was the winner. Congrats Myha and Lien! Fun times :)

Los Angeles Traffic, 110 Freeway, Los Angeles, California, USA

Since I've been back in LA for almost 2 weeks now, I thought I'd have a photo from LA today. The odd thing with LA traffic is that when you don't expect there to be traffic, there is. Obviously, you can see from this photo that going northbound on the 110 is stop and go traffic, while going southbound seems to be going fairly quickly. Definitely not an unusual occurence! This was taken from a bridge in downtown LA, crossing the 110 freeway.

1000 Cranes Project, Hiroshima Children's Peace Monument, Hiroshima, Japan

The time was 8:15 AM. The date was August 6, 1945. The first atomic bomb ever to be dropped on humankind was released, and a young girl, Sadako Sasaki was about one mile from ground zero. Amazingly, she went on to live a happy childhood until 10 years later, when she was diagnosed with leukemia, known to be a disease that came as a result of the radiation of the atomic bomb. From her hospital room, she began folding paper cranes because of a Japanese saying that says that if you fold 1000 cranes, your wish will come true. Her story is one of a young girl with hope and the courage to do what she could with her time left, and it truly is inspirational. To this day, these paper cranes are delivered from around the globe to the Children's Peace Monument in the Hiroshima Peace Park as symbols of peace and support for those that were affected by the atomic bomb.

My visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Musuem was moving - as stories from survivors were narrated over the photos, videos, and drawings of the tragic memories of that fateful day. Hiroshima Peace Park rightly takes after its name - a symbol and encouragement for peace around the world. The information center there had "NUKE FREE" pins.

Peace on earth, is it too much to ask for?

Takeshita Street, Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan

I thought this sign was pretty interesting. Good thing there are pictures, or else who knows what they were trying to warn against! This was taken on the Takeshita Dori (Street) in the Harajuku district. As we walked along this street, we passed by people viewing shops as something out of a museum display, as well as teenagers living out the Harajuku lifestyle. Very lively area!

Sunset over the Clouds, Vancouver, Canada

It sure was a blessing in disguise. My flight was delayed leaving Vancouver (layover from Japan), so by the time we left about an hour later, the sun was setting. I got to sit by the window seat and I saw the most amazing view outside shortly after we left Vancouver. A snow-capped mountain was hovering over the clouds and visible to me from the plane. Not only that, but the moon had come out as well. Loved it!

Murder at Mardi Gras, Murder Mystery Party, Los Angeles, California, USA

Invitations distributed, RSVPs rolled in, characters assigned, masks, beads and decorations bought, jazz playing subtly in the background... And there you have it, Murder at Mardi Gras - murder mystery party. After watching the Office, I was inspired for a good night of acting and mystery! We surprised Connie for her birthday with this party. As soon as we stepped in the door, we transformed into different people - Melissa DuPre, Cayenne Pepper, Connika Gothika, and others - on track to find out who killed the beloved (or so we thought) King of the Krewe of Midas - Pierre DuPre! I won't give away the ending, but it sure was a good time...I DO DECLARE!

Outside the Kinkaku-ji Palace (Golden Palace), Kyoto, Japan

I really think Japan is a photographer's paradise. There are so many things to take photos of! Walking to the magical Kinkaku-ji Temple (the Golden Temple), mostly surrounded by water, we passed by glistening autumn trees, with leaves carefully fallen atop the green grass. The sun was bright and it's rays shined through the spaces between the trees.

Shibuya Intersection Crossing by Night, Tokyo, Japan

This is the huge Shibuya intersection in its true form. Just as the green light to walk lights up, hundreds of people cross all throughout the intersection. It can go quickly from a scattered mass of people to an empty intersection, ready for the cars to enter it. You just have to see it in person. Saturday night in this area - that's where the people are at!

Floating Torii (Gate) to the Itsukumisha Shrine, Miyajima, Japan

As a gate to the Itsukumisha Shrine, this red torii (gate) is an iconic image of Japan. As soon as we got to the Hiroshima train station from Kyoto, we saw signs leading us to Miyajima. We just couldn't resist, so we followed the directions and took a 30-minute train ride to the ferry port, where we took a 10 minute ride to the island of Miyajima. Since it was at high tide, it seemed as if the gate was floating on water. When it's low tide, the area around it is muddy sand, so that you can even walk to it. It was lovely!

Dotonbori River, Osaka, Japan

Running just parallel to the main street of the Dotonbori area, is this river with busy bridges crossing it. We walked along the river and saw these great reflections, continued on and made a left to go to an amazing nightlife area in the city of Osaka. A thirty minute ride from Kyoto, I was glad we stayed until night because I saw the bright lights and active nightlife that the Japanese partake in. Wonderfully lively part of Japan!

Back in Los Angeles now. I loved Japan!

Buddha Statue, Sensoji Temple, Tokyo, Japan

This was a Buddha statue outside of the Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon) Temple within Tokyo. To walk to this statue, we went through a long street of vendors and stores and through a large red torii gate. It was definitely a packed area with people swirling throughout the Asakusa area.

Within the Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan

I have seen photos of this before, but didn't realize we had walked right past it on the way to the Tokyo Imperial Palace until I took a second glance. Went inside the building, and it had this amazing intricate architecture. We walked up a couple levels and I took this shot with reflections of the roof on a glass ledge. It is a concert and exhibition hall. This building was completed in 1996 by Rafael Vinoly, an architect born in Uruguay, but currently living in the United States. The inside is a design of glass and metal, representating the shape of a ship.

Day 8: Tokyo, Japan to Vancouver, Canada, to Los Angeles, California, USA

Oh, how I appreciate a great public transportation system! Throughout Japan, the network of shinkansen (bullet trains), local subways and local buses are a great way to get basically anywhere. Moving between cities, it took me the initial few minutes to understand the system for each city, but after that, getting around was a breeze. Sure, I had to constantly hold a little rail map, but it worked out for us and we got around just fine.

This is a photo of the Yamanote Loop Line going throughout central Tokyo, stopping at familiar stops like Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku, Tokyo, and Ueno.

At Vancouver waiting to take the flight to Los Angeles!

Day 7: Tokyo, Japan

Woke up at the crack of dawn (well, it was actually still dark out when we left the apartment) and made our way to the Tsukiji Fish Market. They start early and by the time we got there, we missed out on the auction but were still able to peruse the selection from the fishermen. There were fish (HUGE ones as seen in the picture), crabs, lobster, clams, oysters, shrimp and anything else you can think of that falls into the seafood category.

This is a photo of one of the fisherman (pointing at me?) and the MASSIVE frozen fish. Right across the street, we had sushi - can't get more fresh than that!

For the rest of the day, we took a ferry to Akasuka, going under all the bridges in the Tokyo Bay, walked through the Harajuku district, and to Shibuya where we actually saw the craziness that is the Shibuya crossing by night. Headed back to Ageo and had dinner and drinks with friends and newly met friends. What a day!

Day 6: Kyoto, Japan

On day 6, we explored Kyoto since we had been staying there but mostly taking day trips to other cities. It was a bit harder to get around Kyoto, just because most of their local trains are not JR(Japan Railways) and we had a Japan Railway Pass that allowed for unlimited usage on all JR lines. We ended up taking buses and local metro and were able to see several parts of Kyoto including Arashimaya, Kyoto Station area, and downtown. Left Kyoto to go back to Tokyo that evening.

Outside of the Imperial Palace area were some of the most beautiful red and orange leaves I've ever seen. Autumn is beautiful in Japan!

Day 5: Kyoto to Osaka, Japan

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! I have left Japan and am on my way to Los Angeles. Spent some time in Japan this morning (to afternoon) on Sunday there and gained time heading back East.

Posting a photo from Osaka. We took a day trip there and on the way back from the Osaka castle, we saw this fat cat and a cute little Japanese boy making eye contact.

Lantern by Night, Kyoto, Japan

Took this photo as we were heading back to our hostel from the Kyoto train station.

Hiroshima Castle, Hiroshima, Japan

This is a photo from the outside of the entrance to the Hiroshima Castle. Because the castle was destroyed by the atomic bomb, it was rebuilt several years later.

By the way, I've been told that there are issues with commenting on my posts, that I've yet to have time to troubleshoot. If you are interested in commenting and are stuck on the part that asks you to type in words to verify your post, just highlight some part of the text of the comment box and drag it down. Not sure if that makes sense, but basically, there's just no scrollbar on the right - but the submit button is there...

Day 4: Kyoto to Hiroshima to Miyajima, Japan

It is now Thursday morning here in Japan and we are getting ready to head out for another fun-filled day! Yesterday, we took a day trip from Kyoto to Hiroshima and Miyajima. Hiroshima was a very educational experience, and to actually be there to see the destruction of the first atomic bomb ever dropped on mankind was an eye-opening event. I've learned plenty about it, but to be in the Memorial Museum and to watch videos of survivors retell their stories was quite saddening. I'm definitely glad I got to see the Peace Park, and feel personally, more inspired to learn about the history of the world and to make some sort of positive difference (I'm an idealist, I know).

Anyway, this was a photo of the A-Bomb dome, remnants of the Hiroshima Prefectural Commercial Exhibition Hall. They have been rebuilding, and besides memorials like this, its hard to tell that a nuclear weapon devastated and destroyed a couple mile radius area, instantly killing all the people in its way.

Within Hiroshima, we also went to the Hiroshima Castle and walked down Hidori Street. In the morning we took a train and ferry to Miyajima, the island known for the red Torii gate in the water. Japan is so beautiful! Off to another day of adventure. I think we are going to surrounding cities today - Osaka, Nara, and Kobe.

Day 3: Tokyo, Japan to Kyoto, Japan via the Shinkansen

The itinerary for today included the bullet train ride to Kyoto, southwest of Tokyo. Since we weren't able to get the earliest train ride out to Kyoto, we ended up heading to the Tokyo Tower. On the way there, we came across the Zojo-Ji Shrine, where we found rows and rows of these small concrete statues. I later found out that these are called Jizo statues, typically adorned with bibs and red knit caps and are put there by parents of children that died young because Jizo is regarded as the guardian of children.

After we meandered through the shrine, we got to the tower, returned to the train station, and made a quick stop in Harajuku before going back to Tokyo station to catch the shinkansen (bullet train) to Kyoto. After arriving in Kyoto, we found our hostel and started exploring a temple close by. Rain drops came falling as we walked to find food and visit the Kyoto Tower and Kyoto Train Station. I loved the train station there - its huge and beautiful!

Day 2: Tokyo, Japan

Yesterday, we woke up bright and early, planning to head to Tokyo for the famous fish market. But, since we were informed that it was Labor Day in Japan (a national holiday), I checked online and the market was closed for the day. We ended up just heading to Tokyo from Ageo early anyways. One of our first stops was Shibuya (photo) - known for the large intersection that goes horizontally, vertically and horizontally. Since we were there early, there weren't as many people as there usually are during rush hour, but I can definitely imagine how it'd be. We then headed to the Imperial Palace and walked around the Ginza upscale shopping area and the Akhabara entertainment district where we were entertained by the interactive Sony store. It was indeed a very long day, and I'm sure we did much more, but I'm drawing a blank right now. Tokyo has so much to see!

Currently in Kyoto! Another post to come after.

Day 1: Los Angeles to Vancouver, Canada to Narita Airport to Aego City, Japan

What a long day of traveling, but well worth it because we are now in Japan! We had a stopover in Vancouver, Canada where I met up with Bonny and Cynthia (who were flying from SFO) and then proceeded on our 10-hour flight to Narita Airport outside of Tokyo! Val picked us up from the airport and we took a train through Tokyo and to Ageo, a "suburb" outside of Tokyo. We met up with some locals and headed to a restaurant/bar where we had everything from raw salmon to raw chicken to yakisoba. The food was delicious, especially after a day of fast food and airplane food. After the meal and drinks, we headed to a Karoake place and sang classics from TLC, Celine Dion, NSYNC, Green Day, Oasis, among others. And yes, I sang! The people are really nice! The first day was great - we are going to get about 1 hour of sleep right now (its about 3:30am) and wake up and head to the fish markets in Tokyo. Sleeping is optional on this trip. More to come soon!

Pauley Pavilion, UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA

Losses are never fun to watch, but at least you know that you can only go up from there. This is a photo of the famed Pauley Pavilion at UCLA, while UCLA was still leading. Two overtimes later, and a loss to Cal State Fullerton and I wasn't so happy anymore. At least tonight's game against Cal State Bakersfield was a win. Let's hope the bruins practice hard, put their hearts into it and can improve as a team. I'm not used to seeing losses like this!

Last post for a few days - I'm traveling again! Will post once I have internet and have photos to upload. Where in the world is Victoria? You shall see in my next post. :)

Wyoming State Capital, Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA

On my past trip to Colorado, we decided to take a side trip to Wyoming. Bison and emptiness greeted us across the Wyoming border. I mean, maybe that can be attributed to the fact that it was Sunday - but I'm thinking other days aren't much different. Snow still covered the road (and also caused delays going into Wyoming), but made for some great scenery. The State Capital building had a gold-plated dome over it, and was surrounded by pure white snow. Brrrr...

Window, Liverpool Train Station, London, United Kingdom

From within the Liverpool Train Station, the wide glass windows brought views of downtown buildings. That day, I walked around the station, taking photos of the tourists exploring the area and the locals on their way to work. The design of this window stood out.

Red Truck, Sarchi, Costa Rica

In the town known for ox carts of all sizes beautifully hand-painted in an assortment of colors, Sarchi was a nice side trip from San Jose. The town is known as an artisan community, full of stores displaying souvenirs of their famous hand-crafted ox carts. Before heading back out to San Jose, we stopped at a gas station and as we were filling up, this red truck left the station and went on its way.

H&M, The Americana, Glendale, California, USA

The H&M at the Americana had a cool set-up on display upon entering the store. Just thought I'd take a photo...

Holiday Decorations at the Americana, Glendale, California, USA

The holiday season is just around the corner and the Americana has begun its decorating. These ornaments and wreath hung from a lightpost. Behind it is the intricately designed elevator taking visitors to the different levels of parking. Can't wait for the holidays to come!

Hand Cut Frites, Cafe Gutenberg, Richmond, Virginia, USA

I must admit, I have an addiction to fries in all shapes and forms. After arriving in Richmond, we went in search for food and ended up at the Cafe Gutenberg. I saw these on the menu and just had to order them. They were the hand cut frites with herbs, parmesan and truffle honey. Wow, they were just a perfect level of crispiness and were covered in all kinds of goodness! Oh, how I love good food!

Tiffany Hoang, Venice High School, Los Angeles, California, USA

At Venice High School, the school made famous for Grease, we walked around and spotted rows of blue, rusted lockers towards the front of campus. This is my cousin, Tiffany, who agreed to be my model for the high school locker shot! Thanks Tiffany! :)

Doorway, Norfolk, Virginia

I did a photo series on doors while walking through the quaint housing community in Norfolk. Each door was a different color and different design. This door in particular was a wooden door behind a layer of glass. As a took this photo, conveniently, a bus full of school children drove by and made it into the photo.

My Photo Featured as Photo of the Day on, Official Guide to Los Angeles!

Exciting! Within a few weeks of each other, two of my photos were chosen as a photo of the day on, the Official Guide to Los Angeles sponsored by the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau - today, November 10th and October 27th. I go to the website often, so it was cool/weird seeing my picture as the photo of the day! It's the little things like this that have made my day, especially because a large amount of my photos are of sights around LA. I enjoy looking for new places around the greater LA area to photograph and show to the world. The one for today was of the Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro and the one on October 27th was of Film Strip USA in Culver City, both which I've posted on my photo diary previously.

Photos of the day can be seen here:
The discoverLA facebook page also posts the photo, with comments, "likes" and all:

Red Bow, Fayetteville Street, Downtown, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA

These wreaths adorned with large bright red bows were in the process of being put onto the light posts in downtown Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina. From the capital building, we walked along the wide Fayetteville Street, one of the main streets downtown. Its November and that means the holiday and winter season is just around the corner!

Seagull in Flight, Norfolk, Virginia, USA

We walked along the waterfront of Norfolk and I came across a white seagull perched on this wooden block. Of course, as I approached, the seagull took flight and this is the photo I was able to take!

Autumn Leaves, Tree-Lined Walkways, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

At over 8,000 acres, strolling through Duke University was an adventure. Surprisingly warm weather greeted us. Gothic buildings define the campus and just stepping a short way from the dorms were tree-lined walkways like this one. Leaves were scattered on the concrete and the trees were a multitude of vibrant colors. I know about Duke most because of my familiarity with college basketball, so I had no idea of how the campus would look. I must say, the architecture throughout campus was beautiful and the areas surrounding campus were expansive woods filled with trees of all colors.

USS Wisconsin, Nauticus, Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Norfolk, Virginia is home to the world's largest naval base and its history lies in being a strategic military and transportation site. This is the USS Wisconsin - the second Navy ship to be named after the state of Wisconsin. Built in Philadelphia, the ship was launched on December 7, 1943. She has served during World War II, the Korean War and Operation Desert Storm and is now on display at Nauticus, the National Maritime Center. As we walked along the Cannonball route through Norfolk after breakfast, we passed by this massive ship. The moon can still be seen faintly in the sky as well. The streets of Norfolk are lined with cute houses and apartments, along with buildings built years and years ago - a true mixture of old and new.