[cali 2018] part 3: san francisco & the bay

Finally on to the last part of our trip! We spent one night in San Francisco, then 3 nights at Mountain View for Google I/O. One day was just enough to cover the main tourist attractions – Fisherman’s Wharf, Coit Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge, plus we dropped by the first Swensen’s store which had really good icecream!! We decided to skip Alcatraz island because we weren’t very interested in seeing a prison haha.

We reached SF around 5+pm and immediately drove to our hostel (Green Tortoise, was great and would recommend), checked in and dumped our luggage, and then rushed to do our module bidding which was at 6pm 😂😂 After that we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf to return the car and met some of our friends for dinner! Had yummy fish and chips at some restaurant overlooking Alcatraz island.

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The next day we started off with a walk to Coit Tower.

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I was amazed by how the roads are in a perfect grid! And some of them are so steep that the pedestrian walkway at the side is a looong flight of stairs.
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This is Coit tower! The windows at the top are the lookout level.

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[cali 2018] part 2: winding roads and giant trees

Oops, finishing up my trip posts has been on my to-do list for some time but the last few weeks have been busyyyy. But it’s recess week now and I’m super free so gonna write about the next part of our trip before I forget! We decided to go to Sequoia National Park over the more famous Yosemite mainly because Yosemite was a few hours further away, and from looking at the photos Joe and I concluded that Sequoia = giant trees while Yosemite = giant rocks. And we were more interested to see the trees so yup.

So we set off in the late morning from FJ’s place and drove northwards. Most of the way was on highways that seemed to go on forever, like gmaps would literally say “continue straight for 100km”. The journey was supposed to be a 3.5h drive I think but we ended up taking around 5h including lunch, toilet and petrol stops :/

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Once we entered the park from the Ash Mountain entrance it became windy mountain roads~

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There was some event celebrating native American culture which we didn’t have time to go see, but because of that the park’s entrance fees were waived that day! We didn’t even know there were entrance fees LOL but yay for free entry :D

Anyway, the park is named for its Sequoias which are the giant redwood trees. And they’re seriously hugeeee.

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[cali 2018] part 1: city of angels

I just spent my 2 week term break in California with Joe! For some reason (probably cheaper airfare) we only flew off on Wed morning, and had to come back for start of school so we actually only had 9 full days there. And we packed a lot into those 9 days – visited Los Angeles, Sequoia national park, San Francisco, and Mountain View for Google I/O – so it was a really fun, but tiring trip.

Day 1: Universal Studios Hollywood

Our flight left Singapore at 2am on 2nd May, but because of the 15h time difference, after an insanely long flight, we landed at LA at 6am on the same day. Luckily we were staying with FJ so she picked us up from the airport! We crashed at her apartment for an hour before taking an Uber to Universal.

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The first thing we did was the studio tour! Since unlike USS, USH is actually located at a real movie studio site, so the studio tour is a tram that goes around the sound stages and filming sites.

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An outdoor city scene:

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There was some cool jaws and king kong “4D” experiences too!

After the studio tour, we went to Harry Potter World aka the part I was looking forward to most!!

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It’s Hogsmeade!!

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[thailand dec’16] markets & temples

Went to Ayutthaya, Bangkok and Chiangmai (ABC!) for my family’s end of year holiday!

Most of the trip can be summarised in 2 words: markets and temples LOL. Pretty much all my photos are of temples cos I didn’t want to carry the dslr around for the other stuff.

Highlights of the trip:

Food: had lots of mango sticky rice and thai milk tea! We ate at night markets/ roadside stalls quite a few times also, was v yummy and cheap 8) Most memorable was the first night in bangkok where we all went around to buy different stuff and ended up with too much food hahaha. The pork leg rice at chiang mai was goooddd too

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3726m- the adventure begins

Yay finally have some time to blog about my rinjani trip! Vivek, nick and I were talking about going since earlier this year and we already had a whatsapp group since may, but we only legitly started planning after we all came back to singapore (i.e. less than 2 weeks in advance) so I’m quite impressed that this trip happened at all. Luckily planning was pretty easy cos we just used the same agency as my dad and they settled everything in the trek for us.

So yup on to the trek! We chose to do the 4d3n trek starting from Sembalun village and ending at Senaru, which was good cos we got to see both the summit and lake and it was much more manageable than the other treks that we saw people doing (either the same route but in 3d2n, or the opposite direction which seems a lot harder). The first day we started walking at around 9am, it was mostly flat savanna(h?) kinda terrain at first but gradually increased in steepness as we passed each ‘pos’ (resting stop).

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pos 1, still at the relatively very flat part, and porters walking past

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[ALP week 9-12] waimai, work, mahjong, repeat

Oops haven’t posted in a while cos the past few weeks haven’t been that interesting. After coming back from Huangshan I spent most of my time in my room doing work to finish the app for our final presentation, and also because for one period it was sooo hot (the max temp was like 38-40 degrees every day) that once you go out in the sun you can immediately feel your skin burning ._. We legit just hid in our rooms the 24/7 and ordered waimai for all our meals hahahaha.

Also my roommate and I realised that no matter how early or late we went to sleep, we’d still wake up equally late (around noon LOL) so to maximise productivity we did work at night and only went to sleep around 4am… but it was fun too cos after huangshan those of us that travelled together (yilei debbie weijun marvin jiacheng me) kinda formed a clique, some nights we went to watch movie/ play mahjong at marvin and jiacheng’s room. Oh ya I taobao-ed a mini mahjong set! It’s really tiny but just nice for the bedside table in our hostel rooms:

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(if you look closely you’ll realise one tile is wrong)

We only found out about the wrong tile after a few times of playing HAHA cos someone pong-ed 3suo then the next person also threw a 3suo, then I was like wut!?? cos I also had a 3suo in my hand… basically the set had five 3suo tiles and only 3 4suo tiles. But I complained to the taobao seller and managed to get them to send me a replacement tile!! So the set is no longer screwed up haha. Continue reading

[ALP week 7-8] yellow mountain red village

So last week I took a 3.5h bus from hangzhou to go climb the famous 黄山!! I posted some photos on fb already (go see if you haven’t!) and they summarise most of the trip but just gonna write a bit here too.

I was the one mostly planning the trip for my class so I researched a lot before we went, but even after all that huangshan was still kinda different from what I’d expected. But anyway I think we were super lucky + made some good decisions that led to a pretty good trip, all things considered:

– there were 13 of us altogether but because some people had class on wed (the day I wanted to go) and some people didn’t want to spend so much money, we split into 3 separate groups and walked around on the mountain separately too. I’m so glad we agreed to just split up, making decisions with a group of 6 people was hard enough lol can’t imagine trying to move around with soo many people. And we unintentionally met each other on the 西海大峡谷 the second day, took some photos, walked together for a bit then separated again cos we were going to diff places and walking at diff speeds hahaha

– cablecar-ing up the east side, staying at 白鹅山庄, then walking down the west side. When going down, we walked down stairs for like 1h before we reached the top cable car station i.e. if we’d taken cable car up the west side, we would’ve had to climb up stairs for probably 2h while carrying all our things before reaching the hotel. siaoo

– had reasonably good weather up on the mountain! On the first day when we first got up the mountain it was rly foggy

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cable car-ing in the fog

but luckily after we put our things down at the hotel and went out again, it got a bit better

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after some dehazing in lightroom (there’s really a setting called Dehaze LOL it works v well)

then we got to see a pretty sunset just outside our hotel, and at night the sky was totally clear so there were a lot of stars!!! :D

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me with the stars! the cloudy patch above my right hand is the milky way

My one regret is not staying up later that night to take star trails lol. Cos I thought should just go back and sleep earlier to wake up early for the next day’s sunrise, then the next night can stay up to take star trails

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but NOPE. the second night to third day morning was all foggy and rainy

Luckily we got to see one nice sunrise on the second day! We woke up super early and were one of the first people to reach the viewpoint so we camped at the good spots in front hehe.

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Sunrise at 光明顶! But sad that got no railing to put camera on, otherwise can take timelapse

Overall I wasn’t thaaat impressed by the views cos… it was foggy most of the time, but even when it’s clear everywhere kinda looks the same after a while….? hahahaha. I think I’ve been spoilt by the mountains in australia from ALPs (lol interestingly my 2 major sch trips so far have the same acronym, Adventure Leadership Programme/ Asian Leadership Programme – ok only the first word is different and they both happen to start with A HAHA). But yeah at huangshan marvin said “china mountains very different from angmoh mountains hor” and ya seems like it’s true.

After climbing down huangshan some of us stayed at 宏村 for one extra night, I figured since we’re there already might as well just stay one more day and chill/ explore abit (and accommodation is cheap once you’re off the mountain). It’s quite a nice village! Not that much to see other than the lakes and red lanterns haha but we just went to a cafe and ate waffles and gelato whooo / yilei wrote and sent her postcard.

The last day was very random lol we tried to walk to 塔川 (another nearby village) but got intercepted along the road by a woman who said that 塔川 is only pretty in autumn so there’s no point going there now, and she convinced us to take her car to go to the bamboo forest. After huangshan we thought we’d had enough of stairs for a while but guess what?? the bamboo forest turned out to be more like a bamboo mountain with never-ending STAIRS again. We died.

Then we went back to hongcun for lunch and met jiacheng and eliz (and smuggled them in using our tickets >D), then took the woman’s car again (long story but basically she kept pestering us and it was raining etc so we were just like aiya okok). And we got a lesson in how china works through back doors hahaha. The bus tickets back to hangzhou are supposed to cost 90yuan if you buy at the bus station, but the woman had a friend there who let us take it for 70yuan by getting straight on the bus without going through the station, and paying her directly. She literally drove in to the bus parking place (which had a “no entry except buses” sign right there) where we got quickly shooed up the bus and she immediately asked us for payment. And all this happened in like 10min, from the time the woman contacted her friend to the bus leaving the station to go to hangzhou. We were all like wow wtf is going on. But yeah we got back safely and all is well LOL

Gonna compile my huangshan video soon!! Look out for it on fb hehe

This week has been boring and uneventful in comparison haha I’ve been working on the app for our project and it’s coming along well!

Down to the last 4 weeks here already :'(