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.
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.
An outdoor city scene:
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!!
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.
didn’t wanna take the typical tourist shots so I tried shooting random stuff. like this sunburst!
the grand palace which was v hot and big but still crowded
yay sunburst again
on the ayutthaya boat ride
so sad that all the statues got beheaded/ destroyed :/
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
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).
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:
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 →
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
but luckily after we put our things down at the hotel and went out again, it got a bit better
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
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
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.
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!
Last night I was researching on places to go around huangshan and it somehow became 2.30am, and yilei was awake too so we ordered 外卖 (i.e. delivery) pizza which came at 3am. Delivery in china is amazing.
Anyway quick post so I can sleep early tonight! Last last weekend was a long weekend cos of 端午节, I went to 乌镇 (an old water town) with my class on friday but came back on my own at night cos I didn’t want to stay over. Wuzhen was quite meh for me.. it didn’t have the legit old town feel, wasn’t particularly pretty and was SUPER CROWDED cos of the public holiday. And I don’t like travelling in big groups cos I get annoyed when some people walk v slowly/ get lost/ are late and in general making decisions is soo inefficient. My parents always tell me that I need to have more situational awareness but I think I’m pretty good already, compared to some people that I’ve been travelling with hahaha.
Anyway the next few days were spent with my family :D I moved to their hotel and basically had a holiday-within-a-holiday, felt good to go around with them and not have to make my own decisions all the time x) we went to some places which I probably wouldn’t have gone to with my friends like 灵隐寺 and 西溪湿地, and tried to take step photos with my sis:
On tues I brought them to climb 将军山, a hill beside the yuquan campus but it was super hot that day so not as enjoyable as the first time I went there. But I love the on-top-of-the-world feeling there!! Will definitely go climb the hills there on a nicer day and bring my camera cos I haven’t taken nice photos from up there yet. Uhmm in the afternoon they left and I went for class :’(
Some other things I did in the past 2 weeks:
– there was one day with very nice weather and I didn’t have any plans to go out but I decided I shouldn’t waste such nice weather staying in my room the whole day, so I just went out and walked around school (it’s huge, I haven’t seen the whole campus yet). And I found a nice place to sit and do my urban sketching!
– visited the hangzhou grand canal (longest manmade canal in the world, it goes all the way to beijing wow) and the museums near it
– frisbee training, after which we ran around the lake in school. It’s a really nice route! And we saw a guy feeding ducklings hehe
– watched finding dory with frisbee people, it was v funny!! and baby dory so cute LOL
– attended the product launch presentation for a ZJU course that’s similar to our design one, and was amazed by how professional it was. All the slides and videos super nice and the transitions and stuff were v smooth and well-rehearsed! Apparently the purpose of us attending this is to set the standard for our own project presentation at the end of the course :O it’s gonna be shag but good to learn
– cardiovascular engineering exam and presentation – the exam was open book and in english so very doable for us (just ctrl+F any key words you don’t know hahaha). My group’s presentation topic is Underwater Hemodynamics which was actually really interesting to research on. Did you know: when your face is in contact with cold water, sth called the Mammalian Diving Reflex kicks in, resulting in 1. lower heart rate and 2. constriction of blood vessels in the extremities/limbs, to conserve oxygen for your vital organs.
– dragged weijun and yilei with me to climb yuquan mountains again, but we went further this time. We spent around 2h going to 北高峰, the walk was unexpectedly tiring (lots of stairs) but cool cos we were walking on the ridge line most of the way. The view at 北高峰 was really niceee, top of the world feeling x100 haha I wanna go see sunrise/ sunset/ city lights at night from there next time. Anyway we reached the peak at around 5 and our timing happened to be just nice to take the one of the last few cable cars down then go for dinner at 弄堂里 :D
– went to try an escape room near school, the use of technology was v impressive compared to the one I went to in sg. They use a lot of sensors so once you do something correctly some music/recording will play, something will light up and the door will automatically open. Plus it was a few rooms joined together and you have to move around quite a bit (one of the rooms was a 2-storey maze, on the lower level you have to crawl/duckwalk to move around). V sian that we didn’t manage to escape even though we asked for help D: partly because some of the chinese recordings/ text was hard for us to understand lol.
– planning for huangshan trip next week woohoo I’m so excited!!! Let us have good weather plssss so I can try astrophotography :DD
Oh ya and the title of this post. My group’s prof is back from beijing = need to legitly start doing work and update him on our progress every week. But it’s fun cos I’m learning how to make android apps! The istd people in my group are all not very experienced programmers so we don’t know how to do a lot of things but nvm we’ll figure it out along the way.
Last week I started writing a post but it DIDN’T GET SAVED cos my internet disconnected. Bleh.
So anyway this is my 4th week in China, I’ve gotten used to life here which includes cabbing to yuquan every other day for lessons/meetings and cabbing almost everywhere else too cos can claim, crossing the road in a yolo way, ponning useless classes, hanging out in the IDI or nuaing in my room, checking the weather forecast to decide whether I should wear slippers or shoes, using baidu instead of google for search/maps/translate, having to use VPN for snapchat/fb/insta, ordering stuff from taobao, and last but not least all the good+cheap+convenient food from family mart (they have v nice onigiri and not bad bento sets that they can heat up for you)/ delivery (fried chicken burger and blackball delivered right to your doorstep block in 30min)/ canteen (actually I rarely eat at the canteen even though the food is not bad and basically free with sch card lol)/ going out to eat!
Some photos that sum up ALP so far (see my fb album for the legit photos, these are mostly unedited and taken with my phone/ saved from snapchat):