[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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so close yet so far

Haven’t posted in months lol. But I think I’ve been posting at least once every term and this term is ending soon so gotta keep up the streak xD

2 more weeks to term break!!

This term started out well (taking computer vision, graphics and visualisation, making maps, and capstone), with finally more interesting content. But omg I’m v sian now because each mod has a project and with each project comes a report + presentation in addition to developing the actual product. And all of the presentations are next week but our actual work isn’t even completed yet… so not looking forward to chionging everything next week :'( but I can’t wait for it to be over ahaha

In better news, I’m going to California during the 2 week break!! Super excited cos I’ve never travelled so far before, and it’s with joe and we’re going for google i/o (google’ s developer conference at their office in SF)! It honestly feels quite random- this trip is only happening because I took part in a Google codejam for women (an online programming competition) for fun, and turns out I scored in the top 150 so I won a free ticket to Google i/o plus 500usd travel reimbursement. And it was just nice during my holiday, so why not right? And joe managed to get a student ticket to the conference too! We’re going LA and SF mainly, and sequoia national park which has humongous trees that look really cool. Anyone got any tips/recommendations for things to do around there pls tell me :D

[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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[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 :'(

the president’s office

On 初二 my family decided to go to the istana! Apparently we went before but it’s probably really long ago so I don’t remember at all. Uh I have not much to say so here are some photos I took there

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the queue was some long snake near the entrance of the istana and it stretched all the way to outside plaza sing!! we queued for around 45min I think
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the istana gates :O
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the inside is just a huge open space! the actual istana building is further in, on the left side of the photo
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it’s like the president’s private botanic gardens haha there’s even a pond
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really nice blue sky and the flag flying in the distance!
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yay symmetry
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look at the crowd!!

Sorry the last three photos are just typical symmetrical uncreative shots haha but I still like them! We didn’t get to see inside the building cos it was near the closing time already D:

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sunset-ish haha
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there was a whole bunch of guards having some phototaking thing? then they marched off
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view from the istana x)

Overall nothing much lah haha but it’s interesting to go and see at least once!

Korea day 12: home sweet home

I’m back!! Today was all just travelling but for the sake of completeness I shall write about it.

We woke up at 5, packed, ate bread, checked out, took a taxi to Seoul station, then took the airport railway to incheon (took an hour and it was not very crowded so we got seats and slept heh). It took a while to walk to the check in place, and luckily my father already researched it so we went to do the self check-in. The normal queue was super long and slow! And even then we had to rush because we had to queue to get inside, then wait again for bag check, then we still had to go take the shuttle thing to get to our boarding gate at the concourse. So we were just on time, when we reached the gate it was final call already but actually inside the plane half the passengers weren’t even there yet!

I was quite hungry so for once I actually finished everything on the tray! After the meal I slept for the rest of the flight because there wasn’t anything I wanted to watch. We lost one hour because Seoul is ahead of Hong Kong haha so reached at 11+ and walked around/ ate lunch/ used their free wifi until our next flight. Which also got delayed because the family sitting in front of us was missing! Quite funny the pilot announced something like “you may have noticed that our departure time has come and gone, that’s because we’re waiting for about 5 passengers who have disappeared. But we’re in the process of finding their luggage and throwing it out” hahaha but luckily they came soon and we finally left for Singapore! Oh and we got haagen dazs chocolate ice cream 8D

Reached changi at 6 plus, took a taxi back, then everyone changed into shorts and we went to eat hor fun and hokkien mee etc and I finally drank my ice lemon tea again heh :D then we came back and unpacked and my mother made me put a face mask cos my face is peeling because of the dry weather D:

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All the food we brought back

Ok yay end of travel posts! I’m not particularly looking forward to getting back to normal life cos I have nothing much to do actually @__@ should I get a job?