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PIECE OF CAKE, PEACE OF MIND

Exploring, creating, & reflecting one day at a time

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Just kidding. I gave my blog a facelift and a new name, and it’s now located here.  Come say hi!

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Hello, there. Long time no see.I mean that from the blogging perspective but probably also in real life if you know me personally. I’ve been sort of a hermit the past few months, getting really into knitting and other hermit-like hobbies.

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If you happen to be one of those few people who consistently follows this blog, you will notice that there has been a delay in my posting. This is because my card reader decided to stop working so I can’t upload photos, and we all know words aren’t nearly as interesting without pictures.

So now I will try to recap the last week as briefly as possible without missing the good stuff:

We had a great time at Reggae Mansion in Kuala Lumpur although the city itself seemed sort of like a more sprawling, dirtier version of Singapore. A Singapore Jr., if you will. But Singapore’s public transportation leaves KL’s in the dust and a quick glance at a map of KL’s streets looks like nothing more than a bowl of spaghetti, or laksa I would be more appropriate I guess. So we spent our less-than-48-hours in KL trying to navigate (we were separated for several hours one day), eating great food, and looking at butterflies and insects bigger than my hands at the Perdana botanical gardens.
Tom, Eric, and I had a great stroll through Little India, which was actually much more vibrant and (seemingly) authentic than Singapore’s. We ate lunch at another banana leaf spot but this one was more of a locals only kind of joint so we for our food only after much confused conversing and foolish gesticulations. It was worth it though–samples of over six types of spicy (like, actually spicy) curries atop a generous serving of rice and Indian pickles. At night we went to the famed Jalan Alor, a night market full of street food vendors, and tried Hokkien noodles, a proclaimed specialty of the area. They were alright but the real star was the meat-on-a-stick we had for dessert. I got crab claws, fried, grilled, and spiced to perfection right in front of me.

Aside from the food and lodging, KL didn’t seem to have too much to offer so we weren’t terribly disappointed in our short time allotted there.

I had researched Phuket and knew there were parties in the beach community of Patong but I didn’t realize how intense it would be and also that our hostel was on the main “strip” Banglan Road. We made friends with a bunch of Brits & Irishmen but also fell asleep to the soothing sounds of thumping bass, so it was a blessing and a curse.

After two nights we took a choppy ferry ride to Koh Phi Phi, where we found the sixth member of our group, Alan. The island was as picturesque as I’d hoped and imagined but the beaches were a bit unfriendly because of unusually large wind gusts (which pelted us with sand). The highlight of Phi Phi was definitely scuba diving at one of the smaller islands. It was Eric and my first time diving, and we both ended up being super happy with our decision to splurge. We saw tons of gorgeous fish & coral despite the poor visibility brought on by the wind. I see a PADI certification in my future! (Because another expensive hobby is just what I need)…

SPEAKING OF WHICH–I dropped my camera today for the first time ever when we got back to Phuket. A solid 4 foot drop onto linoleum left my mount screwed up and my wide angle lens unable to focus. Solid. Aside from cringing at the huge bill I’m going to have to foot for the repairs (assuming that’s an option), I’m not thrilled about having to schlep a large heavy paperweight–err–lens around for the remainder of the trip. Also I guess landscapes are out of the question now so expect lots of artsy bokeh-heavy shots from now on. Ugh.

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I’m currently taking a mid-afternoon A/C break in Tresor Tavern Hostel in Singapore, something I’ve learned is pretty necessary on this side of the world after years of visiting Asian countries. But this trip is much different than those I’ve taken in the past. This trip will last six weeks and will wind through seven countries. I’m backpacking like my trip to Europe last year but unlike that adventure, this time I’m joined by a group of friends, six of us in total.

I started mentally planning this trip last summer while still in Italy, fantasizing about returning to Bali and rectifying my cancelled trip to Thailand while pruning the vines. I didn’t know who I’d be going with but after many iterations of grouping, I’m super happy with the six who ended up coming. There are only five of us for now and throughout the trip we break off into smaller groups and recombine. Our route is as follows: Singapore; Bali, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Phuket, Thailand; Bangkok, Thailand; Siem Reap, Cambodia; Hanoi, Vietnam; Luang Prabang, Laos; Chiang Mai, Thailand; Ipoh, Malaysia; and then finally back to Singapore to catch our flight to LAX.

The flight in wasn’t bad, but we had a 10 hour layover in Taipei. The uncomfortable sleeping situation (complete with screaming children) was forgiven when we got to wake up to a 6 AM bowl of beef noodle soup. Pure joy.

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Yesterday we didn’t do too much besides exploring Little India and feasting on really good Indian food, including fish head curry, which is a big deal here, I guess, and which was really tasty and a little sour, which I didn’t expect but really enjoyed. We were sort of ripped off at the place we went (they charged us for most towelettes and tap water) but we had more than enough food so we just accepted it.

So far we’ve mostly tried to get our sleep cycles in sync with the time zone, and pretty successfully, I might add, except for the small roadblock of a very loudly snoring roommate all night. Annie and I were pretty disappointed that it wasn’t Marc or Tom because it left us powerless to resolve the problem.

But we all rallied and got up about 9 before eating breakfast at the hostel and then going to Mt. Faber park. Annie and Eric took the gondola up, but the rest of us walked in an effort to be less fat (my mom made us weigh ourselves before we left). We walked around and explored the Henderson Waves bridge, which was pretty awesome, but needed a break after all the sweating we did on our little trek. So, we stopped at 313@somerset, a mall, and grabbed lunch before heading back to wear we are now.

I actually like it here way more than I expected. I was looking at Singapore more as a pit stop on the way to our other destinations, but it’s a great place in its own right. The mix of Malay, Indian, Chinese, Filipino, and western cultures is prominent everywhere, including the faces we’ve seen on MRT, the subway system. People watching is definitely a worthwhile activity here, as is browsing the many, MANY restaurants offering all kinds of fare. It’s pretty cool.

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Tonight, we visit a food court, one of Singapore’s prominent culinary features, and the thing I’m most excited about. Chili crab? Yes, please.

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You can now call me a semi-amateur-professional photographer now. I got my first monetary offer for the rights to publish one of my photos! I’ve been published before, in yearbooks and things like that (does foodporndaily count?), but receiving monetary compensation adds a whole new feeling of accomplishment to the things I do. Plus, I mean, 100 buckaroos for a picture I took two years ago, for something I do just for the love of it, that’s something pretty awesome.

So THIS is what it feels like to do what you love and love what you do? Weird. If only photography could translate into a real job for me haha. Alas, started researching LSAT’s and law schools today and I feel a little bit depressed. But not enough to deter me from that goal!

I finally got back to Berkeley on Friday but I’ve been unpacking little things and we have visitors so I haven’t really had a chance to settle down yet. But hey, that’s what the school year’s for, right?

I absolutely love my new room; it’s well-lit and spacious and I have the perfect workspace to optimize productivity (HA, I wish it worked like that).

But the other part of the house that I absolutely love is the kitchen.  When we first looked at this house, the kitchen was absolutely what drew me to it, and what made me especially happy in the end that we got to sign the lease here. And my brother proclaimed it ‘a great kitchen for food blogging.’ What a coincidence…

Here’s a little peek into our wonderful cooking & eating area:

Pretty, ain’t it?

Sorry, I’ve taken some time to re-coop after that awesome trip.   I don’t know how soon I’ll be baking because I’m trying to catch up with people right now, but I was thinking of a crazy idea for next week…something I have deemed THE CUPCAKE TRIALS. Sounds awesome, right? I’m going to remake my strawberry/vanilla cupakes and test out a newish black & white recipe, have a few friends try both of them, and see which one wins the crowd pleaser award. Anyone interested in being a taster? : )