I really felt I need a rest at that moment. You know, sometimes you just feel so stuck in the same place forever that you would really wanna go out. I was thinking of going Canada since I’ve never been to Canada and I heard a lot that foods in Quebec are great. Unluckily, it was kind of out of my budget so I tried to find the alternative. Then, I googled the US map and tried to see which states I haven’t been to.
I have some friends here who have experience living in Oregon and all of them mentioned at least once how beautiful Oregon is. And I’ve never been to Oregon. Eventually, I went to trip to Portland from May 25th to May 28th. It was a short break but certainly refreshing and energizing.
On the first day, I had a little bit of jetlag coming from central time zone. It was a dinner time where I came from while it wasn’t in Portland. Before visiting Portland as an avid fan of “Parts Unknown”, I wanted to visit the very famous thai restaurant in the US starting from Portland, Pok Pok. In one episode of Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain visited Northern Thailand with his chef buddy, Andy Ricker who loves to go to Chiang Mai area often and eat street food there. I was quite hooked by the food they had in the episode and wanted to visit Chiang Mai (or this restaurant if I can’t visit Thailand in near future). Since it’s a very well known Thai restaurant among food lovers, I imagined the restaurant would be upscale located in fancy downtown area. However, it was quite opposite. The ambience of the restaurant is quite approachable and the restaurant is actually located in relatively residential area. Waiters/waitresses seem pretty chill like most locals in Portland. I forgot the name of the food that I ordered, but I remember it was steamed pork with fat and southeast asian curry sauce. The portion is smaller than I expected but I fully enjoyed the taste and flavor of the food. The ginger really went well with the curry flavor. After eating a dish in that popular place, I headed to downtown Portland.
So, here is the map of Portland. The west side of the river is Portland Downtown while the east side of the river is more residential area. Pok Pok was on the division streeet which is south east part of city of Portland and Powell bookstore is at the heart of the downtown.
As a reader, visiting famous bookstores is one of the top things to do on the list whenever I’m traveling. In that sense, I was really happy to visit Shakespeare &Company during the second visit to Paris. And Portland has this,Powell’s books: the biggest independently owned bookstore. The bookstore was crowded with people with different age groups but many of them were eager to chat about what they read or what books they like in the bookstore regardless of age. Inside of the bookstore is like a maze but books are categorized and organized in a great way. The genre that the bookstore has was really diverse. Even there were some computers helping customers to locate books they are looking for. I was happy to see some books that are hard to get around my area. It is not as pretty and vintage as Shakespeare & Company but I would be content with living near the bookstore that has almost every books in the world. I got ‘The Remains of the Day” by Kazuo Ishiguro and “Down and Out in Paris and London” by George Orwell as souvenirs.
On every Saturday in Portland, Saturday market near the riverside is a big event. Saturday market is a vibrant spot with lots of people who are searching for street food or handmaid items like any other farmer’s market in US cities. People say that you will get full with food after getting diverse kinds of street food in the market.
< Lansu Chinese Garden>
As Portland is very green city, there are a couple of popular gardens in Portland. This one is Lansu Garden and it’s located along Old Chinatown. It used to be a boring parking lot but artisans from Suzhou transformed the parking lot into beautiful Chinese Garden as Suzhou and Portland become sister cities in 1988. Since then, it became one of the most beloved places in Portland. I went to Portland in late May and it happened to be “Asian Heritage month”. Luckily, there were a couple of Asian cultural performances. The performance that I watched is Japanese traditional music performance. It was quite different from Western classical music. Unlike Western music, the Japanese traditional music has few notes but this lack of notes made the audience focus solely on the tempo and rhythm of the music. There were audiences from various backgrounds but many of them enjoy the music.
Portland downtown is a pretty compact so it is easy to look around. On the west part of Portland, there is Washington Park. It is a small mountain so it’s a great place to take a hike/walk and take a break from hustle and bustle in downtown(well, Portland downtown is not very busy,though). I have a friend who used to live in Portland for one year when she was a teenager and she highly recommended Rose Garden a year ago when I get to visit Portland. Unfortunately, roses didn’t bloom much yet but still it was beautiful walk on the way.
Outside of Portland
You can enjoy beautiful nature around Mt. Hood area driving one hour east from Portland downtown. I won’t cover too much about it but I would love share photos with you. When I went there, the weather was incredibly nice.
<Vista House and Colombia River Gorge>