Stumptown, Portland trip

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.

Portland Downtown

 

 

 

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.

Powell's books

powell

<Powell Bookstore>

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.

 

chinesemooncakelan su

< 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.

roserose garden

washigt

 

 

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.

vista2vista

<Vista House and Colombia River Gorge>

 

latourell

<Latourell Falls>

multnomah

<Multnomah Falls>

 

horsetail

<Horsetail Falls>

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[Travel]Sedona, Red Rock Country

I visited Sedona during the spring break back in 2015 to visit my friend in Phoenix for 3 days. I didn’t have specific places that I wanna go around Phoenix area, actually. Luckily, my friend’s mother kindly suggested to go to Sedona and my friend had never been there, either. So, one day,  we decided to go to Sedona and my friend drove the way for me.

cacti

Along the way to Sedona for two hours, there are so many cacti. I don’t think I had seen that many cacti in my life before! It was quite contrasting landscape from where I live. Also, there are many road names or geological location names that drew our attentions. Some of the examples are ‘Table Mesa Road(Mesa means ‘Table’ in Spanish)’,”Bumble Bee Crown King Rd”, “Horsethief basin” and “bloody basin rd”. I guess Arizona people are creative when it comes to naming.

Sedona2

After my friend drove for 2 hours, we got to the beginning point of this Sedona trip. Those red rocks are welcoming visitors standing firm. It’s so scenic that I bet there are many people sitting in cars trying to take photos at the same time like me.

Interestingly, there are many religious or meditation places around Sedona. I read somewhere that there are a lot of energy vortexes around Sedona,believe it or not. I’m not that religious person but it has a kind of atmosphere that you would wanna stay for a week to take a break from busy life in secular life.

 

Then, our first destination is this church, ‘Chapel of the Holy Cross’. I doubt there are regular visitors in the church but it was quite popular among tourists like us. It’s very small but it’s very distinctive. You can’t find this kind of designed church in Europe. As there are many visitors, parking a car is challenging but we managed to do it.

gardentreesedona24

The landscape from the church is quite beautiful. At least, the weather in the early afternoon was sunny enough to get nice pictures. I was impressed how those houses go well with the scenery.

 

rocksedona3flower

Now you can see why Sedona is often called “Red Rock Country”. It’s also amazing that all the rocks look very rocky but still there are some plants living on the rock.

After having lunch, we went to climb Bell Rock. Bell Rock is the signature rock in Sedona. There is a trail that you can hike up the rock. After parking my friend’s car, we had to walk a bit to the rock. On the way, there are many maintenance cars passing by. It was not completely easy way that we had to stop for a while when those cars are approaching and the road was not wide. climbcloud

 

bell rock2

<The view from Bell Rock trail>

When we got to Bell Rock, we were able to see more people. The trail offered really nice view but alas, the weather was getting cloudy that these pictures don’t do it justice. It’s one of the scenery that looked like hardly touched by humans.

When it comes to hiking, it isn’t difficult but I wasn’t wearing a good pair of shoes for hiking.Next time when I’m lucky enough to visit here again, I swear that I would bring a good pair of shoes. Plus, my friend also got scared by height so we did’t make it to the top.

Afterward, we were ready to go back to Phoenix. But it’s kind of the place that you want to linger. So, we drove around Sedona and actually the town area in Sedona has some banks, stores and restaurants so it is not completely remote in some senses.

It was a short trip to Phoenix and ,now that I think of it, Sedona is still memorable place to me. Who know, I might be looking for some kinds of meditaions and visit back to this place!

 

Hidden charms in New York City

<Featured Image: Sunset view of Manhattan taken from Jersey City>

 

New York City is the city that I always have in mind. I have not visited this city for over three years and I really miss it. What I miss from the city is not the hustle-bustle in Time Squares at night with endless neon signs, but rather cherishing quiet moment in the city enjoying espresso with a decent cannoli in rainy weather or stopping by old and cozy secondhand bookstores and got lost in it. Even watching how an old New Yorker skillfully jay walking was a memorable moment.

When people think of traveling New York City(especially for the first time), they will 95% likely to mention the list of famous things: Time Squares, Wall Street, Empire State building, China Town, Soho…..etc. Of course, those places are really fun! I do like visiting Metropolitan museum and walking&window shopping in Soho every time I visit the city. Crossing Brooklyn bridge never gets dull.

Usually, majority of tourists are roaming around the center of Manhattan. From my observation of visiting there three times(staying there for 2-3 weeks every time), it is relatively peaceful (especially in day time). Here are some of my picks that I would always like to do in NYC

  1. Walk in Greenwich village. Then Sit one of the cafes Bleecker Street and kill time reading books. Spend a night in a comedy club

Amy's bread

<Amy’s bread on Bleecker’s Street>

<Random streets in Greenwich village>

cafe

<I always take pictures like this in pasticceria rocco in Bleecker Street-its Italian bakery and gelato are quite decent>

Greenwich Village, NYC’s neighborhood of artists, is the best place to go for bohemian fares. Especially Bleecker street has some of my favourite cafes(I really like Italian bakery around there). It has a great nightlife. Located on the west side of Lower Manhattan, the Village also has one of the best comedy clubs, Bleecker Street and NYU.  Since it has NYU buildings, it has great young vibe.

2.  Walk into a gallery around not-too-crowded part of Soho

Outside of shopping mall area with full of tourists, there are some galleries that has some artworks by famous modern artists. Probably, many modern artists in the world would like to sell their paintings to those galleries in Soho. Once, I randomly walked in a gallery in Soho and found some Damien Hirst paintings selling for quite expensive price. I remember it has some colorful circles on white canvas like the picture below. (well, he’s not my favorite but it’s good to know for those of you who are fan of his works)

<ALBIZZIN, Damien Hirst>

3. Walk around Brooklyn neighbors

Broo

<A vintage car parked near Brooklyn museum>

broo2.jpg

<This house owner must be an ardent Christian-and artistic>

<Williamsburg-Hipster HQ in NYC>

Brooklyn is a huge district so there are many local people living in. Although some parts of this borough can be sketchy,there are some interestingly charming neighborhoods. Walking around near Prospect Park, Brooklyn museum, Dumbo and Williamsburg was quite a joy. It has own unique ambience distinctive from Manhattan for sure. Plus, there are lots of nice hipster bars and restaurants in Williamsburg.

4. If you are a fan of Project Runway or fashion in general, visit Moods

moods

If you are interested in fashion at least a little bit, this place would satisfy your fantasy on fabrics. The picture is just a part of it. No wonder why Project Runway participants were hesitating on picking fabrics from this place.

5. Take a walk or jogging like locals in riverside park

 

riverside

<Riverside Park in cloudy winter>

<Riverside Park in Fall>

Central park is the most famous one in Manhattan, of course. But I feel Riverside Park is very often overlooked by tourists. Riverside is along Hudson river from south of West Harlem to 72nd Street. There are many locals jogging and walking everyday. There are lots of trees so it’s really pretty place to go in spring or fall when the trees are colorful. Sunset view is one of things you shouldn’t miss from this park.

6. Walk Waterfront Walkway in Hoboken to see NYC in different angle

I know there are a tons of jokes about New Jersey but it ain’t that bad at all! Hoboken is quite a cool hipster city across from Manhattan. When you are walking in Manhattan, you don’t know how the wester shore in the borough would look like. Hoboken Waterfront Walkway offers nice view of Manhattan Skyline along Hudson river.

 

New York City offers endless things to do. I hope I visit this city again soon and explore new part of the city that I haven’t had a look.

 

 

 

 

 

Taos(3)-Rio Grande Gorge,Millicent Rogers and San Francisco Asis Church

After we went to Taos Pueblo, our tour group headed to Rio Grande Gorge.On the way from Albuquerque airport to Taos,  I saw there is a big crack on the ground where is almost middle of nowhere. The driver told me that is Rio Grande Gorge and said the bridge there is one of the most well known tourist spots around the area. Since we don’t have a rent car, we didn’t expect to see it.But thanks to the tourism program in my mom’s conference, we were able to look around all the famous spots with ease.

 

After driving for 20 minutes from the pueblo, we saw the giant crack again. When I saw the crack again, I was imagining how very first Spaniards were surprised to find this when they just started to explore around the area.

 

gorgecoffeetrucl2girl

As it is famous scenery around this area, there were many visitors and vendors. Like these pictures, there were many painted  and colorful vendors and it caught many tourists eyes. Sometimes, as a person who always have wanderlust, I have dreamed of driving all around the world since I was a young girl. Now as a grown-up, I am afraid of giving up what I’m doing for living to explore other parts of the world. Of course, I do travel quite frequently but I don’t have a gut enough to not caring about my wealth and live like a nomad like them. After walking around the bridge for an hour, we headed to Millicent Rogers museum.

This fashionable woman, Millicent Rogers was a famous socialite, fashion icon and art collector. She was the granddaughter of Standard Oil tycoon and an heiress to his wealth.She was enthusiastic about Southwestern American culture so you can see in his picture that she is wearing Native American thick bracelets. Later in life, she became an activist, and was among the first celebrities to champion the cause of Native American civil rights. In 1956, the Youngest son Paul Peralta – Ramos founded the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos. The museum houses a large collection of Native American, Hispanic, and Euro-American art, with a specific emphasis on northern New Mexico and Taos pieces.

 

The museum looks ordinary adobe house but it certainly contains a lot of native american artifacts. Here are some photos from the museum.

 

 

The museum also has a pretty small garden inside. Although I love living in a big city, it would be nice if I can take a break in remote areas like Taos once in a while staying in a pretty garden.

Originally, that was the end of the tour but we finished the tour earlier than expected. Luckily, we had a chance to go San Francisco Asis Mission Church.

 

One of the most famous pictures of the church is taken by Ansel Adams in 1929. He took the picture of the church for his Taos art book. In the picture, there’s not even specks of clouds.But when I visited the church, clouds decorated the background of the pictures pretty well.

 

church3church2church gardenchurch

When you think of catholic church, you would usually think of European Gothic church. I’ve seen a lot of catholic churched in Europe but I would say with a confidant that this one is the most distinctive catholic church I’ve ever seen. And this church is older than most catholic churched in the US that Construction on the church began around 1772 and was completed in 1815 by Franciscan Fathers. And Georgia O’Keeffe described it as “one of the most beautiful buildings left in the United States by the early Spaniards.”

And here’s Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting of the church, “ranchos church”. I went to Metropolitan Art Museum three times and I remembered this painting. At that time, I didn’t pay attention where the church is and never imagined I would really visit there. In the painting,she seems to erase the boundary between earth and architecture, the natural and the man-made.

We couldn’t take the picture inside of the church but I found this in online.

Even inside of the church was quite different from European catholic churches. There were some old Spanish style of painting and architects. Or maybe it’s the most indigenous style to this area. It was not grandiose but it has a charm that make people feel relaxed. It’s one of the few churches doesn’t have any pompousness.

 

sunset

It was the last day in Taos and this picture is the last sunset in Taos. It’s desolate and isolated land and it makes beautiful and simple parallel with the sky. Without any skyscrapers. Just land ,sky and layers of colors with clouds between land and sky.

Time Travel to Taos(2)-Taos Pueblo

Day 2 (2)

After the walk in Taos Plaza, there was a group tour for bird watching. It was inspiring to see how enthusiastic the guide was about birds around the area. Although I still do not know much about birds, I enjoyed walking in the nature where it’s not too tainted by a bunch of tourists in Fred Beca Park.

Day 3 (1)

Luckily, we managed to reserve the most popular group tour on that day. It was the tour to the most famous tourist spots around the area: Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, Millicent Rogers Museum and Taos Pueblo. As it was quite a tight schedule, the group tour gave us lunch boxes and had to eat lunch in the van. The first destination was Taos Pueblo and the young native American was our guide to tell history of pueblo.

 

This is the typical adobe houses in the pueblo. Now some houses are selling hand-made ornaments to visitors. About 150 people currently live full time at the Pueblo, also known as the village, in buildings made of adobe (bricks constructed of mud and straw.) There is no electricity or running water and wood stoves are used for cooking and heat. Outdoor ovens, called hornos, are used for cooking and baking especially the delicious bread sold at the Pueblo and local farmers’ markets. Although they know it’s not modern way of living, but they want to keep their diminishing culture as much as possible. For example, they speak the language called ‘Tiwa’ and they delivered the language from generation to generation only by speaking since it’s unwritten language.

saint geronimo

<At the cemetry in San Geronimo Church>

It is difficult to listen to the history of the Pueblo without feeling a sense of sadness at how the people were treated. At first, visitors were welcomed and treated with kindness from the tribal members. They were repaid by being forced to convert from their native religion to Catholicism and slavery in 1619 under the guise of being “civilized”. They revolted in 1680, won, and lived peacefully until the Spanish regained control in the 1700s. This lasted until 1847 where, by now, the United States was in charge. A man named Charles Bent governed the territory, now known as Arizona and New Mexico, in the midst of the US war with Mexico. According to our tour guide, Northern New Mexico was a bit cut off from Mexico and the United States. In an effort to gain independence from both governments people from the town of Taos and from the Pueblo teamed up and killed Governor Bent. The US government retaliated by rounding up and killing the leaders of the Pueblo.  Many of the tribal members fled to what they thought to be safety by inhabiting the original Catholic Church built in 1619. The US soldiers burned down the Church killing a majority of the people.

 

the dog

Watching all these sad history and a lot of crosses at the cemetery made me sad but this dog was friendly to us and followed our way during the tour in the pueblo. Despite this gruesome history, I was impressed that how Taos people are so kind and generous and willing to share their cultures with Americans and foreigners.

 

center pueblo

This is the signature building in Taos Pueblo. I believe many adobe houses in Taos Plaza were inspired by this building. Look at all the blue color doors! It is said to be the oldest America’s oldest apartment complex. It is made up of individual homes that were built side-by-side and stacked in floors, one atop another. Walls are shared but each dwelling is a separate home with a private entrance.It must haven taken a lot of effort to keep it for 1,000 years so well.

creek

This is a creek crossing the pueblo. It is a main source for water and washing their clothes for a thousand years. People in the pueblo have been changed constantly but the creek remains always constant contemplating the ups and downs in pueblo.

 

dog2

Another dog in Pueblo. Actually, there were a lot of dogs in Pueblo other than the two dogs showed in my blog. They are not like pet dogs. They don’t have their owners.They are stray dogs within the pueblo. What a free spirit they have!

 

Time travel to Taos (1)-Taos Plaza

Day 1

I’ve never heard of Taos in New Mexico until my mom told me she had to go there for her conference  after my graduation from the college. It was unexpected trip with not so well known destination but I decided give it  a try. So, in the early afternoon, we landed at Albuquerque  airport and had to find a van heading to Taos. We found one thanks to the recommendation from an employee at the airport and we took the van for about two hours. It was the second time I went to New Mexico and I didn’t thought much of the scenery in New Mexico on the first visit. For visiting New Mexico this time, I had been to Arizona for my spring break and realized the scenery looks like Arizona without a bunch of cacti. That’s how I answered when the van driver who was born and raised in Taos asked me what I think of the New Mexico scenery. While on the way, the van driver talked about his family and his life as a native American in Taos Pueblo. He also told us don’t forget to get Indian bread in the pueblo before we arrived at the destination.

My mom and I stayed in Sagebrush inn where Georgia o’keeffe had stayed over a year. Georgia O’keefee is a female American artist and she fell in love with New Mexico and spend her latter part of her life in Santa Fe. She’s been one of my favourite American artists so I felt special to stay in the inn. I’ve seen adobe houses in Santa Fe before so it wasn’t very new to me. But still it gave me feeling that it is so distinct from most parts in America. Right across from the inn, you can see wide plain with sagebrushes. What a right name for the inn!

inn

 

sagebrush.jpg

For the first day, we just enjoyed scenery nearby and see what we can explore around this area.

 

Day 2 (1)

While my mom was busy with conference, I had a chance to look around Taos Plaza by myself. From Sagebrush inn, you can take a bus less than one dollar. Interestingly, instead of paper tickets, the bus in Taos used token. It made me feel like I was back in 1960s or 70s even from the bus.

Taos Plaza was basically smaller version of the center of Santa Fe. But less touristy and quieter version. There were not many people at all so I enjoyed the serenity in the plaza. At the same time, every corner of the plaza was charming that I couldn’t help taking bunch of photos.

taos plazasam's shopskullsski chair

There is a ski chair! In winter, Taos is popular place for ski.Isn’t it so hipster?

plazamuralinside out

It’s not movie Inside-Out, btw!

adobe2

After walking around the plaza and buying some souvenirs, I got thirsty and found this really cute place! Isn’t it look like you are in ‘Alice in Wonderland?’

cafe cat

coffe cats.jpg

When I was waiting to order a cup of iced chai tea, I overheard this short conversation.

Customer:”It’s like something called Caramel Macchiato in Starbucks”
Barista:”I’ve never been to Starbucks.”

Wow! In the USA, every city, or even small cities would have at least one starbucks. Thinking about it, I didn’t see any Starbucks around here….hmmm.. it’s the most hipster moment I’ve ever witnessed.

After taking rest in the cafe, I headed out again.

 

jukebox

In an antique shop, an old out-of-order jukebox welcomed me. I wonder if it’s for sale on purpose..Again, I felt like I’m back to several decades ago just roaming around this place.

namaste

‘Namaste’. It’s a short word but it’s enough to give me impression that I’m welcomed here.