Things I look forward to in the fall

Now that it is almost October, I am so excited for all things autumn related. Like, absurdly excited. Seattle had a beautiful spring/summer season this year. We barely had any rain and it was super hot most of the summer.  The skies were blue, the grass turned brown from the lack of water, the temperatures kept everything nice and toasty.  The amount of people dealing with air conditioning units and fans increased. In fact, my fan was consistently running every night because otherwise I would have a hard time sleeping.

But now that we are at the point where it’s almost October, the weather is cooling down, the leaves are changing, the clouds are getting dark and the sun is disappearing.

Here are the things I’m looking forward to the most for this fall season:

  • Large and oversized sweaters – I love my giant sweaters. I wish I could live in giant sweaters all day every day. I cannot wait to bust these out and live in them for the next few months.
  • Booties – yes, I love booties.  Sometimes it’s weird to wear them during the summer unless you have the right outfit. But now I get to justify wearing them all day every day.
  • Fuzzy blankets – I have this fuzzy blanket that I keep on my couch and I love curling up with it to take a nap.  In the summer, it’s difficult to do because it gets to hot so now that it’s cooling down, I can curl up all day long.
  • Burrito-ing in my bed – I love wrapping myself in my blankets when I go to bed. In the summer it gets too hot so now I can bundle up.
  • Peppermint Mochas – I am not a PSL person. I love the peppermint mochas and everything peppermint related.
  • Color of the leaves – while I love the blues and greens of Seattle, nothing really compare to seeing the leaves changing colors and signifying that it is officially fall.
  • Soups and noodle soups – I plan on eating all the pho and ramen I can now that the weather is changing
  • Hot beverages in general – iced beverages give you less liquid cause places give you way too much
  • Darker colors – I love my darker colors and darker colored clothing
  • No sunglasses – I always forget my sunglasses and now I don’t need to worry
  • Books – curling up in the warmth of my home and reading makes me so happy. When it’s too hot outside, I fall asleep too easily.

Working on the train, Paris -> London

I have never been one to be super motivated to work while riding some sort of moving vehicle. I get motion sickness so it’s hard for me to read while in a moving vehicle which means that cars are usually really hard for me to do anything but sleep. But with the current job, I’ve gotten better about working on airplanes which is good and productive but airplanes are definitely different than trains. Trains are like a halfway between cars and planes for me. Getting motion sick on them is kind of hit or miss for me so on the train from Paris to London, I decided to try out being productive.

We got into our seats and settled in for the two hour journey through the water over to London. The trains actually do have wifi on them but it is definitely super spotty and really hit or miss in terms of how well it’s going to actually work. For whatever reason, my computer did not want to cooperate with the wifi and so I ended up having a hard time working on the train.  And as soon as we went into the tunnel, it got a little too rocky for me so I felt a little woozy. I ended up spending most of the train ride just staring out the window or trying to nap but I survived and that’s all that matters. Lauren worked the entire time and was super productive while I just sat there useless and trying not to vomit.

We eventually got into London then caught the tube to Shoreditch where we settled into our hotel room then got ready for dinner.

We stayed at the Hoxton in Shoreditch which ended up being a mildly bad idea. The bar for the hotel is actually a hip spot for people to hang out and so when we got to our hotel, we had to wade through a bunch of loud people who were definitely on their way to getting decently drunk. Luckily the rooms were decently soundproofed.  It was my first time staying at the Hoxton and the decor is great and super hipster. I especially loved the little breakfast bags that we were provided where you pick what you want for breakfast, mark it on the bag, hang it out on your door handle and the next morning you have some food available for you. That honestly may have been my favorite part of the hotel. Plus, their instant coffee was actually really good too.

After we settled into our rooms, we decided to head over to Dishoom Shoreditch with one of my friends from college. I was so excited to finally go back to the that restaurant and get to try it for dinner. It was a meal, three years in the making.

Business in Paris

After an evening of delicious Korean food in Paris, we went back to the hotel to get ready for our meetings the next day.

We woke up bright and early to grab breakfast at our hotel which was delicious and so fitting of the personality of the hotel. Our beautifully decorated hotel came with a very hipster-esque breakfast filled with avocado toast and freshly squeezed orange juice. I felt very hipster and cool in my fancy hotel with my fancy millennial avocado toast.  It was a great way to start off our day. After breakfast, we made our way to some meetings we had in the city which included checking out some additional startup space around Paris.  It was really awesome to see other spaces in the city and compare them to Station F.  I mean, in general, it was really cool to be able to see so much of the startup ecosystem in that city and the spaces that are available to support new startups.

After our meetings, we began our journey back to our hotel to get ready for our the next leg of our trip. But before we could leave Paris, we wanted to get one more meal so we found a cute little restaurant near by to grab lunch before we caught our train.

We both opted in for the mussels and fries because why not? I have recently developed a love of clams and mussels. So much so that I feel like I have to order it all the time when I see it on the menu even if I’m not necessarily feeling the seafood.  It just always sounds good and then I have trouble controlling myself.  It’s hard for me to share…

When we finished our delicious meal, we made our way back to the hotel and go to the train station to make our way to London.

We got to the train station a bit early so we just sat around and waited. If you haven’t been to a train station in Paris, just a heads up, they don’t post the gates until a very short window before the actual boarding. I’ve seen it as long as 45 minutes before but as short as 15 minutes before boarding time. Since we were heading to London, they opened up boarding about half an hour before and we made our way through customs. Definitely had to go through the standard process of filling out the customs form and then going through border patrol. It was hilarious because our border patrol agent decided to tell us what was wrong with our company or rather how awesome our company was but it was doing a bad job of supporting those in Belgium because shipping was too expensive.  Unfortunately I don’t work on that part of the business and felt very awkward listening to his complaints but he let us through and we started our journey to London.

Korean food in Paris

It’s not every day that you decide to get Korean food while you’re in Paris.  To be honest, usually when I am in another city, I always try to eat the local foods. In the case of Paris, I usually would have gone for Parisian food or French food in general. I mean, I would have gladly settled for a dinner full of pastries and butter for dinner. Even with my love of pastries, we decided that we wanted to get Korean food. Actually we were more motivated by trying to do karaoke and that eventually made our way to Korean food instead. We found a place called Soon that was actually within walking distance to our hotel and had great reviews for their food so we decided that this would be the place for dinner.

We ordered bulgogi and Korean fried chicken as appetizers and I decided that I wanted to get the bibimbap. I can’t say that I had the highest hopes for how good the food would be for that dinner but it ended up being absolutely delicious. The bonchon was well made and delicious and the bulgogi was very well done.  I did also love the Korean fried chicken.  To be honest, I’m not sure I really spoke while I was eating the chicken. It was so good. But I do have an absurd love of fried chicken in general.

We ended up eating there for a few hours and ended our evening with great conversation and good food.

Finding your people

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on life and especially life back in Seattle.  As mentioned before, I moved back to Seattle over a year ago and recently started the whole online dating thing to try and meet new people. What I didn’t realize was that this experience would remind me of just how luck I am to have all of my friends in my life and how luck I am to have people who are so supportive of every decision I’ve made so far. That being said, I’ve been having lots of conversations with people about the friends in my life and what we do on a regular basis. Talking about it and thinking about it, I feel like if you had talked to me about it five or six years ago, I probably wouldn’t think that what I do now is really that cool.

I remember when I was younger, I felt the need to be doing the most social things and I felt that I needed to be cool. But that being said, nowadays, what we’re doing is all that I really care about. I don’t care if it’s really that interesting or if it’s that cool because it makes me happy. At this point in time, I’ve seen so many people do things for the ‘gram’ and for posting all over social media which really kind of makes things very different. I feel like things that I’m doing with my friends and family should really just be for me and us to enjoy. It shouldn’t be for other people’s viewing pleasure.  While I may actually post it on social media, it’s less about trying to show I’m cool but rather just showing the fun things that are happening in my life.

When I think about it all, I’ve realized that I’ve found my people. I found the people that I can show up to brunch with to go over the awesome books that we’ve read.  That I can have brunch surrounded by amazing people who love to read as much as I do. I’ve found the people I can sit and watch trashy television with on a regular basis.  I’ve found the people that I can text every awkward moment that happens in my life. The people who appreciate the awkward spellings of my name, the people who I can celebrate every win with. The people who will help me swipe through the online dating profiles. I’ve found the people who will give me so much crap for how terrible my fantasy football team is. The people that I can legitimately cry to without explaining why I’m crying. I have found the people where I can tell them one thing and no questions asked, they will defend me and be supportive.

I feel so honored and lucky to meet so many amazing people in my life. I know that I have a tendency to rant and rave about how awesome my friends are but sometimes, I just feel like I need to put it out there in the universe.  Because sometimes, I just don’t think there’s enough time in the world to call each and every single one of them to tell them how much I adore them.

Station F – Paris

So if you don’t know, I work in the tech industry and specifically with startups. It’s been an awesome experience and I have been able to visit places that I never thought I would be able to ever go in my entire life. The main reason why I was going to Paris for this trip was to visit our team that sits in Paris but also to visit Station F.

If you don’t know, Station F is one of the largest startup spaces in France and it is actually in an old train repair/maintenance building. It is a space for enterprises, startups, accelerators, venture capitalists and other companies to work together to help grow the startup ecosystem in France.  They went through and renovated the building over the last year or so and it is beautiful.

We took the metro over to Station F and met up with our team to get the our of the facility. Luckily, we were going to do our meetings there so I got to work in a really awesome space all day which is better than sitting in an actual office all day.

I would say this space is one of the most impressive coworking spaces I have ever seen.  There’s so much to say about the right interior touches that can make all the difference.  Station F is super open, they’ve made some interesting design choices such as fake shipping containers (maybe they’re real) as conference rooms which actually don’t have tables and chairs but rather beanbags. They have a huge space for events and theater style seating, a coffee shop, fun chairs, lots of light and just overall fun personality and colors everywhere you look.

We did take a meeting in one of the shipping containers and I may or may not have gotten stuck on a beanbag chair.  These things are not good for the old.

We enjoyed a full day of meetings and surprisingly enough, I felt super motivated just by being in that space and being surrounded by all these exciting companies working on changing the world and the future of the tech industry.  Halfway through the day, we made our way out to get lunch at a really delicious meat/butcher/burger place that was absolutely amazing.  I had a little trouble ordering but luckily my teammates helped me out with the ordering since my French is lacking.

After going through our full day of work, we realized that we had stayed way too long in Station F and ended up getting locked in which made for quite the end of day excitement.  When we were able to finally find security to let us out, we decided it was time for dinner and decided to go get Korean food as one does in France…

Wandering Paris at night

When we were done with the Eiffel Tower, we started our trek back to the hotel.  It was decently uneventful but the city on a Sunday night was relatively quiet.  It could have been because it was still the tail-end of the holiday season and there wasn’t anything major going on.  People were probably still out and about celebrating the holidays, it was winter but regardless it was incredibly quiet and serene around the entire city.

At one point, we ended up stumbling along a street of designer stores filled to the brim with crazy window displays and light displays.  It was so beautiful and so bright, felt a little bit like I was still wandering Vegas or NYC.  It was wonderful to see but definitely a little aggressive for a late night trek. We decided to walk along there just to check out all the items that we can never afford, especially considering we were surrounded by stores like Dior and Chanel.

That’s what one thing that has always been interesting to me. The amount of designer stores and labels in Paris that are the coolest things to visit are just so baffling to me. At no point in my life will I ever feel like I want to own something designer because I would be terrified of ruining it. I mean, I am a decently messy person and I drop my food on a regular basis so knowing that I would own something super expensive freaks me out. I appreciate all the people who are able to handle owning expensive things but let’s be honest, I will probably lose it or I will end up destroying it on accident.

When we finally got to the end of that street, we eventually found our way back to our hotel and had to walk by a consulate. I know it sounds strange, but I felt incredibly safe with having the armed guards about three blocks down from our hotel. It was terrifying to walk by them but knowing that if anything were to happen, they were there.  But at the same time, it was really unnerving because it made me feel slightly like there was a target in that area. Luckily, nothing happened and it ended up being a pretty great evening.

We got to the hotel, went our separate ways and I settled in for the night by watching some old school TV shows since everything else was in French.  It was a great start to my first night in Paris.

The Eiffel Tower – 10 years in the making

If you’ve been reading my adventures for awhile now, you know that I first visited Paris in 2008 on my first ever trip to Europe. That trip to Paris was more than just an adventure but an eye opening experience on how much more of the world I needed to see.  I loved that trip, but ended up being relatively unimpressed with Paris. I think that I had it all hyped up in my head that it was going to be the most beautiful place on earth and people would be so wonderfully lovely.  I had all these ideas in my head of what the experience would look like, almost similar to how Carrie felt in Sex and the City when she moved there.  It was nothing like that. That being said, I still enjoyed Paris for what it was and the food was fantastic.

During our trip there, it was super windy and we had one day that we were planning on going to the Eiffel Tower and going to the top to see the entire city. For whatever reason, the weather was terrible and they closed off the decks so we couldn’t go. I remember sitting in the park looking at the Eiffel Tower and wondering what it would have been like to actually take the elevator ride up to the top of such an iconic structure. But there wasn’t ever a really good time for us to go back and I left Paris without going to the top of the Eiffel Tower.

This time, I wanted to make it happen.  It didn’t matter that it was the middle of winter. It didn’t matter that I was wearing about 4 layers of clothing but had left my gloves at home.  It didn’t matter that it was mildly foggy outside. I was going to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and no one was going to stop me. Luckily, Lauren was down to go so after we were done eating, we started our trek toward the Eiffel Tower and bought our tickets.

We waited in the line which was surprisingly busy for late night on a Sunday, then made our way up the stairs and to the elevator.

One of my goals when seeing the Eiffel Tower has been to be there while it is lit up but also to be there when the twinkling happens. I’m sure there’s some special phrase for what it is called but I love calling it twinkling because it sounds magical. As we were going up the elevators, I looked out though the windows and watched the twinkling happened and it was like the inner child in me died of happiness for a brief moment.  Then was revived and I wanted to run around the entire deck just to see the view.

Overall, this was such a great experience and no part of me is disappointed in the experience. I know that it was overly hyped in my head and it managed to meet expectations. The view from the deck was absolutely unbelievable and breathtaking, even at night and with the fog.  There was this romantic feel to the city and a mystery that seemed to surround Paris from that view point. It was by far one of the best ways to start my Paris trip.

When we were done, we made our way down the elevators and started making our way back to our hotel.

Crazy Rich Asians – My perspective

This will probably end up being a bit more of a personal post than I’m used to putting out there but here it goes.

I finally saw Crazy Rich Asians a few days ago.  I actually read the book awhile ago before I knew it was going to become a movie and I wasn’t actually the biggest fan of the book.  It felt like a typical rom-com that you could find anywhere else but it was a quick and easy read so I finished it.  I didn’t think too much about the book following the completion but when I found out there was a movie, I was curious. I wasn’t necessarily excited but I was curious.  Then I heard that it was a predominantly all Asian cast and that’s when everything changed.

As you’re well aware, I grew up in Idaho. I didn’t grow up surrounded by a huge Asian community and I found that I definitely took some of the traits from the people I choose to surround myself with. I didn’t grow up with a huge Asian influence and I eventually found myself walking the line between trying to fit in at school while trying to maintain my Chinese traditions at home. It wasn’t easy but it definitely made me who I am today.  When I applied for college and a few leadership programs, I realized that I definitely learned how to be adaptable to any environment that I am in and am basically a chameleon. But in the sense that I had to do it to fit in wherever I go. But to be honest, I never really belonged. I was always a little to American when I went to Asia and I was always too Asian while I was in America. My food choices, my values, my priorities were always just a little off dependent on where I was.

Seeing Crazy Rich Asians wasn’t necessarily the highlight of my weekend when I went to go see it.  And to be honest, it wasn’t the most impressive of movies to me when it comes to the story line. It felt like any other rom-com that you would see in theaters. But what stood out to me and what made me emotional was the fact that I was watching people who grew up like me. Rachel Chu (the main character) was someone who grew up in America while trying to maintain her Chinese heritage and then didn’t really fit in when she met Nick Young’s family in Singapore.

I very distinctly remember two instances in Asia where it was obvious I didn’t fit. I was discriminated against in Taiwan because I didn’t look full Taiwanese and it was one of the most uncomfortable things I’ve experienced.  As someone who could understand what people were saying, there’s not a lot you can do when it’s obvious you don’t fit it.  The second time was when I was in the Singapore airport.  I was super excited to see my friends and yelled in excitement which is more than what you would expect for a standard Asian female since I am exceptionally loud and animated.  I remember feeling like all of the energy had been stripped from me when I realized that the entire airport was staring at me and I was obviously, in their eyes, not from there.

But on the flip side, in the States, I’ve watched my family get made fun of for their accents. I’ve listened to comments about my eyes, my food, my traditions, my overall existence as an Asian. While I’ve found some amazing people to surround myself with, it’s always been obvious I’m a little different.  Even Asians here have made comments about my accent when I speak Chinese or my lack of awareness of certain things.

That being said, here I was sitting in popular movie theater full of people watching actors go through similar experiences as me. And I could relate, I could understand.

In the end, it was amazing to watch a movie that I could actually relate to.  I found characters that I could actually see myself in. I could see the standard struggles of trying to fit in, of listening to the blunt feedback from people, of never really being accepted.  It was emotional for me because it was one of the first movies I could actually relate to from a cultural perspective and it was so emotional but wonderful at the same time.

If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it.  Even if you hate rom-coms, it’ll provide you a new perspective and it’s a beautifully done movie.  Check it out, let me know what you think!

Wandering the Champs Elysees

After meeting up with Lauren, we made our way out into the city itself and decided to start wandering toward the Champs Elysees.  Given that it had been just over 10 years since I had been in Paris, I felt like I wanted to see Paris with a fresh set of eyes.  Seeing this place as an adult verses seeing it as a kid in college makes it very different. When I was in Paris the first time around, I had hardly any money and we were struggling to figure out where we were going to stay while we in Paris.  My friends and I were running low on funds after three weeks in Italy and the person we were supposed to stay with in Paris was backing out of letting us stay with him.  That trip, we almost booked overnight trains so we could guarantee we had places to sleep for the remainder of our trip.

This time around, I was able to actually focus on the world around me and Paris in general. I didn’t have this lingering dark cloud about where I would be sleeping that night or whether I would be living off of bread and cheese (which is how the last four days of the previous trip had ended).

We took a walk through the Champs Elysees down to the Arc de Triomphe and decided to stop for food at a small cafe.  We got a seat by the window and ordered our dinner.  I decided for the croque de madame for dinner.  I love the croque de madame because that fried egg makes all the world of difference. I’m glad that I had someone with me who could speak French because she was able to help me with the ordering of food and we had a super sassy waiter who was friendly but had a little extra sass. My friend was able to sass him back and it made for a really entertaining experience, plus I think he thought we were entertaining which was great.

After dinner, I got this fancy pistachio cream cake that was one of the most delicious things I’ve ever had in my entire life.  The pistachio had been whipped into almost a pudding like texture on this super flakey crust and I pretty much scarfed all of it down without talking.  It was so good, not too sweet and very light.

I would say that one of the best things about that meal, outside of the delicious food in general, was the fact that it was one of the most relaxing meals ever. People take eating so much more seriously there than they do where I am.  I’m so used to eating as quickly as possible without much talking so that I can get back to work. We ended up spending about 2 hours there enjoying some beverages, food and dessert. No one around us was a in rush and it was wonderful.

When we were finally fat and happy, we decided that it was time to go see the Eiffel Tower all lit up.