Sunday, December 27, 2009

Travel: Las Vegas (Trump)

B, G, and I went to Las Vegas and stayed at the Trump. This was our first time staying at this hotel and we were fairly pleased. The fact that it did not have a casino was, quite literally, a breath of fresh air. The room's jacuzzi tub is enormous! It was a bit annoying getting to the Strip though, as we had to walk a block or so to the Wynn (the nearest casino). They do run a regular bus, but it's much faster walking it, if you want to stay in the middle of the Strip. The Fashion Show Mall is practically across the street from the Trump, which was convenient for me, since I shop during every trip to Vegas. There is a restaurant downstairs, but we ended up ordering room service one morning. I was treated as I expected I would be at a 5-star hotel/condo. The internet usage fee was included in the resort fee that they charge. The most annoying thing is that there is a mandatory car valet service (no self parking), so getting the car was a bit of a hassle each time. Other than those minor issues, I would probably stay here again in the future if I had to.
Other itinerary highlights: we saw the Blue Man Group perform. It's great, if you're into black lights and strobe lights.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Travel: San Diego

Spending time in San Diego for Christmas. Wishing everyone that I didn't mail a card to a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Travel: New York City - Upper West Side

  • Day 1: LAX >> SFO >> JFK. I arrived in New York City before C did. I didn't know at first that the Empire Hotel had a super trendy bar on top, and so I didn't understand why there was a long line of beautiful people standing outside in the cold waiting to get into the hotel. It turns out that the TV show Gossip Girl also takes place there, thereby increasing the hotel's popularity. Seeing as how I arrived at about 11PM to the room, I took the time to walk around and buy necessary supplies (water, food, etc.) before C joined me. As I was looking through the room's mini bar, I noticed that they provided a travel-sized sex kit. I'd never seen a hotel offer anything like it and was amused by the condoms and manual vibrator they offered inside it. C later arrived several hours later, having gotten lost on the subway, thereby forcing him to take a taxi. We later figured out that he got disoriented because the hotel turns off its enormous, red sign after a certain late hour. We spent the rest of the evening/early morning catching up.
  • Day 2: After breakfast at a nearby Starbucks, because of our proximity to Central Park, we decided to see the skating rink, the Mall and Literary Walk, the lake, the Great Lawn, and the Bethesda fountain and terrace. We then went to see the Frick Collection followed by a late lunch in Lenox Hill. It was Halloween that evening and we went downtown to see the parade via Grand Central Station. Unfortunately, it started to rain and the crowds became mob-like. We escaped to the Blue Water Grill in Union Square and had drinks instead.
  • Day 3: We woke up to go to Battery Park, Statue of Liberty, and Ellis Island the next morning. That evening, we had dinner in Times Square and went see Chicago at the Ambassador Theatre. After the show, we decided to see what all the fuss was about with regard to the hotel's rooftop bar. Not only was it the most expensive bar of the trip, it was also the warmest :).
  • Day 4: C had to work in the daytime, so, I decided to explore the northern part of Central Park including Belvedere Castle, Ramble Stone Arch, and the reservoir. I met up with C after his work and we had dinner in Greenwich at the Grand Trattoria. We checked out the Washington Square Arch and surrounding area, ultimately having drinks near NYU before heading back.
  • Day 5: Flew back JFK >> LAX, in time for my photography class.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Travel: Philippines (Photo of the Day) - Our Lady of Manaoag Church

On our way to Baguio, we stopped by the church at Manaoag for a few pictures and to see the famous shrine.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Travel: Philippines (Photo of the Day) - Intramuros

We went to Intramuros on a rainy, humid day. Here, we are below ground-level in an area known as the "Dungeons." There were quite a few bugs flying down there.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Travel: Philippines (Photo of the Day) - People's Park in the Sky

We went to Tagaytay to see the People's Park in the Sky, which offers 360-degree views of the area. Here is one of them (not really much). There's a lot of development in the area.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Travel: Philippines (Photo of the Day) - Carabao

We were driving along, when we stopped to take this photo of a man on a carabao (water buffalo).

Monday, October 5, 2009

Travel: Philippines (Photo of the Day) - Pantabangan Dam

My cousin chose this location for a photoshoot. It's somewhere in Nueva Ecija and it's called the Pantabangan Dam. I just remember that it was awfully hot that day (as is every day in the Philippines).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Travel: Philippines (Photo of the Day) - Procession

We were returning from Subic Bay, on our way to San Fernando (Pampanga), when we saw this procession. They're fairly common in the Philippines and often occur on Catholic holy days. In our case, they backed up traffic for 1.5 hours.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Travel: Philippines (Photo of the Day) - Nipa Hut

This is me standing on a rice farm. The nipa hut behind me is where a farmer/employee stays during the day. Further behind me are the rice fields.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Travel: Philippines - Trip Notes

Philippine Airlines had an airfare sale which my brother and I quickly took advantage of. For this 11-day trip to the Philippines, we decided to explore some parts of Luzon. I’ll post a photo every day over the next few days of places we went to or things we did. My cousin, a professional photographer, took many of the shots I'll be posting. But I took some too :). Some of the places we visited included Manila (Malate, Taguig City, Pasay City, Intramuros), Baguio, Subic Bay, San Fernando (Pampanga), Angeles City (Pampanga), Olongapo, Manaoag (Pangasinan), Cabanatuan, Tagaytay, Balagtas, Sta. Rosa City, and perhaps more (because I can’t remember them all nor can I keep the distinctions between cities and provinces). Apologies, if this is confusing.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Travel: San Diego - Torrey Pines

B, G and I visited E in San Diego. She took us to a local Mexican restaurant in her neighborhood before showing us Torrey Pines. While up there, I noticed Amtrak's Coaster passing by and snapped it. I used to take the Coaster between SD and LA a lot. It has some amazing views when it's near the beach. Anyway, later that night, we went out for drinks at a rooftop bar in downtown.

Monday, August 10, 2009

LA: Wedding: J + A

I was a bridesmaid for J + A's lovely wedding. It was held at the historical Lindley-Scott House in the San Gabriel Valley.
I actually took very few shots of the wedding (B had my camera most of the time), but I did take some pictures during the rehearsal a few days earlier (see above).

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Travel: Santa Barbara

I drove out to join J's bachelorette party in Santa Barbara. The first thing the group did was go shopping on State Street where we also had lunch. Later, we decided to check out the beach area where we had a free mini-boat tour of the harbor. We later strolled on the pier. On it was the Moby Dick Restaurant which served the best tasting raw oysters I've ever had. I would totally go back just for them.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Travel: Malibu

Because LA is mostly an urban landscape, and because I had a photography assignment that required I shoot natural landscapes, I drove more than 25 miles away to El Matador State Beach to shoot this massive rock. It was a very gloomy weekday, so I was pretty much the only person on the beach (even though it was noon!). I liked the beach, though, and probably would want to return when it's sunnier.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Travel: Las Vegas (Wynn)

We decided to do a-24 hour trip to Las Vegas, staying at the Wynn this time (sorry, the picture above is from my iPhone). The registration desk for this hotel is totally on the opposite side of where the self-parking structure is, so you have to walk all the way across the hotel gambling area just to check in and out (kind of a hassle!). Because we booked two rooms across from each other, I was able to shoot a photography assignment (panaromas) through the windows. In the end, I finally settled on a panorama I completed at the Venetian (below).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Movie: Star Trek

M, B, and I went to see Star Trek in IMAX at Century City. It was really good, actually. Go watch it! The $17 for the IMAX experience is not necessary, though.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Movie: The Soloist

Oh, man. Where do I begin tearing apart The Soloist ? I suppose, I had high expectations coming in, because of how high A Beautiful Mind set the bar for movies dealing with schizophrenia. I had read the book, before seeing the movie, and know how much of the story was missing on screen. Not surprisingly, B did not enjoy the movie. I think the most interesting part was when they simulated audio hallucinations which can only be appreciated in a surround-sound type setting, which we, fortunately, had while watching in a theater in New York. I found the irony hilarious that we were in NYC watching a movie about LA.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Travel: New York City - Midtown East

  • Day 1: B and I flew LAX >> JFK (New York City). As we were about to buy our subway passes, two women gave us their week-long passes that had yet to expire (it was safe to say that they weren't New Yorkers). We stayed in Midtown East at the Roosevelt Hotel. It's a classy (what a lobby space!), older hotel that has very thin walls. And, the rooms (as expected for NYC) are tiny! Since we arrived very late, we only had time to catch a late dinner near Grand Central Station, before turning in for the night. 
  • Day 2: We had Sunday brunch at a cute, French place called Le Bateau Ivre Cafe. It is small, but it had a live jazz band. I had a salmon omelet, toast, orange juice, and cappuccino. It was quite good. Anyway, it rained most of the day, but we managed to take in a few sights, including seeing random Hello Kitty sculptures, Fifth Avenue (Trump Tower, Disney Store, FAO Schwarz, etc.), the Met, and the Guggenheim. Later that evening, we met up with B's brother who was in Connecticut for business. He took the train down and we met up in Grand Central Station. At first, we tried to have dinner at Sparks (but it was closed) and Morton's Steakhouse (which was hosting a private event), before we settled for drinks at an Irish pub near Pershing Square, followed by dinner at a Brazilian restaurant (where we got free deserts!) on Restaurant Row.
  • Day 3: We ate lunch at Soba Nippon (as recommended by our Lonely Planet book) where we had moderately priced sushi with patrons in business attire (it was near Madison Ave on a Monday). Since B was busy that day, I checked out the New York Public Library and returned to the Met. I, then, met up with him at Social Bar to have drinks. Later that night, we went to Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and the Empire State Building.
  • Day 4: JFK >> LAX.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Travel: San Diego - USS Midway

In San Diego, we scored free tickets to the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier/Museum. There, we looked at old planes, helicopters, and the interior and exterior of the boat (aircraft carrier). We took an audio-guided tour, had coffee at the cafe, shopped for coffee mugs at the gift shop, and listened to veterans give a history of what their experiences were like in the military. Fun day.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Movie: Duplicity

T, B, and I went to see Duplicity at the Grove. It was pretty good. I was more excited by the fact that I had been to many of the places mentioned (including Zurich Airport).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Travel: San Pedro

L, I, J, B, and I all went to San Pedro for a mini reunion. At first, we had a late, outdoor lunch in Ports O'Call at the Alaska Seafood restaurant. We ordered fresh seafood from the market and the restaurant cooked it for us. We all decided to share raw oysters and fried fish. The food was just okay -- nothing special, overpriced, if anything. We then, fittingly, went to the Korean Friendship Bell and practiced jumping shots. :)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Travel: Las Vegas (Sahara)

We scored free rooms at the Sahara (sorry, no picture of the hotel) in Las Vegas for New Year's Eve . It's what you'd expect for a 3-star hotel. The decor and furniture was not modern and the smell of smoke was very strong, despite our rooms being of the nonsmoking variety. There are lower stakes blackjack tables at this casino (which was a nice change from the 5-star hotels' gambling floors). In addition to staying there, we had complimentary passes to their New Year's eve celebratory feast which had a photographer on hand as well as an giant "2009" ice sculpture. Overall, it was a decent experience. I wouldn't pay to stay at this hotel, though, if I had a choice.