Last Friday, a meteor shower was predicted to occur. Initial estimates of 400 meteors per hour were to appear throughout the night. My friends and I were excited for the opportunity to witness this, and also to capture it on our cameras as well. After some research, we decided that the Shenandoah National Park was the best place within our vicinity to escape the light pollution.
After a 2 hour drive starting at midnight, the cost of gas, almost hitting some deer on the road, freezing our butts in the cold, and getting neck pains from staring at the sky, we saw only 4 or 5 meteors. FAIL! Whatever happened to the 400 meteors per hour?
However, if you were to ask me if it was worth going through all that trouble, I would have to say, ABSOLUTELY. Being able to see the stars and the night sky so clearly made me feel in awe of the beauty of the universe. But made it even better, was being able to spend that moment of time with great friends.
I'm looking forward to returning to Shenandoah to do some stargazing, with our without a chance of meteor showers in the future.
Last weekend, my cousins from California and Australia were in town visting. I was playing tour guide, and took them to see all the touristy spots in DC. However... that day was the dreariest and foggiest days ever.
The photo above, if you didn't notice, is a picture of the Washington Monument. Not too scenic eh? I was feeling pretty bummed out showing my cousins all these barely visible monuments. It then got closer to dusk and we walked towards the Lincoln Memorial.
I've been by the Lincoln memorial numerous times. On sunny days, cloudy days, and also in the evenings. This time though, I've never seen it so mystical and as beautiful as that night. The glow of the memorial from the lights bouncing off the fog made the trip worthwhile. It just made me remember... sometimes we need the dreariness and darkness so that we can appreciate the beauty of the light.
I recently came back from one of the best trips ever. And I absolutely miss it. It all started over a year ago, when my friends Christy & Mantik got engaged. They were having a wedding in the US, but also in Hong Kong since their family still lives there. The DC family (That's what we call our circe of friends here in DC) decided we wanted to attend and be there for such a special moment. We also decided to make a fun Asia trip out of it. Some decided to go to Korea or China first, but we all met up in Hong Kong and then eventually made our way to Vietnam as well.
Christy & Mantik's Wedding In Hong Kong!
In Hong Kong, we were blessed to have Christy's parent take so much care of us. They are some of the nicest people I've ever met. They housed us, fed us, and we were all fat and happy. No seriously, we ate so much food while we were there! Christy & Mantik also did an amazing job being our tour guides. The things that I'll remember most about Hong Kong is the fun city life, riding the subway everywhere, seeing all the markets & shops, and of course the food! And of course, the best memories were being with friends as we were a part of a magical day for Christy & Mantik!
A merchant working hard and still smiling in the market
The last time I was in Vietnam was 11 years ago. It was my first time there and also the first time I got to meet my Dad's side of the family. Originally I was suppose to be there for a month, but I think I was only there for 2 weeks. My dad's side of the family lives in the country side, a couple of hours south of Saigon. No matter how much insect reppellent I put on, I absolutely got owned by mosquitos. I told my dad that if I counted 100 mosquito bites, I had to leave. And unfortunately... I counted 100. Which was interesting because no one else got bit except me. I joked that it was due to my hamburger meat. Thanks, McDonalds!
So much has changed since I've been there. But one thing that hasn't changed, is the connection I felt when I was there. Growing up, you hear stories of people being so poor, not having jobs, how hard and difficult it is to live in Vietnam. Which most of it is true. And after hearing this all the time, you get this picture in your head that everyone must be just miserable in Vietnam.
However, on my first trip to Vietnam, there was a zen moment for me. I just visited my cousins in Saigon and was with them at their box company. It's this small little thing in District 1, right by the Nha Tho Du Ba (Saigon's Notre Dame). Customers will come to them looking for boxes, and if they need a custom one, they'll make it to the customer's specifications. At the end of the work day, we all sat out on the sidewalk right in front of the store on a beautiful night in Saigon. We ate food, drank some beers, laughed, talked, and I just remember looking at all of my family members and seeing the smiles on their faces. And then it hit me.
It doesn't matter where you are, even if you are poor, don't have the best opportunities, etc, you can be happy as long as you are surrounded by wonderful people. That whole picture I had in my head growing up was completely shattered. And I felt so in touch with not just my family, but with all of humanity. No matter what background a person has, you can connect with them on a deeper, yet simple level.
At the end of the night, I crawled upstairs through a small ladder above the box company to where my family lived and slept for the night. I remember before heading to bed, I was just smiling as I fell asleep to the sounds of Saigon.
This time around, when I finally got to visit again, I climbed up those same steps of that ladder with my buddy Dan. Reading about it, hearing about it, is no where near the experience you get when you finally reach the top and see this small little room that has a wide open window looking down on the streets of Saigon. I wanted Dan to experience it too, and I hope he did. For me, I felt that connection again, and it's something I'll always cherish.
Upstairs of the box company.
As I got to spend more time with my family and friends during that trip, that zen moment kept replaying in my mind. I hope that one day others too, will experience that same feeling.
Usually, before the end of the year or right after the beginning of the new year, I have a fun video recapping the things I've seen and experienced. It's a bit late, but it's finally here. Last year, I actually didn't take as much video footage. I had a lot more fun snapping photos, so this 2011 recap is more photo based. Anyways, enjoy, and as always, so much love goes out to all the people in my life for making it great. I'm always appreciative for everyone being a part of my life. Here's to making the remainder of 2012 Amazing!
It's February, how are your new years resolutions or goals coming along? Have you ran out of gas? Don't worry, with monthly checkups, you can fill up your gas tank again! Start reevaluating what has worked and what hasn't!
I have 2 goals that I have been doing very well with. One of my goals is to do more activities in DC. Another goal is to take more photos and video this year to continue my creative flow.
Luckily, these 2 goals go hand in hand! I've been very fortunate to be able to explore the city so much not only physically but also through the lenses of my camera.
Here are some of my favorite shots and events!
I got to meet up with my DC fam, Marshall, Sylvie, Ron and Stephanie for some Korean BBQ. Check out Sylvie's site for some of the coolest DC foodie news around! http://www.thriftydccook.com
My friends Mimi & Robert were fostering some local pups. They were absolutely adorable... even if one did accidently puked on me haha.
Delicious apples at Eastern Market. This is NOT why I'm known as addictedtoapple on twitter =P
Top Chef, Spike Mendelsohn at his newest restaurant, We The Pizza
This is probably my favorite photo that I've taken recently. It was a wonderful night exploring DC and we strolled right by the Swedish Embassy, The House of Sweden.
I took some photos of my good friend Joanne Kim for her website recently with her BF and my good buddy Dan. I had a great time snapping photos all around Bethesda. It was super cold that day, but good thing we stopped by so many places to get some tea or hot chocolate. Anyways, you guys definitely need to check out Joanne's music.. it's UH-Mazing. http://www.joannekimmusic.com
I snapped a photo of my good friends Becky & Wil in front of Kramer's Book Store & Afterwords Cafe in DC. I really love that place. Anybody that is new to DC, I tend to take them there for a meal. And.. it's one of the few fun 24hr places you can hang out with friends on a weekend!
I was asked to snap some photos for a wonderful event called Inspire '11 by my good friend Joe Kim. Inspire is a non profit organization that has created an outlet for Christians to express their passion and talents through music. I met some amazing people and artists that night.
This is my buddy GT, aka Gifted Thought, aka Brian from family guy =P Check out his awesome site, http://www.a-tunes.net ! It's a site where I wish I had back in the day... which showcases asian american artists that should be getting some more attention!
Pastor Del Augusta, who was inspiring and hilarious.
Jeff Yoo, a great organizer and the great MC for the night. It was great to meet someone with so much passion for everything he does.
The three guys here make up Amp. One of the coolest hip hop groups I've heard! Their songs and performances are always so powerful. Check them out at http://www.ampmovement.com/
This is Lyricks. One of the best rappers I've heard live. I think what's cool about him is he knows how to stay true to himself and what he believes in. He doesn't live up to stereotypes. And... he just recently toured with the Wu Tang Clan! Sick! http://www.myspace.com/teamlyricks
Joanne Kim at Galaxy Hut! I had to also put up this photo due to the apple laptop in it as well :)
This was during the crazy storm down here in DC. It took some people I know 12 hours to get home.. when it usually takes them 45 minutes! The power went out of my building so I was left to some photography to keep me sane. This was taken in my parking lot.
During the power outage, I stayed over at Richard & Wendy's. And of course, I had a great time playing with Audrey and Ryan. I love these kids.
I went to snap some photos in DC on a Friday night with my buddy Dan. DC Monuments at night is definitely one of my favorite subjects to shoot. The lighting is so awesome.
These photos were from a weekend where we decided to film a quick video for Joanne's song electric kiss. We had good time brainstorming, filming, and editing all in one day. Check out the song!
Some pics from a quick business trip to Munich, Germany. I was surprised that it was warmer over there then DC!
I had the pleasure to snap some photos of Anny Pak's birthday. It was a blessing to be there as it was one of the most unique bday experiences I've been apart of. Praise, Worship, and love all around! You need to also check out Anny's photography site. The girl got skiiiiils! http://annyphotography.com/
So, that was my mega blog post. I hope that it has helped inspire you to keep your goals in check. And remember, it's not too late to get back on track either! Best of luck to you and stay positive.
Last night, I returned to the 270/495 bridge on the Bethesda Trolley Trail with my camera and tripod in hand. Tuan went with me and we had some fun experimenting with some long exposure shots. Here are some photos, but the rest are in the photos section. Enjoy!
This weekend, my brother, sis-in-law and nephew came down to visit. We joined up with Wendy, Audrey and Ryan for a fun filled day at the Air & Space Museum in Virginia. Some pictures are below and the rest are in my photo gallery. Enjoy!
Today I was reminded that sometimes, it's up to you to do the things you want in life. You can't always rely upon others. And others.. shouldn't hold you back. Get out there and do whatever you need to do!
I guess I kind of listened to my advice today =P I went out there and took some photos. It was a gorgeous night in DC especially by the Tidal Basin. It was a fun relaxing stroll and I got to take some fun photos as well. Some more photos are in the gallery.