Running in China

It’s been a couple months since I returned from my trip to China, but I wanted to write a post about running while I was over there. I’ve written about running while on vacation before, but I’d like to expand a little more on the subject about why I love to bring my running shoes with me when I travel.

First of all, I heard that exercise helps get over jet lag, and since China is 13 hours ahead of Texas (during daylight savings) any opportunity to beat the tiredness is one worth trying. And speaking of tiredness, whenever I run in the morning, I find that I have a ton of energy throughout the day, all the way up until bedtime. This proved to be the case on the China trip as well – I had so much energy that I didn’t need to nap at all, and was even up at the lounge dancing until 11 pm. Which is kind of crazy for an introvert like myself. 😌

Another fun thing about running while on vacation, and running first thing in the morning in particular, is that there’s the anticipation and excitement of exploring new neighborhoods. I’d kind of check out what’s nearby in Google Maps, then just head out. On the other hand, on my run in Beijing, I just started running towards a park, not knowing what was there, and stumbled upon the Temple of the Sun, which apparently is a popular spot for runners. It was so fun to see this park, and stop to take photos, then run a bit more, then stop for photos again. It’s discoveries like these that just fuel the excitement for the next run in a new city.

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And a little bonus discovery – I found the nearby shopping center which had two of my favorite stores, Muji and Uniqlo, and made a note to return later when we had free time. Score!

When I was in Stockholm, I went for runs after work, around 5 pm, but for the China trip, I’d head out at around 6 am, with plans on being back at the hotel for breakfast at around 7 am or so. Running early in the morning has a couple bonuses. Firstly, there was pretty much no traffic on the streets. And I mean this literally. Even in the Beijing business district, I could run down the center of the boulevard if I wanted to! It was surreal. But by 6:45, the traffic had picked up and it was a completely different city.

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Secondly, the early morning running gave me a chance to see the sunrise. The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi’an is pretty spectacular, but seeing the sun rise over it was epic. Something I’ll never forget!

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And speaking of epicness, my morning run along The Bund in Shanghai was amazing. The sunrise over the skyscrapers, the kites taking off, and the taichi was so perfect, it was like living in a dream.

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I think that even an early morning walk would be good, but elevating that walk into a run (or even a jog) will allow you to cover a lot more distance. It’s kind of surprising how far you’ll be able to get in a short amount of time and how much you’ll be able to see, especially in the city. Another thing I that I thought was really cool and convenient is that as a runner, you have an excuse to be pretty much anywhere, and no one will question your presence. If you are just walking along down some back alley at 6 am, it could look a little weird. But as a runner, you become kind of invisible. Plus, you stop standing out as a tourist, even if it’s only for an hour.

Another huge bonus, at least to me, is that the morning run means you’ll be hungry a lot. I actually enjoy feeling hungry… it makes me feel alive.* But what is nice is that you’ll have a good appetite for tasting all the new and interesting foods that come with vacation. On the China trip, I tried to avoid food that I could easily eat at home. So, instead of eating a breakfast of eggs, sausage, bacon, and toast, I’d have rice porridge, pickled vegetables, kimchee, and dumplings. And my mindset shifted from eating to get full, to eating to taste everything. (Spicy frog, anyone?) That meant not needing to go back for seconds of the same item, but try to eat new things with each plate. Of course, if I found something that was particularly delicious, I’d have extra! But that was the exception, not the rule. And eating less has the benefit of being less tired since your body doesn’t have to expend as much energy digesting enormous amounts of food.

I truly believe running on vacation is something everyone should do. But before you think that running on vacation is only for hardcore exercise nuts, I can tell you that I am far from being super-fit. I am carrying a few extra pounds and my pace is more of a jog than a run. But for vacation, this is enough. Being able to jog for an hour is sufficient to reap the benefits of seeing new cities in a completely new way, and separate yourself from the tourist crowds. So, if you have a vacation coming up, it’s time to start running! Just get your cardio in shape, muscles in condition, and have your shoes/running kit ready to go. I know that you’ll take your vacation to the next level just by getting off the beaten path with your running shoes.

And the final bonus to running is that you’ll generally be in good enough shape to be able to participate in the more strenuous excursions and activities without feeling exhausted later. Climbing the 99 steps of the pagoda in Shibaozhai was cake, and I was able to recover from the steep portions of the Great Wall quickly. It felt so good! 😄

I hope you give running a try on your next vacation!

またね~

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Beijing Run at Strava:

Xi’an Run 1 at Strava:

Xi’an Run 2 at Strava:

Shanghai Run at Strava:

*I think the mindset of thinking that hunger should be avoided at all costs is terrible and something pushed by the food industry. And the fact that hunger is different than starvation is an important point.

New Favorite Show – ふらっとあの街 旅ラン 10キロ

"10km Run" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.8, 1/125 sec, ISO500
“10km Run” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Today’s photo is from the Japanese tv show ふらっとあの街 旅ラン 10キロ which I have been enjoying lately. It might just be my new favorite program because it combines a two things that I love: traveling and running. In fact, I am so enthusiastic about running when on vacation, that the fact that this show exists has me stoked.

The various hosts are runners, and the show is basically them running in various travel destinations. It’s more of a jog, really, with plenty of stops for photos and food. It’s exactly what I love to do when visiting a new city. It’s so great to be able to cover decent distances on foot in a short amount of time. Definitely worth waking up an hour or two earlier than usual to get that sightseeing in with the sweet morning light.

Check out the program’s website or twitter feed to get a glimpse of the episodes. I think it’s so great!

I hope you had a good day. 😋

またね~

Wedding Day Photos

"Wedding Vows" Oceanside, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-T10, 44.4mm, f/5.6, 1/640 sec, ISO200
“Wedding Vows” Oceanside, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Today my oldest brother and his fiancée got married. The wedding was held on the beach, with the sun and surf joining the 80 guests in witnessing the ceremony and vows. It was fantastic!

My brother had asked me if I could take photos during the ceremony, and of course, I was happy to do so. I’m not a wedding photographer so this was pretty new for me, however, I have some experience shooting events and have confidence in how to operate the camera so I wasn’t nervous at all. And that made it a lot of fun!

While I was taking photos, I remember thinking that when I was younger, I would have been so nervous about how the shots will turn out, if I am getting the right angles, if I am missing shots, etc. All those feelings were not present this time, though! I guess that just comes with experience and preparation. And I’m sure the fact that no money was involved and it was a casual wedding had plenty to do with it too. 😀

Anyways, the lighting conditions were pretty challenging (direct sun backlighting) but it made for some really nice shots too. I made lots of use of exposure compensation and was thankful that Fujifilm provides that dedicated mechanical dial just for that function. As much as I dislike using zoom lenses, I have to admit, the Fujifilm 18-55 XF lens worked nicely for the shoot.

All in all, I am happy with how the photos turned out, and I am happy that I was able to be a part of an amazing and joyous event!

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I hope you had a nice day!

またね~

Oceanside Run

I LOVE to go running while on vacation, even a short weekender like this one. This morning it was a beautiful beachside jog up the Pacific coast. 🌞🌴🏖

If you are also on Strava, why don’t we connect?

"Oceanside Run" Oceanside, 2018
Photo info: Motorola Moto G (4), 3.64mm, f/2, 1/1200 sec, ISO50
“Oceanside Run” Oceanside, 2018
"Cool Down" Oceanside, 2018
Photo info: Motorola Moto G (4), 3.64mm, f/2, 1/530 sec, ISO50
“Cool Down” Oceanside, 2018

Travel Birthday

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Today was a busy day for Mariko and me, plus a milestone for my son Bay. For him, it was the first time that he drove alone – he took my car to school and then back home at the end of the day. And happily, it was an uneventful trip. I am hoping this is the beginning of a long and safe driving career. 😆

The reason that Bay took my car today was that Mariko and I flew to California in order to attend my brother’s wedding this weekend. We actually flew to LAX, where my parents came to meet us, and then we all drove down to Oceanside together, where my brother and his fiancée rented a beach house for the weekend. We’ll be having the wedding here, on the sand, with dinner to follow. It’s gonna be a blast!

"Wine and Cheese" Austin, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-T10, 18mm, f/2.8, 1/90 sec, ISO400
“Wine and Cheese” Austin, 2018

Earlier at the airport in Austin, Mariko and I splurged a bit on some wine and cheese at the Vino Volo wine bar. It was pretty good, but of course more expensive than normal being as though we were at the airport. Still, we enjoyed living the high-life for a little while before getting on the plane. Speaking of planes, we like Delta a lot these days. The Delta planes we’ve flown on the past few times have had a great entertainment system with plenty of Japanese and other international movies. I watched a little bit of a Chinese movie How Long Will I Love You but then decided to read my Kindle. I really enjoy flying (being on the plane) because I can concentrate on reading. I love it!

And when we arrived at the beach house in Oceanside, we had a little birthday celebration with cake and gifts. It was fun. 😊 (It’s 10/19!)

"Cake Time" Oceanside, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-T10, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO1250
“Cake Time” Oceanside, 2018

I hope you had a nice Friday!

またね~

"Night at the Beach" Oceanside, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-T10, 35mm, f/2.5, 1/25 sec, ISO3200
“Night at the Beach” Oceanside, 2018

Sense of Place

"Cloud" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: SONY NEX-6, 37mm, f/9, 1/1250 sec, ISO100
“Cloud” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going? Today’s blog post will be a bit of a ramble, but hey, it’s my blog, so here goes.

I’ve been lucky so far that I have been able to travel for vacation, and also on rare occasion for work, and I now recognize certain distinct affinities I have for different places. For instance, when I traveled to Japan for the first time, I immediately felt like Japan was somewhere I wanted to live. So much so that I gave myself a deadline of 6 months before I moved there.

On the other hand, when I returned from trips to Morocco and Spain, I didn’t have that feeling at all. It was really fun to visit those places and experience a bit of the culture, but I never felt a deep connection. I’m sure it has to do with being Asian in a non-Asian country, although I haven’t thought too deeply about it yet. 🤔

The same can be said of my trips to Stockholm. I’ve visited twice and although I loved it there, felt safe and free, I was simply just a visitor. The thought of having a life there never crossed my mind. Nevermind the complications of having kids and a family… but even if I were single, I don’t think Europe would be on my list of places to live.

And how about my hometown of Torrance? I love visiting family there and am happy I grew up in Southern California, but I have no desire to live there. It’s just not interesting to me… and speaking about the USA, I’ve lived in Texas for almost 20 years now. Honestly, living in Austin never even occurred to me as a possibility before we moved here. It’s a wonderful place, and the people are so friendly and warm. But no, I have no real affection for, nor interest in, Texas and the moment we have the freedom to leave, I’ll be the first one on the plane. 😆

But back to places that I feel a real affinity for. Obviously, there’s Japan. Whenever I visit, I feel right at home, even though I can only understand maybe 25% of conversations. But I love it there. When I lived there I never considered leaving. It’s somewhere I want to live again. (My dream hasn’t died, haha)

Interestingly, I felt a similar feeling towards China when I visited there last month. After returning home, I felt that same blue feeling (could it be like homesickness?) that I felt after returning from Japan after my first visit there. That’s how I know I feel a real connection to a place – after returning, I have that melancholy feeling. It’s like I am living in a dream. 😌

Anyways, that’s pretty much what’s on my mind these past few days. Thinking about a connection to a sense of place I suppose. Although I live in Texas, I feel like it’s a temporary situation… just waiting to move on really. Someday. 🛫

I hope you had a nice day, and thanks for reading!

またね~

Back to Texas

"Bye California" Long Beach, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/7.1, 1/1100 sec, ISO200
“Bye California” Long Beach, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Well, I’m back home. It has been a great trip but unfortunately, vacation’s over. As my friend told me, “Even banquets have to end”. 😢

"My Plane" Long Beach, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/950 sec, ISO200
“My Plane” Long Beach, 2018

The trip from California to Texas was actually quite good. I made it through security quickly, and while waiting at the gate, the Jetblue gate attendant asked me if I’d like to switch my seat to an “Even More Space” type if I was willing to be in the exit row. I agreed, and the gate attendant assigned me his favorite seat, which is special because the seat in front does not recline! It was so nice. Even though I have short legs, the extra space is welcome. 😀

"Even More Room" Long Beach, 2018
Photo info: Motorola Moto G (4), 3.64mm, f/2, 1/30 sec, ISO160
“Even More Room” Long Beach, 2018

To add to the “luxury”, I got to feast on a pastrami sandwich that my mom made for me. So good… 😋

"Lunch Spread" LGB-AUS, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/7.1, 1/60 sec, ISO6400
“Lunch Spread” LGB-AUS, 2018

It was nice to see my family again after over two weeks of being away. And the super-bonus was that I got to enjoy my favorite meal, oyakodon. ❤

"Oyakodon" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X-T10, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/60 sec, ISO500
“Oyakodon” Cedar Park, 2018

I hope you had a great day!

またね~