Alike (short film)

Thanks to The Wish Factor for sharing this.

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.

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

Chicken and Health Check

"JFC" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4.5, 1/50 sec, ISO3200
“JFC” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Tonight we had everyone’s favorite meal: karaage (Japanese fried chicken). White rice, karaage, and miso soup are perfect for a cold day like today… it warms you up and lifts your spirits! 😊 The rain and chilly weather are such a shock since last week was so warm and nice. But I guess each day of bad weather means we’re a day closer to summer 2019. 😀

In other news, I went for my annual health screening at work. It’s a basic checkup, with a blood test to check on cholesterol, glucose, etc. And my health is actually improving for the most part! The bad cholesterol has gone down, the good cholesterol has gone up, and blood pressure is in a good range. In fact, everything was trending towards better health, with the exception of one measurement – I gained 1 pound. I blame the karaage. 😜

"Bandage" Austin, 2018
Photo info: Motorola Moto G (4), 3.64mm, f/2, 1/30 sec, ISO160
“Bandage” Austin, 2018

I hope you had a nice day!

またね~

Coffee, Books, and Running

"New Books" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/50 sec, ISO3200
“New Books” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

My Sunday was a super-relaxing day, and much welcomed! The highlight was getting a coffee at a friend’s coffee house which I had never been to before. It’s actually Sa-Tén’s second location, and it’s in the old Komé location. So it wasn’t the first time I’ve ever been in the building, just not as a coffee house. Anyways, the drink was yummy as I knew it would be.

After that, I stopped at Kinokuniya and treated myself to a couple of books that I’ve been wanting for a while now. They are both very inspiring and as I am still searching for a style of artwork that I enjoy creating, it’s fun to try new things. And art books are a great way to study techniques and styles. Much better than online, in my opinion.

"Coffee Time" Austin, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/5.6, 1/30 sec, ISO3200
“Coffee Time” Austin, 2018

After returning home, I went for a run around the neighborhood which was so stress-free. I mean, I had no time constraints, and I don’t push myself to keep running if I don’t feel like it. I just listen to my body, which mostly means paying attention to any kinds of aches or pains that might arise. But even if I am feeling good, I’ll walk for a while too since it’s a nice way to observe things around the neighborhood.

It’s funny to think about the different levels of interaction with the environment you can have while traveling. In a plane, you are pretty much cut off from the environment. In a train, you can see the land slipping past. In a car, you can go slower, and stop sometimes, but there’s still glass between you and the environment. On a motorcycle, you experience the sights more closely, the air and temperature changes, all the smells, plus the sound of the wind. On a bike, it’s similar but of course much slower so you can look around a lot more. Running is even slower and you concentrate more on your body condition. Then walking it when you are most connected to the environment and can observe things in a very calm time-frame. Like, you can see and hear everything, and when you watch that car going down the street, you know that the driver is insulated from the environment you are in. I know I am just rambling. But these are the types of things that go through my mind when I am running and walking. 🤷‍♂️

I hope you had a nice day, and thanks for sticking with this post until the end!

またね~

Appreciating Things That Can’t Be Seen

"Anko" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/125 sec, ISO500
“Anko” Cedar Park, 2018

こんばんは。How’s it going?

So today I was thinking that I turn off a lot of lights that are left on here at home. Turning off lights is just natural… we should conserve energy! When we leave a room, we should turn off the light, right? But sometimes I feel like I am the only one in the house that does it since I am constantly doing it. 😡

But then I thought that there are probably many times that everyone else turns off the lights, and I wouldn’t ever notice this since there is nothing to see. 🤔

So now I wonder about other things that I cannot see, for instance when others tidy up or put things away, I wouldn’t really notice it. I should try to recognize and appreciate when the house is clean because someone must have cleaned it… the house doesn’t clean itself, does it?

Sometimes when I’m on the other side of the equation, tidying up the house, closing cabinets, etc. and no one notices or says anything, I feel a little unappreciated. But you know, I shouldn’t mind not receiving recognition since it might be difficult for others to notice the things that cannot be seen. It’s enough to be satisfied with contributing to a healthy living space even without receiving praise. 😌

Anyways, that’s my “deep thought” for the day.

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"Fajita Taco" Cedar Park, 2018
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/2.5, 1/125 sec, ISO3200
“Fajita Taco” Cedar Park, 2018

In other news, it’s National Taco Day today! 🌮 And as you can see from the photo above, we did partake. 😀

By coincidence, Mariko decided to make fajitas for dinner (she didn’t know about the occasion). Well, since it is taco day, we had to put the fajitas in tortillas. Respect the taco!

I hope you had a good Thursday. 😊

またね~

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~