adventure

Samana, Dominican Republic

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It’s hard to believe that this was two months ago. Keith and I took a trip to the DR to celebrate my graduation. It was something we had planned together months before, shortly after coming home from China. Just thinking about the trip was enough motivation to push me through my thesis, one page at a time. That, however, is another story.

On either end of the trip, we had a few hours to catch up with friends in New York City. Despite the fact that I had only just moved out of my apartment in the city weeks before, I already missed it more than I ever thought I would. There’s something about New York’s promise that hangs heavy in the air, as if anything could happen. Our friends Claire and Julia were nice enough to let us stay the night at their house before we caught our flight the next day.

A few hours later, we arrived. With the very little Spanish either of us know, we were able to communicate with the cab driver. It was actually fairly easy for me to understand everything that he was saying, since the words all sound very similar to French mixed with the elementary Spanish I know from grade school. At about 4 pm, we got to our hotel room, and then immediately shimmied into our bathing suits and hit the beach.

The water was incredible; it looked and felt like silky bathwater. It was more or less clear, and if you stood still and stared down around your toes, you could see tiny silver fish dart this way and that. At first, I was reminded of a tiny little beach cove in Cannes, France, where the water sparkled with minerals.

Then there was the sand. It was like sitting on flour; it was so fine it could have been mistaken for a powder. It formed dough balls when we dug our hands to the bottom of sea. It really was a magical trip, from the fresh coconuts that cured our upset stomachs to the night sky shimmering with stars, swimming at dusk in the empty cove, and the tropical flowers that dotted every walk way.

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loose ends::

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IMG_1294A quick trip home never hurt anyone. While I may have fallen in love with New York City many years ago, this skyline will forever be home. Twelve year old me would be disappointed in twenty-one year old me. I used to have a very large streak of wanderlust turned dwell-lust. I wanted to live anywhere and everywhere at once. Now I’m realizing that having an anchor is a blessing.

So if I’m being honest, the older I get, the happier I am that I have a singular place to call home — one where streets and people are familiar, soaked in memories and hopes.

PS – I’m so glad to have caught the last day of the Ai Weiwei show at the Hirshhorn. He’s a really fabulous & prolific artist.

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being indoors isn’t all bad…

since you can climb inside. Here’s what I’m up to on most Sunday mornings while at home…

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gong hay fat choi! ::from NYC to DC & back::

Yet another new beginning to write about, or at the very least, a new marker for a new beginning. This past weekend was the Chinese New Year, and here’s what my family was up to back in DC…

[meanwhile, I was snapping some photos & dying of the flu while fleeing NYC’s blizzard Nemo]

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Shanghai ::: part two, Moganshan Lu & Funny Doll Café

If you are ever in Shanghai, and you find yourself in need of a quieter day, away from the crowds and the honking (trust me – millions of car horns going off at all times), away from the stores and street vendors, I highly recommend visiting Moganshan Lu. Although, I honestly can’t imagine why anyone would ever want to be away from the street vendors… they are such an accessible & affordable source of sustenance, which shouldn’t be taken for granted if you are a student who can’t speak Chinese and is in China.

[A small ode to street vendors: you may have to choke back tears from the amount of smoke surrounding you, and you may have to close your eyes in order to forget that there’s oil dripping from all of the fried things, and you may have to get used to the idea of someone preparing your food while coating it with cigarette ash … but I promise that your eyes will water with delight at the salty, doughy, chewy goodness that is most certainly all around you. Not to mention, it is infinitely easier to feed yourself on the street when you can point. In other words, there is no menu to dauntingly stare back at you.]

We ended up on Moganshan Lu by mistake, as most things tended to happen in Shanghai. It is a very serendipitous city. We initially had tried to find the ShanghART museum (which we ended up calling ShART for most of the visit, but you can do what you want with the name) on a street off of Huahai Lu, which is exactly where one tourist-y site said that it would be. Yet, come to find out, it wasn’t there. This wasn’t exactly shocking news since everything around Shanghai was somewhat akin to the staircases from Harry Potter. It’s all there, and it’s all familiar, but somehow it’s perpetually shape-shifting and switching. By the end of the trip, it was neither shocking nor upsetting that galleries/restaurants/stores/museums would all disregard their hours of operation, and therefore would open or closed as they pleased. Take for example, the Shanghai Art Museum, which people lovingly gave us opposite directions to, pointed at random buildings, told us to turn random corners, and all the while failed to mention that the museum had in fact, shut down. Go figure.

After a few confused minutes of spinning around and around in a courtyard wondering which building ShART could be in, the guard told us that the museum had in fact moved to Moganshan Lu. Fearing that the ShART didn’t actually exist, it took us a few days to work up the courage to go.

We finally decided on one of our last days that we absolutely had to go, if only for the satisfaction of tracking something down & getting lucky enough to be there when it was open. We hopped in a cab, we arrived, and ShanghART was no where to be found. There were signs that once again pointed in opposite directions, a map that was very obviously misdrawn, and no famous museum to be found. But then we stumbled upon dozens upon dozens of other galleries all in a small cluster (the exact address is 50 Moganshan Lu). Think Chelsea Galleries except colder, smokier, and arguably better. We only encountered a few other people, and most of the exhibits were quite thought-provoking. No pictures were allowed, but I hardly wanted to take photos. I wanted to peruse.

Then inside of one of the galleries tucked away on top of a building, there was a tiny café run by a woman. It was quite cozy, and the latté was over priced, for China at least, but nothing to complain about. There was free wifi, and she let us sit for a solid three hours.

On our drive to the galleries, the streets were lined with graffiti – a rarity in the parts of Shanghai we saw. I wish that we had gone out to leisurely walk before the sun had set because by the time we had left the café, it was almost dark outside & we were left with only the smallest glimmers of smog-filtered light.

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And so the ShART museum was never found.

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Shanghai ::: part one, the loose ends


One of the things that I teeter between loving & hating is surprises. I love them if I don’t know they are waiting for me. I hate them if I realize they are impending, and I hate/love them when I know what they are. So, while I like to figure out (and therefore) ruin surprises for myself, I refuse to subject you to such torture. However, it’s a dilemma…because I’ve just told you that there is now a surprise, and so you may begin to hate this post without knowing what the surprise is.

To begin on a sour note, and to take you out of your misery (I am going to tell you the surprise) I can’t post many photos from the trip since I will be using them in a different project, which will also be online.  To begin on an even sourer note, that surprise wasn’t a good one. Yet, such is life.

However, I’ve shared some of the small found things that were scattered about here & there, and I hope that suffices for now. There will be a few other posts with pictures that won’t be included in the project.

Shanghai was a magical city, wrapped in a cozy gray blanket of smoke, smog, ashes, and spit. The sidewalks were lined with achingly beautiful trees, the people were incredibly welcoming, the architecture and landscaping were amazing (the buildings make NYC’s look like babies, and the fact that they plant and replant blooming flowers throughout the middle of winter is so impractical, and yet so lovely), the streets were impeccably clean (not a single piece of bubble gum to be found! in a city of 20 million!), the subway was extremely well-organized and traveler-friendly, and the food tasted of home (well, sort of. It was mostly Mandarin cooking, and my family is Cantonese… so I wasn’t accustomed to the abundance of noodles/fried goods/noodles/seafood/noodles. Cantonese cuisine typically has more vegetables and meat).

Here are some loose-end photos, none of which are exactly related to one another. Most of them were taken in Tianzifang, a charming maze of alleyways that snake about this-way and that, and which I swear is the Twilight Zone and/or a black hole and/or Bermuda’s Triangle. Others were taken in the hotel room and random locations throughout the French Concession, which is on the Puxi side of the river. I would recommend staying near the Dapuqiao subway stop if you ever visit since there is quite a bit around that area.
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