20/20 in 2020

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I finally did it. I got LASIK at Feinerman Vision Center. And now I understand why everyone says they wished they got it sooner because that is exactly how I feel. The entire process was about 15 mins long and I felt like I could see better immediately after than I could have before without contacts or glasses. The only discomfort I felt was on the car ride home (in traffic) when the numbing drops started to wear off and I didn’t have any pain medication to take. However, once I got home and popped some ibuprofen and took a nap, I was fine. I spent the weekend in bed and slept more than I’ve ever slept, probably ever.

I do see some halos around lights at night (which is common post surgery), but it is honestly not any different than what I experienced with contacts so it really doesn’t bother me. If this does improve, awesome. If it doesn’t, so be it. I’m just glad that I can now watch TV in bed and not have to get up to take off my contacts before sleeping!

Looking Back: Decade in Review

The 2010s. What a decade.

The first five years were painful and the lowest period of my life; the last five were exciting, yet stressful, with many important milestones checked off: I bought my first place, got promoted, and most importantly, reconnected with CT. We’ve since renovated our first home together, went on some amazing adventures, and got engaged (underwater!).

One of the most important things I’ve learned this decade is that asking for help is OK and this applies to all aspects in life: home, work, friends. I’ve had to work through this internal struggle of being burnt out but still wanting to do everything myself and then beating myself for being burnt out. In the beginning of the decade, I would have never, ever, ever, even have thought about hiring cleaners or a wedding planner, but here I am now with both because Iwe need the help. I’ve had to learn to delegate at work to save my own sanity – this is still a work in progress but I’m getting better at it. So as flattering as it would be to be considered Superwoman, I am not and I’m OK with that now. And btw, this is in no way a humblebrag – in fact, if you are someone that can do everything, I applaud you; YOU are amazing.

2010

I started this blog! I initially wanted a place for me to document the food I was eating, making and the places I was visiting. I started trying out more restaurants this year and one of my favorites was Alinea (and it still happens to be on my top 10 list).

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2011

There was a lot of snowboarding. I even hiked up 13,000ft to ride the bowls at Breckenridge.

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2012

I took a hockey clinic hosted by the LA Kings!

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Also experienced via ferrata for the first time

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2013

I ran my first marathon.

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I also moved down to San Diego, intending to only stay for a year or two, but ended up living there for 6.

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2014

A rough year for me, but I got through it by getting back to the basics and focusing on myself. I read and cooked a lot this year.

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2015

I finally got a chance to run the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF.

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And became a first time homeowner!

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2016

I reconnected with CT ♥

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2017

CT and I ice skated on Lake Louise and snowshoed to Peyto Lake.

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We also explored Machu Picchu.

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2018

We renovated our first house together. This really tested how well we’re able to work together and communicate. There were definitely miscommunication at times and differences in opinion, but we got through it all and we’re super happy with the end result.

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kitchen before
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living room before
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master bath before
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downstairs guest bath before
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kitchen in process
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kitchen in process
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living room in process – CT’s sketch haha
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master bath in process
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downstairs guest bath in process
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kitchen after
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living room after
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master bath after
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downstairs guest bath after
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odownstairs guest bath after – still in love with these floor tiles

We went on the vacation of my dreams and spent 2 weeks eating our way through Italy (and also a few days Barcelona). We listened to Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons in Vivaldi’s church in Venice, made fresh pasta in Bologna, reenacted “hey cutie” from Master of None Season 2 in Modena, witnessed a beautiful sunset in Florence, biked through Tuscany, hiked Cinque Terre, made pizza in Naples, and visited the historic sites of Rome.

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ode to Master of None season 2 – “hi cutie”
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2019

We completed our PADI certification in Maui.

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And then got engaged while diving in Seattle.

I’m excited for what lies ahead in the 2020s. And what better way to start the decade than by marrying my best friend ♥

Certified

My first time to Maui was in 2008. With H. I don’t remember much from that trip with the exception of snorkeling at Molokini Crater. The visibility was fantastic, but the water was really rough at the surface which made snorkeling a bit challenging. I took in a good amount of water, which really dampened the experience (no pun intended).

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So when CT initially asked to go to Maui together, I wasn’t exactly jumping at the opportunity. One, because I had already been. And two, I had already been with H. I know there shouldn’t be a problem with returning to a place that you had been with an ex, but I don’t know… it just always felt weird to do so. I was able to hold him off for about a year and a half by going to other places like Canada, Peru, and Italy. But it got to a point where I couldn’t ignore his request any longer. And besides, it would have been unfair to keep doing so.

To differentiate from the past, one of the things I thought we could do together on this trip was get PADI certified. This has been on my bucket list and it just made sense to check this off in a beautiful location with exotic marine life such as Maui. Luckily, CT was interested too!

I was considering two dive shops: ProDiver Maui and Maui Dive Shop. I ended going with ProDiver because it was cheaper and just had great reviews across all platforms (yelp, google, tripadvisor). ProDiver was $369/person for 3 days, while Maui Dive Shop was $499/person. E-learning is paid separately to PADI and the cost was $190/person.

The open water course spanned across 3 days so much of our vacation was dedicated to scuba. The first half of Day 1 consisted of taking a short quiz of the E-Learning material, practicing assembling and disassembling our gear, and then moving to the pool for the swim and float tests. These tests involved swimming for 200 meters without touching anything and floating/treading water for 10 minutes. This is non-negotiable – you must know how to swim in order to proceed. We were told that there are have been people that have signed up for the course thinking otherwise, which honestly blew my mind. People… DO YOU WANT TO LIVE?

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After the swim and float tests, we put on our gear and started practicing skills in the shallow end of the pool. That first breath underwater through the regulator was such an awkward experience for me. I kept panicking and thinking, this is NOT normal. It took a while for me to feel completely comfortable underwater, but once I did, I had no issues completing skills with the exception of mask/snorkel skills. As a contact lens wearer, mask skills were THE WORST. I was always afraid that I would lose my contacts in the water.

We then moved to the deep end of the pool where we practiced additional skills such as 5 point descent/ascent, proper weighting to achieve neutral buoyancy, hover, BCD oral inflation, etc. The first day felt a little bit overwhelming, but we were really excited to take what we learned into open water.

Day 2 was the first of our open water dives. The dive site was Makena Landing, which is about a 20 minute drive from Kihei.

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We set up and put on our gear, performed buddy checks on one another (CT and I) and then headed off into the water for OW Dive #1. I still panicked initially and it didn’t help that I seemed to have a difficult time descending down (our instructor had to check that I was weighted properly), but after I got over the initial descent, everything felt so natural and effortless.

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the first of many turtle sightings

After about 45 minutes or so, we headed back to our dive flag, ascended and swam back to shore. Once back on land, we switched out our tanks and discussed the dive plan and skills for the next dive. We performed buddy checks again and headed back into the water for OW Dive #2.

Once again, I was having trouble descending so our instructor tried to help by adding more weight to adjust my buoyancy. He started getting concerned when I had more weight than he did so he checked my BCD and lo and behold, the left weight that was supposed to be clipped into my BCD was missing. BUDDY CHECK FAIL, CT! Good thing one of the snorkelers near the shore found it and a ~9 lb. piece of lead wasn’t lost on the ocean floor!

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The last day of OW certification was our designated boat dive. We hopped onto a boat at the Kihei Boat Ramp and headed out to Molokini Crater.

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kihei boat ramp, taken in 2008
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same ole kihei boat ramp, taken in 2019
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Before we could have “fun” and explore, we had to knock out a few skills. One of which was to hover via BCD oral inflation. This means I had breathe in through my regulator, switch to the BCD, blow into that to inflate my BCD (and become more buoyant), but save enough air so that when I switch back to my regulator, I can clear it with another breath out before resuming normal breathing.

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oops! too much air

Another skill was the mask removal. This involved removing my mask completely, putting it back on and clearing it. I honestly thought I was going to have a panic attack, but I somehow managed to stay calm. I kept having to remind myself to only breathe through the regulator in my mouth and not through my nose. Sounds easy, but it really did take a lot of focus. And surprise, surprise, I also had trouble clearing my mask this time and ended up opening my eyes while I still had water in my mask. Ugh. THE WORST.

After completing our skills on OW Dive #3, we spent the rest of the dive exploring around Molokini Crater before heading to another dive site, White Rock, for OW Dive #4.

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The highlight of the dive was seeing a manta ray. What a great way to finish our certification!

Aaand just like that, we became PADI Open Water Certified. Bucket list ✔️

This was another great trip in the books, not only because of what we achieved but because it helped me get over my anxiety about returning to a place that I had been with an ex. Wonderful new memories of Maui have now replaced the faded old ones and I am actually looking forward to sharing the places that I love with CT and creating more memories together.

For The Love Of Matcha

Addiction is real.

During this sweater weather there have been days when I just crave a matcha latte. And when I say days, I mean like 5. In a row. Basically a week. Help.

A grande matcha with soy is $4.85 at Starbucks. That’s $34 a week. $146 a month. $1,770 a year. Holy shit! I’d rather use this money to travel!

So I decided to look for an alternative. My extensive internet research led me to one mind blowing realization… I can just make my own matcha latte!

I proceeded to purchase everything I need to turn myself into a part time barista:

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I followed these steps for green tea preparation (+honey). And added frothed up soy milk.

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Voila!

Tupananchikkama (Peru: Part III)

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Tupananchikkama (until we meet again)

That’s what we whispered as we peered over our shoulders to catch a glimpse of Huayna Picchu one last time.


…continued from Tupananchikkama (Peru: Part II)

After Machu Picchu, we headed to back to Lima and spent the last couple of days there. Our main objective was to EAT. And that we did. From a high brow tasting menu to a simple chicharron sandwich, we definitely had all of our food bases covered as we explored the city.

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El Chinito
had to get the signature sandwich
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Anticucheria El Tio Mario
this was surprisingly bland
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La Lucha Sangucheria
winner: El Chinito
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el beso in parque del amor
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La Mar Cebicheria Peruana
when in lima, we eat ceviche

And about that high brow meal at Maido (#8 on the World’s Best 50 Restaurant list of 2017)… so creative and delicious! I really appreciated the modern gastronomic showcase of Nikkei cuisine, which is a combination of Peruvian ingredients with Japanese techniques.

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beautiful interior of Maido
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cute glasses for our wine pairing
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an amazing meal from start to finish

Besides the food, I also loved the incredible street art in Lima, especially in Barranco, where our B&B was located. Here are some of my favorites that I captured while taking a stroll down to Playa Barranco.

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One of the things I wanted to do before we headed home was to watch the water show at Circuito Magico del Agua and explore the many water fountains in the park so that is what we did on our last night. The water show at the Fuente de la Fantasía (Fantasia Fountain) takes place 3 times a night, beginning at 7:15 pm, 8:15 pm and 9:30 pm.

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Fuente de la Fantasía (Fantasia Fountain)
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watching the show
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Fuente Mágica (Magic Fountain)
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Fuente de la Ilusión (Fountain of Illusion)
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Túnel de las Sorpresas (Tunnel of Surprises)
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Laberinto del Ensueño (Maze of the Dream)

This trip was short but amazing. We explored two very different cities in Peru, hiked around one of the new world wonders, tried various local ingredients, and ate at one of the world’s 50 best restaurants. I could not have asked for any more.

Where to next?

Verdicts:
Anticucheria El Tio Mario 3.5/5
El Chinito, 4/5
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, 4/5
La Lucha Sangucheria, 3.5/5
Maido, 4.5/5

Tupananchikkama (Peru: Part II)

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Tupananchikkama (until we meet again)

That’s what we whispered as we peered over our shoulders to catch a glimpse of Huayna Picchu one last time.


…continued from Tupananchikkama (Peru: Part I)

The next day, I had booked us what I thought would be an casual bike ride through the Sacred Valley of Peru. Boy, was I wrong! Why did I not learn from the last time I did any sort of physical activity at 11,000+ feet?! I usually love biking uphill because I’m all about working out that bootayy, but man, even biking the slightest incline was extremely difficult at this altitude. Our lungs were NOT prepared for this shit.

There were two stops on this tour. The first stop was Moray, an Incan ruin believed to have once been used as an agricultural laboratory of sorts. Each level of the circular terraced bowl exhibited a different micro climate, allowing the Incans to experiment with various vegetation.

While we did not bike to Moray (thank goodness), we did bike to our next stop: Maras. The path went from wide open and fairly flat to narrow, downhill, on the side of the mountain.

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Scary AF

The town of Maras is known for the salt ponds that sit on the slopes of the Qaqawiñay mountain. Some 3,000 shallow pools are filled with the hypersaline water that flows through an intricate network of channels from the Qoripujio spring. Once full, the water in the ponds is left to evaporate and the remaining deposits are raked into a basket to be sorted, bagged and sold. An admission fee of 10 soles and a short hike from the small parking lot take you down to the salt mines. We bought a few bags of salt to take home for ourselves and as gifts for our foodie friends. Based on what we purchased, the grain size is a bit more coarse than I’m used to so I would definitely recommend for use as a finishing salt rather than a salt to cook with. The taste is more salty, for the lack of a better description.

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And (drum roll) for the main event, we traveled to Machu Picchu bright and early the next morning aboard the Vistadome train. This train was an upgrade from the normal Expedition train, but the panoramic windows and food service offered both ways were well worth the extra cost.

all aboard!

Our journey began with 20 min car ride to the Poroy Train Station and from there, it took 3.5 hours to get to Machu Picchu by train (~ 4 hours one way). The Poroy Station is only open from May through December so for those considering traveling from January through April, the trip from Cusco to Machu Picchu consists of a long BUS ride to the Ollantaytambo Station and then taking a train from there (~4.5 hours one way).

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Great views on the train – those gray things on the side of the mountain are the Skylodge pods
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Given the limited vacation days we had for this trip, we decided against trekking to Machu Picchu. Although now looking back, I probably would have given up one day in Lima for a day trek to Machu Picchu.

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You can see people hiking the trail

The last stop of the train was the Machu Picchu Train Station, located in Machu Picchu Town aka Aguas Calientes. From the train station, we walked 10 min into town to the bus station and after a 30 min bus ride, we were finally at the entrance. FINALLY. After almost 5 hours. FIVE. CINCO.

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We met up with our tour guide and got to exploring this new wonder of the world.

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Bucket list √