Catalina Island: Memorial Day 2017

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My parents came to town for the long weekend, so we decided to visit Santa Catalina Island, which we had never been to before. The adventure started with a trip to Porto’s Bakery in Buena Park. Apparently, this location is pretty new and has been open about three months now. We got some potato balls, cheese rolls, guava and cheese rolls, and chocolate croissants. My parents loved them all.

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Then it was off to the Cabazon Outlets in the desert, where a lot of people had come to enjoy the heat and the shopping experience during the holiday. Parking was a hassle but we finally made it into the mall and picked up some much needed supplies.

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We headed to Long Beach where we boarded the ferry to the island. The ride took about an hour. Unfortunately, the passengers behind us got seasick and spent the entire time barfing into plastic bags.IMG_5776.JPG

The first thing we did when we got to the island was rent a golf cart to tour the sights. Everyone goes around in golf carts there; very few cars are allowed in. The views from the top of the mountains were amazing, and it felt like we’d come to a small island off the coast of Greece or Italy.

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At the botanical garden, we explored all the plants that are native to the island. The Wrigley Memorial was also there, and we hiked the short path to the top. It was hot and dry, but the ocean breeze helped.

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When we got back to town, I had one of the best hot dogs I’ve ever had in my life. Granted, I don’t eat a lot of them, but still it was pretty good. Unfortunately, the Casino was closed for the holiday, which was a bummer because apparently that’s the highlight of the island.

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After getting dinner at Ristorante Villa Portofino, we took a stroll through the town before catching the late night ferry back to Long Beach. Since most of the other tourists had gone back to the mainland by that time, it was pretty quiet and peaceful on the island. IMG_5793.JPG

Overall, it was a great day trip, although next time, it would be fun to go hiking and camping there. The water was clear, blue, and beautiful. At night, it got chilly — thank God I packed layers! I would definitely go back to do the other activities there.

Sul & Beans: Koreatown

Tried the Strawberry Cheesecake snow ice in Koreatown yesterday. I’ve frequented the S&B in Orange County and usually settle for the classic ones, but this one was actually pretty bomb. The strawberries and cheesecakes complimented each other perfectly. Will definitely have to try the rest of them now!

Snatched Advanced Screening & Goldie Hawn Q&A

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For class tonight, we got to see Snatched before it hits the theaters this Friday. I had no idea what this movie was even about, just that it was a comedy. And since I’m not an Amy Schumer fan, I wasn’t too excited about it.

Skip to an hour and a half later and I have just laughed my ass off throughout the whole movie. Plus, I was super emotional at the end because at the core, this is a mother-daughter film, which made me really miss my mom. (And yes, I called her on the way home.) Then skip to five minutes later when Goldie Motherfuckin’ Hawn walks down the aisle past me for the Q&A, along with the film’s director, Jonathan Levine. What a great night.

FullSizeRender 2.jpgSnatched was a feel-good movie that hits you in the feels. The mother-daughter relationship arc really hit home for me, and hearing what Goldie said about being a mother made me realize that all mothers are the same, no matter what age, race, religion they are. And without a doubt, Wanda Sykes and Joan Cusack were BFF goals. Overall, the movie had hilarious jokes, perfect comedic timing, and great chemistry that came through on screen. It’s a good movie to just have fun with, and I’d recommend it to people looking for a good laugh this weekend. Preferably with their moms.

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Pink Drink Review

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Well, I finally tried it. After missing out on the Unicorn Frapp last week, I gave in and decided to sample the Pink Drink from Starbucks. And luck was on my side: I had a free drink reward.

If you’ve ever had Asian drinks, you know the ones you see at Korean markets, then you’ll get a sense of how this tastes. It’s like a noncarbonated Milkis or maybe even a Calpico. I’d even go as far to say it’s a very, very sweet milk tea. I definitely wouldn’t get this every day, but it’s a nice refreshing drink to sip on while I try desperately to catch up on homework.

Lard Lad Donuts

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Well, we did it. Tim and I finally got a Big Pink at Lard Lad Donuts in Universal Studios. Walking into the park, Tim suggested getting a whole one each. I suggested we do half and see how we feel. I couldn’t even finish my half.

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Instead of prioritizing our homework (we have to write a whole script in six weeks!), we spent the day at the park, since Tim hadn’t been in five or six years. We spent 12 hours there — there were so many people today and the lines were extremely long. Good thing we got the Harry Potter ride out of the way at 8 am.

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Overall, a fun Sunday. I am already craving that donut again. Making my mom proud with this breakfast.

Hawaii: Spring Break 2017

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This past week, my family and I took a vacation to Hawaii, the first since our trip to Las Vegas in 2011. The timing was perfect because it was my parents’ 25th anniversary as well as my sister’s 21st birthday.

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The break started with the Panic! At The Disco concert at Oracle. This show was much better than the one at Shoreline in my opinion. Since it was an indoor concert, the band had a lot more opportunities to show off in this controlled environment. We drove over with Jack, who also happened to be going. Although the parking lot was a mess after the show (we were sitting there for an hour), we made it home just before midnight to pack for Hawaii.

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Day 1:

“Smile, you’re in Hawaii!” is the first thing I heard when we landed in Honolulu. And it’s hard to argue with that — it’s warm, beautiful, and according to the shuttle driver, the water is 75-80 degrees year round. This was truly paradise.

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As soon as we picked up the rental car, we headed to the Pearl Harbor site to see the USS Arizona. We watched an informational video about the historic event, then go onto a boat to be taken out to the memorial. However, due to high winds that day, we weren’t let off the boat and just did a drive-by of the Arizona.

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We heard that the Ala Moana Center is the largest shopping mall in Hawaii so that’s where we went after the Pearl Harbor site. And they weren’t joking! We definitely got lost there on multiple occasions (because of course we had to revisit the mall). After dinner, Angela and I headed to a lagoon by our hotel for the sunset, which was beautiful against the backdrop. Although it was already 7pm, the water was still warm enough to go into. FullSizeRender 3.jpg

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We couldn’t pass up the fact that Waikiki was only a five-minute drive from our hotel, so we hit the town and explored the Waikiki nightlife. It was Sunday night so many people were out. There were street performers on the sidewalks and tourists from all over the world lined up for hours to eat dinner on the strip. FullSizeRender 4.jpg

We also checked out the International Market Place. According to my parents, this place changed drastically since they came for their honeymoon 25 years ago. Back then, all the shops were flea market-style. Today, they were normal stores inside a mall.

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Nighttime view from our hotel

It was my sister’s birthday the next day, so we went out to the Mai Tai Bar in the Ala Moana Center at about 11pm — security let her in! There was a band on stage and everyone was wearing board shorts and flip flops because it was still 80 degrees out. We had mai tais and mojitos and enjoyed the vibe.

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Day 2:

The second day in Hawaii began with a tour of Iolani Palace, where the king and queen resided in the late 1800s. It is now a National Historic Landmark in downtown Honolulu.

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A block away, we saw the King Kamehameha statue. This monarch founded Hawaii, and apparently this statue is shown a lot in TV and movies (well, according to my dad). Afterward, we went to the top of Aloha Tower where the view was absolutely amazing. Just the color of the water is unbelievable.

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Bottom of Aloha Tower
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View from top of Aloha Tower

After lunch, it was off to the Dole Plantation, the only place outside Disneyland you can get a Dole Whip. After getting some delicious pineapple ice cream, we explored the plantation and got to see little baby pineapples growing.

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There was also the Dole Maze, the biggest maze in the world! But we had much more to do so we didn’t venture into that territory. I had the best candy I’ve ever had in my life there: pineapple gummy rings. Honestly, I’m still craving them right now. This place was seriously pineapple overload — pineapple for life, especially on pizza.

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We went to North Shore beach after the Dole Plantation. There were lots of surfers there. The waves were high and the sand was hot as hell. My mom got to try the Honos food truck where they sell world-famous shrimp. IMG_5637.JPG

That night, Angela and I were way too exhausted to go out for her birthday so we bought a bunch of alcohol and stayed in to celebrate instead. It was chill and relaxing and a great way to end the day.

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Morning view

Day 3:

On the third day, the Kim family got up super early to do the Diamond Head hike. The morning was overcast, so it wasn’t too bad of a hike up to the top, where the view was breathtaking. The whole thing took about an hour for us.

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At the top, you could see all of Waikiki, from the beach to the resorts to the ant-like people buzzing around on the strip. The sun came out in full force once we coming back down so it wasn’t too bad. We had a great post-hike lunch at a pasta place on the way out of the Diamond Head area.

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After the morning hike, we hit the beach! It was so nice to cool off in the water (although it wasn’t that cold) after sweating all AM. There were many people out suntanning and surfing, and I really couldn’t believe the water was so blue and warm.

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Of course, it wouldn’t be a perfect vacation without mai tais and pineapple juice by the beach. This was definitely my parents’ choice of activity that afternoon. Yes, they’re old. Plus, it was nice to get out of the sizzling sun for a bit.

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For dinner that night, we had a reservation at Top of Waikiki Restaurant, a rotating restaurant at the top of the business plaza. Apparently, this is a must-do for visitors, so we didn’t pass up the opportunity to see the sunset and the gorgeous 360 views of Honolulu and Waikiki.

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It was also Angela’s belated birthday dinner celebration, so it was nice to have a family dinner at a nice place with great service. Although the dress code was strict, I could understand why.

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Day 4:

The last full day in Hawaii. We had crammed so much activity into the first two days that we were getting tired out. This morning, we slept in a bit, then split up to do different morning activities. My parents went to Manoa Falls for another hike while Angela and I got lunch and drinks. (Hey, we had to cash in on all the free birthday drinks.) During the day, the bartenders were much better looking, just saying.

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We met up again at around 1:30 to head to the Polynesian Cultural Center, where we would spend the rest of the day. My parents had gone during their honeymoon and they were curious to see how much has changed since then.

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Honestly, this was the highlight of the trip for me. If you know me, you know how much of a sucker I am for these places. I thought it would be a small museum that takes you through the histories of each island, but no, I was pleasantly mistaken. There were shows, canoeing, a luau, basket-weaving, and more shows. We were fully immersed in the Polynesian culture. There was even an IMAX movie that takes you on a journey through Hawaii.

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The best show was by far the Tonga show. It was hilarious and not what I was expecting at all. I thought the entertainment was great — funny yet insightful and informative. I also got to try my first fresh coconut water.

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We ended the night with the Ha: Breath of Life, the island evening show. It was the perfect way to end the day — we got to see hundreds of performers from all across the Pacific bring their island’s dance and music to the stage. It was their culture’s take on the circle of life.

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Exhausted, we booked it out of the parking lot after the show was over and drove an hour back to the hotel where I’m pretty sure everyone crashed.

Day 5:

Because our flight was at 1:30 pm, we didn’t get to do much on the last day. We got lunch together then headed to the airport early to return the car and check in. There were so many people returning home that afternoon — the Honolulu airport was packed.

The vacation was definitely one for the memories, and it was great to experience Hawaii for the first time. When we landed in Oakland, it was 57 degrees but felt like 30 as it was in the mid-80s the whole time in Honolulu. It was a much needed trip and I’m extremely sad to be going back to school on Monday. However, I’m sure this won’t be the last time I’ll visit Hawaii. Next time, I’ll be sure to go snorkeling.

Voodoo Doughnut: Universal CityWalk

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Well, I didn’t think it was possible to fall in love with a doughnut, but it happened. Actually, who am I kidding? I fall in love with food all the time! When I heard Voodoo Doughnut was opening in LA in Fall 2016, I hyped everyone up…then let them all down as it did not open. When I went to Portland for the handball collegiates, this was honestly my diet. If we didn’t go every day, it was at least every other day. To have one open up on CityWalk is both a blessing and a curse: It’s close enough to visit when I get that donut craving but I’m looking at an early grave.

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Because we heard horror stories about people waiting in line for two hours then not getting anything because they ran out of donuts and had to close, Tim and I went early this morning. There was a line but it wasn’t too bad. It was about 15 minutes before we were let in. The interior of the shop smelled like heaven, and Tim said he wanted this smell as a cologne. Then we agreed to gift each other a “coffin full of doughnuts” when we get married. (A $130 menu item.)

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Was glad to finally try the LA location. I know they had a soft opening last week and their hours were fluctuating. It seems pretty busy there constantly and I’m thankful all this good food is just a 20-minute drive away from home.