This past Saturday, a historical moment happened. Over 1 million people around the country came together to bring an end to gun violence in the US. While I try not to get political on here, there are some things I feel I can’t avoid. This is not about red or blue, left or right, liberal or conservative, it’s simply life or death. But instead of looking at this from a negative point of view, I am choosing to look at the positives. And while there is nothing positive about the devastation that runs through the country every day, what has come out of that is extremely inspirational. Being at the Los Angeles March on Saturday began to restore my hope and faith that good will win. During times like these, it can be hard to remember that the good outweigh the bad, that there are more positives than negatives. But seeing all the people of different sexes, color and social class come together to ensure that every child going to school, every black man walking down the street and every person attending a concert can walk in and out safe and unharmed was so heartwarming. I walked beside all these people I had never seen before, but yet we stood in solidarity. I praise all the young students of Parkland High School for being the brave young leaders we so desperately need. These are the people we rely on to make change in the country and the world, to preserve the good of the American culture, while protecting the basic right of all citizens, the right to life. I don’t want to go on and on (because I could), but I just wanted to share my thoughts on what happened over the weekend, along with some photos that showed the protest and strength that we need.
And remember, good will win.
March For Our Lives: https://marchforourlives.com/
Got my Singaporean fix from QQ Kopitiam in Pasadena. The Laksa was super authentic and delicious, just like it would be at home! It was a really generous serving for a super reasonable price (two main dishes and one bubble tea was $21 with tax).
I know I may be a little late to hop on the bandwagon, but I am beyond obsessed with Halo Top. For those of you who don’t know what it is, Halo Top is an extremely low calorie, high protein ice cream (not that you can tell, it’s amazing!). The calories range from 240-360 calories depending on the flavor, so one serving is never more than 90 calories. A few of my favorite flavors are Birthday Cake, Sea Salt Caramel and Mint Chip.
This beautiful spread is from the Granville at the Americana in Glendale. They have a menu full of modern yet homey dishes that are absolutely delicious! This was the bacon & blue burger with a side salad, the Santa Barbara chicken sandwich, a side of sweet potato fries and the uptown mac & cheese. I would also highly recommend the chicken and blue flatbread (not pictures). A perfect stop for lunch or dinner during a day of shopping!
*As seen on BuzzFeed* Sushi Stop is a super affordable (and yummy) location in Pasadena (they have other locations too). At $3.25 for most of their dishes, it’s hard to spend more than $16 a person (and that’s if you are eating A LOT). Ranging from sashimi sushi to baked rolls to udon and tempura, they have everything you would ever want. To be honest, after eating so mush sushi in Japan, I was a little skeptical of this, but it did not disappoint!
Just throwing this in here because I miss Disneyland. A beautiful mickey mouse-shaped beignet (and some Mint Juleps) from New Orleans Square at Disney.
One of my favorite things about living in LA is finding all the small (what I like to call) hidden gems of the city. Gloria’s Cafe is a small Mexican-inspired breakfast/brunch restaurant tucked away in the back streets of Highland Park. Pictured above is the savory waffle (amazing!) and the breakfast taco. I would also highly recommend their breakfast sandwich which comes on a burger bun with pulled pork and scrambled eggs. For a main dish and (a big a**) iced coffee, I usually pay $14 (including tax and tip).
Where should I go next? Comment your favorite LA spots down below! And if you try one of these places, let me know what you think:)
QQ Kopitiam is a small Singaporean cafe/restaurant located across from the Pasadena City College on Colorado Blvd. A Kopitiam (Kopi for short) is a traditional coffee shop found in many South East Asian countries, including Singapore. As most of you know, I’ve lived my whole life (up until now) in Singapore, and was in serious need of some comfort food.
The restaurant is located on fairly quiet street, but stands out from the big, red sign. Staying true to traditional Kopi style, before getting seated at your table, you order your food at the counter and pay right there. There was an older couple, the wife running the cashier and the husband running the kitchen, who owned the place. As soon as we walked in, the lady quickly welcomed us and starting listing off suggestions. She suggested the Laksa (rice noodles in a coconut, curry soup) and Hainanese Chicken Rice (steamed rice with chicken boiled in a ginger broth), both of which are famous Singaporean dishes. Once we ordered (I ordered the Laksa), I started up a brief conversation with the couple and found out that they were both Singaporean and had only been in business for around four years. We chatted for a little bit about where in Singapore we lived and what our favorite Singaporean dishes were.
Laksa is a dish that Singaporeans feel very close to, as it’s served at every Kopi and Hawker stall (Singaporean style outdoor food courts). It is loaded with pungent ingredients including curry leaves, lemongrass, and sambal (a type of chili sauce), making it an acquired taste. Foreigners (or tourists) often have a hard time handling the aroma and flavor of laska, but for Singaporeans it’s a bowl of comfort.
I would 100% recommend QQ Kopitiam for anyone in the area, whether you’re Singaporean or not (the friend I went with wasn’t Singaporean and she loved it!). If you stop by QQ Kopitiam, let me know in the comments below and tell me what you think.
Website (Yelp): https://www.yelp.com/biz/qq-kopitiam-pasadena
Number: (626) 696-3179
Address: 1491 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
Hours: Mon-Fri: 11am to 7pm
I’m not usually the person who gets crazy excited about going to Disneyland, in fact the last time I was there was 10 year ago, but a few months ago my friend and I were talking about what to do for her birthday, and Disneyland seemed to be the perfect choice (after all, we do live 45 minutes away). Since the next time I go to Disneyland will probably be in another decade, I decided to write this blog post full of Disney favorites, tips/tricks and photos.
If you’re just going to Disney for one day, it can be hard to choose what to do and what to prioritize, so here were some of my favorite rides to ride and things to do that I would prioritize over other things. My favorite rides were Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, It’s a Small World (I know I’m a 5 year old inside haha!), Matterhorn (my favorite time to ride this is at night, especially during Christmas, because you get an amazing view of the whole park lit up), and Splash Mountain. All of these rides are the ones that typically have long lines, so be prepared to wait or spend an extra $10 on tickets to get fast passes (will talk about this later). Other than the rides, Disney is full of fun things to do and places to go. During our day at Disney, I would say we spent only about 50% of the time riding rides, and the other 50% walking around, eating and soaking in all the Disney vibes. With me being me, one of the things we did that I loved was starting our day at the Starbucks on Main Street. I know this sounds super basic, but I absolutely loved the vibe inside the Starbucks (even though the prices are slightly marked up). The store was PACKED and got me excited for the day ahead (I also would not have gotten through the day without my daily coffee). Other than Starbucks, the other food I would highly recommend trying is the Beignets and Mint Juleps in New Orleans Square. We decided to stop there for an afternoon snack around 2:30pm and ended up sitting there for an hour talking, taking pictures and enjoying our snack. It was a perfect little break from a crazy day. My last favorite, pretty obvious, is to end the day by watching the fireworks in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Disneyland is such a magical place and the fireworks that are perfectly times and choreograph to match all of the classic Disney songs is the perfect way to end a day at Disney. And of course, don’t forget to take tons of pictures throughout the day!
Knowing how much we were spending on tickets, food and transportation for a day at Disney, my friends and I wanted to make sure that we were getting the absolute most of the day. For starters, we decided to add an extra $10 onto each of our tickets to get fast passes. What that allowed us all to do was to use the app to book our fast passes for the rides. We were able to use about 10 fast passes throughout the day (which probably saved us a total of 4 hours from waiting in lines). Another tip if you are going to Disney is to designate one person to book the fast passes by making a “party” on the app. All you have to do is have one person add each person to their “party” and each time they book a fast pass, it automatically gets booked for everyone in the group. And when you get to the ride and get into the line, only that one person has to scan their phone and it scans for everyone in the group. Another tip that was super helpful was to go on the busiest/most popular rides earlier in the morning. We got to the park at 8am, right as it opened, and the majority of the people there were families with young children who weren’t exactly rushing for Space Mountain and Splash Mountain. The lines for the bigger, “scarier” rides are much shorter in the morning than they are in the afternoon/evening.
Photos: Because if you didn’t Instagram a photo, did you really go to Disneyland?!
As the 2017 year comes to a close, I wanted to stop and reflect on the year that has passed. While there is so much hate and negativity going around in the world, when you stop to think about life, you really only remember the good things. Just like anyone, my year had ups and downs, but at this time I am realizing how small and trivial the downs were, and how uplifting and exciting the ups were. These are my top ten moments (in chronological order) of 2017. I hope this inspires you all to think back on your year to remember all the amazing times.
1. February 2017- The last meet of varsity high school swim career was everything and more that I could have asked for. I was the captain of the team and we were in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for our conference championships. We had all trained super hard the whole season and were excited to see what we could do as a team. To be honest, I was not confident that we would be able to pull out a win, simply because we had a fairly young and new team. The gold medal came down to the very last relay, in which I was swimming. All we had to do was beat one relay team to snag the championship. As nerve-wracking as it was, it was the most amazing race of my life, full of nothing but excitement and adrenaline. As the anchor of our team touched the wall ahead of the other team, we broke out in tears of immense joy. The absolute highlight of my high school swimming career.
2. February 2017- I always knew that I wanted to travel to New Zealand before I graduated high school, and I got the opportunity to visit the beautiful country on a school trip in February. We spent 8 days doing everything from hiking, camping, luging, white water rafting, and visiting and staying in traditional Maori housing. It was a beyond incredible experience (though I have to admit, mentally challenging at times, especially during the hiking) and I am so lucky to have visited the country. I hope I can visit this amazing country again soon!
3. March 2017- One of my favorite parts about living in South East Asia is being able to travel around easily at a fairly low cost. At least once a year, my family goes on a quick vacation to a SEA beach destination. This year we went back to Phuket, Thailand for spring break and stayed at the Meridien. As usual, the beach was clean and beautiful, perfect for a little getaway. We spent our days lounging on the sand and spent our evenings exploring restaurants throughout the town. This five day trip with my family definitely made it into the top ten moments of this year.
4. June 2017- Of course one of the highlights of this year was this milestone, Graduation! It was a crazy and hectic time of the year, but I was so unbelievably lucky to have so many family and friends around me to celebrate. I was one of those people who just loved high school, so this moment was sad as I was saying goodbye to so many people and places, but also exciting as I started a new journey.
Graduation blog post: https://swimeatlove.com/2017/07/09/a-goodbye-to-high-school/
5. July 2017- Instead of coming back to the US for the summer (like we normally do), my family stayed in Asia and I was able to travel around a bit. My mom had a business trip to Seoul, and since I had never been I decided to tag along. Although we were only there for 3 days, we saw and did so much. From exploring the local malls to going to the Korean spa and eating lots of yummy Korean food, it was a blast.
6. July 2017- Every summer my family and I go to our lake cabin in Northern Japan for a few weeks to hang and spend time with family. Last year, we discovered what I like to call a hidden gem of the Tokyo area, Karuizawa. Mainly known for it’s outlet shopping mall, the beautiful suburb is filled with secret spots that are amazing. This year we took a day off from lake life and spent the day shopping, going to the hot springs, and visiting the cutest little vintage shops. Definitely a day well spent.
7. July 2017- Although this was an extremely sad time, it was also a very memorable time. After 18 years of living in Singapore, it was time for me to say goodbye (more like see you soon!) to my beautiful little island. As most of you probably know, I have so much love in my heart for this country. It was fun for me to spend time really appreciating all the things I love about Singapore and doing a little bit of exploring at home. The last week spend at home was full of family, friends, laughs and of course some Din Tai Fung and a Tiger beer for the road:)
8. August 2017- One of my biggest dreams came true this year not only as I started college in LA, but also as I began my career as a collegiate athlete. There have been so many “pinch me” moments these last few months as I’ve experienced things I’ve never dreamed of doing. From my first collegiate swim practice and swim meet to living the LA life, college has been everything and more I ever wished for.
9. October 2017- While being away from home was hard, I was lucky enough to have my dad visit me for a week in early October. We spent the weekend hanging around Downtown LA and Santa Monica, eating to our hearts content. As a foodie, it was a much needed break from the college food scene (though I have to admit, our school has really good food). We found amazing eateries everywhere from Santa Monica Boulevard to Sunset. It was such a fun weekend with my dad, and I was lucky to have him with me.
10. December 2017- After the first semester in college, it was so nice to be home with my family for the holidays. I had counted down the days, and it was definitely one of the best holiday seasons yet. I was lucky to have 2 1/2 weeks at home and spent so much of that time with my mom, dad, little sister and doggy. There was lot’s of Christmas shopping, yummy food, cooking, cheers-ing and laughter. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end the year.
Here’s to an amazing 2017 and an even better 2018!
Happy new year!