Friday, April 29, 2016

Thrift store strut in Astoria

Before leaving for the Astoria Writer’s retreat 2016, my mom came over and dumped a grocery bag of clothing she snagged from a donation pile. I decided to debut it all in this coastal city.

Coat: thrifted
Pants: thrifted
Shoes: thrifted
Shirt: Uniqlo
Backpack: from Okayama, Japan
Sunglasses: American Apparel

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Angkor Temple Profile: Ta Keo

Name: Ta Keo

Built: 11th  century

Distinctive feature: pyramid with a long and steep staircase

Conservatory Body: People's Republic of China 

Visitor's note: This place gets a bit busy after the sun rises. Fortunately we got here early and were still relatively alone.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

LA Diary

The view from my Koreatown apartment on my last night in LA

I lived in Los Angeles from July 2005 until October 2008. I hated it the entire time. I tried to leave once before, in December 2006, and swore I would never return. But the city pulled me back (and not to mention a previous relationship), so I returned and stayed there for almost two more years. When I left in 2008 I promised myself it would be for good. Not just that I would never live there again, but I would never GO there again. Why would I? All my friends from the city have moved on. I had no one to visit and nothing to see. So I thought.

It might have been the opening of the Broad, which I read about in a magazine at the doctor’s office.

It might have been Document Café, which I saw on my friend’s instagram.

It might have been the memory of delicious Korean BBQ, which I have yet to find in Portland.

But whatever it was, when I had a holiday from work and airline ticket prices were cheap, I booked a flight to LAX.

I wasn’t alone this time. I brought my partner with me. The first few days we walked around the city and I led a tour of my memories. On the uber ride from the airport we passed a freeway sign for National Blvd, and I remembered taking that exit when I lived in Santa Monica with an ex. When we saw the freeway sign for Crenshaw I remembered driving to the Walmart there and finding only empty boxes in the electronics section. When we passed the Koreatown Galleria, I remembered the time an old friend showed me how to eat soodobu. In downtown I retraced my steps the hundred or so times I walked down Hope Street to the LA public library; I remembered a first date that began at the Murakami exhibit at the Geffen. I remembered commuting from Orange Country to Pasadena with a transfer at Union Station; staying out all night to party with friends then going to work at 7:00am the next morning.

This trip to LA I also experienced other things. Things that were not memories, but something new. A nighttime view of downtown from my window. The upside down moon in the center of Wilshire. Skyscrapers looming over historic villas like the distant future.

No bad memory has to stay bad forever. I can’t go back and change the life that has been lived, but I can go back to the same place to see how I’ve changed this time around. I can rewrite those bad memories. This book is not yet finished.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Angkor Temple Profile: Angkor Wat

Name: Angkor Wat

Built: late 12th century

Distinctive feature: iconic towers and a mote

Conservatory Body: APSARA and the World Monument's Fund

Visitor's note: This is the main attraction of the entire archeologically park, and indeed the first and last stop all tourist buses take. Though Angkor Wat is busy throughout the day, the morning can be an especially difficult time to navigate tourist traffic. Most tourist arrive at the Wat at 5:00am to photograph the sunrise. This is a hellish time of waiting in the dark cold mud with thousands of people just to take a photo. When we got there and saw the chaos, we immediately left. Instead, we climbed around the temple in the dark (probably not allowed) and had the whole place to ourselves.  It was beautiful to watch the sunrise while sitting on a ledge of the temple. And I still got my iconic shot on the way out.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Tourists by the water photographing Angkor Wat (this was after the main crowd dispersed)

Watching the sunrise by ourselves

Sunset at Angkor Wat

Sunday, April 17, 2016

LA Day 3 outfit

Worn on a slightly colder and rainier day in LA. I still love this city.
Verve Cafe

In front of Whole Foods in DT LA

In front of a painting at the Broad

In front of a painting at the Broad

Dress: made by me, Spring 2016 collection
Scarf: from a shop in Hong Kong
Glasses: Chelsea by Warby Parker
Bag: H&M

Monday, April 11, 2016

Angkor Temple Profile: Thommanon and Chau Say

Name: Thommanon and Chau Say

Built: late 12th century

Distinctive feature: female sculptures dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu

Conservatory Body: People's Republic of China

Visitor's note: Most buses pass right by these temples and tourists never even get out to stop and look at them. I had fun exploring the ruins at my leisure without any crowds. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Cambodian Cemetery in Siem Reap

This cemetery, like most of my cemetery visits, was not a planned trip, but rather, a serendipitous happening. After my first visit to Angkor Wat, the tuktuk drove down a small road toward the town of Siem Reap, and I saw this place come into view on the right side of the street. The driver asked if I wanted to stop, and I said yes.

This cemetery belongs to a Buddhist temple that was also used as a killing field from 1975-1979. A collection of skulls and bones can be found in a glass stupa, a memorial to those who perished. Nearby, a small cemetery remains attached to the temple.

Following Buddhist tradition, people are cremated in Cambodia. The ashes are then placed in an urn and put in the stupa. From what I gather, the stupa height reflects the wealth or status of the deceased person. At this cemetery were colorful stupas of red, gold, white, and sky blue. There was also one Chinese grave amidst the Cambodian stupas.

This cemetery looked sorrowfully neglected. Garbage was  scattered around the grounds, so deep that it obstructed the paths and prevented me from walking through the entire cemetery. Many of the stupas were broken or desecrated. It looked as though a family of homeless people were living there for a while. I found a tarp that covered a pile of old pots and bed sheets and children’s clothing, but it looked as though the family had left long ago.

It was a sobering place.

The Gambia: Photo Diaries from the City

Although I flew into Banjul, I spent very little time there. Most of my time 'in the city' was actually spent in Banjul's sprawl...