Backpacking at Castle Rock

ACS_0440Hey lovelies! Hope you are all doing well today. I’m super excited to announce that I’m partnering with TOMS again! So thank you so much to TOMS for sponsering this post. I’m so happy to be able to work with them again, and this time on their #SeenWithTOMS campagin! Earlier in August I took a short trip to Castle Rock State Park with some of my friends and showing you some of the things I’ve #SeenWithTheBellini, my favorite style of TOMS sunglasses. The mission of the campaign is to spread positivity and share something #SeenWithToms. I thought that this backpacking trip would give me the perfect opportunity to bring out my new sunglasses since I will be seeing some cool new things with them! It was my first time backpacking so this was more like trial run trip, but now that I’ve experienced the trial, I can say that I’ve learned a lot and would be open to going again!ACS_0463For those of you who are interested in backpacking but don’t know where to begin or what to bring, not to worry – I was the same. Luckily, there’s a lot of resources out there to help you prepare for your trip. If you’re unsure as to whether or not you will continue to go backpacking, a great way to dip your toe in is to rent your items first! Outdoor items can really add up if you don’t plan on ever going backpacking or even camping later on. Our friends recommended renting our items and so that’s what we did! We rented from Sports Basement, but you can also rent from Rei. At Sports Basement, they have different packages (ex: full package and individual items available) and really friendly staff to help answer any questions you might have. Since we were going in a large group, some of our friends already had some materials that we could all share, but if you were going alone or with two people, I highly recommend renting the all inclusive package to test out your new hobby.

If you’re planning a backpacking trip, I’ve listed 5 essential things to bring during your trip down at the bottom. I hope that helps some of you who may be interested in going 🙂

#SeenWithTheBelliniACS_0459During this trip, I was really able to remember and reconnect my gratitude for nature. Being in the Bay Area, it’s easy to get caught up in your work life and forget about maintaining a relationship with mother nature. I really enjoyed this trip because I was able to do that all weekend! Some of my other friends are interested in going on a backpacking trip, so maybe there will be another trip in the near future. What I’ve learned and #seenwiththebellini, I’m able to now take with me if we go again.

Continuing on the topic of gratitude and positive vibes, did you know that with every purchase from TOMS, whether it’s apparel, shoes, glasses or frames, you’re helping them give back to less fortunate communities? When you purchase a pair of sunnies or frames from TOMS, you’re now helping someone else restore their sight. See the world in a kinder light. 

The Bellini’s are my favorite style by TOMS. They sit nicely on my nose, which can be hard to find when have a low nose bridge. I find that with other glasses, they often slide down – but I don’t get that with my Bellini’s. They also feel very light yet very high quality!

CLICK HERE AND USE MY PROMO CODE SEENWITHTOMS AT CHECK OUT FOR 20 % OFF YOUR SUNGLASSES! ACS_0441ACS_0450I wear TOMS to make a change. Because it’s not just a pair of sunglasses. It’s about what you see with them.ACS_0445ACS_0448ACS_0443

 

 

 

Five Things You Must Bring on Your Backpacking Trip:

  1. Bug spray If you guys saw my Instagram post, you would know that I came back with 32 bug bites. Yep, that’s a lot, I know. I did use bug spray but I guess I didn’t use enough of it. And here’s a pro-tip: spray your clothes. Basically, bathe in it the day before. Heck wash your clothes with it. You’ll thank me later.
  2. Enough Water/food – Be sure to check if the place you’re looking to backpack to will have a source of water so that you can plan accordingly. There’s also a variety of different water filters and dehydrated foods (that are pretty tasty too) that you can find at Sports Basement and other outdoor supply stores.
  3. Battery pack This is pretty self explanatory but I found that my battery pack was really helpful towards the end of the night when my phone was low. If you are going for multiple days, plan on bringing a more powerful battery pack for more charges!
  4. Sunscreen – another self-explanatory item that you’ll definitely want to bring!
  5. All-purpose compostable wipes – make sure you get one that’s safe for your body and not just for cleaning! These definitely came in handy, especially considering the bathroom situation (lets just say you’d rather get comfortable with going outside than the bathrooms there). And it also helps get rid of some of the grimy feeling you might have after sweating all day in your hiking clothes. A real lifesaver!

ACS_0453If you guys enjoyed this nature-filled post, let me know! Since the weather is warming up, I’m definitely going to be hiking more. What are you planning on doing to enjoy this summers sunshine?
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Thank you so much for reading!

My Mental Health Journey

 

Hello lovelies! How are you all today? Today, I’ll be talking about something that hasn’t ever been talked about on my blog before. Truth be told, I’m a little scared (so please be gentle), but I’m ready to share this part of myself with you all. Recently, TOMS has asked me to participate in their campaign and I think it’s a really great time for me to talk about my mental health journey. I say journey because it is definitely something I’m still working on. If you know me personally, you know I’m passionate about mental health. I welcome you to join me and TOMS as we #StandforTomorrow. Now, when you buy from TOMS.com, you can select a cause that you stand for and TOMS will donate to, including mental health. *Use the promo code: STANDFOR10 for $10 off your purchase!* They offer a variety of different causes such as: equality, safe water, ending homelessness, mental health, ending gun violence, and women’s rights. Which will you choose? ACS_0416I chose mental health because I strongly believe that it is not talked about enough in schools or on social media. I can’t stress it enough how detrimental it can be over time if you ignore your mental health and I’ll explain why. My story is rather long, and may seem repetitive in some sections, but I do think it would be good for me to share my experience with you all. DISCLAIMER: In writing this, I am NOT asking for attention, or trying to blame anyone in any way. I simply want to share something personal in hopes that in my own healing, I can help one person out there who may have been or is in my position, and help them feel less alone. If I can at least do that, I think the purpose of this post will be fulfilled! 

My story goes back to (about) 12 years old, when I started struggle more in school. It just didn’t come easy to me. And I knew from a very young age the depth of sacrifices that my parents had made for my sister and I (they made sure I knew). Knowing so, it easily made me feel as though my life meant nothing if I couldn’t make them proud. I went through numerous tutors, which helped a little, but it still wasn’t enough. I continued to disappoint them. They would try to push me by saying things like, you’re friends with so and so, why aren’t you smarter, like her?”, or “you could have done better”, or “who got the highest grade in the class? You still didn’t do better than them.” On top of that, I was not allowed to make my own mistakes, nor was I allowed to go out on school days, or if I was, I would not be allowed to go out the following week because according to my parents, that was “too much”. I was not allowed to use the computer for non-academic reasons – except for weekends where I was allowed 1 hr a day. I felt so trapped, mentally and physically. — That’s classic Asian parenting for ya. It was really hard for me to constantly hear and be around that kind of negativity, but that was basically my upbringing.

I started bottling up all of my struggles, insecurities about self-image, self-worth, academic performance, social anxiety, and it became a heavy weight of negative energy that I carried throughout my adolescent life. I spent a lot of my “trapped” time in my room, sitting at my desk…not studying…and completely in engrossed in my head. I would think thoughts like: Why me? Am I ever going to be enough? I just want to be with my friends and live a happy life. Will I going to lose friends because I can’t hang out with them? Why this life? I don’t want it. I don’t want it. I don’t want it. I let the all the negativity define how I saw myself and obsessed over it for years. I became very depressed, and struggled with envy and self-image/self-worth. I always felt like I wasn’t good enough and even felt like my friends didn’t like me “enough”. Sometimes I would think to myself, “maybe if I looked this way, or acted like this, or had this thing, or went to this thing with this person, I would be more liked” and being more liked gave me the validation that I craved. It made me feel like my life meant something to someone. But it was hard to be any of that when you’re trapped.

When I was about 14 whatever relationship I did have with my parents basically depleted, hormones exploded, and my problems evolved. I remember the first time I truly felt like dying – a feeling I’ll never be able to erase. I was crying in my room after arguing with my parents – that’s a typical Friday for me. The pain in my chest was so heavy. I felt like a huge weight was pressed against my whole body and I was being suffocated. Without thinking, I pulled a pair of scissors from my desk and pressed it hard against my palm and cut myself for the first time. That was when I developed a habit for self-harm. At 14, I honestly had no idea what self-harm was or how to control/address all of my feelings. At that moment, I didn’t know what to do, but I did feel like what I did was wrong and I didn’t want to get in trouble, so I kept it a secret from my parents. Here I am at 27 years old, and I still have not told them. I did tell my best friend at the time of the first incident. I remember calling her on the phone and when she asked me why I did that I honestly didn’t know how to answer her. The next day I remember the school counselor calling me into the office over the speaker phone during break. She told me she received a call from a concerned friend and I instantly thought — Haley. She didn’t go to my school but I knew it was her way of trying to look out for me because she didn’t know how to help me. When the counselor called me in and asked me what happened, I lied. Like I said, I didn’t know how to address my feelings at all. She didn’t push. She gave me a card that had suicide hotlines on it and then excused me. I never did use the card, but I thought about it many times. When I think back to this memory, I only wish she tried harder because even though I pushed her away, I really needed someone.

I once read that inflicting pain cancels out the emotional pain as the physical pain peaks, which I understand now. It makes sense because in those moments, it numbed me. it was temporary relief. It was my answer to many difficult nights spent on my bedroom floor, all out of tears, questioning why I was still alive. I couldn’t focus on my school work because I was overwhelmed with all of the negative thoughts and pain I felt in my body. There were many days where I wish I would somehow die so that I wouldn’t have to feel anything ever again. I felt like a failure to my family, and that my life was worth nothing because I truly had nothing to offer the world. Dying just seemed like an easy fix to everything I was feeling. I carried those feelings with me through many years. High school was truly the peak of my darkest time. There were some good days sprinkled in here and there, but the bad definitely outweighed the good, and it was very difficult for me to see the purpose of living. I didn’t acknowledge my mental health at all. It was hard pretending to be okay when I truly wasn’t. It was hard existing. There was only one thing keeping me going, I wanted to see my sister grow up. She was the sun in my world. 

It wasn’t until my college years that I started to really prioritize my mental health. It didn’t happen over night, but over time, I started recognized how far I’ve come, how many times I’ve been close to the edge and still made it to the other side. Each day was like a mini-victory. I no longer let self-harm and all the negative energy I had define who I am but rather who I used to be. I started acknowledging my choice of life and doing more things that would help me see value it more. I spent a lot of my college years self-reflecting and accepting. I fed my soul with things I loved – and I watched lots of anime (s/o to Naruto for getting me through some really hard times). Later down the line, it felt like the stars aligned for me. In a close proximity of time, I met some of my dearest friends, and the love of my life. Some had similar stories, some can only listen, but they all showed me love and support. I had people in my life who accepted me for everything that I am. They reminded me just how precious my life was. And for the first time, I started seeing myself in a new light. It was like a moment of self-realization. I saw the value in my own life. Because of them, I found more reasons to continue to choose life.ACS_0408 A quote I often think about is that you “grow through what you go through”. When I feel like giving up, I revisit my past self and remember how much I’ve grown since then. Some days are still not great, but now I can look back and say “your very existence is proof: you are more than what happened to you. You are more than what you left behind. The past did not define you.” IMG_5941We are only human, and we will naturally find comfort in companionship. So I want to encourage you to start the conversation and talk to people you trust, or people who you can relate to. Support the people around you because you never know who could need it the most. Surround yourself with people who uplift you and make you feel good. The people who matter you will only want to see you t h r i v e and live your best life! Do things that feed your soul. It will be hard at first, but I promise you’ll thank yourself later. I think in doing all of these things, you will eventually see the value in your own life – as I did.

Even though I never did seek professional help, I will always encourage it. Anyone can benefit from it, and it’s nice to get confirmation from someone; better yet, someone who can help you conquer your demons. I do plan on seeking professional help one day – when I’m ready. Up until today, I’ve only shared my story with certain people in my life. And now, I’m taking the next step in my journey of healing and I’m sharing my story with all of you.   I’m just taking it day by day. I want you to know that some days may be incredibly difficult to get through, but you can get through it. You’re stronger than you think and I’m thinking of you when you think no one else is. You’re worth it and someday you’ll realize that too. All you can do is show up for yourself, do the best you can, and that’s always going to be enough.

We’re all fighting our own battles and each day we wake again is a victory. A victory that we can all celebrate together!

Here are some of my favorite self-love/healing advocates and writers:

IMG_5978Thank you so so much for reading until the end! I hope you now have a better sense of why mental health is so important, and why it’s important to me. It is difficult to know or understand the struggle of other people, unless you reach out. It’s so easy to open your heart out to others and just be there for them, so please do. You might be saving someone’s life. I still struggle with self-harm and depression from time to time, but I’ve really enriched my life with many reasons to live. I hope that in sharing my story, I’ve helped someone out there realize that they. If you’ve enjoyed this post, like it, share it, and let me know if you’d like to see more personal content like this.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline | Befrienders: Worldwide emotional support | National Network of Depression Centers 

Japan Travel Diary: Osaka

ACS_0389Hello lovelies! Hope you’re all doing well today. I’m excited to (finally) release the final post of my Japan trip for you all! I’m a little sad because it means it’s REALLY over, but I hope you enjoyed some of the photos I shared. This last post is dedicated to Osaka, the last place we visited on our trip. We stayed there for 3 days and 2 nights and honestly, it felt like it flew by in a blink of an eye. We didn’t really stick to the itinerary for the last few days because to be honest, everyone was extremely exhausted from going and going for so long. I was pretty burnt out myself, because I was sick :(. Although we didn’t get to everything we wanted to, in hindsight I still think we could’ve squeezed Osaka into 2 days and 1 night if we were all rested. I would’ve been happy spending just one more day in Tokyo – but that’s just me!

A few highlights from Osaka:

  • Dotonbori – a popular canal surrounded by touristy things such as yummy food and shopping stores!
  • Orange street- a cute shopping area.
  • Umeda Sky Building – a 173 meter skyscraper with a gorgeous roof top view.
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Pro-tip: Always come hungry

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Yummy shabu in Dotonbori (Japanese hotpot)

 

Me at Orange Street, admiring all the cute stores!

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So many options!!!!

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A girl with a full heart.

 

Above are some cute snaps from my IG story that I got while walking around.

 

We visited the beautiful Umeda Sky Building in Osaka! You guys, it’s a must. Inside is an elevator that takes you all the way up to the top. There is a small admission- fee, but it’s totally worth it. My boyfriend has a huge fear of heights, but I’m so proud of him for overcoming that fear! It was so peaceful up there. They also play peaceful, mood-setting music too. We wanted to come back at night with the rest of our friends to take more photos of the city lights, but didn’t end up making it back, so I’m really glad Justin and I at least got to see it during the day! It wasn’t too crowded either which I was really happy about because we didn’t have to fight anyone for good spot to take photos. ACS_0247.JPG

 

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Matcha + vanilla swirl soft serve!

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A lock bridge on the rooftop of the Umeda Sky Building

ACS_0313There was a little booth where you can purchase engraved locks to lock on to different areas of the Umeda Sky Building. They had designated areas for the locks (even the lock bridges look organized in Japan!). I was filled with so much happiness when Justin asked me if we should have one made. Instead, we made two! I wanted to keep one as a memory. And now Japan will always have a part of us too. ♡

The last 24 hours consisted of a 90 minute massage and lots of sleep. I honestly needed it SO bad. We stayed at a hotel right outside the airport so we could just walk over for our 7 AM flight. Sorry if this ended abruptly and I don’t have a proper closing photo, but nonetheless, I hope you guys enjoyed seeing all that I did in Japan!

 

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I often get asked about Japan, so I’ll definitely be making a post on how and what to plan for when traveling to Japan. Another question we get asked is if we’ll be going back next year, and the answer to that is no. We’ll definitely be going back, but maybe not for a while. Our friends and I really want to visit other places, after all, the world is so big; it would be silly of us to go again so soon (although, to be honest, I wouldn’t mind that LOL). I’m really grateful to have a group of friends (there was 10 of us – crazy right?!) that I can travel along with. If you’re not apart of the group or don’t travel in groups, you probably think we’re crazy. How is that possible?! – Honestly, I just got really lucky! It’s a huge blessing to be able to travel with friends and be able to cater to everyone’s style without offending anyone. We can have fun doing things together, and respect each others space when needed. I couldn’t ask for more from friends. Stay tuned for the next trip! #Hawaii2020.

Thank you for reading! ♡

Japan Travel Diary: Tokyo

ACS_0364Hey lovelies! How are you all today? I hope you enjoyed my Kyoto from a few weeks ago. Today we’ll be jumping into Tokyo. With the experiences I’ve had in Japan in 2018 and 2019, I have to say that Tokyo is my favorite of the three places we’ve visited. During our trip in 2018, I thought Kyoto was, but this time around, I can confidently say that Tokyo has my heart. We stayed in Tokyo for a total of 5 days out of our 2 week trip. We had some complications with our Air bnb one night, but if it weren’t for that, I’d say 5 days was enough for us to visit the places we knew we wanted to (for the most part). If you’re planning a trip, it really depends on what you want to get in or out of it but I think 5 was a good amount.

Here are some places in Tokyo I want to highlight:

  • Gundam Statue (Suginami)
  • Toyosu Fish Market
  • teamLab Borderless art museum exhibit (so surreal and amazing! Shots are below. If you love digital art like me, I highly recommend visiting. I believe they also have an exhibit in Osaka!)
  • Shibuya Crossing – rumored to be the busiest intersection in the world! It’s a cool experience to walk through but even cooler to see from above! It’s also home to one of the most popular meeting places in Tokyo; it’s where the Hachiko statue is! If you’re not familiar with the story of Hachi, he is a loyal Akita from the 1930’s that waited for his owner, a professor, every day at the train station for him to return from work. After the professor passed away, Hachi continued to wait for his 9 remaining years. The statue is there to commemorate his story. Brb going to go cry now.
  • Genki Sushi (popular for its sushi train)
  • Suga Shrine (featuring the infamous staircase shot from the movie Your Name)
  • Harajuku (where I did a lot of shopping, hehe)
  • Burn Side St. Cafe (souffle pancakes!)
  • B-Side Label (an awesome sticker store created by original artists)
  • Akihabara (anime central)
  • Roast Beef Ohno (wagyu volcano)

These are only some of the places that I visited during my second trip that I thought I should mention. If any of you have further questions, I have more recommendations I’d be happy to pass along via email or DM! 🙂 I’m also planning on writing a separate post that’s more focused on what to plan for when traveling to Japan, so stay tuned for that!

To be honest, I didn’t shot as much as I thought I would during this trip – I guess I was too preoccupied with absorbing the experience without the interruption of having to take out camera equipment >_<. Hope you guys enjoy the shots I did get though!

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Shoutout to the stranger who knew what she was doing and patiently waited to get this shot for us! I didn’t even ask her to, she was just awesome!

ACS_0362One of my favorite things about Tokyo is that when I’m there, it feels like a movie. To me it feels like I’m an anime character in my own movie (which is all I’ve ever dreamed about). To be able to see the places I’ve only watched in animes and dreamed about come to life is honestly an unreal place to me.  Another thing too is that I’ve always been inspired by people who seem to know their purpose. People who keep busy and are always on the go, those are the kind of people that fill Tokyo. To be in that moment, where everyone around you is  going form A to B and you’re already standing where you need to be – in that moment, is really an indescribable experience. And that’s how Tokyo makes me feel, always. I may not be making a lot of sense to some of you, but I think you know the feeling of falling in love with a place you know you’ll always love. When you know, you know.

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The infamous steps in the ending scene of ‘Your Name’

Above are a 4 snaps from my IG stories I wanted to showcase because the area was so cute (sorry, I didn’t get a shot of it on my camera). ♡ACS_0363I only got one shot of Akihabara (above) due to a little complication we had with our Air Bnb in Tokyo. The short story is that we had to relocated for the last two days! We did our best to make the most of the situation. I’m glad I was able to see Akihabara last year so it wasn’t too bad.

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Thinly sliced wagyu roast beef in Akihabara *drools*

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My favorite milk tea! I love that there are vending machines wherever you go so you can always have access to hot/cold drinks!

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Black sesame soft serve 🖤

I highly recommend checking out the Toyosu Fish Market if you get the chance. There’s tons of street food options to choose from. Some items run a bit pricey, but the food is SO fresh and yummy!ACS_0365I know you’ve heard it all before, that I love Japan. But Tokyo is a special kind of love. The culture, the development, the architecture, the people, the FOOD, the lifestyle, everything about Tokyo is so special to me. I think even when I go back, I’m sure I’ll dedicate a segment of the trip to revisiting Tokyo. I hope this post was helpful to anyone who is thinking about going to Japan, Tokyo! If you’re not, I hope you at least enjoyed reading a little about my trip and looking at my photos :). Next will be the final diary segment to this trilogy; Osaka!

Japan Travel Diary: Kyoto

ACS_0273 2Hello lovelies! How are you all today?! I know that this blog post has been long awaited by some of you and the time has finally come! I hope my Japan Travel Diary still interests you. I spent the weekend editing and organizing my photos so that I could release these posts (finally). Make sure you’re subscribed to my blog either by email or your WordPress so that you can be notified when my posts air! And of course follow my Instagram for more content by me!

Today, we’ll be talking about my time in Kyoto. Last year we only got to explore Kyoto in a few hours before having to travel back to Tokyo. This year we were able to stay in Kyoto for 3 days, which I’d like to think was a sufficient amount of time to get in what we wanted to do. The first day was the day we landed in Japan which I didn’t get any great shots because we were all extremely exhausted from the long flight (and layover).  What I do recall of day 1 is that we visited a Fire Ramen house called “Menbakaichidai Fire Ramen” – it was such a cool experience! The owner was very friendly and the ramen was great (and yes it was on fire – clips of that are found in my “Kyoto” Instagram Highlight). I highly recommend going if you are in the area. After stuffing ourselves, we mainly took it easy for the rest of the day. We had a packed day 2 ahead.

The main attractions we visited in Kyoto are:

  • Nijo-jo Castle (not pictured)
  • Fushimi Inari-Taisha Shrine (10,000 gates – but it really has over 32,000 gates! Why is it called that then?!)
  • Kiyomizu-dera Temple (home to the infamous – Love Stones at the Jishu Shrine)
  • Arashiyama (touristy area leading into the Bamboo Forest and the Kimono Forest)
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Gaijins figuring out the route

Our first big attraction was the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine. Some of us visited this shrine last year but we weren’t able to walk the whole thing, so this year we made it a priority to finish what we started. I’m so glad we were able to come back here! On that day, we were all prepared for rain. Luckily, I don’t recall it being too bad at all. If anything, the drizzle made it even more scenic. I love the smell of wet ground after the rain; it made the experience even more memorable. ACS_0276 2Shout out to my Vapor Reusable Water Bottle which was super useful throughout the trip! It folds up into a palm size piece and is super easy to transport wherever you go. I really love how compact and light weight it was to carry around. I also took it with me to Hawaii! Definitely an important travel item.

ACS_0303ACS_0319ACS_0204 2The shrine had various stops where you can find these water fountains, also known as a “chozuya” or “temizuya”, for you to wash your hands with its purified water. Many shrines and temples in Japan have this so that the visitors practice this method of purification. ACS_0283 2

Above is a collage of yummy food booths that are found outside of the Fushimi Inari-Taishi shrine – IT’S ALL SO GOOD. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I spent a lot of $$$ here on dried strawberries; it’s worth every penny. You have to stop by for a snack if you’re visiting the shrine! It’s also just the best thing to run into after a long walking.

ACS_0280 2Our next stop that day was the Kiyomizu-dera Temple. Located outside of the temple is the Jishu Shrine, home to the infamous Love Stones. It was fun to watch some of our friends try this! If you are unfamiliar with the story behind the Love stones, it is said that if you are able to walk from one stone to another (18m apart) with your eyes closed, you will surely find love. ♡ I’ve noticed that a lot of Japanese, Chinese and Korean cultures have similar beliefs when it comes to love and fate (such as the red thread of fate). It’s in various folk-tails and manga, do you believe in fate or destiny? I have a hard time distinguishing what I believe. I believe in fate, but I also believe that the choices you make leading up to present day can be impactful in guiding you to where you end up, so is that really fate? — something to think about.ACS_0296ACS_0326On Day 3 in Kyoto, we explored Arashiyama and the Bamboo Forest. I got a shot of some visitors dressed up in cute kimonos! Kyoto seems to be one of the various places that is still very traditional and rooted. That’s one of the things I really love about Japan, they have mastered balancing the old with the new.ACS_0323I have to admit, Arashiyama was extremely cold. I was definitely not prepared for it and wish I dressed warmer because I actually caught a cold on the trip – which was totally preventable 😦 . So if you go – layer up!ACS_0325

And here comes more street food! 😋 ACS_0328

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Dinner at a soba house!

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Mochi topped with red bean, whipped cream and strawberries!

I came across a Rilakuma shrine behind the Rilakuma bakery! It was SO cute, and I was obviously very happy about it. Hehe!

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Kimono Forest in Arashiyama (much cooler experience going at night)

And that pretty much concludes our stay in Kyoto. I’m glad we got to experience Kyoto for 3 days. It really gave me a chance to dive deeper into Japan’s culture and traditional styles. The area itself (outside of the touristy areas) is quiet and peaceful. The shrines and temples we visited made me feel like I was in the old 2000 anime, Inuyasha! It’s always a place that I find myself wandering to whenever I daydream about Japan (which is often). There’s something about the rustic feel of the area, the traditions found at the shrines and temples, and the quiet place that it is. For that reason, Kyoto has a special place in my heart. 

Thank you for reading – hope you guys enjoyed this post! Tokyo will be up next so stay tuned!

Hawaii 2018

Hello there lovelies! How are you all? Can you believe that we’re half way through the holiday season already?! I honestly don’t know whether or not to be excited or sad about that. I feel as though I haven’t been doing enough fun-festive things to get into the holiday season much this year. There was so much I wanted to get done these last two months but I feel so behind, does anyone else feel that way? I know I said there would be a lot of Fall-vibe posts, but now that I’m looking at my calendar, 2019 is just around the corner! And today about to talk about my trip that happened in October! >.< Sorry for the delay. It’s going to be on my New Years resolution to get re-inspired and get back to blogging! Anyway, for today, I have a lot of photos and some traveling tips that I acquired from my trip to Hawaii that I want to share with you all. I provided Yelp links (that I was able to find) to some of the food places that I went to so I hope that is helpful for those of you who may be planning a trip to Oahu (the island we stayed at), or just want them as a reference for a future trip. If you’d like to see what I was up to there – just keep reading! 🙂

There’s a funny story behind this picture (above): Justin and I were making our way back after reaching the Pill Box at Lanikai (our first activity after landing in Hawaii), when we decided to take a slightly different trail back. There were two trails originally, and we decided we wanted to keep to the left trail, in hopes that it would take us back down an easier route. Instead, we found ourselves on an unwanted detour. The tall grass around us got taller and taller and before we knew it, there was no trail behind or in front of us. We were holding onto the branches to walking through the tall grass more easily at this point. It became harder and harder to hear the voices of people in the distance. And as luck would have it, it started to rain harder. It got to the point where all I could see was grass; no trail, and no people.  I remember clearly that branches were wacking me in the face and I just continued to walk as fast as I could in hopes that we would soon reach some sort of trail. We didn’t want to turn back because we had been walking in this one direction for some time now, but the more we continued, the more I started to worry about whether or not we’d be stuck there until dark — and then what would happen?! Eventually, we turned around and RAN as fast as we could in the opposite direction to get back to the main trail as fast as possible. When we finally found the opening to the trail, I heard one family say, “good thing we didn’t follow them; that looks like the advance trail!” ~ it was the definitely just the wrong trail LOL. It’s safe to assume we probably looked crazy coming out of the tall grass covered dirt and leaves – I kid you not I even had pieces of leaves on my face, that’s how insane we looked. When we finally got back to the car it began to pour even harder. We changed out of our muddy hiking gear, and Justin swings his shirt over his head  – it was like the ending scene of a movie, after a couple gets lost in the mountains and they finally make their way out. I just sat there and soaked it all in (literally, it was still raining really hard). I thought about how angry my parents would be had they been with me at that time, but the whole thing just made me laugh because to me – it was amazing!!! I didn’t care that we got lost, or that it was pouring, it was all a part of the adventure. And who better to spend that with than someone you love?  I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It’s one of my favorite memories now. ♡

Anyways, if you follow me on Instagram, you might’ve seen bits and pieces of my trip to Hawaii last month, but I thought I’d give you a breakdown. If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, or just want to know what places I visited, I hope that this post can help you out!

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Macadamia Nut Pancakes from Boots & Kimo’s, yum!

Food Places I Went To:

  • Boots & Kimo’s (you have to try their famous macadamia nut pancakes! They are TO DIE for)
  • Marukame Udon (it’s the same as Marugame if you’re from California!)
  • Matcha Cafe
  • Rainbow Drive-In
  • Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
  • Musubi Cafe (my favorite place we visited – it’s a must – perfect for grabbing on-the-go before a hike)
  • Eggs n’ Things
  • Island Vintage Coffee
  • Cinnamon’s (you have to try their famous guava pancakes!)
  • MoDo Hawaii (mochi donuts! Tip: it’s located in the back of a Japanese supermarket on the second floor of the mall – across from Marukame)

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Adventures I Went On:

  • Lanikai Pill Box Hike
  • Dole Plantation
  • Waimea Falls (a nice trail to walk with a waterfall at the end)
  • Lanikai Beach, Kailua
  • Hanauma Bay (a snorkeling area – my favorite activity on this trip. They have snorkeling gear there that you can rent so it’s super convenient!)

Enjoying a fresh coconut after having Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – it was bomb by the way!

Packing & Travel Tips:

  • Bring Aloe Vera gel if you know you will be sunbathing a lot- it’s great for soothing sunburns and is really hydrating for the skin! – Obviously bring sunscreen too but aloe vera gel is a great addition.
  • Pack light – bring versatile clothing pieces, minimal shoes – I only packed sneakers and 2 pairs of sandals), or even pack less and do laundry there – this helps make packing easier and keeping organized a breeze!
  • Bring a portable battery pack – I didn’t find that I needed one, but on most trips I like to bring one just in case! You wouldn’t want your phone dying on you while you’re out in the middle of nowhere
  • Store water and snacks in the car – we were out most of the day and didn’t always have access to water or food until our next destination, so having snacks and water in the car was super helpful.
  • Consider packing a backpack instead of a purse or handbag – I normally have a backpack as my daily bag, but for those that don’t, you should consider using one if you’re going to be doing activities such as hiking! It’s much more convenient to have both your hands free, and backpacks can carry more thing!

acs_0092Thank you guys so much for reading until the end! I hope you enjoyed this post about my trip. I hope that if you are planning a trip to Hawaii, that this post helped give you ideas or inspiration. I can’t wait to go back and visit the other islands! I have a few more trips planned for this 2019 so if you’d like to keep up with my travels, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog via email or your WordPress account so you don’t miss a thing!

See you next time! ♡acs_0096

Big Sur Getaway

ACS_0123Hello lovelies! It’s really been a while hasn’t it? I think this has been the longest time I’ve been away since the start of this blog. I’ve been trying really hard to find what I’ve lost along the way of trying to blog frequently and maintaining a 40 hour work week. I want to say that this time I’ll be back, but it’s really hard to say – so for those who have been keeping up with me, I thank you for your support!

Now, let’s step back to a few weeks ago, back to early October, when I took my boyfriend on a little getaway trip and explored the coast of Northern California. We made a few stops at Carmel, Monterey Bay, and Big Sur. We both really love exploring new areas, hiking, and brunch, and that’s exactly what our trip was made up of. I didn’t include the food pictures, but if you follow me on Instagram, you got to see a whole lot of eggs benedict, hehe. Today, I just wanted to share some of the shots I got from that weekend. Hope you enjoy 🙂  ACS_0120ACS_0122

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China Rock

I highly recommend this Airbnb if you’re planning on going to Carmel. That is where we stayed and it’s just a few blocks away from the 17 mile drive.  If you haven’t heard of the 17 mile drive before, it’s a scenic drive along the Monterey Peninsula. A lot of people go there to take photos at the turn-in areas. The Ghost Tree and China Rock (above) was one of the many attractions found at the turn-in areas. If you’re planning a trip there, I would anticipate the drive to be about 1 hour long including the time it takes to stop and take photos at each turn-in area. There’s also picnic tables at some of the stops so it can definitely be made into a full-day thing too!

On the second day, Sunday, we headed down to Big Sur National Park after brunch and coffee. There was also a lot of turn-in areas on the drive there as well. Lots of people were pulled over to get a few take photos of the infamous bridge (the first photo on this blog). Below are some of the shots I got inside the national park:ACS_0137ACS_0133ACS_0134Be sure to bring cash if you plan on hiking at any of the trails because there will most likely be an admissions fee and I don’t believe they take card. The hike at the national park was actually shorter and easier than I expected – but it was still nice! Justin and I really enjoy exploring national parks and hiking areas whether it’s challenging or not. My favorite part was the steps across the river – it made for a really cool photo (below). If you ever visit, definitely stop by for a photo!

Our trip was short, but it was nice to unplug for a bit and just enjoy some scenic areas. I hope you enjoyed some of the photos I took during the trip. I really wanted to share it with you. Thank you so much for reading! 🙂 ACS_0131Stay tuned for next week – I’m really excited to be showing you some photos from Hawaii so please make sure you are subscribed to my blog so that you are notified when that post goes up! Hope you guys have a lovely weekend.