Friday, October 09, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Back to Sydney, day 10, last day

My buddy told me, "You can't say you've been to Sydney if you haven't been to Bondi beach". So there we went. The weather was sunny and the sky was clear and blue as the ocean. The ocean and waves looked inviting so we decided to go for a swim. But alas, as soon as we put our feet in, they felt numb in the frigid water. It's not summer yet. After a few hesitations, we decided to swim. I had come along this far anyway, why the heck not.


We also walked along the beach that led to the other beaches near by. At midnight, we went to the pub near by my friend's place drinking Guinness and watching my soccer team Arsenal losing 2-4 to Man. City. I needed more Guinness!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Adelaide, day 9

Exhausted from the whole day road trip in Alice Springs, we checked in the hostel and just went to bed after arriving in Adelaide. The next morning we walked to downtown, central market and took a tram to Glenelg Beach. It was pretty windy that day. The beach was OK but the surrounding neighborhood was inviting. People seemed to be friendly and laid-back. There are many small shops and cafes along the streets. Many seagulls were flying and looking for food as they're used to being fed by beach goers.


We took the tram back to downtown in the afternoon and then flew back to Sydney. That summed up our 6 day trip. What I brought with me from this trip was a bottle of red sand from the outback.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Road trip From Uluru back to Alice Springs, day 8


Pretty much the same red landscape scenery, the same hot weather and the same kangaroos corps along the sides of the highway. I tried my first camel ride at a pit stop farm before reaching Alice Springs. That's when I learned from its care taker that camels have 3 stomachs.


We got to Alice Springs around 2pm and caught our flight to Adelaide at 5pm.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Road Trip to Uluru, day 7

Couldn't get up as early as we planned to because of staying up late last night. We checked out at 10am and would be on the road for 5 hours across the outback. The highway to Uluru National Park is sealed road. There were also many unsealed roads that also let you see more things and loop quicker. However, only 4x4 cars, which were very expensive to rent, were allowed to pass through.

A long outback road

The landscape is different. The land was red, dry and flat partly covered by bushes and small trees. The sky was cloudless as far as the eye can see. It's hot in the day and chilly at night. There were many dead kangaroos, at least 30 of them during our entire trip to Uluru, along the sides of the highway. Not sure if they died from thirst, starvation or got hit by the cars or could be combination of all. But nothing went to waste. The corps provided plenty of nutrition to the crows and eagles, a nice natural balance. Plus, there are too many kangaroos anyway, 60 millions Vs. 20 millions human population.

Ayers Rock at sunset

We got to Uluru around 4pm, checked in the hostel and had just enough time to catch the view and take pictures of Ayers Rock during sunset. Later in the evening, we had combo BBQ, Crocodile, Emu, Kangaroo and Beef; a couple of beers and accompanied by live music performance at the resort we stayed in. My first time trying crocodile and emu meat. Crocodile was delicious. Emu was also quite nice.

Alice Springs, day 6

We left Melbourne early morning and flew to Alice Springs. However because of our bargain ticket price, we couldn't fly directly to Alice Springs. We stopped over in Adelaide and caught another plane to Alice Springs a couple of hours later. Therefore we arrived in Alice Springs at 5pm, picked up our rental car from the airport and checked in Alice Lodge, a nice hostel for a bargain price. Alice Springs is a very small town in the middle of the outback in Northern Territory. Not much to do there. So we decided to buy marinaded chicken skewers and Kangaroo meat and BBQ'ed them at the hostel's backyard. It was the first time I tried Kangaroo meet. It was tender but tasted OK. To me it's not as good as beef.

The lodge is filled with backpackers, mostly young people. We met and chatted with a group of backpackers, Irish and Germans, and then together we went to a local pub nearby, came back and finished up our bottle of Jack Daniels.


Melbourne, day 5

The three musketeers went on a wine tasting tour, about 90 minute drive from Melbourne. We took a 15-seat bus. Our bus driver was entertaining and quite knowledgeable about wines. He took us to taste wine at 4 different vineyards. Well by the time we got the the 4th vineyard, everyone in the bus was already buzzed and feeling happy. Gourmet lunch was served at the last vineyard and more wines to taste as a wrap up for the day.

As soon we were heading back to Melbourne, most people dozed off on the bus.



Monday, September 21, 2009

Melbourne, day 4

Another charming city in Victoria - more laid back and friendly atmosphere. We stayed at the Elephant Backpackers hostel on Flinder St. in front of the yellow "Union Station". Across Union Station is the Federal Square, a popular place for hanging out and hosting events. It's a busy intersection where people get on and off the train at the Union Station to/from the Federal Square.

We stayed at a 2 bunk-bed room with shared bathrooms. The hostel is kind of dirty but livable for 2 days :). I guess AU$20/night is you get for what you pay.


We spent our first day strolling around the city. Our old friend who is a local was kind enough to meet us up after we arrived and guided us around the city. We went to see some points of interests such as the Memorial Temple, St. Paul Church, Federal Square, Melbourne jail and State Library, immense architecture with huge collection of books and materials which made me feel smarter by just getting inside :). We also had delicious chocolate ice creams, dinner and ended the evening with bowling and beers.


Blue Mountains National Park, day 3

My buddy Tra, his brother and I rent a car and spent our day at the Blue Mountains National Park, about 90 minute drive from Sydney. Frankly, I found the Blue Mountains National Park a bit disappointing. After seeing the natures in Washington, this National Park did not impress me much. The elevation is not high enough for spectacular view, the waterfalls barely have any water. Another commercial site to get money from tourists.



Friday, September 18, 2009

Sydney, day 2

I spent my whole day walking in the city (unlike day 1, it didn't rain one drop). First, I went to Sydney Aquarium which wasn't as good and big as I expected. Then, after having lunch with my friend, I walked across the Harbor bridge which gave me a nice view of Sydney once I was at the middle of the bridge. Once I stopped, I could feel the the bridge vibrating as hundreds of cars are crossing every minute. Though to be expected, it was still kind of scary considering how high the Harbor Bridge is above the water.


I crossed over to North of Sydney where there seems to be a rich neighborhood along the waterfront with many mansions and big green grass lawns. I came down and walked along the waterfront under the bridge westward to take some pictures where I met another Chinese tourist and we crossed the bridge back and continued to Opera House by sunset.


Later in the evening, I met up with friends had a beer at a packed bar by the the opera house. Australians seem to enjoy drinking beers and have to good time. Then we met up with my other 2 old friends of mine and had dinner with them at the Darling Harbor.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


A beautiful and lively city, full of things to do but it's also expensive, I was a bit surprise to see it's more expensive than Seattle. The busiest place in the day is in CBD (Central Business District) where it's full of shopping malls. Coffee shops, restaurants and pubs are at every corner.

Sydney and Seattle share similar waterfront settings and the same love for coffee.



Friday, September 11, 2009

G'day from Down Under

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I've finally made my first trip to Australia. I first flew to Sydney, visiting my friend Soputtra. We then traveled together to a few places in the country such as Melbourne, Alice Springs, Uluru National Park and Adelaide. Now I'm back to Sydney and will fly back to Seattle on the 13th which I'm not looking forward to it at all :). It's been a fun learning traveling experience - different culture, different landscape and different perspective.

More pictures to follow.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Glacier Basin, Mt. Rainier

Last weekend my buddy and I went hiking at the Glacier Basin at Mount Rainer, one of the active volcanoes in Washington. The hike was about 5 hours round trip. With such a sunny day and temperature around 55 F, we can comfortably pace though the landscape and enjoy breathtaking views of the cascades, diverse plants, wild flowers and little animals.

Beauty can be deceitful! Inside Mt. Rainier's glacier peak are melting hot lavas waiting to burst out. Hopefully it won't happen for a long long time.




Sunday, August 09, 2009

My neighbor

This raccoon is looking for food at the backyard. So I just had to snap a picture of it through my window. It really reminds me of the movie "Over the Hedge".

Can I borrow some sugar?
My neighbor

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Barcelona FC Vs. Seattle Sounders FC

One of the best soccer teams in the world, the 09 Champions Barcelona FC came to play friendly game with Seattle Sounders yesterday. It was a great chance for me to see Barcelona play at Qwest stadium in Seattle without having to go to Spain :). Messi, Henry, Xavi were among the line up stars for the first half. Too bad they didn't let me bring my DSLR camera and lens inside :( so I had to borrow a Lumix from my friend.

As expected, the game was one-sided, dominated the entired 90 minutes by Barcelona. We ended up losing 0-4 to Barca lol. But it was a good experience for the Sounders to play against probably the best team in the world.


Messi's second goal in the first half.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Rattlesnake ridge

Another hiking weekend to Rattlesnake ridge, 1750 ft. (533 m) gain, with the view of Rattlesnake lake and the east cascades. The hike is not that rough. I would say easy to medium, even little kids can do it :).

Rattlesnake Lake

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tiger Mountain, Issaquah

It was a hot and dry day. Hiking from Chirico trail to the Poo Poo Point at 1650 ft (511.50 m) elevation where para-gliders jump off from the lookout. It was really cool to see the para-gliders in action: waiting for the right wind, taking off and off they floated in the air.

Taking off

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Snow Lake, Snoqualmie

About an hour drive from Seattle and another hour hike leads into this hidden lake in the middle of the cascades. As the name indicates, this lake is completely covered with glacier in the winter. Here in the middle of July, there are still some ice patches floating on the lake. I dipped in the lake and could only endure for 10 seconds in this frosty ice-cold water :) but it was so refreshing.


Driving: 1 hour and 10 bucks of gas
Hiking: 1 hour
Energy snacks and water: 5 dollars
10 second dip in the freezing lake: priceless

Sunday, July 05, 2009


July 4th at Lake Union

Seattle Center

Sunday, June 14, 2009

1 day hike, 2 waterfalls

Snoqualmie falls, seems so far away, yet so close to civilization.


Force of nature

Twin Falls State Park

Today I decide to hike to the waterfalls for my waterfalls photo theme. My trip begin at noon as I drive along I-90 East toward Twin Falls State Park at exit 35. The nice thing about this park, is you start hiking along the water stream all the way to its source, the twin waterfalls. Along the path, the trees are green with trunks covered by green mosses. Lush of vegetation on the ground and raspberries are ripe bloody red. The celebration of life is once again at its fullest. The music of serenity from the water flow is playing nonstop. For my break, I sit on a big rock in between the waterfalls and the steam, listening to the water flow, admiring nature's beauty and capture some photos.

Now it's about 6pm, time to leave Twin Falls and go visit another waterfall, Snoqualmie Falls. It's on the way back to Seattle on exit 25. Snoqualmie falls is much grander and unbelievably in the backyard, a few miles off I-90. The falls are so powerful and steep, dropping 268 feet in vertical with such a velocity that creates a thumping sound and shoots out the water vapors hundreds feet back to the top. I decide to stay till dark for my night shots of the falls and it is definitely worth it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mount Si, revisited

I hiked this mountain last summer. Yesterday, I went there again with my friends. 4 miles up and 4 miles down, and 10 pounds of my camera equipments on my back made this hike a real work out. It was a constant incline all the way to the top and coming down was just as hard as going up. But it was worth every step to get to the top at 4,000 ft. elevation. This time I could see mount Rainier and managed to get some good close-up shots of the birds.



Sunday, May 03, 2009

Tulip Farm, Skagit Valley

To my surprise, the weather turned out to be nice today. So my buddy and I decided to go check out tulip farm, an hour drive north. This is the last week of tulip season. So a photo op not to miss or will have to wait until next summer.



Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Puget Sound

Winter is long this year. It's still cold in May. I wish I could go into hibernation like the polar bear in winter :)


Friday, January 30, 2009

City of rain

Trust me the weather in Seattle is really nice when you can see it :)

Retaken with new camera Canon 5D Mark II and 24-70mm 2.8L lens
Seattle at sunset

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

West coast road trip summary

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Highlight: Death Valley National Park, CA.
Lowlight: Biting my tongue during lunch at Denny's in Roseburg, Oregon.
Best scenic drive: Pacific Highway 101, CA.
Worst drive: During the pouring rain on first day from WA to OR.
Longest drive: From Needles, CA to Redding, CA. 12 hours by myself.
Shortest drive: from Las Vegas to Hoover Dam, 45 minues.
Coldest weather: 18 F at Crater Lake.
Hottest weather: 55 F in California.
Most expensive motel: Quality Inn, 82/night at Crescent City, CA.
Cheapest hotel: 4 Queens Casino/Hotel, 20/night, Las Vegas.
Highest elevation: Grand Canyon, 7000 ft.
Lowest elevation: Somewhere along Pacific Highway 101.
Best weather: From California to Nevada to Arizona.
Worst weather: Washington and Oregon.
Scariest moment: Almost involved in accident twice at Crescent City and San Francisco, CA.
Best city: San Francisco, CA.
Interesting vista views along I-5: Mount Shasta, CA and Mount Angel, OR.
The best snack on the road: Beef jerky.
The most music listened to on the road: Preab Sovath.
Total miles for the entire road trip: 3,500 miles.

Pictures of the entire trip:

Saturday, January 10, 2009

West coast road trip - Updated

Day 3, 1/3/09: We left early in the morning and drove on Redwood Highway 101 along the Pacific coast enjoying the views of the mountains and the Pacific ocean. Occasionally, we stopped to take longer views. About 2 hours later, we drove through the Redwood National Park. It was dark inside the park as the giant trees act like a huge wall blocking the sun from reaching us. I rolled down the windows to breath the fresh air as our tiny car made through. There is a small community of people living in Redwood. We made frequent stops to take pictures including at the famous drive-through tree.


Thereafter, we continued on Highway 101 all the way to San Francisco. We arrived in San Francisco around 9pm. I almost had an accident as I was about to change the lane at the Golden Bridge. The other car was on the blind spot which luckily the driver slowed down for my car and I pulled back to my lane when I saw that on second look. That was close. We stayed in downtown and checked out the city for a couple of hours. One thing to notice, San Francisco downtown is hilly with some really steep streets. Luckily, our rental car was a V6.

Day 4, 1/4/09: We checked out early and left for the Golden Bridge. We stopped at a nice Park which has the view of the Golden Bridge and Alcatraz island. After taking pictures and walking along the Park, we walked across the Golden Bridge. Time was short. We only walked half way on the bridge and back. We had lunch at Chinatown and then got back on the wheels to the next destination. We decided to stay for the night at Ridgecrest city, near Death Valley National Park.


Day 5, 1/5/09: Death Valley was fascinating in a different way. It is a desert with sand dunes, rocks and bald mountains. No greens or water to be found. The annual rainfalls are 2 inches or below or some years none. This complete change of scenery captured my perspective, especially the sand dune where I made a long stop. I guess I could make it a substitute for the Sahara for the moment. I hiked up to the tallest sand dune and just sat there for about 15 minutes. The valley was in complete silence and serene. The only noise I could hear was my breathing.

Then, we drove to see the castle on the other side of the mountain and the volcanic crater. The sun was setting as we departed Death Valley. The dusk beautifully painted the peaks of the mountains with variation of golden color...I've still got sands in my shoes.


About 5 hours later, we reached Las Vegas. We stayed at 4 Queens Casino/Hotel on 15th floor for 20 bucks/night, a nice bargain. Soon after checking in, we went sightseeing Sin City. It's another different atmosphere where the night is full of neon lights luring people into gambling and various entertainments. And they got me. I couldn't resist the temptation. I lost 4 bucks to slot machine :(

Sin City

Day 6, 1/6/09: Our last but not least destination is the Grand Canyon, Arizona. On our way there, we stopped by the famous Hoover Dam that lies on the border of Arizona and Nevada. It's more exciting to see in person, a fascinating mega structure built during the 1930's.


At about 8pm, we arrived at Williams, AZ and decided to lodge there for the night. It was pretty chilly and there's still snow on the side of the roads. Given its remote location, I was a bit surprised when I found out that our Motel owner was an Indian (from India).

Day 7, 1/7/09: After wasting a couple of hours following our incorrect GPS navigation, we finally made it to the Grand Canyon. At about 7,000 ft elevation, it's still cold on a sunny day. Some parts of the canyon were still covered with snow. The canyon is vast and deep, about ten miles wide and one mile deep. I gazed in awe of such creation by mother nature: the layers of rocks formed millions years ago, their color variation and each chunk was beautifully carved. It looks as if the canyon was a result of the earth's crust being ripped by gigantic hands.


We stayed there until sunset. It marked the end of our sightseeing journey. For the next two days, we spent our times driving during the days and resting at nights as we made our way back to Seattle. I've brought with me many good memories and of course a lot of pictures.

Friday, January 02, 2009

West coast road trip

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With the company of my friend, Vireak, from New York, we've decided to rent a car and go for a 10-day winter road trip, starting on the New Year's day.

Day 1, 1/1/09: We drove south on highway 5, then highway 101 to Astoria, Oregon, hoping to get the best scenic drive possible. It was cloudy all the way but we still could enjoy the view. Vireak has a permit and wanted to practice his driving skill. So we switched driving. About 2 hours later, Highway Patrol officer pulled us over. Apparently Vireak's driving on the serpentine road wasn't smooth enough which caught his attention. So he asked Vireak if he had been drinking and he said "No". I tried to explain to the officer it was his first time driving since his last driving test. Not convinced enough, he asked Vireak to do Alcohol test. He passed. So the officer let us go and recommended me to drive instead. So I did.


We passed many small towns that look like a different part of the US. We were driving along the Pacific coast, enjoying the view of the ocean, when it stared to rain as soon as we got close to Astoria. We crossed the beautiful Astoria bridge over Columbia river that divides Washington and Oregon. The darkness started creeping in and the rain stared to pour more. So we decided to get back to Highway 5 and drove to Eugene, OR, which was our final stop on the day. All the way back to Eugene was the most stressful driving as the rain poured on like crazy and the visibility was low. We could hear the beating sound of the rain on our car. But we stayed alert and slowed down and eventually reached Eugene where we stayed at Motel 6 for the night.

Day 2, 1/2/09: We checked out and left Eugene around 9:30am for Crater Lake National Park. The weather was partly cloudy and sunny. We first drove on I-5 to Roseburg and then took highway 138 E to Crater Lake. We slowly ascended onto higher elevation. The temperature was getting lower as we got higher. At about 4000 ft., we were driving on snowy roads. The snow was nicely plowed, however, which made driving possible. There were a few other cars coming and going. We got to Crater Lake around 2:30pm and it snowed lightly there.

Although we could not get a glimpse of Crater Lake because of the heavy clouds, we still enjoyed the magnificent view of the snow on the mountains and pine trees along the way. It was just serene and peaceful which reminded me of my last road trip from Kansas City to Seattle.

Photo Credit: Vireak

At about 3:30pm, we left Crater Lake and headed to Crescent City, Northern California where we would stay for the night. It started to get dark soon after. As we got close to Crescent City, we drove through Redwood highway accompanied by the many huge and tall trees. They look amazing, yet intimidating. All we could see from our car's headlights were these giant trunks which make us feel insignificantly small.

For tomorrow's destinations: Redwood National Park, Nappa Valley and San Fransisco.