Friday, June 22, 2007

cities, cultures, people.

my summer trip is ending very soon. it's very fast and surreal. it has been one trip of seeing new things, exploring new cities. and it's amazing.

highlights of LA (continued)

- neighbourhoods of LA include santa monica, downtown LA, beverley hills, hollywood, rodeo drive shopping (or rather window shopping). i like santa monica. 'cos it reminds me of a less snobby OC. it's very young, hip, cool beachside town. the main shopping street, 3rd st, is filled with shops, restaurants and buskers.

- warner brothers studio tour. was amazing for a film and tv geek like me. we saw all the sets on the lot of WB for SO MANY movies and tv shows. primarily gilmore girls and west wing and spiderman (the upside-down kiss!) and ER and without a trace. now when i watch gilmore girls i'd be reminded that all the buildings are fake and all. plus we went into sookie's house and lorelai's house is just behind! and not to forget dosy's and luke's. we also saw the sound stages for ocean's 13, the former one for friends and many more. plus the WB museum had very cool props and costumes from all 5 harry potter movies (yes including the soon-to-be-released order of phoenix). jiejie i think you'd love this tour!

- disneyland. of course. we sat most of the "adult" rides, including the famed space mountain roller coaster twice. 'cos it was just such a thrilling ride, even better than the mummy ride at universal. we saw the usual disney parade and re-lived all my childhood memories of watching disney cartoons and movies.

- farmer's market on 3rd and fairfax. i first read about this farmer's market from corrinne may's blog. and it's a nice flea market! i bought quite a number of stuff 'cos they were either vintage or unique or just so nice. i love flea markets.

- roadtrip up north of LA to malibu and santa barbara. malibu is pretty quiet and small, despite how famous its name is. but santa barbara is just beautiful. another seaside town. but not ulu 'cos it's pretty upmarket and affluent, with all the usual shops and cafes. and i just love the vibe of this city. not to mention a lot of celebrities have homes here. no i didn't see any. but the view alone is enough. it has become one of my favorite cities now.

highlights from san francisco (so far)

- union square shopping. no i didn't buy a lot. but it's a great shopping paradise. =)

- neighbourhoods of SF, each with its distinctive architecture and character. explored financial district, chinatown, telegraph hill and coit tower, russian hill and the winding road, fisherman's wharf, nob hill, civic center and haight-ashbury. we took 2 days to cover all these places, which basically covers the entire SF, with the exception of a couple of neighbourhoods and the university.

- roadtrip down the pacific coast. was a beautiful drive. just miles and miles of unspoiled beaches. we stopped at several beaches to rest or eat. 2 major stops were santa cruz (where we met 2 NUS girls on the work and travel program, and how we met was standing in line for lemonade at the beachside theme park, overhearing each other's unique singapore accent) and monterey bay. santa cruz reminded me a lot of santa monica, while monterey is quieter like malibu, but bigger and less ulu. we saw sea lions playing around the dock, like at pier39 of fisherman's wharf. and the view along the bay is just too beautiful to be described. we saw the sunset before heading back to SF.

- biking the golden gate bridge. we rented bicycles and cycled from fisherman's wharf, along the bay, up the golen gate bridge, cross the bridge to the other side (marin county), heading to this small nice town called sausilto. very very pretty sights, we saw the whole day. but we are now all so tired from the biking, and our muscles are aching. but it was worth it. =)

tomorrow my last full day in SF. planned a yosemite national park tour. then on sunday we'll do some last minute shopping around union square, attend the gay pride parade before heading back to seattle.

oh noooo it's ending. means i'm heading home soon. miss you all a lot. =)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

greetings from LA.

hello everybody from the entertainment capital of the world. i'm still alive! i have no time yet for photo-uploads. so you'll have to deal with my ramblings for now.

highlights of new york
museum of modern art - one of the best museums i've ever been too. the installations and permanent works there are very good and acclaimed. the only disappointing one was their sculpture park, which only featured 4 sculptures. well once you've been to hakone open air museum, it takes a huge deal to top that.
statue of liberty - i met 2 new friends who study in LA, but are from argentina and guatemala. we explored the lady together, and seeing the statue up close and going up to the pedestal and having lots of adventures and laughs, it was great.
broadway - watched 2! les miserables and beauty and the beast. both of which were very good. much better than phantom of the opera actually.
brooklyn bridge - it was fantastic looking at it. seems quite impossible such an engineering feat could be accomplished at that time.
magnolia bakery in greenwhich village - got the address from sex and the city. it's this old-fashioned bakery that's really famous and i could smell it before i reached the shop. and it has pretty and very good cupcakes!
5th ave/central park - walking down 5th ave in midtown and just window-shopping all the big brand names. walking around central park is nice. i understand why new yorkers go to central park in order to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. in there, you almost won't hear the traffic sounds.

highlights from las vegas
grand canyon - was absolutely absolutely beautiful. an amazing work of nature. we went to the south rim, which was further away from vegas. long bus rides but it was all worth it.
cirque du soleil's mystere - great show! i love this arty circus show with great lighting, music and stunts. very tastefully done without being over-the-top.
buffets at bellagio and wynn hotels - 2 of the biggest names on the strip. great food. great variety. great spread.
ocean's 13 - we watched the movie along the strip. which was really apt since the movie is set at the strip. it's even better than ocean's 12, and it's a very witty script. great chemistry between george clooney and brad pitt.

highlights of LA (so far)
wicked the musical - played at pantages theatre. it was SO good. the best musical i've ever seen. the singing was absolutely brilliant. the costumes, set design, lighting, music, orchestra were all so good. so was the plot and acting. i was so glad i got $60 tickets, because everywhere i asked and looked, they were all above $110. we were walking along hollywood boulevard at the walk of fame, just exploring the street on our first night, and i saw the theatre! it was like 7.45pm and we got tickets for the 8pm show. how lucky. =) loved loved loved it.
universal studios - today, loved the studio tour, it was SO cool! saw wisteria lane aka desperate housewives outdoor set, war of the worlds set and lots of sound stages and sets. we saw some filming going on at the outdoor sets, which houses facades of new york streets, london streets, europe streets, and even ancient streets like the one used in the scorpion king. we also saw filming for a eddie murphy movie, starship something. and they were doing major publicity for their new movie evan almighty and their tv shows like heroes. oh i think NBC merged with universal studios. and i learnt that networks buy tv shows made by production companies like universal, warner brothers etc. i always thought networks like ABC, NBC, CBS all filmed their own stuff. anyway the park isn't very big, and we went to every attraction except one show. and we took the revenge of the mummy ride twice! it was this indoor roller coaster ride. and because it was indoor, it was much scarier as it was pitch black and you have no idea if you're going to turn or turn upside down or go backwards until it happens. so the first time i closed my eyes most of the time. the 2nd time, i opened my eyes and it was exhilirating! =) the terminator 2 show was not bad. so was the back to the future and jurassic park (which we got ALL wet) rides. we had dinner at a wolfgang puck restaurant! actually it's a cafe like thing, so the prices weren't that bad. and the food's great!

well somemore days in LA before heading to SF. been spending way too much money. oh i got back my results for spring quarter! my political science/communication class got 3.9/4.0! i'm so glad. my human resource management got 3.7 which was not too bad. the other 2 were non-graded but i got my credits.

ok. tired. going for a warner brothers studio tour, santa monica for a sunset and some shopping, disneyland, downtown LA, maybe a trip out of LA to napa valley for some vineyard-hopping or to santa babara or OC. sounds exciting. but hollywood is not as glam as i expected. at least hollywood boulevard is not as glam. although kodak theatre and jimmy kimmel live are located there. well more thoughts another day.

good night world. =)

Sunday, June 3, 2007

on the move.

ok so i've been MIA-ing for quite some time. so here's an update. without pictures.

school has officially ended for me. i took my last and only final this quarter on saturday. the last week of school was CRAZY. i almost died. i had tons of readings for political science class to do, to prepare for that final take-home exam paper that was released on wednesday. where i spent most of my wednesday and half my thursday doing it 'cos it was due friday at 12noon. but i am rather pleased with the paper and i'm really happy that i put on my thick coat of skin and took the class, considering i have no background whatsoever in political science or communication/media studies. i learnt SO much and it was really a case of enjoyable learning and great teaching by my professor (who is this zai zai media/communications guy in US) and my TA (who is this really nice guy who amuses me sometimes with his antics, political science phd student who spent 2 years in japan studying their politics. so cool!). yes. so i'm going to miss this class. for real. maybe i really did choose a wrong major. who knows? maybe that's where my grad school plans will take me. but then again, singapore media and politics is nowhere as exciting as US's.

well enough of my political science class. you can see how much i liked it. i can go on and on. so on thursday i had a human resource management class presentation. that was also the deadline for our written report. which was so tedious to do and compile. but many many thanks to dan who agreed to be interviewed by us!

well on top of those 3 heavy loads to do. i still had to study for my final on saturday. but i survived!! =)

the past week seems like a blur. ever since the second half of spring started, it seems the weeks just pass me by without registering in my head. all i remember is going for my enjoyable political science class, and admiring the scenery and enjoying the great weather.

hmmm. UW's educational outreach programs office arranged a closing lunch for us. it was really poignant hearing the stories and speeches made by our program director, administrator (gretchen who helped us with SO much stuff) and suzanne my friend. our time at UW has really ended. and in a way, i enjoyed myself so much in UW that i didn't want it to end. even though school is more hectic and there are tons of homework, weekly assignments, presentations, take-home finals, i still learnt a lot from my professors and i realise i do love learning afterall. and i love UW.

well so now i'm back in new york city. the weather's hot!! at 23 degrees, i was constantly perspiring and wearing my shades. we touched down and made our way to the hostel. then we explored midtown manhattan on foot, did a little shopping, took pictures of new york. we were at 5th ave and herald square garden and the fashion ave (7th ave), where the largest macy's and gap were around. and many many shops like H&M, forever21, victoria's secret etc etc. had to stop myself from going in, or i know i'll spend more $$. then we walked to broadway and times square to check out discounted tickets for broadway shows. ended up buying les miserables. before the show started we had some time to kill, so we explored times square, took more pictures (this is my 4th time there, but i'm never sick of it. this time i kept thinking about the stuff i learnt from my political science class, about advertising and the consumer bubble and corporate censorship.) and we went into the HUGE M&M's store and the HUGE toys "r" us store and the hershey's store! hahahahahahaaaa. everything at times square is just magnified. buildings, ads, slogans and stores.

so les miserables was really really good!!! it was even better than phantom of the opera. especially the cast and the production set. the singing was excellent, esp the leads jean valjean (who had this amazing range and his falsetto range was SO controlled and in tune!), fantine (sung by lea salonga, the same girl who sang miss saigon when i saw the production in singapore years ago), epinone was surprisingly good, though still a little raw, the adult cosette was really good too and she looked like emmy rossum - the girl who played christine in the movie adaptation of phantom of the opera as well as javert. i normally don't give standing ovations unless i thought it was really good. and i did give a standing o. =) loved it. linda and i are probably gonna catch one more show here before we leave. i feel like i want to watch so many. a chorus line, lion king, beauty and the beast, mama mia, mary poppins, stomp, chicago etc etc. but no $$ and no time. plus cirque du soleil in las vegas is gonna cost about $90. argh.

so many many plans for the next few days, including meetings with andrew, zhihui, edlyn and glenda who all happen to be in manhattan now. then off to vegas to meet ian and his friend. then off to LA to meet my friend tina who studies at UCLA, then off to san francisco to meet shian chi.

let's hope i still have energy left. =)

time to sleep. early day tomorrow to liberty and ellis island. good night everyone from the city of all cities.