How Great A Love: My Grandparents’ Story

I’ve been mostly at the hospital these past few days helping to take care of my grandpa and auntie. Aside from spending some quality time with loved ones and catching up on some leisure reading, I’ve also had some time to reflect.

Despite the sterile hospital environment that many shy away from, I’ve started to enjoy my time here. I’ve taken peaceful walks around the grounds, made friends with the nurses and doctors, and even advised a couple on how to prepare their son for school in America. I’ve felt so much love here. Love for the aging father or grandparent. Love for one’s newborn baby. Love for the boyfriend injured in a car crash. Love for the husband ailing from Cancer. For the doctors and nurses who tirelessly work overtime and forget to eat dinner on time, love for their profession and concern for their patients. So many different types of love.

Then I look at my grandpa and grandma, 92 and 80, who have been married for over 60 years. Holding hands, they have gone through the Chinese Civil War, Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap Forward, multiple natural disasters, China’s remarkable economic evolution, and everything in between. Together, they reared 2 bright children, immigrated to America twice and then moved back to China, and were (un)fortunately blessed with a bald, fat, and mischievous grandchild otherwise known as Yours Truly. They never stopped moving. As my grandparents aged, both attended Old Comrade’s University and took up Chinese painting. My grandpa specialized in painting historical figures, grapes, and birds. My grandma painted magnificent landscapes of mountains and rivers. Both had their work featured in galleries in Boston and Toronto. As my grandpa pushed past 80, he could still run faster than me. My grandma learned how to use a computer and emailed/Skyped me regularly.

Now my grandparents are older. My grandpa is more forgetful, and my grandma is more hard of hearing. With old age, its inevitable that health problems will come up. But my grandpa is as happy as ever, just as my grandma has always been shrewd.Their love is still as strong as ever. Ever since my grandpa was admitted to the hospital, my grandma has been at the hospital everyday tirelessly taking care of him. When I look at them holding hands walking down the hall, I am awed by how great a love they have.

Grandpa trying to kiss Grannie!

Aren’t they adorable?

How Great a Love.



Insightful Words: The Opposite of Loneliness

I haven’t really shared insightful essays or articles on this blog in the past. However, now that I have a summer ahead of me to rest, reflect, and spend quality time with family in China, I will start occasionally sharing pictures or writing pieces that have touched me in some way. This blog started out as a means for me to chronicle my daily adventures, but has evolved to become an anchor. In my constantly eventful and dynamic life, it has become one of the only constants to my day.

I came across this piece titled The Opposite of Loneliness, written by Marina Keegan, a recent graduate of Yale. As fellow recent post-grad, her words really touched me.

We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life. What I’m grateful and thankful to have found at Yale, and what I’m scared of losing when we wake up tomorrow and leave this place.

It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. Who are on your team. When the check is paid and you stay at the table. When it’s four a.m. and no one goes to bed. That night with the guitar. That night we can’t remember. That time we did, we went, we saw, we laughed, we felt. The hats.

Yale is full of tiny circles we pull around ourselves. A cappella groups, sports teams, houses, societies, clubs. These tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest nights when we stumble home to our computers — partner-less, tired, awake. We won’t have those next year. We won’t live on the same block as all our friends. We won’t have a bunch of group-texts.

This scares me. More than finding the right job or city or spouse – I’m scared of losing this web we’re in. This elusive, indefinable, opposite of loneliness. This feeling I feel right now.

But let us get one thing straight: the best years of our lives are not behind us. They’re part of us and they are set for repetition as we grow up and move to New York and away from New York and wish we did or didn’t live in New York. I plan on having parties when I’m 30. I plan on having fun when I’m old. Any notion of THE BEST years comes from clichéd “should haves…” “if I’d…” “wish I’d…”

Of course, there are things we wished we did: our readings, that boy across the hall. We’re our own hardest critics and it’s easy to let ourselves down. Sleeping too late. Procrastinating. Cutting corners. More than once I’ve looked back on my High School self and thought: how did I do that? How did I work so hard? Our private insecurities follow us and will always follow us.

But the thing is, we’re all like that. Nobody wakes up when they want to. Nobody did all of their reading (except maybe the crazy people who win the prizes…) We have these impossibly high standards and we’ll probably never live up to our perfect fantasies of our future selves. But I feel like that’s okay.

We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time. There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense, creeping in our collective conscious as we lay alone after a party, or pack up our books when we give in and go out – that it is somehow too late. That others are somehow ahead. More accomplished, more specialized. More on the path to somehow saving the world, somehow creating or inventing or improving. That it’s too late now to BEGIN a beginning and we must settle for continuance, for commencement.

When we came to Yale, there was this sense of possibility. This immense and indefinable potential energy – and it’s easy to feel like that’s slipped away. We never had to choose and suddenly we’ve had to. Some of us have focused ourselves. Some of us know exactly what we want and are on the path to get it; already going to med school, working at the perfect NGO, doing research. To you I say both congratulations and you suck.

For most of us, however, we’re somewhat lost in this sea of liberal arts. Not quite sure what road we’re on and whether we should have taken it. If only I had majored in biology…if only I’d gotten involved in journalism as a freshman…if only I’d thought to apply for this or for that…

What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.

In the heart of a winter Friday night my freshman year, I was dazed and confused when I got a call from my friends to meet them at EST EST EST. Dazedly and confusedly, I began trudging to SSS, probably the point on campus farthest away. Remarkably, it wasn’t until I arrived at the door that I questioned how and why exactly my friends were partying in Yale’s administrative building. Of course, they weren’t. But it was cold and my ID somehow worked so I went inside SSS to pull out my phone. It was quiet, the old wood creaking and the snow barely visible outside the stained glass. And I sat down. And I looked up. At this giant room I was in. At this place where thousands of people had sat before me. And alone, at night, in the middle of a New Haven storm, I felt so remarkably, unbelievably safe.

We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I’d say that’s how I feel at Yale. How I feel right now. Here. With all of you. In love, impressed, humbled, scared. And we don’t have to lose that.

We’re in this together, 2012. Let’s make something happen to this world.

Original Article:

Marina Keegan was spot on about that opposite of loneliness we experience in that unique bubble called college. I only know so well that satisfying feeling of belonging to my tiny circles, stress caused by procrastination and not doing readings, and that fear that the web will fall apart and loneliness will settle in now that college is over. So many people in the Class of 2012, myself included, are in that awkward transition phase from college to the ‘real world’. Keegan’s words are spot on.

My bubble and my tiny circles

Marina Keegan died in a car accident in Cape Cod last week. Although I never met her, I am very, very sad that such a young promising life was lost. Her words will forever be immortalized in her memory.


Turbulent Journey to China: Angry Showdown on the Plane

After we crossed the final bridge connecting Hong Kong to the Mainland, my turbulent journey officially started.

We pulled up in front of the customs and immigration border and were told to bring all of our luggage with us. Fun. Thankfully since it was early, passing through customs was relatively fast and painless. I lugged my possessions through the building and out to a bus terminal. My bus was not there. After ten frantic minutes I decided to just hop on another bus belonging to the same company. When I asked the ticketing agent, he shrugged and motioned to try my luck. Success, with no questions asked. After I hopped on, the bus driver started the engine and we were on the road.

Despite some Shenzhen highway traffic, I arrived at Baoan Intl Airport around 9 30. After painless check-in and security process, I plopped down with my kindle at my boarding gate for my 11am flight to Hangzhou.

At 10 30, we were admitted onto the plane. I was pretty happy to discover that I had an entire row to myself.

3 hours later when we still hadn’t budged and I was getting lightheaded from decreased oxygen in the cabin, I wasn’t feeling so delighted. Neither were my fellow passengers. A verbal riot erupted as furious passengers gave the cabin crew a piece of their mind. One lady screamed at a steward for making her miss her meeting. Another yelled angrily for compensation. Several middle-aged stood up and blocked the way for escaping flight attendants. Intense showdown.

When things started to get ugly.

When things started to get ugly.

The intensity escalated as passengers teamed up to wreak havoc and send a message. The lady behind me suggested we all get off the plane and on the tarmac to block other planes. Another man pumped his fist and shouted out “Just because we are Chinese it doesn’t mean we will take sh*t quietly”. The flight attendants on the other hand, could not provide a reasonable excuse aside from, “Sorry, we don’t know either, except that it’s the flight control center’s decision to prevent congestion on the runway.” This did not fly with my fellow passengers, so another airport official came on and stated it was due to weather conditions in Hangzhou. Another passenger promptly pulled out his smartphone and stated it was sunny in Hangzhou. Lie fail.

Angry Chinese People

Angry Chinese People

I was supposed to arrive at Hangzhou at 1pm, and take the airport shuttle to meet my dad at 2. It was 1 40pm, and there I was still stuck in Shenzhen on a plane full of angry Chinese people. With no working Chinese phone, internet, or means of communication. Ridiculous.

I flagged down a steward and he handed me his smartphone to contact my dad. People were restless and angry phone calls filled the air.

At 2 30, we finally took off. 2 hours later, I finally landed in Hangzhou. I collected my luggage and prepared to find the shuttle. My grandparents from my mommy’s side beat me to it. It was the sweetest thing ever: they decided to surprise me at the airport, but ended up waiting for me for 4 hours. Poor Grandpa and Grannie. Their driver finally relieved me of my luggage, and we were off to my other grandparents house.

11 hours after I left Hong Kong, I finally made it to my destination. What a memorable experience I never want to repeat!


Until Next Time, Hong Kong

It is 7 41 am and I am sitting on the cross-border bus at Elements Kowloon for Mainland China. I have been living in Hong Kong and traveling around Asia for half a year now, and looking back there have been so many eye-opening experiences, wonderful memories, and inspiration for personal growth. My initial love-hate relationship with Hong Kong has evolved into a full-blown romance with this city, it’s heartbeat and culture.

Hong Kong lights

Last night, Jacky Cheung was epic. Unbelievably epic. I am going to be blasting his songs the whole way to China! He is the most charming and charismatic performer ever, and he literally dazzled the audience. He was hands down amazing singing live! What’s a better way to mark the end of a era than swoon to the mesmerizing voice of Hong Kong’s legendary “God of Pop”?

Jacky Cheung!!

“Not every relationship will have a wonderful ending, but a relationship that lacks love and acceptance is destined to fail.”

I have such a crush on Jacky Cheung now hahaha!

I have such a crush on Jacky Cheung now haha!

Thank you to Andrea for showing me the most epic and memorable last weekend ever, as well as everyone I have met along the way who contributed to making this the most eye-opening 6 months of my life.

I will be back. For now, it is time to move on to the next step of my journey: a summer in China.


Last Day in Hong Kong: Cafe Gray & Jacky Cheung

Last night was an intense blur, so the good first half of today was dedicated to recovery. A barrage of thoughts kept racing through my head, but I resolved to end my half year of Hong Kong living with a bang.

We started our day fashionably late with high tea at Cafe Gray in JW Marriott. It was chic, modern, and offered panoramic views of the city and harbour. Even the traffic looked scenic from 49 floors up. We ordered the deluxe 2 person tea set.

Exquisite tea set & Gorgeous city views

Quite a romantic setting

We enjoyed the beautiful views and chatted over some lovely Egyptian chamomile and rose petal tea. The tea set was comparable to that of the Peninsula, but slightly lighter. All in all, it was a wonderful high tea experience. Even the views from the restroom were beautiful.

Intricate Hong Kong

Now, it’s time to end my last night in Hong Kong with Jacky Cheung’s 1/2 Century Concert!!!!!

So ready for JC!


My Best Friends Birthday: From Rainstorm to Sunny.

Today started out rainy and miserable, both literally and emotionally. Sent off by the worst torrential downpour, I officially moved out of the HKU Student Flats. When I arrived back to Andrea’s, I received an alarming call from my dad. Wonderful start to the day.

For her special day, Andrea and I kick-started the day with some amazing dimsum at the local Sheung Wan Zhong Hua Lou. Then we hopped on a ferry to Discovery Bay.

Zhong Hua Lou

It was literally magical; when we left Hong Kong it was still storming, but the moment we stepped off that ferry, the sun came out. Discovery Bay was beautiful. It was such a different vibe, such a different environment with its chic yet laid back cafes and beaches. We hopped on a shuttle up to the golf course, enjoying the scenic views of the reservoir followed by miles and miles of vibrant greenery. Once we reached the top of the mountain, we hopped off and started our descent on foot.

BFF @ Discovery Bay!

Discovery Bay

Walking down the highway mountain

Birds were chirping, the sun was bright, and for a moment, I felt like I was back in California. What a world apart from this morning. Discovery Bay was such a nice escape, and honestly the most livable place in Hong Kong. I miss Chipotle, California, and above all, my boyfriend.

After our little trip, it was time to get ready for Andrea’s birthday dinner at a Hong Kong private kitchen. Mexican cuisine with fresh made margaritas, yummy!

@ Christa’s Private Kitchen!

GS Girls!

Andrea cutting her birthday cake! 🙂

Happy 22nd Birthday Andrea!!!!!


High Tea at the Peninsula: Last Date in Hong Kong 2012

How surreal. Im sitting on the Airport Express alone right now, having sent K off on his flight back to San Francisco.

To commemorate our last day in Hong Kong, we decided to have high tea at the iconic Peninsula. Although the wait time was quite long, it was so worth it. The strawberry milk tea and the Peninsula Iced Chocolate were the perfect combination of texture and sweetness, and the classic afternoon tea set was simply divine. Paired with the classical music, the classy ambience, and amazing company, the Peninsula was the ultimate last date.

After our romantic experience, all havoc wrecked lose. Packing is such a daunting task, and we completely, utterlyunderestimated ourselves. After some intense packing mania, we stuffed a taxi full of our bags and made a beeline for Airport Express.

As usual, we were cutting it close. Once we reached the Airport, it was mad dash all the way to Singapore Airlines. Thankfully, K made the cut.

It all happened so fast. We Bao-baoed ( bear hug), said our goodbyes, and he was off through security. I don’t think it’s hit me fully yet that I won’t be seeing my boo for most of summer.

Safe trip, Mr. Potatohead. Hong Kong and your Mrs. Potatohead miss you dearly.