“Ahwahnee”: Yosemite Photo Journal

“The mountains are calling and I must go…” – John Muir (1873)

It was the July 4th weekend and so my dad and I decided to road trip all the way up to Northern California to visit Yosemite. Because why not?

As I entered the park, my body absorbs this onrush the crisp air, mountains, trees, people quietly trodding through the dirt trails. The absence of noisy streets, cars, and now-what-seems are trivial problems… It’s as if this place is not a place to visit, it’s home. Somewhere you return to seek refuge and wisdom.

(that’s my inner hippie me talking by the way) I’ll let pictures do the rest.

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Sapa: Vietnamese Highlands Photo Journal

Sapa, Vietnam 2013

Along with my uncle and a couple cousins, my dad and I ventured several hours north of Hanoi to a town high off in the mountains named Sapa. The roads were not for the fainted hearts, quick sharp turns with big semi-trucks weaving through the narrow 2-lanes road from the opposite direction… it was an adventure getting to this small town.

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Sapa is known for its Hmong ethnic minorities, who have lived near there for generations. Most would walk over 10 miles from their homes in the mountains to come to town for work and or sell handmade crafts. We spent the next couple days wandering through small villages, endless rice terrace farms, muddy trails to explore and learn tidbits about their way of life.

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There wasn’t really any kind of special motivations to make this far trip to this small town. We just wanted to take a break from city life, thinking motorcycles, air pollution, people screaming on the streets… things like that. This trip about reconnecting with nature and learning about a simpler time in life.

Raise your VOICE

This year I had the opportunity to organize and execute UCSB Vietnamese Student Association’s 5th annual high school outreach program aka VOICE (Vietnamese Outreach Initiative for College Education). Cool acronym right?? Thanks, Melinda.

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VOICE is an all expense paid two-days conference here at UCSB where low-income and low-opportunity high school students from all over Orange County can come to participate in college prep and cultural workshops, campus tours, keynote speaker, overnight dorm experience, and other activities.

This project was really dear to me because believe it or not, I SIR-ed to this school without ever visiting the campus. My parents worked days in days out and the weekends are for relaxing and other leisure activities. The first time I stepped foot onto UCSB was somewhere in August, a month before the first day of school. Being able to give back to the Vietnamese American community down in OC through this project was tremendously worthwhile and fulfilling.

Saying that this event was easy to organize would be an understatement. Months of filling out funding requests, paperwork and balancing a 6 thousand dollars budget… this event took quite a toll on me, especially when all these preparatory work went unnoticed within the club.

After the event, I got a little surprise in my inbox.

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1,300 Miles: Southwest USA Photo Journal

Ever since I was little, I wanted to be a cowboy…

I bought into this romantic idea of the Wild West, the desert, sunny blue sky with red rocks for endless miles, Native Americans riding horses through canyons, that Wild West. Quite weird for an Asian kid huh? It was because I was obsessed with this cartoon called Lucky Luke.. yeah that’s where it all came from.

Now I’m 19, almost two decades, it was long enough.  Traded in my horse for my Accord,  ten-gallon hat for a baby blue LA’s Dodger, and boots for Nike Free Runs.

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Grand Canyon, AZ

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Antelope Canyon, AZ

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Horseshoe Bend, AZ

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Nature in all of its glory, roadside diners, pee breaks in the desert, shivering in the snow, empty cans of Red Bull, and more memories with my old man. Yeah, that’s what this trip was all about.