Observing Pisa (Tourists)

July 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Stunning view of Piazza del Duomo in Pisa

While most of my travel companions made the decision to conquer the nearby outlet malls, I opted out of the Prada sales and made a solo trip to Pisa instead.

It was a very warm sunny day

Many people were surprised that I made the trip alone; apparently small Asian girls are often discouraged from travelling by themselves. Keeping that in mind, I made sure to keep a tight grasp on my bag and tried to give off the airs of a black-belt karate master. Travelling alone might be dangerous but people are more likely to approach you if you are alone. I met a lovely Canadian couple who were on their 35th anniversary Italy trip. They were very charming and decided to keep an eye on me during our ride to Pisa.

I still haven’t figured out what the words mean but I liked the colors + Banksy-ish feel

The Piazza del Duomo (“Cathedral Square”) is situated at the heart of Pisa, home of the famous leaning tower of Pisa. You can also find the Duomo, the Campanile (bellow tower), the Baptistry and the Camposanto and the Piazza del Duomo, all surrounded by lush patches of green lawn. The weather was absolutely perfect, 75 and sunny. All I wanted to do was pass out on the lawn with some lunch and enjoy the beautiful architecture around me.


Part of the Camposanto Monumentale

View of the Duomo from The Baptistery

The Baptistery

Besides checking out the beautiful and historical architecture, the bountiful supply of tourists from all around the world made for some  fantastic people-watching moment.

You’d think the leaning tower of Pisa wouldn’t be leaning anymore, with the amount of tourists pushing it straight.Though I didn’t get a cheesy picture of myself pushing the Pisa tower (one of the cons of travelling solo), I took way too many pictures of others capturing that exact moment.

Tourist exhibit #1

tourist exhibit #2

Tourist Exhibit #3, #4, #5…

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Ciao Bella | Firenze

July 1, 2012 § 3 Comments

Church of Santa Maria Novella

All the stress and tension that has been building up in my body from the months of unbearable overtime melted away the second I stepped foot in Italy. The sun was shining and the weather was impeccable; 75 degrees and clear blue skies each day.

Anyone that’s been to Florence can’t possibly question why Forbes ranked it one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  The rich  history, art and culture oozes out of every corner. Everywhere you look is a visual feast for your eyes.

One of the 1231254 pictures i took of the duomo

Firenze is a city flooded with tourists. In fact, it felt like tourists outnumber locals by 1:5, easily pinpointed by the DSLR camera around the necks and city maps in their hands. The locals must get tired of all the visitors all the time.

Enjoying all the street art as usual

In addition to taking a million pictures of all the famous sites such as the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, I also spotted some cool street art along the way. As always, I love seeing the new urban art settling in and coexisting with all the classics.

Impressive Mona Lisa

V – I spotted this behind a street vendor’s booth!

Inspired by the Classics?

It was probably the weather, but the colors of Firenze were so vivid! Everything appeared so sharp and bright. Taipei doesn’t quite emit such radiance (it’s been mostly grey and rainy).

Beautiful colors

beautiful Ponte Vecchio

If you plan on going to see Michelangelo’s David, please remember to book ticket in advance or pay a visit early in the morning. I neglected to do either and ended up waiting in the longest line ever. One hour later and a bitch mood to boot, I was still flabbergasted when I set my eyes on David. A lot of masterpieces aren’t really that amazing in person (ahem, Mona Lisa) but it really is worth seeing this in person. It’s unbelievable that a man can create such a masterpiece of a sculpture, without forgoing the intricate details. You can see the veins in the thighs and the tension in the face.

I snuck a picture of David’s butt

Distant view of Michelangelo’s David

Hiking up to Piazzale Michelangelo and watching the sunset was by far my favorite part of the Firenze leg (Pisa, San Gimignano, Pienza and Orvieto pictures will come shortly!) The atmosphere was relaxed and cheerful, everyone seemed happy to be there in the moment.  Lots of people brought snacks and a bottle of wine. If you forgot to pack something (like me), there are food vendors selling sandwiches and a variety of alcoholic beverages. What more could you ask?

The view from Piazzale Michelangelo

The sun setting over Firenze

I wonder what it’s like to live in this city, with such beauty around all the time. Do people ever get tired of it?

Flying A Kite

November 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

There’s something innocent and peaceful about flying a kite. I think it has to do with standing around in an open, breezy space with colorful kites just soaring in whatever way the wind guides them, with no goal or purpose but just simply enjoying the moment.

I’m not sure why both Teddy and I had the urge to fly a kite but it came up in conversation so frequently that we added it to the list of things to do. Finally, about two weeks ago, preparation (buying kite) and timing (beautiful afternoon) met and gave us the perfect kite flying opportunity.

Sun Yat-Sen Memorial hall is known to be the kite flying hot spot ever since I was young. It’s close to Taipei 101 and is a rather beautiful, low-key location. I’m not sure what the story is behind kite flying at the memorial hall but given any weekend, it is packed with kite flyers.

Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall on a beautiful sunny day

The kite we bought had awesome Transformers on it, for a grand total of NT99 (US$3).

trying to figure out how to put this thing together

The beautiful weather drew a large crowd to the memorial. There were little children, tiny dogs and sounds of laughter as far as the eye can see.

laid back sunday afternoon

Setting up...

go go go!

Though there was plenty of sun, the day was rather lacking in the wind department. We quickly learned that flying kites is no picnic. Both of us got some pretty good cardio time in just by running back and forth trying to get the kite up.


some other kite flyers

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Sounds of Daydreams and Fairies

June 29, 2011 § Leave a comment

Watching movies is one of my favorite things to do (second only to sleeping and eating). I love just sitting down and immersing myself into a completely new and foreign world, watching stories and events that belong to other people. It takes my mind off everything going on in my life and instead, dive into the lives of others. It’s my form of meditation and means for escape, my go-to topic of conversation and my top favorite form of entertainment.

I finally got the chance to watch Finding Neverland today, a movie I’ve been meaning to watch since it came out back in 2004. Finding Neverland is a semi-biographical film of J.M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan played by Johnny Depp. The film explores his relationship and experiences with Sylvia Llewelyn Davies (played by Kate Winslet) and her boys, who inspired the timeless classic. Classic children’s literature such as Alice and Wonderland and The Little Prince have always been my all-time favorite books. The creativity and imagination the writers used to create these mystical and fascinating worlds, combined with a touch of childish innocence and whimsical nature appeals to the kid in everyone.

It’s refreshing to Johnny Depp play a normal looking person, as oppose to a pirate, an artificial scissors man, or a crazy barber butcher/killer. The acting from both Depp and Winslet were steady, nothing too exciting. Freddie Highmore’s performance as Peter blew my mind; the range of emotions he was able to depict was so natural. I think what makes this movie such a treat was watching the relationship between Barrie and the boys develop and the inspirations he drew from their role-play and pretending. The scenes from the actual Peter Pan play in the movie were magical and captivating. If you haven’t had a chance to see this movie, I highly recommend it.

The title of this post refers to the absolutely stunning soundtrack by Jan A. P. Kaczmarek, which won an Academy Award for Musical Score. I mentioned before that music adds soul and amplifies emotion in movies; this movie especially so. The music just sounds exactly what daydreams and fairies sound like. Below is my favorite song from the movie called Piano Variation in Blue:



Dustin O’Halloran

May 15, 2011 § 2 Comments

That feeling when you hear a new piece of music and you instantly fall in love:

His music has hints of Philip Glass, but somehow more expressive and human. All his pieces are just hauntingly beautiful and stirring.

Music adds soul to movies and images. It enhances and amplifies the emotion the image evokes. I love this music video for Opus 23 by  Italian director Marco Morandi; the animation is so simple and charming.

“Traumgedanken” by Maria Fischer | conception and design of a book on the topic of “dream”

February 18, 2011 § 2 Comments

It’s unbelievable how lazy living in the Caribbean can make you. The sun, the sand and the lazy breeze – it’d make an insomniac fall asleep in a jiffy. Being the heavy sleeper that I am already, I’ve been racking in at least 10 hours of sleep in the past few days. I feel so incredibly lazy and slightly relieved (but mostly sad) that I’m not staying in Belize for an extended period of time.

Lots of sleep means lots of dreams. Lots of long, weird, random-ass dreams. But mostly I’m just impressed with my imagination and how real my dreams have been. Inception was such an awesome movie to me because they got all the aspects of dreams and dreaming correct. It’s so easy to watch and relate to all the different things in that movie, from the ‘kick’ to the compound passage of time. Dreams are fascinating.

I stumbled on Maria Fischer’s “Traumgedanken”, a book that contains a collection of  literary, philosophical, psychological and scientifical texts which provide an insight into different dream theories.[1] What makes the book unique though, is the design. The whole book is woven and tied together by a web of different color threads. Each color connects to a specific key word and touches each page that deals with that topic. There are several pages that sports beautiful thread illustrations. The design is a model of the nature of dreams; its complexity and fragileness.

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A Tribute to Nujabes

December 16, 2010 § 2 Comments

I know it’s the end of the year when I begin to get bombarded with “Top 10 ____ of the year” articles.  Although I love complaining about them and how most lists suck, I secretly find them interesting to read and a great way to kill time; Times Magazine has a Top 10 for everything.  While the people at Times Magazine have successfully taken me down the memory lane of 2010, I wanted to write a post about something that will never make a Top 10 list but had personally affected me this year.

Not many people know who Nujabes  is.  Tragically, the young underground hip-hop producer and DJ passed away February of this year and will likely quietly fade away in music history without further discussion.  Nujabes was a  secretive person and avoided the limelight while he was alive.  Similar in that regard to Daft Punk, he seemed to want the world to focus on the music and not the creator behind it.  He doesn’t need to come out for interviews and tv appearances;  his music speaks to those who listen.  It music captures and woos the listener into falling in love with what they hear.  At least, that’s what happened to me.

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