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My South America Adventure - Christmas 2014

I have been wanting to write about this for a long time (before I forget about the details of the trip). It was an amazing adventure and experience so far in my life (I am hoping to have a lot more of these kinds of experiences). We went to 3 countries (4 technically if you count the one afternoon we spent in Brazil), Argentina, Bolivia and Peru in 3 weeks, and it might sound like a long time, but there is just too much to see. Although we have seen a lot, what we saw was just a tiny tiny tiny portion of the country, and there are sooooo many reasons to go back there.

I was planning this trip since summer, and I was super duper excited about the trip from the day I have decided to go! I am just a tiny Asian girl who does not speak any Spanish, so of course I am going with the boyfriend. Men do not like to plan trips (EVER!), so it is always my job to make sure things happen. Therefore, the whole trip was planned by me and me alone.  In my opinion, it is a pretty damn good itinerary for 3 weeks. It was very intense, but it is not often that we get to go to South America, so maximizing time to do/see things is definitely my priority. I am going to try my best to take you with me through this journey of mine for the next series of posts.

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Dating a girl who loves food

There are a million articles out there titled " xx things to know before xxxxxx" or "xxx reasons to xxxxx" or "xxx things you should do before you die", etc.... These article titles are drawing less and less attention from me because they are getting... um.... stale. It seems like people are just trying to come up with random list of stuff to write about.

Then, I came across this article about "17 Things to Know Before Dating a Girl Who Loves Food" yesterday on facebook. (This is my source of interesting articles/news nowadays) Since I love food, I was curious about what it has to say, and I found it awfully descriptive of me.....

1. She is very willing to pick out restaurants for every date.

* For me, it is to avoid a disappointing dining experience.

 From Google Image (http://www.nutritionbynature.com.au)

From Google Image (http://www.nutritionbynature.com.au)

2. If you bring her good food, this is what she will look like......(exactly like when a squirrel found nuts......picture to the right)

* For me, it definitely beats flowers.

3. The most asked question is "what are we gonna eat later?"

* There are definitely scenarios that we talk about what should we have for dinner while we are having lunch or discussing breakfast plan when we are lying in bed.

4. She will plan her travel itineraries according to what she wants to eat.

* For me, it is more about experiencing the food culture in a place. It doesn't have to be a well-picked-out restaurant, it can be anything like street food or a random restaurant I walk pass with a lot of locals.

5. If you want to live with her, you need to be prepared to save her a snack drawer.

* Well, I definitely have a spot for all my snacks, and it is never empty.

6. She always has a list of restaurant/food that she wants to try.

* And that list never gets shorter........

7. You will probably gain some weight due to all this awesome eating you are doing together.

* From my past experiences, there is no exception.

8. Her idea of an interesting read is a Yelp review.

* Indeed, I am a loyal reader.

9. She spends most of her money on food.

* Not most of it, but plenty..... you pay for what you get.....

10. Her eyes are most definitely bigger than her stomach.

* Due to the limitation of time and money, I might not go back to the same restaurant. Therefore, there are always too many things I want to try on the menu, and ended up having a lot of leftovers. I never let the food go wasted! So, I always bring them home. ^^

11. She always has food with her, you do not have to worry about getting hungry when you are with her. 

* I do have a snack drawer at home and in the office..... never gets hungry.....

12. Do not give her the chance of meeting any hot chef, she might not be able to control herself. 

* Definitely a dream come true!!!!! What a yummy package lol

13. Weekend plan: a) try out new restaurant, b) try out new recipe or c) go to farmer's market

* If we are not going on any trips, what else can we do besides eating?

14. During a fight, getting her favorite dessert might just solve the problem.

* Absolutely! How can one resist.......

15. If you do not agree with her taste of food, this might get you into a serious fight.

* There must be something wrong with his taste buds! No doubt.

16. You can always ask her where to go and what to eat.

* A lot of my friends text me when they want to know where to go eat. I often get texts like "I am in xxx area, and I want xxx cuisine, but not too expensive. Restaurant recommendation please?".

17. Besides saying "I love you", the best way to show her is to buy her food she likes. 

* Nothing says more than when I really want a piece of key lime pie, and when I get home, I found that he bought one from my favorite bakery.

Fellow foodies, how well does that describe you? Anything else you want to add?

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A recap of "The wave"

Yes. It is in the United States. Yes. It exists. And yes. It is stunning. Where is it? It is in Utah. From Wikipedia, "The wave is a sandstone rock formation, on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes, in the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness, on the Colorado Plateau'. In order to preserve this spectacular nature, only 20 people per day is allowed to go on this trail to see "the wave". You will need to enter a lottery to get the permit of this hike. It is only $5 to enter the lottery, and I got very lucky that I won the lottery in March and was able to experience this incredible scenery. (Apparently, there are people who try for years.... )

This whole area is basically compacted sand, and the wavy landscape is shaped by years of wind swirling around the sandstone. If you try to rub the sandstone with your finger (NOT recommended! We are trying to preserve this beautiful nature), the stone turns into sand. It is amazing how nature works, isn't it? The trail is very undefined, so we went with a tour guide (Dreamland Safari Tour). I do not want to risk getting lost, and dying of heat in the day/ dying in freezing cold at night, especially when I am a complete idiot when it comes to nature navigation. The tour guide is from Belgium, and 20 years ago, she decided to come to the states to learn English, and decided to stay here. After years of exploring difdifferent options, she finally found her passion in nature and decided to become a tour guide of the beautiful canyons. Very interesting and inspiring story.

It is a 7-mile hike round trip, and it was not very strenuous. Since we went in March, the weather was not too hot. Well..... it did get a little hot around 2-3 in the afternoon when the sun is right above you, but for the most part, it is a lot better than in summer. The very first picture above was the signature shot of the wave , which is spectacular, but on the way to this awesome destination, the scenery was absolutely amazing as well. Everywhere is sooooooo... what's the right word.... WAVY! In a way, I'd like to think it is the architecture of nature. We do have a lot of cool buildings, cathedrals, etc., but nothing like this. I can't help but feel humbled by the power of nature.

Speaking of the power of nature, 65 million years ago, dinosaurs went extinct because of some kind of natural disaster (there are a lot of different theories). And in the United States, Utah is one of the big playgrounds for the paleontologists, and fossils are constantly found in the area. (There is a Utah Natural Museum I believe.... if anyone is interested) Guess what we saw!! DINOSAUR TRACKS!!!! (Picture on the left) OMG!!!This is just too cool! They were not easy to spot, and fortunately, we have a tour guide to help us find them! Otherwise, there is no way on earth that we could have found it ourselves. Besides the ancient dinosaur tracks, there are also tracks of small animals that live around the area. You can see the little footsteps (picture on the right), and the tail being dragged along when it walks. (super duper adorable <3)

Below is one of my most satisfying shots of the trip. Believe it or not, as dry as it looks, it rains quite a bit here in the canyon, and it often causes flash floods. A lot of the hikers do not live in the area, and therefore do not understand the danger of flash floods. The current is so high that it can wash you away or even cars sometimes. (I was told by the tour guide) The day we were there, there is still water from the rain a few days ago, the reflection of the canyon and the sky in the water definitely made the shot!

This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime kinda trip. Not that I don't want to go back to this beautiful landscape, it's just.... there are too many other places that I want to go..... and.... and...... there is only so much time and money..... Since I won this lottery, maybe it's time to invest on the money kind of lottery? (lol) If I have enough money, there is only ONE thing I want. Travel! I want to see the world, every corner of the world. From the common popular tourist cities (Paris, Rome, etc) to the very small villages in China to the safari in Africa to the glacier in Antarctica. Every accessible (Or inaccessible? I am very

adventurous) corner of the world, I want to see it! I want to take pictures of it to show the rest of the world what our world looks like. (I am working on the technique part.... ) What are the people like in different places? What are their cultures? What are their stories? Not to mention all the amazing scenery from different part of the world. I would die with regrets without seeing the world, which most likely is going to happen..... the world is big..... but I definitely would not forgive myself from not trying.

Go travel as much as you can! Experience the world! It is very different than watching the discovery channel or the national geographic channel, but I have to warn you, it is addicting.

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Hello World

This is my first blog!! I am sooooo excited about this! At the same time, I really hope I can keep up the blog nicely. So, hello everyone, I am Jesmine. I live in Los Angeles. I love food, thus I love cooking too. I love travelling. I love photography (although I am not that good). I am a third year graduate student in Biochemistry PhD program. Whenever I am not in lab, I am either cooking good food, or eating good food, or going somewhere for fun. That's my life.

First thing I am going to share this weekend is.... (drum roll.....) coffee!! I just bought coffee bean from Blue Bottle Coffee! Last October, I went to San Francisco with a couple friends for the Nike Women Half Marathon (My first half marathon!). And I tried the Blue Bottle Coffee, and fell in love with it. I just found out that I can purchase the coffee bean online with no shipping fee (Or it's included in the price...?). I got the 17ft ceiling, yes, that's the name of the coffee bean, and it is pretty good. I LOVE COFFEE. I own a French press, a coffee machine, and aeropress and moka pot are on my list. Well, if one day, I become rich, a nice espresso machine is going to be an irresistible purchase. I get headache if I don't drink coffee in the morning, so I figure I have an addiction to it. Therefore, I tried to quit coffee once, but I just like it too much to give up drinking coffee. I guess I am a "coffeeholic".

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