Monthly Archives: September 2015

Being in London for school meant I also went on some trips for school, often to places I wouldn’t choose to go otherwise. Some people may find this crazy or amusing as I enjoy my less crowded off the beaten path trips much more. I am grateful for the opportunity to go to these places that wouldn’t normally interest me with people who are more excited.


Grad school was a great place to learn about all the minority views that and larger institutions and I may not consider. This picture captures what that felt like to me, that otherwise grandiose landmarks suddenly seemed both more imperial and framed by a lot of darkness. Taken inside the Musée du quai Branly where we were learning about the role of ethnography museums and colonial viewpoints in new modern museums.


In beautiful Nice, France for carnival right after the Charlie Hebdo incidents. The ticketed and controlled bright festivities in stark contrast to the international tensions and assault rifled military in the city.


A winding staircase somewhere in old town Nice.

I had some romantic notion of what world fairs must have been like back in the day when things like ice cream cones and cotton candy were invented at them. So a few design friends and I took the opportunity to go to Milan for the world expo with the theme of food.


What would a visit to a European city be without the beautiful and touristy view of the central square and church? It was surrounded by the flags of so many countries for the expo.


I also found street signs amusingly vandalized by some local street artist. I didn’t know it was a thing or I would’ve looked for more.


The halls did seem like a bit of a money pissing contest split between modern and traditional. This was Korea’s very techno-laden event with dancing screens. Smaller, less rich countries were shoved into back halls.


Less high tech, still very designer-y.



My non-American friends were much more excited than I to check out America’s entry, which ended up being devoted to Michelle Obama’s fresh food initiatives. The food area was a tame food truck area of hot dogs, hamburgers and BBQ.

Overall we ended up finding the two to three hour lines for the most popular stalls ridiculous especially with a long subway ride out to the venue in the first place. There was also an immense amount of walking, this coming from a person who walks 5-8 miles in cities for fun. Perhaps there were glorious things being invented we did not find, but most of the food was underwhelming and not the examples of the best or freshest to be found at many countries and instead seemed to represent a lot of frozen fast food or snack type fare. The Austrian exhibit stood out as a literal breath of fresh air as did Bahrain for both it’s simple and modern building and interesting food selection.


I landed amidst protests into a region I have always wanted to go to but wasn’t particularly sure if it was safe to go alone. As I walked out of the airport three workers stopped me smiling and waving furiously, “The international transports are that way!” What? No, no I came to be here! I guess they must not get a lot of Asian American tourists. Luckily I was soon greeted by the smiling face of a friend and whisked off around so many blockades. I found the assault rifle toting military wandering the streets in France to be surprising and the various military checkpoints here were a reminder of why this beautiful place isn’t more commonly a tourist destination.


A country in the middle of a trash and refugee crisis.



Wandering the hot, narrow and windy alleys of Sidon past laughing children, vendors and people’s living rooms.



The beautiful view from the sea fort.



The ancient cedars that grace the flag that is proudly displayed everywhere.



The beautiful geometric patterns that I had previously gotten closest to in Spain. Gorgeous.



I left as a sandstorm settled on the country. Surreal.

Don’t let my lack of food pictures for once deceive you, everything was delicious and I’m not sure how I fit it all in. Perhaps more than most places I am visiting friends, I am grateful for the viewpoint and help of a local. Of the generosity of her family and friends to welcome me and make sure I got to see all parts of Lebanon and some amazing home cooking. Someone told me the entire country is the size of Los Angeles county, which boggled my mind. We did criss cross the country pretty quickly to see all of the history juxtaposed with a very modern leaning city. There aren’t many places I go where I feel underdressed anymore, but this whole country did feel more fashion planned than I am used to. There were regions we avoided due to danger, although I never got a clear idea of what was safe or not and have no idea how anyone could keep up. May the region enjoy peace and be able to be shared with the rest of us, a gem that seems off the path to most for now.