Sunday, October 12, 2014

Island Hopping: Beautiful British Columbia

One of the great things about living in Vancouver is the proximity to all the amazing Gulf Islands. The other great thing is that each island has it's own personality. We recently got invited to Salt Spring Island to hang out with our friend, Sura. Salt Spring is the biggest Southern Gulf Island and is known for it's arts and farming culture.

BC Ferries in Fog. Salt Spring Island, BC (9/28/14)
This is one of the many ferries that shuttle people, cars, and bikes across the Georgia Straight. Dzung and I were noticing that taking a ferry is such a chill way to travel. You reserve a ticket and then you hop on board for a couple of hours. You're free to move around and if you like hang out on the deck to take in the views. Or, just read a book and relax.

Lighthouse and Mountain #2. Gulf Islands, BC (9/28/14)
This is view from our ferry ride back to Vancouver. I think that lighthouse is on Mayne Island and in the background is Mt. Baker, which is in Washington State.

Dzung, Sura, and Ly at Ruckle Park. Salt Spring Island, BC (9/27/14)
This is our fabulous friend Sura, who played tour guide and local expert while we were there. Thanks, Sura!

Local Apples at Cusheon Cove. Salt Spring Island, BC (9/28/14)
There are tons of farms on Salt Spring Island. The produce gets shipped over to Vancouver Island or the mainland. Each farm has a farm stand just outside their property on the main road. The farm stand has fresh produce for sale. There is usually a small locked box for you to put your money in. Sura told us that, although there is some theft, islanders live on an honour system. They trust and watch out for each other. The farmers who have been tending the land have been doing it for generations and everyone knows each other. Dzung and I found this way of life charming and refreshing. We had a great time slowly down and enjoying all the fall bounty.

Salt Spring Island, BC (9/28/14)

Lucky for us, we just so happen to be visiting the island during their annual apple festival. The island has over 200 varieties of apples growing on various farms and throughout the park lands. People really geek out about apples in the Pacific Northwest.

2014 Apple Festival. Salt Spring Island, BC (9/28/14)

There are also many thriving artist on the island. During the summer months, there is a big public market to sell their wares. Throughout the island there are signs everywhere along the roadways inviting you in to visit their studios. We absolutely loved visiting Salt Spring and looking forward to going back. Anyone want to join us next time?

See more photos on Flickr

- Text by Ly, Photos by Dzung

Full Moon Over Vancouver

Chinese Moon Festival is traditionally celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunisolar month, which usually happens sometime in September or October. Also known as the Mid-autumn festival, this is a festival where family and friends gather to admire the full moon and eat moon cakes.

Chinese people believe a full moon is a symbol of peace, prosperity, and family reunion. On Mid-Autumn Festival night the moon is supposed to be the brightest and fullest, which is why the festival is also known as the moon festival.

Justin, Tivon, Genny, and Mom. Mid-Autumn Festival on our Rooftop. Vancouver (9/8/14)

We celebrated by having some friends over for dinner and moon viewing from our roof deck.

Mid Autumn Moon from Our Rooftop. Vancouver (9/8/14)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Pacific Northwest Road Trip

This last spring, my siblings, Tony and Annie (and their dog Toph), drove 1,300 miles from Los Angeles to Vancouver for a Pacific Northwest road trip. I met up with them in Portland and we had a fabulous time.

Growing up, we spent a lot of time being annoyed with each other, pushing each other's buttons, crowding each other's private spaces, and generally being a pain. But, now I love being adult friends with my siblings. We have different and unique relationships with each other. We share our private lives, we ask for and give sound advice, and we generally like hanging out.

Of course we still have all out shouting matches and dole out superb silent treatments, but nothing beats having a good laugh with your siblings, best soul medicine there is.

Here are some pictures from our time together:

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Annie threatening to cut me if I didn't put the camera down (@PokPok in Portland).

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Super majestic cat on stoop on Portland.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Annie was like, "Even the signs are super hipster in Portland."

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Tony walking labyrinth at the Grotto in Portland.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Cute chapel at the Grotto, Portland.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
The Grotto is a medival-ly mystic little forest plus hermitage plus cave, definitely worth a visit if you ever find yourself in Portland.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Toph being blessed by a holy statue.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
I'm jealous that the two youngest kids in the clan got all the height, how am I the shortest of the bunch!

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Toph was such a trooper, sleeping in cars and strange motel rooms.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Toph loved how dog friendly Vancouver was, she loved the beaches.

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
And the sea bus ride!

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
And the random art sculptures! 

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014

Tony, Annie, Toph Road Trip Spring 2014
Toph was cold, so we got her a water proof jacket that she won't ever have to use in LA. Guess that means another  visit  to Vancouver.

Vancouver: Sunset at Spanish Banks Beach

more things i love about vancouver:

warm summer evenings
BBQ on the beach with friends and family
spectacular sunsets

Hope Working on the Grill. Spanish Banks Beach, Vancouver (8/9/14)
Hope, grilling some summer corn on the cob and wild salmon

Eva and Asher Playing on Spanish Banks Beach, Vancouver (8/9/14)
Asher and Eva

Asher Playing in the Sand. Spanish Banks Beach, Vancouver (8/9/14)

Ly, Dzung, and Mom at Spanish Banks Beach, Vancouver (8/9/14)

Spanish Banks Beach at Sunset. Vancouver (8/9/14)

Paddleboarding Home. Spanish Banks Beach, Vancouver (8/9/14)
Paddleboarding home

See more photos on my Flickr page

- Text & photos by Dzung

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Bring your kids to Vancouver!

We're always encouraging our friends and family who have young children, to come visit us in Vancouver because it's such a kid friendly city. My cousins, Riley and Audrey, are having a blast here. We're been to the beach, to some great playgrounds and water parks, we've gone on easy hikes, and the public pool.

This post is a direct call out to my brother Minh and his lovely wife Veronica to bring my nieces and nephew to come visit soon. Here are some pictures to entice you some more:

Ly and Riley and Tree Trunk. Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver (8/4/14)
My new favorite bestie, Riley.

Ly and Riley in the Stream. Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver (8/4/14)
It looks nice and sunny, but the water is freezing cold, fresh from the ice capped mountains.

Ly in the COLD Water at Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver (8/4/14)
Here I am attempting to go into the water, but it was soooo cold!

Audrey, Aunt Amy, Riley, in the Stream. Lynn Canyon Park, North Vancouver (8/4/14)
Auntie and the girls looking on as I attempt to swim in the cold water.

As I was swimming in the icy stream, Auntie and the girls were looking on. It was so cold, I screamed and made loud gasps as I swam. Riley (my new bestie) was so worried for my safety that she started to freak out and wanted her mom to go in and save me. She wouldn't settle until I came out of the water and held her to reassure her that I was indeed okay and just being overly dramatic.

Riley, Macy, Audrey, and Ly on the Swings at Granville Island, Vancouver (8/5/14)

Audrey Going Down the Playground Slide. Vancouver (8/5/14)

Audrey and Riley on the Hose! Waterpark at Granville Island, Vancouver (8/5/14)
This is literally the best thing in the world to kids under 4 years old. The girls had a blast just holding this hose at the Granville Island Water Park.

Tiffany, Riley, Macy, Audrey, on Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver (8/6/14)
Even walking along the Seawall was tons of fun.

More photos from this adventure at Dzung's album on Flickr.

- Text by Ly, photos by Dzung

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Summer Vacation with the Hong and Lam Families

Having a summer birthday has meant not being able to celebrate it with classmates, but I could always count on my family making it special when I was growing up. Since moving away from home, my birthdays have mostly been quiet affairs with just one or two people maybe.

This past week, I got to celebrate my birthday with my uncle and auntie's families visiting from Los Angeles. Twelve people all jumbled together in our new house, at times chaotic, but mostly just familiar and comforting. I almost cried when I was cutting my birthday cake because it made me realize how much I missed being surrounded by tons of family.

Here are some of our moments together thus far:

Audrey, Macy, and Riley at the Piano. Vancouver (8/1/14)
Macy with Audrey and Riley on the piano.

Audrey and Ly with Ly's 35th Birthday Cake. Vancouver (8/3/14)
Audrey getting ready to help me blow the candles.

Aunt Joy, Audrey, Riley, and Uncle Joey. Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver (8/3/14)
The Lam family, cutest girls ever.

Ly and Macy, Seattle (7/31/14)
We're making those faces because the water is so damn cold!

Macy said she recently saw an old picture of the two of us. I was a pre-teen holding Macy as an infant. So weird to think about how much time as gone by, now she's way taller than I am.

Aunt Amy, Uncle David, Macy, Gavin. Pike Place, Seattle (7/31/14)
The Hong family.

Tiffany and Macy at Le Marche St. George Cafe. Vancouver (8/2/14)
Macy and Tiffany at our favorite neighbourhood cafe. 

More photos at Dzung's album on Flickr 

- Text by Ly, photos by Dzung

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What to do with the nude?

This summer has been all about moving, sorting and settling. Part of why we moved to a house is to have enough space for Dzung's mom to live with us. In Charlotte, North Carolina, she packed up her stuff, gave away a lot of it, and sold the house she has lived in for almost 30 years. The plan is for her to have a home base here in Vancouver, with the freedom to spend chunks of time in the States with Dzung's sister and their extend family.

Just this Friday, her things arrived. It's been exciting to unpack everything and incorporate them into the house, but it's also been overwhelming. Although she gave away most of it, we still ended up with lots of things. Like for example, now we have 10 plates to specifically serve corn on the cob with, 6 ice cream goblets, a set of crystal tumblers, and enough decorative serving platters to throw a party for 50 people. We luckily to have acquired these household items so quickly after moving into our new home, but it's been a little heady going from only having 6 bowls to now having over 30 bowls in various sizes that all match.  

Part of the acquisition are some framed art pieces. Dzung's parents avidly collected contemporary Vietnamese art. There was some debate about trying to keep the collection together, but we would have needed 3000 plus sq ft to house all the artwork. Instead, the collection has been split between family in St. Louis, Baltimore and here in Vancouver. Here are some of the pieces below:

So this is the infamous nude that displayed prominently in the formal living room at the house in Charlotte. I remember the first time I visited back in 2006, I saw the painting and thought, "Okay, they aren't your typical Asian family."  Mom said that Ylan (Dzung's sister) always wanted the painting moved to a more private part of the house, especially when they had visiting Buddhist monastics at the house, but Dad never budged. Ylan definitely didn't want this piece when we were separating the collection. I actually really like it, but now that it's pshyically here, my inner prune has surfaced. We decided it would be best to have it in our bedroom, but I'm not sure. Where would you display a nude in your house or would you even buy a nude?