CHOLA island (pt. II)

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IMG_0222IMG_0273IMG_0249CHOLA SENDS YOU PEACE

Location: Grand Palladium Bávaro Suites Resort & Spa // Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

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CHOLA island (pt. I)

Ahh CHOLA.

It’s a somewhat dorky anagram of the first letter of each of our names which we made up one summer in college when we spent virtually every day together, and has stuck with us through years of friendship and life changes. (And before you say we’re racially insensitive I should disclose that it started out as HOLA, since we are welcoming of everyone we cross paths with, but it became CHOLA because we love Chris too.)

We met in Berkeley in 2011 and our travels have taken us to Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, Las Vegas, New York, Japan (check out our adventures in Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo), Miami, and now the Dominican Republic! I love seeing this list of hosting locales for our adventures expand with each year of our friendship. A big lesson in my adult life, and especially my time in Japan, has been the acceptance of impermanence and how the passing of time and change lends unquestionable beauty to life. As much as people and circumstances evolve, I know this core unit of family will always support and love one another and it is one of my greatest blessings in this life. Te quiero mucho mi familia de CHOLITOS y CHOLITA ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

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[L to R: Chris, Harmeet, Lindsay, Alice, Oscar]
Berkeley, California (July 2011 – Summer of CHOLA love)
IMG_9887.jpg[L to R: Lindsay, Harmeet, Chris, Oscar, Alice]
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (December 2017)

We visited the Dominican Republic for a week in December with 4 days in the capital city, Santo Domingo, and capped it off at an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana. The second part of the trip is much as I expected–the blissful relaxation offered by an all-inclusive resort in a tropical paradise felt like unfurling a sail with a gentle breeze running through your salted hair while watching a technicolor pastel sunset–even if it felt a bit too gluttonous by the end. Santo Domingo is where I was really surprised.

The Dominicans we encountered were incredibly friendly and expressive. Their dance moves are bar-none and we happily gobbled up the local specialties every day (shout out to the mofongo and pescado frito!). On our first night we ended up at a bar called Parada 77 in Zona Colonial where it happened to be ladies night and while we were waiting for our free drinks courtesy of double-X chromosomes, the DJ put on Ozuna’s El Farsantewhich is basically Latin Trap music. Every single person in that bar was out of their seats singing along and it became the anthem of our trip.

Si todavía me amas como antes 
Ya nada me parece interesante 
Yo sé que en el amor soy un farsante 
Yo sin ti no vuelvo a enamorarme bebé

While we were encouraged by several locals not to wander the streets after a certain hour as tourists, we never encountered any hostility. I was really pleased that we made the decision to visit Santo Domingo first because as lovely as the beaches were in Punta Cana, we were confined to the resort there, and the experience felt quite sanitized. I don’t think I would have gotten as much of an impression of Dominican culture if we had skipped the capital. Santo Domingo is a highly underrated, majestic city and I really hope to return to the Caribbean someday to feel the carefree rhythm of bodies busting real moves on the dance floor and have another taste of that tender sancocho.
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IMG_0095IMG_0117IMG_0107IMG_0067IMG_0073smudge on my lens and a smirk on my friend’s faceIMG_0070keep that el presidente flowin’ jefe IMG_0015IMG_0016IMG_0014


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IMG_0157.JPGIMG_0174our uber driver who serendipitously led us to the best pescado frito and johnny cakes we’ve ever had 😛IMG_0179IMG_0149IMG_0200IMG_0186IMG_0206Location: Zona Colonial, Los Tres Ojos, Meson d’Bari, Palacio Nacional, Catedral Primada de América, Playa de Boca Chica, Calle La Venezuela

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 

marunouchi から ginza

my walk to work and back home…

I am staying with a lovely friend in higashi-ginza right now and as my days as a resident of this country wind down, I’ve got to savor and memorialize these daily sights and routines.

shin-marunouchi building…where I spend most of my days in JapanIMG_8951IMG_8949IMG_8959IMG_8966IMG_8969views from our balcony…

Location: 銀座 Ginza, Chuo-ku & 丸の内 Marounouchi, Chiyoda-ku // Tokyo, Japan

hunger of the pine

Deep under the cover of leaves and rolling mist, the trees whispered their secrets to me. My heart expressed its sorrows and the moss blanketing the forest silently understood. I have been experiencing some personal heartache recently, and as much as reason exhorts emotion to be still, sometimes all you really need to do to reflect on pain is to temporarily remove yourself to a different reality to encourage a likewise change in perspective. It almost always works for me.

I flew to Kagoshima and then took the hydrofoil (a fancy word for a quick ferry) to Yakushima for a strong dose of shinrin-yoku (森林浴 forest bathing), calling upon nature as therapy. My friend Daniel, who I met back in January on a ski/snowboard trip to Nozawa Onsen, joined me (*friendship level-up!).

Mononoke Hime, known to English-speaking audiences as Princess Mononoke, is based on this forest. Apparently Hayao Miyazaki, one of his main animators Masashi Ando, and a team of artists went to Yakushima to sketch landscapes for the film back in 1995. Japanese people hold a deep reverence for nature and I felt this peace ring through my body in my two days in these forests. I could not have asked for a more warm embrace by my friends the veteran 3000 year old trees, moss, gentle deer, sly spiders, and mercurial skies. Not only beautiful to look at, but they expect nothing in return and are the best listeners 🙂

Heartbreak can manifest in many ways, whether it be romantic or platonic, and I believe it to be an essential human experience. It’s okay to feel sad, just remember that you are magical and you will keep radiating love into the universe. You will attract what you express. You may stumble, but you will not stay down. IMG_9542.jpgIMG_9141IMG_9399

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IMG_9343IMG_9448IMG_9429hi cuties

IMG_9441IMG_9481IMG_9471my spidey senses are tingling…IMG_9541IMG_9547IMG_9422IMG_8032

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xo your friend alice


Location: Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan

in the midst of adolescence

Now is the time in my life
that has been filled with aspirations
over many long years
that I shake off the anguish of my heart and
send my lofty aspirations high up into the sky till
they reach the end of the universe
This fierceness of living
through joys and sorrows of life
sometimes distressed and sometimes
comforted by a joy
Agonising over the undulation of life and
moved to tears at the weight of life
I want to keep living until the last days of my life

– Yayoi Kusama, AnOther Magazine (2012)

I’m not an adolescent anymore, but neither is Kusama-san, who wrote and published this poem at age 83.

I couldn’t snag tickets to her new museum in Shinjuku (yabai) but luckily I caught her ‘My Eternal Soul’ exhibit at the National Art Center back in April. She has achieved a sort of legendary status in Japan and abroad with her ‘instagrammable’ infinity rooms and polka-dotted multi-colored, whimsical pumpkin art. Her concept of “self-obliteration” is to become completely engulfed by art. But I most admire her utter lack of apologism. She is completely free and unassuming about her sexuality, mental illness, abstraction, joy in life, love of freedom and desire for fame. Her soul strikes me as dense and light at the same time–but most of all she is free–and I understand why people are drawn to that feeling.Image result for yayoi kusama youngImage result for yayoi kusamaxo your friend alice

Location: Tokyo, Japan

kindred spirit

Every now and then my wanderings around the internet cause me to stumble upon a personality that draws me in like a whisper. Nancy Zhang is a painter and fashion illustrator in Berlin whose love of coffee, fashion, books, and travel touch the marrow inside me like she could be my blood donor. I recognize that these are broad categories that many people are interested in, but her exact aesthetic and sprite-like essence reached out to touch me amidst all the internet noise. She paints strangers who strike her on the streets and in trains and weaves narratives about them, wondering about their intimate histories. She is moved by them. I want to be her friend. I’ve gone through the entirety of her blog and the realization of her intention to grow as an artist is very apparent from 2011 to the present. She develops from a cutesy whimsical style to something more geometric and careful.

Okay, I’ll stop fangirling now. You can find her art on her page: nancy-zhang.com

But I probably won’t stop daydreaming about moving to Europe and wishing I was an artist…
Jacquemus_artistic_0Mmorz_s_Wide5Nancy_Devaughn_index_s0001I have befriended kindred spirits who inspire and energize me on a few occasions. You know, the type of people whose minds and hearts you are eternally curious about. Megan Kang is one of them and really, she was a big source of inspiration for this blog as she has a natural instinct and eye for uncovering beauty. We met on the first day of a history seminar our last year in college and by happenstance encountered each other at a campus leadership event. That same evening we attended a new moon women’s circle and solidified our bond. The thing I cherish most about our friendship is that I always come away from our time spent together with greater clarity and organization to my thoughts and goals. She always challenges me to give basis to my assumptions and think critically about my motivations with a gentle hand, and I love that about her. When I stop to consider who I feel most inquisitive about, I realize that most of these individuals for me happen to be Asian women. Growing up in Salt Lake City where there were very few other people of Asian descent, I did not have very many Asian friends during my formative years. But I guess there is a certain feeling of affinity that underlies charm. The recognition that the other person is either similar to something you see in yourself (partly due to shared experience) or is a representation of what you aspire to be. I am happy whenever I stumble upon these personalities through different mediums, whether in-the-flesh encounters or leisurely perambulations in cyberspace, as it breathes life and urgency into my soul.

xo your friend alice

Location: Tokyo, Japan