Current Progress

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Wow the year is almost over. What a year. Let's see what I accomplished this year and what I want to accomplish next year.

Accomplishments in 2009
- Lost 35 lbs.
- Did the Tour De Cure Bike ride in Napa Valley.
- Hiked to Inka Trail to Machu Picchu.
- Started my own business.
- Moved to Vancouver.
- Fell in love.
- Survived getting dumped.
- Built upon priceless friendships in Toronto, California and Vancouver.
- Got to know myself.

Goals for 2010
- Lose 15 lbs.
- Do a Sprint Triathlon in May.
- Travel to Africa or Eastern Europe.
- 20,000 happy users of YouCook.
- Continue to keep in touch and build on my priceless friendships.
- Continue the rebuilding and discovering who I actually am, what protective layers I've built up over the years.
- Critically assessing who I am and who I want to be and how to get there.
- Be comfortable on my own two feet and in my own skin before falling in love again.

Thanks for following my journey in 2009. I'm really touched by all the support I've had in the last year. When we all build and design technology, we never consider the side effects - at least I never thought apps such as Blogger and Facebook and Google Talk were the key tools which saved me from going down a deep dark wrong path this year. The way I was able to reconnect with a lot of you guys this year, the kindness and friendship and compassion you've shown me has been more than I ever thought possible. Thank you technology :) Thank you to you that's reading this!!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 17, 2009


I've reached out to my support network in the past 2 weeks. And I'm really really grateful at the kindness of my friends.

I've learned a lot of things:
1) When you think you have it bad, there are others who have it 100x worse.
2) Be true to yourself. Only you know what makes you happy, sad, what you want, what you don't want. Only you can change how you feel about something or how you deal with a situation.
3) Accept reality. Stress, anger, tension only arises when you're not in grips or accept reality. When you make assumptions about reality, when you don't choose to deal with current problems or disagreements and deluding yourself, you only ask for problems you arise. Not talking or facing something now just means you want to fight later. Or if it's too late to even fight, well you'll live with regret later.
4) Your #1 Goal should be your own happiness (being true to yourself as to what that is). Nobody can make you truly happy except yourself.
5) Friends and people that care just want to you to be happy. It's simply a happier place when you're happy.
6) Sometimes, you gotta realize, he's just not into you. And it's not the end of the world.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Life experiences

When I started this journey last November - it was about realizing that life was short. That I should not let life and opportunities pass me by. I realized that you should live life by the minute, live in the present, worry about things under your control.

I was unhappy before because I was living within other people's definitions.

I couldn't make a decision until a gun was pointed at me - be it time constraints, health constraints, career constraints, financial constraints. I let life dictate to me. I was happy with other people telling me what to do. The difference between being a kid and growing up is the acceptance and taking responsibility over your decisions.

I've always been good at not trying and when I fail, I'd blame other people. It was a good fall back and it protected me from getting hurt operating in that model.

Anyway, I said I changed last year when it came to decisions about making my own food or working out or smoking. Then I decided to take my career into my own hands and struggled with the same concept - that now I make my own decisions and the result of it is directly my responsibility. I still struggle with that everyday and I know in the big picture, it is rewarding and amazing to say, hey, I was responsible for that. Even through the failures, if you persevere you'll be successful.

The one thing I never talked about in my blog was falling in love. I had lived my whole life not knowing what makes me happy and being miserable about it and blaming other factors. When I found out that I could take control of my life, I felt that a lot of people were proud of me and were attracted to the new Thu. Inside though, I still felt fat and insecure about not knowing a lot of things. See there's all these things I didn't know how to do as a result of me losing weight. Like buy new clothes. I used to HATE shopping because I had to go to the plus size section where everything is ugly. But now suddenly I'm fitting into size 6 jeans and tank tops and really liking it. Now, I didn't know what to wear and how to put on makeup. I felt insecure that I'm a grown woman who didn't know the basics of being a girl, much less a woman.

I can't believe how things fall into place, when you just let go and be true to yourself and do what makes you happy. Gawd, every movie, everything your parents tell you, every book you read, it says the same. But I didn't know until I experienced it. It's like, when you let go and just be true to yourself, thats when all these opportunities come by.

Falling in love was the last thing missing in my life while I got the other parts of my life. It was exhilarating, it gave me a new source of energy and meaning in life. It was the missing equation of balance and living a fulfilling life.

Well, it is if I let the experiences play out. My downfall and the doom of my relationship is when I was super scared and stopped being true to myself. I lost focus of my original goals of being healthy, of taking my career into my own hands, of living everyday - and it slowly in time got replaced by the same insecurities and the same need for someone else to define what I should do or what is the prescribed method of doing something. As soon I started being selfish and want to protect myself from taking responsibility and finding other things to blame, thats when things started breaking down.

What I learned from the past year was that I was on the right track of coming to a realization of being true to what makes me happy and just doing it and accepting the consequences. Once you start hedging your bets and not being true to yourself, you set yourself up for failure.

Hey, whats important is that I'm alive and I'm healthy and I live to talk about my past year and my life. I've learned, the hard way, what happens when you don't. Even if it means carving your own path and not being able to reach for old experiences. I remember loving this poem in Highschool and graduating University. I do hope I keep at it, remind myself and stay true to myself and take responsibility and control of my life.

Thank you for all the support and for believing in me when I didn't believe in myself.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

Monday, December 7, 2009

Cars in my life

My friend and I came up with a really analogy to explain life, especially relationships. If this post makes no sense, its ok just ignore it. If it does, I think I should write a book because it's helping me a lot.

I bought a civic. I needed a car right away when I moved to a new city. I realized that Bay Area public transportation sucked and I couldn't keep renting a car because it was expensive. So I went to a Honda dealership and I bought a brand new civic. I didn't bargain, I didn't shop around, I knew I needed it and it was in my price range so I bought it. It didn't need maintenance. I didn't want to repair it or worry about things going wrong with it, at least for the first 2-3 years. I was happy putting gas into it once a week and an oil change every few months. Obviously if I could afford a bmw or a honda s2000 or a ferrari, I would've bought it. I didn't consider it cuz I couldn't afford it and the luxuries that it offered didn't appeal to me at the time.

I took my civic on many road trips, I've driven a lot of people in it. So many memorable conversations, so many times where i had to clean it out from puke or dirt from hikes. I have a lot of pictures of my car in different places. I drove up the west coast, I drove to yosemite, I drove to tahoe. I imported it to Canada and went through that paperwork and traffic tickets.

So I've moved to Vancouver and my requirements for a car has changed. I don't actually need a car that much anymore - i live in the city there's public transportation and walking is convenient too. So hypothetically, say I got into a car accident and my car is totaled.

Obviously it's a shock that I've lost my civic. So many memories. So many things things that the car has helped me through. The car took me places. It provided conveniences of getting from point a to b quicker. It was reliable. But now that it's gone...I can choose to see if I can go to the wreck and get someone to rebuild it and salvage the workinig parts. I can choose to put it back together myself. But even if I got it back in some working order - it might be a lot of effort and parts of it might be missing or broken and I have to constantly repair it. It wouldn't be the same civic. I'd get bitter about having had spent all this money and time working on this car. So looking at the opportunity cost, that wouldn't be how I'd spend my time with this civic.

OK, so the civic is a write off. Now what. I can spend my time dwelling on how much I missed the civic. Or I can think....well what are my requirements. Do I really need a car RIGHT now?

The answer is no, I don't at the moment... Walking in Vancouver is totally fine. If I need to get somewhere faster, I can take the bus or skytrain. Actually walking is more healthy. I buy only what I need at the grocery store if I had to carry it back. I'd go check out local farmer markets and walk to china town to get a better deal since parking sucks and it was a hassle to take my car there.

In fact, I should be grateful that I'm alive!! That I'm healthy and still can focus on my business. That I shouldn't let the car being totaled affect the other parts of my life. I should realize that if I need a lift, friend could help me out. I realized that it is inconvenient to drive to visit friends places in vancouver because parking is expensive. And sometimes walking there, well it'll burn more calories and that I wouldn't worry about getting a ticket. I should be relieved that since I don't need a car right now, I'm not paying for insurance and have more money in the bank every month.

Also, I know that I don't actually want a civic. That my next car needs to have 4 doors so its easier to carry more people. Like if I had kids. 2 door civics won't do the job. I understand that needs change and requirements for picking a car changes. I know that I actually want an M3 or a toyota FJ next time. So let me spend my time now figuring out how I can get that car - making more money, being healthy enough to drive it, pick up hobbies like biking so that I have more reason to have a car that can carry my mountain bike next time.

There's a whole bunch of listing of cars - autotrader, craigslist. There's always cars on the market. Obviously I won't look at cars which already have people in them like wives or kids. I also need to define my price range and the features that I'd like in a car. The more specific I get, like the colour and each part of the car, the harder it will be for me to find a car that fits my criteria. Actually after driving the civic, I know more about what I want in a car. Maybe the horsepower wasn't enough or I want to learn how to drive stick next time. I'm glad I got to drive the civic for a while and understand what I like or what I don't like. And I think there's nothing wrong with the civic being my first car that I bought and now I know more about what I'd like in a future car.

Anyway, I can look at other people's cars and see all the things I like about it. They can even tell me their own experiences with their car and what they like and what they don't like. I can take their advice and put some things in my criteria of what I like and what I don't like. But at the end of the day, my car won't be a replica of someone elses' car. And I might like other things.

The profound realization that I had was....well there's a lot of cars out there. There's not just one special car that's going to last 50 years which requires no maintenance and that you'd always completely be happy with it. Look around, there's all different colours and features. It's ok to test drive cars and it's ok to not want a car when it doesn't benefit you in any way. All cars eventaully will require work and maintenance as well and it depends if it fits your needs and gives you the utility you need. And sometimes its ok and you dont to total the car to know that you need to upgrade or downgrade or get rid of a car. I'm lucky that my car is totaled and that it forces me not to think about getting rid of a perfectly good car even when I don't need it.

This analogy is helping me a lot put perspective on things. I'm going to miss my car....a lot. I'm going to look back and remember all the moments I spent in it. But it really isn't productive to dwell on it. I'm ok with walking right now but of course if there's a good deal that comes my way, I'll evaluate it at that time.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Eating Out/Dining in Survey:

Could you do me a favour and take this survey?

Monday, November 9, 2009


It was bound to happen - a slippery slope to:
eating meat -> eating out -> eating more
drinking a glass of wine -> some beers -> shots -> mixing it all up
insecurity -> stress -> smoking
crappy weather -> not biking -> not running -> not working out

So I decided to take a step back and look at my year. Goals are only achievable when you put them as your priority. You've got to stay grounded when there's positive feedback but you haven't reached your goal yet. Getting cocky is the absolute wrong thing to do. Lowering your goal down in priority - well means that you won't get there as soon as you originally planned.

Having good health is a base for everything else in life. You can be more productive when feeling energetic. You save money by cooking and consuming the right calorie intake and know exactly what you put into your food. You build self confidence that you can set a goal and stick to it. You feel better about how good you feel inside and how hot you look on the outside. Your positive energy radiates and really affects everyone around you too. This doesn't go unnoticed in your personal and professional relationships.

The foundation of taking care of yourself really leads to understanding yourself better, being happy with yourself, which leads to a rewarding career, lots of money and lots of time to celebrate. So yes, ok, I understand now :)

I'll try again. To everyone reading this blog, thank you for the support in the past year. It helps that I'm being accountable to all of you and hearing me forget my priorities is really letting you down. It has really let me down too. Not all is lost though, I know I've got it in me to work as hard as possible to get to my goals. I've got years worth of thoughts and pictures to remind me how fat I really was and how immobile and unhappy and lost I really was. I've got photos and thoughts from the past year to see how things have turned around. It's not rocket science to figure out where I want to go from here.

I suppose that growing up is inevitable.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Eggplant and bean sprouts

Craving homecooked asian food I bought eggplant and bean sprouts this week to make another stirfry. I don't think I've ever cooked an eggplant before. And typically I'm used to seeing the long skinny ones not the fat squash-looking one. Nothing special, I sliced the eggplant, washed the beansprouts and some leek. First cooked the eggplant withi olive oil then added in oyster sauce and peanut oil (along with white pepper, cayenne pepper and garlic). Had it with my favourite (only) 9-grain rice.

Looks pretty, tastes pretty good!

Nguyen-Nguyen Weekend

In celebrating of a NGUYEN-ing (yes WINNING) weekend I was able to check off some restaurants from my Thu-Eat list.

Toshi Sushi is an amazingly fresh and delicious as well as easy on the wallet! I've checked yelp and dinehere enough to know that I should expect a long lineup. There were 5 of us, started waiting at 6pm and sat at 7:30pm. But honestly it was worth the wait!! The Uni was really fresh. The horse mackerel was delicious. Sockeye salmon and tuna sashimi were so good too. With drinks and everyone full the bill was about $20/each which is well worth it.

Coincidentally, Taste of Yaletown started this weekend as well. There's been one restaurant that I've been dying to try. Glowbal happened to have a $35 menu and a table open at 7:30pm so off we went. We started off with a bottle of red wine which turned into 4 bottles - the house Merlot was pretty good and reasonably priced. What a great meal!!!! I was impressed from appetizer to dessert.

Appetizer: Beef Tenderloin Carpaccio with crispy potato, roast garlic and truffle salad
Wow - the beef was so tender, soft and melt in my mouth. the roasted garlic had a texture i've never tasted before.

2nd appetizer: Seven spice ahi tuna
They have these small apps for $2-3 so we all tried one. I couldn't tell the difference between this ahi tuna and others I've had in the past though. The others got a kobe beef meatball and a short rib where were also delicious.

I chose the Citrus and Fennel Dusted Queen Charlotte Halibut
Baby arugala salad, parmesan risotto and blood orange reduction
for my main. The risotto was really creamy but it went well with the Halibut. The others chose the Lamb which was amazingly tender and full of flavour.

The dessert came out in a little hot skillet which was a good wrap to a good meal. I really enjoyed the quality of the food at Glowbal, the staff was super friendly too. I'd definitely come back here.

We also went to Afterglow, the lounge attached to Glowbal. Chad Kroeger from Nickelback was there along with his friends. I guess I've never been in a small lounge with someone famous before. The thing I noticed the most was everyone's hair was so perfectly dyed and styled. Other than that they seem like normal people having a good time.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Be Lucky - it's an easy skill to learn

Really liked this article that B found. It's pretty inspirational at how an attitude change really affects your luck.

In the university years, I was always fascinated with the good luck I always had. Not studying still meant riding the bell curve. Co-op jobs that took me to Vietnam and California which meant a new place, new experience every week. Singapore was filled with travels all over Asia and a certain doom of failing the term except we were let off from writing exams because of Saars and sent back home! Everything just lined up one after the other and things just worked out. My friend would always call it a mojo that I had. We didn't know what it was but whatever it was I loved it.

Then as I got lost after graduating, all this bad stuff started happening - like accidents, hospitals, friends passing away, getting dumped, burning out, etc. It was an endless cycle of self destruction and bad luck and I'd always blame the same friend for stealing my mojo - since his days at Haas were filled with random luck and really great opportunities.

Anyway, after a slow and painful attitude adjustment, I'm getting my mojo back :) This article explains what mojo actually is and it really is an easy skill to learn to reap the benefits.

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Spinach

After the last failure of drinking raw beet juice, I made sure that wasn't happening again! I bought 2 beets, wrapped them up in aluminum foil and put them in the oven at 375 degrees for 60 min. I left them in the oven for a while after that too because I forgot about them :) But it wasn't a bad move, since when I opened up the foil, steam didnt rush to my face.

I cut away the skin, making sure to wear gloves since I didn't want the blood-like stain anywhere on me. Drizzle with olive oil and salt.

I cut them up into slices and added spinach, garlic sprouts and goat cheese. If I didn't finish all my walnuts last week, I would've added that too. It was a pretty delicious and surprisingly filling lunch.

With the left over beets, I put them into my trusty Magic Bullet with some frozen strawberries for a refreshing breakfast. MUCH better than the raw smoothie I made a few months back.

Bok Choy, Enoki and Fish Tofu

I challenged myself this week to cook single portion dinners so that I have no left overs. As well, I wanted to split these ingredients into two different dishes! I miss home cooked Vietnamese (or any asian) food where my mom would make several dishes and there was always some type of soup. So that's what I did - all in the span of 30 min.

1. Boil water and miso paste.
2. Throw in bok choy, enoki, fish tofu, chives and cilantro, salt, pepper
3. Done when bok choy shrinks

Stir Fry
1. Heat up pan with a little bit of olive oil
2. Put in bok choy until brown (5 min)
3. Mix up oyster sauce, rice vinegar, peanut oil and mix it in with the bok choy
4. Add the fish tofu and enoki mushrooms for another 2 min
5. Done!

I'm not sure that the oyster sauce is any good for you but yeah what a deliciously quick meal with a bit of variety with the same ingredients :) I ate this with my favourite 9 grain rice. Is it just me or do other people do different dishes with the same ingredients on the same night?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Hot Yoga

Alright - the free exercise route is not working for me. I have a seawall right outside which I've yet to run on in months and biked as many times as fingers on my hands all summer. I have the complete P90X videos and open one up once a week at most.

Paying for something makes you more accountable. I really enjoy it when someone tells me what to do and corrects my form - I completely miss JJ from SF Hills and Drills bootcamp !

Anyway, a friend just moved into Yaletown and suggested that we hit up Hot Yoga last night! I've only done P90X Yoga and Wii Yoga and have never been to a class before! Luckily they have a 2 weeks for $30 special that I signed up for. Bikram Yoga as I understand it is usually 1.5 hours where you go through 26 poses a super hot room. This class was 1 hour and the temperature was about 40 degrees and the 2nd time is modified a little so every pose is not exactly repeated.

The teacher was awesome, giving me a lot of tips and feedback since I was the newbie in the class. I look around and everyone's got really really toned bodies. I was surprised that I could do 90% of it and keep up. Some of the times I had to drink water and lie down. Ah yes, as a newbie, I didn't bring a water bottle and had to borrow my friend's - if you go, do remember water!! Since heat rises, the only way to cool down is lie flat on the ground.

I thought the hour was never going to end - I have no idea how I'll last the regular 90 min class in this hot room. In the end, as soon as she opened the windows which let cool air in, it felt so good.

I slept like a baby last night! My body felt like jello today, every joint was vibrating and sore all day long. I went swimming to distract the soreness today.

But yeah tomorrow I can't wait to do hot yoga again!!

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Now that my office is located 15 seconds away from my kitchen its a dream come true to be able to control what I eat during the week. Now that I have access to Costco again, the first order of business was to get my frozen falafel balls, stock up on pita bread and a big box of edamame. Aside from freezing strawberries and bananas you won't find anything else in my freezer except these things :)

Pitas are useful to make wraps for my falafel! And also baked as I mentioned in a previous post to dip with hummus. Here's a sample lunch from yesterday - spinach salad with cilantro (from my herb garden), cucumber, tomato and two falafel balls. Topped with a little italian dressing.

Oh can't forget the fruit! I've found that the cheapest place for all my veggies and fruits is Kin's Farm Market. I'm having at least one grapefruit or orange or pear a day along with my smoothies in the morning.

Spaghetti Squash

When I was on a strict no rice/pasta streak, a friend suggested trying Spaghetti Squash! I never happened to find it at the supermarket though until last week! The sign said Spaghetti Squash and I brought it home, cut it in half...and was a little disappointed! I half expected it to be long strands of spaghetti shape squash inside but for all intents and purposes it looked like a solid nothing special squash!

I thought maybe I bought a butternut squash or some other squash! I looked up pictures of spaghetti squash and sure enough it was. Ok, since I forked over $5 for this, I gave it a try. Scooped out the seeds, baked it faced down in the oven (preheat 400F) for 30-40min. Put a fork into it and indeed, the strands of spaghetti squash came out with no effort! It's pretty cool actually.

I mixed it up with tomatoes and mushrooms and onion and olive oil and it turned out great. Definitely could see it as a substitute for spaghetti. But 10 portions later, I never wanted any squash again (3 days).

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Running Newbie

When I first moved to Vancouver I started doing intervals to train to run 5km. Then laziness kicked in and running went out the window. Now there's rain and a billion other excuses on why I don't run. Which really has to stop. In Hawaii, we found out we were in Maui the same time as the Maui Marathon! Also, the day before the marathon there was a 5K Maui Taco Run! After a week of a lot of eating and drinking (and no running) we woke up bright and early and did my first 5K run!

Well running might be an exaggeration. I probably ran the first km, third, and last km. The rest was lots of walking and sweating under the sun. The race was in Ka'anapali along a few nice hotels and golf courses. It felt good that I wasn't last and even got a compliment of being so fast for a walker ;) I sprinted the last 200m and got in at a time of 38min and felt woozy.

All in all it was exciting since I've never taken part in any organized runs before! It showed me how nutrition is not enough and that I really need to start exercising and running to reach my ideal weight and health. My time was pretty terrible but I guess it's a start. It's a love/hate relationship that I have with running. The thought of doing it and how my body hates it makes it tough to gather the will power to go out and do it. But once you're doing it, it's a great feeling. Running in the sun and seeing palm trees and clear water also is pretty awesome. I think my mind just remembers the day after and two days after where my body hurts all over. If I can just overcome this hump...I'd like to get a decent 5k time in a month. Any tips on how you made peace with running?

In other news, I finally broke under the 130lbs mark that I haven't been able to cross for 5 months! 128lbs to be exact. Let's see how the next 2 months pan out!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Hawaii Bread Fruit

I've been very delinquent in my blog posts lately. Just got back from an amazing trip to Kauai and Maui. I hoped that hiking, snorkeling, surfing and a 5K run would counteract eating out and lazing at the beach and pool everyday. However, the food won this battle as I came home and to my dismay, gained 5 pounds - which I quickly lost being sick over the week.

Anyway, I wanted to write about some things that I learned in Hawaii. On the plane ride there on Hawaiian Airlines, the featured article was about a lady who collects all variations of Breadfruit. I had never heard of this fruit before and after reading about how it's the highest yielding (up to 200 fruits grow on one tree) and full of nutrients, we made a mental note to try this in Hawaii.

Indeed, on the first day at the Luau, we saw breadfruit but it wasn't until the last 2 days that we ate it! The first was at Mama's Fish House in Maui (which by the way is an amazing seafood restaurant which will require its own posting. The menu lists which fish was caught by who and where on the island!) Anyway we had the lobster guacamole with breadfruit and yam chips. The breadfruit in this case was deepfried/baked in oil so it tasted delicious! But I find that any vegetable/fruit drenched in oil tastes good.

The next day on our drive to Hana, we stopped by some food stands on the road and finally found baked breadfruit!

It tasted like baked yams or potatoes or taro - very very very rich and dense. Make note all those vegetables grow in soil but breadfruit is a fruit that grows on trees! This is an awesome fruit for tropical third world countries!! Wikipedia describes the issues of storing it since it does yield so many fruits at a time. Also describes how the tree is useful for building canoes.

I guess you learn something new everyday :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Baked Pita Bread and Tzatziki

My sister showed me a simple snack on my trip that I had to hurry back to Vancouver to copy.

First of all, I did not know you could just freeze Pita bread and heat it up again whenever you want to eat it - this makes it last forever and also the taste doesn't degrade! Then I didn't know that you could throw it in the oven and broil it for 5-7 min and it becomes pita chips!

I followed this recipe for the Tzatziki sauce today.

I think this is a pretty good and healthy snack and waay cheaper than buying pita chips or tzatziki sauce outside.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

From XL to M!!

There's a big reason I've stayed away from malls for years - only buying the basics and not really caring what I wear. My obesity dressed in any particular brand, colour, style would be just the same. Luckily I have my personality going for me.

As years passed and every time I went into a mall to pick up something XL or size 14 or trying to squeeze into size 12 it was very disheartening. I love my friends to death but going to the mall with friends to see them try on size 0 or 00 just didn't put shopping on my top 3 things to do. The good news is that it kept expenses low in the shopping, anything to do with physical appearance department. It also served as a good filter against superficial people :) The bad news is that to achieve balance and happiness, feeling good inside and out is very important.

Then I had a dilemma of losing weight where I started to not fit in my clothes. But the thought of buying intermediate clothes while not reaching my weight goals seems like a waste of money. So I held out as long as I could.

Wow what a surprise - I went to Yorkdale yesterday (with a personal shopper all the way from HK :) and I found myself trying on girlie tops and dresses in medium or 6-8! Holy crap. At first I'd bring in a larger size just because I thought was I being realistic. But nopes, it is true, I'm starting to gravitate back to my old frame in highschool. Now onwards to junior highschool size (and another shopping spree)

I'm grinning ear to ear at my trip to the east coast where I've met up with my closest friends and family who have seen me through my 27 years. The encouragement and support I'm getting makes me extremely happy.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Epic 12 months

The last 12 months have definitely changed my life. I've been to 5 continents, countless cities, countries, flights, gas stations. I've moved. I've shrunk. I've ate. I've drank. I've photographed it all. I tried to pick pictures that show me at my fattest (165+ lbs) in September 2008 and how Thu lost 30 lbs since then :)

Take a look at the album.

Biking in PEI

Went on a 2 hour trek (30km) to see beaches along the south part of PEI. Only a handful of cars passed me probably at a rate of 1 per 20 min. The red sandy beaches were beautiful and the water was so warm. The rolling hills of grains and potatoes and green made it a very serene ride.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

PEI Lobster

I'm out in PEI for a few days and of course every meal I'll try to have will involve some fresh seafood! So we went out to Queen's Meat Market before they closed and bought 3 1lb live lobsters for $5.99/lb! Not too bad :)

Boiled some water, added some salt. When it was boiling, drop in the lobster for 18 minutes. And that's it! The pot here couldn't fit all 3 at the same time so I had to do a few batches.

Of course as the unhealthy side of the meal I made garlic butter. Put some garlic and some salt and butter and heated it all up. Oh well, it was delicious. We had some salad + red peppers + tangerine + poppy seed vinagrette on the side.

Gosh, I love the CHEAP awesome farmer markets here. A huge bunch of lettuce was 99 cents.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Delicious Broccoli Soup

Thanks to Kam and Gordon Ramsey, this is being added to my list of quick and simple dishes to make!

I bought goat cheese covered in black pepper and freshly baked sour dough bread to go along with it. Once again my magic bullet came in handy.

All you need is broccoli, water and salt for this.

Watch the video and let Chef Ramsey show you how easy this soup is!

Hiking in BC

I think that the last time I lived in Vancouver I never saw the beautiful green outdoor playground that the city had to offer. I was limited by the 5km radius that my scooter took me and never crossed a bridge unless I had a ride. This time, it's much different.

Gulf Islands

For example, I didn't realize that right beside Vancouver are 200 islands!!! Some are reachable by BC Ferries, others can be reached by canoes and kayaks. We've checked out Bowen Island and Salt Spring Island in the past month. The video above shows a lot of scenes that I *think* is from the Ruckle Park hike in Salt Springs but I bet other islands have the same views and rocks.

Bowen Island
is only a $9.20 roundtrip ride from Horseshoe Bay. And it's only 20 min away! We easiy found a hiking trail when we landed and walked along the Killarney Creek trail to Killarney Lake. Then up to the Mt Gardner trail. We didn't actually get to the top of Mt Gardner because we wanted to catch a ferry back but we did go to the first view point which was an awesome view of the islands.

Salt Spring Island
was a bit further away and only had 1 ferry there in the morning and 1 in the afternoon. In hindsight, taking a car or bikes to this island would make sense, it's much bigger than Bowen Island.

Instead, we took the bus from the ferry terminal to downtown Ganges. There was a farmers market here and restaurants and boats. Then from here there's a bus that takes us 10km from Ruckle Park. Yes you guessed it, we had to walk 10km to get to our camping destination with all of our gear. There were plenty of farms and stands on the side and hitchiking is encouraged but no - we walked. When we got to the entrance of Ruckle Park around 7pm the sign said CAMPSITES FULL. Doh. Well there wasn't any way we'd want to walk back 10km so we continued onwards into the camp grounds. We found a flat patch of grass between campsites and parked our stuff there.

It was by the water, close to the washroom! We hiked along the waterfront looking for a good sunset spot.

The next day we went along the coast of Ruckle Park on a hike to all their view points and beaches. Seriously, I didn't expect this kind of scenery in Canada. We even ran into patches of mussels and oysters on the rocks. The hike was about 10km as it led back into the trees and down to the road. And then, yup, another 10km to get to Gillford to catch a ferry home! So far, this is the most beautiful, quaint hike I've done here. We must have only bumped into 4 people the entire time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Beet Power!

Great now there's evidence that beets are awesome for your workout! Maybe I should've had some of this before I did the grouse grind yesterday.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Five-spice Scallop

The baby scallops we bought from Superstore were nothing to write about - previously frozen. But wow, following Jamie Oliver's (Happy Days with the Naked Chef)instructions on how to make Pan Searced Scallops was priceless.

Ideally you'd want a nice meaty large selection of scallops but we used baby ones. Season the scallops with salt, pepper and five-spice powder. Heat up a pan with some olive oil and fry for a few minutes. Add some green onion and cilantro and cook for another minute. Thats it!! So simple...sooo delicious. The green onion, cilantro and five-spice definitely makes this into a Vietnamese/Fusion dish which is ridiculously good. So good, that I am making it again this week!

On the side, blanch asparagus and leeks (preferably baby leeks!). Then also pan fry them with olive oil. We didn't get baby leeks and needed to cut the large leeks into round slices to make it edible.

Also as shown in this meal, we baked a fresh salmon (yes a whole salmon was only $5!!) but it was just the usual marinade of lemon, olive oil and green onion.

Broccoli Penne

Last week at the farmers market we bought fresh corn that we brought to a BBQ that night to watch fireworks. We bought ingredients for a super yummy fresh salad (red/yellow tomatoes, cucumber, sweet onion, red leaf lettuce). And we also bought a bunch of organic broccoli.

Since we'd be camping in Cat Lake for the weekend, I decided to whip up some broccoli pasta to bring along. As a child I hated broccoli but when we started getting them delivered in SF and Yap made a pasta (and hid sausage inside), I decided to give this vegetable a second chance.

So I boiled some penne with salt and left it to cool.

I separated the broccoli stems from the soft parts and chopped up the stems into small pieces. Started up a wok with olive oil and some minced garlic. Before the garlic became brown, I added 2 cups of chicken broth. As that boiled I added in the broccoli stems and half a sweet onion and salt and pepper. Let it cook for 10-15 min until the stems are soft. Then I added the rest of the broccoli in and left it in there for 5 min before turning down the heat.

Mixed up the penne in and let it simmer. I broke up 4 slices of Havarti cheese and mixed it in with my new creation. One package of penne was enough for 2 lunches and 2 dinners. I was definitely missing red pepper flakes but the consistency and texture of the sauce was perfect.

I added in diced red tomatoes and cucumbers when I packed it up for our camping trip.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Thoughts on facelift?

Decided it was long overdue to customize my blog just a little bit. I think the artwork best represents what this blog entails. Do you think its inappropriate? Let me know your thoughts!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Margherita Pizza Night



A few weeks ago we had a roommates pizza night. We actually made the dough from scratch which is something new to me!

I followed this recipe/video for the dough and it was delicious! The only complaint about the recipe is that they gave it in ml and g instead of tablespoons/cups so I had to keep my computer by the kitchen to look up google conversions. Garlic was added which was the only difference from their recipe.

After letting the dough sit with a towel on top for 2 hours, we were ready to roll out 3 pizzas. I had bought basil, fresh tomatoes and the sweetest onion in the world from the farmers market outside my place. We also got fresh mozzarella cheese.

So we sandwiched a slice of cheese, slice of tomato and basil leaf and distributed this around the pizza. Drizzled olive oil on top and more chopped up basil leaf. That was it. 20 min in the oven at 350.

For the other two pizzas, we experimented with the sweet onions, garlic greens, pepperoni and mushrooms.

Seriously, the best (freshest) margherita pizza I've ever had. I like the no tomato sauce and very little cheese - I think we could've put a little more tomatoes and basil though.

Miso Steamed Fish

I was flipping through a cookbook and read about a miso salmon - however the recipe called for putting it in oil and a pan and I really felt like steaming a fish. I got a whole fish from T&T on sale for $7 and decided to experiment a little.

Miso paste: I combined a 1/2 cup of water with 1/2 cup of miso, one piece - maybe 2-3 tablespoons of thin strips of ginger, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Mixed it together and left it aside. This portion was waaay too big for my fish. Maybe if you cut this in half it would be all you need.

I bought the fish pre-skinned, had to clean it out and slit into the fish to expose more skin to marinate. I dumped some soy sauce, ginger and rice vinegar first - only maybe a tablespoon at max of any of this. Then I spread the miso paste evenly.

I love the Ikea wok for steaming. After putting a little water on the bottom and bringing it to a boil, the fish took about 20-30 min to be steamed and not over done.

I brushed and flipped it half way through. Top it with green onion after it comes out.

The whole fish was soo flavourful and delicious! Actually today I had left overs and put it into my salad...still delicious.

Pea Soup

This week I decided to try as much as I can go to back to the diet I started at the beginning of the thufat journey. Soups are easy to make and lasts over so many meals. Since the weather has been over 30 degrees everyday and sometimes reaching 40, I decided a cold soup would do me good.

I bought free range chicken broth (1 container - 900mL), boiled it with 1 potato chopped and 1 onion chopped and the white part of a bunch of green onion. After the potato was soft - about 15 min, I added 1 cup of fresh snap peas (separated from its pod) and 1 cup of frozen peas (as I don't think I have the patience to remove all those damn fresh peas).

Thats it!! I heated it for about another 15 min, turned off the stove and waited until the soup was a little bit cooler.

When it had cooled down, I scooped it into the magic bullet blender (it filled 3x the extra large cup that comes with the magic bullet). 10 seconds of the magic bullet produced a beautiful green soup.

I put it into a container and left it in the fridge until I was ready for dinner. Having it cold is very refreshing. If hot is desired, you can reheat it.

Top it with green onion and salt and pepper. Simply delicious.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where to begin...

Shoot, you'd think I'd have more time now but unfortunately blogging has taken a backseat in my jam packed summer of fun. There's so much content and pictures I've been gathering up to write about, I just don't know where to start!

Well ok this post will be of the present then the next 10 posts will be of the food, activities and fun since I moved countries.

Some new updates:
- you can now go to and ditch the blogspot part to find my brain dump.

- I'm pretty happy about my new Magic Bullet High-Speed Blender Mixing System purchase. Ever since using it at Yap's, I've been meaning to destroy my blender and buy it. Since I donated my blender to Salvation Army, there was room for a new smoothie super machine. For the last 2 days, I've used it 3 times already. What I like most about it is the portioning. The cup can fit 1 frozen banana, 3 strawberries, some spinach and a cup of soymilk. I add 1/4 cup of Granola and it's the most delicious breakfast in the perfect size.

I also made a pea soup last night which required some blending. I dumped the soup into the extra large cup of the Magic Bullet and 5 seconds later, the peas, potato and onions combine in a lively green colour. It is pretty magical.

- I'm trying to force myself to have a regular schedule of working out and eating and I think it's finally starting to shape up. The thing that bugs me the most is that I still don't have a bike and have yet to find a pool. Last weekend, I was in Okanagan Lake swimming laps. It made me itch to swim in a proper pool again and also try to figure out where the heck my waterproof watch/lap timer went. The 35+ degree weather and no chlorine smell was really nice though. It was replaced with rocks and seaweed and little fish. Probably my first time doing laps in open lake water.

- Wednesdays directly across the street from my apartment is a Farmers Market!! Ah thats today...and I'm excited. I wanna buy corn on the cob for a BBQ and fireworks tonight. I also want to see what to buy to put into my Magic Bullet smoothie for the rest of the week and what we can cook to go camping this weekend.

This post is completely random as my brain is trying to organize what has happened in the past 2 months. I promise to share recipes of what I've been cooking and of the road trip up the west coast and of the camping and hiking that I've done. Don't give up on me and come back and check...starting today :)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New goals

So I've relocated, somewhat unpacked and settling back into a nice routine. Luckily in my month of eating out and no resemblance of a routine, I've been maintaining a weight of 135lbs. Meaning...I haven't lost a pound since May except days after a hike and dehydration.

That's 2.5 months and not acceptable!!

I do feel stronger though, especially with my legs - I can go a bit faster and much longer than ever before on hikes. I've started some interval training for a 5km run. I started going to the gym this week too. So lets see how it goes, my target is to lose 20 lbs in the next 20 weeks - which falls exactly on my birthday. So the race is on.

The plan is to get a decent bike and start swimming again too. Olympic Triathlon is my new goal for next May. Can you imagine? 2 doing a triathlon? :) Well, I'm sure I'll write more about that as soon as training kicks in. Right now I'm just making sure that I don't completely hate running.

I've got to take pictures along the seawall for you to see how beautiful it is to run from my house (by Science World) to English Bay. And seriously, I could not ask for better weather from Vancouver.

I live near that ball at the center of the picture:

English Bay:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Greek Salad, Spinach and Cod

So I've arrived in my new home after an awesome road trip up the West Coast. The one week road trip included Burney Falls, Crater Lake, Oregon Sand Dunes, Mount St Helen's and finally Vancouver. I'll write more about that as soon as I get pictures up.

I apologize for the break in blogging but I'm baack and have an amazing dinner to share with you. After a month of traveling, eating out, packing, unpacking I have been itching to cook sooo badly. So here it is, my first (very delicious) meal in my new city!

Traditional Greek Salad
I've always enjoyed greek salad but have never tried to make it !! It was definitely delicious.

Dressing: combine olive oil, squeezed lemon juice, crushed garlic, pinch of sugar, salt and pepper.

Cut up cubes of feta cheese, green leaf lettuce into strips, roma tomatoes sliced into fourths, round slices of cucumber, pitted black olives, chopped basil/parsely.

Mixed it all up and seriously it was better than any greek salad I've ever had in stores. Actually I thought that the recipe was missing onions and that it was rather odd to see lettuce in a greek salad, but the flavours and textures really worked well with each other.

Cod with Spinach, Pine nuts and Raisins
I was not impressed with the expensive piece of cod we bought but that's ok. To cook fish, I just put it in some aluminum foil and soak in some olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic, basil - essentially everything I needed for the greek salad :) Preheat the oven to 350 and baked for 20 min.

Now the kicker is the spinach side, it was soooo delicious. We washed a big bag of spinach (1-1.5lb), soaked raisins in water, toasted a gigantic pile of pine nuts (1/2 cup). Cook the spinach with oil until its wilted (5 min) and add the drained raisins and pine nuts. Keep cooking till the water evaporates.

All I can say is, yummmmy.

Friday, June 26, 2009


It's been a hectic 2 weeks of coming back and moving out. And here are random thoughts I've had

- I donated about 80 items of clothing to Salvation Army ranging from size 12-14. Then was still disappointed to find pairs of jeans that kept trying to fall off me after the truck pickup.

- Some people who hadn't seen me for a year or so saw me and immediately commented on my weight loss.

- I've moved 15 times in the past 9 years. The countless going away parties from Toronto, Waterloo, San Diego, Vietnam, Singapore, Vancouver and now San Francisco have still NOT made it any easier to say bye.

- I really suck at packing.

- I've broken any eating, exercise regiment I ever had this past 2 weeks and still gained no weight.

- I look back to 6 months ago where I was fat, unhealthy, unhappy, slaved away, bitter, lonely and look at how I'm getting healthy, have a huge contagious glow of a mood and smile, excited about the future and just generally happy now, I'm very thankful.

- Time really flies. Better make use of it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A taste of my old life

This was the first week of tasting the bay area while catching up with old friends I might not see again in a long time. I'm not sure why everytime I reach I milestone I celebrate by gaining all the weight back.

This week was definitely a typical week in a past life of a year ago and makes me want to exercise and do a clense and never eat like this again :)

- Quizno Sammys Vegetarian Wrap for lunch.
- Chou Chou in the city.
The chef was super nice.

Awesome affordable french restaurant with FRIENDLY waiter and cook! Seriously, I've never been to a French restaurant without the French attitude and lack of service ;) They had a Pinot Noir called Moobuzz which was absolutely fabulous and I have yet to see it in stores. The french onion soup, escargo was sooo good. My main course was sole which was done perfectly. The others had lamb and beef and that was pretty good too. Oh and also we had an extra plate of the gruyere souffle to share (free because of an order screwup). The desserts were delicious: creme brule, a floating island (meringue), and a chocolate cake with gelato.

- Home made falafel for lunch.
- Athena Grill for a seafood kebab. I didn't realize there was an authentic awesome greek restaurant so close to my house.

- Amarin Thai for lunch - impressive extensive vegetarian menu. Got some rich curries and noodles.
- Chinese place in Cupertino plaza for dinner. Unfortunately I have no idea what the name is but its open late and had gigantic portions.

- Com Tam Dat Thanh in San Jose plus a special coffee shop for lunch. This is my favourite rice place in the world, damn their portions are so big. The coffee shop had really unhealthy avocado milkshakes and stalkers but I've heard so much I had to check it out once.
- Salad for dinner at home.

- Loving Hut for lunch. Awesome vegetarian seafood platter.
- Rumors for Korean food (rice cake, seafood pancake, fries, chicken wings) and Yogurt Soju. Tons of fun and totally unhealthy.

- Sushi Ran in Sausalito for dinner. A Michelin star restaurant wraps up the week :)

Now the order of the people I enjoyed these meals of the week:
Mike, Karena, Marvin, Derek, Gene, Tony, Joanna, Loc, May, All my coworkers, Karen, Jeff - I'm going to miss you dearly.

To all the new calories in my body at this time, I'm not going to miss you at all when you go :)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Goal #7 - 134 lbs Reached!

Actually, I'm currently at 132 lbs which means I've lost 32 lbs!!!!!! :) This calls for a celebration and a silly youtube video. Here's a song I listened to over and over on my trip.

Goal #6: Climb Machu Picchu (Day 4) Completed!!

Day 4: Wiñaywayna to the Sun Gate to Machu Picchu
Distance: 2.49 miles/4 km
Maximum Elevation: 8,829 ft/2,700 m
Machupicchu Elevation: 7,872 ft/2,400 m

Bright and early we woke up at 4am. Since I had about 8 hours of sleep, I was up and ready to go! We had a quick breakfast, said bye to the porters and off we went to walk about 5 min to join the lineup. We were about the 5th group in line at the gate that opened at 5:30am. There was a whole group that walked past us to the front of the line, we were totally not happy with that. Anyway while waiting we started seeing twilight on the horizon as the mountain were lighting up slowly. We also saw this huge star. After much debate about how impossible it is that the Northern star would be in the southern hemisphere, we were told that it was VENUS! I've never seen a planet in the sky before, this totally made my day! So Mel used her tripod for the first time and we took long exposure shots of Venus and the mountains.

Anyway the gate finally opened. I had a lil mishap with my bowel movements about 30 min into this mad rush to get to the sungate by sunrise. But I did the best I could with my short legs and poor lungs. For some reason this hour of hiking/jogging up to the sungate felt like the toughest for me, mentally and physically. Like I was so close and struggled for the last 3 days and there's only ONE hour of hiking to be done. Then the last 50 huge rocky steps came...I climbed up that with lots of struggle. The guide instructed that it was another 5 min to the Sun Gate. And voila, the breathe taking view of mountains surrounding Macchu Picchu was rewarded to me!!

I was overwhelmed with shock, awe, happiness as I joined the rest of my group and watched as the sun rose up and shined light gradually onto Machu Picchu and the shadows of the mountains withdrew. I took about 100 photos and jumped in the mean time :) I was actually there, in person, watching the sunrise! After that ensued another hour or more of walking down, taking pictures, jumping, rolling around in the grass and just taking it all in. We had a reunion at the bottom with two girls that took another trek to Machu Picchu (Lares trail which you don't need a permit for).

Then our final 2 hours with our guide was spent walking around Machu Picchu seeing the mother of all ruins. I love how they had Llamas as the residents for cutting grass and other people were cleaning the rocks. I can't describe the feeling of walking through trying to understand an ancient civilization and realizing that...I ACTUALLY MADE IT!!!!

Then I slept until the guards kicked me out :)

Machu Picchu (Day 3)

Day 3: Pacaymayo to Wiñaywayna
Distance: 9.94 miles/16 km
Maximum Elevation: 12,792 ft/3,900 m
Campsite Elevation: 8,692 ft/2,650 m

Day 3 was pretty brutal. When everyone told me that Day 2 is the worst of it, I half expected Day 3 to be a cake walk. Nope, we had to cover 16km today's not flat. So up the mountain we went, visited a ruin and again went upwards to see some small ponds, then we got to another mountain pass with incredible views (~2 hours for me).

Then everything that we gained in elevation, we lost by going downwards for another 2 hours. There was a gigantic ruin here which involved some steep steps to get to. We were starving by then but this was not our rest stop - luckily the porters packed us a lollipop and a halowe'en size candy bar. (NOT...ENOUGH...FOOD!) After visiting the ruin, we had to go down to another ruin, and up through the Cloud Forest.

Ok, the Cloud Forest was pretty cool where it was obvious that the microclimate had completely changed. Humidity and low hanging clouds produced this mystical rainforesty type place with cool vegetation and hummingbirds. Poor legs and tummy of mine, I took in the scenery as much as I could while trying hard to rush through to the lunch site. It must have been another 2-3 hours before I made it to lunch - but the views were definitely rewarding! We could see Aguas Caliente in the distance...which means we're close!!

After lunch we visited another cool ruin with shower stall ruins. (I wish there was a real shower stall). We learned more about how amazing the Incans were at engineering, astrology and running their community. Then it was our last 3 hours down to get to the camp site. This is where I finally learned that I had more of a core than I thought. I ditched my poles to Freddy (the assistant tour guide), gave Mel my camera and started to run down down the stone steps. It's not bad, we picked up our pace and had quite a work out flying down the mountain. Well, flying is a bit of an exaggeration, haha I kinda wish Mel took a video of how awkward my "flying" must have looked. (The next day my legs and abs were mucho hurting)

We made it to our final camp site in time for sunset! (and POPCORN - which I seem to reeeally enjoy after a good days work of hiking). We opted to not pay for a luke warm shower since it was down a hill and I couldn't walk another step. Plus we smelled already so whats the difference to wait another day. That night the porters baked us a cake and we fell asleep at 8pm to wake up at 4am! In contrast to the previous night all I wore was a tshirt and didnt even zip up my sleeping bag this night.

Day 3 definitely had the nicest variety of hiking and ruins and vegetation. I thought it couldn't be beat...until I woke up!

Machu Picchu (Day 1 and Day 2)

Well, I've been home for a few days but wanted to write a little about the best hike I've ever done.

We started at Km 82 along the river and the train tracks. If we were optimizing, we'd follow the train tracks which are flat and takes us directly to Machu Picchu. Actually we'd be on the train. But no, instead we used our two feet, arms and sometimes a core to plow through 4 days of 8 hour a day hiking. 40 km, 26 miles and ridiculous elevation.

Day 1: Km 82 to Huayllabamba
Distance: 7.8 miles/12km
Elevation: 9,691 ft/2,953 m

The first day only involved about 4 hours of hiking and plenty of tasty food from the chef and the porters. It started off pretty flat with only one little elevation gain and the rest was down hill.

I've never been on a hiking trip where people carry your stuff, run ahead and set up camp and greet you at the meeting point with a bowl of warm water to wash your face. Then serve all sorts of soups, pastas, salads and delicious meals. My favourite is the pop corn snack time with coca tea!

Anyway we saw our first ruin as we came up our first mountain. This made me so excited!

We saw every animal possible: Llama, donkeys, sheep, cows, roosters, chickens, ducks. And we also got woken up by every animal :)

The next morning we were introduced to our team of 17 porters, 2 cooks and 2 guides...for our team of 12 tourists :) The most luxurious camping trip ever? Indeed.

Day 2: Huayllabamba to Pacaymayo
Distance: 5.1 miles/8.2km
Warmiwanusca pass Elevation: 13,776 ft/4199 m
Camp Elevation: 11,833 ft/3607 m

Day 2 will forever be known as the up hill of torture!! The journey before lunch was already pretty grueling to go up so much. It was really cool to see more tropical weather with waterfalls! Little did we know that after lunch was 2 hours of hell to get to the top of Dead Woman's Pass. Where I seriously was delirious and stopping every minute to catch my breath. I did learn a bunch of spanish while stopped since porters would be racing past me every minute too.

Cómo estás?
Estoy bien.
Mucho Gracias!

Yup, that's the extent of my spanish vocabulary repeated 100x and ingrained in my tiny brain now. Anyway I made it up to the graveyard of the dead women at the mountain pass to a bunch of cheering from my GAP tour which made the last few minutes bearable. Then at the top, I take my signature jumping picture and probably didn't make it off the ground.

Boy we were in for a treat, another 3 hours down the mountain to our campsite! We were rewarded with a selection of Wontons with cheese or Wonton with apples! The night in the campsite was definitely the coldest - me wearing 4 shirts, 2 pants and 2 socks and had to bust out 2 heat packs too.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lake Titicaca

The past 2 days have been a very unique amazing experience. we took a motorboat 3 hours out to a few islands in Lake Titicaca. The first was Taquille, where the blue water and views were breath taking. It took about an hour to climb to the top to the town square and a few more steps to get up to a house for some quinoa soup and fresh grilled trout. The views and people were just incredible. The walk back down to the docks was also full of stops of picture taking. The island was perfect.

Then we headed to another island where we had a host mama take us into her family hut for the night, complete with sheeps and a little adorable 4 year old. We hurried up the hill to miss the sunset but the views were spectacular. For views like this in California, it'd be a couple million dollars Im sure. Then we sipped on hot chocolate which I have a feeling was spiked. Then headed down to star gazing and dinner that they cooked in their small fire. Vegetable soup and pasta....delicious. After dinner we dressed up for the party (these pictures will for sure be burned) we looked ridiculous as we had to climb the mountain one last time to head to the party. I think my anemia and just high altitude really kicked my ass ont he way up to the party. These people are sooo fit, walkiing up and down the mountain everyday. After about 2 dances, we were pooped and asked Mama to go home.

The night was the worst migraine Ive had. But thats ok as the sun came up and the sheeps and roosters started waking up, it was a perfect view outside the window. they made us pancakes and off we went! We went to these floatiing islands where families of 8 make an island by themselves and their boats and their huts off of the plants growing in the water. Seriously, its 2009 and people still live like this! Sooo coool.

Anyway, we're back in Puno with a flushable toilet and shower. Life is pretty sweet. We travel to Cusco tomorrow and prepare for our Machu Picchu hike! Ciao!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Peru...first impressions!

Hey everyone, I've landed safely yesterday into Lima. We stayed in Mira Flores and only had a bit of time to walk around to see fast food restaurants, a church and a whole bunch of casinos! We played slots and could've walked out ahead 1 sole but left when we lost 2 soles.

This morning we headed to the airport to fly to Juliaca with a stopover in Cusco. Then took a bus to Puno which is built along a mountain cliff at 3860m above sea level. Instantly I felt light headed as blood tries to rush to my head. My water bottle keeps shrinking as I walk around with it, not sure what that means but Im sure the same thing is happening to my head. Hopefully the Gingko Biloba and iron will not fail me. In good news, I've completely recovered from my cold and got my voice back that I had lost 2 days ago.

Tomorrow, we are headed off on a motor boat to explore different islands on Lake Titicaca, the largest, highest lake in the world. Then we will stay with a local family and dress up to have a big party in their clothes. They will be cooking us dinner and breakfast then we go cruising to other islands. I can't wait!!

The food has been alright, nothing spectacular yet and Im thinking of eating veggies until a Guinea Pig in Cusco. Alpaca was alright...tasted like beef/lamb. Fish also was alright. Plane food has been alright too. But you know how picky I am. If Im getting off the wagon to eat meat, it better be stellar!

Anyway, Ill probably have internet in Cusco which is in a couple days! I love how its so cheap here.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mount Tamalpais

I had made a mistake and assumed I was leaving for Peru on Saturday :) Instead, it is 1am on Monday morning. This leaves room for a full weekend of awesomeness in the bay area.

We headed to Mt Tam to try out this hike I had heard so much about for the past few years as the best hike in the bay area! And sure enough, it was pretty awesome. We followed the route suggested by bahiker to go up from Stinson beach on the Matt Davis Trail and down on the Steep Ravine Trail.

I had never seen this kind of climate on a hike in the bay area yet - there was low hanging fog/clouds which were drifting past us.

It felt dampy and rainforesty - so beautiful assortment of trees and plants.

It wasn't hot or too cold either.

Randomly on the hike we saw a kid dressed up as a knight. And a lady with a crown. Which added to the enchanted forest feel to the hike. It's too bad that the cloud never went away to reveal the golden gate bridge and stinson beach view but...yeah I definitely enjoyed this hike.

I'm heading off to Peru tonight and then an epic hiking/camping roadtrip up along the west coast. I'm sure there will be many pictures and stories to share.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Old vs New

Ewwwwwww. Who is that girl?!?!

June 2006

June 2009

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Well, I'm back from Yosemite and the sunset hike trip to Half Dome didn't go exactly according to plan but what I did experience was priceless.

- Full rainbow and a cool shower along the falls.

- Full sky covered with stars and shooting stars and UFOs.

Instead of arriving to start the hike at 12 to get up to Half Dome by 8pm, we were late and did not anticipate the hour wait in front of the gate or the hour drive through the park. We arrived at the trail head at 4pm!!

So sunset was in 4 hours. Team 1 aka Mules named Marvin and Mike hustled and did indeed get to the top of half dome in 4 hours in time for the sunset. Julian also made it to the base by then and not far behind was Tim.

They got to see the Sunset :)

Team 2 was led (more like held behind) by me at a pace of a 20min/mile with plenty of breaks :) Dustin and Chris were super patient and feasted on food while waiting for me.

We made it half way in the meadow before the sun set and it quickly became pitch black.

That damn sign that says 2 miles to Half Dome gives you really false hope.

We struggled onwards to the saddle, which is the start of the last mile. It was pitch black and my legs and muscles were done...and there wouldn't be anything to see on the top of half we met up with the group lying there looking at stars. That was at 10pm. (so it took 6 hours to get there...and I'm sure 8 hours if we made it to the very top)

What a beautiful sky. I've never seen that many stars in my life. We saw a shooting star that slowly projected through the sky, it was unreal. We saw satellites, planes, UFOs, planets I'm sure. It was indescribable and priceless.

The descent down in the dark was treacherous. I couldn't walk in a straight line and would constantly stop myself from tripping. We sang to scare bears away and were all scared when seeing glowing eyes of deers. The Nevada falls in the dark was a little scary as well. I felt pretty safe with our group of 7 as we only made a few wrong turns. About 2.5 miles to the bottom, I hit my knee on a rock and that was the end of my knees. As I hopped and wobbled down the rest of the way, the others had to wait. (nothing to worry about, it was just a bruise and recovered a few days later!) We got to the bottom around 4am.

The drive to the hotel was also really taxing since it was about 2 hours away. Finally after check in into the hotel at 6am and a nice hot shower, everyone was passed out by 7am.

I probably wouldn't do a hike in the dark or recommend such a long one. I've heard that you could see the same stars at Glacier Point, where you can DRIVE there. I guess since I didn't actually DO all of half dome, I'll have to repeat this again in the a sunrise or a day hike.