Wow, hooray! Cassian Archer Yang was born the day after my last recipe post, 4 days before his due date, and tomorrow he’s 2 weeks old! Bringing life into the world was nerve-wracking since it’s so unpredictable (even the healthiest women have complications when delivering), painful (obviously)- but what I didn’t realize was that I’d feel the most pain through recovery as I can still barely walk for longer than 20 min. As they all say, all of the pain is worth producing life and you basically forget it all.
On 3/18 at 3:30AM I woke up from an abdominal cramp and by the third contraction, I started thinking I was having contractions and nudged my sleepy Oly who reminded me to observe and count it for an hour. After a call to our hospital + OB, we gathered our bags and Oly calmly drove me to Providence St Johns by about 6:30AM while I asked him to talk about anything to distract me from the ongoing waves of pain (Wordle, which was appropriate). We drove by my office and I decided to text Dylan my coworker since that day wasn’t the day I was going to grab banh mi with Dylan, but the day I possibly may bring life into the world.
Until my cervical exam, I was anxious that we’d be “rejected” and resent home; I’ve heard too many of these stories of pregnant women being resent home due to false or too early labor. The staff wheeled me into labor and delivery and although a nurse poked me with needles until my arm oozed out blood and misevaluated how dilated my cervix was, the sweet supervisor came in, re-evaluated my cervix, and ordered them to transfer me to the delivery room since my cervix was actually 7cm dilated.
I was relieved to see my sweet OB Mana Baskovic visit. Even though they were surprised that my pain level was 5/10 with these contractions by then and assumed I’d be fine for the actual delivery part, I still opted for the epidural because I didn’t know how much more (pain) there was to go and I was feeling slightly irritated and tired of the contraction waves getting stronger from 3:30 AM. With this being my first childbirth, I didn’t want to remember childbirth as a horrendous experience of me lashing out at Oly, staff, and loved ones.
That morning while James the badass anesthesiologist had me sit upright while he stuck that needle into my spine (a rush of cool vibes ran down and gradually I wasn’t able to feel any contraction/pain belly button down)… my nurse Valery asked me if I wanted boba after my labor. Being offered boba honestly lit me up and while I entrusted all the staff, science, Oly, and my body to handle everything fine, the offer of boba felt too great to be true. I am so thankful that I watched the Youtube videos of various childbirth/doula experiences and participated in some Lamaze and Maven classes because everything helped me understand what was going on; I didn’t have the energy to ask and my mind was such a blur.
Many times, there’s a lot of waiting. Oly tried to get the HDMI cable to connect our Switch, but since it wasn’t working, we decided to switch to B plan: watch Guardians of the Galaxy. Once we finished the movie, my OB Mana came in to break my water (yeah, it wasn’t as epic as Pam’s water breaking at the office) and by 3:00 PM they asked me to start to push.
I had so much mental pressure to get our son out, (not the physical, painful pressure one may feel when actually pushing since I had my epidural) First I prioritized putting my headphones on and began my “push it” playlist. Then, I held Oly’s hand (thankfully I literally cut my fingernails the night before) and imagined trying to push as if I were pooping. Soon my OB and nurses told me to just have the music blast off my phone. Because my face kept scrunching up, it was much harder to exert significant energy.
Yet after watching this crowd of Oly on the right of all these nurses/my OB, I was getting frustrated with all the “almost there’s” since his head just kept coming in and out (literally, famous words of Ali Wong) If there’s one thing I hate, it’s wasting everyone’s time and energy of trying to motivate me, with me losing progress over and over again. I was so sick of it by 4:00 PM, that I gave everything I had and shot out our baby like a cannon that neither Oly nor me saw him come out. Weezer’s Perfect Situation was playing, then Weezer’s Hold Me. How appropriate, right?
Warning: some of the photos down this post may be a little graphic with some blood.
The 1/4 sugar milk tea boba Valery and James got me was hands down epic and one of the best boba I’ve ever sipped (not the shitty, watered down and tough boba). Every other time I pampered myself to get boba, but this time I felt like I really deserved it and won in my life. I look like absolute shit here but it accurately displays how I felt from being in labor for 13 hours and not eating anything for 11 hours – a drained yet deliriously happy champion.
Nobody really knows exactly what to expect after giving birth, but what typically happens is the placenta coming out with the baby and the umbilical cord, possibly the partner (in my case, Oly) cutting the really thick cord, and a lot of crying and hormones just being dispersed all other the damn place. I looked like shit, and before when I was so nervous about breastfeeding it felt natural to weep with my baby brought to me, weeping on my chest and quickly breastfeeding him to calm us all down. Once Oly lowered down and hugged us, tenderly kissing my head, I cried more as it was a very sweet moment for our very own family. I continued to keep Cassian on my chest for the recommended hour for that precious skin-to-skin mother and baby bonding time, and they proceeded to check his weight, height, and vitals.
Although I knew I was going to be a mess, nobody told me that I’d get second-degree vaginal tearing, wouldn’t be able to pee for 2+ days, and would have some of the worst vaginal/abdominal pain for ~2 weeks. Getting a catheter inserted into me multiple times was extremely painful since I was so swollen; my favorite nurse on my second day even called it a “train wreck” and struggled to insert the catheter in me with other nurses because it was so swollen. When the most intimate and sacred body parts throb in pain and the most basic human releases of peeing/ pooping are stripped away, it’s extremely humiliating but humbling. I honestly didn’t know it’s so recommended to breastfeed my newborn every 2 hours.
I said it then and I’ll say it again:
I thought that after the epidural wore off, I was fine to move to the postpartum recovery area with our next nurse. When I got up with another nurse to try to use the restroom (who told me to not look down), I fell into the temptation of staring down at my vagina, which literally looked like two hanging dicks, side by side (think Ali Wong again) Amused, I called for Oly to come over, but by the time I stood up and looked at myself in the mirror, all colors and shapes started to fade away and all I saw were a bunch of dots. I was dizzy as hell and started to feel I was going to vomit. I hate vomiting and started to fall into a chair but was brought to a gernie with several nurses quickly giving me an IV and cranberry juice. Because of that, I wasn’t transferred to my postpartum room until around 930PM that night where Oly and I finally also enjoyed my first meal that day: Cassia.
While I originally was hoping we could leave the hospital ASAP (the second night was horrendous with Cassian cluster feeding) I am so thankful we stayed for another night. Many thanks to the nurses and hospital staff who cared for us, equipped us with recovery gear and resources to help me figure out how to breastfeed, encourage me and laugh with / hug me when my body was able to pee. Science is amazing, the human body (especially a womans’) is so badass, and Ali Wong’s jokes were never so raw and real to me. They were always right.
Some of you may have known that I’ve been looking for a dog for 1+ years (basically as soon as we moved back to LA and found an apartment) Although my family bought Teddy online when I was 16 years old and I love him, I realized that adopting a short-haired dog was probably a better idea than just getting another shih tzu or some other type of long-haired dog. I’ve realized over the years especially after dating O, that there are so many dogs out there – in shelters and apparently adoption centers. While I thought all the “good dogs” were taken into owners from COVID, I spent more of the half year more seriously looking through petfinder.com. Which is where back in October, I found Bagel.
Bagel isn’t necessarily the corgi dachshund mix I was obsessively searching for; he’s probably more like a corgi dachshund beagle. (I think?) but he completely fulfilled our criteria: calm, quiet, and actually not just good, but great with kids. While he isn’t totally quiet- he grunts and softly snores while cuddling with us that it’s adorable. While O and I were concerned with how he’d adapt to our home (we have several stairs, while he has bilateral osteoarthritis, a tumor removed from his forehead, and continuous gunk in his eyes due to eye surgery that didn’t give enough of his eyelid back) With that, the adoption center I went to told me that he had to have 2 eyedrops inserted twice a day for the rest of his life unless a vet stated otherwise. With my elderly dad living with us, my pregnancy, we were concerned us if we were compatible and the right fit for Bagel.
Out of all the dogs I’ve scrolled through and inquired about, Bagel was the only one that I went out to meet in person (and a mere 8 min. drive away) When I walked in, I was blown away by how clean, professional, and fancy the center was: huge, interactive digital boards with dog/cat portraits and bios by their private rooms. Here’s how the process and everything went:
I visited Bagel at the Wallis Annenberg Petspace as soon as I could and for the first time by myself. Since some shelters/adoption centers varied with COVID rules and were closed, I emailed them days in advance to make sure I could come in – and emailed again the morning of for me to come by around 2-3PM. To control the traffic + visitors, they made sure I was there to adopt and not just play with their adoptable pets.
I can’t speak for parents who visit adoption centers to adopt children, but I felt a sweet sense of awe when other girls were admiring him from his window, saying they wish they could have him. I admired him from his glass window for how he was cuter and more lovable in person and became giddier as an Annenberg staff member walked Bagel out on a leash for me to meet him by the benches. I sat across from her while watching how she was feeding him snacks (and staff repeatedly saying he needed cream cheese) and learned that he didn’t have any particular traumas or serious injuries, was hand-selected from a shelter, and that he visited the boys/girls club while remaining calm when children played with him. As an added bonus, she told me that the adoption process was quick and straightforward all felt too good to be true to me. When I finished meeting Bagel, there was a rush of excitement to just immediately adopt him but also a sense of responsibility as a wife/partner/caretaker that my husband should meet him as well before we adopt a family addition.
One week later O and I decided that he and our family dog, Ebo, meet Bagel in person to at least see how compatible he was to make sure we could all get along. We all met together in the meet and greet yard and were happy that while they weren’t necessarily playing with each other so much, they were at least amicable (Ebo is one of the least playful/sociable dogs) As if it were too good to be true and we were just going to adopt Bagel, the on-site trainer noticed that Bagel was limping on his left front leg as we walked back inside – and with that, held him from adoption to get it scanned and reviewed. I was crying more inside after reading their update later that he was diagnosed with chronic bilateral osteoarthritis and I was also thrown off that we had to wait until we come back from our baby honeymoon to make any decision, but I figured some of the best decisions were to be taken with a lot more logical reason than just impulse. (Like, what about the dog himself?) I figured that I had to leave it up to fate for us to see if Bagel was still available for us to adopt right after we returned from our baby honeymoon in November.
Two days after we returned from our baby honeymoon, we attempted to reunite with Bagel again to see how he was doing in real life (and adopt him if he was) I was horrified with selfishness (secretly heartbroken + jealous) to learn that he was actually meeting with another potential adopter. I was so sure that we were the “only” prospective adopters (naive and greedy, I know) Fortunately, although the potential adopters were seriously going to adopt him, the staff encouraged us to talk it through and the couple told us that they’d be happy to take him in if Bagel doesn’t work out with us and that he had to go to Stanford. I was heavily relieved and thankful. Within a few minutes, I listened to the Vet explain his medical conditions, exchanged more questions and answers, paid the $100 adoption fee (much better for our pocket compared to a puppy or some purebred dog), signed all the paperwork under my name, and left with Bagel’s leash within half an hour.
Coincidentally, we made it in time for Adopt a Senior Pet Month. Although Bagel was fine walking with us out of the adoption center, he was understandably trembling in fear in our car ride back to our home (think of being taken by complete strangers) ..yet with some more rubs, trust, patience, all of our lives were changed. This marked our newest family tradition: Bagel’s Bagel Day, where we celebrate Bagel and enjoy bagels together.
Later that evening, we also had Johnny + Josefina over to spend a few nights at our home – who we decided to take out for a quick taco street run. I don’t think I’ll ever get over this as one of my first photos of Bagel.
And, we learned that he was fine with water and showers and a little shy but curious in the kitchen.
While I’ve read and heard of several stories of older pets having trouble transitioning into new homes and new owners, within one night Bagel was receptive and cuddled with us in front of the TV and slept with us in our bed; Yes, I sleep better, walk more, and am overall in a better mood during my first pregnancy during this neverending pandemic. I have so many reasons to be comfortable at home – resting, working, stretching, preparing food like Thanksgiving and Christmas together. He has cuddled with me in times of abdominal pregnancy pain + fatigue, comforted me in times of any stress, allowed even babies/children to practically corner him and bite his ears, encouraged me to walk more even with his bilateral osteoarthritis. He’s been enthusiastically climbing up and down the stairs and his eye issues have practically healed (no meds-Thank you Wallis Annenberg Petspace for taking such good care of him) O and I haven’t been happier and more pleased to have Bagel within our family.
I’m relieved to see how the years have progressed so much more care for animals in general – and especially dog adoptions rather than puppy mills. I also didn’t realize how many people would just seek out puppies over the old dogs; according to ASPCA, about 390,000 dogs and 530,000 cats are euthanized every year. Adoption clearly is a reason why it’s been declining (and microchips/pets being successfully returned to their owners) Although I thought I’d just want a puppy or young dog to grow up with our upcoming son, there were so many reasons for why a senior was a great idea: 1) they’re “potty trained”, 2) calmer 3) more easily trainable 4) won’t chew up our furniture in our home. It’s been a wonderful adopt a senior pet month + end of the year – and I hope more prospective dog owners consider fostering and adopting the elder dogs as well.
Although COVID screwed our first wedding over and our plans to check out Europe for our intended honeymoon + swing over to a friend’s wedding in Hamburg, we somehow, still managed to check out Europe for 8 days.. and 25 weeks in pregnancy, I’m calling this a baby honeymoon. While I’m a planner enthusiast, I’ve been so scarred from wedding planning for 2020 that we didn’t purchase our round trip flight to Venice until mid/end October for our early November trip.
Surprisingly, it’s O’s first time to Europe. I’d think a TCK has “definitely” been to Europe, but I was ecstatic to be a part of his first visit to Europe. Aside from going to my favorite European store, Merci, I was really keen in checking out Italy for the first time as well with him. Aside from my dad assuming we’d go to Hawaii for our honeymoon *laugh* we enjoyed its stunning beaches and views already; honestly, O and I are much more of a city/island/artsy/culinary adventurer. (that’s a mouthful)
I had no idea how my pregnancy would pan out, which is partially why this was kind of whipped together last minute: 7 flights in 7 1/2 days.
Definitely not on my Euro priority list, but part of our long layover to Italy. All I remember about Frankfurt was it having heavy doors, generally pretty bleak architecture that somehow reminded me of Disneyland, and a sausage/bratwurst + beer galore – all things that I was kind of feeling meh about. While I was honestly kind of dreading it, I was relieved and happy for O since he told me he’s actually wanted to visit Frankfurt and I was happy to knock this out of his bucket list. I asked him to come up with a list of things for us to do within 7 hours, which mainly included visiting this castle via a pricey taxi, walking through a market to eat some bratwurst and sauerkraut, and more bratwurst and sauerkraut (+ ales for O)
We finally then arrived Venice, which seems like an obvious place for us to start our honeymoon at; it’s a beautiful Italian capital that is built on 100+ small islands in a lagoon within the Adriatic sea, there are no roads – only canals, and is lined with these historical, gorgeous Renaissance and Gothic palaces. However, based off of my very little research and hearing about this about a week before we departed LA, did I realize that while it’s so small and one of the most expensive areas crowded with tourists (tons of tourist traps + overpriced goods + food) it wasn’t the best choice for our Euro trip, but one of the best choices to start and leave Europe with. The fish platter by the way down there, was the best fish / sardine platter we’ve ever consumed. And we’re keeping that as our secret.
P.za San Marco, 1, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Doge’s palace AKA Palazzo Ducale was hands down, one of the finest pieces of architecture we’ve ever seen and visited. I had no idea what to expect when approaching it, but it was obvious we were approaching it and entering it. Just like every other magnificent royal landmark, the ornate interior and artwork are so intricate and every time I visit places like this – I am blown away that it was built in its time (1340) and am awed by its beauty.
P.za San Marco, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
I’m very embarrassed that I told O going up this was going to be a “waste” of our time/money since it was clearly the shot that I have 0 regrets on and we ascended it around sunset and I even put it in our Google sheet schedule for sunset. It was …beautiful at every side.
Since O and I have been (Neapolitan) pizza enthusiasts from living in NYC and O’s been making pizza at our home, this was a personal must for me (and us, I believed) What’s better than enjoying Neapolitan pizzas, trying to make pizzas at our home, than to literally visit the origin of pizza…? That’s right, nothing. A friend of mine thought I’d get “sick” of pizza, which I laughed at – because out of all the food out there, I will certainly not get sick of some solid Neapolitan style pizza. The pizzas in Naples if you hadn’t heard are practically all made with some of the best crust (thin and crispy on the outside with an incredibly fluffy and airy inside), slathered with some of the freshest tomato sauce, and topped with the best cheese I’ve ever had. With a list of pizzerias in my Google sheet, the one we loved most was hands down, L’antica. (The pictures of this pizza don’t show at all its justice of how amazing it tasted) and was certainly the pizzeria/meal we were happy to repeat. Other than that, we did stop by Pizzeria da Atillo for that Ricotta star pizza. Honestly, I’m not a huge flan of ricotta pizza and shouldn’t be eating so much ricotta-so while it was good, it was probably one of my less favorable pizzas I had. As for sweets, I thought I’d go running around like a child. While the gelato was amazing, the tiramisu, most of the cannoli, and babà I had was too sweet, and the tiramisu was usually so intensely drenched with rum that it felt like I was drinking alcohol.
Did I mention that flying with a bunch of beautiful clouds and being revealed Naples was probably the most epic arrival I’ve ever viewed? (The 1-hour flight from Venice through the morning was so gorgeous that O and I couldn’t stop staring outside the window instead of the quick nap we intended)
via Cesare Sersale 1/7, Naples, 80139, Italy
L’antica Pizzeria Da Michele is so good that we went there twice for just $5 a pie and it deserves its own section. If you’ve ever traveled with me, you know I never go to the same place twice unless it’s really that damn amazing. While we did half plain and half Margherita, the Margherita was so heavenly that I’m pretty sure I could have inhaled two of them. When people ask how one could consume pizza like this, it’s because if it’s Neapolitan style and made well, the ingredients are of such high quality + so fresh that it doesn’t really make you feel gross.
Via Chiaia, 1/2, 80132 Napoli NA, Italy
Espresso game in Italy was very intense activity to me but certainly shook off our jet lag and any moment of sleepiness. If you hadn’t seen Jordan Schlansky take Conan to the same Cafe Gambrinus we went to, you must. We were blessed that it was literally down the street from our AirBnb so practically every morning ritual started off with espressos at the bar that you get in, you get out and you go about your day” experience Jordan Schlansky refers to. I tried a few other drinks like the Neapolitan Cappuccino, but espresso was the drink to consume here in front of these Godfather-like baristas.
I had no idea Pompeii was so close to Naples, but it was a quick ~40 min bus ride and while we were kind of bummed that it was raining (and cold as hell) – it was a surreal architectural site. When O asked me what I wanted to see, I vividly recall reading the Eyewitness book about Pompeii being completely covered from a volcano eruption and being shocked to see images of the excavations (I never read when I was a kid) – to see the casts of these remains in real life in the general area where they were found was quite chilling. 18 hours of a volcano destroying an entire civilization into ruins.
While we love our neighborhood cafe called Capri coffee & gelato, this was a fun, dreamy island hop. After a quick 1 1/2 hr ride around the island, I learned that:
1) I’d feel nervous hopping onto a ski / gondola like lift until I got on it (practically begged O to not have me go on it but swallowed it all up + told myself to not overthink that a bar holding me from falling over ~50′ would be fine)
2) Italians really give zero shit about operating hours; no matter how “organized” we were with restaurants/planning, we had to accept whatever food was available even with this sports game that they were watching from their restaurant TV’s.
After especially learning that second lesson + it poured rain, I figured it was a perfect time to go to our next destination: Paris.
is always a good idea. Really. Even the simple buttery ham sandwich they served on the airplane was really impressive to me. I’m relieved that O and I still pushed this through even though we thought it was something we could overlook. While I originally thought of Paris as the internationally renowned hub of arts, impressionism, black noir film, high fashion, french onion soup, buttery pastries, and some overrated romantic getaway infested with trash + smoke + baguettes, it felt like the perfect, romantic getaway. While I also only came here twice previously for a day trip, I booked this sweet Airbnb that was in a truly magical location with high ceilings that captured the gorgeous streetscape.
The streets were surprisingly way cleaner than I remembered from my last 2 trips, and people seemed kinder. O and I also observed that everyone was good-looking (I think it’s because they just dress so much better than us Americans)
This was also the first time I visited Paris with a partner. After I made my mandatory swing by Merci and picked up all the plates for our home (my “gifts” to myself) – Europe was complete (ugh, I love that store and if I could, I’d fly over there to just go shopping every year and I’m not even a shopping type of person)
While I loved walking through the Louvre + laying on the grass by the Eiffel Tower with happy people picnicking with platters of cheese/sandwiches and bottles of wine, something about spontaneously walking through the Louvre + rushing over to the Eiffel Tower on our first night and watching it twinkle was so much sweeter + stunning.
1 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France
For the next morning, I gave it all to O to figure out whatever he wanted to do and check out, which included the Catacombs of Paris: a 1,500m underground ossuary containing remains of millions of Parisians dating back from the late 18th century. While I thought descending the staircase was never-ending and made me feel a bit nauseous, this labyrinth was never-ending and apparently, “and clearly” not recommended for sensitive individuals or pregnant people like me with the few opportunities to rest. However, it was quite remarkable seeing how they so neatly organized and preserved all these skeletal remains.
After ascending back up into life, O and I continued to just walk through different streets and parks. The architecture was stunning at every angle + perspective + I had the best crepe with sardines. While I was feeling a bit defeated that we didn’t get anything for our baby boy (isn’t that what you’d do as well for a babymoon?) it was as if it was a happenstance to find ourselves right by the Little Prince, where we bought some gifts.
44-47 Passage des Panoramas 75002 Paris France
O had such a huge smile for me when although we were trying to focus on gettin some grub, we spot Arabica. Back for our first international trip (to Japan in 2017) I made it such a trek for us to go to the one in Arashiyama, Kyoto; the line was the longest line O had ever waited for – but he didn’t complain about it after he sipped. I was relieved to see that this didn’t even have a line (the barista probably thought I was overreacting in delight), and it was as delicious (I didn’t even care that it was almost 6PM) Because of how sensitive I am to coffee, O was able to enjoy it while I “almost” enjoyed the croissant.
We had so much fun that by the time we flew back to Venice, we realize that we forgot to get our COVID tests to return to LAX (sigh, look up your traveling regulations since rules have been changing on a daily basis) So while it sucked to pay ~1,000 USD to rebook another flight/AirBnb with hours of being stuck at Venice’s only airport, we did get to spend another “last” day in Venice (mainly enjoying more espresso’s and taking turns of napping in their waterbus)
7 flights in 7 days honestly wasn’t as bad as I was fearing (except for the layovers + traveling between US + Europe) but hey, at least we made it through the adventure before Omicron + Germany’s shutdown.
Rather than stressing ourselves about our wedding (6-ish months away?!) + splurging for a honeymoon, O and I decided to break out of cold and bleak NYC into the hearts of tropical Bali as our pre-wedding honeymoon. Except, it didn’t start off as dreamy as we thought; we landed in Denpasar mainly frantic about my missing outfit for our pre wedding shoot. Fortunately, the streets of Seminyak and Paulina Katarina saved us by delivering the breezy shirt dress to my hotel within 15 hours. Another plus – our hotel had everything we wanted: lush nature, gorgeous architecture and interiors done by our colleague Jess’s father’s firm, and a private beach front.
Oh, and did you know that Bali is known for its gorgeous waterfalls as well? After I saw gorgeous waterfalls online, I had to snag photos of us in one.
Jl. Ir. Sutami, Kemenuh, Kec. Sukawati, Kabupaten Gianyar,
Bali 80581, Indonesia
Thanks to our USC architecture colleague Jessica and her dad, we were able to stay at the hotel designed by her dad’s firm for 3 glorious nights, 3.5 heavenly days with morning yoga, lagoon lounges, and a private beach. The chic and contemporary hotel doesn’t need much introduction, but we love it for the beachside pool, views, and how all of this nests in nature. I visited it back in 2015 as my first trip to Bali and loved it with Jessica.
Photos don’t do justice, but seriously, lounging at the lagoon with nasi ayam and other delicious Indonesian dishes was nothing less than excellent.
Jl. Danau Tamblingan, Sanur, Kec. Denpasar Sel., Kota Denpasar, Bali 80228, Indonesia
This pre-wedding honeymoon was particularly mentally powerful for overcoming fears. While I just learned how to properly swim a month ago thanks to Coach Brian, I truly overcame my fear of water by completely submerging myself in all kinds of water, including sitting 35 feet on Nusa Penida’s ocean floor. A few lessons I’ve also learned (the hard way) from our two dives:
Lesson #1: Quickly figure out a way to adapt to the water pressure changes while descending/ascending or your ears and head will be in excruciating pain
Lesson #1: Do not drink seawater or you’ll feel nauseous enough to be projectile vommitting through scuba diving equipment or over the boat.
Lesson #3: Water can get damn cold; there is no shame wearing 2 wetsuits.
While I wanted to have pre-wedding photos of us taken by a waterfall, I wanted to also suspend myself off of a waterfall. While there are few waterfalls you can jump off of, the infamous Aling Aling and its jump-offable cliffs were on the other side of the island, 75 damn km away. I’ve never been so proud to be with a man who was willing to drive us up (literally, up mountains into clouds of wind + rain) on a motorbike for his first time. We only live once, right?
According to O, waterfall/cliff jumping was going to be “much easier” than scuba diving. But honestly, walking up to a cliff with a crowd of people watching me finally stand at the tip of a 10m high cliff to jump off of.. released so much adrenaline that my heart was beating as if I ran a mile and my body was trembling in anxiety. I had to meet that minuscule margin of error; over-rotating or incorrectly angling myself within the 5 seconds would hurt – probably badly. Yet as soon as our guide walked over to me, claimed that I wasn’t ready and suggested I skip it, I insisted that I was ready to jump off; I’ve been having an incredible year and we didn’t come all the way up here for me to just stand and walk away.
Before I knew it, I jumped off the cliff, somehow angled myself at a 15 degree angle and hurt my ass as I broke the water. Seconds later, I floated back up as gracefully as possible, more eager than ever to get back onto land, hug O, and move on to graceful waterfall slides. As Tupac says, “…life goes on.”
Lesson #1: “Anything that’s not straight up and down is really going to hurt.” -Orlando Duque
Lesson #2: Jump off with arms out left/right, then toes and arms as straight and close to the body right before hitting the water with feet first.
Jl. Raya Desa Sambangan, Sambangan, Kec. Sukasada, Kabupaten Buleleng,
Bali 81161, Indonesia
Aside from staying at Sanur’s gorgeous 5 star hotel, I wanted half of our trip’s accommodation in something more atypical of a honeymoon: a treehouse. Of course, you could find any accommodation via Airbnb. I found this gem that wasn’t only a treehouse that sits on a tree with branches protruding in/out of, but that was also in Ubud, another town that I wanted to explore. Showering in a treehouse immersed with lush leaves was one of the most bizarre feelings we’ve ever had.
Hars, the owner, manager, architect, landlord, entrepreneur of the property is truly the 21st century Renaissance man. Every morning he prepared and served us breakfast from below in another treehouse dining room. Starting every morning with home-grown fruits, vegetables, and potato patties that’s sourced just feet away brought us so much joy.
If you know me, you know that I am obsessed with visiting local cafes at every endeavor around the world. Once we learned that our photographer Nat and her aunt owned a pet project cafe, we slipped in some time to visit the cafe gem (snug within a car wash, next to Nat’s uncle’s barbershop) Their industrial and cozy cafe also embraces urban coffee culture overseas (their favorites being hole in the walls) while also respectfully using Balinese arabica beans in a humble way. While I am a huge sucker for arabica coffee, we could clearly tell that the cafe is clearly driven by nostalgia… from the delicate dainty ceramics (I couldn’t help but feel like I was at my grandma’s) and the photography books (literally, the same one I owned and referred to) …We just couldn’t ask for a sweeter, sentimental way to leave Bali.
And last but not least, every time I visit a country, I love swinging by at least one local cafe (who doesn’t know that?!). This time, we swung by our prewedding photographer’s cafe. Yeah, how cool is she?! Nat so happened to help start up this smitten cafe, Oli Kopi. – right alongside her uncle’s barbershop, within a car wash (we had to find a way to swing by, and we literally did just before we departed Bali)
To this date, Bali is the paradise trip that made me not even want to sleep-to an extent that I got sick as soon as I came back to NYC.
Kerobokan Kelod, North Kuta, Badung Regency,
Bali 80365, Indonesia