Hiking – learning a few tips

My hiking with a friend last Friday to Mount Tamalpais (locally known as Mt. Tam), the highest point in the Marin County in the Bay Area, was a memorable one.

The hike was from the Pantoll Station to the East Peak (check here) via the Matt Davis Trail, the West Inn, and we came back via the Railroad Grade Fire Road – my Apple Watch registered 13 miles for the entire trip for 5.5 hours of hiking (1 hour was a detour as we went on a wrong track and back and we did not exactly reach the East Peak).

Many have commented on the views of the Bay, the redwood trees, the water bridges, the serpentine rocks, and how shady and gradual most of the trail is. We did not disappoint. The West Inn provides a much-needed resting point for bathroom breaks and water refill, plus we felt wonderful and serene looking at the views.


My friend, being a more experienced hiker, taught me several things about hiking.

1. Bring only what you need. I almost brought my jacket but it was probably over 75 degrees F up there and I also left my wallet at the car.

2. Need for a hiking stick and hat.  Never underestimate how far one has to walk. The stick will definitely help when one is walking up and down a gradient and to prevent slipping. The hat is an absolute must with the summer sun.

3. Hydrate! This is obvious and one needs to check on water refilling points during the route or else one has to bring at least 2 big bottles of water.

4. Food. Carbohydrate/fruit/dried fruit will give you that glucose kick you need. Nuts and peanut butter filled pretzels (traders joe) are very good.  Some people carry bread with them and eat them on the way. Beware of taking protein/chocolate bars as they could melt or become mushy along the way. Also, eat something before the long hike to prevent low sugar especially when one has to walk fast uphill after a detour.

5. Walk at a gradual pace to keep your stamina. Hiking is one of the best exercises for your health. It is considered a form of meditation and so walk at a nice, steady pace.

6. Map.  It is crucial especially the path is new to you. We thought that we would never get lost at Mt. Tam as it is pretty close to the urban area. We thought we were on the right path back but we actually went further east from the East Peak instead of heading back to the West. Glad we checked the map.

7. Cellphone. It is not only important for an emergency but also for lighting when it gets dark.

8. Ask for guidance. There are many experienced hikers along the way and so always ask for suggested routes to make your hike even better.

9.  Decide whether you want to hike alone.  This is not my preference as it is always so much more fun to connect with or catch up with a friend/family member via hiking. However, we did see many lone hikers.

When we left Marin, we received a gift – seeing the big blood (red) moon hanging low at the horizon as July 27th was the century’s longest lunar eclipse. We also brought back some beautiful serpentine rocks as a memoir for the hike!

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All About Expressing Yourself

CocktailsI am coming back to this space as something was inspiring me tonight.  In the next few days, Google is having its Google Cloud Conference in San Francisco.  Tonight, Google held a Diversity and Inclusion event called Women in Tech Social at the Palace Hotel.  I love the fact that Google has embraced women in its senior management: Diane Greene, founder of VM Ware, is Google Cloud’s CEO while Fei Fei Li, another woman, is the Chief Scientist for Machine Learning/AI.  In the conference, Google has 10 events in diversity and inclusion.  At the bar tonight, attendees were asked to express themselves by creating their own cocktails.

According to research, in the U.S., women are paid around 80% of the wages of men even though 50% of the undergraduates and graduates are women.  For women in tech, companies offer between 4% to 45% less pay to women for the same job.  Women did ask for a lower pay 66% of the time.  In industries such as VCs and hedge funds, less than 5% are women at the Partners or Chief Investment Officers level.  Still, in the U.S., women are controlling 51% of the total wealth.  Globally, women’s economic clout and wealth are rising definitively.

So, a toast to the rising strength of women with a self-made, self-expressed cocktail – non-alcoholic drink filled with wonderful herbs and gorgeous edible flowers.

One Flaw in Women

Beautiful words and reminder – think you might like it!

Morning Story and Dilbert

Morning Story and Dilbert Vintage Dilbert – November 7, 1991

Women have strengths that amaze men…..IT IS THAT
They bear hardships and they carry burdens,
but they hold happiness, love and joy.

They smile when they want to scream.
They sing when they want to cry.
They cry when they are happy
and laugh when they are nervous.

They fight for what they believe in..
They stand up to injustice.
They don’t take “no” for an answer
when they believe there is a better solution.

They go without so their family can have.
They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.
They love unconditionally.
They cry when their children excel
and cheer when their friends get awards.

They are happy when they hear about
a birth or a wedding.
Their hearts break when a friend dies.
They grieve at the loss of a family member,
yet they are strong when they
think there…

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Celebrating Christmas with Glass Harp!

OBT - Nutcracker 2015When you first hear this music without watching the youtube, you would not have imagined this is how the sound is produced.  Simply amazing – really, it is crystal clear music.

This type of instrument might even have originated from China in the Middle Ages.  These days, special types of wine glasses are used and the glasses are without water – only played by the musician’s entire hand rubbing the rim of the glasses with her wet finger tips.  You can find more about the origin of this music here.

While you are preparing your Christmas presents or hosting your own Sugar Plum Fairy tea party, enjoy a taste of the Glassduo’s Sugar Plum Fairy!

Adding my favourite from their recent performance in Hong Kong playing a very famous Chinese classical song – Clouds Chasing the Moon (hear how it resembles the flute!)

A day in Sai Kung

For those who are not familiar with Hong Kong, you may think that Sai Kung sounds like some cities in Vietnam. In fact Sai Kung is the country side of Hong Kong and is located in the New Territories, the area that is attached to Mainland China.  Sai Kung is for the whole family – rural, delicious (great seafood and cafes), sporty (lots of water activities and cruising), fun, and relaxing.  

On the day of my Dad’s Big Birthday, we have planned a day in Sai Kung, breathing in the refreshing air and doing something different.  No wonder why HK people, with their daily life stretched to their max, love to hang out in Sai Kung with its beautiful pier, beaches, neighboring islands, and wonderful cuisines.

Let’s take a look at what we did:

Photo courtesy of Venue Hub, HK

Wow, a Polynesian-style bowling alley called Tikitiki Bowling Bar was our first stop. How fun to combine bowling with the entire family with brunch next to the alley! Because of the gates erected along the gutters, even a 6-year old can play bowling and score well!  We had so much laughter.


Then we strolled in the village market near the Sai Kung pier and had a great time discovering all sorts of local street food, fruits (durian), coffee places, and even great fashion!  I highly recommend this if you want to venture beyond the famous Stanley Market.


Along the water, you will take in quite a lot – the beautiful pier, lots of sampans (boats), a local museum, and of course lots of seafood restaurants (the famous Seafood Street.)


Zooming into the Sampans a bit, one can see they don’t just carry people as a great way for transportation or touring (one can check out island hopping in Sai Kung – many people will want your business at the pier), they also carry lots of seafood (dried especially) for sale!

What I enjoy HK the most is that while it is probably the most convenient place in the world for conducting businesses, is a city that almost never sleeps, has the most amazing places to eat and drink, its serenity is also just less than an hour away.  Check out Sai Kung next time!

The Beauty of Ikebana lies in its Philosophy

I spent a wonderful afternoon learning about Ikebana (the Japanese art of arranging flowers) at the Asian Arts Museum last Saturday with the President of the Wafu School of Ikebana in the California chapter, Fusako Hoyrup Sensei.

The word Ikebana means “live flowers in a container”; it allows us to enjoy indoors the charm and beauty of landscapes, the seashore, or lakeside.  The practice dates back to the 6th or 7th century in Japan as simple offerings on Buddhist altars but has now become an art form in everyday’s life.  There are now about 3,000+ schools of Ikebana in Japan.

The Wafu School, founded in the early 20th century, emphasizes complete harmony among the flowers, vases, and the environment.  Wafu style brings out the “natural beauty”, respecting the flowers and plants in their natural state.

The fundamental way of arranging the flowers is to create a trigonal pyramid (or more accurately an inverted, oblique trigonal pyramid.)  The lengths of the 3 main stems are different and can be simplified as long, medium (2/3 of long), and short (1/3 of long).  The length of the long can be determined by the height of the container + the width (at its widest) of the container.  Then, you can add complementary or supplementary stems as necessary.

Ikebana principles
Courtesy of the Wafu School of Ikebana

I love learning that these flowers and plants harmonize each other as well as with the artist and the environment.  You would know which flowers to buy or use because flowers talk to you.  Arrange the flowers and plants facing toward the sunlight because this is the natural way how plants grow!  This way gives the arrangement more depth and natural beauty.

So here is the result of my very first Ikebana lesson – ta da!

Ikebana - first
This is a Moribana (flat) arrangement of the upright pattern, using 7 major steps in a basin

Could you guess that the focal point of this arrangement is the 2 lowest-placed tiger lilies? Can you sense that the flowers are coming toward you?

Thanks to Sensei Fusako Hoyrup, I have learned some simple but very important lessons of life as well – bond with nature and appreciate it anywhere.  Here is a lovely arrangement by the master, herself.

Fusako_Hoyrup_Seiga_
Magnificent arrangement by Fusako Hoyrup. She also used some of the smaller stems to create the second arrangement, isn’t it cute and lovely?