Progress on travel app

Not traveling related but somewhat. So I’m almost done coding my beta version of my traveling app.

I’ve actually reached out to several similar apps with the intention of hoping of working together for synergy. So far, I haven’t found the one for me– one who shares similar vision, goals and strategies that I have. It’s okay.

Eventually I would like everyone to come together to build a true global community of sharing stories and photos. You can argue Facebook is doing that. But I have to say, my Facebook feed has been filled with less so of my friends’ stories but companies’ stories. Sometimes I’m lost as to what I’m reading on Facebook.

I hope my goals can come true one day. I truly believe in hard work and dedication. And someday it’ll all work out.

Holidays

Holidays is a time when people travel- travel back home.

I’m pretty done with traveling for the rest of this year and I’m already home.

However, I’d like to share a ridiculous story about going to somewhere random during the holiday. Over the past 10-20 years, holidays were the worst for me. Not trying to be Mr. Scrooge but not having family around is tough. I have friends inviting me over to their family’s dinner but it’s just not the same.

One day, I was hanging out with a bunch of colleagues who don’t celebrate Christmas. However, I didn’t feel like I belonged with them and I didn’t want to go home. I ended up taking a little trip from NYC to Stamford, Connecticut. Yup! You read that right, Stamford.

It was around 11pm. I said farewell to my colleagues. Not wanting to go home, I got off the subway way earlier than I should at grand central terminal. I went to the information booth and asked the guy, “where can I go in Connecticut? What’s a nice neighborhood to explore?” He showed me a pamphlet with a picture of foliage, “new haven is nice.” But New Haven is kind of far, how about Greenwich? I asked. (I have a friend who used to work there and for some reason, I thought it’d be a great idea to go at midnight lol. The information guy said, “that could work” and tells me the next train time. I don’t recall what exactly happened next, but I said how about Stamford and when is it leaving? Apparently going to Stamford was the soonest train available. I paid my ticket and got on the train.

Once I got to Stamford, I saw buildings in darkness. How silly of me to be doing this, I thought. I got into a cab and asked the driver “take me to the nearest hotel.” The cab driver dropped me off and I went straight to check-in- “where’s the nearest bar?”, I asked. The lady smiled and responded, “the nearest bar is in New York City.”

😂 when you live in NYC for all your life, you don’t realize other places in the world or country operates on a different time.

And that was one of my solo Christmas.

Dining with Taxidermies

Have you ever sat down in a restaurant and have these animals just stare at you? 

What an experience! I went to the oldest restaurant in Denver, Colorado. The place is called Buckhorn Exchange. It’s been around  since 1893 and was featured on Man vs Food. 

Snake meat! I had snake meat!! The snake meat wasn’t even on the menu, you had to request from them. It was some snake meat mixed with queso dip. Amazing dip! Totally worth the try- YOLO

I also had the buffalo steak. It was good but kind of unease when you have a bunch of animals looking down at you. Lol but overall it was still one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. 

The dip was fantastic
The bathroom

Crossed 4 timezone in 4 months

I wrote this in my notepad 3 weeks ago and I want to share what I did across the US as an American. I didn’t do all the states, but at least I did one city in each timezone. Overall for the entire year, I’ve been to 60 cities/towns, mostly alone. I’ll share some specific stories in later posts. 

My 4 month journey actually started from Portugal->Austria->Slovenia->Croatia->New York (home for one day)-> Austin, Texas-> San Antonio, Texas-> Houston, Texas-> Dallas, Texas->Denver, Colorado->Los Angeles 

The past 4 months…I had a blast!!!! And this is just going to be a list on why I had a blast. 

I had the best eggtart in the world, went back to one of my fave euro country, saw my mom, ate a lot of truffles, saw lots of waterfalls, had lots of BBQ, lived with 14 chickens 2 cats and 1 dog, danced with cowboys, got drunk on dirty six, got happy with edibles, met tons of strangers, saw bats coming out of a bridge, went horseback riding, hitched hiked, went to the ghettos and got followed back, saw Spanish missions, saw spaceships, saw naked people, swam in a few springs, played chicken shit bingo, saw almost full eclipse, saw stars on the floor and in the sky, paddle boarded in the t-storm, kayaked under the sun, saw a beer can house, checked out where JFK got shot, went to a peacock sanctuary, climb up 14k high and had a beer, saw sea lions in the Pacific Ocean, tread water in the Dead Sea, had rattlesnake meat with taxidermies, stayed at an old soviet hotel, went to universal studio. 

Eating insects 🐜 

Most of us live with abundance of food, water and shelter. Today I had a chance to try insects. I’ve been wanting to do this but never had the guts to do it. 

Let’s be real, 80% of the world eats insects of some type. If there is a world apocalypse of some sort, us first world people would probably die. The best source probably should be cockroaches, going through dinosaur age and all that. But ummm I cringe. Better get this protein diet regime on to be prepared for the real real world. 

Back to NYC 

I spent the last four months in Texas. It was the best experience I’ve ever had. 

Its unfortunate I didn’t have the chance to take Amtrak to California due to hurricane Harvey. California was pretty disappointing. I think I enjoy regions that are heavy in culture. Texas definitely had that. California is too urban. 

Growing up in nyc, I was so confined to the concrete jungle but seeing the south was totally refreshing. I’m pretty sad I’m back to the NYC life to be honest. With that said, I’ve been working on a new traveling app. (Yes I program.) 

The app basically creates itinerary based on where you want to go. It doesn’t give you a premade one. It lets you pick photos of wherever you find amazing. All you have to do is like pictures from anywhere around the world and an itinerary is made. Pretty cool! I just submitted my app today to Instagram for their API approval. 

The basic app is built. The hardest part is the algorithm for the itinerary. How can you take x data location and optimize with n days at whatever budget you set, along with many other factors. The current one I have now works well with certain cities. Actually I was really surprised with the outcome. Pretty accurate but had some flaws. 

The new one I just thought of seems promising but way more complicated. Fingers crossed. 

Being Illiterate and Getting Laughed At – Part I

If you read my other post on traveling solo as a kid, this post is about what happened afterwards. 

My native language is English. When I was 10, I couldn’t speak another language fluently. I knew basic mandarin – I need the bathroom, hungry, I want…, yes, no, etc. 

My first week of school 

There’s a lot of immigrants coming into the US as a child. The child gets ESL and many other support. But what about the other way around? I can tell you you get zero support. My mom just arrived and helped me get myself to school. Before going to school, we went to get a chicken sandwich as my lunch. (Sounds normal right? It’s not, I’ll write about this later.)

I was arranged to go to a 4th grade public school. Remember, I can’t read or write. The school was nothing I’ve ever seen in nyc. There was a large fountain with two koi fish statue. I don’t think anywhere in the US you can find a public school with a fountain as a decor. Hallways were open space; they were balcony. Everyone wore uniforms, except me. I felt I didn’t belong here. 

The teacher was waiting for me by the classroom door. She greeted my mom and I. Then she commented (my mom had to translate this for me), “she’s only this tall? I’d expect western raised children to be much taller.” Well, that’s a bummer. I though I was normal height. After some exchanges from my teacher and mom, my teacher walked me into class. She pointed to a podium and said something I did not understand. Based on her gestures, it probably means I need to do some self introduction. I got on the podium and I just stood there. I couldn’t do it. In my little mind, all I can think of was in English “I don’t know what you’re saying. I don’t know how to self introduce.” I stood there for a few seconds in silence and the teacher finally told me to come down. 

She guided me to my seat and asked if I brought my lunch. I showed her my chicken sandwich. She laughed. “This is not lunch, this is breakfast. Let me show you what lunch is.” She asked one of the kids to go to this metal heater and there the kid pulled out a warm lunch box. It was a proper meal. The lunch had rice, meat and vegetables. I’ve never seen anything like this!


A couple of days went by with me just totally lost. I was constantly speaking to myself in my head- why did I sign up to this? There was this one day we had gym class. After class, all the kids surrounded me and asked me questions. 

One unforgettable question was, “Can you read what’s on your shirt?” I was wearing the school’s uniform. On the upper left corner, it had my name and school ID. But he wasn’t asking that. He asked me what does it say in the center? I stared in silence. 

“She doesn’t know what her school name is.”

Oh man. That’s my school name? What’s a school name? Coming from NYC, our schools are all numbered- I went to PS 162 in Queens. Yes there’s name for the schools but we mostly refer to our schools by number. This was embarrassing. What is my school name? The kids laughed and walked away. 

Not only did the kids laughed, the other teachers in other subjects were getting frustrated by me. One history teacher she wrote down phonetics ㄅㄆㄇㄈ. This is used in Taiwan only. Each traditional character she wrote on the board, she also wrote the phonetics. Reading phonetics is just as hard for me as reading traditional letters. But it was somewhat helpful. But after a week of writing the phonetics, she came up and said, “I can’t do this anymore. You’ll need to learn the characters on your own.” 😭 how?! 

Everyday after school I’d watch tv. I don’t enjoy watching tv but tv has captions. The people spoke and I tried to read. As days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months, my reading improved because I watched tv. I also tried to read store signs. There were two words I remember clearly I messed up and kept referring to the wrong one. It was 與 versus 興. Don’t they look alike?! But they mean two different things. For some strange reason it took me about 2 months to realize I’ve been reading it wrong. Lol 

There are many more incidents that happen after. Including beatings and bullying but I’ll save that for next time!