My second lease on life

January 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Hi all,

It's been a while since I wrote something in my blog. There many things happened since my last blog. We traveled again to Italy, then Berlin, Amsterdam and Vancouver. I also have been involved in several curated group exhibits locally and internationally. Additionally, I gained some recognitions from several photography competitions. You can find them in the "About" section. But mostly, I'd like to share how grateful I am to be given a second chance. You see, I almost did not make it in 2015 when I had a sudden cardiac arrest. However, my boss at my day job took charge and did a CPR on me with two other nurses while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. I was in a coma for 4 days and in the hospital for total 11 days. Many people say that this is a miracle. I agree, since only about 10% survived without change in brain functions.  And I am grateful to be able to continue taking pictures, sharing it in my website and other social media platforms. I was given a second chance to finish what I had started. Therefore, this is my comeback with a fresh website format and more pictures of my travels, soon to be relaunched. Thank you for supporting me and my work. 

Architecture: a Photography Exhibit

June 10, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Hi there...

After toiling for months picking images and producing them for this photography exhibit, I finally took a long breath with a sense a relief. Well, no, since I still have to deal with the public viewing my work. Since I did the framing myself, there was a lot of work and time spent on that. And frustration, but in the end, it's worth it. Really. The exhibit is up for about 4 weeks, and the Opening Reception is June 15, 6-9 pm at Hellada Gallery in Long Beach, CA although they were already up on June 8. You can see what I wrote for my introduction by clicking "Exhibits" and choose "Architecture 2013." Hope you visit the page but if you are local, come and visit and view it yourself.

Jos h



Our view of Paris

May 20, 2012  •  Leave a Comment



Bonjour!. This the second part of Christmas in Paris, although most of what's described here is basic information about Paris through our eyes. First, the transportation was a breeze as the Metro system is a great way to travel safely in the city. The city is divided into 20 arrondissements  or municipal administrative districts that start at the city center and clockwise spiral outward to the edge of the city. Unless they are boulevards or avenues, a lot of streets in Paris are one way and very narrow. Most of the architecture in Paris was created in the mid 19th century urban remodeling with neo-classical buildings under the direction of Baron Haussmann. The more modern structures in the business district are located outside the old Paris. Walking in Paris is easy and pleasant. Yes, you have to have a good pair of shoes to wear and appropriate jacket for inclement weather if you go during Winter. It rained for a day or two but it did not bother us, because hey, we are in Paris! We take any weather condition since we do love the city (well, almost). One day we just walked from the Eiffel Tower (7th arrondissement) back to our hotel in the 2nd arrondissement. Map did help although for some reason we could not find the Metro stop, so we kept walking. That night we decided to go to a supermarket Monoprix, a Trader Joe’s-like supermarket and they are everywhere in Paris. We bought two type of cheeses, crackers, prosciutto, a nice bottle of Bordeaux, and two bottles of Orangina, the famous French orange soda that is also sold in the US, although they don’t have the blood orange one that we like so much there. We carried all these foods walking all over Paris to our hotel and we had a nice meal at home (sort of) perhaps like some of the Parisians do, at a fraction of the price of a dinner at a decent restaurant. Talking about restaurant, it can be expensive. Coke is as expensive as their house wine. We came across a trendy Italian restaurant in the area called Fuxia. We had the best Italian meal there, aside from the best pesto we had in Florence.  Surprisingly, the total bill was not as staggering considering we had two cocktails, a bottle of red wine, two entrees, coffees and desserts for around € 70. Our waiter used to live in LA and speaks English well. We also ventured into Chinatown as Richard’s coworker informed him to visit her friend’s restaurant called L’Indochine, and to our taste, we had the best Vietnamese food ever!

The rest of the time was spent on visits of the structures that we did not get a chance to visit last time, namely the Sacre-Coeur basilica, Montmartre district, Pere Lachaise cemetery, Pantheon Paris and Opera Garnier, both of which were spilled with grandeur and gild. Basilica du Sacre-Coeur was seemingly larger than Notre-Dame but since photography is prohibited I did not take any picture inside the building.   Since it was after Christmas time, the area around the basilica was transformed to a Christmas market, abuzz with Christmas booths selling all kinds of things from jewelry to wine to food. This reminds me of how both sides of Champs-Elysees were also transformed to Christmas market, and traffic through this famous avenue was impossible with a car. Even walking through the throngs of people was difficult! Montmartre was magical in itself with its legendary art scene. We got a glimpse of it although the place was packed with tourists like we were. 

Pere Lachaise is a massive area with winding roads, tombs and mausoleums, some were built like small palaces with Corinthian columns. Prominent Parisian families have their own mausoleums, alongside with other prominent public figures such as Frederic Chopin, Edith Piaf, Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison, whose simple grave got the most visits from tourists. One interesting thing about this cemetery is that these tombs are located very close together.

We got to Pantheon when the clouds were coming in, so the interior of this massive structure had the ambiance of a tomb, as it was also a resting place for French’s luminaries such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo and Louis Braille. The crypt was located underground. We visited Opera Garnier towards the end of our trip, as it was located close to our hotel. The opulent structure was the home of Paris Opera, and the setting of the novel “Phantom of the Opera” which was subsequently written for the Broadway musical of the same title.

To us, it is hard to appreciate the beauty of a city without spending plenty of time in it, which is at least 5 days or more. Tours are great, but you can only spend so much time in one location or attraction and they are averaging only 2-3 days per city. And finally, with all its wealth of arts, romance and sophistication, Paris will continue to draw millions of people every year as the most visited city in the world. Although we like to travel to other parts of the world to capture their architecture marvels, Paris continues to be our favorite city to visit. Au revoir!



Christmas in Paris

April 15, 2012  •  Leave a Comment


Ah, Paris, where poets, artists, lovers and tourists alike marvel the grandeur of the City of Light with its parks, museums, landmark structures and monuments. The first time we were in Paris, it was Spring time in 2008 and the time was spent on a regimented schedule to visit as many museums, churches, and landmark buildings as possible.  And yes, we had a grand time in doing so, getting close to Mona Lisa right after the museum opens, or strolling in Jardin des Tuileries on a crisp morning, or marveling the view of the City of Light from above the second level of the Eiffel Tower at night. The Paris Museum Pass was worth it although we could not possibly visit all the 60+ museums and attractions offered within that 6-day period. This time was Christmas. We arrived on Christmas morning after a long red-eye flight from Los Angeles. Roissybus was the easiest transportation and only costs us € 10 per person to get to Opera Garnier, just blocks to Place Vendome, where our hotel is located. Our fear that no restaurant was open on Christmas day was unfounded as we found a bustling café where we had our lovely Christmas meal.  Richard and I both had steak frites and they were delicious! Then we walked all the way to Notre-Dame Cathedral to attend the last Christmas Mass. Although I am not a Catholic, attending a Christmas Mass at the most famous cathedral in the world is really a wonderful experience. Richard however, kept falling asleep and I had to nudge him several times to wake him up during Mass. Yes, it was a very tiring flight, I said, as he protested silently. This was one of my memorable moments of the visit. Another one is to visit the cafes in Paris in different locations at different times. We found that they most will likely speak English to us after we greet them with “bonjour” or “bonsoir.” Hey, they know that their beloved city is a magnet for tourists, so they will spot us as non-natives. And we don’t speak French either (maybe we should start learning). We also found that they are indeed proud being French and they want to speak their language mostly and won’t really speak English if they cannot speak it well. Sadly enough, did a survey that France is the nation where the rudest people are. We really don’t think so and with this general perception already drilled in our head, finding French people being friendly and talking English to us was really a treat :-).

Christmas in Paris found to be more subdued than in the US, at least the way we see it. Decorations are everywhere but they are subdued with less red and green. Mostly white and at times some blue. Gallerie Lafayette, the famous mall with several floors was bustling with people after Christmas. A huge Christmas tree was prominently displayed in the middle, reaching the top floor.  And the weather? Well, the sun did not come out until 9:30am and the sun sets at around 5pm. It was very cold and cloudy for our taste since we are from Southern California, but we managed :-). Our next blog will feature more of our visits at other landmark buildings, food and walking the streets of Paris. 


The Beacon of Paris

March 18, 2012  •  1 Comment

Named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, the iron lattice tower was initially intended as the arch entrance to the 1889 Exposition Universelle which was to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the French Revolution.  The structure is 1,063 ft tall (or 324 meters) which includes the antennas and 3 levels for visitors. When it was completed, the tower was deemed as an eyesore for many and Eiffel had the permit to let it stand for 20 years. The city had planned to dismantle the tower but let it stand after discovering that the structure proved to have a potential for valuable communication. The tower has been a symbol of Paris and France and welcomes about 7 million of visitors per year. We visited the tower during the day in 2008. Luckily for us it was a bright and crisp morning in Paris. There were so many angles from which we could capture this grand structure. From afar, it did look like any Eiffel Tower images or pictures that are readily available worldwide. But being there yourself is another experience as you walk closer to the tower. The structure is massive. It was built with about 7,300 tons of iron framework with a total weight of 10,000 tons. There are 18,000 parts connected by 2.5 millions of rivets.  We wandered around underneath this huge tower in awe. I thought it was quite an extraordinary achievement and an engineering marvel to be able to build this tower during that time. And I thought, why built something this important only to stand for 20 years? I cannot imagine the efforts to dismantle the tower after the excitement of building something this groundbreaking. I wonder how Parisians thought at that time; they probably never thought that the structure they once considered an eyesore had later become a symbol of Paris and France

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