A look back at 2012!

2012 has come and will be soon gone!  Each year I try to do something new…and for this past year I dedicated it to expand my boundaries and to be more adventurous.  As I look back at this year, I can see God had blessed me with so many new friends and experiences!

Below, I present some highlights of 2012 (also see 20112010)!

February

  • Italian cooking class – Four classes covering different  regional cuisines. I’m preparing Italian lamb fennel!

    Cooking

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Napa: Winter 2012

It’s always fun to make a trip to Yountville for wine and food!  This time, I revisited Bouchon Bakery, tried a new restaurant Reddwood, and more wine tasting!

Bouchon Bakery:Bouchon Bakery is well known for their macarons — and occasionally they have special seasonal flavors.

Napa: Bouchon Bakery

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Sleeping in Japan (Part 1): Capsule Hotel

Capsule HotelThe first capsule hotel to open was in Osaka, Japan in 1979.  The need was driven mainly by travelers too intoxicated to safely get back home, or too embarrassed to face their spouses.  These hotels have extremely small “rooms” (capsules) intended to provide cheap and basic overnight accommodation for guests not requiring the services offered by more conventional hotels.  The capsules are often stacked side by side and two units top to bottom.  Also, most capsule hotels only service men. Clothes and shoes are sometimes exchanged for a Japanese yukata gown and slippers on entry.  The benefit of these hotels is convenience and price, usually around ¥2000-4000 (US$25–50) a night.  In fact, ~30% of guests are unemployed or underemployed.  [wiki]

Traditional capsule hotel 

Of all the capsule hotels in Japan, one stands out.  I’m referring to “9 Hours“, a one-of-a-kind ultra modern deluxe capsule hotel.  Its simplicity and functionality so refined, it feels like something Apple and IKEA would have made.

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Japan: Conveyor Belt Sushi

Conveyor belt sushi

Conveyor belt sushi The Japanese have always been known for being extremely innovative and efficient — it’s no wonder they came up with the conveyer belt sushi.  Here you will find sushi placed on a rotating conveyor belt that winds through the restaurant and moves past every table and counter seat. Customers may place special orders via a touch screen system, but most simply pick their selections from a steady stream of fresh sushi moving along the conveyor belt. The final bill is based on the number and type of plates of the consumed sushi.  All the plates you see below cost $1.20~$1.80/plate…no joke.

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Japan: Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple

Otagi Nenbutsuji

Otagi Nenbutsu-ji is a Buddhist temple in the suburbs of Kyoto.  There you will find 1200 rakans (stone statues representing the disciples of Buddha).  These statues, in keeping with rakan traditions, are generally humorous and kawaii. The sculptures were donated in 1981 in honor of the refurbishment of the temple. Most were carved by amateurs, taught by sculptor Kocho Nishimura. [wiki]

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