Friday, March 9, 2018

Morocco - Sahara

Last Thanksgiving, Tony and I flew to Marrakech, Morocco after three full relatively relaxing days in the colorful Sevilla, Spain. We landed in a super modern Marrakech airport with smooth customs, and Inwi friendly sales ladies handing out free SIM cards that require a photo of passport (hopefully we don't get contacted by NSA some day).

🗒 Tip: If it is difficult to get Moroccan dirham before arrival, try getting cash at airport ATM as local ATMs could be tampered.

Day 0

Once we stepped out of the airport, several taxi drivers came to us giving false information, like "the bus does not run anymore" and we were just more determined to take the bus. The bus stop was located after a section of parking lot, we eventually got on the bus that cost less than $1 USD.

Our full itinerary including Spain is here.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Academia vs. Industry

I recently comoderated a discussion session on "academia vs. industry" at a Women in STEM Mentorship Program event, and it was very interesting to think back my days at Stanford EE MS/PhD program and my struggle with PhD that led to my leave and my current job as a software engineer.

My comoderator Danielle is a very accomplished physics PhD graduate, worked in industry at Lockhead Martin, and went on to run her own company now. She brought a lot of great perspectives to the table from her path in both academia and industry, which compliments mine with an earlier transition to industry.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

WWDC 2017

It has been four months since Apple's annual developer conference WWDC down in San Jose, I was so glad and grateful for the opportunity to attend this one. Going to WWDC is probably the most exciting conference an iOS developer gets to go, and it was the first time I got to attend for the whole week. This year they moved the conference to San Jose after many years in San Francisco, it would have been much easier for me to just bike to the previous venue (Moscone center), but actually it turned out to be a lot more fun spending a few days exploring San Jose convention center area a bit more - mostly because two other girl friends who I met at WWDC women's lunch in 2015 also got tickets! A colleague went as well, and I bumped into two friends from grad school who I totally didn't expect to see after a few years, one working/living in Japan! It was a small world, especially at "World Wide Developer Conference" 🌏

Sunday, June 28, 2015


My best friend from grad school Lancy's husband Andrew has the same birthday, we were hoping to do something together as a group. Finally we came to this last minute plan on an escape at Paniq sicko room in downtown SF. As little as I wanted to spoil the fun, it was the best just going without knowing anything about what it might be.

We escaped lol. With some hints, but I don't think we could have finished in time without the whole team. Everyone got different clues. Oh and the quiz. It was definitely a memorable birthday escape.


One week after escape from the sicko room, we escaped to the east coast. Just for a bit more than a week, to Philly, Scranton, NYC, Washington DC and then AC for 4th of July. It's great feeling to escape from ordinary routines for a bit, being in a different city and pace. Till I miss the Bay Area again.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015


I still remembered early last year, when Secret app was popular (even though I stopped using it *) - I was still at my previous company, stressed about delivering some work on a weekend. Secret app allowed users to post anonymously, and I wrote: "Not sure if this startup life is really what I signed up for." Few hours later, some anonymous user responded: "You always have a choice man." My first reaction was, "Do I?"

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Brunch in Taichung

It was perfect timing that most of my family had days off during the time I was back home. Sister and I both loved exploring coffee shops / brunch spots, mom sometimes joined but didn't like staying at one place for too long. I was actually surprised by how many interesting coffee shops there were in Taichung.

春水堂 Chun Shui Tang tea house (until 10:30am, ~ NTD 110)

The first boba place I had to go every time I came back to Taiwan. Last order for breakfast menu at 10:30am. The menu was not too big, about 5 items and mostly thick toasts and bread. My favorite was the garlic toast, with malt milk tea. It also came with a small salad and an egg & ham, Taiwanese style. There was no wifi here, but this tea house started as a place for people to sit down and chat over a boba tea, so was the vibe still now. This is the original Chun Shui Tang, and theoretically the first boba tea shop.

This tea house has the best boba tea I've ever had. I am more of a milk tea than boba person so it might be a bit stressed on the tea part, but I really could taste the tea flavor in the background with the lightly sweet milk. The drink was refreshing every time. I've had different flavors like the malt, matcha, and other tea base. Malt flavor sort of became my thing last trip, but I haven't got disappointed by other options.

『This little tea house bears some of my junior high and high school memories as well, years before it got famous and more chain stores sprung up. One time was a junior high school reunion, I still remembered getting a bowl of kung fu noodles. It was a lunch or an afternoon tea, and we got most of the space downstairs, a wooden big table in a tatami room?』

malt and red bean milk tea

rose bread + egg & ham

Mapper Cafe (NTD 200-300 for brunch)

This was a random adventure. Sister and I almost missed the place, while mom recognized this place from the full size bed outside. Bed from a cafe? Anyone walking by would probably have thought this place a furniture shop. Sounds very random, but it sort of made sense after receiving the menu from a suitcase.

these cards are menu :D

The brunch menu has 3 options: Taiwanese/Japanese/American style. Mom, sister and I got each of them, Japanese style for me. We all got Americano with milk. Japanese style included a pork rice burger, tofu salad, soup, egg and 羊羹 (some sweet jelly cake) for dessert. The coffee set was unique, with sugar and milk in tubes. Every item was pretty good, I liked the sesame tofu salad and egg a lot.

This cafe felt more like a creative studio. They had only two or three tables at the time, up to 15 customers was my guess. I read that the owner came back to open this cafe after a few years of traveling. I liked the design of this coffee shop, it had a mix of Asian and modern style interior. Cozy place to do some work or reading if not in a hurry (& of course when this place has spots open).

sesame tofu salad

pork rice burger, egg & sausage, and soup of the day

Americano experiment

Good Days (NTD 200-300)

Sister found this place, a coffee shop under the lavender cottage (one of the two female founders just passed away two years ago :|). The Chinese name is 好好, literally meaning good good but two "women" after breaking down the characters. The shop sold mini local organic products inside, with artsy interior.

女子 女子 :-)

sister reading a book

pretty serious about their coffee

The brunch menu was western fusion, I got the pork sandwich - Taiwanese style. Mom had the bagel, and sister had tacos. Other than the local organic mini shop, it also had a tall bookshelf and a garden. A lot of thoughts into the design, we would totally have stayed here longer if not hurrying for the "Whiplash" movie - which turned out not very impressive, ah.

black soy milk toast with a cat

Taiwanese style pork sandwich and bagel breakfast

tacos + single origin

Naked Cafe (NTD 200-300)

An international brand - pretty localized here while serving pretty good western food. I had the mushroom baguette with cheese and a cup of coffee. It was a more normal coffee shop compared to the previous two, but there were classic design items over the shop. Of course, something not to miss was their two cuddly bears <3 (with "the naked cafe" clothes on lol).

simple & clean style

mushroom and cheese on baguette, egg, and salad

huge bear friends

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Ip Man

On the flight back to Taiwan, I watched this movie Ip Man in the classics category. It is an action movie, a genre that rarely interests me, not to mention on the little personal entertainment screen. I heard of this movie long time ago back in college but I couldn't recall much of what people said about it back then more than the positive recognition. After watching it, I could not stop thinking about it; this movie haunted me for a while.

I almost forgot how emotional I'd get when reading stories of people fighting for something they believe in so much - justice, equality, freedom; for a group of people, a country, or a species of animals. When the opposite of the belief is applied to a whole race, how many of them are brave enough to stand up and show how strong they could be? Some people bent for personal or short term benefits, and some others care more than the lives of themselves.