5月 31, 2007


I heard people saying that trip planning is fun. But not at this late of planning stage. I'm feeling more and more pressure now.

I'm documenting my itinerary so to get comments from my experienced friends:

June 4, Monday
1030 - Arriving Heathrow on AC850
1130 - Start going to London downtown
1230 - Lunch (but where can I find a locker?)
1330 - Tour the British Museum (Hum, may be use the museum's free locker service)
1600 - Start going to Gatwick
1730 - Arriving Gatwick
1840 - Leaving for Venice on BA2586
2145 - Arriving Venice
2230 - Catch bus #5 to bus station, catch boat #82 to Ostello Venezia Hostel on Gliudecca Island

June 5, Tuesday
Sleep in!
1100 - Start wandering around Venice. Take a ride on the canal (take vaporetto #1, start from the train station). Confirm I'm on a "San Marco via Rialto" boat.
1345 - Start going to S. Toma on boat #1.
1400 - From Frari Church, walk to Rialto Bridge. Check out their market.
1530 - Walk to St. Mark's
1700 - Doge's Palace
1900 - Sunset at St. Mark's Square, climbing the Clock Tower. Dine around the square.

June 6, Wednesday
0900 - get in line for St. Mark's Basilica.
1130 - Wait till the mosaic's a all lit up.
1230 - Lunch
1330 - Correr Museum
1530 - Walk to Zaccaria, Bridge of Sighs.
1900 - Dine around the Rialto Bridge.

June 7, Thursday
0800 - Launderette around train station, Chiaverete di San Simon 665a/b, San Polo. 348-301-7457 (from the station, cross teh Grand canal and turn immediately right. Take the first left, then the first right again to Ramo delle Chioverete).
Pick up train schedule and study it while waiting for the load to finish. Call Branaccci Chapel 055-276-8224 to make a reservation.
1100 - Start going to Florence on train. (3 hours). Study Renaissance history on the train.
1500 - Arriving Florence.
from the train station you take bus n. 17 direction "Salviatino".
In front of the bus stop Salviatino there is our entrance...
1600 - Check in:
Florence - Villa Camerata, Italy
Viale Augusto Righi 2-4
50137 Firenze (FI)
Phone: +39-055-601451
Fax: +39-055-610300
E-mail: firenze@ostellionline.org

1700 - Wandering around Florence. Dinner around Osteria Belledonne, Via delle Belledonne 16 red). Near the train station.

June 8, Friday
0800 - The Accademia
0900 - The Duomo, Giotto's Tower, Baptistery, Via dei Calzaiuoli, Orsanmichele Church, Palazzo Vecchio, Savonarola, Uffizi Courtyard
1200 - Lunch, and wandering around Florence. Check out Brancacci Chapel.
1900 - Sunset at Piazzale Michelangelo.

June 9, Saturday
1115 - Galleria degli Uffizi
1400 - Lunch
1500 - Bargello
1900 - Dinner on or near Piazza della Signoria.

June 10, Sunday
0900 - Take train going to Siena (1 hour)
1100 - See if I can check in
Albergo "Cannon d'Oro"
Via Montanini,28 - 53100 Siena
1200 - Go to the square and Duomo

June 11, Monday
0600 - Go back to Florence
0830 - Pick up Smart

39 055 287161

0930 - Start going to Cortona (2 hours)
1200 - Arriving Cortona
City walk and bath under the Tuscan sun.
Check in at

betania casa per ferie
via gino severini 50 52044 cortona ar
www.casaperferiebetania.com grazie antonio

Situated on the border between Tuscan and Umbria, Cortona despite her hilly position at 600 metres above sea level can be easily reached by car. Come out from the motorway “del Sole” (A1) at Valdichiana toll booth. After that take the Siena-Perugia junction following the directions to Perugia and come out at the second exit to Cortona (Cortona San Lorenzo). From there is enough to follow the numerous directions to Cortona, arrive to Camucia and deviate to Cortona.

June 12, Tuesday
1000 - Going to Civitta, a town with only fourteen residents!
Stay at

PH 3476115426

June 13, Wednesday
1000 - Going to Assisi
Stay at:


June 14, Thursday
0500 - Going to Rome, get Roma Pass.
0900 - Colosseum, Roman Forum
1200 - Lunch near Pantheron
1300 - National Museum of Rome
1700 - Check in
Roma - Foro Italico - AF Pessina YH
Viale delle Olimpiadi 61
00194 Roma (RM)
6km Termini - Metro line A ( direction Battistini) and get off at Ottaviano Stop. From Ottaviano catch bus no. 32 and get off at the 6th bus stop.

1900 - Night walk across Rome. Dinner near Trevi Fountain.

June 15, Friday
0600 - Stay in line for The Sistine Chapel
1000 - St. Peter's Basilica and climbing dome.
1300 - Lunch near Spanish steps
1500 - Dinner near Trevi Fountain, Night walk across Rome

June 16, Saturday
0900 - Borghese Gallery (reservation)
1200 - Pilgrims' Rome (the churches Santa Maria maggiore, San Clemente, and San Giovanni in Laterano).
1400 - Capitol Hill Museum
1700 - Sunset at Roman Forum, Colosseum
* Call 0187-821193 to confirm my stay in Vernazza (mention late check in)

June 17, Sunday
0700 - Start going to Pisa
1000 - Pisa, climbing the tower, lunch
1300 - Going to Lucca
1400 - Lucca
1600 - Going back to Pisa
1700 - Going to Vernazza
1900 - Dinner in Vernazza.
Check in:


June 18-19, Monday - Tuesday
Hiking, hoping around markets, taking boat rides, etc

June 20, Wednesday
0700 - Going to Monaco on the way to Nice
1500 - Check out Matisse's museums
1700 - Night walk around Nice.

Check in at:

Nice Camélias
3, rue Spitalieri
06000 Nice

City centre, behind the NICETOILE shopping centre
Bus 1/2/12/15/17 - Victor Hugo

June 21-22, Thursday and friday
Check out Institut Paul Bocuse

Château du Vivier - BP 25
69131 Ecully Cedex - France

June 23, Saturday
0700 - Start going to Dijon
0900 - Dijoin.
1200 - Start going to Champagne.
1700 - Going to Paris on TGV-east
1800 - Check in at:

Paris - Le d'Artagnan
80 Rue Vitruve
75020 Paris

15 mn from gare de l'Est/Gare du Nord/Gare de Lyon/Gare St Lazare

June 27, Wednesday
1500 - Arriving London Waterloo Int
1600 - Check in:

14 Noel Street
England & Wales

Tel. +44-207-7341618
Fax. +44-207-7341657

Central London, Soho District. From Oxford Circus Underground Station continue east to Poland Street (opposite HMV). Turn right on to Poland Street, and take the 1st left at the junction with Poland Street and Noel Street. YHA Oxford Street is next to the large mural on the wall. -- or -- Leave Oxford Circus Underground Station by exit 8 and turn left into Argyle Street. Walk to the end of the road and turn left into Great Marlborough Street. Walk until the intersection with Poland Street, here Great Marlborough Street changes into Noel Street and the hostel is next to the mural on the wall.

1700 - Westminster Bridge, Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Westminister Abbey (get there before 1900), Trafalgar Square, #10 Downing Street,
1800 - London eye. Sunset walk on Jubilee Walkway, from London Eye to London Bridge (www.jubileewalkway.com)

Dine at Belgo Centraal, 1 block north of Covent Garden Tube station at inersection of Neal and Shelton, 50 Earlham St.

2100 - London Eye Ferris Wheel

2200 - Night walk around SOHO.

June 28, Thursday
0900 - British Museum
1200 - St. Paul's Cathedral, Tower of London
1500 - Tate Modern; cross the Millennium Bridge from St. Paul's, or Tube: Southwark or Blackfriars.
1600 - See if I can get a theater seat at Leicester Square.

June 29, Friday
1000 - Going home!
1300 - Heathrow on AC857, Terminal 3 to Toronto, then AC541 to Seattle. Arriving Seattle 20:15

(to be continued...)


5月 30, 2007


The intensive printing class is finally done--for me, since I have to miss the last class next week because of the trip. I can't believe I've been spending 12+ hours a day several days a week in the dark room for the past week. It's hectic, but was definitely worth it. I love printing. Ansel Adams once said that taking a picture is like composing music score, whereas printing is like performing it. I shared this with a leica enthusiast friend last night, but he said Ansel's only for the text book :-)

Well, I know not every one buys his work/theory (but honestly, I don't know enough to find out the problem with that), but I can't agree more on the fact that printing brings life to a picture (presumably a good exposure and compostion, of course). A half a point difference in color filtration and density means a whole lot...

Oh well, I guess I'm so addicted to printing now I'm going back to do extra prints :-)

If you happen to think of taking a printing class, I would highly recommend Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW) located in Captiol Hill area. They are expensive, but it's well worth it. Not all instructors are good though, but if you take the color printing classes, you can't go wrong with Seth Thompson's class. He's been my instructor for two quarters, and I really like his style. He sets a very high bar, very picky, never settle unless it's perfect. You'll lean a whole lot from him.

The reward of all the hard work? You feel like achieving something after Seth gives an OK to a print. And, ha, I guess Arizona is way too gorgeous my classmate asked me to give him a signed final print of the Horseshoe Bend Canyon :-)

I wish I can continue doing printing in Toronto. My alma mata Ryerson seems to be a pretty good school in photography (their film school is execllent in North America, btw :)


It's less than three days before I take off for a month traveling solo in Europe. I'm budgeting 30 EUR a day including all meals and entertainment. Does it seem too much?

It's time to nail down all the travel details.


5月 28, 2007


Went to watch Pirates today, and I tried hard not to fall asleep (and I just briefly slept for a little while :P my friend sitting right besides me fell asleep too so I'm not feeling that bad). The last time I slept in a theater was The Good Shepherd. Ha, I guess from now on I shouldn't even go to theater at all.



Thank you so much for everything tonight!

Your genuine sharing, wonderful music, unbelievably good memories, loving fellowship, difficult questions, yummy cakes, thoughtful gifts, and being compassionate enough not pushing me down to the water are all that will not be forgotten.

I was truly, deeply, madly touched.

Love you all,


5月 26, 2007


Somehow something urged me to pick up a father's day's card the other day and send it out to him. And then today my mom told me that he can't eat now--not even drinking fluid. His weakness starts confining him to the bed....



It's been busier than going to work these days. I just came back from PCNW locked in their darkroom for 12+ hours.. without food! Also busying with the Europe trip planning, and making sure the bathroom is being installed correctly... and need to shoot in two weddings during the following weekends before I take off.


Sigh, need to get something to eat now.

(actually, does anyone really care except my family :)


5月 20, 2007


Just had lunch with a friend (actually my ex-boss) who has the ability of telling fortune by studying your Chinese name (and according to him, it doesn't limit to Chinese names). We talked a lot around the topic, and it's funny learning that they do put in some coins in a turtle shell to tell your fortune.

He suddenly asked what my Chinese name is, and out of curiosity I gave him my name... and guess what, he started to 占卜....

Oh well, most of what he said about my past was, unfortunately, wrong... In fact they're exactly the opposite:

2005 had a good relationship with a girl, but in fact I broke up with my ex...
2005 had a lot of unexpected income, but in reality I paid a lot to buy a house...
2002 was the happiest year, but I couldn't recall what made me so specially happy that year...

Ha, one thing he said correctly though: I'm a man who is an idealist, too much idea that I am always 天馬行空 :-)

I'm glad though, my fate has totally been changed since I became a Christian. In fact I do believe that my life is planned, and whatever is going to happen will only do good to me and to the people around me-- eventually.

Besides, after visiting the unnecessarily commercialized "wilderness" for some time, I have a better understanding of myself, that, my life is really nothing. In less than 40 years or so, I may just become the red dirt in the desserts of Arizona, or several white sands in New Mexico...
Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal. Everything is meaningless.

All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return.
Ecclesiastes 3:19-20

And I remembered the starry nights... we don't even know how many stars we have in total above our heads, how can we tell our fortune from reading the stars?

Oh, btw, my friend said that by knowing what's going to happen to you, you can do something to avoid it. For example, if in fate you are going to have "血光之災" this month, you can go donating blood so to avoid what's going to happen that can be worse.

Ha, no wonder I saw him donating blood from time to time (and I admired his being kindhearted...).


5月 17, 2007

Super size me

Have been living on fast food three times a day for the second day... I miss the chopsticks at my home so much...


These days after climbing a few feet I am not able to catch my breath. And then I remember I am living at an altitude of 7000+ feet! Sunset at this elevation is awesome, although for some reasons there is always a thunderstorm following me...


Dirivng at dusk under the new moon and deep blue sky together with Indian flute music within the woods is so romantic!


5月 16, 2007


(Trying to clean sand off from the camera at White Sands)

The pics from NM are all processed... guess what? They all turned out bad!!

So here's the story:
I got a new polarizer for my lens, and I put on the hood that came with the lens. Since this is a wide angle lens I checked it "carefully" when I purchased the polarizer making sure that the hood won't appear in the picture.

But I forgot one important thing: check with the smallest aperture.

The hood and the polarizer work great when I'm using f11 or below... but I was shooting with f16 for all pictures, and this is when the hood came appearing on the picture.

Why wasn't I able to catch it when I'm shooting? Coz I'm only using the focusing magnifier that only provides a good view of the center of the picture. Besides it was too bright so I wasn't able to see the picture under the hood...

Anyways, so much for execuses.

I learend a lot... in a hard way. Will definitely use a prism, even though it adds another pound or two...

Fortunately, my friends got a lot of good pics--using their 3.7oz point and shoot :-)


5月 14, 2007


2,300 miles.

The total distance I drove during the five-day stay in New Mexico.

A distance that can be quantified,
wouldn't be a very long distance after all.

Thank God for bringing me home safely.

And most importantly of all,
allowed me to experience His creation that I wouldn't be able to see otherwise.

The right perspective.
The right amount of light that brings out the texture.
The right period of time holding the flick.

And then I understand,
it's not about what you did right.

But what you got it wrong.

Stone has life!

It grows,
it has characters!

I can never forget
that You are telling me you are God
within the intoxicating darkness and silence,
when you make the stone glows.

What can a single drop of water do?
It makes history.
It makes me stand in awe.
Which I assumed only accessorize my days.

(thoughts after visiting the Carlsbad Caverns)

The strong wind brought up sands
that hit me like crazy.

I can never imagine,
those little sands can be that razor sharp.




Came back safely from NM. It was a wonderful trip, except that Shuttle Express sent me back home in which I lived there five years ago... and it took me two hours going back to where I started the journey.

I'm on my way to get the films developed now....


5月 10, 2007

Great place, awesome people

So tired. Just drove several hundred miles from Taos to Albuquerque, stopped by Sante Fe for dinner.

Last night I was so despair and I though my trip would gone miserable.... it's all because my camera was dead right after the first shot I took! I tried an hour trying to fix it myself but I had no clue. I was so sad that I thought of just staying in the hotel for the rest of the trip. You know, the main reason I went here was for shooting.

In times like this, I always remeber to pray :-) After a few trial (of praying), no miracles had yet occured. So I thought this could be it.

And then I went onto the internet, and randomly search for camera repair in Sante Fe. I found this one shop that seems to be pretty reliable. So I went to the shop half an hour before their business hour, and waited.

At first they said that they wouldn't be able to fix it. And in fact there is none in the state that can fix it for me....


Someone's waiting so I have to go. But all in all, the guy in the shop fixed it for me :p

Without any charge.


5月 09, 2007

On the land of enchantment!

Safely arrived New Mexico just now, and I'm blogging en route to Sante Fe at the visitor information center. Very good service here. I'll be staying in Satan Fe instead of Taos. Weather is awesome. It's not as hot as I thought. Plenty sunshine and dry!


5月 07, 2007

Lost in translation

So I used hihostel.com and found out this hostel in Venice that is really cheap (three nights for only 60 EUR). Unfortunately they don't really know English and when I asked if they have late check-in my line got dropped.

Alright. I got what I hoped for: culture shock.

(Actually, do they even exist?)

Venice - Venezia, Italy
Fondamenta Zitelle 86
Isola della Giudecca
30133 Venezia (VE)
Phone: +39-041-5238211
Fax: +39-041-5235689
E-mail: venezia@ostellionline.org

Searching on Google map the hostel is located in the middle of the water.

Looks like Venice is really vanishing. Quickly.

OK! Found out these phrases. And my personal agent just taught me how to pronounce them correctly. Hopefully this will help:

Buon giorno (sounds like "bwohn JOR-noh" means "Good day")
Parla inglese? (sounds like "PAR-lah een-GLAY-zay" means "Do you speak English?")

If they answer "Si", that's good....

What if they say "No"?

"gi-OR-jo ar-MA-ni"

It's good though I got my Academia and Uffizi visits reserved, and the operator's English is not bad at all :)


5月 05, 2007


It's a day of bargaining.

I'm trying to get a cheap ticket going from Heathrow to Venice, but unfortunately a lot of airlines seem to have abandoned Heathrow, except Alitalia... for some reasons though, Alitalia keeps changing its price and it went up to $212 from $160 within a few minutes. It's just frustrating. After a few hours of searching (yes, no kiding, I spent a few hours just to get a single ticket...) I decided to go with British Airways--which is even cheaper than the "discounted" Easyjet.

I have to depart form Gatwick though, and I have eight hours in between this connection (I will arrive on Air Canada 6/4 at 10.30am, leaving London at 6.30pm). I guess I'll just take the train to downtown London and have a quick visit to the British Museum....

The thing that worries me is that I won't arrive Venice until 10pm, and since the airport is located at least an hour away from the city, I guess I won't be able to have a real sleep until after midnight--for two days. Given that Venice has a lot of alleys and streets, my chance of finding the hostel in one shot is slim. Oh well, may be I should just stay close to the airport at the first night of stay....

The next step is to study various schedules of public transport... without any knowledge of Italian, this ACTV seems to be difficult.


Finally I put down some earnest money for installing a new bath in the basement. I'm pretty happy about the final quoted price--it dropped from $5000 to $4200... Ha, I'm sure they've marked up the price a lot. Hopefully this expense/investment will have a good return in the near future...


From Bellevue to Austria

According to Google, it will take 31 days going to Austria from where I live. I really like their Step #20 :-)


5月 02, 2007

Too much

I needed to call up PSE and since their line was busy I left a voice mail asking them to call back (which is a neat feature!). At first I was skeptical thinking that they probably wouldn't border to check the messages and return my call, but surprisingly (yeah, a bit) they did!

And you know what, they didn't call me once, but a total of five times by different people :-)

Oh well, you never know how much is enough until you think something's too much...


The Intensive Color Printing class has started, and so as my vacation at PCNW. At the end of the course we're expected to produce 20 show ready prints, and half of them needs to use large paper (i.e. 11x14, 16x20 or larger)!

Given that I will be away for two weeks in May for my trips to Arizona and New Mexico, I'll call PCNW home from now on.