When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money…
That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact…
Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.
No man knows how bad he is until he has tried very hard to be good.
Video: Eurotrip 2k14
We stayed in Rome for 5 days - making this the longest leg of the trip. Rome is chock-full of history and culture. You can come see the ruins of the Roman Forum, the trevi fountain (RIP till 2015), the sistine chapel, and of course, the Colosseum.
When we exited the train station in Rome, I was half-expecting to walk out into a scene from the movie Gladiator. I thought I would see people walking around in togas and jesus-sandals. But instead when we walked out, there was just a row of chinese restaurants, a mcdonalds covered in graffiti, and a bunch of people just smoking cigarettes and chopping it up. I was a little disappointed to say the least.
I guess coming from Prague set the model of what I thought european cities all looked like, but as we got to roam through rome, I definitely began to appreciate it more and more.
Berlin and Prague both had a lot of restaurants that served pasta and other types of italian fare. We avoided italian food like the plague before coming to italy. We didn’t want to taint our tastebuds before coming to THE land of pizza and pasta.
So basically all we did was stuff our faces with loads of carbs and bottles of house wine.
First meal in Rome - Mamma Angela’s Lasagna
Pizza and Carbonara at Da Francesco - most reviewed restaurant on yelp.
House wine is like 7 euro’s a bottle. So naturally we got like 2 with every meal. So goood and the hangovers are sooo gnarly.
Pizzarium - Highest rated pizza place on tripadvisor. We made a trek to get here, and then we found out that it was the one day of the week where they have vegetarian-only options. I was about to punch through that sneezeguard. But we ordered a little bit of everything and it was honestly one of the best pizza places I ever ate at. A similar thing happened to be when I first found out that cheeseboard in Berkeley only had vegetarian pizza. But both times, the pizza blew me out of the water.
Gelato at Frigidarium. Holi Cannoli.
Things to see:
Rome was where we shelled out a bit of cash for tours. The wait for the sistine chapel gets to be anywhere from 3-4 hours. I’m not about that waiting life, so jono and I bought a package that included a tour and a skip-the-line ticket. It came out to be a a little more than $50 a person. Definitely worth it.
One of my favorite movies is Good Will Hunting, so now I can say - Yes, I can tell you what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. I’ve actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. I even took an illegal selfie. #RIPRobinWilliams.
In the sistine chapel, there are around 7 guards who are constantly monitoring for people taking pictures. They don’t know about the gopro doe.
Insider tip: Entry for the colosseum, the roman forum, and palatine hill are combined into 1 ticket. Meaning that it’s the exact same ticket whether you wait 3 hours in the colosseum ticket line or 12 minutes in the roman forum line. And the actual line to get into all 3 of these places are really short. So save yourself 2 hours and 48 minutes of agony and bring me back a souvenir for sharing this tip.
Trevi Fountain is undergoing a restoration funded by Fendi till later next year. I was so sad.
The Rome subway system is whatevs. It’s essentially a giant X with 2 main lines running through the city, but alot of places are only accessible by foot. So naturally we just walked everywhere, drank house wine everywhere, and met some cool people along the way.
There are a bunch of random water spigots littered around Rome. The water is cold, refreshing, and super clean (at least from what we were told…). If I die of mysterious poisoning, it’s probably from the water or something in that house wine.
Hostel - Hotel Alessandro
Scratchy linens and the bottom bunk is a box so it feels likes you’re sleeping in a coffin, but the staff is super nice and the place itself is clean. I would rate 7.3/10
Prague looks like something out of a Disney Movie and a beer costs like $1.50. If that’s not enough reason to go there, I don’t know what is.
From all my friends who visited Europe, no one had anything bad to say about prague. Prague is beautiful, small enough to get around by foot, and everything here is super cheap. During World War 2, Prague suffered much less damage than some other cities, so a lot of the old town architecture is still around for all to see.
Prague food is aight. It’s basically food that would taste good after drinking like 4 beers. Good thing the beers are $1.50.
Our first meal after getting off the train from Berlin. We walked into the first restaurant we saw. This plate of food was 100 Krones (czech currency), which is like $5.
Street vendor selling Trdelnik.
Trdelnik - a fluffy doughy pastry sprinkled with sugar. Some places spread nutella in the inside.
One of the highest rated restaurants/breweries in Prague. Basically most prague food is chunks of meat, dumplings, and sauce. Lots of sauce.
In every city, we decided to have one splurge meal. We splurged at Sansho. Sansho is a asian fusion tasting menu joint. The average meal in prague was around 100 krones. This place was over 900 krones per person. It seemed like an exorbitant amount, but once you realize you paid $45 incl tip and tax for one of the best meals of your life, it’s all worth it.
In order from top to bottom:
1. Salmon Sashimi with citrus soya and ginger
2. Pork and prawn gyoza with black chinese vinegar
3. Jasmine tea smoked trout with green mango, star fruit, and fried garlic.
4. Soft shell crab slider with bao buns and wasabi cream
5. Pork Belly with watermelon and hoisin sauce.
6. Lamb panang, beef rendang, and scallion pancakes.
Things to see:
Like I said, Prague (or at least the parts worth seeing), is pretty small and condensed together. We took a bus to get to the center of the touristy area, but other than that we walked everywhere.
John Lennon Wall
Elevator up to the old town tower
Charles Bridge at Night. This place was really like Disneyland.
We probably had the most fun on the pub crawl in prague. We got along best with the group of people we meet here. I also think the bars we went to were more fun than some of the other cities.
There were more chill places in prague too. After walking around all day, we just sat at this park overlooking the city for like 3 hours.
At a famous brewery that was located in a monastery right next to the prague castle.
We didn’t have international data, so we could only use our phones with wifi. Starbucks was our godsend.
The one bad thing to happen in prague: our bus ticket. In alot of european cities, you don’t swipe a card to enter the subway or bus. You buy a ticket, validate it at a timestamp machine, and then hop on. Every so often a guy will flash his badge and ask to present a valid ticket. The one time we were traveling with an expired bus pass, we got caught. I heard they specifically target tourists. Ef those tax-collector scumbags.
But the night before, the bartender gave me back the wrong amount of change. He was supposed to give me back 20 krones, but he gave me back 1900 krones. I didn’t even realize this until I gave the change to jono. Either way - Prague, we’re even stevens.
Homebase: Czech Inn hostel. We stayed in a 30 person dorm-style room. It was only 9 dollars a night, but the rooms were clean and the staff were all really nice. The wifi has bad signal in the rooms, but other than that, 2 thumbs up.
Berlin was our first stop and probably overall the most fun of our trip. Berlin is super hipster and trendy. It also has a ton of history with the Berlin Wall, Jewish Memorial, Holocaust Museum, etc.
One thing that was different about Berlin was that everything was spread out pretty far. Berlin is a HUGE city and nothing we wanted to see/eat/drink was located next to each other. I.e. we signed up for a pub crawl with our hostel on the first night, and none of the bars were located next to each other. We had to hop on a train/subway everytime we moved to the next place. In NYC or LA, I feel like most bar or food areas are condensed within a few blocks of each other, like saint marks, k-street, or chapman plaza. But it was cool, cause we got to bond with our fellow travelers during transit and we got to cover more of the city.
First things first - Food.
I was told that I needed to try 3 things in berlin. Doner Kebab, Currywurst, and Pork Knuckle. We made it a mission to consume all three of these national treasures and we succeeded with flying colors.
Doner Kebab with one of our favorite beers in Berlin. I just called it Hell Beer.
Curry Wurst. Germans love their ketchup.
At the next currywurst joint we switched it up and tried some other variations of sausage and ketchup. It was bomb.
My personal favorite. Durum Doner.
The glorious pork knuckle. I think we both drank a liter of beer with every meal.
Seeing the City:
Jono and I mostly just wandered around picking places to see based on recommendations from tripadvisor, travel blogs, and friends. However we did do a free walking tour, which was really legit. Basically you follow a tour guide around the city and at the end of it, you tip based on your experience.
Exhibit at the Holocaust Museum.
Interesting Fact: Germans love to count things. They tag all the trees in the cities so they have an accurate count of how many there are at any given time. They tag all benches too.
As I mentioned before, Berlin is super hipster. They have clubs at abandoned powerplants and everyone is wearing either all black or some funky ensemble.
And one really cool thing I liked is the pingpong table action at a lot of the clubs and bars. Everyone starts in a circle around the table and we all take turns hitting the ball. You hit the ball, and keep walking so the person behind you can get their chance to hit. If you miss or hit the ball off the table, you’re out of the circle. Last 2 people standing showdown in a pingpong duel.
Jono drank out of that kid’s shoe. Nice.
Circus Hostel. Our homebase in Berlin. If you’re ever there, stay at this place. It’s clean and in a pretty clutch location.
Hamptons + Worldcup
Summer. I’ve waited for you a long long time.
Even with the 90% humidity and the relentless throngs of tourists - NY, I love you so so bad.
Running My Half
5/17/2014. My first race.
5am: My alarm goes off. Human beings were not designed to be awake at this hour.
5:15am: My brain finally beings to shake away the grogginess. I start to wonder if I’m missing anything for the race. As I take a seat on the subway, I look over to the only other person in the train and he’s wearing a race bib. I’m about to confirm with him that all we need is our bib to run, but like i said, human beings were not designed to be awake at this hour. I let him sit in peace.
5:35am: I get off the R train to transfer to the 2 which will take me all the way down to the start line in Brooklyn.
There are over a hundred people waiting at the station. Looking around, I only see runners. We are the only crazy people here.
5:40am: I’ve never been this packed in a subway car before. There are like 800 people in each train. Every stop more people try to squeeze in. If someone farts, I’m going to punch them right in the throat.
As I walk up to starting line, I’m getting pumped! There are people EVERYWHERE! There are some people that look like they’ve been running their entire lives all decked out in high-tech gear. And then I see some ajushi’s wearing cargo shorts and some shoes I swear I saw at costco. This is the melting pot of runners.
6:30am: I drop off my stuff at the baggage stations and situate myself in the front of my corral. I made a mistake by registering with a 10min mile time. To ensure that runners start with others at their same pace, they stagger us. I’m standing around ppl who are the slowest 20% of the participants.
7:15am: My pre-run jitters are starting to dissipate. I’m starting to grow a little restless, and Jimin is alternating between taking selfies and having a mental breakdown about not finishing the race. Gota FOCUSS.
7:45am: The race begins!
7:50am: Signing up with a 10-min-mile time was a HUGEE mistake. I’m literally stiff-arming people, weaving around, running off the course, and jumping over cars to keep my pace.
7:52am: I scoff at the people stopping at the first drink stop. Comon bros! It’s only been one mile!
7:53am: Dammit. I’m thirsty.
8:15am: I’ve run about 4 miles now and I’m kinda-sorta starting to get tired. WTFREAK! I realize that I’ve barely finished 30% of the race. Uhoh. I’m screwed. Luckily there’s a rest stop and they’re serving “Endurance Formula” Gatorade. I drink a cup and I feel instantly energized. Did they put Deer Antler Spray in this?
8:20am: We’re running on the freeway! I biked on the freeway once in SD during a Critical Mass event. It was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I don’t know what it is, but not being in a car on the freeway is a pretty amazing thing.
8:30am: I told myself that I would audio record how I felt throughout the race, so I could document it later. I pull out my iPhone and start my first voice recording. I can barely get words out since I’m already short of breath. I sound like a woman trying to explain her feelings while giving birth. I get a few weird looks from people around me. I stiff arm them and run ahead.
8:46am: I finally reach the 8 mile mark. I’m getting my second wind and both my legs are basically numb. I’m starting to get super hungry and finally I see one table at a rest stop with gu. We were only supposed to grab one and go. I grabbed 7. #thuglife
9:28am: 13th MILE! And we’re finally at the coney island boardwalk. The last time I was here was with my family before I had moved to NY. My baby brother heard of this restaurant on the Food Network called Coney Island Burger or something. So he dragged us out there, but when we looked it up, the actual restaurant ended up being in Baltimore. #thanksbro
9:30am: I sprint to the finish line. Success. I grab my medal and head down to the parking lot. As soon as I sit down, I spaz out as I cramp up in 4 places.
Bucketlist: Half Marathon - CHECK.
Great cities attract ambitious people. You can sense it when you walk around one. In a hundred subtle ways, the city sends you a message: you could do more; you should try harder.
The surprising thing is how different these messages can be. New York tells you, above all: you should make more money. There are other messages too, of course. You should be hipper. You should be better looking. But the clearest message is that you should be richer.
When I first decided to buy a DSLR in highschool, I saved up for months before finally having enough to buy a camera. And before I finally pulled the trigger, I spent weeks researching every minute detail. I googled “best entry DSLR” and pored over the first 50 links. I compared and contrasted every camera under $1000. And after reading multiple blog posts, reviews, and forum threads on each individual model, I decided on the exact set up I wanted.
But, it didn’t end there. I spent another couple days studying up on which site or store would have the best price & customer service. And after weeks of OCD-level analysis, I received a package from BH photo containing one freshly minted Canon XTI and a beautiful 50mm 1.8 lens. It was glorious.
I’ve noticed I do this lengthy research process with any big purchase. I find that I actually enjoy doing it too. I guess it’s kinda like when girls enjoy getting ready for a party just as much as the party itself?
Anyway, I just spent the past week or so doing the same thing with investing some of my savings. Initially, I was just going to put a little money in a retirement account. I was just looking out for 65-year-old Andrew, since I don’t want to be eating dog food after social security dries up in the next 30 years. But after doing a little research into what company to open an IRA with, I got sucked in and spent hours reading everything about mutual funds, ETFs, John Bogle’s life story and investment strategies, and the general health of the economy. After doing my own research this week, I opened a ROTH IRA and a taxable brokerage account and started to put my money in various places. I had a pretty good feeling that I knew what I was doing.
But then at church today, I had a few conversations with some guys who are uber smart and work in finance. And basically our talks brought me back to square one. Actually more like to square -3.
I really hope one of my kids turns out to become a professional athlete. #theKoreanLebronJames #nikeplzsignhim
AP’s NY List
I get a few requests every year for a list of things to see/eat/drink in NYC. I decided to keep it on record and I even spent $10 getting this stupid domain so people could find it easily. #callmeagoodsamaritan
WHAT TO EAT
1. Ippudo Pork Buns
If I could eat one thing in NY before leaving forever, it would be the almighty Ippudo Pork Bun. When I first stumbled upon this hole-in-the-wall restaurant, I walked in and had my first taste of claustrophobia. There is a 30 sq foot waiting area packed with 900 angry new yorkers trying to stay away from the wintry cold. Don’t let this faze you. Hold strong.
The moment you bite into that fluffy spongy bun, everything else will be forgotten. When the glaze on that perfectly cooked pork belly turns into a million flavor crystals that dances over your taste buds, all your pain will be forever gone.
note#1 - the ramen is whatevs.
note#2 - to avoid that long wait for a table, you can order pork buns at the bar with no wait. However, you can’t order ramen at the bar (it doesn’t matter tho - see note#1).
2. Joe’s Shanghai Soup Dumplings
I don’t care that you think din tai fung is better. I don’t care that you think it’s uncomfortable that we have to sit with another party at the same table. I don’t care that it’s cash only. I don’t care that they probably recycle the left-over oranges they leave for dessert. These magical pockets of magical-ness are one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten in my life. Plus, 8 dumplings for 5 dollars? Where do I sign up?
note - you also need to get the scallion pancakes, which is pan fried scallion-infused dough that you dip in this sweet ginger soy sauce. #money
3. Nyonya Roti Canai
I’ve never had malaysian food before moving to NY. I would best describe it as the perfect intersection between thai and indian food. My favorite dish is called Roti Canai. It’s kinda like a crepe, except it’s more thin, crispy, and chewy - all at the same time. You rip off a piece and you dip it in this special curry sauce. If you don’t know, now you KNOW.
4. Chicken and Rice at 53rd st and 6th ave
You’ve probably seen this food instagrammed 100 times by now. And 84 of those times were probably from me. I know they made some boot-leg version of this in LA. Don’t be fooled. And I know sometimes us New Yorkers are too lazy to track down the “real” chicken and rice cart, so we almost consider settling for some random street meat cart near times square. Don’t be fooled. Just like you would be embarrassed to get caught rocking a fake louis purse, don’t mess with that fake chicken and rice stuff.
"I put too much white sauce" -said no one ever.
"I put too much hot sauce" - said every visitor from LA on their first try.
5. Levain Cookie
This is the best cookie on this planet. You think your friend or your mom has the best cookie recipe ever? GTFO. Don’t get it twisted. These giant mounds of dough, butter, sugar, and chocolate are one of the best things you will ever eat in your entire life. They’re crispy and flaky on the outside and level 15 decadent and warm on the inside.
note: each cookie weights like one pound. Don’t try to eat more than 3 in one sitting. trust me.
6. Mamoun’s Shawarma/Falafel/Hummus Sandwich
When I was poor and starving during my boot-strapped startup days. I literally ate Mamoun’s everyday for lunch. Back then I could only afford the $2.50 falafel sandwich (the struggle was real). But now whenever I stop by Mamoun’s (which is still like once a week), I indulge in the Behemoth aka 3 proteins aka Shawarma, Falafel, and Hummus all stuffed inside a humble pita pocket.
note: beware of the hot sauce.
7. Lombardi’s Pizza
Classic New York Pizza. Yes - it is probably overhyped. Yes - the lines probably don’t justify the taste. But if you’re visiting or if you happen to come here when the line isn’t over an hour, you should stop in. The clam pie is excellent.
8. Shake Shack’s Shack Stack
Take a crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted muenster and cheddar cheeses. And place this fried concoction on top of a perfectly medium-rare burger and gently envelope this ungodly meat/cheese/mushroom combo in the world’s softest potato bun. Ladies and Gentlemen, you have the Shack Stack.
9. Bangia Spicy Glazed Fried Chicken
Honestly this place doesn’t even have the best fried chicken. I would probably rate Turntable’s chicken higher, objectively. But Bangia has a special place in my heart. For like a good 3 months, every weekend night would somehow end up in K-town. And we would always cap off the night with pitchers of ice-cold blue moon, fried chicken, and geh-rahn jjim (steamed egg). That’s as good as any trifecta’s gonna get.
10. Tasting Menu at Le Bernardin
Fine dining in NY is probably one of the greatest in the world. If you’ve never experienced a legit tasting menu, you should save up three month’s salary and try it at least once. You don’t need to go to Le Bernardin, specifically. But if you’re going to be shelling out $300-500 on one meal, you should probably do some research before going. This will be a life changing experience. Everything from the quality and freshness of each ingredient, to the service and knowledge of each restaurant staff member will blow you away. Experiencing a tasting menu at a 3-Michelin star restaurant will be the closest any of us will feel to being royalty.
note- read about my experience at Le Bernardin here: http://andrewparkphotography.tumblr.com/post/54306897790/tasting-menu
During my freshmen year at UCSD there were stories circulating around about a kid named Amos Kim. Supposedly this Amos character decided that staying in college for 4 years was a waste of time. So during his sophomore year, he took 3 times the amount of classes that a typical student takes. He was enrolled in so many classes, that it was literally impossible for him to attend all his lectures. But he studied on his own, finished school with a 3.8 GPA, scored in the top percentile on his LSATs, and was accepted into Columbia Law School at the tender age of 18 (he also skipped grades before coming to college).
The cherry on top was that he actually rejected the offer for law school because he wasn’t sure if that was the path in life he was supposed to take (later he ended up getting into Yale Law School, so no biggie). Naturally when I spotted him at our college library, I wasted no time and sat right across from where he was studying.
“Hi. You’re Amos, right? Dude, I heard about you… What are you reading? Wanna be friends?”
I’m pretty certain 97.5% of people, would have gotten right up, called the police, and filed a restraining order on me. But he laughed it off and we actually started to become friends after that fateful day at Geisel.
My sophomore year after I was wrongfully accused of cheating on a test, Amos spent like 40 hours structuring an argument for my defense. It included a photo exhibit and everythang. And then he had to do it for me all over again…when my computer’s hard drive crashed that year. Long story short, I was expected to have a 3-4% of chance of winning my case and I was en route to be suspended for a year, but with Amos’s work, I destroyed my professor and all her accusations. (She actually walked out of the hearing before it was over. #lawyered)
For this, I owed him my life. And then he took my life from me (and a little piece of my soul) when he tricked me into turning down my job offer in LA and moving to New York to join his startup after I graduated college. #evenstevens.
But in all seriousness, you’re a good person and one of my closest friends. We’ve been friends for 7 years and roommates/co-founders/business-partners/basically-a-married-couple for pretty much my entire young adult life. It’s been an adventure moving to new cities every 9 months and building everything from a failed “hang-out” app to a freaking burrito delivery service. And you’re the only consistent person I use as a sounding board whenever I’m having a crisis. I’m not good at words of affirmation, so here’s like 1000 all at once. love you bro<3.
When you took us to Barona’s for the first time my freshmen year and I got addicted to blackjack after I won like $80. #nicehair
Bookface Brainstorm Sesh in our bougie apt in New Haven
Playing ball with the homies at the CAGE.
Our ghetto apartment in west village. We literally had 3 grown-ass guys sleeping in a closet. I slept on that mattress that I had to slide out every night.
Your favorite. Orangina. And our only table in the apt, which was like 2 feet wide.
Upgrade to woodside. But it still looked like a missionary’s quarters.
When we were too poor to buy a dining table.
That one summer where you tried to eat as much as me. e.x. We ordered our own large pizzas. Then you gained 20 lbs and stopped.
I guess everyone was poor this year. The economy was tough.
When youngsubee aka youngsubah was our foodchute mascot.
Our $300 nightlight we never got to use.
Illegal science experiments at walmart.
When we found a jonoh on sale at costco. Only $10.
When we tricked him to fly out to visit us, only for him to be our intern.
The homies came to help us film our Dash Video. Laura Byun’s favorite video.
When I got to put Yale on my resume.
I’m pretty sure the next POTUS was in your graduating class. #yalelawschool
Having our own car in the city was the best.
I guess when you need to sleep, you need to sleep.
Happy Bday Dawg.