October 23, 2014

It's a Great Time to Fly

2011. With six months until graduation, one steady thought ran through my mind: What am I going to do? I was majoring in Global Studies, minoring in Japanese. My thesis advisor was telling me that I would be excellent at writing formal reports, for the government perhaps. I didn't have any big dreams, except to graduate. But I knew one thing: for my first job out of college, I wanted to do something I'd enjoy.

Sadly, our pilots do not look like Leo DiCaprio.

That's how I decided to seek a job as a flight attendant, and honestly? I've never looked back. I may not make as much money as my cousins, as my mother loves to remind me, but I've had so many opportunities and experiences with my job thus far, and still more to come. I mean, look at where I've been! Madrid! Sydney! Tokyo! Singapore!

So if you're looking for a job, a change in career, or a new and dynamic lifestyle, becoming a flight attendant may be the path for you. If you do a little research on the job and it still sounds good, take the next step by applying to all the airlines you're interested in.

The resource I used most over 6 months of applications and interviews was FlightAttendantCareer.com's job listings page. It's updated frequently and is the easiest way to see who's hiring. Right now is a great time to fly: Delta, American, and US Airways are all hiring, and United Airlines will begin accepting applications tomorrow, October 24.

Submit your applications now, because seniority is everything.

Have any questions about being a flight attendant? Leave a comment below, and I just might do a Flight Attendant FAQ soon.

October 21, 2014

San Francisco's Little Saigon

While San Francisco has the largest Chinatown outside of Asia, its Little Saigon is pretty small. But at least it exists, and it's official!

San Francisco's Little Saigon is a two-block stretch on Larkin Street, where about 80% of the businesses are Vietnamese owned. They're mostly restaurants, including the well-known Pho 2000 and Turtle Tower.

Mom and I killed some time in San Francisco become she came with me to Cancun, so we had lunch at the original Turtle Tower. I enjoyed the pho ga at the SoMa location so much that I wanted to share it with my mom, too! I was still feeling a little under the weather from the Arashi storm/monsoon/downpour, so chicken soup seemed like a good choice.

We were seated after a ~20 minute wait.
Pho ga (chicken pho)
Pho ga long (chicken pho with chicken giblets)

Somehow, it wasn't quite as good as the first time, but I still liked it. My mom wasn't blown away like I'd hoped. In fact, she announced that she would try making her own! The chicken giblets looked good, though - I think I'll try that next time. Hearts and livers? Yum.

After lunch, we wandered the Civic Center area, just a few blocks down. It was a great day to walk around.

San Francisco City Hall
Pioneer Monument

Finally, we hit up the Asian Art Museum, right across from City Hall. It's one of the best museums of its kind, and I was glad I finally visited! I can get in free with my badge from work, but I can also get a couple free passes from the public library, which enabled me to get my mom in free too. Asians, you know. We love "free."

The museum is really cool, though. Regular adult admission is $15, with exhibits spread over three floors. There are artifacts from over 40 Asian countries, religious pieces, as well as contemporary art. I especially liked looking at jewelry and jade. We didn't spend much time there because we'd parked at a meter, but it was fun. I'll have to keep up with the changing exhibits and experience all they have to offer.

Indonesian puppets!

Expect to see another post or two on San Francisco next month - both my parents came up last week and we had some touristy days and lots of good food. I love living here!

October 17, 2014

Breaktime in Cancun

I finally, finally had a long layover in Cancun! I'd heard great things about this layover - we stay at a resort hotel right on the beach, with an amazing pool. I brought my mom along because she wanted to come, and the flights looked all right. We made it, the weather was great, and we had a nice time.

The hotel was really impressive. We had a good 30 hours there, plenty of time for rest and relaxation. Just look at the view from the hotel room!

Oh yes!

The beach looked gorgeous, but had a lot of seaweed due to the storm that had recently passed through. Of course we had to go in, and the temperature felt good, but all that seaweed kept brushing up against me and making me feel itchy. We switched to the pool, which was huge and much more comfortable. I didn't take any pictures of it though...

For dinner, a bunch of the crew went downtown. It only cost a dollar to ride the bus, and it was interesting to see another part of Cancun. It had a bit of a Vegas or New Orleans feel, with all those neon lights.

Tons of clubs.

We had to capture that Mexico feel while looking around a souvenir shop.

Unfortunately, when it was time to go, Mom got stuck in Cancun for an extra night because all the flights out of there were so full. Remember, standby travel is a blessing and a curse. She rode first class down, but instead of coming back with me, ended up sleeping on an airport restaurant's padded bench. On the plus side, she made friends with other stranded standby travelers and said she had fun, so I guess it was like an airport camping trip? What can I say? My mom's become very seasoned at standby flying.

October 14, 2014

The Pho Queen Visits a Psychic

Wait, what? Visiting a psychic isn’t something I would usually do. I’ve long considered myself in the “nonbeliever” category. However, when Psychic Girl Jusstine Kenzer invited me for a session, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try. After all, I’m all about new experiences.

I went into my session with an open mind. I did my homework and prepared a list of questions to ask, though probably not as many as I should have. I arrived promptly at noon, and Jusstine was welcoming and friendly from start to finish. As it was my first time with a psychic, she walked me through her process – I would say my name and she would concentrate on it, using it to read spirits and energies around me. I would ask specific questions, and we would close with a healing. Knowing I had quite a few questions about love, I had to ask her about her idea of soulmates and true love.

Interestingly, Jusstine told me that we've gone through hundreds of past lives, and the ultimate goal is to ascend with your soulmate and break the cycle of coming back, in order to master life and death. You meet so many people in each life, and you may meet your soulmate many times. In this life, you might pass your soulmate on the street and never know it. You might be with them in any given life, or simply with someone compatible. To me, it was both reassuring and depressing that there would always be opportunity in the next life to find your so-called “true love,” and that you would have forever to be with your soulmate. But with an understanding of where Jusstine was coming from, we could begin the reading.

When I said my name and Jusstine tuned into it, she immediately saw a “guide” accompanying me. Apparently, it was a cowboy on a horse that I had been with in a recent past life. When I heard that, I began to understand what I’d gotten myself into. It was all very foreign, but I had to push aside incredulous and skeptic feelings and go with the flow.

So like...this?
Or this? haha.

I don’t think too hard about it, but I do believe in past lives and reincarnation (core beliefs of Buddhism). It was interesting to hear that I lived in Atlantis and hung out with sea creatures in a long ago life, and that I have been close to the person I currently like in another past life. Of course, the best thing I heard was probably that he won’t marry his fiancee – but we’ll see about that.

Jusstine was eerily accurate on a few occasions, particularly regarding my family. With little to no information, it seemed like she had a very good understanding of people and their unique circumstances. She does read quite quickly, so it is important to bring a long list of specific questions in order to maximize the productivity of your 45-60 minute session. I asked about family, health, career, and love, but didn’t have many specific questions. I guess that’s because I’m not really seeking guidance right now.

Even if I feel like I’m on the right track for now, I feel like everyone can use a little healing. At the end of each session, Jusstine walks you through a healing practice, which focuses on letting go. People generally struggle with a desire for control, for approval, or for feeling safe, and Jusstine addresses that. She helps you to release whatever’s holding you back, and I did feel lighter and more balanced afterward.

Ahh, release.

I’m not sure if I would seek out a psychic again, but I’m glad I gave it a try to see what it was all about. Jusstine says it’s good to be a little skeptical, and it’s imperative to find the right psychic, just as you would look for the right surgeon. They’re all different, but you’d be safe with Jusstine. She’s genuine and honest, and I never felt like she was bullshitting me. Whatever she said she saw, I believe she really saw it. She’s passionate about what she does and loves helping people.

If you’re ever looking for a psychic, you can visit Jusstine in LA, or set up a phone session from wherever you are located.

Psychic Girl Jusstine Kenzer, psychicgirl.com

October 11, 2014


Well, guess who had a blast at ARASHI BLAST in Hawaii?

Walking the streets of Waikiki, it became apparent that the 2-day Arashi concert was a big freaking deal. Banners hung from every lamppost, and random shops had signs welcoming Arashi fans. It was like a festival!

Granted, the concert was a big deal. Members of Arashi's fan club in Japan paid thousands of dollars for package deals including concert admission, hotel accommodations, and airfare. The venue in Ko Olina would welcome 15,000 fans each day. It was bringing an estimated $25 million into Hawaii, and was an event not to be missed! Katy and I had tickets to the second and final day of the concert. We came in the day before, and (almost) immediately hit the beach.

My favorite hangout spot - in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel!
The Sheraton had these ARASHI BLAST umbrellas!

We had to take advantage of being in Hawaii. The weather was great the first day, and I had my favorite Marukame Udon. I actually went twice over the weekend, once getting my regular kake udon and the next trying out the curry udon. Let it be known that Marukame Udon never disappoints. We also had a nice dinner at the Outrigger Reef's Shore Bird Restaurant, making sure to have an island cocktail!

Curry udon

After hanging out the first day, we got ready for the concert! We wanted to get there and line up early so we could choose better seats in our section, but the entry process was horribly unorganized. Despite coming two hours before door opening, we lost our place in line as event staff forced us to condense into one big mass. Things got crazy as people got pissed - there was pushing and shoving (Katy was furious that someone tried to push over a little girl), someone who bit a security guard, and that same security guard who cussed us all out. It was not pretty. But I was extremely annoyed that the organization could be so terrible. I mean, it was the second day of the event! Shouldn't they have figured this stuff out the first day?

Once inside the venue, things calmed down. There were a ton of cutouts of the Arashi members to take pictures with, but we were concerned about picking our seats. Each attendee was given a collapsible chair (stool, really) which we would pitch in our section.

The stage was gigantic. I heard that the whole show was an $8 million production, and it took 30 cargo containers to hold all the stuff they shipped over from Japan. They didn't cut any corners. There were legit fireworks, and Arashi even arrived and departed by helicopter, which landed right behind the stage.

Actually, here's a video to show you what it was like:

I've watched concert DVDs before, so I knew what to expect. Arashi did a great set list of their hits, only missing one song I was really expecting (how could they not do A Day in Our Life?). They didn't do solos, but they did "Hawaii version" arrangements of two of their singles, which was pretty cool. Here's their Hawaii version of My Girl, which someone did an nice job recording:

It was really a great show. The moving stages ensured that we'd all get to see the boys up close at one point or another, and I'll admit nearly hyperventilating when Nino came close.

I mean look at him!

I'll never forget that night, not only because of the amazing show, but the legendary rain. Oh yes, it rained buckets on us that Saturday night. It poured. It was torrential. It was like taking a shower for an hour - and yet, the concert continued. It was a testament to Arashi's professionalism that they could continue like that, and it was also proof that we fans were batshit crazy. My cellphone almost drowned, we were soaked, and yet we all kept waving our penlights and cheering.

Frankly, no concert is complete without goods! You have Japanese standards like uchiwa (fans) and penlights, which you can wave around during the concert. Along with the chair, each attendee received a lei, which even had a little concert charm! And the water bottles at the venue had custom labels. They seriously went all out.

I finally have a chair at my place!

Unfortunately, the rain took its toll on us, and everyone I knew who attended the concert got sick shortly afterward, including me. In an attempt to cure ourselves, Katy and I enjoyed spicy ramen from the well-known Ramen Nakamura. I wouldn't usually order something spicy like that, but it really hit the spot considering my sinus issues. Actually, I'm craving it again!

Spicy ramen. So good!

Despite the rain (or, because of the rain?) this was really a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I got to see old friends (Jasmine, Angel, and Beth!). I made some new friends: Lea, Debbie, and Christine from Vancouver, and Jen, who lives not too far from me in SF! But more than anything, I was so happy I got to see Arashi perform. I fell in love with them all over again. I'd like to see them at another show, but maybe indoors...

October 5, 2014

Spotlight: Amsterdam

There's something for everyone in Amsterdam. It's truly a unique city, with a distinct culture you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. As part of my international adventuring in September, I got to spend 24 hours there.

Right when we stepped off the bus at the hotel, we were warned to watch out for bicyclists. Amsterdam is the world's most bike-friendly capital city, and there are bicycles parked everywhere. Cyclists have dedicated lanes and protected intersections, and they will run you over if you're not careful.

Another unique feature of Amsterdam is that it was built around a canal system, the result of ambitious city planning. Canal tours and cruises are popular attractions, and the streets along canals look beautiful.

Amsterdam is filled with historical buildings, including the Royal Palace and an abundance of grand churches. I've at least learned that the Dutch word for church is kerk.

Royal Palace 
Nieuwe Kerk (New Church)
National Monument 
Oude Kerk (Old Church) Tower
Oude Kerk 
Ronde Lutherse Kerk
Basilica of St. Nicholas

When in Amsterdam, you must visit the red-light district. It looks innocuous in the daytime, but the heavy smell of marijuana permeates the air. I've never smelled so much pot in my life. I wasn't sure if I was legal to work, with all that secondhand pot smoking. (I exaggerate, of course.) If recreational drugs are your thing, this is the place to be. But it's also a great place to eat! I found some cute shops and enjoyed a delicious lemon basil sorbet, as well as some fine chocolates. This shop called Puccini had so many flavors, but I settled on lemongrass and mint. Once you've had high-quality chocolate, you really can't go back.

Gelato at The Pastry Room
Chocolates at Puccini

Of course, we all know that the red-light district is most known for legal prostitution. Women stand in windows beckoning customers to come inside for a service. From a distance, all you see are shop windows in an alley. This picture below got me in big trouble, though. You're not supposed to take any photos of the ladies in the windows, and if you do, things will get ugly. I learned that firsthand when I took this picture from the corner of the alley. You can't see any sex workers, nor is it close enough to capture the "no photo" symbols on the windows, but I guess one of the women saw the flash and saw me with my camera. She opened her door and started screaming at me- "You taking a picture? You loco! You crazy!"

I guess you haven't lived until you've been cussed out by a sex worker in Amsterdam.

Amsterdam is filled with the beautiful, the cool, and the crazy - and I'm not talking about prostitutes anymore. I really liked the architecture there, but the existence of public urinals on the street was surprising, to say the least.

Amsterdam Centraal Station 
A men's outdoor urinal. Yep.
Magna Plaza shopping center
Victoria Hotel!!! What could be cooler?

My final stop was a must-visit destination: the Anne Frank House. Anne Frank went into hiding and wrote her famous diary in her father's office building in Amsterdam, which has since been turned into a museum. At just 9.5 euros to enter, I assure you, the experience is worth every penny. Pictures aren't allowed, but there's so much valuable history there to see for yourself, as you enter the actual secret annex and remember those who hid along with the heroes who risked their lives to help the family.

On my way over to the Anne Frank Huis, I got confused about which street I was on, and a rickshaw driver taking a smoke break asked if I needed help. He pointed out where we were on my map and said, "Take a right here, walk down 800 meters, and you'll see a very large church. The Anne Frank House is right next to there."

800 meters? I thought. That means nothing to me, I'm an American! I kept my mouth shut, though.

"I can't go down that street because they don't allow you to smoke," the driver continued, exhaling a white cloud. "You smoke joint?"

"No thanks," I squeaked.

Westerkerk (West Church)

Screamed at by a hooker and offered a pull from a rickshaw driver's joint? Oh yeah. That's Amsterdam. It's really such a cool city though, there's nowhere else like it. I would be pleased to return any time; there are so many more places for me to check out. For example, I'd love to tour the Royal Palace. But I must confess, nothing is more important than making sure I buy stroopwafels to take home. Thin waffles with a caramel syrup in the middle, they are my secret weakness.