September 17, 2010

I enjoyed going home to the Bay Area and then to Hawai‘i to help Grandma celebrate her 93rd birthday, and Mom and Dad’s 30th anniversary, on August 25th, with my Aunties and Uncle, and my very many relatives.

Thanks to Aunty Carol, although we only had less than a week to see so many people and do so many things, we were at least able to see our Chinese relatives at a luncheon in Niu Valley.


Luncheon in Niu Valley


This is a group picture of all of us at Lung Fung in Niu Valley. Grandma looks very happy on the right in the front row.




Here I am with two of my beautiful cousins, who are almost exactly my same age, and, I was happy to learn, are doing very well in their careers and social life.

Unfortunately, I missed seeing my cousin Sara on my Mom’s side (who left for an East-Coast conference only a day or two earlier), but we did see her parents and their beautiful newly rebuilt house.

We also enjoyed a nice “local” dinner with them at the new Side Street Grill on Kapahulu Avenue. Dad enjoyed it so much that he went back there to have a “drink and heavy pupus” with cousin Jim after Mom and I left.



July 17, 2009


Canal St.  Martin


Some friends and I enjoyed a nice picnic along the banks of the Canal St. Martin. From left, Reuben, me, Emily, Liwen, Tristan and Wakas (sitting cross-legged on the cobblestones). Tristan is Liwen's friend (and doesn’t work in our office). Emily and Wakas are summer interns.


Bastille Day


Some friends and I celebrated Bastille Day atop the Australian Embassy to watch the great fireworks from the Eiffel Tower. Jake is wearing the orange-red hat on the right; he’s from Texas and moved to France a couple of weeks ago.

To the left of me is Elizabeth and to the right is Markell. Leslie, Reuben's wife, is to the right of her, and Reuben is kneeling in front wearing the striped shirt. (Others in the group picture are people we met just that night at the embassy.)

Markell was a baker at Google and is currently a baker in Paris. She will be entering a Public Health Program at UC Berkeley this fall.


Markell, Reuben and me


Markell, Reuben and me, with the Eiffel Tower in the background.


Bastille Day friends


Some Stanford friends: Markell (2nd from left), Elizabeth, who grew up in Paris, and Leslie, Reuben's wife visiting from Puerto Rico.


Eifel Tower fireworks

Eifel Tower fireworks

Eifel Tower fireworks

Eifel Tower fireworks

Eifel Tower fireworks

Eifel Tower fireworks

Eifel Tower fireworks


Uncle Michael said he watched the Eiffel Tower fireworks in Hawai‘i but I was able to enjoy the magnificent display in person.



September 26, 2008—Beijing

These are some renderings of my first real project, created during my very first week as a “working architectural designer” at Studio Zhu-Pei in Beijing. Zhu-Pei gave me the responsibility and latitude to pretty much lead and be responsible for this project, and allowed me the freedom to implement and create my own ideas and designs from the beginning, so I’m especially proud of this.

Most satisfying is that the design concept has been very well received by our client and will probably actually be built!



Draft view.



Bird’s-eye north view.



Bird’s-eye south view.



Café view.



Courtyard view.



Another courtyard view.



September 20, 2008


Naomi in Beijing


Dad and I again had some trouble with our Skype connection—he could hear me but I couldn’t hear him. We were able to communicate by instant-text-messaging (IM), so, eventually, we were able to establish a reliable two-way voice communication after he tried some things–quitting and restarting Skype and resetting his computer’s Sound settings to make sure his headphones were selected.

It turns out that I won’t have to go back to Osaka next week, after all, in order to renew my visa one final time.

There’s apparently an obscure way, that I didn’t know about before, to renew my visa without having to leave China. My boss, Zhu-Pei, created a new Chinese bank account for me with the required deposited amount (based on a certain amount per day of stay) necessary to satisfy the government’s weird conditions for the visa renewal application.

Oddly, a “foreigner” like me can’t open a Chinese bank account on my own, so it’s puzzling to whom the official procedure is targeted and what a visitor like me can do to comply with the official rules while being able to stay a little while longer in this marvelous country.

In any case, although I would’ve enjoyed “having to” travel back to Osaka/Kyoto/Kansai region to renew my visa, this procedure will probably be easier, especially just before mom arrives.

Check out Drew’s photos photos of our great experiences in China and Japan.

Unfortunately, Mike and Alison’s photos from their visit are no longer available since they were stored on a server at MIT while Mike was getting his doctorate there.

Latest exciting news (September 26, 2008): Mike and Alison are now engaged! Mike is finishing up his doctorate at MIT and Alison has started her law career at a firm down south where she grew up. Congratulations from me and my parents to my dear friends and former Harvard roommates!



September 9, 2008

Temple in Kyoto

From Francis: We (Naomi’s family) have been eagerly awaiting any new photos and comments from Drew since he returned from China and Japan but can understand that he has been away from his real work for several weeks, after having just started his new job at a law firm in San Diego, and is undoubtedly very busy catching up. I will post new photos and comments as soon as Drew posts them.

Meanwhile, check out the many photos and comments already posted to his blog.

Update (September 28, 2008)—Drew has kindly posted his latest entries from Japan, so they’re now available when you click on the links above (or here).



August 22, 2008

Hello! Just wanted to let you know I’ve arrived safely in Japan! The family website came in handy, as Drew was arriving in Narita a couple hours before me and volunteered to take the shinkansen (“Bullet Train”) down to meet me, arriving in Kansai.

Kyoto Eki straightened


I was able to pull up the picture of the inside of Kyoto station (see Sakamoto > Dad visits me in Japan > page 2), point to the Cafe du Monde (yellow sign at lower left), and say, “meet me here around 6pm!” It worked out perfectly. So now we’re off to walk around Kyoto! It's nice to be back!



August 18, 2008

My Harvard roommates Alison and Mike, and my boyfriend Drew came to visit me during the Olympics. Here is an excerpt from Drew’s blog (with lots of nice pictures giving a good feel for our experiences) during his visit. (Drew’s actual blog is here but the excerpt above highlights just the time he spent with me in China and Japan.)

And there was a link to Mike’s pictures that is no longer available after he left MIT.

Uncle Michael forwarded these pictures of “Olympics Street Food,” which gives you some idea of the differences between East and West cuisine.



July 19, 2008


Pimped-out tricycle


Here’s an illegal bike taxi I saw today that was enthusiastically decorated and blasting Brittney Spears. I’m not sure if its awesomeness is adequately conveyed in the photo, which I snapped on my phone while dodging across four lanes of traffic, but it was very classy.



July 14, 2008




My friend Chi came up to visit me from Shanghai this weekend. She and I were both at Harvard just a few weeks ago! We had fun traveling around Beijing and eating very good food. Here we are at a very cool European brunch place cut into a hutong.


Chi and me


Chi and I enjoyed a delicious meal and experience at a hip Beijing-duck place in an old factory-turned-gallery / wine bar / restaurant. We enjoyed the Beijing (Peking) duck — while we were actually in Beijing! — the skin was very crispy and all the fat had been rendered out completely so that there was little hint of any greasiness, making it extremely delicious.



July 11, 2008


My co-workers at Studio Zhu Pei


I’m now in Beijing, China, working as a real, honest-to-goodness designer (with interns under me to do all the tedious work, like renderings, that I used to have to do myself only a few weeks ago). I will be here for 4 months—and will be here during the 2008 Olympics—for the rapidly up-and-coming and internationally recognized architectural firm Studio Zhu-Pei (and here), who has designed the “Digital Beijing” building (the main communications center, below) for the Olympic Complex—and was the only Chinese firm selected to design any building for this year’s highest-profile international sports event!


Digital Beijing


Above is a rendering of Digital Beijing and below is a photograph of the actual building behind the National Indoor Stadium (photo from Outdoor of Indoor: A night view of the National Indoor Stadium. Photosport) and other photos of the interior space being used by journalists (credit: ABC News and Silicon Republic).


Digital Beijing behind Indoor Stadium


Digital Beijing


Digital Beijing


The firm was recently featured in the New Yorker, in an article about the Olympics, and two prominent architectural magazines, including Architectural Record.

I’m enjoying my experience so far, although it’s only been a very short couple of weeks. I’m finding the street food very good and inexpensive, although there are a few interesting things I haven’t gotten up the courage to try yet—e.g., starfish on a stick and seahorse on a stick, as well as some dishes that I haven’t been able to clearly identify. However, I’m enjoying excellent dim sum, especially bao (steamed buns) and juk (rice porridge) with “Chinese doughnuts.” I’ve also heard that Kentucky Fried Chicken here has very good custard tarts (one of Dad’s and my favorite desserts), so I’ll definitely have to check that out very soon.

I’ve been able to talk regularly with my parents using Skype, the VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service that allows us to talk to each other free using the Internet. The audio quality is excellent too, so we’ve been very happy that this current technology is available.

I’ve been working exceptionally hard all last week and this week (including during the weekends) because we’re submitting a design for a competition today. Supposedly, things will ease up after this project is over but we’ll see...



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