Where the Wild Things Are: Scottish Highlands and Edinburgh Fringe

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I have no known connection to Scotland. For all I know, my ancestry goes back to when the first humans arrived in the land that is now mainland China and settled there until 1990 when my mother boarded a plane and arrived in La Guardia, Queens in New York City with two suitcases and $300 in her pocket. My Company, on the other hand, has traced part of his lineage back to the Mackenzie clan of the western Scottish highlands. Steeped in mystery with emerald green mountains, navy oceans and lochs with an unsettling fog that moves through the land during early mornings, Scotland would be the next destination in our exploration. Continue reading “Where the Wild Things Are: Scottish Highlands and Edinburgh Fringe”

London and the Coming of Age

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A real castle! Circa 2011

Every person has a coming-of-age story. If you’re lucky, yours would not be very exciting. While I wish I could say that I reached adulthood when I moved into my dormitory in college or the moment I graduated and picked up suits from the mall like a grown woman to head to my first job in New York City, I’m afraid I – like the rest of the Ding/Fan family household – appeared to be a late bloomer.

Childhood and young adulthood is filled with emotions that rise and drop like waves, unfettered idealism, and an enormous confidence in one’s untested convictions. Perhaps that is why the young will always be more creative, brash and exciting than their older peers, and because of this, I look back on some misguided events in my younger days with a mix of embarrassment, pride and at the end of the day, a shrug, “Oh to be young.” Continue reading “London and the Coming of Age”

Bavaria: Pretzels, Dirndl, and Platzes

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No, unlike most travelers who want to see iconic German towns, we were not going to Bavaria, München (Munich) and Nuremberg to be exact, for the Bavarian Alps, famous castles, biergartens, wursts of all flavors and dirndl.As most tourism to Bavaria reaches peak hysteria in September and October for – yes, you guessed it – Oktoberfest, my Company was headed there in August for the Prometheus Conference. Now this isn’t some Greek mythology fan-club but an open sourced monitoring conference (if you’ve lost me here, don’t worry…just continue on). So the top technical brains from all over the world communed here to Germany’s industrial capital in peak heat wave weather to share knowledge and, of course, drink themselves into semi-oblivion on watered down German beers (which they make up for in size of beer). Continue reading “Bavaria: Pretzels, Dirndl, and Platzes”

Three Days in Berlin: A Lesson in Hipness

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Through the wall at the Berlin Wall Memorial, Mitte

What makes sense after spending nearly two weeks in a small Southwestern German village where every neighbor knows one another and the largest employer is the chocolate factory? Head straight to one of Europe’s most cosmopolitan, historically rich and diverse cities of course! Continue reading “Three Days in Berlin: A Lesson in Hipness”

Spies on the Biotonne: Reconnaissance in Lorrach, Germany

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What happens when a Great Leap Forward survivor turned chemistry ph.D, a Chinese American millennial, a Kpop-obsessed teenager (aka lil’ Sis) and a tall white American  (my Company) go to a small, remote town in Southern Germany where the largest employer is a chocolate factory? Reconnaissance, mishaps and a few hilarious misadventures.  Continue reading “Spies on the Biotonne: Reconnaissance in Lorrach, Germany”

Andalusian Reflections and Malaga’s Mystery

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Malaga was the last Andalusian city we visited before leaving Spain. As I entered the port city, I reflected on how Andalusia exceeded my expectations. I suspect part of it is the intersection of cultures and histories that seemed so foreign to me, and the other part is the reflections I had while I was there as the hot sun baked dry the surrounding mountains and coastal towns.

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Cordoba – Delirium from July’s Heat Wave

Cordoba, Spain

As I write this over a week has gone by since Cordoba. In hindsight, I absolutely messed up the Cordoba visit. If I could do it again, I’d find a weekend to spend here in May (I mean, I even missed seeing the La Mezquita!).

Continue reading “Cordoba – Delirium from July’s Heat Wave”

Granada, A Sierra Fairtale

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Of all the Andalusian cities I have visited (Sevilla, Cadiz, Cordoba, Malaga), it was Granada that stole my heart. If Sevilla were magical, then Granada gave me the fairy tale. Sitting underneath the shadow of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada (“snowfall mountains”) with its steep, labyrinth streets of the Islamic neighborhood Albaycin, now a UNESCO site, filled with tall white buildings and orange roofs, merging with the caves of the Spanish gypsies (or Gitanos/Romani), Granada was a crossroads of time, culture, taste and smells.  Continue reading “Granada, A Sierra Fairtale”

Art and Storytelling, Flamenco and Jazz

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I remember very well a conversation with a long time mentor. Young, brash yet full of optimism in my early-twenties, I asked her, “I just want to do something positive in the world. I’d like to change it for the better.”

Continue reading “Art and Storytelling, Flamenco and Jazz”