2012: Travel

How did you travel in 2012? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

In 2011, I went on one international trip, one domestic…and one super local. In 2010, I went on one international trip and multiple domestic trips.

In 2012, I did the unfathomable:

  • Las Vegas for CES
  • A four week trip to Ireland, England, Germany and NYC
  • A brief rendezvous to Pointe Reyes
  • A business trip to NYC
  • Ice cream research trip #1 to Vancouver and Seattle
  • Ice cream research trip #2 to Columbus, Ohio and the greater area
  • Ice cream research trip #3 to the Philippines and Taiwan
  • Ice cream research trip #4 to Argentina (and a short trip to Uruguay)
  • In 2013, will my ice cream research bring me to Italy? Will that include Milan, Rome, Naples, Turin? Turkey? Austria? India? Certainly another trip to NYC. And a trip to LA. And a hopeful trip to Portland. And will I be impulsive to go to a conference in Toronto, Austin or elsewhere?

    2012: This year’s 5 minutes

    Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2012 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2012.

    2011 5 minutes and 2010 5 minutes

  • Going to CES with Greg and inviting Chris along to spend an oddly joyful moments in Vegas
  • Seeing O for the first time in Vegas
  • Planning on my monthlong travel to Europe and New York, collecting advice and connecting with friends of friends
  • Anti-Valentine’s day dinner with Daniel and his housemates in London
  • Getting to know Martin better; someone who I only met on Facebook and only introduced because we both loved Foster the People
  • The consecutive Airbnb experiences in Europe
  • Interviewing at Foursquare and realizing that NYC was not my thing
  • Taking the layoff package from Palm and…moving on
  • Going on an overnight bike tour to Pointe Reyes and staying at the Marconi Conference Center (the former location of my high school AGATE program)
  • Enjoying the experience in Drakes Bay Farm with oysters and the like
  • Realizing how tearful and frustrating an experience can be on a bike ride can be
  • How my contract at Barnes & Noble as an interaction designer…truly…really changed my life
  • Meeting another Jenn at bike party
  • Realizing that nature really is not for me and sticking to it; rejecting an opportunity camp outside of Yosemite
  • Starting my ice cream travel guide project
  • Visiting Vancouver with Shipra and Jeff
  • Doing my ice cream research in Vancouver and Seattle
  • Continuing ice cream research in Ohio…and telling my family about my current endeavors
  • Spending a night with a dairy plant owner and his family outside of Columbus, Ohio
  • Taking a “sabbatical” from user experience to allow for flexibility for my project (but allowing opportunities for freelance projects)
  • Rediscovering my love of writing through various writing workshops and classes
  • Traveling to Taiwan, Philippines, Argentina and Uruguay with various important people in my life
  • Watching more movies than I ever have this year
  • Making ice cream (from my 31 flavors project) and delighting friends with the results
  • Letting go who I thought was an important person but who really was a burden on my soul
  • 2012: Next Steps

    When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?

    Progress. It’s hard to measure, but when I write it down, it actually does come true. In 2010, it was about dream making. In 2011, it was about sticking to my boundaries.

    This coming year, I plan to stick to my dreams. I know what I want to do. I love to write. I am fascinated by people—by what they do and why they do it. I’ll stop tricking myself to do what others expect of me. Most importantly, I’ll do what I believe in and represent my true self.

    To be true. That is my next step.

    2012: Making

    What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

    In 2010, I made xmas photo. In 2011, I made metaphorical things—that were intentionally symbolic of relationships and history.

    This year, the last thing I made was something for my ice cream project. In whole, this year, I have made a lot of ice cream.

    Because the process of ice cream making is so arduous and time-consuming, I let myself get lost in the process. It’s catharsis. The fact that I must pay attention to the heating up a cream mixture so that eggs don’t curdle (and they have curdled a lot in front fo me). Then the preparation of the focal ingredient (whether it’s tea leaves or fruit), it’s stress-relieving.

    I must pay attention when I am chopping. I must attend to the level of simmering for all heated mixtures. I must constantly test (and make sure that I don’t use the same spoons over and over again.

    I adjust the recipes on the fly and I have to take note on my draft blog posts that I can note it in recipes.

    All of this process takes me away from the mess of my room, the every day banality and calls of help emanating from my email.

    I am making. I am making happiness, joy and rewards.

    2012: Letting Go

    Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

    In 2010, it was a person. In 2011, it was an idea.

    This year, 2012, I let go of a person. Or at least a person who had become a symbol of angst, discontent and self-rejection.

    Over the past year, I have made multiple attempts to let go. Whether it was courage or other, I finally let go in late November.

    To my surprise, as much as it smarted early on, the pain subsided. Unlike other painful moments, this one healed very quickly.

    I can only surmise that it was a wound that festered around a foreign object. Once the foreign object was removed, relief was a delight.

    Ever since then, I am lighter. Previously I felt weighed down by an indescribable black cloud of indecision, dissatisfaction and dragged my feet to every decision I made, every moment I thought would yank me out of my unhappiness.

    2012: Moment

    Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.

    In 2011, it was my birthday moment. In 2010, it was the success in Journey to the End fo the Night.

    2012? When I look back, there were many moments that with hindsight, they were false truths. My first impulse is to choose my birthday again. The party that I deliberately organized to gather people I loved together, to celebrate a mere moment of my existence. Or was it at Barnes & Noble where I felt immediately accepted and instantly sense that my work mattered? Or was it Adam or Ian in Manila who loved my ice cream travel guide so much and invited us out to dinner and drinks with him? Or the many ice cream makers that I immediately clicked with on my journey? Or the best friends that I made in the past year that I know will persist for awhile?

    Maybe not.

    But the moment that vividly comes to mind is this.


    The day prior, I decided that we had to do the island hopping tour. I had realized our first day in Palawan in the Philippines that the capital city offered little for tourists. The weather was uncooperative for many outdoors activities in the proximity. Additionally, the city was dull. The humidity got to me and I was jealous of all the scuba diving tours in Northern Palawan that I dismissed because I didn’t have scuba certification. I desperately wanted to be in the water. I wanted to replicate my memories in Kolanta in Thailand.

    So we joined the island hopping tour.

    At the second stop, a floating pier in the middle of the ocean, we were told to swim (awkwardly with our lifevests) along a rope. We did. Chris wasn’t as good as swimming as I was. I glided smoothly toward the end of the rope…near the other floating cabin. Along the way, I attempted to dive in and out to capture the sealife, knowing the GoPro could barely see through the cloudy water. I made out coral and seaweed waving hellos and goodbyes. And the occasional fish darting to and fro through the blurry colors of the sea.

    Yet toward the end, I realized how desperate I was to relieve myself. As Chris finally swam over me, his orange vest bobbing in the still saltwater, I whispered my desperate need. Thoughts of eastern toilets and uncomfortable accommodations rushed through my head. I starved for clean Western toilets.

    “Remember that the ocean is one big toilet,” he responded.

    And so I did. Far away from our fellow travelers. And I felt so much better afterwards.

    I would describe how it felt funny, how the temperature of the water around me suddenly increased (instantly!)…but I’ll just stop here.

    2012: One Word

    One Word. Encapsulate the year in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2013 for you?

    The one word that captures this year (from 2011 and 2010):


    In response to a short lament of my own personal struggles, a friend asked me recently, “But how about stretching your boundaries?”

    I calmly replied, “There’s a fine line between stretching your comfort zone and your boundaries.”

    Last year, I made changes. In all aspects of life. Jobs, relationships, friendships…etc. But in it, I stretched as far I could…stepping outside of my comfort zone and boundaries. Until I felt that I wasn’t quite me anymore.

    But this year, I did both. And I found my preferences and stuck to them. I know what I don’t like and what I like. I surround myself with people that are supportive and encouraging. It’s easier to live with number one fans than to live with critics.

    I sought adventures more than I ever did previously in order to rediscover myself. I tried new things so that I can understand myself better. From traveling alone in Europe, pursuing my dream of writing, being a freelancer, and talking to ice cream makers (strangers!) that drove my anxiety meter up the roof.

    Meeting friends of friends


    Returning to places that once scared or scarred me


    Accomplishing my list of 30 before 30

    Learning a skill with a trusted friend


    Telling my family who I want to be

    The Ng Family side

    Next year, I want to be more of the same. I want to finish what I started. I want to say that I am stronger, vivid, intrepid…but all with integrity. I hope that 2013 is success.

    Hold your boundaries and challenge yourself

    I tested my boundaries when I was 22. I did things that I had never done. I hosted parties. I organized large groups for parties and school projects. I hung out with people at bars, drinking only water.

    But when I came back to the Bay Area after that, I had to define the boundaries. Most importantly, I had to be true to myself. How far can I go without losing who I am?

    In Buenos Aires, traveling with a diverse set of people, I wonder…how far do I go and when do I say stop? It’s a dance, always a dance.

    Two different perspectives in BA

    The first place.

    A tall wooden colonial oor. European. No AC. Colorful drapes. High ceilings with chandeliers. Calling to the senses that there was a woman that cared for her touch throughout each of the rooms in the bed and breakfast. She wore eyeliner but with always bright eyeshadow—blue and purple, that called out her energetic personality that energized the extroverts and sucked everything out from the introverts. In every room, delicately placed trinkets—dream catchers, potpourri ceramic pots on lace runners. A dollhouse almost, but we were living in it. But outside, different. Dreary almost. Some men sprawled on mattresses, frozen and sweating in the heat. As girls walked by—especially like us Asian American—they made catcalls. A small whispery “hi” or “hola”. And if they are daring…most of them are…they said, “Cerveza conmigo?” with a wide smile spread across their face. The sidewalks were broken, forgotten by the government. Uninhabited.

    The second place.

    Better. For the Western. In an area inundated by malls, shops, colectivos. Our friends—3 male guys—arrived suddenly shifting the mood. Different. High ceilings and Europeans. Detailed glass trinkets. With antiques on every shelf from from old style record players (with no needle), books, collected art. AC. I love it. Residents have money. And they travel—been to San Francisco, Miami or NYC, accustomed to seeing foreign faces. A traveler here can get lost within the crowd. Shops ranging from high-end European haute couture to Starbucks dot every street. No uncomfortable glances from men, but only “permiso” from hurried office workers and the regular porteños or sometimes the pushing through “get out of my way”. It’s a thoroughfare of colectivos, taxis and buses. “Upper middle class,” the lawyer said without any apology.

    Lost on the other side of the world

    A friend once told me, “You cannot keep running away. It always follows you.”

    Wandering in Argentina and Uruguay, I am lost within the cultures and the languages. Although unlike Asia, this time, I understand maybe 50%…maybe just 25% as I recall my six years of Spanish in middle school and high school.

    But despite my grasp of the language, my anxiety…the lifelong social anxiety grips me. Even though I most likely won’t see these people again and they forgive me instantly (an Asian speaking Spanish? really?) and attempt to speak English. I wonder if they are impressed that I have gone lengths to learn their language. Or as at the heladeria, he had surprise spread quickly over his face and then he immediately went to business.

    “En un vaso?” he asked.

    “Si,” I said. A cup. For the helado.

    And like all the other customers., he scooped the flavors into the cup as quickly as he can and handed it to me, clean, dripless with the same jovial attitude he shown all the other customers in line waiting for 20+ minutes past midnight.

    “Gracias,” I responded and tried to find my sister, standing out from the traveling Argentines and Uruguayans on the starlit Friday night.