Wanderlust: a day in Guangzhou, China

I’ve done quite a number of posts about Guangzhou already, since my family has visited there a few times now within the last few years. This past winter break, my dad and I again went to Guangzhou for one of his conferences, so while he was out science-ing, I went out with a family friend to go explore the city. The thing about this city is that there’s so much to do, and it really never gets boring because there’s always something fun around the corner.

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More than a movie: What Crazy Rich Asians meant to me

Just a few days ago, Jon Chu’s latest movie Crazy Rich Asian came out in theaters. Today, I went to go see this movie, the first in twenty-five years to have an all-Asian cast and Asian-American leads. The movie itself was a hilarious romantic comedy, but to me, it was so much more than that: it was about Asian American representation. And this is my story about what Asian American representation means to me.

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Wanderlust: 798 Art Zone, Beijing (China)

This past winter break, I visited Beijing for a couple days with my Dad, and I spent a Monday around the city with one of my dad’s students. Since it was a Monday, most places (like museums) were closed, so we decided to go visit one of the few places open, the 798 Art Zone.

798 Art Zone is located at a defunct military factory in Beijing, and the buildings each have a very unique architectural style reminiscent of both the time in which the military factory was still in use and more modern elements. There are a bunch of buildings, each of which house their own art pieces. One of the buildings we went into housed a 3D art gallery, in which the paintings are made to look 3-D when you take a photo with it. This highly interactive gallery definitely makes for some cool Instagram photos, since you’ll find yourself in the middle of the Frozen or Ice Age movies or playing chess with a figure from a medieval painting.

The second gallery we visited had many beautiful pieces created by art students who worked there. This was showcased a number of wood sculptures combining both traditional and modern Asian elements, creating very unique pieces that I thoroughly enjoyed looking at. Again, since it was a Monday, a few of the buildings inside were also closed, but I would definitely recommend spending a day here when the whole complex is open to take a look at the future of Chinese art, built upon the thousands of years of preexisting Chinese art.

Explore CSTAT: The Tipsy Bean

For the longest time ever, College Station never really had its own local coffee shop (minus Sweet Eugene’s, which has been around for a couple years now and is definitely a staple now). But with its recent expansion, especially in the south of the city and near campus, we’ve seen quite the influx of new restaurants and shops (both local and branches).

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Explore CSTAT: Yangtuo Club

Back in Ames, I mentioned that a lot of the Chinese restaurants were so good because they were authentic, but it turns out I’ve found my new favorite Chinese restaurant here in College Station!

Yangtuo Club is tucked into a small shopping center, so it’s quite easy to miss. They’ve got quite a few options as for what to eat: you can get the dry hot pot for 9.99$/lb — meaning, you can add whatever the heck you want for that price per pound, an all-you-can-eat hot pot buffet, where you can chose the level of spice for the soup base, as well as noodles and fried rice. We decided to get the dry hot pot, which my mom and I spend a solid ten minutes choosing what kinds of meats and vegetables we wanted. There was quite the variety of each: for the meat, there was chicken, lamb, beef, pork (and in different styles, too) and seafood; for vegetables, there were bean sprouts, cabbage, different herbs, mushrooms, wood ear, tofu, cauliflower, bokchoy, etc.

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Explore Iowa: Des Moines

Des Moines, the capital of the lovely state of Iowa, is also the most populated city in Iowa and has been called “the center for U.S. insurance companies.” Now, I don’t care too much about that particular fact, but Des Moines is also the site of first caucuses during the US presidential primaries, and many campaign headquarters are set in Des Moines (now, that’s pretty interesting!)

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Explore Iowa: Szechuan House & 888 restaurant (Ames)

For such a small city like Ames, the number of Chinese restaurants is actually quite large. Even better, these restaurants are probably some of the most authentic Chinese places I’ve been to here in the U.S. (of course, outside those in Chinatown). Back in College Station, we have a few Chinese restaurants, but most either cater towards more Westernized tastes or are just lacking in quality.


szechuan house

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Explore Iowa: Flame & Skewer (Ames)

Flame & Skewer is a small, nice Greek family steakhouse located with the North Grand Mall, about a short ten minute drive from where our apartments are located. A few of my friends and I headed out to go see Incredibles 2 (which, if you haven’t seen it yet, I would highly recommend; it made the inner ten-year-old in me extremely happy to see my favorite superheros back on the screen!), and before the movie, made a stop by Flame & Skewer to grab a quick dinner.

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Explore CSTAT: Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe

Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe was started in the Dallas/Fort Worth area in 1991, and has since expanded all over Texas, including to College Station! I don’t recall it seeing it before leaving for Austin last fall (or maybe it was already there…), so this summer was the first time that my parents and I went together (they’d gone a few times earlier this year).

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Explore CSTAT: First Watch

As many of y’all know, I’m from College Station, Texas, a small college town located between the three big cities of Houston, Austin and Dallas. As many of y’all also know, I like to call out CSTAT for being one of the more boring towns, with nothing to do. BUT, CSTAT actually isn’t that bad, and has quite a decent amount of places with good food, so it’s time for a change. Now, let’s focus on the gems of CSTAT, because you know, there are quite a few!

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