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Five Coffee Shops in Oakland to Visit

Two and a half years ago, I made the drive from Philadelphia to Oakland. And this upcoming Monday, Will and I are going to making the drive back! Yes, if you haven’t heard already, we are going to move back to Pennsylvania, at least for a few months. Now that we’re leaving, I’ve been discovering a ton of places that I want to explore and eat at. I keep wondering to myself, “HOW have we been here for three years and we never went to THAT place?!” But then I remember – cooking at home saves money, and we actually like to cook! I guess it always happens like that, though. You sort of hate the place you live but then once you’re about to leave, you start meeting new people you could have been friends with and you start finding new favorite restaurants. Womp womp.

One of the things I really loved about being in Oakland is that it actually reminds me a lot of Philadelphia. I find the people in Oakland are more down to earth, and there are pockets of culture all around the city. Many neighborhoods here also remind me of specific neighborhoods of Philly, which is pretty cool. Oakland has a lot to offer, and is a great place to visit or live. There are so many local businesses and definitely many coffee shops in Oakland! I love spending time working in cafe’s, and this year, I’ve learned to enjoy my coffee black, which also means I’ve learned to appreciate the flavors of different types of coffee. There are so many places one could visit, but here are a few of my recommendations for coffee shops in Oakland 🙂

Black Spring Coffee Company

I stumbled across this coffee shop on a walk around the area as I waited for Will to finish a doctor’s appointment. It’s spacious and a great place to come work on your computer, read a book, or meet a friend. If you stay in and get a coffee mug (instead of a to-go cup), you get free self-serve refills! They have two or three canisters that are different types of coffee, so you can try a mug of each flavor if you really wanted to. I’m not a big fan of coffees that are too sour or acidic, and apparently, neither is the store owner, who serves an Indian roasted coffee that is known to be the least acidic. I’ve found the coffees at Black Spring to all be really great! They are also known for their Malabar drink, a shaken drink involving 2 shots of espresso, sugar syrup, and milk. Even though I didn’t get to frequent this shop as often as I’d like, I would consider Black Spring to be one of my favorite coffee spots of all time.  2930 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609 (Pill Hill Neighborhood, near Piedmont Ave) Continue Reading


Five Days in Seoul, South Korea

me nerding out in front of the coffee prince coffee shop 😀

Seoul is a lot like being in LA, but with a convenient metro system. Everyone is really stylish and it sort of makes you embarrassed to not look your best. It was such a different feel from Vietnam, where we flew in from, which was raw and grungy. Seoul is hip, fresh, and modern…not to mention, the traffic-laws seem more up to date!

The first thing I noticed when we got off the place in Seoul was the temperature. It was cold! Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam were all hot and humid, and that was the type of weather we had packed for. Fortunately, we had our new custom-tailored jackets that we had just bought in Hanoi. We planned our trip here to match up at a good time to visit his Uncle, and we also got to catch up with my friend, Zoe, whom I hadn’t seen since I met her…6 or 7 years ago? Crazy. As always, I love meeting up with friends in new places; actually, I’ve come to realize that I generally like going out to eat with more people than just Will and I, because that means we can order a wider variety of food 😀

As with every trip that’s under a week, I regretted not being able to stay in Seoul longer.  We stumbled upon a lot of random street fairs and festivals, so there’s always something going on and always something to see. There are so many other parts of Korea that I want to visit, and things to see/do/eat, but I can safely say that I had a good first-round this time. I ate all my favorite foods, bought enough skincare products for a whole year, and got to spend time with some of the best people.

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Street Markets of Old Phuket Town + Last Day Lagoons

Cost Breakdown: 5 days, 5 nights in Old Phuket Town, Thailand

Accommodation – $126 total for 5 nights
Transportation – $42 total (taxi from Thalang to Old Town; tuk-tuk to weekend market; taxi to airport)
Food/Drinks for five days – $45/person
Attractions/Activities – $160/person (3 massages + John Gray’s Hong by Starlight boat tour)

Total: $373/person

Will and I spent the remainder of our time in Thailand in Old Phuket Town. Our first day was uniquely rainy – the river next to our hotel actually flooded and spilled into the roads! The water blocked off the happening part of town for a couple days, but we found things to do in other directions. When we booked our initial flight to Asia, we knew that we were coming during rainy season, but this was only the second time in our whole trip we had a day-changing downpour. The silver lining, though, is that the rest of our time in Thailand felt just a little bit cooler temperature than the rest – still grossly humid, just not as sunny.

A lot of people visit Phuket for its beaches and islands. Old Town is, by contrast, an inland city, but it’s walkable and has a lot of character. Five nights in Old Town might be a little bit much for some vacationers, but we’re not bar people or partiers and it was perfect for us. We love the markets in Asia, and there are a few different night and day markets that happen on different nights of the week in Phuket Town. The colorful buildings in Sino-Portuguese architecture style are charming to stroll past as well. Also, this week Will was getting over some food-illness, so we were more relaxed about our daily activities.

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Waterfalls and Elephants in Phuket, Thailand

Cost Breakdown: 2 days, 1 night in Thalang, Phuket, Thailand

Accommodation – $36 total for 1 night
Transportation – $38 total (taxi from Patong to Thalang; hotel to Phuket Elephant Sanctuary)
Food/Drinks for two days – $9/person
Attractions/Activities – $96/person (Bang Pae Waterfall admission fee + Phuket Elephant Sanctuary Tour)

Total: $179/person

The second leg of our Phuket trip was a dream, and probably my favorite part of Phuket overall. After we caught our bearings in Patong, we headed toward Thalang, located in the northern region of Phuket. The Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, recommended by an elephant-loving friend, and it was a top priority on my Thailand checklist. The Sanctuary offers two 3.5 hour tours a day, one in the morning and the afternoon; I decided on the 9am morning tour because I thought the weather might be cooler, and also because it included being able to feed the elephants some breakfast!

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Four Days in Bangkok, Thailand

Cost Breakdown: 5 days, 2 nights in Bangkok

One way ticket SFO to BKK – $254/person
Accommodation – $110 total
Transportation – $50 total
Food/Drinks for four days – $100/person
Attractions/Activities – $97/person (2 temples, 2 museums, 3 massages)

Total: $611/person

Most videos of Thailand often capture the temples and the nightlife and the chaos of Thailand, but W and I spent our first day meandering around the more-residential neighborhood of our Airbnb, located conveniently surrounded by a coffee shop, restaurant, and food court. After breakfast, we decided our first stop would be to get a much-needed massage, especially after our 16-hour plane ride from the night before, and later that night, met with an old friend of mine that I had met 9 years ago in Taiwan.

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