Studio Still Life



My photography professor once told me “one of the keys to success is patience and another is preparation.” And it’s true for everything we do in life. Below is nothing but a white cube made out of a 4×4 wood painted in white. But creating a perfect isometric view with different shade of light on all 3 facets required a lot of patience, planning and the ability of imaging the end results.












Mt Umunhum road cycling

Mt Umunhum is finally open.  I believed it was a military base at some point.  The view from the summit is spectacular.  One side is the valley and the other side is the ocean (on a clear day).

The ride up to the summit is definitely challenging, not a beginner ride.  There is a whole network of trail below the summit that you can check out.  Definitely worth a visit.


Autumn in Eastern Sierra


The drive to the eastern sierra is definitely long but very scenic.  You’ll be rewarded with so many photo stops along the way that it did not feel like driving.  Growing up in Saigon there were only wet and dry seasons. And in the Bay Area autumn is quite subtle. I hardly notice that it’s here.


By far it is my favorite time of the year. I love everything about it. Just simply beautiful.  Mammoth Lakes is a small town and unlike the Bay Area, everyone here seems very relax.  No one was in a hurry.  You can actually sit and enjoy your morning coffee.


The first few steps with a heavy bag weren’t easy.  But once things we found along the trail started taking over, we just forgot how much weight we were carrying.  It was a tough choice between the PCT and the River trail.  Some locals suggested to take the River trail out and come back on the PCT. So we did. Both are equally stunning.

The temperature over night was below zero. Water left outside was frozen. It was cold.  But when the sun came out, I could feel its warmth.  As we sat there enjoying our freshly brewed coffee and taking in the morning view, I realized we know very little about California.  We barely scratched its surface.


Complete trip photos:


Desolation Wilderness


I hardly noticed the existence of summer this year.  It came and went while I tried to battle my jet lag and adjusting myself between countries.  Summer by definition is backpacking, long bike ride to the coast and climb a mountain.  I got none of those activity in.


Luckily in California I can stretch summer out a little longer.  I have been wanting to backpack in the Desolation Wilderness for quite some time now but never got around to do it.  It requires a bit of planning and obtaining wilderness permit.  And that does not taken coordinating with others if I want company into account.  That part seems a lot harder then obtaining a permit itself.


Over the year I am comfortable with adventuring out alone including spending days in the wilderness.  Lack of company doesn’t bother me much.  Perhaps it bothers me more if there’s one.  I came to realize that if you want to something in life, just go get it.  Otherwise nothing will ever happen if you wait for others.


There are pros and cons for doing things solo.  I, sometimes, could use an extra pair of hands – but I manage to improvise.  I might have to carry more load for going solo but sometimes the thoughts are more heavy.  I can travel at my own pace and take as many photos as I fancy.  No one there to hurry or slow me down.

All in all, Velma lakes are pretty awesome and easy to get to.  Well about 4-5 miles hike with ~1,800-2,000 ft of elevation gain on the way in.  From there if you pack enough food, there are a lot more to explore.

Happy camping.  More photos are here



Ancient temples


Sunrise on the back of Angkor Wat

At 4.30am, the ticket office was full of people.  I thought I was early but there were so many people in front of me.  The advantage of travelling alone is that I was in and out in 15 minutes.  The ticket purchasing process was not all that bad but if you’re in a big group, it can be awhile.


After 2 temples, my legs were tiring.  It was hard to appreciate the beauty around when tiring and surrounded with a lot of people.  Until now processing all these photos again, I realized how beautiful this place is.  I thought Ayutthaya was big.  This area is a lot bigger.






I find these trees wrapping are amazing.


Something just can’t be described in words.  These settings are surreal.


Coffee and endurance ride

Beginning this year embarked on a new adventure – introducing fresh roast Vietnamese coffee beans to the USA.  It is and will be a long, hard road ahead but I think it worth a try.  I think Vietnamese coffee has a lot of offer.  It is just a matter of finding and cultivating the right source.

I had brought back a small amount and been roasting in my garage.  Over this past weekend I was invited to spectate the 33rd Fireworks Endurance Ride (horse event) in Santa Cruz.  To contribute to my free entry, I brought along with me fresh roasted beans 2 days before and a couple sets of pour over to serve the horse community in the morning.  It was a great turn out and gave me more fuel to continue.

For more information about the coffee, please visit


Angel Island


It took me over twenty five year of living in the Bay Area to set foot on this island, and finally I did over the weekend.  It takes an hour drive and another 30 minutes ferry to get on this island, but all worth it.  Definitely do the hike to Mt Livermore.  It takes about 2h30m round trip with stops along the way for photos and water breaks.  The total elevation gain is only 800ft.


I asked myself why haven’t I been here?




My whole body was covered in salt, I was half baked, but the cool AC air and a cold root beer in a cafe felt so good.  My co-worker stared blankly at me and offered me his registration to the Death Ride, which will take place in 3 weeks.  “Thanks, I don’t have any desire to suffer”, I shook my head.  If the same offer was made 2 years ago, I’d snatch that up in a heart beat.


Listened to my co-workers’ conversation about their training plan for the event during our drive up to Markleeville sent a chill down my spine.  The 12+ hours of physical suffering and mental challenge sounded so foreign to me, even though it was only last year I completed the 200 miles ride from Mt Diablo to Mt Hamilton.


As a matter of fact, seeing people get excited about simple things like this and pushing their limit made me wanting to join them on their training rides even more.  I was once in their shoes and would be dying for someone to show me the rope, encouraged me to go outside of my comfort zone.  It is time for me to return the favor.


Ride photos:


Marshland art


It’s nice to be home, again.  The weather here is extremely odd.  Cold, hot, cold.  Even rained in June, that was the first time I experienced such thing.

Coyote Hills is a neat little place.  I’ve ridden my road bike through here a couple of times but climbed to the top of the hill and looked down is a completely different experience.  The wildlife here is rich with many varieties of bird.  It was very windy during my visit there, strong enough to shake my camera.  I was told winter time is a great time to visit.  The bayview trail to the west side of the park is a great walk with San Francisco in sight.  The hike is not all that difficult, mostly flat and exposed.  Go check it out!







Few more photos here