Monday, December 29, 2014

25 Days of Christmas: A Photo Collection

For the first 25 days of December, I decided to take a daily photo to record the Christmas spirit that I encountered. Part of this was to show the Christmas spirit here in the US to my Singapore friends, while the other part was just trying to get a memorable picture on a daily basis. Whether or not I succeeded, here is the result!  Enjoy.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Holiday lounging

Happy holidays! But with the main festivities now past, everyone at home seems to be snoozing around, playing with the latest gadgets that Santa brought this year. The animals in the house, both plush and real, have been showing us how to unwind like pros.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Christmas in the city

Nighttime strolls through Chicago are rather lovely this time of year. Here, we found ourselves by the Wrigley Building at the start of the Magnificent Mile, aka Michigan Ave.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Letters for Santa

Despite the lack of snow, the Christmas spirit is still soaring here in Chicago. The windows at Macy's on State, formerly Marshall Fields, are one of the must-see attractions every year. Little scenes of holiday spirit are displayed in a row of windows - these were two of my favorites.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: When ugly sweaters are wonderful

'Tis the Christmas season! Which means all of the ugly sweaters get dusted off and brought out for the month of December. These were some especially fantastic ones from the student-faculty party at Loyola last week.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Destination: Bangkok (Part 1)

Bangkok is perhaps the backpacking capital of the world. It is full of amazing sites, friendly locals, and delicious food. So in April, I hopped on a plane and spent a few days in the Thai capital.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Let's go Pens

I attended my first NHL game this past week, with the Penguins falling at home against the not-so-might Carolina Hurricanes. The backup Pittsburgh goalie caught my eye with his autism awareness ribbon, an incredibly worthy cause that I've worked with in the past.

Bonus photo, also from the warm-ups:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Hang On Sloopy

There is nothing quite like a fall afternoon in Columbus, Ohio, with the Buckeyes playing football in November. Living out of state made me realize that I do have a lot of state pride, especially when they dot the I and finish the game with a rendition of Carmen Ohio (literal translation is "Song of Ohio").

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

That time I was in a Bollywood music video in Malaysia

Remember that time last year when I went to Malacca, Malaysia? We had a blast exploring the city, but the most memorable moment happened when we came across some sort of music video shoot. Well, it's a real music video and I finally found it on YouTube! It's Bollywood style, with a bumping beat and lots of choreographed dancing, and overall makes for some fun viewing. Look for us Americans making guest appearances in the first minute or so. Dancing while pedaling undersized bicycles is much harder than you think.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: When fall turns into winter

I snagged this photo last weekend in the woods of New Buffalo, Michigan. It's a beautiful match of the fall trees and leaves on the right giving way to the evergreens on the other side of the road, another reminder that nothing stays constant for too long.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Mirror mirror on the wall

Alternate title: "Grumpy Grandpas." Although we weren't grumpy after spending a weekend on the shores of Lake Michigan. We found this fascinating mirror in a tiny cafe in New Buffalo, Michigan, so we had to snap a pic.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Daily heroes

On Sunday, I was riding along the Blue Line (one of the central Chicago train lines) out to Forest Park when a tall, young man walked into our car. He was tall, a bit heavy-set, and was wearing multiple layers of mismatched clothes to combat the frigid weather. Without looking around, he trudged through and asked whether anyone had some change to spare. It sounded like a well-worn line, certain that everyone would ignore him.

One man on board stared him straight in the eye and asked how old he was. "Twenty-five" was the reply. The older gentleman gently shook his head and began to ask deeper questions, learning where the young fellow was from and where he was going. The latter was frozen, as I doubt anyone had ever talked to him directly in this manner. He eventually sat down next to the older man as he continued to be quizzed.

The older man was well-dressed, and looked tired from a long day of work. He was an attorney, he explained, and had spent many years working in Washington before heading west to Chicago." After learning the young man's full story, the lawyer asked him if he had a driver's license. "No sir," the younger guy said. "Well, I've got lots of people who need drivers right now. You'd have to wear a suit but you can get started right now."

"Thank you, thank you," the younger mumbled. Before he could say anything else, the lawyer said, "Now we've got to get you a suit. What size are you? And what about shirt size?"

The young man was taken aback by this turn of events. Gerald (his name was Gerald) didn't know what his neck size was, presumably because he had never been fitted for a dress shirt before.

After hashing out some more details, the lawyer said "Now all you need to do is show up on Madison and California, Tuesday morning. You got it?" "Yes sir, yes sir" was the reply, as the young man stepped off the train. 

Did Gerald show up this morning? Who knows. But this is the heart of community, where neighbors put themselves out there to help others and break the cycle of poverty. The positive effect of having a job is so much more powerful and sustainable than handing Gerald some loose change. Instead of relying on poverty to do good (ie, giving out money), a legitimate effort was made to halt poverty and give the young man a fresh start. This is the type of leader that I hope I will become, and will start to become today. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Chinatown, Chicago style

We took a trip to the South Side side today to check out the local Chinatown. It was really impressive, and felt way bigger than the Singapore version. A huge lunch, bubble tea, and egg tarts made it a fantastic culinary adventure. I definitely want to make a return trip, sooner rather than later.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Lounging by West Lake

This photo comes from Hangzhou, when I visited back during the summer. The warm weather over the weekend certainly reminded me of the pleasant Chinese climate.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

16-inch Softball Hall of Fame

As I settled into my new home in Forest Park, IL, directly west of downtown Chicago, I came across a big park area, complete with a museum on the western end. One day I decided to explore this place, which turned out to be the national 16-inch Softball Hall of Fame. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Fall has flung

Singapore doesn't have any seasons besides humid and super-humid, so autumn back in the States has been especially wonderful for me this year. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Video! My last 24 hours in Singapore

Here's a quick little compilation of some sights from my last day in Singapore, way back in July. From kabuki dancers to National Day rehearsals, it gives a little taste of the diverse culture found on the Little Red Dot.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: The Foggy Steel City

I had a chance to check out Pittsburgh over my fall break this past week, and it was full of fun surprises. The excellent Andy Warhol museum was one of the highlights, although they had a no-photo policy inside. But this bridge that I had to walk across to get there provided its own scenery.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Destination: Phnom Penh (Cambodia)

One of the jewels of Southeast Asia is unquestionably Cambodia. With its tremendously rich history of kingdoms and religious monuments, to the more troubling history of Pol Pot and his murderous regime in the 1970s, it reflects a complicated reality faced by many of its neighbors. Visiting the capital of Phnom Penh gave me my first glimpse into this convoluted but stunning country. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: A blue-gray October sky

It was a wet and bitter afternoon on Saturday, but days are never dreary on the campus of Notre Dame. Fall foliage still sported its finest colors, and the golden dome is always shining. And as a bonus, the football team came back to defeat Stanford in the final minute of the game.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Wise words from Wes Anderson

Among my collection of Southeast Asia keepsakes sits this quote that a dear friend gave to me on my birthday this past year. From the movie "Fantastic Mr. Fox," it is a pleasant reminder that the crazy mass of humanity in the world is worthwhile because of this diversity. In medical school, it can be hard to keep this in mind, as a torn ACL or a viral infection may be our primary perception of a patient. However, each person has a marvelously different backstory which gives them meaning beyond their medical diagnosis.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

(late) Sunday Snapshot: Studying at Stritch

Sorry sorry, I was a bum and didn't get any photos at all from the last week. But here's a lovely shot of the silent study area at school. It's just me here tonight, trying to learn some muscles of the back after the first day of anatomy. The mosaic on the wall is pretty fantastic, with the Works of Mercy listed across the bottom and various science motifs covering the rest of it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cafe Hopping: Penny University

One of the most prominent cafes on the east side of Singapore is Penny University, located near the shopping and food hub of Katong. So one Saturday evening, my friend and I hoofed it out there to try it out for some late night refreshments.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Cheer cheer for old Notre Dame

This weekend, I took a break from the books and hit the road to watch Notre Dame beat Purdue on Saturday night at a "neutral site" in Indianapolis. It was about 90% Irish fans, with lots of blue and gold jerseys swarming the city. This youngster looks like she's ready to be the next Rudy.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Jazz in the park

This is Millennium Park, one of the best open spaces in the city. Last weekend it played host to the annual Chicago Jazz Festival. Three different stages featured grooving groups throughout the day and night, while the grassy areas were perfect for the younger attendees to run about.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cafe Hopping: Assembly

Meeting with some local students, I suggested we pop by Assembly, a coffee spot located on Evans Road near the Botanic Gardens. This charming little cafe is a bit off of the beaten path for brunchers in Singapore, but well worth the visit, with the best coffee and waffle combination that I've had in Singapore.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: The Bucket Boys

The Bucket Boys are a group of young guys from the South Side who bring some crazy drumline skills to the 5 gallon buckets you see above. I've seen them multiple times, both in Chicago and in South Bend when they participated in a concert, so I was quite excited to see them again. Sadly, they didn't remember me.

Bonus pic:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Destination: Penang (Malaysia)

Located in the northwest corner of Malaysia, Penang has long been a favorite destination for Singaporeans. With its rich heritage of Malay, Chinese, and European cultures, it has retained this vibrant diversity. The island also boasts of some of the best food in Asia, with a smorgasbord of specialities that attract visitors from far and wide.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: The Lonely Lighthouse

Yesterday myself and my fellow med students at Stritch boarded a small ship to cruise around Lake Michigan. However, with an incredible dense fog, we were soon bobbing with no sight of the city skyline (or anything else). But we did come across the Chicago Harbor Light, a lighthouse that was originally constructed for the 1893 World's Fair here in Chicago.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

An evening aboard the USS George Washington

There are some great perks for doing a Fulbright in Singapore, but nothing tops the extremely close relationship that we have with the local US Embassy. Throughout the year, there are a number of events that help to connect Singaporeans with Americans and to encourage further collaboration between the two nations. This also means that we get access to some amazing things, such as an American air craft carrier, like the USS George Washington.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Fireworks at the ballpark

Fireworks after a Chicago White Sox baseball game, with Frank Sinatra tunes playing in the background. And they didn't even win the game. Fun night out with some of the family.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cafe Hopping: Jimmy Monkey

Whenever I have a project or trip that requires some solid planning, I seem to end up at Jimmy Monkey. Tucked away inside the one-north complex, it is a cozy little cafe whose lovely coffee is brewed by one of the world's most impressive espresso machines - the Slayer. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: The Cloudy City

Had a chance to stroll down the Magnificent Mile today in downtown Chicago, but the sky wasn't really playing its part, as the sun couldn't get through the cloud cover. But I was able to catch this shot of the Hancock Center (left) with the Chicago Water Tower just peeking into the foreground. At least I've got four more years of chances for better photos. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cafe Hopping: Drury Lane

One of the better named cafes in Singapore, Drury Lane occupies a great spot in the heart of Tanjong Pagar. Taking the train from Pioneer, we strolled in to sample out their coffee and cooking during a recent lazy weekend in July.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Day 0

Tomorrow marks the beginning of my next adventure - medical school. Orientation kept us occupied all of last week but classes finally kick off on Monday. Lots of emotions flying around right now: anticipation, excitement, trepidation, uncertainty. But luckily we've got homework to do tonight, so there won't be time to lose myself in all of these. Here's to four years of learning, growing, serving, failing, and healing others at the Stritch School of Medicine - Loyola University Chicago.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Cafe Hopping: The Marshmallow Tree

The Marshmallow Tree is a cafe with a perfect name. Who wouldn't want to spend an afternoon at a place dedicated to marshmallows?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Snapshot, Part 2: America's pasttime

I'm back in the States! And just in time, with summer sports already in full swing. Here in Chicago, a game called 16-inch softball is a huge hit, with adult leagues filling up baseball diamonds throughout town. My neighborhood was overflowing with spectators, who turned the event into a giant BBQ and brewfest. It's good to be back.

Sunday Snapshot: Last meal in Singapore

My final meal in Singapore took place last week at 3AM at Changi Airport. This is the traditional Singaporean breakfast - kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs with soy sauce, and tea (or "teh," in the local lingo). Food has been a central part of my abroad experience, and I'll certainly miss this daily combo.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Kabuki by the Bay

Last night, the Asian Civilisations Museum threw a big cultural fest along the Singapore River, dubbed "River Nights." There was food, music, and these four kabuki dancers, representing the four cultures that all share Singapore as home. Awesome way to close out my time in Singapore. 

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cafe Hopping: Strangers' Reunion

One of my favorite places in Singapore, Strangers' Reunion serves up an Australian cafe experience with a lively crowd, tasty food, and excellent coffee. I have a particular soft spot for Strangers, as it was the first cafe that I stumbled into here. My student hostel was a 10 minute walk down the road, and it was here that I wrapped up some applications that I procrastinated on during last summer. But that's another story.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Dog days of summer

My dogsitting duties in Singapore are done, as these two pals have made it back safely to the States. Their incessant barking and licking will be missed, even if they tended to do these things at 3AM every now and then.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Children of Laos

Photos of Laos, now featuring the kids. These were taken all over, from rural farms and Buddhist temples to busy city centres. Almost none of them were camera-shy; they only wanted to see the shot (of themselves) after I had taken the shot. By and large, the children were given lots of freedom to walk around and explore during the day, as their parents were usually busy in the fields or working elsewhere. Their curiosity and openness made my encounters with them incredibly memorable.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The People of Laos

Along with Vietnam, I was able to spend some time in its western neighbor, Laos. Its people rely heavily on farming to get by, as the country is one of the least industrialized places in the world. Even so, the scenery is absolutely stunning and the local hospitality made it one of my favorite countries that I've visited.

All of these pictures, again, hide a story. The picture above is a perfect example. The father, with newborn baby in arm and daughter at his side, tends to the kids while the wife works away at making paper in the background. They generously allowed us into their home, but who knows what struggles they undertook to build it in the first place.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Communist Calisthenics

An evening walk along the riverfront in Vientiane, Laos brought me to this amazing scene - a giant group of people performing coordinated exercises, right beneath the waving Communist colors. Stretching for the greater social good has never been so hip.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Children of Vietnam

I also got plenty of photos of the little ones in Vietnam. The kids were unbelievably friendly, and were tons of fun to play and laugh with. My hope is that these shots, along with pictures from my last post, give some insight into the vibrancy of life within this fascinating country.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The People of Vietnam

Trapaising through Vietnam and Laos a few weeks ago - this was my big trip of the year - I decided to step up my photography game. That is, to take photos of people and try to capture the spirit of many of the local cultures that I encountered. Sure, I ended up with plenty of scenic shots, but it was much more rewarding to do the same with individuals. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: Colorful Clouds at Chinese Garden

I finally ventured out to Chinese Garden last week to stroll around the grounds. Just when I was leaving, the sunset lit up the clouds with stunning shades of orange and blue. It certainly was one of the best evening skies that I've seen so far.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cafe Hopping: Kith Cafe

A recent lazy Sunday brought me back to Kith Cafe at Park Mall, just across the way from Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. This was one of the first places that I visited for brunch back in August, so it was nice to go back and see how it compared with the many other places I've had the chance to sample over this year.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cafe Hopping: W39 Bistro and Bakery

After a long week of work (and dogsitting), I popped over to W39 in West Coast for some dinner and dessert. My Singapore coffee colleagues have dropped this name more than once, but since it is tucked away in an obscure neighborhood out west, this was the first opportunity I had to drop by. But I was quite glad that I did, as the food, dessert, and vibe of W39 made it a winner.