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[Summer] London II – Zachy Zach, Royal Life, Wicked

The title of this post is a quick summary of my first weekend in London, just FYI.

For those of you who don’t follow me on Instagram (which you should: @bchou1234), we went to the Buckingham Palace the very next day. I thought I wasn’t gonna spend any time going sightseeing or going to the touristy spots, but I basically hit all of them this weekend. It was extremely worth it despite it being the third time I’ve visited most of these places. Here’s a picture of my backyard:

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At my home I mean the Palace, there were these people wearing jerseys and singing (I mean more like screaming) their cheer songs. We were very confused at first, but then quickly realized that they were soccer fans and that there was a big soccer game that night – supposedly what the Super Bowl is to the Germans.

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While I was taking some pics of these enthusiastic fans with other tourists, the fans of the other team completely photo destroyed (the next level to photobombing) them. It was really funny, but not to the red team fans.

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And then, a miracle happened. As I said in the previous post, my friend Zach Dorsen was planning on visiting me before he goes back to the States from Paris. Somehow, I firmly believed that he wasn’t going to get here until around 7pm that night, so while walking away from my home I mean the Palace, I saw this guy walking towards us and I thought to myself “wow he looks a lot like Justin (Zach’s twin brother),” but I didn’t realize it was Zach until he came up to me and asked “Bryan?”

I screamed. What are the chances? I couldn’t bring myself to believe that it was actually Zach Dorsen standing in front of me. I honestly believed we were going to have to meet up at the Farringdon tube station (by where my flat is) at 7pm, and even that was going to be a long shot since my phone can’t text or call internationally. ERMERGERD. After totally freaking out in disbelief, we went to get fish & chips because we wanted to have the British experience. It was like pledging: fun experience, but never again.

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Hi Zach!

That night we decided to be classy and went to a wine bar by the flat, and we got bear instead because it was cheaper. It was an easy night; we got home early to get ready for an eventful day tomorrow.

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SUNDAY FUNDAY!

That Sunday, since the other friends decided to go to Greenwich with the program for free, Zach and I went around London to see the touristy places. The weather had been rainy for the past 2 days, and while Zach was in London the weather was perfect. I mean perfect. Our first stop was Hyde Park, partly because of the amazing weather and partly because I’ve never been. The weather completely made the experience. We walked through the park, took pictures here and there, had some amazing conversations, and waited for our British High Tea time.

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Just being really really good looking in Hyde Park

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Just an ad in a telephone booth in London; thought this was so funny

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Say cheese!

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At the food market in Harrods mall

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A teddy bear too big for me to bring home 😦

High tea time started at 3:45pm (for us – it usually starts at noon and goes till 5:30pm) at the Georgian Restaurant on the forth floor of Harrods. Reservation is preferred, but Zach and I were super lucky and there was only an hour wait.

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Sho excited!

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Da tea

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The meals for the afternoon tea are all pre-selected – four sandwiches with one tuna sub, biscuits with amazing butter and jam, and the deserts. They’re all-you-can-eat, and you don’t need to finish everything to ask for more deserts or sandwiches. We didn’t get any more because we didn’t realize that we didn’t have to finish everything and got full from the biscuits. Even though they’re super delicious, be careful if you want more of that delicious little chocolate cake pictured above. Tea time was amazing – amazing service, very nice environment, and wonderful conversations with Zachy Zach. We sat there till 5:30, and then we decided to walk some more to burn off the calories. It’s so difficult being this good looking. We walked to Picadilly Circus – the Time Square of London, except more bars and shops on the streets.

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There were blank sheets of paper where people could draw flags by the Circus. I wanted to draw a Taiwan one, but someone else already did! #TaiwanPride

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Hi guard.

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The London Eye is bigger than my eyes

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What do you mean Big Ben isn’t a person?

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After an amazing walk, the gang went out to some dance clubs in Soho. They were actually dance clubs where people were dance battling and stuff. Check out my Vine videos for the battle:

1. https://vine.co/v/bVUgQwAVKej 

2. vine.co/v/bVUgPjWwdhz 

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Cruising down Soho District in London with my girl Nancie

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Hot juicy sweaty dancing ❤

MONDAY!

Monday continued Zach and my adventure around London like two good-looking tourists. We went to lunch at Wagamama – a nice chain Asian-inspired restaurant in London (and I think around the world?) What can I say? My peeps know how to cook.

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The Tower Bridge

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The wind be hating on my hair

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Model status

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Our view during a quick Starbucks rest

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Had to take da pic.

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We decided to take a boat bus from near the St. Paul’s Cathedral to the London Eye to save some travel time. I also took a Vine video of the bus and you can check it out here: https://vine.co/v/bVVdDhvJE2D 

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St. James’ Park by my house I mean the Buckingham Palace

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The dog looks soooo cute I just had to take a picture

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Back at the Buckingham Palace for Zach’s last day!

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Saw this while walking around and thought this was artsy.

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PUPPY ON TUBE!

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Zach all of a sudden needed to stay in London for an extra night (I bet it’s because of my amazing hospitality), so we decided to go see Wicked because… why not? The British cast did a wonderful job, and the Alphaba in this cast was an amazing singer. She belted that Defying Gravity and For Good so well it drove me to tears!

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Before I finish this post, I’d like to share with y’all that I made it to the London NightClub News Daily for my Vine at the dance club. I thought it was my accomplishment of the weekend. Hope my mom’s as proud of me as I am of myself.

Anyways. Zach left for Paris and is heading back to the States soon for his internship in New York. School started this morning and is very interesting. So far I’ve planned a weekend to Ireland and another to Belgium. Barcelona is on the list and, of course, can’t wait to go to Paris for 3 weeks after this London program.

Everyday I wake up feeling blessed knowing that I’m having the time of my life. Thank you, mom and dad, if you read this far into my blog. Thank you world for being this beautiful, and thank you beautiful people for reading my blog. Now go get a drink to celebrate life.

Love always,

Bryan

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Summer Trip Pt. 2 – London I

Yay! Bryan’s finally arrived in London! How cheeky ❤

However, my traveling to London was actually a struggle train, like this:

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First, I left my house in Taipei at 4:30am to catch my 7am flight to Hong Kong. After hours of planning on sleeping, I realized I didn’t have any more time to sleep. Oops. After getting to the airport super fast because, well, there was no one on the road at 5 in the morning, they asked me to take an earlier flight to Hong Kong so I’d have more layover time there to catch my flight to London.

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There goes Bryan! Bye Taiwan!

After many struggles, I’ve finally arrived at London, but little did I know that the real struggle had just begun. One, I was stuck at the airport for an hour after my arrival because something went wrong with my ride to the apartment I’m supposed to stay at.

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But look at a brighter side, I finally came back to London since November! (Thanks Foursquare for reminding me about O’Neill’s haha definitely going back this summer!)

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Only in London

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Just another look of London, yet absolutely stunning

I got to the apartment, but realized I didn’t have a towel. Then, I found out that I didn’t get the two required books for the class this summer (hopefully my professor doesn’t see this blog. Oops!) and then the shower had low water pressure, most of the plugs in the flat don’t work, and the TV won’t turn on. And it hasn’t stopped raining since I got here. The weather is a lot colder than expected, but I packed one light sweatshirt and 4 pairs of shorts. Oops. On top of that I got a really bad eye infection in the morning – I wanted to share a picture, but let’s be honest, there’s already enough ugly pictures of Bryan circulating the World Wide Web.

This all sounds pretty awful, but somehow I’m still really digging London. The second day, my roommate Paige and I went on an adventure where I bought a very nice towel, a very nice jacket because I didn’t expect London to still be this cold at the end of May/June, and an umbrella that lasted for about, um, 10 minutes. We found this little cute pasta place by Bond Street tube station, so we decided to check it out. The restaurant was so high tech that we didn’t know what to do. Thankfully the employees there were very helpful and nice; they guided us through the steps of how to order on that giant touch screen. (The restaurant is called Love’s Fresh Pasta. Definitely check it out!) You could select the kind of pasta you want, the kind of sauce, any drinks you want to have, and the cheese on top of your pasta all by yourself.

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Paige ordering via the touch screen

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I got me some pesto! ❤

And then, we ran across this very old fashioned tube station, which is the first one I’ve seen for having been to London three times already. I thought it was really cool, so I tourist it out a little.

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At night, we met up with our professor for some Indian dinner at Masala Zone, which is by the Palace Theater (literally across the street.) The decor was very interesting, with, I’d assume, Indian dolls handing from the ceiling and Indian music playing in the restaurant. The restaurant itself was actually huge with a basement, which is where we ate. We had a great first dinner together with the Advertising group – this is a group of kids you’d expect to be in the advertising business. Just like our Professor Brian Sheehan said, “You only live once.” This summer is definitely going to be an amazing experience!

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My roommie Paige and I in a shameless selfie

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Restaurant decoration

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Menu

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Kebab for starter!

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This is what I had for dinner. It was absolutely delicious, but I was so full afterwards. I don’t usually eat till that full, but it was a free meal. One does not simply say no to a free meal.

After the dinner, we decided to go out. I suggested O’Neill’s Pub by Picadilly Circus because the last time I went in November I had a wonderful time (HELLO PRINCESSES!). Somehow all the SU people in the London program showed up, and we took over. Saw a few bar fights, was forced to drink beer by some German guy, danced Gangnam Style, and yelled a lot. What an amazing night.

I’m actually heading out to the Buckingham Palace tour right now (my first time being inside!) and tonight we welcome Zach Dorsen’s visit from Paris and then it’s London round 2! I’m very excited for this summer and can’t wait for my next blog post!

Again, thanks for reading about my life. I love you.

*hair flip*

Bryan

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Pre-Departure Thoughts – London here I come!

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Photo taken during my Thanksgiving trip to Europe with the best princesses and my inspiration for the name of this blog Christina Fieni and Ally Santillo in 2012 ❤ Can’t believe I’m going back again!

I’m leaving for London in about 12 hours, and this time I’ll be there for 6 weeks with Syracuse University’s Comparative Cultures in Advertising summer program. I am beyond excited despite this being my third time visiting London. 

I’m excited because this time I’m going for a whole different purpose. My first time was a family trip, and my second time was for sight-seeing, touring, and pub-hopping. There will of course be some sight-seeing and definitely a lot of pub-hopping this summer, but I’m more excited to really dig into the local pop culture and custom and try to understand Britain in a different perspective. 

This summer, I also have the opportunity to visit around Europe while I’m in London. So far, I’ve planned visiting a great friend in Germany and visiting Belgium with my PhiDelt little (can’t wait to see you!)! After my 6 weeks in London, I’ll be spending another 3 weeks in Paris to study Design through Parsons The New School. This will be my forth time in Paris, but somehow every time I still fall in love with this amazing city. 

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I’m also excited for my friends to come visit and explore the city and fun with me. I’m also excited to practice my French where I’ll be ordering lunches with difficult names for my friends and moi (see what I did there? Haha!). Hopefully I’ll have time between school and fun to manage this blog! 

I feel very fortunate for these opportunities. I absolutely love traveling – I always feel more informed, more connected, more mature, and more enriched after a visit to somewhere I’m not too familiar or comfortable with. Some of the most important lessons I’ve learned about how I want to live my life have come from outside the classroom, so hopefully I’ll be able to put myself in situations where I can fully explore these places and also my perspective. 

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Europe here I come! Here’s to a great summer and amazing stories to share! Hopefully I’ll come back more grown up, more experienced, and most importantly in one piece. 

xo,

Bryan

 

 

ps. be sure to follow my trip via my Instagram and Twitter: bchou1234

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#Inspiration

We all need inspirations sometime in our lives, and the last time I needed one was about 2 days ago. Oh, when I say inspiration I mean something more along the lines of motivation, like being inspired to be motivated, yeah?

Your parents will never tell you that you’re not the best while you’re growing up. Honestly, for about 99.9% of us, we’re never the best at anything – drawing, design, writing, photography, or whatever your interest may be. To say otherwise is to be foolish and naive, and everyone prefers to be knowledgable than stupid, right?

Now, knowing and accepting this, how can we still try to find that inspiration?

The following image was sent to me by one of my dearest friends, Vania Myers (shout out to you hey girl hey!), who, like me, aspires to work in the creative communications field. I think the message is too powerful to not share, so here it is.

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click on the image to enlarge and read it!

Boom. There it is. Inspiration taken from other people’s experiences, well, at least for people in the creative field, but the message behind it is the same. Now I have a confession to make. When I said “about 99.9% of us, we’re never the best at anything,” I lied. All of us are assured to be good at one thing, and that is to be ourselves. I know, cheesy, blah blah blah, but it’s the truth, and to find ourselves within our work, we must practice and then practice some more.

We might face rejections, but that only means we’re not good enough YET. We will get there, as long as we have our inspiration, believe in what we do, and practice what we do.

One last thing before you go:

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Now go out there and conquer the world, you monkeys.

xo, Bryan

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Summer Trip Pt. 1 – Dubai and Abu Dhabi

So this summer (2013), I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Dubai, United Arab Emirates for 4 days (even though I had to literally take 3 final exams, turn in a portfolio, and pack for summer storage as well as say goodbyes to people in 1.5 days). The trip was absolutely breathtaking.

I’ve always been a traveler – been to almost every country in Asia and constantly traveling around North America and Europe – but I never had the change to go to the Middle East before this. To be honest I didn’t really know what to expect; I think it’s mainly because I had been too busy trying to finish everything on time. I’m gonna go right into when I landed in DXB after a 6 hour flight next to an old lady who apparently didn’t know what deodorant was.

The scale of everything in Dubai is absolutely crazy. Here’s a picture of my mom and I when I came out from customs at the airport.

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You can like totes see the color use and the quality of materials used are different from anything in North America. There weren’t that many people at the airport when I landed, probably because it was pretty late at night, and most importantly there weren’t that many Asians. I literally forgot I was Asian until I got to the airport because everyone was staring at me like I’m a unicorn. (I mean, you never know, I could be a unicorn) The airport was giant with free wi-fi. Walking from my gate to the luggage area took me about 5 minutes, and when I got there the luggages were already out (impressive!).

Next Day

The very next morning we went to the Burj Al Arab, a 7-star hotel shaped like a boat. It’s one of the  if not the most famous architecture in Dubai. Here’s a magnificent picture of it:

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My only regret is not taking a picture with Burj Al Arab, but we couldn’t stop the car in the middle of the street. Here’s a pic of the view you see once you walk in: synchronized water fountain with gold everywhere. (If you wanna see another view of the inside of Burj Al Arab, check out my Vine at the username bchou1234)

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Fun fact: They require you to wear long pants that are not jeans and also proper shoes. T-shirts aren’t allowed either. For women, you gals have to wear long-sleeve shirts or have a sweater to cover up because it’s considered “polite” dress code. Imagine wearing all that in 90 degree humid weather. However, it’s completely understandable because who wants tourists wearing tank tops and booty shorts walking around in a 7-star hotel?

Here’s a picture of my first authentic meal at the Burj Al Arab. It’s all over the place in terms of the actual food on the plate, but I enjoyed it very very much. Fun fact: you have to have a restaurant or have to stay at the hotel in order to be let into Burj Al Arab.

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Snapping a classic tourist pic sporting my camera bag 😀

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After lunch, we went to Old Dubai where we got to see local architecture styles with fun souvenirs, little things, and amazing picture locations.

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Gotta love Middle Eastern humor. #LOL

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Later, we stopped by Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, for a night view over Dubai. It took the elevator one minute to go 452.1 m, making it one of the fastest elevators in the world as well.

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The Dubai Fountain at Dusk from Burj Khalifa

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Next Day

We headed to Palm Atlantis the next day. Being a very tourist-friendly and “modern” hotel, I was finally able to wear shorts (THANK BUDDHA!). Palm Atlantis is a very unique place because it’s entirely human-built – using rocks from the other side of the Persian Gulf. #OnlyInDubai

Here’s some pictures of Palm Atlantis from the Monorail:

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I am captured in the same photograph with the Persian Gulf

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Later that day, we went into the heart of the desert, about 50 miles away from Dubai, for some safari (sand-surfing in the car). It’s a lot more exciting/exhausting than you think. Safari really isn’t easy on the driver or on the passengers. I was sitting all the way in the back, and I thought I was going to vomit multiple times. Here’s a view of the desert from the car. It’s absolutely breathtaking. Also, if you want to see safari in action, check out my Vine at bchou1234. It’s like you’re there too.

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I came. I saw. I conquered.

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Trying to be artsy with my shots

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Team tourist I mean team safari

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My parents killing it.

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The sun and I are kind of best friends.

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My usual relationship with my dad

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After the safari, the program treated us to a camp dinner in the middle of the desert.

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The camp.

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At the camp, one can dress up and experience local cultures. As much as I love this picture and the experience, I don’t think I can pull off this look as well as the Arabian men, mainly because I don’t have strong face features.

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I honestly look HUGE in this picture, but the eagle flapping its wings is so epic (and scary). #FakeSmile

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My first time seeing a camel/riding one!! They’re actually very tall, and they go up and come down so fast that you can easily fly out from its back. It happened to a lot of people that were there, but since Bryan is so incredibly strong, I held on, like a boss.

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Smoking Shisha

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Local “Luna Dance” – very very impressive where he started with one plate and gradually moved on to 6 and then came back to one again – all of that while spinning in one spot nonstop.

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And then he turned into a peacock.

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An electrical peacock

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Bryan’s always happy to see food. #Doh

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Belly dance. I’m really not too sure if she’s from the area because, based on how conservative people were towards women according to my observations, I don’t think women there would go anywhere close to learning let alone performing belly dancing.

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Next Day

Boom. Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi is only about an hour away from Dubai, so we stopped by Ferrari World on our way to spend the day in Abu Dhabi.

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Fastest roller coaster in the world. The speed is about the same as when  you race a car in a Ferrari in F1. If you want to actually see how fast this moves, feel free to visit my Vine at bchou1234!

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Money shot.

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The whole point of visiting Abu Dhabi was to see the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque – the 3rd largest but the most expensive mosque in the world (it costs about $545 million). In the picture attached, you can see that the gold on top of the buildings are actually real gold – which is also used throughout the prayer rooms as well.

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A view by the entrance to the Mosque. Over 90 degrees out and we’re required to wear long pants that are not jeans. Sigh.

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View from the entrance. Yes, that’s real gold. No we couldn’t take any.

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Behind me, you’ll see Swarovski crystal lights – the largest ones in the world as well. I felt like everything is in UAE, and everything I saw was either the largest of the most expensive or the tallest. Must be so much pressure living here.

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Prayer room. These are usually not open for non-Islams but since this Mosque is so new, they’re opening it for tourism reasons.

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The dress code.

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The three Swarovski lights

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After a very hot visit to the Mosque, we headed towards the Palace Hotel for lunch. Again, if you’re not a guest of the hotel, you would not be allowed in unless you have a restaurant reservation. This hotel was an actual palace – like for kings and stuff – and is ranked a 8-star hotel.

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All you see is REAL gold.

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Accidentally kind of matching with my dad.

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Real gold behind the flowers. #OnlyInAbuDhabi

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The deserts drive me WILD. #Nom

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The Persian Gulf in the back, right by the hotel and the restaurant.

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How I usually am around my parents, or anyone for that matter.

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And we came back to Dubai for the last night. The end.

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Overall, I’d say this was once in a life time experience for me. Having been to a lot of places, the UAE was so different that I really could not compare it to anything I had already known – I was just amazed for all 4 days. The good thing is that despite their accent, everyone there spoke really good English. There was no problem traveling around and ordering at restaurants. Surprisingly, there were a lot of Russians and not as many Americans as I’d expected.

One fun thing that I didn’t get a chance to capture on camera was that there were many different colors on the top of the taxis – blue, red, pink, etc. Every color except for pink are driven by male taxi drivers. Everywhere we went, there was a lot of separation between men and women; it was very interesting to see.

I am currently home for 2 weeks and then heading to study abroad in London for the majority of the summer, followed by a design program in Paris afterwards. I hope to travel around Europe like I’ve always wanted to, and I will share pictures and stories with this blog throughout the summer. Feel free to follow my adventures with me and give me tips on where to go!

If you just cannot get enough of my face or my trip, feel free to visit my Twitter, Instagram and Vine:

Twitter: @bchou1234

Instagram: instagram.com/bchou1234

Vine Username: bchou1234

Thank you so much for reading this. Now go do something useful.

Peace, love, Bryan.