Delta Flight 5781: SEA to SFO

Last Sunday, on my flight from Seattle to San Francisco, I was one of six passengers on the plane.

As someone who has begrudgingly accepted the increasingly crowded world of air travel, this was a complete shock. So I figured that I would share my experience. After all, it might be my only flight where the pilot delivers his announcements to the passengers face to face.

Early last week, I decided at the last minute to head up to Seattle for the weekend to visit Jie’s family for Chinese New Year. Jie was driving up earlier in the week so I would have to fly alone. Ticket prices were predictably sky high only a few days out so, on a lark, I decided to go on Priceline to see if I could snag a cheap ticket.  Read more of this post


GORUCK Training…132 Days to Go

To get ready for the GORUCK Heavy in May, I need to start acclimating to long stretches with a weighted pack on my back. The 24 hour plus race requires you to wear 35lbs of weight plus food and water on your back the whole time while doing a variety of physical challenges, including running. I want to make sure that on race day I am as comfortable as possible moving with a lot of weight on my back.

This afternoon, I filled my travel backpack with an assortment of dense, heavy items add weight (bags of rice and flour, cans of beans and tuna). The bag probably weighed 40-50 lbs. Read more of this post

Disneyland…The Most Commercialized Place On Earth?

The Holiday Season. A time for family, merriment and bringing out your inner child. All three came together this past Christmas as Jie and I drove down to LA to spend a long weekend with my family, meeting my baby nephew, Max, for the first time.

We also had a roller coaster ride of an experience at Disneyland that, for me, shined a very different light on the Happiest Place on Earth. Read more of this post

My First Steps Towards GORUCK

To prepare for the GORUCK Heavy in May, I recently completed the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) to get a baseline of my current fitness level. I welcomed 2015 by doing this test at a local high school track in Seattle, alongside Jie’s brother Lex.

The APFT consists of: 1) as many pushups as you can do in 2 minutes 2) as many situps as you can in 2 minutes and 3) a timed 2 mile run. Between each event there is a 2 minute rest.

I must confess that when I first saw this, I thought to myself, this can’t be too hard. Sure that’s a long time to be doing pushups and situps but I frequently run much longer than 2 miles. At most, this would take less than 25 minutes and be a good warmup.

Boy, was I wrong! Read more of this post

Expat Life in China

Jie and I were recently interviewed on The Common People Podcast. The podcast is run by high school classmate and friend Jason Halpern, who asked us about our time living in Shanghai and traveling through Asia.

I have not had the chance to listen to the full episode yet but as a big podcast listener, it was a lot of fun appearing in one for the first time.

Feel free to listen to the episode here:

GORUCK in May – I Hope I Make It

I know that it has been a few months since my last post. But I hope that a new fitness challenge will get me back to regular updates.

This week, my brother Dan and I signed up for the GORUCK Heavy, a 24 hour, 40+ mile team adventure race that is several notches above the Tough Mudder intensity.

As if the time and distance weren’t difficult enough, you need to carry a 35lb rucksack for the entire race, not too mention enough food, water and extra sets of dry clothing to keep you going. Check out the recommended packing list. Read more of this post

Davis Labor Day Trip

Over Labor Day weekend, Jie and I had the pleasure of heading up to Davis with our friend Alan and his buddy John, two Davis natives, who were able to give us the inside scoop on this college town less than two hours from San Francisco.

The trip began auspiciously with a stopover in Fairfield to visit the Jelly Belly Factory. For a jelly bean lover like me, this free factory tour is worth it for all of the free samples that we had at the end. Yes, I overdid it, but when else will I get the chance to sample such diverse flavors as tabasco, draft beer and vomit (yes, they have a line of Harry-Potter inspired disgusting flavors that actually taste disgusting)?

The tour itself was schmaltzy, and the tributes across the factory to Ronald Reagan were a bit puzzling, but this was a cool off-beat tourist activity. If you have kids I would definitely recommend it.

Read more of this post

Interview with Ed Yap

To incorporate some new travel insights to this site, I invited my good friend and fellow Stanford alum Ed Yap to answer some questions on travel. I would love to do more of these interviews so please send me your feedback on questions that you liked or didn’t like. I want this Q&A to improve as much as possible over time to suit people’s interests.

When I asked Ed to describe his travel background, he said, “travel has always been a part of my life. When I was 10 years old, my family hopped on a plane from Asia and left for the United States. However, it wasn’t until a much later trip to France and a newfound curiosity for other cultures, people, and places that I got bit by the travel bug. That curiosity has fortunately made exploration a big part of my life and has helped bring me to many different parts of the United States and the larger world. Today, I continue to follow that desire to explore to see deeper and wider into the world we’re in.”

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Ed Yap…in action


Without further ado, here is our Q&A:

Tell me about how your love of travel started.
It really started with a college overseas study program in Paris. I had traveled before to visit one of my brothers in the Philippines, and visit various Southeast Asian countries with him, but Paris was a first for me in many ways. It was the first time I made decisions on where to go, the first time I visited a country without knowing the language well, and so the first time I got my traveling legs.

Read more of this post

Welcoming My Wife to the Raw Focus Team

I am very happy to announce that this weekend I married the wonderful Jie Lei at the City Club of San Francisco.

In her new role, Jie will be the new permanent guest contributor to this blog, a well deserved promotion after the great work that she did recounting our time in Panama🙂

While we are not planning on taking a honeymoon right away, we have discussed a very ambitious honeymoon itinerary including several countries that I have yet to visit: Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. We welcome your input on planning the best honeymoon.

Hearst Castle Road Trip

Jie and I recently decided to take a pre-wedding weekend road trip so that she could visit Hearst Castle for the first time. Not only would we get the chance to see a national landmark (famed home of early 20th century newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst) but it would also give us the chance to do another scenic drive along Highway 1.

I purchased tickets for a Hearst Castle tour late Saturday morning, which I thought would give us the chance to drive down Friday night and sleep in the next morning.

In retrospect, I should have looked at accommodation first because when I searched for hotels and B&Bs in the area, I was floored. Hotels/motels in nearby San Simeon and Cambria started at nearly $200/night for place with poor reviews on TripAdvisor. Anything decent was either snatched up or $350+/night. Even expanding my search to a broader area along the coast and inland towards Paso Robles yielded nothing of promise.

All B&Bs along the coast require a minimum of two nights stay during the summer weekends. Of the dozen or so that I called, hoping for a break on the minimum stay, all were fully booked for the weekend. Read more of this post

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