Nova Scotia

How long has it been since I was last here… babies conceived during the last time I updated have already been born.

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The past year has been a whirlwind of mostly me, well…

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You get the picture.

Anyway, this summer I went to visit a place that was next to ocean, lots of seafood and rain.
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Nova Scotia!!!

I’ve been hearing many good things about the Maritimes and Atlantic Canada. Most of my friends have not been there, so I went with my grad school friends, Kelly and Xinyu. I really enjoyed it, next time I might go all out Anne of Green Gables and visit P.E.I.?

Our first stop was Mahone Bay which was close to Lunenberg. We stayed at the Kip and Kaboodle Backpacker’s Hostel for one night.

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The owner Greg was a very kind man, originally from New Zealand.

The first day we spend walking around Mahone Bay, which literally had just one of everything. (Except for restaurants, there were maybe three or four of them)

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The people in this town were super nice! This small town of… 900 people. We were obviously tourists being the only Asian people in town… and carrying a selfie stick with us.

The next day we went to Lunenberg.

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Lunenberg! Managed to catch a glimpse of the Bluenose, which in case you didn’t know is that boat on the Canadian dime. How’s that for important boats.

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After our day trip to Lunenberg, we went over to Halifax, where we stayed at St Mary’s University. It was quite affordable and close enough to the city that we could walk there.

When we were in Halifax, we did this tour of the downtown area on this unusual amphibious vehicle that goes on both land and water.
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They say if you walk down Spring Garden Road, you will bump into someone you know. Well, we don’t know anyone in this town, but we saw this lady the first time in the McDonald’s washroom and the second time outside the Central Library. We also saw a Japanese couple twice as well as this kid we originally saw at the Seaport Farmer’s Market. No joke.

We spent 2 days in Halifax and on our final day, we managed to book a tour to Peggy’s Cove on our last day.

Asked this lady to take a photo of us with the iconic Peggy’s Cove lighthouse.
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I mean, when you visit a fancy lighthouse and ask for a photo, I think it’s safe to say you want the fancy lighthouse in it.

We were better off with our selfie stick.

Anyway before we left, my friend Kelly picked up 3 lobsters at the airport because did you
know you can buy live lobsters at the airport.

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That is a wrap for my trip around Nova Scotia! Honestly, it was quite different from the usual vacations I take. I can no longer look at lobsters without thinking about how weird they look.

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Ning goes to Bangkok

Bangkok! South East Asia’s City of Angels.

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I love Bangkok, I’ve been here a few times. The food is great, the people are friendly, and the shopping is pretty awesome.

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I noticed that Thai school kids are always looking at their smartphones… and many of them have braces.

First thing you notice when you land in Thailand is the roaring tourist trade.

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This was especially true when I visited the Grand Palace. Floods of tourists everywhere.

English is not widely spoken here, but they smile a lot.

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The hotel I stayed at had no wifi in the room, so I had to run down to the lobby every time I wanted to go online.

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Many of the guests were sitting on the lobby sofas checking their facebook or whatever.

This was quite inconvenient for us 21st century folk. Everyone is always glued to their screens nowadays. How can I be disconnected from the rest of the world???

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When I was in the elevator, my ambiguous nationality piqued one little Chinese girl’s interest.

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It’s always interesting to visit Chatuchak weekend market which sells all sorts of things from clothes to pets.

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The Betta fish are as low as 20 baht (CAD 0.60)??? I don’t know how much they are in Canada but they are definitely not 60 cents.

I love Thai food, it’s one of my favourite cuisines. I visited this place called Thipsamai for pad thai.

To be honest, the pad thai was average and cost 90 baht while the orange juice was a whopping 160 baht. The pad thai at Khao San Road was better, and I mean Khao San Road restaurant in Toronto, not the actual road in Bangkok.

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However they are raking money like nobody’s business, so they must be doing something right.

I also got to have my favourite Bangkok biscuit in Chinatown. The biscuit guy is obviously very well protected with his many amulets.

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A great deal of my time was spent in various malls because when it’s 35°C out there you really don’t want to be anywhere without air conditioning.

I really like Tokyu department store at Mah Boon Khrong partially because they carry these amazing T-shirts by Grafika and they are literally the BEST.

I have T-shirts from here that I have been wearing for umpteen years and the quality is SUPERB. The prints are still in-tact, no cracks, NOTHING and keep in mind I wear these everyday*. The colour doesn’t run. It doesn’t shrink or warp in the washer and dryer either.

20/10 would recommend. In fact, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. A+++++.

*People may question my fashion sense. I wear these at home when I want to be comfortable lah… obviously not when I am presenting my project during final reviews.

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review

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Just kidding, I don’t actually dress like the last one and I don’t have a Pomeranian.

I’m always amused to hear of Malaysian dignitaries with exquisite taste who like to carry luxury designer bags which everybody has difficulty pronouncing (like -ahem- the Hermès Birkin Bag) and then I went ahead and bought myself a backpack and landed myself with the same issue of being unable to pronounce the brand.

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Oops.

Swedish or any Scandinavian friends, care to help me out? Thule… Too-lay… Too-lee….?

Basically Bangkok is amazing. I most definitely will be back.

If you like this post on Bangkok you may want to check out my post on New York. Or my Facebook. Do both, actually. Also comment, because I read all of your comments. 😀

Edit(12 Aug 2015): One of my readers sent me some information and a recipe for pad thai. Check it out if you like.

Durian

IT’S DURIAN SEASON.

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I’m sure most of you have at least heard of this legendary fruit. Durian is a big deal where I am from. Some of the best durians are reputed to come from Penang island.

There are actually many cultivars of durian, and they all have really funky sounding names worthy of small time thugs.

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It is impossible to properly describe the odour and flavour of a durian without actually encountering one in the flesh. I have heard many descriptions ranging from mango and papaya to rotten onions soaked in turpentine. Very colourful, but not very useful.

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I went to the market this morning with my aunts to pick some durian. It was super fascinating to watch the sellers pick and cut durian.

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Sometimes a durian borer appears in the durian, which is quickly fed to the seller’s prize-winning Arowana as durian borer sashimi.

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My relationship with durian is complicated. I think I used to kind of like it as a kid, and then while on vacation in Pangkor Island I got food poisoning from durian ice cream.

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No durian for the next two-thirds of my life.

I then became the designated bee swatter at every subsequent durian party.

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My reintroduction to durian happened 3 years ago at someone’s durian party.

 

It didn’t taste bad. The texture was like… if ice cream grew on trees… it tasted sweet, and I kind of liked it a little bit.offer

 

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What do you guys know about durian? Share your thoughts in the comments! Check out a recent painting that I made of durian on my facebook page!

First Summer Adventure

A while back I blogged about my amazing experience flying and getting bumped up to business class.

Recently, I *may* have made fun of a completely insane flight schedule here while I was looking for flight tickets, which I did not take up.

This time flying from Toronto to Penang , I decided to fly with China Airlines because of the short layover and direct flight.

The day started off normally. I had to lug a couple of massive suitcases over to the airport, which wasn’t so bad because my friend helped me.

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My flight wasn’t till 10pm but I got the airport at 4pm because I was a super keener. So I listened to a few podcasts before being able to check in.

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The flight was about 4.5 hours to Vancouver. By the time I got to Vancouver I was so tired from all the packing and moving that I was looking forward to sleeping on the plane for the next 13 hours.

I decided to change into something more comfortable for the 13 hour flight.

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While I was waiting at the gate, I heard the ground staff call my name. They mentioned that WestJet allowed for 10kg in your carry-on while China Airlines only allowed for 7kg. Since my carry-on was over that limit, they had to check it in.

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I was so out of it I said “yeah, sure whatever” because I thought that I would only be away from my carry-on for a little while and I would rough it out. Technically they shouldn’t have taken my carry-on, you are allowed one personal item (in this case my backpack) and one carry-on.

So we got on the plane and I was seated next to this mega wizened lady. I fell asleep in my seat before we even took off…

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I woke up 2 hours later to find out that we were still on the ground.

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The plane engine was busted and they had to ship parts… from Taipei. So our flight was delayed for almost 24 hours.

We were told that due to limited airport hotel rooms available, those from Vancouver had to be sent home by cab to await the rescheduled departure time.

They put me in this room that was usually reserved for those with special needs. I had a king sized bed and massive everything. Showers, bathroom… everything was about three times the usual size.

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Keep in mind that they had taken my carry-on with all my clothes and toiletries so I had no change of clothes.

I had a meal voucher at the hotel restaurant but everything there was so expensive. I mean who pays $18 for 3 pancakes and $8 for juice? Apparently me.

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Since I had a whole day in Vancouver to do whatever I wanted, I decided to look for Japadogs.

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I also spent my day sitting at the beautiful waterfront eating Japadogs and staring at boats.

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When I got back to the airport I lined up for my new boarding pass and was given a coupon for inflight purchases and another meal voucher.

I was so tired from this ridiculous delay that I think I slept for about 8 of the 13 hours.

When we landed in Taipei they gave us chocolate to apologize for the delay. Those with connecting flights were ushered off into the business class lounge to rest.

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Since I obviously missed my connecting flight to Penang, they put me on a flight to Kuala Lumpur and then on MAS to Penang.

Now the entire point of my flying with China Airlines was because I wanted to avoid having to go to Kuala Lumpur… but nope, the stars determined that I had to fly to KL.

So I spent the next few hours at the China Airlines lounge in Taipei eating dumplings trying to sleep without actually falling asleep.

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My flight to Kuala Lumpur was pleasant. I actually watched a couple of Chinese movies, but by the time I got to KLIA I was pretty much busted. I rolled past immigration with my ninja turtle backpack over to the gate, only to find out that they had switched the gate.

I managed to catch a ride on one of those airport buggy things to the second gate.

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Only to find out that they changed the gate AGAIN.

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Needless to say that when I got to Penang my internal battery was so drained I was ready to pass out.

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China Airlines, providing me with the first adventure of summer.
Please check out my Facebook for more drawings of things! Whether you like this page or don’t, you should hit the “Like” button and comment! I look forward to it.

The Great Canadian Outdoors

Everyone in our program has to go through two field courses where we go out into the wilderness and do outdoor things.

The first field course was held during late summer and was incredibly overwhelming.

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The second field course was held during early spring. This time I understood what we were doing, I just didn’t know why we were doing it.

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This year, the course was held during the coldest week in April. The week before and after, it was nice and sunny and the weather was amazing, and then suddenly BOOM. Below freezing temperatures. Rain. Maybe a MINI TORNADO.

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The week after the field course it was back to sunshine, rainbows and happiness.The weather knows. It knows when we are outdoors.

Almost every day of the field course, we were outdoors measuring, recording and sketching things.Our trip started off on a very windy and rainy Monday at Ashbridges Bay and Leslie Street Spit where we collected data and made transects.

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Next day, we visited St Williams Nursery where they specialize in growing and selling native plants.

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After that, we headed over to Backus Woods, one of the best remaining examples of a Carolinian forest. We met this super tree enthusiast named Mary who knew everything.

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There was an overnight camping trip near Long Point, which was actually a lot of fun. We roasted marshmallows, had a barbeque and played games.

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Next day we got to see how birds were tagged so that we can observe changes in their migratory path.

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Birds are cute. I like birds.

We visited the beach on Long Point Provincial Park near Lake Erie. It was 50km/h winds and a little bit of snow. So you know, not the best beach weather.

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Nothing like a little snow on the beach to say welcome to Canada!

After our totally insane outdoors trip we had a planting excursion where we planted some river willow.

 

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We dug out trees, wrapped some trees in burlap, and planted a bunch of dogwood. All when the temperature was -2 Celcius.

 

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All in all, the weather was not the greatest but I think the trip was pretty fun.I think the trip was quite eye opening… actually I think the weather added to how interesting it was.

If you like this you should like my Facebook page and follow me Instagram to see photos I took during the field course! 🙂

Maple Syrup Harvest

Yoooooo! I’m finally back after a bit of inactivity. An intense schedule would drive anyone into workaholic mode. Past few months have been busy but rewarding? Lots of really interesting stuff happened.

I did yoga for the first time, wearing all the wrong clothes because of my last minute decision to just pop in.

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A lot of rendering  and playing Love Live! SIF while waiting for things to render.

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And Chinese New Year!

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But the important thing is that I am here I am doodling again.

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A couple weeks ago I attended a maple syrup harvest organized by my school. It sounded like a unique experience and it was held at Hart House Farm in Caledon so I said… why not.

While we were on the bus, there was some girl next to us who was doing some school work. And here, Julie and I were trying to not think about school work.

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We got to Caledon at about 11am and were greeted with a pretty amazing pancake brunch.

Julie and I had 2 helpings because… the food was really good.

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After brunch we went to visit the sugar bush where all the maple trees were.

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The maple sap is carried away from the trees in this web of tubes all the way to the sugar shack where it is boiled down to syrup.

We got to sample some of the maple syrup produced right on the farm.Apparently it takes approximately 40 gallons of sap to get 1 gallon of syrup which explains why it’s so expensive.

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The farm was really spectacular! Julie and I had been there before for our field course back in September. This time we walked about in the open fields in late winter, got our shoes muddy…  and sliced open a some insect infested goldenrod bulb to expose the fly larvae within.

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It felt really good to be out of the city for a while. Even though half the time while we were at the farm we were thinking about school work.

But we got to decorate sugar cookies!

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Overall I would say it was a really fun and educational short trip. I had a good time and I would definitely try to go again and again.

If you like what you see here please check out my facebook and give me a thumbs up! Also my twitter for funsies. I try to update there most of the time…. when I’m not swimming in an ocean of work that is.

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Ning goes to New York (University and Chinatown)

Wei was at school so I decided to go sketching around her campus while waiting for her to be done.

 

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There was this statue on campus which Wei insists is supposed to be Athena. athena

 

It did not look like Athena to me,  especially at night.

 

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You be the judge. I was drawing this family where these Chinese grandparents were playing with their grandkids. I think their parents were either one of those mega elite students or brainy researchers at the university.

One of the grandpas asked me in Mandarin if I was doing my PhD. I’m not sure why he was so specific, I must have looked very smart to him.

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Chinese Physiognomy at it’s finest.

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One of the places Wei and I explored together was Chinatown.

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From my experience, Chinatowns look very similar everywhere because Chinese businessman always display their goods in the same style since time immemorial. Walking around Chinatown with Wei, we found a very interesting store. I kid you not, the layout of the store was like this:

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Good thing is, you can buy a new cell phone, get some new Kpop tunes, a bubble tea and get your hair done all in 1.5 places. I loved it.

 

We had dinner in Chinatown with Jeamme,our friend from grade school. It was so nice to see old friends and eat food spicy enough to burn off your tongue. Just kidding it wasn’t that spicy, well maybe for the untrained palate it is.

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Just us being overly dramatic with our food. Jeamme is very proper as always. Of course we finished our meal with bubble tea. Not at the store which sold about 100 things, just a regular bubble tea store.

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I told you Jeamme was proper.

If you like what you see, you should like me on the bookface.

Drawing from Life Stories: Ronnie

Penang is full of colonial buildings and ever since the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing, boutique establishments have been popping up like mushrooms after the rain.

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I’ve been going around the old Georgetown area to draw buildings since high school, you know, before it was cool. *hipster moment*then

Actually, it was pretty cool already, but after the listing things went into overdrive and everyone started doing it.

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One of the first buildings I ever drew was St George’s Church in Farquhar Street mainly because parking was convenient, and there was always shade. Shade is very important especially in this corner of the world.

I went there to paint on Sundays. Obviously since it was a church, there was Sunday service.

I met a little boy named Ronnie who was about 9. He was a curious kid, and would drop by and watch me after church.ronnie

He has a younger sister and brother who tag along wherever he goes.

I learned that he lived with his grandparents in the kopitiam (Chinese style coffee shop for you non-South East Asian folks) across the church. I don’t really know much else about him, but he seemed like a good kid with very heavy responsibilities for his age.

Ronnie was very well behaved. He looked after his younger siblings and dressed them in awesome clothes.

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Ronnie is probably in high school by now. I hope he and his siblings are doing well.

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RONNIE. YOU GO RONNIE.

If you like this you should check me out on the book face. I mean facebook.

Ning goes to New York (Guggenheim and MoMA)

I went to New York last year to visit a very good friend of mine, Wei. She’s my friend since we were little kids.

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So Wei had to attend class in the mornings so I had the whole day to visit museums. I was going to meet Wei later in the afternoon so that we could go to MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) together and I could finally see what the big deal was about.

So I Google mapped my way to 5th Avenue and spent my morning there.

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I went to the Guggenheim. I was disappointed, not because the stuff in the Guggenheim Museum wasn’t rad (because it was pretty rad) but because they closed the spiral thing to set up an exhibition.

The whole point of going to the museum is to climb the spiral thing!guggenheim

I saw a bunch of Cezanne and Matisse.

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And a couple that I’ve seen that are really famous but their names escape me.

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There were these Japanese tourists who for whatever reason seemed to be following me… into all the museums

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The real party started at MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art.

Let me break it down for you, the history of art, according to Ning.

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During this time I was taking a class in Modernism and Modernity and I hoped to find something interesting to put into my final essay.

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Needless to say I found a lot of interesting things, though none was really suited for my essay.

My favourite painting in MoMA was Charles Demuth’s Corn and Peaches. I guess it speaks to my tastes.

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One day, when I can afford this,and if it is for sale, I will buy this painting.

If not, I will buy MoMA.

And I got to see the famous white Square. Or White on white by Malevich.

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To those who say “I could do this in pre-school!” I know when I was in pre-school I could not draw straight lines even with a ruler, maybe in elementary school. Pre-school Ning was a rebel who only drew dogs.

Well, it was bigger that I thought it would be… and there were a bunch more of Malevich’s squares to keep it company.oof

Oof. It’s by the same guy who painted the can of flying spam.

But my favourite piece of artwork. The Plank.

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Yes. That’s me, planking next to the plank.

Here’s a link to the actual piece.

It is my favourite because of the description. How can anyone not love this plank.It’s called The Absolutely Naked Fragrance. Below is the description from the MoMA website:

McCracken began producing his vibrant monochrome “planks” in 1966. While the polished resin surface captures the aesthetic of surfing and car culture unique to Southern California in the 1960s, the title was drawn from advertising slogans in fashion magazines. The work’s interaction with both the floor and wall is meant to call attention to the space occupied in the gallery by both viewer and object. “I see the plank as existing between two worlds,” McCracken has said, “the floor representing the physical world of standing objects, trees, cars, buildings, human bodies, and everything, and the wall representing the world of the imagination, illusionistic painting space, human mental space, and all that.”

Wei said I should have written about the plank. I think I should have listened to her. But whatever, Gray’s Papaya afterwards. ($5 for 2 hot dogs and a drink)

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