December 6, 2017

Why I love Portland

Hello folks, long time no see!

       And this is the 3rd time I wrote this blog due to the bullsh*t that blogger has dropped on me, might as well try to switch blog platform very soon now.

I just came back from a long trip to my hometown. Three years away from home, phew,  time flew so fast when I was there, barely had enough time to actually get on the blog to do something besides laying around, being a bum, and letting the laziness eating on me. I actually have an excuse for my sloth life: My 4-year-old laptop broke on me in Viet Nam, after desperately trying to recover it many million times, since knowing that bringing it back to America would cost me a fortune ( Okay, too exaggerate, maybe the same price of the new Laptop), I had to give in saying goodbye to another dear and left it back in VN . And also, that's how I started my " reducing phase internet life", I didn't use the phone that much either in Viet Nam despite the fact I kinda freaked out thinking of how limited Internet I would have on the mountains in Northeast VN. Well, I could read books but when I thought of not being able to check social media, It still bugged me out. I, however, turned out to be okay, in fact, in a better state of mind than ever. I observed better, my communication skills prolly got better too Lmao, I didn't carry the mind of " did I miss some big news of the day?". It was all good, I called it as a detox internet life for me. Although it doesn't mean attached to the Internet is bad, it's only worse when your life depends so much on it, like me. 
After I was back, I gotta get on a journey 3 hours to a workshop held in Portland and something clicked in me. Why haven't I had a solid post just for Portland? I've been there so many times, my best friend is setting her family there too. 
I love Portland. Not just "liking" but deep in love, Portland has the old artistic charismatic look that is hard to replicate:  everywhere is art, in its architecture, buildings, bridges, graffiti on those high walls... Portland is a combination of the peaceful and weird ways of local creativities that can be seen everywhere. You will have a hard time finding anywhere in the US  that resembles Portland. Portland, though is very small, you can literally spend 1 day to visit all the touristic sites, though to get deep in love with Portland, 1 month might not even be enough. 

So food. As a local has told me, Portland has supported small local businesses instead of the well-known business chains. 

Some of these recommendations I have written in my other previous posts,
If you know Portland, you know it's a city of donuts.
unless you wanna check in, sure, but please, for a good donut, blue star hand downs the winner. 

Voodoo was a big disappointment to me, except their goofy decorations on those cute donuts on the glass shelves. I first tried them ( also the last time), when I came back to Portland the 2nd time with my someone, I kept telling my So why would people like Voodoo so much, I didn't see the hype of it, it was just like some other donuts that you wake up in the morning, hurry up to work/classes and grab one from a nearby store with your daily cup of coffee if not even worse. So I head to an Apple store nearby afterward with an " accidental already bought" box of donuts from Voodoo, and a random worker there just went ahead and told me nobody in Portland liked Voodoo ( alright! it might be too harsh, prolly he tried to say, Voodoo isn't the famous ones for locals😬)

So we tried Blue star donuts. Unfortunately, the first experience was pretty mere despite sitting on a fresh grass, under the blossoms trees with shiny sunshine going through the leaves, the fresh air breeze that is in harmony with flower pollens hohoho, joke on you people with allergies ( jk ) from the spring wind. Eating the very fresh bought donuts and I still didn't get the hype of donuts. If you look up online, there are a bunch of donut stores that come up in Portland, from the very vegan ones to the very strange creme brulee with a pipette injected into it. However, my view completely changed with the 2nd time giving it another chance. It was last year, and I was enjoying every single bite. We got ourselves this time the Apple fritter and Passion Fruits, both of them tasted flavorful without having the chemical taste. The texture of these donuts are like oven-baked cake, fluffy but crunchy, doesn't have the greasy feel after eating the typical oily donuts you got from your local Krispy Kreme. So give it a try! and to experience of fully enjoyable yummy donuts with good views of Portland: heading to Pittock Mansion in Spring or Fall, sitting under the biggest blossom tree like I did ( unless there is still space for you), and that if you are patient enough to click back to my old posts, you would see how beautiful the moment was. 
 Pip's original donuts: famous for their mini fluffy donuts and their house-made chai. It was alright, I neither like the donuts nor their Chai. (If your looking for some good looking mini donuts, Ballard Farmer's market is where they're at.)
180 Xurros: A good place for Churro lovers, I'm not fond of the churros but my So and his coworkers enjoyed their churros, I guess you just have to be your own judge for this place. 

180 Xurros


Pittcock mansion

or try one of the best poutines ( the best in my book so far in Washington) that is also happened to have high reviews on Yelp if you don't mind having a greasy meal/snack time. 


Meditteranean food is another thing people recommended me trying in Portland, well, I made the wrong choice of ordering Chicken Gyro because according to other master foodies, lamb and beef are what I should order, not chicken, never go with chicken. So that's my 5 cents!

Pad thai from Sawasdee. 
Salt and Straw ice cream, I know this ice cream shop, to many people swear by the best ice cream in PNW/ Portland, they offer very interesting creative flavors, I personally don't find them very good, it was okay, not the best, Molly Moon's in Seattle does a better job in texture and the creaminess,  though they don't offer as much flavor as Salt and Straw. One of the Uber drivers agreed with us on this when waiting for our car fixed in Portland. He actually gave several places I should try includes: Cloud city ice cream as an alternative to Salt and Straw, Cheese and crack for an interesting way to eat cheese and Bollywood theater for Indian food.  I haven't tried those places yet, but next time for sure I'll take his advice.

Grab your coffee at the famous Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
  Actually, I'm just kidding, 
skip that infamous coffee place if you happen to have another Stumptown roaster in your hometown, otherwise, leave it for another day and go to this one Deadstock coffee. No menu, just ask their baristas what drinks they have and tailor to your preferences. When in Portland, I always make sure to grab their largest size of Zero chill which is their mix drink of lemon iced tea and cold brew, so good. Also, The coffee shop is in China Town, might as well walk around the neighborhood while sipping your delicious coffee.

One thing about Portland is that their Thai culture is strong, there are way too many Thai restaurants/food carts around Portland. Every time I visited Portland, there would be another Thai food card/restaurant popped up. I know when it comes to Thai Food, all the folks say: " Pok Pok". The famous establishment originated from Portland that has expanded to LA and Nyc.  I tried Pok Pok to Hatyai chicken from Farmhouse Kitchen Thai cuisine ( which is the utmost disappointment), none of them were spectacular or good, their flavor was bland and I'm so sorry to say, this isn't Thai Food despite what Pok Pok tried to bring the most authentic Thai street food to the US.  It might be good at first or another time, but not when I tried it. 

However, heading to the food cart block on 9th SW Alder St, and buy yourself a box to go of curry fried rice or pad thai from Sawasdee, sitting at a park nearby, or look up online and find the closest Wholefood, they have benches for you ;). This place knows what a true Thai food is: saucy, spicy and tasty, THE BEST THAI FOOD IN AMERICA FOR ME! It was so good that It ruins all my courage of trying new food in Portland, because damn, why else would I not eat there when I'm in Portland. 

Nong's Khao Man Gai. I don't really like it, but it's famous and an okay lunch, their crispy chicken skin is a must order item if you visit Nong Khao. They are known for their Hainan chicken rice, which reminds me a lot of Hoi An ( the pronoun are even familiar) chicken rice, not as good as my beloved Hoi An chicken rice though.  

Nong Khao.
Pok Pok

Farmhouse Thai cuisine- good for photo, not for your buddy taste. 

Spring - summer and early Fall are the times I would recommend for you. Portland in winter is just another version of Seattle, Rain, gloomy, sadness, cold, you name it. 

If you have heard of Portland, Mostly people call it as " The rose city", that's why the Rose garden is a place you must have to visit in Portland, it's located in Washington Park, near the Japanese garden and Portland Zoo. I haven't been to the Japanese garden yet, or either the Chinese one ( I heard they have one in Portland) but I did visit the Zoo last year. Honestly, I love animals and it suffocated me to see how sad they looked inside the cages. I know some zoos have a good caring and protection program but when I looked into the Polar Bear's eyes laying down with his tired eyes, day by day goes by, living as an object surrounded by walls, waiting to the day he died... Anyway, your choice of going to the zoo or not, still a fun place for kids but rose garden is for sure a place you can't miss in Spring/Summer, the garden indeed is beautiful with a lot of roses, not what I had imagined before going there with just some small rose garden beds, one of the gardeners told me all the gardeners here are all volunteers and they take their turn and wake up early morning like 4-5 am to take care of the garden, so a lot of dedications from Portland locals to the garden, go here if you want a good photo for your instagram/fb/socialmediablogsorwhatsoever, because that's a reason why I went here :)).

                                           U pick fruits from Sauvie Island in Summer. 

Multnomah fall, one of the Portland sightseeings.

But the best part nearby the Falls is
Oneonta trail, probably the best and hardcore hike I ever did, mainly due to the day we chose to go was pretty heavy rain,  the falls water flowed really heavy and fast, only about 4 groups made it to the falls, and 1 person got injured pretty badly. There were some viral videos from this hike floating online and that's why I decided to make a trip to the trail, from what I saw online, I was so sure it was a piece of cake and boys, what a day I chose to hike! the water temperature was like zero Celsius, that was the first time I've ever felt losing feeling from all of my body parts :)). On the midway back, I thought I lost my conscious because of the coldness, all I could think of was getting back to the beginning, I couldn't even climb on the tree logs and rocks since my legs were damn freezing, I felt nothing except numb.  But damn, I'd not hesitate to go on the hike again, it's so worth it, amazing scenery, beautiful hikes, and one of a lifetime experience. 10/10 would do it again... except the trail is now closed due to the big forest fire that pretty much destroyed almost all the trail. Bummer! :(

Portland Saturday farmer market next to Willamette river - another activity to explore more sides of Portland. 

Powells 's bookstore, came here first time with my ex-friend in Seattle Lmao. The bookstore brings back a lot of memories during the time, it was my first visit to Portland, Rainy day, young naive girls, get lost, have fun, can't agree more with whoever has said  " youth is the gift of nature"

also, one more activity I can't miss in Portland is... Shopping, yeah, it's free-tax state after all, why would I go there without buying anything. Thrift shops in Portland are amazing btw ;). 

Please Please, if you have time, park your car somewhere or take the Boltbus to Portland and ride their public communications. If you have 1 day, buy their unlimited 1 day pass in tourist service center, which is located in central downtown of Portland, though this will limit your travel to outside Portland like Haystack Rock, Multnomah falls or Highway 101, but in exchange, this will let you discover Portland fully at heart like a local. 

    The process of having outfit photos: being annoyed angry towards the Instagram husband Lmao to the " final product" 😂


Okay, good cool, now take it please!

Apple store.

The Iconic Bridge: St. Johns 

And the Cannon Beach, if you have time to make a short trip, this is also a home to the famous Haystack rock. Hint: The rock looks small in photos but a huge giant outside. Then drive along the Oregon Coast highway 101 for the amazing majestic views, you're welcome!

It was very cold. 

Portland thru films ( 2012)