from Toronto, Canada

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LA & Vegas trip Day 7: Hollywood Hills, LA Science Center, Little Tokyo
3000 Canyon Lake Drive, Hollywood
A bit of a tough drive up a narrow, winding hill, but this is one of the best spots to take pictures with the Hollywood sign 


We then went to the California Science Center to see Space Shuttle Endeavor, a retired NASA orbiter space shuttle. We learned lots about life as an astronaut in space, including the inconvenience of having to aim inside a tube when going to the bathroom...

Space Shuttle Endeavor

Anemone at California Science Center 

Next we went to Little Tokyo for authentic Japanese food and shopping. We also look took cute purikura/ sticker pictures.

Unagi Don


Limited edition tea at the grocery store. I saw lots of great, unique Japanese snacks. Wish I could buy them all. 

Lovely baby store at Little Tokyo 

LA & Vegas trip Day 6: The Strip, Las Vegas
On day 6, we stayed in Las Vegas and walk around the strip. We did a little gambling and ate a huge buffet lunch at Bacchanal 



Caesars Palace 

Caesars Palace

Caesars Palace
Love these fish 

Caesars Palace

Caesars Palace

LA & Vegas trip Day 5: Grand Canyon
We drove from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon on day 5. I absolutely loved the 4-hour drive there. We saw amazing scenery along the way and ran into a very cool gas station. 

Uranus Gas 
We simply were low on gas and wanted to fill up but this alien-themed gas station became a very memorable spot of the trip. 

These cars reminded me of Mater from Cars

Grand Canyon! 
There are North and South Rims with many designated view points along each rim. We drove along the South Rim and stopped at each point which took us about 4 hours from early afternoon until sunset. Sunset at the Grand Canyon gave everything an amazing orange glow and it took our breaths away; however it gets dark and cold very quickly once the sun goes down. There is no light on the road and especially if you are hiking definitely keep that in mind and get to a shelter before it becomes pitch dark. 


Hopi point 

Excuse my paleness 
One thing I frequently do when traveling to save time is eating and doing my make-up in the car while heading to the next destination. Except this day I failed to take my make-up bag with me... All of my pictures were pale-looking and make-up free lol. 
LA & Vegas trip Day 4: Boulder City, Hoover Dam, Vegas!
Sorry for my prolonged absence! I will try to continue uploading photos from my trips when I have time... 
On Day 4, we went to Costco and got some cheap multivitamins and snacks. And then we drove from LA to Las Vegas, which was a very scenic, relaxing drive ( sometimes through the middle of nowhere with nothing but tumbleweed). After dropping our luggage off at the hotel in Vegas, we drove to Boulder City and Hoover Dam. It was a lot of driving around but I highly enjoyed it.

Las Vegas sign! 

Love pink cars ハート. The owner seems to be the Elvis impersonater sitting in the car. 

Cool bike at Treasure Island on The Strip in Las Vegas

Hoover Dam

Caesars Palace

The Forum Shops 


Bellagio Fountain 
The water dances to the music every 15 minutes.
LA & Vegas trip Day 3 : Disneyland & Disney California Adventure

I've been super busy... Here are some pictures from Disney...

Dumped into Mickey first thing in the morning kyu ミッキー


New attraction: Cars Land! 

Waited super long for this ride 

At night before the water show starts 

Very hungry after Disney 

LA & Vegas trip Day 2 : Los Angeles Chinese Theater, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Griffith Observatory

On day 2 in LA we first headed to Hollywood!

Hollywood Walk of Fame
Took pictures with Captain Jack Sparrow

Phony Mickey and Minnie...

Marilyn Monroe wax statue

Grauman's Chinese Theater

Handprints and footprints of Twilight actors at Grauman's Chinese Theater

Handprints and footprints of Harry Potter actors at Grauman's Chinese Theater

Harry Potter portrait, made from jelly beans!

Hollywood sign

Griffith Observatory

View of LA from Griffith Observatory

We spotted this flashy car parked on Rodeo Drive at Beverly Hills. It is said to be worth almost half a million.

The Grove at Farmer's Market

LA & Vegas trip Day 1 : Los Angeles, The Getty Center

I am back from my awesome trip to LA and Vegas  ! I had a very relaxing, fun-filled 8-day vacation  . On day 1 after landing and renting a car, we made a visit to The Getty Center. I first learned about The Getty from a book called "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" and I wanted to make a visit ever since. It's a beautiful museum that houses pre-20th-century art, and it's also known for offering an amazing view of the city of Los Angeles.

Cacti from the garden at The Getty

I really like those cacti

View of city of LA
Seems like the museum is situated on top of a hill.

Woman in Blue Reading a Letter by Johannes Vermeer
This painting will be displayed at the Getty until March 31.

Irises by Vincent van Gogh

Sunrise by Claude Monet

Cute fawn grazing on a hill near The Getty

I must mention that the traffic was terrible that day. It was a Sunday afternoon when we went and the traffic on the highway was nearly stationary . LA traffic is definitely way worse than Toronto.

Japan Day 11 Part II Namba Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi

This is part 2 of my day in Osaka, Japan, and it will be the last entry on my trip to Japan (Phew, finally done! ). On day 11, in addition to visiting the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, we went to Namba for some yummy food and shopping. It was my first time visiting Osaka and I had little prior knowledge or interest in this city. Once I was actually there, I absolutely loved the bustling, big-city-with-neon-lights, downtown atmosphere and had a fantastic time.

Fujiya Peko-chan car

My brunch - bought at a convinience store that takes credit card. I wasn't kidding when I said I completely ran out of cash and had to live on convinience store food

Osaka Namba

Shisaibashi Shopping area - tons of trendy stores here

Inside a clothing store called WC

Osaka Dotonbori, a highly popular tourist destination with an enormous number of restaurants choose from (especially Okonomiyaki / Takoyaki or crab). As someone who eat out a lot, I truely wish I can live here.


Big crab of Dotonbori


Takoyaki restaurant

I think this was inside the Glico store where there were tons of unique, limited-edition snacks. The one in the photo are cute Sazae-san (popular anime) snacks sold in Osaka only.

so cute

Kuidaore Taro, a well-known clown mascot of Dotonbori. His name literally means eat 'til you drop.

Yakisoba - was sooo delicious


leaving Dotonbori

The famous Glico running man sign

Day 12 in Japan involved traveling from our hotel in Kusatsu to Narita Airport which took longer than we had planned. By the time we arrived at the airport people have already started boarding so it was a bit of a close-call. The trip overall was exhausting but we had so much fun and it was eye-opening to see and re-experience Japan (I lived there for 2 years when I was little and it was my first time going back in 11 years). I think I would love to visit Japan in 2014 if I get the chance . I am off to LA and Las Vegas next week. Stay tuned!

Japan Day 11 Part I: Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

I am exmtremely fond of aquariums . If you put me in an aquarium and give me a camera,  I won't be bored for 5 days. Therefore when we went to Osaka on day 11, I was super excited to visit the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. It is one of the world's largest aquariums, recreating the Pacific Ocean and its surrounding environments.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Ringtailed Coati from Gulph of Panama

Asian small clawed otter

Porcupine fish
This fish can inflate itself by swallowing air or water and become a balloon with sharp spines

Some kind of stripy butterflyfish

Pacific white-sided dolphin
love dolphins


Manta ray carrying lazy slacker fish

Actually the small fish is a remora feeding off of the manta and helps removing parasites, algae, and dead skin cells. Fine display of good ol' symbiosis indeed.

Sea turtle

Not sure what kind of fish this is
Cute eye though

Delicious spider crab

Beautiful moon jelly

Cute polka dot jelly fish

Playful penguins

Biggest regret of the day: did not get a picture of the whale shark , which is the most well-known attraction of Osaka Kaiyukan. In fact I was so absorbed by everything else, I completely forgot there was an awesome whale shark in the aquarium. I took so many pictures all at once that my camera overheated and nearly stopped functioning . However I find it impossible to convey the allure of these fish and marine animals through still images. You have to see them in motion to fully appreciate their beauty.

After visiting the aquarium we headed to Osaka Namba which will be the next update. Stay tuned!

Should One Become a Pharmacist?? (in Ontario, Canada )
AHHH I can’t believe its February already! Despite the "aid" of global warming, my intolerance for the Canadian winter grows each year. I even researched the job market for pharmacists in sunny California before reaching the conclusion that I’m not ready to tackle the challenge of working within a completely foreign health care system. I guess I am stuck here for another year. Boo.

Today’s update does not contain any scenic photo so most of you probably won’t be interested. I’m going to talk about a question that I had been asked recently, and it is also a question that troubled me for some time when I was in university: Should I become a Pharmacist? I’m going to start responding to this question with Johnathan’s favourite (and completely uninformative) answer: It depends. (Now you know how I feel whenever I ask him anything.)

I can probably safely assume that many students who are considering pursuing pharmacy are seeking stability, good compensation, and the assurance of being able to find a job upon graduation. Well, things aren’t as good as they used to be. I began studying pharmacy in 2007 and at the time, there was a shortage of pharmacists in Ontario. Companies will invite you to fancy recruitment dinners and attempt to get you drunk in order to have you sign a contract with them. And the pay was good. A funding cut was put forth by the Ontario government in 2010 which delivered a fatal blow to the profitability of retail pharmacies, even causing some small pharmacies to close down. In addition, University of Toronto opened up more spots in the bridging program for pharmacists with foreign training, and University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Pharmacy was newly approved, so that the supply of pharmacists is on the rise. As a result, currently pharmacist positions in the GTA are highly competitive, and the compensation is seeing a declining trend. The other day, I saw a job posting offering $30-35 / hour. I don’t believe I know a pharmacist who is willing to work for that kind of compensation at this time, but it may be foreshadowing an impending reality.

However things are not all bleak. If you are willing to relocate outside the GTA, at least for your internship or your first job before you become more experienced, many opportunities still exist. Remote cities such as Sudbury or Thunder Bay are still in need of pharmacists and excellent compensation will be offered. Even in cities like Kingston, Ottawa, Barrie, and Niagara Region, it is not difficult to find a job. And wherever you work, I would say it is a highly stable job. You can work at the same pharmacy until you retire if that’s your cup of tea. Whether the job is rewarding and worth-while aside from the compensation is highly variable from person to person and it’s hard for me to comment. I will say that the area of location of your pharmacy is crucial in determining the kinds of clients you will be dealing with (addicts vs pleasant elderly ladies). In conclusion, before signing yourself up for a challenging, expensive 3-to-4-year program, have a realistic expectation of what you are getting in return so you can evaluate whether it is the best option for you.

And I definitely won’t go into things like "follow your heart and pursue your passion." I endlessly envy you talented people who managed to pursue your true passion and pay the bills too.
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