lovely seattle

Greetings from *very warm* Berkeley! After a full week visiting frozen Seattle.
I always say (to self) you can get a good impression of a (livable) city first by its airport, second by transportation from such airport to the city center, and finally by access to Vietnamese food :-). Given my connection to the North I have indeed been to SEA-TAC many times and enjoying its diverse food collection.. but nothing prepares me for how wonderful, vibrant, and accessible the city really is until this official visit. There will not be too many photos to share as it was an intense week where my first photo was the fancy room i stayed at after arriving at 2am and next batch was only the day just before leaving. And in mis-judging the timing of bus/train (more on this soon! read that again, bus + train!!) I won’t offer photos of the absolutely vibrant and beautiful UW campus either.. But here are some impression in case you have time to visit some day:
The fancy business hotel, i was thinking wow if one can afford to have a room like this in downtown for living :D. The good news was upon arrival and for the next several days the weather was downright crap so indoor meeting was the right setting. Trouble also with arriving last minute before meeting is sometimes you haven’t properly investigated public transportation but I was already quite happy with Shuttle-Express. We have a similar thing in Los Angeles and for off-hour (and any hour in LA) it’s the best economical option which would deliver you to your exact address for 1/2 the price of taxis (and 2x the time 🙂 ). The next full appreciation happened in a restaurant, check out this menu:
Man, they’re so “green” while I cluelessly asking what’s “gluten”. There are recycling bins + compost bins! There’s water-front directly in downtown, and finally, public transportation! Amazing number of buses and a light-rail to take you to the airport!!! (I think you can count on your hand how many cities in the US have this). Only 1 issue I have though: their “tunnel” = underground bus system. It works great once you know where the hell it is. Google map is crap at it. It does make me think though about “jargon” that we use a lot when explaining to non-local people how to navigate. In any case, after spending 1 hour finding out where exactly to catch the bus, all is now set, i can handel this any time.

So, the university, it is HUGE am told, 40000 students! The university district is lively, accessible, provides a really nice atmosphere, with many options for low-key but good food (compared to boston i find). Much better than Berkeley I’d say, though I think it’s a matter of having versus lacking land. And direct multiple buses from downtown to UW. Had a chance to catch up with a couple of grad school friends here while strolling the Univ district is quite nice. Though again, due to working entire time there I missed photos of the beautiful campus + red square + library.. but how about a bell ringing experience!
Yes, this is from the wonderful colleague and friend who is also an expert in bell ringing (and driving a 1986 honda stick! i tremendously impressed with that too :D). And I did get a lesson on how to handel one of those, quite an exercise! all about timing and “feeling”.

The night before, we went a little bit west of campus to the next wonderful town Freemont for SUPERB authentic Turkish food in a very cute and non-fancy (our style, this one, I HIGHLY recommend) restaurant before visiting the troll



Only on my last day I canceled the last work appointment to “tour” the city a bit.. but due to lack of knowledge of timing, it ended up not quite optimized so I in fact visited neither the campus nor downtown again.. instead it was a direct express bus from campus to chinatown! YES, here are the places I highly recommend for real vietnamese food 🙂 . Bought TEN Vietnamese sandwiches and some more miscellaneous things to carry to Berkeley.

the corner where one can find all things vietnamese. In International District

the corner where one can find all things vietnamese. In International District

And the two recommended shops (they’re VERY small shops, you would never know what to do in there unless coming with ME 🙂 ) . This first shop is all vegan food made by the buddhist nuns. It was much more elaborate 1.5 year ago with a full counters of things to choose from. Today it was much more reduced, I hope their business is still going well.

all vegan

all vegan

This next one would be where I would get ALL FOOD if i live in the city. A once a month trek here (only 20min direct bus from UW!) They serve all things a small vietnamese family would prepare daily and eat.. as well as sandwiches (i ordered 10) and pretty much everything else i love

note pineapple + salt+chili pepper on right edge

note pineapple + salt+chili pepper on right edge

So, in conclusion, this could be another dream city.. given I collaborate the most with people here, at least there is a more extended visit coming next year.. hopefully in warmer weather though because, darn, it was cold! 0-3˚C !! yikes!

About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

14 Responses to lovely seattle

  1. stray says:

    All that plus a Rem Koolhaas library, an opera house, and a pretty happening early music scene 🙂

  2. earwormopera says:

    You’re making me homesick with this post 🙂 I’m glad you had a good time in Seattle – the whole area is really beautiful.

    • thả diều says:

      yeah, i think next time i’ll just stay 2 extra days without any appointment to roam the city and explore. found out the museum in downtown too.. am told driving is a nightmare but that’s true almost everywhere, hence i was very happy with public transport. i stayed at the univ inn and that was also a really cozy experience.

  3. dehggial says:

    dear god, food porn! So there’s more to Seattle than Starbucks and grunge, eh. That bell ringing thing sounds interesting.

    • thả diều says:

      haha, that’s the first thing i noticed upon landing: starbucks everywhere! and that coffee kept me up until 6am the following morning too, not good! (or may be too good!) anyhow, after a while you learn to ignore and realize everything else like the bus signs (and *where* to find the bus, jeez, in tiny writing saying “not here, under” without instruction on how to navigate under.. quite friendly city, lots of good food, lots of happenings.

      Bell ringing: that’s a serious thing! this friend of mine (she’s originally from the UK) is expert in it and know all around N.Am + England + europe where you can do this! very good with “hearing” and rhythm, i impressed.. meanwhile i almost got “yanked” up by the bell (lifted off ground) coz caught the string a bit too late and not released fast enough 😀

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