Jamie Jo Hoang - Author & World Traveler

Month: May 2011

Travel – Make it a point to See the world

The Floating Islands in Lake Titicaca

“You can do what’s reasonable or you can decide what’s possible.” –Unknown

When I was in grade school I remember my teacher had us write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. Honestly, at the time I had no idea what I wanted to be. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to be, but I knew I wanted to be doing something important so I jotted down careers that in my young mind equaled success: doctor, lawyer, dolphin trainer, firefighter, astronaut etc.

And then life happened and all of a sudden I was 24, working for the man, and in a serious relationship that seemed to leave me feeling miserable more often than not. Where was that wide-eyed little girl who could have been anything?  I was at the point in my life, where I actually had to make a decision about who I wanted to be. I could be a writer and share my wisdom with the world, but wait, what wisdom do I have? I had no great life changing stories or lessons that others could learn from. I was ordinary and borderline boring.

Not wanting to be such a dull person, I had a sudden thirst for knowledge, but not the kind you get from textbooks. Real world knowledge; I needed to travel.

The rational/reasonable side of my brain told me that I was being ridiculous. I couldn’t travel! I barely made enough to cover my monthly expenses! The reasonable thing would have been to find a higher paying job so that I could actually save some money for travel. But who was I kidding? A higher paying job just leads to a nicer apartment, finer dining, and twice as many bills.  As luck would have it, a friend of mine, Eric Batchelor, was planning a trip to Machu Picchu in the winter and was looking for a travel companion. Without hesitation I hopped on Expedia.com and before I knew it I had purchased a round trip ticket to Peru.

I found someone to sublet my LA apartment for the month, used vacation days so as to still collect a paycheck, and traveled to Peru spending the same amount of money as I would have spent on my daily living expenses. Sometimes it is better to make a spontaneous leap, throwing reason out the window, and believing that you will land on your two feet.  Think of a speeding ticket, who has money reserved to pay for speeding tickets? No one, but when you get that ticket, somehow you manage to scrape together money to pay the fine, right?  Think along those same lines and you’re vacation becomes nothing more than a very large traffic fine (or four, if you decide to travel to Europe). That being said, I am not advocating being irresponsible.

In one year I traveled to: San Francisco, Washington DC, Peru, Jamaica, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, London, and Paris. Phew, that’s a mouthful! I know what you’re thinking; I must be miss moneybags, with wealthy parents or a trust fund. I am not. I do not have any financial assistance whatsoever and I made $24k this past year. How did I do it? I made the leap and then was forced to cut out the unnecessary minor luxuries a normal 24 year old would have. No $70 bar tabs, no cable TV, a downgraded cell phone plan, cooking at home, packing a lunch…all of these small things add up.

We have all kinds of reasons for why we cannot do things but I think you will find that when you take that sharp turn towards something you really want, you will figure out how to make the rest of your life fall into place. So do yourself a favor and issue yourself a “life” ticket.

Note: This article was written for and published previously on TinyBuddha.com. The original link can be found here: http://tinybuddha.com/blog/on-making-the-unreasonable-possible/

FAIL – Let a Relationship End

Take it from the girl who was told a week ago, “I don’t know why, but you’re not enough”; these are the things you will need to survive a break-up.

1.) Alcohol – Because for the first 4 days (at least! maybe longer!) you are going to feel complete and utter agony every single moment that you are alone. And the alcohol will help calm your nerves (esp. at 2pm in the afternoon, on a Thursday, while at work). This is not to say that you should become a complete and utter alcoholic for the rest of your life. No, you merely need to tap into your alcoholic side for a few weeks. Don’t over do it and drink so much that you end up in tears, just drink enough to keep a good buzz going.

2.) Dancing – With Alcohol you need DANCING and here’s why. Sitting at home while drinking will inevitably cause you to break down and cry because all of these emotions will be welling up inside you. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, while your sitting with your friends who are all trying to make light conversation, you will burst into tears. It’s embarrassing and you can’t stop it. However, if your dancing you’re not only working off those extra calories (and let’s be honest gaining 10 lbs over a break-up only adds to your misery) but you’ll also find yourself having a pretty good time. Go out with girlfriends and create your impenetrable circle (read http://www.heelpress.com/revisions/show/615?sift=user by Darren Chan) and then dance like you’ve never danced before. The key here is drink enough alcohol that you lose all inhibitions.

3.) Friends – They will be there for you at any given hour of the day. However, different friends serve different purposes so let’s define the friends you’ll need the most.

Your Hairstylist – Sometimes your hairstylist is your best friend. Get a drastic haircut, one where you barely recognize yourself. There are two reasons for this: 1.) When you look in the mirror in the morning you will see a whole new person and 2.) People will stop looking at you with those “sad eyes” that make you want to run to the bathroom and cry. Go wild with it, add some color, make it choppy. You’ll feel good about yourself and shed (literally and figuratively) the past. Just as your hair needs time to grow back, so does your heart to heal. So make this time about you and if you really hate the short hair, know that it will grow back along with your sense of self. 

The “Type A” Friend – This friend is ambitious beyond belief. Imagine someone whose 23 graduating from law school and has a 10 year plan to become a CEO of a major corporation by the time she’s 33. She will remind you what it felt like to be ambitious, have goals, and meet them. Being able to tap into this friend is key to your success. 

The Best Friend – The person who knows you best. Because she knows you inside and out and will remind you when you’re being irrational. She will slap you across the face if you become so hung up on your imperfections that you can’t see two feet in front of you. She will also hold you while you sob uncontrollably into her $145 blouse. 

The Tough friend – This is the friend who you keep in the closet most of the time because of the negativity they bring to your life. She will tell you that he was a complete and utter asshole for leaving you and even threaten to go kick his ass. Extreme, but it will be amusing to you because she’ll be more heated about it then you. Sometimes you just need to see how crazy your friends are about you, because knowing it is different from feeling it.

4.) Family – Because when you’re friends can’t stand your depressed ass anymore, you will then need to turn to your family. Let them take you back to where you grew up. Remembering the days before your relationship will help you love being single again. You will find your independence and your happiness. But the great part about this is that when you are happy again it will be 100% because of YOU.

5.) A Jaywalking ticket – Mainly because this happened to me, but also because it felt quite good. It is a reminder that you do still have responsibilities and once you’re done drinking, dancing and crying you need to pull yourself up and move on with your life. To put it frankly, “you need to get your shit together.”

There you have it, the 5 things you need to get over a break-up. Now, I’m really no expert but while I was completely wasted and going through all of this these are the things that I observed. And it worked for me…today.



Eat Well – Stephan’s L.A. Farm

So Hot it's Sexy!

I love to eat. So naturally I eat A LOT and it’s always a rare treat when I find a new neighborhood gem. I would have to say that L.A. Farm hits somewhere in my top 25 new restaurants in LA. Let’s break it down.

Price – I came here with a $25 restaurant.com gift certificate that I purchased for $2. So our totally meal came out $9.88 + tip (8 dollars) = $20 Bucks. AMAZING. But this was not without being conscientious. No cocktails, just tap water (save money, lose weight – win win) and we ordered small plates and one entrée. One could easily spend $60-70 here on dinner.

The Décor – Fresh and Fancy. Located on a quiet section of one of the busiest streets in Los Angeles, Olympic Boulevard, the restaurant manages to feel quaint and unpretentious. Be sure to ask for the “fireside tables.” You don’t get to sit upright and proper while you eat, but you get to eat in front of a fire pit! Much more interesting (also great for people watching!)

The Food – I opted for small plate dishes and definitely would recommend that as the way to go. Here’s what I had:

Kumamoto Oyster shooter – Good, but I would say a little over seasoned. I love oysters so I’m a bit of a purest.

Shrimp and lobster Bisque – If you like ginger and have a salty palatte, you will love this, but again it was a bit much for my taste.

The Salted foie gras – Again a bit too salty for my taste, but also just mediocre. Really great foie gras melts in your mouth like butter and this was heavier in consistency

Salmon – Pan seared and seasoned with a yogurt dip. This was probably my favorite dish. Cooked well and not overly seasoned which kept the fish fresh.

Deep Fried balls of Awesome (aka I can’t remember the name) – Delicious. I can’t remember what the waiter said was in this, but it was a ball of heaven.

The Burger – This is my eating companion’s plate, but I of course had a taste and I would say that it’s a pretty competitive burger considering it’s up against Father’s Office, WestSide Tavern and Rush Street. The bread is really what makes that burger, a light sort of pretzel bread, that adds flavor but isn’t thick and heavy.

The Service – Top Notch. Water glasses always full (seems simple right? You’d be amazed) and server attentive but not over bearing service. Best part though, he didn’t belittle us for 1) using a coupon and 2) not ordering drinks or expensive dishes. Whaddya know? He wasn’t a pretentious asshole! Nothing annoys me more than a waiter who serves me poorly because he assumes I don’t know to tip on the entire bill. I always, always tip on the entire bill and usually tip about 20%, but I digress, as most people are not as generous as I am.

Three forks.


Eat Well – Jiraffe


Banana Creme Pie

It’s that time of year again! DineLA has swept through Los Angeles and Jamie’s fork and knife have dove in with enthusiasm. I had heard about Jiraffe from a rich kid back in college who had taken his girlfriend there for their 2-year anniversary. The guys couldn’t stop raving about the meal, so naturally I wanted to try it, but the $200 price tag was a bit steep for this starving artist. He lives in Crazytown (a town most of us wish we could be privy to, where money is no object). I on the other hand live in reality so I went during DineLA,’s Restautant Week where I could have a 3 course meal for $44 ($56 after tax and tip). Expensive? Yes. But fine dining is an experience and one that I quite enjoy so if I have to pick between a new handbag or a nice dinner, food will win every time.

Décor – Old school. Kind of feels like you’re eating in a Victorian house.  Small and intimate, but fits a surprisingly large number of guests.

Food – Here’s what I had:

A creamy mushroom soup

Starter to cleanse he palette.  Courtesy of the Chief. Thanks Chef!

Roulade of Hudson Valley Foie Gras & Crispy Potato Wrapped Big Eye Ahi Tuna

Confit of Baby Leeks, Plum Wine-Szechuan Pepper Sauce. Wrapped in sashimi with a crispy outer layer. Seasoned so lightly that the natural flavors of the goose and fresh sashimi mixed well together.

Filet of Beef

Roasted Salsify and White Asparagus Puree, Red Flame Grapes, Salad of Julienne Celery Root, with Creme Fraiche, Whole Grain Mustard, Madiera Beef Jus. Cooked to order the steak was juicy and tender.

Caramelized Banana Cream Pie

Banana Crème Pie – A light crème filled custard with glazed and torched bananas on top. A great top off to a very filling dinner.

Service – Great. Knowledgeable staff with a human touch. Our waiter cracked jokes and even though he knew we were there just for restaurant week, he treated us with respect and courtesy.


Three Forks.


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