Returning to the US
The pandemic has upended the lives of virtually everyone on this planet. Like many people, we had not seen most of our family, including our parents and siblings, since Christmas of 2019. Little did we think back then that it would be so, so long until we could see each other again.
Despite the fact that Hong Kong has one of the most stringent quarantine requirements in the world, we finally decided to bite the bullet and plan an extended trip out of Hong Kong. We went into this knowing that when we returned, we’d need to spend 3 weeks at a government-approved quarantine hotel. As we traveled between various countries, we would need to take umpteen Covid tests and comply with a vast array of procedural requirements that varied country by country. We’d need to test ourselves, often, and we’d need to be ultra careful while meeting our parents.
How did we prepare? We ordered dozens of rapid antigen Covid-19 tests, which we used to test ourselves after every flight. Bryan ordered boatloads of my favorite coffee pods and even two TRX training systems to plan for our inevitable quarantine. We brought TONS of KN95 and KF94 masks to last us the entire trip.
Re-Adjusting to American Life
It’s funny the first places we visit after returning to the US. After re-adjusting to a lifestyle that included having a car, parking lots, and (ugh) LA traffic, we started visiting the most mundane places. The funny thing is, it had been so long that we were super, super excited to go to places like Costco, Target, and In & Out Burger.
It took awhile to adjust to a different way of mask wearing. Mask mandates vary city by city, but virtually no city requires wearing masks outside (unlike in Hong Kong). At the beginning, we stared in horror as we witnessed whole maskless cities going about their normal life. I distinctly remember being shocked seeing a man rip off his mask the moment he stepped outside the stop. By the end of the trip, we had adjusted and were “doing as the Romans do”, taking off our masks the moment we stepped outside (though we always kept them on inside).
Home Cooking Never Tasted So Good
The sweetest part of the Los Angeles trip was of course the time we had to spend with family. We saw Bryan’s parents for lunch almost every day. His mom cooked us a bountiful array of amazing delicious and healthy foods, which we shared each day together on their outside patio (thank you California sunshine!).
Bryan’s mom made all of Bryan’s favorite foods (which he hasn’t had in close to 2 years!). Because we couldn’t be home for Thanksgiving, she even hunted around off-season and found a full-sized turkey, making us an early full-fledged Thanksgiving meal. It was amazing, and oh-so-good to be with the extended family once again.
Because it was pandemic times, we only ate outdoors and kept our masks on inside.
Disneyland was one of the highlights of our Los Angeles trip. The weather was beautiful, we went on a weekday (so the lines were short!), and . . . most importantly, we saw the new Star Wars Land! It was really, really cool. The must-do ride is the new Rise of the Resistance. There are limited tickets per day and you must reserve them via the mobile app. They become available two times a day, 7AM and 1PM, and it’s a mad finger race to see who can grab them first.
We tried to reserve them at 7AM (we asked our friend to do it), but he totally failed, even though he tried right at 7AM. After entering the park, we tried again around 1PM. This time, we knew how crazy of a race it was, so we ALL downloaded the app and started pressing the button over and over and over again. Bryan “won” our finger race and was able to reserve tickets for all of us.
It is SO WORTH it. It is probably the best Disneyland ride I’ve ever been on. I won’t spoil it, but it’s a huge production with many different parts to the ride. They only let people ride it once a day. Otherwise, I totally would have gone back and ridden it multiple times. There’s so much to see, and it really takes multiple times. Perhaps someday . . .
Hiking in Los Angeles
I love hiking no matter where I go. In Hong Kong it’s easy just to walk 5-10 minutes and arrive at a trail. In Los Angeles, we had to drive, but there is a lot of fun hiking both nearby and further away. We spent a day hiking up to the Hollywood Sign. From the top you can see beautiful views of LA and also take some silly photos with the sign itself.
My favorite hike for pretty views, though, were the beautiful waterways at Bolsa Chica Wetlands Wildlife Reserve. We chose this place because it was not too far from Bryan’s parents’ home in Orange County. It’s a pretty easy and flat walk, and the views are stunning. It’s a preserve for birds, so you can also see lots of different types of wildlife. Finally, we also met up with a friend at Huntington Beach and Balboa Island, and took and nice long walk along the virtually empty beach.
All in all, we had a really blessed time in Southern California. I’m extremely thankful that we were able to visit Bryan’s family during a time before Omicron hit. Even though Delta was present, at least the vaccines seemed to do their job against that variant at the time (phew!).
Next up: all the food we enjoyed while in LA! Below is a sneak preview. 🙂
Other Posts in this Series (Some to be published in the next 1-2 weeks)
Traveling During Covid – Our Three Month Trip Around the World
Majordomo Los Angeles – Part of David Chang’s Momofuku Empire
Celebrating Our 20th Anniversary at Taco Maria (During Covid)
Daybird LA – Best Szechuan Hot Chicken
Playa Amor Los Angeles – Amazing Mole