Boston and Cambridge City Guide

charles river

I spent 3 months living in Boston during last Summer. Specifically, I lived near Kendall Square and worked on the MIT campus, so a lot of my recommendations are close to there. However, Boston/Cambridge are very very small, you can actually walk from Harvard all the way to the east coast of boston with very little effort.

I know I’m missing pictures, but I’m quite sure I have them for all the places listed. Just give me some time to get those up.

**Guide after the jump…**

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monthly ping


//(Warning) This post was intended for my tumblr which is usually a lot more raw/personal than I’m willing to let out into the public. If you find anything confusing, vulgar, or offensive just keep that in mind. 

Recently I’ve been thinking about blogging something.

Like, I’ve been getting this little notion of having to do a write up, but nothing has come to fruition.

Now, after reading a bunch of my friends’ blogs, which are all quite good I must say, I’m going to channel their energy to finally write an update. Thanks friends.

Life is really good. Like… really really good.

I ride my bicycle, see new things, run into interesting people, and eat yummy food everyday.

Proof? Below is a mix of pictures from Austin and SF taken in the last 2 weeks. They’re taken with a special camera… and it’s not micro 4/3.


on top

When people ask me “How are you doing?”

I tend to reply now.. “Good, really good actually.”

“Why? What’s new?”

“I have a bicycle.”

They tend to not understand this statement. But believe me… my bicycle has changed my life entirely.

It’s not like a religious thing or a scam. It’s a fucking bicycle for fucks sake. You buy one, probably off craigslist, and if you like it you can keep it, if you don’t you can sell it. What are the draw backs of getting addicted?

Hmm… exercise… less gas usage… any cons? Iono yo.

-New things

cal train

I recently took a trip to San Francisco. It was absolutely flipping amazing.

The weather for one… was a solid “Hmm maybe I should bring a jacket.” 70 average during the day, 55 average at night. Compare that to the 100 -> 70 weather we have here in Austin… jeeze. As a lover of public transport, I had a great time figuring out how to get around the city. The pic above is of the Cal Train which can take you from SF to San Jose, which I thought was the coolest thing ever.

omada health

To be honest I really had my heart set on moving to New York after graduation, and even though my brother told me that SF was “different than any other place on Earth and amazing for people in tech” I didn’t want to believe him. Well… it turns out he was right. There’s just something about the people in San Fran. There’s just this air of doing things just cause it’s an awesome idea, and designing tech oriented businesses to help people that you can’t find anywhere. People in Austin have warned me about the viciousness of the Valley when it comes to startups. It’s not viciousness… really… it’s just people who are hungry for change, and will be up for doing anything remotely awesome. They are not afraid of failure, which they actually look to as a badge of honor, and because of that the products just turn out better. In my honest opinion, cities such as New York, Boston, and Austin will never be able to catch up to Silicon Valley.


I’m just feeling this new fire for technology and software. And I have no idea where this is coming from. I hated this shit 2 months ago. Now it’s time to play catch up with the people who are already legit and have been in the game for years. The pic above is of a company called Omada Health, who are solving type 2 diabetes with a 16 week program designed with Ruby on Rails. I met a couple of the guys at Nerd Beer, which is one of the many many tech meetups in the SF area. Props to my brother to getting me an invite…

And yeah, I did do a spontaneous interview with Omada... I think I did okay? Actually I didn’t do that great. heh.

-Interesting people

mission workshop

I went to Mission Workshop, which is a bicycle bag manufacturer in San Francisco. Their store is really cool since they actually ship all their orders from this large table in the store front. It turns out I learned a ton about photo printing from this guy since they had a fantastic photo exhibit up in the store, what a weird turn of events.

biking betties

Back in Austin, I went over to Fast Folks, which is a fixed gear/single speed bicycle boutique, to buy a small lock. I couldn’t have chose a better time since they were shooting for their 2013 calendar which features a ridiculously hot girl + bike for each month of the year. I’m sold.


She has a Cinelli frame and a Mission Workshop backpack. I’m in love @_@


Apparently they produce a zine! I think it would be amazing to be in one of those.


Most legit cyclist I’ve met. The bike repairmen at Mellow Johnnies were asking this guy for tips… heh


Fellow Leica user in San Fran:).

-Yummy food


Katanaya, one of the most famous places to get ramen in SF. To be honest it was only okay. I ordered the Katanaya ramen, which was decent… but not the greatest. 3/5? My brother and I tried to go to Orenchi Ramen in Sunnyvale, but there were 25 parties ahead of us so we couldn’t eat there. Insane.

four barrell

As I was walking along in Mission, the most hipster part of SF, I came across this really huge ass cafe with a ton of bikes outside. Yeah… it was pretty cool inside. They don’t have wifi or power outlets! That shit is too mainstream.


Still wondering around Mission, a very familiar smell came to my nose. It was that of a legit bar. I actually passed this place twice, and on the 2nd time decided… why the fuck would I not go in?

I asked for a local IPA… and guess what, Racer 5 by Bear Republic is local in California, which has been one of my favorite beers for the past year. SO COOL.


I rented bikes with my friend Hoan, which we took from 1 neighbor hood the next and back. We had some extra time, so we decided to take a hill for fun, and circle around.. and when we did we saw Absinthe, which was a recommendation from my dear friend Eve. We popped in for a couple drinks and oysters. It was divine!

bacon chicken salad

yumz. Cenote is definitely my new favorite place cafe in Austin. Tasty espresso, beer, amazing sandwiches… and you KNOW a place is going to be good if you see 2+ Surly’s out in front. It takes a certain mentality to own a Surly(LOL).

Mediterranean panini @ hot mama's

This sandwich was surprisingly good. Imagine a muffaletta but daintier and more elegant.

hot mamas cafe

Outside there was a group of people doing hoola hooping. Old men, young women, and kids too. I ended up ordering a custom hoola hoop for my mom.

-My photography

paris texas

The thing is… I think my photography is finally starting to change.

I’m becoming more comfortable with who I am as a person, and it is really showing through my pictures. In the past I would be scared if someone noticed me taking a picture, but now I take it for what is and run with it.


When I notice I’m in an environment where people are hostile to me taking their picture, I leave, and never come back. Fuck them. But recently most people have been really open to me and my pictures.

mirrorball satelite

Again, I really want my images to become more raw… to reveal more and more about who I am on the inside. I went to Spider House to grab some food at love balls, which as a bit meh. There was an awesome punk rock band called Mikey and the Drags… I could only imagine what it would be like to listen to their music while biking. There were these 2 cute asian girls smoking outside… and it turns out one performed later in the night and I missed out. What a bummer!


So yeah… there you have it, my life in a nutshell.

The kicker is that I find myself alone at night and it kind of sucks.



And as a sort of take away from this post… life is absolutely flipping amazing. It’s beautiful, and the subtleties go on to no end. Don’t be comfortable where you are. Keep exploring and find new things. Escape the cycle.

How to take pictures of strangers

Generally there are 2 schools of thoughts when it comes to taking pictures of strangers:

chicon st crew

1. You ask them

party of 3

2. You don’t

The obvious safe practice is to ask them first, which is safer since you don’t want someone chasing you down trying to destroy your CF card. But in many cases it ruins the moment, probably the very reason why you were enamored with the person in the first place.

And you know what? Countless amounts of people have noticed me taking a picture of them, some happy, some weirded out, some indifferent, and even slightly angry in some cases, but never has a person ever tried to do anything about it.

The correct choice in my opinion is… both. I do a bit of both. It just depends on the situation.

oh taisho

If a person looks occupied with something, I leave them be. I try to capture them in that moment. This is a situation where you need to be as discrete as possible.

Do not make any sudden movements. Ease casually into your shooting position, or even better shoot from the hip. I find that the best time to take candids of strangers is when I’m already participating the scene myself. For example if I’m waiting outside to be seated at a restaurant… and someone of interest comes outside to sit down, they don’t notice me cause I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

A discrete shot needs to be fast. Take a quick glance… then

*Breath in* -> meter, focus, compose

*Breath out* -> click

Take as many frames as you can, which I find to be about… 2-5 before they notice (depending on your camera’s fps and loudness of your shutter sound). Then just carry on with what you’re doing. 

When I’m at a bar, I order a drink and sit around for a while, then I start looking for pictures. I’m part of the scene already so people are less alert to my presence.


For this one I was already drawing on the floor with a friend when these lovely ladies showed up. Street photography is magnificent since you actually get to participate in the event. The way your subject reacts to you is a direct reflection of your involvement in the scene.


I find it helpful to actually shoot wider (28mm~)… and get super close to the subject, so close that they think you’re taking a picture of something else. Again I will write another tutorial on how to take pictures like this quickly, efficiently, and without bothering your subjects.

at the pub

On the other hand, I ask quite often. It doesn’t always have to be a verbal agreement though. A lot of times I just point at my camera or make eye contact and smile at them right before I take the picture.


I used to be a very shy person who stayed inside all day. But now I’m probably the most extroverted person among my friends. Photography propelled me to speak to strangers, hear their stories, and it’s gotten me very far. This guy happened to be the head of customer service for the Metro in Boston, he gave us a couple free limited edition Japanese T passes. Pretty sweet right?!


You just never know the stories people have… or what they do. It’s all quite interesting. I had probably one of the most high level conversations about photography with a complete stranger. (I apologize in advance) Life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get.

Oh yeah… what happens when the person says no? Don’t take the picture. Don’t think anything of it, sometimes they just don’t want it done, maybe they were having a bad hair day or something. Just walk away… you’ll find another potential target soon enough. 

next stop

So yeah… in the end its your choice. Just remember to participate, be chill about it, be kind, and smile.

Things to do in Boston

charles river

I spent 3 months living in Boston during last Summer. Specifically, I lived near Kendall Square and worked on the MIT campus, so a lot of my recommendations are close to there. However, Boston/Cambridge are very very small, you can actually walk from Harvard all the way to the east coast of boston with very little effort.

I know I’m missing pictures, but I’m quite sure I have them for all the places listed. Just give me some time to get those up.

**Guide after the jump…**

Continue reading