The D.C. Cherry Blossom Watch

The D.C. Cherry Blossom Watch


I would not be pleased to break my recent streak of weekly travel for the past 8 weeks. Therefore, this weekend I headed to our nation’s capital for the annual cherry blossom festival where the cherry blossoms are at their peak bloom.

After work on a long Saturday, I boarded a 6:30pm Megabus and arrived around 11pm.

Since I had over 40,000 SPG points (that I had acquired by being an American Express SPG cardholder) that were about to expire, I was instructed to keep them alive by getting a free night stay at the St. Regis hotel, a Category 6 Starwood property and one of the nation’s best hotels. Can’t complain if I’m forced to stay here!



The next morning I walked 30 minutes south from the St. Regis to the Tidal Basin. Here’s where all the action is happening when the cherry blossom trees are at their peak bloom, and you only have 3-4 days to see it every year before the flowers wilt and pass.

The Japanese gifted us with 2 cherry blossom trees as a sign of friendship in 1912. Then 1800 more trees were planted between 1913-1920. Then the annual festival was then established in 1935 with a brief suspension during World War II (for obvious reasons). After 3,800 more Yoshino trees were gifted by the Japanese in 1965, you get the result you see today.

Enjoy elbowing your way through the crowds when you get here!



Afterwards, celebrate with a drink at POV bar, a rooftop bar at the W hotel overlooking the city!


Running into my friend Eugene from ECAASU!


After a dinner at Founding Farmers, I then caught up with my fellow social justice warrior Ilana Alazzeh, loyal monsooner Shanika Jayakody, and ECAASU alumnus (who hosted me back when I was in San Diego in 2010!) Eugene Mok over hookah at Nomad for a few hours, before boarding the overnight 11pm Megabus home back to NYC.


- At time of posting in Washington, D.C., it was 12 °C - Humidity: 27% | Wind Speed: 14km/hr | Cloud Cover: overcast


From NYC To DC

From NYC To DC


Gareth, Jenn, Jorge and I spent the last 2 days leading Roza and her husband, Stephen, around NYC, living vicariously through their wonder at a place we fondly call home.



Sometimes you don’t have to travel very far to discover you can once again feel like a tourist in your own city.




The next morning they work up early to take the group to our nation’s capital, Washington DC via Megabus.






After a long day of sightseeing, the group crashed at the seedy District Hotel, the next most affordable lodging in DC second to your friend’s couch.

But you get what you pay for: they only offered 4 beds even though 6 was paid for, Jenn was stranded without a place to sleep, Gareth was about to punch the receptionist for being rude and not letting him in the hotel without me there, the hotel refused to offer cots for Jenn, and by sundown I was making international calls to Ireland and convincing HostelWorld to rescind the payment for not rendering any the services we paid for. HostelWorld even contacted me back within the hour and said they were taking our side after speaking with the Hotel.

Suffice to say, stay here only if you absolutely have to.

This morning, on only 2 hours of sleep, Jenn bravely headed to Reagan International Airport to pick up their rental car for the rest of the first leg of the trip. Next stop: North Carolina!




- At time of posting in Washington DC, it was 17 °C - Humidity: 25% | Wind Speed: 23km/hr | Cloud Cover: Sunny


“There Are No Excuses.”

“There Are No Excuses.”


I started this blog the summer before beginning medical school and in the ensuing 3 years, I’ve carried this far along to over 45 countries, with #47 coming up right at the eve of my very last exam of medical school (knock on wood). And people always ask: “how in the world…?” (no pun intended) And I’ve always struggled with an answer other than: “you’ll just have to come along and see for yourself!” But there’s really no better way of explaining it than the following itinerary I am (hopefully) about to pull off:

Beginning my day by taking the 8 hour Step 2 CS medical licensing exam (the boards) in Philadelphia — which will end in the afternoon — and then rush by bus, train, and taxi to catch an international flight in another city — Washington D.C. — by the end of the evening. If I’m lucky, I should wake up in Iceland by the next morning.

It’s essentially a perfect representation of my attitude throughout medical school: waste no time. Seriously. Do what you have to do to study and take an exam, but once you’re done, don’t take the day off — make every minute count and catch that flight outta town!


How I’m doing it —


I wake up 7am in the morning in Philadelphia:

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 9.18.16 PM
Philadelphia, PA

And at 8am, I check-in to take the Step 2 Clinical Skills of the 4-part United States Medical Licensing Examinations (aka, the medical BOARDS):

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 8.56.08 PM

It’s an 8 hour exam. So by 4pm (hopefully), I can rush out of the testing center…

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 9.16.12 PM

….to pick up my backpacks from my hotel before cabbing it to the Philadelphia 30th Street train station:

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 9.00.20 PM
Philadelphia 30th St. Station

The goal is to catch the 4:55pm Amtrk train leaving from Philadelphia 30th St Station to Washington DC Union Station:

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 8.59.30 PM
Washington D.C. Union Station

I should arrive into Washington D.C. at 6:47pm, which gives me about maybe 3 minutes to walk around and enjoy the city…

Screen Shot 2013-10-27 at 8.54.16 PM
Washington, D.C.



- At time of posting in Philadelphia, Philadelphia International Airport, it was 9 °C - Humidity: 47% | Wind Speed: 5km/hr | Cloud Cover: n/a