My Move East

8300 Boulevard East #1F, North Bergen, NJ 07047

I did it, I finally did it! I've been thinking about this since January of 2013 and I officially closed on my new condo in North Bergen, New Jersey early August 2016. It's an amazing feeling, it feels like I reached a major milestone, I now officially have a home in San Francisco and now a new home in North Bergen! So why North Bergen you ask (this is always the first question when someone finds out that I got a new home in New Jersey), so it's ok, ask, I'm ok with it. In any case, let me explain 'why North Bergen?' Here's the answer, if you have ever looked for a condo in New York (NYC), well if you haven't, you may know anyways, but it is very expensive in NYC; VERY expensive! A down payment in NYC is a cash purchase in North Bergen, NJ. How amazing is that?! Instead of getting another mortgage, I decided to purchase a condo in North Bergen and still get access to NYC! Right across the street from my condo is the bus that I can take to NYC and get there in just 25 minutes! Yes, it only takes 25 minutes from my place to NYC! So long story short, it's a great feeling to own a condo out right and get access to the City of Dreams within minutes! So there you have it, now you know a little history of how and why I now have a home in North Bergen.

This is a major year of change for me, early 2016 I changed jobs (at the same company), and mid-2016, I got a new home in North Bergen! And oddly enough, I feel at home, I acclimated pretty quickly and feel very comfortable with North Bergen; even finding my new favorite Chinese restaurant which is about 8 minutes by bike. And yes, I got a new bike, instead of getting a car, I've decided to live simple, public transportation and biking. I have to say, it really does change the way you experience life. You appreciate things more and you have to plan more whenever you go out, for example, when I go into the city or bike around town, I think about what I can or should pick up. I can't buy a ton of things all at one time, so every time I go out, I need to pick little things up here and there.

As you read through this page, you'll see the make-over of my new condo. When I bought it, the walls were dark slate blue, which is nice, however, it made the place feel smaller. I wanted to open it up, make it brighter: I want to create a gallery space. As you'll see, I painted all the walls bright white and will stain the wood floors a grey. 

 
 
This is the before

This is the before

Before

As you can see in this photo, the walls are slate blue. I spent 2 weeks and a full 5 days to paint all the walls in this place pure white. I thought about this for about 2 months and have designed this in my head for 2 months because that's how long it took me to close on this place! 

So take a close look at the before photo, I didn't want to post too many since you get the jest of it from this one image, the walls were slate blue and the parkway floors were natural wood color. 


Beginning of After

As you see in this photo, I slept on an airbed. This was a part of my master plan. I didn't want to have a lot of furniture in my place at all. I wanted to start with just an airbed, a table, a chair, wifi & electricity. I actually ended up buying a microwave, which I use to heat up the Chinese food from my favorite new Chinese restaurant. The point is, I wanted to start with just about nothing so I can build out my place from the ground up. For the first couple of days, I did not even have power. And for the first full week, I did not have wifi at all! Boy, that was one tough week, but I survived! And now, I have FAST internet, 100mb upload & 100mb download! Amazingly fast! I love it! I still don't have a TV, but I do have my iPad mini and a Bose bluetooth speaker, which makes a nice little portable entertainment system. It's great for the interim. I do have a Sony tv on my wish list and I'll buy it after I get all the furniture in place.

This is the beginning of the after

This is the beginning of the after


Beginning of After Continued

Ok, so in this image, you can see a few key things. You can see that all the walls are now painted pure white. I love it, it brightens up the space and gives my space a gallery feel. You can also see my new bike, I bike around town to pick up food and to explore my new Latin and Chinese oddly mixed neighborhood. It's interesting and odd at the same time, lots of Chinese restaurants mixed in with all these Latin, Spanish, Brazilian and Portuguese restaurants. It's almost like the Mission district in San Francisco, but just not as busy.

This photo shows the floor before I sanded and stained it grey. This is natural wood color, which is fine, but I wanted to create a neutral backdrop for the furniture and the art I plan on putting on the walls. My vision for the space is to create my own gallery, I want to leave the space open and minimal so I can add some art on the walls. It's gonna be super cool, my own gallery in North Bergen, New Jersey!


Here, you can see the before and after photos of the the sanded floors. I started sanding the floors myself and violated a co-op rule; I cannot do constructions on the weekend (i.e. sanding floors). The Property Manager shut down my power because with all the noise from sanding, I could not hear him ringing the doorbell a thousand times! That was actually a great excuse for me to hire someone or a team to sand my floors! I was super exhausted and that afternoon, I called a flooring company and scheduled for the team to come in to sand my floors. They did that in 6 hours and it looks GREAT! I'm so happy!   So the follow on story, that Tuesday, when the flooring team was doing their thing, I had everything in my kitchen! Yes, I had my bike, my air bed, my work chair and my laptop working in the kitchen. What an interesting experience. I actually took some work calls out in the hallway, I was still able to use my wifi from the hallway. It was kinda like being in college. The good thing was that I met some of my neighbors as they went on their way. Not a bad strategy to meet your neighbors I guess.

Here, you can see the before and after photos of the the sanded floors. I started sanding the floors myself and violated a co-op rule; I cannot do constructions on the weekend (i.e. sanding floors). The Property Manager shut down my power because with all the noise from sanding, I could not hear him ringing the doorbell a thousand times! That was actually a great excuse for me to hire someone or a team to sand my floors! I was super exhausted and that afternoon, I called a flooring company and scheduled for the team to come in to sand my floors. They did that in 6 hours and it looks GREAT! I'm so happy! 

So the follow on story, that Tuesday, when the flooring team was doing their thing, I had everything in my kitchen! Yes, I had my bike, my air bed, my work chair and my laptop working in the kitchen. What an interesting experience. I actually took some work calls out in the hallway, I was still able to use my wifi from the hallway. It was kinda like being in college. The good thing was that I met some of my neighbors as they went on their way. Not a bad strategy to meet your neighbors I guess.

Here he is working very hard. His other team members finished their thing and he was sanding the living room. On the far right photo, you can see some of the dark section of the floor, which is before that area got sanded. The lighter area is where it was already sanded. They used a dustless sander, which was great!

Here he is working very hard. His other team members finished their thing and he was sanding the living room. On the far right photo, you can see some of the dark section of the floor, which is before that area got sanded. The lighter area is where it was already sanded. They used a dustless sander, which was great!

I just love this photo, the nice morning light on the freshly sanded floors. Kinda artsy. You can see how the floor is fresh, bare wood. It actually smelled very nice, like fresh cut trees; it has that pine tree smell.

I just love this photo, the nice morning light on the freshly sanded floors. Kinda artsy. You can see how the floor is fresh, bare wood. It actually smelled very nice, like fresh cut trees; it has that pine tree smell.

My place is coming together, slowly but surely, can't wait to see this floor all stained and varnished! This is the big weekend to complete this! After that, I order all the furniture! Can't wait!

My place is coming together, slowly but surely, can't wait to see this floor all stained and varnished! This is the big weekend to complete this! After that, I order all the furniture! Can't wait!


September 5, 2016 - So this weekend I stained the floors. It's a weathered grey color, which really gives my place an urban feel. I'm designing my space to be very 'gallery' and having the grey floors will definitely helps with that, giving it a touch of urban/industrial vibe. 

So it has started, I ordered my first piece of furniture and listed out a bunch of items from Ikea which I'm going to order. Yes, don't judge me! Ikea! The first major piece of furniture is from Crate and Barrel with the help of my cousin! Thanks Tri! See the photo of the new couch I ordered which arrives on the 20th of September (2016). This will class up my place a bit. I'm going to leave the space fairly sparse since I want to use it as a photo studio at times; AND I also want to set it up as if it were an art gallery. I'm saving all my paint containers so I can display it in my space as if it were an art installation. Yes, an art installation; I'm such an art geek. But it's fun for me, so I'm going for it! I want my space to capture my creative vibe.

 

2016.09.07 - So I submitted my Ikea furniture order! I got just about everything that I need to live comfortably and it only cost me just under $2000.00! I don't need more, but of course I will end up buying more, it's the nature of settling in; it's a natural instinct to buy more stuff to make your life more comfortable, but I'm hoping I don't clutter my place too much!

I decided to save all of my boxes so that I can display how much I order from Amazon! This is going to be a very interesting living space; I'm setting it up as if it were an art gallery. And I will put together a long-term installation art exhibit! I'm pretty excited. As I was feeling out my space this past weekend, I've decided to create a few large photo pieces in the method of my photo print tile painting (i.e. P.P.T.P.), but updated. Since my place is going to be neutral with blue accent, I plan on designing the huge 6' x 9' pieces to be black & white with blue accents. Currently, it's all in my head, but once I get my furniture together, I'm going to start producing these large pieces. I need to select images which projects a sense of big city, urban and solid. I have a few images in mind, but when I get my new camera, I'm going to see if I can create images specific for my space. I'll post them as I hang the final pieces in my space. Which means you need to bookmark this page so you can see the updates! 

So as you can see, I don't live too far from Wall Street. It's just a few blocks from my condo and I pass Wall Street every time I ride my bike to my favorite Chinese Restaurant. I'm sure you can tell, it's not the NYC Wall Street, but it's Wall Street none the less. Hahaha.

So as you can see, I don't live too far from Wall Street. It's just a few blocks from my condo and I pass Wall Street every time I ride my bike to my favorite Chinese Restaurant. I'm sure you can tell, it's not the NYC Wall Street, but it's Wall Street none the less. Hahaha.

Kinda random, but here's a photo I shot in Paris in 2015. We did a family visit not too long after the bombing, literally a week after the bombing in Paris in November 2015. This is one of my favorite photos because it just captures a nice energetic flow of the moment when I was walking to the Eiffel Tower with my mom and my uncle. Hope you like it!

Kinda random, but here's a photo I shot in Paris in 2015. We did a family visit not too long after the bombing, literally a week after the bombing in Paris in November 2015. This is one of my favorite photos because it just captures a nice energetic flow of the moment when I was walking to the Eiffel Tower with my mom and my uncle. Hope you like it!

Here's an image that captures the New Jersey vibe. It's an evening image, the sweeping clouds and the bright, bright colors crated by the setting sun. But it's the power lines and telephone poles which really give this a New Jersey feel. It gives the area a blue collar, working town kind of feel, which it is. This is why I took this snapshot.

Here's an image that captures the New Jersey vibe. It's an evening image, the sweeping clouds and the bright, bright colors crated by the setting sun. But it's the power lines and telephone poles which really give this a New Jersey feel. It gives the area a blue collar, working town kind of feel, which it is. This is why I took this snapshot.

And these images capture the NYC feel. The Empire State building on the left and the New York Times building on the right. If you compare this image to the one just above it, it really embodies the vibe of each of the cities. I love the fact that I have full access to NYC in 25 mins! It's like living in the city, without paying the big city living costs!

And these images capture the NYC feel. The Empire State building on the left and the New York Times building on the right. If you compare this image to the one just above it, it really embodies the vibe of each of the cities. I love the fact that I have full access to NYC in 25 mins! It's like living in the city, without paying the big city living costs!

I'm loving these NYC blue sky with light clouds. The humid dayz are just about passed. As we end September, the weather is much more enjoyable. I will have to learn how to live in the hot and humid weather. I had a few weeks of it as I moved here early August. And I survived without air conditioning; it was tough, but I survived!

I'm loving these NYC blue sky with light clouds. The humid dayz are just about passed. As we end September, the weather is much more enjoyable. I will have to learn how to live in the hot and humid weather. I had a few weeks of it as I moved here early August. And I survived without air conditioning; it was tough, but I survived!

Here's another evening sky in North Bergen, NJ. Do you see the difference? it's pretty stark isn't it? Now you know the New Jersey feel. North Bergen is predominantly Latin. I feel I'm the only Vietnamese person in this town! Or maybe I haven't met any Vietnamese people. To be honest, I don't really think it matters. I enjoy living amongst all cultures and races.

Here's another evening sky in North Bergen, NJ. Do you see the difference? it's pretty stark isn't it? Now you know the New Jersey feel. North Bergen is predominantly Latin. I feel I'm the only Vietnamese person in this town! Or maybe I haven't met any Vietnamese people. To be honest, I don't really think it matters. I enjoy living amongst all cultures and races.

Here's a fun photo, on the left, you have a random street art piece. It references the Korean flag, but I don't think this was near K-Town (Korea Town). On the right, you have the Flat Iron building. It does look pretty flat and I can see the iron feel. :)

Here's a fun photo, on the left, you have a random street art piece. It references the Korean flag, but I don't think this was near K-Town (Korea Town). On the right, you have the Flat Iron building. It does look pretty flat and I can see the iron feel. :)

Ok, so this morning, I put on the final touches to the floor. On the right, I just finished coating the floor with varnish, you can see it's still wet; I took that shot just after laying it down. On the right is a shot from the night before, I put on the grey stain. As you can see, that's my front door, which means I was stuck in my place! It was like I'm in jail! Just kidding. I purposefully stained it last night, so it can be all dried when I wake up. And first thing in the morning, I wanted to varnish it so that I can be dried before I leave for NYC! I woke up at 8:00 AM and varnished it, put a fan on it and it dried within an hour! I was planning for a 3 hour dry time, but after showering and prepping the laundry, I noticed that it was all dried! Thank god! I hate feeling like I'm stuck and cannot get out!

Ok, so this morning, I put on the final touches to the floor. On the right, I just finished coating the floor with varnish, you can see it's still wet; I took that shot just after laying it down. On the right is a shot from the night before, I put on the grey stain. As you can see, that's my front door, which means I was stuck in my place! It was like I'm in jail! Just kidding. I purposefully stained it last night, so it can be all dried when I wake up. And first thing in the morning, I wanted to varnish it so that I can be dried before I leave for NYC! I woke up at 8:00 AM and varnished it, put a fan on it and it dried within an hour! I was planning for a 3 hour dry time, but after showering and prepping the laundry, I noticed that it was all dried! Thank god! I hate feeling like I'm stuck and cannot get out!

2016.11.13 Entry

Ok, so it happened. Donald Trump was elected president. I'm really afraid for the entire world, not just America, but the entire world. I know Hilary has her issues, but I know the world would be safer than Trump. Very scary. I'm just going to leave it as that; not sure who you voted for, but that's your right. I just wanted to voice my concern.

So back to my move to NJ/NYC. So far I'm enjoying being here on the east coast AND the weather has just turned cool! Like really cool! Almost freezing cool (ok, not that cold yet, but getting there). I'm love'n it! I enjoy the cool weather better than the hot weather! Here are some photos of my place now that I have my bed, my desk and my couch! (Thx Tri!!). 

 

Notice how I'm leaving the space very open and sparse. I've designed it to be more of a gallery/studio space where I can use for photography. There's a lot of natural light. Something I learned was that the space is heated by hot steam, but not to get my place all steamy, but the heaters are essentially water radiators. They make this sound that seems like steam is being pushed out of pipes. It works very nicely, it keeps my place really warm. I rarely use my dyson heater/fan.

 

Here are a couple of hearts I found around town. Around NYC that is. I walked up 6th Ave and saw these hearts on the sidewalk. Maybe these hearts can give some hope to the world? it's a question of course. Hope you are asking yourself about hope and if we can find some hope in this situation. It's tough, but let's try, try really hard!

Here are a couple of hearts I found around town. Around NYC that is. I walked up 6th Ave and saw these hearts on the sidewalk. Maybe these hearts can give some hope to the world? it's a question of course. Hope you are asking yourself about hope and if we can find some hope in this situation. It's tough, but let's try, try really hard!

My favorite vietnamese restaurant,  Saigon Shack.  It sounds like a jenkie spot, but it's one of the BEST in NYC. If you are ever in NYC, stop by  Saigon Shack ! What you are looking for is pork chop pho.

My favorite vietnamese restaurant, Saigon Shack. It sounds like a jenkie spot, but it's one of the BEST in NYC. If you are ever in NYC, stop by Saigon Shack! What you are looking for is pork chop pho.

My place is coming together really nicely and I'm feeling like this is home. As a matter of fact, when I went back at the end of October to go see Winston's play, I found that I was not as connected to SF and my space in SF. I'm thinking I will remodel that, get rid of a lot of the junk then rent out the space. If I do this, I may not have to work anymore! Well, not work as hard or work with a company. Maybe I'll get to the point of just doing photography for Silpixia! My Silpixia of course! So working for myself!! :) I'm going to sit down and plan that out!

2016.11.19 - Time Square for you... a fresh panoramic photo of my favorite spot in the whole world!

2016.11.19 - Time Square for you... a fresh panoramic photo of my favorite spot in the whole world!

This tree... this tree... not sure what it is about this tree, but it caught my eye. maybe because the leaves are so yellow! And it was lit from the sun and the background was so dark. Well, whatever it was, I felt I had to take this snappy. :)

This tree... this tree... not sure what it is about this tree, but it caught my eye. maybe because the leaves are so yellow! And it was lit from the sun and the background was so dark. Well, whatever it was, I felt I had to take this snappy. :)

This image is self explanatory... it captures the local vibe for the time, 2 weeks after the 2016 presidential election.

This image is self explanatory... it captures the local vibe for the time, 2 weeks after the 2016 presidential election.

more later..... :)

Make sure you bookmark this page, I will be adding more images and posts as I get more settled into my new North Bergen condo!

Robert Vo