Driving Inland To Sin City

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After spending more days than we planned to at the bay area, we drove inland towards Las Vegas, where we thought was the best replica of Orchard Road.

Yes, we missed the lights and buzz in Orchard Road

During my first trip to the States in 1994, we went on a short vacation during Christmas and boy, was it depressing.

Everything was closed and there was barely a soul on the streets
It was silent night, literally.

That wasn’t how Christmas looked like where we came from where consumerism thrived during holiday seasons.

A few years ago, when we were living in hot desert Arizona, the closest decent city to us was Las Vegas and we flocked there whenever we got the chance.

Strange as it may sound, it wasn’t the booze or the casinos that brought us there.
In fact, we almost never stepped foot in a casino, much less party at night
The biggest attraction for us there was food.

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We were there for dim sum and food that reminded us of home.
We had Nasi Lemak, Char Kuey Teow, Laksa and Satay and I concluded that craving could only be understood when deprived.

We had dim sum at Orchids Garden. If you are as desperate as us, you can probably try out Chang’s Cuisine, Cathay House  and Ping Pang Pong as well.

Joyful House served very good and authentic Chinese food which made us went back for more.

We had our Char Kuey Teow at Island Malaysian Cuisine but the standard seemed to have dropped and the food at Satay Thai Bistro & Bar was dismaying. They served Americanised asian dish that was far from authentic.

Apart from food, we walked the Vegas Strip and checked out free shows such as the fountain show and indoor exhibit at Bellagiothe pirate show at Treasure Island. We used to visit the lions at MGM Grand but they no longer had the lions with them.

And there was this inane compulsion to visit M&M’s World when we were there. We hardly eat them at home but we visited the place to complete the things we did with our elder boy and each of them walked out of the store with a bag of M&M filled with their favourite colours.

So mostly for old time’s sake, we hit the road, drove 8 hours, past the Aircraft Boneyard in Mojave Desert, the Joshua trees and caught the last sunset of 2013.

During the long drive, I made a video to bid goodbye to 2013 and say hello to 2014.

 
 

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This entry was posted in Travel.

Heading West

It has been my wish to show my preschooler the places we had visited with his elder brother before he was born.

So after Lake Tahoe, we headed west because west has some of our fondest memories. We drove 3 hours to San Francisco

We stopped over at Sacramento for some scrumptious dim sum at New Canton Restaurant. If you haven’t realised by now, my boys love and miss this Hong Kong cuisine and everywhere we go, we try to hunt for them and the one we had here was totally satisfying.

With numerous road trips under our belt, a 3 hours drive these days is a piece of cake. The kids ate, slept and played games. We only stopped when someone needs to pee.

San Francisco, a picturesque charming city with much iconic landmarks. We didn’t have an itenerary but we did the touristy stuff

We walked the crookedest street, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge, we visited the sea lions that seem to have found permanent residency at Pier 39

[edited] We found the best place for clam chowder and clam linguini at Prompei’s Grotto and we ate the worst one at Swiss Louis Italian and Seafood

We chose the latter because of its breathtaking view of the sea lions and sun set but the food turned out dismaying.

My grilled grouper turned out to be a pan fried tilapia filet. I had to ask them to recook my fish, which they did and took out all the funny crunchy sprinkles that reeked of recycled oil. But they didn’t change the fish. I have to admit, I was expecting a fresh from the sea grouper (since we were near to Fisherman’s Wharf) and not a farmed tilapia fillet ! [edited]

We walked the narrow streets at Chinatown, which was like Singapore in the 80s  hoping to find some good food but proved to be in vain.

We did find an old bakery, Good Mong Kok bakery, that sells the best Lao Po Bing and takeaway dim sum.

To begin with, I am not even a Lao Po Bing fan, but the ones there were freshly baked, flaky and golden brown on the outside, soft and chewy at the inside. They were fresh from the oven and were still warm. It was heavenly.

We ventured north of the Golden Gate Bridge and found a cafe in the quaint town of Sausalito which reminded us of Cinque Terre, the rustic old town bordering the Mediterranean Sea. They sell freshly baked cookies and healthy sandwiches served with fresh fruits salad or oven roasted vege and best of all, the baker was there to serve you freshly brewed coffee.

On the last day, we drove to Silicon Valley and that was perhaps the most exciting part for me.

We visited Facebook and Google. (I have to admit that was more for me)

I was  a little girl in Disney World

Unfortunately, we could only hang around the campuses because they were business premises. But even then, just being near these techie geeks who had revolutionalised the world excites me.

Knowing that they live in my era and their names and contribution will go down in history inspire me and I left the place feeling somewhat emotional.

 
 
P/S : oh and of course, my husband had to introduce to the boys his FAVOURITEST burger !

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This entry was posted in Travel.

A Ski Holiday

School was out for 2 weeks and we went on a vacation that was as long. We reckoned it would be difficult for my husband to get this kind of break back home, so we made the best out of it.

We went on a ski holiday, snaked through the Sierra Nevada into a picturesque city of bridges, crossed the barren land of the Mojave Desert and into the glittering lights of sin city

For the first week, we did nothing but eat, sleep and ski. We hardly saw the rest of Lake Tahoe, and I left the place not knowing how much it had changed from 20 years ago. I guess I was the only one who was feeling nostalgic, everyone else was focused on having fun riding down ski slopes with powder soft snow

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We woke up in the morning, cooked and ate breakfast, dressed in layers of warm clothing and were out the whole day. The cold would have been unbearable if not for the heat that we generated from physical exertion. Just putting on the boots and ski made me huff and puff, and the thin air at 8000 over feet didn’t help.

It was a hassle, especially when I haven’t mastered the skill of effortlessly cruising down the slopes. It would be perfectly understandable if the kids were whiny and fussy. But hell no, they were excited to go onto the slopes every morning

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We dropped them at ski school first thing in the morning and my husband and I had the rest of the day to ourselves. I swear, we have never had so much couple time before, not since when the kids came along. It was just a pity that I had to spend most of it trying to pick up a skill that most people would have picked up easily at half my age. It was evident, my 9 year old can now do a black slope with his instructor while I am still struggling doing snow plough on the blue slopes.

We did have long undisturbed hot lunches with a view of a frozen lake. It was a bliss. and even met Santa and his gang.

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In the late afternoon, we would pick up the boys and head straight back to our rental lodge. I would be busy cooking to feed the hungry boys while they unpacked and washed up.

We spent a hundred over dollars at the supermarket on the first night we arrived. For the rest of the week, we had pan fried salmon, stir fried greens, chicken vegetable noodles, fried rice, minced meat omelette and curry chicken. Thanks to a very well equipped kitchen and spices, condiment and staples I smuggled in my bag. It almost felt like we never left home. It would have cost much more eating bleh food outside

And because the kids were so tired out from the activities in the day. They crashed in bed right after dinner. Getting them to bed had never been easier.

And after one week, I am beginning to see why skiing has to be the best activity to do during cold winter months. Because when you are having fun and your body is generating heat, it takes away the miserable coldness. And it is the kind of holiday where the kids (both big and small) have fun and doesn’t make you feel guilty for binging because after a long day of toiling in the cold, you know you deserve that extra calorie.

So bring on the cheese and chocolate !

 
 

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