Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winter & Mee Jawa Dream

Winter is not our favorite season and it's -6 deg celcius today. The cold makes you feel lazy to move around and always feel want to spend the whole day to be underneath your blanket, or to be particular, my precious green fleece.

The other thing you always want to do and keep doing it during winter is to eat. At this time, your body system will cry for more food most of the time in order to generate heat for your body.

It's not a surprise if by the end of the season, you will gain weight more than you expected.

You will always crave to have something that you can't get. In my case, I kept having flash backs the Mee Jawa that we had when we were in Miri last summer.

The taste? I swear to God, the mee jawa is the best we have ever had for the whole of our eating history! It was so delicious, I kept dreaming about that mee jawa after that.

The havenly delicious mee jawa of Kampung Pulau Melayu, Miri

This stall is located next to no. 9 hole of Miri Golf Club near Kampung Pulau Melayu, Miri. And the locals call this place the " 9th hole warung". Hmm.. a great name for a great food they serve.

The kampung warung concept that a value added for the ambience

Usually, the Sarawak's mee jawa gravy is made solely from sweet potatoes. Same goes to this mee jawa, except that it is cooked together with cow meat & bones. I just can't describe how delicious this mee jawa was.

It was like an electric static shock with the euphoria sensation right after the first drop of the gravy touched my tongue. I hope they didn't put weed in this delicacy. heh =)

The warung hole no. 9 viewed from the parking near the green of hole no. 9

Me and my wife even plan to go back to Miri just to have that Mee Jawa again when we are back in Malaysia this coming summer.

It usually take almost 10 hours to drive from Kuching, our hometown to Miri or 1 hour flight. But it won't be the reason to stop us from getting back there and eat 3 plates of that mee jawa.

But the latest info we get from my wife's brother who lives in Miri, the owner had recently passed away and the mee jawa is not as good as the last time after his death. Maybe the owner didn't inherit the secret recipe to his descendant, he added.

Hmmm... It was a big blow for our plan. Now we will never have another chance to have the same exact mee jawa again.

How I wish he left the recipe to somebody relevant. Now he brought together the recipe of the havenly mee jawa to haven. Where it belongs.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Washington Monument of Washington D.C

Washington Monument is always be our favourite monument. It's located near the west end of Washington Mall, in Washington DC. Rising high as the iconic landmark and tallest building in the city.

Standing at 169.24 meters as the tallest stone structure in the world, this magnificent obelisk was made from marble, granite and sandstone, and was completed in 1885.

We have been to Washington D.C a few times since it is just less than 2 hours drive to get there from Philadelphia. The monument has been our favorite spot everytime we had our long end to end walk at the 1.6km National Mall.

But during our third visit last Fall, together with my wife's sister, Sherina and hubby, Johan , the trip was a special one. We had the opportunity of a lifetime to get into the monument and had a 360 degrees view of Washington D.C from the highest spot in the city.

My significant other and her baby sister

Before that, I never thought of having the opportunity to get into the monument since everytime we passed by, there will be a long queue of visitors waiting for their turn to go up to the top of the monument.

This pic was taken on our first visit in summer 2 years ago

The monument from Lincoln Memorial

Unless you have extra time and patient, then it should be fine for you to join the queue and wait for your turn. Since they limit the visitors to go in on a specific time, it will take quite some time to acquire an entrance.

The East View : Capitol Hill and other great museums at the National Mall

The North View : The White House and Downtown DC

But, on that morning, Johan luckily got the extra tickets to visit the monument for an afternoon visit. Yeah!

So after spending our morning strolling around the west end of the National Mall, including the Lincoln Monument and Korean War Veteran Memorial, we headed towards Washington Mall excitingly.

the west view : 1901

The West View : 1920

After queuing for approx. 10 minutes, so off we went to the top. However, we were not allowed to take picture at the checking line at the bottom of the monument maybe because of the security purposes. I guess so.

The West View : Lincoln Memorial and the Reflection Pool

The South View : Potomac River and the Pentagon

Once on the top, we can view through the small windows from every side of the monument at the aerial angel. A very spectacular view of Washington D.C.

the small window at each side of the monument for sightseeing purposes. So small but yet, so many visitors waiting for their turn.

So these are the pics that we took for that rare opportunity visit of ours.

My sweet inlaws : Sherina & Johan, the honeymooners

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Chicago En Route & The Low Cost Flight

Flight : US Airways [the cheapest one on the line I could find]
ETD : 3.05pm from Philadelphia International Airport
ETA : 5.00pm at Chicago O'hare International Airport

We woke up early, since we planned to get to the airport early and try to get an earlier flight on the waiting list status, after being told by my friend that we could do that for free. So without taking breakfast, off we go to the bus stop.

waiting for the bus in the subzero temp

It was one hell of a winter morning, the temperature was -10 deg celcius , there we were, shivering at the bus stop on Sunday morning.

After 15 minutes of waiting and my significant other almost got a frostbite nose, the bus came and we headed towards 30th Street Station, Philadelphia Train Station in the city.

It's only 10 minutes ride from our place to the city and on Sunday, it is shorter than that.

the 30th Street Station from across the street

We arrived at the station at 8am with the station already busy with its usual routine. The long queue of taxis at the entrance and the crowd of people in this enormous 1928 built station.

the 30th Street Station west entrance

It has a neo-classical exterior design with high coffered ceiling and beautiful art deco chandeliers. Outstanding architecture especially for a building which was built in the Great Depression Era.

The magnificent design of the interior

After we bought 2 tickets of Philadelphia Airport 8.34am regional train, we had our breakfast while waiting for the train. Two fresh baked bavarian doughnuts each from Dunkin Donuts and hot coffees.

Haven! After being freezing before that while waiting for the bus.

the breakfast

The train arrived on time, and we had 20 minutes ride to the airport. A short and scenic view of a ride. With white snow still blanketing the ground and bushes, frozen lake and stream all the way from the city to the airport.

while waiting for the train

While enjoying the view, I kept wondering, what the heck was I thinking heading to Chicago in this kind of weather for our winter vacation? Once in a while, I looked at my wife who sat beside me. I bet she was thinking the same thing too.

the view from the train on the way to the airport

We arrived at the airport before 9.00am and we rushed to the check-in counter to register ourselves for an earlier flight instead of the initial 3.05pm flight.

I've checked online the night before, there will be 10.05am, 11,05am and 1.05pm flights. Hopefully we can get a slot in any of those.

the airport gallery

After asking the old guy who was in-charged at the counter, he told us that we need to pay USD50 for that purpose. So it will be USD100 for both of us.

Yo??!! I'll no pay no more for the flight fee. We are a cheapskate travelers, and cheapskate won't pay for unnecessary cost.

the frustrating check in, in the progress

But we still need to pay USD25 for our oversized backpack that has to be put in the luggage. Gheezzzz,* I thought bags fly free? I thought only Airasia charge extra bags?

The terminal

the terminal window shopping while waiting for the flight

So we spent our whole morning till 305pm roaming around the airport terminal while waiting for our flight time. We went into every store and shop in the terminal, and some of the stores we went twice.

one of the foodcourt in the terminal

We hang out at the lazy chair provided, and all together we made 4 rounds of window shopping for the whole terminal before departed.

the view from our departure gate

our fellow passengers while waiting at the gate

Well, thank God the airlines in US usually really emphasize on time and rare to be late. Unlike Airasia that tecnhnically, based on my experience flying with Airasia back in Malaysia, they never NOT late.

It is part of their slogan "Now everyone can fly [and get delay]". I bet you ever had the same experience with Airasia, if you don't, you must be a loyal MAS passenger then =).

Look, I'm not being unpatriotic, but after more than a dozen experience of being delayed and spending more than double dozen of hours waiting for the delay Airasia's flights.

It pissed me off, and I'm sure I'm not alone, hundred of thousands of their frequent delayed passengers feel the same way too, really =)

But it is undeniable, their price is out of this world. But it shouldn't be your excuse to get your flight delay anytime you like.

Anyway anyhow, they are still my airline of choice since they are the cheapest in the market. Just need to be prepared to have an extra leisure time to be wasted at the airport while waiting for their future "confirm" delay flight. And Tony Fernandez, you da man!

Waiting for our USD25 service worth of luggage at O'hare International Airport

Oh what the heck. Back to our original intended entry, so we arrived at O'hare International Airport of Chicago at 5.00pm, and it was windy, with thick snow outside and -14 degrees Celcius, chillier than our morning in Philadelphia.

Well, at least we arrived safely and ready for one more adventure of us in freezing Mid West region. Go Cheapskate Travellers!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Toboggan Slide : The Double Butterflies in The Belly

the classic bobsled

On our second day in Fort Wayne, we went for a toboggan run at Pokagon State Park located 1 hour drive from Fort Wayne. I didn't have any idea at the first place what on earth is toboggan run, even after Nora's detail explaination. Until we reached there.

Welcome to Toboggan Slide of Pokagon State Park, Indiana

We saw a long queue of people carrying sleds waiting for their turn. When we got closer to the tower, I saw a half a mile long double tracks from the towering launcher on the top of the hill. So that is toboggan run or slide they were talking about.

The long queue of an exciting tobaggon sliders

Toboggan is a traditional slide, made of bound, parallel woods slats, all bent forward at the front to form a sideways "J" shape. There is a thin rope, run to the top of the loop for steering purposes. Something like bobsled, but with a basic built.

Personally, the view is not that intriguing for me. Heh.

My significant other was so excited to go for it and same goes with Nora. Mya, also wanted to have a ride. So we bought a ticket, and went up for it.

Ready for launch

After a long queue carrying the heavy sled, we reached the launch spot and we can hear the loud scream of the sliders right after they were being released from the top. Gulp*

The view from the tower top of the launcher. A half mile double tracks of toboggan ride.

I ever tried rollercoaster before and I'm ok with it. I just don't fancy the sensation of the post ride because I will easily get myself to throw up aftermath. But at least roller coaster, we will restrain to the sit.

But toboggan, there is no seat, no safety belt or whatsoever. Just a thin rope at the side to hold and we have to lean to the people at the back.

Roller coaster. gambar hiasan. It has nothing to do with me.

Since I was the only guy, so I had to be the last person at the back and I will have no one for me to lean back to. Gulp* [part II]. You know what I'm saying?

Few second before launching. The operators were making sure, everybody on the right position and the last person have enough fingers to grip the thin rope at the side of the slide

I can feel the butterfly flew freely in my stomach right after all 4 of us sat on the sled. There was no turning back and off we go pushed by the operators in charged.

Travelling with a speeds of 45mph, it was a free sliding of 40 seconds @ half a mile ride from the top of the tower.

Arif & his brothers on the run. The other Malaysian group from Fort Wayne who joined us that day.

I tried hard to open my eyes and grap tight the rope. After several seconds, hey! It was not bad. It was freezing and and my eyes were watery because of the cold wind blowing hard from the front. [yeah rite].

The tracks. at the half way.

I was too excited till I cant scream, just enjoying the speed and try to balance myself from not to be rolled out from the sled haha. And in the same time, tried hard not to swallow my wife's hair that kept wiping at my face.

We had to bring back the heavy sled manually, to the top of the hill half a mile away. And it was not in 40 seconds I must say.

Err..It was fun! Eventhough my hands were numb because I had to hold the rope tightly, very very tight in deed, since I was the last person at the back. It was a big relief to reach the end of the track.

Mya : She has guts. She was so excited and wanted more everytime we done with each ride. I think she should be the last person at the back =))

But the relief didn't last longer, the 3 of them excitingly & consensusly, screamed together to have one more ride. Gulp* [part III]

The butterflies came back. And this time, they were more colorful than the first one.
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