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Sunday, October 8, 2006

US Tour 2006

Rachel & I went on a US South West Coast tour for 10 days. This time we had no problems with the flight. Everything went smoothly, we arrived on time, stayed in a Best Western Montebello hotel, met up with Rachel's god-brother for dinner. I wasn't feeling very well though, had a bad cough.

The next day, we visited Disneyland. Finally!!! After years of thinking and wondering it was like in Disneyland. It wasn't what we expected. I guess we'd grown up, the magical feeling wasn't there anymore.

3rd Day - San Diego cruise and SeaWorld. Is it a tourist spot? Yes. Will I want to visit SeaWorld in San Diego again? No. :) Why? Because it's fun to visit only once.

4th Day - London Bridge. The water was clear, looked so inviting... makes you wanna jump in laze in the water. We stayed in Laughlin that night.

5th Day - We were told to wake up early the next day in order to reach Grand Canyon by 10AM (I think). The temperature was 55F and many of us were prepared for the cold weather. Grand Canyon's really spectacular. You must see it for yourself.

Still on the same day. We reached Las Vegas at about 5.15pm, and some of us took the night tour. We paid USD20 to watch :

1) Caesar's Palace - Mechanical warriors in a fountain.

2) Rio - Dancers on stage and dancers in carriages above us moving from one place to another.
3) The Mirage Volcano Eruption - Fire and Water created the volcanic effect.
4) Bellagio - Wasted some 20 minutes waiting for something to happen, but nothing did.

5) Freemont Street - Viva vision, the biggest screen on the planet

During the bus ride from Grand Canyon to Las Vegas, the tour guide managed to persuade us to pay USD 85.00 per person for the Jubliee! show in Las Vegas. How he persuaded us? He said it's like a broadway show, and we love broadways!!!
So, minutes before the show was scheduled to start, we left our cameras and bag packs at the counter, went into the theatre and waited in anticipation. Well, the tour guide was right.. it was something like a broadway show...but it was more of a topless show. We were quite bored half way through the show and kept looking at the time. Our advice - don't go unless you want to see topless girls.

We walked back to our hotel- the New Frontier, took us about 45minutes. Even though it was late (show ended 12.15am), the Strip was alive with people and activities.

6th Day - The next day, we went to the other part of the Strip, took some pictures with NYC's replica, MGM and whatelse.. can't remember. Rachel wasn't feeling well. So not many photos in this part of town.

On the way back to LA we stopped by at Tangers, Barstow, a factory outlet.

7th Day - Universal Studios was an interesting experience. We don't watch movies but were amazed at all the mechanical and camera tricks. Of course, our cameras were just as busy taking in all the scenes and turning them into frozen memories. First, we went for the studio tour, but I guess if we had watched all those blockbuster movies, we would have enjoyed this ride more. We saw where they film Desperate housewives, Skull Island (King Kong), and many others. Hmmm... what else did we do in Universal Studios..... let's see.....watched shrek 4-D, terminator 3-D, Waterworld, special effects-Backdraft and of course, we went for the Jurassic Park ride too. Saw some man made dinosaurs and ended up in an 84ft watery plunge at the end of the ride.

We were told to meet back at the entrance of Universal Studios at 5PM. Hmmm... so much to see, so little time.

8th Day - Our end destination was San Francisco, but the 3 day tour included Solvang, Hearst Castle and Yosemite. We had lunch here in this beautiful Danish town.

Same day - This tour was conducted by Hearst Castle's own personnel, an American. Many in the tour group spoke only Mandarin. So when the tour guide asked questions, he expected answers. So only Rachel and another lady answered him. The others are too busy admiring the stunning architecture of William Randolph Hearst castle, and the collection of ancient antiquities all over the place.

That night we stayed in Fresno.

9th Day - Had to get up early to reach Yosemite by 7nish. The bus ride up was terrible. I was feeling sick, I was coughing and had diarrhoea. My ears were painful and I guess I must have disturbed many passengers with my bad cough. Anyway by the time we reached Yosemite, not only I was feeling queasy, but most of us were glad to get down from the bus. What a beautiful sight.... but the photos with our faces in it wasn't cheery.
Then we were taken to the visitor's centre and if we wanted to see where the Yosemite Falls were, it was just a 10 minute walk from the centre. We were warned that it was the wrong season and we won't be able to see the Falls.

From Yosemite, the bus took us to San Francisco, just in time for the 2 O'clock ferry ride.

Hmmm...... the ferry ride wasn't that interesting, but okay lah. The ferry took us past under the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge and Alcatraz. We got off the ferry one hour later and walked around Pier 39. Then we went to Palace of Fine Arts.

Nice structure huh?! Built in 1915 - a classical Roman rotunda with curved colonnades in an idyllic park setting.
Then we went to have a closer look at the Golden Gate Bridge...
We stayed in... um... south of Oakland..

10th Day - We quit the tour and followed a friend of Rachel's. He took us sight-seeing all around San Francisco. We got up... late... had our breakfast at 12noon, (kind of late huh??) then started our tour. He took us to Lombard Street, Cliff House, Ashbury Haights, insisted that we must sit in a cable car since we were in San Francisco, the Emporium and China town. We had a great time with him.

We stayed with Aunt Shirley for 8 days.We knew her since we were very young, like 5 or 6 years old and she was one of our Sunday School teachers. She now lived south of San Francisco.

One of those days while we were staying in Aunt Shirley's place, Rachel's other friend took us to to the Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Saw many OLD trees. The weather was chilly, but we loved it.

The very same day, he took us to Santa Cruz, a quintessential beach town, with a seaside amusement park. The park was closed. Wrong season. :(

Aunt Shirley tok a day off to bring us to the coastal area of Monterey. Very beautiful and peaceful. The sealions posed for us too. :)