Sunday, September 16, 2012

Raya in America

The Hollywood Walk of Fame on the Hollywood Boulevard. This is Bruce Lee's star. Not surprisingly, it was always surrounded by groups Chinese tourists eager to record their visit here on photo

As one travel on the highways, or freeways as they would call it in US, one would be able to appreciate the vastness of this country. This picture is taken an hour's drive outside of San Francisco.

The famous clam chowder at the Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. This is served in a carved out bread. Nice..

Unlike Los Angeles, San Francisco is a hilly city and this adds to the charm of its streets. There are more than 40 hills within the city. Famous ones include the Telegraph Hill and Russian Hill

Room with a view.  This is the view of a  Hollywood neighbourhood from my hotel room

Lombard Street, claimed to be the crookedest (and very steep) street in the world because of
its eight tight hairpin turns

Homes of the rich and famous of Hollywood have well-landscaped gardens and manicured lawn

The San Antonio Riverwalk after which our very own River of Life project in KL will be modelled after

The iconic San Francisco cable car is the world's last manually operated cable car system. Unfortunately, we did not have the time to hop on one. May be next time

People cycling on the Bay Trail. The San Francisco Bay Trail is a more than 500km interconnected trail system which links parks, open spaces and places of attractions located on the bay shoreline. I would love to ride my mountain bike here. Miles and miles of continuous integrated track, beautiful and varied sceneries, nice San Francisco weather. What else could a cyclist ask for.

There is this nice little tune called "Breakfast in America" by the British group Supertramp. Catchy and melodic,  Roger Hodgson's distinctive singing makes you want to "take the jumbo across the water" and fly to America.

But then if you had to leave for America during the festive season of Hari Raya,I bet no amount of serenading by Roger Hodgson would be enough to make you jump on a plane for the USA.

But then, work is work.

And that is how I found myself flying to the USA on the second day of Hari Raya last month.

Our destination: Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Antonio. Oh, and you can add to that one un-scheduled overnight stay in Narita, Japan.

So how did I find America?

Well, one thing which strikes me is that America is not just a big country in terms of its geographical size - driving from one city to another for six or seven hours is considered normal - it also has almost everything in super big sizes! The trucks and cars are bigger, and so are the highways, food servings and shopping malls.

The cities - at least from what I saw in LA and San Francisco - are also much more glitzier and glamorous.

But still, those were not enough to take my mind off my family and the Raya  celebrations back home.

Sorry, guys. I'll make up for it.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Stranded in Narita: Soaking up a Slice of Japan

The ubiquitous jidouhambaiki (vending machine). Japanese streets are littered with these machines
which sell almost anything that you might want

Japanese streets are clean and beautiful as it is simple in design

The sign reads "Narita-shi jdousha" (Narita City Car Park)

Urban street on the left, local residential street on the right

Off to school, no big bags to carry...?

The morning rush hour was just about to begin

We got stranded at Narita on our way back home from the USA. Our plane developed a technical problem, and the captain was not about to take the risk of continuing the journey to KLIA.

Replacement parts had to be flown out of KLIA, and it is a good seven hours flight to Narita. So we had  to put up for the night at a small hotel a few minutes away from the airport.

As someone who had studied and stayed in Japan before, the very idea of spending a night in Japan again was enough to get me a little excited.

It being summer, the sun had risen very early over Japan in the morning. Subuh was at 3.41 am! After a hurriedly taken breakfast, I told myself that I just had to go out and take a stroll to soak in bit of Japanese urban ambiance and breath in some fresh Japanese summer air.

The familiar scenes of nice clean streets, narrow neighbourhood roads, colourful vending machines and children walking to school instantly  brought back sweet memories of our three year stay in the Land of The Rising Sun.

Alas, it was not to be a long stroll. The weather was hot and temperature quickly rising even in the early morning. And my onward flight to KLIA was just three hours away. So I swiftly returned back to the hotel and reached my room sweating. But not after taking a few shots with the hand phone.


Saturday, September 01, 2012

Our beauty at the Farnborough Air Show

Our beautiful Airbus A380 was on display at the recent Farnborough International Air Show in the UK last July.

See the video above and watch how it flies and manoeuvre seemingly effortlessly into the clouds.

The Farnborough Air Show brings back fond memories for me. During one of the summer breaks while I was a student in the UK,  I took time to do some part time job selling the Red Arrows Magazine to visitors at the Airshow.

The Red Arrows, of course, is the world famous British Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team.