Archive for August 2012

South Beach, Miami

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One of the highlights in Miami, South Beach.

Posted on Thursday, August 30, 2012 and is filed under ,.

Orlando, Florida: Catastrophic!

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I need a distraction that will keep me from falling asleep so I shall attempt to write about Florida. What happened? I used to be able to sleep late the day before, talking over the phone with other boys not with girls - answering the question my elder sister asked me when I was eleven ("Are you lesbian?" WHAT SIS!! WHERE'D YOU HEAR THAT FROM), not doing anything beneficial, go to school, and still have a lot of energy at the end of the day. Then repeating the whole process all over again only to have an undisturbed 8-hour sleep over the weekends.

Have I, grown up?

Ew. Haha, I kid. What's happened is, I've been dumped with something new to me... 

A job. 

Hmm, Florida. It was amazing and a nice change. We were always going for winter holidays. In Japan last year, I told Zul that it'll be my last winter holiday for a long time. I had my first winter holiday in '08, up in the mountains, where there was a fresh bed of snow was beautiful. 

I had never experienced winter prior to that, so I wanted a winter holiday for the rest of our holidays, but I think four years of winter holiday is enough. It's time I see something else.

My graduation was rather timely, in June, where it's summer over in America. We always make our plans a year in advance because Zul has to apply for annual leave a year ahead. He wanted to finish off all Disneyland (we've been going on Disney holidays 4 consecutive years) and besides Hong Kong, we still had Florida's DisneyWorld.

Our main reason for going to Florida was Disney.

Zul made all the necessary arrangement as usual. Booking hotels. Booking flights. Renting of cars. Printing out all the maps (Google Map is god sent!).

Initially we wanted to take two days off our 12-day holiday to go to New York but it would mean we have lesser time and have to rush through the rest of the days. Plus, going to New York would mean added cost and it was too costly.

But even if New York was not going to blow our budget, we couldn't get tickets to JFK anyways that's why we had to backtrack and head to Houston and move backwards to Florida, instead of making a stop at New York and head forward to Florida.

The trip from Singapore to Houston was uneventful. It didn't feel as long as it did the last time I took a trip there on my own. Zul's the kind of person to plan thing out to a T. He had two choices from Houston to Florida. An earlier connecting flight where we'd have to run like the Amazing Race contestants or a connecting flight two hours after we land in Houston. He doesn't like to rush so I wasn't surprised that he picked a later time.

We had over two hours to get everything out of our first flight. Normally we'd wait till everyone else leaves before we leave the plane, but this time, we packed everything before the plane landed...and when it did, he told me to quickly walk to the front so we could be the first few to leave. And we were.

Although we had gone through the immigration officers in Singapore and in Moscow, we had to go through it again, then we had to do the security screening all over again, and my gosh the Americans are slow. Besides some crazy people who goes around shooting people, the country is amazing, but the people at the airport were grumpy and slow.

Anyways, we were allowed to go through the shorter queue because we had a toddler in tow. Thank goodness for Nadya! But even then, two hours wasn't enough time for us to pass the immigration and security screening. We arrived at our gate seconds after they closed the aircraft door.

I was so mad!

I knew they cannot open the aircraft door after closing it (it's not some shopping mall door that open and closes as and when we need it to a lot of paperwork comes with opening and closing of the aircraft door) and even when I knew all that, I was angry. So angry that even two hours wasn't enough to get to our connecting flight. If it had been Singapore, we would have made it to the gate with plenty of time to spare. But of course, not in United States.

To think I did not have my hijab on when I went through security screening. I've been to the states with my hijab several times and on all those occasions I was always made to step aside while they do a thorough check on me. This time, without the hijab on, I breezed through the security check. I didn't even have to enter the crazy capsule to have a naked image of me captured (again, thank goodness for Nadya!)...all I had to do was walk through the metal detector, and nope, I wasn't asked to step aside. Nor did my bags get checked twice.

We were re-booked on the next flight THREE HOURS LATER, and funnily, it seems like missing of flights are a norm there, like it happens 9 out 10 times.

We finally got on a plane and arrived Orlando, late. Extremely late. That's all I could remember. WE WERE LATE. We got our rented car, and a nice surprise, we were upgraded because the car we wanted was no longer available. Some 40 hours later, we finally arrived at our "Continental" Hotel. And the hotel looked like it was a movie set.

Unlike in London where the toilet stank, this one didn't, THE WHOLE ROOM STANK! It was so, so bad. I felt miserable. Zul was apologetic, telling me how sorry he was because he thought it was going to be okay with the location being very good as Universal Studios was just a few streets away and DisneyWorld a short drive. He offered switching hotels but he paid for the rest of the days already and if we were to switch hotels, we'd have to forfeit some of the money, I wasn't going to let that happen.

We're on a holiday where the hotel room is just for sleep. Most of the time, we're going to be out of the room. It didn't matter that the room smells like stale cheese.

Smelly or not, we all slept in our blue cheese themed room undisturbed through the night. Just five more days. We were up bright and early for iHop and Day One I was finally able to experience the well-known Florida heat.

Although I should be used to the weather, this one is new. It's hot in Singapore and it's humid. In Florida, it's hot but it's not so humid. I could feel the difference. But Singapore being a tropical country has clouds shading us from the sun rays. In Florida where there were hardly any clouds, the rays from the sun were directly on our skin. It felt hotter than it does being in Singapore.

But to compare it to winter, the heat was much better.

One of things I wanted to see in life was the whale. Of course, a whale kept in captivity wasn't exactly the kind of whale I was hoping to see, but, it's still a whale anyway. And I read somewhere that being able to spot a whale in the open waters isn't easy. Sometimes people pay a lot of money only to see nothing. This one, I was guaranteed I would see a whale and not just one as I thought, but so many of it.

SeaWorld was, to be honest, rather boring. Besides the shamu part of course! We did meet some interesting animal there too. Like the porcupine. I never thought I'd see a porcupine. And we also met the largest rodent in the world.

It's not easy to see her have such courage to touch or be close to an animal (she doesn't even dare be close a cat!). I don't know where she found the courage to pet the capybara. I didn't touch it because the fur kind of looks like the broom my mom has at home and Zul said it does feel like the broom. Well, if I wanted to know how it feels like, then I'll go touch the broom.

We purposely sat at the wet areas. Smart move. Nadya was fascinated by the whales but every time one got close to our side, she'd dig her face into our arms. Does she honestly think the whale would get her? I'm this big and I thought the whale was huge. I cannot imagine how big it must have looked through her eyes. 

We ended our first day pretttttty early. Early by our standards was arriving back at the hotel before the sun sets. Yeah it was summer, so the sun sets late, but 8pm is early. We've never gone back so early before, but we didn't have much left to do. SeaWorld was limited to just a few things. It was a great experience.

I didn't take much pictures this time round, I'm not sure why. When someone asked if we collected memorabilia of every city we visited, Zul said, "We collect memories." Touché.

Posted on Thursday, August 23, 2012 and is filed under ,.

Life List #25: Have a Whale of Time!

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Yeps, I've got a life list but with nothing too adventurous in it. Sky diving, bungee jumping or even Ride The World's Highest Roller Coaster isn't in it. I'd rather have eat monkey brain in it than all those stunts.

Mine are simple.

One of see a whale.

I didn't go all the way to Orlando just to see a whale, but they had SeaWorld in Orlando so it was a bonus. Of course, it would have been better if I were able to see a blue whale, but the shamu was quite amazing already.

Posted on Wednesday, August 22, 2012 and is filed under ,,.