12th Week of 2018

19th – 25th March 2018

Oh dear, I have been neglecting my blog. Let me try to recall everything as best as I can. Luckily there’s lots of photos that will help jog my memory.

One of the main reasons I’ve not blogged is because we started to exercise more frequently. We have slacked off so much in the last year that I have gained 10 pounds. Yes, that much! That is why it is time for us to get back in shape, and it has not been easy. I am so weak now that it takes me a day to recover after each exercise class that we attend at the YMCA.

Due to Larry’s work schedule, we can only exercise in the wee hours of the morning on Monday to Wednesday. I wish the YMCA outlets are also open early on weekends, but they are not. So far, we have only decided on a weekly swim and a weekly spin class. Maybe we can also have a day where we do something random each week. We also need to visit the other YMCA outlets because we have only sticked to one. I also need to try out the yoga classes.

Ok, so for that week, we ate out three times which is a lot for us. Eating out is seriously the easiest way to spend too much money! I had to keep telling myself that being tired from exercising is not an excuse to eat out. We had Japanese food at our favorite Japanese restaurant Hapa Japanese Cuisine. I will always be grateful that I can get fresh sashimi from them even though we kind of live in the middle of no where in Oklahoma.

It was also hard to resist eating wings when it’s half priced wings on Tuesdays at Buffalo Wild Wings. Again, I need to remind myself that there is no point exercising if I am just going to eat lots of fried food. Gosh, I hope I’m not boring you by being so contradicting.

We also went to an Indian buffet that weekend because Bon Appétit posted a flaky bread recipe on their Facebook page. It made me really crave for some paratha.

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I wasn’t really creative with my home-cooked meals that week. The only two that kind of stand out were the Chinese stir-fried flat rice noodles and egg benedict. It was the first time I made hollandaise sauce, and I absolutely hated it. It was way too buttery and I didn’t like the brand of butter that we have. If anyone has a recommendation for butter, let me know! I’m still looking for one that I like. We recently bought Kerrygold pure Irish butter, and I think it’s the one I like the most so far.

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My favorite moment for the week was our visit to the Gilcrease Museum. It had a great collection of American West art. It was a genre I am not familiar with, so I had lots of fun learning from the docent. I highly recommend that you go for the free guided tour that they have at 2pm on Tuesdays to Sundays. I will have to go back again to spend more time in the museum and also see the gardens in the summer.

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Two of my favorite oil paintings were Charles Marion Russell’s Meat’s Not Meat ‘Till it’s in the Pan and Thomas Moran’s Shoshone Falls on the Snake River. I was going to put the photos of the art pieces below, but the images don’t look nice at all. They just look so much better in person. I will try to take more photos when I’m there next time!

I’ll try to catch up on all my posts this week, so stay tuned! Have a great week everyone.

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Family trip: Part Two – Grand Canyon

5 – 6 November 2017

On the third day of our trip, we took a stroll around the Mandalay Bay hotel to visit the wave pool before we checked out. It was non peak season, so not all the pools were open. Took us a while to find it since the place was huge. Love the sand that was around the pool!

We took Uber out to the car rental place. Rented a Cadillac for the rest of our trip since I found a good deal online, and I wanted it to be comfortable for my mum since we will be driving a lot. Before we headed toward Tusayan Arizona, we drove to Island Malaysian Cuisine to have some food that Larry and I really miss from Southeast Asia.

These are dishes that we would not be able to find in Oklahoma unless we drive four hours to Plano, Texas. I would be able to cook these noodle dishes, but I can’t seem to find decent packaged noodles at the Asian supermarkets in Tulsa. We also popped by a few Asian bakeries because we can’t get them in Tulsa. Do you see a trend? Haha, we were trying to eat everything we miss from Singapore.

Thus, with our multiple pit stops, we were driving most of the four hour drive in the dark. We missed out on the amazing view there, and only arrived in Tusayan Arizona around 10pm. By then, most food places were closed other than McDonalds. We rushed over to eat before we head back to the hotel.

I decided to book the Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn because it was a short 13 minutes drive to the Grand Canyon, and there are some food options around. I contemplated staying at Flagstaff instead because it is a bigger town that is one and a half hours drive away. The drive on US-180 from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon looks scenic too, especially with the view of Humphreys Peak. However, I just went with the shorter distance because we still have a long road trip ahead.

The next morning, we headed to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center before having coffee and a quick bite at Bright Angel Bicycles & Mather Point Cafe. I did some online research on which trail we should go for, but it was so difficult to decide! We eventually randomly decided on the Bright Angel Trail that day.

Bright Angel Trail at Grand Canyon

As you can see from the photo, the view was breathtaking! I wish I trained up my stamina before this trip. The hike was tiring for me, as the path gets steeper the further you get. I was also letting fear get the better out of me because the path is not very wide and there are no barriers. Carrying a backpack and a heavy DSLR camera definitely didn’t make it any easier for me. Thankfully we went during the off season in November because there weren’t as many people.

I took it slow with my mum and we only made a round trip of 0.9 miles. My brother and Larry made it till the two mile mark before they made their way back. They said it got warmer as they went down. I was glad they felt like they got a workout with their 4 miles hike because I didn’t want them to feel like we are holding them back. I was also glad we packed lots of water because we finished every bit of it.

Time-Lapse at Grand Canyon Nov 2017
Took a time-lapse while waiting

Time flew by while we were hiking. It was close to sunset, so we drove over to the Dessert View Watchtower after our hike. The view was different there, and it was nice to see the river at the bottom. I really want to kayak in the Grand Canyon one day!

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After chasing the sunset along the Grand Canyon, we went to We Cook Pizza and Pasta for some food. As expected, it was quite a pricey meal since we were kind of in the middle of nowhere. We got 10 wings, a large pizza and Alfredo fettuccine to share between the four of us. Wish we just bought wings and the salad bar for all of us instead!

We took a walk around Tusayan General Store to look at souvenirs before driving back to our hotel. The best part about staying at Best Western Premier Grand Canyon Squire Inn is the indoor pool and jacuzzi! It was so relaxing to chill at the pool and jacuzzi after a full day at the Grand Canyon.

Our visit to the Grand Canyon was actually my dad’s bucket list. I wish cancer didn’t take him away from us in 2014. He would have totally enjoyed himself. Larry and I both thought it was more beautiful than Niagara Falls.

Appreciate every day you have with your loved ones! You never know when it would be the last day.

 

 

 

Family trip: Part One – Las Vegas

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The main aim of our trip was to visit Grand Canyon, and since the nearest airport was in Las Vegas, we decided to spend two nights there.

Not really knowing what to expect, we booked two nights at Mandalay Bay. Our room on the 17th floor had a nice view of the strip, but it also reminded us of the unfortunate shooting that happened recently. 😥

We took an Uber down to LINQ on the first night because it was around the middle of the strip and we wanted to try sushi burritos that we can’t get here in Oklahoma. There are many food options in Vegas but we didn’t want to spend too much.

Jaburritos hit the right spot for me. I absolutely love the sashimi I got in my burrito. Larry liked his too, but he thought it was a little pricey for the portion given.

It was a very sweet surprise when we stumbled upon the cupcake ATM by Sprinkles in the same area! We had to try it right? I’ve seen it so many times on Instagram, and it was right in front of me. We got a chocolate milk cupcake to share, and it turned out to be one of the nicest cupcakes we have tried. Serendipity at its finest.

 

We spent a little while at the LINQ casino and slowly walked our way back to our hotel which was at the most south end of the Strip. The stroll down the Strip was anything but boring. The hustle and bustle as well as the interesting architecture of the hotels were quite a sight to be seen. We could also step into any casino that we passed by because the casinos were opened 24/7.

My favorite part of the casinos in Las Vegas is that they offered free drinks. We would gamble a little at every casino, and try out their drinks. Of the few ones that we have tried, I liked the drinks from LINQ the most as their alcoholic drinks are not too strong. Larry introduced Pina Colada to my mom and brother, so that was what they ordered at every casino we go. The ones at Mandalay Bay were the best because they were strong, and came with a cherry and whipped cream too.

For the second day, we were on a quest to find my mum a pair of sports shoes because she didn’t bring any even though she knew we were going to Grand Canyon! We decided to go to Las Vegas South Premium Outlets because it was a short Uber ride from our hotel. Unfortunately time flies when we were busy shopping, and we spent almost all day there.

I decided to make everyone eat Hawaiian food near the outlet mall because I’ve been craving to eat it ever since we tried some in Japan a few years back. The food at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue was actually really good considering the price and portions. I would eat this over any overpriced buffet that the Strip offers, but I’m Chinese so your mileage may vary. 😉

The spam musubi (pictured right) was something I’ve been wanting to try, and I finally tasted it! Love, love, love the simplicity of it being just spam and rice that’s wrapped up in seaweed. Just my kind of goodness.

Flying 101

Flying 101Since it’s the holiday season where it’s kind of the peak period for traveling, I thought I have to share this. I don’t know if this is common knowledge, but it’s definitely important for first time airplane traveler should know.

When your flight is delayed, it is the airline’s responsibility to work it out for you if it will cause you to miss your connecting flight, or severely hinder your travel plans.

My mum and brother were flying last Sunday, and it was an absolute nightmare dealing with American Airlines. Their 8am flight was delayed by an hour and 15 minutes which result in them missing their connecting flight to Houston IAH airport. Now here’s the problem.

  1. They made all of us use the self check-in stations.
    Is this now the norm? I understand that some people like to check-in online or on their phones, but I can’t imagine everyone getting on the tech-savvy bandwagon. Like if we were flying on a budget airline and we have to pay extra to have our boarding tickets printed. We weren’t though. American Airlines is a full service airline.
  2. The self check-in station should have referred us to the counter when it shows that we would not make it for the connecting flight.
    In theory, yes we could have just picked our connecting flight on the screen, but it was more complicated than it sounds. They gave us like three options that we had to choose from, and they barely looked any different from each other besides being 15, 30 minutes apart. We ended up picking the flight that reaches Houston the earliest because my mum and brother had an international flight to catch in the evening.
  3. After confirming the flights, we then realized the screen only showed the two connecting flights to HOU airport instead of three flights to IAH airport.
    It was a mistake on our part, and we had to then queue in another line to speak to someone at the counter. We were still fine with it at this moment. I was amused that this self check-in process that’s meant to make the whole boarding process more efficient ended up creating a bigger hassle for us and American Airlines.
  4. When we finally got to the counter, the American Airlines staff told us to take a shuttle from HOU airport to IAH airport if we wanted to catch our international flight.
    This was an absolute no-no for me that she did that. My mum and brother should not be lugging two personal baggages, two carry on luggages and two check in luggages from HOU airport all the way to IAH airport because of a flight delay. I don’t even know if they would be able to collect their luggage at HOU airport because they are technically suppose to wait for their later flight to IAH airport. Also, she had no idea how long the shuttle from HOU airport to IAH airport is, or the frequency of the shuttle.
  5. The American Airlines staff recommended us to take a taxi from HOU airport to IAH airport if we do not want to take the airport shuttle.
    Why should we pay for their delay? (I just googled and it will cost about $70 by taxi and $40 by Uber.) We might as well pay for a direct flight to IAH airport if we knew we had to fork in more money and go through so much hassle, especially since they still had a 20+ hours flight back to Singapore after that.
  6. We had to continuously insist that American Airlines to get us to IAH airport on time, so that they would be able to make it for their international flight. It should not have been so difficult.
    It felt like we had to hustle our way to get the American Airlines staff to refer us to another airline to get us to our destination on time. I knew that it was possible for them to do that because I have had flights cancelled on me. I just wish they would actually listen to our situation and provided us a reasonable solution. I mean, even if we do not have an international flight to catch at IAH airport, we should not have to take a 9.15am flight from TUL to reach IAH airport around 5pm because the rest of their flights are fully booked.

Ultimately, do not accept unreasonable alternatives from the airlines. If it was just an hour or two of delay, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal.

That’s really just the price airlines have to incur if they have any flight delays on top of fully booked flights. Do not let the airlines interrupt your travel plans by more than three hours unless it’s due to weather or natural disasters.

What do you think?

Also, another thing we learnt is that you should always try to book US domestic flights that are from the same airline alliance of your international flight. That may allow you to save on your check-in baggage charges.