Wednesday, January 30, 2008

a californian road trip!

sooo the day after disneyland we got out of bed a little later. and we were thinking since we have a car, might as well take a road trip and see sights around LA. lonely planet, travel guides and the internet prompted me to head up north to santa cruz, malibu and santa barbara. 3 coastal towns that are supposedly very beautiful and beachy. (also because many hollywood stars like rob lowe live in such towns so it'll be nice to check out the houses hahaha) i was also tempted to to see orange county, just because of the show O.C. but it was in a different driving direction. so too bad. i reckon they all look and feel similar.

so we left our motel and i wanted to check out the farmer's/flea market on 3rd and fairfax, which, by word-of-mouth, is very good and a must-go. so we navigated there and we paid a small entrance fee (after flashing our student ID - a privilege that i'd not have anymore). i saw so many nice things!

but the weather was SO hot. but we persevered, or i did. linda didn't seem to be into such things. but i was so excited. in the end i bought a black/red/white "carrie" dress (because the huge poofiness of the dress is a sarah jessica parker/carrie signature look) from this nice guy who adores sarah jessica and sex and the city, a pair of hand made wood carved earrings and a very nice vintage clutch for jiejie.

after realizing we're running out of time for our actual roadtrip, we headed to quickly eat lunch and begin our journey along the coast of california, instead of taking the shorter route to the towns on I-5, we took the longer freeway that snakes along the coast, so it's guaranteed beautiful views throughout the drive. and WOW. it's so nice. i miss it.

within a short drive (relatively) we reached malibu. i'll always associate malibu to barbie (wherein never been kissed, one of the shallow popular girls dressed as malibu barbie to their prom) and the world's nicest drug rehab facility (wherein brothers and sisters, justin's drug rehab center was in malibu).

we parked our car at this cluster of shops and cafes and took a walk through the marshland (got boardwalk, not wade through the mangrove (: ) to get to the beach.

beautiful, strange flora here.

you can almost see the houses dotting the slope of the mountain, facing the sea. how i wish i had a house like that.

on the beach. not very crowded, which is good. see that flag up in the sky, that's an advertisement for something. a small plane will fly the flag of the brand.

so many mandarin ducks around. (:

after the beach, we walked around the shops for awhile. i think people aren't used to seeing asian girls. there are so many asians in LA, but once you get out of the city, you hardly see them.

just chilling out.

we arrive at santa barbara! finally! i love this town. it's has this mix of small-town charm and city-like affluence and style. it's edgy and up-to-date and current, and yet the people are nice and the buildings are beautiful. and no tall buildings anywhere. just blocks of short buildings, lots of palm trees, the beach, the sun, the sea and the mountains.

we walked along the shopping promenade where there were so many quirky interesting small shops among the big names. i like. (:

santa barabara art museum.

we love santa barbara. and i was so tired from driving i needed the caffeine boost. and also to shop!

the sun begins to slip away.

i love how tall the palm trees grow here. and how skinny they are. compared to palm trees elsewhere. and i love how they accent the landscape of the santa barbara beach.

along the beach, there was this boardwalk that extended out to the sea, very much like kelong or bedok jetty (except it's bigger). called the stearns wharf. it has restaurants and shops and cars can enter the boardwalk.

and a strange fishing spot just below the boardwalk.

i remember we saw dolphins while we were at the end of wharf looking towards the ocean. 2 dolphins were leaping out of the water several times. and we were so excited!

hard to have steady hands to take nice night shots when the strong ocean wind blows and the temperature drops. hence it took many shots to get a few decent ones.

good night santa barbara. maybe i'll live there someday.

and then we squeezed with the end-of-weekend traffic back to LA. it was a nightmare! it's like 9pm and the freeway is packed! 'cos everyone who has weekend homes in neighbouring towns are going back to the city on sunday night. and it was a really long drive. and i remember swerving a little off-course while driving 'cos i was tired, and hearing a gay radio station, complete with gay discussion topics and call-ins. very educational and entertaining. haha.

the next morning, we got up early 'cos we had to drive to the airport, return the car, and take our flight that would take us to san francisco. and we still had one more thing left to do.

take picture with the famous hollywood sign. so some research on the internet led to driving directions up mulholland road (i think), a neighbourhood where many stars have homes there too. and ta-da!

i think it's quite hard to capture any of it on the ground. the best is an aerial shot, but obviously we don't own any helicopters or planes. so this is actually very good.

one of the houses along the road had this flag up. i thought it was really interesting. i think we'll be sent to jail if we ever did anything like that to the singapore flag.

and a parting shot of our car, which has served us well for 3 days. rental was cheap too! due to a weekend special rate. before that we grabbed lunch at a carl's jr. drive-through. quite exciting 'cos carl's jr here got no drive-through. after returning the car we hopped onto the enterprise shuttle bus that brought us to LAX.

you know what. i do love california a lot. it represents america in so many ways. it's like a mini-america because in california you'd find the rich (and the ultra-rich), the poor, the middle-class, city and glam, small hip towns, small rural towns, shady gangsters crime-ladden boroughs, deserts, mountains, beaches, national parks, vineyards, factories, nuclear plants, farms, immigrants from asia, latin america, africa, americans from all over, california-borns and so much more.

ok plug for california tourism ends here. (:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

complete in You.

Here I am, Oh God
I bring this sacrifice--my open heart.
I offer up my life.
I look to You, Lord
Your love that never ends
Restores me again

So I lift my eyes to you, Lord
In Your strength will I break through, Lord
Touch me now, let Your love fall down on me
And I will be complete in You.

Here I am, Oh God
I bring this sacrifice--my open heart.
I offer up my life.
I look to You, Lord.
Your love that never ends
Restores me again

So I lift my eyes to you Lord
And by faith, I will walk on, Lord
Then I'll see beyond my calvary one day,
And I will be complete in..

I look to You, Lord
Your love that never ends
Restores me again

So I lift my eyes to you Lord
In Your strength will I break through Lord
Touch me now, let Your love fall down on me
I know Your love dispels all my fears.

Through the storm I will hold on Lord
And I pray I will hold on, Lord
Then I'll see beyond my calvary one day
And I will be complete in
I will be complete in
I will be complete in You

- Complete, The Parachute Band

Sunday, January 27, 2008

election laughs.

on a recent "late show with david letterman",

The Top 10 Barack Obama campaign promises:

10. To keep the budget balanced, I’ll rent the Situation Room for sweet 16s.
9. I will double your tax money at the craps table.
8. Appoint Mitt Romney secretary of lookin’ good.
7. If you bring a gator to the White House, I’ll wrassle it.
6. I’ll put Regis on the nickel.
5. I’ll rename the 10th month of the year “Barack-tober.”
4. I won’t let Apple release the new and improved iPod the day after you bought the previous model.
3. I’ll find money in the budget to buy Letterman a decent hairpiece.
2. Pronounce the word nuclear, nuclear.
1. Three words: Vice President Oprah.

hurhur. i especially like #10 and #4. #10 is a great way to balance the budget, instead of tax cuts or cutting spending, find ways to raise money for the government!

congrats to the obama campaign for winning the south carolina primary in a landslide. (: i almost jumped up and down when i saw the win on CNN.


speaking of money and government, i've been wondering where in the world did GI*C's money come from. how did our government become so rich? any business student would like to enlighten me? and not just G*IC, tem*asek hol*dings is another formidable power. and all these talk of SWFs in the papers have made me quite curious.


my thoughts are with heath ledger's family. i will certainly miss watching him in breakthrough roles in film. i loved him in 10 things i hate about you and brokeback mountain. it amazes me how versatile an actor he was. how talented he was. and how sad that we lost such a great actor.

another death this week was ex-indonesian president suharto. well his health was failing him and it was time.


i love the reuters photographers blog. the photos posted up there are so beautiful and they really speak a thousand words and convey emotions that normal photographs cannot accomplish. the photos come from all over the world, from the fields of hanoi to the desert plains of afganistan to the city skyline of frankfurt to the elections in taiwan to the elections in the US to the soccer stadium in england to a surgery operating theatre in berlin to a woman's prison in buenos aires to the tennis courts of the australian open. and this is just the first few entries. and these photos speak of current affairs and global and domestic issues around the world.

very nice.


another week starts. 5 days of FYPing to go before the weekend. have a feeling that i'm gonna be horrifying busy this week with experiments. hmmm. social calendar seems a little empty, other than the switchfoot concert on thursday. hmmm.

Friday, January 18, 2008

when you wish upon a star.

so i continue the tales of my US trip 6 months ago, much to the amusement of one of my silent blog readers lori. (: yes i'm slow. but i take time to remember my exciting and memorable trip. so it's a nice time for me too. to blog and tell stories.

so i continue my days in LA. we woke up bright and early to get to disneyland! it was really way too early i didn't even get my contacts in my small eyes. we managed to navigate through the morning rush hour on the freeways to get to anaheim, california where disneyland was. just about 50 minutes from west hollywood. we got there at around 8.30 am and there was already a long line of cars waiting to get into the carpark. the theme park isn't even opened yet. after parking our car we sat a short tram ride to get to the entrance plaza. joined the LONG line to buy tickets. a one-day pass, if i didn't remember wrongly, cost us US$80+. steep. but it's once in a lifetime right? unless i bring my kids there next time. then we joined a huge crowd of people gathered at the entrance and waited for about 15 minutes for the park to open. tourists are always kiasu, not just singaporeans.

so we enter the park and i was a little girl again. i grew up with disney films and i can sing and tell you disney stories and rattle them out at the tip of my fingers. i used to watch my LDs over and over again. although that feeling did fade away after awhile when we went to sit the rides. there was the pirates of the caribbean ride, which was so disappointing. oh i should get on with the pictures. i didn't take a lot 'cos we were just enjoying our time in the park and sitting more and more rides. (:

at the center of the park is this big lake, with an island at the center. a big ferry allows you to explore the place. oh not ferry. haha a pirate ship.

disney characters have designated photo ops around the park. so as we walk along in the park, we'd stop and wait for our turn to take pictures with them. they even sign autographs for the children. i was thinking i would be so super happy if i was a kid. and if you need an introduction, that's winnie the pooh beside me. he's very cuddly.

remember that lake? because we were adventurous and didn't wanna take the pirate ship, we chose to take the kayak ride. and in case you think you can just sit on the kayak and admire the sights, we had to paddle!! we were all given paddles and it got tiring after awhile. haha. but it was quite fun and my kayak "instructor" was quite cute, dark and muscular. hurhur.

it was a hot hot hot day! i got sun burnt so i was quite glad i wasn't wearing a t-shirt or i'll have ugly tan lines. this ride is for kids, but for linda my travel partner, we queued for it. it's the ride where you sit in a big tea cup and the ground spins, and you grab the wheel at the center of the tea cup if you wanna spin somemore. it was fun in a strange way. haha.

the ever famous disney castle of sleeping beauty. and the symbol for buena vista international, the company that is owned by walt disney company and produces lots and lots of films and television. including grey's anatomy and brothers and sisters.

pretty flowers. i was bored while waiting for a ride. i think this is the lunge ride. where you sit in a cylinder-like thing and whoosh down narrow tubes around a man-made mountain. it's called the matterhorn, which is an actual mountain in the european alps.

the spacey-futuristic theme at one part of the park. and this is where space mountain is! my favorite ride of disneyland. we sat on it twice and it was really very exhilirating! (: and it's a super popular ride. the fast passes for space mountain for 1115pm (the very last time slot) is given out at 6pm, and it runs out super fast but we managed to grab them so we can sit a 2nd time.

anyway the fast pass system is really good. it's only available for the popular rides and you scan your theme park ticket, and they print out a fastpass ticket for you for an allocated time slot. so all you gotta do is to return to the ride at that designated slot and you get to skip the long lines and go on the fastpass line. 90% of the time, the fastpass really allows you to skip the queues. but for the VERY popular rides, there's a waiting line at the fastpass queue even. but still faster.

oh and i remember another one of my favorite rides was the buzz lightyear one! where you sit in a space car and you get a "laser gun" and as the car moves along the ride, you travel into "space" and there are many targets all around you and you gotta point your laser gun and shoot. different targets (proximity, distance, size and moving/stationary) all get you different points and it's recorded at the "dashboard" of your space car! it was such a cool, high tech ride and loads of fun shooting the aliens down.

another ride, where you get to power a bumper car and drive on tracks. it's for children lah but we still went to take. haha.

then at 6pm, it's time for the grand parade, where everyone in the park gathers along the main streets and watches the parade. so here we are, sitting at the sidewalk waiting for it to start.

so the parade consists of dancers, stilt walkers, clowns, characters from the disney films and singing of course! and the very elaborate floats. this one above is from the little mermaid!

still the little mermaid.

that's alice from alice in wonderland.

and i forgot what's this. (:

the lion king. also one of my favorites. can still remember how i cried buckets when mufasa died.

as night fell, we sat more rides, grabbed dinner and waited for the famous fireworks to start at 9pm. but we have the poorest luck. the fireworks were canceled due to strong winds and impending rainstorm. HUH. we were all so disappointed. the fireworks over the castle were famously spectacular. sigh. we resigned to our fate and hung around somemore, walking the shops, buying souvenirs, sitting more rides.

so after our final space mountain ride, we walked around for abit more before the park starts to close, and we head out of disneyland, sat on the trams to bring us back to the carpark and drove home. so essentially we were there before the park opened, and we stayed till closing time. ahhh the perks of driving. of course i was SO tired from the day's activities and still had to drive back home. travelling is tiring, but i really don't mind.

ok here are the pictures taken by the professional photographers of disneyland. it's just like many theme parks (like movie world). you take picture with pooh, we snap, and we ask you to pay US$10 for one lousy 5R photo. but at disneyland, they issue you your individual bar-coded photo-pass, where all your pictures are stored digitally under your card and they are available online at the disneyland website for a month! so technically you view them and if you wanna order prints you can order them at the park or online when you get home. times have changed huh. high tech. but since we cannot ctrl+c and ctrl+v the pictures, i use ctrl+printscreen. (: or in mac terms, grab!

oh you can even add your own borders at the website! which is what i did. haha.

this is aurora. she's very pretty and she said my top was very nice. (:

this is belle. her dress reminds me of giselle in enchanted.

everyone let's sing. m-i-c-k-e-y m-o-u-s-e!

and to end off disneyland pictures, here's winnie the pooh again. xiaohan, this is for you. (:


these days have been days of pigging out. i had fish & co. dinner with justina before we sent cherie off to UK for exchange. and it was nice seeing so many people send her off and it reminded me of my own departure for exchange 1 year ago and was quite thankful i didn't have so many friends sending me off or i'll cry buckets in front of everyone. i'm going to miss cherie and her company a lot these 6 months when she's not around. but i'm sure she'll have a great time of learning and discovering and loving the Lord and being stronger in Him so much more.

then the next night i met with long-time-no-see classmates from tj for melben crabs at AMK. ahhhh i love their crabs so much and i ate so much. after that we adjourned to jalan kayu for some drinks and the guys ate prata. i reckon they're not seafood fans. but it was so good seeing them again and catching up.

then the next afternoon, which was today, we had a post-christmas, post-new year's party at work. boss treated us to pizzas and we exchanged gifts. it was a rather unique way of gift exchange because you can choose to take other people's gifts which they chose from the pile and opened already, and that person have to give it to you. strange rules right. but it's quite fun actually. at first, i grabbed a pink shawl from a spanish post-doc fellow who's pregnant with twins! cos she wanted another person's present for her babies. then my own supervisor grabs my shawl when another person takes her gift. so i proceed to grab a bottle of wine from another guy. HAHA and i brought home the wine in the end. good thing i didn't have to steal from boss.

yes it's complicated. but anyway i ate quite a lot again and there were many snacks going around and we sat around and talked for 2.5 hours. everyone was so nuah and boss also commented no one was in the mood to work anyway. (:


the macbook air is calling out to me. my ibook is still going on strong when it's coming to 4 years old. apple laptops rock (when you take care of it). but now i realized i have to really get down to learning photoshop in order to edit my photos of my zebrafish for FYP, as well as get annotations for my figures out. and i'm afraid my ibook has not enough memory to support. sigh.


i'm glad it's the weekend because after a long hectic week at work/FYP/gatherings and lots of distractions and tiredness, it's good to turn my utmost focus back unto the Lord and worship Him and learn from pastors His word and truths. and recharge my spirit for the coming week and renew my strength once again. and i also look forward to choir and singing. (: