In a galaxy far, far away… Southwestern Road Trip Day 8

After a long hiatus, here‚Äôs the final part of the Southwestern Road Trip. Finally! I know! Forgot already. But here’s the last part of the story. Our final morning in Flagstaff dawned bright and early. We were packed up and ready to hit the road to head south to Phoenix. We were planning to be in Phoenix by lunch time to meet up with Vin’s cousin Becky, and the drive would take about 2 hours total. So we decided to meander down to Phoenix by way of Sedona. We ended up hanging out at Red Rock State Park, visited Cathedral Rock (which Becky, Vin and I climbed in a previous visit), and then drove on to Phoenix. [[image:us345.jpg:Flagstaff-Sedona-Phoenix:center:0]] While I was speaking with the manager of the Embassy Suites (they fixed our hot water, but Vin’s and my room never got above 60 F the whole time we were there […]

Continue reading

In a galaxy far, far away… Southwestern Road Trip Day 7

After our Grand Canyon outing, we returned to the Embassy Suites hotel in Flagstaff. I forgot to say that not only was Vin’s and my room freezing (the heater was on the fritz), but there was absolutely no hot water. I had taken a VERRRRY cold shower that morning. Luckily the hot water was fixed when we got back, and the heater was sort of working (meaning instead of the room temperature being equal to the freezer temperature, it was about a very cold refrigerator temperature, which coupled with the 20 F night time temperatures (-5 C) did not sit well with us. But at least we didn’t have to wear our winter coats inside our room. Anyway, after good night’s sleep, we got ready for another day of sightseeing. We had breakfast at the complimentary hot breakfast (yayyy scrambled eggs and hash brown potatoes!) before setting off. Basically, we […]

Continue reading

In a galaxy far, far away… Southwestern Road Trip Day 6

Apologies for the long delay, and finally the continuation of our Southwestern Road Trip. On Day 6, after a cold evening at the Embassy Suites in Flagstaff (Mak and Abah’s room was ok, but our room was freeeeeeezing cold), we went for a day long trip to the Grand Canyon. The Embassy Suites complimentary breakfast was, however, one of the better breakfasts we’d had during our trip! Fresh, made-to-order scrambled eggs, omelets, french toast, etc. What’s not to like? At any rate, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon was about an hour north of Flagstaff, so we set off after breakfast for our Grand Canyon outing. [[image:us252.jpg:Route from Flagstaff to Grand Canyon:center:0]] We got pretty excited when we saw signs and we got closer to the Grand Canyon. [[image:us242.jpg:Grand Canyon in IMAX:center:0]] The North Rim of the Grand Canyon was already closed to tourists for the winter, and because […]

Continue reading

In a galaxy far, far away… Southwestern Road Trip Day 5

We spent the night at the Hampton Inn in Kayenta, Arizona, a very small town that boasted 3 hotels and as many restaurants. Seriously – we thought Sitiawan was small when we were growing up? Kayenta takes the cake. What we in Malaysia used to call a “cowboy town”. The reason that they even had 3 hotels in town was because of their proximity to Monument Valley Tribal Park. Which was our first destination of Day 5! So after the complimentary breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and headed off north towards Monument Valley. [[image:us200.jpg:22 miles from Kayenta to Monument Valley:center:0]] As we drove north to the border (Monument Valley itself is in both Utah and Arizona), we saw interesting rock formations: [[image:us197.jpg:Rock formations:center:0]] [[image:us196.jpg:Red rock formations:center:0]] If you are sitting there thinking “Monument Valley…what’s the big deal?” here’s the big deal. Aside from being a gorgeous geological wonder, […]

Continue reading

In a galaxy far, far away… Southwestern Road Trip Day 4

After a good night’s sleep at the Hampton Inn in Durango and the complimentary breakfast, we headed west from Durango towards Cortez, CO on the US-160. Just 35 miles west of Durango is Mesa Verde National Park, the site of ancient cliff dwellings (back to the Ancestral Puebloans). We would spend half the day at Mesa Verde and head towards Kayenta, Arizona where we planned to spend our next night. [[image:us195.jpg:Route from Durango, Colorado to Kayenta, Arizona – note the meeting of 4 states in the middle of the map:center:0]] Mesa Verde, here we come! I wasn’t sure what to expect but cliff dwellings sounded very interesting. We saw some tepees on the road, inviting us to go into Native American crafts stores along the road: [[image:us155.jpg:Tepees and giant Arrows:center:0]] We saw this huge mesa from far away. Turns out, we had to drive off the main road for about […]

Continue reading

In a galaxy far, far away… Southwestern Road Trip Day 3

After getting to Taos, New Mexico after dark, we were pretty exhausted from our excessive sight-seeing. We were really glad to find the Hampton Inn in Taos. We spent a quiet night in Taos and bright and early in the morning of Day 3, we headed to Taos Pueblo. Taos Pueblo is a thousand-year-old, still lived in traditional pueblo. Unlike Acoma, it was right by Taos, the city, and we didn’t have to go searching for it for long. We paid our entrance fee into the pueblo, and paid a mere $5 per camera to take pictures of the pueblo. After Acoma Sky City’s $10 per camera, it felt like such a better deal! And they charged a group fee for the 4 of us that was cheaper than the advertized $10 per person rate. Already, I warmed up to Taos Pueblo. ūüôā The day was bright and sunny, clear […]

Continue reading
Ya want a piece of me?

What Transpired In Pakistan

Like DSA 2006 back in April, we were at another defence exhibition only this time in Karachi, Pakistan. My apprehension was soon laid to rest as the local organisers as well as the other foreign exhibitors who were great folks whose company I enjoyed. Whenever we got together, there usually was loud chuckling and sometimes there were incredible belly laughs, which I believe began for the first time when we tried to figure out what the acronym “CIP” actually was. Nope, ain’t tellin’. There were Barry and Martin from Australia, John from England, Bernard from the Czech Republic and sometimes we were joined by Jean-Fran√ßois from France, who was our neighbour in the exhibition booth next to us. All of us were ably and excellently cared for by our Pakistani attach√©s (so to speak) Shah, Shamir and Arsalan. I was chained to the booth most of the time because the […]

Continue reading

In a galaxy far, far away… Southwestern Road Trip Day 2 (Acoma Sky City)

So, after we left El Morro, we went east on the NM 63 until we hit the Interstate I-40 again. And we went on for a short way, and decided we would visit Acoma Pueblo, and then look for some lunch. For your convenience, here’s another look at the map of New Mexico. [[image:us63.jpg:Review Map of New Mexico:center:0]] The plan for the second half of the day was after Acoma Pueblo, we would drive to our next hotel in Taos, New Mexico. So, we got off the I-40 by Acoma and took the road into the pueblo. Acoma Pueblo is also known as Acoma Sky City because this thousand-year-old still lived-in traditional pueblo is situated on the top of a mesa. So the people who lived in the pueblo were able to defend themselves from invaders, from other native american tribes to the Spanish conquistadores. They lived on top of […]

Continue reading

In a galaxy far, far away… Southwestern Road Trip Day 2 (El Morro)

After a relaxing evening at the Hampton Inn in Gallup (Mak and Abah ate their tar paued mexican food, and Vin and I went out briefly for a quick bite), we had a good night’s sleep and hit the road at 8:00 AM again. Gallup is a lot colder than Phoenix so everybody was bundled up for the 40+ Fahrenheit (about 5 C) weather. [[image:us63.jpg:Map of New Mexico:center:0]] On our itinerary for the day, from Gallup, we would get off the I-40 and head south on the NM 602 then east on NM 53 a little ways to see El Morro National Monument. After El Morro, we would take the NM 53 north east to the I-40 and then stop at Acoma Pueblo. We took so many cool pictures I’ll divide Day 2 into first El Morro, then Acoma Sky City. The weather was a little overcast and cloudy. Here’s […]

Continue reading

In a galaxy far, far away… Southwestern Road Trip Day 1

So on October 27th, the four of us flew from Dayton to Phoenix where we planned to embark on an ambitious tour of the Southwestern USA. We arrived in Phoenix and rented a car. Armed with our guidebook and a roadmap of the United States, we thought we were ready for everything. We had a half-planned itinerary, and some hotel reservations along the way. The rest we would make up as we went along. We arrived in Phoenix late in the evening of Friday October 27th, so we got our rental car and drove straight to our first hotel in Phoenix. We planned to spend the night and in the morning we would hit the road. [[image:us32.jpg:Map of Arizona:center:0]] From Phoenix, we planned to drive north on the I-17 and at Flagstaff, head east on the I-40. We had reservations at a hotel in Gallup, New Mexico (just east of […]

Continue reading
Dust is ever-present and ubiquitous around here

Karachi is Sunny but Cool

Today Hikam and I took a drive around town with a tour guide / taxicab driver. The idea was that we’d tell him what we needed to buy on a souvenir hunt and he’ll know the best places to take us. Although we tried very hard, we couldn’t find a T-shirt that reads My Friend Went To Karachi and All He Got For Me Was This Lousy T-shirt. In fact very little T-shirts were sold at the souvenir stores. They mostly have leather and fur goods, onyx-carved trinkets, ornate metal-ware and beautiful cloth for traditional wear. Like Malaysia, there are lots of motorcycles on the streets but wearing helmets are voluntary. Other unlikely vehicles found on the streets of Karachi is this human-powered banana-carrying cart and the donkey cart. We missed an opportunity to take a photo of a cart carrying metal drums (stacked at least 10 feet tall) drawn […]

Continue reading
Out of the airport

So There We We Were At Jinnah International

Hikam and I arrived at about 2025 local time via the Pakistan International Airlines flight. It was enjoyable. I think I slept four out of the six hours airborne. The inflight movie was Pirates of the Carribeans – Dead Man’s Chest. Luckily the hotel transport people were waiting for our arrival. One less thing to worry about. It’s now almost 1000 local time in the morning, and we’ve had some breakfast. Access to Wireless LAN in only in the lobby on the ground floor and on the 6th and 7th floors. So, here I am in the lobby trying to get some information down the internet tubes.

Continue reading
Hishgraphics H

Next Week I Fly To…

…Karachi, Pakistan. The journey will be nested between the coming two Saturdays. Since the company is small I have to run around getting stuff done in preparation for the trip. Between this and the course assignment – that had me on edge for weeks until I finally submitted it one week late – I had no time updating this here weblog. Heck, I didn’t even have time to come up with some artwork which I promised myself I’d come up with for recreation time. A stand-out moment during the running around would be last Friday when the Airline employee looked at me (when she realised I was booking the tickets for myself) and asked with a tinge of disbelief, “You’re the one going?” Hopefully by two weeks we’ll have some photos of Karachi here. (And hopefully we’ll have internet connection at the hotel there.)

Continue reading

On To The Far Side Of The Planet

Tok and Opah Irfan boarded the flight that would take them to Singapore, then hopskip to Tokyo, Chicago and finally Cincinnati where Ayah Cik and Cik Dik would be waiting to bring them to their house in Middletown, OH for a month at the United States. This would be their second time in the US. To prevent being late for the flight because of breaking of fast, we left after 6 PM from the Tenth Floor, headed for Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) which is strangely enough a million light years away from KL, but maybe that’s a subject for another entry. We broke sawm driving through Putrajaya and ate dinner after Mahgrib prayers at the Dengkil R&R on the PLUS Highway. And no, I didn’t need to pick my teeth en route. Anyway… pictures, as they say, are worth a thousand words: [[image:kliasendoff01.jpg:Irfan recharging for his high energy expenditure […]

Continue reading

Makan Angin Puerto Rico Bab 4

OK So I realize it’s been weeks since we went to Puerto Rico, but work is pretty crazy busy lately and I haven’t been able to finish my final Bab of Makan Angin Puerto Rico. In fact I was planning to write this blog in Malay and publish it on August 31st (Malaysia’s Independence Day). Since I have missed that deadline, I will just go ahead and write the entry in English so as not to show the world that my Bahasa Malaysia (or is it Bahasa Melayu now?) has really gone down the drain since secondary school. This entry is a bit more random and rambly than usual. Sorry! One of the places that was close to our hotel was an old fort called San Geronimo and I went for a walk to see if I could explore it. I could see it from our balcony even! [[image:pr60.jpg:San Geronimo:center:0]] […]

Continue reading

Toll Tickets Trawls Trenches Twixt Teeth

Do you know what’s one of the best things about driving along the PLUS highway (or the North South Expressway in English) after you had a good meal, especially if you got bits of gristle and such uncomfortably stuck between your teeth? You can use the Expressway’s toll ticket as a very effective toothpick. It’s thin enough to get between your molars. It doesn’t disintegrate easily by moisture (or saliva, if you will). It bends easily and can get into angles and corners that would put a Hound of Tindalos to shame. Plus after you wipe the edge of the toll ticket the crud disappears like magic. It works much better than a regular namecard. OK, don’t ask about the namecard. Sure it’s disgusting. But man, does it work like a charm.

Continue reading