Sunday, December 21, 2008

Nashville Trip with OIPS

18 Dec 2008 ~ Opry Mills Mall & Opryland Hotel

The Office of International Programs organised this trip for us who were still staying in the dorm. I was really glad to go for this trip!! Bro followed us also this time around. It was a one day trip, went to a mall to do some shopping & eat lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. Bro & I bought quite a lot of Nike shoes...omg! We also visited Opryland Hotel which was really huge with indoor gardens. It is really a very nice hotel! Thank you OIPS for this fabulous trip! :)

Winter Break & Christmas Season in America~!

This is the first time that I am able to use the word 'winter break'...yea...Malaysia is summer throughout the year...hahaha!! I spent more time with Anna & Daniel's family during the past week. I had the chance to help decorate their Christmas tree, wrap presents & bake some peanut butter cookies. It was really fun!!

The 'before' & 'after' of the tree....nice huh!!

Went for lunch with their family at Top O' the River restaurant in Guntersville

Followed Daniel to his nana's house to help her with the email & helped her with some Christmas decorations....had yummy-licious burger for dinner at their house then baked cookies!

1.It has been raining for the past week
2.Went for lunch at a small chinese place
3.Visited bro's fren's (Evan) house by a man-made lake....pretty nice surroundings! usual...I'll clean up my room after exams...and switched my table's position also.
2. The cafeteria is closed....this is just one of the tom yum noodles with brocolli that I prepared.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Thanksgiving in Orlando

Alrite...I'm back to continue with my updates on my Orlando trip! I have been 'chillaxing' for 2 weeks doing nothing and I know that I've gotta get this update posted before I leave for the East Coast trip next Tuesday...or else everything's gonna pile up! Luckily I found a cool photo software few days ago and it makes combining pictures much easier...I luv it!! :)
It was actually a last minute decision for me to go on this trip because Dr. Ong told me that she's bringing the NESA students there during Thanksgiving and asked if I wanted to go together. Well, initially...I was planning to stay back in Huntsville and go to Anna's house to spend Thanksgiving with American family. But if I missed this trip, I might not have the chance to travel to Orlando before I leave US. I have been to Disneyland & Universal Studios in California in 2006 but I still want to go to DisneyWorld & Universal Studios in Florida for at least once. The tickets were a bit expensive but I don't mind...haha!! Once in a lifetime wat!! :)

Epcot showcases
The trip was from Wed till Sun and my finals started on the Tues after we came back!! I did bring my notes to read during the extremely looooong (15 hours) journey but of course I failed....ended up falling asleep most of the time...ahhh!! 2nd bro was planning to come & visit me during Thanksgiving (for the 1st time since we came in Aug)...and he was lucky so he get to follow us during this trip...haha!
Island of Adventure

I'm not gonna write about the details of this entire journey coz it's gonna be toooo long-winded. In fact, bro already wrote a lottttt on his I decided not to repeat again. I'll juz post some pics...and if ya'll wanna see the bigger pics....juz click on the pic. Overall, it was quite a tiring but fun-filled trip. We spent a day in Disneyworld going to 3 parks...Epcot, Hollywood Studios & Magic Kingdom. We spent the other 2 days at Island of Adventure & Universal Studios...rode most of the thrilling rides in & took all front seats...awesomeeee!!! :) We also woke up at 6am to go for Black Friday shopping...the sales was crazy! We started our days at 8am and 'played' till 12am was quite a 'mission accomplished'....hahahaha!!! ;)

Universal Studios

Monday, December 8, 2008

Atlanta Weekend Getaway

Finally...I'm FREEEE~!! One month of winter break...time to chill and have fun...oh yeah!!! :) Hadn't had time to update my blog for the past 3 weeks...had been traveling and also had my finals last week. The reason why it always takes me longer to update my blog is because I need to combine all my pictures before uploading them. Plus, I took lotsa pics during Atlanta and Orlando far I only managed to complete the Atlanta pics. I'll talk more about the trip later. One good news to share...just checked my results for the last semester online...guess what...A's for all 4 classes....yeahhhh~!!! :)

22-23 November 2008(Sat & Sun): UGRADers Atlanta trip
I've always wanted to visit Atlanta especially after hearing my other friends who had been there describing how nice it was. Well, Atlanta is considered quite near...4 hours away...just like Penang to KL. But it's still hard to travel around coz even traveling by bus is quite expensive. Cristina was the one who organized this trip and brought 8 of us sponsored students together.

We started our journey on Saturday morning. Our international office advisors, Ms Anita and Dr Pottenger fetched us all the way there and treated us lunch at a Mexican restaurant before they head back to Huntsville. None of us had any idea where we wanted to go, but luckily our hotel was situated in downtown so we spent most of the time just walking around.

Getting ready to depart & enjoyin' lunch at Mexican restaurant.

A group of students traveling together is always more 'adventurous'. Yea...we always say that we're a bunch or 'poor' international everything needs to go on budget (haha...not really true though since we still get a good amount of monthly stipend even though everything is pretty much paid for already). Well, we'd rather walk than spending money on public transport so we were basically walking all the time for 2 days...which was a lot!! I remembered asking a hotel receptionist how long it takes to walk to the Greyhound bus terminal and she just shaked her head said " can't walk there"...then she started explaining which metro to take...haha!! We ended up walking half an hour to the bus terminal...hehe!! :p

Walking along the streets of downtown Atlanta
P.S. I'm not a fan of walking so walking non-stop for 3 hours is considered a HUGEEE achievement for me...hahaha!!

CNN Center:
CNN is located in Atlanta so I thought I should make a visit to this world-knowned news station this time around. I went for the 'Inside CNN Studio Tour' with Uyanga & Aleksandar. We were brought around the studio and saw how they actually get the news on air. I also had the chance to see how the newscaster report the was really cool to see all the advanced technology that they were using. We went there on Sunday so there wasn't many people working there. They also didn't allow us to take pictures during the tour...too bad!!! :(

"I've got the whole world in my hands..."
Watching the news and seeing what's going on in other parts of the world makes me realize how fortunate I am to live in a peaceful country and not having to worry about the necessities in life.

World of Coca Cola:
Another place that I wanted to visit in Atlanta was World of Coca Cola even though I am not really a fan of Coke. I still prefer water...haha!! Me and Uyanga got in before they were closed...phew! There were lots of exhibit about Coca Cola but I didn't really paid attention to read everything. My main focus was still taking pictures...haha!! Yes I admit...I am lazy! They had a station where we can taste different kinds of Coca Cola from 60 different countries for free! They categorized it based on different continents...Asia, Africa, Europe, North America & Latin America. It was interesting when I first started trying, but as we moved on, I felt like Fear Factor...coz I don't know how each of them tasted until I sipped it. Some tasted really weird and disgusting...ewww! I guess I still prefer the original Coca Cola...haha!! :)

World of Coca Cola...lots to see...lots to drink!!

Centennial Olympic Park:
I don't have much memory about the 1996 Olympic which was held in Atlanta. I was only 9 yrs old back then. It has been more than 10 years since the game but at least they still maintain this park as one of the tourist attractions. Our hotel was located just 2 blocks away from this park so it was convenient for us to walk here.

I found Rashid Sidek, Cheah Soon Kit & Yap Kim Hock's names!! I knew exactly which sport to look for Malaysian winner...haha!!

The park during the night...beautiful lightings around the city

Georgia Tech University:
I didn't plan to go to this university at first. Cristina, Sabina & Georges went there in the morning and came back telling us how nice the place we decided to make a trip there. It was just about 15-20 minutes walk away. The campus was indeed quite beautiful, especially the architecture of some buildings. The campus was so big that we walked for almost 2 hours and the weather was chilly!!! I left my jacket in the hotel so I was freezing...had a bad headache after that...aikss!! :(

Nice environment to study

Oh yea...forgot to mention one interesting thing that Uyanga & I encountered when we were walking around downtown on Saturday night. As usual, we were busy taking pictures (obviously we looked like tourists) and a black girl came to us and wanted to look at the photo that we just took. She was carrying a big black plastic bag and we tried to keep away from her. She sounded very friendly and introduced some interesting places for us to visit and wanted to bring us to Underground Atlanta. Underground Atlanta used to be a tourist attraction but now it is filled with ghettos and beggars. Of course we didn't want to go so she finally asked if we can spare her some money. She said that she's 16 yrs old and was raped few months ago and is now pregnant and haven't ate for few days. It's sad coz there's a lot of homeless people in Atlanta and I pity this girl for what she has to go through at this age.

As I mentioned earlier, we did quite a great deal of walking during the trip. We walked to the bus terminal to get our tickets on Sunday morning at 9am. The streets of Atlanta are usually busy but not on Sunday morning. The streets were almost deserted and all we saw was some homeless people. We all encountered some gethos yesterday so it was kinda scary to walk on the quiet streets, luckily there were 8 of us walking together so not too bad. Usually, we only visit tourist attractions when we travel but this time, it is really an eye-opening experience to see the 'other' side of Atlanta. No matter how developed a place is, there's certainly still a portion of people who's left behind. If given a choice, nobody wants to live a life like this or become gangsters, but the society is imperfect.

The 'other' side of Atlanta

Night view of Atlanta from Westin Hotel:
Westin is one of the tallest building in downtown Atlanta. Of course, we can't affort to stay there but Emil & Jose managed to find a way to go to the top floor which was their revolving restaurant. After dinner at a chinese restaurant, we 'sneaked' into the hotel and got to the top floor. I was amazed by the picturesque night view from the top!! The whole city was lit up and it looked completely different from the ground. That was totally awesome...what a good way to end our trip!!

Breathtaking night view from the top of Westin Hotel...awesome!! :)

This was the first time 8 of us traveled together on an overnight trip. It was tiring and 'adventurous', but overall, I enjoyed the entire experience. I was a bit dissapointed though coz I was expecting a bit more from Atlanta. Maybe it used to be nicer in the past especially right after the Olympic, but its glory seems to be fading now.

Guys...I enjoyed the time spent with ya'll!! Hope we'll have chance to travel together again!

Earlier on, we had an international pot luck party and I also attended a Thanksgiving dinner organised by the baptist student center. Some of the 1 semester sponsored students have already left. We have spent lots of time together these 4 months and I'll remember all the memories that we had together. We might not meet each other again but no matter how far apart we are, I hope that we'll still keep in touch! All the best & take care guys!!

There's still a lot for me to blog about for my Orlando trip during Thanksgiving break. Haha...I'm running behind! But I should have time since I am quite free now. There's some changes to my winter break plan coz the ski trip was cancelled. So we'll be flying up to New York on the 23rd and meet up with our parents for the 8-days East Coast tour then stay back in New York to countdown for 2009!! Will then walk around Baltimore for 2 days then come back to Huntsville on 3rd of January. Spring semester will start on Jan 5. I've already registered for my classes, will be taking Advanced Auditing, Competitive Strategy, Computer Application in Business, Music Technology and Guitar.