Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Eurotrip 2007 Part 2

So Monday morning, the day after visiting Oxford, I got up bright and early to take the Picadilly line from my Aunt's place (Osterley Station) down to Victoria Station to catch the Gatwick Express. I didn't really have too much problems except it was the morning peak hour so I was squeezed in the train with a bunch Brits and I think someone let one rip and totally stunk up the entire train :( After several exchanges, I got on the Gatwick Express with no problems, sat by a really hawt New Zealander Geologist, Paul Stenhouse, and we chatted up a storm making the 30 min train ride go by in a wink. I exchanged for some Czech Crowns and boarded British Airways, flight BA 2684, and arrived perfectly on time.

Something that's never happened to me before occured; my bag was the first one to come out on the conveyer line, amazing! Anyway I walked out of the airport scrambling to find a familiar face and within a minute I spotted Adrian. He hasn't changed one bit! He has maybe put on a few pounds but I'm sure that's what happens when one gets older, married and settled. I was very happy to see him as the last time I saw him was when we were both students at the Univ of Arkansas. He left after his first year in the summer of 1998. We first met outside of Brough Commons (dining hall) and became immediate friends as I offered my umbrella in the rain while walking back to our residence hall, Holcomb Hall. Sarthak, Adrian, Sharjeel and me became very close and would hang out way too much. Thinking about all this brings back bitter sweet memories. Anyway after the initial excitement of seeing one another, I suddenly thought, "what if he's changed and we no longer get along etc etc". It HAS been almost 9 years since we last seen or spoke to one another. But my worries proved me wrong as soon as we stepped into the taxi and we talked just like the old times, kidding around and laughing.

We got back to their really nice Penthouse apartment and met his wife, Salome. We wasted no time and went back out to tour the one of the most well preserved city in Europe, sheltered from much of WW1 and WW2. The buildings around the entire city was just gorgeous, doesn't matter where you were it was pretty. I bought a 3-day transportation pass which would let me take unlimited rides on the tram, subway and buses which I did! First thing we did was take the tram down to the Wenceslas Square and Adrian bought me real yummy hot dog (Czech style) which was delicious! We walked around, I was taking in all of Prague. We walked pass the famous Charles Bridge and just enjoyed the scenery and caught up. For dinner, we met Salome and her two Georgian friends whom had just arrived from Berlin (for the Berlin Film Festival) on the same day, at Cafe Louvre. Cafe Louvre was a really good place to eat and has had quite an extensive guest list. Famous people who has dined there included Albert Einstein and Kafka! One thing I must say is Czech food is definitely very delicious and affordable. At Cafe Louvre, I ordered the Roast beef on cream, cranberry target, Carlsbad dumpling...totally scrumptious! The melted liquid hot chocolate was also amazing. After dinner, we just walked around town and ended up watching The Queen.

The next day, I did more sight-seeing. The first destination was the Prague Castle, the largest ancient castle in the world. In the middle of the Castle is the massive St. Vitus Cathedral with it's gothic design making it very intriguing. After the castle we strolled down to the town center and had lunch at a Hungarian place, we both had the beef goulash which was very delicious. After the castle we went to the other famous Prague attractions; Charles Bridge, Astronomical Clock, Wenceslas Square and the Jewish quarter. It was a little colder in Prague in the high 30s, low 40s, so I ended up buying a jacket from H&M. Later that evening, we met up with everyone else and attended a party at one of Salome's coworker's flat. He was the nicest guy ever, feeding us delicious Georgian food till we were stuffed.

I had to leave for London the next day...I know it was a short trip and I should've scheduled a longer stay as I enjoyed myself very much in Prague. I got back to London on time and took the Gatwick Express back to Irene's. Had dinner there and then went back out to meet Tet at some bar. The next day I met up with Irene and Joyi and toured all of London in one day! Unfortunately the weather was cloudy and it drizzled all day long. We met at Tower Bridge, had lunch at some pizza place and walked to Tate Modern. From there we went to the London Eye where we took a ride and then made our way to the Palace of Westminster. After that we walked to Westminster Abbey where Princess Di had her wedding and then on to Trafalgar Square and then to China town to meet Pek and her fiance for dinner at a Malaysian restaurant. The next day I had Dim Sum with Uncle Seang with his whole family and then later he gave me a tour of his business and home. I had a great time connecting with family that I barely knew. After that, I went out with Pek and met with Tet and the rest. Again we went to the clubs etc and spent the night at Tet's where the next day we had dim sum with Tet and his wife and Nick. After that i met up with irene, glenn and joyi and made our way to the portabello market. The next day I just chilled and it was time to fly back to America. I was sad my trip's over and I barely got to see London. I guess I'll just have to make another trip to London :)

Niece and Nephews

L: Baby KuanYen and sis-in-law's Mom R: Grandma, baby KuanYen, 2nd bro (knowles) and Dad :)

I cannot believe that I'm now an uncle - to THREE kids! Sure sign of one getting older :) I am so happy for my brothers as they slowly but surely pop out these little bundles of joy but I do wish that I could be closer to all of them. I don't want to just be referred to as the Uncle in USA but would actually want Naomi, Tatsuya and KuanYen to actually know who I am. I guess these are some of the drawbacks of living so far away from my family. Anyway Ean sent me these pictures quite a while back but I just kept putting them off, I'm finally posting them today. pictures always make me smile anyway :)

L: Naomi, Oldest bro, Baby Tatsuya, Masako & Grandma R: My nephew SOOO cute (nicknamed potato jr.)

L: My sis-in-law & Potato Jr R: Oldest bro with baby Tatsuya

All these pictures really makes me feel homesick. I wish I could just hop on the plane and go home for a couple of weeks. Most people probably cannot see this but it's amazing to me how much of a resemblance these kids have of their fathers. KuanYen looks very much like Ean when he was a kid and so does Tatsuya. I'm sure they will grow up and be pretty close since they're both born on the same year -- 2006. Next time I go home they will loooove Uncle Nick as he'll be showering them with lots and lots of gifts.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Eurotrip 2007 Part 1

So I'm back from my nine day trip to two European countries; United Kingdom and Czech Republic. It was definitely hectic but it's my first time in Europe so it's to be expected. Well let's see if I'm able to recapture my entire trip on this little blog entry, here goes the journey:

Day after arrival. Partying at Club Punk after surreal experience at Mag party and Marc Jacobs show. L: Tet, Ro and me & R: Lily, Chris, Tristan (Yum) and me ;)

My journey really started on Wednesday since I left for StL right after work. I got in, met up with Dave and later had dinner with Dwan. The next day, I had to get up by 3:45am to go get Dave by 4 and made it into Lambert at 4:30am! I thought the airport would be dead at that time but it was actually very busy. I barely had enough time to make it to my gate. I checked in my bag and I got charged $25 (damn AA, I got charged going but not coming back, doesn't make no sense!). Anyway my flight to Heathrow went very smoothly. I got in on time at 10:35pm and met up with my Aunt. It's been almost 8 years since I saw her and she looks very much the same! That night I stayed up just chatting with my cousin about everything under the sun. It was good bonding time but unfortunately he was involved in a play so we didn't get to spend much time together except for the late night chatting.

CNY dinner with my Aunt and Family! My first CNY "reunion" dinner in 10 years!!

The next day, Friday, I got up went out for lunch with my Aunt at the Malaysian place where I had some roti canai and chap fan and later took the tube down to South Kensington to meet up with Tet. He picked me up in his Mercedes SUV and had apparently just had lunch with a designer whose special guest so happen to be Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson. Right from that moment, things got a little surreal. We picked up this Swiss photographer, Frederick, and we all went to a magazine party at some swanky hotel. It was all very impressive; free flowing champagne, snacks, fancy water, designers and photographers were all at this party. It was all about fashion and being the only engineer, I felt a little out of place. After the party we headed for the Marc Jacobs show for the closing of London Fashion Week. Tet waltz right in, while Frederick and me tried to get in using photographer passes but we got denied so we just hung around outside checking out the line of journalists and paparazzi. It was like straight out of channel E! After about 15 mins, the show ended and people started coming out and I saw Naomi Campbell and Sofia Coppola, like I said, totally surreal. After the show, we went to this bar, Punk, where Tet's tesco disco had an event. Had a pretty good time and met Lily, Chris and this total hottie Tristan. Later had supper at HK diner and crashed at Tet's.

Day after CNY we went to Oxford. L: In front of Ashmolean Museum with Aunt&Uncle R: Atop the Church of St Mary the Virgin, see below for the view from atop the church

View from the top of the Church of St Mary the Virgin.

The next day, Saturday, we had dim sum on Baker St with Tet and his wife, Ro, and his photographer, Nick. Dim sum was very good and I later took the train back in time for the pre-CNY dinner with Aunt+family. Got back around 6pm and met my cousin's bf, Jake. He was a nice and polite guy. Dinner was fun, since I haven't done a CNY dinner like this in almost 10 years! Dinner conversations were the usual, politics and the economy. Doesn't matter which continent one's on but the dinner conversation's always the same ;) Dinner lasted till almost 11:30pm and later just chilled out with my cousin and Jake where we talked and played some Wii.

More pics at Oxford. L: Lunch at one of the oldest pubs R: Inside the courtyard of one of the many colleges in Oxford.

Sunday, Feb 18, was Chinese New Year! GONG XI FA CAI! I got an ang pau from my aunt, totally unexpected, again I have not celebrated CNY in almost 10 years! We didn't waste any time and headed out to Oxford, the oldest university in the english-speaking world. It was about a 40 minute drive from London. The strange thing I learned about Oxford was how it was made up of 39 separate colleges. Cambridge is apparently the same way, but most other Unis followed the traditional one campus style. We also toured the biggest book store, pitt rivers museum, ashmolean museum and we also climbed the spiralling stairs of the Church of St Mary the Virgin. We came home pretty late on Sunday after spending all day in Oxford. Uncle Glenn unfortunately got a ticket as we were illegally parked in Oxford (all day! so it made up for parking fees ;)

Prague here I come.......!!!!

Tomorrow I head out to Prague....I'll write about that in Part be cont'd :)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Photo taken at cafe slavia in Prague

Monday, March 12, 2007

Gold's Gym

So I went back to my old gym and reactivated my account. For the past year, I have been working out at the University's brand new recreation center but that ran out at the end of February and without H2, I was unable to renew. Oh well I was getting a little tired of the University Rec Center anyway as it was always crowded and just too many people. I was paying $29/month before at Gold's and also at the University Rec Center but yesterday I got in for alittle less. I ended up paying a $29 sign up fee, 1st month free and $25/month. Not too bad...