Day 1 : 28 hours of mad rush

Day 1 is finally here. Our family sabbatical or road-schooling, whatever you call it, this is the day!

Our barang-barang (goods and belongings) for the next 7 months

I initially planned for a backpack for each of us and 2 check-in luggage. With all the packing tips, packing cubes, vacuum bags thrown in, we had to run to a mall to purchase another 30L trolley bag which was used for our excessive electronics, chargers, wires, etc and the children’s bolster. 😜

This will be our first time taking 4 flights in a row. These were the flight plans : Penang to Kuala Lumpur.  5 hours later, KL to Manila.  2 hours later Manila to Los Angeles and finally 2 hours 40 minutes later Los Angeles to Las Vegas. We said our prayers before embarking and hoped we can connect through all the flights.

We were 5 hours early in KL, but our flight departed 1 hour plus late. Which means my two hours layover in Manila was cut short to less than an hour. From my past experience, with less than an hour layover, the check-in luggage will not be in time to be transferred to the next flight. So I approached the flight attendant and let her know my concern. She told me that she will relay my concerns to the captain who will in turn let ground staff know about our connecting flight and rush my luggage out to next flight. We touched down at Manila around 8.35pm and my next flight out depart for LA at 9pm😱. Standing at the doorway, I gently reminded the flight attendant of my luggage even though I know it will unlikely to make it. Once the door opened it was like “Run Jacy Run!”, “Run Mark Run!”. We went through a security scan and had my high quality brand new duct tape confiscated. I didn’t know that it was not allowed. Anyway, we arrived at our assigned gate at 9pm. The flight was just boarding. whew! 😅

Flight 3 of 4 : Manila to Los Angeles

A rather smooth and comfortable 13 hours flight where the children get to sleep for 7-8 hours. The flight arrived as scheduled, around 6.50pm. We have almost 3 hours to clear customs, pick up our luggage and “walk” to our next flight at 9.40pm. Unfortunately, due to super tight security at LA airport, we only cleared custom at 9pm. The mad rush begins again. We rushed to the assigned carousel and frantically look for our luggage. Xiao liao! Not there. I didn’t make a big fuss as I am prepared mentally the luggage won’t make it. So I just filled up a form and quickly checked which terminal is our next flight.

Tom Bradley International Terminal to Terminal 1

To walk from Tom Bradley Terminal to our Southwest Airlines terminal 1, it will take about 17 minutes. Our flight departs in less than 30 minutes. We had to run once again.


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Run Jacy Run

Flight 4 of 4 (Los Angeles to Las Vegas)

A tired look after 26 hours of mad rush

We are thankful we were still allowed to check-in 15 minutes before flight depart. We were even more thankful that we didn’t have our luggage with us as running from one terminal to another terminal with those luggage would be even more tiring. To cap it off, we would not be able to check-in the luggage as they requires 45 minutes before departure. Therefore, we are indeed so grateful, God laying all the steps for us.

Finally arriving in Vegas

A tired smile
Glad that we arrived!

Finally! We made it. Connecting through all the flights was like an adventure even though some of our barangs were not with us. I was a scout, so I was prepared for delayed and lost luggage. Our trolley luggage contained some essentials like a set of clothes each as well as our pajamas. Jo and Jacy still can smile for the camera!

Daycare center

This center was set up to help the poor families (mostly single parent) to look after the kids as their parent(s) have to work and cannot look after them. Our job was to play with them. There is a lack of manpower the ratio of teachers to kids is 1:9. 


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Mindo activities

Mindo is a 2 hour drive from Quito. It has many activities for tourists such as tubing, zip lining, birding, hiking and more.

This is a photo of a Pale-Mandibled Aracari at the birding tour. 


This is the Cock-of-the-Rock only found in Mindo. 


This is tubing photo. 


Zip lining photo.

Intinan Solar Museum in Quito, Ecuador

Intinan Solar Museum

 

This Museum focuses on indigenous Ecuadorian life. It is also in the middle of the world. There are a few games to play on the equator. Such as balancing an egg on a nail on the equator line. If you manage to do it, you will be awarded a certificate as egg master. On the equator, there is less gravity so you can jump a bit higher. You also can try to balance on the equator line with your eyes closed. (It’s harder than you think!)

Quito food

Shish kafta (for mark) us$8.92. Mark ate 3 kaftas. I like the rice.

Mashewah us$9.81 (a mixture of 2 koftas, 1 beef, & 1 chicken) I like all the meat. Very nicely cooked & tasty.

Plato mixto fairuz us$9.81 (interesting platter with assorted spread of hummus, rice wrapped with veg, meat patties & salad)

Baclawa us$1.07 (Lebanon dessert kin has been wanting to eat since he last ate in Spencer village, Perth some 15-20 years ago) I find it too sweet for my liking.

Sopa/soup: Aji de carne (potato, chilli & beef), juice: passion fruit, (we chose wo sugar & it tasted horrible) Main: Pollo en salsa de mora (stir fried chicken with blackberry sauce) taste is not bad, quite tasty with the sauce. Mark & Jacy chose the carne a la plancha (beef steak) meat is very tough! Dessert: papaya

1st Chinese food in Quito: 广州之家:Fried rice with beef & prawns, fried noodles with mixed vegetables & wanton soup. The food was cooked by the local chef, was expected to taste awful but thank God it was not so bad just normal. 😅

Sopa/soup: crema de tomate/cream of tomato; Jugo/Juice: papaya

pollo al horno/baked chicken with rice & salad. Chicken is quite tender. Que Rico!

Cocktail with mixed fruits. Refreshing!

  1. Milonese de pollo – rice with chicken patty, groundnuts, potato patty & beetroot & carrot salad (set lunch us$3 including drink, soup & dessert)

    Fruit punch & jelly (Kin’s favorite😋)

    Sopa Sancocho de carne – soup with tapioca, beef pieces from the bones, carrots, sweet potatoes, sweet corn.

    Beef steak with rice, sunny side up, mashed potato & avocado salad

    Beef steak with mushroom sauce, fries & salad

    Chicken soup with cheese & avocado

Sopa/Soup: Locro de choclo (corn) Kin said it’s tasty & flavorful

Sopa/soup: Albondigas (beef ball with rice) Very tasty & full of flavor.

Plato fuerte/Main course: Pescado frito en salsa de cangrejo (fried fish with sauce, salad & rice) the fish is fresh & soft, the sauce goes very well with it. The sides are black beans, some salad & mashed potatoes.

Plato Fuerte/Main course: Pollo al horno (Baked chicken) Chicken is very tender. Nice!

Plata fuerte/Main course: (For Mark) Lassagna con papas fritas (Lasagne with fried potatoes)

Postre/Dessert: Gelatina de pina (pineapple flavor jelly)

Entrada/Appetizer: Mote Con Chicharo O Fritada (White corn & Fried pork skin) I think it’s not to my liking, the white corn has no taste except the sauce added to it. & I don’t eat fried pork skin

Sopa/soup: Locro De Queso (creamy potato soup with cheese & avocado) It’s a bit too cheesy for my liking; avocado is fresh & I gave it to Jacy as she likes it.

Fuerte/Main (For Jacy): pork ribs with fries – the honey bbq sauce ribs are quite tasty; meat is also quite tender.

Entrada/Appetizer (For Mark): Alita BBQ (chicken wings with fries) The wings are quite tasty too. 😋

Fuerte/Main: Bisteck De Carne (Beef steak) the beef is quite tender, overall taste is quite good with the sauce & spice.

Postre/Dessert: Fruitillas con crema (strawberries with chantilly whipped cream) Jacy happily finished up everything! 😄

Postre/Dessert: Higos con queso (sweet fig served with cheese) It is a very sweet dessert for people with sweet tongue. Nevertheless, I still managed to finish the fig but only took a tiny bite of the cheese. ☺️

Historical Sites in Mexico City

Palacio Nacional (The National Palace)

 

The National Palace was built by Aztec emperor Moctezuma II in the 16th century. Hernan Cortes destroyed it in 1521 and made it into a fortress. After some events which I don’t know happened, The palace was destroyed and got rebuilt, and it became the palace today. On some walls of the palace, you will see murals painted by famous Mexican painter Diego Rivera of the Mexican civilization before the Spanish Conquest. It has very good paintings of the Aztec Empire. Website: http://www.palacionacionaldemexico.mx/

 

Catedral Metropolitana De México (Cathedral Metropolitan)

The Cathedral is about 500 years old, it is leaning onto one side because Mexico City used to be just a lake and there is still loose soil underground. It’s good to take some picture of the leaning cathedral and if you want to go in, it’s free.

 

Hospital de Jesus (Jesus Hospital)

The Jesus Hospital is the first hospital in the continent of America. It was founded by the much hated Hernan Cortes in 1524. It is a still functioning hospital and many Mexicans don’t know this place at all.

Day 2 to 5 (in Las Vegas)

Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas

We want cheap

Las Vegas and LA was just a pit-stop for us to rest and get over the jet-lag before we travel southwards. We chose travel to Vegas to stay because it was much cheaper than in LA. Even after factoring in the airfares from LA to Vegas (US$167.92 for the 4 of us). I booked one of the cheapest (if not the cheapest) hotel on offer at the time of booking. About US$300 for 4 nights including exorbitant amount of “resort fee” tax which most hotels in Las Vegas charge.

The cheapest Hotel! Stratosphere

We found out the cheap way, our hotel was cheap for various reasons. First off and most important of all, the wifi in the room was limited to only 3 devices and they were dead slow in this smartphone age. I need to pay to upgrade the speed. Second, we wanted a hotel located along the strip. Yes, the hotel is indeed along the strip but the end of it, really far from the hustle and bustle of the City of Lights. Third, I had some last minute essentials bought from Amazon delivered to the hotel. The Amazon’s order was split into 3 shipments. The hotel’s concierge charges $5 handling fee for each package received! 😱

Our Highlights

Since it was just a rest stop, we did not really plan or pre-book any tours. We (at least me and Jo) just wanted to visit the Grand Canyon.

Our highlights were the helicopter tour over Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Grand Canyon.

Aerial View of Hoover Dam

3000 feet below the Canyon

I also learnt that children do not share the same enthusiasm as us. Hoover dam – one of the largest hydro-electric plant in the world, Lake Mead – largest reservoir in United States and the Grand Canyon – a natural wonder of the world was nothing compared to thorny scrubs and geology of the area.

Geology is more fun!

Mark & Jacy’s highlight was a visit to the Adventure Dome at CircusCircus. Thankfully adults did not need to pay if we were not taking the rides.

Favorite Meal

We did not particularly hunt for food as most of our meal time was out of whack due to jet-lag.

Edward : McDonald’s breakfast. We had it for 4 consecutive days.

Jo: Beef noodle at Noodle Asia @ The Venetian

Mark : McDonald’s too

Jacy : McDonald’s too. 😂

My 5 tips for traveling in Las Vegas

  1. With Data, you can travel! Get a sim card from the AT&T store instead of Walgreen. When I arrived in a city, my priority is to get a sim card for data. So the nearest to our hotel is Walgreen. I bought a blank sim card for US$10 and paid another $60 to top up. I didn’t get it working as the lady at the store didn’t know how to. I ended up the next day at an official AT&T store. The staff told me if I went to their store, the sim card is free, I just need to top up credits and they will set it up quickly.

 

2. Use ride-share (Uber or Lyft) especially from airport to hotel. When we arrived at the airport, there are signs directing to the ride-share pick up area. Even in the hotel, there are designated entrances for their pick up as well. They are convenient, and much cheaper than taxi. Remember to use a promo code (especially for LYFT) on your first ride, you have $20 discounts ($5 x 4 rides). I referred Jo to download and use Lyft and in turn, I have another $5 x 4 rides discounts. We want cheap!

Our rides with $5 discount on each rides.

3. Be mentally ready that children are not as enthusiastic as us at places of interest. Our interest will most likely not be their interest. We will continue to discover this for the next few months.

Check out the thorny shrubs

4. Las Vegas is in a desert. Distances seems farther than it looks. Use Google maps to check how long it will take for you to walk from one hotel to another. We just use Lyft. 😃

5. Bring a light jacket everywhere you go. Even though it may be scorching hot outside, hotels blast their air-conditioning to compensate for the heat outside. We were caught a few times without and had to shiver walking inside Bellagio.

That’s it for our short trip in Las Vegas. We also went to the Marvel Avengers Station which I felt was not worth it at all. Walking along the strip at night is also recommended.

We rented a car on our last day in Las Vegas for a short road trip towards Los Angeles airport.