Monday, June 28, 2010

On the way to Rocky Mountain

It's sacrilegious to tell people that you've been to Loveland and never been to Rocky Mountain, it's like... it's like... telling people that you've been to KL and never went up the Petronas Twin Towers, or that you've been to Penang and never been to Kek Lok Si...

*Although I have never done both also lah, living in KL for 22 years and working in Penang for 2 years*

Anyway, Rocky Mountain is a national park, and the pride on northern Colorado. It's a 45 minutes drive from Loveland (if you are driving at a constant 70 miles/hour)



The drive to the national park brought back memories of Scotland. Yet it was also so different, instead of grass and greens, we get rocks on the both sides of the road. Probably not unjustified, why else would our destination be called Rocky Mountain?


In between Loveland and Rocky Mountain national park, we passed by a small scale hydroelectric dam called the Idylwilde Dam. It's really very small, I guess it only powers a very small town which I'm going to mention in the last part of this post.



Let me introduce you to "The Cannon",


No lah, actually I don't know what is this called. But it's used to flow the snow that melt into water into the river.

And then, let me introduce you to a public toilet that is probably on par with China's notorious toilets,


You know why I said what I just said? See this,


That's the toilet bowl for you. Let's give you another angle,


This hole, goes straight to the river. I hope you're not eating or just finished eating when you see this picture ^^.

And then, in between the Idylwilde Dam and Rocky Mountain national park, there's this place for us to stop by and go to the stream,


I thought it's called the Trout Streams,


But it's not lah, trout is a kind of fish, trout streams merely mean streams that are full of trouts.

It's called the Big Thompson River.


There's even people fishing for trouts here,


just for hobby though, because they cannot bring their catch(es) home with them...


Shortly before the entrance to the national park, we passed by a small town called Estes Park (which I mentioned is where the dam powers, I guess). This place used to be a settlement for the native Indians, and it still is, albeit with a healthy mix of white Americans...


With a dose of good ol' wild wild west...


Next post onwards will be what we saw inside the area that is known as Rocky Mountain national park... and yes, I use onwards because there will be a few posts. Stay tuned...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Jaya Asian Grill @ Denver

After feeding the cash registers of various stores, it's time to feed our own stomach...

As you might know (or not), I was traveling with a fellow colleague, and this joker poor fella totally cannot embrace get used to American food, especially the riceless-ness of the diet...

I know there's quite a majority of poor ol' Malaysians who can sympathize with the poor colleague: imagine going 1 whole week without your rice and kangkung belacan and ayam masak merah...

Knowing that Asian food in Loveland is such a joke, I have been Google-ing for Asian food in Denver that gets lots of positive feedbacks, and I stumbled across one such Indonesian restaurant, so on our way back from Castle Rock, we specifically entered downtown Denver in search of this restaurant...

So, I shall now introduce to any of you poor ol' 饭桶s/fan tongs/rice bins who might be traveling to Denver or somewhere nearby in Colorado, this restaurant:


The internet categorize this restaurant as an Indonesian restaurant, but Jaya Asian Grill is actually more of a Southeast Asian restaurant and bar, and the waitress is a Vietnamese who upon knowing that we're from Malaysia, begin to speak in fluent Cantonese @@

The interior certainly does not look like an Asian eatery...


If you pay attention enough, there's a blurred image at the bar on the top left corner of the pic, that's the waitress... she keeps shying away when I wanted to take a picture of her so... le sighzzz...

Alright, the interior fail to convince, but once we opened the menu, we got mixed feelings...


For my colleague, upon the sight of item 1 & 3, he thought he was in heaven. For me, I wasn't particularly thrilled with seeing Malaysian food, I don't give a damn about them especially when I'm abroad for such a short period of time. But I was amused with item 5 & 6...

In America, tahu means tofu... hahahaha :D

We begin ordering away. However, we somehow forgot that we're in the States. That realization smacked us when our orders arrived. And it managed to bring a chuckle out of the waitress. While the names in the menu are Asian, the portions stay true to the local norm...

Here's what we ordered...


Oriental Fried Rice - Thumbs up for this, it tasted as good as any Chinese fried rice in Malaysia, and the shrimps are very agreeable in size and taste...


Nasi Goreng Ikan Asin - you can't bite into chunks of salted fish here, but you know it's in the rice because the smell and taste is unmistakable. Probably this smelly exotic item is so expensive here that they cut the salted fish into very very very very very tiny bits...


Tom Yum Goong - now this one brought amused tears out of both of us. The looks fail, the ingredients fail, the taste epic fail. Totally no hint of tom yam in this soup, it's just plain Americanized sweet and sour soup...


Ayam Goreng Kalasan - this is an Indonesian dish according to the menu, and I'm not an educated Indonesian food expert so I don't know if it's authentic. But it's quite good as a fried chicken, the skin is crispy enough and the meat is tender enough.

And when we put a spoonful of the belacan lookalike into our mouths, we almost broke out in tears. This thing does not taste like belacan at all, but it is pedas! No, we're not in tears because it is spicy, we're in tear because, this is the first time in the US that we manage to stuff some chili sauce that not sweet but stayed true to it's intended nature...


Kangkung Sambal Belacan - no hint of belacan, but it's still spicy, probably used the same sauce as above, but the kangkung is well fried, it's quite a good dish in it's own rights.


Fortune Cookies - complimentary desserts that all Asian restaurants in the US give out to customers...

We managed to finish the Oriental Fried Rice, the kangkung, and half the chicken...


The rest we tapao... by the way, the correct terms for tapao in the US is "in a box" or "take home". If you tell the waitress to "take away", she'll interpret that literally and just take your food away and the food will probably end up in the trash can...

And, this restaurant even have a website. Please don't feel shocked at the price, and please don't convert the currency. Over in the US, Asian food is to these people what Western food is to us, luxury items, that's why they are more expensive.

Oh ya, tips for those traveling to the US, this was told to me by my US counterpart:

"No, the portions served here are meant for you to take home some of them, in fact you are expected to do just that, nobody expects you to finish everything. The Americans having a bigger appetite and consume more food that Asians is a terrible misconception on your parts."

So, now you know...

The terribly fulfilling meal ends our shopping road trip. However, as we headed back to Loveland, we saw a big stadium beside the highway, so we stopped by for a couple of photos...


Invesco Field at Miles High, home ground for the Colorado Broncos, a professional rugby American football team in the NFL...

Me no fan of American football, so wasn't particularly interested, just took some photos and headed back to Loveland...

Dinner

+
+
=

I wonder why I still don't see my tummy go away... :(

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Outlets @ Castle Rock

We had 1 weekend to spend in Loveland, but Loveland is just a small town, so naturally we won't be staying there, we would be driving out to somewhere more interesting...

First priority is shopping, although the outlets are just behind our hotel, but the outlets area is relatively small in Loveland, there's only about 40 stores there...

The same cannot be said for a certain place 90 miles (approx 145km) south of Loveland. That place is called Castle Rock.

Castle Rock is known as Castle Rock because of a certain rock in that area. The people built a park around this rock,



Does the rock on top of the hill looks like a castle?

Anyway, we're not really interested with the rock, we're interested in a place 1 mile away from here...


There are more than 80 stores at this outlet area, and the stores are much bigger...



As usual, no photography allowed :( , but I managed to sneak a few photos in between plundering around the shops...




5 hours 28 minutes and 12 seconds after parking our car,


Alright, I'm done shopping for the trip...

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Fort Collins

Fort Collins is a bigger township a few miles north of Loveland. It is known as the college town of Colorado, housing the Colorado State University. According to our US colleagues, it is also known as Colorado's home of good beer...

Unfortunately, we were really not familiar with this place, there was one evening that we drove all the way into this township in search of dinner (we heard there's a substantial Asian community here), we just drove around the town and discovered nothing much...

Just managed to snap a photo of sunset while in the car (I wasn't driving at that time)...


We passed by the university on the outside, but there was nothing much to see on the outside, and we couldn't go inside, so there's nothing to show...

We stopped by at Foothills Mall to see if there's any shops here that Loveland does not have...

I wanted to begin snapping away at the shops, but a security guard immediately came and stopped me and said, "No photos in the mall"

......

There's Victoria's Secret shop here! But I was afraid to openly aim and snap, so I curi-curi snap, and below is the result... not clear... :(


Didn't buy anything, just see see look look, then head back to Loveland for dinner... on the way pass by something that we don't see in Loveland and Malaysia...


Don't focus on the logo, focus on what the building is... Have you ever seen 7-Eleven petrol station in Malaysia?? No right?

Basically, that's all about my experience with Fort Collins... kind of disappointing... I think if I got travel here again next time, I will try to find out the attractions to go to...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Snow^2 @ Loveland

You know, it was May, it was supposed to be approaching summer. According to our US colleagues, normally they'd be planting flowers come April. So, it was a pleasant surprise when I woke up on one morning and saw this.

However, the next day, this was the view out of my room...


At first it felt kind of nice too, at least this is a full fledged snow, not the small scale one. It became not so pleasant though when we saw our car like this...


Every other angmohs seem to have some sort of a brush stashed away in a corner inside their car, which they use to clear off these snow piled onto their car. Our rental car... has no such brush... so, we need to use our bare hands to do the job...

It was fucking cold, I tell you... imagine holding ice cubes on your bare hands for a few minutes without letting go... actually, you can just try that at home, no need to imagine, then you'll know how "great" that feeling is...

And the road is wet and slippery...


By slippery, I don't mean the normal slippery after heavy rain in Malaysia... by slippery, I mean that usually, when the snow hits the road, it will melt and become water due to the heat on the road, but sometimes, the snow turn into ice on the road.

Imagine driving on the road and then suddenly finding yourself driving through ice, that kind of slippery, and trust me, it's 10x worse than driving over a puddle of water...

I learned my lesson on the first day of snowing, this time I went out of the hotel armed with a cup of hot coffee... luckily once inside the car it was relatively warm, so the coffee was still hot when we got off at the office, good for heating up my hands...


And midway through working that day, it began to snow again! So, being the Malaysians that never see snowing before that we were, we took a break and rushed outside to the smoking shack to take this picture,


and this video,



Smoking shack was not because I am a smoker, is because the office policy does not allow for cameras, the only place hidden from the CCTVs is this smoking shack...

Ok lah, although this post is about the complaints when snowing, but it's a wonderful experience for us lah, get to experience snowing first hand... and thank Buddha we only have to face it for 2 days, and without the snow storm...

Our US colleagues were not too thrilled though. One of them said: "This is nuisance snow!", another one said to us: "It must be you guys bringing this nonsense to us..."

Lolzzz... if that was really the case, sorry bout that mates...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

England...

...will NOT win the World Cup, full stop.

I'm just getting tired of the media spewing crap about "how great their chance is to win this time around", then gets the crap beaten out of them... every 4 years or so...

Seriously, I don't even understand where these nonsense come from... yes the English Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world, but the best players in that league are not English...

And the English players are overrated... Apart from Rooney, I don't see any players worth as much as they're paid... mostly they are able to shine because of their teammates... Lampard has Drogba in front of him and Essien/Ballack beside him... look where Gerrard is with Torres out for most of the season, and without Xabi Alonso? And if not for Vidic, what crap would Rio Ferdinand serve up every week?

Goalkeepers then no need to say la, hahahaha, you saw what happened with USA last night...

The point is, they are able to hit the right gear at their clubs because of the support of their non-English teammates... in the England setup, they're just overpaid and overrated blokes... so for me, no they won't win the World Cup...

By the way ladies, David Beckham is not playing, and Cristiano Ronaldo is Portuguese/Kaka is Brazilian...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hooters @ Loveland

Do you know Hooters? If you don't, please have a look at their introduction here...


We visited the Loveland's branch once during our stay, it is actually located on the outskirts of Loveland, on the way to Fort Collins...

Some interesting items in the restaurant...





The food:

Grilled Salmon Burger...


Jumbo Hotdog...

10 pieces Boneless Wings...


Nothing delectable though, Hooters were never well known for their food... there were famous for their girls...

This is me enjoying a glass of beer while pondering about whether or not to take a photo with our waitress......


A piece of paper made up my mind for me...


Bloody $8 for photo... that's RM27... it's more expensive than the hotdog... and btw hor, the waitress is not pretty at all, just the boobs a bit big nia...


No need lah.......