Sunday, October 28, 2012

Asian Eyes' USA - Texas Lake Travis

        Oct/5/2012: During the weekdays in Austin I did not have much time to enjoy the local scene except on Friday evening. After work that day, Apple brought  Kevin, Colin, Boon and I to Lake Travis. The attraction here was the restaurants with sunset view overlooking Lake Travis. Yup, the sunset view was beautiful and we happily snapping away until the sun completely disappeared from view. The restaurant's fare here were BBQ meats and home brew beer. We ordered beers, salads, soups, a plate of tortilla dip, moist brisket and 2 racks of ribs. The foods are good, especially the brisket and ribs, but unfortunately we ordered too much ribs for the 5 of us. After we ate our full, we still had 3 boxes of leftovers for supper. Nevertheless Lake Travis was worth the visit. Thank you Apple.
        Here are the photos we took at Lake Travis:

Location: The Oasis, Travis / Burnet counties, northwest of Austin, Texas, USA. 
Coordinates: 30°23′31″N 97°54′24″W
Crowds who gawk at the sunset at Lake Travis
Sunset over Lake Travis as we sat down for dinner at The Oasis.

Nice Baby Rack Rib. We have ordered too much that we have to pack them to take away. 
Locally brew cool beer to go with the BBQ meat - nice
Visitors jostling for the best place to view sunset over Lake Travis, reputed to be the best in whole of Austin.

Moist Beef Brisket, tasted like Char Siew but nicer - tender and juicy. It was one of the best I had.
One for the album. We have jolly good time at Lake Travis

An odd USA map with an enlarged Texas state at Oasis Texan Mall at Lake Travis.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Asian Eyes' USA - Texas Round Rock

         Oct/1/2012: I just arrived the day before at my hotel in Round Rock, Texas. I was up and about at 4 am but boy, little would I know that my jet lag would last for a whole 1 week before I finally fully recovered. The hotel I stayed in, Homewood Suite, a Hilton hotel, is a very nice 1 bedroom apartment with a King size bed, a living room and a kitchen to boot. I chose it due to proximity to my office and to shops - Walmart, Ross, Home Depot, Payless Shoes and Target; and restaurants - Joe's Crab Shack, Romano Macaroni's Grill, McDonald and Subway, all within walking distance. My hotel  rate came with a full American breakfast in the morning and a light dinner with red/white wine where guests can mingle about in the evening. The breakfast served were typical American breakfast fare like pancake, bacon, potato, scrambled eggs, hard boiled eggs, dips, cereal, yoghurt  fruits, coffee and juices. After 1 week of American breakfast, I had enough of it that at times I skipped a meal or two. I spend my week days immersed in my work in Round Rock office, waiting eagerly for the weekends to escape to another town. 
          The rest of the days comes and goes very quickly. I had the chance to sample some exotic cuisines - Pho Hoang's Vietnamese Pho, Magiano's Little Italian, County Line BBQ and Salt Lick Steak House. The last time I tasted Pho Hoang's Vietnamese Pho beef noodle was in Jun 2012, but this time it tasted just plain flat. I enquired if the chef had changed hand and was given an affirmative answer. I had crossed out Pho Hoang off my list of restaurant to visit. The Italian food in Magiano's Little Italian was so so, not because it is no good, but it was due to my jet-lag causing a lack of appetite. County Line BBQ and Salt Lick served one of the best BBQ and steak in town. Texas is well known for it's beef steak, and one cannot say they had visited Texas without tasted their famed BBQ and steak respectively. However, on the flip side, since I had tasted the best, it had became a yardstick of all future BBQ and steak meal that I will to come to eat.
        Here are some of pictures I snapped while in Round Rock:
My Hotel in Austin, Homewood Suites by Hilton, off exit 250 of I35N, Round Rock, Texas. 
Location: 2201 South Mays, Round Rock, Texas, 78664, USA. 
Tel: 1-512-271-2750
Website: homewood.hilton.com/Round_Rock
Ah, nice comfy bed in Homewood Suite after a 24 hours long journey, my home for 2 weeks in Round Rock
Homewood Suite comes with a kitchen, great for family vacation where cooking is allowed. 
Nice American breakfast in Homewood Suite. However it was the same stuff for the next 2 weeks.
Did some light shopping in Target at 121 Louis Henna, Round Rock, TX 78664, USA.
 Pho (Beef noodle) that I had back in Jun in Pho Hoang Vietnamese restaurant. Nah, I skipped it this round. 
Maggiano's Little Italy served nice Spaghetti, Pizza and Panini. We had our team dinner there.
Location: 10910 Domain Dr #100  Austin, TX 78759, USA. 
Tel: +1 512-501-7870
Website: www.maggianos.com/‎

A motorcycle rightfully occupied 1 whole car parking lot, captured outside my office. It has the same right just like a car. 
Salt Lick BBQ, simply marvelous. Here they served barbecue beef, pork, ribs, beans and sausages.
Location: 3350 E Palm Valley Blvd  Round Rock, TX 78665, United States
Tel: +1 512-386-1044
Website: www.saltlickbbq.com/
Round Rock has a good Premium Outlet Mall at exit 257 off I35 Round Rock, Texas.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Asian Eyes' USA -Texas Austin

           Sep/30/2012: I visited my head quarter in Austin, Texas for 2 weeks. I took the early morning 7.40 am Cathay Pacific CX692 flight from Penang Airport. The plane was quite full with passengers but the boarding was smooth. It flew off peacefully on time and soon it was breakfast time. I had prawn sambal rice and it was nice, not hot but flavourful. Not long my plane landed at Hong Kong International Airport 4 hours later. Since it was a Sunday, I do not have to clear emails, so I spend the next 4 hours lay over lounging in Cathay Pacific's Pier lounge, absorbing the latest magazines and even had shower there too. There is a good noodle bar in the lounge, so I had my fills of Hong Kong wanton mee as well as dim sum. At 3.45 pm I boarded Cathay Pacific flight CX882 to Los Angeles for my second leg of my journey. On this 12 hour journey I managed about 6 hours of sleep and in between I spend the rest on watching the small screen attached to the back of the seat in front, absorbing some of the latest films offered by Cathay Pacific. My plane landed at Los Angeles' Tom Bradley International airport on time and I make my way to the immigration counter. There was a long queue and it took me 40 minutes to reach the immigration counter. After some formalities and documents checking with the unsmiling officer, I finally had my passport stamped and waved through. I retrieved my bag and breezed through USA custom and rechecked my bag at Los Angeles' domestic airport for the last leg of my journey to Austin. 
             I had a 2 hours layover for my final flight, so I decided to get lunch. I had a Burger King's fillet fish and befriended an Aussie lady who was travelling to Yosemite. Finally its time to board American Airlines 6.45pm flight AA2246 to Austin Texas. American flight was very different compared to Asian flight. The stewardess were much elderly and the service was nothing to shout about. They only serve light drinks, while food and alcohol were paid extra. Nevertheless the plane did get me to my destination safely. I managed to retrieve my bags and out of the terminal within 30 minutes to the car rental building. At National Car Rental, there was a long queue and by the time I selected my car, there were not many choices left. I was allowed to choose any car I want, but at the end I settled for a small Toyota Yaris. Since I have to wait more than half an hour, the person in charge offered me a half tank of gas free, meaning when I returned the car, I only need to top up the car to half full, not full tank. Not a bad deal - that was worth some US$20. I keyed in my hotel location into car's GPS and set off. I took Airport Boulevard and then cut into I35 to go north and reached my hotel in about 40 minutes later at exit 250. Since it was already late when I checked in, I decided to skip dinner and go straight to bed. It had been a very long journey, 30 hours to be precise, half way round the globe, yet I still reached my destination on the same day I departed - Sep 30th, 2012. Here are some pictures I took as I worked my way to Austin:
Snapping away at Hong Kong International airport. Normally airports are the gateway to a country, and much can be learnt in an airport itself.
Shower room in Hong Kong Cathay Pacific's The Pier lounge. This one is close to gate 64.
Smoked Salmon meal in Hong Kong Cathay Pacific's The Pier lounge
Waiting at Hong Kong Airport gate 22 to board my plane to Los Angeles. It will be a 12 odd hours journey
12 hours, 6 movies and 2 naps later my plane approaching Los Angeles as captured on the video in front of my seat.

Obama welcomes you to America at the entrance to immigration counter at Los Angeles's Tom Bradley International airport
Hallway in Los Angeles domestic airport after I cleared the immigration and checked in my bag to Austin.
Billboard in Los Angeles displayed my final flight information
My plane to Austin AA2246 departed on time.

AA auntie stewardess at your service. It is not a glamorous job to became a stewardess in western countries.
AA only gives soft drinks refreshment. Well better than nothing.
Austin at night as viewed from my plane. By the time I checked in hotel it was 1.30 am. Good night.