A-T-L baby!

Yes! We took a trip down to Atlanta, Georgia and it was ah~mazing. I was going to put everything into one huge long post, but that looked like it was going to become a post way too long for anyone’s attention span, so if you’re looking for food pictures, that will be up in a couple days. So make sure to refresh my page every hour on the hour.

In this post, I recap every tourist-y think we did. We bought a 69$ CityPass that allowed us entrance to 5 of 7 of Atlanta’s tourist attractions.

Numba 1! The entire reason I started planning a trip down to Georgia since last year. The world’s biggest aquarium (though Toronto is saying they are currently building the new world’s biggest aquarium) located downtown Atlanta. I love aquariums. For my 19th birthday, we roadtripped to Quebec City and l’Aquarium du Quebec and I fell in love with the tanks and the fish and the jelly fish and the entire atmosphere of aquarium life. As an aside, I also love zoos, safaris, biodomes, and pet stores. After my first aquarium experience, I just knew that I had to go big or go home, and thus was born this trip to the Georgia Aquarium. Our citypass even allowed us free tickets to the 30-minute dolphin show that showcased dolphin flips, skips, and divers surfing on dolphin noses.

This water tunnel was amazing. The tank itself is a 6.3 million gallon habitat exhibit, wholly earning the title of world’s biggest. This tunnel is 100 feet long and allows you to walk underneath the tank while the fish swim above you. There is this huge whale shark that passes by every so often and reminds me to not get lost in the ocean ever because, damn nature is scary SON. On the left side of the tunnel, there’s a moving sidewalk that moves quite slowly. We did want to go through the tunnel at our own pace so we stayed on the right. However, the place was fully crowded, we were there on a Saturday after all. As much as I would like to say that it was calm and peaceful, it was not the case. It was loud with lots of excited children (myself included) and lots of oohs and aahs, which I fully enjoyed! I could stay in this place forever. I’m going to turn my house into a giant fish tank save for one small tunnel in the basement where I’ll spend all my time eating, sleeping, and watching fish.

The quiet area for watching the same fish is at the picture above where you see all the people standing in front of the rectangular viewing area. There, it was calm and quiet, with places to sit and just watch the aquarium life swim by.

Here’s a video I took while walking through the tunnel, there’s the huge whale shark seen briefly at the beginning, and then a giant fish, and then a super cool sawface shark (which the internet tells me is called a Sawshark. Should have seen that coming.)!

The aquarium building itself was gigantic, with so many different tunnels and areas with different exhibits. We were there for probably about 3 hours (not including the dolphin show) and we didn’t even get to see all the exhibits, missing two of them. Piranhas are damn creepy. They don’t swim. They just kind of stay floating, very stationary in the water, kind of like how a hummingbird hovers in one place. The piranha tank looked like a bunch of plastic fish tied in place. Too eerie!

Sea dragons (top right) are an animal that I didn’t even know existed. They are like mutant sea horses. Or sea horses that made babies with fairies. They swam very majestically.

At the bottom left, there are some giant deep sea crabs (Japanese Spider Crabs) who’s leg span can reach up to 12 ft! That’s almost two Shaquille O’Neals. They’re the largest living anthropod, and can live to 100 years. I LOVE ANIMALS.

And on the bottom right is a penguin. There were a few that were very intent on trying to capture a girl’s shiny necklace and kept chasing her around. They were very difficult to capture with the camera. It is very fitting that they are boyfriend’s favourite animal because they’re both quite awkward on land and easily amused.

Continuing with the animal theme, we also trekked out to the Atlanta Zoo! It is like any other zoo I’ve been too, but I always love seeing the animals. This was the first time I’d ever seen a panda though and they were beyond adorable, just like how the media makes them out to be. Two of them were snoozing awkwardly in the tree branches, and then there was the one that was just sitting on the ground with a bunch of leaves in his face and was just munch-munch-munching away.

Another funny sight were the two bush dogs in their exhibit. There was this pit in the middle of it with some large logs and branches at the bottom, so these two take it upon themselves to open their jaws terrifyingly wide and using very impressive teamwork to get those longs out of the pit! And then throw them back in. And then dragging them back out again. They were too adorable.

The zoo has a train that takes you around the kid’s animals area that had a petting zoo AND kangaroos. What else could you ask for. There’s even a rock-climbing wall, but I didn’t do it because, girl, I had just gotten ma nails did.

The World of Coca Cola was so much fun! Although the whole thing felt a little propaganda-y, I had fun anyway, because I grew up preferring Coke over Pepsi and I fully accept our Coke overlords when they rise to power. They have a lot of Coke memorabilia a really fun 4D movie. They then played this really cool video that made me enjoy being brainwashed.

We even found our lovers from Coca Cola’s past!

In addition to these three places we also went to the “Inside CNN” tour which was pretty boring and I would have much preferred to go to the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, but perhaps that can happen next time we get down there because I would love to go back. I loved the city (aside from walking up and down the hills between our hotel and the main downtown area), I love the southern hospitality, everyone’s accents, hell, even the beggars were really nice. And the food. Oh my, stay tuned for the food.

Also, all the pictures above get bigger if you click on them. So click on them if you want a face full of POW WOAH WOAH WOAH.

Greetings from Hai Phong!

Ahh, this is my third day here [I lied, I abandoned the post and came back to it 3 days later], and it’s been great. Just one bout of jetlag, but everything else has been going swimmingly.

We flew out at 12pm on Sunday, and after an intense tweeting session, our cell phones turned off. Sad. I haven’t received a call or text message in too long. I’m starting to feel a little lonely. First thing I notice on the plane is that overseas flights have gotten a lot better from the last time I saw them. USB ports for charging, a/c adapters, touch screens, and the movie selections are pretty good. They even played Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, Entourage, and even a selection of documentaries. Lots of stuff to choose from, which is great. I finally ended up watching Avatar (the blue people, not the arrow guy) and also “Going the Distance” with Justin Long and Drew Barrymore, which turned out to be a pretty funny movie.

Ahh, airplane food. Beef slop on top of rice, with one tofu, one pepper, and one bean. Corn and bean salad, which was pretty good for the first few bites. Bun, I hate. So gross. And a brownie, and well, it's hard to fuck up a brownie so this one was aight.

Instant noodles, turkey sandwich, and crackers for a snack.

Farty cheese omelette with mango chutney and shitty potatoes. THAT FUCKING BUN. At least the melon was good.

So, we flew out at 12pm Dec 12, and landed in Tokyo at 4:45 December 13. A 13-hour-ish flight took us 26 hours to do. Hahahhahahah. I found this rather amusing.

Japan was pretty cool. I wish I could have left the airport and caught a flight a week later, or at least had more time in the airport, but I only had about 40 minutes. Enough time to buy duty free gifts on behalf of my cousin to her parents, and postcards for Fah Nah Nah. Being thirsty, I picked up a tiny bottle of “Yuzu” juice, which is some kind of asian citrus, I’m assuming. Yummy yummy.

This is how I spent my 6-hour Japan-to-Hanoi ride.

We landed in Ha Noi at quarter to 11 to my momma and pappa and uncle picked us up and we drove to Hai Phong, arriving home at close to 1am. Even at that time of night, it was at least 25 degrees celsius with the humidity. Heaven!

The next morning, my uncle took us out to eat breakfast. Most restaurants (which are not at all like the restos y’all are used to in Canada, there is no fine dining here) are much like the places pictured above. Street vendors lined up and down the street, each selling one specialty dish. Much like the Vietnamese personality and lifestyle, it’s all very informal, rushy rushy, and wary of other patrons but friendly at the same time.

This place served “Bun Tra Ca” (Or is it Cha Ca? I always mix up the Tr and Ch spelling in Vietnamese because it sounds the same to me.) It’s vermicelli noodles with a kind of fish sausage, which are the little brown discs you see floating there, and they do not taste at all like fish, just a slight hint of dill if anything. There are those crunchy vegetables and some tomatoes, and some fresh onions. Soooo yummy. If there’s one thing that I’ve assimilated into my character, growing up in a Vietnamese family, is that if something is served to you, you don’t ask what it is, you just eat it.

A bowl like this I think costs about 10,000$ Vietnam money, or “dông.” Yes, have your laughs now, we Vietnamese deal in dongs. -_- Anyway, 100$ CAN is equivalent to about 2.1 million dongs, (I can hear you laughing now, especially you, Estaban) but we just round it off to 2 million, for easy calculations. So, 10,000$ for that bowl, actually comes out to about 50 cents. A steal, I’d have to say. My brother and I have started to joke around, saying things like… I bet you I can do A, B, or C. I’ll bet you *dramatic voice* one hundred. Thousand. Dollars. Something along the lines of Austin Power’s Doctor Evil, when he asks for a trillion dollars or whatever ridiculous amount of money. But, anyway, it’s fun to pretend we’re ballin’.

“If you lick the sidewalk, I’ll give you one hundred. Thousand. Dollars.”

Some fruit that we like to buy from the market vendors -> cut up sugar cane and a small type of Vietnamese apple. I love these apples, but I looove sugar cane juice the most, which I haven’t been able to have just yet. Not a lot of places serve it now because it’s wintertime.

View from the sixth floor

Because land is so expensive in Vietnam, they’d rather buy a small plot of land and build upwards. My uncle/grandmother’s house has seven floors. Awesome. Except they put us on the fifth floor, so it’s a trek and a half to get to our room to grab things and go to bed. Most of the time, we just end up passing out in our parent’s room on the second floor. The second floor also happens to be where the only internet wire and my laptop is kept. No wi-fi up in hurr.

I swear, everytime I turn around around here, there’s another meal for me to consume. This is a home cooked meal. I love these tiny shrimps. They’re a little salty and you eat them with rice. Well, everything here, you eat with rice. The yellow-orange dish is breaded shrimp, the two brownish dishes at the top are “thit bo co” which is basically sautéed short beef ribs, and the bottom green thang is a kind of lettuce soup that you eat with your rice. The brownish water thing is probably a shrimp/beef stew. So much variety to eat for what’s supposed to be a small lunch.

Later that day, we went to “Big C” or the “sieu thi” which is a department store that is not unlike WalMart. The biggest culture shock is that because hardly anyone drives a car, and everyone has bikes or a moped/scooter, this is what the mall parking lots look like. Intense, eh? Or should I say, they are in tents. HAHAHHAHHA. Just kidding, they’re just in a little enclosure. But seriously, I’ve never seen so many scooters in one place, not even at RHS.

But that’s about the end of Day 1 ish. More updates to come about Cat Ba, Xam Bo, more food, and other things. We’re going to La Vang, in Hue, which is the middle part of Vietnam, in a few days, and after Christmas, we’ll be going to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) in the south of Vietnam.

My finger is bleeding now. Good day.

Oh yes, and this is how they cross the street in Hai Phong (or maybe in all of Vietnam). That's my uncle there, strutting his stuff in the middle of the street like a mad man.