Thursday, August 27, 2009

tHE SevENth WoNdER

There are some things that need to be seen to be believed. The majesty of Niagara Falls is one of these. There is no way one can describe how awesome the Falls look, until you see it for yourself. I stood within inches of the base of the Falls and felt like I was in heaven. The roar of the water, the wild of the wind, the sprays that drenched me, being greeted by the rainbow mists...

It's crazy, it's incredible, it's stunning.

If there is one place you need to visit to convince yourself that there is still magic in the world, you must come to Niagara Falls.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I like this quaint little place called Boston. It has an old-world charm that is neither staid nor stodgy. The intellectual richness that abound in the many universities here draw me. From the cobbled steps of Harvard Square to the stark buildings of MIT to the cityscape of Boston University to the inspiring Massachussetts General Hospital, all left a deep impression on me.

And I can almost imagine myself living here.


Sunday, August 23, 2009


The food-portions in US are big. Huge in comparison to what I get back home. And people here seem to accept it as a normal part of life. Waiters happily bring you boxes for you to pack whatever you can't finish. The first time my friend and I ordered a pizza, we had the leftover for 3 days after. Which makes me wonder, whether it is an issue of supply or demand.

But what is incredible is how adaptable one's stomach can be. My first burger here, I could only finish about 2/3 of it. My second burger here, I finished about 3/4 of it. But my third burger here, I finished all of it! No doggy-bagging!!

My jaws are aching from eating the 5-inch thick sandwich this morning.

Friday, August 21, 2009

nEw YorK CiTy

Although I haven't actually walked down Fifth Avenue (but I did ride down it in a bus), I was mesmerised by the sights and sounds and people in New York City. The hustle and the bustle more than lived up to my expectations.

I stopped at the Empire State Building to stare across the whole of Manhattan and beyond. 86 storeys above ground and it was one breath-taking sight after another.

I visited Ground Zero and felt the tears welling up in my eyes reading the stories of the heroes and the heroines. Almost 10 years later and the emotions are still as raw.

I caught a Broadway musical and loved every minute of it. The singing and dancing and acting were all superb, culminating in a standing ovation at the end.

There are very few places that move me in so many different ways.


Monday, August 17, 2009

WesT cOaST

Today is my last day in the US west coast, before I head off east tomorrow. It has been a great 3+ weeks. Of exploration. Of discovery. Of friends new and old. There is a freedom comes from exploring the world alone, and I am glad to be able to experience that. There is an excitement comes from discovering the world afresh, and I am happy to be part of that.

I fell for the glitz and glamour of LA. I like the panda I saw in San Diego Zoo. I smile when I remember the laughter shared with friends in Phoenix. I remain awed by the Grand Canyon. I am ambivalent about Las Vegas. I love the Rocky Mountain. I see the steel of the Golden Gate Bridge swallowed by the fog of San Francisco.

Many nights, many sights.

It is a foregone conclusion.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

tHe iNHeriTanCe of DebT

One thing I noticed is there are a lot of homeless people in the US. Come night, they appear from nowhere and place themselves in the doorways of shops and houses. Basically, whatever little shelter they can get. And in the day, they disappear into thin air. Like they know to tidy up and hide themselves away from the public eye.

Poverty is a difficult issue to grapple with. More so when I see the disparity between the rich and the poor. On my good days, I think I want to share all I have with the homeless and the poor. On my not-so-good days, I think I want to hoard all I have and live the high life myself.

How do I justify handing out a dollar to this beggar but not the next? Where does one begin giving and where does one stop? What can be done to break this cycle of poverty? By giving them handouts, are we encouraging them to continue with this lifestyle where they can just barely get by? Or do we equip them with some skill where they can sustain a decent existence through their own merit?

My heart goes out to these homeless people.

gOLdeN GatE bRiDGe

So I've been in San Francisco for the past few days. Despite the erratic foggy weather, it's a lovely city to be in. It feels very dynamic, because there is such a wide mix of people here from different countries and origins. Like the bustle of Chinatown leads into the casual sidewalks of little Italy in North Beach. And the hippie neighbourhood of Haight-Ashbury to the hip streets of the Mission.

We were driving on the Golden Gate Bridge just yesterday. The fog was hanging low and it felt like being in a dreamscape. And as soon as we were on the other side of San Francisco, the fog lifted. It was amazing.

One thing I love about travelling is the opportunity to see things that I don't see in my own home country. So I was in the redwood forest yesterday doing my hike, reveling in the abundance of nature. The trees so tall I couldn't see their tops.

And I remain fascinated.

Monday, August 10, 2009

rOcKY MoUntAinS hiGH

I have always loved being out in nature, with nature. It brings about within me a sense of peace. And it is often a time I enjoy communing with God. Where my running conversations about the world around me is halted, and I let the skies and the mountains, the water and trees, the flowers and butterflies talk to me.

So when I was up in the Rocky Mountains this morning, I was speechless. I hiked on 4 different trails, saw 3 lakes and 1 waterfall. It was an amazing experience. The beauty of water set against a backdrop of mountains speak to me of God’s love that is both gentle yet tough. The chipmunks that came begging for food speak to me of God’s sense of humour. And the many blue dragonflies I saw, they speak to me of God’s creative power.

It’s good to be back home again.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

VivA Las veGAS

In this city that never sleeps, I, too, feel compelled to hurry my footsteps to keep pace with the rest. The big signs and bright lights - they lure you to spend more and more. And as I keep walking, in my half-run-walk, the buildings - they only grow bigger and fancier.

Yet beyond the opulence that dazzles, I see stories of poverty and ruin. Homeless people on the streets. Abandoned properties that have run out of funding. And it is interesting how this continuum between rich and poor runs along the same street, the Las Vegas Boulevard. From the valour of the lion thath stands proudly outside MGM Grand, to the plaza of The Venetian, to the direlect Sin City Hostel, to the motley crowd that waits at the Downtown bus terminal. The landscape changes, so does the human geography.

I was walking through the Fremont Street Experience just now, with Don MacLean's "American Pie" playing, and a thought struck me.

Only in Vegas...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

tHe CanYOn GraNd

How does one begin to describe a natural wonder of the world? Except that I was only able to stand there filled with awe. The Grand Canyon is definitely grand, and much more. And as I stood there admiring its majesty, a chill ran up my spine.

I felt humbled, by the grandeur of the canyons. I felt small, in comparison to the enormity of the canyons. I felt refreshed, by the nature that carved the canyons. And in between catching glimpses of the rock-mountain squirrels and the Californian condors, a single word set itself inside me.