The Trip: 23rd Dec 2006 - 1st January 2007
Map of LA
Day 1: Sat 23 Dec 06
Dep: Singapore(SIN) on Sat, 23 Dec 2006, 1715 hrs
Arr: Taipei(TPE) on Sat, 23 Dec 2006, 2145 hrs
Dep: Taipei(TPE) on Sat, 23 Dec 2006, 2255 hrs
Arr: Los Angeles(LAX) on Sat, 23 Dec 2006, 1840 hrs
Upon arrival at Changi and check-in, we take advantage of the Business lounge as is our usual practice!
Surveying the goods.....
Flight to Taipei was a breeze, since it was a short flight. At the security checkpoint, I had to pull out all the liquids from my carry on bag. Out came the toiletries (which were packed in a clear ziploc bag, as required by TSA regulation) and my bottle of mineral water (from the lounge) The lady security officer told me to take a drink of the water; I was confused for a moment, then realised that this was how they checked the liquids on the flight!
Many painful hours later, we arrive at LAX, Tom Bradley International Terminal at 5.40pm. An hour early, courtesy of the ever efficient SIA. We stand around and wait for Kevin and Kiae, who are supposed to pick us up. There are hordes of Asians - I would say Asians outnumbered any other ethnicity here (at least in my line of view). Particularly a lot of Koreans! That's cos LA is home to the largest number of ethnic Koreans outside of Korea.
Kiae and Kevin pick us up in the family van - yes, a van. It's huge by Singapore standards, a 7 - seater Toyota Sierra. We will meet Kisu's parents later in the evening, as they're still working.
We go back home to drop off the luggage and wash up; my parents-in-law live in the City of Montebello. It's pretty central, and close to downtown LA.
We decide on Roscoe's House of Chicken & Waffles for dinner. Kiae brought Kisu and I to the one in Pasedena the last time we were in LA, and we talk about it fondly everytime we have a craving for fried chicken or waffles. This ranks as one of my favourite food places to visit in LA - fried chicken and waffles seem like an unlikely pair, but the minute you eat it, you'll be like "This makes perfect sense!"
Kisu and I split the SCOE’s, a quarter chicken prepared southern style with 2 Waffles. There is a generous dollop of butter on each waffle, and you can pile on lashings of maple syrup.
If you're ever in LA, do go and try it, it's soooooo good! The chicken and waffles are all freshly made to order, so they're super crunchy and oh-so-delicious. They have several outlets, but the one at Pasedena is less crowded - avoid the one in Hollywood, apparently you can wait up till an hour at that store.
Post dinner, we walked around Old Town Pasedena a little - this is where the annual Rose Parade (I saw it once on TV!) is held. One of Kisu's old stomping grounds (as he puts it), he used to frequent this area as a high school student. Whenever he's back in LA, he likes to drop by for old time's sake. As we walk along the streets, he will point and say stuff like, "This is where I ate my first sun-dried tomato!" (one of the brasseries along the street) and dish out other similarly tasty nuggets of Kisu-trivia.
Shops start to close, so we sit down for drinks at a quaint French style cafe, then head home. There are these really pretty plates displayed on the wall, so I try my composition skills in photography! Haha, not very good eh....
Day 2: Sunday 24 Dec 06
We woke up around 1pm - I had to force myself to crawl out of bed....straight to a 5 course breakfast/lunch prepared by my mum-in-law!!
1. Kimchi jigae (kimchi stew)
2. Kalbi tchim (Kalbi stew) - Kisu's favourite-st Korean dish
3. BBQ Pork
4. Possam (boiled fatty pork wrapped in lettuce leaves)
5. Chap Chae - fried vermicelli and vegetables
Check out the amazing home cooked spread!
The spicy stuff right in the centre is the kimchi jigae (1), to its right is the kalbi tchim (2), behind it is the BBQ pork (3), and the heart-attack-inducing slab of possam (4) is right up front, in all its artery-clogging glory. Chap chae is to the left, in the small plate. The green container at the back holds the lettuce for wrapping the possam.
After lunch, we really needed to walk off all the food, so Kiae and Kevin brought us to the Farmer's Market where there are little stalls and fresh produce for sale.
Here's a picture of my Kiae & Kevin (in the dining room) !
Produce at Farmer's Market
Kisu, who was fascinated with the size of the turkey legs, insisted that I should take pictures of them!
with his hand, to illustrate size of turkey legs.....
us at the market
Just next to the Farmer's Market is The Grove mall, an open air mall, where you get the usual American brands like Banana Republic, Gap, JCrew, Anthropologie, etc.
And then, there's American Girl Place
This was the most amazing place - it was like an alternate universe.
American Girl started as a series of books of several american girl characters - with various backgrounds and ethnicities, and from different time periods in American history.
Now these characters have evolved into dolls, and at the American Girl place, you can buy the books, dolls, clothes and other paraphanalia. Little girls can buy matching outfits with their dolls, and there is a hospital (where the dolls get a wheelchair to sit on!), theatre, photostudio (girls take photos with their dolls) and even a doll hair salon!
I was most fascinated by the hair salon...
See the little chair?
Style of the month! A braiding cost 20bucks! There are little hair products like gel, and combs too!
Before heading home, we drop by Korea town, or K-town as it's affectionately known.
Kiae and Kevin wanted to buy my parents-in-law a Korean DVD set for Christmas, so we went to a Korean mall. They ended up getting Dae Jang Geum (or Da Chang Jin). I was full of hope of finding good quality English subtitled DVDs, but alas! They didn't have the titles I wanted (Rain's Sangdoo, Let's go to School, and Ireland with Hyun Bin) But Kisu managed to find all of his Song Hye Gyo DVDs, bah!
I buy Tupperware too (don't ask - plastic boxes make me happy) and had an extremely tasty red bean donut from the Korean bakery.
We had to rush home for dinner with some of Kisu's relatives - I meet Mike and Margaret, and their parents, who are related to Kisu's Dad.
We get loads more home cooked food, and alcohol is forced on us. I get a glass of amaretto since I'm a girl, but poor Mike has cognac forced on him, which he tries to dilute with coke to make it more palatable. He gives us the lowdown on all the hot Korean clubs to visit....we were thinking of maybe checking some out while we were there. One of the places he mentions is La Prive, which is where Nicholas Cage picked up his young Korean wife - but they all come with US$250 - 300 table booking fees!
Liz, Kiae's maid of honour at her wedding, and her sister Susie drop by later to join us with the Christmas countdown. The rest of the evening passes by in a blur...could be the amaretto....
After all the guest had gone home, the family settled down, and we had Kevin play the guitar. My mum-in-law started singing too!
Oh, and by then Kisu's Dad had quite a lot to drink already, but he was trying to convince us that he was still sober. So he insisted that we should "test" him, like this!