Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 5 - March 29th

Last full day in Austin. Pretty excited to go home, but also sad to leave, after all Austin's been good to me. The day started with a visit to Austin Stone, a really big church that Bryan's been going to. He asked me to listen to last week's sermon to be prepared for this week's and he was right, both sermon together was really powerful in talking about love for the saints and our endurance being rooted in our view and hope in heaven. I was very blessed by the experience (this is actually my first time visiting a mega-church).

Today was also a physically day, I was "invited" to play in the one sport that I dread the most my whole life, softball. I have to say, I am worst at softball than football, and that is saying a lot. But, it turned out that I was actually not bad an throwing and catching, but it went downhill when we were done playing and I was give then chance to try batting, which I actually was not excited about..I am REALLY bad, especially not trying it in over 8 years. I ended up looking awkward and strike out twice. But again, that's what I think, maybe the situation looked different in other's eyes. All in all, it was a lot of fun just meeting new friends.

Oh, someone thought I was Korean today, for some reason to me that's a compliment, so that kind of made my day. Plus, we got to have free lunch in the UT dorm, with all due respect, UCLA's dining food is better.

Bryan was REALLY behind in his school work, so after softball, he again "transfered" me to someone else. This time I'm in the hands of King Choi, which was fun and we had a good time just hanging out, which brings me to my two biggest highlight of the day....

First, ever heard of something called "Party Barn".'s basically this barn, really, a barn, and it's stacked with alcohol inside, and you just drive by and pick up what ever you want. I have to say, even in California that stuff wouldn't fly. But it was nonetheless very amusing and I got that experience down.

And then....we went to the congress bridge, home to an amazing number of bats, yea I said it, bats, they don't just live in caves. So at a certain time in the evening right before the sun set, thousands of bats that live under this bridge flies out together. It's quite a site, they all form a line in the sky and you can clearly see a black line of bats. And the sound they make all together actually frightened the little kids who were there. I've never seen bats in my live, let alone thousands of them!!

The rest of the night is pretty low key. We went to whole foods, well not just any whole foods, but the world's first ever whole foods. Apparently whole foods is originated from Austin, and this one that we went is probably one of the most decadent whole foods I've been to. They always have these whole things, and their extensive wine and beer collection always amazes me.

No more going out tonight, I stayed in...while Bryan is at the library plugging away, wonder what time he'll be back (apparently he didn't come back until 7:30...). Tomorrow morning's the last "day" of this trip, time for home.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 4 - March 28th

So Bryan had something very important to do today, so for most part of the day I got a chance to hang out with some of his friends. Once again, I was introduced to really good food, this time around for lunch, we went to "homeslice", an Austin pizza joint. I was skeptical at first about texan pizza, but it was surprisingly good! Thin crust (which I love), garlicy sauce, and tons and tons on garlic on my white pizza, along with creamy ricotta cheese, it was pretty amazing.

We then went to kayak. I have to say, as much as I love water sport, kayaking is something I haven't done in a LONG time. I was a little nervous to not embarrass myself out there, and then guess what, the next thing our kayak wouldn't stop going in circle. Me and my partner, Joy, we had no idea why that's happening. For the longest time I thought I must've sucked THAT bad. After a while, we decided to take some mini breaks and our boat would always turn around and go backward. That's when I thought to myself, "how come it feels more natural going backward", and then we looked around and said, "Wait a minute...WE ARE THE ONE BACKWARD". So apparently our boat was going backward the whole time, which would explain why it kept going in circle despite our utmost effort to steer it straight. So....with that figured out, me and joy are actually quite good at kayaking. We even challenged the friends who went with us to a race and won!!

After a grueling hr and a half of kayaking (hold your boos and weak-sauce comment, we were paddling against really strong wind on the way back, which makes it super difficult trying to move forward, it was a mini life metaphor, when life push you back, you just gotta move ahead anyway). And then....we went to get shaved ice, it's different than the one we get in Cali, this is way better. The ice was finely grated and it was just smooth like snow, plus the flavoring and the cream, all of those makes for a great treat after a good workout, I would imagine it to be even better during the summer.

To continue the trend of this trip, after a quick break after snowbeach, we then headed out for dinner. Tonight's is Southern food night, so obviously I had to try the country fried steak. And oh man, this is probably the biggest country fried state I've seen in a long long time ( I have a picture to proof). Big and fluffy with a well balanced batter, makes a great country fried steak. And the side, the side!! is amazing. All in all, it's just a great meal and good comfort food. That thing was huge!! and I finished it along with the sides!!

A pleasant surprise of the night comes when we had a chance to talk about discipleship and what we think is the importance of it. It's always nice to have spiritual conversation, even with people who you've barely met. Alright, you can start to see a pattern of my trip, just good food and good conversation. I need to take a nap before we go out for more food, haha. It's a pity to have to leave, but I think I've disrupted Bryan's regular school week, next time maybe I should pick a better time to visit, mm..would there be a next time? We shall see....

Day 3 - March 27th

The day started with another thunderstorm and this time it was actually a hail storm. It was kinda cool in fact, b/c I haven't heard a full on thunderstorm in ages, since such a thing doesn't exist in LA. Today's highlight is definitely visiting the 360 bridge, the name came from it's shape of a half circle, but then it begs the question of how exactly is it 360? But that soon became an after thought once you climb up tot he top of the hill next to the bridge. The view you get up there is truly breathtaking, you're just high enough to see most of Austin while overlooking a long river with boats lazily drifting down and wakeboarders zipping through the water. I just sat there and couldn't help but thinking of the greatness of God's creation. Blue sky and green hills, we're so small but yet we're so cherished. It is definitely a good spot to bring a friend and just share the view while chilling. Let's see if I can post a picture up here.

Before that, we had Texas BBQ!! I'm like, "Finally" and the place we went to, "Rudy's" didn't disappoint. I told the waitress it's my first time and I got a bunch of samples. I tried the brisket extra moist, and that was it, the point of no return! I didn't even bother trying the other choices (they didn't look too appetizing actually, but I'm sure they're good), so I ordered a half-pound of that brisket and it came with a stack of white bread (I haven't have white bread this good in a long time)

So here's how to assemble a brisket sandwich....Take a piece of bread, put a good amount of brisket on it, slather the in house bbq sauce on it, and then add a layer of cream corn (OMG, probably the best cream corn I have had, well i also haven't eaten a lot of cream corn...) but yea, and then add onions if you like them, fold the bread like a hotdog, and then just

I was super tired after that, so as usual and quite routinely like the past couple days, I took a nap. Tonight was AACM (Asian American Christian Ministry @ UT) large group. I always like going to other Christian groups but I'm always slightly apprehensive also, because you never know what's the difference or similarity compared to what you're used to. But it was nonetheless exciting, I was excited to meet a good amount of new friends and they all seem very nice. We had pho afterward and I have to say, that wasn't one of the strong point of Austin. But I think I've been making one too many joke about liking the city more than Austin, but the fact is I'm truly enjoying my time here. I got a brief chance to live life like a student going to UT. And to me that's important when traveling.

To cap the day off, we went to the famous or dare I say infamous 6th Street (look it up if you don't understand why it's infamous). Overall it was a good night, don't think I've seen that many bars on the span of 4 blocks, it was pretty amazing and again met some nice people.

So that's day 3, if i have more time and I'm have more to say about other things that happened. But the food keeps getting better and the city is getting way better, just on the same page.

Update: my keeping track of expense is working and let's just say it's very much important to live in Austin with good food and less than 40 dollar a day. It's just funmy

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 2 (second half) - March 26th

For dinner we went to this Tex Mex place called Trudy's. It's a nice joint closely resemble a hut with a restaurant area and a bar area. They're know for their Mexican martini, it comes in a regular martini glass, and on the side, it has a whole shaker full of martinis for refill. I didn't get it, but the friend who got it ended up asking us to share it, and it was really good. So far the food and drinks here are pretty cheap and really good, which makes for a good combo.

So the highlight of the night was supposed to be country dancing, or as Bryan calls it, 'kickering', no idea where did that come from. didn't happen, b/c not enough people wanted to go, so my previous 'highlight' of the trip went up in poof. It was a little bit disappointing at first, but then Bryan's friend, Vicki, Jen (jkwan), Matt, and Joy came over to play games with Bryan, me, and King. Our crazy night is about to begin, haha.

They were all really nice with great personality, so time and writing space's sake, I'm not going to describe each of them, but let's just say they were a lot of fun to hang out with. We played this game called, "Mexican Train Dominoes", it's a really fun game, simple yet not without strategy and generally entertaining. The objective of the game is to get rid of all the tiles on your hand by using them to connect the tiles to make a train, and of course there's little tricks and rules here and there that makes it interesting, you'll just have to play to find out.

There is ONE THING, this game is LONGGGGGG, we played from 11 till 3,, till 3!!!! But it's all good, we went to eat tex mex again afterward. This I have to write about, there's this thing called, queso, it basically a cheese sauces with chopped bell peppers. It's savory and smooth, and cheesy, pour it on top of anything and it'll make whatever that is at least 10 times better. I've never seen or heard of it, we'll see if it's just me not knowing that we have it California.

It was a good day, good food, good sights, good games, good new friends, and a good day to look forward to tomorrow.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 2 (first half) - March 26th - Thursday

Gloomy with Thunderstorm luring..

So much for the 88 degree forecast, but it's okay, I'm well prepared for any kind of weather.

The plan was to wake up at 8 and leave at 9 to ahve a day of campus visit, but since Bryan and I both overslept, our day got pushed back to around 10. Which is fine, because the weather is kind of depressing, even though the temperature is just right, walking around campus really wouldn't have taken 3 hrs.

Lunch was great, we went to this place called Crown and Anchor Pub right outside the campus of UT. Had a jalapeno cheeseburger and got introduced to a new beer, the Woodchuck, have to say, really smooth, with a hint of apple cider taste (later on I found out that it's actually called a hard cider, hence the cider taste), but it's all good, a very good beer to go along a burger during lunch.

Bryan has class, so it's pretty much just down time in the computer lab right now, so maybe a little recap about the campus. It's way bigger than UCLA, but not as big as I thought. Their fountains definitely trump ours, and they love giving out free stuff!! So far I got a free rose for Holocaust day and was offered a free orange UT string bag...maybe I should walk around more and see what else I'll get offered.

The highlight is probably seeing that gigantic (once biggest HD stadium TV screen in the world), too bad it's not on, but I can imagine how bright and annoying that big will be, haha. There are more Asians here than I had imgained, and Texan really don't dress any differently than Californians, maybe the girls are less scandelous, actually, I don't know about that yet... But yea, if it wasn't for the random patches of orange-ness and the random sculptures of longhorns, I would think my flight took a detour and brought me back somewhere in Cali.

I should really find out more about the history of Austin, so I have two choices, wander around campus and try to find a decent museum, or use this time to cough up the 500 word essay I need to finish by the end of this
So I stayed in to write, b/c it was pouring outsides, but within 20 minutes, the storm cleared and now it's super hot. Bryan said in the morning when we left, "Jon, you're gonna regret wearing that pair of jeans in this weather..." and I thought he was being ridiculous for saying that.

Well, we ended up going to a free museum, it was nothing like a Getty, but nonetheless still very nice. It was very comprehensive with a focus on Americas/Latin artist. One of my favorite piece of the whole afternoon was a gigantic display. It's hard to explain, but it's a layer of golden glowing pool of pennies (never knew how luxurious a pool of pennies together will look). On top is a bunch of lights hiding within many cattle bones and in the middle is a line of communion cookies stretching from the bones to the pool of pennies. It's the author's expression of his protest toward early catholic colonization which destroyed basic agricultural model of life in order to built churches and gain financial rewards; hence the cattle bones leading to a pool of money with the communion cookies as the linkage.

As a side note, Bryan is not the best person to go to a museum with. With that said, he was a great host to show me to the museum, but he was pretty much mentally gone after we walk in. He has the ability to make you feel guilty for lingering on a piece of art. If you want a preview of the rest of the museum, Bryan would be the perfect person because he would have been through the whole museum by the time you're finished with your first gallery. Alright, Bryan deserves some credit, at least he wasn't one of those people who just sits and stare at the ceiling with the look on their face that says "i can't believe I'm here, the ceiling with nothing is indefinitely more interesting than anything else offered here". With all that said, it was a lot of fun!

Austin Trip - Day 1

Got to the airport with just enough time to eat an overpriced dinner. I fought the urge to have an overpriced drink also, so a pat on the back for myself.

I'm setting out to accomplish two things this trip. One is to keep an expense log to keep track of my spending so I won't go crazy (not sure if the act of keeping track has anything to do with cutting back spending). And two is to find out whether everything IS bigger in Texas.

This trip is going to involve a lot of meeting new people, eating BBQ, and playing. All are good things that are worth looking forward to.

I was surprised by how many people are on this flight and how there's only 5 Asians and somehow we're all sitting in the same row (talk about "chances")

I'm inclined to think that traveling alone makes you more likely to write b/c you have so many thoughts going through your head and no one to tell them to, so writing naturally becomes the next best thing. And already there's this girl next to me with this annoying squeaky voice that should only belong to a Japanese Anime, this is going to be a long three hours.

So I finally got to Austin!! The weather is pretty chilly at night, but not the same unbearable ones you experience in SF or sometimes in LA. I also experienced the fastest bagging claim EVER, so Austin is already impressing me. One sad thing though, I was looking forward to see a gigantic "welcome to Austin" sign somewhere in the Airport, but I couldn't find one, and I finally saw one only to notice that it's written on this sad looking vending machine, since I was hellbent on taking a photo of a "welcome to Austin" sign, I took a picture of it anyway. Let's see if I can post one up here, I'm new to this blogspot thing, so we'll see how proficient I become in a very short time.

Alright, it's almost 3 in the morning here, so I'm gonna head to bed in order to wake up at 8 tmr. Just a preview, we'll be visiting the campus of UT tmr and country dancing at night, it'll be INTERESTING.