Archive for the ‘places’ Category

June 28, 2004

Austin – day five (photos)

Alright, I finally managed to muster some strength to post some pics. Page may load slower due to larger page size. If you have a 56K modem and your speed is crawling, well, that means it’s time for you to get a broadband. My blog is not 56K connection speed friendly…

tags: , ,

michaelooi  | places  | Comments Off
June 27, 2004

Austin – day five

*narration mode – too tired to write*

Friday. American takes Friday real seriously. They think it’s serious to take things lightly on Friday. That’s why, those guys decided to bring me (and cheecheongfun) out for a barbecue lunch.

The place was located at the outskirts of Pflugerville (or was it inside Pflugerville ?) which requires approximately, 30 minutes’ drive. There were 7 of us so, we’re divided into 2 vehicles. A group of 3 on Jose’s (one of the lab techs) truck and 4 of us on Keith’s (the 300 pound dude) truck.

Jose was driving a Chevrolet Suburban and Keith’s was a Ford Excursion. Keith’s truck was so big that Roberto Carlos would need a ladder to climb onto his truck. Powered with a V8 turbocharged engine and 400 over horsepower, that thing was nasty.

But it wasn’t for long. After Keith tore up the road for approximately 4 – 5 miles, we began to feel something funny going on. His truck was wobbling a little. Keith then got down and confirmed that it was a puncture. That’s very lucky indeed. He then took out a big crank and attempted to change the tire. But… they don’t fit. Keith kinda like forgotten that he had a set of customized nuts (the nuts on the wheels..) installed the week before (or something) and the crank won’t fit. So, the guys figured that they’re gonna call up somebody for help.

Keith then whipped out his cell phone – but his display was dead (happened on the previous night).. and he couldn’t remember anyone’s phone number either. That was why we got stranded in the middle of a lonely farmland country road with no apparent signs of help. Keith tried desperately dial out through his cellphone without a display… but he kept getting to the wrong person.

It wasn’t looking good for us until help came along. There was a big dude driving by with another truck, and he happened to own a hydraulic jack and a fitting crank. And so, Keith used the guy’s help as we hitched a ride from Jose to the barbecue restaurant. Dave said, if there’s any dude over 300 pounds driving a truck around the area, there’s a high chance that Keith knows the guy. Dave was right.

The barbecue restaurant happened to be an old rundown shack. Apparently, the shack was aged over a decade and looked exactly like a scene in the wild west era. According to the guys, the waitress (which was also the owner’s grand-daughter), was one of the sideline actress in the movie Texas Chainsaw Massacre (latest version). Seen the movie but never recalled seeing her before… but, not that it matters anyway.

The thing that mattered was the food. The barbecue. It was fat, greasy and lots of them. It was fantastic. Served with pickles and jalapeno peppers, it was awesome. Was one of the most memorable lunch I ever had in US.

Dinner time, was invited by Jose to join his family and friends at a new Mexican restaurant in town. Food was mediocre – had plenty of good fajitas. But the most standout thing about this new Mexican restaurant was the free flowing margaritas and also a fantastic band of El Mariachis. Made it back to hotel at about 10pm.

Next plan – to go to Houston on Day Six (Saturday Austin time).

tags: , ,

michaelooi  | places  | Comments Off
June 26, 2004

Austin – day four

Everyone in the lab started to feel kinda light today after 4pm. Some even packed their stuffs up and went straight home. That was about the time I made my move – I asked those guys about places that I could get either a really good Mexican, or steaks that would make me squeal “wooooo!”.

Well, my queries kinda psyched the guys up and they recommended so many places… that I had a hard time recording them all. After much contemplation, I made up my mind to dine at a place called Saltgrass. It is located a few miles down the freeway, and according to the guys, the trip should worth every single drop of gas.

But before that, I asked Jase about steaks. Like, what to recommend… (I know nuts when it comes to steaks).. it went like this

Me : “So Jase, which type of steaks do you normally prefer? I’m lost here.”

Jase : “I don’t know man. It depends. But porterhouse is pretty cool.”

Me : “What’s the local favorite then?”

Jase : “Maybe we can ask John for that”.
[John is the lab manager that sits far back at the lab]

Jase : [shouts to the back] “Hey John ! Which steak do you prefer?”

John : [shouts back] “What ?”

Jase : “Which steak do you normally prefer ?”

John : “Texas !”

Jase : “No man… steak … Michael is asking for some suggestion for a good steak”

John : “I thought you said STATE !”

John suggested a T-bone. But I hate T-bone because I don’t like to waste my time with bones.

Anyway, we arrived at Saltgrass early at about 6pm, to avoid the crowds. It was a somewhat famous place, and patrons sometimes have to wait for hours just to get a seat. So, I opted to go there earlier.

I got myself an order but Cheecheongfun had some problem communicating with the waitress, especially when he was asked how he wanted it cooked. He was all puzzled there and was looking at me for help. So, I kinda had to tell him in broken Mandarin that how he’d like his ‘cow’ cooked. He told me he’d like it to be 75% raw, or at least that was what I understand.

So, I told the waitress “My friend here would like his steak Rare”, but that was totally opposite of what Cheecheongfun wanted (he actually meant 75% done)

I did not realize the mistake until sometime through the waiting, when he told me in our casual chat that he do not like his food raw (which he also took the trouble to explain how he hated salad and Japanese food). That was when I went – oh fuck!- realizing that I had ordered the wrong stuff for him.

I then attempted to cajole him into accepting raw food, to mitigate the problem… I kind of told him that nobody eats their steak fully done. I told him that cool people (like me) always eat it at least medium rare… because the steak would be juicier that way (I’m convincing him as if I know a lot about steaks like knowing my own mother). He kinda dug what I said there… and I eventually revealed to him that I purposely ordered a ‘rare’ steak for him – just to let him experience something new. Of course I fucking lied.

Guess what happened? He actually enjoyed it. He told me it was indeed something different and it was good. But I wasn’t sure if he lied because I actually saw him struggling with the blood when he was sawing through that piece of bloody meat… *shrugs*.

Dining with him was never easy. As I have said, this guy eats like a supersonic jet engine… but then, luckily, that place was a noisy place and I enjoyed most of my meal peacefully (despite the disturbing view of seeing Cheecheongfun poking at his blood covered food…).

And when I was driving both of us back, Cheecheongfun bitched about having to pay for the exorbitant sales tax. That was when I got really pissed with him and I lectured him in broken Mandarin that taxes are important for the economy. I told him that the government needs money to build roads, schools and to supply electricity to every home so that we can watch porn at home. They also need money for the army. Weapons, tanks and shits. If there aren’t any tax around, his country would have to go to war by just hurling stones… and that is – if there are soldiers willing to fight at their own expense.

He gave a good thinking about it and finally gave me a nod of approval – which I was kinda surprised that he was actually able to comprehend my really beautiful Mandarin. Signs of improvement.

tags: , ,

michaelooi  | places  | Comments Off
June 25, 2004

Austin – day three

Nothing special happened on day three. Went to work, eat and came back to sleep. But I’ve a few trivial pictures to share though…

I need more sleep. Will post more.

tags: , ,

michaelooi  | places  | Comments Off
June 24, 2004

Austin – day two

4 years ago, when I was here, I went to a restaurant to whack the most unbelievably cheap steaks that money could buy. For 11 bucks eat-all-you-can, you’ll never go to Victoria Station ever again after consuming those lard laden greasy food. I ate till I was almost immobile with another Malaysian colleague.

I searched for that restaurant again today, and finally found it after making a lot of illegal U-turns. And that was how I had the plan set for dinner tonight. I told Cheecheongfun (you know, the guy from China?) that we’re gonna whack some serious food that tonight, and be prepared to get himself killed (I can’t believe I actually said that in Mandarin, you should have seen his face man).

So we went there at dinner time. The first thing that I attacked was steak. Had plenty of them… and some serious supply of meatballs. My appetite was good tonight so, I didn’t hold back. I was planning to eat a few days’ supply of food in one take.

But before I could finish my first plate, I was confronted with a problem. The acoustic level of someone eating like a pig. That’s right – Cheecheongfun was at it again. The family of blimps opposite the table of ours was kinda like checking him out. He was eating so boisterously, that I was caught in a dilemma of whether to tell him to shut up. But I was afraid that guy might feel offended and stuff, and it would be uncool to do that. I was convincing myself that maybe it is a cultural thing of having the need to eat like a pig but, I can tell you that not much people can tolerate that.

As if it wasn’t bad enough, Cheecheongfun suddenly gave out a shrill burp. More like a yelp. Gas escaping from his throat to the open air. So loud, that even he himself was dumbfucked and he had to cover his own mouth in embarrassment. You know what was his problem? The guy ate too fast… too loud… and when he gulped in a large quantity of soda, the gas had nowhere to escape but through his stinking mouth. I was lucky that there wasn’t anything came projectiling out of his mouth onto my face. I was at verge of stabbing him with my fork… but of course I didn’t. I went on eating with him… but it wasn’t as enjoyable when you’re doing it with someone disgusting.

Anyway, I was thinking of venturing for more great food this weekend at San Antonio… but with this guy tagging around, I’m not even sure if it is a good idea anymore… Kanneh…

tags: , ,

michaelooi  | places  | Comments Off