'Murica. You can literally taste the freedom.
Graduating from university this past summer, I knew I wanted to take a grad trip to celebrate the end of what feels like an era. There were talks of Toronto and Montreal, even Chicago, but in the end we settled for Houston, Texas where KN's sisters live. Hopefully when I grow a couple of years older and prove to my parents that I'm actually an adult (I'm already 21 for goodness sake), I'll be able to travel outside of Canada and the United States for once. Bucket list: England, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Korea.
Anyways, going back to this trip, my first impressions of Texas was that it's HOT and it's BIG. Even though it rained for a couple of days that we were there, the heat and humidity was unreal. My hair was either plastered to my head from the sweat or frizz central. You could literally feel the temperature difference the moment you stepped off the airplane.
I didn't take much pictures of our first day since we were settling in, so this post will mostly be text-based. And before I start, I wanted to say a huge thank-you to KN and her family for having me and for their good ol' southern hospitality.
Our day started really early with our flight which was at 6:50 am. I repeat, 6:50 am. We had to wake up at 3:30 in order to get ready and head to the airport 2 hours prior to the flight. It was a cruel and unusual punishment to start our "vacation" off this way.
The flight was only 4 hours long, and I had a middle seat in between 2 strangers. Awkward moment when you catch yourself nodding off with your head tilted towards one of your seat mates and your mouth wide open. Great first impression.
Once we arrived, KN's sister and brother-in-law picked us up from the airport and swiftly drove us to Chinatown, where we had lunch at a Malaysian restaurant called Banana Leaf. The restaurant was bustling with customers which should be a good indication that the food is good. Coincidentally, this was a restaurant I had researched when looking up places to eat at since one of my favorite cuisines in the world is Malaysian. I love me some roti canai.
I found the service to be a bit rushed but I wouldn't expect more from a busy restaurant. We also ordered more dishes to share family style, and they were all pretty good. Nothing beats Tropika from back home though.
To walk off our lunch, we headed to FIT Japanese store, a Daiso-esque store located on the upper level of the same complex. I say Daiso-esque since the merchandise was very similar, but prices ranged quite a bit from the $2 mark. I bought only 4 items, but the most random 4 items you can imagine: a cartoon tooth-shaped box (which I intend to fill with candy. Oh the irony!), Tony Moly's panda's dream brightening eye base stick, an egg white separator tool for baking, and a cute tea filter. I think I was being very practical since it was only the first day and I didn't want to fill up my entire suitcase already.
We also walked over to Six Ping Bakery, where I found the largest macarons in the world. They were 2 for $4 and there were only 4 flavours available: green tea, strawberry, lemon, and chocolate. I chose the green tea and strawberry just because the colours were prettier than the rest. To be honest, they weren't the greatest macarons; the shells were hollow, the texture was weird, and there was too little filling for the size. But they were cute and Instagram-worthy, and that's all that matters in life.
We also headed over to the Juice Box, a Taiwanese dessert place that is well known for their shaved ice. Again, the place was teeming with customers but we managed to find a booth to sit down at. You order at the counter and pick up the food once they call it out. KN and I had a strawberry and mango shaved ice to share, while her sister and brother-in-law shared pretty much the same thing but with added watermelon.
The shaved ice was simply topped with condensed milk, fruit, and a scoop of strawberry ice cream. This + air conditioning in Texas heat = heaven.
Afterwards, we headed over to Viet Hoa supermarket, which looked and felt very similar to Lucky 97 back home. KN's sister had to pick up some meat and noodles since we were going to have homemade pho for dinner. Nothing beats homemade pho.