Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Beautiful Red Rocks of Sedona

Sedona is about 2 hours from Arizona. The drive down to Sedona was idyllic and laden with cactus filled hills.It was a nice enough drive from Phoenix to Sedona, enjoying the rocks and the twist and turns of the road. But then we were in a rented Camaro, so I guess it enhanced the driving experience:)

Me and the Camaro
Weather was chilly -4 degrees celcius that day in Sedona. I was totally under dressed since before I left NYC for Arizona I'd checked the weather forecast and it was about 12 to 15 degrees celcius. I only had with me a light jacket, some thermal, light socks and flats. But what to do, have to brave out the weather for this amazing scenery. As the saying goes, "there is no bad weather, just badly dressed people". Guess I failed to literally heed the saying "always prepare for bad weather" :p

Just before we reached the city of Sedona, we stopped by Bell Rock Plaza for some information and a spicy prawn fried rice lunch at a Thai restaurant there. With full stomachs we were ready to take on the weather and explore the sights. First stop was the Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte. It's interesting to note that all this land used to be underwater and when the water rises, the wind begins to erode the rocks after thousands of years shaping it the way it is now. The red colour is rust from the rocks exposed to sun and wind over the years. 

It was an easy one day tour which you can do on your own discovering the various rocks formation around Sedona such as the Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, Snoopy, Teapot, Cathedral Rocks, etc. Of course if you want to spend more time hiking or biking then you would need a few days to explore all the rocks.

Next trip I want to make is to the Grand Canyon which is about 2 hours away from Sedona.


Left: Bell rock
Right: Courthouse Butte



Steamboat rock
Overlooking the steamboat rock
Gorge nearby the Steamboat rock

Gorge near Steamboat Rock

We drove up to where the Sedona airport is, which is on top of a hill to get this scenery. Below is Sedona town.

Cactus!

Cactus again!
Climbing up to get a good view of the rocks

Panoramic view from the vortex near the Sedona Airport


I'm on top of the world!

Cathedral rock - this is situated inside a national park. There is a $10 entrance fee per car

Entering the town of Sedona

Nice walkway mall situated next to the Moving Pictures Museum which also has an information counter

Further down the road from Sedona town, en route to Flagstaff, there is a nearby stop at the Dairy Queens which had a few American Indians from the Navajo tribe that have set up their tables to sell their crafts. There are various galleries that dotted along Sedona roadside but this ones seems that we are actually contributing directly to the tribes. Amazingly this woman looks Asian - perhaps Chinese or Filipino, rather than an American Indian Navajo

A Navajo style Christmas ornaments hand painted by artists living in the nearby reserve land
 

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Wonders of the World: Niagara Falls

Overview of Niagara Falls from the USA side
Left: The American falls overlooking Toronto
Middle at the back: Horseshow Falls
Double rainbow effect caused by the waterfalls 

Backdated entry for me on Niagara Falls. We were there end of August. Weather was nice since it was still summer season. I took us 10 hours drive from New York City all the way to Buffalo, New York, which is up North near to Canada.

We arrived late evening, so there was nothing much to do around the city. They had a casino and shopping mall but other than that the city wasn't really much. We wondered around and found the International Food Court & Shopping. So had a vegetarian pizza for dinner and found some interesting souvenir items:)

Veggie pizza was ok

In middle of Niagara city at night

There was also the one and only halal cart in the city. Food was good and price was reasonable. There were also some other Indian restaurants that had halal on their menu but we didn't manage to check that out.


The next morning, we took a guided tour by Gray Line which include the Niagara Falls tour on the USA side (since we don't have visa to go over the Canada side).

First stop was Cave of the Winds Boardwalk, which the Bridal Veils Falls is situated. We had to take an elevator down to reach the Boardwalk.

Suiting up before we hit the Cave of the Winds Boardwalk and Hurricane Deck
Behind me is the Bridal Veils Falls


Hurricane Deck - where we go to take a shower:)

Drenched under the falls

 
 Next, we went to the Prospect Point Park Observation Tower where we took elevator ride down to board the Maid of the Mist Boat to go thru all the waterfalls.
 

While waiting to take the elevator down, we were looking at this view of the bridge to crossover to Canada side. Malaysians need visa to go to Canada and from what I heard, the process is quite a hassle. But the view of the falls is more beautiful on the Canada side. Down below, people lining up to get on the boat.
Prospect Tower Observation Deck - view from below

Maid of the Mist Boat ride departs from both the USA and Canada side. Across the water, boat departs from the Canada side



The American Falls - view from the observation deck



All suited up on the deck of Maid of the Mist boat. We are about to take the ride near the falls

The first fall we encountered is the Americas Falls. None of the daredevil dared to go over this falls because of the huge rocks below ensuring nobody will survive


The Horshoe falls, in the shape of horshoe. Shown here beginning of the curved falls. We had mists of water all over. Luckily we were suited up if not we'd be drenched. A lot of daredevils went over this fall since it doesn't have any rocks below, but there is a whirlpool below. Some survived, some don't.

video
 

Looking at Niagara Falls, one just have to wonder at the power of God in creating such a beautiful, natural phenomenon. Although not the tallest waterfall, Niagara Falls is still amazing nonetheless. A must see if ever you are in New York state.







Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Arrival

In relative terms, I would describe my flight hours to be about 5 meals, 4 good movies and a long nap (in real terms: about 24 hours flight time with a 4 hour layover in Paris), we have arrived in New York! It was June 29, 2013.

       
Arrival in John F. Kennedy International airport - muka penat;p tapi we were revived with the very warm welcome by Salinda & Nurul. It was warm and slightly breezy. Good day as any to arrive in New York. 
After a quick stop at Forest Hills for a peek at my future home, we were brought for lunch at a new Malaysian restaurant in Queens called Mamak House. The restaurant is owned by Nani who hails from Penang and serves authentic Malaysian food Penang style - char koay tiau, Mamak noodle, kari kepala ikan and other delicious fares. No time to miss Malaysian food:) Sorry, no pics here as we were hungry especially after the paltry vegetarian meal served in Air France.  seen here with Said & Nurul, Salinda, Kat and yours truly



Since we arrived over the weekend, Salinda was kind enough to bring me around town and had all the necessities set up eg mobile phone (coz stupid ass MAXIS didn't roam even though I had called them before I left to set up roaming) and did furniture shopping to fill the house. She had left behind the basic necessities such as a queen bed, iron, rice cooker, pots, pans, cutleries, etc so I was ok for a couple of weeks sans furniture and tv. we had wifi so that was a consolation. 

Monday came.

I was still jet lagged but determined to learn as much as I can before Salinda hands over officially . As a preparation for the posting, HQ made us attend a two weeks crash course to learn the necessities of managing an office eg accounts, admin matters, marketing. But being there in the actual office with all the tasks in front of me, it became very real that I had all this responsibilities to fulfill. There were so much to learn in the three days before Salinda leave. So it was information overload for me, coupled with my befuddled, jet lagged mind, I wasn't sure if I had all the information down pat. I guess I'll just have to learn on the job.

Handing over job scope by my predecessor, Salinda and looked over by my boss, Mr Johanif.



I must admit that the first 2 months was hard for me, just adjusting to the new job, with one staff short (on wedding leave) for the first month. But the good camaraderie in the office helped me to quickly adjust to the city, weather, work, people. Missed family and friends back home, missed the food, favourite hangouts. But NYC is home for the next three years, so will make the most out of it by exploring as much as I can on NY. 

Note: Right now preparing a bucket list to explore as much as I can - USA and beyond.  




Saturday, 16 November 2013

Things that happened for the past year

I have been absent from my blog for a year. A YEAR!

There was a time when I couldn't let a day go by without at least checking in on my blog. I was totally obsessed with trying to post something online.

So many things happened within the year. I was contemplating a change of pace as I was feeling stuck. Work was beginning to get to me and I feel like I wasn't performing. Then the New Year came. 2013! I figured that I had to do something with my life, trying something new.

Mid April I got the letter that would change my life. I was up for posting in New York during the summer. NEW YORK?!! I have not dared to dream of overseas posting, plus with a seemingly highly coveted destination like New York. I was in disbelief.

YES?NO?MAYBE?
From then on, my life was in a whirlwind. I only had about two months to pack all my stuff, vacate my home to rent it out, hand over my current job, preparing for the new job. Not to mention moving thousands of miles away from family, friends and familiarity. I was excited but sad at the same time. Scared at the unknown. So many questions in my mind. Its America. would they be tolerant of Muslims after 9/11? Can I do the job well? I have been out of HQ and so many things have changed for me.

Eventhough I have traveled overseas before but moving to stay overseas feels totally different. Both Hubby and I were like scared children about to leave the nest. We had to depend on each other as we were all that we have over there.  

With limited time on my hands, I had to make the most out of it. Meet my friends, settle some personal affairs, trying to learn as much as I can about New York which will be my home for the next three years. My predecessor, Salinda had been very supportive and informative. So much information given out on the conditions of New York - the office, workload, staff, home, what to do, where to go. We shared so many whatsapp chats over the nights and day, but it seems like I can never get enough information to prepare myself once I get there.

I longed to visit Rompin and Yan again, meet with aunties, uncles and cousins, but alas, time did not permit.

Colleagues at MyCEB was lovely. They were all excited for me and threw a lovely farewell, one of the best parties that I ever had the privilege to be part of. Everything was beautiful but poignant at the same time. My parents also did a small kenduri selamat to pray for our well being.

Love the Cake!!
Then the time came for me to say goodbye. Both Hubby's and my family and some friends came to say goodbye at the airport. This was it. I was finally happening. Its bittersweet but I am glad of all the love that was showed by family and friends. In body as well as in cyberspace (yes, that was you, Siti and Lisa).

With Yanti, one of the first few friends I made since UIA days, united by our passion for Taekwondo

With Azura, who has helped me maneuver thru working life and kept me grounded both in TM and MyCEB. Also my makan2 and geli2 partner. Fridays won't be the same without you

The very delicious red velvet with frosting cupcake made by Kak Azah. Who though not in body, was with with us in spirit and cupcake:)

With all them ladies Hola! Many thanks to Cik who has helped me physically with the final moments of packing up

With my family and Shiefa & Najmi

Time to say goodbyes and bleary eyes. See you in New York!