USA West Coast Travel Part IX (Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park)

USA West Coast Travel Part IX 

Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park

Day 10 (Sunday, 31 May 2014)

The theme park at Universal Studios Hollywood was opened in 1964. It is a popular place among the old and young alike as it offers rides, shows and entertainment. A few rides are rough and warning notices are put up at entrances for visitors, for example, a notice at the entrance to “House of Horrors” below.

Location of attractions at Universal Studios Theme Park

A warning notice at the entrance of “House of Horrors”

Water World

After the interesting studio tour, my wife and I looked for a ride or show that had a short queue at the theme park at Universal Studios Hollywood. It did not take long for us to find one. It was an action-packed show of Water World. Although we had seen one at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka in 2011 that was similar to that one, we would like to see it again.

Entrance to Water World at Universal Studios Hollywood

A large crowd waiting to watch a Water World show at Universal Studios Hollywood

The show attracted a large number of visitors and kept the audience enjoying it for 16 minutes. It was about a girl, Helen, who came back from Dry Land to Water World, “Atoll”, asking her friends to return to the Dry Land. But they were attacked by some bad guys. During the fighting, some awesome war actions, like the ones in a 1995 movie known as ”Waterworld”, were executed.

An action-packed stunt show at Water World site at Universal Studios Hollywood

An enemies’ seaplane exploded and crashed at Water World site at Universal Studios Hollywood

Explosions and gun-shots add to the thrill and excitement of the Water World show at Universal Studios Hollywood

They included death-defying stunts on water, land and in the air. Besides, loud explosions, noisy pyrotechnics, large flame effects, crash landing of a seaplane and splashes of water from jet-skis that got the front rows of spectators wet made the show more exciting and spectacular. Later, a hero came, fought the enemies and saved the girl and her friends. In the end, they returned to the Dry Land.

The hero and his girlfriend left the Water World for Dry Land after defeating their enemies at Universal Studios Hollywood

House of Horrors

House of Horrors was our next visit. It was “haunted” with real-life people dressed up as characters from horror films, such as “Dracula”, “The Thing”, “Para Norman”, “The Mummy”, “The Wolfman”, “Chucky”, “Frankenstein” and “Noseferatu” to name a few. As visitors were walking through a maze in the dark house in 8 minutes they were frightened by live scary characters whenever they appeared, suddenly, from their hiding places near them. That eerie attraction was not recommended for people with fear and health problems and children under 13 years old. While I was inside, I heard some visitors shouting and screaming. But I was cool and calm all the time as I knew there were many visitors in the house. I think it would be a different feeling for me, if there was nobody inside.

Entrance to the House of Horrors at Universal Studios Hollywood

“Dracula” in “House of Horrors” at Universal Studios Hollywood

“The Thing” in “House of Horrors” at Universal Studios Hollywood

“Para Norman” in “House of Horrors” at Universal Studios Hollywood

Shrek

When we came out of the House of Horrors, we went to a theatre nearby to watch a 3-D Shrek show. It was about Lord Farquaad’s spirit from his tomb trying to kidnap Princess Fiona. He sent a stone dragon to kill Shrek and Donkey who were trying to rescue the princess. The stone dragon lost its wings while chasing after them. Later, Lord Farquaad caught and put the princess on a raft to float over a waterfall. In rescuing the princess, Shrek and Donkey found themselves on the raft with the princess. Then the raft fell over the waterfall. Luckily, Dragon came and saved them. It then destroyed the rogue’s spirit  with its fire.

A poster inviting visitors to watch a 4-D show “Shrek” at Universal Studios Hollywood

Visitors queuing up for a 4-D show, “Shrek”, at Universal Studios Hollywood

Shrek and Princess Fiona walking in a street at Universal Studios Hollywood

Although the show was 3-D, we felt some physical effects including our seats tilting forward and backward, shaking, moving up and dropping down, and our faces being sprayed with water. We enjoyed the hilarious show with those physical effects.

Photo-Shoots with Transformers

After the Shrek show, we went down by an escalator to the lower ground at Universal Studios Hollywood. We stopped at a cafe to have a light meal. While having the meal, I watched visitors who were mostly children taking photos with a giant, talking transformer, Megatron(the Decepticon leader). Later, Megatron left, and two different transformers, Bumblebee and Optimus Prime(the Autobot leader) took over the photo-taking session with visitors.

An escalator to the lower level of Universal Studios Hollywood

Two brave young girls posing with a talking transformer, Megatron, for a photo-shoot at Universal Studios Hollywood

A father and child taking a photo with two talking transformers, Bumblebee and Optimus Prime, at Universal Studios Hollywood

Transformer 3-D Ride

Later, we entered a theatre and lined up for another 3-D show plus some physical effects. It was called “Transformer: The Ride-3D”. As we were walking towards a boarding spot for the ride, we listened to a NEST transmission informing visitors that the bad transformers, Decepticons, from a planet, Cybertron, had come to our planet, Earth, to look for “AllSpark” which was “a source of pure and ancient power that could make them unstoppable”. The good transformers, Autobots who were from Cybertron too, had a mission to prevent them from getting it. (NEST stands for Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty that includes USA, UK and Autobots to fight against Decepticons)

A poster inviting to watch “Transformers” and experience a ride at Universal Studios Hollywood

Visitors entering a large building to watch a 3-D show “Transformers” and experience a rough ride at Universal Studios Hollywood

Emblem of NEST(Non-biological Extraterrestrial Species Treaty)

Visitors going for a 3-D show “Transformers” and a ride on Evac at Universal Studios Hollywood

NEST transmission informing visitors about the Autobots’ mission to destroy Decepticons on Earth at Universal Studios Hollywood

Soon we were riding on a transformer known as Evac(an Autobot). When Evac got “AllSpark” from Ravage, a Decepticon, some other Decepticons, especially Megatron, fought with him to get “AllSpark” back. They were fighting in a large city, fiercely, causing lots of damages and human casualties. When Evac managed to pushed “AllSpark” into Megatron’s body, both fell down from a tall building. Evac was saved by Optimus Prime but Megatron was destroyed by “AllSpark”. Later, Optimus Prime came close to Evac and told his riders, slowly, “Your bravery saves the planet(Earth). Well done, freedom fighters.”. Those were unexpected words to us, a human race, from a talking transformer, Optimus Prime.

A vehicle that will bring visitors for a 3-D show “Transformers” and exciting ride on Evac at Universal Studios Hollywood

“AllSpark” which Decepticons are looking for on Earth in 3-D show “Transformers” at Universal Studios Hollywood

During the ride, we approached several 3-D HD video screens showing different scenes of Decepticons fighting with Autobots for “AllSpark”. The ride was rough and scary. Besides, we felt wind, water, hot air, fog, air blasts, vibration and smoke at different times. The ride was similar to the one I had experienced in the show, “The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man” at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka in 2011. Those two rides were awesome.

 “Revenge of the Mummy”

When we came out of the “Transformers” building we entered another building next door. It offered a roller-coaster ride in the darkness encountering an evil-looking, talking mummy, Imhotep, who wanted the riders’ souls, huge fire-balls, swarms of scarab beetles and an army of warrior mummies.

Entrance to the “Revenge of the Mummy” theatre at Universal Studios Hollywood

Boris Karloff acting as Imhotep in the 1932 film. “The Mummy”

Imhotep, an ancient Egyptian priest who was mummified alive in the House of Horrors at Universal Studios Hollywood

I find that the two-minute ride itself was more frightening than the ugly images of the mummies we saw in the show. The vehicle we sat on sometimes accelerated backwards and forwards with a maximum speed of 72 km/h. Besides, it made a few unexpected twists, sharp turns and sudden drops in the dark causing some riders to shout and scream with fear. Anyway, most of us enjoyed it.

Panoramic View of the Universal Studio Area

Then we went back to the high level by an escalator. When I reached the high ground, I saw a panoramic view of the area where the studios were located and we had a studio tour earlier.Besides, there was a large picture of three actors in astronauts’ suits placed near the upper elevator. A notice said that those actors had acted in a film “Apollo 13” in 1995. The actors were Kevin as Swigert, Tom Hanks as Lovell and Bill Paxton as Haise. There was a space capsule placed behind the picture. It was the actual one used in the making of the film, “Apollo 13”.

In the film, “Apollo 13” was to sent the three men for a moon landing. On its way, an explosion occurred on board causing some loss of oxygen and electric power. NASA decided to abort the mission and tried to get the three astronauts back home. safely.

The actual incident of “Apollo 13” happened in 1970 and the three astronauts, Swigert, Lovell and Haise, came back home, safely.

A panoramic view of the area of studios at Universal Studios Hollywood

Three actors acting as Swigert(L), Lovell(C) and Haise(R) in a film, “Apollo 13”. in 1995 at Universal Studios Hollywood

The actual space capsule used in the making of a film, “Apollo 13” , at Universal Studios Hollywood

“The Simpsons’ Ride”

Then my wife and I looked around for another attraction and decided to go for “The Simpsons’ Ride”. That was a simulated roller-coaster ride lasting about 4.5 minutes.

Entrance to Krustyland owned by Krusty, the crown at Universal Studios Hollywood

Writer and others would be joining Simpson and his family roller-coasting at Krustyland, Universal Studios Hollywood

The ride followed a story about the attempt on the life of the Simpson’s family by Sideshow Bob at Krustyland. He escaped from a prison, went to Krustyland and took over the roller-coaster from Krusty. When the family, including Homer, Marge, Bart and Lisa, were on a cart followed by the cart on which the writer and some riders were sitting. As the carts were moving on the track, Bob released a large iron ball and destroyed some parts of the track causing lots of accidents to both the Simpson’s family and other riders. After going through a series of mishaps, Simpsons, accidentally, caused Bob to be crushed under a couch on which they were sitting.

A picture of Krustyland roller-coaster built by Krusty, the clown, at Universal Studios Hollywood

Besides the 3-D animation show, riders could feel some physical effects including the effects of water, smoke, mist, lighting and scent, and the rough simulated roller-coaster ride. I enjoyed the thrill and excitement of the ride and loved the bright, large, colourful scenes of the 3-D show.

Interesting Characters at Universal Studios Hollywood

There were many popular characters from animated and non-animated movies around at Universal Studios Hollywood. Visitors loved to take photos with them. The photos below show some of them at Universal Studios Hollywood. including Shrek, Minions, Scooby-Doo, Curious George and transformers.

Shrek and Donkey at Universal Studios Hollywood

Purple Minion, Gru and Stuart at Universal Studios Hollywood

Scooby-Doo and Curious George at Universal Studios Hollywood

Bumblebee and Optimus Prime at Universal Studios Hollywood

Marilyn Monroe and her girls dancing away at Universal Studios Hollywood

A female Pharoah with a little girl at Universal Studios Hollywood

Construction-workers at Universal Studios Hollywood

Photo-Taking Session outside Universal Studios Hollywood

Coming out of the theme-park in the evening, I started to count the number of places my wife and I had visited at the park. We had gone for a studio tour and six other attractions in one afternoon. We enjoyed every moment at those places and felt it was quite an achievement for us. In fact, both of us watched a grand parade and spectacular firework, and visited 10 attractions at Disneyland Park at Anaheim in one whole day on the previous day. That is our record so far.

When all our tour-members were out of the theme-park, we had a photo-taking session in front of the iconic globe of Universal Studios Hollywood. The photos below are some that had been taken there.

Group photo of the Malaysian tourists including writer and wife at Universal Studios Hollywood

Wai Yean and wife at Universal Studios Hollywood

Richard Ong and wife at Universal Studios Hollywood

Jun Pow and wife at Universal Studios Hollywood

Poh Boo and wife at Universal Studios Hollywood

Chee Meng and wife at Universal Studios Hollywood

Writer and wife at Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal City Walk

After the photo-taking session, we walked to Universal City Walk next to Universal Studios Hollywood. It was a place where visitors could go for shopping, dining and entertainment. There were more than 30 eating places, a 19 screen-movie theatre, 7 night-spots, indoor skydiving place and more than 30 stores.

We went to Tony Roma’s Restaurant for dinner. It provided us steak, potato-chips, vegetables and soft-drinks, generously.

A busy street in Universal City Walk

Universal City Walk is a place to shop, eat and enjoy entertainment

Tour group having dinner at Tony Roma’s Restaurant at City Walk next to Universal Studios Hollywood

Tour group having steak, chips and vegetable for dinner at Tony Roma’s Restaurant at Universal City Walk

A musician blowing a pand flute and selling his music CDs at Universal City Walk

When we came out of the restaurant, we saw a street-musician playing a nice piece of music with a pan flute. His music CDs on the table behind him were on sale.

Los Angeles International Airport

At 7.30 p.m. we, finally, left Universal Studios Hollywood for Los Angeles International Airport or LAX which was 36 km in the south.

At about one in the morning(LA time) at LAX, we boarded a Taiwan plane, EVA Air(B777-300ER). Then we left the airport at 1.35 a.m.(LA time), crossed the wide Pacific Ocean and landed at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport at 6.20 a.m.(Taiwan time), a long flight of 13 hours!

Tour group leaving Universal Studios Hollywood for Los Angeles International Airport before flying back to Malaysia

Los Angeles International Airport, California, USA

Jay Ho, the group-tour guide, and others waiting, patiently, to check in at LAX before flying home in Malaysia

Writer and wife at Los Angeles International Airport, USA, waiting to go back to their homeland soon, Malaysia, after 10 busy tour days on the West Coast of USA

At the Taiwan airport, we waited for another EVA airplane to take us back to our country, Malaysia. After waiting for 3 hours, we finally, left Taiwan at 9.40 a.m. The plane took about 4 hours and 30 minutes to reach our country. The moment our plane landed at Kuala Lumpur International Airport(KLIA), Malaysia, we heaved a sight of relief as we had reached home, safely, and would never forget the USA tour and the new Malaysian friends we had made.

Air route of EVA Air from Los Angeles, USA, to Malaysia via Taiwan

It is dawn when we reach Taiwan after 13 hours of flying from Los Angeles in USA

Touch-down at 6.20 a.m. at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport

This plane at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport getting ready to bring the tour group back to Malaysia

Well, that is all about our unforgettable USA West Coast Travel experiences in 10 days. My wife and I hope to go to the east coast of USA next year and learn more about the country which is well-known in the world.

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U.S.A West Coast Travel

Part I    San Francisco City

Part II  San Francisco, Fresno. Las Vegas

Part III Grand Canyon

Part IV  Las Vegas City

Part V   Premium Outlets in S, California

Part VI  Disneyland Resort, Anaheim

Part VII Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles

Part VIII Universal Studios Hollywood

Part IX   Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park

 

Acknowlegement

Thanks to a Kuala Lumpur tour agency, Travelcaya International Sdn. Bhd., for organising the interesting, educational and enjoyable USA West Coast tour. Thanks also to its diligent tour guide, Jay Ho, for taking good care of all of us during the tour. Last but not least, thanks to all the fellow-tour members for being so friendly and caring.

THE END

Written by Choo Chaw, Kluang, Johor, Malaysia

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USA West Coast Travel Part VIII (Universal Studios Hollywood)

USA West Coast Travel Part VIII

(Universal Studios Hollywood)

Day 10 (Sunday, 31 May 2014)

Universal Studios Hollywood

After spending an hour at the Hollywood Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles City, we travelled 10 km north-west of the city-centre and arrived at a famous place where many Hollywood’s blockbuster movies have been produced, like Jaws,  Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Transformers, King Kong and many more. It is known as Universal Studios Hollywood.

Pictorial Map of Universal Studios Hollywood showing the locations of attraction

There are two areas at Universal Studios Hollywood, viz. film studio and theme park. Opened in 1915, the film studio area is one of the oldest and most famous Hollywood film studios. It claims to be “The Entertainment Capital of Los Angeles”. It allows visitors to tour the area to see its soundstages and backlots.

The theme park offers rides and shows since 1964.

Entrance to Universal Studios Hollywood with a red carpet, Universal City, California, USA

On arrival at Universal Studios Hollywood, we walked on a welcome-red carpet, bought tickets and entered the Studios. Then we made a beeline to a place where we hopped onto one of the four carriages of a tram for a studio tour. As the tram moved, slowly, we listened to a recorded narration by Jimmy Fallon, an American TV host, and at the same time looking out for things mentioned by him.

A panoramic view of the studio area at Universal Studios Hollywood, Universal City, California, USA

Visitors boarding a tram for a studio tour at Universal Studios Hollywood

Colonial buildings along an old street used in film-making at Universal Studios Hollywood

Colonial, business buildings used in film-making at Universal Studios Hollywood

A town in colonial times used in film-making at Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studio Tour

Old Streets, King Kong 3-D Show and Vehicles

The first back-lot we went through was a site of a few streets with colonial, business buildings. Then we entered a soundstage and put on 3-D glasses. A minute later, our tram was rocking, violently, and realized that we were attacked by two large dinosaurs, T-Rexes, virtually. Some of the visitors were shouting and screaming, loudly. I wondered if they were afraid of the fierce dinosaurs or could not bear the violent movement of the tram.  Anyway, the tram stopped when King Kong came and killed the dinosaurs. That was a 360 3-D attraction. It would be a scary experience to the faint-hearted.

The tram continued moving. A few minutes later, we passed by a row of vehicles of different shapes, sizes, colours and models used in making some movies like Magnum PI, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future, The Flintstones, Fast and Furious and The Transformers.

Cars used in making a film “Back to the Future” at Universal Studios Hollywood

Cars used in making a film “Fast and Furious” at Universal Studios Hollywood

Prehistoric cars used in making a film “Flintstones” at Universal Studios Hollywood

A tank used in making a film “Transformers” at Universal Studios Hollywood

A coach used in making a film “Jurassic Park” at Universal Studios Hollywood

Flash Flood

The tram continued moving and came to another site where we witnessed a flash flood. Fast flowing water rushing down a hill and flooded a village. A minute or two later, the water disappeared further down the hill.

A flash flood in a village created in making some films at Universal Studios Hollywood

Town of the Old West

Later, the tram passed through a town of the Old West where most of the buildings were made of wood and bricks, and then another town of later years where all the buildings were made of concrete.

A town of the Old West created in making some films at Universal Studios Hollywood

A town after the Old West created in making some films at Universal Studios Hollywood

Earthquake

Having seen the towns of the olden days, we went to another sound-stage. When our tram entered and stopped inside the building, we saw a subway-station on our left. A minute later, a “8.3 magnitude earthquake” occurred. Our tram rocked, roughly. Then we saw the roof of the station collapsed  and a gas-tanker came down with it. It “exploded”. Soon, a train came to the station and derailed. It came towards us but, luckily, it was stopped by some pillars. Later, water flowed inside the station.

A subway station created in making a film “Earthquake” at Universal Studios Hollywood

An aftermath of an earthquake created in making a film “Earthquake” at Universal Studios Hollywood

“Jaws”

After the earthquake experience, we went to another spot. It was known as Amity Island where we saw a “diver” being attacked and killed by a giant shark called “Jaws” in the water near a quiet fishing village. Then the vicious shark’s head with its mouth wide open showing its sharp sharp teeth, suddenly, surfaced very close to our tram frightening some of us and then disappeared.

A scene of a quiet fishing village on Amity Island used in making a film “Jaws” at Universal Studios Hollywood

 

A shark attacking a diver in the water of Amity Island created in making a film “Jaws” at Universal Studios Hollywood

“Jaws” suddenly appears near the tram frightening some visitors at Universal Studios Hollywood

“Desperate Housewives” Wisteria Lane

The next place the tram brought us to was Wisteria Lane. That was the place where a TV show, “Desperate Housewives” was shot. Along that lane, we saw some well-kept houses with manicured gardens and shady trees belonging to some of the characters in the show, like Susan, Bree, Mike, Gabrielle and Lynette. That place will always remind me of the times I spent watching the show series on TV.

Susan’s house on Wisteria Lane in “Desperate Housewives” at Universal Studios Hollywood

Bree’s house on Wisteria Lane in “Desperate Housewives” at Universal Studios Hollywood

Mike’s house on Wisteria Lane in “Desperate Housewives” at Universal Studios Hollywood

Gabrielle’s house on Wisteria Lane in “Desperate Housewives” at Universal Studios Hollywood

Lynette’s house on Wisteria Lane in “Desperate Housewives” at Universal Studios Hollywood

“Bates Motel”

Then we went to one more place where a scene in a movie about a psychopath, “Bates Motel”, was re-enacted before our eyes. In the scene, a man, Norman Bates, carried a female corpse out of Bates Motel to his car and put it in the boot. After that he noticed our presence and walked towards us with a knife. Before he could get near us, our tram left the scene just in time to escape from him.

Norman, a psychopath and serial killer, carrying a corpse to his car, a scene that can be seen in a film “Bates Motel” at Universal Studios Hollywood

 

Norman with a knife in his hand walks towards the writer’s tram at Universal Studios Hollywood

Plane Crash Site

Our tram went to the last shooting location. It was an airplane crash area created for a scene in making a film called “War of the Worlds”, a science fiction disaster thriller movie, directed by Steven Spielberg and acted by Tom Cruise in 2005. In the area a destroyed Boeing 747 was used.

An airplane crash scene created for the film by Steven Spielberg “War of the Worlds” which is a science fiction disaster thriller film at Universal Studios Hollywood

An airplane crash scene in “War of the Worlds” by Steven Spielberg at Universal Studios Hollywood

In 40 minutes we completed the studio tour and has increased our knowledge about film-making. In 2011 I visited Universal Studios Japan in Tokyo. It had a theme park but no studio tour.

After the studio tour, we went to the theme park at Universal Studios Hollywood to look for thrill, excitement and enjoyment.

(Continued in USA West Coast Travel Part IX (Universal Studios Theme Park))

Previous / Home  /Next

U.S.A West Coast Travel:

Part I    San Francisco City

Part II  San Francisco, Fresno. Las Vegas

Part III Grand Canyon

Part IV  Las Vegas City

Part V   Premium Outlets in S, California

Part VI  Disneyland Resort, Anaheim

Part VII Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles

Part VIII Universal Studios Hollywood

Part IX   Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park

USA West Coast Travel Part VII (Hollywood Walk Of Fame, Los Angeles)

USA West Coast Travel Part VII
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Los Angeles City

Location of Los Angeles in U.S.A.

Los Angeles City, California, USA

At 9 a.m. of Day 10, Jay Ho, our tour-guide, informed us that we had last two places to visit in Los Angeles City, i.e. Hollywood Walk of Fame and Universal Studios, before our USA West Coast tour was over.

Jay Ho, our tour-guide, telling us that we are going to visit “Hollywood Walk of Fame” and Universal Studios in Los Angeles City, USA

Los Angeles City, also known as City of Angels and L.A., was founded in 1781 and has a population of about 4 millions making it the 2nd. most populous city in the U.S..

Hollywood Walk of Fame

After travelling for 40 minutes from Anaheim, we arrived in Los Angeles City. Immediately, we went to the Hollywood Walk of Fame which was along Hollywood Boulevard.

Tour group moving along Hollywood Boulevard before going for the Hollywood Walk of Fame on its walkways in Los Angeles City, USA

Writer and wife on the Hollywood Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles City, USA

Hollywood Walk of Fame is a famous tourist attraction. Created in 1958 on the walkways of Hollywood Boulevard, it has more than 2500 embedded pink stars with names of the celebrities who were honoured for their outstanding contribution to the entertainment industry. Each star has a picture that tells us the kind of entertainment industry a celebrity has contributed.

There are over 2500 prestigious stars on Hollywood Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles City, USA

Initially, there were 5 categories of entertainment industry, viz. film industry(denoted by a picture of a classic camera in the star), TV entertainment(a picture of a TV receiver), music recording industry(a picture of a record), radio broadcast(a picture of a microphone) and live theatre(a picture of two masks of comedy and tragedy). Later, another category for companies that deserved stars was created, e.g. Disneyland that has contributed to the film industry for more than 50 years, a local newspaper, baseball team, and police department to name a few.

Celebrities’ contribution to film industry on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Celebrities’ contribution to television entertainment on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Celebrities’ contribution to music recording industry on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Celebrities’ contribution to radio broadcast on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Celebrities’ contribution to live theatre on Hollywood Walk of Fame

The only person who received all the five initial categories on the Hollywood Walk of Fame so far is Gene Autry(1907-1998), an American performer.

Gene Autry(1907-1998), an American performer, is the only celebrity to receive 5 Academy Awards or Oscars so far.

While my wife and I were walking on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the first star that attracted my attention was Bruce Lee( an actor), then Glen Campbell(a country singer), Jackie Chan, Mickey Mouse( an animated cartoon created by Walt Disney), Michael Jackson(a singer}, Bruce Willis(an actor), and many more.

But there was only one star that was on a wall at the entrance of Dolby Theatre. It belonged to Muhammad Ali(born in 1942), a famous heavy-weight boxer.

Writer squatting in front of Bruce Lee’s star on Hollywood Walk of Fame, L.A., USA

A star for Jackie Chan for his awesome, innovative stunts in fighting films. It is on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has another star in Hong Kong Avenue of Stars.

A star for Tom Cruise on Hollywood Walk of Fame, L.A., USA

A star for Bee Gees, a pop music group, on Hollywood Walk of Fame, L.A., USA

A star for Robin Williams, an actor and comedian, on Hollywood Walk of Fame, L.A., USA

Kenny and his family posing in front of a star on a wall of Dolby Theatre for a heavy-weight boxer, Muhammad Ali, on Hollywood Walk of Fame, L.A., USA

In an hour, I was happy to find many stars belonging to my favourite idols on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. If I had more time there I would be able to discover many more.

TCL Chinese Theatre

TCL Chinese Theatre built in 1926 on Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles City is a home for movie premieres

Along Hollywood Boulevard, I noticed an unusual building that looked like a Chinese temple. In fact, it was a theatre known as TCL Chinese Theatre. Built in 1926 by Sid Grauman, an American showman(1879-1950), it is a home to many premieres including 1927 film, “The King of Kings” and 1977’s “Star Wars”.

In its forecourt there are some concrete blocks that have hand-prints, shoe-prints and autographs belonging to celebrities, like Michael Jackson, John Travolta, Shirley Temples, Anthony Hopkins, John Woo, Will Smith, Burt Reynold and more. Their intention is to wish the owner of the theatre good fortune.

Two members of our tour group looking at Michael Jackson’s hand-prints, shoe-prints and autograph in TCL Chinese Theatre forecourt on Hollywood Walk of Fame, L.A., USA

Anthony Hopkin’s hand-prints, foot-prints and autograph in TCL Chinese Theatre forecourt, L.A., USA (He is a Welsh actor appearing in about 100 films.

Shirley Temple’s hand-prints, foot-prints and autograph in the TCL Chinese Theatre forecourt, L.A., USA (She was a child star in the 1930s)

John Woo’s hand-prints,shoe-prints and autograph in the TCL Chinese Theatre forecourt, L.A., USA (He is a H.K. film-director)

Dolby Theatre

Next to TCL Chinese Theatre is Dolby Theatre. It is a centre for promoting motion picture industry and plays host to a prestigious annual award ceremony, Academy Awards. In the last ceremony, the 86th. Academy Awards, held on 2 March 2014, there were 2809 winners receiving the awards or Oscars for their excellent works in the film-making industry.

Dolby Theatre, on Hollywood Walk of Fame, hosts Academy Awards(Oscars) ceremony, annually.

The Oscars

An Academy Awards winner will receive an Oscar that is a statuette of a knight holding a sword and standing on a reel of film with five spokes representing the categories of actors, writers, directors, producers and technicians. It is 24 cm tall and weighs 3.85 kg, and made of gold-plated britannium on a black metal base.

The prestigious award, Academy Award or Oscar, for a celebrity whose work in film-making industry is excellent

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

There is a wax museum, Madame Tussauds, near TCL Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. It houses many notable personalities including actors, musicians, directors, athletes and television entertainers. A statue of Shrek outside the museum is its largest figure. As it is in the sun it is made of plastic instead of wax. Next to Shrek is another statue, a large blue transformer. They both attract cameramen, including myself.

As we did not have much time on Hollywood Walk of Fame, we gave that museum a miss. In fact, my wife and I visited one in London in 2004.

Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, Hollywood Boulevard, L.A., USA

A statue of Shrek, a green ogre in fairy-tale films, outside Madame Tussauds Wax Museum on Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood Boulevard, L.A.. USA

A statue of a transformer outside Madame Tussauds Wax Museum on Hollywood Boulevard, L.A., USA

While walking on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, I stopped at a souvenir shop and was attracted to a man-sized statue of Elvis Presley, one of my singing idols. Immediately, I gave my camera to my wife and asked her to snap a photo of me with Elvis. You may see us in the photo here.

Writer taking photo with Elvis Presley in a souvenir shop on Hollywood Boulevard, L.A., USA

Having spent an hour on the Hollywood Walk of Fame along Hollywood Boulevard, we left the place at 2 p.m. for Universal Studios (Hollywood) where there were lots of thrill and excitement for visitors. It was about 10 km north-west of the centre of Los Angeles City.

(To be continued)
Previous / Home / Next

U.S.A West Coast Travel:

Part I    San Francisco City

Part II  San Francisco, Fresno. Las Vegas

Part III Grand Canyon

Part IV  Las Vegas City

Part V   Premium Outlets in S, California

Part VI  Disneyland Resort, Anaheim

Part VII Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles

Part VIII Universal Studios Hollywood

Part IX   Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park

USA West Coast Travel Part V (Premium Outlets in S. California)

USA West Coast Travel Part V

Premium Outlets in S. California

Day 7(Thursday, 28.5.2014)

Las Vegas City – Primm(68 km)

Journey from Las Vegas to San Bernardino on Day 7

Iconic “Welcome” Sign

We had already stayed in Las Vegas City for two days enjoying the sights and sounds of the city and seen the Grand Canyon with an awesome scenery in Arizona. Before we left the city on Day 7, we went to the city iconic “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” sign on the edge of the city and near McCarran International Airport. It was designed by Betty Willis and put up there by Western Neon in 1959.

McCarran International Airport near Las Vegas’ iconic “Welcome” in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Photos for Remembrance

Some members in our tour group took photos in front of the sign. My wife and I took one with an Elvis Presley impersonator, Mark, as you can see him in a photo below.

Writer and wife with Elvis Presley impersonator in front of Las Vegas’ iconic “Welcome” sign

Dr. Chua and family in front of Las Vegas’ iconic “Welcome” sign, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Tan Poh Boo and wife in front of Las Vegas’ iconic “Welcome” sign, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Kenny Cheng and family in front of Las Vegas’ “Welcome” sign, Nevada, USA

Chee Meng and wife in front of Las Vegas’ iconic “Welcome” sign, Nevada, USA

Fashion Outlets, Primm

Later, we left the place for a premium outlet, Fashion Outlets. We travelled south-west from Las Vegas City for about 68 km before we reached a Nevada border town, Primm, where Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas was located.

Tour group leaving Las Vegas in Nevada for Primm, a Nevada border town, on Day 7

Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas, a shopping mall, at Primm Town, Nevada, USA

Layout of stores of Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas at Primm Town, Nevada, USA

Like any outer outlets, it was a shopping mall selling accessories, jewellery, apparels, footwear and more. Most of them were  of American brands, like Levi’s, Nike, Calvin Klein, Timberland, Guess, Tommy Hilfiger, Samsonite, Skechers, Coach, etc. We spent about 3 hours and 30 minutes there and thought that the shopping time was too long. Besides, we did not have much money to buy American products.

Nike Store at Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas

Calvin Klein Store at Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas

Levi’s Store at Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas

Tommy Hilfiger Store at Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas

Luggage Store at Fashion Outlets of Las Vegas

Tanger Outlets, Barstow

At 2 p.m. we left the Outlets and continued our journey south-westwards on Interstate 15 Freeway in the hot Mojave Desert. At 4 p.m. we reached Barstow Town and stopped at another shopping mall, Tanger Outlets, which we had visited earlier. We stopped there for about an hour for those tour members who wanted to buy some American products which they had not bought earlier. Then we left for San Bernardino in the south-west of Barstow. After an hour of travelling on the same freeway, we saw for the first time, after spending a few days at places in Mojave Desert, mountains covered with forests. They were in Angeles National Forest near San Bernardino.

Tanger Outlets at Barstow Town in the hot Mojave Desert revisited by the tour group on Day 7

Mountains covered with forests in Angeles National Forest near San Bernardino in southern California, USA

Home Town Buffet, San Bernardino

At 6.20 p.m. we arrived at San Bernardino Town and stopped at a restaurant, Home Town Buffet Restaurant, where we had a buffet dinner consisting of an array of different types of food. In the middle of our dinner, we were amused when a friendly restaurant assistant, Augustine, showed us his creative food art, as you can see it in the photo below.

Tour group having dinner at Home Town Buffet Restaurant at Barstow Town in southern California

A simple buffet dinner at Home Town Buffet Restaurant at Barstow Town in southern California

Augustne, a Home Town Buffet Restaurant assistant, proudly, showing off his food creativity to the tour group

Hilton Garden Inn, San Bernardino

Then we left the restaurant and went to Hilton Garden Inn in the town where we stayed overnight.

Tour group staying overnight at Hilton Garden Inn at San Bernardino on Day 7

Tour group staying overnight at Hilton Garden Inn at San Bernardino in southern California, USA

Day 8(Friday, 29.5.2014)

Desert Hills Premium Outlets, Palm Springs

At 9.30 in the morning of Day 8, we left Hilton Garden Inn in San Bernardino and headed south to Palm Springs where we went to another shopping mall, Desert Hills Premium Outlets, consisting of 180 stores.

Tour group getting ready to leave San Bernardino for Anaheim in southern California, USA

Wang, the tour coach driver, recording his trips in his log book, daily

When we arrived at the outlets we noticed that the stores were selling American products, and most of them were similar to those  at other outlets we had gone to. Our travel agency thought we, Malaysians, were crazy shoppers and had lots of money to spend! But we could afford to buy one or two items only as the exchange rate between American Dollar and Malaysian Ringgit was high.

Entrance to Desert Hills Premium Outlets near Palm Springs in southern California, USA

A hot and quiet afternoon at Desert Premium Outlets near Palm Springs in southern California, USA

Coach Store at Desert Hills Premium Outlets near Palm Springs, California, USA

Jimmy Choo Store at Desert Hills Premium Outlets near Palm Springs, California, USA

Guess Store at Desert Hills Premium Outlets near Palm Springs, California, USA

We were quite displeased with the agency as they made us stay at that quiet outlets for more than six hours in the hot desert weather with a temperature of 38 degrees. I think the agency should consider not more than two premium outlets visits in the hot Mojave Desert in their travel itinerary for their future customers.

Writer’s wife(L) and couple resting and feeling bored at Desert Hills Premium Outlets near Palm Springs, California, USA

Departure for Anaheim

At 4.30 p.m., after long hours of unbearable heat at the quiet Desert Hills Premium Outlets, we, happily, left for Anaheim Town in Orange County. We travelled on the same route again, Interstate 15 Freeway, but we were crossing hilly areas then.

Interstate 15 Freeway crossing hilly areas to Anaheim, southern California, USA

Marriott Suites Hotel, Anaheim

At 6 p.m. we arrived at a hotel, Marriott Suites, in Anaheim Town. When we entered our respective rooms we were pleased to see the cosy rooms.

Marriott Suites Hotel, Anaheim, California, USA

A cosy bedroom in Marriott Suites Hotel, Anaheim, California, USA

A comfortable sitting room adjacent to a bedroom in Marriott Suites Hotel, Anaheim, California, USA

Dinner at Grand China Restaurant, Anaheim

After leaving our luggage in our rooms, we walked to a nearby restaurant, Grand China Restaurant, to have dinner. Our tour guide, Jay Ho, led us to the place.

Jay Ho, the group tour guide, giving direction to Grand China Restaurant where dinner is served, Anaheim, California, USA

Grand China Restaurant where tour group have dinner near Marriott Suites Hotel, Anaheim, California, USA

During the dinner I took the opportunity to take photos of our fellow tour members for remembrance. I was glad they were happy to have their photos taken. You may see them below. After dinner we went back to the hotel and stayed, comfortably, overnight there.

Wai Yean and wife, the oldest couple, are members of the tour group

Richard Ong and wife are members of the tour group

Jun Pow and wife are members of the tour group

Poh Boo and wife are members of the tour group

Chee Meng and wife are members of the tour group

Dr. Chua and family are members of the tour group

Kenny and family are members of the tour group

(Continued in USA West Coast Travel Part VI (Disneyland Resort, Anaheim))

Written by Choo Chaw, Kluang, Johor, Malaysia

Previous / Home / Next
U.S.A West Coast Travel:

Part I    San Francisco City

Part II  San Francisco, Fresno. Las Vegas

Part III Grand Canyon

Part IV  Las Vegas City

Part V   Premium Outlets in S, California

Part VI  Disneyland Resort, Anaheim

Part VII Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles

Part VIII Universal Studios Hollywood

Part IX   Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park

 

USA West Coast Travel Part IV(Las Vegas City)

USA West Coast Travel Part IV

{Las Vegas City)

Day 6 (Wednesday, 27.5.2014)

A pictorial map showing Las Vegas Blvd(The Strip) in Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Las Vegas Blvd or Strip

Day 6 was a free and easy day for all our tour group members. So my wife and I woke up late in the morning after a long, satisfying sleep in the comfortable bed in Monte Carlo Hotel in Las Vegas City. In fact, we needed that sleep very badly, as we had a long tiring trip to Grand Canyon on the previous day. We should say that it was our best rest since we landed in USA five days ago.

After brunch(breakfast and lunch together) at 1.30 p.m. at the hotel, we took a leisure walk along the main street of the city, Las Vegas Blvd or the Strip for a sightseeing tour.

Northern part of Las Vegas Blvd(The Strip) in Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Northern part of Las Vegas Blvd as seen at night in Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Hotels In Las Vegas City

While walking along this street we were fascinated by so many luxury hotels of different shapes, sizes and architectural styles. Almost all of them had casinos. New York New York, Monte Carlo, Mandarin Oriental, The Cosmopolitan, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Bally’s, Paris Las Vegas and The Venetian were among the large and beautiful hotels we saw. They looked grander and more majestic when they were illuminated with coloured lights at night.

Monte Carlo Hotel along Las Vegas Blvd in Las Vegas City

Monte Carlo Hotel as seen at night along Las Vegas Blvd in Las Vegas City

Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas City

Lights on Bellagio Hotel were switched off when its musical fountain was performing “a dance” at night

Caesars Palace Hotel in Las Vegas City

Caesars Palace Hotel at night in Las Vegas City

Paris Hotel in Las Vegas City

Paris Hotel as seen at night in Las Vegas City

Street Performers

Some street performers and star-impersonators could be seen on the walkway along Las Vegas Boulevard. Generous visitors were seen putting some money into their containers in appreciation of their efforts in entertaining them.

On the walkway, I came across a man holding a long pole and floating in the air in front of Bellagio fountain. He had seemingly levitated himself. My wife took a photo of the man and myself standing beside him and holding his friendly hand.

Later, I took a photo of my wife with a yellow cartoon character, minion, who could be seen in a movie, “Despicable Me”. As we were walking further down the walkway, we saw more street performers and star-impersonators.

The writer posing with a man floating in the air on a walkway in Las Vegas City

Writer’s wife posing with a yellow cartoon character, minion, in Las Vegas City

A couple painted in gold colour sitting motionless and hoping for tips in Las Vegas City

Ancient Sculptures

There were some hotels having ancient and beautiful sculptures that were placed inside and outside the buildings attracting visitors. The first sculpture I saw was on an arch at the entrance of Monte Carlo Hotel where we were staying. But we saw more at Caesars Palace Hotel where several statues of male and female Romans could be seen within and without. To my delight, they were all aesthetically created. Below are some photos of beautiful sculptures we saw at a few hotels in the city.

A beautiful sculpture on the arch at the entrance of Monte Carlo Hotel, Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Sculpture of humans and animals in a fountain in front of The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Hotel, Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Sculpture of humans and animals in The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace Hotel, Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Large statue of a Roman lady in The Forum Shops’ lobby in Las Vegas City, USA

A statue of a handsome Roman man at Caesars Palace Hotel, Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

A statue of a beautiful Roman lady at Caesars Palace Hotel, Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

A bronze statue of a beautiful body of a Roman lady at Caesars Palace Hotel, Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Statue of a half woman and half beast at the entrance of Caesars Palace Hotel, Las Vegas City, USA

A bronze statue of a half woman and half beast at Caesars Palace Hotel, Las Vegas City, USA

Entertainment Capital of the World

Every night, large hotels in Las Vegas City have many kinds of entertainment, like shows with dancing and singing, acrobatics, magics, dramas, comedies and concerts, to name a few. Besides, there are adult shows, like “Fantasy”, “Crazy Girls” and “Jubilee”. Hence, the city is considered the Entertainment Capital of the World.

Most of the performers in Las Vegas are famous in the world, for example the singing brother and sister team, Marie and Donny Osmond, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Oliver Newton-John, David Copperfield and many more.

A sister and brother team, Marie and Donny, singing in Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Britney Spears singing in Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Oliver Newton-John singing in Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

“Jubilee”

At 7 p.m. a few of us went for an adult show, “Jubilee”, in Jubilee Theatre in Bally’s Hotel. It was an extravaganza show involving about 100 showgirls and showboys in classic costumes. Pretty girls were wearing dazzling costumes sewn with sequins and long, large, colourful feathers. As they were dancing and kicking their legs, gracefully, they enchanted the whole audience throughout the show. It included two short interesting plays: “The Sinking Titanic” and “Samson and Delilah”. Although it lasted for 45 minutes it was awesome.

An advertisement of an adult show, “Jubilee”, in Bally’s Hotel, Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

A large TV screen showing a preview of “Jubilee” in Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

After the show we went back to our hotel, Monte Carlo, and stayed there for the last night in Las Vegas City.

(Continued in USA West Coast Travel Part V (Premium Outlets, S. California))

Previous / Home / Next

U.S.A West Coast Travel:

Part I    San Francisco City

Part II  San Francisco, Fresno. Las Vegas

Part III Grand Canyon

Part IV  Las Vegas City

Part V   Premium Outlets in S, California

Part VI  Disneyland Resort, Anaheim

Part VII Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles

Part VIII Universal Studios Hollywood

Part IX   Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park

USA West Coast Travel Part III (Grand Canyon)

USA West Coat Travel Part III (Grand Canyon)

Day 5 (Tuesday, 27.5.2014)

Las Vegas City – Grand Canyon

Tour group taking a route, Highway 93, from Las Vegas City in Nevada to Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA

At 7 in the morning of Day 5, we left Las Vegas City for the spectacular view of the Grand Canyon in the West Rim in Arizona. First, we were heading south-eastwards on Highway 93.

Lake Mead & Hoover Dam

Half an hour later we saw a large lake, Lake Mead, which is on the Colarado River and the largest reservoir in capacity in USA. Located about 40 km from Las Vegas City, the river receives rainfall and snowfall in the Rocky Mountain areas and flows into the lake. The lake is blocked by a large dam, Hoover Dam, that was built in the years 1931-1936 during the Great Depression on the California-Nevada border to meet the demands for water and electricity in California, Nevada and Arizona. It is a popular tourist attraction.

Tour group is leaving Las Vegas City and going to Grand Canyon on a hot sunny morning.

Tour group sees Lake Mead after travelling 40 km on Highway 93 from Las Vegas City

Highway 93 crosses a mountainous area where Lake Mead and Hoover Dam are located

Hoover Dam built in the years 1931-1936 during the Depression as seen from Highway 93

Grand Canyon Ranch

As Hoover Dam was not on our itinerary, we continued travelling southwards on Highway 93. At 7.40 a.m. we crossed the California-Nevada border where Hoover Dam was sited. After crossing a mountainous area and then low, flat valley, we turned east into a narrow road, Pearce Ferry Road(Route 25). It crossed a Mojave Desert area where large Joshua trees and shrubs were growing well. At 9 a.m. we stopped at a place, Grand Canyon Ranch, in the Hualapai Indian Reservation in Arizona where we alighted our coach and waited for a shuttle-coach to take us to Grand Canyon West Airport.

After crossing a mountainous area, Highway 93 is now crossing a dry, flat valley in South Arizona, USA

Coach carrying the tour group turns into Pearce Ferry Road from Highway 93 in Arizona, USA

The Grand Canyon Plateau in the distance as seen from Pearce Ferry Road in Arizona, USA

Joshua trees and shrubs growing well along Pearce Ferry Road in Mojave Desert in Arizona, USA

E. Diamond Bar Road

Several minutes later, it came and we boarded it. As a new road, E. Diamond Bar Road was under construction, it travelled on a bumpy dirt road until we came to a good road, Buck and Doe Road, which led us to the Grand Canyon West Airport. As we were travelling on Buck and Doe Road, we saw some scenic views like buttes which were flat-topped, isolated hills, undulating desert areas with Joshua trees and shrubs, and plateaus.

A shuttle-coach will bring the tour group to the Grand Canyon West Airport, Arizona, USA

As a new road, E. Diamond Bar Road, is under construction, the tour group is travelling on a bumpy, dirt road to the Grand Canyon West Airport in Arizona, USA

A butte, a flat topped-hill in the Grand Canyon area, as seen from E. Diamond Bar Road, Arizona, USA

Another butte as seen from the E. Diamond Bar Road in Arizona, USA

Grand Canyon West Airport

On arrival at the Grand Canyon West Airport at 10 a.m., we saw many tourists waiting for their transport to the Grand Canyon viewing spots, Eagle’s Point and Guano Point, and Hualapai Ranch where they could learn about the tradition and culture of the Hualapai tribe.

Four of us in our tour group, Vimala and his wife, my wife and I together took a helicopter ride to see the aerial view of the Grand Canyon, while the others travelled by shuttle-coaches to the two spots, Eagle Point and Guano Point, to see the Grand Canyon and the Hualapai Ranch.

Grand Canyon West Airport in Grand Canyon West Rim, Arizona, USA

Tourists at the Airport waiting for their transport to the Grand Canyon visiting spots in Arizona, USA

Jay Ho, the tour group guide, buying helicopter-tickets for some members at the Airport. Arizona, USA

Jay Ho, the tour group guide, buying helicopter-tickets for some members at the Airport, Arizona, USA

Helicopter Ride

At 11.00 a.m. we boarded a helicopter and flew low over a flat, vast, barren land. A minute later, we were awe-stricken when we saw below us through the transparent windows and doors an awesome view of one of the Nature’s beautiful creations, the Grand Canyon.

Writer and wife, and Vimala and wife going to the Grand Canyon by this helicopter in Arizona, USA

A breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon in the West Rim from the helicopter

Another breathtaking view of the Grand Canyon from the helicopter in Arizona, USA

Formation of Grand Canyon

According to some geologists, the Grand Canyon area was a high plateau raised by the pressure under the earth’s crust about 16 million years ago. Then 6 million years ago a river, Colorado River, appeared and started to cut across it, continuously, and, finally, reaches the present bottom level several hundred metres below the surface. The river continues to deepen the canyon while its walls keep widening by weathering forces. The Grand Canyon is now 446 km long, and can be as wide as 29 km and as deep as over 1 800 metres. It is an ideal place for geologists to study the history of the earth as its steep sides expose layers of rocks of different geological periods.

The steep side of the Grand Canyon mesa exposing layers of rocks of different geological periods

Eroded rocks lying on the floor of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA

Grand Canyon Scenic View

As we were flying in between the sides of the canyon and over the Colorado River below, we could not take our eyes away for a moment from the spectacular sight of the canyon. Flat, table-like land masses with steep sides(mesas), isolated flat-topped hills(buttes), the deep canyon(gorge) and the slow-flowing Colorado River were beautiful physical features that we were seeing.

Colorado River Boat Ride

Five minutes later, we landed on a spot 200 metres away from the bank of the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon West Rim. We left the helicopter and walked to a boat. A Hualapai native manned the boat bringing us up and down the river, slowly, to see the stunning physical features of the canyon with layers of rocks of different periods being exposed and some desert plants. We noticed that the current water-level of the river was several metres below the highest one due to lack of rainfall and snowfall in the Rocky Mountains in summer.

The writer and others have landed at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA

Writer’s wife getting ready for a boat-ride in the Colorado River in the background in Arizona, USA

A boat at the Colorado River waiting for passengers

The boat is manned by a young Hualapai native in Arizona, USA

A stunning view of the Grand Canyon from the boat in Arizona, USA

Another stunning view of the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA

A boat-landing place for tourists at the edge of the Colorado River in Arizona, USA

Small Shed

After that 20-minute boat-ride, we waited in a small shed in the hot sun for a helicopter to take us back to the airport. While waiting, I studied some plants growing in the arid area around the shed and saw some birds playing on the hot ground littered with small eroded rocks that had rolled down from the steep sides of the canyon.

Tourists in the shed in the Grand Canyon waiting for helicopters to take them back to the Airport after a boat-ride on the Colorado River

A red helicopter carrying some tourists back to the Airport from the Grand Canyon

The pilot taking the writer and others back to the Airport from the Grand Canyon

Eagle’s Point

Soon a helicopter came and took us back to the airport. At the airport, our tour-guide, Jay Ho, asked us to follow him. We took a shuttle coach at the airport to Eagle’s Point by-passing the Hualapai Ranch. On arrival, we walked to the edge of the Grand Canyon and looked down at the deep, steep gorge or canyon of over 400 metres deep.

The Hualapai Ranch, a place where Hualapai’s tradition and culture can be learned in the Grand Canyon West Rim

Then we saw a large rock in a shape of an eagle spreading its wings on the other side of the canyon a few hundred metres away. The place is aptly named Eagle’s Point. The Hualapai tribe consider the place sacred.

Writer and wife at the Eagle’s Point

Spectacular view of the Grand Canyon from the Eagle’s Point and Skywalk

No Safety-Barrier

Several minutes later, I realised that we were standing quite close to the edge of the gorge and there was no safety-barrier along it. I was shocked to see some brave tourists sitting on the edge with their legs dangling in the canyon.

Skywalk

Not far from where we were standing, we saw the Skywalk. It juts out over 21 metres over the Grand Canyon and is over 400 metres above the Colorado River. It is in a shape of a horse-shoe with glass-floor and sides. It is a good place to have an awesome  panoramic view of the Grand Canyon.

The famous Skywalk at the Eagle’s Point in the Grand Canyon West Rim

Four of us in our tour-group missed the chance of entering the Skywalk as we were late. We should have gone for it first and then the helicopter ride later.

Then we left the Eagle’s Point and took a shuttle-coach to Guano Point to see another part of the Grand Canyon. The view was spectacular too.

A breathtaking view of another part of the Grand Canyon from the Guano Point

A red cone-topped hill at Guano Point

A cafe at the Guano Point

A guide and tourists at the Guano Point

Tourists boarding a shuttle-coach from the Guano Point back to the Grand Canyon West Airport

Return to Las Vegas City

At 2 in the afternoon we returned to the Grand Canyon West Airport and waited for a shuttle coach to take us back to the Grand Canyon Ranch. After we had waited for two long hours, it finally came. We got onto it and travelled on the same, old, bumpy dirt-road again. After a 45 minute rough ride, we arrived at the Grand Canyon Ranch where we got onto our coach. Then we left the place for Las Vegas City.

Coaches at the Grand Canyon West Airport waiting for their passengers who have gone for the canyon sightseeing

Dinner

At 7 in the evening we reached the city and had dinner at a restaurant, Kung Fu Thai & Chinese Restaurant. Having filled up our empty stomachs, we returned to our hotel, Monte Carlo Hotel.

Tour group returning to Las Vegas City after an awesome sightseeing of the Grand Canyon West Rim in Arizona

Tour group having dinner at Kung Fu Thai & Chineses Restaurant in Las Vegas City. Nevada

Limousine Ride

At 9.30 p.m. three couples, my wife and I in the tour group decided to rent a limousine that could bring us together for a night city sightseeing tour. An hour rental with a chauffeur cost us USD 80. It was our first unforgettable experience riding in style in a stretch limousine.

Writer and seven others rent this limousine for an hour ride in Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Writer and others on a limousine ride in Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Vimala and wife on a limousine ride too in Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Limousines are a common sight in the city. They are long, luxury, sedan cars that are, normally, associated with wealth or power. But nowadays people can rent them for weddings, parties and city-sightseeing tour to name a few purposes.

An Iconic Sign-Board

The limousine took us for a beautiful night city-sightseeing tour. It stopped at a spot for a while where a famous, iconic signboard of Las Vegas City was located. It said “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas Nevada” which was illuminated with neon lights. The 8 metre-high structure was created by a local designer, Betty Whitehead Willis, and constructed by Western Neon in 1959.

Writer and wife in front of the famous and iconic neon sign-board of Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

After riding in the long vehicle for the first time for exactly one hour, we arrived at our hotel, Monte Carlo, and went back to our rooms to rest.

(Continued in USA West Coast Travel Part IV (Las Vegas City))

Written by Choo Chaw, Kluang, Johor, Malaysia

Previous / Home / Next

U.S.A West Coast Travel:

Part I    San Francisco City

Part II  San Francisco, Fresno. Las Vegas

Part III Grand Canyon

Part IV  Las Vegas City

Part V   Premium Outlets in S, California

Part VI  Disneyland Resort, Anaheim

Part VII Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles

Part VIII Universal Studios Hollywood

Part IX   Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park

USA West Coast Travel Part II (San Francisco-Fresno-Las Vegas)

USA West Coast Travel Part II (San Francisco-Fresno-Las Vegas)

Day 3(Sunday, 25.5.2014)

San Francisco – Monterey
(185 km)
California

Route from San Francisco to Las Vegas via Monterey taken by tour group on Day 3(Sunday, 25 May 2014)

Chinatown in San Francisco

In the morning of Day 3, we went to a Chinese restaurant, P & R Restaurant, along Kearny Street, in Chinatown in San Francisco City to have breakfast. We had ‘dim sum’, a Chinese breakfast that included “chia siu pau”(steamed barbecue pork dumplings), chicken legs, “low mai gai” (sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves), “har gau”(shrimp dumplings), pork ribs and tea.

Kearny Street in Chinatown, San Francisco City, USA

Tour group having “dim sum” breakfast at P & R Restaurant, a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, San Francisco City, USA

Writer with some fellow-tour members having “dim sum” at P & R Restaurant, Chinatown, San Francisco City, USA

After that simple meal at 9.30 a.m., we left San Francisco City and moved southwards to Pebble Beach which was more than 180 km away.

Tour group is leaving San Francisco City for Pacific Glove and Pebble Beach in the south, California, USA

First, we were travelling on South Valley Highway and saw San Francisco Bay on our left. Then we were on Cabrillo Highway that crossed an undulating land. Soon it was running parallel to the Monterey Bay coastline.

Tour group travelling on South Valley Highway which is along San Francisco Bay, California, USA

Tour group travelling on Cabrillo Highway that crosses undulating land to Monterey in the south, California, USA

Tour group travelling south to Pebble Beach on Cabrillo Highway that runs parallel to the Monterey Bay coastline, California, USA

Monterey Town

At 1.00 p.m. we arrived at Monterey Town and had lunch at a restaurant, Chinese Garden Restaurant.
An hour later we resumed our journey.  We passed New Fisherman’s Wharf and rocky coast of Monterey Town.

Tour group have lunch at this Chinese restaurant, Chinese Garden Restaurant, in Monterey Town, California, USA

Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey Town, California, USA

Rocky coast of Monterey Town, California, USA

Monterey Bay and sandy beach south of Monterey Town, California, USA

Several minutes later, we came to a toll-gate. When our coach-driver had paid a fee at the gate he drove us on and entered Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula. This place is well-known for Victorian houses and monarch butterflies that migrate there in large numbers, annually.

17 Mile Drive

Then we were travelling on a coastal road, 17 Mile Drive. This road passes by scenic coasts of Pacific Ocean, through Del Monte Forest of Cypress trees, famous golf-courses and large luxurious mansions.

Location of Bird Rock, Seal Rock, Lone Cypress and Pebble Beach, California, USA

Tour coach entering Pacific Grove to 17 Mile Drive after paying a toll at this gate

Bird Rock and Seal Rock

After travelling a few kilometres of the road from the toll-gate, we stopped at a beach for a while to see two significant barren rocks at the Monterey Bay Sanctuary about 200 metres off the beach. One was inhabited by seagulls, pelicans and cormorants, and is known as Bird Rock, whereas the other one was occupied by seals and therefore known as Seal Rock. The Bird Rock was almost completely white as it had been covered with a thick layer of birds’ droppings over many years. Besides the birds and seals we saw on the rocks, we also saw some furry squirrels running about on the sandy beach without fear of human beings.

Bird Rock and Seal Rock at the Monterey Bay Sanctuary, California, USA

Btrd Rock, Monterey Bar Sanctuary, California, USA

Seal Rock, Monterey Bay Sanctuary, California, USA

Lone Cypress

Then we continued our journey. Later, we passed through Del Monte Forest of cypress trees and went to a high ground where we alighted our coach. Standing on the edge of a cliff, we saw a tree standing alone in a distance on a rugged, bare, granite headland at Carmel Bay, and felt its loneliness. Being known as “Lone Cypress”, it was believed to be 250 years old and hoped it would live for another 50 years.

17 Mile Drive passing through Del Monte Forest of cypress trees, California, USA

Lone Cypress Tree standing on a rugged granite headland at Carmel Bay, California, USA

Dr. Chua and his family like to remember the Lone Cypress Tree in the distance, Californian, USA

Pebble Beach

Then we went to Lodge and Pebble Beach Golf Links(a golf course) which were near the lonely cypress tree. They belong to Pebble Beach Company which was founded by Samuel F.B. Morse in 1919. The company also owns 5 300 acres of Del Monte Cypress Forest, Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach areas, Del Monte Rancho, Hotel Del Monte, and a few more properties on Monterey Peninsula. It is interesting to note that it has made the picture of Lone Cypress as its logo.

Bust of Samuel F.B. Morse(1885 – 1969), the founder of Pebble Beach Company in 1919

Pebble Beach Lodge, California, USA

Pebble Beach Golf Links, California, USA

Pebble Beach Lodge is a place for shopping and dining. Besides, it has a world-famous golf course which is known as Pebble Beach Golf Links. It holds AT & T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am Tournament, annually. Besides, it has held five prestigious US Open Championships. The former tournament replaced Bing Crosby Pro-Am Golf Tournament(1937 – 1985) in 1986.

Bing Crosby(1904 – 1977), an American singer and actor, started the annual event “Bing Crosby Pro-Am Golf Tournament” in 1937 until 1985.

AT & T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Golf Tournament replaced Bing Crosby Pro-Am Golf Tournament in 1986

Pebble Beach Golf Links is a beautiful, well-maintained golf course located by a rugged coastline facing the Carmel Bay and south of Monterey Town.

Casa de Fruta

After spending several minutes at the lodge and the golf course, we travelled eastwards at 3.30 p.m. to Fresno which is over 200 km from Pebble Beach. At 5.00 p.m. we stopped at a fruit-shop known as Casa de Fruta which was selling all kinds of fruits, like peaches, apricots, oranges, plums, apples, etc. Besides, it was selling dried fruits, nuts, wine, etc.

Casa de Fruta selling a variety of fresh and dried fruits, wine, fruit-jams, etc

Fruits on an old cart for sale at Casa de Fruta

Jars of fruit jam on old mini-truck for sale at Casa de Fruta

Wine for sale at Casa de Fruta

In its compound it exhibited some old but interesting agricultural machines and vehicles, such as old tractors, “separator”, trucks and ground levelling machine, to name a few.

An old tractor at Casa de Fruta

An old “separator” at Casa de Fruta

An old tractor at Casa de Fruta

At 5.30 p.m. we left the fruit shop. On the way to Fresno, we saw orchards along the road and a herd of cattle on grassland, and the weather was hot. Fortunately, we were travelling in an air-con coach.

San Luis Reservoir

Soon we saw a large reservoir with low water-level due to dry season. It was San Luis Reservoir, an artificial lake, and its water is used for farm irrigation and other purposes.

Orchards along the way to Fresno, California, USA

A herd of cattle along a road to Fresno, California, USA

San Luis Reservoir that irrigates farms and supplies water to homes, California

Fresno

At 7 p.m. we, finally, arrived at Fresno and had a buffet dinner at a restaurant, King Buffet. After dinner we went to an inn nearby, Piccadilly Inn, where we stayed overnight.

Tour group having buffet dinner at King Buffet in Fresno, California

Tour group arriving at Piccadilly Inn, Fresno, California, USA

Piccadilly Inn, Fresno, California, USA

Day 4 (Monday, 26.5.2014)

Fresno – Las Vegas

At 8.30 a.m. of Day 4, we left Fresno for Bakersfield.  We were travelling south-east on a highway, Golden State Highway(Route 99), which was on a flatland. It passed through orchards, farmlands and small towns.

California Aqueduct

As rainfall in these areas in Southern California is little, they get water from the California Aqueduct. The aqueduct is a system of canals, tunnels, and pipelines that transport water collected from the Sierra Nevada Mountains and valleys of Northern and Central California to dry lands in Southern California.

Wang, the coach driver, is going to bring the tour group from Fresno to Las Vegas on Day 4

Tour group travelling on Highway 99 to Bakersfield from Fresno in San Joaquin Valley on Day 4

Orchards along Highway 99 from Fresno to Bakersfield in San Joaquin Valley, California, USA

Apple Annie’s Restaurant

At 9.30 p.m. we reached Tulare Town where we stopped at a restaurant, Apple Annie’s Restaurant, for breakfast. Several minutes later, we were off again on the same highway. At one time I saw a truck on the road carrying more than 30 cars, but those cars had already been reduced in size and on the way to a factory for recycling.

Tour group stop at Tulare Town to have breakfast at Apple Annie’s Restaurant.

A truckload of compressed cars on the way to the north on Highway 99 in California

Murray Family Farms

At 11.00 a.m. we arrived at Bakersfield where we visited a farmland, Murray Family Farms, belonging to a couple, Steve and Vickie Murray. Besides fruits, the couple also planted vegetables in their farms. They had built a large building which was painted bright red in front. It housed a restaurant and place where their produce from their farms was displayed for sale. Their farmland had become a popular place where travellers like to visit for a short while.

Murray Family Farms in Bakersfield, California, USA

Steve and Vickie Murray, the owners of Murray Family Farms in Bakersfield, California

Aerial view of Murray Family Farms in Bakersfield, California

As the farm had two corn mazes, petting zoo, ant farm, butterfly house, “pick-your-own-fruits” areas and a few more interesting places, it attracted school-children too.

Plan of Murray Family Farms showing fruit and vegetable growing areas and children’s activity corners

Strawberries for sale at Murray Family Farms, Bakersfield, California

Avocado for sale at Murray Family Farms, Bakersfield, California

Wind Turbines

After spending several minutes at Murray Family Farms, we continued our journey. We travelled eastwards on a highway, Interstate 58. While travelling across the hilly, hot, dry land, we did not see any vegetation. Several minutes later, we saw some trees and shrubs growing on hills and flat land, and passed through a few small towns. Later, in Tehachapi, we saw countless number of wind turbines on hills spinning to generate clean electricity and reduce emission of hundreds of thousands of tons of carbon dioxide, annually.

Wind farms of wind turbines on hills of Tehachapi between Bakersfield and Barstow in California

Some shrubs along the highway, Interstate 58, to Barstow in the hot, dry Mojave Desert, California

Bakersfield-Barstow Highway crossing hot, dry, hilly, barren land

Barstow Town

At 1 p.m. we arrived at Barstow Town and stopped at a restaurant, Sizzler, to have steak with bread and potato chips, salad and ice-cream for lunch. Then at 2 p.m, we continued our journey travelling on another highway, Interstate 15.

Tour group having lunch at Sizzler Restaurant in Barstow, California

Steak for lunch at Sizzler Restaurant , Barstow, California

Salad, another dish, for lunch at Sizzler Restaurant, Barstow, California

Tanger Outlets

Several minutes later, we came to a shopping centre, Tanger Outlets, where 36 shops were selling accessories, jewellery, apparel, footwear, etc. The temperature there shot up to 39 degrees Celsius and the heat was, extremely, unbearable! At 4 p.m. we moved on again. We were crossing a hot, uninhabitable land of Mojave Desert.

A scorching day at Tanger Outlets, a shopping centre near Barstow, California

A highway, Interstate 15, from Barstow to Las Vegas crossing the hot Mojave Desert in California

Valley Wells

At about 5 p.m. we arrived at a rest area, Valley Wells, in the Mojave National Preserve and answered a call of nature. No dwellings except desert shrubs, Joshua trees, sand and distant barren hills were seen in the hot desert area. A mountain range, Clark Mountain Range, could be seen in the distance from the Valley Wells rest area and highway, Interstate 15. The highest mountain of the range, Clark Mountain, which was 2 418 metres high was the highest mountain in Mojave Desert in California.

Valley Wells rest aea along Interstate 15 and in the Mojave National Preserve in California

Clark Mountain Range in the Mojave National Preserve in California, USA

Joshua trees and shrubs growing in Mojave Desert, California, USA

Ivanpah Solar Power Plant

Several minutes later, we resumed our journey. At 5.30 p.m. we saw an extremely bright area in the distance in Ivanpah Valley which was about 8  km from California-Nevada border. It was a solar power plant consisting of thousands of large mirrors that focused the sun’s energy on solar receivers atop power towers generating electricity that could meet the need of 140 000 homes. It was the largest solar thermal power plant in the world.

A solar power plant, the world largest plant, in the Ivanpah Valley near the California-Nevada border, USA

A loving, old couple of the tour group are feeling hot in the air-con coach while crossing the Mojave Desert in California

Primm and Jean

Soon we reached the California-Nevada border. As we crossed the border we entered a town, Primm, in Neavada where there were hotels and casinos. Later, we passed by another town, Jean, in Nevada where there were hotels and casinos too. Those places tempted residents in California to cross the border and gamble at their casinos. Gambling in Nevada state is legal. The Great Depression of 1929 and Hoover Dam Project(1931-36) led to the legalisation of gambling in Nevada in 1931. Now tax on gambling contributes the largest portion of the income of Nevada.

Tour group entering a California-Nevada border town, Primm, in Nevada where hotels and casinos attract Californians

Tour group came across another town, Jean, in Nevada where hotels and casinos exist, especially, for Californians.

Las Vegas City, Nevada

After a whole day of travelling, we finally arrived at our destination, Las Vegas, at 6.20 p.m.

Located in Mojave Desert in Clark County in Nevada, Las Vegas was established in 1905. With a population of more than half a million, it is a well-known city in the world for gambling, shopping, dinning and nightlife. Besides, it is a popular place for conventions, business and meetings. It is known as the “Entertainment Capital of the World”. It is also known as the “Sin City” because it has various kinds of adult entertainment.

Tour group entering Las Vegas City in the evening, Nevada, USA

Chinatown, Las Vegas City

After entering Las Vegas, we went straight to Chinatown to have a Chinese dinner at Harbor Palace Seafood Restaurant. The meal was delicious and the dish that I like best was roasted Peking duck.

Chinatown in Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Tour group having dinner at Harbor Palace Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown, Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Writer’s favourite dish at Harbor Palace Seafood Restaurant in Chinatown, Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Monte Carlo Hotel

After dinner we went to one of the grand hotels in the city, Monte Carlo. where we would stay for three nights. When we had left our luggage in our respective rooms in the hotel, Wang, our coach driver, brought us to a place to see a musical fountain. It was in front of a luxurious hotel, Bellagio Hotel.

Musical Fountain

The fountain is in a man-made lake consisting of more than 1 200 nozzles that can shoot water as high as 140 metres, and 4 500 lights that will coordinate with the nozzles during the “action”.

Tour group staying for three nights at Monte Carlo Hotel, Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

A musical fountain in front of Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

At 8 p.m. sharp, the musical fountain started to show off its splendid dance in front of Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas City

At 8 p.m. sharp, the musical fountain surrounded by many visitors started to show off its splendid watery dance with the accompaniment of thousands of bright lights and some soft musics, like “Time to Say Goodbye”,”Proud to be an American”, “Your Song”, “Viva Las Vegas” and “My Heart Will Go On”. We and other visitors were delighted for five minutes watching the spectacular fountain display.

A beautiful fountain display in front of Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas City

Another beautiful fountain display in front of Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas City

Writer and wife at the musical fountain of Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

Bellagio Hotel

When the musical fountain elegant performance ended we went inside Bellagio Hotel and visited its Conservatory and Botanical Garden. It is a place that undergoes changes five times a year according to the four seasons and the Chinese New Year.

Conservatory and Botanical Garden in Bellagio Hotel, Las Vega City

When we entered the place we thought we were in a paradise for one moment. The place was awesome. It was full of different kinds of colourful flowers in full bloom as it was spring time. Besides, there were some large animal-figures like frogs and snails and two life-size horses that add variety to the colourful place. Some figures were covered with flowers or plants including a frog and two snails. Small non-flowering plants were growing in a small conservatory in the centre of the place.

A beautiful garden in Conservatory and Botanical Garden in Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas City

A large frog covered with small plants in Conservatory and Botanical Garden, Las Vegas City

Conservatory and Botanical Garden growing flowering and non-flowering plants in Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas City

A musician entertaining visitors in Conservatory and Botanical Garden area in Bellagio Hotel, Las Vegas City, Nevada, USA

“Volcano” at Mirage Hotel

Then we left the place and went to another hotel, The Mirage, to watch an artificial volcano that could “erupt”. When we arrived at the hotel, we were in time to watch the volcano starting to spill out fire and “lava”, and then “eruption” occurred several times. Whenever it “erupted” a big fire covered a large area making spectators feel hot. The “volcanic activity” lasted for about seven minutes.

Visitors watching an artificial volcano “erupting” in front of The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas City

More “eruption” from the artificial volcano in front of The Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas City

After that fiery “volcanic eruption” show, we went to an old street, Fremont Street, in Las Vegas Downtown, where the old hotels and casinos still existed. It was once a popular tourist place until the Strip which was a stretch of South Las Vegas Boulevard  was opened. There were larger and more hotels and casinos in the Strip area.

Fremont Street Experience

To lure the tourists back, a stretch of Fremont Street was given a face-lift in 1994. A canopy of 460 metres long and 27 metres high covered the street making it a pedestrian mall or Fremont Street Pedestrian Mall or Fremont Street Experience. Besides, the canopy was a LED screen, the longest in the world, consisting of over 12 millions LED lights. The screen would hold shows, several minutes each time and once in every hour from dusk until midnight. There were two stages where concerts were held every night. Consequently, the street was crowded with tourists again.

Fremont Street Experience in Fremont Street in Las Vegas Downtown introduced in 1994 attracting tourists. The overhead canopy LED screen is the longest in the world.

Fremont Street Experience in Las Vegas Downtown providing visitors many experiences in canopied Fremont Street

At 9.30 p.m. we arrived at a place near Fremont Street and alighted the coach. Then we walked to the canopied street. As we entered the street we saw a large crowd watching a few singers on a stage singing country songs to the accompaniment of a band.

While walking further down the street we saw street entertainers, man and ladies impersonating famous film-stars and singers, “transformers”, etc.

Country singers entertaining visitors in Fremont Street Pedestrian Mall in Las Vegas Downtown, Nevada, USA

Rock singers entertaining visitors in the Fremont Street Pedestrian Mall in Las Vegas Downtown, Nevada, USA

But we were shocked to see some men and ladies dressed in “bling, bling” costumes that did not cover much of their bodies. They were inviting visitors to take photos with them for a fee. Then suddenly bright lights went off  and the overhead long LED screen began a show that lasted for a few minutes. It showed interesting colourful images of the past, present and future developments.

Musicians getting ready to entertain visitors in the Fremont Street Pedestrian Mall in Las Vegas Downtown, Nevada, USA

A street performer doing a hip-hop dance in the Fremont Street Pedestrian Mall in Las Vegas Downtowm, Nevada, USA

An artist doing funny caricatures of visitors in his mini-studio in the Fremont Street Pedestrian Mall in Las Vegas Downtown, Nevada, USA

The Fremont Street Pedestrian Mall in Las Vegas Downtown where visitors can experience many activities

At 10.30 p.m. we left the Fremont Street Pedestrian Mall, boarded our coach, and went back to our hotel, Monte Carlo Hotel, which was a kilometre away, to rest our tired bodies.

(Continued in USA West Coast Travel Part III (Grand Canyon, Arizona))

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U.S.A West Coast Travel:

Part I    San Francisco City

Part II  San Francisco, Fresno. Las Vegas

Part III Grand Canyon

Part IV  Las Vegas City

Part V   Premium Outlets in S, California

Part VI  Disneyland Resort, Anaheim

Part VII Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles

Part VIII Universal Studios Hollywood

Part IX   Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park

USA West Coast Travel Part I (San Francisco City)

USA West Coast Travel Part I (San Francisco City)

Day 1
23.5.2014

Travel to USA West Coast

EVA Air route from Malaysia to USA via Taiwan

For the first time, my wife and I were going to USA on 23.5.2014 for a short tour in its western region. We were going to visit several popular tourists’ places, like San Francisco City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Grand Canyon to name a few. We would spend about 11 days touring those places.

Map showing the route taken by the tour group in West USA

Departure from KLIA

On 23rd. May 2014, we went to Kuala Lumpur International Airport(KLIA) and joined a small group of Malaysian tourists under a capable guide, Jay Ho, from a travel agency, Travelcaya International Sdn. Bhd., in Kuala Lumpur.

Writer with wife and fellow-tour members

Writer(L) and tour guide(R), Jay Ho, from Travelcaya International Sdn. Bhd., Kulala Lumpur at KLIA, Sepang, Malaysia

Writer and wife joining a USA West Coast tour planned by Travelcaya International Sdn. Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

At 4.00 p.m. an Eva airline belonging to a Taiwanese company, EVA Airways Corporation, took off at KLIA  and flew us straight to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in Taiwan. It took about 4 1/2 hours to arrive at the airport.

Departure point at KLIA, Sepang, Malaysia

EVA Air, a plane belonging to EVA Airways Corporation of Taiwan at KLIA, is preparing to fly to Taiwan

Writer’s dinner on the plane three hours before reaching Taiwan

Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport

At the airport we waited for another plane that would carry us to USA. After 4 hours of waiting, we, finally, resumed our journey to USA at 12.45 a.m. It would be a very long journey of about 10 200 km over the wide Pacific Ocean taking about 9 hours to reach San Francisco, our first destination in USA.

A cabin-screen showing the plane leaving Taipei, Taiwan, for San Francisco in USA

During that long hours of flight, I slept on and off, ate two meals, went to toilet two or three times, walked a few times on the aisle, watched a few movies and listened to some musics provided by the in-flight entertainment.

Writer’s dinner on the plane two hours before reaching San Francisco in USA

International Date Line

At 6.35 a.m.(Malaysia time) we crossed the International Date Line gaining a day, and five hours later we landed, safely, at the San Francisco International Airport, California, USA. Looking at my watch, it was 11.50 a.m.(Malaysia time). To follow the local time in San Francisco, I adjusted my watch to 8.50 p.m.(a difference of 15 hours).

At 6.45 a.m.(Malaysia time), the plane crossed the International Date Line gaining a day

Writer’s wife arriving at San Francisco International Airport

Wang, a patient and friendly coach-driver, bringing the group for the tour of the west coast of USA

Marriott Marquis Hotel, San Francisco City

At the airport immigration checkpoint, there was a long queue. We, patiently, waited for more than an hour before our passports were stamped by friendly officers. At 12 midnight we left the airport on a coach driven by Wang, an American. It brought us to a hotel, Marriott Marquis, located along Mission Street in the city centre. As the hotel rooms were large and the beds were comfortable, we had a good sleep throughout the night.

Marriott Marquis along Mission Street in San Francisco, USA

A cosy bedroom in Marriott Marquis Hotel in San Fransico, USA

San Francisco is a vibrant city with a population of over 800 000. It is a cultural and financial hub in California. Besides, it has many places of attraction. On the following day, we were going to visit some of them.

Day 2
23.5.2014
( Date and time in California, USA, will now be used.)

Day 2 in San Francisco was going to be very busy for all of us. We were going to visit several well-known places in the city. The following were the ones we visited.

Civic Centre

Civic Centre was the first place we visited. It is a place where the important government buildings and cultural institutions are located. Most of them are of neoclassical architecture, Beaux-Arts, that is taught in Paris, France.

City Hall behind writer and wife in Civic Centre in San Francisco, USA

Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in Civic Centre, San Francisco, USA

Among them are City Hall(1915) for government offices, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium(1915) which is a multi-purpose arena, War Memorial Opera House(1932),  Public(Main) Library and Asian Art Museum(1966) that houses a large collection of Asian art objects.

Pioneer Monument(R) and Public Library(L) in Civic Centre, San Francisco, USA

In an open area between the Public Library and Asian Art Museum, there is  a monument, Pioneer Monument, which was a posthumous gift by a prominent and wealthy pioneer, James Lick(died in 1876) to the city-folks. It was built by a famous sculptor, Frank H. Happersberger(1859-1915).

Pioneer Monument between the Public Library and Asian Art Museum in Civic Centre

Three gold prospectors in serious discussion in the “Early Days” at Pioneer Monument in Civic Centre, San Francisco

Pioneer Monument

In the centre of the monument is a high cylindrical, telescopic column with a statue of a Roman goddess, Minerva, atop. Surrounding its base are four white pedestals with life-size human statues: three gold prospectors of the “49” having a serious discussion on top of one of them, a padre talking to a native and a Mexican cowboy watching his cattle in the “Early Days” on another, a woman in a Roman dress holding a cornucopia on one more to show the importance of agriculture, and another woman in the same Roman dress holding an oar on the last one to show the importance of trade in the “Early Days”.

A padre talking to a native and Mexican cowboy watching his cattle at the Pioneer Monument in Civic Centre, San Francisco

Statue of a lady in Roman dress holding an oar, a symbol of the importance of commerce in the “Early Days” in USA

Civic Centre is a place where massive political rallies, civilians’ protests, festival parades, and other big events are usually held. A historic agreement was signed in 1945 in Hersbt Theatre in the War Memorial and Performing Arts Centre in Civic Centre, viz. “The UN Charter” that created “The United Nations”. An important treaty, “The Treaty of San Francisco”, was signed between Japan and Allied Powers at War Memorial Opera House in 1951 that, officially, ended the war with Japan.

Lombard Street

After the Civic Center visit, we went to see a short, steep stretch of Lombard Street which the local people claim it to be “the crookedest road in the world”. It is 180m long and has 8 hair-pin bends with well-kept flower-beds. Visitors can walk up about 250 steps on either side of it from Leavenworth Street to Hyde Street. Visitors may drive their cars down this winding road at a very low speed, 8 kph, as a challenge.

Crossroads of Lombard Street and Columbus Avenue where writer and others alight the coach and walk up Lombard Street, San Francisco

To see that unusual road, our coach left the Civic Centre and went to the crossroads of Lombard Street and Columbus Avenue where it stopped for us to alight. Then we walked up Lombard Street to the crooked stretch which was about a km away. As we were walking up further we saw houses in Victorian architechural style along the road that became steeper. Half an hour later, we reached the crossroads of Lombard Street and Leavenworth Street where the “the world’s crookedest” road began. As we were walking up over 200 steps on the right side of the crooked road, we saw beautiful and well-kept flower-beds beside it, and some cars moving down it, very slowly.

Visitors walking up Lombard Street to the crooked road which is a few hundred metres away

Houses in Victorian architecture along a steep part of Lombard Street in San Francisco

“The world’s crookedest street” with manicured flower-beds in San Francisco, USA

Scenery from Lombard and Hyde Crossroads

Soon we reached the end of the winding road at the crossroads of Lombard Street and Hyde Street. Standing at that crossroads and looking beyond the long Lombard Street, we saw a breathtaking view of Coit Tower, the skyline of the vibrant city and Bay Bridge. Standing at the same crossroads, but looking beyond and down Hyde Street, we saw another breathtaking view of the islands of Alcatraz and Angel and San Francisco Bay.

Breathtaking view of the crooked street of Lombard Street in the foreground and the city-skyline in the background, San Francisco, USA

Alcatraz Island and Angel Island in the distance as seen from the top of the crooked street of Lombard Street, San Francisco, USA

Cars moving down the “world’s crookedest road”, Lombard Street, in San Francisco

Several minutes later, we walked down Lombard Street with ease, and reached the crossroads where our coach that had been waiting for us at the same spot where we alighted earlier. We boarded the coach and left for another tourists’ spot, Palace of Fine Arts.

Palace of Fine Arts

After the interesting crooked part of Lombard Street visit, we went to see “Palace of Fine Arts” which is located along Lyon Street near San Francisco Bay. Bernard Maybeck(1862 – 1957), an architect, designed this beautiful Palace, a masterpiece, “to evoke the sadness and beauty of looking at a Roman ruin” and integrate the architecture and landscape of the place.

Plan of Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, USA

Panama-Pacific Expo

The Palace was built of wood and plaster to last a year for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition(Expo). It had several rows of colonnades in a semi-circle and a large high rotunda in the middle. The structures were built in Roman and Greek architectural styles. A lake was created right in front of it in a lush surrounding.

Writer and wife at the Palace of Fine Arts along Lyon Street, San Francisco, USA

A row of colonnades of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, USA

Statues of weeping women atop colonnades at the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, USA

After the Expo, that masterpiece was supposed to be demolished. Owing to the appeal to save the Palace for the enjoyment of future generations by Phoebe Apperson Hearst, only a part of it was preserved. But over many years the Palace deteriorated. In 1964 it was completely demolished . Later it was rebuilt with steel and cement to last a long time from generous public donations. Since then more improvements and restoration works were done. Now it looks grand and elegant in a scenic environment that attracts many tourists from near and far. Its serene and clean lake with trees round it attracts birds and racoons which make it their permanent home. Brides and grooms like to take photos together at this beautiful and romantic place.

Palace of Fine Arts was built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Expo in San Francisco, USA

A beautiful lake in front of the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, USA

The lake of the Palace has become a sanctuary for birds and racoons

The Golden Gate Bridge

After visiting Palace of Fine Arts, we went straight to San Francisco’s iconic landmark, the Golden Gate Bridge. It is 1 280 m long and ranks the world’s 12th. longest suspension bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco opened to public in 1937

Chief Engineer

The chief engineer, Joseph B. Strauss, together with his large work-force took 4 years to construct and complete the bridge. It was built over the Golden Gate Strait that is 2 042 m wide connecting San Francisco Peninsula in the south and Marin County in the north. Completed in 1937, it was opened to traffic in the same year for the convenience of the inhabitants on both sides.

The chief engineer, Joseph B. Strauss, who built the Bridge from 1927 til 1937

Location of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco City, USA

Width of the Bridge is 27.4 m taken up by 6 motor-lanes and 2 pedestrian-walks

The bridge is painted in international orange, its signature colour, that makes it easily recognisable from a distance. It has two tall towers, each 227 m high, supporting long thick cables of diameter 92.4 cm with vertical suspenders that hold the road-deck. It is one of the world’s greatest modern engineering feats. The width of the bridge is 27.4 m that is taken up by six motor-lanes and two pedestrian-walkways.

Warning Notices

A few warning notices for drivers and pedestrians can be seen at strategic places on the bridge, e.g. “THE CONSEQUENCES OF JUMPING FROM THIS BRIDGE ARE FATAL AND TRAGIC”, “ANY PERSON WHO WILLFULLY DROPS OR THROWS ANY OBJECT OR MISSILE FROM ANY TOLL BRIDGE IS GUILTY OF MISDEMEANOR” and “INJURY OR DEFACEMENT OF THIS BRIDGE IS A MISDEMEANOR. VIOLATORS WILL BE PROSECUTED”

Consequences of Jumping off the Bridge

“WARNING”

“INJURY OR DEFACEMENT”

San Francisco Bay

From the bridge, visitors can see a spectacular panoramic view of San Francisco Bay, islands of Alcatraz and Angel, and the city skyline in the distance.

San Francisco Bay as seen from the Bridge

When we reached the bridge, our tour-coach brought us across it and then back making us feel excited and glad to have crossed that famous bridge in the world. Then it left us at the bridge to join the tourists from near and far to see the magnificent steel-structure and the breathtaking scenery of the bay, Alcatraz and Angel Islands and the city in the distance.

At 12.45 p.m. we left the bridge and went to another popular tourist spot, Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, about six km east of the bridge.

Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39

Plan of Pier 39, a popular tourists’ spot in San Francisco, USA

A large bronze crab at the entrance of Pier 39 welcoming tourists

Tourists visiting Pier 39 in San Francisco, USA

In the olden days between the mid and later 1800’s, Italian immigrants came to San Francisco and settled down in the Fisherman’s Wharf area. They became fishermen catching fish and crustaceans, especially Dungeness crabs in the Pacific Ocean, for the inhabitants in San Francisco city. Later, seafood restaurants were opened on Pier 39 near the wharf and attracted local people to dine on fresh seafood. Then shops selling souvenirs, apparels, fruits, etc. appeared there. Now Pier 39 has more attractions such as street-performances, carousel, aquarium, virtual 3-D rides, bungee-trampoline, etc. attracting more tourists.

A street of shops and seafood restaurants at Pier 39, San Francisco, USA

A fruit-stall at Pier 39, San Francisco, USA

A street-entertainer at Pier 39 in San Francisco, USA

Sea-Lions

At Pier 39, there is a colony of noisy sea-lions. Visitors will see them on floating wooden docks basking, comfortably, in the sun. They come from Seal Rocks which are off the Ocean Beach near Pier 39.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant

When we arrived at Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39 at 1.30 p.m. we saw the place crowded with tourists. Then we headed straight to a food chain restaurant, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company Restaurant on the front of Pier 39 for lunch. This food-establishment was inspired by a 1994 movie, “Forrest Gump”. In this movie, Bubba suggested a shrimp-business. When Bubba died in Vietnam War(1955-1975), Forrest remembered Bubba’s suggestion and started a shrimp-business.

Shops, restaurants, aquarium, etc. at Pier 39, San Francisco, USA

After lunch, we toured Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf for a while. Then we walked to a ferry-terminal next to the pier and boarded a boat to cruise at San Francisco Bay at 3.15 p.m..

Tourists queuing up for a boat cruise at a ferry-terminal next to Pier 39, San Francisco, USA

Passengers alighting a cruise-boat at a terminal next to Pier 39

San Francisco Bay Boat Cruise

As soon as we were in the boat, it started to move to San Francisco Bay. As it was moving away from the terminal, slowly, we saw over 100 sea-lions on floating docks basking, comfortably, in the sun and tourists who were at Pier 39 watching them with curiosity and without caring for the smell from the animals.

Passengers behind writer’s wife boarding a cruise-boat at a terminal next to Pier 39 in San Francisco, USA

Sea-lions basking in the sun and tourists watching them at Pier 39, San Francisco, USA

Beautiful Sights

While the boat was cruising westwards at the large bay towards the Golden Gate Bridge, we could see beautiful sights of Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, the city skyline and the Bay Bridge in the east. Then we passed an island, Alcatraz Island, which was notable for a federal prison for the most notorious criminals in USA. It was used from 1934 until 1963. Now it is a tourist attraction.

Skyline of San Francisco City as seen from a cruise-boat at the Bay

Alcatraz Island with a former federal prison for notorious criminals as seen from a cruise-boat at the Bay

A para-surfer was showing off his skill at the Bay, as passengers on the boat were watching him.

Para-Surfers

As we sailed on, we saw a few para-surfers showing off their skills at the Bay. There was a moment when we were feeling amused to see two seagulls flying and following our boat, closely. for a few minutes.

A curious seagull looking at the passengers on the boat, closely

Later, our boat slowed down when it was near San Francisco’s iconic bridge, Golden Gate Bridge. Then it went under it and made a U-turn to head back to the ferry-terminal. The long bridge was an awesome sight making my boat-cruise experience an unforgettable one.

Union Square

At 5 p.m. in the evening, Jay Ho, our tour-guide, walked us from our hotel to a public park, Union Square, which was a few streets away in the city-centre. The park got its name from Union Army as it was used as a venue for rallies and support for the army during the American Civil War(1861 – 1865). It is now a popular tourists’ place which is surrounded by shops that sell branded goods, theatres, art-galleries, department stores, restaurants, etc.

The Westin St. Francis Hotel, Union Square, San Francisco, USA

Macy’s, a large department store, Union Square, San Francisco, USA

More department stores, Union Square, San Francisco, USA

Dewey Monument

In the centre of Union Square stands a tall column with a statue of a lady holding a laurel wreath and trident atop. It is known as Dewey Monument erected by the Franciscans to commemorate the victory of the American Navy under Commodore George Dewey(1837 – 1917) at Manila Bay on 1st. May 1898 during the Spanish-American War.

Dewey Monument, Union Square, San Francisco, USA

Cable Car Ride

Cable cars are an icon in fascinating San Francisco City. They run on railway lines in the city but pulled by moving cables under the streets. The cables are continuously pulled by powerful electric motors in a power-house located between Washington and Jackson Streets.

A cable-car running on the Powell-Mason Street Line(2.6 km long), San Francisco City, USA

A driver(or gripman) and a conductor work on a cable-car which can carry about 60 passengers. The fare for a single ride is USD6.00 and their top speed is about 15 kph. Besides, they can climb steep hills.

An over-crowded cable car on the Powell-Hyde Line(3.4 km long), San Francisco City, USA

There were 23 lines in the period between 1873 and 1890, but now only 3 are left and in active operation, viz. Powell-Hyde Street Line(3,4 km), Powell-Mason Street Line(2.6 km)  and California Street Line(2,3 km).

Visitors scrambling onto a cable-car to experience a ride at the Powell-Hyde Line Terminal, San Francisco City, USA

Now the cable-cars are mostly used by tourists as they find them antique, unique and fascinating, and a ride on it will be an unforgettable experience to them.

Cold Night

On a cold night of 23.5.2014, my wife and I could not resist a cable-car ride. We boarded one at the Powell-Market Terminal, paid USD6.00 and soon we were moving up Powell Street. Then we crossed the California Street Line, moved downhill, uphill again on Jackson Street, downhill again on Hyde Street and finally stopped at the Hyde-Beach Street Terminal. It was a wonderful feeling  to have ridden on such a unique vehicle.

Writer and wife taking a cable-car ride from Market Street to Hyde Street and back

A few minutes later, we boarded another cable-car to return to the Powell-Market Terminal. That was truly a satisfying and memorable return cable-car ride.

(Continued in USA West Coast Travel Part II (San Francisco-Fresno-Las Vegas City))

Written by Choo Chaw, Kluang, Johor, Malaysia

Home / Next

U.S.A West Coast Travel:

Part I    San Francisco City

Part II  San Francisco, Fresno. Las Vegas

Part III Grand Canyon

Part IV  Las Vegas City

Part V   Premium Outlets in S, California

Part VI  Disneyland Resort, Anaheim

Part VII Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles

Part VIII Universal Studios Hollywood

Part IX   Universal Studios Hollywood Theme Park