Monday, August 28, 2006 9:50 PM
part 19

Since I have known Ling-Li, I have found myself eating food that I wouldn't have expected. Frog (not just the legs). Whole prawn (or shrimp as they call them here, and I do mean whole: legs, head, antennae, tail). Tomatoes. Yes, tomatoes. I like frogs. I like whole prawns. Green eggs without the ham. But I still don't like tomatoes.

On the way to work each day, I walk past a black Mission fig tree that overhangs the footpath. They're not actually black, more a dark purple colour, but that's not the point. Each day, the branch gets lower as the fruit further up becomes ripe, but day by day they are green... less green... bla...nk. I never get there in time.

There's a guy in the office who carries around a 52 ounce (about 1.5 litres) drink container, full of soft drink. It looks like a little bucket.

The cinema had a sign that displayed a countdown to the time of release for a new movie. The time was measured in tenths of a second... only 40 days to go.

A Hummer. In case that wasn't dumb enough, it was bright yellow, like a banana. Maybe that can be their new slogan: "The Hummer. Could you be any Dummer?"

Ling-Li and I were invited to special dinner at Universal Studios for the inventors in the company. There was a red carpet and the area was fenced off from outside people. A small crowd gathered, we felt like celebrities. I think the crowd was disappointed when they realised there were no movie stars coming.

The museum - a place to see many extinct things. The Museum of Tolerance - a place to see one extinct thing. It's gone from here.

Ling-li and I went to San Diego to visit SeaWorld, because we like aquaria. We spent the entire day at SeaWorld. It was great. We started by visiting the whales. They're all called "Shamu". That makes it easier. The whales perform tricks, like somersaults in the air. Such a large animal doing such things is quite a sight.

There is a similar show with dolphins instead of whales. Since the dolphins are much smaller than whales, they can perform more advanced acrobatics, but it was essentially the same thing.

Next was the Forbidden Reef, where stingrays swim around in shallow water, and people can feed and touch them.

SeaWorld has three aquariua - the World of the Sea aquarium, the Aquarium de la Mer, and the Freshwater Aquarium. All three have very interesting contents, starfish that look like trees, lots of different kinds of frogs, jellyfish, octopuses, and of course a collection of weird fish.

We watched a Cirque de la Mer show, which was acrobatics on the water. It's not Cirque du Soleil, but that's to be expected. It was still fun to watch.

The Wild Arctic exhibition simulates an artic station. It also contains a simulated helicopter ride. We sat in seats facing a large video screen, in a room that sits on a hydraulic arm, so it has several degrees of freedom. The video screen shows a first-person view of the arctic landscape, as we "fly" over mountains and into valleys, land on a glacier which collapses, hover near some wildlife... it was great, but I got motion sickness.

Finally, we went to Shamu's Happy Harbour. It's a place for children, where they can climb rope ladders, run across rope bridges, and slide down slopes. The sign said that parents can accompany the children, so we pretended that some children in front of us were ours so we could try it out. It was a lot of fun. :-)

The staff at the front desk of hotels must get a lot of unusual questions, so here's another one: Ling-Li and I were watching television. Andrea Bocelli was singing in an opera based on a book by the same author who wrote "The Count of Monte Cristo". I couldn't remember the author's name, so we called the front desk. They didn't laugh or hesitate - they looked up the answer and told us straight away.


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