"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Sunday, June 12, 2005

My US Trip (2005)

Day 6 - Hancock Shaker Village-Hanover

Previously featured:
Flight to Newark, Day 1 - Newark-Princeton
Day 2 - Princeton-Philadelphia
Day 3 - Gettysburg-Lancaster-Ephrata-Alexandria
Day 4 - Alexandria-DC
Day 5 - Westpoint-Hyde Park

In the morning, we had our 3rd shopping trip in 6 days (and 5 full days), at a Prime outlet at Lee, Massachusetts. The original plan was to drop my sister and I off there while my brother in law went to the Basketball Hall of Fame at Springfield, Mass. She would shop and I would find ways to entertain myself. However, we found that the two places were too far apart, so he decided not to visit the Hall of Fame. So what we were doing there, I did not know, since my brother in law was too spineless to come down on my sister. At least I got a large Ben and Jerry's Chocolate Therapy milkshake (3 American [ie Anderson's Regular size] scoops of 'Chocolate Therapy'). It was very intense and very heavy hitting; I was lucky I wasn't female, or I would've been left helpless, whimpering softly in an alleyway as my body jerked with the convulsions brought on by the chocolate rush.

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Happiness is...

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A sight for sore eyes. Why can't we have one?!

It seems almost every little town in the UK is twinned with some other one on the continent, or across the globe, yet almost none of those we saw were twinned, not even with towns in another state. Hanover, New Hampshire was a notable exception, twinned with Joigny, France and Nihonmatsu, Japan.

Travel was made much more pleasant with the ice keg. As I remarked on our having an ice box in bunk back during my nightmare in hell, ice is more than a luxury - it's a way of life!

It was still unseasonably cold for that time of year, but at least I could hide indoors. Interestingly, a sign in the food court read: "Please do not throw your trays in the garbage".

There was a shop at Prime called "rue21", slightly more upmarket than This 'Lian' Fashion, and with similar prices. They had apparel in SACSAL sizes and fashions, and accessories to boot. All this made me wonder how they made money: low margins, small target market (how many SACSAL sized girls are there in America?!) Perhaps it and other such outlets survived on the disproportionately high portion of female visitors to the outlet cluster who were of East Asian ethnicity.

Later, we arrived at the Hancock Shaker Village - a restored village formerly inhabited by the Shaking Quakers (aka Shakers). There, I got to blow dandelions (yes, I'm deprived), but the ones there were lousy - I had to blow with a great deal of force to dislodge the seedlings.

The Shaker village was full of Shaker goods, which all were plain and of austere designs, which is presumably why they praised the gift to be simple.

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Blowing a dandelion flower

After that we passed Williams College in Williamstown, MA, where Goh Chok Tong did his Masters. It must've been a very miserable place to study, being tiny, remote and isolated.

My sister emptied a cup of water out of her window while we were driving, but threw it into the wind, so some of it sprayed back into the car's interior.

Going down Vermont mountainsides, we saw a lot of 'runaway truck ramps' - gravelly paths branching off from the main road, presumably for runaway trucks to go down. They didn't look long enough, though, so maybe the ramps are not meant to bring the trucks to a stop, but just to slow them down so the driver can bail from the cabin before the truck flies off the slope and crashes in the trees at the end of the ramp.

There were a lot of spots with nice views on the Vermont highways, but there was nowhere to stop. Oh well.

My brother in law got caught by a Vermont State Trooper for speeding. We were held up for at least half an hour, because the border authorities had no record of his entering the country (and to think they fingerprinted us and took our photos in addition to stamping our passports - so much for Homeland Security), and in the end were let off with a written warning. As I was telling my brother in law on our arrival in Newark, they wouldn't be able to co-ordinate databases scattered across the various states and create a central federal database with our fingerprints and photos, whereupon he mockingly asked if I was a logistics expert. Looks like they couldn't even get our records of entry right, so I was probably correct in my assessment.

The highways in Vermont had a minimum speed limit. I'd never seen minimum speed limits anywhere, so I wondered what happened to those who went under the speed limit. Perhaps they get fined.

In the evening, we reached Hanover, the home of Dartmouth. Unfortunately (or otherwise, as the case might be) I didn't meet the one known member there of a very elite and exclusive club. We had dinner at Molly's, a restaurant seemingly staffed by college students. Just for fun, my sister asked me to order one of their $2 margaritas to see if I'd get carded, and I did. What really pissed me off was that the waitress didn't accept my International Student Identity Card - "the one and only international form student of ID" - as proof of my age, and asked to see some local ID. Damn Americans - who cares about the world or international recognition as long as you're American?!

Hanover had a lot of Asian restaurants, probably because of Dartmouth students. There was a 'Bamboo Garden' (Japanese), 'Panda House' (Chinese) and 'Mai Thai' (Thai, obviously). I had a scoop of Splenda-sweetened Blueberry Ben and Jerry's, and the bastards glued the paper to the cone, like Swensens used to do, so I had to peel it off carefully (and then a small scrap of paper remained).

When we reached the motel late at night, I was made to do laundry - one trip to put the laundry into the machine, one trip to transfer it to the dryer and one trip to retrieve the dried clothes. My sister was supposedly feeling sick, but she was still able to play her stupid game on my palm for an extended period of time.

Sister's food diary: "Day 6 : Chocolate Therapy milkshake at Ben and Jerry's, NW Massachusetts. Dinner at Molly's, Dartmouth. Crab cakes, prosciutto/goat's cheese/mushroom pizza, baked scrod, lobster and scallop pie. Ben and Jerry's Blueberry icecream sweetened with Splenda."

The US is very student-unfriendly. I only got to use my student card successfully twice, and one time it was for a 'donation'.

It would be great if UK distances, attractions and lack of shopping could be combined with US accommodations, prices, food and gas prices.

Difference in Coke taste could possible also be attributed to the lack of fluoride in the water, since that had a noticeable effect on the taste of the tap water.

Lay's has perfected the art of making Kettle-cooked chips. Their kettle-cooked Mesquite BBQ chips had the same kettle taste, crunch and heavy texture that Australian Kettle Chips had.

The states all have nicknames, which are sometimes printed on their license plates (depending on the state). Conneticut is the 'Constitution State', New Jersey is the 'Garden State' and Vermont is the 'Green Mountain State'. Unfortunately, there's no 'Mullet State'!
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