"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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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

My US Trip (2005)

Day 9 - Portland-Kennebunkport

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
Day 6 - Hancock Shaker Village-Hanover
Day 7 - Burlington, Vermont
Day 8 - New Hampshire-Bretton Woods-Portland Head

We started off the morning with a mad dash from Augusta (where we stayed the night) to Portland to catch a lobster tour (the first of the season, and the last on Sundays before some regulations against lobster fishing on Sundays kicked in). Luckily, we made it with some minutes to spare.

My sister and brother in law had gone on a lobster tour 11 years ago, but they kindly followed me on this one (though then again, I paid for it, so).

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The worst lobster fisherman in the world

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Measuring lobster

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Banding lobster

We caught what must be the ugliest fish in the world - the Sea Raven. Kissing it supposedly gives you 7 years of good luck, so I can go break a mirror now.

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Sea Raven

We had our lunch at a restaurant beside the lobster tour booth, which we suspected overcharged us some. Oh well.

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Lobster Stew, Clam Chowder, 1 1/4 lb whole lobster (boiled), crab cake

Boiling lobster and dipping it melted butter isn't the best way to eat lobster (in fact it may be the worst), but the freshness and firmness of the flesh made up for it.

Back at Portland, there was a pet accessory store named 'Fetch' with 'Political pet toys: you can't get even but your pet can'. There was the Governator and Bush.

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At Scarborough, on the outskirts of Portland, was Lenny, the world's only life-sized moose. He was 1700lb when made, but apparently after the many touch-ups he's had, he might be about 2000lb now.

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We then drove to Kennebunkport, George HW Bush's summer home. One guy was looking at the compound with binoculars and spotted cameras by the water, and there were many Secret Service vehicles around the area. And I got to blow a dandelion again (as you can tell, I have got issues).

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After that, we went to Kittery, a factory outlet cluster, on the 5th shopping trip in 9 days (and 8 full days).

A converted schoolbus painted brown driven by a dodgy looking guy and with a naked female blown up doll leaning out of the window passed us. On the bus was painted the URL finzup.net. I thought it was something riotous, or maybe a BangBus wannabe, but their website says that: "Finz Up Limousine is New Hampshire's most fun limo service. If you are looking for a classy sophisticated ride... it is not us, but if getting there is half the fun, enjoying either relaxing or crazy times Finz Up limo is a unique experience." Right.

After visiting 2 McDonalds, I was by this day very disturbed. Entering them, I found only 2 flavours: Oreos and M&Ms. Hell, even the UK had more flavours (3). I certainly wasn't hallucinating when I found 6-8 flavours of McFlurry in Hawaii in 199, so the sad conclusion I am forced to draw is that they pulled most of the flavours. From what I recall, in 1999 they had Oreos, M&Ms, Butterfinger, Reese's, Orange Dream and some Mint thing. And possibly Nestle Crunch and something else. Perhaps this is because, as Everything2.com reports, Hawaii was the McFlurry's first test market, and it sold like hot cakes there.

We then went to Phillips Academy in Andover which is supposedly what RI is trying to be: a preppy school for future leaders and other bigshots. A lot of famous people might have gotten their education there, but that didn't impress me because for some reason, even though it was a chilly evening, there were swarms of mosquitoes infesting the area. Add to this the fact that my sister had never been bitten by mosquitoes in 4 years at Brown and this makes the infestation even more appaling.

For dinner, we were looking for a place around Lowell, MA near Boston and found this joint called Giovanni's. It had excellent lobster ravioli and scallop and bacon pizza. Both dishes had a lot of their titular seafood, and weren't expensive.

Arriving at the Motel 6 at Tewksbury, MA, we were amused. In Burlington, there had been a McDonalds in the parking lot, and a Burger King just next to it. The Tewksbury Motel 6, though, not only had a McDonalds just outside the parking lot, but an IHOP (International House of Pancakes beside the swimming pool). Furthermore, this IHOP seemed to have almost mythic status, for while the road signs listed such profane chains as Wendy's and McDonalds under "food", IHOP was accorded the status of "attraction".

Sister's food diary: "Day 9 : Whole lobster, crab cakes, lobster stew, clam chowder by the waterfront in Portland. Ice cream at the chocolate moose shop. Dinner at Giovanni's, Lowell MA. Buffalo wings, scallop and bacon pizza, lobster ravioli, cannoli."

There're an amazingly large number of Subway and Dunkin Donuts outlets in the Northeastern USA. Outside of cities, we saw more outlets of each chain than McDonald's outlets (seemingly the next most popular among franchisees).

Food serving staff (ie Waitresses and their ilk) were almost all disproportionately small and lean. Perhaps, seeing how the food is cooked, they refuse to eat any of it.
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