Chapter May: En Route
I pushed the luggage trolley leaving the airport, and it was like waking up from a dream as the Manila heat rushed to my face. Time seemed to have paused for me, for exactly 18 days, when I left the country. Yet, it apparently continued on for those I left in the Philippines. Something in my heart told me that I missed plenty. It’s true, I missed my hubby and our kids very much.
On the very first day of May, laden with luggage and bags, I was caught up in the airport rush – the heart-pumping process it entails. It’s when my hand-carries are in the overhead bin and under the seat in front of me, when I’m safely buckled and waiting for take-off that I could catch my breath. I tried to relax. But as I dozed off on the long-haul flight, anxiety gripped me and I dreamt of getting off the plane mid flight.
Ever since I became a mom, almost 12 years now, this was the longest time that I am away from my family. I traveled to some parts of the U.S. with my mom, my eldest brother and his wife. I was still, in theory, with my (original) family; some of them, though.
In between going to different states via plane rides and long drives, eating out at various restaurants, I met with uncles and aunties – U.S. immigrants, and my cousins who were born there.
Our first stop was Chicago, after the layover in Taiwan. The plane that we rode from Taoyuan International Airport to O’Hare International Airport was the Hello Kitty themed EVA Air. We didn’t get to see the plane itself as it was dark outside, but the menu, the pillow, the plastic cutlery, the cups, the souvenirs, the peanut package etc. had Sanrio character designs. It was cool!
Enjoyment of Food
In Illinois, we dined at Venuti’s Italian Restaurant & Banquet Hall. I enjoyed the eat-all-you-can Italian cuisine because I love tomatoes and cheese, preferably together. Aside from potatoes, that is. Venuti’s is also a venue for weddings, thus the intricate staircases in the photo above. And then, there was the Wildfire Restaurant. It’s located in Chicago. We celebrated my cousin’s birthday with steaks and strawberry cake. Yummy!
Although most of the breakfast food are the same among the inns and hotels we stayed in, I am glad there’s always fruits like blueberries, grapes, and strawberries, which are expensive here in the Philippines. This was my first breakfast in the U.S. at Hampton Inn & Suites. You know? The coffee, tea and hot chocolate station is separate from the breakfast buffet station that they close off with doors. Thus, the guests could still have coffee any time they wish to. Isn’t that wonderful?
One morning, we trooped to Wilmette, IL to have breakfast at Walker Bros. The Original Pancake House. We had a German pancake, shown below, and many more. Like eggs!
Before we left for the airport, we had Japanese food at Akai Hana. Also in Wilmette. I had this delicious Beef Teriyaki Combo. But it’s oh-so-filling!
At Boston, Massachusetts, we had lunch at ye olde Union Oyster House, said to be America’s Oldest Restaurant. We shared the Oyster House Clam Chowder.
I loved the Pan Seared Shrimp & Scallops in tomato cream sauce over rice. I crave for it every now and then. Do you know any restaurant in the Philippines that serves this dish???
This is what it looks like outside.
There’s also Gong Cha in the U.S. We bought this in Boston Chinatown. I think it tasted the same.
One night, in New York, we drove to Coney Island to Nathan’s Famous hot dog stand. I ate half a hotdog sandwich and lots of crinkle cut chili fries. Yummy!
On the flight from New York to Los Angeles, I had a beef wrap. It came with sesame oriental dressing and chips. It’s good… Or am I just hungry?
Arrived in L.A. late in the evening. Took a shuttle to the hotel. Rode an Über to In-N-Out Burger. Mine’s the one with lettuce. Of course, as a potato-lover, I cannot resist the skinny fries.
The next day, after dimsum with relatives, we went to Half & Half Tea Express for Bubble Tea or Boba. This place has an extensive list of options. It could take some time to read through everything. Therefore, I took the shortcut and just asked my cousin for a recommendation. This is me, holding my lavender-flavored cup.
While in California, on Mother’s Day, we went to Universal Studios Hollywood. We got Family Picnic tickets and it came with a buffet-style lunch. These were our food.
I shared the burger and the footlong with my mom. And this cake, too!
View this post on Instagram
Last Mother’s Day, I didn’t get to celebrate it with the little ones who made me a mom. Instead, I spent it first with a picture with this super duper delicious cake from #portos (a must try if you’re in LA) and my mom, my auntie, and my sister-in-law – other moms like me. Then, at Universal Studios Hollywood. It was fun and tiring at the same time. I wished the kids were with me to experience the thrills. #universalstudioshollywood #portosbakery #cake #mothersday
I was so happy I experienced The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Plus, I just had to try the Butterbeer. I bought mine in a thick plastic mug.
This was my souvenir. Such a cute necklace! But, spot the mistake.
View this post on Instagram
Aside from seeing the Niagara Falls from the Canadian side and staying a night at Sheraton Richmond Hill, Ontario, we also stayed at Civic Hotel, Surrey and explored some parts of Vancouver. This was my breakfast at Civic Hotel.
When sightseeing was done, we crossed the border back to the U.S. To Seattle, specifically. In the evening, we had dinner at Yard House. It’s a dim and loud place since it’s a bar. It’s been a long time since I set foot in a bar.
The next day, we walked through Pike Market and visited the very first Starbucks store. Before we flew back to California, we had lunch at Cham Garden, a Korean BBQ place in Lakewood, Washington. This reminded me of the Korean BBQ places cropping up in Metro Manila, here, there and everywhere.
On our last day,
we had lunch at a Korean Shabu-shabu restaurant called Bon Shabu Korean hotpot. There was seafood and beef. The place looks so new and clean. One of the servers even made congee using the leftover soup. Tasty!
We got to visit the J. Paul Getty Museum and Santa Monica Pier before heading to the LAX. The roads leading here were reminiscent of Manila traffic.
From California, we were homeward bound. But first, a stopover in Taiwan again. Finally, I got the chance to try bubble milk tea at Taoyuan International Airport. We also had beef noodle soup at the food hall to pass the time.
Aside from these food places, we also visited different Chinese restaurants because, well, we’re Chinese! That I wasn’t able to take photos of because of hunger or we were in a rush.
It was a memorable trip.
When I got home, I was jet lagged and was always sleepy in the afternoons. I tried to catch up with Philippine time, some work, and unpacking things from my luggages. Until June.
What was your favorite food from a foreign country? Care to describe it? 🙂
BTW, here is a photo of a fish dish from a Chinese restaurant that I managed to snap. This was from Capital Seafood in California.