Category archives: Vacations

Wizarding World of Harry Potter


This new Universal Studios in Orlando attraction was opened on June 18, 2010.  The day after grand opening, we went to check it out.  This trip to Harry Potter world was a result of a year planning and dreaming by my daughters.

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XMas Lights @ Ethel M's Cactus Garden

For an all-out chocolate experience, when you are in Las Vegas, you must check out the Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Botanical Cactus Gardens, which also includes an Ethel’s lounge.


Located in Henderson, Ethel M Chocolate Factory and Cactus Gardens is quite the adventure. Only 15 minutes away from the Strip, it attracts more than 700,000 tourists a year. Guests get to see chocolates being made, sample gourmet treats and meander through the maze of paths at the Botanical Cactus Gardens at no charge. The cactus garden features a breathtaking display of Christmas lights during the holiday season. Guests can also see caroling, dancing and visits from Santa.

We’ve visited this chocolate factory and the cactus garden a couple of time. Just yesterday, we went there again. Here are some pictures we took from this trip:

Simpang Asia


Simpang Asia is an Indonesian Food Court in West Covina, California. The address is:

989 S Glendora Ave (google map)
West Covina, CA 91790-4264
(626) 338-5151

The last time we visited this place, there were 4 food stands:

  1. Kedai Nikmat
  2. Rasa Minang
  3. Janty Noodle
  4. Bakmi Parahyangan

The food are pretty descent.  We have tried sate ayam, gule kikil, soto betawi, bakmi bakso, pempek, siomay, etc. Price is very affordable.

Highland Resort @ Verde Ridge


During our 2009 summer road trip, we stayed for a few days at Highland Resort @ Verde Ridge in Cornville, Arizona.  First of all, Cornville is a small un-incoroporated, town, just south of Sedona.  Population about 4200. There is nothing to see in this small town.  Everything you need is available in Cottonwood, about 10 minutes drive.  There are two places to eat that we tried.

  • Ming House (888 S Main St, Cottonwood, AZ 86326-4609, 928-639-2885). Food quality is decent. The owner is very friendly.
  • A taco stand on an empty lot on E. Cornville Rd, in between S. Verde Santa Fe Parkway and Main St (89A).  Food is awsome, especially the lingua (tounge) taco.

The resort is located on 625 S Verde Santa Fe Pkwy, next door to South Verde golf course. The resort is newly built, in fact, construction is still going on. Facilities include swimming pool, a club house, exercise room, game room, barbecue area with a couple of gas barbecue pits, and small children play area.


We booked (through RCI exchange) a 1 bedroom unit with full kitchen.  Our unit is badly situated.  The view from the living room is limited to the balcony of our neighboring unit :-( The AC unit is quite loud and annoying.  Other than those two negatives, the room is very nice, big and perfectly laid out.  The bathroom is huge, equipped with a hot tub. The kitchen is fully stocked with kitchenware, plates, cups and utensils.  Wireless internet is provided, in the room.

Full set of pictures: Highland Resort’s album

Summer 2009 Road Trip

I have just finished plotting for our road trip this summer.  The two main target destinations would be the Grand Canyon and the Apache Trail, both in Arizona.  Other spots we would like to visit are:

  • Historic Route 66 near Barstow (did you see Disney/Pixar’s Cars movie).  There’s a musem (Mother Road, that we’d like to check out.
  • We’ll be staying for a few days in Cornville, near Sedona. This will be our base for visiting the following spots:
  • the Grand Canyon
  • Slide Rock State Park ( where we could try to slide down a natural water chute at this park.
  • Out of Africa Wildlife Park (
  • We will also be visiting and staying in Phoenix for a couple days.  Around Phoenix/Scottsdale area, a few things to see, including:
    • Apache Trail, State Route 88 (  This should be fun.  Half of the route is actually graded dirt (off road type)
    • Dining and fun at Rawhide Steakhouse, an 1880’s Western Town Experience (

    All and all, I believe we would have driven about 2500 miles by the end of the trip. The kids are so excited already.  If you have experience or suggestions to tell us, please do so.  Any information about these destinations and other spots that you might suggest to us will only help us prepare better.  Thank you.

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