Our current time zone: GMT +8 (We're home in Singapore!)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Go West

The tourist brochures on the Florida Keys claimed that Key West was the best place to watch the sun set.

They certainly weren't lying.

Ordinary white clouds transforming into fluffy pink cotton candy. Magic.

Sunsets so good that boats parade up and down the bay in a daily Sunset Celebration

Tearing ourselves away from the spectacle. Cos the time on our parking metre was up.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

USA In Review: Top 5 Beaches

Most of our friends know Dan and me as beach bunnies, sun worshippers and scuba lovers. Most of our holidays during our time together have been either scuba trips with dive buddies or to beach resorts. Getting to know each other on a beautiful beach in Galle, Sri Lanka (with 10 other journalists and travel agents) in February 2004 must have really set the tone for our future vacations together.

Back home on a Saturday afternoon, you can find us gazing at Sentosa (Fort Siloso, to be accurate) and Labrador Park while lazing on our favourite deckchairs, placed right smack between the Keppel Club pool and the sea. On Sunday, we'll be at Carpark F at East Coast Park at 4pm, snapping on our blades, all ready to glide from the Fort Road end to Changi and back. All for the love of the sun.

On this trip, we've experienced a wide range of travel destinations - cityscapes, wintry mountain regions, lush green countryside, red deserts, quaint towns, placid lakes. But there's nothing quite like a warm sunny sandy beach to make us feel right at home.

We had a few opportunities to experience beaches in the USA. For fellow beach-lovers out there, here are some valuable tips from your soon-to-be-broke friends here (but we're still dishing out travel advice FOC! I used to get paid for doing this....)

Evaluation Criteria (this term reminds me of drafting tenders for work... ugh)

1) We actually set foot on the beach. Driving past a beach or looking at it from an elevated viewpoint does not count.

2) The maximum amount of body cover comprises a t-shirt and a pair of shorts. Wearing sweats and a jacket to the coast does not qualify as 'going to the beach'. It's called 'freezing while staring at seawater'.

3) It has sand. I've never met a rocky beach that's comfortable for lounging on.

Coming in at No. 5: Golden Gate Recreational Area (San Francisco)

This patch of sand offers a great view of the famous Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands beyond. It was buzzing with activity when we got there - families with kids, and pet owners with their pooches, and is a great place for busybodying. It's really cute to watch the dogs bounding into the waves to fetch a tossed twig. As long as you don't reach out for any random bobbing twig and realise instead that it's a cute doggy turd swimming towards you.

Trekking all the way from the Rockies to find a warm sunny beach?

Welcoming the first beach on our itinerary

Keeping it up at No. 4: Crandon Park (Key Biscayne)

Points for the most quiet and secluded public beach ever. More points for the presence of free natural shade in the form of palm trees. The Atlantic turns an fetching shade of emerald here. The only sounds you hear are that of the waves crashing onto shore, the rustling of palm fronds in the wind and the occasional musical tinkle from the ice-cream van.

You don't have to pay US$10 to rent a beach umbrella here. Not that there's a rental stand anyway.

It's nice to share the beach with other non-human visitors. If we could see them.

Lots of fun in splashing the seabirds which fly so low to the waves

Coming in strong at No. 3: Little Patch Of Sand At The Pelican Cottages (Key Largo)

This sandy pocket attached with our inn. It's not the softest or whitest, but it's all yours, and with comfy deckchairs and a hammock big enough for two. The ocean breeze is the best out there - when it doesn't get too enthusiastic about blowing us off the face of the earth. Need shelter from the rain? Just run back into the cabin!

We've never had a beach all to ourselves before! What a thrill!

That's all the sand there is

Blue is a cool favourite here

A hammock big enough for two

Putting in a close fight for the top spot is No. 2: South 'SoBe' Beach (South Miami Beach)

Tres sexy! Tres sassy! Tres happening! This is where all the good-looking people hang out. The world-famous golden trophy bodies of Miami are displayed for all to see. Plus the top-optional culture here makes sure that there is more to see. Set in Miami's historic art deco district and lined by hip eateries, hotels and boutiques on Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, this is the place to be seen.

Art doesn't come just in the form of toned bodies here. Even the buildings look good.

You can roll all you want in the plentiful white sands here. But that would probably be considered uncool on this hip planet.

Crowded on a weekday!

You NEED a beach umbie here on this shadeless beach

The most beautiful aquamarine water ever

And winning our list of Top 5 Beaches In The USA According To Us And Us Alone is.... *drumroll*....No. 1: Haulover Beach (North Miami Beach)

It's really important to read the signs here.

Nude beach. 'nuff said.

And that's a wrap for the beaches of USA!

The Pier-suit of Happyness

I've loved the song Kokomo by the Beach Boys ever since I first heard it when I was in Sec 1. Then, together with 2 other newbies to this big world called Secondary School, 13-year-old Me donned my ballet leotard and an airy grass-skirt (made out of shredded raffia strings), leis from family trip to Hawaii in 1990, two bare feet, and swayed my booty in front of hundreds of other girls. Feminine stuff like that got the thumbs up in SCGS, together with etiquette classes, dance and singing lessons, and baking chocolate chip cookies to raise money at the school fun fair (I can hear my RGS friends sniggering already.) After all, the leotard wasn't that far off from the sleeveless form-fitting sky-blue sundress which passed off for our school uniform.

Anyway, back to Kokomo. There's just an idyllic, dreamy and wistful quality to the song that makes you just want to stop what you're doing and get lost in a daydream dotted with white sands, sunsets and palm trees.

We were, however, quite disappointed to find out that Kokomo isn't an actual island, but a city in Indiana, USA. So the Beach Boys were totally fibbing when they sang "there's a place called Kokomo..." Apparently, the inspiration for the song was a poolside bar in Islamorada, a village of islands in the Florida Keys. I guess the boys weren't totally making it up then, since the whole line goes "off the Florida Keys, there's a place called Kokomo..." Plus, they never said that Kokomo was an island. At least we can seek comfort in the fact that we did set foot on Islamorada too.

When we were in Singapore, whenever the song came on the radio (which was inevitable, since it's on every single playlist in my iPod
and iPhone), I would tell Dan that I wanted to visit all the places named in the song, and he would humour me and say "Yes, yes, baby. I'll bring you okay?". To which I'd reply "Yeah right. Say only. Dream on, man."

Today, it feels really surreal that we've chased the Kokomo dream to reality, starting with the Florida Keys, and more specifically, Key Largo.

We stayed 3 nights at the Pelican inn on Key Largo. There were cottages of various sizes to choose from, all at different prices. With our meagre budget, the only option was the smallest unit, at a not-very-cheap price of US$60 per night. To call it a cottage would be exaggerating. It was more like a wooden cabin, with the bed taking up almost all the space in the room. We had to tackle an obstacle course comprising human bodies (ours) and massive bags every time one of us wanted to cross to the other side of the room - not that there was very much of it. I think even foreign workers have more space in their dorms.

So, on the days when it wasn't raining and there were no hurricane-like conditions threatening to blow us off the face of the earth, we spent all our time out on the pier. Cos each platform alone was bigger than our room.

Stretching out - just cos he can

We loved being on the pier. And having it all to ourselves. On this particularly cool and grey morning, we took advantage of the extensive cloud cover (there is such a thing as too much sun) and gusty seabreeze to get some much-needed exercise. We started off with deep-breathing exercises, simple stretches, easy yoga and taichi, which evolved into more strenuous crunches, pumps, leg and arm raises, back raises and so on.

It ended with my favourite yoga pose - the corpse pose. (I actually fell asleep in that pose during my very first lesson with a new yoga instructor. My mum, who was in the same class, sneakily let me doze on. I woke up to see people rolling up their mats and grinning at me. Including my mum.)

Slicing through the seabreeze with his smooth taichi moves and flaming hair

Deeeeeep breath.... and focussssss

The I-wish-I-had-legs-this-long dream photo

It's a jumping mop of hair!

To prove that I did some yoga on this trip (hear, hear, Jennifer!) Sadly, I can no longer touch the ground while in a triangle pose

Jumping jacks! Or jills!

The corpse pose - modified for lazing on a pier. It still has the same effect of lulling me to sleep.

With a wide-angle lens, anyone can have the body of a supermodel

My all-time-favourite footwear - barefeet

Pier-ing up at him... hur hur hur

Trying out couple yoga

It's incredible how much happiness a simple wooden pier can bring by transporting you into an endless watery plain, and into the elusive Kokomo dream.

I'm posting this entry from the Bahamas, another island mentioned in the famous song. Aruba, Bermuda, Martinique, Monserrat, Montego Bay and the rest of Jamaica - we're gonna get to you some day. And it's going to be sooner, rather than later.

PS. This entry is dedicated to our yoga instructor-friend, Jennifer, who was amazed to hear that all the places mentioned in the song really do exist. Well, all except Kokomo, the island version. Yes, Jen, we remember that!!!! :P

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My New BFF

Since September last year, Paris Hilton has been holding auditions and searching for her new Best Friend Forever (BFF) to replace Ms Nicole Now-Busy-With-Husband-&-Baby Richie. We've never caught an episode of the show (which is amazing, judging from the number of Friends and Family Guy reruns we've seen) but the trailers are pretty entertaining. The latest one for the third season features one of the contestants, a blond Paris lookalike (surprise surprise), being asked to describe some of the challenges she has overcome in her life. The girl, get this, bursts into tears on the spot. Drama at the turn of a tap. I hear that Ms Hilton also had a go at finding a British BFF for the UK season and has since extended her search to the Middle East in Paris Hilton's Dubai BFF.

I'm happy to announce that I too have found a new BFF. I still want to keep the Hubs of course (he's pretty useful to have around), but this new BFF is really really good - sticks with me through frustrating times when I feel as if I'm being attacked left-right-centre and helps take the pain away. I never ever go anywhere without my new BFF now.

As an illustration, this was life in Florida before I found my new BFF:

His (note those smooth unmarked legs)...

and Her's (look ... and feel my pain)

So, here's introducing my new BFF, called.... OFF!

OFF! The best BFF a girl can have

Going out in the open used to be a traumatic affair. With my new BFF, I no longer have to worry about being hurt anymore...

... by horrid evil giant bloodsuckers like this one!

Hey bugger, buzzzzzz OFF!

Swamp Things

The National Parks Annual Pass is one of the most value-for-money items you can get while you're in the US. Costing US$80 per year, it covers entrance fees for the both of us, our vehicle and 2 other adults for any national, as well as state parks, all over the US. Entrance fees can cost up to US$25 per park per vehicle (including the passengers in it) and since we planned to visit more than 4 parks during our 3 months in the US, it definitely made sense to invest in an annual pass.

The good thing is, unlike a Six Flags pass which is valid only for 2009, the park pass is valid for exactly 1 year, regardless when you bought it. So we can look forward to continuing our visits to more parks on our return journey via southern US in early 2010. I definitely have the Grand Canyon in Arizona on the agenda, despite it being winter when we get there in February.

Last week, we wrapped up our 2009 park visits with the Everglades National Park in Florida. The Everglades are a fragile subtropical wetlands environment, the largest wet patch of wilderness in the United States. Being subtropical means that there's still a distinct summer and winter season in the Everglades, unlike the 100% tropical climate that blankets Singapore throughout the year (our only season being the monsoon season.)

Summer (Apr - Nov): Hot (min 24, max 32 degrees Celsius - just like every day in Singapore), wet (daily afternoon showers), 100% humidity. Hurricane season. Mosquitoes out in full bloom.

Winter (Dec - Mar): Cool (min 15, max 25 degrees Celsius), dry and very sunny. No bugs. High tourist season. Humans out in full bloom.

The Everglades receive fresh water from the Okeechobee lake and its rivers. Interestingly, as the grasslands are located along Florida's coast, they also come into contact with the briny saltwater of the Mexican Gulf. Where the waters mix, you get mangroves. So 'steamy hot weather' + 'mangroves' made us feel right at home - sweating in the wetlands of Sungei Buloh.

The warm weather and nutrient-rich waters encourage the plant and animal life to blossom, resulting in, literally, rivers of grass teeming with birds, insects, marine life and small mammals. To see these watery plains in a less romantic light, would be to view them as a big massive yucky muddy swamp. Anyway, the Everglades are so precious that they've been designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve and Wetland of International Importance (a very pompous-sounding title indeed!)

A tourist commented that this was a scene right out of The Lion King, which prompted DanDeLion to burst into an African yodel. The tourists were very amused and complimented him on impressive rendition when we bumped into them later at a fruit stall.

Apparently, the Everglades is the only place in the world where you can get both freshwater alligators and saltwater crocodiles living side by side in the same environment. If you're lucky, you might spot a manatee (dugong, seacow) too. We had planned to go canoeing in the backwaters of the Everglades and I was rather worried about encountering an over-friendly gator or croc. The park ranger assured me that the giant reptiles are more wary of humans than we of them (really now, that's exactly what I tell people about reef sharks) and that I had nothing to worry about. I decided that the best method of defence would still be to stab the scary attacker in the eye with the end of my paddle anyway.

I really needn't have worried cos it was the most boring canoe expedition I've ever been on in my life.

The only buaya I saw on the trip. It just wouldn't stop following me. At least it helped get rid of all the irritating mozzies.

On the bright side, two full hours of solitude, with nothing but the sounds of nature to keep us company, is good for bonding. That is, if you can get past the first ten minutes floating in a canoe that keeps turning round and round on the spot without clawing each other's eyes out. On hindsight, a kayak may have been a much better choice than the American-sized canoe (which is so big, we couldn't possibly have managed to claw each other's eyes out anyway.) We finally figured that the best way to get the boat to move forward without veering into the mangroves was to have just one person paddle. SO. BE. IT.

DC (yelling forward): Baby, stop doing your dragon boating thing!!!!!!

YL (yelling backward): What dragon boating thing?!

DC (yelling forward): You're leaning forward so much, digging the entire paddle into the water and throwing the water back! Relax okay?

YL (sulk): FINE

After receiving numerous complaints about my paddling abilities, I changed my strokes. By doing away with them totally.

After a while, I started to feel rather useless. At least when I'm being driven around, my job is to navigate, play deejay, feed and water the driver, provide clean tissue and receive used ones, and manage the garbage bag. Seriously, in a canoe, there's nothing to do. Except slap mosquitoes.

So I picked up my paddle again...

Obediently following my Director's orders and doing some rowing while on this trip. So that I keep my rowing skills in tip top shiny shape for our next inter-agency dragon boat competition when I get back.

... but the person behind doesn't do his job, which is to steer (otherwise why give him the longer paddle)... and I end up crashing face first into a prickly pile of branches! Actually, I'm sure he did steer... straight into the thick mangroves, which were full of mozzies!

Being blinded by sharp twigs. Obviously, the person at the back found it all highly amusing and had no intention of getting me out of there anytime soon.

Burnt, bitten, beat, bored and blinded, we finally returned the canoe to the rental centre after touring the swamp (suffered throughout, but die die must maximise our two-hour rental.) The guy at the pier was incredibly friendly. Probably because it was so quiet that he was actually glad to have some visitors to talk to. He took a real interest in life in Singapore, from our weather ("you mean it's hot like this throughout the year?!"), our language ("what do you guys speak at home? Nono, I don't mean English. What do you really speak?"), our currency ("you have your own dollar?") and so on. In return, he told me everything about his two kids whom he hardly sees cos they live with his ex-wife, his twin girls - the result of a fling with another woman, and about how child support is costing him an arm and a leg. It's quite sad really, but also so... unsurprising. Sigh.

Oh, and I was really tickled when the storekeeper asked for my ID when I bought a can of beer. Tee hee. Good to know that I don't even look 21. Nice.

After battling the heat and the mozzies, we desperately needed to cool off. We stopped for a peaches and cream milkshake from the super-crowded Robert Is Here fruit stand, packed with ang mohs all dying from the heat, and headed back to the Everglades International Hostel. We had taken the advice from our Let's Go USA (On A Budget) guide and had chosen to stay at this interesting hostel instead of yet another run-of-the-mill cookie-cutter motel.

It proved to be quite a refreshing change indeed, from the mosaic entrance arch, to the quirky paintings on the walls, eclectic old furniture and the old school hostel way of life - very homey, very minimally staffed, where boarders have to chip in and do some things on their own. Such as collecting clean sheets and bedding from the reception and making your own bed, and then stripping it when you leave and placing the used linen into the laundry basket.

Nice mosaic arch - which you can't walk under, cos the front entrance is all taped up - to keep rainwater out and prevent flooding!

Our very spartan semi-private room...

... meaning, it looks into the dorm and we share a bathroom with the other guests.

A well-equipped kitchen. You can help yourself to food on the common shelf, in the fridge and herbs from the garden.

Quiet shady hideouts in all corners of the garden

We thought the best thing about the hostel was their new rocky swimming hole. The cool, clean water is pumped every morning straight from an underground spring and cascades down as a waterfall into the pool. Stepping under the gushing falls, it's quite a torture to be baptised by a wall of icy-cold water but it's a welcomed respite from the oppressing heat. And the relentless biting bugs. Once you sink into the watery protection zone, those nasty insects can't get you.

Get cool. Get into the water.

The nice thing about hosteling is that you get to meet and chat with other hostelers - especially if everyone chooses to cool off and soak in the pool. We met an American from Tenessee called Lee (we told him that there are some Very Important People in Singapore who share that name) on his first visit to the Everglades, a black dreadlocked Californian guy living in the Carribean who gave us a contact for scuba diving in St Johns and a Hawaiian who moved to Florida and fed us natural honey harvested straight from the hive and some home-made gravy.

And that's an experience that you won't get while being holed up at the Hilton.

Haulover Beach

We cleared off another item on our checklist (as mentioned in this post) while we were in Miami. Miami... such a nice name. Split it up and it becomes 'mi ami', or 'my friend'. Cool, huh?

Anyway, there is this place in Miami called Haulover Beach (such a nice name! I would split it up into something that describes me... 'hau [good] lover') where clothing is optional.

We decided to make a trip to this beach just to take a look. Just a look. If it was full of old, fat fugly people, we were out of there, right? But no... we were pleasantly surprised that there was a huge variety of people and body types there. I mean, it really sucks to have the best bodies on this beach, because everyone would be looking at you. So I'm kinda glad that there were better bodies around.

Interestingly, being on a nude beach is not exactly an erotic experience. You luxuriate in the freedom of not having a stitch on. You worry a bit about getting your privates sunburnt because they are so not used to seeing the sun. You apply sunblock as per normal. You sit up and look around and amaze at all the people just sunning themselves, mostly as couples, but sometimes in groups. There was even a group of students! It boggles the mind, but the Florida International University is pretty much right next door to the beach!

So, as I was saying, there are no problems with errant flagstaffs. After awhile, it's actually possible to just settle back, tune out all the nudity around you and just read... until 3 naked youths approach you to join in their Young Nudist Party the very next night...

As the sun got hotter, we started to really get worried about sunburn, so we rented an umbrella for USD 10. It turned out to be a wise choice, as we later realised that the guy renting out the umbrellas was doing a sellout business, and within an hour, no longer had any other umbrellas for rent. Everyone else just had to burn!

We really enjoyed the experience, so we decided to make another trip down the next day. But not before we scoured all the department stores in the area and purchased an umbrella from K-Mart for USD 16!

This trip is all about new experiences. And frankly, I'd rather sun my ass than freeze it. I just hope that all that lying around was sanitary. After all, we don't want to get crabs, eh?

We know they're around somewhere... they autographed the sign.

Farewell, Michael

Yi Lin had made it pretty clear in an earlier post that I am a fan of the Michael Jackson, the self-styled King of Pop.

Truth be told, though, while I am saddened by his passing, I fear that I will not miss him as much as everyone on TV is saying they will. I have long accepted the fact that Death will come to one and all, and when your time is up, it's up.

Sure, I remember my first contact with him. A cousin (whose home was in Johor) had recorded a top 10 music countdown wayyy back in the 1980s. And I remember watching this recording over and over again, because that was really my first brush with pop music. At that time, Michael had 'Beat It' at number 10, and 'Billy Jean' at number 1, sandwiching all the other oldies but goodies like Eurhythmic's 'Sweet Dreams', Lionel Ritchie's 'All Night Long' and Sheena Easton's 'Telephone'. But think about it, this guy had 2 songs in the Top 10 charts! And the dancing was really funky too!

As we were winding down for the night, we started watching BET (I think it stands for Black Entertainment TV, because this channel just seems to showcase blacks), and what the station was doing was that it was asking people who were gathered around the UCLA Medical Centre what were their favorite Michael Jackson music videos. Then they would play it. And as I watched the TV, I would lean over to Yi Lin and say stuff like, "Hey, I used to copy this dance move", or "I like this part of the choreography", or "this song is amazing".

Michael's music videos were really wonderful as long as he was dancing. I know that I would get glued to the screen if the following videos were ever played:

- Bad
- Beat It
- Billy Jean
- Speed Demon
- Smooth Criminal (the movie version)
- In the Closet
- Black or White
- They Don't Really Care About Us
- Thriller
- Say, Say, Say (with Paul McCartney)
- Leave Me Alone
- The Way You Make Me Feel

And to balance off the good, these videos really sucked:
- Remember the Time (too cheesy)
- Stranger in Moscow
- You Are Not Alone
- Earth Song
- Man in the Mirror (though the song is really good)

Unfortunately, if you bother to research on the dates the good videos were released, you would find that it's been a long, long time since he did anything that made me go 'wow'. I don't mind an eccentric star, but the songs have to speak to the common people (i.e, me), and sadly, they don't seem to do that anymore.

So yeah, call it living in the past if you want, but I know I will be remembering the Michael who gave me good songs and entertainment. In this way, I guess I am celebrating the best of the man, the legend, the King of Pop.

R.I.P, Michael.

Friday, June 26, 2009

USA in Review: Six Flags

We're seated in a pavilion in Key Largo now, enjoying the sounds of the lapping waves and the cool sea breeze against our faces. But the past three months was not always this calm and peaceful.

Before we came to the USA, we had already heard great stuff about the Six Flags amusement parks. Imagine our delight when we found that we could purchase season passes and keep entering these parks over and over again for free! So some of my beloved ex-colleagues bought me a season pass, and I bought another one (that includes free parking) for the wife. With these season passes, we have pretty much conquered the Six Flags in both the West and East coasts of the country.

Our ravaging rampage brought us to:
01 Apr - Six Flags Magic Mountain - Los Angeles

07 Apr - Six Flags Discovery Kingdom - San Francisco

31 May - Six Flags La Ronde - Montreal (in Canada)

05 Jun - Six Flags Great Escape - New York

09 Jun - Six Flags Great Adventure - New Jersey

10 Jun - Six Flags Wild Safari - New Jersey
14 Jun - Six Flags America - Maryland

15 Jun - Six Flags America Hurricane Harbour - Maryland

Adding the fact that we had this bull-headed stubbornness to do every MAX Thrill ride we come across, and to do it with our hands in the air, we feel adequately qualified to give a rundown on what we liked, and what we didn't.

Best in the West - Six Flags Magic Mountain (Los Angeles)
Our very first visit to Six Flags remains one of our favorites because of its size and more importantly, the variety of rides available. There were rides that you had to stand (The Riddler's Revenge), those that you sit normally and then the seat pivots up and puts you in a horizontal, head-facing forward position (Tatsu) and of course, the exhilarating X2, where you sit normally, then you're pivoted so that you're lying on your back! If you're visiting the West Coast, make sure to visit this theme park!

Best in the East - Six Flags Great Adventure (New Jersey)

After hitting a number of Six Flags, we were shocked to find boredom already settling in. After all, some of the rides were the same, just in different colors and given another name.

Six Flags Great Adventure literally dropped our jaws (and shrank my balls) at first sight with the terrifying Kingda Ka. After conquering Kingda Ka, we were still treated to other rides that were totally original and just as shriekworthy. El Toro deserves special mention as the best wooden coaster we have ever taken. Period.

Most disappointing - Six Flags Great Escape (New York)

We were originally supposed to have visited Great Escape with my cousins Aini and
Niccole. Unfortunately, the swine flu scared the parents enough to call off their travel plans. Fortunately, though, they therefore did not buy a ticket to visit Great Escape, because I'm sure they would have been disappointed after all the Six Flags hype I was giving them.

Great Escape scores low on our list because of the lack of really thrilling rides.
The only exciting one was the Boomerang, where you drop from a great height, do a couple of loops and cockscrews, then do everything in reverse backwards. But the design of the Boomerang was also seen in Magic Mountain, and is also dwarfed by the Vertical Velocity ride in San Francisco. The other rides were, dare I say it, kiddish.

We've also shortlisted 5 of our favorite rides. If you're visiting these Six Flags, then you MUST MUST MUST MUST MUST do these rides cos they are da bomb!

Kingda Ka - Six Flags Great Adventure (New Jersey)
There is the absolute best ride ever. NOTHING beats the excitement of a face-down vertical drop!

Joker's Jinx - Six Flags America (Maryland)
This ride is as twisted and convoluted and yet compact as the Joker's mind. You can't really see the ride when you are queuing up for it as it is hidden after a tunnel. When you come out from the tunnel, it immediately brings you in a loop! Mind-boggler!

El Toro - Six Flags Great Adventure (New Jersey)

This coaster starts with one of the steepest drops I've seen on a wooden coaster. The rackety-rack clickety-clack of wooden coasters bring an extra thrill, especially when this one bucks you up and down, left and ride like a bronco!

Batwing - Six Flags America (Maryland)
The video for this particular ride is really funky, because the chair pivots so that you are on your back at the beginning of this ride. Yup, riders are doing the traditional 'first drop' head-first, and on their backs. You have no idea what twists and turns are coming up next!

X2 - Six Flags Magic Mountain (Los Angeles)
X2 is probably one of the highest coasters we've taken. So much so that the first time we visited Magic Mountain, the ride was closed because the winds were too strong. We went back the following day (bull-headed stubborness, remember) and had to queue for 3 hours for our turn!

Most hated (by Yi Lin) - All spinney-spinney rides!


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