We were interested in visiting Houston ever since we heard that NASA is there. NASA!!! The place Carys and I dreamed about working at, even if just as cleaners LOL. Now I can finally see it!
When we asked around for any other famous places in Houston we should visit, all we got was:
“Houston? There’s nothing much else there. The food is pretty good though.”
“Hmmm, food. The Asian food there is really good.”
“Chinatown! The food there is heaps better than Austin’s!”
Right. Houston for NASA and food it shall be then!
We made the trip 2 weeks ago, and the drive from Austin to Houston’s Chinatown took about 3 hours.
First stop: DIM SUM
Our Chinese friends highly recommended Ocean Palace, so that was where we went.
The dim sum at Ocean Palace was generally quite ok. Definitely better than Austin’s haha. The only disappointment was the charsiew (BBQ pork) which Fu and I found to be lacking in flavor. The restaurant we visited in Austin (Golden Wok) actually did it better.
The four of us ate till we were positively stuffed, and the bill came up to just around $15 per person!
Would I recommend Ocean Palace? Hmm. The dim sum was ok, but not fantastic, so I think I’ll want to try another dim sum restaurant if I’m ever in Houston again. Guess that makes it a no then. Haha.
Second stop: NASA’s Johnson Space Center!!!
From Houston’s Chinatown, it was about a 45-min drive to NASA.
TIP: Pre-buy tickets online to save $5 off each ticket!
We paid about $5 extra to get the audio guide, which I found to be very useful!
There are numbers on exhibits all around the center, which you can key into the device to hear more about the exhibit. With this, I feel so much more knowledgeable rather than stupidly stand in front of the exhibit and not even know what I’m looking at lol. This is $5 well spent!
We went on the tram tour, which brought us into NASA’s Johnson Space Center. This is where real operations are still being carried out! Of course we didn’t go intrude on people working la, we visited areas with displays that were made public.
Fu commented, “Why can’t they just have one wire for everything? This is so messy.” Hello, even if it’s technologically possible, if that one wire fray or break or sort diao then it’s bye bye space shuttle leh!!! Let’s be thankful he’s a software engineer and not an electrical engineer.
This rocket is massive. It measures 110m in height, which is something like 25 stories zomg. This rocket consists of 3 sections (or stages, as NASA calls it) and went to space multiple times! According to Wikipedia, “The Saturn V remains the tallest, heaviest, and most powerful rocket ever brought to operational status and still holds records for the heaviest payload launched and largest payload capacity to low Earth orbit (LEO) of 118,000 kilograms (260,000 lb).”
As I stood dwarfed before the rocket, I am overcome with amazement at the fact that this is something that man built. I mean, yeah, we know man launched rockets, sent people to space and back, walked on the moon and all that, but it’s entirely different reading about it and actually seeing it in person. They transform from “stories” to reality.
A hulking metal structure like the one before my eyes went to space. Never mind overcoming technological barriers, but wherever did we get the crazy idea to explore beyond our own planet? I think it wouldn’t have been possible without enough curiosity, fearlessness and insanity. Humans are both amazing and terrifying creatures.
Back to the display. Each stage is crazy huge. In the photo above, the third stage is pictured and the second stage starts where the grey metal thing is. Despite our best efforts, it’s impossible to capture the entire rocket on our inadequate iphone.
So we took a photo with the head of the rocket separately lol.
Even then, it’s also not possible to capture the entire head wth -__- Oh whatever. I’ll just give you a picture of Saturn V. This was its final journey to space.
After the tram tour, we arrived back at Space Center Houston. Initially, we thought we’d spend maybe 2 hours, 3 hours max at this place. We ended up spending… SIX HOURS THERE! All the way till it closed!
I think if it didn’t close we might have stayed longer, although A and D (our traveling companions) were all NASA-ed out by the 5th hour and rested on a bench while Fu and I zipped around the place trying to cover as much as we could haha.
After NASA, we headed back to Chinatown for food, part 2!
Third stop: LOBSTER DINNER!
We heard about this fantastic place, Confucius Seafood Restaurant that served lobsters at just 2 for $20! Frikkin’ cheap, can?! Omg I hadn’t had seafood in so long I swear I nearly drooled when I heard about it. Yes, I am severely deprived of my beloved seafood in Austin.
When we walked in about 7pm, there was a looong line. Eight groups ahead of us, and one group had 14 people!!! Frak. Lobsters and I may or may not meet this night, depending on when our hunger takes over.
We decided to walk to a nearby place to check out alternatives, but that place looked so sad and empty we changed our minds and walked back. Lucky we did too, because if we were willing to take a table that everyone else passed on (it was the nearest to the reception counter and people come and go all the time) we would be able to be seated immediately!!! SCORE!
The waiter was friendly, and surprisingly very patient, recommending dishes to us when we asked despite the pressing crowd. The food arrived quickly enough too!
We had Peking duck, beef stir-fried with mushrooms, stir-fry kailan and… truly the only thing I care for on the table: LOBSTERS ;D
Thus the lobsters get a photo, all by themselves:
We ordered the lobsters in XO sauce (had to pay an extra $2, but XO anything commands a higher premium in Singapore anyway and we’re used to it) and it was DELISHHHH. Very fortunately for me, at my table were 3 people who quickly tired of going through the trouble of digging the flesh out of the shells or didn’t even like lobster in the first place (that’s Fu) so I think I had like half the plate to myself! BLISS. People like that are my favorite to eat with. Hahaha.
The food here was good, and apart from the vegetable dish (well, they ARE just vegetables), every other dish was someone’s favorite!
Highly recommended! I loved the lobsters and Fu loved the beef. Fu even said he would drive back to eat again, which even I thought was a bit of an overkill.
And that’s really our whole Houston trip – NASA and food! :)