One-day trip to Houston

11 October 2014

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.

This place uses food carts!

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.

Look at all those wires!

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.

At the Saturn V stop on the tram tour

With Saturn V! Or part of it, anyway.

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.

I love this display. I’m totally getting a black wall with sparkly stars in my home when I grow up.

The lunar rover! Complete with a pseudo earth in the background haha

Just hangin’ with our new roommate

A very confused kid volunteer showing the rest of us how astronauts sleep

Follow the alien… or not.

She looks like she’s gonna launch a missile on some poor unsuspecting target

Just a nice display. No witty captions. Move along now.

After NASA, we headed back to Chinatown for food, part 2!


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! :)


  • Reply Ly 3 September 2016 at 10:01 am

    HI Rin,

    I’m glad you got to experience a bit of Houston when you were in town. Houston probably has a lot of museums around than any scenery, other than parks and so. But, if you were ever to come back to Houston, my husband and I would love to give you guys the tour of all the best places or I can just make you a list to check it out yourself. I don’t know why most people would recommend “Ocean Palace” as I don’t find that restaurant very flavorful. So, I had a good laugh when you said it was “meh.” I guess, because it’s in the tourist section of China Town. Like, the Kim Son restaurant in that plaza is a Chinese and Vietnamese cuisine, most asian weddings are held there every weekend. It’s a very popular place that can hold up two ballrooms. I would like to recommend you to go to “Fung’s Kitchen” next time you’re here — if you want that Hong Kong style cha shu bun. My brother and I would always get two orders that comes in three and an extra to go when we leave. The concept of that restaurant comes with pushing carts too, but only on the weekends if you want the full service. But you would have to come at open time through 1:00 pm if you want to get the good food. It is crazy pack! That’s my hands down for dim sum. =)

    My brother loves going to Confucius Seafood restaurant for them lobsters too, he says it’s the only cheap place to get a lobster and he doesn’t feel guilty of eating a whole one for himself because most other places are expensive. There’s a restaurant near by that too, call, “Tan Tan” restaurant and it is really good, if you ever had Vietnamese food. Every time when my cousin comes down from Minnesota that’s about all he wants to go when he is here. Like, I know there’s a lot more good food that I want to introduce him to, but his mind is too set on what makes his stomach happy. So, until he grows sick of it, he will then venture out. =D

    Also, in Houston there is this one house that is made out of beer cans. You can google it up and see how it came about or use the Yelp app and scroll through the pictures as if you were there yourself. =) I wish my city was that much interesting, though not as interesting enough that you’re living in JAPAN!! Haha, you got to check out Jiro Ono before he dies from old age and then you won’t be able to test out his food. I hear his food is DIVINE! My brother was being so dramatic and said, “all he wish is to go there and eat his food and still be ok if it was his last bite before, he himself dies.” Talk about dramatic!

    • Reply Rin 4 September 2016 at 2:18 pm

      Haha wow, thanks for the recommendations, Ly! If only I knew you during our stay in Texas! That beer can house sounds both intriguing and wacky! I’d love to have seen it when I was there.

      Haha you mean Jiro’s sushi? Apparently he’s popular with foreigners, but not so much with the locals. The locals find that there are many other better places than Jiro’s. At any rate, I don’t think I can ever bear to pay so much for a meal…

      • Reply Ly 16 September 2016 at 9:26 am

        Whoops! Sorry. Yes, that’s what I meant. My brother was going on about something of how hard it is to earn those 4 or 5 stars and get recognize world wide from other famous chefs too. Plus there would be some fish I’m not that fond of, so it would be a waste if I was to eat there. The fact that Jiro feeds everyone down the line and stare at how you eat, I would probably be so nervous and drop it or something. It would definitely be a disgrace! ='(

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