Saturday was aquarium day. I coordinated meeting two sets of friends, one from the North County of San Diego and the other from Culver City. Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific seemed to be a great meeting place as it is central and appeals to children, which both sets of friends have.
Unfortunately, coordinating the timing didn’t work quite as well as it could have, so I essentially did two tours of the aquarium. That’s okay, though, as it is a surprisingly good aquarium and when seeing it through the eyes of children, you can always find something new to enjoy.
Danielle and Ian drove up from San Diego in the morning and were waiting for me outside the aquarium with their children, Piper and Devin. The last time I saw them was in July 2005, when Piper was only about a year old. (Trip report here on airliners.net that covers the First Class flight I took after that visit from LAX en route to BKK aboard Asiana) Needless to say, she has grown quite a bit in the meantime. Very well mannered, she shook my hand and said hello. Devin also was very outgoing. Right: Ian watches as Piper and Devin get up close and personal with the sea lion tank.
The most popular parts of the aquarium were the two petting tanks. One for the sharks and another for the rays. Below: Danielle, Devin, Ian and Piper at the shark petting tank. Remember, we use two fingers to pet the sharks, not our whole hands.
From the upper outdoor level of the aquarium, you get a view of the Queen Mary in the harbour. Quite a view and somewhere I should visit one of these days.
The aquarium was fascinating for me just because all of this sea life amazes me. Especially the jellyfish. How in the world do these things work? It seems impossible. Plus, they are amazing to watch. Put on some ambient music and just stare at them for hours.
A bit after lunch, Piper and Devin were starting to tire so Danielle and Ian got ready to pack them up and head home. Perfect timing, too, as the second wave of friends had arrived so there was a few minutes of introductions and chit-chat.
Below: We pose beneath a blue whale that is suspended in the aquarium lobby.
With that, I started my second round of the aquarium, this time with Lalima and Aaron and their son, also named Devin. Lilian and Samantha flew down from San Jose to join us, so it was a high school reunion.
Below: Lily, Samantha, Lalima and Aaron observe the rays at the ray petting tank. There was one very playful ray who liked to swim right along the edge and flap his wings and splash people. Such a character!
After a quicker breeze through the exhibits and a search for Nemo and Dory in the tropical fish section (we found them), we headed out for a mid-afternoon lunch at The Corner Place, a Korean BBQ restaurant in Cerritos. This, according to Samantha, is one of only two restaurants she knows of on the west coast that serve dong chi mee kuk sul, a cold rice noodle soup with a vinegar/ginger broth, garnished with green onions, julienned cucumbers and a slice of tomato, pictured below.
A refreshing summertime specialty, the restaurant is so jealous of its recipe that it won’t even sell you a to-go order of the soup. In fact, Samantha was once apprehended trying to sneak some of it away in a plastic container! They are serious about this soup.
If was enjoyable, reminding me a bit of khao chae, the jasmine-scented cold rice soup that Thais enjoy during the hot season. Not so much in the taste or flavor but just in the idea of a refreshing cool dish to eat when the weather is warm.
In additional to the soup, we enjoyed beef kalbi, the typical Korean grilled beef with garnishes, shown below.
What most amazed me was that Devin, all of two years old, was so adventurous that he would try each of the different varieties of kimchee that were on the table. Spicy? No problem. Sour? No problem. If he didn’t like a flavor, he would chew and swallow his mouthful and then politely decline any more. No spitting out his food.
It probably helps that several months ago his parents brought him to Bangladesh to visit Lalima’s extended family, so he’s been exposed to a lot of different types of food. But some of it must be personality and he’s just a very easy-going, open-minded sort of child.
Below, Lalima and I wait patiently for our food.
After a few hours of napping back at Bill and Alex’s place, I drove to Culver City to join the gang at Aaron and Lalima’s house. We had a very nice barbecue dinner sitting on the patio. The menu included grilled shrimp and pineapple with roasted squash and a tomato and avocado salad. Dessert was Lalima’s famous homemade peppermint ice cream. Delicious.
It was a bit late when dinner was finally ready – nearly ten o’clock! – but Devin was a trooper and stayed up to eat with us, conking out just as soon as he had finished eating. Below: Aaron, Samantha, Lalima, Lilian and Devin.
Poor Devin suffers from a mother and two aunties who like to take lots and lots (and lots!) of pictures. He must have the strongest cheek muscles of any child his age from all the smiling he’s asked to do.
It was a really fun Saturday in SoCal and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to see this friends.