Los Angeles 2018 Day 15 – Citadel Premium Outlets and Home Sweet Home

This was the last day in the US and as usual we slept in late. I felt like going for a run as the weather was rather inviting and I haven’t been running for a while. The alarm clock woke me up and I walked to the window with the full view of the bay in front of me. It was tempting, seeing joggers going on the path alongside the beautiful bay but laziness got the better of me and I was back in bed.

View from our room

840 and I woke in horror to find yet again that we had to have breakfast in bed, courtesy of me collecting them from the breakfast area. I brushed my teeth quickly and went down to the breakfast area to get food. Approached the staff to asked for disposable plates but was given a tray instead and she affirmed that I could bring back the plates and the housekeeping staff would take care of it.

I went to get whatever the small tray could allow me to and brought back the usual stuff. Went back a second round to get more juice and coffee and went back to the room to eat first while mommy joined later. To wake K up, I turned on the TV and soon mommy was carrying him over to the living room.

Breakfast from the buffet table

We quickly packed while K ate his breakfast and before long, we were ready to leave. Called the valet to have my car ready by 1020am and after K was dressed, we brought everything down. Checked out was quick and we loaded up the luggage and was on our way to Fashion Valley to visit an Apple store.

Apple Store
Fashion Valley

12mins drive and we parked at a sheltered car park free of charge. Walked to Apple store and had the intention to get the iPad Pro. I was then introduced by the staff on its capabilities and was already convinced that I could use it for stuff other than social media, when we got all the accessories and iPad ready to be bought, the costs gave me a surprise. I had forgotten to add in the tax and after all the costs added up, it wasn’t that much different in price compared to what was available in Singapore. I apologized and we left.

Not all was lost as from the corner of my eye I caught a store having discounts and checked with mommy if she was interested to get jeans from 7 for all mankind. We walked in and with a 40% storewide discount, she got herself a pair of jeans. Not a wasted trip.

We hurried back to the car as we had overstayed the visit and proceeded to drive to Citadel premium outlets, skipping the Carlsbad premium outlet that we initially thought we would visit. Went through a toll road unknowingly and referring to the signboards, I could pay the one time toll online.

Citadel was a huge area designed like its name suggested. Parking was free too and we made a dash to the loo after the getting off. Had our lunch by getting some sandwiches from Pronto Cafe. We sat just outside to eat and while mommy finished her sandwich quickly and went ahead for her last minute shopping, I waited for K to finished his.

Arriving at Citadel
Citadel outlets
Quite crowded
…for lunch
Disturbing warnings found in Oakley

Brought k to go around and found that Citadel didn’t have as good a deal for some of the stores as in San Francisco, eventually I ended up only getting a pair of chinos from AX. K had a slight tummy ache and we used the family room that had a tiny toilet bowl for K, fitted nicely to his bum and his height.

Huge Xmas tree at Citadel
Family toilet with a cute kids size toilet bowl

We then got ourselves an ice cream from a store with the same name as the sandwich for about $3ish but was given almost 3 scoops which I thought was a good deal. We met mommy along the way who was buzzing around the shops and eventually we ended up in Disney as the last destination before popping back into the car at 430pm and driving towards Courtyard by Marriott for our Hotel by day booking, 45mins away.

It was not far by distance but the LA traffic was the main contributor to the extended time. Tried to take the carpool lane that helped in some cases getting away from jam but not others. Reached the hotel by 520pm. There was again valet parking only, $18. The valet was however kind enough not to charge after I explained that I wasn’t staying long, with the agreement to just leave the car close to the entrance.

Went to checked in and was given a room on the first level. It was good as K had already fallen asleep and mommy was carrying him. The room was within easy reach and soon K was on the bed snoozing while we repacked the bags, ensuring that we do not hit the 23kg per luggage weight limit. Had to throw away some of my old clothes including my jeans and shoes to make way for the new stuff.

Room in Marriott
Old making way for the new

Mommy bathed and I tried to find out where to return the car. Tried calling Enterprise and the automated system wasn’t leading me to the right people and when someone actually picked up, I didn’t think she answered my question and informed that I could drop my car at the airport itself.

After a small struggle to get the K into bath as he was woken up dazed, we rushed to get out of the room by 645pm. Spoke to the valet and was informed that the return for the car was indeed NOT at the airport but at Bellanca Ave, as per on its website and google maps. I quickly drove to location which was just 12mins away, after tipping him. The signs along the way indeed helped show the way, reaffirming the directions and following the “Others” and then “Enterprise” directions, we arrived on the return location.

The area was big but there was a staff there to direct me on where to drop the car and he proceeded with the checking. I got all my luggage off and he then proceeded with printing me the final receipt. Checked that the refueling charge was at a not-too-ridiculous price of $4/gallon, and that indeed there was no higher-than-usual drop off fees (as I was worried when at San Francisco), we headed for the shuttle bus together with the staff as he helped to bring the luggage for us to the bus stop steps away.

Enterprise at Bellanca Ave
Bus stop for shuttle to LAX

The bus was here within minutes and after lugging everything onboard, we sat on the bus on our way to LAX. It was then I realized that the flight was actually at 2225 instead of 2045, giving us another hour more of free time!

We arrived at LAX 10mins later and I asked the driver where we could get off for Terminal B. The reply was rather disappointing as she informed that she wasn’t told about Terminal B and would be easier for us to just alight and walked there. Without much of a choice we did that.

Rented a trolley for $5 (reaffirming that it was damn bloody expensive in LA) and slowly made our way to the international airport.

Not free
Walking towards International Terminal

Checked in at the SIA counters and all the luggage made the cut without issues. We proceeded to go through security which was on the 2nd floor and while there was a crowd, it wasn’t too long before we were at the main departure area.

DFS shopping for some Ghirardelli chocolates which was disappointingly higher priced than those we saw at Ralph’s but bought enough to get it at $6 per pack.

Walked to the central dining place to get some food. I ate Panda Express which was Teriyaki chicken with mixed veg and fried rice and a bottle of drink at a $15 and mommy got something similar. Shared the food with K and moved to the gates early. We didn’t get through the immigration counters and were worried that these were at the gates but upon reaching the gate we didn’t see any.

Shopping inside LAX
Panda Express
Fortune cookie
Walking towards the gates

I went to check with one of the staff and understood that this was no longer required! Something new. Tried to pay for my toll and found that online payment were only for new ones and not one that I already passed, so I had no choice but to wait for Enterprise to charge me (which they did, invoice of $11.71 came in an email 1 month later).

We spent the last hour waiting for boarding while mommy bought some nuts from the stores nearby. Then the call for business and PPS started. We didn’t hear the call for us to board but asked anyways and was surprised that we could already.

Getting into the seats, K started his game while I just chilled. The plane took off after a while and food came 2 hrs later. The rest of the flight was no drama, spent half of the time  in front of the screen and the other half sleeping. Since we would be arriving in the morning, we timed the sleep to be later so as to stay awake when we arrived in Singapore.


This was our long duration year end holidays and the decision for the location was driven by cheap launch prices for premium economy. The savings from the tickets were offset by the high costs of travel in California. The trip itself had a lot of driving that something took too much energy that left my physically drained at the end of the day. Coupled with constant carrying of K, I thought it wasn’t as enjoyable as I hoped to be.

That said, there were still a lot of experiences that was new that I was happy to share with K. Other than seeing the wonderful Grand Canyon and Golden Gate Bridge, taking a helicopter and glamping under the stars, seeing Mars from a telescope, these were memories good enough for growing K.

The costly travel was contributed by transportation and food. For me, the most surprising part was that fuel wasn’t main bulk of costs of transportation, it was actually the parking.

San Diego 2018 Day 14 – San Diego Sea World and Gasclamp Quarters

Woke up with less than 30mins left for breakfast. I quickly went out of the room to the breakfast area. There was a small buffet table and a automatic waffle making machine. Took some disposable plates and filled them up with whatever I could and brought them back to the room. Had breakfast while mommy cooked and soon K joined us upon waking up and ate breakfast too.

List of information on a strip
Though not Disney hotel, Mickey’s in the hall
Leaving Homewood Suites

Check out timing was at an easy 12pm, but we were on our way out by 11 and made our way to our accommodation in San Diego, Homewood suites San Diego. It was a 2 hr drive, on the highway for a good part and a nicer coastal view nearer to San Diego. Pumped gas at Shell for $50 which didn’t fill to full as San Diego gas was quite expensive.

Driving to San Diego on the carpool lane

We arrived to find out a $42 valet for parking without other options and I dropped off the luggage with the bellboy and checked in first. While the bell brought the luggage to the room, we drove to SeaWorld.

Parking at SeaWorld costed $22, general parking and mommy bought the tickets at the self help kiosks, for a total of $270. The park was opened until 5pm and so we had to make the best we could. First we stopped at a cafe for lunch and bought 2 x chicken sandwiches for almost 20ish and it didn’t taste good as the cheese was pungent. K had his lunch cooked by Mom and after which, we went for the Orca show.

Seaworld entrance
Inside the park
Our wraps
One of the rides

The show was pretty good with 3 whales out and about, splashing a lot of water as the trainer belted out information. 30mins and then, we found ourselves at the jellyfish ride and the octopus rides. K made the 42” height limit and was able to board them with me. Jellyfish made me a little dizzy but the octopus one was basically a mechanical swing.

Orca whale show
Like free Willy
Up on land to say hi
Otter feeding – totally relaxed on its back
Jellyfish ride
Octopus Swing

After the few rides and much persuasion to visit other exhibits instead of taking the rides, we made a short visit to see the crabs then we were on our way to the Arctic exhibit. The Arctic exhibit had Baluga whales and we saw other people in their up close and personal experience with one Baluga. While K was busy fiddling with his camera, he dropped it to the ground and it stopped functioning. I tried to check it but couldn’t revived it. We then moved on to the other exhibits while K was being pissed off with what happened to his camera. Further on, we saw seals and walruses and then underwater a group of 3 playful Baluga, beautiful creatures gracefully swimming around.

Moray eels exhibits
Giant crab
Map of the entire Seaworld
What a scary ride…
Artic expedition displays
Sleeping seal
Walrus on its back
Swimming baluga

We walked to the penguins exhibit that had a slow travellator within that brought us slowly through, seeing the feeding of the penguins and the other section had puffins and other birds.

Xmas at in Seaworld
Penguin Encounter
Emperor penguins standing proud

After this, we walked to the shark encounters and saw from starting from the top, through to underwater. There were many sharks there, some of them were large! Reminded me of our Singapore’s now extinct underwater world.

Walking through the waters
More sharks overhead
An another one

Then as hastily as we came, we hastily proceeded to the sealion show which had already started. It was a pretty entertaining one, with jokes and lots of funny actions, very different form of presentation from the awesome Orca shows.

Dancing with sealion
Otter waving goodbye

After the show, we went over to the sealion point just behind and bought from the shop there some feed for the sea lions. It was fun feeding but made even more fun because it was closing time and they gave out more fishes to some of the people there to feed. We fed those barking sea lions and it was really funny to see them being so exciting and calling out to us for the food.

Feeding sealions through holes
Calling for food

The park closed officially at 5pm and we walked to the souvenirs shop to see if there were anything to get. Eventually, we only pressed two souvenir coins and didn’t get anything else and we were out of the park. Drove back to the hotel and dropped off our leftover barang barang before driving to Gaslamp quarters and parked at Horton Plaza.

Closing time
Horse shoe crabs near the entrance
Souvenir shops
Street of Gaslamp quarters
One of the old style buildings there

We took a walk around the supposedly happening area, looking for a place to have dinner and ended up at a Mexican restaurant Los Panchos. Upon entering, there were just feels of Mexico (never been there but I felt so) with Mexican music and deco.

Los Panchos
Interior of the restaurant
Mexican feels

Started Tortillas and quite spicy salsa that K couldn’t resist eating those corn chips. Then with Pineapple Mojito that at first tasted sour but then it became better and also I, a little dizzy. The main dishes of Enchiladas and Fajitas of mix up meats and seafood were awesome! Came with the wraps for us to made tacos out of. As usual, these were rather huge dishes and we couldn’t finish them.

Tortilla chips

To walk off the alcohol and then the food, we went to Ralph’s for shopping and purchased some 70ish worth of items including Starbucks instant coffee and foodstuff before heading back.

Lamp post in Gaslamp Quarter
Brightly lit street
Horton Plaza carpark
Ralphs’ supermarket
Big supermarket
Many fresh produce

Paid for the carpark at the exit manned by a cashier at a whopping cost of $28 for 3.5hrs of parking. Back at the apartment it was a rather easy affair of bathtub fun and TV before going to bed.

Fire on the table to warm hands
Living room
View from the room

Escape Plan to West USA November 2018

A brief summary on the itinerary

Escape Plan to West USA:

Total duration 15D14N
Singapore is 12hr ahead of California, USA.
Flight time is 15hrs on Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Los Angeles and return flight is 17hrs on Singapore Airlines from Los Angeles to Singapore.

Friday evening flight on 2nd Nov at 845pm and arrival in Los Angeles in the evening of the 2nd Nov at 855pm. Return flight from Los Angeles on the 16th Nov at 1025pm and arrival in Singapore at 815am on the 18th Nov

Day 1 Flight and Arrival at Los Angeles
Day 2 Venice Beach, Venice Broadwalk and Santa Monica Pier
Day 3 LA, Hollywood and Griffith Observatory
Day 4 Las Vegas and Helicopter ride to Grand Canyon
Day 5 Drive to Grand Canyon and glamping under the stars
Day 6 From Grand Canyon to Reno
Day 7 Lake Tahoe
Day 8 San Francisco Golden Gate bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39
Day 9 Alcatraz cruise, Academy of Science and Powell Street
Day 10 San Francisco Premium Outlets
Day 11 Coastal drive to Prismo beach
Day 12 Detour to Camarillo Premium Outlets and Disneyland Pier Hotel
Day 13 Disney California Adventure Park
Day 14 San Diego Sea World and Gasclamp Quarters
Day 15 Citadel Premium Outlets and Home Sweet Home

This escape plan was an impromptu due to the availability of good deals. Singapore Airlines announced the revival of the direct long distance flight to Los Angeles and with premium economy seats going at just $1328, only $200 more than the economy seats, it would be a sin to miss!

Budget nature: Budget buster 

It wasn’t a fantastic time to be spending USD as SGD was weak near the end of the year compared to the earlier months. The savings from the tickets were gone in a flash due to travelling in the state with the highest costs of living in the USA, lots of shopping and Disneyland.

Complexity: Easy

Driving around was not difficult even in multiple lanes highways. Tolls can be a little tricky but reading it up on Google helped. Jams were common in cities but with patience, you would still reached your destination, albeit in the dark. Google maps worked like a charm and pulling to the side of the road by the police for speeding wasn’t too daunting too!