Nov 29 2023

On Swann

Tampa, FL 33606
Hyde Park Village

Will return.

… more pix on Google Maps

Chic location. High ceiling, rustic decor. Good service with decent food.


Nov 27 2023

80g fish tank

WaterBox Aquariums
320 W Sabal Palm Pl
Wekiwa Springs, FL 32779

We purchased their 80 gallon tank with cabinet Eden x80 online. It was curbside delivered. Filter Fluval® FX6 Canister is from Amazon.

… more pix on Google Maps

The cabinet doors are unaligned. We both are pretty handy but unable to make it right, which is a huge disappointment.

… add four bags of sand that has been rinsed repeatedly, then water. At first, it looks like Yellow River.

Nov 24 2023

Terra Gaucha Brazilian steakhouse

We returned again
for the service and food.

It’s day after Thanksgiving, the restaurant is full as usual. And a party is going on, as usual – we certainly didn’t have enough food yesterday, at our thanksgiving dinners -:)

… more pix on Google Maps

A gent in dark suit, perhaps the manager, came over to ask if we would like something in particular. I muttered lamb chop and short ribs – I think I like these two the best. He asked how would I like the lamb chop cooked. Medium. Soon these two appeared. Thank you.

Their chimichurri sauce is delicious.

The guilty indulgence is their little cheesy cup bread (?) … When we finished the first bucket, a staff asked if we’d like another one … little Irene said yes.

Can’t take me anywhere.

Nov 22 2023

High speed train … ha ha ha

Is this travel writer insane? Incredible high speed train?!? Hellooooo

Reading the headline on Travel & Leisure, I got very excited … then quickly cooled down:

  • 250 miles from Orlando – Miami
  • 3.5 hours by car
  • 3.5 hours by this high speed train that cost $59 to $149 one way

What’s the heck!!!

Here is another set of facts

  1. Shinkansen, or bullet train in Japan, since 1960s
  2. TGV in France, since 1970s, 1981 Paris↔Lyon
  3. Euro Star only needs 2.37 hours run London↔Paris
  4. Maglev travels 286 mph in Shanghai, China

The media standard is so LOW now

Florida’s Incredible New High-speed Train Now Goes From Orlando to Miami — and I Was One of the First on Board
Everything you need to know about riding Florida’s Brightline train from Orlando to Miami.

By Skye Sherman Updated on October 30, 2023

As Brightline’s self-proclaimed No. 1 fan, I’ve been waiting impatiently for its Orlando extension.

Being a travel writer and central Florida native living in West Palm Beach, I feel like this modern high-speed train was made for me: not only can I hop between home and Miami (or Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, or Aventura) with ease, I can now sprint up to Orlando to see friends and family and include Orlando International Airport among my options when booking flights abroad, no three-hour drive required. (In fact, I recently booked a return flight into MCO instead of my usual PBI or FLL just because I could.) Heck, my husband and I might even become Annual Passholders at Walt Disney World now that the journey is this seamless.

Nov 18 2023

北京香山 Xiangshan Fragrant Hills

Maimai St, 40号香山公园内 邮政编码: 100093
Haidian District, Beijing

more old pix here

One of the parks I went often: taken there by family members; on school outings; going there with friends and schoolmates. The foliage is particularly enchanting. It’s also known as Fragrant Hills, Western Hills.

It came from an imperial garden (1186) at the foot of the Western Hills in the Haidian District, not far from Wanan Cemetery.

Nowadays, people mountain people sea 人山人海. The last time I was in Beijing, shortly before outbreak of Covid-19 (2019) and saw the tour buses lined up the narrow streets when I went to visit my ancestors at WanAn Cemetery.

A few places I still remember:

  • 香山碧雲寺
  • 鬼见愁, the main hill 香山的主峰,又叫香炉峰,海拔557米


Nov 15 2023

Bern’s Steak House

1208 S Howard Ave
Tampa, FL 33606

Probable will return.

Dinner only: 5pm-10pm or 11pm
Reservation: 2 months out
Valet parking: $8.
Service: good.
Decor: ok
Food: very good.
Kitchen & wine cellar tour: great

… more pix on Google Maps

I’ve heard of this restaurant for a while. During a dinner with friends in August at Haven – part of their family, we said we should go to Bern’s next. But it isn’t that easy: IF you want to have a seat at the table, you need to stay up till midnight when the new round of reservations become available… One morning in September I woke up at 6am in Koblenz, Germany. Thought about this and looked it up. Bingo, there were many openings but the earliest one was Nov 15.

For a casual dinner, this is just too cumbersome to stomach. They called me last Saturday evening to confirm. Gosh. Not sure if Tampa lacks decent steak house or what?

Service is good. Our server is a mid aged gent who does it perfectly, personable and professional. He reminds me of the serving staff at Smith & Wollensky or Palm on 2nd Avenue in New York.

Decor: old. The exterior is just a white block plaster structure. Interior, bit arty, Bohemia? I like the exposed brick 🧱. There are many small rooms or halls.

The noise level tranforms quickly. Shortly after we sat, a group of six women came for birthday. They like caged birds finally out for a change, our dinning hall immediately drowned in their shouts, and loud laughs … Come on, this restaurant isn’t suitable for such pollution.

Food is really good. We’ve:

Escargot 🐌 – too creamy and de-shelled. I needed to fish in their thick puree of spinach+herb, and under a thick layer of house blend cheese. I definitely had it better elsewhere, and definitely prefer the simpler cooked snails with shells. The warm toasted focaccia is great, soaked in butter, just the way I like it.
Crab cake is very good.
T-bone steak is very good. I ordered it medium but I think it’s on the medium rare side. All steak meals come with onion soup, salad, baked potato and DELicious onion rings. Did I miss any sides? I think they charge $20 for sharing.

Kitchen and wine cellar. Walking around a busy kitchen is a new experience – maybe this is the reason or reasons for their longevity. Photos are fine, video is no.

From kitchen to cellar, the surface isn’t flat. I kept thinking that U.S. 🇺🇸 is so litigious, and they’re offering this rare oppertunity… oh well. Maybe good faith and decency still exist and mean something. Good to know!

The wine cellar is neat. The staff cited a few figures (if I remembered them right…): three sommeliers; 110,000 bottles of wine on site, which is 15% of their inventory. They’ve the largest collection of wines by a restaurant in the world. By the glass, they offer 100+ red, 100+ white and several hundreds of dessert wines. By the way, my Justin Cabernet is wonderful, better than Northstar Merlot. There is a section reserved for the aged rare wines. They are wrapped in the plastic bag, to protect the labels … This reminds me of the wine scene in Shanghai: stores and restaurants used saran wrap. Although same method and same intend, but the underlying reasons are drastically different. Oh well.

They’ve three bars, one by the entrance, one in the kitchen and one on the 2nd floor.

The second floor with a pianist is used for desserts. We’ve coffee, creme brulee and keylime pie – average.

It’s a well oiled machine. Waiting staff is trained in the kitchen for a year before they can go out to the halls – (did I get this right?)

Other than the tours, they’re no match with steak houses in New York, such as Peter Luger, Smith & Wollensky or Delmonico, etc., more in the league of Pace’s Steakhouse, Angus Club Steakhouse,…


Nov 15 2023

IP Dream Host lost my posts

Losing your data is a nightmare. It happened to me recently, by my IP provider DreamHost.

… more nightmare: I discovered many contents in the posts are truncated, cute off, in  2024. How is this even possible?

I’ve been with Dream Host since 2007. I don’t have anything fancy but a few blogs for my research and hubbies.

  1. Journey: after 1985
  2. Walk: after 2022
  3. missing text within a post April 2024

This data loss nightmare is the second that they failed me.

The first was their tech support team (TST, free to us) forgot to close my site after work, left it open, till a good hacker contacted me, to warn me. The damage isn’t known. It did leave me with a dark shadow … as if waiting for the second boots or bomb to drop.

The second is this time, losing 18 months of my postings (Feb 2022), done by their pro team (PT, fee based), at the cost of $200, when they repair one of my sites that had been hacked.

Interestingly, the TST initially diagnosed that I should just delete and re-install the Word Press, which would solve my problem. And assured me that it’s relative easy. So that was when I did backup (just in case something goes wrong). I got two auto generated emails, with the identical error message. Not wanting to take any risk, therefore, I turned to PT, to avoid any mishap.

The cost of their service is $199. But they first billed me $299. When I asked why the extra $100, they said, $199 is 72 hour turn around and $299 is 24 hour turnaround. I picked the cheaper one.

The 72 hour turnaround turned into a month.

On Oct 13, they sent an email saying it was fixed, and asked me to look around my site.

  1. I noticed the missing months: the Archives shown my last posting was February 2022, which meant 18 months of postings are lost.
  2. Secondly, the Chinese characters are messed up.

From Oct 10 to Nov 8, I’ve exchanged 75 emails with them:

  1. Abhay Shah
  2. Muhsin Muhamed
  3. Sakshi Pandita

I couldn’t believe the amount of garbage they sent. Many emails were repeat. Their attitude is simple: deny. deny. deny, and shirk responsibility. Such as, “we don’t guarantee any data lost … we did all we could … but unable to find any missing data…” Padding their emails with repeats and nonsense: as if longer the email the more productive they’re.

I didn’t want to give up the 18 months. I pushed, emailed, pleaded… And contacted TST a few time. The 75 emails do not include TST’s. I learned and enlisted them to help, including two supervisors. As it turned out, Dean Johnson the manager of PT informed me on Oct 27, that he found wpbonvoyagedatabase_10-02-2023.sql that contain some later months’ posts. This cut my lose to May 2023, shortened to four months (May/June to Sept).

I don’t know much about data and coding. But do find it’s odd that they have the majority of my data/posts, only missing the last 18 months. Both supervisors said they’ll expedite my case to PT.

On Chinese characters: at first, they deny deny deny, saying the fonts appeared in the same way before we started working on the report. PT said they’ll investigate as courtesy. Days passed without any news. So I contacted the TST, and they corrected it within hours. (Some like character like é as sautéed is still messy.)

Why would I even pay them?


Today, a friend wrote “什么, Agoda 的客服一帮老印,有纠纷找到PayPal, 客服又是一帮老印,你想charge back,信用卡客服又是一帮老印,我现在听印度英语也行了,我很早就被说英语的人民教育说他们没有困难听印度人说英语,因为印度人说的就是英语,言下之意,你们说的就不是英语. 我对很多高管都是印度人沒有不服气, 但是据说伦敦变成了印巴新首都却让我不那么想往了.”



Nov 11 2023

Beer Can Island

This little island is in Tampa Bay, between MacDill Air Force Base RV park, and Manatee Viewing Center @ Apollo Beach (northwest).

~ 2024

It’s privately owned but opens to public; no bathrooms on the tiny island tho. More pix on Google Maps.

Reportedly, the name came from the fact that there were so many beer cans left on the island by boaters … Now it seems all cleaned up.

On our way to lunch at Rick’s on the River in Tampa, we passed a few sights, Straz Center, etc.



Nov 11 2023

Rick’s on the River

2305 N Willow Ave
Tampa, FL 33607

Not likely to return.

… more pix on Google Maps

We’ve lunch here yesterday – Saturday.

The location is great, on the Hillsborough River, with plenty boat slips at 1:30pm.

It has indoor and covered outdoor areas. We sat out. All tables are for max 8 people, benches with no back support.

The service is slow, both drinks and food – got our food exactly an hour later. Our girl is gracious and lovely. The few waiting staff I saw, are young girls who wear tight outfit (not unifform). I would expect them to be sporty but instead, I feel lifeless. I yielded to a tall girl after bathroom. She opened the door and just left. Ok, maybe she was juggling two drinks on the tray … I would use my body to hold the door for the next person IF my hands are occupied …

The foods: average bar food. I’ve Little Neck clams, the two pieces of toast are delicious. Chicken wrap is good.

As we were leaving, a band came to set it up. One member wore a Brookly NY leather jacket honoring the fallen heroes on Veterans Dat. I asked him if he was from Bly and he replied a big YES -:). Then asked me if I’m from Thailand or Philippine. I replied, Africa.
Really sir.

Thanks for these who served.

Nov 7 2023

Yummy House

2620 E Hillsborough Ave
Tampa, FL 33610

Probably will return.

We had a take out a few months ago … we came here again with our friends who love it.

… more pix on Yelp and Google Maps.

Decor: Simple and clean.

Service is good but you need to raise your hand and keep it up in the air for a while.

– Beijing duck – so so
– pea tips with garlic – good
– Mongolian beef – ok
– spicy fish eggplant pot – not bad.

The temperature is on the cold side.

The Peking duck isn’t really a Peking duck, just a cooked duck. The creep is thick hard and cold. The scallion is fresh, but no cucumber .

They’ve a wine list.