Bugproof and “waterproof” tent. Quite comfy except that I need a better sleeping mat and a thicker sleeping bag, maybe better if I can bring my own bed 🙂 Once zipped up in the tent, it’s quite an amazing feeling…like you’re part of the woods but at the same time also not a part of it. The only thing between me and the heavy downpour was thin sheets of nylon.

Elkmont K11 tentsite

Frontcountry camping – you can park your car, SUV, truck or your luxurious ginormous recreation vehicle (RV) beside your tent. Some people came with their RVs and did not even set up any tents. Some RVs are equipped with microwave, tv, shower, toilet, nice beds – actually all the comforts of a tiny apartment on wheels. Except for not having a shower, the Elkmont campsite came with toilets (with toilet paper), running tap water and even drinking fountains, so we didn’t even need to bring gallons of drinking water with us. For $20 a night, you get a raised platform (to set up your tent), a parking spot, a campfire pit, a picnic table with benches, a pole to hang a lantern, the continuous sound of running water of the Little River, plus the company of tall trees, insects (fireflies and long legged bugs) and arachnids, and maybe even an occasional black bear. The whole national park is equipped with bear-proof trashcans and all food must be stored in the trunk of the car. I did not have a black bear encounter – fortunately or unfortunately – but I did see numerous Made-in-China black bear toys in the Sugarlands Visitor Center.

In case you are wondering, that red car is a Saturn Vue.

The Call Nashville

Here is one of several pictures taken during The Call Nashville. It was a 10am to 10pm day of fasting, prayer, praise and worship. The Super 8 motel where I was staying was almost completely occupied by attendees of this event. About 80,000 people registered for this but I’m not sure how many people were here.

Back from the Smokies

Here are some Nashville and Smokies updates. When the photos are ready, I’ll write more.

Day 1
13 hours car-ride to Nashville, Tenessee.

Day 2
14 hours at the LP Fields stadium for The Call Nashville 07.07.07. Towards the end of the “gathering”, 300 men came out with shofars, that sight and sound was amazing. Needless to say with that many hours in an open stadium I’m much browner now. Unfortunately I’m not all brown, but brown and white like Lehigh’s colors. Need to go out and even out the colors.

Day 3
After checking out of Motel 8, went to get some food and ice from a Walmart Supercenter, then drove 4 hours to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Stopped on the way at a Cracker Barrel restaurant for lunch. Arrived at the Elkmont campsite at around 7.30pm, set up the tent then went on a short hike at the Elkmont nature trail and after that went to the amphitheater for a native american story session.

Night 3
Trying to get used to sleeping in a tent on a rather hard surface. The yoga mat, sleeping bag and fleece blanket only softened the surface a little. Fortunately, the tent was bug-proof. I could hear numerous bugs surrounding the tent.

Day 4
Hiked to the Laurel Falls, drove to the Cherokee Indian Reservations, bought a tiny tomahawk keychain, then hiked up to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in Tennessee. Unfortunately it was cloudy and rainy so couldn’t see very far.

Night 4
It rained through the night. An interesting experience hearing the rain falling on the tent, fortunately the tent was waterproof.

Day 5
Went out of the national park to take a shower. No shower for the past 2 days…hahaha. Then visited the Little Greenbrier School, a 125-year-old one room schoolhouse building. Drove up to the Newfound Gap and went for a 2 hour plus hike along the Appalachian trail. Again got caught in the rain on the way back. Had an early dinner at Huck Finn’s Catfish restaurant. Walked around the ultra-commercialized Pigeon Forge, a city just outside the Smokies. They even have a Chinese Circus there, that’s how touristy they were. Just before dark, hung out in and at the little river beside the campsite.

Night 5

Heavy downpour! The waterproof tent leaked a little…hehehe…but the rain dropped on Becky, and I comfortably slept through the night.

Day 6

10 hour car-ride back to Bethlehem. It is so hot and humid back in Bethlehem. The past few days and nights in the Smokies were nice and cool, around 14-22C.

I added 4 more states to my visited-state list: West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina.


I’m going for a 2-night Nashville and 3-night Great Smoky Mountains trip, and I’m way overpacked – collapsible arm chair, sleeping bag & mat, blanket, pillow, bottles of water, shoes, clothes, toiletries, torchlight, batteries, mosquito repellant, raincoat, etc – I have more stuff than when I flew back from Malaysia. But since we are frontcountry camping, Becky’s SUV will be right there beside the campsite so we can just leave most things in the car.

My new camera still has not arrived 🙁 so I’ll have to make do with a single-use “disposable” camera 🙁

Food accomplishments

This is too easy!

My list of must eats in Malaysia:
1. wonton mee & sui-kow (***)
2. dim sum (**)
3. lots of seafood (****)
4. char koay teow (*)
5. hokkien mee (*)
6. chicken rice (***)
7. roast duck rice (*)
8. bak kut teh (***)
9. hokkien char (**)
10. roti canai (****)
11. indian mee goreng (***)
12. roast pork rice (***)
13. koay teow th’ng (*)
14. satay (*)
15. KFC hot and spicy (**)
16. egg tart (****)
17. curry mee (**)
18. chendol (****)
19. Aaron’s two special meals (***)
20. nasi lemak (*)
21. steamboat (*)
22. indian rojak/pasembor (***)
23. nyonya kuih (**)
24. 100-plus (*)
25. Shogun buffet (**)
26. bak-chang (***)
27. ais-krim potong (*)
28. char hor fun (****)

Unlisted food accomplishments
29. Ampang yong tau fu
30. pan mee
31. assam laksa
32. lor bak
33. beef koay teow (both Malaysian and Vietnamese style)
34. rice porridge steamboat
35. one korean meal
36. and lots and lots of airplane meals!

(*) accomplished during Week 1
(**) accomplished during/by Week 2
(***) accomplished during/by Week 3
(****) accomplished during/by Week 4

Watch the demise of my camera

My clunky heavy Canon A70 served me faithfully for the past 4 years. It died while filming cheerleaders at the Putra Stadium…an unusual way to go. Now I’m hoping my new camera will arrive in time for my camping trip to the land of the Last of the Mohicans this weekend.

People use the phrase “hit the ground running”, I have to hit the ground sprinting! I’ll have to get some things done before heading off on another short vacation to Nashville and the Smoky Mountains.