Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Chicago 060605e: Self-portrait

In the golden glow of a setting sun, I do a self-portrait. :-)

#1: A self-portrait. Posted by Picasa

Chicago 060605d: Skydeck vistas

Late afternoon views from the Sears Skydeck, 412 metres high.

#1: Southern part of Chicago, hugging the shore of Lake Michigan. Posted by Hello

#2: Notice the Sears's shadow going all the way to the shore. And that's my hotel three blocks to the right of the red building. Posted by Hello

#3: Chicago skyline against the majestic Lake Michigan, with the marina adjacent to the parklands. Posted by Hello

#4: Looking northwards - that's the dark John Hancock Center to the right. Posted by Hello

Chicago 060605c: The Skydeck

The express elevator whisks me up to the 103rd-floor Skydeck ( in less than a minute (max speed: 488 metres per minute). A short video plays in the elevator to while the time away, or maybe to distract nervous passengers?

Too bad, the ride is not as smooth as the Petronas Towers or the Tokyo Metropolitan high-speed elevators.

#1: The Skydeck as one exits the elevator area. Posted by Hello

#2: Crowd still thin, but soon builds up. Posted by Hello

#3: Ahhh..the view from 412 metres in the sky! Posted by Hello

Chicago 060605b: Sears Tower

The famed Sears Tower - 520 metres tall including the twin antennae atop it. That makes it taller than Petronas Twin Towers, or is it? The argument continues, until Taipei 101 comes along. But even Taipei 101 is only 509 metres with its spire.

Anyway, Sears wins when it comes to:
1) Height to the highest occupied floor.
2) Height to the top of the roof.

The observation deck is on the 103rd floor - that's 412 metres up in the sky - and that's where I'm going today. I've been to the 87th floor of 452-metre Petronas Tower 2, and the 45th floor of the 243-metre Tokyo Metropolitan Govt Offices Tower, so this Sears visit should be fun!

#1: Without the antennae, it is 443 metres tall. Posted by Hello

#2: The white twin antennae alone are almost 80 metres tall. Posted by Hello

Chicago 060605a: Michigan Avenue

Swank Michigan Avenue, which runs north-south, cuts through downtown Chicago, where it is dubbed the "Magnificent Mile'. Similar to Hong Kong's 'Golden Mile' along Nathan Road at Tsim Sha Tsui.

But gimme HK Golden Mile anytime!

#1: Michigan Avenue with familiar landmarks of The Windy City. Posted by Hello

#2: ...and the hotel is being picketed. I have no clue why, but I cross the picket line. Posted by Hello

#3: An empty Chinese diner. Posted by Hello

Chicago 050605a: Congress Plaza

I arrive ORD at 5am, and find my way to the Congress Plaza Hotel, home for the next five days. Built in 1893, it has a lot of history in it (there's even a former US President's chair in the lobby). I guess the only other historic hotel I've stayed in must be the one in Moscow, where Rasputin used to hold his tea parties!

#1: Old World sort of lobby. Very European, yes? Posted by Hello

#2: That's Sears Tower peering into my room. Posted by Hello

#3: The other view from my room. That's Lake Michigan over there. Looks more like the Michigan Sea!Posted by Hello

LAX 040605a: US arrival and lay-over

I arrive LAX at 6.30pm local time after a grueling 20-hour flight from Kuala Lumpur (KUL), via Taipei (TPE). It is a beautiful summer late afternoon, and immigration and custom are done in quick time. I have an 11pm connecting red-eye flight on United to Chicago O'Hare (ORD), so I figure I should just take a rest in the little space between Terminals 6 and 7. It is quite a long walk from the Tom Bradley International Terminal (where I disembark from a Malaysia Airlines plane) to the spot.

#1: This gentleman must be enjoying his job. Posted by Hello

#2: A fellow traveler waiting for the next connection. Extremely well-behaved, if a human I'd have described him as polite. Posted by Hello