Travel Dates: 30 March - 4 April 2016
Atlanta was a little bit of a rest period for us, after being constantly on the move for 2 weeks straight we decided to take this time to recuperate and reenergise. Just as well that we were fortunate enough to be able to stay with my cousin, Jin, and his then-girlfriend now-fiancee, Jade, and their adorable pets Charlie and Fufu.
My cousin has a beautiful home in Brookhaven, a charming neighbourhood plucked straight out from a suburban movie scene. Fresh lavender and daisies decorated the sidewalks, lending a hand to the fresh dewy air that saturated the area each morning. His one-and-a-half storey house came with a porch that had a pair of rocking chairs and a fire-pit in the backyard. It was tastefully decorated, with subtle touches that brought forth memories of home, pieces of decoration I recognised from his hometown, Ipoh. We were impressed and very happy to have such a homey location to stay for a few days.
We did two main things of note in Atlanta: the first being the Georgia Aquarium. The aquarium situated in the middle of downtown was reputed to be the largest aquarium in the world (until 2012, then Singapore overtook them). With 10 million gallons of water within its vicinity, it was one of the best animal encounters I've experienced. Interestingly enough, even though the aquarium was huge, they did such an excellent job with directing foot traffic, imparting knowledge and providing entertainment that it did not feel overwhelming. They had a magnificent dolphin show that surpassed what I believe Aqua Man could have accomplished, and an adorable showcase of sea-lions. Furthermore, their largest tank, containing 60% of the aquarium's water, was, for the lack of a better word, ginormous. With what felt like thousands of different aquatic animals swimming all around us, it was a sight to behold. There were whale sharks, all sorts of rays, turtles, fish, coral and much more. Even for a non-diving enthusiast, it was extremely impressive. Moreover their conservation efforts felt genuine, unlike many other places that I have visited; I saw no signs of animal mistreatment and in fact, was happy to pay the ticket price of $32USD to help their conservation programs. This location comes highly recommended, especially if you are someone that enjoys this sort of thing. They even have opportunities where you could go diving in their largest tank.
The second attraction we went to was Coca-Cola world, which is situated right across the aquarium. I am not much of a Coke fan (or any carbonated drink for that matter) but it was still very educational to learn about Coke's history and their ever-growing influence on the world. To my surprise, I learned that Coke owned about 500 other drink brands, from Dasani to Minute Maid. In fact, 3.1% of the beverages drank world-wide is owned by Coca-Cola, and it all started because a pharmacist wanted to find a safe way to feed his morphine addiction. True story. Not to mention you can taste over a hundred kinds of Coke products here, which is also a great way to contract diabetes. By the end of the day, Bi and I were nursing a pretty intense sugar-crash severe nausea. But it was a fun and entertaining experience all the same.
In the end, Atlanta was, in all honesty, a city we could have probably skipped. Neither of us were really aquatic animal or coca-cola fans, but it was a great resting period and fun all the same. It was also a lovely time hanging out with my cousin(s) and an even greater time helping him decide upon an engagement ring! Thanks Jin.