Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hong Kong, Guangzhou, and Taipei / International Floral Expo

During our tour in the Shanghai World Expo 2010, I promised my mom and dad that I will take them to the Taipei (our hometown) to visit the International Floral Expo 2011 if they can stay healthy and fit for travel. Dad was fit, but mom was no longer with us. Still, I took mom’s picture along with us for one more visit to the places we loved.

First stop on this trip was Hong Kong.

Hong Kong lodging was expensive, so we stayed in one of the smallest hotel room I ever stayed. My out stretched arms can almost touch both sides of the room’s walls.

It is close to Chinese New Year, so we did some new year decoration shopping.

Next stop, we took a High speed train to Guangzhou. The background is the new Guangzhou tower.

There is also a Chen’s family temple / library from two centuries ago (as I am one of the millions Chen in this world):

We next fly to Taipei. It happens to be my father’s birthday, so we celebrated in my uncle’s home.

We finally got to the Taipei Floral Expo:

I think mom would have loved this place.

Another famous tourist’s attraction at Taipei is the night market:

And Taipei 101

It was a fun trip in the beginning of 2011.

I even bought myself a new Lamborghini.

Next post:

Is a red Lotus Esprit a magnet for speeding ticket?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Glendora Mountain Road

I told you folks that I bought the Lotus Esprit for the handsome look and to fulfill a dream. However, now I do own the Supercar, more and more I want to drive it and enjoy its athletic side as well. It is definitely a fun car to drive, once you get used to it. Now I can shift the manual gear fairly smoothly and have the confidence to rev the engine up for power. I can feel the G-force pinning me back when I rev it up. I am sitting so low to the ground and feel very secure as the car just rocket forward. People told me the thrust is even more on a V8 model, but I am happy with my S4. The superior handling also encourages me to make more G-force by making quick turns whenever I can.

I looked up some posting for the local So Cal Lotus owners club. One posting caught my eyes – A drive day on the Glendora Mountain Road. This is the first time I heard about the road. The date for the drive had passed and they had posted some pictures. There were 6 Elise and 2 Esprit joined the run on that day. It looked like run. I looked up on the Google map, and there it was, a twisting mountain road loop just north of the So Cal valley. I can drive there in 30 minutes. I want to check it out myself.

On an early Saturday morning, I took the Esprit to the Glendora Mountain and had a hard time finding the entrance to this road. Once I found the control gate (which is usually open, unless very bad weather or landslide) and got into to the twisty mountain road, I realized why so many car magazine or blog editors like to use this road to test drive some of the best sports car in the world. I believe they tested the Lexus LFA on this road (you can find the road test as well as many other GMR runs posted on YouTube). This road is well paved, but quite narrow, with hundreds of blind twists and turns. Most of the turns are greater than 90 degrees and test the handling capability of any car to the max. There are a good stretch of the road (like 12 miles) that does not even have a center divider marking so all car have to be very cautious entering many blind turns. The up or down hill portion do have a double yellow lines center divider so I can really turn as fast as I can with more confidence that I won’t collide with an incoming car. I don’t think the cop ever set speed trap in this remote mountain road so it is pretty much up to you to decide how fast you want to make those tight turns. Be careful, one wrong move can make your car skid out of the road and into some pretty rough terrain on both sides of the road. This is a real roller coaster ride that is in your own hands.

I was having a blast. I did not go very fast, but each turns are fun. There were not too many cars on the whole road as it really does not go anywhere but to a weather observation post on the edge of the hill. I do have a lot of 2 wheels companions, motorcycle and bicycles, to share this recreation road. Many people gave me a big thumb up when they rode passed me or I drove passed them in this Exotic car. This road hugging beauty just feels at home on roads like this. How lucky that people in So Cal get tons of good weather days and have this kind of great mountain road to drive on. It took me about one hour to complete the loop and I am hooked. I drove there many more times, especially with the removable top off so it becomes a convertible. I love it every time. I know my Esprit looks great, but now I love it even more because it drives great. The $32K toy is really a dream comes true.

I also found many more mountain roads around So Cal that are also a lot of fun. I especially like the HWY 18 to Lake Arrow Head and HWY 2 Angeles Crest highway. Still GMR is special. No wonder So Cal is the driving enthusiasts heaven on this side of the pond (I heard that Europe has some pretty crazy and stunningly beautiful mountain roads, too). Next time if you have a good car that you want to test it in So Cal, drop me an e-mail, I just may show you some great roads we can do a fun car chase on.

Here is a picture of the Glendora Mt. Road from above. I snap it on one of my business trip flight to Nor Cal. There is a small water damp made lake that is down below some part of the road. I often stopped at one of the vista point to take a break from the exciting driving and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

Next post: Another Asia Trip

Friday, March 2, 2012


The Lotus Esprit S4 stayed in Viking Motor Sports for five weeks. I was making a habit to drive 60 miles each way every Friday to check on it in the shop for progress. Here are some pictures of the work in progress:

The car I got had some other missing/broken/old parts so I decided to spend a bit more money to fix it up so it will be a great looking Supercar again. What’s $3000 more dollars when you already spent $7000+. Put in on a credit card of course and try to find a way to pay it down later. (Yeh, we all heard this one before). Here are more works I ordered:

Yes, go ahead with these (part one):
1. Tensioner bearing $100.00 no labor
2. Needs the clutch line, $170.00 plus $115 labor.
3. Wiper blade $30.00 no labor
4. A/c recharge $150.00 no labor
5. All four dampers adjust $115.00 labor
6. Brake switch adjust. No labor

Yes, go ahead with these (part two):
7. Hub caps $200.00 a pair no labor. (That’s just 2 little pieces of aluminum!)
8. Rear Valance $175.00 plus $57.50 labor.
9. Turn signal bulbs. $30.00 plus $115.00 (or less) labor.
10. Gearbox and Clutch inspection. $369 labor.

Yes, go with these (part three):
11. Clutch and pressure plate, $631.15 (inspection and labor cost already included below)
12. Do not need new clutch line and labor (already stainless steel line installed), -$285
13. New fuel filter, $10
14. New pair of rear hatch struts, $126

I also went to DMV to pick up my new personalized license plate, which I ordered right after I bought the car. However, before I received the new plate, which took up to 3 months, the dreadful “444” plate on the car worked its devil deed one last time. I will not drive with it ever again.

On August 30, 2010, I went to Viking Motor Spots, pay the remaining balance (Which add up tax and some more labor, total just short of US$11000), and picked up my “like new” Lotus Esprit S4. I put on the new license plate “JIAHWA7” before I finally got to drive it home. Why “JIAHWA7”? I will tell you in another post.

I was so happy the car is back in my garage again. It runs great, but more works are still needed.

The rear wheel rims are badly bent and I hate the run flat tires last owner out on it. I went Arrowhead wheels to refurbish these OZ racing wheels and put on brand new Sumitomo ZTRIII tires. I also adjusted the ride height to higher (so it won’t scrape the top inside part of the wheel wall when I corner hard) and softer (easier for daily drive). This is another $1200+. This put the total cost of this Lotus Esprit S4 to around $30K. Now it is the car I am proud to own and keep, but it is sure no bargain.

Note: This picture background is not my home, just a nice house and yard that I think it is perfect to photo my car with, so I drove in to take some pictures then left before anyone noticed. I do hope to get a house this nice in the future, but that’s another story.

Next post: Glendora Mt. Road