We left my friend's house around 8 in the morning on a cool November morning. There were five of us, including myself in the large van; my friend, his wife, their eldest son John, and my friend's brother Winston who was also visiting from Australia.

John did most of the driving. The distance from Terre Haute to Chicago is about 300 kilometers or about 185 miles, and John said the driving time would probably be a little over 3 hours. It actually took us three and a half hours to get to Chicago. It was still too early to check in at our hotel, so we went to have lunch at a Chinese restaurant. I have to say that this area of Chicago is nothing like San Francisco's or New York City's Chinatowns. For a huge sprawling metropolis like Chicago, I expected a much bigger and livelier Chinatown.

We checked in at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the downtown district of the city. It was a big and luxurious hotel and I expected a bellboy to help us with our luggage as they do in most hotels in Southeast Asia. However, no one did but it wasn't any problem, as all of us were only with our overnight bags for a one night's stay there. At least we saved on giving tips to the bellhops!

I shared a room with Winston. Our room was elaborately furnished with ornate decorations, so no complaints there at all. After a quick shower I went down to meet John at the bar. I remember ordering buffalo wings to go with our beer. My friend joined us later, but only for a short while. I think he wanted to join his wife and brother for a light meal in their room.

It was still early and we all went out to walk across the glamorous section of Michigan Avenue known as "The Magnificent Mile" which is the city's largest shopping district full of high end stores, restaurants, museums and luxury hotels. Some of the better known high rise buildings of Chicago, such as The John Hancock Center, Donald Trump International Tower, etc. are situated here. A famous landmark of the city, The Chicago Water Tower can also be seen from this street.

Halfway across the Magnificent Mile it started to snow although it was only November. That didn't seem to deter the many people walking along the street. I suppose a lot of them were shopping early for Christmas! I wanted to go to the top of the Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) a 108 storey skyscraper to view the city lights from high above. However, when we got there the line was so long that we decided to skip it. I felt a bit disappointed but tried not to show it. Next, we went over to the Drake Hotel which is an iconic Chicago hotel. There was a big Christmas tree all lighted up in the foyer. I recall taking a couple of photos in front of the tree. Our evening tour of the city ended quite late at night. We had done a lot of walking, and when we returned to our hotel I think I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow!

The next morning after breakfast at the hotel, we did some more sightseeing around the city. I can't remember all the streets or places we were at. I do remember that we went to an outdoor ice skating rink, and also the Adler Planetarium where we met up with my friend's daughter and her family. There is a very good view of the city skyline from the street where the planetarium is located. We also drove along Lake Shore Drive which faces Lake Michigan, and known as one of the popular scenic attractions of Chicago.

On the drive back to Terre Haute, I told my buddy that if only Chicago didn't have freezing winters, I wouldn't mind living there at all. He laughed out loud, but I don't think he believed me!