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Day 1@Bangkok, Thailand

2 Oct

Taking a break from work, I decided to go on a short trip (22 Sept to 24 Sept) with my parents to Bangkok. I bought my travel package (flight + hotel + insurance) online through Wing On Travel, and it was approximately HKD$3,400 per person, not the cheapest but acceptable I guess.

It’s my first time going to Thailand, and I was a bit excited, as it seems like all my girl friends love Bangkok. However, I wasn’t expecting a lot of shopping, as my parents are not a fan of shopping, so it was more of a first impression of Thailand and some standard sightseeing for this trip.

Early Flight to Bangkok
Early Flight to Bangkok on CX

Luckily we managed to get on the plane that morning, as all the flights operated by Cathay Pacific were cancelled that evening, due to Typhoon Usagi.

After we landed in Bangkok, we took the Airport Rail Link to Phaya Thai and changed to BTS Skytrain for Siam. I think the train network in Bangkok is pretty efficient and easy to use, but it’s a bit pricey. Oh, and there’s 1 thing that bothers me: at some stations, the staff is willing to sell the tickets to you at the counter; however at some stations, you have to line up for change at the counter and then line up again to buy your ticket at the ticket machine. Maybe I should get the Rabbit card next time.

BTS Ticket (Front)

BTS Ticket (Back)

BTS Single Journey Ticket (Front & Back)

As it was a bit early to check-in our hotel, our first stop was Siam Square. I originally thought the shops would be opened at Soi 5; however it seems like there was a renovation or something going on, so no shop were opened. In the end, we headed directly to Som Tam for lunch.

Som Tam, Bangkok
Waiting outside Som Tam for a table

After lunch, we headed to our hotel, Courtyard by Marriott, to check-in. Although the hotel is located in a quiet street, it was pretty easy to find our way there.

Courtyard by Marriott, Bangkok
Courtyard by Marriott, Bangkok

After settling down, we headed out again, stopping by Erawin Shrine and then took the BTS Skytrain to Mo Chit Station. When I go travelling, I actually enjoy visiting supermarkets, convenience stores and weekend markets; therefore the Chatuchak Weekend Market was a must-go for me.

Sudden Rain
Look at the heavy rain out there!

Thai Tea
Favourite Thai Tea Found@Mo Chit Station

When we got off at Mo Chit Station, it was raining cats and dogs outside, so we could only wait till the storm passed by. When we were waiting, we saw this Drink Station, which I read many good reviews on the Internet beforehand, and now I see why, Thai Tea has become one of favourite drinks now!!!

It’s slightly more expensive than the ones you buy on the street, but it really tastes so good! My dad tried to buy the tea back home, but all we could find was a huge tin sold at Central World Supermarket, and we thought it was a bit too much. If anyone knows where to get smaller packaging, please let me know in the comments below!

Luckily the rain stopped, and finally we were at Chatuchak Weekend Market. Just walk through the park and follow the crowd, you will eventually find your way there!

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market
Snapshot@Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market consists of everything, from souvenirs to home decoration, to food, to clothes… you name it they have it! I would definitely re-visit this place again and do some crazy shopping!

Food Stall@Chatuchak Weekend Market

Fried Squid Egg
Fried Squid Egg

Coconut Ice Cream
Coconut Ice Cream with Palm Seeds & Sweet Corn

I don’t know how to explain the fried squid egg, as I have no idea what I was eating. It was okay, but not my favourite. As for the coconut ice cream, it was good, especially under the hot weather; but the flesh was a bit too hard.

After a lot of walking around, my parents were tired. The moment we decided to rest for a while, it started to rain again! So we didn’t go to Or Tor Kor Market but got on the BTS Skytrain, and headed back to Central World, where I did some crazy shopping at Boots and had dinner at Kum Poon to end our day.

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Day 2@Auckland, New Zealand

9 Feb

Early in the morning, I went to the City Farmer’s Market in the centre of Auckland’s Britomart precinct. There weren’t a lot of stalls there and it was a bit quiet. They were mainly food stalls, selling street food, bread, fruits and vegetables. Nothing much special when compared to Sydney’s weekend markets, so I just hang around for a while and left without buying anything.

City's Farmers' Market

City Farmers’ Market

Then I went down to Quay Street and walked towards Auckland’s Fish Market. I ended up at a few different locations, the Princes Wharf and the Viaduct Events Centre where they were holding the Auckland Seafood Festival. There were a lot of people lining outside to join the Festival, but I wasn’t too interested in paying NZD$20 to enter, so I just walked along the Waterfront. Found this interesting place at Wynyard Quarter where they have a kids’ playspace, some interesting buildings and a small market with a few stalls selling food, clothing and accessories. Definitely should visit this place and walk around!

Interesting advertisement

An interesting ad at Princes Wharf

Wynyard Quarter

Wynyard Quarter

Silo Park

Interesting buildings and art works at Silo Park

Wind Tree

Public Art: Wind Tree

Dockline Tram

Dockline Tram

Originally I planned to grab lunch at the Fish Market, however nothing really attracted me. I really miss the crowded Sydney Fish Market. One place worth visiting at the Fish Market though, it’s the little grocery place where they were free tasting. At last, I ended up buying a pork sausage roll at one of the food stalls at Silo Park, which was pretty good. It came with a pork sausage, aioli, carmelized onion and ketchup.

Auckland's Fish Market

Auckland Fish Market

Pork Sausage Roll

Pork sausage roll (NZD$7.80)

Then I sat down under the sun, lying on the grass, eating my pork sausage roll and wrote some postcards.

After that, I started wandering around, I ended up at Victoria Park first and then Victoria Park Market, which I believe hasn’t really completely re-opened yet.

Later I headed towards Auckland Art Gallery, a nice place to spend some time there, especially to enjoy some artworks by local kiwi.

Auckland Art Gallery

Auckland Art Gallery

After that I went to Albert Park for a walk and walked around the campus of University of Auckland nearby; at last I reached Beach Road then back to Queen Street.

Albert Park

Albert Park

University of Auckland

University of Auckland’s campus

On the way back to my hotel, I got some more postcards, bought a box of sushi for NZD$5, which was okay, and a peanut brownie cookie from Mrs Higgins. It was good, just wasn’t that special, it’s basically a brownie in the shape of a cookie.

Sushi

Sushi (NZD$5)

Mrs Higgins' Peanut Brownie Cookie

Mrs Higgins’ peanut brownie cookie (NZD$1.80)

Day 1@Auckland, New Zealand

6 Feb

I made a search and found that Air New Zealand had the lowest one-trip flight fare from Sydney to Hong Kong, apart from China Airlines. I went to Air New Zealand’s official website, and found that if I stop over at Auckland, it would only cost me an extra AUD$30, so I decided to stop over for 5 days, which was the option with the lowest fare.

I’m sure it’s not my first time in New Zealand, but I don’t remember where I have been and which airline I was on when I was young. As far as I remember, I haven’t been on Air New Zealand for the last 12 years. I have been flying a lot with different airlines these few years, so I thought it would be interesting to see how other airlines do and make a comparison.

The boarding time printed on the boarding pass was one hour before the flight departs, but we only started boarding 25 minutes before. I think they had some problems with passengers who booked their tickets with another airline, because the flight was a shared code one, so they firstly had to find these passengers and change their boarding pass. Later when most passengers were on board, there was a missing passenger. After that passenger was found, another passenger lost his/her passport and I don’t think that passenger eventually found it.

After some delays, I was finally off to Auckland. I was on the Works, so I was served lunch. I chose the beef casserole with mash and peas, it also came with sushi and an apricot cake. Not the best flight meal I have ever had, but it’s good, especially the mash and the dessert. The beef casserole was a bit salty and the beef was slighty dry. The sushi isn’t like real Japanese nor Korean ones, but I was a bit surprised to see them serving sushi as a side.

Air New Zealand flight meal

Air New Zealand flight meal

One thing I really like about NZ is their seat, it’s very comfortable. In the past, Cathay Pacific used to be one of my favourite airlines, as their flight meals and service are usually pretty good, and they have very good entertainment system with a wide range of movie and music selection. However, recently I don’t really want to fly with CX, especially for a long haul flight. This is mainly because their seat is very hard and really uncomfortable.

After 3 hours, I finally landed Auckland; getting through customs and immigration was pretty smooth. I heard many bloggers saying that it usually takes a long time to get through; however the staff only asked me a few questions on what kind of medicine and food I had and then I was set to go.

I took the Airbus Express, it took me less than an hour and I arrived at my hotel. After I settled down, I went out and immediately headed to the post office to get some stamps so that I can send some postcards to my friends. I later realize that most of the souvenir shops do sell stamps, so you don’t really need to go to the post office to get them. Then I was hanging around, going in and out souvenir shops, just in search for some pretty postcards but not other stuffs, because my luggage is overweight, so I can’t buy anything! I also went to Countdown, the New Zealand version of Woolworth, to get some breakfast, water and snacks.

The highlight of the day was heading to The White Lady for a burger. It was voted as the Number 1 thing to do in Auckland, so I went there at around 6:45pm, and I saw around 8 people making an order while I was waiting. I ordered an egg burger, and it took some time for it to be done.

The White Lady

The White Lady

Ordering Counter at the White Lady

Ordering Counter

History of the White Lady

History of the White Lady

The White Lady's Egg Burger

Egg Burger (NZD$8.90)

There were fresh lettuce and tomato, browned onion, ketchup, grilled meat patty, and a fried egg. The beef patty was good, though it was a bit salty. The lettuce and tomato were super fresh! I can’t say it’s the best burger, but I’m a fan of food stalls on the street; so the White Lady is definitely different from many burger shops out there, and their burgers are delicious.

The White Lady (Corner of Fort Street & Commerce Street, Auckland, New Zealand)
Environment: N/A
Service: 8.5/10
Food: 8.5/10

Food Discovery Trip at Cabramatta

22 Jan

I planned a food discovery trip to Cabramatta and had a list of restaurants and food I would like to try, however this wasn’t a really successful one. I was planning to try the crispy chicken dry noodles at Tan Viet Noodle House, but it is currently under maintenance until 2nd Feb. I was also planning to try the doughnuts and fried banana fritters at Kaysone Sweets, but again the shop is closed and will be reopened on 25th Jan. I was pretty disappointed, but luckily still got to have some Vietnamese food.

After realizing Tan Viet Noodle House wasn’t opened, I was so hungry that I just randomly went into a restaurant, without trying to find the other ones recommended by many food bloggers.

Pho 54, Cabramatta

This restaurant is the typical kind of Asian restaurant, not too fancy interior and average service. The moment I sat down, I asked for the menu and the man just pointed outside, because they only have the menu on one of the walls, so I had to get up to check out their menu. I wasn’t too sure what to go for, so I just went for the first pho on the menu, which the man referred as Pho Special.

Pho Special

Pho special (AUD9.50)

The Pho Special was a combination of beef tripe, tendons, brisket and meatballs. For me, it was a pretty big portion. I would say it’s good, but not sure if it’s one of the best. One thing is note though, most of their customers were Vietnamese, so I guess it should be authentic and up to their standard.

It was so hot inside the restaurant, especially after having a big bowl of hot noodles and drinking some hot tea, so I was desperately searching for a cold drink. I was looking for a place called Hung Vuong to try their avocado shake, which was recommended by one of the food bloggers, but I couldn’t find it at all. During the searching process, I saw Viet Hoa Hot Bread, a place recommended for its Vietnamese roll. Of course, I couldn’t eat a pork roll after a big bowl of pho, so I went for their pandan waffle.

Pandan waffle

Pandan waffle (AUD$1.50)

The edge was crunchy; the inside was soft and chewy. I don’t really remember how pandan should taste like, so I’m not sure if it really has pandan flavour. At first I thought it was just like a normal waffle, but I actually finished the whole thing very quickly. It’s pretty good!

After the pandan waffle, I was still looking for a cold drink. I was wandering around, going in and out of the little streets and shopping centers, and came to Yummi Sweets. I have seen many people holding a cup of drink with the word “Yummi’ on the street, so I guess it should be pretty popular. It was also the only store I saw selling avocado shake, so I decided to give it try.

Avocado Shake, Yummi Sweets

Avocado shake (Small: AUD$4.0)

The lady put in a few chunks of avocado, some ice, some milk and something which I believe is syrup, gave it a quick blend, and voilà it’s done! It is very milky and creamy, with a hint of avocado flavour. At first I thought I couldn’t finish it, because it was very rich, but I eventually finished the whole thing. Try this if you like milk shake or something rich and creamy. If not, you can have a sugar cane drink, very popular choice among the locals.

Before I left, I also got some crumbed chicken thighs from Red Lea.

Red Lea, Cabramatta

The store is pretty big, one side selling fresh chicken, and another side selling friend chicken and chips. I heard that their chips are pretty good, but wasn’t in mood of having chips that afternoon, so I only got 4 crumbled chicken thighs.

Crumbed chicken thigh

Crumbed chicken thigh (4 for AUD$10)

Although they were cold the moment I arrived home, I found them pretty good. The skin, of course, was no longer crispy, but the flesh is still juicy. I would love a little bit of seasoning though, so I had to add a bit of pepper before munching them down.

Pho 54 (2/54 Park Road, Cabramatta, NSW 2166)
Environment: 7/10
Service: 7/10
Food: 8/10

Viet Hoa Hot Bread (John Street, Cabramatta, NSW 2166)
Environment: N/A
Service: 7/10
Food: 8.5/10

Yummi Sweets (Park Road, Cabramatta, NSW 2166)
Environment: N/A
Service: 7.5/10
Food: 8/10

Red Lea (Shop 57 John Street, Cabramatta, NSW 2166)
Environment: N/A
Service: 7.5/10
Food: 8/10

Restaurant Review: Hong Ha Hot Bread, Mascot

17 Jan

Half a year ago, I remember I was taking the bus to the airport to pick up my friend, it passed by this local bakery at Mascot and I saw this long queue outside. I didn’t know what they were waiting for, but I remember writing down the name of the bakery. I completely forgot about it, not until a few days ago, I was reading some blog posts about Cabramatta and some bloggers mentioned about the Vietnamese roll at Mascot. So I decided to go there to have a try, since I don’t live very far away from Mascot.

I got there at 12:30pm on Tuesday, and there were at least 15 people in front of me and more than 5 people behind, so you can imagine how popular their Vietnamese rolls are. You get really hungry when you are in line, because the smell keeps coming out from the bakery; luckily it wasn’t a really long wait, I got my order and was back on the bus 10 minutes later.

According to the notice, there has been an increase in price since 2nd January, but AUD$5 for a roll is still a pretty good deal. For the same price, I would rather get this Vietnamese roll than Subway.

Pork Roll

Pork Roll (AUD$5)

I am very picky with baguette, and there aren’t a lot of bakeries in Hong Kong that make real tasty baguettes. I have to say Hong Ha Hot Bread’s baguettes are beautifully crispy yet soft and fluffy inside, they are not dry yet still crispy. Not completely sure what they have inside, but I can see pickled carrots and onions, coriander, cucumber, pork slices, pate, and some seasoning and sauce. Absolutely delicious! I don’t remember if I ever had these Vietnamese roll before, but this has to be one of the best sandwiches ever!

Hong Ha Hot Bread

I heard that they have stores at other locations, though some people say the original store in Mascot is still the best. I tried to access their website, but it didn’t work. Anyway, this is a really good place to stop by for lunch or for a teatime break.

Environment: N/A

Service: 7.5/10 (Don’t expect super friendly service, they are just busy, but they are not rude)

Food:  9.5 /10 (Best sandwich ever!)

Overall: Be patient, especially during lunch time. It’s not a convenient location for most people, but definitely worth trying!

Address: 1151 Botany Rd, Mascot, NSW 2020

Official website: www.redroll.com.au (Doesn’t seem to work though)

P.S. Check out my other blog post for a review on the chicken roll.

Gözleme

14 Jan

Gözleme is a traditional Turkish pastry, rolled out, filled, sealed and cooked. I have seen them at several weekend markets in Sydney, like Paddington Market, The Rocks’ Market; but I have never seen them in Hong Kong before. They are very delicious, though some people may think they are a bit oily. There are a lot different Gözleme varieties, but the most common one is spanish and feta cheese. They are usually sold at around AUD$8 to AUD$10.

I first saw Gözleme at Campsie Food Festival, and there were a lot of people waiting (at least 15 people waiting), so I decided to give it a try, and I completely fell in love with them!

Turkish Gözleme food stall

A typical Turkish Gözleme food stall
(One preparing the pastry; one cooking the Gözleme; one taking order, cutting and serving the Gözleme )

The long wait for Gözleme

The long wait for Gözleme at Campsie Food Festival 2011

Turkish Gozleme AUD$9

Feta cheese, spinach, spicy mince Gözleme (AUD$9)

The Gözleme food stall at Paddington Market has some special Gözleme varieties, which I have never seen in other places, such as grilled eggplant, pumpkin, leek and a sweet cinnamon one.

Everything in a lot Gözleme

Everything in a lot Gözleme (AUD$10)

Gözleme

Potato, onion and cheese Gözleme with mild tomato sauce (AUD$9)

I actually like all the different variety of Gözleme I have tried, but I have to say one serving is a lot, it’s best to share with your friends. One more thing, don’t forget to squeeze some lemon juice on it before enjoying them!

Festival of the Winds, Bondi Beach

15 Sep

Went to Bondi Beach last Sunday (11th Sept) for the Festival of the Winds. It is my 3rd time at Bondi Beach, and still loving it, especially because the weather was so nice and sunny! It was so crowded, and there were many kites flying up in the sky.

So many people, so many kites!

Can you see all those tidy kites up in the sky?

Love the blue sky with white clouds!

Blue sky + White clouds = the perfect combination!

Don’t ask me why, but I was in love of aliens that day.

UFO taking off UFO UFO up in the sky UFO flying back home!

The creepy alien kite!

The big whale!

Wasn’t as excited as I thought it would be, I guess because the wind wasn’t stable enough, so the big kites weren’t always up in the sky. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the weather so much!

Of course I had my favourite fish and chips, with my fatty deep fried Mars bar from Bondi Surf Seafood. I think this fatty dessert originated in Scotland, and I have seen it in the United States before; however, this is my first time trying it. It actually tastes good, like how the caramel is melted, but I don’t think I can finish one whole bar on my own. Forget about losing weight for one day, and give it a try! I know it’s not healthy, but still worth trying it once!

Fatty food: Deep fried Mars bar

If you love to see kites flying up in the sky or you wanna try out your skills, definitely come to Bondi Beach next year to join the Festival of the Winds.

Official website: http://www.waverley.nsw.gov.au/things_to_do/places_of_interest/bondi_pavilion/annual_attractions/festival_of_the_winds

Campsie Food Festival 2011

4 Jun

First time at Campsie Food Festival. The weather wasn’t very good, a bit cloudy, but at least it wasn’t raining.
Campsie

Campsie is said to be a place with Korean cuisine as the predominate flavour, but the annual Campsie Food Festival definitely provided a wide range of food cuisine that reflects cultural diversity. There were French crêpes, Spanish churros, Japanese Octopus Balls, Korean kimchi, Thai curry, Indian mango lassi and more .

Gözleme

Gözleme

Gozleme with spicy mince (AUD$9)

Lemon Strawberry Drink

Lemon Strawberry Drink (AUD$4.50)

Jumbo Churros

Jumbo Churros (AUD$4)

Apart from food, there were a lot of other programs too, such as lion dance performance and music performances.

Food Craving

Perfect for family with kids too. Free rides at Anzac Square.

Free Rides for Kids

IMG_3533

Definitely worth going, especially if you are a food lover. So check it out next year!

Official website: http://www.campsiefoodfestival.com.au/

Grab a Chiko!

4 Jun

Chiko Roll is an Aussie icon, a deep-fried wrap that consists of beef and vegetables. It was inspired by Chinese egg rolls and spring rolls, and was once a popular snack at football matches. They are now found at supermarkets, and fish and chips shops.

I think the filling of Chiko Roll  does taste a bit like Chinese spring roll; the outer wrap is crunchy but the texture is different, more chewy than spring roll.

I like how the Chiko Roll is despatched with its famous CHIKO serving bag. Very unique and eye-catching!

Perfect on-the-go snack, and when you just want a quick snack!

It’s uniquely Aussie! Give it a try if you visit here!

P.S. I bought mine at Quay Seafood Fish and Chips at Circular Quay (AUD$3).