Monday, October 24, 2016

10 random things or thoughts about Sri Lanka

1. Sri Lanka is very popular among the Chinese (as in China's citizens). It was a surprise to me. It started off with S and I sitting in the waiting gate for departure and about 90% of the people there were Chinese. I almost thought we were sitting at the wrong waiting area. Upon reaching Colombo airport, we found that there were even sim package tailored to make calls back to China.

2. Sapphire is dark blue in colour. Ha - this is more for myself. For the longest time, I have illusion that sapphire is light blue in colour.

3. Train journey in Sri Lanka is slow and they are late most of the time. I quote from a tuk-tuk driver,"They are always late."

4. Regardless of how little space there is in trains or buses, the snack sellers can pass through. 

5. I've only know 5 words in Sinhala - Ayubowan (hello), kaju (cashew), wade (or known as vadai, a type of dhal snack), iringu (corn) and stuti (thank you). I know of Ayubowan before I travelled to Sri Lanka but the rest I learnt in Sri Lanka, the food words were all from my train rides. Lol. I wished I had asked how to say, "Chula is a good cook" in Sinhala. (Chula is the excellent cook working in Hill Safari, Ohiya)

6. I can't tell you if the view up at Adam's Peak was awesome or just plain cloudy, or how I had jelly legs going down the thousands of steps or how is Adam's Peak look like in the off season, because we didn't end up climbing it. We make amends by climbing up the little brother though.

But we made it to Little Adam's Peak!
7. Sri Lanka is not a budget destination albeit bus or train fare are cheap. Admission fees, however, are steep and tuk-tuk drivers very proudly announced that we have to pay a higher price because we are foreigners. I know many places have 2 sets of prices (local vs foreigner) but it doesn't mean I have to like it. 

8. We stumbled on a TV channel in Sri Lanka that aired a Chinese movie and it was dubbed in English. Mmm... let's just say I think it is a much enjoyable movie if they retained the original soundtrack and put in subtitle instead.

9. Eating places are referred to as hotels, so don't imagine flashy 5 star sleeping location.

10. Most of the bloggers mentioned they like kottu or hoppers but my favourite is the simple rice and curry - both the Tamil and Ceylon version.... and I learned that chop suey means mixed vegetables in Sri Lanka.

Super yummy rice and curry (thali) at Sri Ram, Kandy

Side note: I tried my usual Sri Lanka rice and curry joint in Melbourne again, it unfortunately doesn't taste like what i had in Sri Lanka. Must be the water... grin. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

My crazy Asia holiday!

I am entitled to 20 days annual leave each year but I usually try to only take maximum of 15 days which easily give me 3 weeks off. The balance 1 week I carry forward to the next year. I limit myself to the allocated annual leave, if I don't have any more annual leave days, I don't get my holidays. I am not allowed to purchase extra annual leave or to take unpaid leave, not for holidays. Despite my constant and recurring itchy feet, I am amazed I could be discipline in that sense. 

Last year, I spent the 3 full weeks in Central Asia. This year, I decided to also go back to Asia as it would stretch the dollar further. My friend, S wants to go to Sri Lanka. I am OK with the idea as I have not been, plus many moons ago, I have had the intention to visit this tear drop country though the visit didn't materialised. 

S wanted to spend 2 weeks in Sri Lanka at the minimum, so that was how my 2 of my 3 weeks annual leave in Sri Lanka. KL is always in the itinerary because that's where home is (sort of) and I have always try to include Singapore to visit friends. As the years passed, many of my friends have moved across the causeway to earn the higher S$. Ah.. and Bangkok, I've always wanted to visit this friend when he jetted around the world but the plan has never been hatched. The stars aligned this round and so I've included Bangkok in the list. 

So that was how I took 7 flights and visited 4 countries in 3 weeks' time. Little P referred this as my Asia tour but I thought that sounded too much like a concert tour, so it was referred to as my crazy Asia holiday!

M = morning, A = afternoon, E = evening
This round I travelled out of Melbourne in the morning with S, had a 5 hours transit in KL and so only reached Colombo at night. Departure from Colombo was a late night flight and I took went straight to Bangkok thereafter. There was a technical error on my part though because I totally forgotten that my flight out of Singapore as actually 1.20 am on 2nd Oct, so technically I only have one full day in Singapore. Oh well, better than none :P. All flights were with AA except the Singapore to Melbourne leg was with Scoot. 

10/09, Day 00 - On flight. Reached Colombo* at night (Ocean Studios Apartment)
11/09, Day 01 - Colombo*
12/09, Day 02 - Colombo, train to Habarana* in the morning (Le Grand Meaulnes)
13/09, Day 03 - Habarana*, day trip to Sigiriya and Dambulla
14/09, Day 04 - Habarana*, off to Polonnaruwa and Minneriya National Park
15/09, Day 05 - Habarana, bus to Kandy* in the morning (Three Three Five Guest House)
16/09, Day 06 - Kandy*
17/09, Day 07 - Kandy, train to Nuwara Eliya* (Heidis Home)
18/09, Day 08 - Nuwara Eliya, train to Ohiya* (Hill Safari)
19/09, Day 09 - Ohiya and off to Horton Plains, train to Ella* (Idyll Homestay)
20/09, Day 10 - Ella*
21/09, Day 11 - Ella, bus to Mirissa* (Amara Guest House)
22/09, Day 12 - Mirissa*
23/09, Day 13 - Mirissa, tuk-tuk to Galle* (Leynbaan Vill)
24/09, Day 14 - Galle, train to Colombo and taxi to the airport
25/09, Day 15 - Bangkok* 
26/09, Day 16 - Bangkok*
27/09, Day 17 - Bangkok, flight to KL* 
28/09, Day 18 - KL*
29/09, Day 19 - KL*
30/09, Day 20 - KL, evening flight to Singapore* 
01/10, Day 21 - Singapore, red eye flight back to Melbourne
02/10, Day 22 - Reached Melbourne in the afternoon
*referring to where we/I stayed overnight

S and I parted ways after Sri Lanka, she took a flight home to Alor Setar while I fly to Bangkok. I bunked at my friend's place in both Bangkok and Singapore. Given that I had very limited time in KL and there were some errands that I needed to run, I opted to stay in Cititel Mid Valley by choice for 2 nights and another night at my sister's place which is less convenient to run my errands. 

Side note: Why the blogs I enjoy reading no longer have any updates and made private? :(

Friday, September 2, 2016

Ph(f)oto Friday: Briont

Please meet Briont - the happy crossover of brioche and croissant. Brioche by itself is already yummy, so is croissant. Naturally briont is excellent. I bought a loaf from Brioche by Philip.

I first found out about this bakery even before I moved to Melbourne. I was on a business trip from Sydney at that time and stumbled upon their shop on Queen Street. I still remember I bought their blueberry brioche and it was absolutely fantastic.

Besides brioche, I've now also taken a liking to their briont, bronut (brioche + donut) and matcha latte from their Little Collins Street outlet. They do good coffees too. ;)

Most of it I had it either plain, with butter or jam but decided to jazz things up and went along with Melbourne's brunch concept and made this with the last 2 slices.

Yup - my fat breakfast consisted of 2 slices of toasted briont, cheddar cheese, bacon and egg, sprinkled with cayenne pepper powder.

I concluded that this bakery is dangerous but the good thing is my office isn't near any of their branches. Lucky for me. Grin.

Side note: Not too long for a break from work now... ;)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Ph(f)oto Friday: The last Bono

Bono gifted by Little P and family. They went to Japan and very generously gave me a whole big box but as per the title, I am left with the last one. To make it last longer (and longer), I took a few photos! Haha.

Side note: Bono.. yumm... 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Sydney: A night in Swissotel

I've been put at a different hotel at this stage every time I travel for work to Sydney, not too many times but at count number 4 at this stage. This is my favourite hotel but I don't have any good pictures to show. I would like to think this is because it was only a night's stay and not because I was busy stuffing myself with food. Ahem.

Swissotel Sydney is at an absolute strategic location on Market Street, a very short stroll to Pitt Street Mall and Queen Victoria Building (QVB), ok - and work too. Lol.

Walking in front from door
Olympics on TV
The white cupboard is the fridge
Retro feel tiles. Shower stall on the left so can't fit in the photo

Guess what? This hotel has a swimming pool!

I still this from their website
After my lament about hotels not having a pool, I had to fit in time to use it... and there really isn't much space in my eating schedule. My guilt conscience must be strong because I woke up at an ungodly hour of 5:30 am and braced myself in an outdoor pool. Heated but still outdoor on a winter morning. After a short splashing of water, I went for breakfast at about 7:00 am, which is also rare because I usually don't eat breakfast that early. Food comes after maybe 2 rounds of coffee and in the form of grazing throughout the day on a non weekends.

Anyway, all went according to plan. I finished breakfast, checked out and presented myself at work by 8:30 am. Not bad huh. So, back to Swissotel, if your accommodation budget allows for a stay in Swissotel, do book yourself a room there. Absolutely recommended! (... though this is not in my budget for my own self sponsored leisure travel.. sigh)

Side note: How do I know if it is cold or hay fever? Tsk

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Sydney: 2 working (eating) days

I wrote about how i missed a photo opportunity where another plane was at sight but I was busy eating before grabbing my camera. Well I saw it again but this was already getting pretty close to Sydney Airport so... but if I don't say it, it isn't obvious from up above is it? Grin.

I was back in Sydney quite unexpectedly. Well, to me, I didn't see any pressing issues for the need to fly but obviously I am not the bosses. It was a short trip, only 2 full days - flying in on a Wednesday morning and out Thursday evening... and that gave me 1 breakfast, 2 lunches and 1 dinner. Not too bad.

What did I managed to squeeze in the 2 days (aside from full day working, of course)? 3 separate catch ups with friends and a lot of food.

One of the regular ex-colleague I that always catch up with when I find myself in Sydney brought me to this Korean restaurant- Danjee. It was introduced to her by a Korean and I am convinced it is good stuff, completed by a lane way entrance on Albion Place. Both of us had the standard lunch box special which set us back $16 (actually set my friend back $32 as she very kindly shouted me lunch). I personally think it is good value as you can see the amount of food, complete with a bowl of seaweed soup.

After lunch, we crossed over to 580 George Street to Alice's Makan to grab some kuih as dessert or afternoon tea. By the time we got there, only kuih lapis were left on the shop counter. Seri muka were sold out, only a sign indicating seri muka were available was left.

Of course we went back to work thereafter. I met up with another friend after logging off work at 5 PM. As she is a model wife and needing to get home to cook for her husband, it was a quick catch up over hot chocolate. We just went to a cafe in Westfield's food court, just because they were still trading at that time.

I checked myself in for the accommodation (will write about that in the next post) and unload my things before making my way towards Central station area. We had Thai food this round, instead of our usual Japanese meals. This is another restaurant that I haven't been prior to this - Green Peppercorn. All photos are courtesy of E.

Durian shake ($7.50).. must be stated that they added coconut milk in these... not good as it meant it diluted the durian taste. 
Spring rolls ($9.90) and charcoal satay skewers ($10.90)
Chicken feet salad ($13.90) - I did try to be adventurous and tried the chicken feet.. not my cup of 'feet'
Pad Thai ($25.90)
Fried ice-cream ($14)
It didn't end here, we then walked over to Koi and got ourselves some cakes. Lol. There were some very nice description but I could only remember something something lemon and something something matcha. Haha.

The lemon cake was exceptionally delicate, by the time I walked back to the hotel the lemon chantilly cream has fallen off the cake = ="

After all the calories input, I decided to pretend to be healthier and woke up for a little swim the next morning. A little swim worked out my hunger so I walked to Surry Hills and had breakfast. :P

Mmm.. ok, I'll come clean. For some strange reason I had cravings to eat HK egg waffle. It is strange because I have never taste it before... so it doesn't really make sense why I had cravings for egg waffle. Anyways, to appease the cravings I rocked up to Haven and had this.

I was trying to do a quick snap and didn't realised that I was actually focusing on the wrong thing... but well, at least now I have a photo of the background eh.. haha.

Must have coffee - Macchiato. The day is better with coffee. 
I was indecisive between black sesame or red bean/green tea but decided will go with the black sesame. So "Sexy Me" it was - black sesame cream mochi, black sesame sauce, sesame chips, vanilla bean ice-cream, lemon zest, mint, classic plain waffle.

Lunch time plan was to grab more cakes! In the ideal world, I would grab some cakes from BlackStar Pastry (now that they are in Kinokuniya!) and had ramen at Ippudo but I left work for lunch late so there was a queue outside Ippudo :(

These are cheat photos of the cakes because I didn't have time to. The cakes had to endure some rough handling and by the time I reached Sydney, cakes had turned into a lumpy mess. I sent some crying stickers over LINE to E and S and they very kindly send me their copy of photos! Hahaa.

The famous Strawberry Watermelon Cake
Raspberry Lychee Cake
Lunch? I just bought a couple of sushi rolls as lunch. So that was how I ate my way around Sydney ;)

Side note: 如果他总为别人撑伞, 你何苦非得为他等在雨中

Saturday, July 2, 2016

FB Nature Photography Challenge

My friend tagged me over in Facebook on this Nature Photography Challenge which I thought why not put up some photos here too, lol.. maximising on this since I have already grabbed some photos off the HDD. There's no brilliant scientific reason as to why the photos were selected or in the order that I posted.

Anyway, the idea is is to post one photo (past or present) a day for 7 days and tag a new friend each day to pass this along. The idea is to flood Facebook with beautiful photo of nature.

Day 1: 
Asahidake 旭岳, Hokkaido, Japan (2012)

Day 2: 
Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA (2011)

Day 3:
Tanah Lot, Bali, Indonesia (2008)

Day 4:
Song Kul, Kyrgyzstan (2015)

Day 5: 
Kravice, Bosnia Herzegovina (2014)

Day 6: 
Mount Cook, New Zealand (2013)

Day 7: 
River Cave, Jenolan, NSW, Australia (2014)

Side note: Alright, got to stop procrastinating!