Sunday, August 19, 2018

Perth: Autumn leaves at Raeburn Orchard

Persimmon, not pumpkin.. haha
Please kindly overlook the fact that autumn had way finished and we are actually in the last leg of winter months. I have a pretty valid reason for the delay. I moved house (again!) and hopefully not again for a very long time. I need to stop saying I dislike moving because fate has it's wicked sense of humour. I find the more I dislike it, the more it would happen. I've moved a grand total of 5 times in the last 10 years, which means on average I moved once every 2 years. -__-
I still have tradies visiting way too frequently but hopefully this will soon pass.

Anyway, I was in luck to catch some remaining orange autumn leaves in Perth even after a day of heavy rain. Sis drove us (sis, niece, nephew and me) to Raeburn Orchard on a Sunday. They charge a fee for entrance of $4 for adults. Child enters for free. One can pay for entrance fee at the main area, where they also have fruits for sale.

We didn't linger very long but enough for many shots and the kids had a blast running around.

Side note: I need many quiet weekends to recharge...

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Hong Kong: Itinerary for 4 days 3 nights

Here's the recap of travel, or rather it serve as an index page for easier tracking.

Cheers to long weekends... and link to accommodation.
Ideas of things to do
Ideas of food possibilities

Day 1
Kowloon area, dinner at Social Club and night view at The Peak

Day 2
Crystal cabin cable car to Po Lin Monastery and Tian Tan Buddha, followed by Tai O.

Day 3
Hiking the famous Dragon's Back. Back to Kowloon. Dinner at Mak's Noodle and tong sui at Kai Kai Dessert.

Day 4
Brunch at Tai Hing, snacks and walkabout in Central.

Side note: Wonder if I still know how to swim...

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Hong Kong: Hiking the Dragon's Back

There were only two things on my itinerary. First being Tai O and the other, a hike. I narrowed my choice of trail to Dragon's Back and Lion's Rock. Between the two, I prefer the Lion's Rock but I read that it is the more challenging one. As I don't have much faith in my stamina, this is where Dragon's Back trail comes in. I asked S if she is keen to do a hike, and which is her preference. I've not been to either so am happy with whichever one that she prefers. She chose Dragon's Back, so that was the trail we did.

Most people take a bus and start from Shek O Road, accesible either a bus or tax from Shau Kei Wan MTR and stop at the bus stop at To Tei Wan Village. I avoid taking buses if there are other options of public transport and found a blog mentioning that they start their hike from Chai Wan MTR (after a short walk to the start of the hike).

So instead of starting the usual 'trail start', we started closer to the MTR station. I think I prefer it this way though.

The description from the blog post is detailed and we definitely didn't get lost. The walk cuts through a cemetery and coincidentally our visit was really close to Qing Ming Festival (Chinese Tomb Sweeping Day). At any time that we thought that we were lost, we were promptly reassured by random passerby carrying flowers or offerings walking passed us.

I didn't take many photos here as it is a cemetery and we were there during Qing Ming Festival.

For a good part there were not many people, and we didn't start hiking really early either but definitely more people as we hit the actual trail. Once we reached the trail, not once we wondered if we walked off usual trail. It is a very popular trail and safe.

Side note: Here's to hoping all will be smooth sailing ^^

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Hong Kong: Houses on stilts and drawbridge in Tai O

Tai O is home to a community of fisher folk on Lantau Island, making it a possible detour if the intention is to visit the Tian Tan Buddha. Contrary to most who are travelling to HK, my main reason to commute to Lantau Island was actually Tai O instead of Tian Tan Buddha. Reason being I have been to Tian Tan Buddha in the past albeit not via those flashy cable car. It was in S's list of places to visit, I have no qualm of re-visiting so we made our way to Tian Tan prior to Tai O.

Whilst I didn't expect Tai O to be totally serene, secluded and quiet, I was still surprised to see the crowd at this fishing town. I wonder if it would be quieter if we were there in the morning but it was after we have visited the Big Buddha. I guess everybody else shared the similar travel plan.

The houses on stilts, drawbridge and fishing village charms are still present, regardless of the busy human traffic in this little fishing town.

Our first stop was lunch, which was a bit more miss than hit but definitely very filling. Somehow I managed to find a spot in my tummy to fit in an egg waffle / eggette, whatever you call it. Yumm... though they are at least double the price here in Melbourne so I am exercising my very best restrain to curb my cravings.

After lunch, we basically just walked around. There is option of taking a boat trip if you want to. Once you are out of the main streets, the crowd was a bit more spread out.

Maybe all the food did get to my head because I can't understand why I didn't just buy this cha guo to eat later that I did not come across again.

and shame on the blurred photograph too :(
After making a round, we made our way back to the bus station. If you try want to take a scenic route back to HK Island, you can take bus #1 to Mui Wo (about 40 mins) followed by ferry back to Central. By taking this route there is an option to see some beaches, as well as Mui Wo or Silvermine Bay.

We took the faster route of bus #11 back to Tung Chung then transferred to MTR. The queue though was snaking long! The queue moved quite fast though, and I think they organised more buses as it was a public holiday. The queue for bus #11 moved faster compared to bus #1 and it reaffirmed our decision to just head back to Tung Chung.

Yup, that was the bus queue
On a sort of unrelated note, I find the foot pedal on the bins a great idea! I saw them in Tai O hence the sort of...

Side note: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Hong Kong: Crystal cabin cable car to Tian Tan Buddha

The last time I travelled to Tian Tan Buddha, I took a bus from Tung Chung. I think the cable car wasn't running then. As S wanted a visit there as well, I proposed that we take the crystal cabin cable car. Technically just means glass bottom cable car, a bit more expensive than the normal cabin car but I like it! A little girl in the same cable car as us wasn't too keen though. She refused to stand on the glass bottom. It almost feel like I should photoshop the pictures to make it appears to have crystal-like sparkles.

I bought a ticket off Klook as it has a different queuing line and slightly cheaper. I also found a discount code being a first time user (yes, from googling).

For comparison purposes, for one adult single trip crystal cabin fare.
Official website: HK$200 / ~AUD 33.75
KLOOK: ~HK$183.08 / AUD 30.90
After discount code: ~HK$168.27 / AUD 28.40

Not earth shattering kind of discount but any little savings is better than none and could get me a snack.

It also did shave off some waiting time as the line to exchange our voucher with the ticket was shorter. That said, we did have to queue for awhile, I didn't keep check of the time but the longer queue was the one getting onto the cable car. In the time where everything needs a disclaimer, nobody ever sponsor me to write anything ok. Grin.

It is a good 25 minutes ride which to me is just right. I don't feel like it is too short nor prompting me to ask, "are we there yet?". I enjoyed looking down at the top of the trees from the glass bottom too.

I wonder what this is.. I saw this from both my flight into HK and on the cable car
If my memory don't fail me, this Ngong Ping Village wasn't there during my last visit more than a decade ago. There were some souvenir shops and restaurants along both sides, oh and many humans.

We both got a snack before walking over to Po Lin Monastery first. This was where S' choice of egg waffle and my tong chung peng came into picture... and no, tong chung peng doesn't really keep hunger away. Haha.

Just before I took this shot, there was a girl attempting some yoga pose with her partner taking shots of them. I could imagine one of the many pictures would be somewhere on instagram on that day. I didn't linger long and S wasn't hungry anymore so we didn't go for the vegetarian meal.

As we climbed up the steps, there was a little girl doing the same with her father by her side. She counted as her little legs moved one step up, in Japanese. For some reason, it annoyed S to no end. She even stopped till the little girl was out of earshot. Ha. Maybe it was the heat, or it was just the staircase.

I totally forgot about the Wisdom Path which houses 38 timber columns containig verses from centuries-old Heart Sutra. So the Tian Tan Buddha was our last stop. We made our way back towards Ngong Ping Village and hopped on bus #21 to Tai O. There was a queue to get on the bus but there were still standing spots. It was between standing in the sun with limited shade for 15 minutes for the next bus or standing in the bus for about 15-20 minutes. We picked the latter, and arrived at a very busy Tai O.

Side note: Should I or should I not let my landlord know that there is a small hole on the electric switch?

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Hong Kong: Food ideas for 4 days

One of two of the meals were shared among 3 of us, the other person was S's friend so it looked a lot of food. 

This would be in the order of the meals we had including tong sui but I'll leave the street food at the end. So main meals first. 

It's a chain cha chaan teng and we went to the nearest one from the hotel. This was breakfast and prior to breakfast, I had a Portuguese egg tart that S kindly got me from Macau. I asked for two... 
I had the durian polo bun by myself because S doesn't like durian. Total cost including hot coffee and hot tea = HK$130 (2 pax)

Shrimp with spinach dumplings noodles HK$36
Durian polo bun, HK$14
2. Yee Shun Milk Company | 義順牛奶公司
I had the double-skin steamed milk pudding (雙皮奶) and S had the ginger milk pudding (薑汁撞奶). I reasoned that it is probably harder for me to achieve double-skin steamed milk if I tried to make it. Yes, that was how my food reasoning works. Forgot to take a picture before I dug into it, so let's pretend it looked totally fine. I think total was HK$73 (2 pax)

S wanted to see how Indian food is in a Chinese country and picked this one to try. We both ordered the South Indian Thali and cold coffee each. S also ordered a masala tea. Total amount was HK$305 (2 pax) so I guess Indian food isn't cheap in Hong Kong but it was a big serving. Food was decent but unless you really feel like eating Indian cuisine on your trip, otherwise don't need to go looking for it, or unless there isn't any good ones in your home country, which is fairly unlikely I guess. 

I initially saw this on recommendation on Instagram from a food blogger when I first moved overseas. She posted recipes and travel, etc. Long story short, she stopped blogging but posts photos on Instagram on/off. The review on Open Rice looked pretty good too. I made a reservation online and we went to the one in Central. Usually I am not very keen on fusion food as they can be weird but these were good, but skip that desserts we tried. As friends has issues with certain food and I want to try variety of different food, else I would've ordered the truffle shiitake buns. They look good right? 

Not in photo was a pork belly slider (HK$39), tea charge for 3 pax (HK$30) and organic soy milk (HK$19). Only R had the slider, so I don't know if it is any good. Total charges after 10% service charge came up to HK$540 (3 pax).

Ants on plate!
Or do you prefer flies?
Siu Mai with sticky rice HK$49 - good!
I think when R ordered them, he didn't realised that the noodles and wonton were together, the soup were exactly the same and the bill described it as Dan Dan noodles + Wonton HK$59.
Dan dan noodles - order something else....
Dan dan wonton
Sesame shrimp and Pork Dumpling, HK$59 - this was good!
Fried yam with okra HK$79 - just like other veges
Signature Roasted white king pigeon HK$29 - yum (it was only small)
Hand grasp pancake HK$39 - good!
Dessert platter of trio, HK$89. We chose bayberry with custard and I can't remember the other one. Also had a small glass of dessert which I think i missed out on the photo. I'll suggest you save the calories for other things. 
Not sure what's the connection between the Chinese and the English name but the cafe is one of those that was renovated to look old school. We ordered the same rice vermicelli set which comes with a toast. I asked for sunny side up and S got the scrambled egg. I probably should've try the scrambled egg but I don't really like my eggs with milk which is usually added in some recipes. This one looked like it doesn't. I don't have the breakdown of the cost for the set but total amount was HK$110 (2 pax). I rather like the food, it is homely simple food. S is a fan of the black sesame toast, but she is partial to black sesame stuff at the moment. 

Black sesame toast without condensed milk. The actual name was Black & White toast, so i guess this is only Black Toast, HK$26
6. Tai O Village - Good View Seafood Restaurant | 好景海鮮酒家 
We were starving by the time we reached Tai O Village and basically just went in to the first restaurant we came across. Initially I wanted to only get 2 dishes but I was worried S might not like my choice of dish and only ended up with one thing to eat. She chose stir fry vege with fish, and I wanted the cuttlefish cake. So we got 3 dishes, the last one was supposed to seafood tofu but upon ordering my brain went on auto mode and ordered fried egg with prawns because we were discussing between the seafood tofu and this. 

If I have to choose I only like the cuttlefish cake out of the 3 dishes. As you can see, the stir fry fish vege dish was a bit too oily and starchy for my liking. Even though I like prawns and I like eggs, but I'm not too big a fan of stir fry eggs with prawn. The thing is I'm such a glutton that there are very few things that I would not eat because I don't like them. I still eat them. -___-" yes i know, fat life. 

Anyway, total cost came up to HK$337 (2 pax). Yup.. not cheap either but let's move on... 

I think we both had a bit of motion sickness following the bus ride out from Tai O and didn't want to stomach too much food. Mango desserts to the rescue. I had the one with mochi and ice-cream (多芒小丸子) while S had the one with black rice pudding with coconut milk (多芒鸳鸯黑糯米). I think it is not hard to tell that I am the more glutton one between the two of us. Total HK$112 (2 pax).

We went to the one in Central because it was after our hike at Dragon's Back Trail. R said he wanted to bring us to an old school type which was nearby but he cannot remember the name. After my stroll in Central I suspect he meant Luk Yu Tea House (陸羽茶室). I think I would prefer an old school dim sum as this one has limited dim sum but more proper meal type of dishes. 

I have just realised I am missing one photo - fried angus beef rice noodles (安格牛河), HK$119. The most expensive of the lot which was the shredded smoked duck noodles balls turned out to be the most disappointing dish. The shredded duck was quite minute and totally overpowered by the tomato sauce. Total damage: HK$954 (3 pax).

There were flies and there were ants, so now we have fish.
Spicy turnip cake HK$59
Peppered eggplant HK$49
Dragon beard kale HK$89
Chilli pork dumplings HK$59
Steamed shrimp rice roll HK$59
Shrimp & Veg dumplings HK$59
BBQ piggy buns HK$49
Shredded smoked duck noodles ball HK$119
Sweet and sour pork HK$79
There are so many recommendations and debates on which is the best wonton noodles in HK. My friend who was from HK and still goes back every year told me her favourite is from this chain and I went with this one. I tried another wonton noodles from another shop just before I left HK, I like this one much better. It is good and worth the rave. I don't have the habit of drinking the soup when I eat noodles but I finished every single drop of it, and no, I didn't feel extra thirsty. 

It wasn't cheap as it was only a small bowl, priced at HK$36 (1 pax) but worth it. It comes with the wontons at the bottom, I flipped them over for photo. My dinner time are usually around 6-7ish, and I think it is considered early compared to locals so there were no queue. Besides, there are so many branches now, I think that would help to thin out any long queues. I went to the one in Jordan.

At the time of my visit, a family of four (Westerner) came in and made their order. Then the father took out 2 pairs of training chopsticks for their 2 young sons, probably around the age of 5 to 7. I thought that's a brilliant idea and good travelling experience for the kids! 

9. Kai Kai Dessert | 佳佳甜品
It worked out perfectly that the serving size at Mak's Noodle was smallish because it gave me reason to stop by for tong sui (Cantonese dessert). There were so many options to choose from and I want to try so many things. I narrowed it down to black sesame soup (芝麻糊) and walnut soup (合桃露), though I also really wanted the almond soup (杏仁露). I reasoned with myself that I might be able to find almond soup easier so it was between the two. Luckily Kai Kai catered for indecisive and greedy people like me, you can mix! So my picked was black sesame walnut soup (HK$22). I might as well go all the way, so I also added 3 tong yuen (HK$7). The tong yuen had peanut fillings. Please add them, you won't regret it. Total: HK$29 (1 pax).

We didn't go to any of the popular restaurants for roast goose, I don't think it would be my friend's choice of protein. So my friend (the one who told me about the wonton noodles) suggested this chain restaurant for fast, cheap and good roast meats. Indeed it was fuss free, cheap and yum. 

S opted for BBQ pork and roast chicken, I had mixed BBQ pork and roast goose of course. Goose + BBQ pork costs HK$68 (1 pax), come with a choice of drink. 

See, roast goose looks good right!?
12. Ho Hung Kee | 何洪記
If you missed out on eating wonton noodles before flying out, you can try this shop. I prefer Mak's Noodle but I ordered a dry version this round (vs the soup version at Mak's Noodle) so it is a bit like comparing apple with orange. Oh, and they charge HK$5 for the tea. I had dumpling wonton dry noodles (水饺雲吞撈麵) and it came with a separate small bowl of soup. The waitstaff who brought me my food told me it taste better if you add in some soup. Total HK$102.30 (1 pax) after 10% service charge. 

13. Curry fish ball and fried octopus 
We bought from different random stalls when walkabout in Kowloon.

14. Candy coconut wrap | Tong chung peng | 糖葱饼 
A type of traditional sweet, the candy inside is crispy and sprinkled with coconut flakes. Interestingly I thought it could be savoury because its Chinese name literally translate to sugar scallion (or spring onion) biscuit. It was said that the word scallion could be due to mimic the shape of the the crispy sugar. I paid HK$15 for this from one of the shops at Ngong Ping Village but later we came across this again in Tai O village at a cheaper price, I can't remember how much but at a guess, probably HK$10. It sounded sweet but it wasn't, though I only had one. 

15. Egg waffle | 鷄蛋仔
We came across this at many places but didn't intentional hunt for the famous ones. S bought the plain one at the same shop I got the candy coconut wrap. I succumbed to a pandan flavour (HK$20) one in Tai O Village. Initially I wanted to get the famous one in Tai O but the queue was long. In fact as I was waiting for my egg waffle, suddenly a crowd came and started ordering from the lady. She also sells the candy coconut wrap. 

I had 2 Portuguese tarts courtesy of S and had one fresh off the oven from Tai Cheong, HK$9. It was hard not to look like an idiot trying to juggle the camera and egg tart in front of a construction area. 

17. Silk stoking milk tea from Lan Fong Yuen | 蘭芳園
I didn't intentionally look for this, just so happened that I got on the Mid Level Escalators, when I decided to get off, I looked down and saw the stall. Milk tea cost HK$23.

Camera bokeh very strong when I was trying not to drop anything!
With so many food that I consumed, it is probably not noticeable but I was missing one breakfast because we only bought a bun from a local bakery and had coffee before our hike. I bought a purple potato bun (shame on me - carbs on carbs) but I have been seeing it everywhere when I was there!

Side note: Many thanks to S, my hand model with long slim fingers.