Friday, November 23, 2018

Peru: From Andean Highlands to Capital City

I've always wanted to visit South America. Machu Picchu was forever on the list of place that I want to go. 2 years ago my friend informed me of sale flights to South America but I already made plans with another friend for travel so I let it slide. I made up my mind that I will make this trip to Peru happen, even if I would be travelling by myself.

As I have not been to South America, it is very foreign to me (still is) and during my last holidays to Europe I felt that I should learn a new language, a non Asian language. Even though Spanish language is pretty much only spoken in Spain in the European continent but many Latin American countries speaks Spanish. So I signed up for Spanish lesson sometime this time last year. My Spanish level is very negligible and I am sure they gave me a lot of allowance but it was so rewarding when I managed simple, brief conversations with the locals.

There are a few people who commented that I am brave to travel to South America by myself, and some gave me the "are you sure it is safe?" look. I can't say for the rest SA countries but I have not once felt unsafe during my travel in Peru. In fact Peruvians that I met along the way are friendly. I was surprised that it was really easy to go around. Taxi drivers and peddlers are not pushy. A taxi driver even told me where to catch a colectivo (public transport in the form of a van) when I told him I don't want taxi but wanted to take a colectivo. People returned me money when I overpaid them (because of my poor Spanish, haha), and I don't feel ripped off because I am a tourist. Of course, travel like how you would anywhere, be vigilant, don't do stupid things and be safe :)

LATAM operates direct flights to Santiago on certain days from Sydney and Melbourne. When I bought my flight tickets, Machu Picchu was the only item in my itinerary. So I bought a ticket that get me to Cuzco.

M: Morning; A: Afternoon; E: Evening, MN: Midnight

26/10, Day 00 - On flight*. Transit in Santiago enroute to Lima. Domestic flight to Cuzco.
27/10, Day 01 - Landed in Cuzco. Taxi to Chinchero, Maras, Moray, Ollantaytambo* (Ollantaytampu Hostel Patacalle)
28/10, Day 02 - Ollantaytambo, day trip Pisac, train to Aguas Calientes* (El Tambo Machupicchu)
29/10, Day 03 - Machu Picchu, train to Cuzco* (Hotel Royal Frankenstein)
30/10, Day 04 - Cuzco*
31/10, Day 05 - Cuzco*
01/11, Day 06 - Flight to Puerto Maldonado* (Green Diamond Amazon Lodge)
02/11, Day 07 - Puerto Maldonado*
03/11, Day 08 - Puerto Maldonado*
04/11, Day 09 - Puerto Maldonado. Flight back to Cuzco. Overnight bus* to Arequipa
05/11, Day 10 - Arequipa*. Early bus to Cabanaconde (Vallecito Backpackers)
06/11, Day 11 - Trek to Llahuar* (Llahuar Lodge)
07/11, Day 12 - Back to Cabanaconde* (Backpacker Hostel Pachamama)
08/11, Day 13 - Back to Arequipa. Overnight bus* to Ica.
09/11, Day 14 - Arrived Ica, taxi to Huacachina* (Hospedaje Dulce Estancia)
10/11, Day 15 - Day trip to Islas Ballestas and Paracas National Reserve. Bus to Lima* (The Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast)
11/11, Day 16 - Lima. Night flight out of Lima
*referring to where I overnight

Side note: Going to watch Fantastic Beast...

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Hobart: A quick introductory visit

Hobart is just about an hour from Melbourne by flight but for some unknown reason it was the last state that I make my way to in Australia. There were plans but they didn't materialise. Last month, however, I have finally made a travel there, for work. It was mostly work really but I managed to fit in some play and food, in small pocket of free time.

Courtesy of work, I stayed at Grand Chancellor Hobart which overlooks the Hobart Harbour. The photo above was taken from the hotel's level 19. Most of my time in the hotel was spent in conference rooms for talks or in the room working. Yes, the room comes with a working desk....

We were served morning tea and lunch as part of work. On top of that, we also had dinner functions so I only ate outside for 2 breakfasts. I had to order room service for dinner on day 1 as I had to work but on second night I had dinner at The Glass House. The food we had at The Glass House was excellent but I was also trying to put on my best behaviour so no photo on that one.

Room service dinner

I wanted to have seafood in Hobart, so I ordered the Tassal salmon fillet dish. It came with lemon scented crushed potato, soft herbs and sauce americaine. It was pretty good.

Jackman & McRoss

I had a walk around and popped by Jackman & McRoss for breakfast on one of the days. It had a good review on food apps. It was ok. I had scallop pie for breakfast, not a very common breakfast item I think. Haha.

Daci & Daci Bakery

There were a couple of items that I wanted to try but in the end I chose Huon aquaculture smoked salmon, fried duck eggs & brioche. Didn't look like a big portion but definitely filling.

Walks / Things to do
A good walk round the harbour towards Battery Point, throw in a breakfast in one of the cafes then back via Kelly's Steps.

Salamanca Market
Salamanca Market is one of the Australia's most famous street market in Tasmania. It is located at Salamanca Place and operates every Saturday from 8:30am to 3:00pm (except Anzac and Christmas Day if they fall on a Saturday). It is a great place to explore great Tasmanian produce and locally made products.

It is bigger than it looks...
MONA - Museum of Old and New Art
I only have time for one thing, and given good reviews of this museum I thought I'll go have a look. I had some reservations on going to MONA because I am not that cultured. Still clueless about modern art but the place is pretty cool, and I do like some of  the interactive arts.

I won't go into details of how to get there, etc as the website is quite detailed. The ferry ride is worth it. I went there by ferry but took a taxi to the airport right after. Also want to mention that I had a carry-on size luggage as well as a sling camera bag. I had to deposit both due to size and of course, I have no intention to lug around the luggage. I carried my camera, phone and wallet with me as I walked around the museum.

The staircases don't move but reminded me of Harry Potter.. haha

That was all I did in Hobart, plenty of eating and work. Hobart, I'll return for more :)

Side note: December is next week! Wow

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Sydney: 2D1N work trip

Heading to Sydney
Unlike the previous years, I have not been travelling to Sydney till early last month. It was also a strange one (to me) because we were flown up for a meeting. So it was a short 2 day 1 night trip and managed to secure a room at the excellent Swissotel again ;)

The previous times I stayed in Swissotel I didn't see this smartphone on loan service, maybe they have just started this.

I am also happy to know that I still know how to swim. Thank goodness. Haha. Yes, I woke up at about 6 in the morning, went for a swim before breakfast on my second day yo. Yes, I managed to try different eating places this time though. So here goes.

Ipoh Town (I went to the one on York Street)

I am always on the hunt for good char kway teow and I saw that they have it on their menu so that was the main reason this shop was in my list to try. I changed my mind on ordering the CKT though because my colleague told me that they used the thin type of rice noodles. I ordered the Ipoh Hor Fun ($11) instead, it was pretty good and I won't mind going back for a fuss free lunch.

Yayoi, The Galeries
I caught up with an ex-colleague for dinner and the food below were shared. They were good! Yumm.

Nasu miso, $10.80
Yayoi Gozen which consisted of pork loin cutlet, salmon salad, salmon teriyaki and sukiyaki, $32
shima hokke shio-yaki, $19.30
We didn't have any dessert but went to have tea at another location.

Bluebird Coffee Sydney at Regent Place
They had taro latte on menu on the day of my visit and I wanted to try it despite just had a very full meal. It wasn't heavy nor sweet, so I did enjoy it.

Being extra, we also ordered 2 cakes to share and I had the bigger share. Both were good but we preferred the tiramisu as the crust for the cheesecake felt too thick at some parts.

Devon Cafe Barangaroo
This cafe is more pricey than average cafe but I had my eyes on the truffle menu!

Espresso to kickstart the day
Truffle egg sando
The staff were attentive, a bit too attentive.. haha.. they would walk over and check on me whenever I turned to look at the counter side. I was sitting with my back facing the counter. The waitstaff thought I was trying to ask if my food was ready, in actual fact, I was looking at the menu and contemplating if I wanted to grab a matcha latte takeaway. Hahaha.

I didn't have time to go out for lunch on my second day, and it didn't feel right to do so as well, especially when my colleague wanted to take the 3:30 PM flight back to Melbourne (I just booked the same time as her to make things easier). So we ended up grabbing an expensive sushi roll in the airport to tie us over to dinner.

Back to Melbourne

Side note: Hopefully the last 2 calls to tradies this week [-o<

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Perth: Hifumiya Udon and Ippudo Ramen

I pretty much eat at home when in Perth but the couple of occasions we went out, we had Japanese food. Once udon and the other ramen. Hahaha. Hence the title. First up, udon first simply because we had udon first.

Udon at Hifumiya Udon Noodle House

The concept of the shop is a bit like casual udon or soba shop in Japan where you order and pick up at the counter yourself, then add toppings as you like before you paid. The shop itself gives the vibe of school canteen like. Haha.

I initially wanted the Hifumiya Original (deep fried bean curb, slow-cooked egg, seaweed, dried bonito) but as sis also wanted to order the same, the glutton brain decided that we should try more variety so I went for Kamatama Mentai (Chilli cod roe, slow-cooked egg, butter, black pepper with original soy sauce), $8.80.

Sis had already started eating when I got my bowl because I had to wait a little. I preferred Hifumiya Original because I find my choice a little too salty for my liking. Aside from that, it was good. We also shared a kakiage $2.80. Options of hot or cold tea or water are free of charge.

Ramen at Ippudo
Hahaha... yes, Melbourne has finally have yummy ramen because we now have our very own Melbourne Ippudo outlet. There are always long queue to get into Ippudo so when I had Ippudo in Perth, I haven't been to the one in Melbourne. (This has since been remedied, I have since went to the shop with Little P last month).

We ordered 2 ramen (karaka tamago and akamaru tamago) but one very blur photo so only one ramen here. We also ordered extra serving of noodles for the kids (plain.. haha) and grilled unagi don.

3 adults and 2 kids shared one dessert of Kurogoma panna cotta (original black sesame panna cotta, berries and mint). It was delish.

Side note: Any dramas recommendations? 

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...