Thursday, April 28, 2016

Bayside: Black Rock Beach and Brighton Bathing Boxes

Still playing catching up. This was taken on my birthday earlier this year when my friend suggested we should get our butts off the couch (in our respective home) and go for a little walk. We had a brunch before she very kindly drove us to Black Rock Beach for a little stroll.

Black Rock Beach is about 10 minutes away from the more famous icon, the Brighton Bathing Boxes which I have just realised I didn't post any of the pictures up. Anyway, let's remedy that, here's a couple of photos to show what is a bathing box.

So.. back to Black Rock Beach. We had a bit of a walk and tried to get up to 10K steps as tracked by my friend's fitbit. We gave up after awhile and it was getting too warm and went for a smoothie instead. Ha ha.. somehow every time I went for a walk, I ended it with some sort of food. :P

After smoothies, we even treat ourselves to an early dinner of nasi lemak. Well, I've heard hearsay that calories don't count on celebrations... I hope that is true :D

Side note: 琅琊榜 is an excellent drama! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Perth: Pluck your own strawberries

Sis and family live in Perth, so on/off I would do a R&R to Perth. Sometimes I do via a long weekend but the last couple of years I could ask to work for a short stint in Perth and save up my annual leave, I thought that was a brilliant idea and did that once or twice. My last visit to Perth was just that, off to Perth on a Thursday evening and back the weekend after so that I get at least a full weekend. After all, initially sis planned a farm stay since mum was in Perth then and that would require a minimum two nights' stay.

Long story short, farm stay didn't work out and in lieu of that we went to pluck some strawberries as I was there in October last year. (err ha ha, yes I'm still covering up all the back posts).

Sis did some googling and off we went to Ti Strawberry Farm in Bullsbrook. It's a good way to spend some time but oh gosh, the flies! Also, the dust will cover all over your shoes, haha. It was said that the farm was open for pluck-your-own because the strawberries are over ripe for any commercial purposes.

I didn't have many photos as this round I didn't carry my camera to reduce luggage load as I was being cheapskate and didn't pay extra for any check-in luggage, also needing to carry a work laptop.

Post strawberry picking, we had bread, pastry, sorbet, crepe, sponge cake, smoothie - all with strawberry as the core ingredient. I only helped in eating... hahaha... and also stole this photo from sis.. haha.

It was seriously just pretty much a lot of eating going around especially since I was working Australian Eastern time in Perth, which was a 3 hour difference so I had 2 breakfasts every day and plenty of "tea time" and snacks throughout the day.

Almond brioche
Braised dried oyster in minced meat balls
Yong tau fu
More yong tau fu and stuffed green chillies

Side note: I'm hungry again!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Sydney: The trip with the least photos

Granted it was a work trip and only a couple of days (flying out of Melbourne on a Tuesday afternoon and return on Saturday morning) but usually I had more photos and just a handful. In fact, majority of the photos were taken from the flight, almost thought "Why did I lug my camera along?" Lol.

Anyways, the main reason for the trip was for a team building activity on a Friday afternoon. After a voting session by everybody in the team, we went for cocktail masterclass at Li'l Darling in Surry Hills. The masterclass started with a demonstration of making 3 cocktails by the bartenders. Thereafter each of us get to make our own pick of cocktail. On top of that, each get another drink and we were served some pizzas. Definitely a lot of alcohol going around. I made an espresso martini...

Balance of my dinners of course were with friends. We had Izakaya Masuya and Sushi of Masuya (now name Masuya Suisan) this round. Ahem.. I was being polite so I didn't take any photos at all (what was I thinking?) I actually missed Ippudo this trip too (see, least photos, least food. Tsk tsk) and I had Chat Thai with another friend over a dinner.

I stayed in Four Points by Sheraton overlooking Darling Harbour. They don't have a swimming pool (what's with the hotel in Sydney, the ones I ended up with doesn't have a swimming pool. Sux) but the room was ok. The view wasn't bad though.

The weather was probably the worse I had as a visitor to Sydney. It was pouring the whole time we were there... and I didn't bring an umbrella. On one of the nights when I walking passed the junction of Barrack Street and George Street, I got a fright...

As we had the cocktail masterclass on a Friday afternoon/evening, we fly out on Saturday. The best photo of the whole trip was probably this one. Well, rainbow wins :)

Promised I have redeemed myself with the next Sydney trip, definitely more food photos! ^^

Side note: Long weekend is a bliss (/^▽^)/

Friday, April 22, 2016

Ph(f)oto Friday: Chinatown

Yes - this is found right smack in Chinatown in Melbourne. Not too sure what it try to portray but I thought the little kid looks cute.

Anyway, exam is done and dusty but results won't be out till end of May. Seriously hope I pass! The bit of the good news is - it's the long weekend... I shall be home (as usual) and have a quiet one without studying though! ^^

Side note: I'm having withdrawal syndrome from not travelling... 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Central Asia: Itinerary for 3 weeks in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Kazakstan

 - Some notes on applying for Uzbekistan visa
 - Getting free accommodation during transit from China Southern Airlines
 - Booking Uzbekistan Airways online
 - Breakdown of travel days and links to accommodation.
 - Uzbekistan's favourite sons and some random tips on travelling around Uzbekistan

China: Urumqi
Day 1 - Layover in Urumqi

Kyrgyzstan: Bishkek
Day 2 - Getting to Bishkek and things to do in Bishkek

Kyrgyzstan: Kochkor/Song Kul
Day 3
 - Getting to Kochkor and organising things with CBT.
 - Lunch in Kochkor before travelling to Song Kul

Kyrgyzstan: Song Kul
Day 4 - Yurt stay and things to do at Song Kul

Kyrgyzstan: Bishkek
Day 5 and 6 - Back to Bishkek for Kyrgyzstan's Independence Day, Ala Archa National Park and Osh Bazaar

Day 7 - Mini fright at Manas Airport and errand day in Tashkent.

Uzbekistan: Tashkek
Day 7 and 8 - Things to see/do in Tashkent
Day 9 - Travelling to Khiva

Uzbekistan: Khiva
Day 10 - Day trip to Elliq Qala
Day 11 and 12 - Things to see/do in Khiva

Uzbekistan: Khiva/Bukhara
Day 13 - Wonder if the somsa I didn't get to eat is yummy

Uzbekistan: Bukhara
Day 14 and 15: Things to see/do in Bukhara, complete with a hammam experience

Uzbekistan: Nurata/Kyzyl Kum Desert
Day 16 - Pit stop at Nurata before a yurt overnighting in Kyzyl Kum Desert

Uzbekistan: Nuratau Mountains
Day 17
 - A visit to Lake Aydar and maybe a Kazakh village of Dungalak.
 - Then we had a homestay at Asraf Village

Uzbekistan: Nuratau Mountains/Samarkand
Day 18 - A quick visit to Uhum Bazaar before we were off to Samarkand

Uzbekistan: Samarkand
Day 19 and 20 - Things to see/do in Samarkand.

Kazakhstan: Tashkent/Almaty
Day 21 - Travelling day

Kazakhstan: Almaty
Day 22 and 23: Things to see/do in Almaty and a super sized "small plate chicken" - xiaopanji (小盘鸡).

China: Urumqi
Day 24 - Overnight transit in Urumqi, dashed through Guangzhou before landed home in Melbourne.

Side note: Ok, this is the last of my scheduled posts. I've been staggering on the published date and have to be on a break now... to study again. Got to pass this exam... back soon! ^^

Friday, February 12, 2016

Ph(f)oto Friday: Dapanji

Actually I think they named it xiaopanji (small version of dapanji). The vege dish on the right is normal portion, the one of the left us jaw dropped when we were served. We can't finish them and asked for a doggie bag. The best way to transport something with sauce (even though we didn't try not to pack the sauce) is holding it all the way; however we still have the whole day to walk about in Almaty.

I packed them in my backpack and carried the food up Kok Tobe and all around city. Needless to say, my backpack smelt like dapanji for the days to come. The good thing was the backpack was on the verge out by then, so I have discarded the backpack upon return to Melbourne.

The other thing missing after my Central Asia trip was my hoodie. Long story short, my postponed flight from Urumqi to Guangzhou was delayed and they didn't want to check my luggage till they were confirmed I would be on the flight. So with the rush here and there, I absent-mindedly left my hoodie in Urumqi airport to which I could pictured an obaasan (old lady) wearing them in the Urumqi streets. Lucky thing I only paid $8 for it, else I would be T_T all the way.

Side note: Yaaawnn...

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Central Asia: Kazakhstan - Things to See/Do in Almaty

Sis described Almaty as "feel like KL but cooler weather". I must say I share a similar feel. I'm sorry Almaty but comparative to our stops in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, the people feels less friendly and helpful. I suppose it must've come with development. Almaty is definitely more developed than the balance of places we been in Central Asia.

1. Panfilov Park

The star attraction for me in this park is no other than Zenkov Cathedral. This cathedral is Kazakhstan's nearest distant relative to St. Basil's Cathedral and of Almaty's few surviving tsarist-era buildings. It was designed by AP Zenkov in 1904 and said to be built entirely of wood. No photos of the interior as we respect the 'no photography' sign on display. The interior is as stunning as the exterior. 

The park, however, is named for the Panfilov Heroes, 28 soldiers of an Almaty infantry unit who died fighting off Nazi tanks in a village outside Moscow in 1941. They are commemorated at a war memorial a short stroll from the cathedral. The memorial depicts soldiers from all 15 Soviet republics bursting out of a USSR map. 

Another memorial in the form of eternal flame honouring the fallen of 1917-1920 (Civil War) and 1941-1945 (WWII) is also found in this park. At the time of our visit, there was a rehearsal of a marching event. We watched for a little while before make our way to our next stop. 

2. Kazakh Museum of Folk Musical Instruments
This museum is the form of a wooden building, also the work of Zenkov. As the name presented, the exhibits are on folk musical instruments. 

3. Kok-Tobe
We toyed with the idea of getting to one of Almaty's surrounding mountains but given the limited time we had in Almaty, it didn't seem feasible so the alternative destination was Kok-Tobe. Kok Tobe or Green Hill is a 1100 metres hill. There were supposed to have options of cable car and by public bus but the cable car service is not running. so, it's worth to double check if it has re-open when you are visiting. That translated to, we took a bus. We were forewarned by our travel partners who shared the taxi with us on the long ride from Khiva to Bukhara about the non-running-cable cars. We found this post on getting to Kok Tobe via a bus as well. 
A 372m high TV tower

Upon reaching the hill, there is a very mini zoo and sad looking animals. There are also some amusement park to cater for tourists/visitors. We came for the view and I thought at the same time would check out the Beetles. Oh, and there are souvenirs stalls too.

4. Green Market
This place sells a good variety of food but the winning idea would be this breakfast cart, such a great idea. 

He called us and wanted us to take a photo of him

By the time we reached here where heaps of stalls were selling kimchi, we were approached by a guard and told that we are not to take any photos. So we kept our camera away.

5. Respublika Alany
It is a plaza or square showcasing the Independence Monument. It is actually a stone column with a replica Golden Man standing on a winged snow leopard. 

In 1969, in Issyk (about 70 km from Almaty) a skeleton was recovered from a burial mound. This skeleton was believed to be of an 18 year old Scythian warrior dating back to the 2nd or 3rd century BCE. This warrior was discovered wearing a gold-platted uniform, along with a gold dagger and sword. This soon became a symbol of Kazakhstan's past and heritage leading to the nickmane of "Golden Man"

At the bottom of this column, there's a sculpture in the form of a book. 

Around it's base are statues of a Kazakh family and behind a semi-cirular wall depicting scenes from Kazakhstan's history. 

A few steps along from road away from Republic Square, there's another monument. This Dawn of Freedom Monument, built in 1986 honours those killed and injured in a local uprising. 

6. Zhibek Zholy
It is actually a pedestrian only street dotted with art stands, buskers and cafes. There are some shopping centers along it as well. 

There's a "seat" for you to lie down and appreciate this recycling art
This piece of art is named "The Bride" and is made of plastic bags. 
7. Metro stations
Almaty Metro is only opened in December 2011. Unlikely it's neighbour, Uzbekistan, photography is ok. The metro is spacious, clean and has various form of artwork on the wall as well as on display. 

Side note: Ha! Back in Sydney ;)