Friday, April 3, 2015

Ph(f)oto Friday: Central Park Broadway

After a very full-filling dinner with my ex-colleagues, I decided to walk back to the hotel from Broadway. It was a very wise decision, I really need to walk off some food...though the weather was a little humid. Then I walked passed this building and it look cool!

Oh - by the way, this building is Central Park in Broadway.

Side note: Passa un buon fine settimana! (Have a good weekend in Italian)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Sydney: Part 2 - Food

Ok.. I know this is a little strange because Melbourne is known as the food capital but when I find myself in Sydney I'll go food hunting.

I was in Sydney at about the time when I blogged about Polish food so I had super craving for Polish food. There's actually a good, homely Polish Club in Melbourne which I haven't been yet but there is one within walking distance from Sydney CBD so I went there first. I went to Alchemy in Surry Hills on the same night I touched down in Sydney. Power of craving.

I wished they do pierogi in starter size but they don't and I really wanted both pierogi and a pork goulash. I had both by myself. They served the pork goulash with fried potato pancake. Neither of the dishes brought me back to Krakow of Warsaw but I like the pierogi not so the pork goulash. Would I go back again? Probably not because it was quite expensive, both the dishes total up to $50. Thank goodness I could claimed it under dinner allowance.

Dinner on day 2 was of course, Ippudo. If you have read my blog posts for a bit, you would know I tried to visit Ippudo every time I am in Sydney.

I was indecisive between Karaka Men or Akamaru but I went with Akamaru because it comes with pork belly without having to order the special. I was good on day two because after resting I went for a swim!

I met up with friends on day 3 and 4. I had Malaysian meal on both occasions and no pictures to show because I was too distressed to remember photographing my food. I went with a friend to Sedap. Both of us ordered nasi goreng kampung and she asked for less rice. I finished my full portion while she didn't finished her, asked for a takeaway to eat for the next day's dinner.

Day four I remembered but was trying to behave myself so I refrained from taking any pictures. My friend recommended Malacca Straits in Broadway as this shop was their favourite Malaysian eatery. We had Ikan bakar (grilled fish), chai tau kueh (fried radish cake), oyester omelette, kangkung eggplant and silken tofu with mince chicken. The food was good, it is worth a trek all the way down George Street for it. ;)

Day 5 was back to Masuya! I absolutely love the Sapporo Hot Pot with soy milk soup so I've asked my ex-classmates in Japanese class, E and S if we could go back there.

Tofu Avocado Salad

This is either Sushi Tsukiji or Sushi Tasmania I think

Sapporo Hot Pot

Green tea creme brulae
S has just returned from Tokyo and we each get a bag of goodies. ^^

Side note: Food in the house is dangerous...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sydney: Part 1 - Grace Hotel

How have you been Sydney?
First trip of the 2015 was to Sydney for work actually. I started a new job and this was part of my orientation + training. The team assistant booked me in to Grace Hotel Sydney and I fly in on a Sunday evening, reaching Sydney at about 7 pm and out on Friday on a 5ish pm flight. So there wasn't much time for other things except work. Though I have managed to meet up some friends for dinner and use the swimming pool so I feel better indulging all the food.

This was my first time staying in Grace Hotel Sydney. It is what one would described as a boutique hotel as it is a heritage building. The location is strategic as it is just around the corner from Queen Victoria Building (QVB) though I must say it isn't cheap. With that price tag, I would have chose other hotels if I was to travel for pleasure. Since the company paid for it, I have no complains ;)

Oh, the Grace Hotel provides complimentary wi-fi but limited to 300 MB daily.

I tried to continue with my effort to move around in the swimming pool. They have a small pool but there was only one other person using it when I was there in the evening. The other time I was there was much later at night at about 8 pm and I was the only person using it. The pool closes at 9 pm.

This leads to the gym/swimming pool area

Side note: Coconut water infused with ginger, mint and mango is yummy!

Monday, March 23, 2015

VIC: A day trip to Bendigo Part 2

Ok.. here comes part 2 ^^

Conservatory, Rosalind Park

I was on my way to the see the dragons and the Conservatory was along the way. Naturally, I went to have a look though I didn't realised that I was at part of the Rosalind Park. This is a public park and open at all hours. However the Conservatory is only open from 8 am to sunset. The conservatory building was erected in 1897.

Chinese Golden Dragon Museum

One of my many surprise findings was Bendigo was dubbed "Dai Gum San" (this is pronounced in Cantonese) meaning "the big gold mountain". The reason why it has a Cantonese nickname was because back in the 1850's the majority of Chinese who came to the goldfields were originated from the Canton Province, from See Yap and Sam Yap surrounding the Pearl River Delta.

See Yap (Siyi 四邑) means four counties and it refers to the four former counties of San Wei (mandarin: Xinhui 新会), Toi Shan (Taishan 台山), Hoi Ping (Kaping  开平) and Yian Ping (Enping 恩平). Sam Yap (Sanyi 三邑) consisted of  Nam Hoi (Nanhai 南海), Poon Yee (Panyu 番禺), Soon Tuk (Shunde 顺德)
Not in bracket are pronunciation in Cantonese, in bracket in Mandarin.

If you have watched enough HK drama, they referred to older overseas Chinese foreigners who had made a fortune and returned home as "Kam/Gum San Ah Pak" (金山阿伯). So the thought of me actually being in "Gum San" just made me grinning to myself, even more so when one of my friend grew up in Bendigo. Grin.

The other surprise was seeing the word Toi Shan in the museum and there's even a Chinese takeaway restaurant of the same name.

Cantonese is fairly common in Malaysia but not so much Taishanese. My ancestors were originated from Toishan and my father spoke fluent Taishanese. I regret that I can hardly utter a proper sentence of Taishanese though I could understand it well if someone speaks of the dialect. It's one of those dialect that I could speak when I was little as I used to speak to my grandmother long time ago but due to lack of practice, it falls under the "understand-if-spoke-to-but-can't-reply-in-the-same-dialect" category.

The main attraction in this museum is of course, dragons. It is open daily (except Christmas Day) from 9.30 am - 5.00 pm and entrance fee is $11.

Meet Sun Loong. His body stretches around the Sun Loong Gallery.

Here's Loong.

These are not just any dragons. The two main dragons are named Loong and Sun Loong (both pronounced in Cantonese) meaning Dragon and New Dragon respectively.

Loong is the world's oldest Imperial dragon from the 19th century and replaced by Sun Loong. Sun Loong is the world's longest Imperial dragon. Sun Loong is newer than Loong but it arrived in Bendigo in 1970 after Loong's retirement.

Sun Loong's head weighs 29 kg and runs about 100 metres long. His head is more than two metres high and covered by 6,000 silk scales. Each scale was decorated with 23 tiny hand-cut mirrors. So there were over 90,000 mirrors on it's body.

There are other exhibits in the museum and the place kept me occupied for some time.

I even checked out the smallish gift shop on my way out to the Yi Yuan Garden.

Cloisonne is also a surprise find. I didn't think I would see this outside of China. My sis and I actually was hoping to be able to find some cloisonne display when we were in China but unsuccessful. Mostly because we didn't really know where to look. Lo and behold it is right in in Bendigo. I would've bought it for sis if they have a tortoise in stock.

Yi Yuan Garden

Entrance fee of $11 includes entrance to this garden. Yi Yuan Garden closes earlier compared to the museum at 4.30 pm.

According the Golden Dragon's website, Yi Yuan's architecture and construction was influenced by gardens in Summer Palace in Beijing.

Seriously, this is way beyond my imagination. I have never thought to see a Chinese garden in Bendigo. I suppose I was probably skewed after knowing my friend especially since we joked that he hardly eat other cuisine except from his usual three veges and meat meal. We don't even have a garden like this in Melbourne. =="

By the way, you won't miss this museum as once you reached the compound, you'll be greeted by some giant size flowers.

That was my last stop before I make my way back to the railway station. Oh, if it interest you, there's a Science and Discovery Centre opposite Bendigo Railway Station.

Maybe I should do another day trip to see more of Victoria. Bendigo surprised me, maybe so will other places in Victoria :)

Side note: Having lots of food at home is very tempting eh...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

VIC: A day trip to Bendigo Part 1

The 'talking' tram
There will not be any long or overseas travel for me a good first part of 2015 but that does not mean I could not explore new places or check out nearby places in Victoria. Australia Day is our first long weekend holidays in 26th Jan and one of the nights before that long weekend, I woke up at 3 a.m and decided that I should drag myself out to see more of Victoria. Umm.. yes, I could be such a big slug at times.

After a round of googling, I have decided to go to see the dragons! By train nonetheless. I was a little apprehensive if there would be enough things to keep my occupy for the whole day. It turned out that I don't have enough time to see all the things I wanted to. :P

View along the way
I took a VLine train to Bendigo on a Sunday. Ideally I would've prefer to travel on a Saturday as that would give me a consecutive two free days (Sunday and the Public Holiday Monday) but that particular Saturday was hot (some 35 degrees Celsius) and I wanted to check the Prince of Wales Showground Market.

The earliest Sunday train is scheduled at 8:36 am, arriving Bendigo at 10:40 am. If you check the train schedule, this train is flagged as requiring reservation but a note somewhere in the website mentioned one does not need to reserve if only travelling to Bendigo. I actually rang up PTV and confirmed that I didn't need to make reservation but would need to get on to the unreserved carriage, also I could use my myki. For once I think that is very convenient of myki.

After much contemplation, I decided not to the tickets for the 'talking' tram. *Gasp* The vintage 'talking' tram is the icon of Bendigo. It is probably wrong for me to forgo it but the sights I wanted to see are along the tramline but in between stops and within very walkable distance. The Asian gene thinks it is not cost effective to pay $17.50 for a two day fare. Even if I made a combined package fare, it would still cost me $43 (together with a Mine Experience ticket). No 'talking' tram for me, so I am comforting myself that it is similar-ish to the Melbourne City Circle Tram (which is free by the way ;))

This was my planned route, the time in red are the walking time from Google map. The actual route on the day was a much smaller circuit. After Golden Dragon Museum, I made my way back to Bendigo Railway Station because by the time I left the museum, it was closed to 4 pm and the Bendigo Joss House Temple opens from 11 am to 4 pm whereas the Bendigo Prince of Wales Showground market finished at 3 pm. I guess Bendigo would be quiet at night, either that it was because it was the day before Australia Day. As you can see, I've actually only done a very small circle. Alright, first stop...

Central Deborah Gold Mine

I've always associate gold mines with Ballarat so I was surprised to see the top attraction in Bendigo listed in tripadvisor is Central Deborah Gold Mine. The reviews were very good so this was my first stop.

I went on the Mine Experience Tour, the most basic and cheapest tour on offer at $30 for adult. It is a little cheaper if you combined it with other attraction, example Mine Experience & Vintage Talking Tram cost $43. Individual tickets would be $30 + $17.50 = $47.50. I only got the mines ticket as the Golden Dragon Museum that I wanted to go does not come in combined ticket. The lady at the reception was very nice and told me if I changed my mind on wanting to buy the 'talking' tram tickets, they can add it on for me.

The Mine Experience Tour only goes down down to 61 metres underground to Level 2. The more adventurous (pardon my lack of description) Underground Adventure Tour descends to third leve of the mine, 85 metres underground but it costs $85. Going down to Nine Levels of Darkness drops down to 228 metres underground sounds exciting but cost $199.

I had a little time to kill before the start of the next tour, so I walked around the surface level of the mine while waiting. The tour guide who led my tour session was Peter. I was the only one token Asian in the tour, as well as alone in the tour. The rest were there with families. I have reservation about joining tours especially when I"m alone because sometimes I stood out like a sore thumb but I had fun in this mine tour. I think Peter made an effort to talk to me because I was alone.

Clockwise from top L: (1) We were equipped with a hard hat and lights, (2) Peter demonstrating on the equipment, (3) Gillies Pie were heated up in the oven in the function room, (4) Peter explaining another equipment, (5) Entrance to the gold mine. 
Sacred Heart Cathedral

Sacred Heart Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church built in 1896. Wikipedia said that this Gothic cathedral is one of Australia's largest churches and second tallest, just behind St Patrick's Cathedral in Melbourne. Ha - this bit I only realised after my little day trip. Entrance is free and when I was there, there were only 5 other people. The other 4 people arrived about the same time as me.

Pall Mall

From the cathedral, I walked towards the Alexandra Fountain. This area is Pall Mall in the city centre. Alexandra Fountain was named after the Princes of Wales and erected in 1881. There's a tram stop near this fountain and it is the nearest tram stop from the railway station.

After crossing the road from Alexandra Fountain lies Rosalind Park, right in the middle of the city. Along the street are the Military Museum followed by Bendigo Visitor Centre.

Across the street from there is Hotel ShamrockHotel Shamrock is a grand 19th century hotel and it is one of the first building that came up when I started to look up what's to see in Bendigo. It started off as a The Exchange Hotel servicing miners during the Victorian gold rush time. This building was designed and directed by W.C. Vahland who was also the man behind the Alexandra Fountain.

... to be continued as the post is getting too long for a day trip :D

Side note: Is HK a good place to work to earn and save more money?