Day 04: Bangkok – Abloom!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Can’t believe it was already the fourth morning of our trip! Let me show you where we were staying in Bangkok!

Buffet breakfast provided by the hotel. Small selection, but adequate to get you going until you find some real food out on the streets! 😉

IMG_4928

IMG_4929

Pool! Always nice to have a pool!

IMG_4931

IMG_4932

Hotel had a really nice and quirky lobby.

IMG_4934

IMG_4936

IMG_4937

IMG_4938

And we’ll end the post with a selfie!

IMG_4939

On to fun touristy-yet-beautiful stuff in the next post!

Day 03: Bangkok – Dinner at Gaggan!

Monday, July 15, 2013

After our little shopping adventure, we met up with Laura in the evening close to Lumpini Park for some drinks – buy one cocktail get one free! 😀

It was nice to spend more time together but it wasn’t long before we said our good-byes and parted ways because Mike and I had reservations for a very special dinner… at Gaggan, known for its progressive Indian cuisine. I know what many of you, including Laura, are thinking, “Who goes to Thailand to eat Indian food?”

Well, when it’s listed as #10 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2013, (#3 in 2014!) you know it’s worth it. We made our reservation back while studying for exams and were looking forward to this meal the entire trip. We had even already decided that we would be going for one of the tasting menus.

Unfortunately, it was raining and we had left our umbrella back at the hotel… and because our cab driver (which we needed for only a couple hundred of metres) was inefficient, we still showed up to the restaurant wet. It is also why we don’t have any pictures of what the restaurant looks like from the outside. But to give you an idea, it was a large white colonial-styled house with many large windows, each with warm light shining through. 🙂

We were greeted by friendly staff and shown upstairs to our table for 2. There was a sense of intimacy as we were seated in the corner but could still look out to the dining room and see the other diners. I only wished the lighting was a little bit brighter for better quality of photos 😉

The ambiance was really nice and felt like we were dining in someone’s house rather than a restaurant. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any pictures to show you… sorry!

IMG_3783

Along with our menus, we received a ‘welcome drink,’ a passionfruit and strawberry sorbet, frozen with liquid nitrogen. We didn’t get the “flair” presentation with the liquid nitrogen being poured at the table like other diners have shared, but it was still tart and tasty.

IMG_3751

IMG_3749

We soon decided on our drinks: An Asahi beer for Mike and a frozen lychee and rosewater mocktail for me.

IMG_3756

And it also didn’t take much effort to confirm that we would be going for the 10 course tasting menu. Most courses are listed on the menu, but the unlisted ones were a nice surprise!

The meal was exceptional… and I have photos to share with you!

The first item was something we had read online from previous diners and were quite looking forward to – the Yoghurt Explosion. Rich yoghurt with black pepper submersed in an alginate bath to give the form of an egg yolk and served on a ceramic spoon. We were instructed to slide the whole thing into our mouth and just experience the explosion. Explosion indeed! An awesome burst of flavour that left us with silly smiles on our faces and looking forward to what the rest of the evening had to offer.

IMG_3757

Next was a trio served on an interestingly shaped metal plate. We were instructed to eat from left to right. The first was a white chocolate shell filled with a spiced liquid concoction that included chili. Sweet and spicy, a nice kick to start off the plate.

The next item was an edible bag made of rice paper and filled with wasabi flavoured beans and dried fruit. Interesting textures from the melting rice paper, crunchiness of the beans and chewiness of the fruit – the combination of flavours was nice as well.

Lastly was a deconstructed samosa with potato mousse on the top. Nicely flavoured, but I wish it was served fresh and hot rather than cold/room temperature.

IMG_3759

My date! âĪ

IMG_3780

Our third dish was called Viagra – French Oysters freshly shucked served with kokam nectar and Indian mustard ice cream. On top of the oyster was an oyster leaf with foam. We were told to eat the leaf first on its own and that it tastes like an oyster… wow, true! Did some reading afterward to find out that oyster leaves have a slightly salty/ocean taste that highly resembles oysters – even referred to as vegetarian oysters. The oysters were fresh (actually the first one I’ve tried and enjoyed) with the coldness of the mustard ice cream immediately melting in your mouth. Yum! With slight brain freeze 😉

IMG_3764

The next dish, Egyptian Secret was spiced foiegras with spiced red onion chutney and cold raspberry foie powder. My first time having foiegras, and it didn’t disappoint. It was smooth and creamy with a slight bitterness that was balanced by the sweetness of the other components.

IMG_3767

The fifth dish, In Season was an airlight soup of summer truffles and organic waynaud peppers. With slivers of truffle on top of this delicious foamy creaminess, In Season has ruined one of my favourite comfort foods – Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup from a can. The soup was literally airy but packed full of flavour. So rich and tasty! I only wish I could eat it again…

IMG_3770

Next on our tasting adventure was Smoke It Up – river king prawns tandoor grilled and finished with fennel Kachumber, coriander foam and charcoal oil. The green garnish on the prawn was called salty finger, and we were told to eat it first. It was a surprising taste of watery saltiness, and interesting addition to seafood dishes! Mike’s prawn came out with a head and mine didn’t, one of the only inconsistencies we noticed that night. The dish tasted nice, although the salad was a little too salty. At the end of the night, this was our least favourite dish.

IMG_3772

A happy girl!

IMG_3781

What Mike had been looking forward to, Game On – Wild French quail sous-vide 6 hours with chettinaud spices tandoor roasted with pineapple chutney. Without inquiry, we were assured, “Using fingers is fine!” which gave us a little laugh. The quail was super tender and flavourful and the pineapple chutney added a combination of spicy sweetness we’d never had before. We both agreed that the chutney was a little too thick, too dark and too sweet.

IMG_3776

The last savoury dish for the night, British National Dish – chicken Tikka masala deconstructed and reconstructed curry makhani foam with traditional chicken tikka. Yes, a pretty full on dish description but it can be simplified to fewer words: Best Tikka masala ever. Really. For us at least, we’ve only eaten Indian food in Brisbane. The naan was delicious as well, we completely devoured that dish!

IMG_3784

IMG_3786

Our pre-dessert: Black sesame ice cream topped with a sponge cake. Being honest here, the ice cream was great but sponge cake was kind of weird… I think this dessert would’ve been much better as a take on fried ice cream. With crisp, fried cake on top instead 😉

IMG_3792

IMG_3795

And the finale to our night: Cinanana – banana meringue with Ceylon sweet cinnamon burnt ice cream. So tasty! The banana meringue, in terms of texture, light sweetness and flavour, really made the dish for us. There was also passion fruit gelee tubes which had a nice flavour but we weren’t a fan of the texture and thought the flavours would’ve been just as great without. 🙂

IMG_3791

After such an enjoyable meal, our only wish was that we could’ve had 2 or 3 times the portions! But alas! It was still be a great adventure!

I was adamant with Mike that I wanted to meet Chef Gaggan and shake his hand. Mike was skeptical. Chefs, after all, are busy people where their kitchen is a secret where magical things happen and not the place for customers. So I tried to prove him wrong. When I asked if it was possible to meet the chef and give him our thanks, our waitress said she would ask. She came back and said, “Yes, and he would like to give you a tour of the kitchen! Would you like to go? But he’s a very busy man, so he’s waiting for you to come right now.”

Without a second of thought I blurted, “Of course, thank you! Let’s go!” And off we scurried downstairs. Chef Gaggan met us at the kitchen entrance and welcomed us into his kitchen, asking how we enjoyed our dinner. Then he gave us a tour of his little kitchen, which although small, was highly functional with around 30 staff members coming and going. We even got to see his lab, where some of the magical creations take place.

Unbelievable to Mike, I asked Chef Gaggan for a picture with him, to which he happily agreed!

IMG_3796

Knowing he was quite busy, I still jumped at the opportunity to ask if I could snap a few pictures of the kitchen… He responded with telling his staff to put on their faces for the camera!

[Chef Gaggan has an interesting history and extensive experience, read more about him here on their website!]

I’m sorry for disrupting for your work environment! I wish I had been able to get everyone’s names and titles but I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible. ^_^

IMG_3797

IMG_3798

IMG_3799

Excuse the pan, my fault for barging in and snapping away! But look at the colours! 🙂

IMG_3800

IMG_3801

IMG_3803

Mike and I had a great experience here and I wanted to share that with all of you! If you are ever in Bangkok, make a booking at Gaggan for a night of surprises. We were taken on a whirlwind of wonderful tastes, and the other great thing? That 10 course tasting menu cost a fraction of what it would in Brisbane – 1600 baht per person (+10% service charge and 7% VAT) ~$55 CAD + fees.

Day 03: Bangkok – AFRIMS & Shopping

Monday, July 15, 2013

Our first morning in Bangkok!

After breakfast at the hotel, Laura met us around 9am in order to take us into work with her – say what? There’s a reason and don’t worry, it wasn’t because of free labour. Laura works at Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) and we all thought it would be interesting to visit her workplace and meet some of her colleagues. Additionally, Mike’s old PhD supervisor had spent many years doing Dengue Virus research at this facility and a lot of the tools Mike used during his PhD came from AFRIMS.

AFRIMS was only a short tuk tuk ride away, where we had the opportunity to meet with many of Laura’s colleagues and even got a tour of the facilities… complete with multiple mini presentations on the methods of research they used! Didn’t think I would be hearing about ELISA and Haemagglutination Inhibition Assays on vacation!

The visit ended with a wonderful lunch at a nearby Thai restaurant where we were introduced to our first bowl of Tom Kha Gai (Thai coconut soup). Thank you again, Laura and all the staff we met at AFRIMS who gave us their time to not only welcome us but also to share with us the projects they’re working on!

After lunch (and a quick detour through the surrounding hospitals to exchange money courtesy of Laura), we headed to the Victory Monument sky train station. An opportunity to see Bangkok life and grab some pictures!

Victory Monument, one of the busiest transportation hubs in Bangkok.

IMG_3679

IMG_3680

IMG_3681

There are no pedestrian crossings in the traffic circle, instead people use overhead walkways.

IMG_3684

We decided today would be the day to check out the city and the shopping. But before that, we stopped quickly at our hotel to BATHE IN AIR CONDITIONING… and plan our shopping trip, of course.

Back alley to Abloom – remind you of Vietnam? There were many aspects of Bangkok that reminded us of Vietnam actually. From the construction of older parts of the city, to the food, to the people.

IMG_3691

I believe this was Sanam Pao sky train station, the one right by our hotel.

IMG_3688

Our first shopping stop was MBK Center, a massive 7-8 storey mall with absolutely everything you could possibly need.

IMG_3696

IMG_3697

IMG_3699

IMG_3693

IMG_3701

IMG_3703

Unfortunately, what I haven’t told you is that Mike and I are terrible shoppers. We last for a few hours tops and get disheartened when our dreams of “really cheap bargains” don’t live up to expectations 😛 Mike got a pair of pretty shoes though!

We then quickly walked through Siam Center… where I saw some cool sights.

IMG_3709

IMG_3712

And of course, had to check out the swanky Siam Paragon.

IMG_3714

IMG_3721

IMG_3724

We finally got to settle our long-time craving for quality donuts! Yum!

IMG_3726

And then continued on foot down to Central World Plaza. Loved the huge open space, people passing by, art gallery, city backdrop, etc.

IMG_3728

IMG_3732

IMG_3733

More city views!

IMG_3736

IMG_3740

IMG_3745

We were going to check out Palladium World Shopping Mall, but got distracted by… SUPER C.

IMG_3735

We thought of all the wonderful foods we could buy and decided to go grocery shopping instead. It was a jackpot. We found Seaweed Pringles we couldn’t find last time in Vietnam, we stocked up on our favourite Kewpie salad dressings, found LARGE containers of Koh-Kae wasabi peanuts, Ice Cream flavoured Oreos, and we even got Strawberry, Vanilla, and Cappuccino TimTams (that’s right, they’re not even for legal sale in Australia). If you’re over at the right time, maybe we’ll share! 😉

IMG_5139

With that, we called our shopping day a success and headed back to the hotel to drop off our loot and freshen up before meeting Laura for drinks followed by our most anticipated meal this trip – dinner at Gaggan.

More to come! 🙂

Day 02: Bangkok – We made it, hi Laura!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Arrived safely in Bangkok around 7pm. The airport is huge… almost too big! Luckily, despite the vastness of the airport, we eventually found Laura! For those who don’t know, Laura is a friend of Mike’s from Halifax. She’s an infectious diseases doctor currently working in Bangkok doing research. Very kind of her to not only offer to come meet us but arrange our accommodation as well!

We took the Airport Link train for āļŋ45 ($1 CAD = 30 thai baht) to Phaya Thai station where we transferred to the BTS Skytrain and took it to our stop: Sanam Pao.

Our accommodation, Abloom Exclusive Serviced Apartments, was just a couple minutes walk from the station. We were taken on a quick tour of the facilities (restaurant, gym, pool) before being shown to our apartment.

The apartment was enormous, with a living room, dining area, kitchen, bedroom, etc. Way more space than we could use, especially when we would be out most of the day!

IMG_3668

IMG_3670

IMG_3666

Mike sitting and watching TV… I mean watching nothing.

IMG_3662

It was already getting late and we were all hungry 🙂 Laura took us to a Thai restaurant close to her place (one train stop away) for some tasty food. We had some spicy curry, stir fried Morning Glory (water spinach/rau muong), chicken with cashews, and a popular tasty Thai drink – Cha Yen.

IMG_3659

IMG_3660

Cha Yen is also known as Thai Iced Tea. It is supposed to be made from strongly-brewed ceylon tea. However, due to price, black tea is often with food colouring added to give the distinctive rusty-orange colour. The tea is sweetened with sugar and condensed milk and topped with evaporated milk for creaminess. It is delicious and something we enjoyed often in Bangkok… it is not very healthy though… good thing we can’t get it back in Australia!

IMG_3661

By the time we finished dinner, it was time to call it a night.

Excited to wake up in Bangkok!

End of Day 02 🙂

Day 02: Singapore – Asian Civilisations Museum

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Woke up and checked out of Big Hotel (left our luggage there for safe keeping)! Xuan met us for a day of fun before our flight to Bangkok in the evening.

First things first, off to breakfast!

As we walked over to Bugis Village Hawker Centre, we passed by a few sights:

IMG_3431

The Sri Krishan Temple, a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Krishna.

IMG_3426

IMG_3427

IMG_3430

Just a couple of steps away, the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, one of the oldest Buddhist (1884) temples in Singapore. It is a popular place of worship for devotees of Kuan Yin, the Chinese god of mercy.

IMG_3434

We soon made it to the hawker centre where Xuan made sure we tried many yummy local dishes!

IMG_3437

IMG_3448

Iced milk tea

IMG_3440

Fresh deep fried goodness! Ham Chim Peng – a savory, rolled bun with 5 spice. You Tiao, crisp light dough sticks that’s called ‘gio chao quay’ in Vietnamese. First time having it fresh out of the fryer… I am now spoiled. And the Butterfly Bun, slightly sweet and covered in sesame seeds – yummy too!

IMG_3442

This is Poh Piah, our favourite of the morning. A thin crepe-like wrap filled with stir fried turnip, hoisin/chili-based sauce, cucumber, crispy peanuts, shallots, lettuce, egg and more. Bursting of flavour and texture! Similar in style and flavour to one of my favourite Vietnamese dished called ‘bo bia‘… both very delicious!

IMG_3444

Another dish, called Chwee Kuay. Steamed rice cakes topped with preserved radish and chili. Simple and tasty, but not a standout to me. I think it’s because the rice cakes reminded me of ‘banh beo‘ in Vietnamese cuisine – except banh beo is much more elevated in flavour with coconut-based rice cakes often topped with dried shrimp, mung bean paste and fried shallots, eaten with nuoc mam (fish sauce vinaigrette).

IMG_3446

With our bellies happy, we proceeded on foot to the Asian Civilisations Museum!

On the way, we passed through Raffles City and Xuan suggested a pit stop at the Tiong Bahru Bakery for their delightful Croissant au Beurre. Crisp, buttery and fluffy – how I’ve missed quality croissants!

IMG_3450

IMG_3452

We continue on with our scenic walk, an opportunity to see the Marina Bay Sands Hotel from an angle we’ve never seen before.

IMG_3455

IMG_3457

Eventually, we made it to the Asian Civilisations Museum but didn’t go in until we took pictures of the Singapore River with Boat Quay on the other side.

IMG_3458

IMG_3463

IMG_3465

The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) is the first museum in the region to present a broad yet integrated perspective of pan-Asian cultures and civilisations… opened on 2 March 2003. Occupying over 14,000 square metres at the newly-restored Empress Place Building, it houses 11 galleries which showcase over 1300 artefacts from the Museum’s growing collections on the civilisations of China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia/ Islamic. These collections include recent acquisitions as well as artefacts inherited from the historic Southeast Asian ethnographic collection of the former Raffles Museum.

And now onto some of my favourite pieces in the museum! (I am too lazy to write out the description of each piece, but if anyone would like to know more, I will be happy to write more!)

Teak Chettinad Door (19th-20th cent) Chettinad region, Tamil Nadu

IMG_3493

Crowned Buddha in dharmachakra (11th cent) Pala, Bihar

IMG_3499

Ganesha

IMG_3504

Sandstone Yogini (11th cent) Pramara, Bijamandal, Vidisha, Madhya Pradesh

IMG_3506

Schist Nataraja (12th cent) Halebid, Karnataka

IMG_3513

Gateway (Late 17th – early 18th cent) Western Uttar Pradesh or Eastern Rajasthan

IMG_3516

Nebula (2003) by Kouichi Honda, Japan

IMG_3517

Carved Human Skull (1900s) Kayan Dayak, Sarawak, Malaysia

IMG_3527

Multi-armed Quan Am (18th cent or greater) Northern Vietnam

IMG_3532

He-He Erxian (17th cent)

IMG_3549

Shakyamuni Seated in Meditation (early 17th cent)

IMG_3553

Plurality of identities of Daoism

IMG_3561

An interactive area called ‘Share Your Insights‘ that allowed visitors to answer a number of questions. These were some of my favourites.

IMG_3566

“Imagine you are about to marry a person whom you have never met. In 5 words, sum up what is going through your mind”

IMG_3575

“Imagine you are holding your baby for the very first time. What is ONE promise you would make to him or her?”

IMG_3576

IMG_3578

“Imagine you can make the world a better place, what is the ONE thing you would do?”

IMG_3579

“Imagine you were an emperor. Name ONE value you would promote.”

IMG_3569

“Imagine how you would defeat a centaur who is bigger and taller than a horse to save a bride?”

IMG_3580

Southeast Asian silver

IMG_3585

Trophy and mug

IMG_3588

Gold Malay pendant necklace with Buddhist symbols and Chinese shop marks on reverse

IMG_3608

Peranakan Chinese bridal ensemble, headband, hairpins, lapel ornaments (19th cent) Java

IMG_3612

Shroud (2011) by Jakkai Siributr, Thailand, Bangkok

IMG_3617

IMG_3618

IMG_3620

And that marked the end of our visit!

IMG_3625

IMG_3630

Next, it was over the bridge and through The Fullerton Hotel where we stopped for drinks at The Landing Point. We were a little under-dressed, but that’s okay! We sat outside and enjoyed the view anyway.

IMG_3631

IMG_3649

IMG_3650

IMG_3651

IMG_3653

Finally, it was time to head back to our hotel to grab our luggage and head to the airport for our flight to Bangkok at 5:30pm.

But not without stopping for some food! Haha, this time at Parklane Zha Yun Tun Mee House!

IMG_3655

Mmm, some deep fried wontons (but not enough filling), non-soggy noodles and char siew with a side of soup. Great end to our temporary stay in Singapore!

IMG_3656

THANK YOU FOR TAKING CARE OF US XUAN!

We’ll be back, but for now… off to Bangkok!

FULL DAY 02 ALBUM IN SINGAPORE HERE

Day 01: Singapore – Just Food!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Checked out of Meriton early to catch the bus to the airport for our flight at 9am. Getting there wasn’t a hassle at all and neither was checking in. We were soon seated on the plane and “scooting” off to Singapore!

Arrived in Singapore around 3pm and took the MRT to our hotel. Have we mentioned how much we love the MRT there? So efficient! We were only staying a night, and booked ourselves a room at Big Hotel in Little India.

Although the building lived up to its name, the rooms were small, as expected. With that being said, the room was well designed and took advantage of all available space. Oh, please add a fridge to your rooms so we can keep our yummy drinks and food cold!

Really comfortable and homey lobby of Big Hotel!

IMG_3421

It didn’t take long for us to drop our stuff off and head out for food!

After a walk through Little India, we came to our first stop: The famous Banana Leaf Apolo!

IMG_3404

IMG_3403

After reading that it is often praised for having the best fish head curry in Singapore and being a dish we’ve never heard of, we had to try!

IMG_3402

IMG_3386

Luckily, we arrived just before the dinner rush and didn’t have to line up. We were seated at a table with an iPad for ordering which is always fun! Ordered a serving of fish head curry (smallest one is for 2 people), one side of rice and a garlic naan.

IMG_3385

While we were waiting a basket of fresh, crispy (not too salty) papadums came for us to munch on. Yum!

IMG_3390

Food is served on banana leaves (on plates)! It wasn’t long before our fish head curry came out and the staff quickly came around to scoop rice onto our banana leaves. We didn’t receive a side of vegetables though, don’t know if we should’ve but didn’t mind at this point because there was too much food!

The flavours were great, very spicy! The fish head was enormous and full of meat that was tender and quite earthy. We were curious what kind of fish they used and when asked, we were told red snapper. One fish head was more than enough for the 2 of us, I wish there was a smaller portion available because we really only wanted a taste. (Had to save room in our bellies for more snacking!)

IMG_3392

The garlic naan was actually quite a disappointment. We’ve had much better naan at pretty much everywhere else we’ve ever been…

IMG_3395

IMG_3396

IMG_3397

The meal was quite expensive by our standards. With one drink each, the total bill came to approximately $40 SGD. Would we come back again? Probably not. It was great to try, but not delicious or exciting enough to make us come back. Lots of other cheaper, yummier options to choose from!

Even though we had plans to meet Xuan later that night for (another) dinner, we continued to eat on our own…

Stopped at Rochor Original Beancurd for some cold tau huay.

IMG_3405

Again, we just beat the queue!

IMG_3406

Beancurd is very similar to the ‘tau hu’ with ginger syrup I had growing up, which was always eaten warm. On a hot day, it’s so refreshing to have it cold! And for only $1 SGD! Service could’ve been a little more friendly though. The lady was annoyed with me because I didn’t speak Mandarin… that’s not my fault!

IMG_3408

There were also egg tarts that we should’ve gotten. You can see many cups pre-filled with syrup in the background. At the rate of customers were coming to buy, I wouldn’t have been surprised if all of them were used up by the end of the night!

IMG_3409

Yummy!

IMG_3410

As we continued to walk, this time back to our hotel to rest before dinner with Xuan, we passed by Le Cafe Confectionary & Pastry.

IMG_3411

IMG_3412

If you know me, you know I love bakeries. When there are signs saying “Our Award-winning Pastries,” I am all over it.

IMG_3413

We walked in and asked to buy one of each award winning pastries. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the rum balls and coffee cookies, and you couldn’t buy the pineapple tarts and soya bean tarts individually. Oh no!

The young lady working told us to buy a box of pineapple tarts instead. “There are only 10,” she said, “You will eat them all in one day!” Haha, that wouldn’t be a good thing! But because we were heading to Bangkok the next day and meeting Laura, we ended up buying a box of 10 for around $8.50 SGD.

IMG_3676

I expressed disappointment that we couldn’t try/buy the other pastries individually and she said she might have some soya bean tarts for us to try. While we were waiting for her to come back, another lady came out from the back and gave us each a pineapple tart to sample. Thanks! We just bought 10… but oh my goodness they were delicious with crumble-in-your mouth pastry and generous not-too-sweet filling.

The lady helping us came back to give us 2 soya bean tarts. Also for free! Apparently, they were not pretty enough to sell so we could take these with us – woo hoo! We saved the tarts until we got back to the hotel and enjoyed them with a cup of iced tea… so tasty. We’d never had a soya bean tart before… what a silky treat!

IMG_3415

By now it was past 11pm and Xuan’s dinner with his parents had gone on for longer than expected. Mike and I decided to hold off dinner with him and see him tomorrow instead. Early night for us, no problem!

End of Day 01!

200 Followers!

Wow!

I just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to each and everyone of you!

Blogging is something I choose to do mainly to reflect and to record my thoughts and memories. I am humbled and happy that so many of you chose to read what I write and share in my adventures (as boring as they may be sometimes).

It is also thanks to you that I know of your blogs (as I am a bit of a hermit in the blogging community) and have found other people with similar interests. With that being said, there are also those with very different interests and have still introduced me to many new ideas and/or wonderfully interesting things!

Thank you for making WordPress blogging a much more enriching experience for me!

Cheers and much love!

Sandra

Pre-Holiday: Night in Gold Coast

Friday, July 12, 2014

Started our week long vacation with the first night in Gold Coast!

We were flying out to Singapore from Gold Coast Airport Sunday morning. Without public transportation running early enough and the shuttle bus from Brisbane costing $90, it made sense to just spend the night in Gold Coast instead.

We stayed at Meriton Serviced Apartments (Broadbeach) for a discounted price and were quite impressed. Clean, modern and great value for the money. A studio apartment with everything we needed and more!

IMG_3376

We brought a USB full of TV shows and movies to catch up on. Before arriving, we decided to stay in the whole night and actually stuck to our plans! How relaxing 🙂

IMG_3373

Even brought our own food and had a lovely romantical dinner. Very nice and much needed after our surgery rotation and stressful exam!

IMG_3381

We had crackers and cheese, rosemary rustic bread with homemade garlic mayo, delicious salad, strawberries and dark passion fruit chocolate. Mmm! Oh, and can’t forget some wine! Moscato… our current favourite 🙂

IMG_3380

Called an early night to be well rested for our big adventure starting tomorrow!

Stay tuned and join me as I recount our fun times in Singapore and Bangkok!

Post-Surgery… Vacation!

Surgery is officially over, woo hoo!

Our final written exam (worth 70%) was yesterday… 2.5 hours of looong testing-of-knowledge. The exam was certainly challenging, as many of my friends have agreed, but now we just have to sit and wait for our results!

More importantly – on to a one week vacation!

Mike and I were able to score really cheap plane tickets, so we are going overseas for the holiday!

Today, we are going down to Gold Coast.

Tomorrow morning, we are flying out to… Singapore!

Yep, again.

Our super basic itinerary:

  • July 12 – Gold Coast
  • July 13 – Singapore
  • July 14-17 – Bangkok
  • July 17-20 – Singapore

All our flights added up to less than $500, which we thought was a steal! We have already booked all our accommodation but haven’t really finalized our plans of where we want to go and what we want to do yet.

Like usual, I will try to blog whenever I can! If not, there will be tons of photos and posts after we come back 🙂

Have a great weekend everyone! And for those on a holiday like me, have a lovely vacation!

Homemade Foods!

It’s been a while since my last food update!

We’ve been cooking a lot of the same dishes I’ve made in the past, but I have baked a few new things! And don’t worry, I only bake when I can give most of it away and share… we are not constantly eating desserts, I swear!

Rice with stir fried water spinach and pan fried tofu with hoisin based sauce and crushed peanuts

IMG_4613

English muffin with Vietnamese BBQ ground pork, homemade garlic mayo and cucumber

IMG_4617

We had many lemons so it only made sense that we make a lemon loaf with lemon glaze drizzled over the top

IMG_4619

IMG_4620

Mini puff pastries with cinnamon cream cheese, whipped cream and cooked pear

IMG_4651

Chocolate chip cookies made without butter

IMG_4668

Nacho night 🙂

IMG_4733

We bought this wonderful green tea with red bean cake at Bread Top, one of our favourite bakery chains. So tasty!

IMG_4776

Breakfast for dinner – something we haven’t made in a while – eggs benedict

IMG_4804

I made a small baked ricotta dip for the first time, pretty tasty!

IMG_4810

IMG_4811

Weekend breakfast – lemony pancakes with maple syrup

IMG_4820

Peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies sprinkled with sea salt

IMG_4846

Had a little bit of gouda so baked it with some pecans and cherry jam. It looks a lot bigger in this photo than it was in real life.

IMG_4859

Made cauliflower (with a little bit of bacon) soup for the first time. Tasty, definitely something we’ll make again!

IMG_4861

Breast of love 😛

IMG_4864

Rice, breaded chicken with a lemon fish sauce and garlic glaze

IMG_4865

And that’s all for now! 🙂

Being tourists on the Wheel of Brisbane

After Monty’s Chocolates, Mike and I walked over to South Bank to be tourists and ride the Wheel of Brisbane.

It’s something that we’ve been wanting to do and when we saw vouchers on sale ($6/person compared to regular price $15/pp), we had to buy!

It was much busier than we thought, who knew the Wheel was the place to be on a Friday night!

Waiting in line!

IMG_4890 IMG_4891

Just loaded into our gondola! See the tourist excitement on our faces?

IMG_4892

IMG_4894

Oh my gosh, we’re moving!!

IMG_4895

IMG_4893

IMG_4902

There is a recording that plays through out your ride, pointing out all the different locations that you can follow along with the booklet they give you. There’s even volume control and A/C control.

Derpy faces 😛

IMG_4897 IMG_4898

View from the top!

IMG_4904

IMG_4905

Premature sad faces after the second round and thinking the ride was already over.

IMG_4907

We were wrong! The ride was closer to 6 loops! Definitely worth the money 😛

IMG_4911

Ended the night with yummy Korean food at Madtongsan II with Xuan Ping. Lovely Friday night!

Indulgence at Monty’s Chocolates

Michael and I FINALLY had the opportunity to visit Monty’s Chocolates on Friday. We had purchased an Ultimate Chocolate Indulgence for 2 ($15) voucher a while back and were extremely excited check it out.

IMG_4869

The shop is quaint and quiet, slightly tucked away from the bustling sidewalk. Superior chocolates from all around the world line both walls, a guarantee you can find a little something for anyone. There’s a coffee cart at the door for those in a hurry, as well as a stocked counter at the back for more options.

IMG_4887

IMG_4889

Seating area is adorable with basic decor but cute character.

The chocolate indulgence included a coffee each or a pot of tea to share. Mike and I decided on sharing a cleansing pot of green tea.

IMG_4868

We had the opportunity to savour a small hot chocolate each and share 6 salted caramels as well as 4 handmade European chocolates.

The 4 chocolates we received were (from left to right) Macadamia Brittle, Lavender & Wildberry, Strawberry & Marscapone, and Vanilla Delight.

IMG_4870

The hot chocolate was dark, thick and decadent. The best part was that it was not overly sweet – yum!

The salted caramels by Artison du Chocolat were so delicious! Like nothing I’ve ever tried. A crisp dark chocolate shell, covered in cocoa with an explosive burst of liquid salted caramel inside – amazing!

IMG_4874

The Macadamia Brittle was creamy, light, and subtle.

IMG_4876

Although I’ve never been a fan of floral flavours, the lavender flavour in the next chocolate was not overpowering and I loved the tartness of the wildberry. The Vanilla Delight tasted exactly like its name.

Michael’s face of happiness 😛

IMG_4877

Strawberry & Marscapone was our favourite!

IMG_4880

We enjoyed everything we tried, and would’ve tried more if we didn’t already have dinner plans 😉

Steve, the owner, was present and introduced all his customers to little samples of chocolate. We got to try a little bit of dark chocolate from Madagascar (should’ve asked what percentage!). Although Mike and I were happy to be left to ourselves (not often we get to ‘go on dates’ in surgery), I’m sure Steve would’ve been more than happy to share his knowledge and answer any questions we might have.

This really cute elderly gentleman came in shortly before we left. I had to grab a picture!

IMG_4883

Monty’s Chocolates is a wonderful little shop with amazing chocolate from all over the world. Service is welcoming and It’s a great place to catch up with friends over some tasty chocolate, or even grab something on the go. We’ll definitely be back and I know exactly where to go when I’m looking for a gift of truly special chocolates!

IMG_4888

Thanks Monty’s Chocolates for a lovely beginning to the weekend after a long a week 🙂

Monty's Chocolates on Urbanspoon

Visiting Fi in Toowoomba!

Kristen, Christine and I went to visit Fiona in Toowoomba last Sunday! What a lovely opportunity to catch up with the girls, how I’ve missed them!

IMG_4848

Fi, our very lovely (and free!) tour guide, took us on a ride around town and we eventually drove up to Preston Peak Wines for lunch. Fun and friendly wine tasting but a limited lunch menu. The location was beautiful and peaceful, it’s too bad the sun wasn’t out for very long!

IMG_4850

IMG_4849

IMG_4854

IMG_4855

IMG_4856

IMG_4857

The day was short and soon we were on our way back to Brisbane. With exams coming up, we left with the promise to be back for a hiking and boardgames day – looking forward to it!

Until then, surgery study time!

The “REALLY COOL” car we saw during the drive home:

IMG_0352

Picked up a little something for Michael, a bottle of fortified wine. Golden Gleam – Fortified pristine White Muscat juice. Lychee and marmalade characteristics; a very fruity wine. 🙂

IMG_4914 IMG_4917

Burritos and Zombies

A group of us went to for burritos at Guzman y Gomez in South Bank. Food was cheap and yummy, although I definitely recommend the burritos over the quesadillas!

So serious, unwrapping burritos takes a lot of concentration!

IMG_4835

IMG_4836

IMG_4838

IMG_4840

We followed that with World War Z, which we all (genuinely) enjoyed. No comparing to the book! It was just a really entertaining and fast paced movie that had a number of humourous moments. Go see it if you want a night of fun!

And of course, we had to end the night with 1/2 off waffles at Gelare!

IMG_4841

IMG_4843

Fun night with friends! 🙂

July 02, 2009

It’s been 4 years already… We miss you dad.

We’ve all grown up a little bit more in our own ways, pursuing our dreams and taking advantage of what life has to offer. I even met a wonderful man I’m sure you would approve – his Viet pronounciation is quite excellent. 😛

If you are looking down on us, I hope it is with a smile on your face and pride in your heart.

A breath away is not far to where you are… that’s how close you are to our hearts.

IMG_0989