Hiking up Mt Archer

September 06, 2015

After our outing at Capricorn Caves the day prior, our weekend was not yet over. Instead of the suggested 14km Zamia Walk (Grade: Difficult) DOWN Mt Archer (604m above sea level), our locum consultant, Neil, suggested we should take on the challenge and hike UP.

It was a beautiful Sunday morning. Wonderful… and let me tell you, there were moments of regret! But we conquered!

To play it smart, you should do the following 5 things:

  1. Drive to Mt Archer in 2 vehicles. Whether you decide to hike up or down Mt Archer, park one vehicle at the top and one at the bottom. That way, you keep it a one-way 14km hike. Because trust me, you won’t want to double back.
  2. Bring enough water! It will take 3-5hrs depending on your speed and you want to stay well hydrated.
  3. Bring snacks. Because food makes everyone happy.
  4. Wear good shoes. And be sun smart of course!
  5. Don’t forget to bring a camera!

Neil has a very interesting background and is incredibly fit for his age. While Jess, Jin and I struggled to keep his pace, he powered on without seemingly breaking a sweat.

Some of our views along the way up!

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The trails vary in terrain as you go up but the tracks are well developed so you can’t get lost! This photo was taken at the bottom of the hill heading towards the start of the Zamia trail.

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Nearby views on the way up!

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There are always a few fires going on around Mt Archer 😛

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Neil, always ahead of us!

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Did I mention Jin was doing this hike on his birthday? Yep, how admirable! If anything, I would be as lazy as I could on my birthday!

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After much huffing and puffing, we finally made it to the summit around 4 hours!

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Woo hoo!

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Was it worth it? Yes! Even if only to say we did it 😉 And surprisingly, we weren’t sore the following day!

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August 2, 2015

But what if you don’t want to hike that far? Don’t fret! Mt Archer offers something for everyone! You can drive to the top of Mt Archer and enjoy hanging out in the picnic areas. From there you can also choose the Walking Track Circuit (500m) or the Bracken Fern Way (1.4km return), both easy-grade with incredible views!

Here are some photos from our visit earlier in August with Jess, Jin and their dog Cookie!

The Walking Track Circuit – pretty easy as you can see!

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And the views you can enjoy on the Walking Track Circuit

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Cookie, the fluff ball, enjoyed the walks as well!

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We also walked the Bracken Fern Way trail – definitely worth it! It’s a little bit more difficult in terms of terrain, but still pretty easy!

Lots of little things to see and enjoy on this trail 🙂

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Don’t want to be bothering this!

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Numerous interesting plants I’ve never seen before

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If you stop to listen and look, you will see so many busy bees!

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Never seen this insect before… I imagine a type of wasp?

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Camouflage

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Doesn’t take long to reach the lookout 🙂

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There’s even an area to sit, rest, and enjoy the view – which we did of course!

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Gorgeous views!

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Whether you’re in the mood for some nice walks with great views or up for a more challenging hike – Mt Archer is definitely worth visiting! And don’t forget to drive up at night to enjoy the pretty city views as well!

Jin’s birthday!

September 5, 2015

Celebrating one day early, thank you for inviting us Jess! Always lovely to spend time with friends and what makes it even better? A fire pit, of course. Happy birthday Jin!

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Ice cream cake for the birthday boy!

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They have matching eye smiles! 🙂

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CAPRICORN CAVES

September 05, 2015

Finally visited Capricorn Caves! I’m currently on my surgical term, and one of the visiting consultants, Neil, gave me the afternoon to organise a group out to visit the Cap Caves with him. I think I did pretty well, with a total of 7 including Clarence, Konstantin, Chris, his partner Lynda, Shant, Neil, and myself!

Only a half hour drive from Rocky, not too bad! We bought tickets for The Cathedral Cave Tour ($30/adult) which was led by an informative guide who put a lot of effort into keeping us all entertained.

Before I continue, I must say, if you have ever seen caves in your life… this visit might be a bit underwhelming and you may find it a waste of time and money. The caves are pretty small and we didn’t chance upon any wild life.

Personally ,this tour reminded me of our time in Malaysia visiting Batu Caves and more specifically, going on a tour of the Dark Caves ($11) which were much larger and pitch black. A more thrilling adventure in hard hats (to protect yourself from bat droppings) and head lamps, and actually seeing lots of wildlife, including huge pools of guano (bat poo). I’ve also had the chance to visit Dong Thien Cung (Heavenly Cave) in Ha Long Bay Vietnam – the caves are enormous with beautifully light towering stalactites and stalagmites. As a result, the much smaller structures at Cap Caves are nowhere near impressive 😉 However, it still has its own charm and worth a visit if you are living in the area!

The tour starts at the cave entrance with fig tree roots clinging to the limestone walls.

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Close to the entrance…

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This is the Tectaria Devexa var devexa fern. Although it is found across Sri Lanka, SE Asia and Vanuatu – Capricorn Caves is the only known site in Australia! In 2006, the fern population declined to almost near extinction with only 21 plants. Fortunately, organisations worked together and funding was secured to save the fern.

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There are interesting cave decorations (speleotherms) to note, including some cave coral…

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A very tiny stalactite!

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More cave views…

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Looks like a camel’s backside 😛

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I see a hanging skull… do you?

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Through the caves, we eventually reach the Cathedral Cave. The natural acoustics make it a popular venue for weddings. Also, twice a year (May & November), there are sell out performances from Underground Opera Company. Some of Australias finest performers singing a selection of Opera’s greatest arias and duets. This I would love to see!

Once you enter the cathedral, you are asked to take a seat in the pews and hear the natural acoustics of the cave via the song Amazing Grace. During this time, the lights are dimmed play along with the song. It’s a beautiful and enchanting few minutes.

Candles burning add an extra element of ambiance to the caves. On the day we were visiting, the crew was setting up for a wedding to take place later in the Cathedral Cave.

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Hauntingly beautiful!

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This is a view in Belfry Cave, where the Summer Solstice Light Spectacle occurs. “A natural phenomenon unique in the southern hemisphere, occurs throughout December and early January. Due to the alignment of the sun over the Tropic of Capricorn brilliant direct sun light penetrates the darkness of the Belfry Cave through a 14 metre vertical shaft in the cave roof at midday. The effect is electrifying. The colour of peoples clothing is reflected all round the cave walls and a disco mirror ball creates light patterns on the roof.”

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Check out some of the photos of that event HERE. Looks pretty neat!

At the end of the cave tour, we have the option of exiting through a narrow zig zag passage (duh, of course we did it!) and leaving the caves via 2 suspension bridges – wee!

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The visit ended with a stop at the souvenir gift shop… of course 😛 Where I wanted to buy a very cute quokka hand puppet but had absolutely no reason to do so.

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Have you ever visited Capricorn Caves? What did you think? Overall, it was a great time with the company I had! 🙂

Rangoon – the only Burmese restaurant in Ottawa

March 02, 2015

While back in Ottawa, I had the opportunity to dine at a lovely Burmese restaurant named Rangoon. Recommended by both Julia and Atong, I knew this dinner date would go well 🙂

As we stepped inside to escape the chilly weather, we were immediately engulfed by warmth and the smiling face of a lovely lady who ran the restaurant who would later explain that Rangoon was a family run restaurant.

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We were having quite an early dinner so had the pick of dining tables. It is overall a small establishment but I imagine it can get quite busy during weekday lunch rushes, especially being near the business district. They also have really well priced lunch specials!

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I love restaurants that offer patrons an opportunity to learn a little more about the country and cuisine they will be enjoying.

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After 4 years of hearing all about them, Michael finally had the chance to meet two of my best friends, Atong and Julia! Today was also the day I asked both girls to be my bridesmaids and I couldn’t be happier when they accepted! Love these girls!

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Dinner is always indulging when you have 4 people who all LOVE food. We decided to go with the Dinner for 4 Combination ($85) which included the following dishes:

  • Spring Roll (1 per person)
  • Lentil or Coconut Soup
  • Tea Leaf or Ginger Salad
  • Chicken or Beef Curry
  • Steamed Jasmine Rice
  • Burmese Tea

And as we were a group of 4, it worked out well because we were able to try each option!

KawPyentKyaw – Burmese vegetable spring rolls. Fresh and crispy with a lovely dipping sauce. A filling very unlike Vietnamese spring rolls which was a nice surprise!

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Lentil soup (PaeHinnyae – pureed lentils, celery, carrots) and Coconut soup (Oh NohHnnyae – pureed chickpea flour, ginger, garlic, onion, coconut milk)

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Both beautifully presented and comforting in the cold weather. However, perhaps due to my personal tastes, I did find both soups quite bland.

This is the ginger salad (Gin Thoke) with shredded ginger root, cabbage, tomato, roasted garlic, topped with peanuts, peas and sesame seeds. I remember this salad didn’t have the ‘ginger punch’ I was anticipating but still delicious!

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This was the dish I was most excited to try, a traditional Burmese appetizer called Green Tea Leaf Salad (LaphetThoke) with fermented tea leaves, lettuce, tomato, tossed with roasted garlic and topped with peanuts, broad beans, peas and sesame seeds. Extremely tasty with a variety of textures and a very unique flavour that I’ve never experienced before!

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Moving onto the mains. We tried both the beef curry (AmmethaHinn) and chicken curry (KetthaHinn). For both dishes, the meats were succulent and extremely tender. However, similar to the soups, we found the curries (along with steamed veggies) to be bland and underwhelming. Perhaps we are too used to the powerful flavours of Viet, Thai, Indian curries?

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In addition, Julia said we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try BazunKhwekyaw – Crispy Shrimp & Bean Sprout Fritters ($12.95). Very flavourful and went nicely with the veggies, definitely recommend!

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An extremely filling meal for a very reasonable price. I’m really glad to have visited the only Burmese restaurant in Ottawa. Overall the food was tasty and coupled with wonderful service. Definitely worth a visit if you have the chance! I normally enjoy stronger flavour profiles, but would look forward to trying some other dishes in the future! I also have to say… you can even do online ordering and delivery!

Can’t wait to see you girls again! ❤

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Rangoon Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

A visit to The Works

Despite being one of my family’s favourite, it took me years to finally visit! The Works also happens to be very close to Beechwood Cemetery, making it a convenient stop after visiting our dad’s grave.

The atmosphere is always warm and inviting – service prompt and friendly. The prices seem a little high but the ambiance, portions and quality make it worth it.

I had heard of these magical enormous milk shakes and the endless variety of burgers to choose from – boy, had I been missing out!

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Initially, I thought the whole burger process was a little confusion, but it’s as easy as 1-2-3! Seriously, start by picking one of the many topping options – over 50 choices! Then decide on 1 of the 7 patty options, sides and a bun! Easy!

The options for sides include classic fries, slaw, steamed veggies. Or you can pay a little more for fancier sides like sweet potato fries, poutine or deep fried dill pickles!

Did I mention there are also tasty beer options? And the fact that you can make your milkshakes more ‘adult’ by adding rum or vodka?

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The Poutini Martini is always a favourite – classic poutine with crispy onion rings… delish!

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A variety of burgers and sides… there is definitely something on the menu for everyone!

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Their chips (fries), sweet potato fries, and onion rings are all amazing. Crisp on the outside, cooked well on the inside, and not dripping in grease.

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Crispy dill pickles was something I had never tried before… interesting textures but I think I like my pickles cold!

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Always a good grub with the fam!

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Definitely recommend coming in hungry for a satisfying meal with friends or family! You won’t leave disappointed 😉

The Works Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato