Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2014

I’m chuckling because I’m writing about our Christmas in April – better late than never?

My mom and I decided to stay home and relax on Christmas, but Michael and his parents braved the hoards to experience Christmas on the beach πŸ˜› Weather was good and they had a fun time!

Brisbane191

How many Canadians can say they spent Christmas in this kind of weather?

Brisbane192

I was adamant I would be cooking Christmas dinner – letting my mom relax. Unfortunately, it was one of my biggest cooking fails – a raw meat loaf – so upsetting! The other dishes were good, including corn, potato wedges, prawn toast and salad.

Brisbane195

Our first Christmas tree in Australia

Brisbane194

Beautiful, love our colour scheme!

Brisbane202

Family photo!

Brisbane193

In previous years, our cousins have always had a bit of fun at family get togethers, like colour coordinating our outfits, wearing ugly Christmas sweaters, custom made t-shirts, etc. Imagine my delight when Mike’s mom produced these funky Dollarama light necklaces – complete with 3 different modes and extra batteries!

Brisbane198

Had a glitch with one of them – ah, expected of Dollarama!

Brisbane199

Blueberry pie for dessert, thanks Caroline!

Brisbane201

Some more family photos before opening presents

Brisbane206

Brisbane208

Brisbane209

Brisbane210

I look sort of like a monster here

Brisbane212

My love!

Brisbane213

Brisbane214

Let me share some of the wonderful presents I received πŸ™‚

GorgeousΒ ruby (my birthstone) and diamond earrings from Michael that nicely match a necklace he gave for Christmas in 2011

IMG_9826

IMG_9828

A beautiful Ivanka Trump dress from my mom. I’ve received many compliments wearing it already!

IMG_9838

A nice leather Coach clutch from my sister and some delicious chocolate bars! Can’t find those in Australia!

IMG_9835

IMG_9824

Presents from my brother…

A wine making kit. I haven’t used it yet, will have to soon!

IMG_9829

And an electronic measuring cup and ceramic knives – now staples in my kitchen πŸ™‚

IMG_9841

From Michael’s parents, goodies from Canada!

IMG_9844

And a few items from his mom! The candle holders fit nicely in our new home in Rockhampton!

IMG_9848

Michael was very happy with my Christmas present to him – adding to his collection πŸ˜‰

IMG_9831

It’s long passed, but I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas holiday with your loved ones!

Another year older…

Thought I should finally blog about my 26th birthday which was last month on July 28 – ah, I’m getting so old!

My birthday was very uneventful. I stayed at home all day and lounged on the couch, which was really just what I needed! πŸ˜€

For dinner, Mike made yummy chicken Kiev with potatoes and vegetables and chocolate cupcakes! I didn’t plan an event or do anything with friends, but perhaps next year!

Wasn’t expecting anything, but I even got presents…

Really cute wrapping from Mike, he was very impressed at his handiwork. Even the bow was handmade πŸ˜›

IMG_0435

Mike added 3 charms to my Pandora bracelet: Suitcase + Aeroplane, both representing each other’s travel buddy, the travels we’ve done together so far, and the places we’ll see together in the future. He also gifted me the Medical charm, also known as the Caduceus charm. Yes, we are both aware that the Rod of Asclepius (and not the Caduceus symbol) is the proper symbol of medicine!

IMG_0436

My sister sent me a package from Ottawa that contained a dinosaur card in an envelope that roared (sounding very much like my brother) when you opened it.

IMG_5161

Inside the card were my presents! Awesome gift certificates, you should take a look!

IMG_5163

In addition, I also received a bunch of Reese peanut butter cups! Delicious and not easily available, or cheap, in Australia.

IMG_5160

Unfortunately, they were all squished and looked like this!

IMG_5165

My brother ordered me a set of ceramic knives – nice! I’ve always wanted a few of these, and now I have some! He even gave me the “never sharpen ceramic knives” speech πŸ˜› Yes bro, of course I know that already! πŸ˜‰

IMG_5166

Thanks family!

And as a bonus, some gifts from Kristen! Cute heart-shaped silicone cupcake liners and a paper set with little decorations! Also a lovely brown skinny belt with a gold feather buckle and a turquoise clutch/wallet. Thank you my dear!

IMG_5221

Oh, did I mention my family back home had a party on my behalf? Thanks guys! Although I think you used my birthday as an excuse to eat cake πŸ˜› Just kidding! Thanks for remembering me and including me in the family!

Here are some pictures from the “party”:

Me with my cake!

1071615_489009421180837_1670738217_o

132907_489009381180841_1603592055_o

With mum and the siblings

1077887_489009504514162_1555486681_o

And Di Nam (mum’s sister)

1078953_489009791180800_203106622_o

And altogether!

1071546_489009917847454_724557860_o

Siblings and Janet

1009468_489009287847517_424817026_o

Cutting my cake

901105_489010157847430_1270217599_o

Even get to eat cake!

1077602_489010194514093_1205149033_o

Bonus:

My siblings, their pets, and cousin Janet

1077373_489008501180929_818405479_o

1074901_489008697847576_1218065072_o

1074817_489008721180907_530324328_o

We’re having a baaaall!

1072574_489008997847546_1047588415_o

26 years old… gosh time is going by too quickly! I wonder what this year will hold? πŸ™‚

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

I treated myself to a jewellery armoire

Such a great thing to have! Functions as a full length mirror and it allows me to organize and hold all of my jewellery. I no longer have to fish around for my earrings or untangle my necklaces from boxes. And it’s locked with key πŸ™‚

Earrings, necklaces, bracelets… even my nail polishes πŸ™‚