Adelaide: Day 3 – Hahndorf

September 28, 2015

After breakfast at home with the Laura and Isabelle, we headed off to Hahndorf – Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia.

Hahndorf was definitely worth a visit! Very quaint with many shops to visit – from bakeries, candy shops, finding beautiful handmade candles, puppets and more! And of course, can’t forget the selection of different German restaurants to dine at!

My favourite photo taken in Hahndorf, I hope this will be Michael and I one day! At the very least, our height discrepancies will be accurate! πŸ™‚

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We almost immediately stopped in Copenhagen for some freshly made cinnamon sugar donuts… mmm!

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With an extensive menu, it was difficult not to order more on the menu, like waffles, pancakes, crepes, and ice cream!

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Mmm, piping hot… could have so many of these!

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My handsome partner!

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Lots of opportunity for nice photos!

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Stopped in for a visit at Heritage Museum Art Gallery. Beautiful handmade pieces of jewellery and art, although no money to buy! πŸ˜‰

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An empty gallery upstairs with remnants of Autumn Festival lanterns.

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Couldn’t resist a stop into Humbugs to stock up on some sweets! So many to choose from!

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Really delicious selection of fudge!

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Isabelle was definitely excited!

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Quick visit to 3 Wishes Candle Barn to check out their beautiful candles and pick up a gift for our wonderful friend, Amanda!

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Some beautiful wooden works including clocks and puppets at the German Village Shop

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Alpaca fleece products from The Alpaca Shop! Gorgeously soft pieces but also quite expensive!

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All the above mentioned shops are definitely worth a visit! Can surely find a little something for yourself or a loved one without much effort!

Next up – our delicious lunch at The Haus cafe+bar+kitchen!

Camping at Blackdown Tableland National Park

May 30-31, 2015

Our first camping trip this year πŸ™‚

180km west of Rockhampton, it is an approximate 3 hour drive to Blackdown Tableland National Park. The mountainous terrain of the tablelands provides a unique landscape featuring gorges, waterfalls and diverse vegetation. It is also the traditional homeland of the Ghungalu people and they ask visitors to respect their land and take a moment to acknowledge their spiritual ancestors when visiting.

Beautiful drive up!

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Camping is only permitted at Munall campground, with nearby walking tracks that are incredibly peaceful and lead to amazingΒ lookouts. Entrance to the park is a 11km turn off from Capricorn Coast and a further 8km to Munall campground.

 

We managed our drive in a little Honda Jazz but a 4WD would certainly make the trip much MUCH easier. Have fun though!

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A map of the campground and surrounding trails

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Here is a short video of our time in Blackdown Tableland National Park!

And of course, some photos!

Our campsite at Munall. A very reasonable fee of $5.75/person/night.

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There are 3 main walking tracks.

We started with the 2.8km circuit Goon Goon Dhina track. It was incredibly quiet and peaceful, not another soul in sight. “An easy walk past old cattle yard ruins, then follows Mimosa Creek upstream to a Ghungalu art site. Signs along this track offer insights into the park’s history.Β Learn how Ghungalu people used plants for food and shelter.”

Constantly reminded how small you are in nature

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Saw sundews in nature for the first time!

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Lovely trails and plenty of still water. I’m sure it is quite pretty when water is flowing!

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We stopped to admire the Ghungalu art site

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We came across lots of prescribed burning in all areas of the park.

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A short drive away is the 4km (return) Gudda Gumoo trail that takes you a lookout and further to the gorge. Head down a flight of 240 steps to the base of the waterfalls and take in the rainbows cast over the falling waters.

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The water was frigid but I imagine this would be an amazingly refreshing place to swim and cool down in the summer!

Rainbow! But no pot of gold in sight… 😦

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We saved the Mook Mook trail (2.4km return) for last and so glad we did – best scenery!

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A zombie?

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So gorgeous and quiet

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Look at this incredible view! No words!

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On our drive down and back to Rockhampton, we stopped to enjoy the scenery from a different angle πŸ™‚

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Winning at the selfie game!

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See you next time!

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I should also mention… plenty of cows on the road! But they always look so grumpy and always covered in flies!

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Visiting Rockhampton Zoo

If you have a few hours to spare in Rockhampton, definitely check out the Rockhampton Zoo!

A completely free attraction within the Botanic Gardens that offers an opportunity to relax in nature and see over 50 species of animals native to Australia.

Not all exhibits wereΒ open and some enclosures were not in use. We imagine due to ongoing renovations from cyclone damages earlier this year.

Nevertheless, an enjoyable time walking around and meeting all the animals!

Chimpanzees

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Red seal coot birds

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Basking alligator

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Freshwater crocodiles trying to hide

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Sleepy koalas hanging out in the eucalyptus

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Kangaroos! Unfortunately, no interaction with them as you can at other zoos like Australia Zoo or Lone Pine

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Lace Monitors! So cute!

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Rockhampton Zoo even has an aviary! Small but with plenty of birds to observe πŸ™‚

Royal Spoonbill

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Emerald Dove

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I don’t know the name of this bird!

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Bar Shouldered Dove

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Showing off

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And of course, as with any park… you will get Ibises looking for food πŸ˜›

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Worth a visit, check out Rockhampton Zoo if you have free time!

Graduation – Family Photos

December 21, 2014

With no other graduation ceremonies taking place, the University of Queensland campus was beautifully quiet for our family to take photos at a leisurely pace.

Campus is beautiful with sandstone and green back drops. For just one camera, a tripod and me running back and forth in heels to set up – I think the pictures turned out pretty good! What do you think?

Some of my favourites πŸ™‚

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My pretty mom!

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Who knew this day would come?

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And always take the opportunities for pretty photos! That’s my rule πŸ˜‰

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Everyone was ready for lunch by the time we were done taking photos – off to Wagaya for Japanese food!

We had a made a reservation and had our private room, which was nice!

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Sake for everyone, right mom? πŸ˜›

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Very happy everyone loved their food! It’s one of our favourite places and we were really happy to share with our families

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After lunch, we came back to our place… more about that in the next post!

DHAL: July 27, 2014

Had a late start today!

Wasn’t until middayΒ that my sister and I headed out. Today’s plan: Visit Newcastle Island. How? A 10 minute ferry ride that costs only $9 return.

Some sights along our walk to the ferry dock

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Revealed itself during the low tide

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Liked the reflection in the water

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Beautiful day with lots of boats in the water

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Didn’t take long until we got to Newcastle Island!

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A really beautiful island with lots of nice walking trails (approx 8km around the perimeter of the island), areas for picnics and places to swim. Click HERE for more information about the island.

Some photos during our hike!

One of the views off the island

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Christmas colours!

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Jenni’s not so much a big fan of hiking, so got bored a little too quickly

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Hello!

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Crystal tree droppings

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Lots of easy to walk trails

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More water and boats!

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Took a rest by the beach, and a selfie!

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Lots of pretty views

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And lots of people watching πŸ™‚

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You could easily spend the whole day on Newcastle Island, but we had important things to do. Mainly: Buy Nanaimo bars and yummy pastries to eat before the shops closed.

After a few hours, we said farewell and hopped on the ferry back.

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Looking back towards Nanaimo

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From there, we proceeded to Mon Petit Choux Cafe & Bakery to pick up a few goodies for later this evening.

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We then headed back down to the water to enjoy a delicious late lunch/early dinner at Troller’s Fish & Chips. I got halibut and my sister got salmon, it came with fries, coleslaw & tartare sauce. The fish was delightful, such light and crispy batter, went great with the tartare sauce. The fries were good as well, but the coleslaw was so warm! We couldn’t tell if it was because of the temperature, but the coleslaw seemed to have iceberg lettuce in it as well, definitely not as good as it could’ve been.

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We called it an early day after eating and decided to head back to my place. Instead, we decided to watch some of our classic favourite movies: Freaky Friday and White Chicks. Don’t laugh, it was good fun! πŸ˜›

Selfie on the way home!

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For dinner (and an early birthday celebration), we had delicious pastries from Mon Petit Choux.Β Top left is a Marjolaine, originally invented by French chef Fernand Point – combining almond & hazelnut meringue layers with chocolate buttercream. Bottom is an Earl Grey Chocolate Mousse, which lost a bit of its shape in the heat during the walk home but retained all of its deliciousness. And lastly, a berry custard danish – yum! To top all of that off, we also nibbled on a Nanaimo Bar – so rich we couldn’t finish a slice together but certainly yummy!

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A fun weekend hanging out with my sister, a little sad that she will be leaving me tomorrow! 😦

Photo Shoot with the Gibson Family

As mentioned in this previous post, I had the opportunity to take some photos of one of my favourite families on July 6! This was the first time I had ever done anything like this. I was a complete noob and using kit lenses but I think we had some winners!

Here are a select few of my favourites πŸ™‚

Don’t get to see some autumn colours often in Brisbane!

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This gorgeous pout

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Do I see bubbles?

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I’ve got daddy’s nose!

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Those big cheeks and eyes!

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Moment with mum

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Family chatting

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Tell us more little one

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And one last one πŸ™‚

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Oh, and this curious bird!

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Had a great time with Kristen, Matt & Abigail. Didn’t really know what I was doing but I really enjoyed this little photo shoot! I am much less intimidated when it comes to shooting people now, yay! And I really like capturing natural moments now, as opposed to posed photos. Hopefully we get to do this again soon! πŸ™‚

Date with Abigail

February 8, 2014

Mike and I went to visit Matt, Kristen and their baby girl this past Sunday… and I remembered to take photos!

Only been a few weeks since we last saw them but Abbey has grown so much already, how cute is she? Nearly 8 weeks old!

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My first baby shoot. Haha, not really, just some opportunistic fun shots!

Proud parents

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Family photo

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Uncle Mike smells mommy!

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Even cute when she’s crying

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She loves this position, we learned something new today!

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Family moment

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Mother and daughter

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Pensive

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Resting on mommy

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Keeping a close eye on mum

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Pretty smiles

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And of course, we had to get a picture ourselves!

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First batch of Year 4 Food

As you may know, I have gotten into the habit of keeping a photo diary of food I’ve been making since coming to Australia from Canada 3 years ago.

Going across the world was my first time moving away from home, and I hardly ever cooked before that because my mom’s food was too fabulous to bother trying. Curse of living at home? πŸ˜›

I am proud of myself for continuously trying and improving my skills in the kitchen. I am most certainly not the best at anything, but I am enjoying trying my hand at new things, and most importantly, it brings me happiness that people (especially Michael) enjoy the things I make. Being in the kitchen is my ‘relaxing activity’ believe it or not. And I especially love to cook and bake when I can share.

Annoyingly, I still have family members that ask, “So… how do you feed yourself when you’re living in Australia?” and are so surprised when I reply, “I cook for myself.”

“Really? You can cook?!” Why yes, yes I can. Did you really think I have been eating just take-out and salads for 3 years? Come on!

And the way I see it. Anybody can, they just have to want to try!

You’ll notice there’s no meat in anything below. Mike and I wanted to go meat-free for a few weeks, especially after indulging so much over the holidays.

First ‘hot meal’ after we finally got groceries on arriving back to Brisbane. Breakfast for dinner, a favourite.

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Creamy cauliflower soup, with onions, potato and sweet potato. Definitely a new favourite!

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Trying my hand at gnocchi from scratch for the first time. Sweet potato gnocchi (can you tell I was really lazy with the shaping of it) with a butter garlic rosemary sauce, fennel and apple salad and some grilled haloumi. Quite an odd combination, I know. But hey, it works! We shop the sales and then decide on the menu, not vice versa. Life of a student, you know? πŸ˜‰

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Ricotta lime cookies with a lime glaze. Made these for “Friday Bake Day” at the hospital, which were enjoyed by many. Will definitely be making these again.

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Pasta salad with green beans and carmelised onions with a greek yoghurt dressing. Side of cucumber and tomato salad.

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Coconut basil shrimp!

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Peanut butter cookies with caramel chips. Made these for another Friday Bake Day

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Had some basa fillets that I cooked up…

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To make delicious fish cakes for the first time! What an easy method to serve fish in a totally different and flavourful way!

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And 2 dishes that I made when back in Canada

Quiche with mushrooms, onions and bacon. Cheated with store bought crust though! πŸ˜‰

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Cream of (wild) mushroom soup

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Merry Christmas Everyone!

December 25, 2013

For as long as I can remember, the entire family has gathered at my grandparents for Christmas day. We always have lunch, complete with 2 turkeys and a plethora of side dishes and dessert. Food is followed by a large break filled with napping or catching up or board games with many laughs. Then evening rolls around and we have our second turkey meal of the day – leftovers from lunch!

This year was slightly different from previous ones. We had THREE turkeys. And a non-family member, Michael, joined the family festivities for the first time.

3 turkeys!

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Plating up the side dishes

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Uncles carving the turkeys

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Almost there

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Yay, eating time!

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In the past few years, as we get older, the cousins have been trying to do something a little different for special family occasions. You might remember at my grandpa’s birthday a few weeks ago, all the kids had lanyards stating their name and birth order. Other occasions have included colour coordinating outfits.

This year, my sister designed t-shirts for all the kids, including Mike. I think they turned out well, what about you? And surprisingly, all the cousins wore their t-shirts the entire day, as opposed to changing out of them once photos were taken. Thanks guys!

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Trying to replicate our faces

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Silly faces

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Isn’t Mike such a lucky man? πŸ˜›

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Playing games as soon as we finished eating!

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So much laughter and craziness playing ‘Heads Up’, Ellen Degeneres’ game that we played similar to charades.

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My grandparents! Probably watching our shenanigans!

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When it comes time for presents, the grandparents always receive theirs presents and cards from the grandchildren first.

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Then my grandparents will give children either a lucky red pocket with money inside, or a small gift each. This year, however, my grandpa decided to do something different – 2 raffle prizes for the kids. Each prize box contained tons of edible goodies with specific instructions to share with the other kids. Win win for all!

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And of course, my grandpa always arranges prize draws for the adults. Sadly, our family (the 6s) has never won one of my grandpa’s raffles! The 2 family were, again, the lucky winners!

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All the cousins participated in a gift exchange this year! Since we are all poor, we agreed to the challenge of buying one item from Dollarama for this gift exchange, with the option to steal presents. Worked out nicely and provided a bunch of fun!

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And some of the cousins participated in our first cookie exchange! Such a great idea and so many cookies to munch on for days. Can’t wait to do this again!

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There were 9 cousins who participated in total and we decided to do batches of 5 cookies as opposed to the traditional dozen. Good idea, because we would’ve had A LOT of cookies to eat.

Kim with her cookies. She attempted to make cookies which included fresh pomegranate syrup but they didn’t quite turn out, mainly because she didn’t use a recipe! She decided to make up for it with cute little bags, thanks Kim!

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Christine with her colourful and tasty pinwheel short bread cookies!

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Janet with fortune cookies!

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Jenni with her shortbread and sugar cookies, with super fancy packaging

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Andy going with the traditional chocolate chip cookies

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Flora and her decadent peanut butter cookies!

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I made some orange cinnamon cookies with cranberries and white chocolate chips!

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Mike and his triple chocolate candy cane cookies – so chocolatey

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Lilian with her impressive and massive red velvet cookies with cream cheese frosting

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So many cookies!

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The haul!

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When our tummies finally made some room, we had dessert! Blueberry and cherry no-bake cheesecake made by my mom and Vietnamese Creme Caramel (flan) made by my Aunt 2! Yum yum!

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And of course, finally as always, some family photos.

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More Christmas photosΒ HERE

This is quite late, but I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas with their loved ones as well! ❀

Christmas Eve Traditions

December 24, 2014

For a few years now, since my dad passed away, our family has spent Christmas Eve with my grandparents. My mom usually has a turkey roasting in the oven during the day, we prepare side dishes, and after evening mass at church, we haul all the food over and enjoy a full turkey dinner at our grandparents’.

And this year was no different!

The turkey and some of the food

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My mom always makes extra stuffing on the side, with walnuts and cranberries, mmm.

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Buttering up some rolls!

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Perhaps my love for photography takes after my grandpa, who you will find always snapping photos at every opportunity, documenting moments with family to revisit time after time.

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Carving the turkey

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Family pictures!

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Having a first taste of the lime and banana liqueur my grandpa made. This was a recipe from his sister in Vietnam, where my mom and I had the opportunity to try some last year!

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Beautiful colour and clarity. Great flavour and not too sweet, yum!

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The other tradition we’ve developed is to take family photos on Christmas Eve.

Here are this year’s photos!

My sister with her turtle, Franklin.

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The β€˜proper’ photo

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And what usually happens when we take family photos

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Happy New Year… of the Horse!

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Sisters.

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Franklin kept trying to escape from me.

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But would always lie perfectly still for my sister!

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Whether your Christmas Eve was festive or simple and relaxing, I hope you all thoroughly enjoyed it!

Yummy delights at Macarons et Madeleines

December 18, 2013

I finally had the opportunity to visit my sister and brother’s favourite bakery in Ottawa – Macarons et Madeleines – a beautiful, warm and cozy home bakery tucked away in Chinatown that specializes in French pastries.

A semi-detached house, the first things that greet you as you enter: delicious aromas of freshly baked goods and Stephan Ethier’s friendly welcome.

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As it is a business run out of their home, Macarons et Madeleines does not have space for customers to sit down and eat, however, that doesn’t mean that their atmosphere is lacking in any way.

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A price list and guest book are set up in the foyer, Christmas decor lines the small yet spacious room, even a lovely wood fireplace.

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Looks like there should be a cat around, but we didn’t get to meet him/her!

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Macarons et Madeleines offers a small selection of approximately 10 pastries on a regular basis. For macarons, only a few flavours are chosen and made each week, many of them creative adventures suggested by customers. In addition, there are others (like the chocolate almond croissant) available only on the weekends. They are also very happy to work with you to create any custom orders you might have, which is great!

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Stephan is a very friendly and extremely passionate patissier (read his biography here). He was more than happy to thoroughly explain the story and work behind the pastries, provide any tips and answer any questions. I did not have a chance to chat with his wife that day, but my sister tells me she is lovely and also just as friendly.

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After a bit of a chat and being given some information on everything available, it was difficult not to get everything to try!

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Christmas macaron flavours available were: pistachio-cinnamon (red), hot chocolate with marshmallow (white), and eggnog with rum (yellow) – we bought 2 of each to share ($2/each). Our favourite was the pistachio-cinnamon, having the most vibrant flavours of the 3, as well as great colour for the holiday season!

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Since we’ve never had a Cannele Bordelais ($3) before, we had to try. A small striated cylinder with a crispy carmelised crust and a soft custard inside – rich, creamy and delicious!

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Croissant ($1.75) – flaky and tender, easily one of the best ones we’ve ever had!

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Pain au chocolate/Chocolate croissant ($2.50) – even better than the regular croissant because of its smooth, creamy, chocolate centre, mmm!

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Apple turnover/Chausson aux pommes ($2.50) – most unique one we’ve tried as it is made with a velvety home made apple puree filling. I love apple+cinnamon, this one definitely did not last long.

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We also got a Brioche Parisienne ($1.25) which was very nice as well!

Macarons et Madeleines offers delicious French pastries Wednesday to Sunday starting at 7am until quantities last. Definitely worth a special visit, I promise you will not be disappointed! Not only will you be warmly received into the home of one of the most passionate pastry chefs, you will surely leave with amazing treats that will leave you pining for more!

Macarons et Madeleines on Urbanspoon

AYCE buffet at Eclipse Asian Cuisine

December 16, 2013

At my mum’s friend’s recommendation, our family decided to have AYCE buffet lunch at Eclipse Asian Cuisine.

A reasonable, $12.95/person + tax/tip for weekday lunch.

Our first impression of Eclipse was, “Holy, heavy doors!” But we did appreciate the eclipse decor pattern on the glass.

Joking aside, the restaurant is large with 2 main seating areas, offering both tables and booths. We were greeted at the door and immediately shown to a booth. Recommendation: hooks by the booths to hang up coats!

The decor is nice and tasteful with wood and brown furniture against purple walls with circular white and yellow accents.

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We arrived shortly after 11:30am for lunch so it was not surprising that there were only a few other patrons in the restaurant. However, there was a steady flow of diners as we headed into lunch hours.

Before grabbing food, I walked around to take a look at all the dishes available and take a few pictures. I was quite taken aback when an employee, I assume the manager/owner as he was in a dress shirt and tie, saw me and harshly asked, “Why are you taking pictures?!” When I replied that I like to blog and was planning to write a review, and asked if taking pictures would be okay, he gave a curt nod of his head and walked away. Isn’t it easier to be friendly?

Anyway, I quite liked the set up of the food. A symmetrical, semi-circular area with an island at the centre and 2 smaller areas off to each side.

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The presentation of the food was elegant, smaller portions cleanly plated on white square dishes. However, I believe this also allowed the dishes to cool a little quickly.

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There are many meat dishes (vegetarians will have a hard time here) and a number of seafood ones to choose from. Many of the classics (dumplings, General Tao’s chicken, egg rolls, stir-fries, etc) are available along with a selection of sushi, salads, soups, and desserts.

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Hungry for food!

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I found my mum’s side profile funny

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My plate. Trying to get a bite of many dishes…

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Unfortunately, my tiny, sesame ball with red bean filling was still raw on the inside.

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And 2 of us had big chunks of fat in one of our pork dishes, not a fan. Fat is the closest piece, pork behind it.

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Overall, the food and selection is good. Of course, the variety doesn’t match Emerald Buffet, but Eclipse still offers something for everyone in a nicer environment. Some dishes are cooked and taste better than others. I especially liked the salmon Teriyaki and salt and pepper shrimp. The sushi is decent, although if you are looking for sushi, I would definitely recommend going down the street for AYCE at Sushi Kan.

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Desserts were definitely disappointing, with a small selection of fruits, jello, ice cream and pre-bought desserts. Unfortunately, many pastries/cakes were dry as they are left open to the air. Would’ve loved to see some Asian desserts as well!

With reasonable prices and food, I’m sure we will find ourselves back when craving Chinese buffet!

Eclipse Asian Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Preparations for my Grandpa’s 80th Birthday

Hello friends!

My grandpa turned 80 years old last Sunday (Nov 24)! Our entire family thought it would be appropriate to throw him a surprise party and tasks were divided up in order to get everything organised for the big day.

My responsibilities included being in charge of decorations and making a big card for everyone to sign. This is pretty hard to do when you’re on the other side of the world, with exams, and haven’t seen what the rented room looks like or how many people will be attending, etc. But no worries, the cousins united once I got back in Ottawa to get things done!

We all met up at my house on Friday, Nov 22, to work on the decor and to make the giant birthday card – which featured hand-print trees from all 13 grandchildren.

Yes, my sister flew home just for the weekend for my grandpa, yay!

Some photos of us hard at work πŸ˜›

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The ooo’s and the aah’s that came after each person lifted their hand to reveal a perfect print was pretty hilarious. Who knew we had such mad skills!

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Getting there!

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I also decided to bake some mini cupcakes the next day – apple cinnamon with orange frosting and chocolate caramel with peanut butter frosting. Had to bake these at my cousin Janet’s house because our oven is too old and temperamental for baking.

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And our family present to my Grandpa! It was decided that every family would have their own present as opposed to pitching in for one large gift. As my grandpa really enjoys trying new foods, we decided to buy an assortment of interesting goodies for him to try and share with family and friends. Some items have personal notes on them as well πŸ˜€

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I’ll be posting photos of the actual birthday party soon! ^_^

Vancouver: Day 03 (End)

November 19, 2013

Woke up to… clear blue skies, yay!

My sister had class this morning so she headed off with her housemate (Erin) after breakfast. Mike and I finished packing before heading out in order to make our lives easier.

We were pretty excited, with such a beautiful day, we were definitely heading back to Stanley Park and renting bikes!

And so we did! Thank you to Erin who lent us mittens and hats as well! They kept us warm during our excursion πŸ™‚

We rented our bikes from Ezee Riders at $5/hour and went to check out the park… many photos!

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Got to see the Totem poles πŸ™‚

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Such a gorgeous day!

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We finally saw the mountains!

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Feel proud guys. This was my third time on a bike in public and boy was it an achievement. I didn’t fall or drive off any roads or into any people or inanimate objects… like the last time I biked. πŸ˜›

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Sadly, the time passed more quickly than we expected and soon we had to return our bikes and start heading back.

Ramen House ε€§θ‘—ε°ε»š on Urbanspoon

We decided to stop for Japanese ramen, but due to our eagerness, we walked into a place on Broadway called Ramen House. They were a Chinese restaurant… that didn’t have a Japanese ramen menu…

We felt bad getting up to leave after already being served tea so decided to stay and check them out anyway. There were a lot of items on the menu so we took longer than usual to make up our minds. The poor owner, felt bad for us and said he would not be offended if we wished to leave to get Japanese ramen instead. But no worries! We decided two mains and two dim sums to share.

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Calamari was tender and not greasy, very nice!

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At the owner’s suggestion, I got Tan Tan Noodles, which were delicious! I’ve never tasted anything like this, so can’t really explain, I remember it being savoury but sour, and very garlicky. The noodles were nicely done as well.

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Mike got Hot and Sour Soup with Dumplings – I haven’t had this soup in a long time and found it to be quite nice. Never tastes as good as the one my mom makes but I was pleasantly surprised, could do with more veggies and tofu though!

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We had such amazing Fried Red Bean Pancake at Swee Choon in Singapore that we ordered it here as well, hoping for another delicious treat. Unfortunately, the pancake was not evenly crispy and quite greasy. A disappointment but the filling was actually quite nice!

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After lunch, we headed back to my sister’s place to pick up our luggage and find our way to the airport! Took the bus and the skytrain without any problems and were soon checked in and enjoying some Starbucks at our boarding gate for our flight at 4:20pm.

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And that… is the end of our Vancouver visit! Pretty short and sad because of the weather but I’m so glad we ended it with beautiful weather!

Looking forward to being home!

Vancouver: Day 02

November 18, 2013

What a good night’s sleep, most definitely needed it! Unfortunately, we woke up to a very gloomy sky. 😦 But that was okay right? Hopefully!

Started off with a delicious breakfast at home with BAGELS: something they really need to start selling in Brisbane because we miss them dearly when not in Canada.

Soon we were heading out and starting the day.

First stop, Stanley Park (huge, 1001 acres) with the hope of riding bikes if it didn’t start to rain. It was looking good! But unfortunately, it started to rain as soon as we got off the bus. So no biking but a little bit of walking around to see what the park had to offer.

Look how pretty it is!

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Lots of seagulls and ducks

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Some fam shots!

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We missed all the wild blackberries! 😦

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We barely made it into the park but it was wet and cold…

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Since it was raining, we thought of going to Science World as it was indoors and would be fun. But alas, they were closed on Monday.

So sad, so my sister decided to show us Granville Island next. A peninsula and hotspot for Vancouver tourism and entertainment, this shopping district includes a large public market, a marina, performance arts theatres, fine art galleries, craft studios (glassblowing, printmaking, jewellers, etc), and much more!

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Oh my gosh, berries so cheap! Australia, why you no have good price like this?

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The public market was bustling with amazing delights like baked goods and fresh fruit. Every stall was appealing in its own way, but particularly because most, if not all, were offering local products including artisan cottage-industry foods and hand-made crafts.

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We also had lunch at the market: perogies, sausages and dessert of cheesecake and macarons – all yum!

Also got some flavoured honey sticks, 4 for $1 – haven’t tried mine (honey lime) yet though!

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The Umbrella Shop. It was hilarious to hear the employee say something along the lines of, “Now, the important thing is that you need to open the umbrella all the way out to dry.” Never heard umbrellas being taken so seriously before!

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The Crystal Ark – had a great time in here just looking at everything. Yes, I like collecting rocks/minerals! And even bought a few items as Christmas presents! πŸ˜‰

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So many polished stones to choose from!

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My sister greeting some ducks on our way out!

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We decided to head to the University of British Columbia with 2 intentions: To see the Walter’s Harvard Lab (from the show Fringe!) and to get a tour of my sister’s study area on campus at UBC Hospital. We also wanted to go to their Museum of Anthropology, but that was closed on Monday too, so many fails!

And yes, the rain has not let up at all. By now, we (but especially me) were all feeling chilled to the bone and miserable.

So it turns out that what Michael believed to be was Walter’s Lab was a FAIL! Because we had a completely wrong building! I’m pretty sure this is the Iona Building, School of Theology

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The one we really wanted to see was this Chemistry Building. Aieya, I guess next time! Photo credit: As linked

We got a quick tour of the OT area at UBC Hospital and chilled out in their student lounge for a bit. So miserable with the rain and cold! If you know me, I can take anything but rain, I detest rain!

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Soon we headed home in order to meet my sister’s friend for sushi dinner! The sushi restaurant was decent, the company definitely made it better. It was an uneventful evening as we just headed home and hung out after dinner – sorry no pictures!

And that’s the end of Day 02!

Post-Medicine rotation gathering!

November 15, 2013

(I know, I’m now writing out of order too, sorry! :P)

In celebration of our time together throughout our Medicine rotation AND the fact that we finished our last exams of third year – we had to celebrate… with food, of course!

Very happy that most of us were able to meet for dinner Friday evening, hurray!

After some discussion, we decided on New Shanghai as they have many yummy and generous sized dishes to share. In particular, dumplings. Need I say more?

Credit to Sarah for the photos!

The ones who couldn’t make it: Clarence, Yung Howe, Tomas, Joseph, Mustak, Manisha, and Sunny

Adi, Kee Ping, Sarah & Daniel

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Me, Mike, Xuan & Christine

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Sarah & Daniel

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Mike & Xuan

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Daniel & I

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Love this picture πŸ™‚

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For dessert, it didn’t take much convincing for everyone to join for some frozen yoghurt, yum!

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Thanks for the good times guys, have a great holiday!

Last night in Brisbane: Eat Street Markets!

November 16, 2013

Continuing on with my previous post!

I know, I’m so behind.

After Kristen’s baby shower earlier in the day, we decided to meet up at Eat Street Markets later for dinner – also a last chance for me to hang out with everyone before going home to Canada!

Unfortunately, Michael wasn’t a part of this gathering because he had to stay home to sell his iPad, and the girl never showed up! How annoying! At least Yoni was over so he didn’t have to spend his night in Brisbane alone, haha.

Christine picked me up at 6pm and we got there in time to meet Kristen, Matt, Fiona and her friend Amy for dinner – yum!

What is Eat Street Markets? I didn’t know either!

It’s a newly opened (and hopefully permanent) night market at the old decommissioned Hamilton Wharf. Around 80 shipping containers, although I suspect more will be added as time goes by, have been transformed to bright and alluring stalls selling food from all over the world, textiles, art, fresh produce, jewellery, and more!

You can read more about it at The Weekend Edition and at Must Do Brisbane.

One of the entrances to the market

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Two huge ‘starry night’ tents lined entirely with amazing food stalls. Very reasonable prices too!

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Yum, food and friends πŸ™‚

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And plenty other stalls!

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Chitty Banh Banh stall by Jake and Elle from My Kitchen Rules

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Sending our love to a friend who wasn’t able to make it.

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Lovely atmosphere and as with any market, plenty of unique things to see!

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There were even fireworks at the end of the night, although I’m pretty sure they were unrelated to Eat Street Markets.

Had a great night, especially hanging out with everyone! Hopefully Mike will have a chance to go when we are back in Brisbane!

Random recent moments

As I mentioned in the last post, I haven’t done much in the last 3 weeks but there are aΒ few things to share!

My dear friend Amanda gifted me with lovely chocolate covered sultanas by Melba’s and a bottle of Chenin Blanc (Coriole Vineyards), both presents from South Australia. The chocolates are rich, smooth and delicious and of the course, the wine was very tasty. She even wrote a really touching note… just because she’s an awesome friend and is always thinking of other people. πŸ™‚

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Having some of the chocolates and salted cashews = winning snack.

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Craving for Korean food led us back to our usual spot – Madtongsan II for dinner on Oct 16!

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Oct 19 – Could not resist the great lunch specials at Wagaya. Went for my new favourite dish, tonkotsu ramen, so delicious! Even comes with dumplings and an amazing bowl of fried rice!

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For dessert, we chose to share the green tea cheese cake with green tea ice cream. Have been wanting to try this for a while but probably not worth getting again.

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Mike’s squishing me! Long but fun and extremely worthwhile days in hospital this rotation. But sooo tired when we finally get home, not much studying gets done.

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Yoni was in town from Nambour and staying with us Oct 19-20. We went to see Gravity which was good, although I was glad we didn’t see the 3D version because I think I would’ve gotten motion sickness. And we never go without food! My favourite wedges from Beastie Burgers and burritos from Guzman y Gomez, yummy picnic!

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I ordered a few BB Cream replacements recently, and look at all the amazing samples I received! All well known Korean brands too… can’t wait to try some of these out, especially the Ice Mask!

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Boiled quail eggs with some salt and pepper – delicious snack!

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How do you cut a pineapple? This is how I learned from my mom, least amount of pineapple wastage!

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Yummy! Honeydew melon with pineapple and lychee – can’t go wrong!

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Tried frozen yoghurt for the first time not too long ago – how delicious! Biscotti and coconut pandan flavour with fruits – yum!

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A new favourite in our house, basil & blueberry gin and tonic – try it! Very tasty πŸ™‚

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Home made food update? Here are a few things!

Crispy oven baked sweet potato fries

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Creamy mushroom soup – delightful!

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More mango sticky rice with coconut cream, mmm

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Vegetarian pasta salad with Greek yoghurt based dressing

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Pear cupcakes with passionfruit icing for the students in my group

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Chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter icing and carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing as thank you gifts for my med team.

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3 weeks since I last posted!

Unbelievable how fast this rotation has gone by… tomorrow is already my last day in hospital… of the year. Then final exams next week!

I haven’t blogged in over three weeks, ashamed! No excuses! Although getting home late most days leaves me completely exhausted, especially after dinner when I still have to study 😦 That, and I have not done anything interesting during this rotation! Mostly focused on school, I haven’t even been taking photos regularly! Oopsies.

I’m very excited to be approaching the end of third year, which has been fantastic. I love being in the hospital, being part of a team, and the opportunity for hands on learning. Definitely excited to be finishing up this year, but a little apprehensive about next year as well, ah!

Here are a few updates:

  • So fortunate to have been a part of such an awesome medical team for this rotation. We are having a farewell lunch tomorrow… I’ll definitely be a little sad but it will be nice to see their faces next year as well πŸ™‚
  • Final exams next Wednesday morning! It will consist of a long case and a short case. For the long case, we get 1 hour with a patient and during that hour, we must get a full history and do a full examination. This is followed by 20 minutes with two examiners where we present our case and get grilled. The short case will be a focused examination completed within 8-10 minutes, also followed by a brief summary/presentation to the examiners and being questioned. Sounds nerve wracking? It is!
  • Because real patients are used for our exams, we are banned from the hospital as of Friday. That way, newly admitted patients are kept secret πŸ˜‰ And so, I’ve decided to go to the beach this weekend. Relax and do some reading under the sun… lots of reading to get through in preparation for my exams next week!
  • Will be going to my first baby shower! Mum-to-be is my lovely friend Kristen, who makes pregnancy look absolutely beautiful!
  • Then Mike and I are flying home on Sunday, November 17th at 7:45 am! We’ll be heading to the airport quite early, will we be up all night doing last minute packing? Mike will for sure. I’ll be doing my packing while procrastinating studying for exams.
  • We’ll be arriving in Vancouver on November 17th at 7:25 am and will spend a couple of days visiting my sister (studying OT at UBC) before going back to Ottawa, arriving at 11:40 pm on November 19th!
  • Yay, I’ll be home for my grandpa’s 80th birthday!
  • After many weeks of snail mail, I have finally completed my registration to write the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Examination (MCCEE)! This will be the first of 4 Canadian exams I will have to complete should I wish to train in Canada. My exam will be on February 28th in Melbourne!
  • I have a lot of studying to do… for the rest of my life.
  • But yay, home soon! And for Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy thanksgiving friends!!

I miss Thanksgiving feasting back home with the family but Mike and I have settled for a mini dinner ourselves! Roasted chicken though… Not turkey πŸ˜‰

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Evening catch up with friends @ The Burrow

Finally had a catch up this past Friday with Kee Ping, Amanda and Xuan at The Burrow.

With a great drinks menu and nice atmosphere, The Burrow was an easy choice and luckily we could make reservations so didn’t have to wait in line for a table.

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Beers for everyone! And of course, food. We got a few dishes to share:

Unfortunately, some of these dishes are part of their Oktoberfest menu which isn’t online so I can’t give you the full dish name and all its components.

Pretzels with Pepe Saya butter. I love Pepe Saya butter but the pretzels were unfortunately quite tough and definitely not worth $7/each.

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Main component of this dish was the crispy pork belly, which was lovely! Also had roasted peaches and something-I-can’t remember wrapped in filo pastry. Tasty dish!

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Dip-ah-dee-do-dah – A selection of fresh house dips, crisp bread, ciabatta, zattar and flavoured oils. The selection was different than what Mike and I have had before but still very tasty! Very generous portions of dips, and so would do with a bit more breads!

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This dish’s main component was slow cooked venison with spΓ€tzle, apple and berries. When we asked what spΓ€tzle was, our server said her best description would be “similar to gnocchi”. Unfortunately, although the venison was tender and nice, the spΓ€tzle (that we were all trying for the first time) tasted more like stale deep fried batter. We’re still unsure if it was meant to taste that way, or if we just got a bad batch… And why make the pieces so tiny? So difficult to eat when they just roll around on your fork and then onto the table.

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We also got some Gnarly fries (curly fries) and Chips Ahoy! (beer battered fries) with aioli sauce. On a good note, the fries never disappoint.

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We’ve been to The Burrow many times and love the service, drinks selection and quality of food. Unfortunately, we found our food hit and miss tonight but will still be back again in the future πŸ™‚

The Burrow on Urbanspoon

Happy birthday Fi!

September 28, 2013

A small BBQ gathering to catch up with friends and more importantly, celebrate Fiona’s birthday! She’s only turned “24” this year guys πŸ˜‰

Blowing out the candles! It took many laughs and a lot of effort πŸ˜›

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And a few random pictures! Sorry Christine and Mike, somehow I missed you guys!

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Happy birthday again!

Santos GLNG City of Lights with Christine!

Christine had never seen the light show since coming to Brisbane so of course we had to take her!

[Check out 2011’s post HERE and 2012’s post HERE]

We had a tasty selection of kiosk food (including deep fried ice cream!) before settling down and enjoying the show. It was even more impressive than last year as there were people mounted on flexible poles, dancing under the waterfall, as part of the show!

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Had a great night!

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Mike’s 34th Birthday!

Another long overdue post!

Mike turned 34 on September 21, 2013 – woo hoo! We had a quiet day at home with just the 2 of us… focused on food, haha!

Started the day by making us some mini blueberry and white chocolate pancakes for breakfast! πŸ™‚

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For lunch we went to our favourite local sushi restaurant, Sakura Sushi – they have new menu items! They keep improving every time we visit – highly recommended!

And a lovely homemade meal to celebrate for dinner πŸ™‚

At Mike’s request, Banh Tam Xiu Mai – one of his favourite Viet dishes!

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Also made some coconut basil shrimp, mmm so tasty!

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Happy birthday my love!

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And also at his request, Caramel infused chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing. My best homemade cupcakes yet, huge stamp of approval from the birthday boy!

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And of course, presents!

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Wishing you many more happy birthdays to come my dear! ❀

Dinner with friends @ Epicurean

This is posted late, but I wanted to tell you about a delicious dinner we had at Epicurean (official restaurant of Inchcolm Hotel) back on September 17, 2013 πŸ™‚

Thanks to a weekly Dimmi Special, we were able to enjoy this restaurant for the first time at 50% off the food bill, drinks not included.

With dinner reservations for 7pm, we were greeted by the friendly staff and shown to our table. It was a quiet Tuesday night with not many other patrons except for a few I presume were staying at Incholm Hotel.

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Service was really great throughout the night, thank you especially to Richard for explaining the dishes and continuously checking in on us!

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We started off with wine and warm delicious bread.

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Next came the entrees which we shared between us.

Lamb Tenderloin, Pistachio Dukkah, Smoked Eggplant, Sumac Yoghurt, Lemon. Lamb was extremely tender and I especially loved it combined with the dukkah and yoghurt!

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Β½ Shell Hervey Bay Scallops, Salt Baked Apple & Onion Puree, Radish, Dill Oil. The scallops were sweet but I wish they had been seared (had absolutely no colour) and were accompanied by ingredients with a stronger flavour profile.

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Hot Smoked NZ King Salmon Salad, Charred Potatoes, Candied Spec, Green Beans, 62˚C Egg. Smoked salmon was delicious and an interesting combination with the egg as well.

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White Rabbit & Mustard Fruit Rillettes, Moreton Bay Prawn Salad, Herb Brioche. I was worried, but the rabbit was tender and moist! The brioche, however, was too dry!

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Onto the lovely mains

I got the East Coast Gold Band Snapper, Roasted Peach, Sorrel & Green Peppercorn Cream which was absolutely lovely. The peach and peppercorn cream was a fantastic combination with the fish, which was perfectly cooked.

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Mike got the Pork Sirloin, Red Cabbage, Ricotta & Jamon Dumpling, Pear & Sage Emulsion which he said was, “deeelicious.”

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Kageen chose the Free Range Chicken (Breast & Leg), Pickled Ratatouille, Sweet & Sour Tomato Coulis, Fried Capers that she quite enjoyed.

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And finally, Xuan got King Reef Barramundi, Sand Crab, Tomato & Chive Mash, Sauce Nero with an additional side of Dutch Cream Potato Mash,Truffle Oil to share. The dish was good and it was interesting to try a squid ink sauce for the first time!

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Fortunately, with all of that, we still had room to try some of the desserts!

Mike and I shared the Belgian Milk Chocolate Mousse, Gin & Strawberry Gelee, Vanilla Crumble, Seasonal Berries. Beautifully decadent! The only thing we would point out is that the mousse was quite thick, more air would’ve been perfect but still delicious!

Kageen chose the Fruit Salad Compression, Crème de Framboise, Granita, Hazelnut Gelato as she had not compressed fruit before and found it quite refreshing. Her gelato had slipped off the starfruit in this picture.

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Xuan decided on the Classic Lemon Tart, Spiced Marmalade, Lime Crème that looked delicious!

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Thank you Epicurean for a great dinner with delicious food and wonderful service! We will definitely try to come back and visit again soon!

Group photo!

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Epicurean on Urbanspoon

Camping on Stradbroke Island: Day 02 & 03

Day 02: Sept 19

Woke up bright and early to birds chirping and the soothing sound of ocean waves crashing on the shore.

After breakfast, we decided that we would re-hike the same path as yesterday: East from Flinders Beach all the way to Main Beach and stop to swim along the way. Since we were walking through the same scenery as yesterday, I didn’t take as many photos!

Wee, wee, wee! Riding my invisible broomstick around Home Beach

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Marking our presence!

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Morning stretches

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I found lunch! Different kinds of molluscs!

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While I was hunting for lunch, Mike decided to claim a secluded section of Deadman’s Beach as his own private beach. Just for the 2 of us!

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That is my head, sticking out of the ocean

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Closer look at the molluscs I found

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New friends! Tickling my palm as they tried to slither away

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Sand dune! Too bad we didn’t have anything to use to slide down with!

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Bird of prey swooped down and stole an angelfish caught by a fisherman

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Super calm fisherman

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Lots of little crabs on all the beaches

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Little critters all around if you stop to take a look!

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Thought these flowers were quite interesting!

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We finally made it down to Main Beach! The wind was crazy today and the waves were too large to safely go swimming… neither of us are surfers, haha!

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Since we couldn’t swim at Main Beach, we walked back (so much walking) to Deadman’s beach for more swimming… and more crabs

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We made it sure to make it back to our camp at Adder Rock in time to watch the sunset! And to not only enjoy but see our awesome astronaut (read: freeze dried) dinner!

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It was actually REALLY tasty! Yum yum!

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We took our dinner bag onto the beach to eat and watch the sunset together. Aww, how much more romantical can camping get? Haha

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The wind had picked up quite a bit after the sun went down so we hid out in our tent for the evening. Yay!

Day 03: Sept 20

Our last day on Straddie! We decided to have breakfast, pack up and head back early in order to enjoy a whole day back in Brisbane.

This little fella never failed to show up and laugh at us in the mornings!

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Our next door camping neighbour (took this with my telephoto lens). SHE HAS A FRUIT BOWL and containers with drawers!

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Someone tied their bracelet to the fence

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This bird greeted us on our first day and followed us everywhere around the camp ground. On the last day, it landed on my shoulder while we were having breakfast! Very cute, especially the way it wiggled it’s butt, I don’t know what kind of bird this is though, does anyone?

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And that’s it! Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it!

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CLICK HERE IF YOU’D LIKE TO VIEW THE COMPLETE STRADDIE PHOTO ALBUM

Camping on Stradbroke Island: Day 01

September 18, 2013

During this vacation, I did something I’ve never done before: I went camping!

Big thanks to Mike for the awesome first experience! Being an avid camper, he had everything we needed to make the trip as smooth as possible πŸ˜€

Our destination had long been recommended by numerous friends and boy were we glad we finally went! STRADBROKE ISLAND – definitely would visit again!

Getting to the island was incredibly easy and convenient, making us both really wished we’d gone earlier. Take the train out to Cleveland, hop on the complimentary bus out to the dock and on to the ferry! Ferry price is $15 return for students, pretty good! Once we arrived on the island (Dunwich), the island bus was waiting and it cost an additional $2.50 to get to our camping ground, too easy!

On the way there!

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Here is a map of Stradbroke Island so you can see the places I have mentioned and will be talking about in this post.

NSI-Map

We decided to camp at an unpowered site at Adder Rock for $28/night. Being low season, we got our pick of camping sites and decided to camp along Flinders Beach. Camping on the beach, what could be better right? They even had all the amenities we could need, including cooking and toilet facilities. From Adder Rock, we hiked East along the coast, scampering over rocks and walking through kilometers of pristine beaches all the way to Main Beach.

Setting up camp

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Done! Our home for the next 2 days

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… with the awesome beach view

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Settled in and having lunch! Yes, Mike has a portable stove, pots and pans, and everything! Sausages, hard boiled eggs, bread, strawberries… yum!

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First selfie of the trip!

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After lunch we headed out to explore North Stradbroke Island.

We started with walking along the roads where we passed by a skatepark.

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We sooned turned off the road to walk along the beach instead. First up, Home Beach (refer to map above!)

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Beaches were pretty much empty except for a few families scattered here and there

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We’ve reached Cylinder Beach! One of the few places to swim with lifeguards.

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Beautiful Cylinder Beach

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Leaving Cylinder Beach…

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Mike taking a break

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Looking back at Cylinder Beach

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Looking ahead to Deadman’s Beach

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We saw a manta ray cruising underwater while taking a break!

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Deadman’s Beach

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Really interesting to the see the variations in volcanic rock formations and colours as you go from beach to beach.

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Frenchman’s Bay!

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Heading up to the road because you couldn’t really continue onward by the beach

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Looking back down at Frenchman’s Bay

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As we walked along the road to the Gorge Walk, we saw humpback whales! Unfortunately, they were really far out!

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The beautiful Gorge Walk!

Breathtaking North Gorge

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We really kept our eye out for dolphins and sharks, but only saw sea turtles and manta rays unfortunately. Still amazing though!

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View of South Gorge and further ahead, Main Beach!

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Endless Main Beach as far as the eye can see!

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We didn’t swim at all today. Decided that we would hike the coast again tomorrow and go swimming and visit Main Beach then. With that we headed back, returning to Adder Rock just missing the sunset! Boo, but that’s okay, we’ll make sure to catch it tomorrow!

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Getting a fire going… just because πŸ™‚

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Smoked out a huntsman spider!

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Easy dinner! With wine, fruit and other snacks on the side.

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We retired to our tent early with our headlamps and spent the night playing Monopoly Deal Card Game (thanks for that Vy!) and reading Dan Brown’s Inferno. Good end to our first day.

Post-hike AYCE dinner @ Midam Korean Charcoal BBQ

Famished once we got back into Brisbane post-hike at Noosa National Park, we were grateful that Xuan had suggested all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ at Midam!

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At a very reasonable price of $28/person (remember, no tax no tip here), you got an unlimited amount (self-service) of a variety of meats that included: pork belly, marinated pork, marinated beef, marinated chicken, etc!

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Also included in the dinner was rice and a variety of sides that included kimchi, fishcake, sweet mashed potatoes and salad.

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Dinner was extremely good! The meats were tender and well marinated, and the side dishes were tasty. I also loved the dipping sauces! I assume some people are turned off by a time limit, but I think the maximum of 2 hours is definitely more than enough to walk away really satisfied!

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Cooking at the grill at our table was extremely easy and the overhead fan had good suction. Certainly didn’t walk away reeking of food!

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Good food with good company, what else could you ask for?

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The restaurant was super busy with quick service, separated seating areas and a common buffet section. And loved the overhead lights!

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Would definitely recommend a visit! If it wasn’t so hard for us to get to Sunnybank via public transportation, we’d be back sooner!

Midam Korean Charcoal BBQ on Urbanspoon

Hiking @ Noosa National Park (Part 2)

Following up with my previous post, we were halfway through our hike when we finally reached the gorgeous Alexandria Bay.

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How beautiful is this? And what was even more awesome, barely a soul in sight – especially compared to the Main Beach. Absolutely stunning!

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Group picture with Xuan and Mabel!

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Of course we had a dip in the ocean! The water was cool and super refreshing after the walk! The waves weren’t too bad although some sets definitely got salt water up my nose but hey, clear sinuses!

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After a snooze under the sun, we continued on with our journey! We proceeded back in the direction we came in via the Coastal Path (#4 in blue).

Noosa map

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Our first stop was at Hell’s Gate – amazing panoramic views of the great blue ocean!

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Pretty Mabel!

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Xuan… perhaps pondering the mysteries of life?

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We then continued down the Coastal Path back to the park entrance with great views of the coast along the way back.

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Before we knew it, we were on the road heading back to Brisbane with the sun quickly setting beside us… πŸ™‚

Hiking @ Noosa National Park (Part 1)

Finally went hiking at Noosa National Park yesterday!

After a long drive, we were greeted with such gorgeous weather that it was definitely going to an awesome day for hiking.

Noosa map

We started with the Noosa Hill track (#3 in yellow), a 2.4 km that climbed steadily up through open eucalypt woodlands and shrublands to the top of Noosa Hill.

Pictures of course! πŸ™‚

Heading in!

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Once in a while you can glimpse the blue waters just through the thick vegetation

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Pretty remnants of once green leaves

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Colourful lichen

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Last bit of elevation before reaching the top of Noosa Hill

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Do you see a horse too?

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I think we added a good foot to the “official” height of Noosa Hill

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Then made our way back down…

Lots of interesting textures to see

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Xuan found his special place in a tree

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Markings made by the larvae of the Scribbly Gum moth! You see these tracks all over the Scribby Gums (Eucalyptus haemastoma) and according to Wiki: Eggs are laid between layers of old and new bark. The larvae burrow into the new bark and, as the old bark falls away, the trails are revealed. The diameters of the tunnels increase as the larvae grow, and the ends of the tracks are where the larvae stopped to pupate.

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Gorgeous red crystalized sap on the Scribbly Gums

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We eventually reached the end of the Noosa Hill track and continued on another 2.8km via the Tanglewood track (#2 in orange), a meandering trail through cool rainforest.

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Found a turkey! We unfortunately didn’t see much wildlife except for turkeys and birds!

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Found the Eye of Sauron

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The trail eventually gave way to woodlands…

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… as we reached our much anticipated destination: Alexandria Bay.

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One word: Stunning.

Stay tuned to see more of this gorgeous place!

Breakfast Date @ Gunshop Cafe

After a lovely breakfast with Fiona, Kristen and Christine at Gunshop Cafe a number of weeks back, I promised that I would take Michael on my return πŸ™‚

Earlier this year, we had dinner at the Gunshop Cafe with Mike’s sister, Meaghan, that ended as a so-so experience. Because they are well known for breakfast, we vowed to come back and try and we both finally did!

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Friendly, attentive service and delicious food!

Mike tried the Tasmanian smoked salmon, poached eggs, traditional kettle boiled bagel, hollandaise with greens – $18.50. What a treat to have a bagel again since being in Canada! Delicious and very satisfying!

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A pleased customer!

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I struggled with choosing between either a sweet or savoury dish, our server convinced to go sweet and decadent and I did not regret! Canadian brioche French toast, double smoked bacon, caramelised banana, candied pecans, maple syrup – $18.50. Uh-mazing. Fluffy brioche drowned in maple syrup and pecans… I love pecans! The crispy bacon really did the trick, whole combination was so tasty!

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Good to the last bite!

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We had a great time and even got some studying and discussion done. Having breakfast at the Gunshop Cafe is definitely a treat (read: expensive!) and we look forward to visiting again soon! πŸ™‚

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Gunshop Cafe on Urbanspoon

From our kitchen!

Tried to recreate our new found love in Bangkok – Mango Sticky Rice, success! We didn’t pour as much sugar/coconut syrup in our sticky rice, still delicious! Worth the $4 mango… yea, mangoes are expensive.

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Vegetarian dinner with grilled eggplant, pan fried tofu and sauteed shrimp – mmm! But worst plating ever, haha… I’m sorry! πŸ˜›

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Non-homemade-chicken-Cordon-Blue with a huge but delicious salad

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Banana fritters!

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Peanut butter with caramel chips and sea salt cookies – so decadent! Approved by our consultant who thought the combination sounded weird πŸ™‚

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Made cream of mushroom soup for the first time… oh my god. Never buying canned soup EVER AGAIN. This was amazing!

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Recent Randoms

Some pictures from random moments these past few days!

Thing (from Addams Family) awkwardly on Michael’s shoulder πŸ˜‰

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The Water Dragon that kept running at Nuangi, Mike and I while we were studying in Roma Parklands the other day!

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Absolutely delicious Mentai Tonkotsu Ramen (pork bone broth with roe, bamboo, soft boiled egg, sliced pork) with dumplings and Takikomi (fragrant Japanese styled rice)… lunch set for $15.50 at Wagaya! Yummy!

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Mike with a monster!

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Was in the city studying today…

Super busy Post Office Square

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Less busy Anzac Square just beside, settled here instead!

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It was a beautiful day!

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Heading back to the train when we saw the WWI & WWII Shrine of Memories, a crypt in the lower section of the Shrine of Remembrance.

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Whoa… all the pictures are in portrait orientation, weird! Well, until next time! πŸ™‚

Lunch @ Dumpling Up

August 26, 2013

Got off early from the hospital, woo hoo!

Hungry and in time for lunch, how lucky πŸ˜›

Dumpling Up not only has a restaurant but a little kiosk next door where they sell dumplings and steam buns to go. After enjoying their buns-to-go a number of times, we decided to check out their restaurant for lunch.

A friendly staff member stood at the door introducing the lunch specials (on display in the window) to interested patrons.

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We were interested and promptly shown inside. Two words: lovely decor! Unfortunately, the restaurant was almost empty. A shame considering this restaurant opened only a few weeks ago at that time.

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They had appealing $10 lunch sets (rice with a main, 3 dumplings and green tea) but we decided on the a-la-carte menu instead in order to try more items.

All dishes were only $2.90 – amazing! We chose a variety of dishes…

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Started off with BBQ pork steam buns (2 per plate) – tasty as usual!

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Silly face!

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Deep fried pork and shrimp dumplings (3 per plate) – fillings tasted very similarly, decent but not a stand out.

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Edamame – overcooked with too much oil and salt.

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We also tried a few sushi options, all of which came with 3 pieces per plate.

Salmon roll (salmon, avocado & cucumber)

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Dragon roll (salmon, prawn & pickle)

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Spider roll (fried soft shell crab, pickle & cucumber)

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It’s a good thing we didn’t order too many because the sushi was not very good. Rice was overcooked, as you can probably see in the pictures. And the ingredients (tempura prawn and soft shell crab) were cold and not freshly made.

The price was great but the food did not match in quality. It was disappointing to see a large beautiful restaurant, with plenty of seating space, so empty in the middle of lunch time. And such a small menu that didn’t live up to expectations.

Service, however, was great and hopefully they will soon work out the kinks with the food – when you offer a limited menu, it should dazzle! Or maybe it was just a fluke in the kitchen the day we visited πŸ˜€ It is a lovely restaurant (with a bar and even private rooms) with good prices and we will be back in the near future to check it out again!

Dumpling Up on Urbanspoon

Life randoms :)

A few pictures here and there over the past month or so!

First time meeting Mike’s friend from Halifax – Chelsea and her boyfriend, Dave! Also an opportunity to catch up with Nicole and to meet her friend visiting from Canada – Winston. Meeting new friends and enjoying good food in the rain – fish and chips at Swampdog! Lovely time guys!

Left to right: Dave, Chelsea, Nicole, Mike, me, Winston

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Can you see why I stock up on cue cards from Dollarama when I’m back in Canada during the holidays? Look at the cost, the cost!!

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Passed by this and loved the cracks in the pillars!

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After a fun morning of badminton with Xuan, Yung and Chloe, we enjoyed yummy dim sum at Yum Cha Cuisine – newly opened in Indooroopilly Shopping Centre. Definitely worth a return visit πŸ˜‰

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Are those fuzzy things… alive?

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Walked by a bush with lovely small pink flowers.

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Free Despicable Me 2 memory games from McDonald’s! Mike and I used to compete with each other on the iPad with a similar game. Now we can play together like little kids! πŸ˜€

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Guys, remember when mint M&Ms were just regular looking M&Ms that had mint chocolate? Not anymore! Now with a minty candy coat with a green crisp interior!

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I have FINALLY invested in a real pair of sunglasses. No longer will I be purchasing $5-10 cheap sunnies and be developing cataracts!

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I saw a tunnel spider web today at the train station πŸ™‚

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And lastly, an old one from our last trip to Vietnam with my mum. Iced milk coffee… love the swirls!

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Catching up @ Chocolate Pavillion

August 25, 2013

Sunday date to finally catch up with Nuangi!

Mike and I suggested a chocolate cafe we had seen during previous visits to South Bank – Chocolate Pavillion.

The place was lovely and we immediately liked the spacious sitting area and no lineup as you often see at Max Brenner. The menu had an extensive variety of drink and dessert options, most appealing and within comparable price to other chocolate dessert cafes in the area.

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It didn’t take us long to make up our minds:

Nuangi chose the Sizzling Macadamia Brownie ($12) – A deliciously decadent Belgian chocolate and macadamia nut brownie. Served with gelato and smothered in hot chocolate sauce. The chocolate sauce was poured over the brownie at the table and sizzled away on the hot plate, unexpected pleasant surprise!

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Mike couldn’t resist ordering the Sticky Date Pudding with Butterscotch Toffee Sauce ($9) served with chantilly creme. Mmm, moist and sticky!

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And I decided on the Triple Chocolate Parfait ($9) – Three delicious layers of milk, dark and white chocolate. What better option to maximize the variety, tastes and textures of chocolate? So decadent!

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We all definitely enjoyed our tasty desserts!

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Unfortunately, despite the good food, we experienced what many others have complained about on Urbanspoon. The service – or lack thereof. Chocolate Pavillion offers ‘table service’ that unfortunately doesn’t live up to its definition. Requests for water went ignored and food was dropped off without a single follow up to see how things were going. It’s fine, we survived. But honestly, why not just make it self-service like so many other places and save yourself trouble?

Would we return? Yes, definitely. The atmosphere and food were both very nice, not to mention a good place to get some studying done. We look forward to trying other items on the menu. Hopefully their service improves in the meantime!

Chocolate Pavillion on Urbanspoon

Photoblog Update! :)

Hey everyone, hope Monday is treating you well!

Just wanted to let you know that I’ve recently updated my blog with a little over 40 new photos. If you read my blog regularly, then many will be familiar but with the added feature of awesomely unique not so creative titles! Woo hoo!

Please check out my photoblog HERE!

And please feel free to leave comments to let me know what you think!

Thanks guys and have an awesome week! πŸ˜€

50% off Korean BBQ dinner @ Hong Depot

An opportunity through Dimmi for 50% off food (not including drinks or desserts) at Hong Depot, a Korean BBQ restaurant in West End. With an 82% rating on Urbanspoon and being somewhere we’ve never tried before – how could we resist?

Xuan, Mike and I had reservations for 5:30pm but showed up a bit early due to the timing of buses. No problems though! We were invited to our table and ordered drinks to start while waiting for the kitchen to open. The boys enjoyed Heineken beer while I got a glass of Black Raspberry Wine – sweet but so tasty!

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The restaurant is quirky but homey, does that make sense?

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Check out the plastic gloves filled with water, hanging all over the restaurant. Nope… still haven’t been able to figure it out πŸ˜›

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We were soon ready to place our order and eagerly awaiting our food.

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As with many Korean restaurants, there are always free unlimited refills of side dishes. The ones offered at Hong Depot were sliced fish cake, kim chi, and seaweed salad. All were very good! Never had seaweed salad as a slaw before but the crunchy texture really makes it!

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The dishes soon started flowing out at a very good pace. First dish, Rice Balls ($7 for 4 pcs – mixed with rice, yellow radish, seaweed, sesame and mayo) – very good! I especially liked the added texture of the red rice.

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Mandu ($9 for 8 pcs)! Korean dumplings with vegetable filling.

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Large Kimchi Pancake ($16). Crispy, filled with nice and spicy kimchi.

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When we finished our tapas, the staff set up fiery coals to barbecue our meats…

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Rice with dipping sauces

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We got 4 servings of meat, each 200g: Beef Galbi ($21 – marinated short beef rib), Spicy Beef Bulgogi ($18.80 – marinated thin slices of prime beef), Spicy Pork Bulgogi ($19.50 – marinated thin slices of prime pork) and Jumuluck ($21 – marinated boneless short beef rib). All of the meats were tender and well marinated.

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Loved being able to BBQ the meat to our liking and thank goodness for the table suction fan. Otherwise, we’d be reeking of BBQ on the way home!

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And even though we were getting full, ice cream was just too tempting. Xuan and Mike each got a scoop of Green Tea and I got Black Sesame ($6 each) – creamy and delicious! A very generous portion as well, no complaints!

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With the 50% discount, our bill for 3 people came to approximately $105 – great value! The dinner was great and everything was delicious πŸ™‚ The staff were also extremely friendly and accommodating, despite the restaurant being very busy later in the evening. We left extremely satisfied but would be hesitant to return soon because at regular price, the food is quite pricey for the portion size. Would definitely recommend trying at least once though!

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Hong Depot on Urbanspoon

My mutant eyelash

This is how you can tell I haven’t been putting much effort into my looks…

Put mascara on for the first time in a very long time to see my mutant eyelash had grown to double the length of my normal eyelashes! Yes… you are seeing corrently, it reached up to my eyebrows πŸ˜›

Weird, I know. I have just that single eyelash that grows at a much faster rate than the rest. I obviously haven’t been looking in the mirror close enough to notice it had gotten way out of hand! Haha

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Just a bit of food

I haven’t done a food update since… May probably?

Not much to share since then, but here are a few dishes!

Vietnamese ground pork, ready to go into the oven! Nom nom nom. Final product was served at our post-surgery potluck.

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Chewy nutella peanut butter cookies

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We first had laksa last month in Singapore and it was quickly one of our favourite dishes. Trying my hand at homemade laksa and it was quite tasty!

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Chicken panfried dumplings. I love dumplings and these tasted great but they just take so long to make and get eaten so quickly! Haha!

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Made some perfect carrot cupcakes with cream cheese icing to raise money for the RSPCA!

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I made cheesecake for the first time! The lazy way… with a chocolate oreo cookie as a base rather than a crumbed one. Baked cheesecake with a hint of peanut butter and nutella πŸ™‚ Got the stamp of approval from Yoni and Mike!

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Post-surgery dinner

(Long overdue post!)

Thursday, July 11th was day of our surgery exam – what a stressful morning!

But the day ended on a high note because Mike and I had invited all of our surgery-rotation-group over for a potluck dinner, yum yum yum!

Most people were able to come (some even with their partners) and everyone brought so much delicious food! Completely stuffed by the end of the night.

Thank you to Sarah K for taking pictures! All photo credits belong to her!

Sorry, we don’t have photos of everyone’s food!

Bacon wrapped chicken by Amanda

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Seafood paella topped with feta cheese by Tom

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Stuffed roasted chicken bought by Xuan

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Daniel bought this, I think it was sweet and sour chicken but I could be wrong!

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Thanks to Sarah for spending so much time making this fried rice and kimchi pancake, very tasty!

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Argh, I forgot the name of this dish, but it is a Malaysian beef curry-like dish made by Yung and his gf Chloe.

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Fresh salad from Kristine and Jeff!

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We provided Vietnamese BBQ ground pork balls with garlic mayo and fresh bread

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Let’s take a group picture guys

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Guys…?

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Woo, finally! πŸ™‚

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Thank you to everyone for coming over that night and bringing such wonderful food! Hope you enjoyed yourselves just as much as we did πŸ™‚

The next day, we were off to the Gold Coast!

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˜›

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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!

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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.

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

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

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Unfortunately, they were all squished and looked like this!

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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˜‰

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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!

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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!

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With mum and the siblings

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And Di Nam (mum’s sister)

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And altogether!

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Siblings and Janet

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Cutting my cake

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Even get to eat cake!

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Bonus:

My siblings, their pets, and cousin Janet

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We’re having a baaaall!

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

Ruixi & Chris’ wonderful Save the Date

They did such a great job on this, I had to share!

Fingerprint heart design on the cover, each half unique from one member of the couple.

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And the lovely surprise when you open it up… Knot tightens as the card fully opens.

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How cute is that? I love the fact that they are homemade, simple but with a really cute theme. Not to mention they were probably able to save a bunch of money!

Can’t wait to see what other surprises they have in store!

Morning tennis with friends & breakfast @ Ruby Cafe

August 3, 2013

Booked a tennis court at UQ for a morning of tennis with Xuan, Amanda and Yung!

There was a lot of ball chasing and annoying players in nearby courts that day… but all in good fun πŸ™‚

Some pictures!

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And, naturally, food must follow exercise.

We went for late breakfast/brunch at Ruby Cafe in Paddington, a delightful meal indeed!

The little tables we sat at outside had little red blankets to keep you warm, which was quite cute.

Both Amanda and I got the Torn lamb toastie with fontina cheese, green tomato relish and dill pickle, served with shoestring fries ($13). Sandwich was amazing, loved the tender melt-in-your-mouth lamb in combination with the green tomato relish. Fries were tasty with the only disappointment being… it was a gherkin not a dill pickle! You don’t understand the feeling of expecting a tasty dill pickle and getting a sweet gherkin instead… for real!

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Mike got the BLT with smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, house BBQ and ranch, served with shoestring fries ($13). He definitely enjoyed it, but we both agreed the lamb toastie was much better in flavour.

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And lastly (because Yung didn’t join us), Xuan had the scrambled eggs with tomato chili jam, sourdough and pork fennel & chili sausage ($15). Also very tasty but sausage was not nearly as spicy as expected.

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Didn’t step inside the restaurant so I can’t comment on the decor and ambiance but it was nice to sit outside. Service was just okay. There were multiple friendly staff members who served our table but none of them were on the ball. Request for water was forgotten as food was brought to the table and the second round of coffee never came. Eventually, we decided to just get the bill and they didn’t even realize the coffee order was never fulfilled. Maybe they were too busy, but that should never be an excuse, right?

All in all, food was definitely good enough to warrant another visit. Perhaps next time we’ll sit inside and be less forgotten! πŸ˜‰

Ruby Cafe on Urbanspoon

Exploding seed pods!

These photos were taken so long ago, I can’t believe I haven’t posted them yet!

The pretty purple flower, Ruellia tuberosa, develop dry seed pods that explode on contact with water, in order to scatter their seeds.

Check out what happens in this video πŸ˜‰ Michael was smothering his laugh in the background, which made me giggle uncontrollably… sorry!

I was first introduced to this years ago in Vietnam when my mom insisted we put a pod in our mouth and see what happens. Needless to say, the explosion totally caught us by surprise but left a lot of giggles. The popping doesn’t hurt you at all, just an unexpected and funny sensation. They’re lots of fun to play with and even funnier when you can trick someone else to put some in their mouth πŸ˜‰

Let’s take a closer look…

Dry seed pods

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Split pod after it had exploded with some seeds landing in the water.

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What the seeds look like dry

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Once sitting in water for a bit, you can see the fuzzy texture of the seeds.

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And to end my random post, here is a picture of what the flowers look like in bloom πŸ™‚

(LAST) Day 08: Singapore – Kranji War Memorial

Saturday, July 20, 2013

For the last destination of our time in Singapore, Xuan took us to visit Kranji War Memorial.

“Dedicated to the men and women from United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Sri Lanka, India, Malaya, the Netherlands and New Zealand who died defending Singapore and Malaya against the invading Japanese forces during World War II, it comprises the War Graves, the Memorial Walls, the State Cemetery, and the Military Graves.”

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It was a beautiful day without another soul in sight. The brief tranquility was befitting for where we were visiting and provided silent moments to walk around, look at the sights and reflect.

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You can’t see it from my pictures, but “The War Memorial represents the three branches of the military – the Air Force, Army and Navy. The columns represent the Army, which marches in columns, the cover over the columns is shaped after of the wings of a plane, representing the Air Force, and the shape at the top resembles the periscope of a submarine, representing the Navy.”

There is a good picture from Wikipedia HERE.

“The War Cemetery is the final resting place for 4,458 allied servicemen in marked graves laid out in rows on maintained and manicured lawns. Over 850 of these graves are unidentified.”

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Kranji War Memorial Inscription

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And because the memorial is located on a hill, you can also see the city skyline of Johor Bahru (Malaysia) in the distance across the water…

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Following that, we ended our time in Singapore together with one last meal with Xuan – Laksa πŸ™‚

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After this meal, we said farewell to Xuan and headed back to Moon Hotel to pick up our luggage and made our way to Changi Airport. It didn’t take us long and soon we were checked in and grabbing a last/quick bite to eat at the airport before boarding our flight back to Gold Coast!

The flight was completely uneventful where I slept the entire flight home… Yes, you heard right – entire flight.

We made it back home in Brisbane around lunch time on Sunday and just crashed. We were exhausted. Such a fun filled trip but being on your feet all day, every day definitely took a toll on us. Felt like we needed a vacation from our vacation!

So… that marks the end of my trip blogging! Singapore and Bangkok in the one week off in between our Surgery and Mental Health rotations. Tired, but excited to be starting a new rotation on Monday!

I hope you enjoyed reading the trip blogs and looking at the photos!

Special thanks to Xuan for hanging out with us so much in Singapore! Wouldn’t have eaten so much without you! πŸ˜‰

Day 08: Singapore – Great fun at the zoo!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

After visiting River Safari, we went next door to visit the Singapore Zoo. At $39 SGD for both, how could we resist?

Since all of us had been to Singapore Zoo before and we were tight on time, it was decided that we would only visit the areas of interest to us.

Come on an animal-photo-adventure with us!

First up was the Frozen Tundra to see Inuka, the polar bear, give a show!

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Playing with an ice ball to get to the frozen meat treat inside

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Playful Orangutans!

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Mother orangutan nursing her baby, so lovely

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Young orangutan running around across tree branches

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White Rhino and his little bird friends

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The pretty Nyalas

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Almost like she’s giving us the evil eye for intruding on her and her boyfriend

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Pretty active Cheetah! Marching around and around

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Even trying to hunt little birds

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“When I was a young warthooooog!”

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Meerkat being lazy on duty πŸ˜›

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“Dig dig a tunnel!”

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Mufasa! Last time we visited, the lions were pathetically lazy. This time, he was roaming around non stop and looking (sort of) majestic for photos.

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A random lizard crossing our paths, is it a monitor lizard?

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Look, it’s Zaboomafoo! Okay, different species but I still love the Ring-Tailed Lemurs!

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Caught a Flying Fox waking up from its slumber…

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… he then proceeded to lick his penis… haha!

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Mike’s favourite… the Mouse-deer! They are so shy!

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I wish I had a video of Michael trying to pet him. He didn’t skirt away but kept shrinking lower and lower to the ground until he had no where else to go. πŸ˜›

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A lonely Mandrill

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Little clumsy-looking-but-cute African penguins

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I took amazing photos of the White Tigers last visit. This time, they were already fed and being lazy in a far corner. This was the best picture I got πŸ˜›

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Babirusa napping under the sun

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The pondering Banded Mongoose

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And lastly on our trip, the Hamadryas Baboons!

Lots of grooming happening

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Oh look, the little one is picking another baboon’s butt.

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Oh gosh, full of poop!

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On another side, a baby looks like he’s having fun hitching a ride

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Haha, baby baboons look like old wrinkly men… but so cute at the same time!

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And to end the trip on a “inspirational” note: Two good friends sitting enjoying the view and having a nice chat about life…

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We walked out of Singapore Zoo and said farewell to Bing and Lihuan. So lovely to see them, even though only for a day! We’ll see Lihuan in September when she comes to visit Bing in Brisbane!

Xuan was kind enough to offer to take us to one more destination before we had to head back to the hotel and then to the airport… how could we say no?

Stay tuned to find out where!

FULL ALBUM OF SINGAPORE ZOO HERE!

Day 08: Singapore – River Safari

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bing, Lihuan, Mike, and I met up with Xuan to check out the recently opened River Safari! This attraction is the fourth zoo in Singapore, along with the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, and Night Safari, all of which are managed by the Wildlife Reserves Singapore.

At the front entrance, and excited to see the giant pandas of course! Kia Kia and Jia Jia!

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The entire park was not yet open (Amazon River Quest closed until later this year), but we still got to enjoy quite a bit!

Starting with the Mississippi River:

Smiling fish!

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Catfish

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Rare Mississippi paddlefish

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Onto the Congo River!

The African dwarf crocodile… so cute. Those huge beady eyes.

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World’s largest freshwater puffer fish

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The weird Giraffe Catfish

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Next, the Ganges River!

The best view I could get of the Indian Gharial, haha a little pathetic πŸ˜›

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The Crab-eating Macaque of the Mekong River... in action!

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Some fish I can’t remember the name of…

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And lastly, the Yangtze River

The Yangtze Alligator

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The huge ugly Giant Salamander

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Moving on to (in our opinion, the highlight of the River Safari) Giant Panda Forest.

Immediately greeted by the active and oh-so-cute Red Pandas!

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Seemed like we spent forever cooing over the Red Pandas but eventually we moved on to see the Giant Pandas!

We saw Kia Kia first. He was moving around but assumed quite lazy poses for pictures πŸ˜›

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On the other side was Jia Jia. Unfortunately, she was quite shy, so we didn’t get many pictures of her!

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More neat animals!

The ugly yet adorable Sloth

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Colourful Toucans!

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My first time seeing a Jaguarundi, looks like an otter/cat/weasel! Such a small wild cat, but what an amazing coat!

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One of the other highlights for me: Squirrel Monkey Forest. They are so tiny, but so cute! Great opportunities for photos but it was simply too hot to stay in the forest for very long.

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I saw this turtle randomly… but thought its face looked like a dog. Thoughts?

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We ended our visit at the Amazon Flooded Forest... where I got to see Manatees for the first time, even a calf! They are huge but so graceful, I wish I could’ve taken better pictures!

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Nope, this was not the end of our animal-time-adventure. Even though all five of us had been to the Singapore Zoo (next door) before, we decided to visit again! This is our favourite zoo because it provides such amazing photo opportunities, especially when nearly none of the animals are kept behind glass. So yes, we had all bought the Park Hopper 2-in-1 tickets.

Next up, Singapore Zoo!

CLICK HERE FOR FULL RIVER SAFARI ALBUM

Day 07: Singapore – Adventure Day on Pulau Ubin!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Today was Mike and Sandra day, and we were going on an adventure to Pulau Ubin!

Pulau means Island and Ubin means Granite (in Malay). Pulau Ubin = Granite Island

Makes sense! “Granite quarrying supported a few thousand settlers on Pulau Ubin in the 1960s, but only about a hundred villagers live there today. It is one of the last rural areas to be found in Singapore, preserved from urban development, concrete buildings and tarmac roads, with an abundance of natural flora and fauna.

We decided to visit Pulau Ubin for the day, to see a bit of nature and get away from the city.

To get there, take the MRT to Tenah Merah Station then transfer to Bus No. 02 to the Changi Bus Interchange. From there only a few minutes walk to the Changi Point Ferry Terminal, where you can catch a short 10 minute bumboat ride ($2.50) over to Ubin Island.

The weather was great! We were excited to see blue skies and the sun out but also realized one thing… we didn’t have insect repellant. Knowing my luck and the fact that there was a Dengue outbreak in Singapore at the time, I was going to die… argh!

But it was too late, and we were already on the bumboat trip over and were docking…

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Welcome to Pulau Ubin!

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I had read that there was a fish spa available on the island, which is why we specifically decided to rent bikes from Celestial Resort: $10 for all day bike rental and a 1 hr fish spa. Unfortunately, the bike only had one gear… πŸ˜›

Heading in! As you can see, many shops offer bikes for hire at differing qualities and prices. You could definitely pay more and get a much better bike than we did. Actually, we recommend getting a better bike because otherwise you’ll be pushing it up the hills like we did!

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Just simple, quiet, serene views all around the island, untouched by industrialization and technology.

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Riding the bike through shaded trails, so tranquil!

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Zombie Sandra after Mike!

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It was REALLY hot. We bought a lot of water, but if you forget to bring some, there are a few places around the island you can purchase cold drinks from.

At one point during our ride, I wailed, “This is the worst part of our trip!” because of the 20+ mosquito bite welts that had appeared almost magically. For those who are sensitive like me, the suffering! The suffering is so bad!

There are a number of tame wild boars you might run into! We encountered them twice πŸ™‚

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I find the females quite dainty looking, does that even make sense?

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Haha, one of them chased after Mike and kept nudging him (getting snot and mud over his shorts) for the fried banana he was carrying. Eventually he had to loudly shoo her away.

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Took a rest by the water.

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So many mosquito bites! And lots of planes in the background πŸ™‚

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Mike pointing out Malaysia, which you can see in the distance!

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Lots of friendly dogs πŸ™‚

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We met a nice couple at the Visitor Centre who wanted a picture in front of it because the house is old and unique. In return, he offered to take one of us, how could we say no? Too bad they barely got the house in the shot…

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The house from further away

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Enjoying the nice views

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Look, a boat from Vietnam!

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We passed by a Muslim Cemetery, which I had never seen before. Don’t know if this is what they normally look like?

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We climbed up the Jejawi Tower to check out the view! Saw lots of planes (up close!) taking off and landing at Changi Airport across the water πŸ™‚

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Mike’s pretty face!

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By now, we had been biking for a couple of hours and we were hot (I was dying from itch) and sweaty. What better time to go for the fish spa?

Before heading in, we enjoyed a nice cold orange drink, included in the $10.

The fish spa was a long pond that wrapped around a corner in a shaded area to one side of the resort. There was another couple and a Vietnamese family that came in with us at the same time. The other 2 groups settled each at one end of the pond and Mike and I sat in the middle.

For the first 10 minutes, there were non-stop shrieks and giggles from the awful tickling sensation of the fish. We expected a pond with a couple fish nibbling here and there. NO. Not this place, this pond had enough fish to COMPLETELY BLANKET your feet. There were little fish that were ticklish enough and then there were bigger fish that were more ticklish.

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It was hilarious. Don’t worry, I took videos so you can partake in the laughter too!

After a while, everyone got used to the buzzing, vibrating sensation of the fish and settled down for a relaxing nibble.

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Mosquitos were still swarming me, but by now I had given up to the Dengue god and couldn’t care less. At least I had experience what it was like to have hundreds of little minion exfoliate my feet by eating my dead skin. πŸ˜›

And that marked the end of our Pulau Ubin adventure! After this, we headed back to Singapore and then back to our hotel.

But not before stopping for food! We stopped at Tekka Market in Little India close to our hotel to have some Briyani! Looks messy but I assure you it was tasty!

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We got back to the hotel in time to enjoy happy hour and of course, shower!

Tonight, we were on a mission: To have dinner at Tim Ho Wan, one of the world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant, known for their amazing dim sum.

It was 8pm by the time we got into the city and to Plaza Singapura, but the line was already closed! They are still so popular that even at 8pm, the queue was at its limits before closing. SAD FACE. Broken heart.

So, with heavy hearts, we walked around Orchard Rd and checked out a few of their endless shopping centres and even grabbed a tasty kebab to eat on the streets.

Eventually, we made it back to the hotel, but again, not before stopping for more food… naan bread in Little India, what do you expect?

Haha, we called it an earlier night than usual – 11pm bedtime, woo hoo!

And that’s the end of Day 07! Our last sleep in Singapore!

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL PULAU UBIN ALBUM