All posts filed under: Travel

Love My City – Link Up Intro

As much as I yearn to travel, there’s something wonderful about going out in your own city. Finding new places to eat, enjoying various festivals and events in your local. Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s going on unless you’re committed to looking out for things to do. Jules over at The Kiwi Diaries founded Love My City last month. A monthly blogging event to connect bloggers and share spots and events worth talking about in our cities. I am delighted to host this month’s edition and for more information on how this started, check out the info page here. Rules Your post must contain the words Love My City and logo and the Host name and link to their blogs. Eg: This post is part of the monthly blogging event Love My City, where we share hidden gems and places worth talking about. This month event is hosted by [Host name] at [Blog name] Your entry must link to the hosts blog and to LMC original page. If you want to add an already published post, just make sure …

Wanderlust Tag

Wanderlust is a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world When you yearn to do something, it feels like everyone else around you is doing it and you’re the only one who is not. I am itching to travel. I’m sure I’m not the only one but when I listen to my friends’ travel stories, I get insane bouts of jealousy. This post is not going to soothe this itch. No sir. It is littered with some of my favourite travel snapshots. Revisiting travel photos is great, you get a second life from your travels, but man, it sure makes me want to pack up my bags and go. Wanderlust Tag is a series of travel-related questions for those with wanderlust… Jules from The Kiwi Diaries recently played Wanderlust Tag. Jules is one of my favourite bloggers in the world. She is from Argentina but now lives in Auckland, New Zealand. She is a graphic designer, traveler and foodie. Kindred spirits! If you decide to play Wanderlust Tag, please make a note in the comments below …

Off The Grid

Without sounding spoilt, The Koala and I love to have long holiday outside of New Zealand once a year. But over the last few years, we have not left New Zealand, instead we have taken small holidays within New Zealand. I still yearn for foreign lands for new perspective and culinary delights, but there are world-class destinations within an hour from home. This is a story about one of them. Hidden in the remote hills behind Waiuku on the southernmost west tip of Auckland, is a secluded glamping gem. For the uninitiated, glamping is short for glamorous camping. Will and Kate (of the royal variety) went glamping in Uluru, Australia this week, so I think it is fair to say that glamping has reached the mainstream. The Koala and I stayed at Castaway’s glamping last Friday to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary. Expensive for camping, inexpensive for luxury, glamping is a careful balance. Our stay was paid for in full with real cash so this is an honest review, not an advertisement. Saying that, I must warn you I …

Mackenzie Country

The Koala and I went to a wedding at Lake Hawea in the South Island of New Zealand. A great excuse for a little road trip on the other end of the country, we also visited Lakes Tekapo, Pukaki and Wanaka. The area is stunning, rich with photo ops and export quality food production. This is a countryside of milk and honey, lamb, wool, venison and very, very good salmon. The middle of the South Island around the Southern Alps is known as Mackenzie Country. The area has a colourful history and you can read a short summary about James Mackenzie and his sheep stealing escapades here. Driving through Mackenzie Country, it was hard not to fall in love with the alpine pasture and tussock, turquoise lakes, snow-capped mountains and millions of sheep. I squealed every time I saw a particularly adorable lamb. Being spring, there were more sweet faced lambs than you could shake a stick at. We stopped to converse with the livestock and while the sheep were vocal, they did not express …

Capital of Cool

I learned today that Wellington is the Capital of Cool. I don’t know who coined this term but I guess it doesn’t matter. Someone thinks it true. The Koala and I are visiting Wellington today for a few days. I’m no expert on Wellington but I read enough NZ blogs to know that if Wellington wasn’t the windiest city in the world I might like to live there. Often considered the cool, arty child, Wellington is to Auckland is what Melbourne is to Sydney or San Francisco is to LA. Some of my favourite Wellington bloggers include: The Omnivore Hungry and Frozen Heartbreak Pie (since moved to Auckland)  The Culinary Explorations of Mrs Cake Eat and Greet Word On The Street Gutsy Gourmet and Milliemirepoix Welly Kai  Crap Kitchen The Kitchen Rebellion I’m not so so interested at being a “Tourist” (note the capital T) but I do want to see things. We’re car-less and it’s cold out so we will probably aim to stay central and without the typical tourist destinations with the exception of… …

Eat Well. Travel Often.

This poster by designer Ian Coyle speaks to me. When I was 9 months old, my parents and I flew from Hong Kong to New Zealand. They moved to country they had never been to before with an infant. I can’t say I’d have the courage to do that. In the years since, we were lucky enough to travel back to Hong Kong fairly often. Usually we would travel with stopovers in other countries. I’ve been spoilt. I find inspiration in travel. In both food and in design and in life. Travel gives perspective and nourishes in so many ways. I’d sooner blow all my cash on travel than save for a house. Being a homeowner is so overrated. I hear so many stories of people who plan to travel in their retirement. Only they die young or are not physically enough when the time arrives. Which is why Gunther Holtorf’s story is so touching. Gunther Holtorf is a 74 year old German man, who, in 1989, following the fall of the Berlin Wall, packed …

La, la, la, la, take me home

After 40 days of travel, The Koala and I are coming home tomorrow. As much as I love traveling and seeing new sights, there is really no place quite like home. I’ve posted a little on my foodie adventures over the last few weeks, but as I go through all my photos, expect a few more gems to pop up. In the meantime, here is a song that I can’t get out of my head all holiday. Both these versions are lovely. Home Alabama, Arkansas I do love my ma and pa Not that way that I do love you Holy moley, me oh my You’re the apple of my eye Girl, I’ve never loved one like you Man, oh man, you’re my best friend I scream it to the nothingness There ain’t nothing that I need Well, hot and heavy, pumpkin pie Chocolate candy, Jesus Christ Ain’t nothing please me more than you Ah, home, let me go home Home is wherever I’m with you Ah, home, let me go home Home is wherever …

Siam Rice Thai Cookery School

This week, I made a Tom Yum Gai (hot and spicy chicken soup) at Siam Rice Thai Cookery School. Read about my Tom Yum experience here. Cookery school is a great value way to spend the day at 900 baht($38NZ/$28US) per person, includes hotel transfers, ingredients, class, market tour, 6 dishes, 1 curry paste and a vegetable carving session. I purposely chose to cook 6 different dishes to those I cooked at Baan Thai. If this were a science experiment, I would have repeated the dishes. You will not need to eat anything else on the day, so the price includes your meals for the entire day. A full day course runs from 9.30am to 3.30pm and runs at a good, relaxed pace. There are half day and evening classes available for those with limited time (Evening course: 800 baht. Half day course: 700 baht). No hard sell on anything at all. If you wanted to buy beer or souvenirs, you had to get up and enquire, but they were reasonable 50-70 baht for a …

No Big Players in Laos

Like many others, one of the things I most look forward to when traveling to exotic locations, is the local cuisine. I always try to sample a nation’s well known dishes, as well as their lesser known ones. Far from home, the food can be challenging, comforting, and humbling. But even so, after just a few days of authentic food, all I want is a sinful pizza or burger or pasta. What is it about these kinds of meals that grab a hold of you and why do I feel so guilty indulging? While traveling through Laos last week, quite probably my favorite country to visit out of all the countries that I have been to so far, I was struck by how ubiquitous the pizza, burger and pasta menu is. Laos food is simple, fresh and delicious and I love how good it makes me feel. I am no food scientist, but it’s possible the free range and organic ingredients are the culprits. Almost every restaurant offers local Laos fare as well as pizzas, …

Breakfast buffets in S-E-A

We had a few buffet breakfasts while traveling in South East Asia. These photos are the only evidence. The rest I’m afraid, has been destroyed devoured. Cafe Deco Macao The Venetian, Macau Cafe Deco offers 24/7 dining and seats 1000 diners. Breakfast at any of The Venetian restaurants was included with our suite so we picked the buffet option at Cafe Deco Macao. My breakfast was a croissant, a strawberry danish, smoked salmon, sausage, salami, ham, samosa, curried rice, chickpeas, corn, tomatoes, mushrooms, hashbrown, scrambled eggs, bacon, fried egg. I sampled about 10% of the breakfast dishes on offer. There were breakfast foods from many different cuisines including Chinese, Japanese and Indian. The buffet station stretched around the edge of this 32,000 ft² dining area and it’s possible to get lost on your way back to your table. I know this because I got lost! We begin with the most epic breakfast buffet I have ever laid eyes on. Everything about this hotel was decadent and over the top. 40 levels, 3000 suites, an indoor canal, …

Hawker Food: Banana Pancakes

If you are up past bedtime in tourist areas of Thailand or Laos, you will find a banana pancake cart. Pancake vendors are one hit wonders and rarely make anything else. Hawker food or street food lends itself to specialisation. That is why I love it so much. These pancakes aren’t made from a poured batter. Like roti, a piece of dough is flicked and stretched out so big I worry it might tear. Oil and/or ghee is added to a hot surface and the pancake quickly but carefully peeled and put on the pan. The result is an oily crepe. As it cooks, a banana is expertly sliced and dropped into the centre and chocolate sauce and/or condensed milk swirled on top. The corners of the pancake are folded into the middle, topped with more ghee and the package is then flipped over. When it’s done, the banana pancake is transferred to a paper plate, cut into bite-sized squares and served with sticks. It’s perfect late night food for travelers and the average price …

Bangkok: Eating fish, eaten by fish and 20kg of shopping

Our epic South East Asia adventure came to an end with 2 nights in Bangkok before flying home to New Zealand. Bangkok is a great place to end a holiday as you can load up to the gills with shopping before hopping on a plane. We did the typical tourist sights in Bangkok on a previous stopover so we didn’t want to do any more. I estimate we gained 20kg in shopping in 2 days. Last time we were in Bangkok, our 2 day stopover resulted in 13kg of shopping. If you measure by weight, we are definitely getting better at shopping. Our 2 days of epic shopping in Bangkok put us up to 39.9kg. We were allowed up to 40kg in checked luggage so pretty close! Eating fish This steamed fish dish was barely cooked and would have tasted amazing if only it didn’t have about 10 times more chili than I could handle. I scraped off all the chili, ate it with all of the teddy bear shaped rice and still needed lots …

Eating in Koh Tao

Epic mealtimes at Chalok Bay, Koh Tao, Thailand. Almost every restaurant served Thai, American, Italian and Mexican cuisine. Specialisation in tourist destinations is for fools. In Asia, it’s only at places that locals frequent that you get 1 chef, 1 dish specialities. Seaview Restaurant at Chalok Bay Our favourite place to eat was Seaview Restaurant which had a nice dining deck on the beach overlooking the bay. Right in the centre of Chalok Bay, you could swim from this area at high tide. Shoes off, low tables and triangle cushions give this place a super laid back vibe. We never dined inside, but it had a really modern, comfortable interior. Kind of a like a super modern beach bach. Beach burgers. We had these a couple times actually. Niçoise salad. Pineapple Shrimp. The shrimp were great. They had a fluffy almost fish like texture. A little chili made this a perfectly tropical meal. Of course, I had mango shake to go with this. Mango shakes are basically fresh mango blended with ice. Creamy Carbonara. Pad Thai …

Eating in Koh Samui

To save time, we flew from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui rather than train and bussing it through Thailand. We had been landlocked for long enough (over a month since we had seen the sea) and all we wanted was to be at the beach. Our flights weren’t cheap at 7000 baht / $280NZ / $230US each but if you don’t fancy wasting days on trains or money on accommodation while traveling through a country, it’s a reasonable option. We were explicitly told by friends not to visit Koh Samui. But there’s nothing quite like disliking a place because you’ve been there. So we spent 2 nights in Koh Samui before heading to Koh Tao. Koh Samui is the more built up of the islands on the east coast of Thailand. Koh means island so the locals refer to it simply as Samui. Back in Chiang Mai and in Laos, beers generally cost 40 to 60 baht. The very first beer we had on Koh Samui was a small Singha for a whopping 120 baht …

7 Cheeseburgers in Chiang Mai

“I don’t like dealing with money transactions in poor countries. I get confused between the feeling that I shouldn’t haggle with poverty and hating getting ripped off.” – The Beach by Alex Garland We found we didn’t haggle or bargain much in our travels. We shopped around, but once we decided on something, we paid it. I suppose since we weren’t supposed to give money to beggers, the next best thing is to help hardworking people to earn a decent living. While we bargained in the marketplace (just because it is expected), everything else was so cheap we simply paid the asking price.  We negotiated prices before we got into tuk tuks but always ended up paying more in tips. In a country like Thailand, what you want to give to beggers, tip it to the next hardworking person who gives you great service. I read The Beach by Alex Garland while in Chiang Mai (though I wish I’d saved it for the islands). It was really cool getting into the story (which is darker than the movie) and struggling …