First of all, I did this trip with my father and my best friend in the world! It is easy to see why the company made Hong Kong all the more appealing. We only had 4 days and 3 nights and we wanted to see the famous city skyline and experience living like a local with foods and travel. Hong Kong is populated with about 7.3 million people, so the first thing you will notice is the crowds at most places and super tall and packed buildings! There are brand new shiny ones and there are old dirty ones! Good thing is they're a mix around the city! I think it is fair to start by saying that all hotel rooms in Hong Kong are on the smaller side so best not to expect too much and just embrace the experience. We stayed in a family room at Butterfly on Morrison (4 stars) near causeway bay MTR and we felt it was the best location with great staff! You can easily take the bus and MTR places you wish to go and honestly, do take the local transport as its the best way to explore Hong Kong. The hotel gave you free rental of WIFI devices, selfie sticks with clip on lenses to help you take nicer pictures!
So, we spent a day trekking the famous Victoria peak! Let me be honest and say we started around 12 ish in the afternoon as we were told it would not be too crowded. Truth be told, it was indeed quieter than later in the evening. We took the bus up and it was very easy and relatively cheap! Here is where there could be a confusion. All the tourist went to the tower peak to take pictures! Up there on the deck you are required to pay to enter or you could stand on the sides outside the tower to take pictures which is still beautiful and worth it. What we did though was very different. We decided to walk to the actual peak. It was a steep trek up the hill and we got lost several times as many of the little routes were either shut or led you to satellite towers or water stations? we were not sure, but we know it was definitely prohibited entry. The good thing is on the trek, you will pass nice parks and also a few peak points you could take nice pictures of the other side of Hong Kong. Yes, you will sweat like crazy so make sure to have snacks and water with you. If not, there is a little shop at the peak with a nice old lady who will sell you water and whatever drink you fancy. She also sells traditional snacks like fish balls and steamed dumplings!
Another place to explore is central Hong Kong! Let me suggest you get the old town map and walk around using the traditional method without google. You will find that amidst the high street there are little streets that maintain street culture. Not forgetting the tall skyscrapers all closely packed together. We had the most delicious egg tarts from Tan Cheong bakery and 2 mins away you will find a street milk tea stall! Its simply mouth-watering delights. We also explored tsim sha tsui promenade and wow'ed ourselves with the city skyline. Okay, so coming from Singapore I was concerned about the wow factor here. But I should say I was impressed at how densely populated Hong Kong was and how all these buildings came together perfectly. Lastly, temple street! If you want to skip the crowds and fortune tellers, go late around 9pm. There are shops that sold all kinds of quirky gifts. We had space to walk around and also managed a lovely meal at a street stall with the best eggplant fried with garlic! So simple but amazing how it bursts in your mouth. Highly recommend it to all eggplant lovers.
Jun and I spent our last night partying at the famous Lan Kwai Fong which was 5 minutes from where we lived and only cost us 40 HK dollars by taxi. Okay, truth be told, for some strange reason we were offered so many free shots that night (by bouncers at the bar). We thought it was to attract men to the bar if they saw ladies drinking. Anyways, Graffiti club was great for dancing! We had most of our drinks at Tao bar because the people who worked there was nice and we made some expat friends! I will end it by saying we had a really good night out with one of us having one of the worst hangovers of our lives ( I won't be pointing fingers now!).
Hong Kong was a delight for food! Make sure to have your dim sum fill! Ask the locals for the nearest banquet and they will guide you. I will waste no time with words and indulge you with pictures! For this reason only, you should embrace Hong Kong and give this city a chance!
I feel like I did not do justice to our trip in Vietnam. It was the best one month of my life and I spent it with my best friends Jun and Jonas and a friend I met while travelling Cambodia-Lukas! We started in Ho Chi Minh city and visited the cu chi tunnels - Nha Trang for some beach days - Dalat for canyoning at the waterfalls (scariest thing I have ever done but most rewarding!) - Hoi An for culture and its tailoring (It is a pretty little town!) followed by motorbike ride to - Hue for a walk around the perfume river and a trishaw ride through town - Hanoi for culture and the secret night life (due to military curfew!) and street food was amazing! - Halong Bay we took the party boat which allowed us to meet new people; we got to explore the caves and kayak through them. Needless to say the party on the boat was fun; we made new friends and two of them eventually visited us in Singapore! Lastly, we ended up in Sapa where we did a home-stay with the local people. They took us for a 13 km walk up the mountains where we met their families and ate with them and learnt from them about their culture and what a daily day is like for them. In the day, we explored the market in town to have a look at all the natural works by the people. They made beautiful handicrafts using natural colours and materials.
I think of this trip often. It was the one time in my life I had no plans and just went with whatever I felt the next morning. Yes, I was broke but I was so happy. I always get carried away worrying about the future, and its made worse with my drive to be perfect. Now, whenever I feel myself drifting away, I think of Vietnam. Letting go all worries and just thinking for today. Thus, for me Vietnam will always be in my heart and I am glad I shared that month with my best mates.
I have not visited either of the Korea's yet but one of my close friends Luis travels so much for work he decided that he will be sending me pictures from his travels to add to my love for food. He is not a fan of Korean food but I on the other hand, LOVE my 'bibimbap' (usually short grained rice with meat, vegetables, kim chi and soup). So, he tells me that its the spice that puts him off.But honestly, is Korean food spicy? I guess some dishes could be, especially if served with kim chi. But then again, I am Indian and spice is essential in my diet.
Lets have a closer look at a typical Korean meal; they seem to be served in metal utensils and always served with kim chi, seaweed, pickled vegetables? In Singapore, Korean dishes were served with fried anchovies as a side (crispy with a sweet spicy flavour) I wonder if that is actually a norm or if it was adapted for us at home since we like our anchovies. I would like to understand Korean culture and maybe I will know better if I ever visit Korea one day. Luis does not have all the answers for me since he travels so much for work these are the little gifts he leaves me- just a snap shot of wherever he goes. Luis and I met on a long bus ride in Cambodia and ended up being friends for life! He visits me in Cork once a year and lets just say I look forward to hearing all about his travels. This one is for you, Luis! Have a lovely Friday night in Busan and hopefully you're gonna be cranking it up Gangnam style!
You know what I am craving for most? DIM SUMS! A typical Asian-Cantonese brunch is called "yum cha" in Hong Kong which are dim sums served with chinese tea. There are so many types of dim sums you could order and savour; such as pork and chive dumplings, pork soup dumplings, mango and prawn fritters, prawn dumplings and chee cheong fun with chilli oil etc. The good news is I will be travelling to Hong Kong in August and I cannot wait to go for brunches with my dad. For now, we had to settle for yum cha in Cork! Its in a little Chinese restaurant called Yuan Ming, its pretty authentic as you'll get served by waiters from Malaysia (close to home for me). Its just lovely to catch up with them on their lives and plans to go home.
We ordered the dry hor fun with beef which turned out tasting like "char kway teow" also known as fried noodles with eggs and cockles from Singapore. For those who love the local delicacy, that would be amazing, as for me I was a bit disappointed. I had something else in mind - there are several ways to make dry hor fun and this way was not my favourite. Ask for chilli oil with your noodles, it adds extra flavour which leaves you wanting more. As for the array of dim sums we ordered which were basics by the way, I was a tad bit disappointed too. You could easily get frozen dim sums from the chinese shops and steam them on your own - they'll obviously fall apart and will not be as juicy as freshly made ones. Therefore, ordering it from a restaurant you would hope they would be freshly made and juicy which it was not. You can never get xiao long pao (pork soup dumplings) that burst in your mouth ever unless you were home. Anyways, for a small craving the food did its job.
Sar and I come here often and I think we've ordered the same thing several times. Would that be boring? Or we simply know what we love! If you fancy a good range of choices from pancakes to creamy mushrooms on toast or just a range of deli delights this is the perfect place! Also, the black-forest hot chocolate is to die for, its my absolute favourite! its not too sweet just a great Sunday treat.
We spent Saturday in Killarney catching up with friends from my university. I was never very good with goodbyes despite the time spent apart I always feel this little bit of sadness. Reminds me of when my dad would say "I'll see you soon". I made some good and kind friends from University, although its been a rough year for me personally, we've had some good times together and I wish them the best! Just a little tribute to our time together I will give each of them a little introduction.
I met Aoife my first day at college, I was lost and we helped each other find the class we were meant to be in. You know how some people talk about fate (yes its freaky!) but I am truly thankful I met her. She's knowledgeable and has a heart of gold as people at home think of when someone says they're Irish. We have so much in common and it is not everyday that you can warm up to someone and just feel its okay to feel vulnerable, worried or plain silly.
I think I met Darragh in the main restaurant in college. We were all just sat there talking about placements and I think the first thing he told me was he had a cousin who lived in Singapore (yes, thankfully he knew where Singapore was!). He turned out to be one of the funniest people I've met in my life. He is just so down to earth you could never be sad around him. We also worked together on our final year project and we shared some inside jokes and gushed over the same men! I mean.. where on earth do you find someone who comes up with the funniest stories to share while working on animal feed together.
Then, there is Maryann, yes we share the same name and that is probably how we met! You cant be in the same class and not get introduced to the other Maryann. We're both cheeky for sure and that's probably what I love about her. Its probably in our names, we are always up for a party and a good time. She reminds me of me somehow before I got a little too serious about life.
Last but not least, I met Vivienne only in our final year. Or at least that was when we started having proper conversations. In that short time, I can say its a pity we did not get more time! She is so talented at make up applications and bonus points she likes reading too! Its so nice to meet a fellow reader and just have a nerdy chat sometimes (well, now I know!). So here are the people I'm friends with from university and if I ever bring them up again in future posts at least you'll get a rough picture who they are.
Brunch at JM. Reidys & Muckross house killarney
I ordered scampi and chips for lunch and I guess what I was hoping for was a more breaded scampi with a nice crispy layer. What I got as you'll see in the picture were prawns slightly breaded! I cant really complain, it was a nice meal and the chips were crispy and the salad was tasty with a citrus like dressing (as I've mentioned I love dressings!) but I would have loved my prawns with a crispy breaded coating (I do get disappointed if I've built expectations in my head). The atmosphere of the restaurant was lovely though! it had a cafe and pub fusion thing going on. I guess the question would be if I would return for a second round? I would like to try other places but I would not rule out JM. Reidy's based on one dish! Sar ordered a smoked salmon dish and he really enjoyed it so I am sure Its a matter of making the right choice the next time.
To be honest, we had a lovely day at Muckross house, I wore a summery dress thinking it was going to be roasting and obviously after living in Ireland (approaching 3 years now!) I should know the weather forecast is not great and best to be prepared for rain and winds always. Apart from my legs freezing and maybe the rest of me, it was all worth it when you're facing nature. Sar did say something interesting to me, that I clashed with nature. If you saw the pictures above he thinks that I don't fit in with the background. I guess its safe to say I will always be a city girl. I was born and raised in a city and that's where I belong. saying that though, Ireland has warmed me up a little no matter how hard it is for me to admit it, I will miss it if I ever leave one day (dear god, I hope I do).
Poached eggs kinda sunday at River Lee Hotel
So, I finally caught up with Mariana and Ronan for poached eggs Sunday! All the dishes were made perfectly and I should specifically highlight the creamy mushrooms with poached eggs. It was just the right amount of creamy and I loved it so much I found it hard to share with Sar (oops!). Maybe next time I could opt for one egg only since its so hard for me to finish two eggs. Mariana had the eggs florentine and from what she shared with me, it had a nice sweet tangy flavour in the sauce (I wonder what was in it?) I'll have to try this dish next time I guess! Which means yes, I would highly recommend brunch at the River Lee especially if you're sat out in the terrace its the perfect ambiance. Although do note, for the time being the restaurant is undergoing some renovations and the terrace is closed.
Sar and I have not seen Mariana and Ronan in awhile.She is one of my besties in Cork and is probably the first person I would ring if I need anything or need a friend. I have not seen her in awhile since I was crazy busy with college. Luckily we did not miss much from each others life apart from the typical book exchange (we're both book lovers and frequently exchange our good reads) and her presenting me with a lovely pair of earrings and a sweet card for finishing college! She wrote me a motivational card and there is something she said that I will always treasure and remember. She reminded me that apart from the piece of paper I will also have proof that I am a strong woman. She always knows how to remind me of my strengths! Everyone needs that one friend who will look at you for everything that's amazing about you.
Nasi goreng in english would mean fried rice. So, you would have definitely tried this dish if you have ordered Malaysian fried rice before. Today was the kind of day that we were craving for food from my home. I decided to go with a typical dish and gave it a healthy twist! Yes, I may have cheated just so I would get this dish done in under 20 minutes or so! So here goes, I cheated by not making the sauce from scratch! Honestly, I was not feeling it but I am sure I can post a typical recipe soon!
Here is what I used for 2 servings:
200g raw brown rice
1 bottle ayam brand nasi goreng sauce
vegetables (whatever you like)
1 block of silken tofu
Firstly, I got my rice boiling in a rice cooker (you should own one if you cook rice often! It saves you time and helps you avoid burning rice). Then, stir fry the mushrooms and vegetables with the sauce (no oil). Made the tofu separately, its very delicate and soft so you could boil it or steam it! After which, I carefully mixed the tofu with the rest of the ingredient mix and added it onto rice. Lastly, I fried the eggs till it was nicely cooked but just a bit runny in the yolk (that is the way we like it but honestly you can cook it any way you like as I've said before).
The verdict on this dish is its nicely spiced and a filling dish for those who are looking to add calories without meat, tofu is a great substitute!
This is one of my favourite meals to make! I got the recipe for high fiber scones from "odlums". Its very simple and easy to make and only takes 20 minutes of your time!
I made some changes to the original recipe and this is what I used and it serves 2:
125g self-raising flour
125g wholemeal flour
25g olive oil spread
150ml unsweetened almond milk
Firstly, mix the olive oil spread into the flour mixture and add the milk at the end and mix well. I usually scoop them into muffin trays just to help with the shape of the scones and bake them at 180°C for 20 minutes. After which I spread a nice layer of low fat greek yogurt and place strips of smoked salmon on top of it with a sprinkle of parsley. I love squeezing some lemon juice on top of it, the flavours blend perfectly together. I know some people prefer using crème fraîche for a creamy and full flavour, and I have them that way sometimes for a treat. Whatever you choose, its a great recipe and its easy to make when you've had a busy day and craving for something refreshing and healthy!
Grilled salmon,red lentil pasta with rosso pesto & a sprinkle of parmesan served with classic caesar salad
So since I have all the time on my hands I decided to start making new dishes and decide how complementary flavors can get on my own (although I am sure there are books out there!) I would prefer to go on this sensory journey on my own. Firstly, I should say red lentil pasta is divine! If you fancy trying an alternative to wheat pasta, definitely start with this one. Maybe because I love lentils, this makes it doubly delicious. Now, about the pairing, I simply grilled the salmon with a small bit of olive oil (Greek!). The touch of parmesan melted on hot pasta with rosso sauce gave the dish a sweet full flavour which went perfectly with the plain grilled salmon. mmm yum! I know the salad looks like it has lots of dressing (I do love my dressings), an alternative would be low fat yogurt or no dressing at all! I have plain salads twice a week at least and its refreshing! Some days, I would toss it with some olive oil and vinegar and its perfect. Have your pick over your veges and how you like them, just as long as you are having them everyday!