Holiday Trips

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San Francisco Adventure

Published April 21, 2010 by Mary Jane

Evening bloggy friends, my sore throat continues now another symptom of aching body. I couldn’t wake up this morning so I decided to take a day off to rest at home. That was a great idea as I slept till 2pm and only woke up cos my tummy was rumbling. I persevered with the metal & iodine concoction gargle hoping it will make my sore throat go away…one can only hope.

Now, it’s time to write a post that’s away from the food direction – apart from great restaurants in San Francisco there are also lots of places you can visit that will keep you entertained. Our first or two days in San Francisco was to roam around the streets near the hotel. So we went straight to the Apple Store which was kind of nice – 2 stories and you get your free wifi access there.

The Apple Store

The Apple Store

The Iphone apps out the window

The Iphone apps out the window

We were in search of a Macbook for myself so we asked the friendly crew and after the tax calculation it was going to cost around the same to buy one in Perth. So we decided to buy it in Perth. Then we realised we needed to buy some breakfast and snacks so we can have them in our hotel. There was a Walgreens store near us, so we went in and it reminded us of IGA store it had everything we need. So we bought some snacks and brekkie which was pretty cheap. Food items in San Francisco was pretty cheap. A tin can of Pringles would generally cost around $3-$4 in Perth but in San Francisco they were like $1 which is very cheap.

Our snacks from Walgreens

Our snacks from Walgreens

The next day we decided to pay China Town for a visit. China Town was well known in San Francisco they sell absolutely everything. You need a whole day to go through all the shops which sells knick knacks but make sure you visit a few of the chinese shops first as they pretty much sell similiar items except there’s some minor price differences so make sure you don’t get too excited and buy everything from one single store.

The Great China Town

The Great China Town

China Town Goodies

China Town Goodies

You can also bargain your deals with the locals, and with one shop that I managed to buy lots of little kitchen gadgets I was excited and couldn’t leave this little store that was fully packed with goodies, upon leaving I even scored myself a little freebie of a bamboo wooden spoon 🙂

There were also chocolate shops everywhere, unfortunately both Pandabear and myself aint chocolate people so it didn’t tempt us at all. However, the cold wind and weather makes us crave for hot chocolates and with Star bucks across the road we managed to go there for brekkie, afternoon tea and sometime supper just to grab a tall hot chocolate which is pretty cheap just under $3 for a tall cup – bargain! Their muffin also taste great!

Star bucks tall hot chocolate

Star bucks tall hot chocolate

The yummy star bucks muffin

The yummy star bucks muffin

Apart from all of this, there’s also a cool tram ride that takes you to the wharf and other city areas. However, we didn’t have time to catch a ride – we did took a photo of it and must try it next time.

The Awesome Tram

The Awesome Tram

We decided to spend a whole day at the Fisherman’s wharf…we walked all the way there, it was a great exercise all the streets along San Francisco are very hilly which really makes you sweat and a great work out. There were great church building the architecture was fantastic.

The church building

The church building

Upon arriving you see all these beautiful tulip gardens which reminded me of the botanic gardens in Perth. There were food stands everywhere – hot dog stand, fairy floss stand, drinks stand and ice cream stand. Amongst all of this we located a man who has a pet lizard. How bizzare it is to own a lizard as your pet. It almost looks fake until I walked towards it to have a closer look and realised it moved.

The fairy floss stand

The fairy floss stand

The Pet lizard

The Pet lizard

It was time to buy the tickets to catch the ferry to Sausalito where we can see the famous Golden Gate bridge and to catch a glimpse of the famous Alcatraz island that used to jail convicts.

Our ferry tickets

Our ferry tickets

Our Ferry

Our Ferry

The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge

The Alcatraz

The Alcatraz

The ferry ride was a fantastic experience, it didn’t even made Pandabear sea sick at all. On our way home, we decided to catch the cable car back rather than walking up the hills. However the queues were humongous!! we lost the patience waiting however, the up side of it was we had this jazz dude playing and signing some jazz music that was pretty entertaining.

The Cable Car

The Cable Car

The dude playing jazz music

The dude playing jazz music

On our impossible walk home, we went through streets of China Town again. This time we bought some buns to give us enough energy to walk home and came across incredible food ingredients they sell at the markets.

people packed in China Town

people packed in China Town

The bread shop

The bread shop

China Town Markets

China Town Markets

It was also pretty cool to dine at the Burger join in Macy’s where you could see the whole view of Union Square everyone sitting there eating, chatting and relaxing.

The Union Square

The Union Square

To sum up San Francisco, it’s a place with great food and great people. In terms of things to do, I don’t think there’s lots – we were recommended to visit the Park, but we couldn’t be bothered. So I would say 1 week in San Francisco is plenty 🙂 now it’s off to cook some dinner…

Restaurant Review – Chen Fu Ji

Published April 13, 2010 by Mary Jane

Hello Bloggy friends, I tell you what after having some awesome food in the US & Canada – coming back home for some home cooking meal certainly was a shock to the system. I’m starting to run out of food ideas of what to cook and my inspirations. So anyways, few days ago I decided to make a roast – not just any roast but one that was marinated differently. I always use rosemary & garlic they are my favourite. But I wanted to try something exciting. So I came across Curtis Stone’s easy to do roast – the marinate sauces were mustard & strawberry jam. Yup, you heard me mustard & strawberry jam. I generally don’t like to mix my savouries with sweets – but combining mustard & strawberry jam was bizarre!!

Anyways, I decided to be brave and gave it a shot and guess what – it taste great! The sweetness of the strawberry jam complimented the sourness of the mustard seeds. So there you go, be bold and brave when it comes to mixing different sauces. Unfortunately, I forgot to take photos – but one of these days I will make it again 🙂

Ok I’m getting side tracked here, so here we are well rested at the pay in lounge – now we are extremely hungry so we started hunting for some food and came across this food court. Now we all know food in the airport are over priced and often don’t taste that good. So I had low expectation, now what caught my attention was this particular shop which was well-known for it’s hand pulled noodles. On the mirror show case, there was the cook hand pulling noodles from a blob of dough. How amusing so I stood there staring at the cook making hand pulled noodles and he saw me and gave me a smile, so I whipped out my camera and took a shot.

Chen Fu Ji

Chen Fu Ji

After being entertained with the hand-pulled noodles we decided to order some hand-pulled noodles. Both Pandabear and I ordered the pork minced ramen that came with a soup and for our drinks we had the authentic Hong Kong Iced Milk Tea. The noodle was fantastic, chewy, slippery – great texture. Now the sauce was kind of not what I expected a little bit sweet for my liking but it was still tasty.

Pork Mince Ramen

Pork Mince Ramen

Hong Kong Iced Milk Tea

Hong Kong Iced Milk Tea

After finishing our meal I came across these interesting doughy looking thing which reminded me of ‘Hum Jim Beng’ – which literally translated as salty pan fried biscuit. Savoury doughy bread. So I asked Pandabear to grab me one. They cut it in quarters I thought that was thoughtful, it tasted ok – a little bit too doughy for my liking feels like you’re chewy a whole mouthful of dough with no fillings. Anyways, it was a dessert for me 🙂

Savoury Doughy Bread

Savoury Doughy Bread

Ok here’s my rating:

Food experience: 4 star
Dining experience: well being at the air port extra points for fast food service 4 star
Would I recommend: YES

Hotel Review – Pay in Lounge (Hong Kong)

Published April 13, 2010 by Mary Jane

Evening Bloggy friends, what a miserable weather tonight pouring with rain. I don’t really love wet weathers but it’s good for my vegie garden and great for sleeping 🙂 Anyways, I’ve finally got my act together to start updating my blog again. This time, I’m going to add in a new category Hotel Review. Since I love traveling around the world staying at nice hotels was also a high priority. So the ratings would be the same as restaurant review, rating out of 5 star.

So our flight from Perth to Hong Kong was around 5-6 hours we stopped over for about 8 hours and continue flying to San Francisco. Now we caught the midnight flight so we knew we were going to feel a little yucky on the plane and smelly to have continued our flight to San Francisco without a shower. So Pandabear came across this pay in lounge in the Hong Kong Air port. Now we’ve never been to the pay in lounge before so it was a first time experience. We paid for 3 hours of nap and shower. You can choose either to nap or shower or massage, we opt for the option of shower and nap.

My comfy tiny bed

My comfy tiny bed

Dry your hair place

Dry your hair place

So we arrived at the pay in lounge, the guy serving us was nice and friendly and asked us what time we would like to be woken up – Pandabear said 11.30am so that we can have a quick shower and grab a bite for lunch before flying out. So The guy showed us the facilities – tiny little single beds divided by curtains and blinds similar to Japanese futon beds. Then we were shown the shower facilities – clean comes with shampoo/conditioner, tower, and soap dispensers. There was also another room where you could blow dry your hair and put your make up on – large mirrors there. It was fantastic, the guy came to woke us up right on the dot and we went for our shower, feeling mightily refreshed and it was so worth it, not overly priced and it really made the difference 🙂

Here’s my ratings

Hotel service – 4 star
Hotel decor – 4 star
Would I recommend it? Absolutely YES!

Restaurant Review – Marriott Surfers Paradise

Published February 18, 2010 by Mary Jane

Hello again, okies we are still in the mind set of Gold Coast – at night time we decided to try out the restaurant in the hotel we stayed in Marriott Surfers Paradise. Now, usually I wouldn’t go to the restaurant in the hotel you are staying in chances are they won’t taste as good and it’s rather pricey. But since, Marriott Surfers Paradise is a 5 star hotel, the restaurant food shouldn’t be too shabby. 🙂 So we booked ourselves in and rocked up, they have buffet on special – everything that ranges from bread selection, salad bar, seafood section and dessert section. Looks rather impressive! I was really impressed they had a gigantic wood fire kiln for woodfire pizzas and there’s chef there making fresh baked woodfire pizzas. However we didn’t feel like buffet so we opt to go for the entrees and mains on the menus.

Gigantic Woodfire Kiln

Gigantic Woodfire Kiln

Salad bar

Salad bar

bread selection

bread selection

dessert selection

dessert selection

So, on the menu we decided to have woodfire pizza to share and Pandabear ordered some prawn kebabs that came with an egg and rice. I had the prawn linguine and the presentation of the food was awesome, very colourful the produce was very fresh. For the pizza we were able to choose 2 different toppings – 1/2 supreme and 1/2 meat lovers. Honestly we were so full and there was still 1/2 of a pizza left. Now, another weakness of mine – I never waste food – I was brought up to finish every single food item on my plate. So I’ve decided to ask the waiter whether we can take away the pizza. Pandabear was like ‘no it’s embarrassing I don’t think 5 star hotel restaurants do take aways!!’ – I wasn’t going to give up this easily, no harm asking. So I asked the waiter and he said ‘not a problem’ – so I was very glad 🙂 no wastage!! We could even have pizza for our supper – even though it’s cold.

Prawn Linguine

Prawn Linguine

Prawn Kebabs with rice & egg

Prawn Kebabs with rice & egg

Massive Woodfire Pizza

Massive Woodfire Pizza

Our pizza takeaway box

Our pizza takeaway box

Anyways, the food was lovely – great taste and huge servings. Now in terms of dining experience I must admit the food waiting time was a little long – around 40 minutes we were starving and it took ages for us to get the waiter’s attention they seemed to be floating around everywhere except coming to our table to take orders. That’s the same for me to wave to the waiters to take away left over pizzas. Here’s my rating:

Dining Experience: 3.5 star
Food Experience: 4 star
Would I recommend: I think so – for the price we paid and the service we get probably would go there 2nd time just to see whether the waiter performance picks up.

Anyways, we took some pizzas back to our hotels and was too full to have it for supper so I had to pop it into our little bar fridge cos there were lots of cheese. The next day, we decided to have it for brekkie – I know cold pizzas are yucky it became stale and hard. Guess what I did, I simply improvise and got my hair dryer and started blow drying the pizzas – sometimes I think I maybe an inventor when it comes to heating food hehehehe it took at least 5 minutes to heat up 1 small slice of pizza but it paid off cos Pandabear started eating his pizza and I did too 🙂 I love happy pizza endings. Anyways, I shall end it and hopefully I’ve changed the format of my blog slightly to accommodate bloggy friends – otherwise sorry I did try my best 🙂 good night and sweet dreams…

Food at Gold Coast – Movie World

Published February 17, 2010 by Mary Jane

Hello again…well, since we’re still on the topic of Gold Coast – the next theme park we went was Movie World. Now I was determined to go on some Adult rides and pulled Pandabear with me and forced him to ride the pirate boat with me that swings from side to side – high speed and he was screaming the whole time, I was pretty embarrassed and thought no more Adult ride for you Pandabear. So I came across this awesome water raft that zooms down a waterfall, except most of the time you get wet from the splashing of water. So I bought myself a poncho to make sure I don’t get wet, but it didn’t help cos I still got wet 🙂 but it was pretty fun. Then we went for Shrek in 4D that was awesome the cartoon was great and the whole experience was really cool cos literally when the donkey runs you can literally feel the chair moving as if though you are really riding the donkey and when the donkey spits there were some little drizzle of wet water that makes it really real. I would highly recommend going to Shrek 4D if you are in Movie world. While we were queuing up for the show, I came across this shop that sold the Gingerbread man in Shrek and it was all stuck to the door so I bought myself one 🙂

Our next stop was off to Looney gardens – kind of suitable for kiddies like Pandabear, it has kids friendly rides..then it was lunch time and we stopped over this tiny restaurant cafe that sells it’s famous round bread with fillings inside – we decided to go with the healthier option Caesar Salad and when it came it looked great, but it was so dry that we found the meal wasn’t that great, fortunately it came with the wedges so it made up for it. Next time we would have ordered the curry one more saucy 🙂 Then it was time for some daring Adult ride, I signed myself for this batswing ride which literally zoom up few 100 stories and slowly topple down. I was so nervous the whole time I was queuing and finally when it was my turn they buckled me up and the guy who sat next to me said ‘wow this is pretty scary’ and I said ‘Yup it sure is cos I’m afraid of heights’ and he answered ‘oh dear, should you be on this ride?’ I said ‘too late now’ and the batswing ride zoomed off and it was so scary but eventually when I arrived at the top it hovered quite a bit and I was able to see the entire theme park’s awesome view plus the beach view – what a great experience – I totally forgot about the fear of height. After the ride I felt very proud of myself for such a height accomplishment!

Then we went for a police stunt show – which was hilarious and very entertaining. We also went for some bumper car ride – Pandabear was ok with this one and I was feeling rather daring and brave and decided to hop on the scooby doo dog haunted house ride – now it was a undercover roller coaster ride which was pretty scary cos it’s so dark you don’t know when it’s going to speed up and speed down. But I really enjoyed it 🙂 Later on, we got home and decided for dinner we shall dine at our hotel restaurant it’s a 5 star so the restaurant should be a 5 star too. I shall do a restaurant review too and on top of it while we were in movie world we got a free $100 food voucher in a cafe restaurant but there was a catch – Accor vacation club which we spent $$$ to join, but it was well worth it 🙂

Bats wing ride

Bats wing ride

Food at Gold Coast – Sea World

Published February 16, 2010 by Mary Jane

Hello Bloggy Friends, okies – I’m now finally over Sydney so it’s time to swing by to Gold Coast, we managed to stay there a few days for our honeymoon as well and visited a few of highly recommended places – Movie world, Sea world and Nope – NO dream world for us cos we found out Dream world was all about scary rides and since Pandabear wasn’t a scary ride person and I’m kinda afraid of heights – another of my weakness we decided to just roam around Movie world & Sea world. Gold coast is a pretty touristy place compared to Sydney and Melbourne. There’s heaps of beaches and everyone seemed really lay back and friendly. Fortunately to get us by we hired a smart rental car – a tiny little car that fits just the both of us, I got it for free with my bartercard from my previous company. 🙂 I love freebies…it’s cool but hard to drive cos it’s kinda like tectonic which is similar to driving manual cars – yes I only drive automatic cars. Fortunately, Pandabear could operate it.

With regards to food, as I’ve mentioned I’m a major fan of Japanese food – in particular sushi and we found out there were heaps of Japanese food joint at Gold Coast yay!!! So we went off to visit the arcade similiar to Perth’s Garden City shopping centre except slightly bigger and try out their food court stuff. We chose to dine at this Japanese place and got some take away. It was pretty nice. I had the bento box and Pandabear had his usual tempura mix with rice. That was our lunch and for dinner, we decided to try out some fine dining Japanese teppanyaki restaurant and it was really cool with the chef performing some tricks with volcanos made from onion rings and chucking & chopping food and throwing it into peoples mouth with their tools – it was awesome. I will do a restaurant review later on 🙂

Apart from awesome Japanese food in Gold Coast we also had some room service in our 5 star hotel – the Merritt Surfer’s paradise where in the middle of the night I was feeling really hungry and decided to order some room service even though the menu price was a bit of a rip off but hey? It’s our honeymoon, so I ordered some minestrone soup that came with bread rolls. When the door bell rang, I had to quickly crawl back into my bed covering myself with bedsheets cos I was in my PJs and asked Pandabear to go and grab the food…That was yummy and the guy delivered to us and came back to claim the dirty dishes later on 🙂

The next day, we wanted to try out some sushi train. Now usually in Perth I go to Jaws for sushi train but it’s nothing spectacular just normal sushis but sushi train in Gold Coast is HUGE!!! So many varieties of sushis to try I’m pretty sure I had about 50 plates or something ridiculous seriously sometimes I wonder whether I have worms inside my tummy cos I eat so much…but it was awesome to have so many choices to choose from. They were all very tasty too 🙂 So later on we went to Sea World the moment I arrived at the place the trolley worth of soft toys caught my eyes – there were polar bears and seals plush toys selling for $10 each – I wanted to buy at least 3 of them, 2 for me and 1 for my niece. But Pandabear was whinging with his usual line “The soft toys are going to collect dust and you have so many of them!” I’ve since master the skills of obtaining soft toys..now the technique of getting Pandabear to get me some soft toy is to hug them first and then put them back, slowly walk away looking miserable and occasionally turn around to have a look at them again and then make a ‘sigh’ noise. And then guess what happens Pandabear would look at me and say his one liner ” go and quickly buy those before I change my mind” and I would race down to the trolley to grab 3 of them and be over the moon. Sweet sweet Soft toy victory 🙂

Now after the racing down to the soft toy trolley it was time for some snacks – we located this Hot Dog Works stand that sells huge hot dogs that came with lots of onions and cheese and a selection of mustard and tomato sauce. It was very tasty large enough to feed both Pandabear and myself. Later on it was lunch time and we decided to have some fish and chips and deep fried drum sticks – yes very unhealthy and they tasted pretty average really. It was great fun at sea world you get to see a lot of sea animals – I love animals so to me sea world is a great place to be!! I saw polar bears real ones and fake ones and dugongs. Visited the shark bay and saw some scary sharks – I don’t really like sharks. Touched some star fish – live ones and watched dolphin shows that was lovely. Had some kid’s rides – yes they are designed for kids and since Pandabear and I are both kinda afraid of adult rides – we go for the kids ones…I just passed being a kid. People do stare at Pandabear when he comes along with me. Snack time was some churros – only $3 each – bargain! They tasted like donut sticks with lots of cinnamon sugar. So we quickly bought some churros and lined up for some stunt police shows – it was really entertaining I would recommend people watching these shows when you go to sea world. Plus it’s free 🙂

I had great fun in Sea World and would highly recommend this place to anyone who loves theme parks and animals 🙂

Okies, I shall update you guys with more details on Movie world in the next post and amongst other food adventures…

Good night & Sweet dreams…

Our sensational beach side resort view

Our sensational beach side resort view

Our tiny smart rental car

Our tiny smart rental car

Japanese Bento Box

Japanese Bento Box

Tempura Mix

Tempura Mix

Room Service Bread rolls & soup

Room Service Bread rolls & soup

Room service Minestrone soup

Room service Minestrone soup

The Cheap Plush Seals

The Cheap Plush Seals

The awesome hot dog works

The awesome hot dog works

Kids rides area

Kids rides area

The average fish & chips and deep fried drumsticks

The average fish & chips and deep fried drumsticks

Churros Stand

Churros Stand

The Police Stunt Show

The Police Stunt Show

Restaurant Review – Young Alfred Restaurant

Published February 12, 2010 by Mary Jane

Evening People, we are still still in the mindset of Sydney. This time we met up with a friend of ours who booked this restaurant, my first impression is that it’s a casual dining restaurant with a bar for you to order drinks. Nice & relaxed atmosphere, somewhere nice for friends to catch up over some drinks. The waitress was pretty friendly set us down and gave us some menu to order. Pandabear ordered some nice piece of steak with blue cheese, I had some nice piece of burramundi fish with chick peas and we decided to share a woodfire pizza between the 4 of us. Now this friend of ours brought along his girlfriend who I met for the first time and I was thinking to myself she reminds me of Jolin Tsai the famous singer in Taiwan. Her facial features, her mannerism, my goodness I thought it was Jolin’s twin. So I asked her “have anyone ever told you, that you look like Jolin Tsai?” She said “yeah all the time, even one time I went with my parents on holidays random girls would come up to me and ask for my autograph and I kept telling them I’m not Jolin!!” What a great laugh, so I took a picture with her hoping I could tell my friends I met Jolin’s twin hehehehe.

Anyways, our pizza arrived – wow that’s a pizza with lots of meat. Now though I’m an animal lover, I’m actually a meat lover too. I believe animals such as chicken, cows and pigs are created for us to eat so I love my meat!! It was rather appealing as if though those salami and hams were going to jump right at me. The taste was pretty good, a decent woodfire pizza. So our mains arrived, the presentation was fantastic – especially with the colour and texture contrast and the taste was great too 🙂 Very pleased with our meal. You would think after eating pizza and mains we should be pretty full right?? Wrong, we felt like some dessert – now the Jolin’s twin ate just salad and it made me felt really bad as she’s already so skinny already and I’m like well I wouldn’t say fat but well-nourished and I was pigging out compared to her. But since it was our honeymoon I’ve decided to spoil myself. So for dessert we had tiramisu served with icecream. Bonus! I’ve never had tiramisu served with icecream before. Now I was picturing my tiramisu coming to me in a little cup not too big of a serving so I don’t feel too bad. When the tiramisu arrived, I was shocked!!! It was huge, and it didn’t come inside a cup it was on a plate – it’s definitely home made. I tried and amazingly it was delicious and went well with the chocolate/coffee icecream on top. Great presentation with a splash of raspberry sauce. I was so full but so happy & satisfied.

Well, it was time to visit the ladies…now when I came to the door I was like what does the picture look like? It was a picture of female lady with ‘F’ and little ‘fff’s so cute – so me being me took a picture of it. Yes, I get amused easily – another weakness of me 😛

So my overall rating:

Dining Experience: 4 star
Food Expereince: 4.5 star
Would I recommend: YES!

Woodfire load of meat Pizza

Woodfire load of meat Pizza

Steak with Blue Cheese

Steak with Blue Cheese

Burramundi with chickpea sauces

Burramundi with chickpea sauces

Tiramisu and icecream

Tiramisu and icecream

Funky Female Toilet door

Funky Female Toilet door