Peruvian Immersion For A Day @ National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Date of Visit: March 29 2014

If your much anticipated hiking trip to Peru is cancelled what would you do?  Well, Bestie and I made a road trip to Canberra to gawk at the exotic Inca treasures of the ancient Peruvian civilisation at the National Gallery of Art in Canberra – aptly called ‘Gold and The Incas: Lost World of Peru” (here).

The exhibition is a key component of Canberra’s centenary celebrations in 2013 and also significant in that it marks the 50th anniversary of Australian-Peruvian diplomatic relations, and is organised in co-operation with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture.  As such, the works of art are lent by the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia del Perú and its fraternal collections, the Fundacion Museo Amano, the Museo Larco and the Museo Oro del Perú – museums that were on our trip’s agenda -  as well as the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.

Would it  surprise you that the Inca Empire lasted only 100 years?  This is a very short time for such a vast and famous enterprise!

In a nutshell:

“The Incas conquered all of Peru and much of Chile, Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador.  The state governed from the capital city of Cuzco by a system of duties, taxes and rewards.  20,000km of roads enabled efficient and speedy communication.

The Emperor was The Son of The Sun God and the pinnacle of an extremely hierarchical society.  The Inca state region demanded scarifices, human and animal – even textiles were burnt as offerings to the Gods.  Architecture, e.g. the famous World Heritage Site Machu Picchu, was the glory of the Inca culture (and still is!).  Temples, palaces, terraces and fortifications of huge stone blocks were fitted together, mostly without masonry.

Sadly, our knowledge of Inca society is filtered through the world view of Spanish chroniclers. The Inca state of at least 12 million people fell very rapidly, due to superior European military technology, civil war and new diseases, especially smallpox.  Perhaps 90% of the native population, more than 10 million people, was killed or died of disease and famine after the conquest.

Almost every artefact that survives – what we see at the exhibition today – was buried with their owners.  As the cult of the dead infers, both noble and common people were interred in different ways according to tiers of importance – from ruling lords, priests, military leaders and retainers – as exemplified by their respective accoutrements and placements in their graves.

A rather kooky rite is that adorned mummified Inca elites form part of annual postmortem ceremonies where their corpses were paraded around the city of Cuzco.”

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Poster Child of the Exhibition: Gold Relic of the Sun God

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Children’s’ Discovery Area where photography is permitted

In summary, this is a well-curated exhibition with over 200 objects showcasing  exemplary artefact from each period of the Peruvian civilisation  from gold regalia, intricate jewellery and striking vessels to elaborate embroidered and woven cloths.  So, don’t miss out!

*****

It is only appropriate to round up our excursion by having a Peruvian themed lunch at the Sculptural Garden Restaurant.

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‘Cones’ (Bert Flugelman, 1976/82) in polished stainless steel

Finding it needed a bit of detective work as it is located outside the gallery, tucked away to the side of the garden and in a tent by the Marsh Pond.

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Sculptural Garden Restaurant

In the Marsh Pond (part of the sculpture garden) is a powerful work by Dadang Christanto, an Indonesian artist based in Darwin.  The pond is filled with bronze heads with extra eeriness supported by the mist-maker.  His works speaks of victims of oppression and social injustice.  If I remember correctly, this piece, “Heads from the north’,  is about the genocide in East Timor.

(PS:  Would I want to hold a reception in the restaurant by a pond filled with heads?  Probably not!😰)

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‘Heads from the north’, Dadang Christanto (Photo credit: http://www.pbase.com)

For this special occasion in conjunction with the exhibition, the interior of the restaurant is styled by designer Megan Morton to play up combinations of colour, good times and of course, corn – to accentuate the joy of food and family that the Peruvian culture delights in!

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Interior of Restaurant

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Maize ‘Chandelier’

Only Set Lunch is served in the restaurant.

What we got for our 2-course Set Lunch at $35 per person

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Wholewheat Damper

ENTREE

Presented on a wooden paddle pan as is very fashionable now,  we have Ceviche of Salmon with Lime, Jumbo White Corn and Coriander.

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Ceviche of Salmon with Lime, Jumbo White Corn and Coriander (GF)

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Jumbo White Corn

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Quinoa: Baked quinoa toped with avocado wasabi cream and a rocket leaf. This is bourgeois peasant food!

MAIN COURSE

Sometimes, it is best not to heed recommendation of a fellow diner who you don’t know…

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Twice-cooked Beef Short Rib with Chimichurri and Huancaina Potatoes.

This is a plate of disappointment of sorts:  The beef was dry - yet full of fat!  The most obvious explanation is that it is not a good cut of meat which has been pre-(over)cooked and reheated thus rendering it very beef-jerky-like in texture.  The exotic sounding ‘huancaina’ is basically a spicy cream which is otherwise ‘meh’.

Check out my leftover plate of fat!

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FAT!! Fat-Die-Me! 😱 😱 😱

Not a very satisfying lunch, so a Diet Coke at the Gallery Cafe is in order…

Hiking Dragon’s Back to Big Wave Bay with Lunch @ Happy Garden Thai, Shek O

Date: April 11 2014

My first hike in 2014 is none other than the notable Dragon’s Back to Big Wave Bay.  This route is also named the ‘Best Urban Hiking Trail in Asia’ by Time Asia, boosting stunning views of Shek O, Tai Long Wan (Big Wave Bay), Stanley, Tai Tam, and the South China Sea.  I had wanted to do this  trail for the longest time, but never got around to doing it until today – it being short and sweet and very easy as I’m still recovering from a foot injury.

For newbies, hiking in Hong Kong is a breeze since nature and the city are simply a stone’s throw away.  Here, it’s simply a tap of Octopus card and you are on your way!

Our meeting point is in Shau Kei Wan MTR Station Exit A3 where we caught Bus #9 to To Tei Wan village, heading for Shek O .

Knowing me and my mental capacity for remembering names,  I had got Shau Kei WAN Station mixed up with Shai WAN Ho Station.  Luckily, I realised my mistake when I couldn’t locate Exit A3 and made a quick dash to Shau Kei Wan which is only the next MTR stop away -where the rest of the 21-member crew are waiting –  duh!

Amenities are provided along the trail, so people with weak bladders can hike in confidence knowing that there’s  public toilets at the beginning and also in the middle of the trail before the descent into Big Wave Village.  The trail is clearly marked with sign-posts of a cute squiggly dragon.

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Hike Statistics: 8.5km, 250m ascent, < 3 hours. (Don’t believe what the sign says: 1km 1 hour?)

We started our hike with 20 minutes or so of walking uphill.  No problem with that as I LOVE uphills.  It is downhill that I dislike.

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Gradual ascent on mostly concrete steps

The day was slightly overcast with a nice cool breeze – perfect for hiking, but not so for viewing scenery.  Nevertheless, this is IT!  What do you think?

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Shek O Lookout from Dragon’s Back

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Shek O Village

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Shek O Golf Course

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More pano…

Over weekends, flying kites or paragliding are popular sports at the highest point of the ridge, known as Shek O Peak.

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Big Wave Bay from afar: A little peek of sand

One do meet a mixed bag of people walking the trail:  Hikers, runners, people in casual gear and flip-flops… and a toddler with his dad, however, I was bemused by a bunch of hikers from Mainland all kitted out in professional hiking gears complete with walkie-talkies as though they are on expedition. 😜

Dragon’s Back is basically an ‘easy-peasy trail’, in that, I can assure the older gent recovering from stroke whom I see everyday in my local park walking with his stick to try this trail.

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Well marked trail: Direction to the Village painted on the ground

Big Wave Bay is purported to boast the largest waves in Hong Kong.  Despite the name, I see only water lapping on that day, no rips, but there’s still some surfers out to make the best they can – and families making the most out of their day.  This beach is rather small,  around the size of Tamarama in Sydney.  I was told that it gets very crowded in summer.

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Big Wave Beach

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Families enjoying their day on the beach

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A Local Surfer Boi

There is a bus terminus in Big Wave Village where one can easily get public transport back to town. However, we continued on our walk to Shek O for lunch, walking past Shek O Golf Club.

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A recommended Chinese resto by a fellow hiker

We ended our hike with a  lunch at Happy Garden Thai.  The food is alright, there’s a Set Lunch Menu which is very economical, so remember to ask for it.  I also made acquaintance with an interesting South African lady who has been cycling around the world for 7 years over 58 continents!  Hats off to her tenacity of  travelling solo on her bike – I have never travelled solo before, and don’t think I ever will!  Follow her adventure here.

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Happy Garden Thai

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A huge dish of Fried Chicken Kway Teow (part of Set Lunch valued at HK$37 which includes a bowl of soup, add H$5 for a soft drink)

My seemingly-healthy-but-not-so healthy lunch choice: Spicy Beef Salad….😑  (In hindsight, should have asked for NO dressing as all!)

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Spicy Beef Salad (HK$68)

 

 

QF127 From Sydney To Hong Kong

Date of Visit: April 5 2014

I am a regular at the Qantas Biz Lounge because it code-shares with Cathay Pacific. Thus far, I’ve yet to take pictures of the lounge simply because it looked rather ordinary and overdue for a freshening up.

For this trip to Hong Kong, I took Qantas because I wanted to use my flight credits from my cancelled Peru trip – THE trip that I’ve been anticipating for over a year.  Why am I not going?  Because the travel agent made a mistake with my name thereby ‘lost’ my Inca hiking trail permit!  Either that, or she left it to the very last minute (end of January) to book when in essence any hikers would know that the permit is released in the beginning of the year!  Needless to say, due to reasons unclear to me, and I’ll just leave it at that and happy to get a full refund!

Seeing Marc Newson design early in the morning – 6am – is entirely different under softly-litted illumination.  I’d say the design looked good!

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Qantas Business Lounge designed by Marc Newson

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Bar Area

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Bar Area

I had my usual fruit muesli and yoghurt for breakfast from the self-service buffet.  As for reading materials, there’s nothing of interest for me.  I managed to find 2 copies of Australian Bazaar and Australian Vogue – both in Chinese language, mind you.  Intriguing since this is my first time coming across Chinese-Australian fashion magazines.  I guess the world is awash with Renminbi $$$ with the Mainlanders as consummate consumers.

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Muesli and Chinese editions of Australian Bazaar and Vogue

Once on board the QF127, I was offered beverages – juice, water or champers.

Food on-board is designed by Neil Perry of Rockpool fame… and the wine list comprised of Australian wine hall of fame, enticing enough for me to switch to Qantas from now on!

For my aperitif, I chose 2012 Philip Shaw The Architect Chardonnay from Orange, NSW.  Apparently Philip Shaw is the architect of some of Australia’s greatest chardonnays.  I find it tight but with a good acidity.

I also got a Kate Spade amenities bag!  I find it more useful (larger) than the Agnes B that Cathay Pacific disperses.

Lunch service started with a choice of sourdough or rye bread and green salad.

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Salad of Garden Leaves with Balsamic Vinaigrette and Sour Dough

I switched to Gewurtztraminer for lunch.  At the back of mind, I  remembered traminers as uncousously sweet wines, but surprisingly Cargo Road was rather dry with with a good line of acidity with notes of lychee permeating through both the nose and palate!

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Tasting notes for the Gerwurztraminer

SMALL PLATES

Mild, not sweet which I liked. Beef is a bit like beef jerky – well seasoned but not too dry. Bits of red chilli pepper flakes to lift the notes to the otherwise bland/ tasteless vermicelli . Some shredded carrots and cucumbers for crunch and juice -and of course herbs because it’s Vietnamese!  I like! 👍

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Vietnamese Style Salad of Beef Brisket, Fresh Herbs and Nuoc Cham Dressing

With Qantas, the wine pours are very generous with lots of wine top-ups, unlike some Asians airlines…also the wine glasses for lunch is larger than the aperitifs! 😄

MAIN PLATES

I chose the Big Bowl of Soup because I like root vegetables.  It’s a light but filling course with rich beefy (vegemitey?) savoury broth with sweet aniseedy/ herbaceous notes.  Risoni, kale, chestnuts and parsnips went well with Getwurztraminer!

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Big Bowl of Braised Lamb, RoastChestnuts, Parsnips and Orzo Soup

DESSERT

To finish – Lemon Curd Tart or Cheese?I chose the Cheese selection of goat’s cheese and cheddar, with accompaniments of candied pear and fig.  I was also given a Varholna dark chocolate baton to go with my Long Black.

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Selection of Cheese, Valrhona Chocolate Baton and Long Black

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Selection of Cheese, Dried Fruits and Crackers

After lunch service, we were offered T2 Apple Tea, but no thanks – too full !

PRE-LANDING MEAL

I opted for the Shanghai noodles with stir-fried mushrooms and snow peas with lots of puffed tofu.  This came in a Chinese take-away paper container.  It was very salty…I finished since I’m not going to eat dinner when I get home tonight!😜

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Shanghai Noodles Stir-fried Mushrooms and Snow Peas

So here I am, back in Hongkers!

Family Lunch @ Sepia Restaurant, Sydney

Date of Visit: March 15 2014

If you have been following my Instagram @OutForALongLunch, you can correctly assume that I’m back in Sydney – which I am – and I shall remain for a month for some business and R&R…

4 months away from Sydney, I am looking forward to a Saturday lunch with my family.  So here we are at Sepia (again!)

To kick-off we ordered a bottle of bordeaux (pinot noir) from Le Clementine du Pape Clement 2009,Pessac-Léognan.  We always order lighter styles of reds to compliment our meals so as not to over-power the cuisine.  We are really here to enjoy the food and the wine is only meant as accompaniment!

We ordered Oysters for palate starters (optional choice for $60).  The oysters with ponzu lime juice seriously openned up the tastebuds with the sweet acidic juice to ‘cut’ the very succulent and creamy oysters.

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Oysters

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Oysters

AMUSE BOUCHE:

This is a solid one bite wonder. A very dense piece of meat, was thinking perhaps it was cured meat?  I didn’t take note of what the waiter was saying as I knew from my previous experience (post here) that I shall be getting the menu later.  In any regards, it was swordfish rolled in the furikake of flavoursome umami of miso and peppers.

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Swordfish belly cured in barley miso, shichimi togarashi pepper, candied ginger

TWO

Sheep yoghurt rolled in a sashimi of yellow-fin tuna and sprinkled with green crackling.  The thick yoghurt and avocado are offset by the acidity of ponzu juice.

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Sashimi Yellow fin tuna, sheep yoghurt and wasabi, avocado, turnips, ponzu, crackling

THREE

A richly coloured powdered of dehydrated rhubarb, beetroot and rye on top of of jelly of rhubarb hiding a mould of cheese under.  Looking ornate like a pile of ruby dust, however as one digs into the pile, the liquidy rhubarb starts to ooze  out.  I took some cross-sectional pics with my iPhone, but iPhone being iPhone, the pics came blurry even though I held my phone very still…

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House-made chèvre, rhubarb, beetroot, rye, native violets

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House-made chèvre, rhubarb, beetroot, rye, native violets

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House-made chèvre, rhubarb, beetroot, rye, native violets

A third into lunch, we were asked whether we would like to take a break by munching on some bread?  Being carb-phobics, we think not, let the flow continues!

FOUR

This course reminded me that I have to buy some krill oil to take back to Hong Kong… yet also harkens back to the salmon roe rice at Kikunoi in Japan (post yet to be done!) – so stayed tuned! 😊  Basically a very rich risotto rice dish with ‘curdy’ egg yolk, topped with the fishy salmon roe.  I believe a high skill and superior technique is warranted so not to overcook the egg yolk.

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Egg yolk and miso rice, smoked salmon roe, wasabi

Finito! A clean bowl to show how I had appreciated this course!

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FIVE

While the others had Spanner Crab

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Spanner crab, pine mushrooms silken tofu, yuzu, wakame, freid garlic

 

…me, being allergic to shellfish – or rather, crustaceans – had Snapper with Salmon Roe.  I love the lovely ensemble of colours, but the fish was a bit over-cooked (a little tough) but the tiny dots of jelly sauces are very flavoursome and mouthwatering!

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Snapper, Salmon Roe, Jelly, Baby Radishes.

SIX

The wagyu beef were actually thinly shaved slices of beef with a shiso leaf sandwiched in-between.  Despite all the prep, the beef tasted ordinary.😁  The star of this course however, I believe is the tiny potatoes,  mukago potatoes which are a new species.  “Unlike typical potatoes they grow on a vine rather than underground. For this reason some people refer to them as ‘air-potatoes’. Mukago potatoes fall off the vine very easily when they are ripe”. (See more here.)

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David Blackmore wagyu beef, oba, daikon radish and citrus dashi, mukago potato

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Shiso leaf sandwiched between the slices of wagyu beef

SEVEN

This course exudes ‘Australiana’.   I like the sourish wonderfully tart lemon taste with a hint of grapefruit.  I also loved the red hue of the venison which was very tender. The additional of myoga (Japanese ginger) binds the different elements of the dish well.

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Seared Mandagery Creek Venison, pickled myoga, lemon cream, lemon aspen , liquorice

Optional:  Pyengana cheddar, plum wine and apple pectin, sheep yoghurt and apple cream – we didn’t take uo the offer as we were rather stuffed.

EIGHT: Pre-dessert

Well, well, well… this is the first of the 3 desserts.  Mmm… presentation looks kind of similar to course #3.   Frozen ice over jelly, pretty good.

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Peach Cream, Raspberry, Yukari

NINE

This is a light dessert.  Pumpkin ice-cream with miso is unusual, but the combination went well – sweet and savoury – and a bit herby from the sorrel.  Yuba which is tofu skin seems to be very fashionable as you will see in my Tetsuya’s post later… stay tuned! 😋

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Pumpkin and Miso Caramel Ice-cream, Popcorn, Yuba, Sorrel

Licked another plate clean!

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Clean plate

TEN

The finale:  “Autumn chocolate forest” consisting of soft chocolate, hazelnut and almond, lavender and honey cream, sour cherry sorbet, rose and violet jellies, green tea, liquorice, chocolate twigs.  This is Sepia’s signature – and one that I had in my first visit (here).

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“Autumn Chocolate Forest”

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“Autumn Chocolate Forest”

Unfortunately, at this stage, I am totally stuffed.  I cannot finish the final dessert.  On a personal note,  although I’m pursuing bodybuilding at the moment, I don’t think degustation is totally unhealthy (but don’t tell my trainer about it as he gets very annoyed – “Char-siu is NOT proper protein!  It’s coated with maltose!”)  Nevertheless, I find the meal to be well-balanced using fresh ingredients which I presume to be healthy – c’mon at  A$175pp, I’d say so! 😏

PETIT FOURS:

Complimentary dark chocolate with minty cream centers.  Perfect with a glass of cold-drip coffee from El Salvador ($10)

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After-Eights Mints

Overall a very Japanoise-skewed meal with literal uses of supplementary Japanese ingredients.  From my first visit last year, Sepia has transgressed from foam and sashimi to mushy curd and cream which is rather fashionable now (see my post on Sixpenny here).

What’s In Store For Me in the Year of the Horse

Humpf! So the Year of the Horse is finally here.

According to Chinese astrology, this year (2014) is my BAD year. I will offend Tai Sui, the ‘God of Age’, and will experience bad luck for the entire year. To avoid this, it is imminent that I visit Wong Tai Sing aka ‘The Great Immortal Wong’ to pray for his blessings to be spared from bad luck!

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Entrance to Wong Tai Sing

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Statue of the entrance guard – with a scary face to ward off evil

Wong Tai Sin Temple is a major tourist attraction, so make sure you arrive early before 11am to avoid to rancorous tourists from the Mainland. If you arrive via MTR you will be jostled by handicapped people hustling you to buy joss-sticks from them.

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Statues of the 12 animal zodiacs in the fore-court of the temple with celebratory red bows

First up, a snapshot of the Main Temple.

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Main Temple

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Temple

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Gate

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Joss sticks

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Devotee praying

Now to the main reason I visited Wong Tai Sing: To pay respects to Tai Sui.

Follow the red sign…

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I paid HK$100 at the Tai Sui ticketing booth to get entry which includes 3 incense sticks for prayers. I was asked to go to a prayer room underground. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed, but let me tell you. The decoration was so casino-celestial! Looking up the blue ceiling was like looking into the Milky Way in the planetarium with blinking LED lights! Viva Las Vegas! Roll-the-dice Macau! So Surreal! So smelling of money! So casino!

The ceremony itself was very simple. First, the Taoist priest will ring the bell to inform Tai Sui of your presence. You bow, pray, then stick an incense stick into the bowl. Next proceed to the next God, I presume Wong Tai Sin, then finally your zodiac God. All it took was 15 minutes! And I should be lucky this year!

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Tai Sui ticketing booth

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Chinese Zodiacs – not sure what it says

If you are interested, you can have your fortune read as well at one of the numerous stall next to the temple. My ‘sage’ was a 90+ year old lady called Mrs Chan who looked not a day over 70! She had perfect porcelain white skin and a pretty wrinkle-free complexion! (I asked her her secret, to which she replied, “Stay out of the Sun!”)

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Fortune-teller stalls located next to the temple compound

What is predicted to be in store for me in 2014? As usual, considering my age, “when I will meet my Mr Right.” (Urgh! Easily said than done…) According to Mrs Chan, he will show up very soon in the New Year! Thus, my bad luck year will turn out to be my Romantic year! Woohoo! Sure! Sure!

So while riding the MTR 2 weeks ago, Feb 14 (yes, Valentines’ Day) I saw this ad on the MTR and thought I’d give it a go. As soon as I posted, I got a few emails and have gone on a couple of dates. (So, yes, dear Readers, online dating was partly the reason I have not been blogging much the last 2 weeks)

Here’s some of the lucky fellas who has had the privilege of online dating with me!

Guy#1: Italian. Been on 2 dates with him. Ex-banker, plays the acoustic bass with a couple of bands around the Island, now heading a financial start-up. Thought we had some positive vibes but apparently not. I shall remember him as the ‘Dangerous Machiavelli’. A blessing that no date# 3 is on the cards. But he was a fab cook! 😋

Guy#2: American. In the aviation industry with a military background and had been in the 1st Gulf War *hero*. The first time we chatted over the phone, I was worried we had difficulty in communicating, what with his Texan drawl and my Australian lisp. Nevertheless, he sounded both professional, serious and mature. Our first meet-up last week was canceled because he had to fly out overseas to put out ‘fires’. (He just called, to explain, so all’s fine and we shall re-shedule a meet up later. *high-fives*)

Guy#3: Spanish. Not sure what he’s doing in Hong Kong, something in sports management but we are fixing a date to meet up. I guess we clicked online because we both did the Camino Santiago de Compostela.

Guy #4: Australian. Now he really piqued my interest! At first, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to communicate with him. He wrote in, I replied. Later we found out that we have the same circle of acquaintances in running and hiking. He sent me a link to his albums which I took a precursory look, but yesterday, somehow while doing an online search, his link popped up and I discovered that he had done some amazing races around the world including Marathon de Sables. So I did what any hot-blooded gal do, I emailed him and told him how amazing and intriguing he is and wanted to meet up with him. Gave him my number, but he has yet to reply or call. Woose…looser…so annoyed with him… I’m moving on!

Guy#5: English + Mayan Mix. Runs his own PR company and does part-time DJing around the Island. Might go watch him spin some music later. Here’s a link to his music: (removed for anonymity sake)  Pretty cool sounds, eh?

I don’t bother to reply to unhealthy looking or divorced with kids living with them, heheh!

Well, that’s all within 2 weeks of signing up the dating website. I guess response to my ad is pretty ‘OK’. I think my ‘rating’ can be improved if I can write a better profile narrative (which I had quickly hammered out just so I can read my messages). I also need to take a better picture of myself, make myself look less mixed and more approachable and sweet to the Chinese guys! 😉 (Not sure why, but I am still waiting for a nice Chinese boy to write to me!)

But so far, online dating is fun! 😘😘😘 Do give it a go, if you have not already!

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New Year Horse @ Langham Place, Mongkok (made from fake flowers)

Scouting for Protein @ O’Galito Bar & Grill and Carlos Mexican Canteena, Pavilion KL

Date of Visit: January 11, 12, 13 2014

Ever since my trip to Kuala Lumpur in January, a month ago, I had not managed to make any progress in losing body fat.  Extremely annoying and frustrating especially since that I was making good progress prior to my trip.  Moreover, on my return to Hong Kong, I sprained my foot and had to take time off running in the park. As we all know, dieting while on travel is a real bummer!  Although I try to plan for all contingencies – and even went ahead to pre-book a fruit platter for my meal onboard.  It was very tough staying mindful of what I should and should not eat, especially when there is a free-flow alcohol involved.

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My healthy fruit-platter lunch on-board flight CX725 from HKG to KUL

To make matters right, never despair… as they say: “Start your day right  with breakfast!”  Thank goodness there’s a GNC store downstairs in Pavilion Mall where I bought EAS low-carb protein ready-to-drink packs (RM12.90) for breakfast.  Only 100 calories to bind me over to the assorted calorie-laddened ‘nasi*’ for lunch! 😰

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My Saviour!

RIGHTO!  In this post, I’m gonna tell you my search for  protein to fulfil my bodybuilding requirements!

The plaza outside the Pavilion Mall called ‘Connection’, a very ‘happening’ loud, boozy and smoky place.

  • Loud = cacophony of music blaring from the assortment of eateries, bars, the huge TV screen and people all around.
  • Boozy =  Although predominantly a Muslim country, alcoholic drinks are legal and readily available for purchase, as long as one is over the age of 18 and a non-Muslim.  Prices for cocktails are pretty standard, around RM27-29 – cheaper than a glass of wine.
  • Smoky = Don’t get me started here!  (But I will nonetheless… 😈 )  The plaza is definitely not a smoke-free zone, a non-smoker can literally be overcame by smoke and keel over – no kidding.  On any given Monday morning, one can see the cigarette receptacles  filled to the brimmed with cigarette butts.  Not sure whether it is the culture there, but I see women in stilettos puffing away early in the morning whenever I grab my morning my cup of joe from Starbucks.  Not cool – not sophisticated – and you are shortening my lifespan!
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Connection @ Pavilion Mall, KL

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The ‘famous’ Crystal Bowl Fountain

O’Galito  was the first restaurant where we had dinner.  I couldn’t figure out what type of restaurant it was – whether Italian, Spanish or French from the menu, but after searching on line, I found out that it is a ‘Mediterannean restaurant’.   Hmm, figures with the generous of tomatoes, olives and herbs.  I should also have known that it is Portugese from the bacalo and piri piri ingredients – and from the sparse but clean (this is the cleanest restaurant I’ve came across in the Connection) decorum of the restaurant hinted at Portugal with patterned ceramic tiles on the wall harkening to eateries in Macau! The waitress was very polite and was curious to know whether I am Japanese or Korean.  Err… neither!

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Interior

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Bar

I refrained from ordering any drinks because I had downed at least 1 bottle of liquor on my way to KL.  I stuck to my Soda Water… so here’s what the gang had…

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Mojito served with generous dash of rum and plenty of mint

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Frozen Margarita

Food was served rather quickly and came out piping hot.  I noticed that the chef is an expat aka balding rotund white guy.

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Bacalao (RM48):
Cod fish fillet, braised onion, cherry tomatoes and olives

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File de File (RM72):
Beef tenderloin served with baked red skin potatoes and grilled vegetables

I had the chicken.  Tender, moist and delicious.  I’m happy to get some protein for the day – and I love rockets!

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Piri Piri Chicken (RM37):
Chicken piri piri on a bed of roasted vegetables

While enjoying our dinner, we were given 2 slices of dark rye bread but not sure who they were for – perhaps they were accompaniments for the beef tenderloin as it is the most expensive on the menu.

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Rye bread

I’m happy with our choice of restaurant.  This is my new go-to place for protein!  👍

****

Date of Visit:  January 12 2014

The next night, we tried another restaurant at Connection called ‘Carlos’, which we mistook for an Eygptian restaurant due to the shisha stand in front.  Again, we were misinformed with the cuisine served here, nevertheless, we wandered in.  It was only when we were settled that we realised that this is a Mexican restaurant properly called Carlos Mexican Canteena!  So, let’s blame the poor signage design and the shisha stand! 😝

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Carlos Mexican Canteena

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Shisha stand

The restaurant is dim, dank and down-right grubby with an irritating loop of Jennifer Lopez’s ‘On the Dance Floor‘ playing-over-and-over-and-over-again! Each table is given a portable ‘service button’ to call the waiters.  Ergonomically, the seats were very low and tables overly high, making us look like kiddies sitting at an adult’s table!   What’s more I couldn’t stop sneezing and was wondering why until I saw that smoking is actually allowed in the restaurant!  I mean, shisha is smoke, right?  I read from ‘The Guardian’ here that some experts say “a single shisha session is the same as smoking 200 cigarettes”!!  Help, my lungs! Tolong*! Tolong*!

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An ‘Arabeque-looking’ interior for a Mexican Canteena, further perplexed us

The first to arrive at our table was the rib – a humongous rib!  Couldn’t help that we had over ordered.  Are Malaysians big-eaters or the waiters are trained to up-sell?  In Hong Kong, the waiters are all trained to estimate the patrons orders and will stop them from over-ordering.  The current phrase here now is ‘Waste no Food’ campaign.  In any regards, the ribs were perfectly cooked, very tasty and juicy and fall off the bone easily.  The mashed potatoes were very creamy with lots of butter and cream.

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Mexicana Canteena Tender Beef-ribs (RM68++), served with mashed potatoes and sautéed vegetables

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Mexicana Canteena Tender Beef-ribs

Our carb-attack was potato skins.  Tasty as well, with a side of salsa.

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Mexican Potato Skins (RM18++)
3 pieces of oven baked potato skins stuffed with beef covered with melted cheese

Our fajitas were terrific too.

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Fajitas (RM29++):
Grilled chicken on bed of sautéed bell peppers and onions served with fajitas sauce, cheese and tortillas.

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Chicken Fajitas

Unfortunately, for Carlos, I don’t see myself coming back anytime soon.  Too much fat and carbs.  No good for building a healthy body!

*Tolong means ‘Help’ in Malay

*Nasi means ‘Rice’ in Malay

Communal Dunkin’ @ Hotpot Express, Hillwood Road, TST, Hong Kong

I’m feeling for a nice hot bubbling hotpot dinner!  Weather in the Kong has been crazy! We had temperature dipping below 10C for the past few days – and with the dampness (and rain) it felt even colder.  Brrr…. even I who ‘never get sick’ caught the virus, did a couple of miserable projectiles and still coughing my poor lungs out!  And no, excuse me, I don’t have the H7N9 Avian Flu!

So, what’s a ‘hot pot‘?

Well, it’s basically that a bunch of diners gather around a bubbling communal cauldron of hot broth, while dunking raw pieces of food into it. Once these morsels are cooked, they are immediately slathered in various sauces and gobbled up.

Hot pot is the “Chinese socio-gastro activity of choice. It is a very low-maintenance meal that feeds a lot of people”.  👍

Here’s my review of my fav hotpot place in the Kong!

Date of Visit: December 30 2013

The place is called Hotpot Express at Hillwood Road, Tsimshatsui, but unfortunately the web address that I jotted down is no longer valid!  So, bummer, I can’t give you the address unless I ask my aunt for it.  Never mind, there is lots of eateries in Hillwood Road, if you decide to venture there.

The restaurant is very compact and simply done up, except for the magnums of cognacs on display there.

We were presented with a tray of assorted seasonings to make up our own sauces.

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Jars of assorted condiments

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My simple condiments of fresh chilies, garlic and soy sauce

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A peek at my dining companion’s murky sesame base sauce

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Essential Utensils: Chopsticks, strainer and of course a bowl with spoon and plate!

One can order various customised stock base according to one’s fancy. Here, we opted for a simple vegetable stock base.

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Bubbling cauldron of veg stock base

Since one has to cook each piece of food individually before one can eat it, the hot pot is the most tedious, and the the slowest of all slow food meals!   While waiting for the morsel of food to cook, one either watches the TV (just kidding – but yes, there are 2 at the corners of the dining room!), one chats and ‘bonds’.

Moreover, the steaming cooking pot doubles as a room heater in the chilling weather!

Let’s check out what we dunked into the hot pots!  Our ingredients:

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Sashimi

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Sashimi

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Fish jowl

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My fish jowl artistically presented (credit: Me!)

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Another shot!

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Wagyu Beef – thinly sliced

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Assorted ‘balls’: Squid, fish, prawns, pork

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Assorted mushrooms

Do you know that Cantonese call rockets, ‘Emperor’s vegetables’?  And I love rockets!

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‘Emperor’s Vegetables’ aka Arugula aka Rockets

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Razor mussels

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Seaweeds

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Some deep-fried bean-curd. I don’t like like, and will not recommend it!

Ahh!  Heaven!  But back down to earth –  I guess I better switch on my heater now and get my microwave working for my dinner!