Archive for April, 2012

Jo and HC’s birthday weekend

It was Jo and HC’s birthday last Sunday but her birthday celebrations started early with Saturday breakfast at Shots on Lake.

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Shots on Lake is one of the newer cafes popping up all over Northbridge. I’m liking the coffee culture in Northbridge and Shots on Lake is a great new addition.

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They use Five Senses coffee beans in Shots on Lake, the latte had pretty patterns and I enjoyed my coffee but HC’s latte was a little burnt.

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This was their version of big breakfast, the portions here are quite generous and the prices are very affordable. I can’t remember the price of this though ūüė¶

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This scrambled eggs with bacon ($12.90) was very nice, the eggs were nicely done, fluffy and soft. I would easily return to Shots on Lake again, the location is lovely and the service very good too.

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Saturday night birthday¬†dinner at Ciao Italia!! We were very excited about this dinner because it’s been quite a long time since we’ve been back to our favourite Italian restaurant in South Perth. The dinner crowd here is crazy, so we were there super early at 5pm. But there were already lines (o__o)! luckily we were able to get a table. Woo hoo for yummy Italian fare.

This was HC’s all time favourite Italian meat dish, scallopine marsala.

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Spaghetti carbonara. There was this young Italian guy eating alone next to us, he must have been very hungry because¬†when this dish came out he said ‘Wooah’.

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Chilli mussels. I don’t think Ciao Italia’s chilli mussels are as tasty as they used to be, maybe less garlic and parsley in the sauce, but the mussels were big and juicy so that made up for the sauce.

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Jo’s all time favourite Risotto Marinara, this was really yummy, filled with seafood flavour as always. This is probably my favourite dish in Ciao Italia and a must order.

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Ciao Italia’s famous tiramisu. The young Italian guy was lapping up the cream spoonful by spoonful, Wendy couldn’t resist asking him whether it was any good. He gave it a thumbs up and said we would get tiramisu this good in Italy and it was a close second to his aunt’s Tiramisu.

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Sunday night, yet another birthday dinner only this time it was just the four of us. Guess what was on the menu? Jo’s favourite CRAB! This crab birthday dinner¬†idea has actually been in the works for err 5 years? Every year Jo the¬†crab queen¬†would say ‘ I want to have crabs for my birthday’. We would rock up to a Chinese restaurant and ask for the price of crabs, then Jo would go (O__o) ‘What?! So expensive! Don’t want to eat crabs anymore! Let’s just eat prawns’. So poorly. So this year we really had crabs! It was Singapore chilli crabs too.

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Fried mantou to mop up the crab chili sauce.

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Snow crab demolished by all!

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Dessert after dinner was Jo and HC’s blueberry fruit¬†cake.

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All lit up and ready for the birthday song Y(^__^)Y.

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The best part of all birthdays, birthday wishes and birthday cake cutting time. Happy birthday Jo and HC, hope it was a memorable and fun one this year!

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Wanton Wednesdays. It was a public holiday today, a quiet day at home of doing housework and wrapping wantons. It only we had more holidays a year I would a lot happier!

Bangkok Day 2 & 3: Platinum & Siam Square

Day 2 in Bangkok was all about shopping, shopping and shopping in Platinum Fashion Mall.

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Our first breakfast at Platinum Fashion Mall’s food court, the start of many lovely meals in this place. It was nice and quiet in the morning unlike rush hour during lunch.

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Braised duck rice in Bangkok, the chilli sauce was super shiok, hints of sour tartness, kick of chilli, really lifted the whole dish. The duck itself was tender and juicy. Springrolls were a tasty snack afterwards.

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They have kueh chap in Thailand! It’s not dissimilar to Kueh Chap in Kuching, the intestines, pork meat and flat noodles are similar, they also give yummy pork blood cubes. The main difference, it’s much sweeter than Malaysian’s version and that’s something common in lots of Thai dishes, sweet flavours throughout.

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R really liked Thai kueh chap and this was one of his favourite dishes in Bangkok. Btw ah ma, if you’re reading this, I still need¬†Aunty Jenny’s Kueh Chap recipe!

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Thai iced tea also known as cha yen in Thailand,this orange coloured tea has a¬†strong tea taste and is¬†sweet and milky ūüôā

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After a very satisfying breakfast, it was time for shopping! We bought so much that we ended up having to go back to the hotel to drop off our shopping. Then we went back again for more! I love Platinum Fashion Mall so much (^_____^)

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Dinner at the food court. Sharksfin and birdsnest, the Chinese treasures are abundant and surprisingly affordable in Bangkok. In fact, you can pretty much see birdsnest and sharksfin sold in most food courts everywhere.

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Luxurius dinner of sharksfin soup with rice. This big claypot portion cost around 150 Baht (AUD$5), the sharksfin wasn’t of the best quality, but gosh, the soup was so flavourful and yummy. Too good.

That was a good end to Day 1.

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Day 2 started with a morning shopping run to Platinum (= ^__^=).

Then it was a¬†tut tut¬†drive to Siam Square, the shopping district in the Siam area of Bangkok, this is where all the popular and famous shoping centres such as Siam Discovery Center, MahBoonKrong (MBK Center) and Siam Paragon are located. It’s actually walkable from Pratunam to Siam, maybe a 20 – 30 minute walk, but under Bangkok’s relentless heat, we opted for a tut tut¬†instead. You have to negotiate the price to get to your destination with the tut tut driver, I read in a pamphlet that the price should never be more than 200 Baht. A lot of tut tut drivers will tell you the same ‘traffic jam, bad hour’ excuse and quote you some high price, if you don’t like the price, just walk away.

Most taxi drivers (especially metered ones) are actually not more expensive than tut tuts, so it might be a better idea to get a taxi instead which at least has aircon¬†(except some taxi drivers also refuse to switch on their meters and will instead quote you a high price). Another thing to watch out for tut tut drivers, they might lie to you and tell you that the destination that you’re going to is not open and will instead offer to bring you to gemstone factories, or other temples (they receive a commission for this). Remember to¬†check with a proper tourist information outlet for opening hours of tourist attractions so you don’t get conned!

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MBK! This place has lots of shops and is very popular with Thai locals and tourists alike.

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Instead of shopping (I still preferred Platinum shopping) I had afternoon tea at Mister Donut. Coffee and donuts, surely the best combination.

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Traffic from Pratunam to Siam Square is chockers.

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Siam Square is very convenient in that there are walkways linking to each shopping center. The night markets and stalls lined up around this area are also pretty great. There’s also a¬†myriad of local designer boutiques selling gorgeous fashion and shoes around this area.

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Tuts tuts lined up along Siam Square.

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Siam Paragon is one of the newer shopping centers in Bangkok, it’s really gorgeous with lots of luxury and high end shops and restaurants inside. Siam Ocean World is also located in here, it’s the biggest aquarium in South East Asia.

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Jim Thompson and Thai silk go hand to hand together.

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View of MBK at night. As you can see, the traffic never stops.

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Dinner at MBK’s food court. My favourite dish in Bangkok, pork leg rice! This combination of braised hard boiled egg, tender melt in your mouth pork leg, picked vegetables is yums.

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Oyster omelette. This version was better than the one we had at the road side stall, the oysters were big and fresh, really tasty.

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A mixture of fried and steamed chicken rice. This was the best chicken rice we had in Bangkok, the rice was oily and fragrant with all the good chickeny flavours. The chicken was tender and yummy.

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NaRaYa store in Central World,¬†a very popular Thai brand of fabric¬†handbags, the designs are cute and colourful and they’re actually very affordable too.
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After a heavy dinner, it was perhaps good that we decided not to catch a tut tut or taxi and walked back to the hotel. We could catch the night views of the shopping centers and browse the night market stalls at the same time. Central World at night looks prety good eh?

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Snacking back at the hotel. Basil and chilli flavoured chips, it was actually pretty good. I thought of my brother in law when I saw this fish snack, he loves dafah, but this Thai version is filled with white sesame in the middle. It was quite tasty, but I prefer the original version with no sesame seeds.

day 2

Hehe, the end of each Bangkok blogpost, Day 2 and Day 3 beers!

Bangkok Day 1: Pratunam

We arrived in Bangkok mid morning. We had several options for getting to the hotel from the Suvarnabhumi Airport including using the airport rail link which connects to Bangkok’s fantastic BTS Skytrain system. Instead we chose the fuss free method of catching a public taxi. For fellow travellers, don’t get conned by the fake taxi drivers waiting for you outside the arrival hall, instead, head to Level 1 and follow the signs outside to the Public Taxi stand where you will be given a ticket listing your taxi driver’s details.

Your total taxi fare will include toll charges (70 Baht), airport pick up surcharge (50 Baht) and your meter fare (ours was 250 Baht). It cost us 370 Baht in total to get to our hotel in Pratunam. Please note that there is no airport surcharge to be paid for the return leg to the airport.
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Citin Pratunam Hotel was our humble abode for the rest of the trip. Very affordable and located conveniently in Pratunam (10 mins walk to Platinum Mall). Overall Citin is situated in a good area if your main destination is Platinum Fashion Mall, they provide a free tut-tut service every half an hour which sends you to Platinum or the nearest BTS station (Ratchathewi sstation for us). However it also requires quite a bit of maneuvering through crowded streets /markets to get to the main road. Citin is situated along a narrow alleyway lined with food stalls (good part) which makes it difficult for vehicles to get in and out (bad).

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Their wifi was patchy at best, but they also have PCs for use in the lobby. The staff were very good though, friendly and conversant in English. There’s also a tour agency booth at the lobby, a currency exchange office outside the hotel and a tailor shop!

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The hotel room wasn’t spacious, but bright, clean and neat so that was good enough for me.

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Once we were settled, we headed straight out to explore the nearby surroundings. While we were initially not hungry, the enticing smell of food wafting out from all the nearby stalls called to us. We only lasted about 10 metres before sitting down at one of the stalls for some food. First meal in Bangkok had to be none other than Tom Yum! It was spicy, sour and all things Tom Yum should be.

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I ordered Pad Thai, one of my favourite Thai dishes. Not sure whether it was because it was the first meal in Bangkok, but I reckon this was the best Pad Thai that I had in Bangkok. Everything was bursting with flavour and so tasty. The best thing was not feeling like you had to gulp down gallons of water to wash out tell tale signs of MSG afterwards.

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This is Pantip Mall, also known as the IT Mall in Bangkok. So as you can guess, the whole mall was just filled with IT accessories and all things computer related. This is where I would recommend all geeky computer nerds to go.

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I wasn’t in the market for IT goods, so Pantip Mall was a quick scan and we headed for more important things like PLATINUM FASHION MALL! Dear sisters and female friends, this is THE place you go to for shopping heaven. I will put up some pics of the shops in the mall in future posts (I visited it err.. close to everyday) but this is six floors (two buildings btw) crammed with little shops selling all kinds of fashion at wholesale prices, shoes, bags, accessories, clothes. You will get lost but I discovered the system (ok, R did, I’m not so organised)¬†of making sure you don’t miss out on a single shop, the mall is spilt into zones, floors¬†and numbered lanes, so just go by number and you won’t miss anything.¬†¬†And the bonus attraction, they have a great food court on Level 6!

Platinum Fashion Mall and Pantip Mall is located on Phetchaburi Road.

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Shockingly,¬†I didn’t buy anything from Platinum on the first day.. because I hadn’t exchanged any money yet. So that was my next destination. The best currency exchange place offering the best rates in Pratunam is Super Rich, which is located next to this Big C supermarket opposite the¬†Central World shopping plaza. Don’t forget to bring your passport or photo id to Super Rich.

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After getting our $$$, we escaped the heat by exploring Big C. April is the hottest month in Bangkok, obviously we found out too late and it was really very hot and humid. So when I spotted this Swensens at the ground floor of the Big C building, I knew we were going to get some sundaes.

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I’ve never been a big fan of Swensens. I remember reading a Bangkok travel blog where the author stressed that Swensens was her must eat place in Bangkok because it’s so much cheaper than Swensens in Malaysia. Haha, being such a cheapskate, that point stayed with me. They had great looking posters of their summer specials which was all about mango too, so we had a summer mango sundae. It was actually really nice (69 baht) and very Thai with green coconut milk infused glutinous rice and mango icecream.

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This was our main purchase from Big C hahaha.

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Bangkok traffic is terrible, especially around the Pratunam area, it’s just jam packed with vehicles. Which adds to the overall heat of the vicinity.

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Central World, which according to Wiki is the third largest shopping center in the world. Hmm.. it didn’t feel that big to be honest. My first impression of Central World wasn’t great. I mean it was definitely lush and clean and big, just like those Singaporean shopping malls, but there wasn’t much to buy besides the big branded stuff¬†(Wendy and Jason, they have Zara there) and I’m more about bargain goods. I changed my mind a couple days later and Central World soon became our second most visited mall besides Platinum.

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What changed my mind about Central World? It wasn’t just¬†because there’s an ice skating rink in Central World. They also have Mister Donut. (^__^). Beard’s Papa creampuffs (^__^). BreadTalk (^___^). 399 Baht¬†international buffets.¬†¬†And a fantastic cinema.

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Back outside in the heat. The outside of Central World is also pretty great.¬†Locals can be seen praying at the shrine in front of the plaza any time of the day. In fact there seem to be more people praying late at night.¬†At night, stalls selling knick knacks like flowers,¬†clothes, belts, sunnies line the street. And then there’s the food carts and the seafood stalls with bbq whole fish on the racks.

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Time to head back to the hotel. This husband and wife combo became a daily sight on our way back to the hotel with their food stall located along the narrow alleyway. They sell oyster omelette and pad thai which somehow are always sold together in Bangkok. Eash dish costs 30 Baht.

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Dinner is tasty.

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And so is dessert of fresh mango and sticky rice, also bought from one of the food carts along the street.

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First day in Bangkok, first Chang beer in Bangkok. Guess how many beers he went through in our days in Bangkok?

Winner wins a crystal elephant. Just kidding, I couldn’t find a crystal elephant anywhere! Hope you enjoyed the first Bangkok post!

Sawadika!

Just to let you know that I’m back from Bangkok and it was fantastic.
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We managed to explore most parts of Bangkok and it was hot, humid and exciting.

I did suffer from BSS (otherwise known as Bangkok Shopping Syndrome, symptons include extreme fatigue, bloatedness, nausea and empty wallets) for a couple of days but bounced back to make it to the shops after a day of bedrest.

A real Bangkok travel post soon I promise!

Happy Easter

My Easter holiday is starting early (^______^). The excitement started sinking in a couple of days ago when I found myself waking up early in the morning thinking ‘two more days, two more days…’

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¬†Most of these cute Easter rabbits have already been devoured by my colleagues. I promise to overindulge in daily massages and yummy Thai food while I’m away.¬†¬†Happy Easter holidays everyone!

The daitaoha sisters

Today Jo and I got dressed up in our summer dresses and forced¬† coerced the guys into wearing their blazers and shirts. We were going to our friend’s engagement party down at City Beach. The sun was shining and the house was located by a park, it promised to be a fun event.

But when we reached the house comfortably late, we noticed that there were no cars around besides ours. The house with the pool in the backyard was surprisingly empty and there were no signs of helium balloons or decorations of any sort. Hmmmm…

We walked gingerly to the front door, carrying our pot of flowers. The living room was achingly empty and with the garbage bags lined up outside the house, it didn’t feel like a party was happening at all.

Instead of knocking on the door, we walked back to the car and tried calling the host, thinking that we might have gotten the address wrong. She ¬†didn’t answer her phone. Then I looked at Jo and said ‘was the party yesterday?’ Jo gasped and quickly looked up the invitation on her phone.

IT WAS YESTERDAY. ¬† ¬†(O____o)”

The guys joked that we were springing an April’s Fool joke on them. Sigh, luckily they were happily jovial about the whole debacle. Jo and I were supremely embarrassed. The amazing thing was the fact that we BOTH got the dates wrong.

On the bright side, at least you can tell that we’re definitely related.


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