Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Off to Hong Kong

We're leaving for Hong Kong tomorrow. This time, it's just me and YK. I figured he deserves a holiday as he didn't go to Australia with us.

Despite the last minute arrangements, I managed to get flights and decent accommodation. We'll be staying right smack in the busiest part of the city. I suspect the 'Executive Suite' may turn out to be a tiny room.

It will be cold and there's nothing much to do except to shop and eat. Four days of feasting and walking in a really crowded city doesn't sound like my kind of holiday but who knows? It could be a great way to bond with my son. Or we may just end up stepping on each other's toes.

The year is almost over. May the Year of the Rabbit be a hopping good one for you!

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Merry making

It has been a weekend of non-stop eating and merry making. Christmas eve was spent at our friends' place. I am so in love with their new apartment!

We had lots to eat and drink.

The turkey exceeded our expectations and my oxtail stew was well received.

On Christmas Day, we gathered at my parent's place for a feast. After that we attended a BBQ party at best friend's house but I was too stuffed to eat anything.

Amy invited us for cheese/chocolate fondue on Boxing Day.

Her fondue set is probably older than me.

With Beverly in Amy's house.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

A is for apple pie

The apple pie is done! I can say it's my first as the apple pies at home are always made by YK.

Christmas Eve

I didn't sleep well last night. I think I'm just excited about the Christmas dinner with close friends tonight. I kept thinking about the apple pie that I'm going to bake and couldn't wait for day break so I could get the granny smith apples and blocks of butter.

While I lie awake in bed, I could hear my sons laughing and cooking in the kitchen. They are night owls who don't sleep until almost daybreak. By the time the clock strikes midnight, they are hungry again. The smell of delicious food cooking on the stove wafted into my bedroom, making my stomach rumble.

When I heard them joking and chatting, I can't help but smile. Sibling rivalry, that was so rampant when they were younger, has diminished over the years. It has been years since I've heard them fight or argue with each other.

I feel blessed that they're getting along well. I've seen how torn apart some mothers are over their estranged children and have always prayed that I wouldn't end up this way.

I've been up early this morning. I've got the apples, flour and butter. I've a pot of oxtail stew in the fridge. I'm ready to enjoy Christmas.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010


Mum called early this morning, "Have you eaten tang yuan today?"

Oh, it's Dong Zhi or winter solstice already? I wasn't aware of course. We have no winter here!

It's a day for the traditional Chinese to reunite with the family for a feast. Eating tang yuan is a must as the round glutinous rice balls represent reunion and happiness.

Mum still prepares them every year. She says dongzhi brings the family closer together. Of course I would have to make a trip back during lunch to eat her tang yuan. That would make her very happy especially now that the house is not as lively as before.

Both my nieces no longer spend their days there now that they are in the day-care. Ting will be starting primary one next year, so we'll see even less of her.

Now that the house is so quiet, I should try to visit my mum more often. Today sounds like the perfect day for a visit!

Monday, 20 December 2010


When we got to Scarborough, SK wanted to buy some T-shirts and bermudas. That meant making a trip to Perth which I kept procrastinating because I didn't like driving in the city.

We set off on Wednesday morning, got on to the highway and drove towards Perth. Even with the help of the GPS, I managed to miss the exit into the city. The next one took us to the outskirts. While making an attempt to get back on track, we chanced upon Harbour Town direct outlet shopping centre.

It was quite a miracle how we ended up at a mall where all the favourite brands are under one roof, at discounted prices! That saved us so much hassle. I must say it was a fruitful trip. We left with heaps of clothes!

We did some sightseeing the next day. AQWA is just a short and scenic coastal drive away from Scarborough. We paid A$28 each to see the same things we did 5 years ago but the guys didn't seem to mind.

The marina next to AQWA.

Feeding sting rays.

Since we were fairly close to Frementle, we stopped by for a quick visit. While I like the historical buildings in Frementle, the guys weren't quite as enthusiastic.

Unfortunately Frementle Market was closed on Wednesday.

We have pigeons and crows in Singapore, but they have seagulls here.

We flew back to Singapore the next morning. It was a good trip.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Mandurah and Scarborough

After spending 3 nights in Margaret River, we packed up and drove north towards Perth City. The 300km journey took us more than 4 hours, with a stopover in the beautiful city of Mandurah.

A quick drive around the city quickly revealed an exciting mix of luxurious homes nestled along the waterways. The lifestyle here is hard to beat!

When in Mandurah, we were advised to eat the fish and chips, touted as the best in Perth. During our quick stopover, we saw several small outlets and decided to settle for Jetty Fish & Chips.

I wouldn't say the ones we ate were that fantastic. I think the fish and batter at Cape Lavender in Margaret River were more superior.

The walk around the coast was a most pleasant one. It was sunny, yet breezy and cool. I wouldn't mind retiring in Mandurah. Afterall, it is only 73 km away from Perth city and the international airport.

Having driven for hours, we were looking forward to our final destination - the Seashells Resort at Scarborough Beach. Getting there was relatively easy but a little nerve-wrecking. From the small country roads, we were suddenly thrust onto the major highways packed with fast moving cars.

We made it to our serviced apartment, a pleasant two-storey building facing Brighton Beach, in the late afternoon.

Every day, before sundown, the beach is filled with surfers. I wonder how these folks can tolerate the cold waters. Mind you, with the relentless wind, the air was really chilly during summer!

Except for a few courageous swimmers, the shore is usually peaceful during our morning strolls. This surfer town is perfect for a weekend getway where the lifestyle is relaxed and stress-free. A shuttle bus service runs daily between here and Perth.

There's a large array of food available, from restaurants to fast food. A large Coles supermarket is just a short walk away from where we stayed.

On our first night, we ate at Cafe Del Pescatore, well known for good seafood dishes.

I had chilli mussels with lots of Italian and garlic bread.

SK had fish.

CH ate scallops.

On our last night at Scarborough, we ate at Nandos Chicken. We had never been to the perpetually crowded one in Singapore, so we were happy to find one in Scarborough. Nandos is famous for the hot and spicy chicken but due to my persistent cough, I had to settle for the mildly spicy chicken paella.

Even then, the spice proved to be too much for my throat, I ended up eating the rice instead of the spicy chicken.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Busselton Jetty and Meelup Beach

Margaret River is not just a place for the wine connoisseur. If you drive further up north, you will witness the most gorgeous Geographe Bay coastline which is protected from the rough seas of the Indian Ocean by Cape Naturaliste.

Our journey along the coast began with a visit to Busselton Jetty - a must see for all nature lovers.

One cannot miss the Goose Restaurant, prominently located by the jetty.

I like how simple yet appealing the architecture is in Australia.

Unfortunately the Busselton Jetty, featuring the longest piled jetty in the Southern hemisphere and stunning underwater observatory, was undergoing a $27m restoration.

We went to the museum and giftshop instead.

Since we couldn't walk on the 2km long jetty, we took the next best alternative - a short timber strip along the beach.

From Busselton, we drove to Cape Naturaliste. The view was so mesmerising, we had to stop along the way for photos.

The guys spotted a lizard which scampered quickly into the crevice. Here's CH, trying to get a photo.

You never know what you're going to come across during a road trip. When I saw a sign pointing to an olive farm, I had to make a stop!

The Eagle Bay Olive Farm produces some of the best olive oil in Australia. We tasted an array of table olives, tapenade, pesto, dukkah, hummus, verjuice vinaigrette, quince paste, apricot jam served with rustic wood-fired bread.

I had a chat with the friendly owner and former microbiologist Julie Lloyd and was pleased to learn that she grew up in Penang, Malaysia.

There are some really interesting looking antique farm equipment and colourful cows in the yard.

The olive trees are grown in such an orderly manner! We left the shop with jars of dukkah, a crumbly nut and spice blend typically associated with Egypt. Strangely, dukkah is very popular in Australia. We kept seeing them in the gourmet shops.

After filling my tummy with different varieties of olives, we headed straight to Meelup Beach near Dunsborough and were rewarded with amazing views of the ocean.

By the time we were done with the beach, it was time for late lunch. The nearest restaurant along the cape is Bunkers Beach Cafe. I love how the cafe overlooks the spectacular beach. And I love the food, the layout and ambience. I could live in a building like this for the rest of my life!

We were lucky to stumble upon this award-winning restaurant without having to try very hard. I had the pan seared scallops while CH had the venison ribs.

SK had fish (again). He ate fish almost every day.