Regular readers will know my routine. I’m one of those people who handles life better if I don’t have to think too much about things that shouldn’t require a lot of thought. So I like routines and finishing February was no different.
Monday and Tuesday evenings mean what for Yummy Lummy?
I hope you answered salmon!
Please do me a favour
I think I’ve managed to work out how to use e-mail lists for sending post notifications and newsletters. I’d love it if you would sign up using the ‘form’ in the side bar (if you’re using a laptop or desktop) or at the bottom of the post (if you’re using a mobile device).
By subscribing you’ll receive a personalised e-mail from me and from time to time, apart from the blog post I’ll share something new, like my ideas for a cook book sometime this year.
Wednesday means chicken
Before I get to the chicken, Wednesday lunch meant Burger Wednesday at Urban Bean Espresso Bar and I enjoyed the Korean barbecue beef bulgogi (grilled marinated beef) burger with chips and aioli.
I posted a status update on Wednesday afternoon that Wednesday meant chicken tonight and of course, I received comments that included references to the jar of stuff called “chicken tonight” which I’ve never used.
Thursday was all about hot and spicy Spam
Before I get to the Spam, for lunch because it was pay day I enjoyed the SHISH special from Urban Bean Espresso Bar. It was delicious.
I had half a tin of hot and spicy Spam left in the refrigerator and it needed to be eaten because I was going to spend the weekend in Brisbane. Some people would say unkindly that it wouldn’t matter because Spam can’t go off, but I’d like to remind the haters that Spam is food, it contains meat from the porcine shoulder as well as ham.
Friday was a cooking-free night
I was spending the weekend in Brisbane with my parents and daughters so Friday night’s dinner was on QF1554. It was a chicken and rice dish.
Of course, I spent Friday at the Canberra Hospital and for lunch, I had this dish which I think maybe a quiche but it could be called something else. It contained asparagus, mushroom, rice, cheese and egg. You could carve it.
Sunday breakfast meant that I completed all the food groups in a weekend
So, if we count Friday night, I’ve eaten chicken, fish, calamari, beef (steak) and pork (ribs) so far.
For breakfast, Mum and Dad cooked a bacon (pork again) omelet and some lamb chops plus some scones. So that’s all five food groups in a weekend.
How did I cope?
I think I need to fast for a while.
This coming week will break my routine so strictly speaking I won’t be finishing February with my routine. I’m interstate on Monday, going out on Tuesday night and Wednesday is senate additional estimates hearings. Who knows what I’ll be eating on Wednesday.
Hopefully, I’ll be back to normal next week.
Can you do me another favour please
I’m sort of transitioning my blogging to balance between food blogging and light hearted ‘medical’ podcasting. Please check out the podcast at drgarylum.com/blog
It’s been a quiet week. Last weekend I was down with a head cold, you know, ManFlu. I ended up working from home on Monday because I was really congested and coughing badly. I’m still coughing but at least I feel okay in my head.
Work was busy with a heap of small or medium sized tasks that just had to be done. Wednesday though was a bad one. Wednesday morning, I woke up at 1 am with something on my mind and I just couldn’t get back to sleep. Coupled with the head cold it meant I felt like a zombie while I was at work. I suppose it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things because Wednesday’s productivity across the globe was probably down slightly because it coincided with the US presidential election. Yummy Lummy isn’t a place for political commentary so all I’ll say is that I made sure I had a nice meal while I was watching the television reporting of the results including the victory and concession speeches.
The highlight for me this week was flying to Brisbane on Friday night and spending the weekend with my daughters and my parents.
The flight from Canberra to Brisbane started well. I got a seat in the exit row and had a meal of meatballs and mashed potato.
On landing the doors opened and a wave of humidity travelled backwards and hugged me like a child runs up to greet you at an airport and grabs you around your legs. Best feeling in the world!
Ms19 was working Friday night so after arriving at my parents’ place I suggested to Miss15 that we go see Ms19 and get ice cream. Ms21 couldn’t join us, so it was just me and Miss15.
I had a nice caramel condensed milk ice cream with a Ferrero Rocher crushed into it.
After a pretty crappy sleep (I don’t travel with my CPAP machine) we went and had breakfast at The Groove Train in Chermside.
I had a nice granola which I think did something to really stimulate my gastrocolic reflex because my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) went crazy. It’s a good thing I was close to a clean toilet.
Now that Ms19 has retired from gymnastics we’re not totally bound to a sports schedule. Miss15 had a gymnastics evaluation from 2.30 to 5.30 pm and Ms21 was working so what to do between 11 and 1.30? We ended up taking a short drive to Sandgate and walking from the swimming pool to the big jetty and back. All up it’s about a 5 km walk. It was really warm and overcast and it was low tide. The sea breeze was really nice. The smell from the mudflats though wasn’t that good. In fact, it was pretty rank. That part of Sandgate with a view of the water and the sea breeze is really nice. The low tide smell though would make me think twice about living there unless I could keep the house fresh.
After a pretty good walk, we went to the Sandgate fishmonger and bought some potato scallops with crumbed squid. Like most good shops, especially in Queensland, when you ask for some potato scallops you inevitably get n+1 with n being the number of scallops you ask for. These potato scallops were really nice. The crumbed squid was also really good. If you’re visiting Sandgate and want a nice takeaway deep fried meal, I can recommend the Sandgate Fishmonger.
After taking Miss15 to gymnastics, Ms19 and I had been thinking about going out for a milkshake somewhere. As it turned out we were pretty full from lunch and the weather put on a show which made driving less than ideal. Brisbane was treated to a really nice thunderstorm. The rain was heavy, the thunder was loud and the sky almost went black. I love this sort of weather. The rain lasted about 45 minutes and afterwards the air freshened and the heat was gone. Perfect subtropical weather. You can’t ask for better.
For dinner, we went to Thr3e Restaurant in the Kedron-Wavell RSL club. This is a cheap and cheerful buffet affair with upgrades. I had a nice seafood platter and Mum and Dad had a bucket of prawns.
We all went to bed feeling fairly sated.
Sunday broke with a brilliant warm and moist morning. Mum and Dad had planned a big breakfast. We had bacon, sausages, pikelets, fried eggs and cooked tomatoes. It’s always good having breakfast with my daughters and parents.
I’m now back in Canberra where it is cold, windy and wet. I wish I was back with my daughters in Brisbane.
The 2016 National Clubs Carnival for Gymnastics Australia is being held in Bendigo at the Bendigo Stadium at the moment. It’s the reason for my road trip. My two youngest daughters, viz., Miss15 and Ms19 competed. Well, Ms19 competed and Miss15 got a 0.00 score because a few weeks ago she fractured her fifth metacarpal in her dominant hand while training on the balance beam. It was a clean fracture which hopefully will heal without repercussions. Anyway, Miss15 was listed to compete, so on the score sheet, she scored 0.00 for all apparatus. Looks silly really. She was allowed on the floor with her teammates so she helped with video recording their routines and doing other tasks to assist her coaches.
Ms19 competed injury-free and did well in the L10 division.
Given Bendigo is a little over 600 kilometres from Canberra it was a good reason for me to take a few days recreation leave and drive down on Wednesday 14 September. I’ve never driven to Bendigo, I’ve never been to Bendigo, I knew almost nothing about Bendigo. What I did know was it is a large country town in Victoria and had a start in gold mining. I learnt in high school there was a lot of racial tension with the Chinese who came in and extracted gold from the waste left behind by others.
[Read with sarcasm] Being Victoria, I knew they speak another language. They refer to things like snot blocks and potato cakes. I knew I had to be careful amongst these aliens. I knew I could ask for a vanilla slice but they wouldn’t have a clue what a potato scallop is. I figured if they didn’t know what a potato scallop is they probably didn’t know how to cook a decent one anyway. For confused readers, I wrote this paragraph with heavy sarcasm, after all, I was born and bred from the greatest of the Australian states, viz., Queensland and lived for twelve years in the greatest of Australian territories, viz., the Northern Territory of Australia.
Before embarking on this trip I consulted with a close colleague from another government agency who is widely regarded as a vanilla slice connoisseur with an excellent knowledge of rural Victoria and New South Wales. I even made an MS Excel spreadsheet containing my extensive ‘research’ findings. I passed this on to my friend and his only warning was to lock my car in one of the towns I mentioned.
The plan for the drive from Canberra to Bendigo was to leave early and have breakfast on the road in Gundagai. This nearly came unstuck because Apple in its wisdom released iOS 10 on the morning of Wednesday 14 September. Being an early adopter (but not brave enough to use β versions) I woke up at 4 am to download iOS 10. Bloody hell, Apple also wanted me to download an updated version of iTunes which was >250 MB. iOS 10 was >1 GB. My ADSL is pathetically slow so I only managed to update my iPad and I was late leaving my apartment at 6.15.
My first stop was the town of Gundagai. I’d been to Gundagai before and seen the dog on the tucker box. Would you believe my kids didn’t know about the dog on the tucker box? What do they teach kids in school these days? I had decided I’d have a coffee and some sort of carbohydrate-laden product for breakfast. I went with a scone and butter. I did this with trepidation. I have irritable bowel syndrome and my gastrocolic reflex is reasonably good and it is the reason I usually never leave ‘home’ without eating, even if it’s for a morning walk. Being caught short is a constant fear for IBS sufferers.
The Gundagai Bakery is pretty nice. The person who served me was very friendly and I got a large scone, some butter and a decent flat white coffee for $4.50. That was the best bargain of the trip.
I got to Tarcutta and the urge to purge struck. Say no more I hear you think!
I posted a photograph to Twitter and mentioned my dunny stop. I received a mention from a fellow food blogger who tweeted when she was younger her father frowned on her use of the word dunny. I like that as an adult I can be as vulgar as I want.
By the time I got to Holbrook it was raining cats and dogs. I couldn’t see the submarine out the window as I drove. I figured it had been carried away by the storm water runoff. When I got to the Holbrook Bakery the gutters and sidewalk were like a white water rafting course. I really hate having wet shoes and socks when driving. Oh well I thought, I’m here for a reason, having wet shoes isn’t the end of the world.
So this was my first vanilla slice of the trip. It was pretty nice. Not the best in terms of texture, taste and consistency but I’d happily eat more of these.
Two years ago I drove to Geelong for the National Clubs Carnival and broke up my trip by spending the night in Wangaratta. This time, I was driving straight to Bendigo so rather than dinner in Wangaratta it was lunch.
I decided to have lunch at Cafe Derailleur. The café has seating in the front behind windows, some outdoor seating and an area out the back. I chose to sit inside near the main counter. I was feeling a little peckish so I went with duck fat garlic potato wedges with miso mayonnaise, beetroot sweet potato fritter, avocado, mushrooms, poached egg and spinach, along with a beetroot ginger carrot apple juice. It was pretty good. A word of warning, though. Having eaten a beetroot fritter and enjoyed a beetroot drink, don’t be surprised if you do both you may have a little scare in the bathroom the following day, especially if your tired and feeling a little vague. I’m glad I don’t need to visit the endoscopist again.
I had never heard of Violet Town before last week when I started planning this little holiday adventure.
As I arrived I noticed a nice Lions Park with public amenities so I stopped for a dunny break before afternoon tea.
The Violet Town Café had a nice looking vanilla slice in the display cabinet. I could see the passionfruit seeds in the custard and the icing. I had to have one. I really like a little passionfruit in my vanilla slices. While I also like a pink icing, it’s the passionfruit I really like.
Comfort Inn Julie-Anna Bendigo
I chose to stay at the Comfort Inn Julia-Anna on Lake Weeroona. I got a room with a spa bath. While it hasn’t been a really cold winter in Canberra, I’ve been crook for a while and I was looking forward to a daily soak in a spa bath.
This is a short video of my room
I had thought I might go to the Bouchon Bendigo for dinner but I wasn’t feeling the best and figured I’d have dinner in the motel restaurant. When I checked in, the person at reception mentioned how much effort they’ve been putting into getting the restaurant up to a really high standard.
The menu looked good. I went with the parmesan crusted braised lamb shoulder with pea purée and mashed potato. It was delicious. I really enjoyed the mouthfeel of the crispy parmesan crust on the little brick of compressed lamb shoulder meat.
For dessert, I went with the vanilla cheesecake which came with chocolate soil and a raspberry coulis.
Thursday 15 September
Rather than have a motel breakfast, I went searching for a café. I had been told about The Dispensary in Chancery Lane but when I arrived it wasn’t open. I went for a little walk around to see if I could find anything open.
I came across Queen Victoria. Victorians really seem to like her.
Then I saw that the Pall Mall café was open and I went in and had Eggs Benedict. It was a pretty good breakfast.
My two youngest daughters, viz., Miss15 and Ms19 are gymnasts. They both compete for Delta Brisbane. Delta Brisbane has a very good record at national championships, regularly winning champion club. Unfortunately, Miss15 recently fractured the fifth metacarpal in her dominant hand. She did it while training. It was great that she was still permitted to travel with the team and help her Level 8 teammates. Both of them have had their share of injuries including fractures of vertebræ, elbows, and arms plus torn ligaments, tendons and muscles. It’s a tough sport but both of them love it so much. Ms19 is at Level 10 and was competing in the combined levels 9 and 10 division.
It was great seeing them both and spending some time with them. Needless to say, over the two days of competition for levels 7, 8 and 9/10 Delta Brisbane won the best club title for all three divisions.
I’ve created a SmugMug gallery of photographs that I shot during the event. I should explain the images are not that good. I was some distance from the competition floor and so I cropped these photographs considerably and had to use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to reduce a lot of noise. I was using a 24–240 mm f/3.5–6.3 zoom lens and shot at 1/500 second with the ISO at 6400 and exposure compensation at +1 stop.
The gallery will run as a slideshow automatically. There are 25 images and they change every 3 seconds.
This is a video of Ms19’s uneven bar routine from Thursday 15 September
After the first night of competition, I was again feeling a little poorly so ate in the motel restaurant. This time I went for the duo of pork. This consisted of a
crumbed rillettes of pork shoulder plus a piece of braised pork belly. This was served with sweet potato purée and a ball of spinach. This was a particularly delicious meal. The crackling was nice and the fat had been rendered out nicely.
Friday 16 September
I slept very poorly. My snoring was out of control and my chronic cough kept me awake most of the night. I decided rather than going in search of another café I would eat breakfast at the motel.
The poached eggs with Hollandaise sauce, smoked salmon, and spinach was delightful to look at and delicious to eat.
Thursday and Friday Lunch and Friday dinner
The best sporting event meal I know is potato gems and chicken salt. The chips at Bendigo Stadium didn’t look that enticing. I could have gone out between events on Friday evening but I had a really good seat and I didn’t want to lose it. In addition, Ms21 made a surprise appearance. It turns out Ms19 had decided to retire from gymnastics after 16 years of training and competing. This was to be her last competition and with each apparatus I could see she was looking happier with the completion of each routine. Would you believe I spent $16 on three potato gems meals!
After the trophy presentation on Friday night, four gymnasts announced their retirement from the sport with Ms19 being one of them. When I got a chance to congratulate her, I started crying and couldn’t stop. All of us had leaking eyes. Gymnastics has been a major part of her life for 16 of her 19 years. It’s helped give her discipline and purpose. My Mum often says that Ms19 is very much like me. Dogged stubbornness and determination. I’ve often said, I’ve never seen anyone so young with the mental toughness of Ms19.
Saturday 17 September
Friday night ended late and well past my bed time. I had another crapulent sleep. I had planned to leave Bendigo at about 6.30 which meant I would need to be out of bed at about 5.30 given I hadn’t packed and I wanted one last spa bath.
After being awake until about 3.30 I fell asleep and woke at 6.30 with a start. I was running late. I still had a bath and was out of the motel room by 7.30.
I decided I would skip breakfast in Bendigo and planned to eat something in Benalla. Just before I got there though the instant coffee I had in the motel room kicked in so a rest stop was needed.
My target for breakfast was Hides Bakery. I got there a little after 9 and requested a coffee and scrambled eggs with bacon on avocado spread sourdough toast.
Before leaving Hides Bakery I bought a vanilla slice to go. I found a rest stop halfway between Wangaratta and Wodonga and enjoyed the treat. It was really nice.
I’d promised myself that on this adventure I would also enjoy a meat pie or two or three. Surprisingly, that hadn’t happened. I went in search of a good meat pie. My search led me to Henri’s Bakery in Wodonga where I enjoyed a minted lamb pie. It was a perfect meat pie. Not too hot, chunky meat and recognisable vegetables.
My final planned break on my journey was the Interchange Café in Tarcutta. To be honest, I was relieved when I entered the café to see a display case bereft of custard filled treats. No vanilla slices and no other pastries that looked appetising. Instead I had a small coffee. It was very good. I really needed it. I had started to feel very tired driving.
How was the drive?
I really like driving and despite not feeling the best, the drive to and from Bendigo was enjoyable. There was a lot of rain on the way south and on occasion there was sufficient water on the road that I had to slow down and carefully drive across the few centimetres of water that was flowing across the road surface. The roads in Victoria aren’t particularly good. There were a lot of pot holes to avoid.
I spent my hours in the car listening to podcasts. One of my favourite podcasts is Quackcast by Mark Crislip. Mark is an infectious diseases physician from the United States. He does a great job at demolishing the quackery of alternative and complementary medicine including acupuncture, naturopathy, Chinese herbal medicine and homeopathy. You can find the podcast in the iTunes store and I assume in the Google play store if you’re an Android user.
Getting back to Canberra
On arriving I filled the car with diesel and went and bought some food for dinner. I made a simple ramen noodles and lup cheong meal. Nothing fancy. Just light and easy.
What can I say. I enjoyed the short holiday. A good drive is always fun.
My favourite meal was the duo of pork at the Comfort Inn Julie-Anna.
My favourite vanilla slice was the takeaway treat from Hides Bakery and eaten on the side of the road.
My favourite moment was hugging Ms19 at the end of her competition and telling her how proud I am of her.
Every time I look at this photograph it brings tears to my eyes. Ms19 has been a gymnast for sixteen of her nineteen years. It’s taught her discipline. It’s helped her develop an understanding of physical fitness. It’s made her powerful and strong. Most importantly it’s developed her as an individual and as a member of a team. This year she captained Queensland at the national championships. A lot of people criticise gymnastics because of the injuries, it’s true gymnastics get injured but the benefits far outweigh the injuries. Well done Ms19 I love you so much and I am so proud of you.
Have you been to Bendigo?
What did you think? What did you eat? What did you do?
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In the last week I have really eaten quite a lot. I won’t go through every meal but just the ones that I have photographs for.
Last Sunday I turned 51 and I bought a cake to celebrate.
This is from Ricardo’s Cafe and Patisserie in the Jamison Plaza shops. This is known as the Big Boy. It’s slightly larger than a softball but the crispy nutty chocolate shell contains a rich chocolate mousse. It was delicious.
Readers who follow me on other social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter will have noticed that my lunch photographs have taken on an artistic background in the last week. I found an old 2008 calendar and thought it would make a nice backdrop. It’s quite large and it has some interesting subject matter.
Because my leftover meals tend to look ‘beige’ as some friends say (meaning bland and unappealing) I’ve been experimenting with black and white.
Monday lunch was leftover lamb forequarter chops
Monday dinner was baked salmon
Tuesday breakfast was fried eggs and cheese
Tuesday morning coffee from Urban Bean Espresso Bar
Tuesday lunch was leftover chicken giblet congee
Tuesday afternoon tea
Tuesday dinner was baked salmon and crunchy rice
Wednesday lunch was leftover forequarter lamb chops
Wednesday dinner was Chicken Maryland and crunchy rice
Thursday breakfast was a Snickers bar. I had a 6 am teleconference.
Thursday lunch was leftover slow cooker beef
Thursday afternoon tea was charity chocolate
Thursday dinner was Chicken Maryland with crunchy noodles
Friday breakfast was a cheese and spring onion omelet
Friday lunch wasn’t leftovers. Normally on Fridays I work in ACT Pathology at The Canberra Hospital. This Friday though we had senate budget estimates so I had to be at my regular job. I ended up driving to Parliament House twice and didn’t get asked anything which I’m not unhappy about. I’ve had a bit to say over the last couple of estimates hearings and gave evidence at a senate inquiry hearing towards the end of April. So for Friday lunch I splurged a bit and enjoyed a Pork belly cheeseburger with a really nice jalapeño aioli from Urban Bean Espresso Bar.
Friday dinner was a simple affair. The Australian Kangaroos were playing a rugby league test match against the New Zealand Kiwis so I needed some footy food. In the end I went to Coles and bought a couple of beef and mushroom meat pies for dinner. I used Adobe Photoshop to create the Green and Gold background in support of the Australian team which contained most of what I hope are the Queensland team for this year’s State of Origin series.
Saturday breakfast was in the QANTAS club at the Canberra International Airport. I went with a slice of rain toast, a glass of tomato juice and a small latte.
The flight to Brisbane was pretty smooth. I ended up in an armrest battle. Have you had one of those?
I ended up eating second breakfast!
I flew to Brisbane for my eldest daughter’s twenty-first birthday. Ms21 is a qualified event planner/manager so we had a really nice party with family and her friends.
Mum and Dad took me out to lunch to Portabella Restaurant to celebrate my birthday from last week. We also had Ms18 and Miss15 with us too. Ms18 is now Ms19 so it was a celebration for her too. Yes, my two eldest daughters were born on the same day.
I was going to asked for the pork belly or the lamb shank but the fish of the day was a wild caught fresh north Queensland barramundi. My mouth started to salivate.
It wasn’t what I was hoping for. The skin was crispy. The duck fat sautéed potatoes were nice. It looked nice but the barra wasn’t pleasant to eat. It wasn’t moist and flaky. It was spongy and bits clung to the teeth. Barramundi can be difficult to cook, it is bad undercooked and easy to overcook. I suppose having lived in the Top End for nearly 12 years I was spoilt. I’ll know next time to ask for something else like the pork or the lamb.
For afternoon tea I had a vanilla slice
For Saturday evening we celebrated Ms20’s 21st birthday. No food photographs sorry but here are some photographs from the evening.
Sunday Mother’s day breakfast at Groove Train Chermside
The hearty vegetarian always a good choice and better when Mum gave me some bacon from her Eggs Benedict.
A family photograph at Oriental Yum Cha as we finish lunch!
My youngest daughter turned fifteen last week and I have spent this weekend in Brisbane celebrating with her.
First things first breakfast. Getting close and personal with a Queensland nut (Macadamia) tart served with too much cream from a can. The base was a little too thick and dry making the eating experience difficult.
I spent the morning with Ms20 shopping for birthday invitation stationery for her 21st birthday party.
Around lunch time I fought the Westfield Chermside traffic to pick up Ms18 and Miss15 from Gymnastics training while Ms20 drove my parents into Fortitude Valley so we could meet at Oriental Yum Cha.
When we arrived we were taken to a large table up the back. Mum was worried it may be too far out of the main area for trolleys to visit. At first things were a little slow but it picked up and we really didn’t have to worry.
It would have been nice to be on the upper deck but that was pretty empty.
So on weekdays you get the all you can eat option. We visited on a Saturday so we paid standard rates. We also took heed and did not waste food.
In fifty years of eating this was the first mango and cream omelet I’ve eaten. I need to go back for more them. Truly delicious. A must have and equal to custard tarts IMHO.
So what did I think about Oriental Yum Cha? It was my first time but my daughters and parents had been there a few times before. They reckon it is consistently good. Not the best they’ve ever eaten but always good. I’d agree it was good. The food appeared and tasted fresh. The flavours were good. The service was friendly, helpful and easy going. We were able to get some things cut with scissors and if something was in short supply we could ask for more to come out. The meal was also reasonable in terms of price. It didn’t break the bank and my wallet didn’t suffer a knock out punch. I’d be happy returning and eating more Oriental Yum Cha
We spent the afternoon recovering and trying not to move too much. I was charged with cooking dinner so I went simple and baked some salmon with some kale coleslaw and avocado. Mum made a hazelnut chocolate cheesecake which she served with salted caramel ice cream.
Have you been to Oriental Yum Cha? What did you think?
The last eight posts on Yummy Lummy have been about my recent Hong Kong holiday.
I have links to each post below.
I thought I’d write a summary post with some tips and ideas on travelling for an Hong Kong holiday. This holiday was a family affair with my three daughters, viz., Miss14, Ms18 and Ms20. The planning was undertaken by Ms18 and Ms20 and my job was to pay for the flights, accommodation, ground transport, and tickets to Hong Kong Disneyland, Ocean Park and the Hong Kong 3D Museum. In addition I looked after most of the meals. The girls brought with them spending money for shopping.
Here are some things (in no particular order) to consider when travelling for an Hong Kong holiday. I’m grateful to Miss14 for her input.
Walking shoes: Good quality shoes that will stand up to >33,000 steps a day are a must. The weather can be inclement so pools of water to step over need to be considered as well.
Band aids for blisters: If you don’t have worn in shoes or if you don’t have decent shoes make sure you start the trip with plenty of band aids. Of course new band aids can be purchased from dispensaries or pharmacies.
Google maps and transit routes especially station and bus times: It’s often said Google maps can be inaccurate and we experienced this too, however, the benefits for use outweighed the occasional GPS inaccuracy which was probably because of the tall buildings. A simple turning off and on of the app often fixes the problem. The Hong Kong public transport system is simply fabulous. The best I’ve experienced anywhere. Even better, Google maps lists all the options for trains, trams, buses including times, distances and walking requirements. Having a smartphone with Google maps made our holiday orders of magnitude easier and harmonious. We had no bickering or arguing because we’d gone in the wrong direction. Google was there to help. The added benefit we had was that the Cosmopolitan Hotel supplied for our use an Alcatel smartphone with a 4G sim card so we could use it as a wi-fi hot spot and also use the MTR and Google apps on it for navigation and assistance.
Power packs: You can now buy cheap power packs for smartphones, tablets and even small cameras. With an overnight charge these handy little devices can keep your smartphone juiced up all day. It wasn’t uncommon at about 10.30 am for one of the girls to say they were at <50% battery power for their iPhone. With wi-fi everywhere and so many selfies being taken and so much Facebook and Snapchat being used it was little wonder each of them needed to have a charger (except Ms18 who with the aid of low battery mode and an iPhone 6 managed most days on one overnight charge). The best thing is you can buy short (10 cm) and long (2 m) cords to connect the power pack and smartphone to suit your situation. I wore a jacket most places and could keep the power pack and iPhone on me and continue to use the device while it was charging. BTW for those interested my Snapchat user names are garydlum and yummy_lummy Follow me if you like.
Octopus card: The public transport system in Hong Kong is fantastic. You can buy an Octopus card at the airport when you land for HKD$200. This gives you straight up HKD$100 credit to get you to your hotel plus probably a day or so around Hong Kong. Not only can it be used on trains, trams and buses but it can be used as a debit card in many shops including shops at the airport.
Travel with someone good with directions: People who know me know I have no inbuilt compass. I am hopeless. Completely, utterly without any sense of direction nor an ability to read a map confidently. Fortunately Ms20 has an excellent sense of direction and could remember over each day the direction of where we were meant to go. In addition she can remember where every shop is she has entered in case a return visit is necessary.
Smartphone for maps and camera: This carries on from the Google maps piece of advice. If you don’t have a smartphone, try to get one and get used to it about a month before hand. You won’t regret it. In this day and age, being au fait with a smartphone can help you enormously. Shooting photographs with your smartphone isn’t just for sharing on social media and for blogging and for holiday memories, the photographs with the geotag GPS information can help you find somewhere you’ve been and need to return to. The photographs can also be used as evidence in case of mishaps. I highly recommend having a smartphone on your person at all times.
Smartphone for apps like swarm, snapchat, Facebook and Twitter: I’m not sure how many people use social media. I know a lot do. I was in awe watching my girls use their iPhones for all sorts of communication with friends. I thought I had a good handle on social media, I’m a novice by comparison. You can checkout where I’ve been by my swarm/foursquare history. You can see what I’ve posted on Facebook and Twitter too. By using hashtags like #HongKong and #holiday as well as specific location hashtags I could ask for assistance and advice as well as receive unsolicited comments and advice. Even if you aren’t a regular social media user, for a holiday, it can be a real help. I use an if this then that recipe that sends my swarm check ins to my Google calendar so when I write a blog post I know where I’ve been each day. The possibilities are endless.
Camera bag: Camera bags are a very personal choice. My advice is use one you’re used to. I have a Lowepro sling bag which was just perfect for my camera body and lenses as well as my power pack, hat, sunglasses, lens cleaning cloths, Platypod, close up filters and cords and cables. I prefer a sling bag to a backpack because it’s easier to get my camera out. I use a wrist strap on my camera which makes it easy to pull out of my sling bag.
Coat with pockets: If it’s cool weather this means you can distribute stuff on your body rather than a bag. If it’s summer, wear shorts and shirts with pockets. Yeah, I know not fashionable. You need to decide for yourself what will suit you and what level of dagginess you will tolerate. Those that know me know I’m a total bogan/dag so I don’t care what I wear so long as it is practical. Miss14 felt pockets were essential especially for easy access to things like her iPhone and Octopus card.
T-shirts: In temperate weather like Hong Kong, it never got too cold or too hot. Wearing a coat was helpful in the air conditioned areas and on New Year’s Eve when it got chilly. Wearing a T-shirt underneath meant I could regulate my body temperature more easily. I used a combination of short and long sleeve T-shirts depending on the weather conditions.
Power cube: I love my power cube. While it has four AC outlets and 2 high power USB ports, you can really only use three outlets at any one time if you rest the cube on a bedside table. Each night I could charge my devices and camera batteries as well as my power pack without any problems.
Book a small room: You don’t need a large room. We aimed not to be in the room unless we were sleeping. Make the most of every minute of every day you’re on holiday. We had two double beds in the room. The bathroom was pretty good with a combination shower/bathtub. You just need room for beds and bags really.
Book in advance: Some trips are cheaper and easier, e.g., Ngong Ping cable car
Grab free Wi-Fi wherever you can: This is a no brainer. I am fortunate. I have a Vodafone roaming account so for AUD$5/day I get all the calls and data I need like I’m at home. I also regularly use HolidayPhone to purchase SIM cards before a trip if there is no Vodafone coverage and also for a small portable 3G/4G wi-fi router. I’ve been particularly grateful to the support (Scott) from HolidayPhone when there have been hiccoughs, so I’m happy to recommend them. That said, there’s nothing like exploiting wi-fi whenever you can. Do it safely though and be careful. Be alert to on-line security.
Foreign money cash cards: I use QANTAS cash which lets me have a MasterCard in common currencies. This worked brilliantly in Hong Kong. I could withdraw cash when I needed it and use the Qantas cash MasterCard credit card to make purchases. I always alert my credit card company of overseas travel just to be safe.
Don’t bring anything unnecessary: Pack light and travel happy. Like I said, I’m not fashionable and so I stayed as clean as possible and wore some clothes again. I didn’t bring my regular everyday leather RM Williams boots. Even though I knew we’d eat in some nice places, I was confident my casual shoes would be fine. The added benefit was that I didn’t have to remove my shoes for airport security.
Hand sanitiser. Toilets look clean and generally are clean but when you see how people behave in toilets and how they’re cleaned you’ll think twice. I didn’t go into the detail I’m known for when describing my squat toilet experience on New Year’s Eve, sufficie to say I’m glad I had hand sanitiser. Hand sanitiser can also be used to clean toilet seats.
Medication: Bring your supply of medication. I now need to take some regular medication, it’s important to ensure you have a supply and keep it safe. If there is any doubt about whether you can travel with it, speak with your medical practitioner and if necessary get a letter to cover you. I also found with all the walking and carrying a sling bag, my back got sore every day so having some analgesics in my bag was always helpful.
Spare set of spectacles: If you need spectacles for reading, you MUST bring a spare pair. Even though I had three girls with me who at times read things for me when my glasses were in my bag, you need to be able to read.
Sunglasses and a hat: Eye and skin protection are always important.
Poncho or rain coat: Hong Kong can have wet weather. On the Sunday we went to see Tian Tan ‘Big’ Buddha, it was wet. We also got wet on one of the rides at Ocean park too. A poncho or rain coat would be helpful.
Planning: This is from Miss14 and you can tell she’s the daughter of an emergency manager. Having a plan is good. Being flexible about the plan as situations change is also important. Having an idea at the end of each day for what the next day held was really helpful. We usually discussed the next day’s plan on the way back to the hotel the night before. We’d talk about it again at breakfast. The good thing is as the situation changed, having travelling companions who are flexible is also great. Travelling with my daughters was an absolute pleasure.
Make the most of each day: Again this comes from Miss14. She was a great example of doing as much as possible with every minute we had.
I’ll update this as I get more ideas from Ms18 and Ms20.
Here’s a list of all the posts so far from our Hong Kong Holiday.
It’s Monday morning and we fly back to Brisbane later in the evening. Today we had our last and best meal in Hong Kong before the flight home.
No it wasn’t breakfast. This is the last breakfast I had at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. It was certainly not our best meal in Hong Kong.
After breakfast we set about packing our bags. Our check out time was 12 noon and Miss14 and Ms18 had done most of their packing the night before. As for Ms20 and me, we needed to sort out our suitcases and things. We’d agreed that we would try to check out at about 11.30 so we could have one final meal somewhere close.
I was very impressed with my daughters. They had planned for a long time for this holiday. They came with plenty of room in their suitcases and they bought enough to fill the gaps without any extra bags necessary. Ms18 in particular had packing down to a tee. She was like a travelling expert. Her suitcase was immaculate in the way everything went together. She is so neat.
Me on the other hand, I travel a lot but for this trip I just threw everything into my bag. My focus for this holiday had been keeping my daughters happy and shooting some photographs for Yummy Lummy. I brought along a bag for my camera body, lenses and power supplies.
We were ready by 11.30 and set off for Times Square. My plan was to get a table at Lei Garden which I had heard was a very fine Chinese restaurant. When we arrived we secured a table on the understanding we would be finished by 1.30 pm. That wouldn’t be a problem.
The yum cha menu looked pretty good and we set about discussing and agreeing on what we’d like to eat.
You can see what we asked for in this photograph of our request sheet.
The steamed dim sum came out first and occupied most of the table.
Everything was delicious.
The deep fried dim sum came out next.
I love turnip cake. My grandmother used to make it for me. I could eat it all day.
Then things got a little out of order. We were served egg custard tarts but there was one more fried dish to come.
This was simply the best meal in Hong Kong of our holiday. That’s not to say we didn’t also enjoy the hospitality and ambience of cheap and cheerful local establishments like Toby Inn and Eat Together.
After lunch Miss14 was determined to spend her last Hong Kong dollars on her Octopus card so we explored some little shops.
As we walked back to the hotel to wait for our bus to the airport we stopped at McDonald’s for a soft drink.
The bus ride to the airport was uneventful. I wrote a couple of quick TripAdvisor reviews for the Cosmopolitan Hotel and Buffalo Tours.
When we got to the airport we were allowed into a lounge and had an afternoon snack.
Of course the girls wanted to do more last minute shopping. They found another Victoria’s Secret shop!
We boarded QF98 HKG to BNE without delay or problem and were on our way back to Brisbane after a fantastic holiday.
Yes, we shared an overnight flight with two babies!
The food on the flight home was pretty good.
I had a nice duck salad and caramel mousse for dinner and eggs for breakfast.
When I got to my parent’s place I said goodbye for my daughters. It had been such a great holiday and their absence left a hole in my heart. It had been my best ever holiday. We made the most of everyday and every waking hour. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.
To satisfy my craving for Atlantic salmon I had salmon for lunch and tea in Brisbane.
The following day I flew back to Canberra. I managed to get an upgrade seat (thank you Qantas) and enjoyed a toasted sandwich for breakfast.
So this isn’t the last post for this Hong Kong holiday. I’ll post a summary with tips on travelling soon.
If you’ve been to Hong Kong what was your best meal in Hong Kong?
On our last full day we decided to visit the Big Buddha Hong Kong. I didn’t know much about the Tian Tan Buddha, I just knew it was a must see in Hong Kong.
We woke up to a cloudy day with drizzle. It didn’t look good but we weren’t going to waste the day.
First up breakfast!
Getting to the Big Buddha would take a couple of hours so we made an early start. It was good that we did because the fog and mist were getting thicker.
On the way to Causeway Bay MTR station we stopped at a McDonald’s because Miss14 wanted a hash brown.
We’d become so familiar with the walk to Causeway Bay MTR station and catching the trains it didn’t feel like a long journey at all. From Tung Chung MTR station it was a short walk to the Ngong Ping Cable car terminal. We bought return tickets for the crystal cars so we could see through the bottom of the car.
The cable car ride would be spectacular on a fine day or even a cloudy day, on this Sunday we were enveloped by foggy mist and at times couldn’t see the next car in front of us let alone anything around above or below us. When we got to the Ngong Ping station high up on Lantau Island we couldn’t even see the ground at sea level.
There was a whole “Hello Kitty” thing going on up at Ngong Ping with the Ngong Ping 360 company. I don’t understand the Hello Kitty phenomenon. It’s beyond me. That said, I know people who are into it so here is one photograph.
I felt a touch cold up there
There are 268 steps to the Tian Tan “Big” Buddha. Fortunately it’s not a continuous climb, while steep there are flat sections every dozen or so steps. The cool misty morning was a good time to do a stair climb.
At the top the foggy mist was such at seeing the Buddha’s visage was impossible. I had to do a lot of post process editing to get this amount of detail.
At the top there are signs asking visitors to refrain from photography. Inside the buddha is a lot of information material on the construction and history of the statue itself. Nearby is the Po Lin monastery and a temple of gold buddhas which is beautiful.
After visiting the Big Buddha and monastery we spent some time in the Ngong Ping village looking around the shops.
Feeling hungry we decided rather than eating the monks’ vegetarian delights we’d head into Tung Chung and try some more food at the Food Republic.
Miss20 and I had a Japanese inspired rice omelet with pork chop and scallops.
Ms18 had mentioned a few days earlier that she would like to visit the Dragon Garden in Sham Tseng which was a bus ride away from Tung Chung.
When we arrived at the front gate we discovered it was closed. On further inquiry the garden is only open one day a month. Ms18 was quite annoyed.
So what to do when there are no gardens with dragons to walk around? More shopping of course!
We went to Mong Kok and spent some time in Langham Place.
We also had afternoon tea.
For dinner we went to a cheap and cheerful place called Eat Together. Like Toby Inn on our first day this place had character. The owner sat at one of the tables when we entered and offered us her table. She sat with another customer. After we received our menus she was at our table again expecting us to have decided what we wanted to eat. This place was where locals ate. We had some of the best fried dumplings there we’d had on the whole holiday.
After our meal at Eat Together we went back to langham Place so Ms20 could have some green tea ice cream.
Our plan had been to return to McDonald’s near Times Square but when we arrived the ice cream machines were broken. We were disappointed.
While the weather had been less than ideal the day turned out to be quite enjoyable. As a last full day in Hong Kong we were pretty happy.
Ocean Park Hong Kong is a place I’m in two minds about. I loved the rides and I loved learning about the fauna there but that fauna is held captive.
Before we get to Ocean Park Hong Kong we need to show a photograph of my breakfast from the Cosmopolitan Hotel.
Prior to leaving for Hong Kong, Ms20 had arranged ground transport with Buffalo Tours from our hotel to Ocean Park Hong Kong. After breakfast we waited for our shuttle bus. It was delayed but not too delayed. The guide on the shuttle bus was very good at explaining what we should see and do when we got to Ocean Park. He was also very careful to explain our pick up point and pick up time.
The Hair Raiser was the best ride we experienced in Hong Kong.
I found this YouTube video which shows just how much fun it is.
Best ride in Hong Kong.
There are four giant pandas held captive in Ocean Park Hong Kong. Two are kept in the open and the other two in a closed in enclosure.
After the cable car ride and visiting the Giant panda and panda exhibit we went back to the area of the rides. We went on two roller coasters which were great. As good as any roller coaster ride I’ve had in Australia and as good as Space Mountain at Hong Kong Disneyland.
After the rides we went for lunch. We thought we’d try the Terrace cafe. It looked nice but the maître d’ was incompetent beyond imagination. we walked away after 20 minutes of waiting and being ignored while others (who could speak Cantonese) pushed through and got tables.
We ended up in the cheap and cheerful eatery. I had roast duck and pork with rice.
After lunch we went to the arctic and antarctic exhibitions.
In the arctic exhibit there were seals and a couple of walruses. The walruses were huge.
After the arctic and antarctic exhibits we went to the dolphin show. I shot about a hundred photographs but when I looked through them all I saw were dolphins held in captivity. Ocean Park Hong Kong makes a strong point about conservation, animal welfare, protecting marine ecological systems and zöological research. I still feel uneasy about these animals being trained for entertainment.
In the south American rain forest area there were some Capybara. These rodents are huge.
It was an enjoyable day at Ocean Park save for the lunch episode at the Terrace Cafe.
After we left we went to Times Square in Causeway Bay and enjoyed dinner, albeit an expensive dinner at Greenhouse.
I had Singapore noodles with lobster and bacon.
After such an expensive main course we went to McDonalds for dessert
And so ended Saturday in Hong Kong. It was a good one.