7 things I love about Sydney

Monday, June 20, 2016

Recently, I visited Sydney and Melbourne in conjunction with my company incentive trip, but I decided to fly to Sydney three days earlier to explore the beautiful harbour city in my own pace and to meet my good friend that I haven't seen him for 10 years. Both occasions left a very memorable traveling journey.

Back when I was in early 20's, Sydney was my first overseas holiday trip. I was young and barely settled down with my first job. For the girl who always passionated to travel, I was so thrilled with my first overseas trip. I was very hurry to see everything of the city has to offer- one places after another with a sore leg, limited budget and ended up with a very obscure memories...

After almost two decades, I revisited Sydney again, still a very lovely city - one that I still love, the only thing that has changed is the way I traveled and seeing things. I am more settled and prefer a slow paces of travelling. I do not mind to just exploring in one place at a time or in a day, then, sit, relax, wait for the twilight's moment and day dreaming, that is why I am able to enjoy Sydney to the fullest.

I believe to travel is to live, so when you have chance, just go for it....

Here are my 7 things that I love about Sydney (and some of them are most probably very random);

1.  Autumn in Sydney
This is a totally random liking. Crips air, falling leaves, boots, sweater, flushed cheeks, I totally live in Autumn. In Autumn, everything looks and smells good, even my hot latte taste nicer :). Autumn is my most favourite season to travel. Wandering on the street, stopping by to pick up dry leaves, chatting with a good travel companions, Sydney looks very beautiful in Autumn and  It is totally a very simple happiness that I could ask for.

2. Pretty cafes and cakes
Breakfast, coffee and cakes are my personal indulgence when I traveled. It is not a low calorie activity, but cafe's hopping is definitely a fun pass time when I visit to a new place. People living in Sydney are so blessed, there are many good cafes and eatery to explore. I personally love the cafes along Surry hills (Messina for the best gelato and Bills for breakfast) and in Paddington area. During my stay, my friend brought me to eat a very pretty watermelon cake (with edible flower topping) from BlackStar Pastry and a famous V8 Vanilla cake from Zumbo by pastry chef Adriano Zumbo. I enjoyed Lindt Chocolate cafe as well , also a hearty breakfast by the handsome duo at Basket Brothers located in between Elizabeth St and Wentworth Ave. The rest of the cafes were so random finds that I am not able to recall some of them :p.

3. The harbour bridge 
As much as I adore the iconic Sydney opera house, but I can't stop to admire the Sydney Harbour bridge. The bridge was built in 1923 and open for public in 1932 under direction of Dr John Bradfield, such a beautiful masterpiece. I am glad that I decided to climb the Sydney bridge and able to enjoy the 360 degree view of entire Sydney CBD and beyond, another phenomenal experience in a lifetime. Also, me and my colleagues purchased a public ferry ride from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay to catch the sunset at the Opera house. I personally recommended this ride (either for the first timer or not), I took in total 3 ferry rides around the harbour and never get tired for the surrounding sceneries, Luna park at day and night is one of a fascinating view that I never get bored to loot at.

{1. Cruising below the Sydney harbour, 2. Luna Park, 3. Sunset in Opera house bar}

4. The rocks
The Rocks might sound touristy, therefore, the Rocks surrounding provide an astonishing and historical environment where I can enjoy the eighteenth to early twentieth century buildings which converted into shops, cafes and boutique accommodations. I enjoy the weekend flea market very much, there are few products worth buying, such as local honey, homemade soy candles and artisan cakes and foods. Furthermore, from the Rocks, we can have a slow walks toward Opera House and along the way we could enjoy some of the street performances. A perfect place to enjoy during weekend.

5. Pretty random buildings and houses
Again, this is so random liking, but I always enjoy colonial architectures and laid back design houses. When I strolled along the city, I can't help to snap as many pretty buildings and houses as possible. I enjoyed Sydney, because amongst the modern buildings, there are still many oldies ones that preserved. Houses in Paddington are so pretty, we were there to explore the surrounding, I skipped the main road shops and walk into a smaller lanes to enjoy the neighbourhood, there are pretty indie shops in between terrace houses, the experience was very pleasant.

{1. Central station, 2. Paddy market and China town area, 3 and 4. Houses in Paddington}

6.  Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach is a famous beach among local and tourist, this is my second time visited Bondi, when I was in early 20s, I stayed at the beach only less than 30 minutes to rush to another destination, this time we stayed about half of our day; sitting, lunching and sipping our mojito at Iceberg club. Life was so good.... One of my fave laze holiday spot that I could ask for :).

7.  Beyond Sydney
We made a day trip to Blue Mountain and during a luncheon we stopped by a very pretty village calls Leura, part of Katoomba. I enjoyed both Leura and Blue Mountain visit very much beside the scenery is beautiful it is also a good gateway spot from the city life.
{1 and 2 Three Sisters Blue Mountain, 3. Downtown Katoomba}

*Thank you to all my travel companion and my friends who I met in Sydney, The trip is so memorable because of all of you :)
**Picture credit: iPhone snaps and some pictures was taken by my colleagues.

Abon Ikan Cikalang Joomukbap {cooking for one #8}

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Last week my friend gave me Abon ikan cikalang (literally translated as Skip Jack Tuna floss). Ikan Cikalang is one type of fish and normally cook in Manado style that I really like to eat. I haven't found them in Malaysia before, but now that I know the English name is Skip Jack Tuna, may be it is sold in the local market.

Abon (meat floss) is my childhood dish. If my mother was lazy to cook, she will feed us Abon and warm rice, sometime when we were lucky, she added prawn crackers into it. Abon is rich in flavours and easy to keep, that is why our mother like to use it as last source when she did not have anything to serve :p. I enjoyed that simple dish, in fact when she offered me the dish, I never complain about it.
I think my childhood friend from Indonesia will be able to relate this situation. Everyone would have that experience, eating Abon with warm rice, right friends?

Today, I improvised a bit by making them into Joomukbap (literally means fist rice in Korean) or similarly like Onigiri in Japanese dish. In this case, I called them Joomukbap because I served with Kimchi and Gamjajorim (potato banchan).

Furthermore, Joomukbap is also very practical dishes. It does not require long time to prepare and neat dishes for lunch box. It also allow us to be creative, because we could mix with any filling or flavour as desired.

I made Gamjajorim (potato side dish/banchan), it is easy to make. I will share my version of recipe in the next post :).

Abon Cikalang Joomukbap (주먹밥) recipe


1C Short grain rice ( Korean or Japanese rice)

Rice Seasoning:
1-2 Tbsp Sesame oil (Korean brand preferably)
2 pinch of good quality of Sea salt
Black sesame seed

Rice filling:
Abon ikan cikalang or substitute with chicken or pork floss


1. Rice
Short grain rice is the best for anything to do with Korean or Japanese rice dishes. Cooks 1 cup of rice for making 3-4 small triangle mould joomukbap (as picture) in rice cooker. The composition of water vs rice is varied, depending on your rice cooker, but don't over cooked them. Rice shall be firmer than usual.

2. Season the rice
Once the rice are cooked, spread them into flat plate, wait for 1 minutes until rice a little bit cool down or warm, season the rice with sesame oil and pinch of salt. Mix using spatula. Taste them and adjust accordingly.

3. Making the joomukbap
As seen in the picture, I made two type of jookmukbap.

  • I mix the seasoned rice with sesame seed and I put abon ikan cikalang as a filling inside the     rice triangle.
  • I mix the seasoned rice with abon ikan cikalang before putting them into a triangle mould. 

You can decorate or wrap with kim - 김 (seaweed) as you wish.

Dania Faith turns 6

Friday, April 22, 2016

My eldest daughter turned 6 years old last month. Last night she told me that she is always be my little girl forever even though she grows older, brought a warm tears in my eyes.

She is sensible and warm person. She is bubbly and enjoys talking, too much sometime, but it is alright, as long as she talks, I will listen. I can spend the whole day just to listen to her talking. She talks like an adult, she know who she will marry, though still confuse in between Jang Keun Suk or her classmate. It is tough choice for her :).

If I have to describe about her, it will takes forever. But I am forever blessed to have such daughter like her, I want her to know and been telling her everyday, how much I love her.
Daughter is the best present from God, I truly believe that.

Happy belated birthday, Dania. May you grow up to be a happy girl, loves God and serves him wholeheartedly....

Photo taken by Samantha Young Photography.

5 things to do in Macau with two young kids

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Last December 2015, we had family holiday in Macau. My sister asked me what fun will you have to travel to Macau with children at young ages? I turned out to be relaxing and fun family holiday.

Macau is a gambling city that most of the people said it is replication of  Las Vegas (I never been to LV so I do not know the exact scene) and also normally a day visitation place to detour when people holidaying to Hong Kong. So I have least to expect when we wanted to stay in Macau for 4 days, we were taking easy this time as we have 2 small children and 1 senior citizen (my mother in law) travelled with us. In my personal opinion, few places that I feel very relaxing and good to visit with family are these places:

1. Broadway walk
My friend who worked in Macau helped me to design the itinerary and put in consideration that I travelled with young children, she suggested this newly open place called Broadway walk - the first hawker style street where we also could witness some random performance while enjoying sitting in the cafe. Children are entertained very much by the magic show or 'tall' people walking around. As it is outdoor, so it is good to visit during Winter. Macau in Dec has a mild Winter, so it is still comfortable walking outdoor.

2. The Taipa Houses- museum 
The museum consist of five typical Macanese architectural house built in 1921. The entrance ticket is very affordable Mop2 per adult and we can have access to enter all of the houses. My elder daughther enjoyed to detour the houses and the good thing; there were huge Christmas garden with beautiful Christmas decoration and flowers conjuncted with the museum. It seem they held the garden Christmas festival every December.

3. Taipa Village
We skipped other attraction places such A-ma temple and other churches and instead we were heading to Taipa village after the museum visitation. Taipa village is an charming enclave which offers a unique Chinese/Portuguese old houses, shops and cafes. It is only take one or a little bit more hours to explore the main street, so my children doesn't feel restless. Taipa village is a suitable place to have a little shopping for local delicacies without making your children complaining (Most kids dislike shopping spots, I supposed).

 4. The hotel lobby shows
It sound ridiculous, but my children were so fascinated with those shows. Some hotels really put a lot of effort to make the show very massive and spectacular to 'wow' the audiences. In fact, before the show started, the front row were always full with people. The picture below doesn't' do any justice :o.
The hotel lobby show that we visited:
  • Wynn Hotel (They also has a light dancing fountain attraction at night) 
  • Galaxy Hotel 
  • The Venetian Macau (outdoor projector light show at night), where if we stand in the bridge, we also could enjoy the changing LED light of City of dream hotels. 
We wanted to visit MGM hotel as our friend is working at the hotel, she recommend that my kids would love the Grand aquatic in the hotel lobby. I am sure they are, when I saw the video I feel so intrigued with the massive set up.

5. The House of the dancing water 
It is a splurge but it is also a must :). The cheapest ticket is not entirely cheap for our Ringgit and my ten month old baby (back then on December 2015) also requires to pay full amount of children price. Again, thank you to our friend that she helps me to purchase with staff discounts, we safe a bit :).

The show is about a love story plot that involve 270 degree view theatre and probably million gallon of water, impressive effects and lighting. The show last for 90 minutes and both of my children enjoyed the performance very much. My baby was very fascinating and observant, she knows mommy paid full ticket to not to be wasted :p
Unfortunately we are not allowed to take picture inside the venue, but you could browse the site to find out more.

We also visited St Paul ruins and Senado square, but there are many people in the both places, it is not so convenience to explore with small children and senior citizen.

We stayed in Sheraton Sands Cotai in Cotai strip, our hotel is in strategic location and within walking distance to The Venetian, City of Dream and and the newest attraction- Studio City. From our hotel, patronage with children could enjoy The DreamWorks parade and breakfast with Sherk package. Our kids love to stay in Sheraton too, the room is spacious, breakfast was alright. Check in and out is fast regardless you are a Starwood member and the best way to commute for a day tour around Macau is by hiring a car. We hire a van similar like Toyota Alphard for HKD250/hour.

I hope my post is helpful for those who plan a short holiday with family to Macau. This blog is also a good read for Macau guide with kids.

Till the next post...:)

{Special thanks to Casey Cheah}

Dalia Joy 1st birthday party

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hello friends. It has been four months since my last post, happy new year!  and just like that, Dalia turned ONE last month on January, 15th 2016. How time really flies!

We celebrated Dalia's first birthday in a small and cozy atmosphere at our condominium jacuzzi deck. Since it was an outdoor party, I was bit worried with the unpredicted January weather. I kept observing the weather forecast when we decorated the outdoor space, at 3 pm the 50% possibility of rain turned to 90%, the sky turned darker. The party starts at 4pm, within half an hour before 4 pm, we dismantled everything and moved the event at the covered corridor near the deck. Moral of the story, don't ever try to against the weather forecast +_+

For decoration. I kept it simple without specific theme. I really love the colorful honeycomb paper decorations, so I bought few sizes of honeycomb balls to decorate the venue and petite honeycomb diamond for the goodie bags. I ordered letter/ number gold ballon too, I wasn't aware I placed  the no.1 ballon in the opposite direction until I sorted out the pictures and saw it, lol.

For the goodie bag, I DIY-ed them and filled in with healthy snacks such as assorted fruits (apple, kiwi, strawberry), mini box of breakfast cereal, raisin and chocolate milk. I figured children shall consume a healthy snacks rather than sweet or junk food :).

For the birthday cake, I  custom ordered the 9 inch round chocolate cake and requested for pink ombre butter icing with edible rose flowers and meringue kisses on top of the cake. I really like how the cake turned up, the vendor done a great job fulfilling my request.

For the catering, I was contemplating of doing a high tea party since the party starts at 4 pm, but in the end I decided to order Indonesian Rijstafel and also assorted tea time snacks and I knew I ordered too much @_@.
Our guests are mix of Indonesian living in Malaysia and also local Malaysian. So I wanted them to enjoy Indonesian cuisine. It is something that my Indonesian friends will love and my Malaysian friends will surely enjoy the flavorful tastes of Rijstafel.

Rijstafel is actually a Dutch words that literally translated in English as a rice table. It consists of rice with many side dishes. I think it is similar like Banchan in Korean food :). Rijstasfel was originally a Colonial Indonesian cuisine, the Dutch had them for celebration, it can be a massive dishes as many as 40 types, but nowadays there are many presentation styles of Rijstafel depending on which island/province you belong to. In my hometown we usually have the yellow rice or nasi tumpeng for any celebration. My catering lady made the nasi tumpeng into a barbie doll dress (the common nasi tumpeng is in cone shape), I thought it is cute, right?. She cooked 5 side dishes along with the yellow rice. I actually ordered more portion without decorating it in barbie style for our guests, in the end the barbie Rijstafel was just for display. Lol!

For activities, I hired the bubble art master for two hours. The kids were facsinating with the super giant bubbles and it was also the best decision to hire one, the adults could sit n eat while the kids were entertaining themselves by playing bubbles. It was fun right before it started a heavy rain, the kids still had chances to play bubbles outdoor. This activity can't be having it indoor as floor become slippery and dangerous for the kids

For educational purpose, we requested our guests to not bring present for Dalia instead donate staple goods for Children Shelter Home. We hope with this practice, our children will be able to share and care for others.

Here is the BTS.
My sister decorated the jazucci deck before the sky turned dark, at that time I still imagine how nice having it in the deck, very cosy! While adults sitting and enjoying food, kids could roam around in the pool or play bubbles. But occasionally, life is not always as it nice as it seem to be , we just have to be ready with plan B -_- .

Thank you for reading, hope to talk to you again soon.