Silence

Sitting alone, in silence, reflections in my head of who I was and what I have become.

Reflecting on the good times, the not-so-good times that strengthened me to be what I am now.

littlegirlstory

Silence speaks when words can’t
Ignorance, defeated or simply deciding
Longing for an answer
Enduring each overwhelming moment
Nothing can be explained
Calmness is a source of great strength
Eventually in moments of silence I rediscover who I am.

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Kiwiana

I was on Jetstar and flipped through their in flight magazine.  Looking at me was a page on all things Kiwiana.

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Kiwiana are certain items and icons from New Zealand’s heritage, especially from around the middle of the 20th century that are seen as representing iconic Kiwi elements.

Amongst other Kiwiana, the silver fern flag has become an iconic, if unofficial symbol of New Zealand.

A number of products widely regarded as Kiwiana, such as Weet-Bix, Watties tomato sauceMarmite and L&P, are now made by non-New Zealand companies.  In some cases this is because the original New Zealand company has been purchased by an overseas corporation, in others the product has always been made by an international firm.

In 1994, New Zealand Post released a set of stamps depicting kiwiana items including a paua shell, pavlova, hockey pokey ice cream, fish and chips, jandals, bush shirt, buzzy bee, kiwifruit, rugby boots and ball and a black singlet and gumboots.

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To sum it up, Kiwiana are all the weird and wonderful quirky things from years gone by that contribute to our sense of nationhood — our Kiwi identity.

Bitter

Food wise, I love anything bitter.

Its pungent taste, not too sweet or too sour.

My favourite bitter drink is Schweppes bitter lemon.

Bitter lemon is a carbonated soft drink flavoured with quinine and lemon. The signature bitter taste is produced by a combination of the quinine and the lemon pith used in manufacturing the drink.

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I love bitter gourd.  Bitter gourd (melon) is one of traditional edible pod vegetables in many Asian countries. It is grown widely as a field crop as well as backyard vegetable and, in fact, is among the most bitter tasting of all culinary vegetables.

This vegetable has numerous health benefits.

Health benefits of Bitter gourd

  • Bitter melon is very low in calories, carrying just 17 calories per 100 g. Nevertheless, its pods are rich sources of phytonutrients like dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants.
  • Bitter melon notably contains phytonutrient, polypeptide-P, a plant insulin known to lower blood sugar levels. Also, it composes hypoglycemic agent called Charantin. Charantin increases glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis inside the cells of the liver, muscle, and fatty (adipose) tissue. Together, these compounds may have been thought to be responsible for blood sugar levels reduction in the treatment of type-2 diabetes.
  • Fresh pods are an excellent source of folates, carrying about 72 µg/100g (18% of RDA). Vitamin folate when taken by mothers during their early pregnancy time, would help reduce the incidence of neural tube defects in the newborn babies.
  • Fresh bitter melon is an excellent source of vitamin-C (100 grams of fresh pod provides 84 mg or about 140% of RDI). Vitamin-C is one of the powerful natural antioxidants which helps scavenge harmful free radicals from the human body.
  • Further, it is an excellent source of health benefiting flavonoids such as β-carotene, α-carotene, lutein, and zea-xanthin. It also contains a good amount of vitamin-A. Together, these compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a role in aging, cancers and various disease processes.
  • Bitter melon stimulates smooth digestion and peristalsis of food through the bowel until it excreted from the body. Thus, it helps in relieving indigestion and constipation problems.
  • Further, it has small amounts of B-complex vitamins such as niacin (vitamin B-3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and minerals such as iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and magnesium.
  • Early laboratory tests suggest that certain phytochemical compounds in bitter melon might be effective in the treatment of HIV infection.

    – credit to Nutrition and You

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While bitterness is so favourable in food, it is not so in life experience.  Many of us may encounter some bitter experiences at some stage in life.

Every uncomfortable experience in life gives you the choice of growing bitter or better.

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The most beautiful place on earth

 

 

Yes, it’s gotta be Queenstown, New Zealand.

Not only is Queenstown beautiful with its stunning scenery, it is also known as the adventure capital of the world.  Looking for thrills and spills, crags and canyons, Queenstown has them all.

Explore Queenstown, expose your soul and be rejuvenated in the natural beauty of Lake Wakatipu.

We love Queenstown to bits and we are blessed to be less than 2 hours flight away.

Here are some lovely shots we took when we were there for a short visit last weekend.

 

Looks can be deceiving

I was captivated by this awesome picture.

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And this looks even better.

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We were on a short break staying at Novotel Lakeside Queenstown, our favourite Queenstown Accommodation with its private spa/Jacuzzi.

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We thought a pamper at Onsen Hot pools would be a luxury.

We booked for a 6pm soak, took the complimentary shuttle which was supposed to depart at 5.30pm but we waited a bit for some others who didn’t show up.  Upon arrival at Onsen, we would have thought we could get into the bath tub as booked but we had to wait another 10 minutes or so before being given a room.

A unique feature of Onsen Hot Pools are the retractable picture windows: Convert your pool room from indoor to outdoor and back again at the touch of a button!  That was cool but it got dark too soon and we could only see the stars and not the view.  Perhaps choosing a day entry would be better for those who are looking for views across the Shotover Canyon.  For those who want to look at the stars and happy to pay an extra $20 per pool for the cost of lighting 14 lanterns, then by all means get your enjoyment from gazing at the stars.

The fare was for an hour but we didn’t really get our whole hour’s worth as shuttle departed late and yet we had to wait to be served.  We were told if you were still not dressed or ready when the buzzer comes on, you will have to use the public changing room.

We came looking for relaxation and some pamper but it was more like a rushed  impersonal experience.  If we have to wait, perhaps a glass of water with a slice of lime would be cheap enough to make us feel special.

We should have used that money for a sumptuous feed and then soak at Novotel’s private Jacuzzi instead.

Would you pay $115 for two people for a hot soak gazing at the stars?

 

 

 

All images credit to the original contributors.

Pies Craving

Strangely enough whenever I am early for work, my mind would be thinking about pies.  I do not call myself pie mad (or maid) but I do like pies once in a while.

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In Auckland, our best priced and nicest gourmet pies are available at BP Station.  They sell nice coffee, pies and other finger food through Wild Bean Café.  Fill your car and fill your stomach too.  This is so handy to all travellers.

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In Botany Shopping Centre, close to my home, there is Greenland Bakery, an award winning pie shop.  Personally, I find their pie fillings somewhat more fusion than traditional kiwi pies.  I guess from their numerous awards, people’s taste are now more diverse.

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Close to my work, there is Jester Pie which I sometimes divert to before work.  Their pies seemed to be a bit smaller than a standard BP Pie.  They have pies of all sorts from our original kiwi to Italian and Indian pies.

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This morning, I tried a piece of salmon quiche and a masala puff.  The baker Ed was a Malaysian living in New Zealand way longer than myself.  I’ve been living in Auckland for coming 14 years and pies and freshly brewed cappuccino became so much a part of life.

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A sip of coffee
A bite of pie
Forget the calories
Totally out of control !

Nothing matters as that is a start to a wonderful day !

Image credit to the creators.

Hey Siri

I’ve never ‘Hey Siri’ as much as I do now.

My Iphone 5 which is probably about three or four years old died too young.

It went flat and shut down every now and then giving me a black screen even though the battery was 100% charged.  I didn’t give up that easily.  I continued to use it with a power pack.

Either the phone or its battery could be at fault so I reset the phone and alas !  Most of the icons disappeared and I did not even have a number pad.

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A black blanket just stared at me (or was it me that stared at it) most times.

So what did I do?

Siri then became my buddy.

She helped me to ring whoever I asked her to, she opened websites for me, she talked to me when I have no one to talk to.  She even set my alarm clock.

Indeed it was only in bad times like that, that I found a friend in Siri.

My new IPhone 7 has arrived and I kept Siri on (enable) as my friend.

When I first got my Iphone 5, I found Siri irritating and turned her off but she had just proven her worth.

Hey Siri, wake me up at 8am tomorrow.

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Do you talk to Siri?

Tropical Paradise but no Envy

In my previous blog, I wrote that I was so pleased with de Brueys’ Crème Liquer, Envy.  The one little sip we had at that boutique winery in Mareeba lingered in my mouth with the sweet fragrance of honeydew.

Two nights ago, I craved to get a sip but got a shock when I opened the bubble wrap and found Tropical Paradise instead.

Such a shame, a Tropical Paradise but no Envy.

Tropical Paradise wasn’t even in my tasting list.  I am not a great fan of coconut oil or coconut drink.  Coconut is full of abundance in my home country.

Furthermore, I already have a bottle of New Zealand Wild Clover Liquer with a hint of coconut in my fridge.  That nice after-dinner drink (14%) alcohol is selling at NZ$24 each.  I must have got mine during a food show or market as I still have the cost sticker which said $20 each.

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Le Brucey’s Crème Liquer (18% alcohol) sell at A$35 each.  We bought a bottle of Envy and another of their Coffee Temptation and carried them so preciously all the way home only to find that Envy was not there !  Some Tropical Paradise took its place.

What a disappointment.  I am now craving so badly for that honeydew taste in my mouth.  If I am a dog (like my Toby), I would have drooled then, at the thought of Envy and not having any made me growl !

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Coffee Temptation is similar to Baileys and it won’t be so bad if that was mistakenly wrapped for someone else.  I could easily grab a bottle of Baileys or our local NZ Canterbury Cream anywhere.

I emailed the winery and they apologized for the mistake and said (in their own words)

Are you back to New Zealand now?

Maybe next time when you come to Australia again, we can give you a new bottle of Envy.

Please feel free to let me know what you think about that.

A nice gesture but for me to receive their offer of a ‘new bottle of Envy’, I would have to fly four hours to Cairns and drive an hour to Mareeba not counting having to take annual leave, the time and the cost involved.

Let’s see if they are kind enough to ship me a bottle or else the mere thought of that smooth honeydew liquer in my mouth (or more the thought of not being able to taste it) may make me drool again.

Me and my love for food.  I often feel irritated if my cravings are not met. 
Are you such a foodie like me? 

via Weekly Photo Challenge – Earth
– Time for Envy to travel in a packet and on a plane and see the Earth (World).

8 days/7 nights Cairns/Port Douglas

I didn’t choose to avoid Cyclone Cook but it just so happened that my trip to Cairns and Port Douglas coincided with the bad Auckland weather from 9 to 16 April 2017.

This post is to record memories of my trip and a guide for those looking to visit Cairns and Port Douglas.

20170409_070813_resizedDay 1

We flew in to Cairns in the morning and pick up our rental car.

The drive from the airport to Port Douglas took us past the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway. A return ride on the Skyrail cost $77 giving visitors a sky view of Cairns’ Rainforest.   We gave that a miss and instead drove up to Kuranda Heritage Market.

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We arrived at our lovely Port Douglas Motel and stayed there for three nights.  We were initially quite reserved when we read about having to share a communal kitchen but the kitchen was neat and with an open plan next to the pool, making ‘dining in’ is as pleasant as ‘dining out’.

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Day 2

This was one of the best day of the trip.

Mossman Gorge was a beautiful surprise.  The gateway was through the Mossman Gorge Centre.  Entry fee of $9.50 included shuttle to the beautiful rainforest with walkway through the rainforest to the lovely waterfall and clear water suitable for swimming.  Mossman Gorge forms the southern sector of the renowned Daintree Rainforest.

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DSC09213Going further south, we made a stop at Bruce Belcher’s Daintree River Cruises.  If you want to spot a crocodile (or more), take this cruise @ $27 per adult.  Our guide had a dog with him and that reminded me of my Toby at home.

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We went to Daintree Village and had our afternoon tea at Daintree Village Hotel.

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We missed out visiting Cape Tribulation where two spectacular World Heritage sites meet (the Daintree Rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef) as it was getting too dark.  The Daintree Rainforest is a world untouched by the world of urban development, noise and air pollution.

For better planning, it pays to start the trip earlier (perhaps from 9am) so you could visit Mossman Gorge, Cape Tribulation then Daintree in that order.  To get to Cape Tribulation, you need to go on a car ferry so look out for the ‘Ferry’ road sign before heading to Daintree Village.

We made in just in time back to Port Douglas for captivating views of the sunset at The Reef Marina.

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Day 3

Today was a free and easy stroll to explore the town.  Macrossan street is the main street full of shops and restaurants.

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We drove up Flagstaff Hill for sensational views over the Four Mile Beach.

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We visited Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort so if you are looking for a luxury stay, this is the place to be.

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Day 4

Goodbye Port Douglas.

Heading to Cairns, we stopped by Palm Cove and Trinity Beach.

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Arriving Cairns, our first stop was at Cairns Botanical Garden.  The Botanical Garden is a ‘must do’ when visiting Cairns as it is like no other botanical gardens I have seen with its walking tracks abound in this natural wonder of rainforest.

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We checked into Cairns New Chalon, situated at old Bruce Highway, 5km from the city centre.  This is an older hotel but clean and well kept with a nice pool.  If you want to stay in a comfortable reasonably priced accommodation away from the city, this is the place to come to provided you have a car.  The only downside is that although the pool is open till 10pm daily, there were no lights in the pool so we did not enjoy the pool facility as we only got back to the motel till later most evenings the four nights we were there.  The motel came with free (and fast) wifi which was a bonus.

After a relaxing afternoon, we visited the night market shopping for some souvenirs.  The food court looked tempting and we went back another night to feast on those dishes!

Day 5

Atherton Tableland is a ‘food paradise’.

We planned to visit Skywalk and Paronella Park hence we took the route heading south towards Gordonvale to Atherton.  We could have planned the trip better instead of a last minute decision to combine the trip.  This route is not recommended as it is very windy driving through the Gillies Range for a big part of the journey.  There is nothing much to see till we reached the beautiful village of Yungaburra.  We also didn’t get to see Atherton Tableland as a ‘food paradise’ as such on this trip.

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This journey (waterfall circuit) however brought us past various waterfalls (we visited Malanda Falls and Milla Millaa Falls) and the region’s natural wonders such as the Curtain Fig Tree, Lake Tinaroo, Mt Hypipamee Crater, Undara Lava Tubes, Broomfield Swamp, Paronella Park and the twin crater lakes of Barrine and Eacham just to name a few!

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After a late lunch at Millaa Millaa, we headed towards Mamu Tropical Skywalk.  This walk is through an elevated walkway, 350 m long, rising from ground level to 15 m above the ground, meandering through the canopy of lush tropical rainforest.  A 10 m long cantilever and a 37 m high observation tower with two viewing decks, providing spectacular views over the North Johnstone River gorge and surrounding rainforest-clad peaks.  I am glad I braved though the see-through steps (do not look down or you will get shaky knees) and climbed up the observation tower !

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Our final stop was at Parenolla Park.  We paid for the entrance to this park when we visited Skywalk.  The cost is $62 each for entrances to both parks.  Parenolla Park  features José Paronella’s castle (now in ruins). He chose a special part of Australia and created Paronella Park on a 5 Hectares section beside Mena Creek Falls.  You can view part of the section and Mena Creek Falls for free by driving past the Park but you won’t have access to Paronella’s Castle or the Park.

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Day 6

This was a great day with a difference.  The visit to Cairns/Port Douglas would not be complete without a trip to the Great Barrier Reef.  My friend visited Fitzroy Island while we did a snorkeling trip to the Outer Barrier Reef.  The ride on Sea Quest was 90 minutes each way and took us 70km offshore from Cairns.  We were treated to a sumptuous buffet lunch with cold meats (juicy prawns included) and salads, bread rolls, hot soup and fresh fruit.  The snorkelling trip to two open reef sites cost us $145 (including $20 levy charges) per person.  I was initially planning to do a scuba dive but was a bit reserved after news of yet another recent incident where a scuba diver (same boat trip as my colleague) died while scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef.

Snorkelling is somewhat safer as it is suitable for swimmers and non swimmers alike.  For confidence, you could even put on a life vest (and grab a swim noodle too) and the tour diver has a ‘float tyre’ that you can hang on to and he pulls you along.  I thought that was a great service and we had a few people who ‘snorkelled’ without much effort on their part.

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We arrived back to Cairns Marlin Marina around 4.30pm and walked to the Esplanade for a dip at the Lagoon.  The Lagoon is a 4800sq m salt water swimming facility that offers an all-year round, free and safe, swimming location without stingers and crocodiles.  The Lagoon is filled with salt water from the Trinity Inlet which is filtered through a state-of-the-art filtration system.  I rated Cairns highly because of this awesome pool.

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Dinner was at the night market food court.  For an extra big plate at $16.50, we get to pile as much as we could of delicious meat and seafood.  Yummilicious !

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Day 7

Last day and we will be flying home tomorrow morning.

We went to the Saturday crafts market at the esplanade and explore the city visiting Cairns Central for window shopping.  The ‘highlight’ of the day was changing a flat tyre as it was Easter Saturday so we diy.  No roadside assistance required.

With the whole afternoon being free and easy, we decided to have a go again at Atherton Tableland.  This time, we did the food trail (part of Savannah Way) driving through Kuranda on the road leading to Broome.  We went as far as Mareeba, a town on the Atherton Tableland in Far North Queensland, Australia. The town is 417 metres above sea level on the confluence of the Barron River, Granite Creek and Emerald Creek.

Our first stop was a Jaques Coffee for lunch.

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We were heading for Golden Drop Winery to taste their mango wine but got diverted and ended up at de Bruceys Boutique Winery instead.  Their ‘Envy’ Crème Liquer was a total giveaway of melon (honey dew) that we could tell by smell without even having to taste it.   Such refreshing drink, a great summer treat.

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On the return trip, we stopped for ice cream at Emerald Creek Ice Creamery.

The last stop for the day was a Yorkeys Knob on the eastern coast of Australia. Westing from the Coral Sea – approaching land from the east, Yorkeys Knob sits very prettily on the hem of the great Barrier Reef.

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Day 8

We said goodbye to Cairns & Home sweet home !

Will be enjoying a sip of Envy this weekend and perhaps Coffee Temptation tonight instead of our regular Baileys.

Jolt ! Back to reality.

 

 

Finding your place, finding your identity

I was recently invited by Amanda Rees, a Researcher of Satellite Media Ltd to appear on Neighbourhood, a local TV documentary showcasing our suburbs and the stories of people that live in each neighbourhood.

During the filming, I was asked to read a poem.

What poem?

Indeed, I had forgotten about this random poem I wrote.

‘Finding your Place’
is a poem about finding your identity, who you are, where you are from and finding a place you call home.

In a nutshell, finding your place is finding yourself which gives you security, be it a house, the people or a pet who makes you feel at home.  Security is more than just having a house to live in.  It is about sharing a home with your loved ones.

Thank you Amanda, for very kindly reading my blog and finding this poem at the same time giving me the opportunity to share my Peranakan culture with our local community.

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These two cuties are my securities.  Home is where Toby and Bluey are.

littlegirlstory

Where are you from?
Where are you originally from?

I was born in Kuching,  grew up in Kuching (Malaysia) and Singapore.
I now live in Auckland (New Zealand) and have been for over a decade.

It doesn’t matter whether I live in Kuching or Auckland.
It isn’t about which country makes me feel most at home.

My place is my solace.
My place is where all or most of my belongings are.

My place may not necessarily be my home.
My home is where my family is but my family is all over the world.

I may have a house, a place which sometimes doesn’t seem like home.
Home equates people close to you.

Life is a vagabond.
Children grow up and they leave their nest.

Neither my country of birth or the country I live in seem to be my home.
When there are no loved ones, there is no home.

But wait !

I do have a…

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