Canberra: Lonsdale Street Roasters

30 June 2014

We were on our way to another café for breakfast when we passed by Lonsdale and saw how busy it was. I immediately decided to change course and follow the locals.

When I first walked through the door, there were no empty tables so it was a good thing we arrived just as people were starting to leave for work. Any earlier and parking would also have been a problem.

Eggs Benedict & Hot Chocolate
Malt bread, Pialligo bacon
AUD 17.50 & AUD 8

Breakfast Crumble
Apples, raspberries, Pepe Saya's Mascarpone
AUD 13.50

Sourdough Waffle
Pure maple, cultured butter
AUD 13.50

Iced Mocha

My Mom was still commenting on how much she enjoyed her meal two days after our visit, so following the crowd was definitely a good idea in this case!

Canberra: Aria Hotel

25 June 2014

For this trip, we went with a two bedroom apartment as I was with my parents and sister. First off, the location is not convenient in the sense that there are no nearby shops or restaurants, so you will really need a car to get around.

In general, the rooms were clean except in some areas like the top of the mini-fridge which was thick with dust and placemats that clearly needed washing. But those were minor in the greater scheme of things.

The bathroom, as far I could tell, was mold free. My only complaint was that there were no toothbrush holders or anything tall enough to put toothbrushes in the entire apartment.

Dishwasher was not great at washing - had to do everything again by hand. Take note, we followed the instruction manual to the letter.

The dryer was not working at first, but was fixed the next day. Only problem was that we did our laundry the night before and had to hang everything on the dining room chairs.

If you're in a hurry, don't bother doing the laundry as the washing machine takes a minimum of two hours to do one cycle - and that's the quick wash option. Others take even longer.

There's also no free internet, but what really frustrated me was that there was no wifi signal in our room. I reported it to the front desk twice and the agent said they had it re-routed but to no avail. Quite inconvenient to have to go down to the lobby to get internet access. If you have a laptop, then no problem as you can just plug in the cable. Ipad users will be out of luck.

The hotel waived the AUD 4 fee for the 30 minute internet package I used while in the lobby. That was nice, but it did not make me feel any better as I use Skype to talk to my husband. Needless to say, I am dreading my next phone bill.

Breakfast is a separate charge and costs AUD 19 if you pre-book (AUD 23 regular rate). Good thing I decided to take a look first before making a decision. The buffet is quite small and looks as though not a lot of thought was put into it in terms of menu and presentation. There were two attendants at the time I entered the cafe and both were too busy talking.

In all, it's not bad but I would probably try some other property on my next visit to Canberra.

Canberra: A Sentimental Trip Down Memory Lane

20 June 2014

In 1986, my father was sent to Canberra for further studies and fortunately for us, he was allowed to bring his family along. We arrived in February, left in December, and haven't been back until now.

I have so many fond memories of that year - first time I had ever seen snow (though technically flurries), learning how to play marbles and how to sing the Kookaburra song, classmates whose names I still remember (most of them anyway), and my third grade teacher Mrs. Tuckey reading stories to the class (I loved the Muddle-Headed Wombat).

Sadly, the school we attended, Rivett Primary School, was demolished a few years ago. I had always planned on going back and roaming the halls, but it was not meant to be. Well, at least the oval behind the school is still there.

I also thought that I'd remember more once I got back, but so much has changed (not surprising considering 27 years have gone by). Thankfully, it looked as though time had stood still in the old neighborhood, but the house where we lived has been covered up by trees. The current resident must be paranoid about privacy.



We spent a day driving around and visiting old haunts - Belconnen Mall is now five times bigger and totally unreconizable. At least Cooleman Court hasn't altered much and Woolworths is still occupying the same spot (I had to take a picture as it's one of the few places that seemed familiar to me).

We ended with a visit to Lake Burley Griffin where we used to ride our rented bicycles up and down the lake. It's just too bad we arrived late in the afternoon as the Captain Cook Memorial Jet was already off (normal operating sessions are 2 PM to 4 PM daily).

Is there a place you'd like to go back to?

Singapore: Around Our Block

15 June 2014

I'm taking a page out of Expat Living magazine for this post. They have have a section called Street Talk where people describe the area in which they live. Let's start, shall we?


What street do you live on? Petain Road.

What does it mean? It's named after World War I French hero, Henry Philippe Petain. But due to the questionable decisions he made as Prime Minister in World War II, the French community has been campaigning to change the name of the road.

What's the name of your neighbourhood? Little India.

How long have you lived here? Almost two years.

Why here? Out of the six apartments we looked at, this was the only one that had an oven aside from being an extremely short walk to the mall, MRT station, AND the bus stop. It's so nice to have a movie theater just a few steps away.


When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is: Somme Road Playground.

The closest store (of any type) to your front door is: A coffee shop.

When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you: Walk around the block or go to Tekka Market.

If you’re missing home, you: Call Mom!

A mandatory stop for out-of-town guests is: Chinatown which is just seven minutes away via the MRT.

You’d swap houses in a second with: Nah, we really like this place.

A common myth about your neighborhood is: That the entire area is chaotic. This is true of the nearby Serangoon Road, but our side is pretty quiet.

If you’re ever woken up at an ungodly hour, it’s almost always due to: The birds during mating season - they are so much louder and earlier than our alarm clock...


Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joint is: City Square Mall

You won’t find better local food than at: Hmmm... There are quite a few places that have been written about extensively - Swee Choon Dim Sum, Kok Kee Wanton Mee, and Sungei Road Laksa. Sadly, I've only tried the wanton mee (and it was good) which is ironic considering they are all walking distance from the apartment. Then again, I think it's precisely because they are near that I have yet to get around to them. Am I making sense?

We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are: Mustafa - the 24 hour department store, supermarket, bakery, pharmacy, money changer, electronics - you name it, they have it.

The most convenient thing about your building is: Aside from the location, the shops on the ground floor. I like knowing that I can easily grab dessert downstairs (great for unexpected guests).

One thing you’d never change is: The park in front of our building.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is: The construction site two doors down.

Why should your neighbourhood be featured in a guidebook? It already is =) Also, there are tons of interesting cafés in the area and the Hindu festival Thaipusam starts here.

What's your neighbourhood like?

Jakarta: Union

10 June 2014

The sign on the door requests you to dress smartly and a note on the table tells you how long you can stay. This is the first restaurant I've been to that gives their guests a time limit.

Melon & Mint Smoothie (IDR 55,000)
Watermelon, Melon, Honey and Mint

The free bread basket arrived with my drink, which wasn't as refreshing as I thought it would be. Maybe because I couldn't really taste the mint?

Creamless Carbonara (IDR 70,000)
Tagliatelle, Pork Bacon, Parmesan

A touch on the side of ordinary.

Red Velvet Cake (IDR 55,000)

This was not on the menu, but you can request for it. It was as good as the reviews said it would be, but too much for just one person to eat alone.

Jakarta: Kafe Betawi

05 June 2014

I had been going round and round the mall in search of lunch, when I chanced upon Kafe Betawi. What set them apart was that unlike the other restaurants I had seen, this place was packed with people and they all looked like locals.

Nasi Uduk Semur Daging (IDR 45,000)
Coconut infused fragrant rice with traditionally cooked beef stew

The beef was a bit tough, but the dish itself reminded me of my mother's cooking so I ended up liking it.

Kue Rangi (IDR 21,000)
Kafe Betawi's famous sweet dessert made of sago and coconut

Crunchy, chewy and sweet all at the same time. I could only eat half before I got tired of chewing so for me, this is best eaten when shared with others.

For those who want to try classic Jakarta street food, then Kafe Betawi is definitely a good place to start.