New Zealand Videos

Day 1 — Exploring Queenstown & Te Anau

Day 2 — Milford Sound Cruise

 

Day 3 & 4 — Wild Penguins and Seals in Moeraki + Springfield, New Zealand

 

Day 5 & 6 — Jade Hunting in Hokitika, Franz Josef Glacier & GLOW WORM CAVES!!

 

Day 7  — Tasman Sea, Cave Hikes & Pancake Rocks Blowhole

 

Day 7 & 8 — Exploring Christchurch

 

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Australia Observations

1.A lot of slang:

Sangas – sandwiches
Knock backs – ?
Tazzy – Tasmania
Brizzy – Brisbane
Scrummy – yummy
Scrolls – cinnamon “rolls”
Capsicum – bell pepper
Leads – leash
Maccas – McDonald’s
Woolies – Woolworths
Sultana – raisin
Nosey about – look around
Surcharge – tax
Chilly bin – cooler

2. Young and old, many walk around barefoot

3. I’m not sure if this is everywhere but in a lot of residential areas people speed (some do not have low 20 mph speed limits like the US)

4. Early 2000s music plays everywhere… Smashmouth and Sugar Ray…

5. No street food… I heard it exists in Melbourne only. Sad!

6. It’s hot and humid. Unbelievably. AC mucho necessito

7. People are all around pretty friendly and helpful —

8. I see a lot of those strange truck-car hybrids. I wonder why those are so popular here?!

9. Warm nights and amazing sunsets!

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Cat Friends

Only my most favorite cats in the world — I’m not sure if it’s a quality specific to their breed (Oriental Shorthair) but it’s really saying something for me to like a cat so much as I’m a proclaimed dog person. Haha. Basically these cats have their sleepy periods where they can lay peacefully on my lap which is all I really ask for in a pet. Once they awake from their slumber they go from 0-60 and really know how to play without clawing anyone. It’s hard to tell from the video but these cats are full grown yet half the size of a normal cat. Perfect for picking up spontaneously, lol.

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Thai Airways First Class Menu

We actually took two flights, one from Hanoi to Bangkok and Bangkok to Sydney. This happened to be the most comfortable flights I’ve ever flown and I will detail why.

After we checked in, our tickets allowed us to chill out in the lounge before boarding. Granting us free food and drinks… you can bet I ran to check out the food. Pad Thai, chicken curry, sushi, cereal, an array of fruit, salads, and more! I was too busy eating to take picture. I also tried a Birds Nest drink for the first time (made with the snow mushroom). It had a very light sweet flavor, but nothing I could differentiate or compare to anything I’ve had before besides sugar water. Apparently there are health benefits, but whatever.

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We were given piping hot towels on a tray – Really nice since I was sweating so much from thinking were were gonna miss said flight. Haha, but I washed my hands and wiped my brow. A nice gentleman came by asking if we’d like any reading material, offering all the newspapers and magazines. I took a Vogue (he warned me it was in Thai, I didn’t care). And as soon as we could grab a stewardess, decided to start with some champagne, why not! Later a stewardess came by to show us the menu. Considering this was only an hour and a half flight I was really stoked to be getting another meal… until I realized I was still full from the little bit I ate in the lounge prior to boarding, LOL. Kenny finished his plate and I did try all of my components. This chicken curry and rice was deliciousssssssss! Rice perfectly done and sticky, chicken well seasoned and super juicy. Tangy papaya salad with pork on the side and a coconut custard with pumpkin for dessert <<< YUM! I really love airplane food but this is NOT your average plate.

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We got off in Bangkok and went through security again so we could take full advantage of the next lounge we could get into. Haha. It seems like I’ve eaten about 4 meals in the past 2 hours but who cares, it’s free right? This lounge had a way fancier set up and was quite busy as a flight was to depart around 1:30 am. We got in there around 11 pm. There were spicy ramen, chicken and shrimp wonton soup, vegetable spring rolls (I ate 10 of these with chili sauce), tom yum wraps, chicken puffs, mushroom quiche, three kinds of cake rolls (coffee, fruit, chocolate), pastries, papaya and watermelon. I’m pretty sure people were watching me eat, some ladies were curious, the Chinese had wide eyes. Yeah, okay.

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Lounge #2. Yes we went into another lounge because it opened earlier (5:15 am) for breakfast! Again, taking advantage of a nice spot to hang out before we catch our next flight. Comfy chair, chargers, wifi and all that jazz. No boarding announcements here! Really relaxing! The breakfast menu was a little different – Offering hard boiled eggs, ham, steamed buns, breakfast pastries, salad bar, more fruit. I tried a cafe latte and got some weird milk bitter coffee thing from the machine. Later it looked like a few people were trying to fix it so I’m not sure what I actually got. Lol.

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Next we boarded our flight and were guided UPSTAIRS to our section. We sat down to find toiletry bags, fluffy pillow and blankets. I was kind of cold somehow so I instantly ripped mine open and got cozy for the ride. Inside the bag was body lotion, all natural chapstick, eye mask, toothbrush/toothpaste/mouthwash, comfort socks, and terrycloth slippers for lounging, along with noise cancelling headphones. In the few minutes before we even took off we discovered that our seats (like our previous flight) fully reclined so you could sleep flat. Also have your legs our like on a lazy boy and turn on the MASSAGE feature in your chair which was also adjustable! The remote popped out of the arm and you could listen to all kinds of music or choose from some movies. I ended up watching Trolls, Argo, and playing some word scramble game.

Kenny had the idea to make mimosas so I asked for OJ and the most expensive champagne. I waited till they left before I completely sloshed the two together for my mimosa. Haha.

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BRUNCH time! I always, always love fruit. This was apple, dragonfruit, papaya, and pineapple with a vanilla yogurt on the side with some butter for hot rolls. I was excited to see the mini strawberry jelly (just as cute as their mini salt and pepper shakers) lol. After I was done with my fruit the stewardess brought out the EGGS BENEDICT. My favorite breakfast, it combines everything good – saucy egg, salty meat, crunch to soak up the hollandaise. Yum. Behind that, which is hard to see in the picture is some sautéed asparagus. That was so dang good and I’ve never seen such cute asparagus.

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DINNER iS SERVED!!! By far my most memorable airplane meal… I mean, 3 courses?!?!? Yes. Yes. Yes. I kinda forgot what I had ordered because the stewardess had come by while I was in and out of sleep and just kinda pointed to something. Thankfully it was the right something! First course was a smoked salmon with romaine lettuce and mango lemon basil cream. It was really tasty and refreshing. If this had been the meal itself I would’ve been just fine here. But no…

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HALLELUJAH – Here is THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER EATEN ON AN AIRPLANE! Duck confit with garlic confit and juice, caramelized pumpkin, buttered needle beans, with parmesan. Duck… perfectly cooked. Moist, juicy… the brown garlic sauce soooo savory and I dipped everything in it. The pumpkins sitting in the garlic… just perfect. If I knew anything about preparing duck I would try to recreate this asap. Don’t mind my strawberry jam that I scooped out of the cute little containers because I wanted them. Also had some jelly and butter with my rolls because I felt like it.

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This seemed very Danish (I’m actually not sure of the origin, just that we did this everyday in Denmark)! After dinner I was asked if I wanted the fruit and cheese course. Yes. So, I was brought my own personal brie and baked strawberries which taste just like gummy snacks but are all natural. Ah, Thai airways you will have me dreaming of another flight!

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TRAVEL WITH US, video below 🙂

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Macarons

I’ve tried macarons everywhere I can get my hands on them in Portland, there are some good but majority aren’t… EARLIER MACARON POST .

While abroad I’ve made it a point to find Laduree and Pierre Herme– I’ve had Laduree on the Champs-Elysees, Switzerland, London etc. I know that there are a lot more to try but these were at the top of my list for best, both had the right consistency, amazing flavor combinations and presentation. There was also that time, a crazy 24 hours in which I made 3 batches of macarons by hand (see here!), in which I ended up with a hundred coconut and peanut butter macarons :*) I feel like now I really understand the intricasies of such a small and complicated pastry.

When purchasing macarons I always look at how they are stored and displayed. Refrigeration increases their lifetime to about 3-5 days but obviously by the 5th day it won’t be as great as the fresher one. I’ve seen that Costco is selling them now and assume that whatever is preserving these will make it quite unlike a real macaron in texture (I would love to know if anyone has tried these, comment below!)

Here in Hanoi there are some local French bakeries and a few offer some pretty looking macarons. Sadly these turned out to be the worst I’ve ever had, from a place called Salsa (go figure) based on their oddly small size and outside texture as crunchy as a cookie. The inside texture was so hard that it took me a few tries to get my teeth through the middle. The more commonly buttercream middle was closer to the likes of cement, haha. I should’ve taken pictures but it was so crumbly I would have lost the thing before finding my camera. I also could discern no recognizable flavor of any kind. It was red? If I have to guess that is a really bad sign. Discouraged by that incident I decided to stop searching for those here.

Anyways, Kenny surprised me with lunch and DESSERT from Dean & Deluca. I was really excited because these looked amazing! Vibrant colors (one was glittering for goodness sakes) consistent size and fresh appearance. I was starving but I actually waited till after lunch to dig in. (Lunch was wagyu beef lasagna and a passionfruit drink)

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The first one I tried was this tye-dye green and red one which I guessed correctly after a bite: pistachio and raspberry! I appreciate that they put two traditional flavors together in a really nice way, the real tartness and crunch of raspberry with the more mild nutty pistachio.

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Next I tried the most dazzling one — This one was tougher for me to describe because it was pear and chili! I didn’t notice any heat from it but I will admit that it takes a lot to for me to judge something as spicy.

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This one looked odd to me by its color and my visual guess was maybe caramel or another pistachio. One small bite and wow… BANANA crunch! The filling was thick with real banana and taste that packed a punch. It was truly enjoyable to have such a legit banana flavor in a macaron no less, I didn’t even think that was possible.

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This one is, as you probably guessed – strawberry but technically Strawberry Jam if you could see the inside and taste the real fruit in this! Somehow the macaron still retained its perfectly light and soft outer shell with a seedy sweet red filling. No sogginess or staleness at all. So impressed! I think I let out an exclamation as I ate this because it was so surprising. It wasn’t a demure and coy flavor, but just as the banana one had that wow factor.

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So, what am I saying now? These are a bang for your buck and quite possibly a lot more accessible than Laduree. Give them a try I think they are quite well done, American take on French macarons.

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