Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hello 2014!

Hallo, hallo! 
(Warning: this is an epic picture-loaded post!)

I know, I know, I’ve been MIA on the blog for the past month. My good intentions of regular blogging came unstuck even before I started! This is not off to a flying start for 2014!

I apologise but I blame the holiday brain. I was on holidays overseas and despite having time to blog, I was very restless. It was very hard to sit in front of a laptop to type away for a blog post when there is a new town, a department store, a boutique, a new must-see sight waiting for me to explore in the cities I visited. Besides, if I didn't venture out I would have missed out on the opportunity to visit places that I may not ever see again (I suffer severely from the Gen-Y condition known as #fearofmissingout or #FOMO as it’s endearingly known).

So what’s happened over the past month? Well I’ve eaten some of the most amazing food across 3 wonderful countries, seen spectacular views, had an amazing White Christmas experience in Hokkaido and then rang in the new year with smashing fireworks along the harbour of Hong Kong island. Of course, I've also shopped up a storm and have maxed out two credit cards in the process and was shocked when I sat down to do calculations of the final cost of my latest trip.

All the Christmas trees in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong
You may have seen snippets of the snaps I’ve taken during the holidays on Instagram but let me do a recap of my favourite moments in plenty more pictures. 

First up the food. Without doubt, Taiwan is the capital of fabulous food. If you love food, you must come and visit this country. The variety is wide, the offerings fresh, scrumptious and inexpensive. It’s rare to to get a bad meal there (although I did manage to find a bad takeaway one evening) and there is so much to try, you would need to find another stomach to sample all the food during a outing at one of the numerous night markets in the city. 
A large array of food in the night markets in Taipei  
some of the Japanese and Taiwanese dinners we had

Meals from Hong Kong
Most Memorable Meal:
Peking duck at the Westin Hotel in Taipei. As my good friend Tina said "f*ck the duck, the soup is da bomb"! It was truly to-die-for and the star of the meal. The night markets filled with lively atmosphere, the tantalising smells of food cooking sprinkled with the excitement of finding a good bargain with the various wares and clothes that were on sale. It is a match made in heaven for the foodie and shopaholic in me.
Amazing Entree and duck soup from Yi Yuan restaurant at Westin Hotel Taipei

Runner-up Mention: 
There was a dinky take-away joint away from Shilin market in Taipei that sold pork chop take-away (便当) for only $85NTD (roughly A$3). Seriously, I’m still thinking of that succulent pork chop as I type away right now. Sadly, I forgot to get a photo of the place so I'll have to rely on my bad memory to find the place again the next time I visit. 
only $85NTD. I would pay 10 times that amount for that amazing pork chop
The best pizza I’ve ever had was in Sapporo (who would have thought). Freshly oven baked, thin crust and amazing flavours of broccoli, chorizo and mozzarella. It was better than the pizzas I've had in Italy- true story . 
Best pizza found in Sapporo @ Salvatore Cuomo & Bar Sapporo

Best Shopping: 
Hands down I burnt the most cash in Japan. The fashion in Japan is fantastic and there were so many clothes I just want to cart home with me (both for work and play). The department stores were great as were the subway boutiques which I wandered around and got totally lost in during the feezing days where it was too cold to venture above ground.
Subway shopping at Poletown - this was closing time
Rilakumma store can be found in Paseo East shopping centre in Sapporo 
I spent a small fortune picking up some items from Burberry, and other Japanese brands like Yodabashi, Honeys, Uniqlo (cannot wait for them to open a store in Melb!) and in the many Japanese drugstores. I bought many skincare and makeup items that were Asia only products (or if available outside of Asia, was very hard to get a hold of, especially in Australia).
I might have a shopping addiction in Japan...

Limited Edition Laudaree blushes
Jill Stuart also gets 1000 points for the pretty packaging and pigmented products
Unfortunately (or fortunately), my luggage wouldn’t allow me to buy up more after 3 days of shopping. In the end I posted back 11kg of good before leaving the country after my shopping sprees. I got to the point towards the end of my holiday in Hong Kong that I avoided going into another Watson or Sasa because I had bought too many beauty products already!

Runner-up Mention: 
Horizon Plaza shopping centre in Aberdeen in Hong Kong. They have a Prada and Mui Mui outlet store there (sadly nothing I wanted was there when I visited as it mostly goods from a few seasons old). I did however, pick up a beautiful pair of Salvatore Ferragamo kitten heels at 50% off! 
I'd never have found the Prada/Mui Mui outlet store if I didn't have locals taking me there
Favourite Sights:  
I've never had a white Christmas so hands down for me was seeing and enjoying the snow in Sapporo. Now I've experience snow before but the snow in Sapporo was different to the snow in Australian alps. The dry crisp air there and sub-zero climate meant the snowfall was powdery soft and stayed that way for longer. I was truly like a kid in a candy store, even lying on the pristine white powder to create snow angels a quite a few times.
Snowed under - on the streets of Odori

Sapporo Central - loved the Diamaru food hall!
Runner-up Mention: 
I've always loved fireworks and Hong Kong put up a very good show for 8 minutes. Despite the short duration, it was spectacular, majestic and magical. Mind you, I still think Sydney’s new year fireworks are work class and slightly better than those in Hong Kong.
New Years fireworks on Wanchai Harbour

Hong Kong lights up at night
Temple Visit to Wong Dai Sin
Other memorable moments include getting to sleep in a flat bed on the plane with our business class flight, a spiritual Lantau Island visit to see the big Buddha, to Sapporro and a visit to the Wong Dai Sin temple. 

Big Buddha at sunset - Lantau Island
In 2014...
With the new year I only made one resolution - to get into a good early morning habit. I have for the past 15 years been a night owl and I feel it’s time for me to kick that habit for good. So this year, I’ve decided to gradually become a morning person buy getting up at 7.30am and eventually working towards an early bed time.  So far I’ve not had not luck (I’m writing off January, and going start in Feb instead) but I’m determined to succeed. I’ve also decided I’ll finish work at 6pm no matter what and take the work home with me or go into the office very early rather than staying back to create a better work habits. 

I’m also going to try and get back into the things I love most in what little spare time I have. I’d like to get back into my street photography, crafting, cooking and DIY skincare making again. The year is still young so I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to achieve these goals. 

How has 2014 been for you so far? Have you been holding up to your New Year resolutions?

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