Monday 28 January 2013

Le Arc de Triomphe

Le Arc de Triomphe is the most monumental of all triumphal arches.  It was built between 1806 and 1836.

It is also one of the most famous monuments in Paris.  It stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of Champs-Elysees.

This monument is devoted to one of France's most fearless leaders, Napoleon Bonaparte.

The arch is in honor of those who fought for France, in particular those who fought during the Napoleonic Wars.

Side view of Arc de Triomphe from Avenue de Wagram

Le Arc de Triomphe
A visit to the ground level of the arch is free, just take the underpass.  Never attempt to cross the chaotic and dangerous roundabout from the Champs-Elysees!

There are inscriptions in the ground underneath the vault of the arch which includes the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War 1, where the Memorial Flame burns.  This has made the Arc de Triomphe a revered patriotic site.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

To access the top, you can climb 284 steps or take and elevator to the mid-level and climb 64 stairs to the top.  Tickets can be purchased at the ground level.
The most rewarding thing about walking up all those stairs (and not using the elevator) is the amazing panoramic view of the city.  See for yourself!

Avenue des Champs-Elysees

Tour Eiffel in the background

It's well worth a visit, and must be on your "to do" list when visiting Paris.

Sunday 27 January 2013

Celebrate Waitangi Day at Fern & Kiwi

Waitangi Day commemorates a significant day in the history of New Zealand.  It is a public holiday held each year on 6 February to celebrate the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.  New Zealand's founding document in 1840.

So what better way to celebrate it than at Fern & Kiwi.  See picture below for details.

Friday 25 January 2013

Xin Nian Kuai Le from Expat Kiwis!

In just over two weeks, we welcome the Year of the Water Snake.

We would like to wish all our readers -Gong Xi Fa Cai and all the best for a prosperous Year of the Snake!

Expat Kiwis x

For Hongbao Dos and Don'ts - click here.

Hongbao Do's and Don'ts

For young adults who are more used to receiving hongbao than giving them, here are a few guidelines about giving hongbao.

When should people start giving hongbao?
One you're married, you considered an adult, and you're obligated to give hongbao during Chinese New Year.  However, newlyweds are exempted from this tradition in their first year of marriage.  The understanding is that they need to save for a new family.  In return, they are expected to "speed up" their plans for their first child.

What if I'm a single working adult?  Do I have to give hongbao?
As long as you're single (note that being divorced or widowed does not count as being single), you're still considered a child and therefore not "qualified" to give hongbao.  Doing otherwise could be seen as a form of disrespect to your elders.  However, it has become the norm for singles to give hongbao to their parents.  This should be encouraged as it is an act of filial piety.

What are the lucky numbers for hongbao cash?
For your elders, the sum in each packet should end with the figure eight, to wish them wealth and prosperity, or six, for longevity.  For peers, such as cousins or siblings, stick with any amount ending with eight.  For juniors, any amount ending with the digits 2 or 6 will be appropriate as they symbolise good health.

Are there unlucky numbers to avoid?
As the number four sounds similar to "death" in Mandarin, you should NEVER pack $4 in a hongbao.  The minimum sum you should pack is $6 to bless the recipient with longevity.

World Colours - #WHITE (#worldcolors #worldcolours)

To get and understanding of what this blog post is all about, you can read our previous blog post titled World of Colours .

During the end of each month, we'll be sharing our version of imagery based on a colour calendar, starting with WHITE for January.

Top Left: White building in the Robertson Quay area
Top Right:  White sand on Sentosa Island
Bottom Left: White rice dish in Bali
Bottom Right: White linen at accommodation in Bali

Left: Merlion on Sentosa Island
Right: Cup of Kopi Luwak

And last but not least, one of my favourite photos from one of our New Zealand road trips . . .

If you want to participate, join up by visiting Naomi's blog for information on linking yourself up.

The only rules we have so far:
  1. Use the hashtag #worldcolors somewhere in your post (you may add #worldcolours as well if you'd like).
  2.  Use at LEAST one photo.  You may blog as many photos as you'd like and it's up to you whether to include text or not.
  3. Please link up your colour post no later than the last day of the month, when we'll close the linky for that colour.
  4. Feel free to use NEW photos or images from your archives.
  5. Photos can be from inside of your home or from all over the world!

Monday 21 January 2013

World Colours (#worldcolors, #worldcolours)

We received an email from a mutual Twitter friend - Naomi (@Naomi_Hattaway on Twitter) from Box 53B who is excited to start a new monthly project called #worldcolors (#worldcolours).

So what is it all about?

To quote Naomi - It's a joint effort for bloggers all over (well, so far it's just a handful of us, but we have faith that others will jump our slow-rolling wagon!  Maybe YOU! You over there in the corner?  Come play!) to collate our photos that all have ONE thing in common.  COLOUR!

During the end of each month, we'll be sharing our version of imagery based on a colour calendar . . .

Stay tuned!!!

If you want to participate, leave a note in the comment below and I'll get Naomi to get in touch with you . . . there aren't really any rules.

Update: If you want to participate in Project WorldColours, click here

Borough Market - London

(Guest Post! - by @SGVekNZ)

When you've been living in Asia for awhile, you just don't realise how much you've missed some foods from the Western world. Sure you can buy some of it over here in Singapore but it usually comes at a price; a very steep one. 

So when we were prepping for our trip to London, we asked a few people where was the place to go if we wanted to get a glimpse and smell of very desirable foods. The answer that came up was always Borough Market. That was enough, it had to be on the list!

And so the day finally came, such is the reputation of the place that even the friends that we were staying with wanted to go along. 

Borough Market is actually very easy to get to. We took the tube and got off at London Bridge. From there it was a short walk. 

As we walked along we knew we were getting close to the Markets. There was a buzz that simply grew and grew until; BAM, the Market hits you as you round the corner. The crowd instantly grows more dense and your ears are filled with the murmurings of a shopping crowd. Above the din of the shoppers though, the stall keepers can be heard quite clearly as they shout out their wares; the ones vocally loud enough to out compete their neighbours anyway. 

Simply put, Borough Market is AH-MAZE-ZING!

Only the beginning - we're about to approach and blend in with the crowd ahead

There is such variety at the market, the smell, the sights and the colours. Having missed Western food at its best, every step, every corner bought a sense of happiness when you recognised something. 

There were a lot of sights so lets take a mini tour :)
First up; Paella, this was carb heaven. Cooked and simmering in large 1 metre sized Woks; this smelt amazing.

Seafood Paella
The Seafood was fresh and perfect with the wedges of Lemon. You could tell it was popular as they had 3 of these large Woks going at once, waiting to feed the hungry shoppers. 

With the weather also getting colder, what could be more perfect than hot Soup? A great variety from Pumpkin to Potato and all of the other great flavours. The Soup is made fresh as well so no wonder many could be seen clutching a cup of Soup and warming their hands. When they say hot, it IS hot, with a very warm bellow of steam coming from the Soup - bliss!

Soup, Soup, Soup, wonderful Soup

Next up was a stall where I found what I was looking for, something so simple but had the power to quench my thirst for meat. That of course, is the humble Bacon Butty.

How can something this simple be SO GOOD

This thing was Amaze Balls; it was salty and went so well with the Cheese, the Pickles and the small amount of Salad. Bacon was perfect; having been cooked on a very hot cast iron sheet, it was crispy, smokey and very very tasty. I gobbled this down very quickly, just in time to round the corner and find..........

CHEESE! For those living in Singapore; we all know how much this stuff can cost, but right now in front of me was a load of it!

For a brief moment, it looked like the best job in the World - cutting Cheese :)

These weren't your "Baby" Cheeses either but BIG round blocks of it. There were stalls and stalls selling Cheese, all the varieties you could think of. The chance to sample and taste them was ever present as the staff kept cutting and placing more morsels onto the tasting dishes.

And staying with Cheese, close by was a Sandwich shop that sold only Cheese Sandwiches. It's safe to say that they are VERY generous with the filling. Check it out below......

Extra cheese with that Sir?

So far it has all been savory. A market wouldn't be complete if there weren't any sweets around. Again very spoilt for choice.

Another highlight was the Chocolate Brownies, every Chocco Bicky fan would go nuts if they saw the Pyramids of the stuff piled high. 

Different type of Egyptian Architecture - Chocky Brownie style

You did have to shop around a bit as many were offering this desirable morsel of Chocolate goodness. It was fun tasting the offerings from different stalls to find the one that was the most moist and had just the right amount of Chocolate in it. A tough job, but someone had to do it........

And staying with sweets, there are also the Bakery stalls. So many treats that the tables should've literally buckled from the number of calories :P

One stall caught my eye; it had almost everything you could think of, Apple slices, Macarons, Cookies, Buns, Cakes, Everything!

Oh man; drool, spot the Eclairs as well

There is simply so much food here that it'll be impossible to write about everything; so to round off this mini tour, a quick fire Photo round!

Fresh Seafood - the smoked stuff was awesome
Glorious fresh bread - something I miss in Singapore
Amazing Deli style goods - behold the colours

Plenty of fantastic cold cut meats - carved for you on the spot

If you're in London, Borough Market is a must visit. It has got everything; fresh produce, Meats, Seafood, baked goods, sweets and drinks. There is a constant buzz around the place and the sights and smells will stimulate all your senses. The best one to stimulate would have to be your taste buds :)

Whether you're a Foodie or not this place will have something for everyone. I was completely blown away with the Bacon Butty........... brief interlude here - lets look at this Bad Boy again :P ........

Bacon Butty - Act 2
..... and then there were the Organic fresh Juices as well which I had. They were Amaze Balls.

Just make sure you don't have Breakfast before you go. You will be tempted by all the samples and get very full by just doing tastings alone. 

If you're planning on going to London, put Borough Market on your list. If you're living in London, go there next weekend :) I know I would.

Bon Appetit.
PS - Have a hang over from the night before? Plenty were there to cure it with great food :)

Sunday 20 January 2013

Rabbit Carrot Gun

Seeing as we both had a hectic week, we decided to try out the recently opened restaurant located on East Coast Road.

There is indoor seating and also alfresco dining available, as you can see from the picture below it's quite a small and intimate establishment.

They have quite a decent food and wine menu. The food can be described as comfort food, especially with choices like Lamb Shanks and Fish Pie.
Hubby ordered the Fish Pie topped with mashed potatoes and served with seasonal vegetables. It was one of their best sellers and probably a signature dish. The Fish Pie is cooked from scratch so please note that there is a 20 to 30 minute wait for it. It was a tasty dish with a nice fish flavour (not too strong) in a white sauce. Decent pieces of fish and Prawn were used in the dish.  Although it tasted nice, the serving can be a bit small for some and at a cost of S$24+ we'll let you decide whether it is worth it or not. Don't get me wrong it was tasty though!

I ordered the Pan-Fried Black Cod on a bed of wilted spinach and Risotto Cake.  This was also a tasty dish, the fish had a smooth texture, but be careful of bones.  The risotto cake and wilted spinach complimented each other nicely.  The cost of this dish was S$35+, again a very good tasting dish which was cooked very well so it'll be down to personal opinions as to whether it is worth the cost of the dish.

I was too full to order dessert, but Hubby ordered the Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble served with cream. The Rhubarb and Ginger actually complimented each other very well, with a sour taste that can get your appetite going again. The Crumble on top was very good! If you're a big dessert fan then you'll definitely find the serving very small (you'll see what I mean in the picture below when you compare the size of the spoon with the dish).

Overall Rabbit Carrot Gun is a nice local Bistro which serves very tasty food. The service is attentive and it is in a comfortable setting with seating inside and out. It's a small intimate little place. 

It is located in East Coast and the area is surrounded by a lot of very good eateries that serve great food for a smaller amount of coin. One is certainly spoilt for choice around the East Coast but if you feel like treating yourself, Rabbit Carrot Gun is the place to try out for that treat. Its got good tasty options, isn't pretentious and sticks to a simple formula - serving good food.  

Friday 18 January 2013

Plan that Long Weekend getaway!

In 2013 there will be 10 public holidays in Singapore, that's a total of NINE long weekends, so plan that getaway now!

Thanks to MoM for the long weekends and  Expat Living for this image.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

Buckingham Palace / Changing of the Guards

Buckingham Palace has served as the official London Residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837, and today, is the working headquarters of the Monarchy, where The Queen carries out her official and ceremonial duties as Head of State of the United Kingdom and Head of the Commonwealth.

The Palace has 775 rooms.  These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms.

Beautiful gates

The arch where which we saw during the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

There's that famous balcony

Standing guard

Changing of the Guards

This is the sign that we saw in the grounds of Buckingham Palace the day before.

We were a little late in arriving to get a prime spot for the Changing of the Guards.  There was already a mass crowd when we arrived at 10.30am.  After doing a little research on the internet, I discovered that people start arriving early as 9.30am!

Here a pictures of what we managed to see.

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