HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Yes, 2014 is upon us. This is when everyone will exclaim how incredibly fast the previous year has passed and they can’t believe that a new year has been ushered in in the blink of an eye. It’s true – I feel the same way too. I also notice that the older you grow, the faster the years seem to zoom past. Looking back at my calendar, 2013 has been a good year for me. It has been kind to me and I am very blessed. There was no major illness, no major mishap and aside from some small irritations/upheavals, generally, things have run pretty smoothly. Some of the best stuff that have happened in 2013 for me are…
1. LESTER’S GRADUATION
My 3rd trip to Melbourne in 2013 was for this milestone event. It’s a graduation like no other. RMIT, one of the most established and well-known universities in Australia, takes their graduation very seriously. It’s like a carnival there! Prior to the graduation ceremony, there’s a parade where the graduating students, in all their graduation finery, took to the main street from Swanston (accompanied by family and friends) to Federation Square. Yeah, it’s quite a sight.
You get to eat a pink donut once you reach Federation Square!
The graduation ceremony was held in Etihad Stadium. Well, with over 6,000 students graduating, I guess a stadium it must be. The entire stadium was decked out in the university colours and flags and there was a capacity crowd to boot.
Like I mentioned above, I was in Melbourne 3 times this year. The 1st trip was in May, the 2nd in September and the last one in mid-December. Autumn, winter and summer – I love the seasons there. Summer wasn’t half bad – the hottest day we encountered was when the temperature climbed to 38 deg.C. Besides the CBD area, we visited the Yarra Valley and The Mornington Peninsula. I had a chance to work with Tourism Victoria and some independent business owners who graciously hosted us at various places. Lovely experiences and there are many more places we’d love to visit in and around Melbourne in the near future.
I visited Beijing for the very first time in October. The city is amazing with its jaw-dropping “bigness” – everything is huge there, from buildings to roads and trains. Well, their attitudes are “big” too and I’ve been taught by my good friend, Connie on how to deal with that. I’m so lucky to be taken care of by Connie – really love her apartment, the trip to Ping Yao and all the restaurants she took me to – I know, I have yet to blog about those! *Coming up soon.
4. HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM
I think I’ve done the most travelling in 2013 compared to any other years. First visit to Vietnam and we went to HCMC. We had a lovely stay at The Equatorial with the warmest hospitality (but of course, it’s owned by Malaysians!). We explored the city and did a day trip to the Mekong Delta – a great eye-opener to the way of life in Vietnam
I was invited to attend Sheraton Bali Kuta’s “Toast Around the World” event, together with other media from around the region. My flight arrived 3 hours late into Denpasar due to bad weather which caused a diverted route to Surabaya for re-fuelling. Spent 2 nights in Sheraton Bali Kuta and another 2 nights in Le Meridien Jimbaran to experience and review the gorgeous resorts.
As part of Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur’s marketing activities, I participated in their “Cuisine Explored” culinary challenge. I roped in my good buddy, Alice Yong who named our partnership “Duolicious”. We had fun coming up with the menu and the best part was getting to cook in the kitchen of Prime. Although we didn’t win the challenge, the highlight was that I got to boot Chef Antoine Rodriguez out of his own kitchen!
7. TAMAN NEGARA
It was 3 days of unrelenting humidity and perspiration here! Did a lot of walking in the tropical jungle trails and got up close & personal with some wild hogs and tapirs. First time to this national heritage park and the sprawling Mutiara Resort is a nice place to chillax – time seemed to stand still in the rainforest.
The resort has some real friendly residents!
8. HUNGRY GO WHERE – MALAYSIA
The popular online food portal from Singapore, “Hungry Go Where” expanded into Malaysia and I’m privileged to be one of the selected few partner bloggers. It’s been awesome working with the good people of HGW and I’m certainly looking forward to more exciting ventures with them in the coming years.
9. MEETING GORDON RAMSAY
Undoubtedly one of the biggest names in culinary stardom, Gordon Ramsay needs no introduction. Celebrity chef, restaurateur, tv personality, the star of Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares, MasterChef USA and others, Gordon Ramsay is larger than life. How do I know? Because I got to meet him! I was one of the very few media from Malaysia who was invited by Hungry Go Where Malaysia to attend the Hawkers Hero Challenge in Singapore where Gordon Ramsay was put to the test to cook 3 of Singapore’s favourite hawker dishes and pitted against the local hawkers there. I was star-struck, of course, when Gordon came by our table and I seized the opportunity to get him to autograph my recipe book!
My first trip to this Sabahan town was made possible by the invitation from Four Points Sandakan. It was a hotel review and foodie trip where I got to check out a host of Sandakan’s delicious culinary delights!
11. OTHER LOCAL TRAVELS
12. GERMAN LANGUAGE COURSE
I completed my Level 1 German Language course, took the exam, not only passed it but also scored the highest marks in the class!
13. WON A GRAND PRIZE
In my entire life, I have never won that many prizes in contests, simply because I don’t make it a habit to enter contests, haha! Well, I admit I have won some small items in lucky draws during annual dinners, events etc – items like vouchers, small electrical items but never anything big. Certainly I have not won any contests that require skills and intellect so therefore I was dumbfounded when I won the Grand Prize in an online contest late last year. It was not a “lucky draw” kinda contest – I’m quite sure my entry was selected because my responses made sense! I shall enjoy my prize next month – all will be revealed soon.
14. RECIPES PROJECT WITH FLAVOURS MAGAZINE
I’m thrilled that I got an opportunity to write and produce some recipes for Flavours magazine. Six of my Chinese New Year-themed recipes are featured in the January 2014 issue. It has been a great experience doing this – I had so much fun with my buddy Alice Yong, who is my accomplice in this stealth project – of course we could not reveal anything about this until the January issue of the magazine is out! The photoshoot of the dishes was done in my house – although it was fun and exciting, I never knew that a shoot can take so many hours!
Let’s hope 2014 will be another great year and with more blessings to count! Cheers!