Melbourne Brunch Spots: Hash Specialty Coffee

Depending on whether you follow my Instagram (it’s @RachiePn by the way), you may or may not know that I snuck off to one of my favorite places about a month ago to Melbourne, Australia.

It was a very short but fulfilling trip. Even my flight there was amazing: 777-300ER, PEY bulkhead with only one other person on my row, four seats away, thank you very much.

Although my instinct says “meat pies and beers” when I think of Australia, the whole Melbourne brunch craze took too much effort to say no to. Since I dropped in on Melbourne while everyone had work or class (as in lessons, not the classy kind of class, I got some of that too), I managed to spend some good old me time while I was there.

My friends and cousins threw a bunch of names at me like “Hardware Societe”, but basically told me to go down to Hardware Lane and just do whatever the fuck I felt like doing. I checked Hardware Societe but there was a huge line and what’s more awkward than eating alone? Queuing alone to… eat alone.

So I went across the road and checked out White Mojo, but decided to give it a miss since they didn’t have much on their savoury menu that I fancied. Just a door or two down was Hash Specialty Coffee & Roasters. Short line, black decor, chorizo & scallops on the menu, it was definitely my scene.

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Apart from having to sit on a tall stool, it was freaking awesome. The very hipster-looking staff actually made me feel comfortable, even after explaining that both still and sparkling water was free and comes from a tap straight into a beaker. I ordered the mentioned chorizo & scallops and a cold brew coffee for myself.

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Old Hong Kong: Tai O Fishing Village

Catch a glimpse of the old fishing village with traditional stilt houses on the Western Side of Lantau Island, Hong Kong.

Before Hong Kong became a global financial hub, Tai O was famous fishing village which was well-loved for culture, seafood snacks and stilt-houses. Separated by a small river, Tai O is a quaint village situated North-Weste of Lantau Island, and reachable by a 50-minute bus ride from Tung Chung MTR.

Tai O is a rustic village is built on stilts over the water, decorated with salty fish and famous for its shrimp paste and all kinds of Chinese seafood products. It has plenty to keep you busy, especially if you love photography. Venture towards the river and you will find the best angle to capture this village from.

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Nara, Japan

Nara is only about 40 minutes away from Osaka by train, and is definitely worth the trip.

Famous for their free-roaming deers, Nara Park is only about 10 minutes walk from the station. It is a straight shot and you know you’ve made it when you see the stalls selling deer crackers.

Nara Park is a very peaceful spot: grass, open air, and gentle deers; only ruined by annoying tourists just like myself. For some reason the deers bow so that you would give them the crackers, which I found a bit unsettling. While some say they were trained, I prefer to think that they’re just following the crackers in the humans’ hands as they bow. The deers are mostly very gentle, but they can get pretty aggressive, or impatient with people taking so long with the food. Two of them went for the crackers in my hand at the same time, and one even bit Jon’s coat to get him to hurry up.

On a nicer day, it would have been great to stroll through the park and maybe even have a picnic (not sure how doable that is with all the deers around, maybe it’s not even allowed), but with the rain getting heavier, we happily agreed to visit the nearby sake brewery to stay warm.

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Kaiyukan – Osaka Aquarium

Growing up in Hong Kong means that when I travel, aquariums rarely make it onto my to-do list. We have Ocean Park and we take these things for granted.

As a “been there done that” kind of traveler who sees a sight and does not know what to do with it, being in Osaka posed a small problem for us. We just did not quite know what to occupy ourselves with after each meal. We did some shopping, hit the arcades, visited the nearby Kyoto and Nara, and mostly spent our evenings at bars. On the last day of our trip in Osaka, we caved and headed out to Osaka-ko to see us some fishies.

Having spent a few days in the city, it was refreshing to go out there and be in the open space where we were greeted by the first snow… that we’ve seen in years. It was a strange moment of euphoria. I was so cold for so many days that I really felt I should at least see some snow; and snow I saw.

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MahaNaga / Gypsy Spell Bar – Bangkok

It has been a while since I last travelled for work, and it definitely reminded me of the good old crew life.

In Bangkok I stayed in Sukhumvit, a very international part of the city. So international in fact, that I actually struggled to find Thai food. Everything in the area seemed to be Japanese. I was told later that there are a lot of Japanese expats in Bangkok, and my office was also in the Japanese Village.

On my first night in Bangkok, I had to walk around a little and brave my way down the streets leading off the main road to find some Thai food (as my husband Jon text to assure me I’ll be able to find something while in Thailand). When I saw a small stand on the street corner saying “Modern Thai Cuisine”, I went for it. It didn’t really matter whether it was modern or traditional, as long as it wasn’t Japanese.

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Weekend Taipei Trip

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Sometimes (all the time) work just gets too crazy and you get really desperate to GTFO. Well I didn’t have the balls to actually walk away from my life so a friend and I went to Taipei for a weekend.

I left work 2 hours early on a Friday (with permission, thanks for checking), and caught an early evening flight to TPE. This is also where I realized I really do love airplanes. I was on an A340, and even though it was one of my least favorite aircrafts on the CX fleet, I had about a good hour of zen, just listening to the hum of the engines and the opening and closing of those aluminium compartments. It was the calmest I had been in ages.

Okay anyway.

I landed in TPE, went and got my sim card like a pro, and hopped on a bus to the city. I suck at the whole bus thing even in Hong Kong, so that was a major win. My friend had already shopped all afternoon and I was quite exhausted from the week so we just went to an all-you-can-eat hot pot place (馬辣 “Ma-La”, it’s a chain, just Google it) around the corner from our ‘hotel’ (more on that later), and drank lots of beer. It was da bomb.

Our hotel. We had good rates, HK$600 for a double bed room for 2 nights I think. It’s a business hotel. It’s in a building with clubs, bars, movie-themed… something, and our somewhat newly renovated business hotel. It’s dark and kind of modern, but really just looks like a karaoke joint; it even sounds like it because that’s what’s right below our floor. NO FRET, RACHEL TRAVELS WITH EAR PLUGS. MAJOR LIFE WIN.

The next day we got up and decided to check out this place called 貓空 “Maokong” (it literally translates into “cat space/empty”. I was so excited. We even had to take a cable car to get the the bloody mountain. Cable cars that had teeny tiny windows and were effectively glass ovens.

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I make it rain.

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Welcome, welcome.
This is Santa Monica, Los Angeles. I was there a week or two ago and it was the only place I had time to visit (kind of). It was a nice breezy day and by the time I was done shopping and stuffing my face at Chipotle, it got chilly and started raining. IT WAS RAINING IN LA, AT SANTA MONICA.

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I didn’t really feel like I was in LA until I took this random picture and thought, “oh yea, I’ve seen pictures of this spot before. It was sunny.”

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And now, I’m here in Sydney, Australia. I got here last night and my friend (who’s leaving today), was telling me I have to go to Bondi Beach, because it’s the bomb and the weather’s been amazing blah blah blah. Well, guess what? It’s cloudy today and my ass almost fell off from freezing in the pool. And then it started raining.Good thing I didn’t go all the way to the beach. Next time, I guess!

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Welcome to Amsterdam! On this trip I had roughly 48 hours to explore and enjoy the city.

I spent my first morning catching up on some sleep and visited the city (Amsterdam Centraal) for lunch. My friends and I also spent the whole afternoon pointlessly walking around and taking photos of the canals.

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We also decided to gawk at all the ducks and swans in the canal instead of the ladies in the Red Light District.

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The next morning we took at 45 minutes bus ride from the city centre to what seemed like the middle of nowhere to have a look at some windmills.

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Windmills. They looked exactly like they do in photos. A tiny bit underwhelmed.  Continue reading

Cairns and Brisbane, Australia

First things first, check out the view from my room in Cairns!

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I love Cairns for how chilled-out it is, and how accessible everything is because it’s so small (unless you’re straying from the tourist area and visiting the residential, but why would you). The first time I went I was alone and honestly, it bored the heck out of me after my day trip to the Great Barrier Reef. It’s really just souvenir shops, one huge supermarket (which I do love), bars, and restaurants I can’t afford to eat at for every meal. Oh, and a huge mall which, in my opinion, is far from everything; and why would you want to be in a mall in Cairns anyway? If you want to go diving/snorkeling, sky diving, or rafting, you would have to join a day trip, which isn’t particularly cheap either.

I do love Cairns though, I just need a good friend to go with, and a few more things to do there. My friend Christina and I would have some amazing fun had we went together and happened to have made our set of “Cards Against Humanity”. Making those cards would have been amazing. Christina, my boyfriend’s brother Josh (we didn’t trust my boyfriend with scissors), and I had an amazing time bonding over cutting paper. Yes, cutting paper. It’s mesmerizingly peaceful. This is a story for another time.

Anyway, Cairns, yes.

One of the most amazing things about this place is that there are free barbecue areas along the esplanade – not all bunched up, but spaced out with grills, seating, and drinking fountains all there FOR FREE! My friends and I managed to buy a crap load of stuff and just hung out all night – even until the lights were off and random birds came out and made bird sounds.

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