Growing up, I always loved the sound of Cantonese. To my ears, it sounded like people arguing in style. I admired the direct and no nonsense attitude that Cantonese speakers seem to have. Mess with me and I’ll scold you affectionately. Although Mandarin is the most widely spoken Chinese language in Singapore, those from the older generation still speak dialects like Hokkein and Cantonese. My Mandarin is passable, but I can’t understand a word of the multitude of Chinese dialects that are spoken by Singapore’s largest ethnic group.
Everyone who knows me knows I love food – but Xinjiang cuisine has a super special place in my heart. The food is SPICY, intense and packed with all kinds of indescribable flavours. And so I asked my trusty temporary housemate Fang if there’s a restaurant in Hong Kong that serves Xinjiang Cuisine… and… ding ding ding… she told me about Ba Yi. It’s one of those famous places where you have to book a time slot in advance. And yes – they will kick you out when your time is up. And no – they don’t care if you haven’t finished your meal. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I ordered the mixed set that came with two seasonings: salt and miso. I personally preferred the miso. Whilst the dish didn’t offend my tastebuds, I failed to see what the big deal was. The texture of the meat was chewy and tough-ish. Some pieces were delicious, but a lot of the pieces were simply not to my liking. I wouldn’t call it much to look at either…. Having said that, I loved the pickles and the soup. The pickles were packed with flavour. And the tail meat in the soup was incredibly tender.
I’ve rolled down the car window. The Irish countryside welcomes me with open arms. The cool summer breeze is in my hair. Ed Sheeren’s Shape of You is blaring out of the speakers. I’m wearing a mini skirt and boots. I’m nodding off while the driver and the GPS do their thing… I’m reliving some long overdue born-to-be-wild-80s moment. All is well… I WISH.
Galway retains that old world charm without being tacky and kitsch. Galway City only has a population of 80,000, but culture is teeming from every street corner. Buskers play harps on the street. Traditional Irish music is a regular feature at many of the pubs. It was lively, vibrant – full of tourists, students, locals. I almost forgot about the small population. it felt like everyone was there.
I love Airbnb. Most of my generation has used it at some point or another. But… before Airbnb showed up with its fancy algorithms to connect hosts with guests all over the world, there was the old school BnB. And Ireland is the perfect place to re-experience the traditional BnB. And before you worry about ratings and reviews, registered Irish BnBs are star rated by Fàilte Ireland: the National Tourism Development Authority. Whilst Booking.com has some BnB options, I found it fairly limited if you’re looking for something off the beaten path. A bit more Googling later, I found what I was looking for.
After a week of admittedly very good pub grub, my palate was desperate for a change. And no, I didn’t want Indian food or Chinese food. I decided to save that for when I got back. Hey – I do not go to a far away country to feel like I’m back home. A quick Google search later, I found Damascus Gate: a Syrian and Lebanese Restaurant on Dublin’s Camden Street Upper. It was Friday night and we didn’t have a reservation, but we managed to get a table for two.