Thursday, September 23, 2010

toronto - part three

Kelly reckons I am now ready to move over to Toronto as I have experience quite a lot of things that only local Torontonians would have experienced.

- I celebrated the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival in the northern hemisphere for the first time in seven years which was complete with the traditional mooncake eating, moon observing, and a delicious hotpot dinner at home. I even managed to score a free paper lantern from a lady at a Chinese supermarket in Chinatown!
- I went to IKEA and had its $2CAD breakfast (supposingly many nannas and pops can be spotted enjoying the breakfast there)
- Lisa and Kelly talked repeatedly about going to the Bass Pro Shop and that I wouldn't understand what it was until I got there... so I was very excited about checking what all the hype was about. This shop is a huge Canadian camping/hunting/fishing store full of Canadian outdoor paraphernalia... it's creepy, kitsch and hilarious at the same time. The girls and I had tonnes of fun there giggling over some of the crazy products on sale.
- Kelly's mom came over to visit from HK, and we all went over to visit Kelly's popo (grandmother) who lives in a Chinese 55+ lifestyle apartment complex, which is very like a hotel, complete with sticky-beak old ladies...
- We got pulled over by the police due to an expired rego sticker on Kelly's car, so I ended up checking out the local licensing centre to renew the rego sticker.

I also attended Chris and Nikki's wedding. Chris and Nikki are Canadians I became friends with from my dip ed course, and they have stayed in Perth ever since. They decided to have their wedding back in their homeland so they could celebrate with their families. It was great being able to catch up with my Canadian dip ed classmates, and be a part of the handful of Australians who were able to celebrate with the newlyweds. Oh, how I love my Canadian Aussies!

All in all, I have thoroughly enjoyed my three and a half weeks in Toronto. I am so glad that I was able to catch up with many friends (even bumped into one at a local church). I also appreciated the amazing hospitality shown me by my Torontonian hosts Kelly and Pat... thank you so much! I love you guys!

Currently loving:
- This video is a must-see for all the poutine lovers: Danse La Poutine -
- my amazingly hospitable hosts Kelly and Pat
- Bass Pro Shop
- Kensington Market
- Maple sugars... crazy sweet but simply delicious
- everything about the autumn season in the northern hemisphere... there is just so much more ambience and atmosphere

outside the AGO + mid autumn festival hotpot

the beloved canadian moose + map of kensington market

Links to more pics:
Toronto - part three:
Toronto - part four:
Chris and Nikki's wedding:

Monday, September 20, 2010

toronto - part two

I am loving being able to be a tourist, roaming around and exploring a different city. There is so much to see and discover in Toronto... the past week I got to check out the CN Tower, Casa Loma, Bata Shoe Museum, Osgoode Law library, etc. I also got to check out the gigantic T&T supermarket (a Chinese supermarket) and a Korean supermarket... they were so much fun.

I am also enjoying catching up with friends in a different city... I even got to meet up with my friend Alex who was my childhood neighbour in HK and went to primary and high school together but lost touch with and hadn't seen in 15 years!

Kel tried explaining to me what all the rage was about the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) when I was still in Perth and to be honest I didn't quite understand... but being here in Toronto when the festival was happening, I was able to blend in with the locals and soaked in the festival atmosphere and watched 'Black Swan' (which I really enjoyed), 'Bunraku', and 'The Butcher, The Chef and the Swordsman'. It was truly amazing seeing the whole city get revved up about movies, and people were willing to wait in line for hours to get tickets and also to queue up to get a seat in the theatres.

I have heard about Kel and Pat's annual Niagara on the Lake (NOTL) trips for years, so when I discovered that I was going to be in Toronto around the same time as the NOTL trip I immediately signed myself up. Kel organised everything for us, from the accommodation, food to even the wine tour bus! There were twelve of us who spent the long weekend together... half the group came up from the US. On the Saturday, we managed to visit six wineries (Fielding, Flat Rock, Coyote's Run, Icehouse, Konzelman and Stonechurch) and there were a lot of purchases made that day. I am particularly partial to the region's Vidal icewines... it's like drinking iced honey! Mike Cheung was so keen about this trip that he even pre-ordered some wines from Fielding before coming up to Niagara. There was plenty of food too... the Americans pretty much attacked the Coffee Crisp chocolate bars and Lay's Ketchup Chips as these items are not available in the US. It was Kwun-Ye's birthday on Saturday so we celebrated it with tonnes of dessert! All in all, the trip was amazing and it was so brilliant being able to meet up with old friends and make new ones and hang out with them for the entire weekend. Loved it and loved all the hard work Kel put into making this trip so fantastic. Wish I was able to make it every year...

More things I have discovered about Toronto:
- people here often agree with things by responding with a slurred 'oh yeah' [/aw-yiah/]
- I really like the street signs... certain districts in the city have the district name/distinction above the street sign... and there are other quirky street signs which I found amusing and fascinating
- the most Canadian cup of coffee is a Tim Horton's double double (aka percolated coffee with 2 creams and 2 sugars)
- the subway system (TTC) can be a quite temperamental at times
- images of iconic Canadian animals are use everywhere... beaver, moose, geese, bear, squirrel

Currently loving:
- pineapple chunks.. it's 'crack' according to Kelly
- cherry pretzel pie
- ketchup chips
- poutine
- icewine

osgoode law library + bata shoe museum

niagara on the lake + shenanigans at the tiff midnight madness

Links to my pic:
Toronto - part one
Toronto - part two
Niagara on the Lake weekend

Monday, September 13, 2010

toronto - part one

I've been in Toronto for one week and already I have eaten so much food!!!! From the moment I landed into Toronto after my hideously long day of travel from Wellington (almost 24 hours long) I have been pretty much eating non-stop. I can not get over how much cheaper food is over here than in Perth. Our currencies are currently almost one-to-one with each other so the contrast is very evident.

Apart from eating tonnes I have been trying to do as much sightseeing as possible... as well as catching up with friends.

On Wednesday (8th Sept), I tagged along with Kel to the Rogers TV studio, one of TO's local cable channels for a taping of a live show. Kel's friend Sam was invited on the show to talk about the clothes she designs and have models display her collection as well as Kel's jewellery. One of the models pulled out last minute and Sam needed someone to help fill in the position asap so I was asked to help model! haha I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing, how I looked, etc... but I ended up on the local tv show twice in a short span of 5 mins! haha my short moments of fame and bad modelling! It was definitely an experience I will never forget.

I attended my friends Dan and Veronica's wedding over the weekend in Orangeville (an hour west of Toronto), at an old mill. Kel and I had no idea what we had got ourselves in when Kel signed us up to help with the setting up and "wire flowers to trees"... the task we soon discovered on arriving to help set up that morning was much different than expected... nevertheless we somehow, though we still aren't quite sure how it happened, managed to create an exceptionally professional-looking floral centerpiece for the reception. The wedding turned out beautifully... there were handmade and homemade touches throughout the entire wedding giving it a very warm and personal feel... the weather was lovely for the outdoor ceremony... the food at the reception was deliciously cooked by Ezra Title and his team.. the rain kicked in and we all went indoors where we were treated to a dessert buffet, followed by more food and plenty of drinks and dancing. What a great night. The celebrations was completed by a post-wedding brunch at a nearby bakery. What a fantastic way to spend a weekend.!

Some of the things I'm loving about Toronto:
- street signs
- shops are open till much later (something Perth desperately needs to improve on)
- so many places to explore
- Toronto International Film Festival... there's a buzz of celebrities in town for this famous film festival
- variety of food... products and restaurants
- Distillery District

Things I've discovered about this city:
- Toronto used to be called York... hence that is why there are districts/ suburbs with York associations such as York Mills, North York, Yorkville, Yorkdale, York Quay, etc.
- They love their hockey... so much so they even made it into a musical on film!
- Maple syrup goes on everything...
- Their universities have orientation day parades which are quite a big deal, even the police and ambos get involved... I managed to see the Ryerson Orientation Parade block up Yonge and Dundas.

This week I will be attending a few of the TIFF films... looking forward to them very much. Thank you Kel and Kevin for lining up at 4:30am to get these tickets!

alison, liz and i + at the rogers tv studio

shelves of maple syrup at st lawrence market + the designers kelly and sam

poster of the hockey musical + our floral centerpiece

Pics from Dan and Veronica's wedding:

Monday, September 06, 2010


I was warned before I left Perth that the weather in Wellington was bitterly cold, so I braced myself for the worst. Alice reckons I got the best of Wellington this trip, I arrived in Wellington to be welcomed by sun and blue skies. I only copped one day of rain, but the rest of the 4 days were rather pleasant. I really like Wellington, it is a very compact capital city, and it is very beautiful, flying into the city was simply stunning!

Museum of Wellington City & Sea
Wellington Cable Car
Botanic Gardens
The Beehive (parliament)
Te Papa Museum
Movies Tour (Lord of the Rings film locations & Weta Cave)
Green Parrot (the oldest restaurant in Wellington) for amazing steak

NZ music I was introduced to:
- Tahuna Breaks
- Fat Freddy's Drop
- Kora

Btw I loved celebrity spotting in NZ! I saw Peter Jackson (director) driving out of the Weta Studios & half of the All Blacks team at Auckland International Airport (yes Richie McCaw but no Dan Carter)

More pics here: