Tag Archives: seafood

Tokyo, 2016: Shinjuku, Tsukiji Market and Yanaka

When night came, we headed to Shinjuku where all the neon lights are. Outside of one of the many Sanrio Hello Kitty shops that they have in Japan, I found the biggest Hello Kitty statue I have ever seen.

We also found the infamous Robot Restaurant and climbed a stepladder for a photo with one of the robots. The area was lively and we stopped in a restaurant that served whale bacon and made soft serve ice cream instantly. We declined the former, but my daughter enjoyed the whole process of the later.

Most of the locals were playing a betting game where they betted on rolled dice for free beer. I think my husband wished he knew how to play.

The next day we woke later, exhausted from all the walking and almost overloaded with sight seeing.

We went to the famous Tsukiji Fish Market, part of which is set to close in early 2017. There were enormous slabs of tuna everywhere prepared in any fashion you desired. My husband had raw fish and sea urchin for breakfast, followed by eel skewers for a snack. I couldn’t quite stomach it and had omelette instead.

I liked the huge mushrooms of many shapes, the paper-thin sheets of Nori seaweed and the lollies that were made to look like a tray of sushi. One question we never had answered was where is the inner market and how do you get there?

Next we went to Yanaka old city. It was small and hard to imagine that this was once the centre of Tokyo. The main street had tiny shops. My daughter enjoyed reading the Japanese manga fairy tale books and we liked looking at the houses, both small and grand.

We went back to Shinjuku in search of one of the Alice in Wonderland restaurants. Finding one of these themed places was a little bit of an obsession for me. After a lot of searching, I thought, why is an Alice restaurant so hard to find? But I suppose that’s the whole point.

Eventually we found it, down the rabbit hole elevator in the basement of a non-descript building. It was closed.

Instead, we went to Omide Yoko Cho memory lane for a tasty traditional lunch with Japanese beer and went shopping in one of the many Uniqlo’s- the Japanese brand that has now taken the world by storm.

Back in our neighbourhood, my daughter played in the block courtyard park before we went to dinner at one of my husband’s friends places. The local lady of the house served Daiwa Sushi (make your own) and the thinnest and tastiest slices of Kobe beef that we had ever eaten.

Related posts: Tokyo, 2016: Imperial Palace and Shibuya, Tokyo, 2016: Ueno and Harajuku, Japan, 2016

Pinnawala and Negombo, 2015

My parents, husband, daughter and I drove past Bible Rock, stopped in Kadurata for lunch and continued on to Pinnawala to see the elephants.

I had been here before, had loved it and couldn’t wait to show our daughter who I was sure would enjoy it too.

When we arrived, the elephant herd was on the plain, waiting to be walked for meal time. Some of the baby elephants were having shower time, which they seemed to be revelling in.

Afterwards they were all put together in a pen and our daughter was able to reach out and touch a trunk or two. And then it was time for bottle feeding- and boy did they suck it down!

I paid a little extra to feed a basket of fruit to one of the older elephants and it was worth every penny. They really are such gentle giants and our daughter thought it was hysterical when the elephant tried to suck my knee in the search for more goodies.

And then it was time for the daily trek to the river for bath time. I think the herd relished bathing as much as we marvelled in the spectacle. They flopped their big bodies into the water and stayed submerged for long lengths of time with just their trunks emerging for breathing.

Mothers and calves, younger ones tussling with each other and one who only left their ears above the water to show that they were there.

On the drive out we stopped at a Tambuli stand for some fresh coconut water, before heading to our final Sri Lankan destination, Negombo.

We stayed at an aging hotel with a pool, went for a walk along the beach and discovered part of a fishing village. My husband bought a handmade leather bag at Akram Leather Factory. The machinery in the factory was ancient, but it still did the job.

All our daughter wanted to do was swim in the hotel pool, so most of the day was spent doing that. And in the evening, we enjoyed drinks and I had a luscious seafood platter for my final meal.

After saying our fond farewells to our driver and my parents after they dropped us at the airport, it was time to leave Sri Lanka and our road trip behind. It had been nice to show my husband a country that I had always liked visiting and I am sure he now appreciated it and the people as much as I do.

Related posts: Sigiriya and Dambulla, 2015Kandy, 2015Upcountry, 2015Ebony Springs, 2015Ella, 2015Mirissa, 2016Galle, 2015Cooler Colombo, 2015Old Colombo, 2015It’s a Sri Lankan Thing

Javea, 2013

My husband, daughter and I left Barcelona the next day for a road trip down south to Javea. Our Belgian friend Bill owned a holiday house there are we were to meet up with his parents and brother Ben with his partner and baby son.

The house was an authentic white washed villa on the hill of Balcon al Mar and was a great place to call home for the week.

We hit the beach straight away and went to Granadella beach. The white rocks contrasted beautifully with the blue water and it was everything a Spanish beach should be. The weather was nice, the sea sparkled and there was a sailing boat moored in the bay.

When we had had enough fun in the water and of sitting under the blue and white stripped umbrella on the beach, we went to the restaurant overlooking the beach for a tasty seafood lunch.

Unfortunately, my husband got an ear infection from swimming that day, so the rest our time in Javea was not to be the active beach holiday we envisioned, but was still a restful time.

I woke with my daughter most mornings with only the dog Coco and the BBC news channel for company. Sunrises were colourful, but late here. French lunches with the family were had on the outdoor balcony and afternoon drinks on the terrace by the pool.

My daughter liked the hammock in the garden and Baby Bjorn walks around the neighbourhood. We also tagged along on a few of the shorter dog walks into cactus laden plains.

My husband got enough energy together to head into Javea old town with us all one day. The streets were lined with balconied houses, old wooden doors and wall murals. The fort/church in the middle of the town was huge and there was both an indoor and outdoor market with colourful red Spanish dresses for little girls.

One day we also managed a driving tour of the surrounding area. The most beautiful sight was the lookout point at Cap de la Nau. It was ocean as far as the eye could see, punctuated by rugged cliffs and islands. We also saw the white washed lighthouse and went to the rock shelves of Calla Barraca Beach.

We visited the main beach at L’Arenal where the sandy beach was lined with palm trees and restaurants. We had a nice lunch and bought our daughter her first pair of sunglasses. On our last day we returned to a glass fronted restaurant for paella.

It was a fitting end to our Spanish beach holiday, before we drove back to Madrid for an overnight stay near the airport. The hotel was hard to find with all the surrounding ring roads around, but after a few double paid tolls, we made it in the end.

Related posts: Barcelona, 2013, It’s a Spanish Thing, Spain, 1997, Part 2: Beyond Barcelona

Fiji, 2011

When we were thinking about where to go on our annual holiday, my husband and I had decided upon South America. Then my friend Marnie announced she was getting married in Fiji and we changed our plans to go to Mexico instead. It was one of the best decisions we ever made, not only because we got to attend the wedding of a friend, but because Mexico turned out to be one of the best destinations we have ever been to.

Second time around at Denarau, we stayed at the Sheraton. We discovered the advantage of staying on the peninsula when I found that we were able to use any of the pools at any of the other resorts in the area, as well as eat at any of their restaurants.

The wedding party were staying next door at the Sheraton Villas and most of the guests were staying in nearby hotels, so each night we had a ready-made group of friends to go dining with. Apart from a few mutual friends of the bride that we were already acquainted with, we struck up a new friendship with Dan and Susie, an English couple who were friends of the groom.

Most days were spent lazing at the pool and the beach drinking champagne or cocktails. My friend Vanessa had brought her daughter and there were others who had children, so there was always someone at the pool. The sunsets on the beach were just as lovely as I remembered and the pool bars were even more fun this time around.

The day before the wedding, my husband went for a scuba dive and I went for a manicure and checked out the church that was to be used for the ceremony. It was a beautiful tiny white washed chapel perched on a point looking out into the ocean.

The day of the wedding dawned sunny and the guests were all the colours of the rainbow in their bright holiday dress. Sunset cocktails on the beach were followed by the reception at Flying Fish restaurant with more drinks, speeches and lovely seafood. The dance floor at Chime Bar was packed that night!

Related posts: Fiji, 2008, The Seven Year Itch

Destination Thailand, 2010

In 2010, my husband-to-be (HTB) and I returned to Kaw Kwang Beach where he had proposed one year earlier, to get married.

The idea had been planted by the Cha Da Beach Resort & Spa manager as we had left post engagement in 2009. We didn’t want a big wedding, but we love to travel; and so the decision to have a destination wedding was made.

The resort were quite happy to accommodate our request and provide their first Western wedding ceremony (and third wedding ever), including accommodation upgrade to a Diamond Villa with private plunge pool.

We politely declined the offer of a Thai celebrity to perform the ceremony or a local band to play at the reception and proceeded to invite as many people as we wanted, thinking that we would be lucky to have family and a few friends there.

I am fortunate enough to have both a photographer and hair/make-up artist as friends so that was easily taken care of; and we purchased last minute table gifts of carved wooden candle holders from a local artisan in Ban Saladan.

Having our wedding Thailand was awesome as the people are so friendly and they added little cultural quirks that unintentionally made us smile, like writing “Welcom Black” in flower petals on our bed for our arrival.

As it was off-season, the only other people at the resort was a German family so we mostly had the place to ourselves. In fact, the day after the wedding the monsoon kicked in it poured rain at the exact same time we got married on the beach the previous day.

In the end, we had 50 guests attend from all over the world. It truly felt like an international wedding with guests from Europe, America, Asia and Australia. I was lucky enough to have a few of my besties and a couple of cousins in attendance which was fantastic.

Most people arrived the week before, so by the time the wedding day arrived everyone had gotten the chance to know one another as they had bumped into each other at the pool bar in the day, attended a large group dinner in town or a late night drinking session in our plunge pool. Some of guests even chose to explore the area by going on day trips with newly made friends they had met at the resort.

The ceremony was held at sunset on the beach and the little extras that I didn’t know about that the resort provided were very touching. They threw flower petals on us as we walked along the beach and all the lovely staff came to watch the wedding.

The reception was an amazing Thai seafood BBQ buffet dinner, it was hot and everyone was drinking. By the end of the night people were dancing crazily, had the food labels from the buffet on their sweaty heads and ended up jumping in the pool once we had left for the night. People are still talking about how much fun it was years later.

I would do it all again in a second and am looking forward to returning to Cha Da for one of our wedding anniversaries soon. Hopefully with a few of our wedding guests in tow.

Photography by Richard Miller.

Related posts: Thailand, 2009, Thailand, 2002

Thailand, 2009

My husband-to-be (HTB) found himself between jobs, so we thought we would take the opportunity to take a week’s holiday. We went to the travel agent who saw that we were good candidates for a last minute off season wholesale deal for a week in Thailand.

We flew to Bangkok a week later and met up with Yam, a friend of my HTB and a Thai local, for dinner. It was the hottest time of the year, just before the monsoon, so was very humid even at night.

The next day we flew to Krabi and then took a two hour bus trip, including a vehicle ferry, to the island of Koh Lanta which is almost on the Malaysian border. Our deal was at the Cha Da Beach Resort & Spa which had a very imposing reception and impressive grounds.

There was a huge main pool with its own bridge, a game room with a football table and two other pools near Kaw Kwang beach. We picked the adults pool near the beach that had a pool bar and staked our spot.

Our deal included an Emerald Suite which had a romantic canopied bed, a lounge area and one of the biggest shower heads I had seen. To have a view of the ocean from the balcony was wonderful.

Not content with just seeing the inside of the hotel, we explored the cute little village of Ban Saladan which was a short tuk tuk ride away. Only two of the many fresh seafood restaurants built on stilts over the water were open due to the off season. We chose Ko Lanta restaurant, had our fill of seafood cooked how we requested it and took in the view of boats on the water.

My 31st birthday began with a pedicure at the hotel spa, followed by reading by the pool, swimming and cocktails by the pool. At sunset, we took a walk on the beach where my HTB completely surprised me by proposing. We went back to the hotel to congratulate ourselves with champagne and a chocolate sundae.

Related posts: Thailand, 2002