Lots of Learning in Singapore

Two weeks ago we had lots of learning adventures happening in Singapore. With our visitors I spent some time at a local tea house and taking a cooking class. It was so much fun and I can’t wait to take future guests to these same places. It was fun to learn about local Singapore and Asian cultures while participating in hands on activities.

The first stop was a visit to Yixing Xuan Tea House where we participated in a tea appreciation workshop. In this course we learned about Chinese culture and the history of tea, we learned about various kinds of tea leaves, and how to prepare tea in the traditional way.  This was a great learning experience and unfortunately I was so into it that I didn’t take many pictures! You’ll just have to come visit and see for yourself!

IMG_7771-1Our Teas for TastingIMG_7769-1Tasting  IMG_7766-1IMG_7773-1

Next on our learning adventure, we headed to Food Playground for a cooking class. We cooked local food such as Fried Kway Teow, Chicken Satay, and a dessert called Kueh Dadar. After we cooked we got to eat everything for lunch!

My Cooking PartnerIMG_7785-6Our Cooking Set-UpIMG_7780-3 IMG_7783-4Learning to Make Kueh Dadar(Pandan Pancakes with coconut filling)IMG_7795-15 IMG_7799-18IMG_7801-20IMG_7816-31 IMG_7831-43The Finished ProductIMG_7823-37 IMG_7825-38Making the Chicken Satay1IMG_7807-24IMG_7813-28IMG_7830-42IMG_7836-47IMG_7828-40IMG_7835-46Fried Kway TeowIMG_7838-49Final ProductsIMG_7841-52

Singapore Botanical Gardens

First off, we have our first visitors! Yeah! Taylor’s parents are spending two and a half weeks on this side of the world visiting. We will be spending time in Singapore, but also traveling to the West Coast of Australia.

One of the first places we visited after their arrival was to the Singapore Botanical Gardens. The gardens are a beautiful place to take a stroll in a diverse park. There are ponds to walk by, rainforest walks, and of course the beautiful orchid garden.  Here are pictures from our adventure!

Koi PondIMG_7651-1Swan Lake IMG_7656-3 IMG_7657-4 IMG_7658-5 IMG_7663-6IMG_7664-7 IMG_7668-9The Orchid GardenIMG_7670-10 IMG_7672-11IMG_7674-12 IMG_7682-17 IMG_7684-18 IMG_7688-19 IMG_7689-20 IMG_7691-21 IMG_7697-27 IMG_7700-29 IMG_7701-30 IMG_7707-34 IMG_7711-38 IMG_7713-39 IMG_7719-44 IMG_7724-49 IMG_7727-52 IMG_7738-59 IMG_7742-63 IMG_7754-67 IMG_7756-69

After our morning walking around the gardens we headed to nearby Dempsey Hill for lunch and some shopping. We had a great lunch at Jones the Grocer.

New Zealand: Part 4

Our adventure on the north end of the South Island started with some sea kayaking around the Abel Tasman National Park. We were part of a small tour. Our trip started with a water taxi to our starting destination.

Water TaxiP1000849-1

We then loaded up our kayaks and pushed off.

P1000850-2P1000852-4 We headed out to this island first. We saw lots of wildlife like seals, penguins and other birds. P1000853-5 P1000858-7 P1000862-9 Penguins in the WaterP1000864-10 Seal and a Seal PupP1000872-11 BirdsP1000873-12

We then paddled south along the coast. We saw more animals, interesting rock formations and paddled into lagoons.
P1000895-13 LagoonP1000918-16 PenguinsP1000912-15 PenguinsP1000905-14 Taylor did most of the paddling. 🙂 I was busy taking pictures! P1000921-17 Super Paddler!P1000860-8

Next on our agenda for the next few days, we headed to wineries. We visited wineries in the Nelson and Marlborough wine regions.  We visited a bunch more wineries, had excellent meals, relaxed and purchased some bottles to bring back to Singapore. Here are the wineries we visited: Nueforf Vineyards, Rimu Grove, Waimea Estates, Spy Valley, Clos Henri, Seresin Estate, Gibson, Huia, Hunter’s, Hans Herzog, Cloudy Bay, and there may have been a few others but I’ve already forgotten!

Sauvignon Blanc GrapesIMG_7472-4

Baa. We saw lots of sheep near the wineries!IMG_7453-1Clos Henri Tasting Room IMG_7465-2IMG_7467-3Lunch at Hans HerzogIMG_7474-5 IMG_7477-6 IMG_7493-7 IMG_7495-8 IMG_7497-9

On our final day driving back to Christchurch we mostly drove along the coast. We stopped along the way to admire the beauty of the ocean. One stopping spot was great for seals!IMG_7535-16IMG_7499-10 IMG_7503-11 IMG_7504-12 IMG_7507-13 IMG_7515-14 IMG_7517-15 IMG_7537-17 IMG_7539-18 IMG_7555-19

The ends the highlights of our New Zealand trip! All together we drove about 30,000km in about 11 days. Here’s a general map of how we drove. Follow the arrows!Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 1.35.57 PMNext week’s post, the botanical gardens with special visitors!

New Zealand: Part 3

Along the West Coast of the South Island we stopped at many stops taking in plenty  nature. Today’s post is going to highlight a few of those stops!

First up, we started our morning off with a hike around Lake Matheson near the Fox Glacier. This was a pretty walk that wasn’t very strenuous to get our morning started.

The Pretty LakeIMG_7236In this next picture, the Fox Glacier is the faint line you see on the Mountain.
IMG_7243The Trail
IMG_7259
IMG_7268 IMG_7276

Next on the day’s agenda, we headed to the Fox Glacier. We found this to be a cool stop and a tad bit more difficult of a hike. It was cool to see the glacier water running through the river and every so often you would see huge chunks of ice. Due to global warming the glacier is receding at a pretty quick pass. They had two viewing areas to see the glacier. Unless you were on a guided tour, you were not able to get very close to the glacier for safety reason. The first viewing spot was the most difficult to get to because it was an up hill hike! Needless to say we both got our exercise on this day!

Glacier River Run OffIMG_7284Fox GlacierIMG_7293IMG_7290 IMG_7291 IMG_7297 IMG_7304 IMG_7312

That rounded out our day were we spent the night in Greymouth. Not much to say about the actual town, but the campground was right on the beach and we had a good meal at the Montheith Brewery in town.

Taylor Relaxing on the BeachIMG_7320

The next day we countiuned our journey north with a stop at a Maori Sea Cave. This stop was a complete obscure stop that we wouldn’t have found without our travel book. It started with a walk over an old bridge, past an old mining cave, under an underpass, through someone’s backyard and up some stairs. Random, I know. What we found at the end of  our journey was a cool cave that overlooked the ocean. A well worth it stop!

The Bridge
IMG_7406The Old Mining CaveIMG_7407

The Final DestinationIMG_7418IMG_7413 IMG_7415 IMG_7435 IMG_7441

The next stop was at Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blow Holes. The rock formations created by the ocean looked like stacks upon stacks of giant pancakes. We arrived right after high tide and saw a few of the blow holes in action, but it was hard to get pictures of. IMG_7334 IMG_7335 IMG_7337 IMG_7356 IMG_7357 IMG_7379 IMG_7384 IMG_7394

Our last stop of the day was a the Maruia Falls. We ate our late lunch here and a brief walk. IMG_7445 IMG_7447

We continued the drive north to Moteuka for the night. Between the two days we drove about 400 km. Next weeks post, we’ll round out our trip with our adventures sea kayaking, the Marlborough wine region, and the trip back south to Christchurch.