Perth: Of Margaret River and Devil's Curry

The last instalment from last break!

Feels good to be churning out post after post, clear the cobwebs a little from this blog ( for some reason, when I re-read this, it sounds like clear the bowels).


Last trip I was working off Australia and word was it could be our last trip. I've spent some time in Melbourne before, and I thought perhaps I'll do Perth this time. I contacted Limay who is living with her husband there and she said she'll be in town! 

A couple of days before we met, she texted me that luck wasn't on my side - the next three days I will be in town is forecasted to rain. Damn.

Still, it all worked out perfectly, you'll see. Limay and her husband, Adrian, picked me up from the airport (Pretty chilly at mid-teens!) and we took a short stroll in King's Park before heading back to their place for a much-needed dinner.

Bless her, she'd even made nasi lemak!

Bit blurry, oops.

Bliss, I can't remember the last time I've had nasi lemak. She also made beef rendang and the sambal was as good as any. She'd even decorated and sliced the cucumbers in pretty shapes! If that isn't admirable, I don't know what is.

After breakfast the next day (pulut inti made by her mom-in-law and then at a local café for a good cup of cappucino), we went back to King's Park. She insisted I should see it in the day time as well. 

Check out the brewing clouds!

We took a leisurely stroll before driving towards Fremantle, or Freo, as it is affectionately known. It isn't far from Perth, approximately 15-20 minutes drive is all.

We stopped by at Cicerello's for lunch - yummers

I'll let you guess what S.O.Y means.

Battered and deep fried salt and pepper squid (my ultimate favourite!!)

And a baked fish of the day with a side salad and chips.

Seafood chowder which Limay confirms is the best in the world - complete with scallops, mussels, and prawns.

Washed down with Bundaberg ginger beer. The only downside eating al fresco in this weather - our food got cold real fast

We finished, and walked around the small harbour town. A very light drizzle was present, but otherwise nothing worse than that. I bought a pair of Emu boots too ;) I was initially looking for the Australian Uggs but was told by the shopkeeper that there isn't a lot of difference between the two, except that Emus are Australian made whereas Uggs can be assembled in China (she emphasised that sheepskin and wool are definitely local).

Limay was most enthusiastic over my choice of boots, lol. She kept taking photos and exclaiming how pretty the boots are - that alone was well worth the purchase!

Another home-cooked meal for dinner, yay. Eating out in Australia can get really expensive (AUD30 per pax) and besides, I'm a sucker for homemade meals!

Aglio olio penne and roasted root veg that Limay announced she'd forgotten to include garlic and onions, hehe. 

The next day we left early for Margaret River. First things first: headed for another coffee place frequented by Adrian - he used to work as a barista and I'm'glad he knows where's good for coffee! 

3.5 hours to Margaret River, and a couple of pit stops before - 

The iconic blue houses on Busselton Jetty - It was cold, and we only stayed briefly. There is an aquarium at the end of the jetty (a covered undersea tunnel to view the aquarium under the jetty!) but we decided it was too expensive - about AUD30. On the posters it looked pretty cool though whole array of marine life between stilts of the pier.

Hehe, I borrowed Limay's jumper because I wasn't prepared for the cold!

There is plenty to do in Margaret River, and generally holidaymakers stay for 3 days, at least. The sides of the roads are lined with vineyards, and I'd say cycling in the vicinity will be very pleasant! There are great views to keep you occupied - beaches, greenery, and a beautiful weather.

We went to a German restaurant for lunch - the servings were massive! Between the three of us, we struggled to finish two mains and an entrée.

Pork knuckles that every table seem to order as well. Crackling isn't, well, crackling! Disappointed.

Ending with sunset at Canal's Rock:

A lovely infused water Limay made and brought with us - rosemary, cucumber, strawberries and lemons - an effective thirst quencher!

Spoiled by Limay's MIL - she made devil's curry (a Eurasian dish of pork with potato curry and supposed to be very spicy. For us veterans, it was only mild, but delicious), a simple stir-fried bok choy (requested by yours truly) and fried omelette!

Honestly, nothing beats a home-cooked meal. I cleaned up every last drop of curry, and every last piece of bok choy.

We planned to have Vietnamese pho before Limay sends me off to the airport but because she had an interview just before, we didn't have much time left. And so, we went for an express duck rice-

Salivating thinking about it now!

Thank you lovebirds for a most awesome stay :)

Bellissimi Bellagio

From Milan, it was a train to Varenna and a ferry to get to Bellagio. 

And yes, the same Bellagio that George Clooney had apparently fell in love with and purchased a villa there (now supposedly in the market for a whopping $100 million, crazy much?). The villas here are gorgeous - definitely a place for the rich - something we witnessed before physically touching ground on Bellagio. As we board the ferry, we were treated with a full visual display of flashy cars leaving the ferry - Ferraris, Porches, Lamborghinis. Roofs down, bronze families in chic hats and sunglasses more expensive than my year's salary.

It is almost too easy to fall in love with Bellagio - narrow alleyways, rickety stairs, glimpses of the azure blue Lake Como beyond petite cafes , and cute little gelateria framed by flowing vines.

The very scenic route towards the Villa Mitzi, one of the top attractions in Bellagio (cos really, there isn't much to do other than to eat, drink and be merry. Oh, swimming, and cycling too, but I'll come to that shortly).

We were lazing and reading at a bench in the grounds of Villa Mitzi when I started feeling off - feverish and nauseous. I wasn't sure if it was something I'd eaten, or I was  dehydrated. I wanted to go back to the hotel so that I could put my head down, and on the way we stopped at a clubhouse for some water.

There was a bar just close to the entrance and I flopped down to an armchair. Vinnie went to the bar and asked for a bottle of water. He didn't have small change so I took out my purse and gave him some. Somewhere between that and leaving seems to be a haze. We got back to the hotel eventually (me stopping again and puked out my lunch - clam spaghetti) and dozed for a good few hours.

When I finally woke up, it was close to 8. I felt a lot better,  although still weak. We discussed dinner and I was looking forward to head out after wasting previous holiday time on the bed... got ready and realized my purse was missing.

I panicked, and backtracked events of the day - the last I'd seen it was at the clubhouse. Vinnie took off to search the clubhouse while I searched the room. Nothing. V came back and nothing still. He said nobody at the club has seen it. I was devastated.

I've never been in such a helpless situation before - because I always take actions to prevent anything like this from happening! All of my IDs are in the purse - my driving licenses, all of my credit cards, ATM cards, and over $1000 cash!

We asked for directions to the police station - took us a good 20-30minutes' walk! Wished we'd gone on the bicycles, it would have saved us so much time. And when we got there..... it was closed.

I was well close to tears, we got back to the clubhouse to speak to the manager. She said nobody has seen or mentioned seeing a purse. I noticed CCTVs in the clubhouse and asked if she could go through the recordings. She wasn't familiar with them, but asked us to come back in another hour when the security guys are here.

I was already preparing myself for the worst. True enough, the armchair I flopped myself on earlier in the day is a blindspot on the cameras! I couldn't believe it, it all seemed like a horrible nightmare that wouldn't end. 

We got back to the hotel and called the banks to cancel my cards... I started making plans to head back to Malaysia as well because I have no cards, and will have to lodge a police report to reissue my IDs... it all seemed like a huge big mess! 

I was exhausted and still unwell. In the middle of the night, the hotel phone rang - it was the clubhouse manager. She said the cleaning lady has found the purse and we could get it tomorrow! So it turned out the same cleaning lady nicked it, didn't report it and of course wanted a reward for it - Important thing was I have all my cards back, with a few hundred Euros missing - a small price to pay!

I was back and smiling for photographs:

Couldn't find a road bike so only managed a cross-bike for Madonna del Ghisallo-

A church with altars dedicated to bikes!

Simple bruschetta with cheese and tomatoes - effortlessly delicious! Cappucino was good, as always!

Lesson learnt: Never bringstore all your cards and cash in one place!

The Georgian Adventure - Hike to Chalaadi Glacier

Our third, and last hike in Svaneti. There are so many more places to hike and explore around Georgia, it was a hard decision to premature...