Day #60 29.02.16

Working from home means decent breakfasts because I’ve got time to make stuff. Today was poached eggs and smashed avo on toast. For years I’ve not been able to get poached eggs right, despite trying so many different methods. UNTIL NOW. The other week Rick told me to add vinegar (the normal malt type) to the water, and also try it in a frying pan rather than deep saucepan. RESULT:

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Get in my mouth.

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Auckland and out.

Last stop in New Zealand was Auckland in the North Island, which is the biggest city, but <boring fact alert> is NOT the capital (that’s Wellington).

I’d decided not to travel the North Island. Mainly because I found I couldn’t push my flights back (well, I could have, but it would have cost me a few hundred quid instead of being free) but also I’m not sure I really wanted to. I’m getting towards the end of my trip now, with only a few weeks to go and I’d done so much on the South Island I kind of felt done. So I decided to keep the North Island to do at another time, perhaps with someone else one day, maybe in a campervan and with more money.

So, I flew from Christchurch to spend a few days in Auckland before heading to San Francisco. Luckily I had somewhere to stay; with my friends Ross and Emma who I met in South East Asia. We all met in Laos at the start of the 2 day slow boat journey down the Mekong river. Unluckily for Emma (but luckily for us) she had been ill and they’d delayed their journey by a couple of days, meaning that we got to meet! Me and Nick then bumped into them (literally, while walking down the street) another 4 or 5 times after that throughout Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia. I then tried to arrange to meet up with them in Australia and the South Island but every time we tried to plan it we were always a few days out of being in the same place at the same time!

So what do you want to know about Auckland? It’s nice. Hmm, that’s one of those words that’s just a bit, well, shit isn’t it? But, it sums up Auckland perfectly for me. It’s a nice city. It’s got a good feel, there are some pretty areas, there’s beaches nearby and hills to climb up to get a good view. There’s a decent amount of shops and loads of places to eat. I could live there. But, I don’t feel strongly about it. I don’t feel passionate about it. There was nothing that really stood out as it being different or totally amazing. But, there’s nothing really bad about it either. I suppose I’d maybe say it’s a bit indifferent, I don’t really feel one was or another about it. Well, I’m more positive for sure. And, I did find that the longer I stayed there the more I liked it. So maybe I would love it, were I to stay a while.

I didn’t do the whole tourist thing. I wasn’t out and about every day, filling each second with something (I’ve been there, done that, and frankly after 11 months of it, it’s exhausting and quite often unnecessary). It was nice to stay with friends in their apartment and just hang out. It was like being back with my friends in the UK. Get up, chill out, watch TV (especially the Come Dine With Me omnibus – YES, just like a lazy weekend at my brother and sister-in-laws), surf the net, eat, chat and repeat. Interspersed with little trips out for a few hours. Oh, it was bliss, and a nice little chill out before my last leg of my travels in the USA.

But, I did go to Devonport and Takapuna, Mission Bay and Mount Eden. I did go and watch a rugby game at Eden Park (Auckland Blues vs Sydney Waratahs), I did go up the Skytower for cocktails. I did go for a stroll round the Viaduct and CBD. Oh, I actually did quite a bit really. The best of both worlds.

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And so Auckland marked the end of my New Zealand trip. Just under 2 months here, which has probably gone the quickest out of all of my travels. A magical wonderland with scenery that is so stunning it doesn’t look real, and skies and clouds so colourful, vivid and clear they could be a painting. A wonderland filled with lovely, kind people and hardly any traffic. A land where driving is a pleasure; something to be enjoyed. A land where the pace of life is slow and relaxed, not rushed. A land where life is lived, not viewed through a window because you’re too busy.

Thanks to everyone that I’ve met along the way who’s made it a trip to remember.

Now Dad, when do you want to go?

Street food.

No, not food that’s somehow found it’s way onto the floor on the street. No, this is a post about Thai street food. Or more specifically, Bangkok street food. Two words: it’s AWESOME. Oh yes, it’s so good it deserves capital letters.

Street food is, not surprisingly, food from stalls on the street. There’s so many different types to choose from. Fruit carts, meat skewers, fish skewers, noodle soup, meatballs, noodles, rice, vegetables. Full plated meals, snacks or take away. Spicy or not spicy. SO MUCH CHOICE. Anywhere you go, there’s something available. And pretty much everything I have tried is so frickin’ DELICIOUS. Spicy, full of flavour and just so god damn tasty. Just sat here writing about it is making me hungry and wanting to go out and eat, eat and eat again.

And the people who run the carts and cook the street food are so awesome too. Happy, smiley, friendly people. Most of them seem to enjoy what they do and are happy to have a laugh and a joke, and love it when you love their food.

Yesterday was an epic street food day. Nick’s been rating his food, and his curry from a little stand near Khao San road has rated the highest yet. And the little guy who served us was an awesome happy little chappy, but the lady who cooked our tea at a little stand just down the road and round the corner from our hostel was the best yet. She was a little whirlwind of activity, joking and laughing with everyone as she went, cooking at a million miles an hour. We sat for ages just watching her. Especially when she was cooking a huge order for this Thai man, who had ordered a feast for two people. She put everything (including some soup) in little clear plastic bags for takeaway, and we ended up laughing and joking with him about how much he’d ordered and whether he’d be able to eat it all.

So, our street food day in pictures:

Brunch: Nick with his highly rated curry and the guy from the stall

 

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Dinner: my hot spicy vegetable/tofu stir fry thing and the happy smiley whirlwind lady

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The day ended with many beers, a ham and cheese toastie, crisps and chocolate from the 7 eleven but obviously that’s not really authentic Tahi street food so the less said about that the better…

Grand finale.

Tonight was the grand finale of Come Dine With Me Club. Each weekend in January me, Karl, Sharron and Donna have taken it in turns to cook for us all, CDWMC stylee.

It’s been great fun; a chance to get together, have a laugh, eat good food and not have to go out or spend loads of money. Part of quiet January. I shall miss it. All of us are away or busy over the next few weeks so probably won’t get together much until the end of February. Boo.

Karl was the winner. And well deserved. Especially for that leek, potato and bacon soup. It was delish. And he shared his prize. Aces.

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