Friday, October 31, 2014

Thank God it’s Friday at the Vic Park’s Hawkers Market

Being a bit of a traveller around South East Asia, I have always loved hawkers markets as it is where the locals go to eat.

They are also great value and cheap and while the food isn’t usually 5 stars, it’s honest, authentic, satisfying and genuine. 

Since markets are usually crowd pullers, they are great places for a good place for a relaxed night out with friends as well as a perfect spot for people watching. 

So when the Town of Victoria Park started its own Hawker’s Market on a Friday night (in the laneway off Albany Highway but will be moving to near the Victoria Park Library) I was super excited. I had these visions that it would be similar to the markets that I had visited in Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

It took me a few months before finally making it to this lane way sandwiched between a supermarket and a restaurant. Immediately, I got taken in by the relaxed vibe. Just like the markets that I had visited overseas, the place was full of people celebrating the end of the working week; there were families with kids, guys on their way home from work in Perth and a every other demographic that you could think of. People just eating food and enjoying each other’s company in their local community!

The first thing to do when you get there is to wonder down the lane and decide what to eat as the choices are varied but not as wide as the bigger markets elsewhere.

The stalls range from Persian, Moroccan, and Japanese to Filipino, Italian and French. You can enjoy something substantial or go just for desert. The good thing about its location is that you can go to many of Vic Park’s cool cafes and bars after for a post dinner coffee or glass of wine.

My first time visiting the markets I had the Persian Kebab which was nice and the following time I had the Spanish meatballs with creamy parmesan polenta and salsa verde which was really nice but for the portion size a little too expensive.      

Take away Turkish desserts make for lovely treats at home 
This made me think and made a little disappointed. As someone who is obsessed with travel, I so wanted to be back overseas and I was kinda hoping that these Hawker’s Market were reminiscent of markets overseas where the portions were big, the food wasn’t made for a foreign taste buds and the price doesn’t seem inflated. But then again, this Perth where everything is inflated and everything is expensive.

Vic Park’s TGIF Hawker’s Market is a great thing to do on a Friday night, even if it is not as gritty, edgy or as cheap as overseas. I am just glad that’s it’s on.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Why travel as an identity thing isn’t so bad

While chatting to dad recently, it came up in conversation that he thought that my identity was somehow wrapped up in going epic adventures overseas.

Although I think he is right to some degree, as I often get asked where my next holiday is, he comments reminded me of the complex nature of identity politics and what leads people to do what they do.
This got me thinking on why I have this inherent need for travel but I can comfortably assure people that I don’t do it because it is preserved as cool or for the kudos. I do it because it is ingrained in deep within my soul.

Coming from an “Anglo-Swiss” heritage with a bit of  Dutch, Scandinavian and Indonesian (way back) thrown in and born in Australia, I had a global outlook pretty early on. Ever since I was little, I’ve been interested in what was happening in the wider world (I’ve got dad to thank for that) right from politics, food, books and to how people lived differently to me.

Moving to the world’s most isolated and boring city of Perth aged 14 (also, got Dad to thank for that) did nothing but inspire me in wanting to leave as soon as possible. Right from the get go I wanted to leave this dullsville town and be part of something bigger.

These experiences stayed with me for the rest of my life. International Relations (among things) was a major theme throughout university studies and I continued to travelled as much as possible. Backpacking around Europe, development projects in Thailand and Romania, internships in Malaysia and China as well as a journalism project in India, study programmes at the UN were all highlights of a life spent travelling.

There is so much about travelling that I love. It makes me feel so alive, it has opened my eyes and taught me so many things about the world and myself. I can’t help but see travelling as a positive experience.
But more recently when I have been in more of a financial position to go travelling is when that it has become more of my identity.

Of course you need money to travel so having a permanent job with paid holidays is a fundamental requirement but, more importantly, it is the job’s inherent mundane and repetitive nature of the position that inspires me to make sure that the time I spend away from work is full of things that I love and make me happy.

After all, everyone needs something to look forward to in order to survive the mundane.  

But wouldn’t you agree that you are more than the job that you do or even defined by the more negative challenges that you face in your life?

While I do a mind numbing job that is soul destroying at best and I refuse to be drawn by it as much as I refuse to de defined by my physical disability; there is just more to life.                   

But there is more to my life than my job-to-pay-the-rent and my well used passport. I’m an avid reader, political hack, a choir girl and, not to mention, a home owner. I guess it is just that travelling is the most extreme thing that I do.

Travel will always be a part of my life. It drives me to work multiple jobs so that I may meet my financial responsibilities and go on epic adventures overseas. I don’t plan to stop anytime soon and I am always planning my next adventure, trust me!     

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Singapore proves to be a great place for a weekend get away

Due to an over zealot Frequent Flyer flight booking blitz a few months ago, I ended up with a solo flight from Singapore to Perth.

For a while I regretted booking this flight as there were more direct and cheaper ways of returning to Perth but I knew that pushing it a few months would mean that I would another little trip to look forward to.

I even thought about cancelling this flight or even just letting it go because, with a mortgage, I couldn’t really justify going overseas again so soon after a big trip to Europe and the Middle East. 

With this City State being almost the same flight time from Perth as to one of Australia’s cooler cities on the east coast (not to mention cheaper thanks to the various budget airlines) paying a visit to Singapore is a great idea.

It is tropical, green, lush and a super clean metropolis with so much going on and a fascinating history, not to mention food that is to die for. The urban environment is a cross between the ultra new office towers and colonial buildings that look like big white wedding cakes.

There is shopping, there is food as well as art and culture.

After flying in from Perth on the “red-eye express” and easy trip on the MRT, I made a beeline for Little India where I was staying in an AirBnB accommodation. It was great to enjoy some local food and tea and soon I realised I would have to put my diet on hold as there was so much food to try and enjoy.   

Next visit was the Asian Civilisations Museum which was awesome. With its interesting and diverse collections, it has to be as good as any of the top museums in the world. The museum is well designed and laid out while not being too long. It is currently showing an exhibition of porcelain which is beyond beautiful.       

Over the next few days there were visits to Chinatown, Singapore Art Museum and National Museum of Singapore for a big history lesson.

A highlight was going to the Tiger Beer Brewery which is totally cool and great value! It is in the industrial part of Singapore so I opted for a tour that picked us up from a more central location and drove us back. It was great learn about the history of Tiger Beer as well as try the new beers on offer which is really why most of us were there. As per usual, 6 out of 8 people on the tour were from Perth – we seem to like beer a fair bit.

A trip to Singapore wouldn’t be the same without a shopping expedition and a visit to Starbucks.

The last item on the literary was a visit to Changi Prison. As with Tiger, it was a bit out of town so I again (I had my bag with me this time) opted for the organised tour option. While learning about the atrocities committed during WWII, it was good to be reminded of the strength of the human spirit and how good we have it in Australia.

Soon enough it was time to head to the airport but not before some food and refection. I came to the conclusion that I have to visit Singapore again (for longer next time) soon as well as Malaysia, Vietnam and India because the Asian region is so amazing, vibrant and interesting.

Oh dear, I think I maybe addicted to travel.

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