Author: marina

BUGA Heilbronn

BUGA Heilbronn

Right now Heilbronn is hosting the BUGA (the federal garden exhibit, which happens every other year in a German city) and I got a ticket from my grandparents for my birthday. It was so great I went twice in one week and I have so many pictures, so it deserves it’s own post … here comes the flower overload:

My parents have a year pass so my dad and I went exploring on a Sunday afternoon for 5 hours and 17.000 steps. The area is huge with all sorts of plants, educational exhibits, 2 lakes with water fountains, food and wine and cocktail booths, 2 stages for concerts and performances and of course lots of pretty flowers.

I love the mascot they have – Karl, a garden gnome. I went on a mission to take pictures with all the different Karls I saw πŸ™‚

On my last night at home we returned to the BUGA with a mission: to see the water show. In the middle of the area they have a man made lake with lots of fountains on it and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night, there is a half-hour water and light show with music. They had some special guests the day we went, so we got lucky and saw 2 shows in a row, “Der kleine Wassertropfen” (the little water drop) and “Deutsche Schlager” (German Hits). It was awesome!

Birthday celebrations part 2, 3 and 4

Birthday celebrations part 2, 3 and 4

Besides a fantastic birthday weekend, there were many more fun activities I haven’t posted pictures from, so here we go!

Afternoon tea at the Peninsula

Boramy and Tim took me to afternoon tea at the Peninsula a week after my birthday. I’ve been wanting to go so it was the perfect present. Savory snacks, little desserts, scones with clotted cream and unlimited tea – what more can you want? The food was really good and we hung out for almost 4 hours.

Girls only birthday party

A weekend after that, I had 8 girls over for pastries, cake, games and mimosas … and later pizza rolls, wine and gossip πŸ˜‰ They helped me finish the rest of the eclairs and cream puffs from the baking extravaganza, so now there’s space in the freezer for another round!

Birthday celebrations in Germany

I just got back from a business trip to Germany, where I also got to spend a weekend with my family. I sent them a birthday wish list which included a family breakfast, dinner with the grandparents and a strawberry cake πŸ™‚ All my wishes were fulfilled, yay to getting special birthday treatment!

Julia and Frank’s present was food related as well. First, they had me over at their place for ice cream, we visited Dieter the Donkey at the park and finally we had dinner together. With that dinner I got to check “Must have dish no. 3” off the list: KΓ€sespΓ€tzle! (No. 1 and 2 are Butterbrezel and Maultaschen).

Up next: A tour ofΒ  the Zotter chocolate factory I got from friends and then celebrating with my sister in Singapore in September – she’s also taking me to an afternoon tea. Food gifts are the best πŸ™‚

Shanghai Night Eats Tour

Shanghai Night Eats Tour

It’s been more than a year and a half since Ellie and I went on the Shanghai Street Eats Breakfast Tour. Ever since then, I wanted to try the UnTour’s night tour and finally got around to going a couple of weeks ago.

June is the last month Cassie, a friend I met through GGI, was in Shanghai before going back to the US. She wanted to go as well, so we did it as kind of a fun farewell dinner. The tour was a culinary journey through China: We tried food from Xi’an, Guangzhou/Hongkong, Ningbo, Sichuan and finally Shanghai. I knew most of the cuisines from our China travels (and other food tours), but also got to try some new dishes, which was fun.

Xi’an Burgers

On our first stop, we got some Xi’an style “burgers” – crispy buns stuffed with pork. It was similar to the lamb buns we tried in Xi’an last year but I think even better.

Cantonese Food

Next, we walked over to a Cantonese place and had some really tasty sweet barbecued pork. I skipped the fatty pork belly, but also tried some fried noodles, pinapple bun and the mango tapioca dessert.

Tastes of Ningbo

The Ningbo restaurant was the most interesting stop for me because I’ve never been and never tried the food. I wasn’t a big fan of the jelly fish and fried fish they served, but loved the fava bean puree and fried bamboo chips. The rice cakes they served were also pretty good.


Spicy Sichuan

It’s a good thing we already did a food tour in Chengdu, so the rabbit head didn’t come as much of a shock πŸ™‚ Our guide demonstrated very well how to take it apart and eat it, so Cassie and I tried some of the parts, cheek and brain to be exact. The cheek meat was good, I didn’t care too much for the brain, but maybe it’s just because it was hard for me to get over what we were eating. The spicy wontons, noodles and cucumbers were very tasty!

Shanghainese Goodies

And finally, we also had some Shanghai food – you can never go wrong with xiaolongbao πŸ™‚

It was a really fun and yummy evening. Even though all the places are only a metro stop away, I would have never gone to any of them myself, since they’re mostly little holes-in-the-wall and Chinese only. Now, I have a map with all the stops and names of all dishes, so Marlyn and I are thinking to recreate the highlights of the food tour soon πŸ™‚

Kuching: Orang Utans, Sights and Beach

Kuching: Orang Utans, Sights and Beach

Besides celebrating Eid and eating lots of yummy Malay food, we also had a little bit of time left to explore more of Kuching.

Kuching Waterfront

Our hotel for the first 2 nights was located right at the Kuching waterfront and after the first day of eating, we took a walk along along the water. Syuke and Thorben quickly became an attraction for Chinese tourists, who wanted a picture of them πŸ™‚

Semenggoh Nature Reserve

On our second morning we headed out of town to go looking for some monkeys, Orang Utans to be exact. In the past, the Semenggoh Nature Reserve rescued orphaned, injured or captive orang utans and trained them to live in the wild. Now, it’s a habitat where they live semi-wild.

There is a feeding twice a day where the caretakers put out some food, in case the orang utans couldn’t find enough in the forest. Depending on the season, some of them come to pick some up. We saw 2 male and 2 female orang utans and one of them even had a baby πŸ™‚

Orang Utan Mural

After getting back from the real life Orang Utans, we stumbled across the Orang Utan Mural downtown. It’s a corner with some really cool street art.

More Food

Even during and after 2 1/2 days of open houses, we still had room for some more food πŸ™‚ Below are pictures from some yummy cake we had at a cute cafe inside the old courthouse, and of a seafood dinner we went to with Syuke and some of his friends.

Beach time

Our last 2 days in Kuching were spent relaxing. We stayed at a cool little hotel, where each room is basically a cement roll. It was super cozy and also had access to the beach. The sign “Beware of crocodiles” kept us out of the water πŸ˜‰


Celebrating Eid in Kuching

Celebrating Eid in Kuching

Last week, it was Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, the fasting month many Muslims observe. Syuke, a friend of ours, invited us to celebrate the holiday with him in his hometown Kuching. We’d been talking about going to Kuching for a while, so this was the perfect opportunity to visit.

Dressing in style

Syuke explained to us that typically you buy something new to wear for the first day of Eid. He mostly wears the traditional clothes during festivities like Eid and weddings. His family chose to wear green for the first day. During our visit, we saw that many families were wearing matching colors.

He lent some clothes to Thorben to wear as well, see the efforts it took to properly put them on below and the final result πŸ™‚ I didn’t have any special outfit, I just tried to dress modestly and cover up to be respectful.

Open Houses

Over the course of 2 1/2 days, Syuke took us to 7 open houses hosted by various family members and friends. At each open house, people come together to enjoy lots of good food and cakes. Our first open house was right after getting off the plane. Everyone was super friendly and welcoming, it was really a pleasure to meet so many nice people and enjoy this special holiday with them.

One of Syuke’s friends is a baker and has been baking non-stop for the past 2 months to make all the beautiful cakes for Eid. They looked too pretty to eat but she insisted, so what could we do? πŸ™‚ Understandably, all cakes were completely sold out, so I couldn’t bring any back.

Here is a little selection of pictures from 6 of the open houses and all the amazing Malay food and cakes.

Our first Eid was so much fun and it was so interesting to try all the food and talk to so many of Syuke’s relatives and friends. We’re very lucky to have such a diverse group of friends and be able to make these experiences with them!

In case anyone was wondering, I have not stepped on the scale since coming back – but whatever it says, it was worth it πŸ˜‰

Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland

One of the endless entertainment possibilities in Shanghai is Disneyland! The newest Disney park is located an hour away from us and we finally went at the end of May.

Disney castle

I never wanted to go on a weekend because I heard the queues are horrible (2+ hours everywhere) but who says no to a free ticket? Our company had their family day here so we each got 2 tickets – which meant a Family Disney Day with our “kids” Marlyn and Freddy πŸ˜‰

With the help of our Disney-expert Boramy, the Disney app and some German planning, we managed to go on 6 rides:

  • Tron: Fun roller coaster where you sit on a motorcycle! Thorben and I got lucky and sat in the first row which was really cool.
  • Peter Pan: Super well made but we were a bit cranky from the 90 min wait when the app said 45. At least it was the only time we waited over 1 hour.
  • Woody’s round up: We went 2 x because the queue was only 5 min and it’s super fun. Who doesn’t like cowboy music and getting thrown around in a carriage?
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: I think this was everyone’s favorite, the visual effects are so cool! The wait was only 20-30 min so we went twice.
  • Snow White and the 7 dwarfs: The wait was really long but we used a fastpass for it and it was a cute ride combined with a slower rollercoaster.
  • Buzz Lightyear: Lots of shooting at target with a laser gun. I got the least points. Oh well.

We also saw the parade pass by and went to the Tarzan show and of course, there was also time to take silly queue selfies and some with the Disney castle … and all of that before 4 πŸ™‚

Next to Disneyland, in Disney Town, there is a Cheesecake Factory, where we went for a very late lunch/early dinner. The food was just like I remember it from the US and the cake was so good! After dinner, the plan was to go to Pirates again, ride Tron again at night and then stroll over to the castle gardens and see the light show and fireworks.

Even the best plan can fail … we got stuck on the Tron motorcycles because the ride broke down just as we were supposed to get accelerated. After 20 minutes on the motorcycles we got rescued and got a fastpass of our choice as compensation. So in the end, getting stuck was pretty cool because we managed to run over to Soaring Over the Horizon and go without waiting 2-3 hours πŸ™‚ We were cutting it a bit close for the fireworks but still managed to see 90% of it from the side of the castle. We really got the maximum out if our Disney day.

It was a lot of fun, so I’m glad we finally went! Now I’ve been to 3 different ones, Yay for Disney!