Around the world in..1 hour

Yes, it’s possible! Of course I don’t literally mean travelling around the world,  but you can sneak how does the world looks like… in its small version. I guess the world’s miniature playground has been one popular destination around the world.

I visited Aiins World last autumn, one lovely miniature park in Incheon. I have heard about this park years ago, on my first visit to South Korea. I had no time to go there and I have been curious about this park since then. I adore the location, this park is just around the neighbourhood. I went there with my sister and my 1,5 years old niece. We have gone shopping or eating out and started to run out of idea of what to do around the neighbourhood. So, we finally decided to visit this park.

Built in 2004, Aiins World recreates over 70 of the world’s most recognizable sights in 1/25th scale. There’s a bit of every continent in this place. Started with Europe Zone, where you can find Europe’s most famous landmark such as Stonehenge, Westminster Abbey, Eiffel Tower, Duomo Cathedral, and more…

Vatican’s Saint Peter Cathedral

Italy’s Duomo il Milano

Russia’s St. Basils Cathedral

Right after admiring and stepping out from Russia’s St. Basils Cathedral, Africa is the next zone. I found Pyramids, The Great Temple of Abu Simbel and more landmarks I hardly knew. I have to admit that I didn’t know much about Africa and its places. I surely need to study more about this continent.

Oceania, West Asia and South America were the next zones I passed. Followed with North America, especially The States, where they proudly showed off New York’s Times Square, Madame Liberty, and Washington Monument. They even put King Kong climbing on one of the skyscrapper as a scene from its movie.

New York’s skyscrappers

A bit of Far East

My around-the-world travel almost came to an end as I entered Asia zone. I passed India’s Taj Mahal, Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, and Malaysia’s TwinTowers. The final zone ended with, of course, Korea zone, where they displayed Gyong-bok-kung, this country’s most famous palace.

Korea’s most famous palace, Gyeong-bok-gung

Where else can you find Eiffel and Liberty in one shot?

Aiins World has been one favourite place for school’s field trip. I met few groups with bunch of kindergarten kids here. A great place for kids to have fun, but it could be rather boring for adult to spend time here. Still, seeing the world in its mini size amazed me. I had a chance to take a glance of hundreds of world’s most famous architecture. They surely made these miniature versions in amazing detail.

Note: Tickets fee to enter Aiins world for adults is 10,000 korean won, almost equals to US $10. They will give us discount if we live around Aiins World’s area by showing ID card as a proof. My sister didn’t anticipate this, she left her ID card at home. After considering that the bus fare back home was more expensive than the discount we could get, we finally decided to just let it go.

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Diamond at its Finest

I love diamond. What’s not to love from this gorgeous little thing? I adore its perfect cut, its perfect clarity, its perfect color. I love when light hits it and it sparkles at each different angle. Diamond captivated me.

Amsterdam’s diamond

I had a chance to visit diamond factory when I was in Amsterdam. I have never realized that this city was well-known for its diamond industry. In many tourist attractions I went, they displayed diamonds, of course, the fake ones. I have to admit that it had tricked me, I almost fell for it and thought they were real, until I realized there’s no way they displayed diamonds as big as my fist unprotected.

Later I found out that Amsterdam really is famous for its diamond. This city has been known as a centre for the diamond industry for over four hundred years. The industry expanded when diamonds were found in South Africa in 1867. It was then that Jews brought the diamond trade with them to Amsterdam. And as the Dutch had colonized parts of southern Africa, the diamond trade boomed when diamonds were discovered there and turned it into one of the biggest diamond-producing areas in the world. Many of these diamonds were brought to the more sophisticated factories and workshops of Amsterdam for polishing and processing. Well, many visitors go to Amsterdam for the canals and the Dutch capital’s fabulous art museums, but for other travelers, Amsterdam has one sparkling attractions: its diamond factories.

I visited one of the most famous diamond factory here, Coster Diamonds. Visiting Coster is a popular factory tours, as, so it’s usually busy with tour groups. The history of Coster Diamonds goes back to 1840. It was here that the famous Koh-i-Noor diamond was polished, for the British Crown Jewels. At that time it was the largest known diamond in the world.

Visiting Coster could be quite commercial. Since it is a diamond factory, of course they had to sell diamonds to the visitors too. The shopkeeper, some of them were surprisingly very fluent speaking in Chinese, would explain too much stuffs about diamonds. Other than diamond, Coster also sold Swarovski’s crystals, branded watches and other tourist’s souvenirs.

Coster Diamond

At a point where I knew I wasn’t interested in buying any stuff here and started to get bored with this tour, I decided to step out of this factory and enjoyed the city outside Coster. Coster is surrounded with Amsterdam’s famous places such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. So, enjoying the perfect early spring breeze outside is a great choice. I loved spending times wandering around the parks, going in and out the stores, or sitting on a bench.

The park outside Coster

Rijksmuseum just around the corner

Snack stall on the park, my favourite..

Sadly, Amsterdam was no longer known as a diamond center. Well, whether it is a diamond center or not, Amsterdam has a lot more to offer.

Admiring Amsterdam’s architecture

Unforgettable Black Swan

Here is a story of another Black Swan. I’m not talking about Perth’s iconic Black Swan, it’s another Black Swan. It’s a restaurant named Black Swan, located in the heart of Perth’s famous vineyard, Swan Valley.

My friend and I were just driving along the Swan Valley, trying to find a place to eat. There were many restaurant in Swan Valley, famous ones, the award-winning ones. But the truth is, those restaurants are hidden in a simple look from the outside, you would never expect how beautiful they are from the inside. This happened exactly with the Black Swan.

Do not miss this sign when visiting Swan Valley..

The outer look would trick you.. It’s a beauty inside..

I entered this restaurant without expectation. It looked so ordinary from the outside, just like an old country house. The atmosphere got more tense as I passed their wall. There were Gold-Plate Awards (awards!! More than one!!) framed in a gold-plate picture frame on their wall. The only thing that crossed in my mind was, “Uh-oh, I entered not just another ordinary restaurant here.”

But the thing that stunned me was this wooden door to the backyard. Well, it’s not just a backyard, it’s a vineyard. With this beautiful view right in front of my eyes, I was really amazed.

No joke.. Gold Plate Award winnnings..

A proof of its quality..

The wooden door brought me to a fantasctic view

The Vineyard

Country details

A very polite staff let us to be seated. It was almost 3 pm and we were worried if the kitchen was closed, but luckily they still opened for our last order. He gave us the menu while busy setting off another tables. My friend ordered “Preserved lemon and marjoram stuffed chicken breast on Paris mash with brocollini and mustard cream”.  I was into dessert, and after asking the staff, what was the best dessert he has, I went along with his decision, “Layered sticky date pudding, vanilla butterscotch and spiced orange cream”.

We waited quite a long time for our food to be served. Luckily, with the beautiful view surrounded, I didn’t mind at all.

Black Swan’s main menu..

Its tempting dessert choices..

Preserved lemon and marjoram stuffed chicken breast on Paris mash with brocollini and mustard cream

Layered sticky date pudding, vanilla butterscotch and spiced orange cream..

I guess waiting for my sticky date pudding was worth it. I got really excited as the staff brought my pudding out. The pudding was moist and soft, yet I was still able to get a hint of its texture. I could taste a bit of cinnamon mixed with the date. The orange cream filled the pudding, making it rich in flavor. The caramel sauce served a good combination, not too thick, not too thin. It mixed perfectly with the vanilla ice cream. And as the ice cream started to melt, it enriched the flavor of the caramel sauce. This dessert could turn really sweet as they all combined, luckily, the fresh strawberry saved my mouth with its sourness. The taste of my sticky date pudding was strong, I could even remember a hint of its taste right now. Oh, it makes me craving for one! Definitely the best fine-dining dessert I have ever tasted.

I had a wine-tasting too here. I was walking around the restaurant when I saw this announcement, a wine-tasting for AU$ 5. I would definitely go for a try. Lucky for being curious, it turned out that since I ate here, I didn’t have to pay for the wine-tasting. It came for free! Yayy!

The wine-tasting corner

Black Swan’s originally white wine, 2010, Late Harvest..

The other dining room..

It was an unforgettable dining experience for me. The sunny weather was perfect. The vineyard was stunning. I will never forget the feeling of looking out onto the vineyard while having my sticky date pudding. Black Swan Winery & Restaurant is a must- visit when spending a day in the valley. It possesses one of the most panoramic views of the Swan Valley.

One word.. beautiful!

Australia’s best burger chain: Grill’d

I have spent few days in Perth at that time. I have been craving for burger and I couldn’t wait any longer to fulfill my temptation.  The problem was, there were too many choices for burger restaurant. In the neighbourhood, I found Australia’s burger chain like Jus Burger and Red Rooster, not forget to mention McDonalds, Hungry Jack and KFC. I just wanted to eat all, but I didn’t have enough space in my tummy. I was about to head to Jus Burger since I saw many of its outlets on the road, but I decided to ask a recommendation from my friend. Then she suggested this place: Grill’d. “It tastes better,” she said.

We were at Subiaco, a lovely place in Perth with a unique style. And when a burger-craving hit me, we directly headed to one Grill’d outlet just around the corner. I read its sign from distance: Grill’d – healthy burgers. Interesting. Let’s see how healthy can its burger be.

The hip wallpaper attracted me

The hip wallpaper attracted me

Adding details..

Adding details..

One corner of Grill'd

One corner of Grill’d

I love the big wooden table!

I love the big wooden table!

It was a quite difficult choice to pick what burger to eat here. I mean, just read the description. Wild Wild West: “Grilled grass fed lean beef, tasty cheese, crispy trim bacon, free range egg, a couple of slices of beetroot with salad, relish and herbed mayo”.

Or something from the lamb burgers. Moroccan Lamb: “Grilled 100% grass fed lean lamb, roasted peppers, tzatziki, salad and relish. 

They even had veggie burgers. Garden Goodness: “Premium quality veggie pattie with beetroot, tasty cheese, avocado, salad, relish and herbed mayo.”

But since chicken is always my option, The Chicken Burgers was the section that attracted me most. Sweet Chilli Chicken, The Zen Hen, ‘Simon Says’, Tuscan Delight, Grill’d Bird and Brie, Perfect Pear, or Caesar’s Palace. I decided to order Hot Hombre as it was written as their new burger menu. Get ready to taste: “Grilled chicken breast, chilli black bean salsa, tasty cheese, avocado, tomato, Spanish onion and crispy tortilla chip.”

Put your order here..

Put your order here..

Fresjly made right in front of my eyes

Freshly made with fresh ingredients right in front of my eyes

And here was my burger..

Grill'd Hot Hombre

Grill’d Hot Hombre

Juicy!

Juicy!

I have never tasted any burger like this. I guess the chilli black bean salsa was the signature. It made the burger tasted both rich and spicy. The grilled chicken breast was non-fat, combined with the fresh vegetables, I didn’t feel guilty eating this. I did feel like eating a healthy burger. The other best thing from this burger? It’s the sturdy panini bun. It has the perfect thickness to ensure that all the delicious fillings still kept inside, and it also didn’t fall apart as I ate. Last but not least, what does a burger mean without its chips? I couldn’t agree more as my friend told me that Grill’d serves the best chips. Crispy, salty, golden.  A perfect cutting with a perfect herb seasoning. A winning combination!

One of the tastiest burger I've ever had

One of the tastiest burger I’ve ever had

Perth’s Icon: Black Swan

I was at the souvenir shop when I found out this postcard about Australia. Icons are used on the postcard to represent Australia’s famous places and city. I could easily found Opera House for Sydney’s icon. And as I was at Perth, I immediately looked at what icon do they use for this peaceful city. It was unclear for me to find that they use swan as Perth’s icon. I had no idea. I decided to ignore it, but I couldn’t. So the next day, I asked a friend of mine about this swan thingy. She answered, “Swan really is Perth’s icon. But it’s not just an ordinary swan, it’s Black Swan.”

I got really curious. I’ve seen white swan everywhere, but I have never imagined that Black Swan exists. I thought this creature was only a fairy tale. Right on that day, she took me to a place in Perth to see the Black Swan. Here in Perth, Black Swan could only be found in Lake Monger. Lake Monger is a beautiful lake surrounded by a peaceful park. As I stepped out from the car, I saw one black swan was standing still on the banks. It approached me, expecting for food I guess, but I just stood still, for a possibility it might poked me if I made any move. It went back to the lake, and swam away.

A beautiful view of Lake Monger

Attractive!

The Black Swan

I wanted to see more black swans, so I walked further by the lake, wishing I would find another swan. I returned with disappointment, finding no other black swan there. And as I returned to the place where I met the first black swan, I also found it nowhere. My friend said that there were usually many black swans, but that day I could only met one. Still, I considered myself lucky of meeting this mystical creature.

The black swan is unique. With black feathers and red beak, it looks very attractive. The first settlers named their colony “Swan River Colony” because black swans lived on the riverbanks. Today, they have all fled from the human noise and pollution. But they’re still around at Lake Monger. So whenever you’re in Perth, you should never miss the opportunity of meeting this beautiful creature.

Even the ducks enjoy the spring breeze and the warmth of the sun

Spring Look 

Perth: Enjoying Chilliz

Let me lead you to my writing with something dramatic: “Do NOT tell me you have been to Perth when you have not even eaten in this place. “ Well, at least that was what my friend said.

It all started on a sunny Saturday in Perth CBD, when I couldn’t find anything that I wanted to eat. This was strange because this place was filled with tons of restaurants with tempting food display. Maybe it’s me that being indecisive, but being surrounded with places like this, I wanted to eat a very special food that could only be found here in Perth. After going around and around, my friend finally came up with this idea: taking me to Chilliz. I immediately nodded my head as he said that Chilliz is really famous among the students and locals.

Lucky me, no crowd lining in front of Chilliz

And I found the reason: it’s their cheap price. It’s rare to get a meal for under $5 in this city these days. Chilliz is the answer. And it’s not just another meal, it’s a proper and good meal. A bowl of rice or noodle with chicken on the top.

Chilliz usually filled with so many people, there were barely an empty seat in the house. But luckily, on that sunny Saturday, I didn’t have to line up and there were many free tables inside and outside. Looking both at the menu on the wall and the illustrated menu displayed on the table, I decided to go with hot and chilli chicken with rice, and my friend chose honey lemon chicken with rice. Within minutes, our food was in front of us and we helped ourselves to the extra soy sauce and chilli sauce on offer. We took “spork”, Chilliz’s idea of combining spoon and fork in one utensil, interesting. I couldn’t wait any longer to taste my first meal in Perth. Guess what, it tasted good! And why wouldn’t it be good? At $4.50, it’s hard to go wrong. The chicken was golden and crispy and had a kick of chilli. The rice was rather dry, I was expecting for a moist and soft rice to be eaten with this kind of chicken. But overall, I had a great meal. Being at home right now, I miss the tastes of Chilliz.

Honey Lemon with rice

Less than $10 for these yummy foods!

CHILLIZ

138 Murray St, Perth 0411 737 267,

http://www.chilliz.com.au

Open Mon-Fri 11.30am-7.30pm, Sat 11am-7pm

Perth: Fremantle Local Market

I have always been excited to visit local markets. I don’t know, I just love them. I get the perfect description on how local lives from their markets. The culture, the connection, the crowd, the daily fresh goods… but the thing that I love then most from local markets is definitely their food.

I visited Fremantle local market on a sunny Sunday while I was in Perth. I was like a little kid that brought to a candy store. Food everywhere!! I couldn’t pick what to eat, I just couldn’t decide. As I remember that I had to eat Fremantle’s most famous fish and chips in Cicerello, I could only pick some snacks to fill my tummy.

Getting your cold beer while taking a rest in Fremantle

One hotdog and one pretzel, please!

Sunday crowd inside the market

Beautiful colors of veggies

Fresh fruits for sale

Fresh guarantee: Direct from local farms

My friend told me that there was a famous ramen stall in the market. He said people have to queue to eat there. I sadly had to skip the choice, I really had to choose between the famous fish and chips or the famous ramen. But I couldn’t end up eating nothing here in the market, so I decided to try the twist potato right next to the ramen stall. The potato tasted great, covered with BBQ powder. It was crunchy outside but soft inside. They even had the twist potato dog; the twist potato with sausage inside. Tempting, but I always had to remind myself about the fish and chips so I didn’t end up bloated. Later, as I walked around the market, I bought one mini cupcake, cost $1.75. I just couldn’t resist those cute little cupcakes. I want one to end up in my tummy.

The packed ramen stall

The twist potato stall

Other tempting menus..

The menu board

Great snacks for sunday

The tempting display

They’re getting my potato prepared

Finally, my twist potato!

How can I resist these!?

The cute octopus mini cupcakes

I could only wish one thing while I was in Fremantle local market: to have a rubber stomach, so I can just keep on eating without feeling full.

One word: healthy and fresh!

The freshly baked bread made in front of you