The NZ Tourism Vineyard directory. There are some beautiful vineyards a few minutes outside of Queenstown. Even if you don’t drink, they’re great for hiking.
A beautiful apartment with big glass windows and a balcony overlooking the town and the Wakatipu Lake. Find out what other apartments are available for rent in Queenstown here.
EAT, EAT, EAT
Beespoke Kitchen (9 Isle street, Queenstown)
Awarded the best café in New Zealand. Healthy, chic and innovative modern Australian/New Zealand fusions. Excellent hot drinks. We thought it a bit overrated, however. Try the pumpkin soup.
Fergburger (42 Shotover St, Queenstown)
Lines out the door for these hamburgers. Order takeaway or get there extremely early to avoid the crowds. Extremely overrated.
Patagonia Chocolates (50 Beach St, Queenstown)
Insanely expensive, but insanely delicious-looking desserts created by two Argentines. Find your alfajors and Argentine backpackers here (to my delight).
Cookie Time (18 Camp Street, Queenstown)
What I did
Took a day trip with Real Journeys from Queenstown. With its impressive waterfalls and piercing colors, this is a must-see. The only downside was being in a tour bus for five hours and our anal guide wouldn’t stop to go to the bathroom.
Ate at The Chop Shop Food Merchants(Arrow Ln, Arrowtown), another healthy modern fusion restaurant. Saw the Lake Country Museum, but only the free ANZAC exhibit. Drank local craft beers and met locals at Fork and Tap (51 Buckingham St, Arrowtown).
That’s pronounced Du-need-in, not Dun-a-din, for all the confused out there. We made a brief stop in Dunedin to see architecture. Spent time in the extensive and impressive Botanic Gardens. Ate at The Reef (333 George Street, Dunedin) a seafood restaurant. Walked up the Baldwin Street, the steepest street in the world and subsequently couldn’t stop looking at my step and stair count on my health app. Stayed at The Sahara Guest House (619 George Street, Dunedin), a refurbished Victorian house that might have been the filming location for multiple murder films. Great staff, though.
Ate at 26 on Ross (26 Ross Place, Dunedin) for an insanely good chorizo and bacon melt. Beautifully presented and top quality brunch items.
My dad really loved these donuts (pictured below) and he wouldn’t stop talking about them during our road trip.
Also ate at The Wobbly Goat Cafe (17 Holyhead St, Outram, Dunedin) on our drive to Dunedin, where we got a glimpse of small town New Zeland life. Alexandra had a fish and chips shop on the main street that my father was a great fan of (I didn’t try it) and we got the chance to see their local and organic foods and crafts markets.
Featured photo: the official photo of the “What I did in…” series. Taken at Sunshine Juice in Tokyo, Japan.
“What I did in…,” is a new series where I aim to detail some of the most fun (or worst, if I want to warn you) activities, eateries and places to stay. I might also give helpful resources I used to prepare, if applicable. This isn’t meant to serve as a an all-encompassing travel guide, but merely an example of some of the possibilities for that destination.
Toilets in the outback were few and far between. After all, often buildings and people were few and far between. When they did come along, though, the toilets signs we saw had personality. With the exception of bathrooms around Uluru, the figures on the toilet signs were of white Australians, playing off of the ‘sheilas’ and ‘blokes’ theme. Maybe it was the image of the rough and tough outback explorer that sold well to the tourists, or maybe it was a deliberate political decision to ignore the original residents of those areas.
In northern Queensland, the toilet signs were typical.
Heading towards Alice Springs and Uluru, they began to gain more character.
Going north towards Darwin, the toilet signs were more tourist-oriented.
IT’S ONLY JANUARY 23 AND I ALREADY FOUND MY WORST PHOTO OF THE YEAR!
….I also think I found my best selfie of the year so far.
It’s never too late to wish someone well.
That’s why, even though it’s almost February, I’m wishing you a Happy 2017. If the collective mood is any indication, we need a lot of positive energy. So here’s my contribution.
2016 was the first full year Naptime With Yasmine was in operation (I began the blog in March 2015). In 2016, I traveled to San Diego, Dubai, New Zealand (South Island), Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima), Buenos Aires, Guangzhou and the Philippines.
I failed to complete my resolution of Photo Challenge of the Month, but it was fun while it lasted. I did a big road trip up the east coast of Australia and through the outback (plans in 2017 to discuss those), where I got to see some cool people and camped in front of Uluru. Unforgettable.
What’s on for 2017, you ask? BIG PLANS, that’s what.
I have plans to continue to give advice on Australia based on my personal experience on a working holiday visa. I’d like to share more travel stories on the places mentioned above and more photography. People, places and situations are noteworthy and hilarious, no matter what the year. At least we can be grateful for that.
I will continue the series Character Tuesday and Photo Friday, and there’s a new addition that I just posted today: the “What I did in…” series, which aims to tell you exactly what I did in a given location. No fuss, just straight up what I did and what I thought about it.
Thank you, as always, for being a great reader. I hope you find my content helpful, as that is the main goal. What’s the point of living through a situation if you can’t offer others advice based on your experience?
Have a meaningful, and most importantly, entertaining, day,
This is the first post of my new series, “What I did in…,” where I aim to detail some of the most fun (or worst, if I want to warn you) activities, eateries and places to stay. I might also give helpful resources I used to prepare, if applicable. This isn’t meant to serve as a an all-encompassing travel guide, but merely an example of some of the possibilities for that destination.
In this Pink Pangea article, I give advice for those stopping by on a 72-Hour Free Visa on how to most easily enjoy their time. This guide is a resource for those who don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese.
This Photo Friday post, I aim to show you some of my favorite images I took while I was there. I show the people, some of the food and interesting sights.
Grand Continental Services Apartment – Nomo Beijing Road A moderately priced hotel just two blocks from Beijing Lu, one of the busiest pedestrian-only shopping and eating districts. The room had WiFi, multiple plugs and comfortable beds. The staff spoke English well, but a warning: be careful with the staff you trust for directions. I was told wrong directions multiple times, and once spent two hours at a bank trying to find my way to where I was meant to be going.
EAT, EAT, EAT
Dim Dou Dak 點都德(聚福楼)
I got this suggestion from Thanis Slim and was not disappointed. Go to the location near Beijing Road (470 Hui Fu Dong Lu 惠福东路470号). According to those in positions of authority, one of the best places for dim sum in the city. I ate Har Gow (shrimp dumplings), mango and coconut sweet dim sum, and herbal tea.
This Korean-owned cafe has spectacular machine espresso, pastries to accompany and delectable Korean desserts. The WiFi works great and the rustic chic decor is pleasant. Location: right across from the Haizhu Square metro stop.
Cafe de Coral
This chain has disgusting instant coffee, but it was a great place to people watch and journal. I went to the Haizhu Square location, but there are several throughout the city. Plus, who doesn’t love the positive affirmations written on the wall? Examples: “Best of THE best/A Beautiful Day/Time of Your Life.”
Unknown Dim Sum place
Right down the street from Huangbian metro station, the third shop along Huangbian N. Road, is a place with delicious dim sum. I was here by accident after being told wrongly how to reach a museum.
Tao Tao Ju
Excellent traditional restaurant near Shangxia Jiu Lu, another pedestrian-only street near Beijing Lu, whose specialty was apparently ginger chicken, until the waitress laughed and told me they don’t serve it. I got the goose. That was interesting. Location: DiShi Fu Road 22.
Location in the heart of old Guangzhou, Liwan, this traditional restaurant had great food, fast service and an intricately decorated decor and gardens. I tried black fungus, sweet and sour fried fish, taro with blueberry sauce and savory min quiches, among other Guangzhou specialties. Well known by tourists and locals alike, it is definitely a must-eat!
Bubble tea chain from Taiwan. They say they’re the best. Find them in shopping areas.
For when you’re really down and out and want some western food. The margarita pizza wasn’t very good. Near the Central Business District (CBD). Location: 1/F, Tianyu Garden, No.136 Linhe Zhong Road, Tianhe District, Guangzhou, 天河区林和中路136号天誉花园首层
Old HK Cafe
Located a few feet away from Beijing Lu, this eatery is open late night. There were lots of youths around. I tried the taro filled buns, Congee and pork dumplings.
I spent way too much money on bomb-ass high tea high up overlooking the CBD. Excellent service, the kind that makes you feel like you’re not a broke traveler. Need I say more.
What I did (that wasn’t eating)
Disclaimer: There is so much to do in Guangzhou, even culturally even though it doesn’t have as much fame for it as other Chinese cities. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up doing much between catching up on sleep from jet lag and getting lost. I did do some cool stuff, though.
Walk, walk, walk
I walked around Haizhu Square, Liwan district, the CBD district, Beijing Lu and Sh. angxia Jiu Lu. It was great for people watching, observations, shopping and eating random dim sum. In Liwan, we saw the elderly playing games, street musicians, local markets and even a Peking Opera performance.
Redtory Arts and Design Factory
I cannot emphasize enough how much I loved this space. This abandonded factory compound has been reappropriated to create a space for museums, galleries, design and offices. The various exhibits in various buildings featured artists from China and other parts of Asia, Europe and North America, among others. As the old buildings remain, the eerie and tragically beautiful space is ideal for photography.I saw the videography exhibit “Time Test: International Video Art Research Exhibition” that left me speechless.
Location: No. 128, Yuancun Si Heng Rd., Tianhe District, Guangzhou City Tel: +86 20 8557 4417;
Massages at Fu Yuan Tang
I read about these massages on this page. I had a lot of stress in my back from my heavy purse and this traditional Chinese massage forced it out of me. Address available on the link.
Featured photo: this will be the offical photo of the “What I did in…” series. Taken at Sunshine Juice in Tokyo, Japan.
The exact details on how and why Oslob, Philippines recently became a whale shark feeding epicenter differs depending on the source. Here’s what I was told:
In 2011, when a Norwegian marine biologist passed through the small town of Oslob, a roughly three and a half hour drive from Cebu City on the Filipino island of Cebu, he had the intention of studying the local species. But when he saw a local fisherman throwing rocks at whale sharks, who had recently began feeding in the area again, he complained to the local government and convinced the mayor to make it an official tourist attraction. And just like that, Oslob became an internationally known tourist destination.
The center of Oslob consists of one main road called Natalio Bacalso Avenue, which houses a small market, a few restaurants, convenience stores and numerous guest houses. Ten kilometers from the main area of town is the whale shark area, Tan-awan, where tourists are dropped off to wait in line to be taken out on a small rowboat. From there, they can scuba, snorkel or watch from the boat while whale sharks get fed. Each person gets 30 minutes in the water.
While I was there, I estimated around 200 people were around trying to get a look as well, so the experience is far from intimate. Fishermen paddle around nearby dropping food in the water to attract the whale sharks to where the tourist boats sit.
Tourists travel great distances for just 30 minutes alongside the impressive sea creatures. Seeing them is on all of the great to-do’s of Cebu and gets mentions on all of the travel blogs.Tourism brings income, jobs and infrastructure, but it usually has a mixed reception for those directly affected.
Many tourists opt to take a 3:00am bus from Cebu City or from the popular diving spot Moalboal. They leave and return the same day, therefore bypassing most of Oslob. Restaurants and the local government still benefit from their visit, which once used to cost tourists 50 pesos ($1 USD) for 30 minutes of snorkeling but now amounts to 1,500 a person ($28USD). Because the local government manages the project, only locals are employed.
Those who lived in Oslob before the big tourist boom mention that before, it was a very quiet town. I spoke with Pretty, a fruit vendor at the town market who told me the whale sharks bring lots of tourists who spend money. Now, the locals have more buildings and more business. (Later in the day, I returned to the market to pick up more fruit. I spotted the woman who at the whale sharks wharf sold me a few slices of pineapple and a bit of watermelon for an overpriced 100 pesos ($2 USD), something that would normally cost half that price, if not less. I tried to bargain with her, but she wouldn’t budge. I was starving, so I didn’t really care; and after all, what are two dollars to me? “Ah, I recognize her,” I told Pretty. “Oh yes, that’s my mom!” she said. And I realize now why else it’s beneficial to have tourists.)
My sister and I decided to stay two days in Oslob, hopefully avoiding the potential for an excruciating, nauseating bus trip (prone to motion sickness). When we walked around town and children saw us, they, scream “Hello!” suggesting that they realize we’re a novelty, but our presence isn’t something new. Young boys got nervous speaking around us and several people stopped to ask where we’re from. Whereas surrounding the wharf there were crowds of tourists (reminding me of a smaller version of what I saw at the Vatican), around town my sister and I only saw a few. We asked Pretty what there is to do on a Friday night. Unenthusiastically, she explained that there is a bar, but it’s not that great. “Maybe singing,” she said. We had already heard the painful karaoke from our neighbor the night before.
In that sense, the tourism hasn’t caused the town to be overblown. A few tourists linger around Spanish colonial ruins, but not many. Most locals still live exactly as they used to. But the international community’s “discovery” of the whale sharks has inevitably changed it.
John, the owner of the guest house where were staying, says that the whale shark tourist industry has altered his social relations with locals. He came here around 15 years ago when he retired after years of living in Canada. His aim was to fish, relax by the ocean, and host friends. He got to do so for a while. The water in front of the guest house used to be teeming with fisherman, he explained. While we were there, we only say two or three.
They would bring their fish in, drink a beer and talk. Now after they fish, he says they say hello but quickly run to their next job attending to tourists. “We’ve lost quality time, you could say,” he told me. John also explained other changes, like the how the road next to his house used to be like an old country road but now sounds like a freeway.
Even his guest house’s very existence is a direct result of tourism: The town didn’t have the capacity to hold the steep increase in tourists, so the mayor asked those with extra spaces to convert them into accommodation. John refused twice, but the third time he wasn’t really given a choice. “You don’t say no to the mayor,” he sighed.
But like all towns and people, they adapt. John realized he enjoyed meeting people from all of the world and eventually came to like being a guest house owner. Pretty seemed pleased with the changes, but she could have just been telling me what she wanted to hear. Obviously Pretty and John come from opposite sides of the spectrum and are aiming for different things, but whether or not others are positively or negatively affected by the newcomers is yet to be analyzed.
To me, Oslob was still a sleepy town. Besides the whale sharks, there’s simply not much to do. Of course there’s karaoke and the beach, but those aren’t unique to the place. And there are the recent travel warnings. My sister and I ran into a cheery Australian couple on the bus from Oslob to Moalboal. “Yeah, we were going to stay four days and we already paid for the accommodation, but we ditched after two nights,” they said, referring to the lack of activities.
Even though I didn’t see much destructive evidence of tourism beyond the area around the whale sharks, for those that saw the before and after, like John and Pretty, it must require some getting used to.
More demand brings hostels, drunken backpackers, bars and prostitutes. It’s not Phuket and it’s not Boracay, but as I watched the stream of yellow buses full of tourists disembark at the wharf, a fear washed over me that this could eventually become what no one wants it to. At least for a while though, it’s too boring to become any of those things.
Thinking about swimming with the whale sharks? This article wasn’t about the environmental controversy, but if you’re going to Oslob you should do your research. Here are a few articles to help you make you decision:
If you happen to be celebrating, Merry Christmas! If not, I hope your day is just as joyful.
When I posted in January that 2016 would be a year of street photography capturing personality, I failed to take into account that 2016 was also my year of Australia. If you’ve heard anything about Australia, you might have heard that while it has a handful of populated cities, the majority of the country is bush.
Which means that there aren’t always streets, there are dirt roads. There aren’t always people there are cattle, and traveling on a budget means that while on the road your travel mates aren’t into waiting for you to get a shot.
And when you work on a mine for three months, the options are even more limited. So while I’m hesitant to make excuses as to why the photo challenge failed after May, I do hope you won’t think less of me for not continuing. You do know I’m joking, don’t you?
To redeem myself I’d like to share three photos from a recent trip I took to Japan. Look forward to more Japan pictures in my “Photo Friday” series.
I may not have gotten to spend much time there, but in three days I quickly figured out the city is more than just the place that makes all of consumers cheap goods. Its a warm, bright city with patient people, religious worship, Korean cafes, consumerist youth, famed Cantonese cuisine and a diverse expat community. Here’s a bit of what I saw when I was there:
Coming soon: A “what I did” series, including a what I did in Guangzhou. Sort of like a travel guide, but less formal. I just want you know what I did and what I thought was cool!