August 17, 2018

Hunting the Northern Lights

Years of admiring beautiful photos of the Northern Lights (also known as the Aurora Borealis) on the Internet, it has always been my dream to witness it with my very own eyes. But you know... plan remains a plan, don't know when to realize it.

But one day, one of my bestfriends from university brought up the idea. Ok this time, it's game on!

Based on our readings; Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland have good chances to see these phenomena. We decided to go during Chinese New Year holiday so we started looking for flight tickets in September during Matta Fair. Found very cheap ticket with British Airways but somehow we mixed up the booking dateline so we missed the offer. *fail

So flight tickets on hold. In the meantime, we planned our routes. But we couldn't finalize everything since we haven't bought the flight ticket yet. Gahhhh!!! We were dragging to buy the tickets, waiting for the fares to go down. But finally we agreed for a cut off, we must buy the tickets by December to proceed with all the accommodation and transportation bookings.

Done with flight booking, we chose Tromso, a city in northern Norway for our main hunting place. On a clear night and when the aurora is very strong, you can see it from the city. Many locals can see it from their house. *jealous max*

But we didn't want to take the risk. We want to maximize our chances. I mean, we're travelling thousands of miles to see the aurora it'd be a pity if we couldn't see it.

So we booked a tour from The Green Adventure AS, a company we selected from the lists available at Tromso Tourist Information Office. You can check and book the tours online as well as offline at the office. If you go to the office, the staffs might be able to give advice in case you're unsure which tour to choose. They also have free WiFi there so it's very convenient. *posts a photo on Instagram while booking the tour ;p

Apparently, these tours to hunt the aurora isn't cheap. The cheapest you can get is around 900 NOK or RM450. Generally the price is based on the duration, the number of participants and what's included in the tour such as snowsuit, drinks and snacks etc. The tour can be a minimum of 6 hours and can go up to 11 hours. Some companies commit to hunt the aurora even if they have to drive to Finland so that explains the long hours. And the number of participants can be between 2-50 person.

There's plenty to choose from. Just go with the one that suits your budget.

The Green Adventure was not our first choice but I loved the trip with them. Initially we were looking for a cheaper tour but we were late (we booked in the afternoon on the day itself) so there weren't many choices left. Paid 1200 NOK (~ RM600) for the tour but it was worth it.

While waiting for the tour time, we went for lunch and walked around the city after.

The Green Adventure staffs, lead guide Anna and the driver-cum-guide Karolis picked up the group in front of Scandic Ishavshotel with a minibus around 6.30pm. That night, there were only 10 participants so yeay smaller groups means you can interact more with the guides. Anna explained about what we're going to see, what to expect and stuffs.

We drove about an hour before stopping at a site by the beach. Everyone's out from the minibus, Anna told us, we'd stay here.. it's coming. I scanned the dark sky but couldn't see anything. The sky was clear Alhamdulillah. But green lights? No I didn't see it. Anyhow, I trusted Anna cos I believed they knew the local weather patterns better.

And true to what she said, after a while, faint green lights appeared in the sky.

Everybody brought out their cameras, ready to click away. Don't forget to bring a tripod for good photos. Anna and Karolis helped us with the camera settings and even shot portrait photos of everyone later.




Over time, the lights became stronger and stronger and moved around. It looked like the aurora, now a strong green with hints of pink hues were dancing in the sky. Oh my God! I couldn't believe my luck. It was too beautiful especially when it danced above us! We were screaming excitedly, thrilled to see such magical phenomenon.





While we were busy with the aurora, they set up a bonfire to keep us warm. We were then served hot chocolate and salmon sandwich. We also grilled marshmallows while getting to know each other.




 * photos credit to The Green Adventure

By midnight, the aurora slowly faded. Anna asked us whether or not we still want to chase it, because we still have time. Everyone seemed happy and contented with what we saw earlier so we agreed to go back.


Tromso, Norway. February 2018

Ahhh what a night! Dream do come true :)

July 27, 2018

JJCM : Sushi Oribe @ ViPod Residences, Jalan Kia Peng

I really wanna blog about my Europe, China, Brisbane and Jogja trip.. but oh well.. lazy mode these days. But I have to blog about my special day! Even though already one month late..

So a kind soul treated me to a birthday lunch at a super nice sushi restaurant. Even though I am a Japanese food lover, I've never heard of this restaurant before because it's soo atas hahaha.

When the friend said he wanted to treat me lunch, and asked what did I want, without thinking much I said I wanted Japanese food. In my mind, I was expecting him to belanja me Ichiban Boshi or Sushi Zanmai.

"There's a good sushi resto in KL."

"Which restaurant? Where?"

"Vipod Residences. In front of Wisma HLA, nearby Pavilion"

That's all he said.

Ohh what restaurant is that? I was curious so I quickly googled 'sushi restaurant Vipod Residences' and results came to a fine sushi restaurant named ORIBE. Reading the blogs, I came to know that the sushis aren't cheap. Ermmm... okayyy. Wanted to cancel the plan cos I felt bad but then I thought, hey I didn't suggest this. He was the one who came up with the idea so I'm OK saja lah hahahahahhahha.

Worst thing if it's too expensive I'll pay half of it la.

So we met up in Pavilion and walked to the restaurant.

Once inside, the staffs ushered us to the bar counter. My friend did all the orderings before I could even opened my mouth. Well.. I trust your taste.


seating at the counter


the chefs

One by one, our sushis were prepared in front of us.


appetizer

yellow tail (kanpachi) 

sea bass (suzuki) 

horse mackarel (aji) 

tuna belly (ootoro)

First part done.

Then we were served wasabi to wash our mouths from the taste, you know.. just like you smell the coffee bean after smelling sooo many perfumes.


Have you seen wasabi leaves before? It was my first time!

Second part continued with Chawanmushi or steamed egg custard.

 the texture was amazing!

 botan shrimp (botan ebi)


scallop (hotate) 

**flounder fin (engawa)**

I forgot to take photo of the flounder fin (engawa) cos the chef didn't put it on the bar. Instead, he served it to me directly to retain its freshness. It was the bomb guyssss!!! It melted on my tongue when I put it in my mouth. Superb!

cholesterol bowl

My chef called that the cholesterol bowl. A special bowl with uni, ikura, negitoro and shiroebi on a bed of sushi rice. It was sooo good!

**roll sushi**

Also forgot to take photo of the roll sushi.

 miso soup

I forgot what were these two

my special dessert!

So he ordered the Iga set which came with an appetizer, chawanmushi, Chef's Specialty Sushi 8 pieces, roll sushi, miso soup, dessert and free flow green tea.

Thank you!!! (Now I have to think of something nice to return the favor haha)

My verdict: This is one of the best sushi meal I had outside of Japan. Highly recommended for good quality sushi. It is not just fresh, the texture and taste on its own is outstanding. The price is steep but hey good thing doesn't come with cheap price tag. If you're a sushi lover, you reallyyyy have to try it!! And I would definitely come back!

We sat at the bar counter, so we got to witness how the sushi pieces were made and get to interact with the chef. The chefs were friendly and professional at the same time; very attentive towards everyone, explaining each sushi they served and answering our many silly questions.

Don't forget to mention you want to sit at the bar counter when making the reservations as the seats are limited. If full, you have to sit at the regular table and the experience will not be the same.

Is it possible to order ala-carte, you wonder? Well, of course you can!
Here are the current menus for both set and ala carte.





Website: Sushi Oribe
Facebook: Oribe

June 22, 2018

JJCM : Molten Chocolate Cafe

If you're a fan of all things chocolate (me me me!), you must've heard of this cafe by now. This is a heaven for chocolate lovers ok!

From French crepes to Belgian pastries and waffles, those with sweet tooth will be happy here and have a cocoa experience to remember.

During a visit recently, my friends and I ordered these!

Molten lava cake

campfire marsho

chocolate waffle

Chocolate overload but I'm not complaining.
Also, all that we ordered were sooo yummy (I might be biased hehe).

Menu.


Crepe



Waffle



Brownies



Melt Me & Churros



Molten Stick


Molten Planet


Beverages





They have a few branches in the Klang Valley. The one I went was in Melawati Mall.

Molten Chocolate Cafe
Website: Moltenchocolatecafe.com
Instagram: @molten_my

June 16, 2018

Salam Aidilfitri 2018

Selamat Hari Raya.

jemput la masuk rumah beraya :D

Maaf Zahir Batin. 

Have a blessed Syawal guys :)


June 7, 2018

Halal Food in Granada, Spain

After a whole day exploring the Alhambra or the Albaicin, Muslim visitors need not worry cos there are a lot of halal restaurants in Granada. Walking around the city, finding a halal restaurant will not be difficult. From typical Middle Eastern/Mediterranean fare to pizzas, you'll be spoilt for choice.

Unfortunately, I didn't managed to sit down and had proper meals at those restaurants. I was on the go (so many things to see but so little time!) so I just grabbed kebab for dinner.

Some of the restaurants and kebab places that I passed by in Albaicin..









So yeah.. there are many of them!