28 April 2011

Random: Self-cleaning toilets

These toilets are pretty cool. When unoccupied, it can clean itself. To get the toilet seat you have to press a button. A hatch opens up and the toilet seat is placed for you, all clean and disinfected.

There's also a time lime to using the toilet. When your 10 minutes is up, the door opens automatically...

25 April 2011

Thames, Coromandel

After spending 2 nights at Hamilton, I continued my journey via a 2 hour van ride (Tairua Bus Company, purchased via NakedBus) to Thames, the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula. Most people pass through Thames without much thought, but I spent a couple of nights here due to the arrangement of my bus tickets.

Which was just as well as the rain that hounded Hamilton followed me here, so I had a terrible time moving about. That is still saying much, as Thames is a really small town with 2 parallel main streets. Where it really shines is the number of heritage buildings - I felt transported back to the gold rush days when I walk amongst the old buildings. Check them out!

More photos after the jump.

22 April 2011

Review: YWCA Hamilton

I spent 2 nights at the Hamilton YWCA hostel. You do not need to be young nor female to stay here, and they are the most value-for-money hostel near to the city.

From the main road

Activities hall/office

Flat units

For $30 a night you get a small, but private, single room like the one below:

A single room
It even comes with a towel, a rarity for hostels. They are also open for long term stays, and I've seen a few residents who look like they've been there for quite a while. If I remember correctly, the weekly rent is $140 for a single.

The main disadvantages:
  • Still relatively far from the city centre, compared to other hostels. It's not within the free city circuit bus network, so you need to walk slightly more than 1km to Victoria St.
  • Common kitchen has limited utensils. Each resident is given a sauce pan (small pot), a bowl, a small plate, a large plate, a small cup, and a pair of fork and spoon. They have some knives and chopping board in the kitchen, but there are no other pots and pans. I had to get really creative with cooking my meals.

Random Hamilton

It was a rainy time in Hamilton and so I didn't take many photos, especially the main Victoria St. These will have to do:

ArtsPost - old post office converted into commercial art gallery

Waikato Museum - permanent exhibits are free and highly recommended

Falun Dafa movement at the farmer's market

Weekend farmer's market

20 April 2011

Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton

Hamilton Gardens was the highlight of my visit to Hamilton City. Located a few kilometers away from the city centre, there are public buses (about 5 a day) but a car is definitely more convenient.

Basically a large botanical garden, the thing that sets it apart is the focus on gardens as a historical/cultural concept rather than particular flora. Yes, there are the usual "here's 15 different types of roses for you to mull over" areas within its huge 50 hectares, but the part that I liked the most is the Paradise Garden Collection, which features themed gardens from the Italian Renaissance, Chinese, Japanese, English, American Modernist, and Indian era. Separated by high hedges, taking just a few steps transported me from a pagoda to a tea house to a mini Taj Mahal!

More pics under the fold...

19 April 2011

I Return. Slowly.

Responsibilities of being an adult are quickly catching up on me. Weekends are not filled with 6 hour video game marathons or hanging out at the gym. Rather, the carpet beckons to be vacuumed, my laundry needs to be washed, and my car needs to be treated.

Then on Sundays I spend an average 4 hours cooking my meals for the coming work week. I'll be  blogging about this week-long cooking practice later - definitely interesting for all you bachelors out there.

With all that activity crowding my free time, forgive me if I am not punctual with my posts. I did a quick check at my stats and I'm still getting a healthy 50 hits a day, so I'll try not to disappoint! First order of the day is to quickly write up my holiday posts from the summer. Autumn chill is already encroaching so it'll be a good reminder of nice weather gone by.

You can also expect lots of "Photo of the day" posts instead of long write ups like this.

10 April 2011

More on Azuma Japanese Restaurant, Queensbay Mall, Penang

(This is an old post that was supposed to go out but somehow did not)

I've flogged about Azuma a few months back. This visit was a simple birthday celebration for a friend, and this was what 3 of us ate. The total bill came up to RM95.90 (we ordered some items that were covered in the previous post). Take note that the proprietors also run Edo Ichi in Island Plaza and their menus are more or less identical.
Beef Enoki Maki - RM 18

Salmon Tataki Maki - RM 22

Dragon Roll - RM 22

Inverted maki roll