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I’m getting married!

April 20, 2012 6 comments

I’ve had a draft of a post written for a week now, started while in Queenstown, entitled “Some quick food & drink reviews of Queenstown”. So when I came to make this blog entry I had to decide between writing a post about my recent engagement or completing the one on food and drink. This was no easy decision. I’ve recently somewhat come into a smidgen of this annoying thing known as ‘maturity’ and that small portion of my being decided to take the reigns and prioritize the news of upcoming nuptials over the news of an awesome steak. Don’t fret – I’ll post of the steak and other amazing foods and foodspots soon enough.

Okay then – back on track. Yes, Puneet and I are engaged. Yay! I proposed to her on our last night in Queenstown but it isn’t official until it’s on Facebook, Twitter and my Blog – right? right. Without getting  too mushy gushy about it all I’ve chosen to document the evening via photography:

Walking to duckies

After an amazing day spent in Glenorchy, Kinloch and Paradise we get back to Queenstown and decide to feed some duckies. We buy some food and head down to the lake

View

Seriously, what an amazing place. We walked out onto the rocks and were loving life, the ducks and the scenery

Especially happy

Someone seemed especially happy. I had been carrying the ring with me all day (the box is not an easy thing to conceal on your person!) looking for the right time/place and when I didn't find it in a place literally called "Paradise" I was a bit worried. Then we were here and it was perfect so I popped the question, she almost fell into the water, but didn't, and said yes

Champagne

We headed back to our hotel room and called the families then went down to the bar and ordered two glasses of some fine champagne. The hotel decided to just give us the bottle. Thanks Sofitel Queenstown! 🙂

Drinking Champagne

*clink* Cheers!

FIRE

After our drink we headed over to the Bunker for dinner. When we arrived wouldn't you know it but the concierge from the Sofitel had called ahead and organized another glass of champagne for us. What were they, trying to get us drunk or something? I unfortunately didn't get any photos of the place which is a shame because it was spectacular - very rustic with several fireplaces and an indoor/outdoor setting for their upstairs bar. Trust the one photo I did take to be of fire though - I love fire - but the food was excellent and I highly recommend the place either for a cocktail upstairs or food in the restaurant.

And there you have it. The next day we flew home. The perfect end to a perfect trip.

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My favourite city in the world: Queenstown

April 7, 2012 6 comments

I thought long and hard before creating this post with the title that it has. It’s a big call, especially given how many great places I have travelled to. I thought of the obvious places like Rome, Paris, Sydney, San Diego, Vegas, Madrid and then some less obvious but still amazing places like Playa del Carmen, Hamilton Island, Silver Star and Racha Island. But my fourth and current visit to Queenstown has proven its place at the top of my list. I surprised Puneet with the trip this Easter long weekend (she knew we were going somewhere but not where, at least until the damn fools at the aereporto check-in counter gave it up). The city is indescribable. From the pristine water to the friendly locals to the backdrop of mountains surrounding the town and everything in between it is nothing short of perfection.

Queenstown Lake

The air is clean and during the cooler months the smell of fireplaces burning all around town envelops the town. There is so much to do: if you’re into the great outdoors then you’ll find no shortage of adventures or if you prefer to spend your time indoors there are a plethora of quaint restaurants, bars and places to chill out. An obvious favourite of mine is Wine Tastes the wine tasting centre in the middle of town. The idea behind it is that upon entering you are given a card which you can then insert into any one of the many machines surrounding the edge of the restaurant littered with wine bottles and descriptions to get either a taste, half glass or full glass of the particular wine. It is an excellent way to taste wine and the little touches of being able to order cheese or dip platters as well as the warm decor only adds to it’s charm.

This isn’t going to be a particularly long entry, and I will be sure to update at least once more on the specifics of what we did while here but there are two things that have excited me greatly this time that did not on any prior trips. The first is the availability and awesomeness of the Bluff Oyster. I had never heard of it until on this trip when we were walking throughout the streets of town and written in chalk on every specials board of every restaurant was “BLUFF OYSTERS AVAILABLE NOW” or “BLUFF OYSTER SEASON HAS BEGUN”. And if the restaurant didn’t have a specials board, they pulled out a board just to announce the arrival and availability of the bluff oyster. Needless to say I was intrigued.

A little online research of the bluff oyster found countless references to it being the best oyster in the world or, if the reviewer was particularly nitty, it fell to the pitiful rank of one of the best oysters in the world. So, today with lunch, I ordered up half a dozen of the bad boys:

Bluff Oysters

Outstanding. 10/10. The best oyster (perhaps the best thing ever) I have eaten. For starters they were enormous. The were creamy, but not too creamy, especially for an oyster of the size. They were intense in flavour. The first thought that came to mind was “this is a sydney rock oyster on steroids”. They were served with a sherry vinaigrette but they didn’t need it and I didn’t use it. They were perfect as is or with a bit of lemon. Holy moly. You probably think i’m overselling these things, but i’m not. I’ll be eating them every day for the rest of the trip, that’s for sure.

I mentioned two things but the second doesn’t seem all the exciting (at least not yet) compared to what I’ve just written. Tomorrow we’re heading out on a private fishing trip with Clearwater Fishing for 5 hours – something I have wanted to do ever since my friend Daniel went on one in Sydney a couple of months ago. I’ll definitely be taking photos and reporting back with a trip report after the fact but for now i’ll just end with: Queenstown is the nuts and to be continued…

p.s I also found a cool tree:

Tree!

Trip Review: Philip Island & The Penguin Parade

February 17, 2012 Leave a comment

One of the highlights of our recent Melbourne trip was the day we spent at Philip Island. For those who don’t know, Philip Island is a 90 minute drive south of Melbourne accessible by driving over a short bridge. The island is famous for their nightly penguin parade where the world’s smallest penguins waddle in from their day hunting for dish in the ocean across the sandy beach to their burrowed homes among the hillside. Super cute. Aside from the penguins there was a koala sanctuary, heritage farm on a nearby island and several charming beaches. It’s quite the place.

All seven of us set out at midday after picking up the keys to our rented Toyota Tarago. Puneet was charged with driving, I was in charge of directions and the rest were in charge of staying out of trouble. We all failed. I kid, I kid, it was quite the success actually.

Our first stop was Churchill Island. You access the island via another small bridge just off the main part of Philip Island. The main (only?) attraction here is a heritage farm. None of us really knew what to expect and this stop was a part of a package deal that we’d booked, we all mostly wanted to see the penguins. But we were pleasantly surprised. This place was awesome. For starters it had spectacular water views that appeared behind enormous green fields.

Churchill Island

Churchill Island

Churchill Island 2

Churchill Island

Churchill Island 3

Churchill Island

The animals were charming and ranged from sheep to ducks to horses to chickens to turkeys and our favourite of all – their border collie sheep dog. We managed to catch the dog in action as they have a daily show where he rounds up the sheep – it was awesome to watch. After he’d done his work his trainer decided to show us it’s not just sheep he can round up and had him chase down the two turkeys within the enclosure. If you’ve never seen a turkey bolt for it’s life you are missing out on one of life’s funniest experiences. The only way I can explain it is if you can imagine the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail after he had lost both arms running for his life, jumping back and forth from one foot to the other.

We were in tears. It was just one of the turkeys too. The other one was smart enough to realise that if he just stood still the dog would stop trying to chase him down and round him up. Not the most clever turkey to have lived but oh so funny. I wish we took some photos or video footage but we were too captivated to consider that. So instead, here’s a duck:

Ducky

Ducky

Next stop was the koala sanctuary. This place was pretty cool but not the most exciting koala sanctuary that I’ve been to, especially since I grew up only a few minutes away from the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane. A few photos:

Sleepy Koala

Sleepy Koala. Actually he's just a normal koala - all they do is get high on eucalyptus leaves and sleep all day.

Koala Daniel eating some Eucalyptus..

Koala Daniel eating some Eucalyptus..

Koala Daniel is one happy chappy

Koala Daniel is one happy chappy

After the koala sanctuary we were starting to get hungry so we made a dinner reservation and headed into the beach side town to kill half an hour  before we ate. Once again not really knowing what to expect we were blown away when we stumbled upon this fantastic beach:

Beach at Phillip Island

Beach at Phillip Island

Dinner was pretty lackluster. We went to Infused based on some good reviews and the fact that we could get a reservation and they were opening early. Service was bad, cocktails were undrinkable and the starters were mediocre at best. The mains were all around excellent though which at least let us end the meal on a high note.

From dinner we rushed to the penguin parade as we were starting to get short on time. We unfortunately had to miss “the nobbies” which is a place at the edge of the island where you apparently get spectacular ocean views and get to see seals close up. Oh well, it’s a good excuse to head back! The penguin parade itself was incredible. They didn’t allow any photos or video to be taken while there so I have nothing to show you but I highly, highly recommend it. Despite it being a true, hot Australian summer day the evening/night got down to very cold temperatures, probably because of the chilling winds blowing up from Antarctica. I googled a couple of images to give you an idea of what we were looking at while there and just how small these penguins were!

Penguin Parade

Penguins!

Penguins!

More Penguins!

 

All in all it was a fantastic trip and I highly recommend a visit to Philip Island for anyone wanting to get out of Melbourne for the day.

2012 Aussie Millions Recap + A Restaurant Review: The Atlantic

February 13, 2012 3 comments

That time of year has come and gone again where pros and recreational players from all around Australia (+ those game enough to travel from anywhere else in the world) came together for the Aussie Millions Poker Championship in Melbourne. It’s always a different experience for everyone who comes: some grind a tonne of cash, some play all the tourneys, some just the Main Event and others stop by just for the fun non-poker related activities. For me and the group of friends I was staying with it was mostly a few tourneys + a lot of non-poker related fun. This included a bunch of fantastic meals, a trip to the aquarium and a road trip to Philip Island to see the penguin parade not to mention some more off the beaten track Melbourne exploration. Well I say “off the beaten track” but in reality it was still all very central and beatenly tracky. The thing is — at least when it comes to poker players — anything further than a 5 minute walk away from the casino is basically the outback. So we hopped on our kangaroos and discovered (or re-discovered where others had told us to go, and by others i mean the internet) a few funky bars and one particularly awesome coffee/breakfast joint (ok, this one was recommended by a real person, thanks to Jay “seabeast” Kinkade for recommending it on 2p2!).

We had rented a 3br apartment across the road from Crown where we all stayed. It was Puneet and I, Gavin (Gavz101) and his gf Olivia, Mike (gordo16) and his lady friend Emma and Daniel (he plays euro sites so he has no screen name) and his female counterpart, his 27″ monitor.

Puneet and I were only there for eight days, as were most of the others, so that in itself didn’t leave for a lot of time to fit in cash games, tournaments + other stuff. I personally restricted myself to two tournaments and zero cash games. It wasn’t so much a planned restriction but when there were other amazing and more fun things to do the prospect of grinding live poker just wasn’t high on the list. Besides, I was able to at least muster together the motivation to put in a few hours playing online each day. Daniel and I found ourselves waking up at 7-8am most mornings, walking down to St. Ali for some breakfast + amazing coffee then returning home to put in a few hours of poker. Those sessions definitely stemmed my already limited desires to play live cash.

I played the $5k Chinese poker event as well as the $2.5k PLO. I failed to cash in either but both were fun events and I had swapped 5% with both Daniel and Mike who placed 6th and 7th respectively in the PLO. Also congrats to Mike for placing 2nd in the Chinese poker tourney. I forget Mike, did you get a trophy for that? (excuse the inside joke). The only other notable result was Gavz bubbling the main event by a handful of spots.

On the food and drink side of things we managed to hit up quite a few places: Flower Drum, Spice Temple, Movida, Movida Aqui, Lucky Chan, The Atlantic and St. Ali. I’d like to review them all but that would take forever so I’ll start with one or two and add the rest either as smaller/quicker reviews and/or will post them later as I have more time. Let’s start with The Atlantic:

The Atlantic is a restaurant specialising in seafood (surprise surprise) within Crown along the Southbank side. I went here three times, all for lunch, and all were excellent. In addition to the restaurant part of the venue they also have an oyster bar and a downstairs cocktail lounge called The Den. I didn’t try either but Puneet and Emma went to the cocktail lounge one night while Mike and I were in tourneys for a drink and said it was very nice. Despite not trying the oyster bar per se, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to order oysters off the menu each time I went. They had four options: Cowell Bay (South Australia), Duck Bay (Tasmania), Cloudy Bay (Tasmania) and Moreton Island Rock (New South Wales). They varied in flavour and texture but all were excellent, very fresh, and perfectly shucked.

Oysters at The Atlantic

Oysters at The Atlantic

The food was consistently very good. Twice we ordered individual dishes and the third time we ordered a bunch of their sharing plate options, the food was great in all instances. The Smoked Slow Roasted Quail with grilled figs, rocket salad, quail egg and blasamic jus gras was my favourite starter and of all the mains that I had and tried the Steamed Wild Barramundi with confit fennel, blood orange, fennel foam and pink peppercorn powder was the best. Drinks went off without a hitch too with all the wine we ordered being great not to mention the excellent cocktails. I’ll give the food & drink an 8.5/10.

Steamed Barramundi from The Atlantic

Steamed Barramundi from The Atlantic

Service was a bit of a mixed bag. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t exceptional either. A couple of times we had to wait exceptionally long to place our orders or ask for something else but for the most part it was decent enough. On one occasion our waiter or the manager deduced we were poker players and it was a lunch right before the Chinese poker event Mike and I were playing so he immediately ran to ask the kitchen to rush our food out – that was a nice touch. Overall I give the service a 7.5/10.

The Ambiance of the restaurant was incredibly pleasant. Everything from the decor, layout, lighting and presentation of the space to the indoor/outdoor seating areas and individual rooms that gave you a very private dining experience worked wonderfully together. I sat in three completely different areas each time we went and none were even close to the others. They have a large space and use it very well — it’s not just one giant seating area with a bunch of tables. It’s far enough away from the gaming floor that you could convince yourself you’re not even at a Casino, especially if you enter from the Southbank side. I give the Ambiance a 9/10.

The Engine Room at The Atlantic

The Engine Room at The Atlantic

Value for money is always a tricky one. You can usually expect to pay a premium for any restaurant located within or in close proximity to a casino (especially one as prestigious as Crown which prides itself on offering high-end dining). The Atlantic is no exception but it certainly doesn’t use this fact as an excuse to unreasonably inflate their prices either which is refreshing. It’s definitely not a cheap eat, or a “cafe style” lunch but for a bit of a splurge and consistently good food it lives up to expectations. I’ve definitely had worse food for the same or more money and comparing it to the other options available in and around Crown it fares well. Oysters will set you back $3.50 to $4.50 each with a dozen ranging from $38 to $48 depending on the variety. Starters hover around the $25-$30 range and most main courses hit around the $40-$45 mark. Exceptions are the crayfish platter or “today’s catch” which are both sold at market price. All things considered I give The Atlantic an 8/10 for value for money. If the food wasn’t as good as it was this number would definitely drop quite quickly.

Verdict: I give The Atlantic a 33/40. If you’re in or near Crown and you like seafood, this is the place to go. I’ll definitely be returning.

After the Aussie Millions we returned home and Gavin and Olivia came too to spend a few days in sunny rainy Sydney. We made it out to the Hunter Valley one night where we hit up some wineries and had an incredible meal at Muse (more on this later). On the one day of sun we had we took full advantage: an afternoon at Bondi Beach, evening hanging out in our local park by the water and by night we had a feast. I BBQ’d some chicken wings then cooked my infamous rib-eye’s inside. Gavz and Liv made one of the best chocolate cakes in existence and Puneet was on cocktail duty. A pretty much perfect night.

Cake & Cocktail Production

Cake & Cocktail Production

I have much more to say and share but for now I’ll wrap this post up. My plans for the immediate future are more online grinding for a week until I head to India for 8 days for a cousin’s wedding. I haven’t been back for a few years (far too long!) and i’m sure the wedding will be amazing so i’m incredibly excited — i’ll have to remember to take plenty of photos and post some up when I return. Hope everyone is well – Cheers!

Labor Day Long Weekend Pt. 2

October 9, 2011 3 comments

Picking up where I left off a few days ago.. Sunday was more of a rest day than anything else. We woke up late, went grocery shopping, and had the idea to make some home made pizzas.

Rolling out the dough

Rolling out the dough

First up is a garlic pizza

First up is a garlic pizza - Some crushed garlic + EVOO + Chopped parsley. We added some mozzarella cheese to one side

Finished garlic pizza

Thrown onto a pizza stone in the oven at max temp for 6-7 mins and you get one delicious garlic pizza

Next up is a margarita pizza

Next up is a margarita pizza - a tomato sauce base we made beforehand, a few basil leaves and some mozzarella cheese on top (to protect the leaves from burning)

Finished margarita

Margarita out of the oven

Pepperoni Pizza

Last up was a pepperoni pizza. Exactly the same as the margarita but we replaced the basil with pepperoni

All in all it was some of the best pizza we’ve ever had and one helluva tasty dinner!

On Monday we decided to get out of the house and do something. We left home driving towards the city with no real plan of where to go or what to do. I jumped on my phone and looked up “what’s on in Sydney” for the weekend and there wasn’t a whole lot. A couple of art exhibits that didn’t seem too interesting and that was about it. In the end we wound up driving down to the Royal National Park – The world’s second oldest national park after Yellowstone in the US.

We didn’t know what we’d find or what there would be to do there but it was only an hour away and we had all day, so why not? It turned out to be a day of driving. We spent an hour driving through and around the park and probably still only saw a tiny portion of it. There was a long stretch of driving through beautiful rain forest-esque scenery and when we came out the other side this is what we saw:

Tasman Sea

After driving through the park we had made our way down to the eastern coast of Australia and were looking over the Tasman Sea

Tasman Sea 2

It was an awesome lookout point

So we were now three quarters of the way between Sydney and Woolongong and thought what the heck, might as well make it all the way. The rest of the drive was wonderful and scenic and reminded us of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. We made a few pit stops at random beaches along the way and I snapped some more photos:

Beach Shot

I don't remember the names of all the places we stopped but this one was in Woolongong and alongside a huge park

Random Beach

This was a stop between the Royal National Park and Woolongong. It was a small beach with both sides blocked with rocks and the tide was going crazy

Some Random Beach

And this was just some random beach, I can't remember where

We never ended up actually doing anything in Woolongong other than driving straight through. It was getting late now and we were ready to head home, but we had one more stop to make. Puneet mentioned there was the Nan Tien Temple nearby. An amazing Buddhist temple & monastery  that she had stopped at before so we thought we’d go check that out while we were in the area. The photos I took from my iPhone don’t do it justice so here are a couple of snaps of the place I found on the web:

Nan Tien Temple 1

Main Temple Entrance

Nan Tien Pagoda

Eight story pagoda

We spent an hour or so at the temple before finally getting into our car and heading on home. The trip back took us just short of 2 hours. We had some dough left over from the night before and decided what would be better than more homemade pizzas?! I won’t bore you with a repeat of the photos but they turned out just as delicious as the night before. Puneet also took it upon herself to whip up a delicious chocolate mud cake:

Chocolate Mud Cake

Yummy!

 

It has since hardened and turned into more of a chocolate brownie but it’s nomnomalicious and we’re picking at it every day.

So there you have it – a long weekend spent away from poker and thoroughly enjoyed. My next update will be poker-related and I’ll talk about how Sept was and what Oct and the rest of the year has in store for me.

Trip Review: Playa del Carmen, Mexico

August 4, 2011 15 comments

Hola! Despite my recent trip to Spain and even more recent trip to Mexico I’ve still mastered less of the Spanish language than Basil Fawlty. Language barriers aside — this trip was amazing. Puneet and I flew into Cancun from Vegas (via Denver, an airport we remember distinctly for its “TORNADO SHELTER” signs everywhere; yeah, that wasn’t scary at all). From there we had a car waiting to take us an hour south to the wonderful coastal town: Playa del Carmen.

Walking into the resort our first impression was exactly this:

First Impression

Not bad, not bad at all..

The trip began with a few room-related mishaps but the resort staff were amazing and sorted everything out for us with as little drama as possible so from day 2 onward everything was peachy. Some of the highlights of our room included a Nintendo Wii, a telescope, our own pool and last but not least a fully stocked bar:

Bar

The resort was "all inclusive" meaning that all food and alcohol was free / built into the price of the room

View from Roof

The amazing view from our rooftop terrace -- look at the colour of that water!

Panoramic View

One more view shot - this time panoramic

The all inclusiveness part of the resort was a double-edged sword. On the one hand it was convenient to be able to walk around and eat/drink whatever and as much as we wanted but on the other hand we felt bad any time we left the resort to eat. The quality of Mexican food was disappointingly low throughout every restaurant within the resort but fortunately we stumbled upon an amazing joint just down the road: Aca Los Tacos! We literally ate there once each day for the rest of our trip.

Aca Los Tacos

This photo doesn't do justice to the food -- the guacamole wasn't very good, nor were the quesadillas, but we soon discovered their burritos. Oh my god. The hot sauces they provided were out of this world too.

Aca Los Tacos 2

Aca Los Tacos was right on 5th Avenue

We tried not to venture out for food/drinks too much since we felt bad given it was free in our resort, but one night we were moseying on down 5th avenue (the main strip of shops/bars/restaurants in Playa) and stumbled upon a really funky looking place and couldn’t help but stop for a couple of giant margaritas and a small bite to eat:

Funky Mexican Restaurant

Mmm.. margaritas!

Okay, enough about food (did I really just say that?) — we actually DID do more than eat and drink in Mexico. We organised a tour one day to take us south along the coastline for some sights & snorkeling. The first stop on our itinerary was Tulum — A Pre-Columbian Maya walled city. From Wikipedia:

The ruins are situated on 12-meter (39 ft) tall cliffs, along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by the Mayans, it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico. Old World diseases brought by the Spanish settlers appear to have been the cause of its demise.

First impression: Stunning. Second impression: Stunning.

Tulum Ruins

An overview of the ruins

Closer shot of ruins

A closer look

Coastal shot of ruins

Being along the coast Tulum had access to sea trade routes, making it an importing trading hub

Sea road sign

This signage was posted right in front of -- see next photo

Sea road area

This! Magnificent.

Proof

Last but not least (of the Tulum photos), I thought I'd throw in one with me in the shot -- there were people just below swimming in the water, we really wanted to join them but it was time to head off to our next stop..

Next stop: Cave Snorkeling! I must admit, we were a little scared at the prospect of this at first — but after a minute or two in the water we were good to go. The cave we went to was Sistem Dos Ojos – one of the longest underwater cave systems in the world. Given we were snorkeling and not diving we only got to glimpse the surface of the cave but it was amazing nonetheless. Some more Wikipedia knowledge:

Dos Ojos (from Spanish meaning “Two Eyes”; officially Sistema Dos Ojos) is a flooded cave system located north of Tulum, on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. The exploration of Dos Ojos began in 1987 and still continues. The surveyed extent of the cave system is 81.5 kilometres / 50.6 miles and there are 28 known sinkhole entrances, which are locally called cenotes.

Dos Ojos Cave

A photo taken inside the cave looking back to the entrance - there were a LOT of stalagmites and stalactites scattered throughout. In some spots they were so low you needed to be careful not to hit your head as you came up

Snorkeling at Dos Ojos

Underwater photo taken by our guide of Puneet and I

Dos Ojos Cool Shot

A cool underwater shot of some divers

Dos Ojos Entrance

A closer look at the entrance

The whole experience was amazing and one we won’t soon forget. Snorkeling in a cave is a whole new world compared to snorkeling in the open ocean — the biggest difference being how dark it is and the need for a torch.

Our next stop was Akumal Bay – This was definitely my favourite stop of the day. Why? Because I like turtles! Akumal means “place of the turtles” in the Mayan language so this was the place to be for turtle spotting. The water in Akumal Bay was without a doubt the warmest natural water I have ever been in. It was like a warm bath, just incredible. The goal for our snorkeling trip here was to spot a sea turtle or two, and spot them we did.

Turtle!

Oh, hi there!

Turtle! Weeeeeee

Weeeeeeeeee

Turtle pop head up

Might just pop up for some air..

Turtle ahhh

ahhhhhhh

Turtle with fishies!

This was my favourite one! We saw a turtle swimming around, eating grass, going for air, and wherever he went there were two yellow fish that stayed right under him the whole time. I dunno if he was protecting them, or they had just found a cool place to hide, or they had some sort of deal going on (protection in return for something?!) but i thought it was the coolest thing ever

After Akumal it was time for lunch. We went to a quaint little restaurant perched on the side of a bay and while I don’t remember the name of the place, I certainly remember the view :

View from Lunch

The actual view from our table.. it was like a postcard

Animals!

After lunch our guide called us over to the other side of the road to where a few of the locals were feeding some animals that were coming out of the jungle. We don't know what the animals were but here's a photo of them nonetheless. If you recognise what they are please let me know!

After lunch we had one final snorkeling stop before home – Yal Ku Lagoon. Whilst we had been snorkeling in a cave and bay we were yet to see an abundance of colourful fish. Enter Yal Ku. This place was swarming with fishies of all descriptions.

Ya Kul Lagoon

Ya Kul Lagoon

Steps into Ya Kul Lagoon

Steps into Ya Kul Lagoon

Random Colourful Fishy

Random Colourful Fishy! Looks like he's having lunch.. om nom nom

Puneet and I underwater at Ya Kul

It's amazing how close you can get to the fish, they're so comfortable with humans they just swim around you

Hola!

Hola!

Aaaaaand that was the end of our amazing day out in Mehico! The day will forever go down as one of the best days of my life and I’m sure Puneet would say the same. It ranks right up there with the day we spent at a Tiger Temple in Bangkok.

The rest of our time in Playa was spent lounging by the pool(s), drinking more margaritas and eating wayyyy more than we should have — I literally ate three dinners one night. We had a giant Thai meal at the Asiana restaurant within our resort at about 7pm. At 8:30 I had a giant burrito at Aca Los Tacos and when we came home at about 10 I ordered and finished a plate of spaghetti bolognese from room service. I put on 4kgs while we were there. [x] Totally worth it.

I’ll leave you with one photo that pretty well sums up the overall mood of the trip. Adios!

Senor Froggy!

Everyone, meet Señor Froggy!

Non-Writers Writer’s Block + Another Overseas Adventure [cliffs]

July 26, 2011 8 comments

That’s the best excuse I can come up with for the lack of posts since my last entry. You can throw “traveling a lot” into the big bag of excuses but if anything that should sway me towards more posting and not less. I’m not much of a writer (hence the non-writer prefix) however the little that I did write was blocked by something inside me. Probably my inherent laziness. My whole life I have “left things to the last minute” – school assignments, studying for exams, etc etc. So when you put something with no official deadline in front of me (like, say, writing a blog entry) then once it gets beyond the point of being routine I continue to push it further and further down the list of priorities until oops 6 weeks have passed.

I’m home now though and have a bit more free time than while we were away (that seems backwards..) so here’s to hoping this was the last time my blogging desires went wayward.

A lot has happened since my last post. Both poker-wise and outside of poker. The short version was a lot of poker in June (including a large downswing, throw that into the excuses bag too will ya). A friend, fellow blogger and SNE legend Andrew Li aka azntracker moved to Sydney so we hung out a bit — it included some fun BBQing, drinking and silly poker games. What else do poker players do when they get together anyway? At the end of the month my brother and his gf came to stay with us for a few days and we had a blast.

July saw Puneet and I head off to the US for a semi-holiday semi-poker trip. First stop San Diego where my sister lives with her husband and my 5 year old niece. The day we arrived was her birthday so we had amazing fun opening presents with her and enjoying the wonderful weather by/in the pool in their beautiful new home. Unfortunately we could only stay one night as the next day I was playing the 5k PLO8 event in Vegas. Long story short for that event is that I made two dinner breaks but didn’t cash. The only other event I played was the main which I’ll write up separately but I was out of that in about 5 hours. The rest of Vegas was amazing fun — the group of people we had to hang out with couldn’t have been better. I’ll go into more detail of Vegas stories in another post too.

After Vegas was Mehico! We flew into Cancun and took a trip down to a small tourist beach side town called Playa Del Carmen. It was AMAZING. Again, I will go into more details in another post (gee, I have a lot to catch up on) but as a sneak peak here’s a photo of the view from the roof terrace of our room:

Panoramic View from Mexico Room

The whole Mexico trip was unreal. From the food to the snorkling to the pools to the beaches to the people to the weather to the Mayan ruins to the resort. Incredible.

After Mexico we had a one day layover in LA before our 15 hour flight back to Sydney. Not to miss out on another day worth of adventuring we met up with one of our friends Gavin and stayed in Santa Monica. Had a great time in LA and now we’re home. It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling — on the one hand we miss being on holidays but on the other it’s definitely good to be back to normality.

I’m now back in grindathon mode. I want to make SNE by the end of November to keep a cruisy December – unlike last year where I hit the millionth vpp with hours (if not minutes) to spare. The will require a solid 50hrs a week for the next 4 months — doable, for sure, but draining. Especially if you include a few days off here and there it quickly adds up to 9-10hr days which any poker player will tell you is no easy feat.

My next several updates will include (in no specific order): a poker update, a Sydney update, a Vegas update, a Mexico update, an LA update and maybe a couple of random things mixed in. So as not to burn myself out (see Roy, this wasn’t that hard) I’m going to end this here and leave you all with one of my favourite photos of the trip:

Turtle w/ fishies from Akumal Bay

Snorkling in Akumal Bay, Mexico, we saw this sea turtle underwater. He had under him two yellow fishies that followed him wherever he went - whether it be to eat some sea grass or head to the surface for air.

p.s I just saw that this was meant to be the short version! god knows what the long one will look like.