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The Nifty Noodle Goes to Bali- Seminyak

August 9, 2016

We had a packed honeymoon agenda and all we wanted to do towards the end was relax. After Ubud we headed to Seminyak for some much needed R&R. We loved our hotel so much that we barely left the premisise. I don’t have much to say so I’ll let the photos do the talking for me.

Our DIY welcome drinks!

IMG_6911These were a hot commodity.IMG_6921Give me a bucket of fries and I’m a very happy camper. IMG_6924 IMG_6940Bali, you are beautiful! IMG_6937

Life Travel Wedding

The Nifty Noodle Goes to Bali- Ubud

August 3, 2016

We decided to divide our time in Bali and stay in two different areas: Ubud and Semiyak. Ubud is further north in the jungle area. Semiyak is known for their beaches and fancy resorts. I’m glad we stayed at both locations because it provided us with two totally different experiences.

Instagram makes Bali look like paradise, so I was a little shell shocked when I arrived. Bali is still very much a third world country. The drive from the airport to our hotel in Ubud took almost 3 hours. The two places looked close on the map, but because there are one lane roads and no traffic lights, the traffic was insane. The plus side of Bali is that people are very hospitable. As soon as we arrived at our hotel we were greeted with welcome drinks and mini cakes. Another plus was the infinity pool and view of rice paddy fields from our room.

Another reason we chose to stay in Ubud was because it’s centrally located to all the activies we wanted to do.

Mt Batur Sunrise Hike

We sacrificed sleep to be picked up at 2am for our volcano sunrise hike. The drive took about 2 hours. We met up with our guides, were given flashlights and immediately began our hike. I was surprised by how many other tourist were doing the same hike. From the bottom, you could see a line of lights of other people who started the hike earlier.

The first 30 minutes of the hike was relatively easy as the path was paved and flat. The rest of the hike was all uphill. The narrow path was covered in tiny rocks which made it easy to slip. There were so many other people hiking the same path that there was traffic going up. We were able to take it nice and slow. The hike up took around 2 hours and by the time I got to the top I was dripping in sweat.IMG_6815

Our guide found a bench and a less congested area to sit while we waiting for the sun to rise. Our guide hardboiled some eggs in the volcanoes steam. After the sun finally rose, we had an incrediable view of surrounding volcanoes and mountains. DSCF0975

Now that it was daylight, it was kind of crazy to see how steep the trail was. Then, we were told that the way back down was the same way we came up. I thought coming up was scary, but it didn’t compare to coming back down. I slipped a few times on the way down. There were a few people who were in our group that thought it was a smart idea to hike in flip flops. I was so happy that I survived the hike in one piece. The views were definitely worth the trip.IMG_6828

Post hike we got to relax at a natural hot spring at Toya Bungkah Village. It was a much deserved treat for us.

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Biking through Ubud

I wanted to maximize my time in Ubud, so after the hike, I had planned a bike tour. Note to self, never do that again. We biked for 2 hours through small villages, temples, a bamboo forest, rice paddies and a trditional Penglipuran village.DSCF0999

I enjoyed the experience as we got to see less touristy areas of Bali. However, biking through Bali is not for the faint of heart. Some of the paths we biked were along extremely narrow ledges, and if you fell, there was no coming back. There were times stray dogs would chase after us. This was terrifying for me. Crossing roads was also dangerous since there are no traffic lights and there seemed to be no rules on the road. This was another adventure that we are lucky to have survived.DSCF0993Canyoning

This was definitely not my idea. For those of you who know me, I like to play it safe. When I first read about canyoning, I was hesitant to tell Wes because I knew he’d be interested in it. He’s the more adventurous one and it’s no secret that I’m the nervous Nellie. I’m not a strong swimmer, afraid of heights and not very coordinated. Canyoning is probably not the best idea for someone like me, but I wanted to try something that Wes has never done.

When we arrived, we went through a brief training. The guides could see the fear writted on my face, but it took over 2 hours to get to the location and there was no going back for me. Plus, FOMO got the best of me.

I have to admit that this was the best thing I did in Bali. We went down natural water slides, repelled down 75 feet waterfalls, and cliff dived into the canyon. Even though I crashed into the sides of the waterfalls multiple times, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought. The scariest part was jumping off the cliffs. You had to leap far enough to prevent crashing into the rocks in the bottom. It was one of the most nerve wracking things I’ve ever done, but I’m so glad that I did it.

This was our highest jump at around 30 feet. I guess from up top, the drop looks higher and much scarier. Here’s Wes’s jump.

And now here’s me…very afarid…

Life Travel Wedding

The Nifty Noodle Goes to Singapore

July 27, 2016

If you’re going to be on a plane for over 20 hours, to you might as well make the most of your time. We opted for a 24 hour layover in Singapore. We arrived around 6:30am and went straight to our hotel to freshen up in their infinity pool As you could see, the pool was pretty bomb.

Hawker Centres

I was in Singapore 4 years ago, but was disappointed that I was not able to leave the airport. The only thing I wanted to do was visit some hawker stalls, so this was on the top of my list this time around. Our taxi driver recommended the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre. Lucky for us it was only a 10 minute walk from our hotel. We arrived around 10am and most of the stalls were still closed. There were probably about 60 stalls under one roof; the possiblies were endless.

We read that Tian Tian Hainese Chicken was served some of the best Hainanese chicken. I don’t normally enjoy Hainanese chicken, but since we were in Singapore, I had to. A line was formed even before the stall opened, but the line moved fast. It was worth the wait! But be sure to get it with hot sauce.

IMG_6781IMG_6782Hawker stalls are the place to go for cheap good eats. Each dish was around $2-4 USD. Some of the other dishes we tried were Laksa and Char Kway Teow. I was in noodle heaven. Singapore is also known for their Indian food. I don’t remember the name of this dish, but it was fried dough filled with potatoes and it came with different dipping sauces. 
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Chinatown

This is the place to go if you want to buy souvenirs. They have everything from Super Hero luggage tags to kiddie chopsticks. They also have hawker stalls, but unfortunitely we were too full to try any food here. IMG_6786We loved the beef jerky! It melted in our mouths. Too bad we weren’t able to bring this back to the States.IMG_6798

Eat Chilli Crabs

I think chilli crabs are the most famous dish in Singapore. Wes raved about these chilli crabs. We went to Jumbo Seafood and ordered one chilli crab and one black pepper crab. I made the mistake of wanted to try the black pepper crab. We should have just ordered two chilli crabs. The black pepper crab was good, but could not compare to the chilli crab. The spices were on point. Be sure to order the fried mantou to scoop up the excess sauce. Why can’t we have giant crabs in the States?IMG_6802

Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands is Singapore’s most iconic hotel. They’re known for their infinity pool, but it’s only open for their guests. For less than $20 a ticket, you can go up to the rooftop for a view of the whole city. I’m not sure if I can say that it was worth it, but we were able to score some cool photos. 
IMG_6793 IMG_6795Next to the hotel is the Garden by the Bay and it’s free to walk around the grounds. We had a fun time strooling around this area. I wish we were able to see this at night. 
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Singapore Zoo

This was probably the biggest let down.  It’s not in the city center and not easily accessable by public transportation, so opted for a 1 hour taxi ride. We purchased the 8:15pm tickets for the Night Safari. We waited almost 2 hours to get on the Night Safari. I admit it was an unique experience as we got to drive through the zoo and see the animals at night. It was a 45 minute safari and there was a guide speaking throughout the tour. However, there were a bunch of rude people who spoke over the guide. The wait had been so long that we missed all the other attractions the zoo had to offer. There was an option to walk through the zoo instead of the safari ride. I wonder if that would have been a better experience. IMG_6805

For only having 24 hours in Singapore, I think we were able to accomplish alot. I just wish my stomach was bigger so I could have ate more.

Life Travel Wedding

The Nifty Noodle Goes to Tokyo- What to Do

July 19, 2016

Our honeymoon seemed to creep up on us and we did very last minute planning for Japan, but it all came together. We were able to find some pretty cool things to do.

Tsukiji Fish Market

This was one of the only places that I knew I wanted to visit prior to arriving in Japan. My original plan was to show up at the fish market at 1am to line up to watch the tuna auction, but sleep won over FOMO. Even though we missed the tuna acution, we were able to enjoy the fresh sushi breakfast. We got to the fish market around 5am and there were already long lines. Lucky for us we only had to wait about 30 minutes for breakfast. Read my prior post to see where we ended up eating.IMG_6629IMG_6631

The real treat was getting to watch a butcher dismantle a huge tuna. As we were walking through the market we got to witness a butcher slice up a tuna to be sold to other vendors. Even though we didn’t see the aution, we both agreed this was probably more exciting. We stood watching in amazement for about 20 minutes.DSCF0887

Meiji Jingu Shrine

Located near Harajuku, Meiji Jingu is a nice park to walk around. Though, it’s not really a picnicing type of park. It’s crazy how there’s this large peaceful park in the middle of an always on the go city.

IMG_6653 DSCF0915Giants Baseball Game

Wes’ coworker recommended we check out a baseball game in Tokyo and we were lucky to snag some last minute tickets. This was quite the experience. During the game everyone is chanting and singing, similar to watching soccer in Europe. It’s an indoor stadium and much smaller than American stadiums.

We didn’t know thie prior, but you can bring your own alcohol into the stadium. Security even provide cups and cup holders for your beer when you enter the stadium. But, if you were like us and didn’t bring our own beer, you can buy beer from these beer girls! These girls carried kegs on their backs throughout the entire game. By the middle of the game they were dripping sweat.
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Even the food was good! Never had I been to a stadium that sold curry and bento boxes. IMG_6714Watch a Sumo Practice

Sumo wrestling competitions only have 4 times a year and we had just missed it, but we were able to watch a sumo practice. It was an intimate setting, with less than 10 tourist watching. We had to sit cross legged for almost 3 hours because it’s disreceptful to show the bottoms of your feet to the sumo wrestlers. Viewers cannot talk, eat, drink or even step out to use the bathroom. Watching them train was pretty intense. It was clear who were the best and who weren’t the best. After the practice, we got to briefly interact with them. We even got to the meet the #9 sumo wrestler in the world! And he offered us sponge cake! We had no clue who he was, but were still starstruck. IMG_6683

Go to an arcadeArcades seem to be a popular hang out spot, even for adults.  We ended up at Taito, a popular chain arcade in Tokyo. I was drawn to claw machines. They had aisles of claw machines, all filled with cute, giant stuff animals. I was tempted to try one, but I knew there was no way I’d be able lug it back home. Instead, we took sticker photos. It kept us entertained for a good 20 minutes. After you take the photos, you get to “beautify” your face and add fun stamps or text. I won’t post the photo here to spare Wesley anymore embarassment, but it can be found on my personal Instagram 😉

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Life Travel Wedding

The Nifty Noodle Goes to Tokyo- What to Eat

July 11, 2016

My biggest reason for wanting to go to Japan was to eat. I think my expectations for the food in Tokyo were too high and I underestimate the fact that I live in New York City and have access to good food. I have to admit that I was little underwhelmed with the food. Don’t get me wrong though, the food was really good, I just felt that I could get similar food back home. There definitely were some showstoppers though.

IchiranIMG_6540

Ichiran is a chain in Japan, but it was the best ramen that we’ve ever had. And the best part is that it’s open 24 hours. Lucky for us we were jetlag and were able to walk about 10 minutes from our hotel to the nearest Ichiran. There was no wait at 6am, but we weren’t the only ones there. I was surprised at how many other people were eating ramen that early in the morning. The cool thing about ramen joints in Japan is that they place your order at a vending machine, take your ticket to the seat and they quickly bring you your order.

Ichiran on only has one type of ramen, so it made it easy for us to choose. We added extra meat, extra noodles and other extra sides. Clearly, we were too excited to try out the vending machines. We we received our food ticket and sat in indivual booths. I could see why this style of dining would appeal to single diners.

The ramen was amazing! It had a rich broth, the meat melted in your month and the noodles were the perfect consistancy. It was the best 1st meal that would could ask for. Regretfully, we didn’t go back again. But, I hear that Ichiran is coming to Williamsburg this summer. I am so excited for this. Hopefully, it’ll taste just as good as it did in Tokyo because I’ll be there often.

AfuriIMG_6601

Tsukemen is a style of ramen where the noodles are served dry and you dip the noodles into the broth. I never tried it at home, but I definitely wanted to try it in Japan. We reached for some of the best tsukemen in Tokyo and stumbled upon Afuri. We read that Afuri was known for their tsukemen as well as their yuzu ramen broth so we decided to try both. Unfortunitely, the yuzu ramen didn’t hit the spot for us. We weren’t a fan of the citrusy flavor broth. Their tsukemen was the real winner here! Everything about this ramen was amazing. I would do anything to have some more of the pork belly that came with it. I can’t describe the flavor of the broth, but it was perfect. My mouth is watering for this ramen as I write this. We tried another highly regarded tsukemen restaurant for comparision called, Fuunji, but it was such a letdown. The broth was a little too fishy for my liking.

Maisen TonkatsuIMG_6618

We were also on the hunt for the best tonkatsu and among bloggers and food apps, it seemed to be a unamious vote for Maisen Tonkatsu. We ordered the Kurobuta Loin Pork Cutlet, which is apparently a higher fat piece of meat. It was perfectly crispy, yet non-greasy and the meat was juicy.

They had additional condiments on the side and one really won us over. I don’t know how to describe it, but it was like an Asian seasoning salt that they made in house. We fell in love with it an put it on everything. Before leaving, we asked if they sold it and lucky for us, we were able to snag 2 to bring home.

Daiwa-SushiIMG_6642

We left bright and early for Tsukiji fish market to get our hands on a sushi breakfast. We got there around 5am, but the line for Sushi Dai (apparently the best) already had a really long line. We stood on the line for about 10 minutes before deciding to move on. Just around the corner was the “2nd best” sushi spot, Daiwa-Sushi. The line was much shorter and appeared to actually be moving. We waited about 45 minutes before landing a seat at their sushi bar.

The only option was to do omakase. The sushi chef seemed to serve everyone a different assortment of fish. Some of the standouts for me was the fatty tuna, shrimp and eel. I have to admit that this trip helped me come to the realization that I just don’t appreciate omakase. The fish tasted fresh and definitely was better quality that what I can get at most local Japanese restaurants, but it didn’t blow my mind. I’m a cheap date and prefer to eat salmon sashimi and special rolls.

Teppanayki GrowIMG_6646

You can’t go to Japan and not try their Waygu beef. We oringinally wanted to try Matsuroku House for their $15 Waygu beef lunch special, but they sold out even before opening. They only serve 30 servings for lunch and by the time we arrived, they had already cut off the line. Disappointed, we decided go Teppanayki Grow which was nearby and also had good reviews. When we walked in, we were the only people there. I expected for there to be a line and doubted that this place could be any good. We were presented with their lunch menu which only had 3 items and it was only in Japanese. We were able to barely communicate with our waiter, but decided to try two different grades of Waygu beef.

We were presented with 2 steaks that were already sliced and came with the same three condiments- soy butter mouse, salt and mini garlic chips. The meat itself was delicious but the soy butter mouse sent it over the top. The more expensive slab of meat was fattier and of course melted in your mouth more, but overall, both were satifying.

Matsuroku HouseIMG_6739

Now, I won’t say that I would highly recommend going to Matsuroku House, but I will mention it just because of the story behind it. The first time we tried to come here, we showed up 15 minutes before opening and were turned away because they were already sold out of their lunch special. So we decided to come an hour before opening the next day. And guess what, we were turned away yet again. Due to my FOMO, I was determined to get my hands on that lunch special. The only opportunity we had left was on our last day in Tokyo. The restaurant opened at 11:30; we arrived at 9:00! We were first in line, which turned out to work in our favor. It was a hot day and we were able to grab the only seats in the front of the restaurant that provided us with some shade. Good thing we had a personal hotspot to keep us occupied while we waited.

After the long wait we were greet inside. Everyone had their own personal room and we sat on the floor; it felt like a true Japanese experience. We each got a set which included the Waygu beef and a bunch of seasonings. They also gave us a set of instructions on how to eat the beef. The first way was to eat the beef alone with some rice. The second way was to experiment with the various types of seasonsings. Lastly, they provide a broth to pour over the meat. The meat was only slighly cooked so it didn’t melt in our mouths like the previous Waygu beef that we had. Our favorite method seemed to be the last because the heat of the broth helped cook the meat a little more. FOMO got the best of me and I left feeling a little disappointed, but for around $19, you couldn’t go wrong. According to reviews, this place is one of the best, but maybe we just weren’t fans of the partially cooking our beef.