My Time Capsule: September 2014


Iceland: Whale Watching Cruise

Husavik, July 2014

beautiful Akureyri as a backdrop. Indonesia tenun ikat scarf by Pitula

There are some spots in Iceland where you can join a whale watching tour but Husavik has been described as 'the whale capital of Iceland'. The previous night I was staying at Akureyri, a town at northern Iceland...just an hour away from Husavik. Woke up quite early because I was too excited for the tour and I was praying I'd be lucky enough to see at least one whale during the cruise.

the pier

a charming restaurant

Arrived in Husavik, I was told that I had about half an hour before my boat set to sail. So I was wandering around the pier and admiring the pretty environment. Husavik is a town on the north coast of island on the shores of Skjalfandi bay with more less 2000 inhabitants. It has become a centre of whale watching in Iceland due to whales of different species that frequently enter the bay. The guide told me that in Husavik you'll get higher chance to meet whales than any other places in Iceland. Although of course it's difficult to guarantee anything on behalf of the whales, they have the entire ocean as their backyard. Cross your fingers and you might be lucky to meet this humongous aquatic mammal.

Husavik Whale Museum

a traditional schooner

In Husavik instead of a modern ship, the whale watching tour will use an Iceland traditional oak boat or a schooner. I love that I got to experience a different perspective and had an opportunity to take time off from the hassle modern era. Commonly the cruise in Husavik will be smooth without waves and strong current compares to other cities. It's an important consideration since I'm prone to motion sickness.

And finally it's time to board the schooner, mine was called Gardar which belong to North Sailing. It's one of the first companies in Iceland to offer regular whale watching tours. They also offer selection of various exciting tours and expeditions including visiting puffin island. Extra clothes such as raincoats, hats, warm overalls and mittens to keep the passengers dry and warm, are also provided. For an approximately 3 hours cruise, I paid ISK 9280 or about € 58.

a whale watching boat

I love the feeling of swift breeze brushing my face as soon as the schooner set to sail. Though it was summer, I was shivering. We were sailing for about 15 minutes when I saw another schooners stopped at one point and our boat made a turn to that direction.

"On your ride side at 3 o'clock direction I can see there's a humpback whale doing what we call 'spout' or a powerful exhalation." The highly skilled skipper was giving a clue. All the passengers rushed to the railing, breathless with anticipation before they started saying "" in awe.


I gaped as our boat was pretty close to that humpback whale, too stunned before finally clicking the shutter button of my camera. I was actually hoping to catch one of whale behaviours called 'breaching', where the whale make an impressive jump or leaping out of the water. Oh well, I guess the whale was too lazy that day. I can't complain though :p

close encounter with one of the whales

pick your favourite spot

hot chocolate and warm cinnamon bun

 3 hours and some whales later, the aroma of freshly baked cinnamon bun wafting through the air. Yay! it's time for some hot chocolate and cinnamon buns, complimentary for all passengers. Nothing is better to beat the 'bone chilling' winds than hot food and hot drink. Such a bliss...

arched back and ready to dive

On the way back to Husavik harbour, the skipper spotted something so the captain steered the schooner to approach it.

"On your 11 o'clock direction.... there's another humpback whale ready for a deep dive!"

As the skipper just finished his word, the whale was arching its back slowly and raising it's fluke gracefully before finally disappeared into the sea with a loud noise of splashing water. Splash!

fluking dive

back to charming town of Husavik


fluking dive

When I was in Alaska, I had to cancel my whale watching tour due to my Dad's health problem. And who knew 2 years later I'd had the chance to do it in Iceland. Having a close encounter with a whale in their habitat was truly a mind-blowing experience. It was a indescribable feeling indeed. I think I was being lucky to meet no less than 5 humpback whales during the tour. As I got off the schooner, I was grinning from ear to ear....feeling very happy.


Taiwan: Food Porn

Warning! Don't read this post on an empty stomach. The risk is all yours.

"Hey! How was your holiday? What have you eaten in Taiwan?" A friend asked me.

"Wrong question, girl!" My dad jumped into our conversation. "The correct one would be, what haven't you eaten in Taiwan?".

I thought I've only tasted some of Taiwanese delicacies. Until I was sorting the pictures and put them into one 'food' folder that I realised.....I have eaten sooooo much during my trip. I feel bad for blaming my jeans, I thought it has shrunk. Also I'm having a hard time to choose only some of the millions food photo for this blog post. So what have I eaten in Taiwan besides the bizarre food like giant crickets, maggots omelet and chicken testicles?

stinky tofu
Stinky tofu is really stinky (Doh!). This famous night market food is most commonly prepared by deep frying though it can be eaten cold, steamed or stewed. How to describe the smell? I'm sure everyone has their own opinion, to me it was like the smell of rotten garbage mixed with horse pee and troll's fart then is baked under the sun for days. But don't let the deadly odour put you off because once you brave enough to taste it, you might get addicted to it. The texture is crispy outside and soft inside, served with pickled cabbage, chili and sauce which the taste reminds me of Indonesian shrimp paste. Despite the smell I almost always buy and eat this food every time I go to Taiwan night market.

*Glad I was not sleeping beauty princess otherwise I would have slept forever because there's no prince who dared to kiss me :)) 

xiao long bao
Xiao long bao or steamed bun is often referred as 'soup-filled  dumplings' but I call it "bomb dumplings'. Why? Because when I tried it for the first time, my tongue got burned. My fault though, I pop the steaming hot dumpling in one go and the piping hot soup 'exploded' in my mouth. I thought I've lost my tongue! Traditionally filled with pork but the modern innovations include other meats, seafood and even vegetarian fillings.

dan zai noodle or tan tsu mien
Though its ingredient contains of noodle (carbs), this dish is actually regarded as a snack and always served in a small portion. I loooove yellow noodle for its smooth and chewy texture. The broth is clear and savoury, made from shrimp thus it has a slight hint of sweet taste. Served with braised minced pork, shrimps and marinated boiled egg. I always order another bowl of Taiwanese pork meatball to complement this delicious nibble.

oyster omelet or o-a-chian
It's been said that Oyster Omelet is originally a snack from Tainan but my favourite is in one of the food stalls in Kaohsiung night market. Made from fresh oyster, a batter of potato starch, eggs, topped with some vegetables and pan fried over high heat. A sweet and sour sauce is poured on top before serving. I also post a video about how to cook oyster omelet, just scroll down and you'll find it in the end of this post :)

pop corn chicken
OMG! Please excuse me for a moment *wiping the drool off my mouth*.

Okay, I'm back.

Taiwanese pop corn chicken is my all time favourite food since I was a kid. Even until now my super nose can recognise the smell from very far distance. Very fragrant and appetising aroma. To me it smells like 'Ngo Hiong' or 5 spice powder which is often used in Chinese food. Basically it's just some chicken chunks, dipped in flour based batter, deep fried and sprinkled with pepper salt. It's crispy with juicy meat, aromatic and savoury. Simply irresistible

braised pork belly with preserved vegetable

stir fried pork kidney with sesame oil and ginger

minced pork rice
There are so many delicious pork dishes that you should try while in Taiwan (unless you don't eat pork of course). I love the braised pork knuckles and the best one can be found in Taichung from Ah Shui Shi restaurant. My Dad's Taiwanese friend often bring a bucket or two of pork knuckle every time he visits us in Indonesia. Their pork knuckles is very well marinated and tender, simply the best in the world. Worth every single cholesterol level in my blood :p

One of Taiwan's signature dishes is Lurou Fan or minced pork rice. On my last trip, I was passing through Nantou county and tried the minced pork rice at one small eatery called Su Mama (found it from Tripadvisor). It's only a simple bowl of hot rice topped with braised mince pork. But the combination of sweet, salty, savoury and fragrant was so good, I was about to order another bowl.

you yu geng soup
Youyu means squid and geng is thick soup, another specialities of Taiwan which usually can be found in traditional market. When I was a kid, this soup was the reason I'd wake up very early and tagged along my grandmother to traditional markets. You yu geng is made from squid which is wrapped in fish paste then cooked in some fish broth then added slices bamboo shoot, mushroom, vegetables and also vermicelli. Seasoned with black vinegar before it's thickened with cornstarch. Best to eat in winter or rainy days.

deep fried fish

coffin bread
This famous snack from Tainan has a amusing appearance of a coffin hence its name Guancai Ban or Coffin Bread. The deep-fried thick slice of bread is cut to resemble a box and lid. Then it is filled with a thick chowder of chicken, shrimp, pork, potatoes and other ingredients. Despite very popular among locals and tourists, I don't really like it. I think the bread texture was too soggy.

steamed crab

grilled squid on a stick
Seafood is abundant in Taiwan. You can easily spot seafood dishes in night market or restaurant. My favourite is definitely grilled squids. The fresh squid is marinated in some mixture of soy sauce, rice wine, pepper and garlic. Pearce squid with bamboo stick then frequently turning and basking while grilling. The tasty aroma making me not patient enough to wait until it's done. Gaah! I can't believe I'm torturing myself by writing this food post *crying a river*

hujiao bing aka black pepper bun
Finally I got to taste the famous Hujiao Bing in Raohe night market. The queue is expectedly very long and that's the sign that I have found the right stall. The bun has a crispy and flaky crust which emit the aroma of sesame seeds while the fillings explodes with juicy flavours of scallions, pork and black pepper. It's deliciously aromatic and distinctively smokey being charcoal baked.

grilled sausage on a stick
The appetising aroma of this plump and glistening grilled pork sausage floating in the air will certainly teases your sense. Like being hypnotised, you're walking closer and grab it..... then sink your teeth into the crunchy meat texture while the sweet juice dripping and explodes throughout your entire mouth. Tonguegasm guaranteed.

oyster mee sua


giant sugar-apple fruits
Taiwan also has some delicious fruits, sweet treats and desserts which are too good to be missed. I was quite sad that I couldn't find taro ice cream though. The store which I used to get from is closed down already. Anyone in Taiwan knows where to get the best taro ice cream? I will surely check it on my next visit to Taiwan.


hot chocolate at Republic of Chocolate

ice shaved dessert


candied fruits

Basically those are only about 25% of food that I've eaten on my last trip to Taiwan. So probably I'll need to write another blog post about Taiwan food porn, lol. Taiwan is indeed a home to ethic and cultural diversity thus it reflects on their rich cuisine. Even for a frequent visitor like me, there's always something new to try. I surely can't wait to my next visit to Taiwan! :D


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