Saturday, 28 May 2011

Julian at 19 months, Erika at 3.25 years

Julian is finally talking more.  He now can say mama reliably, and he uses it correctly as well as baba.  He even said Ah Mah on Friday, which was pretty cool.  He says "pre" which I think means press because he says it when he wants the light turned on or off.  And he also says plane, and of course his usual moon which hasn't really changed.  He actually says plane when he hears plane sometimes, and he can even point to plane/shuttle.  And he says "um" very well and points to his mouth when he's hungry.

He really likes to feed himself.  And he kicks balloons around and he can go up and down the stairs by himself now without assistance.

Julian was also stacking blocks, he can easily stack 4-5 blocks and sometimes more.

Erika has been drawing more complex shapes, she drew a fish the other day (or so she said) which looked like an amoeba with lots of hair really.  But that was quite a good picture.  Her addition and subtractions is quite good, and I have been trying to get her to read more but she still can't spell that many words, in fact no new spelling has come into her vocabulary lately.  Though she can spell Ben, that might be new.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

One day in Taiwan

I had one day in Taiwan at the end of my holiday, which I was hoping to be my food day.  So my mouth was watering thinking about the Beng Wan, Oh Wa Jen, Dou Jiang that I would be eating...

So for lunch I went to the original Din Tai Fung and had Shao Long Bao and all the other yummy dumplings they have there.  For dinner we went to a fancy Japanese restaurant.  Forgot to bring my camera, but hubby's phone camera did quite nicely.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Nothing to Envy - Barbara Demick

When I was on my way back from Hong Kong I saw this book on the shelf and I admit that North Korea and it's regime fascinates me, so I decided to buy it and take it with me to read on the plane.

I found it to be a really fantastic and eye opening book, to the lives of ordinary people in North Korea.

Before I read this book, my thoughts on North Korea were how indoctrination and communism really can brainwash a whole society.  And of course the nuclear threat they pose.  I wondered if all of North Korea thought the rest of the world was bad and that they were the lucky people.

I however had no idea that people in North Korea were starving to death, and that there was a famine there in the 90s which decimated about 20% of the population.  And reading the stories of the 6 people portrayed in this book, it is hard to remember that these are real people, real lives which are portrayed, and not a work of fiction which makes it all the more sad, all the more tragic.

We take our lives for granted, the freedom of speech, of information, in fact we even take that history for granted - we believe what we read in our books and whatever is passed down, even the food on our plates.  I can't imagine what I would have been like had I been born in North Korea, or what kind of person I would be.  Would I be a thief?  Would I be an avid communist?  Or would I be a freethinker, yearning for life on the other side of the fence?

I would recommend this book to anyone to read.  It really moved me.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Hong Kong Day 4 - Macau

Another sunny day!  Makes me wish I'd gone to the Peak today instead of Macau...

Being my last full day in Hong Kong I thought I'd head to Macau to explore the World heritage listed historic part of the town.  Macau was a Portuguese colony before being handed back to China in 1999.  Macau's economy is based largely on tourism - the gaming, tourism and hospitality industry contribute more than 50% of Macau's GDP and 70% of the government's revenue.

Hence Macau seems to be the primary place to gamble in Asia.

I caught the ferry from Hong Kong.  Silly me got off at Central instead of Sheung Wan, so I had to get back on the MTR and I missed the first ferry, which set off at 7am.  I ended up getting the 730am one.  I bought a ticket on the Superjet using the ATM type facility and ended up with a super class ticket instead of economy, which coast HK$100 more.  But it was worth it, I had a nice seat and food!

The whole ferry ride takes 1 hour.  The worst part was actually getting on the ferry, it was pitching and rocking so much I actually felt a little seasick.  Once it was sailing, I was fine.  Passport control exiting Hong Kong was BUSY!  I thought I was going to miss my boat, so next time I think I'll buy my ticket with at least 30 minutes to spare, not 20 minutes.

On arriving in Macau, I had no idea where to go.  Unfortunately for me I was there so early the tourism office wasn't open yet so I couldn't even get any maps.  I did remember from reading that I should try getting some of the casino shuttles which operate every 10-15 minutes.  So I did that.  I was obviously waiting in the wrong spot because there were hardly any shuttles where I was waiting and I thought I'd go check out Galaxy Macau, the new casino which just opened because in Hong Kong there are ads for it EVERYWHERE.  Yes, yes I am a victim of advertising.  But the ads look so cool!  There are a number of hotels at Galaxy Macau, and I have to admit, don't you think the lanterns floating in the sky in the advertisment remind you of "Tangled"?  No?  Well maybe it's because I watched Tangled so many times since I was in Vegas having recently gotten it for the kids to watch.

So here are some of the other advertisements that bombarded me about Galaxy Macau which made it a tourist attraction for me:

Doesn't it all look so classy?  Don't you just want to stay there?  I swear next time I'm going to stay there!

So I waited for AGES (like till 9am) for a shuttle, and I went all the way to Galaxy.  Now I didn't realise it wasn't on Macau peninsula it was actually on Cotai (one of the other islands...) but there were other casinos there I could see (like the Venetian - but I couldn't be bothered going there), so I decided to wander inside and look at the place.  There are some giant coloured crystals inside for luck.  And the gaming tables were clean and well spaced.  I didn't stay long as I noticed there was a shuttle from Galaxy to San Ma Lo near where the historic part of town was.

The good thing about getting there was there are PLENTY of signposts pointing you in the direction to go for various tourist attractions.  And so without a map, I just followed those all around.  There are maps dotted around the place too so that helped a lot as well.

I started out in Senate Square (Largo de Senado), which is so pleasant I could just hang around there all day!  It doesn't feel like I'm in an Asian country here, more like in South America.  I was mainly trying to get to the main attraction, the Ruins of St Paul (Ruinas De Sao Paolo), which I thought was very impressive.

After that I went to the Mount Fortress (Fortaleza de Monte), and walked around it, that really wore me out! I was getting hungry and thirsty by that stage.  So I bought a drink while I was there and there are great views from the top of Macau Peninsula.  Though I have to admit that the view to me seems dominated by the Hotel Lisboa (or Grand Lisboa anyway) with it's massive perfume bottle shape rising high above the rest of the city.  I think I took about 10 pictures of Lisboa!  People will think I'm obsessed.  At the top of the fortress there is also a museum and there are cannons there too still in place.  Someone said there was an escalator there but I couldn't find it...

After that I went to a park to have a rest and then made my way to Hotel Lisboa so I could check it out.  I heard that if you want to see a European casino this is the place to go.  However, I found that it was very cramped, smoky and not to my liking at all.  But the Grand Lisboa had some very impressive things in their foyer.  There was the "Star of Stanley Ho" which was a 218.08 carat diamond, D clarity with no imperfections!  I thought it was a man made diamond but it was in fact a natural one!
There were also jade and ivory carvings, gold sculptures, the whole lobby was worth millions and millions of dollars!  I was very impressed.

Across from Lisboa was the Wynn, and I had to go have a look since I stayed at the Wynn in Las Vegas.  The Wynn Macau has fountains outside just like the Bellagio and I was fortunate enough to get there as they were "performing".
And I had a "rest" in the casino at the craps table... for 2 hours.  Walked out $5 richer... hahaha!

That evening I caught the 515pm ferry back and rested and packed my bag for the rest of the evening.  I didn't see everything I could have in Macau, but I think I'd like to go back and see more.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Hong Kong Day 3 - Going shopping

I spent the morning shopping for Atmos at the different JLC boutiques around town.  There was even an IWC boutique store too!  I was tempted to get something but I ended up not getting anything.

I decided that I like the Atmos Birthday.  The others were either ridiculously expensive or not that nice to look at.  There are always lots of the lower end ones available.  I read on the internet that they're only make 8 of the birthday ones - but that can't be right because they were in almost every store in HK.

Prices here are more than in Taiwan - it was 98k HK dollars here and in Taiwan hubby can get it for 9.6k US.  So he ended up getting it for me.

Had high tea at the Peninsula - fancy!  It was very nice.  Too much for me to eat, almost.  I know I ate my share +1 or 2 extras.
Mine is the pink version not the blue version! And I don't have a little plaque at the bottom...

Monday, 16 May 2011

Hong Kong Day 2 - I made it to the Conference!

So I finally get to attend the conference!  The Hong Kong Conventaion and Exhibition Centre is not far from my hotel to walk but it took me a while to figure out how to get inside the centre (walked around the whole damn thing and then through it trying to figure out where to go).  So I registered, got my free (ugly) bag and went to a few sessions then went shopping in the afternoon on Tsim Sha Tsui at Harbour City which is supposed to be one of the biggest shopping centres in Asia.  There is a whole floor there dedicated to children's things with a massive Toys R Us, and lots of kids clothes and other toy stores.  Didn't buy anything though but I might go back later today.

There was a protest in the harbour from fisherman and there were lots of boats passing in the harbour and they nearly hit my ferry they were that close!  Took some pics of all the boats.  Geez, felt like I was in Titanic with big obstacles all around...

My plans in the evening were a little scatty, I was going to have dinner with one friend, and avoid going with a different friend, then my first friend cancelled, then a group of work friends were going out for a fancy Cantonese meal which was a 1 Michelin star restaurant and I wanted to tag along... but I had an idea!  I decided to try having 3G for my internet instead of broadband and I could get on WoW!  YAY!  So I pretended to everyone that I was having dinner with someone but really I was at home raiding BoT which was good because we got 25 man Cho'gall down!

Anyway after that I went out for dessert and had Mango desserts with my friends.  There was a nice mammoth ivory store there which was beautiful but I am sure those tusks are illegal to import so I don't want to risk buying anything.

Got home late and had a nice good night's sleep, eager for more shopping tomorrow!

Hong Kong Day 1 - Arrival

Geez what a day!  Flying all night then having to transit at GuangZhou then flying to Taipei... then my plane from Taipei to Hong Kong is delayed.... and I left my nappy bag on the plane from Australia to GZ... what else could go wrong!

A lot really.

It started on Wednesday.  Stupid me realised that I was arriving on Saturday evening, which was the 14th and I had booked my accommodation from the 13th.  So I rang on Thursday to let them know I wasn't arriving that day... my luggage was delayed (see previous entry about luggage stuck in LA!).  So that was annoying.  I had stuffed up and paid for an extra night.

Then I also realised... crap, conference STARTS on Saturday!  I had a workshop to attend, what time was that?  I looked it up and damn it, I was booked for the acupuncture workshop on Saturday 3pm.  Well I was going to miss that, so that was another waste of money.  And I missed a whole day of conference so that was another waste of money!  Geez, would the wastage and money spending never end?

So I decided to fib to everyone rather than tell them what an idiot I am about booking my things.  So the official story I told my friends was that my luggage was delayed in LA, it had my computer and all my electronic device charges in it so I couldn't leave without it and it only arrived at 3pm on Friday, so I couldn't make my flights, hence why I am here on Saturday evening instead of the morning.  Which sounds good.

So I arrived in HK and have no idea where I am and I have no map so I wasn't sure where I was supposed to go, but there seem to be a lot of signs for the express MRT so maybe I should be taking that instead of a taxi or limousine to my hotel.  So I did that, which was cool, it was air conditioned, comfortable.

Then I got off at Central and wondered where do I go from here?  There were some shuttles but it didn't look like my hotel was on the list of stops so I thought should I get a cab or catch the MRT?  I decided to catch the MRT.  And then I was a bit stuffed because I didn't have a map and I knew that the hotel was about 5 mins walk away.

So I had to dial a friend to help me out and my phone ran out at a crucial moment in relaying instructions, but I did manage to find the hotel in the end.

The room was FREEZING!  But it's tiny and clean and the internet was the next big problem, it was so expensive!  And then the worst part... I couldn't connect to vent or WoW on it because they probably had it all blocked!!  But at least I could still use net.  So I used the net but felt very miserable that I couldn't do anything I wanted to do on it.  Hence the early bedtime.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Las Vegas Day 10 - Departure Day

Packing was a nightmare with all the stuff to squish into the bags! And to check out by midday as well! Fortunately my sister was still here so we could put our stuff in her room.

After our usual breakfast at Terrace Pointe Cafe (though this time we had something different - salmon bagel and I had Baguette French Toast) we squished all our stuff into the 2 bags and just bummed around in my sister's hotel room. She had a good time playing Craps that morning, winning $400 and so she went out to spend it. When she got back I put Tangled on for Erika and hubby to watch so my sister and I could go check out some high end shopping in the hotel - namely Manolo Blahnik and Louis Vuitton. I ended up buying an EXPENSIVE pair of shoes (which I ordinarily wouldn't even dream of spending that kind of cash on - but hey I'm on holidays!), so I hope I take good care of them.

Then we came back and waited for my new brother in law to come back from his bike ride around the Grand canyon and he came as we were about to leave! So hugs and kisses all round and off we went to the airport.

So that was the fun part of the day. Next came our horror stories.

We arrive at the airport and the check-in people say that you have to electronically check-in. So we try to but we can't do it so we have to check in with the counter people. Then they tell us Julian doesn't have a ticket, and I'm like what? He is sitting on my lap, why does he need a ticket, I even have to pay for him and he gets no priveleges, no luggage allowances or anything. Anyway while hubby and the check-in chick are sorting that out, as well as trying to upgrade us to premium economy, we weigh our bags and find that there is a 50 lb limit on our bags when flying United. I mean, seriously! In Australia you can carry up to 32kg in a bag as long as you don't go over your total allowance. So we had to open up our bag and empty some stuff out and stuff it into the backpack that we were going to carry on and then check in a 3rd bag... luckily I packed away some small bags so we had somewhere to dump the stuff from the backpack! I ended up buying a cheap bag from upstairs anyway, even though I did ask hubby to get out my new Coach handbag/nappy bag and we could use that as the carry on. But no, he was too stressed out and angry about it yet trying to be polite so he didn't do that. Hmph.

We check in and we're on premium economy on the flight to LA. I don't remember paying for that, I hope that the LA to Sydney is premium economy.... Mike was on our flight too (the best man) and I didn't even know that till I saw him get on the plane.

So in LA we only had a 2 hour or so transit and we kept ourselves busy then. Erika used the toilet which was good so I didn't have to worry about THAT on the plane! And then we loaded onto the plane and I dosed up the kids on Phenergan and they slept better than when they flew in. Though perhaps flying at night time also made them sleepier too.

Arrived in Sydney 2 days later (left Vegas and LA on Tuesday, arrived back in Sydney on Thursday morning because of time difference) and waiting around at the carousel only to find that one luggage was still in LA. GREAT! It was the bag with the dirty clothes, and the shoes.. and my laptop. ARGH! And DAMN it's cold here in Sydney!

As an endnote, here are what people say about Manolo Blahnik shoes:

  • Madonna once described Blahnik’s shoes as “better than sex” then added “what’s more, they last longer”.
  • Cordelia: [to Eve] "Get out of that chair, and I will feed you those Manolo Blahniks - which are stunning, by the way." (From Angel TV series)
  • In the "Weird Al" Yankovic song Close but No Cigar, a nearly-perfect woman is described as "She wore a ribbon on her left Manolo."
  • In 1991 Marge Simpson was wearing a pair of Manolo's featured in a magazine

Las Vegas Day 9 - Shopping Day

Hmm weird, the whole post disappeared!  I'll start again...

It was raining this morning and rather dreary and it must have been one of the only times I only saw 5 people at the pool instead of like 50.  We decided to go to Circus Circus in the morning and see the Adventuredome and Erika had a ride on the kiddie ferris wheel.  There are lots of rides there, carnival rides that is, like bumper cars, carousels, and roller coasters.

We then caught a taxi to the North Premium outlet complex which had so many good stores!  And lots of discounts too, and lots of designer names there as well.  I bought a coat from Burberry, a nappy bag from Coach (which I was going to use as a work bag), as well as lots of clothes for the kids from OshKosh and Carters.  I also bought shoes from Skechers for me and Erika and we ended up having dinner there as well at an all you can eat Japanese buffet which was not bad!

Then we went back and had a rest before we headed out to see the Fremont Street Experience, and managed to catch the 10pm one which was the best one in my opinion (Tribute to Queen).  I recorded the whole thing but I don't think I'll post it here and bore people.. but boy was it loud!

After that put the kids to bed (the bus goes all the way out there and back on the strip which was cool) and then hit the craps tables with my sister where I lost all my money then won it back again.  But I think I was down there for like 2 hours!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Las Vegas Day 8 - Mother's day

I was so excited I found it difficult to sleep and was up at 5am. We were going on our helicopter ride!  So I was ready to go and got the kids up at 540am and dashed out only to find we went to the wrong gate. We eventually found our limo at South gate and off we went. There were a lot of people waiting at Sundance, and the kids entertained themselves looking at the helicopters outside taking off and repositioning.  Finally our name was called, we weighed in, and watched the video on safety, which also involved the kids having to wear their own life vests, in their size.  I remember thinking oh my gosh, they'll pull the red tags those naughty kids, but the kids hardly moved, and looked very meek and timid (surprisingly).

Our pilot, Fred was bubbly and fun and amusing, and he was really helpful getting the life jackets onto the kids.  We had 3 other ladies in our chopper and we were in one of the really nice helicopters with windows all around the front!  Fred said that our other chopper was broken so we got upgraded to that one, and I don't know if that was true or not but it really was better than the other helicopters.

We took off and flew over Vegas which is so flat - the only bits with raised buildings seemed to be the Strip and what looked like downtown.  Other than that it was all a flat valley.  We flew over Hoover Dam and Lake Mead (which is the largest man made lake in the northern hemisphere) and I got a few shots there.  I like these huge man made constructions.  The wonders of modern engineering always amaze me.  I took a video also but it's so bumpy it would make anyone trying to watch it seasick...  It was the only time we flew over it (I guess it's only for outbound from Vegas helicopters) because we came back via a different route.  Guess you can't have helicopters crashing into each other!  But I would have liked to get some better shots.  They have built a new bypass recently, because the only way to get through to Vegas was over the dam which was a 2 lane bridge and the queues could be really really long (especially now with security checks).

Then onto the Grand Canyon.  We flew to the Western Rim of the canyon, and gosh it's so vast.  Most of it belongs to a tribe of American Indians as their own sovereign lands but there are parts that are available for public use and we landed on the bit that Sundance was allowed to use.  Once there we all had cute little picnic baskets with a breakfast inside and champagne for me and hubby and juices for the kids.  We didn't actually eat much - there was a croissant and a muffin and a muesli bar inside but I only nibbled on the croissant - as there wasn't much time to eat because we spent most of our time walking around taking pictures.

All too fast our time was over and it was time to pile back into the helicopter.  We got to ride in the front on the way back which was cool!  Had a quick fly over the strip but it was hard to take any decent photos and before you know it we were back at the airport.  It was a great tour!   It was quite windy, so I'm glad we went in the morning - Fred said we were lucky that we went first off the bat because it was only going to get windier as the day went on.  One of the ladies was airsick on the way back!  Thank god for headphones, we didn't hear a thing.  Erika slept on the way back in the chopper (Julian slept on the way out).

In the afternoon we visited Madame Tussaud's, and headed down to Paris hotel only to find that the Eiffel ride was shut due to the adverse weather conditions (too windy).  That was a shame!  We walked through the Cosmopolitan (one of the newer hotels on the Strip) but there wasn't much to do there.  So we headed back to the hotel for some dinner at Wazuzu, but the kids were absolute shockers!  Misbehaving something shocking at dinner messing with everything at the table, crying their heads off, spitting out their food... hubby took Julian back early because he couldn't stand the noise anymore and I ended up with the bill.  We then headed out to Bellagio to try to catch the water fountains and they really are quite impressive.  Better as a video than a photo though.

Then back we went to the hotel for sleepies.  The kids were tired and it was quite cold too.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Las Vegas Day 7 - Parents departing

My parents were leaving for their America trip and so we had a family lunch after spending the morning with the new Mr and Mrs W. We decided to try a different cafe in Encore but it was crappy compared to Terrace Point Cafe so never going back there again!

So they set off with my sister to explore the Venetian and Palazzo and we went down to Luxor to see Titanic the Experience exhibition. Now I admit I was rather reluctant to do so because I thought it would be crap (and the $30 entry fee didn't help) but it was actually really well done. They had walk thrus which were replicas of the 3rd class cabins and also 1st class ones as well as the decks and even a reproduction of the grand staircase like you see in the movie. So many recovered belongings too. It really was like a first class hotel on a boat for first class passengers.

Took some photos of Excalibur and New York New York too. Interesting themes. Then a quick stop at the M&M store and got some chocolate for Erika and a Tshirt for Julian. Then back to the hotel for an early night because I booked our Grand Canyon Helicopter tour for 7am with a 6am pickup!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Las Vegas Day 6 - Wedding day

Today was my sister's big day!  In the morning hubby and I decided to go out to the Flamingo and see the flamingos which were at least free.  There were also some ducks and turtles there too.  It was quite warm that day as well, it was going to be 32-35 degrees Celsius so it was pretty damn warm.

After that we rushed back and I had my hair done and make up done which I thought looked great.  The Hair artist, Coco, managed to put my hair up and everyone who walked past said how great it looked.  Unfortunately I don't think i took a photo of it from the back so I can't show people how it was done.  Then I had make up done by a make-up artist Stephanie who put so much eyeliner in that I was crying from not blinking.  And she made me wear full false eyelashes too.  I think next time I'll go for the half ones, or at least insist on them.  She did a great job, nobody could recognise me and I did get a number of comments, some good some not so good...

"And are you the bride's mother?" - the photographer
"Wow, I didn't recognise you!  You were walking down the aisle and I thought I thought J was supposed to be the bridesmaid, who the hell is that." - Amanda, one of my sister's friends.
"And now the second most beautiful lady in the room, may I present J, the bride's sister." - Mike, the best man (though that's not a genuine comment on my looks I think since that's the correct thing to say.

And my poor silk dress got lots of children's paw prints on it as soon as the ceremony was over.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Las Vegas Day 5 - Chinese banquet with the in-laws

I had a bit of a sleep in after my night out, and hubby and kids and grandparents went down to the Mandalay Bay hotel to see Shark Reef.  It looks like they had a lot of fun.  There was a huge octopus there too!

I spent the morning lazing around with my sister then we had the wedding rehearsal at 2pm.

It was so formal!  There is a special way for my sister's fiance to take her hand and tuck into his arm, we have assigned positions and there is a special way for him to take her hrand for putting the ring on as well!  It looked rather awkward, it's like we're rehearsing for a play when it's only just a wedding!  I think I like it when it's all natural and not rehearsed... geez I hope the kids don't play up during the ceremony.

My cousin and her partner and her daughter and her partner came to see the kids after that, and we did some socialising.

That evening we had the chinese banquet in Chinatown at Harbor Palace (Sorry for the american spelling but that's how it's spelt here!).  We had a 10 course banquet which unfortunately came out all at the same time!  So that wasn't very good in my opinion.

We had Suckling pork, Abalone, Peking Duck, Crab meat, Sizzling Beef, Abalone, Prawns, Lobster, Scallops, Fried rice.  We had quite a bit of leftovers too!  But there was no way me or my sister were going to eat anymore, we had dresses to fit into!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Las Vegas Day 4 - Hen's night

The morning started off with a bit of drama!  Erika slept with her grandparents so we had a reasonable night's sleep.  The drama was with Julian...

My parents are in the adjoining room which has a connecting door.  So we had that door open so we could traverse both rooms easily.  There is a door for each room so essentially it's 2 one way doors.  So you can't open their door from our side and vice versa.

While we were in my parent's room Julian wandered back into our room and shut the door.  And neither of us had our card key on us so we had to contact security to come and open the door.  It took a good 8-10 minutes for them to arrive where I was listening to Julian dropping all manner of things on the floor and hoping to high heaven that he didn't put things into the toilet - like cameras, wallets, hair dryers etc.  Security unlocked the door to open it and we found that it was bolted from the inside - hubby likes to bolt the door at night.  So then security had to go find a tool with which to open the door.  Julian by that time had come to the door and then got upset when the door didn't open so he was wailing at the door and refused to step away from the door.  Eventually we got the door open and my son was reunited with the family after his little half hour ordeal.

We had Italian for lunch and I did some shopping at Victoria's secret to get some undies for my sister that we could play with on Hen's night (was going to get everyone to write on the undies) and some bras for myself and then we made a bust of Julian which doesn't really look like him I think.  It's cute though.  Then it was back to the hotel so I could go and get ready to go out.  The girls had a great time at the Pole dancing stripper class and unfortunately they didn't take any pictures (or weren't allowed).

We headed to Nobu for dinner and had a great dinner, which wasn't too pricey either (it was $110 a head with 8 dishes, cocktails, and dessert as well, and tip was included in that).  The worst part was that I don't know what half the dishes were - I know a couple of the dishes, but the pictures at least capture the memory of what we ate.  There were 8 girls there altogether.  I had 2 lychee martinis - very nice.

Then we went back to Wynn so we could go to Surrender nightclub which was packed.  It seems all these hotel night clubs are always packed!  With huge queues!  We had a table prebooked so that cool.  We had a little room to ourselves and we had to have a minimum $100 per person spend so we got 3 bottles of vodka and some champagne too.  I had 3 or 4 glasses of champagne and 3 or 4 glasses of vodka/orange as well and 1 cocktail.  I don't think I've been intoxicated for a long time.  Everyone was much looser after all the alcohol and it was easier to talk to people after that, and find out more about them.

We all left around 4am and I put some money on some tables and lost it (I didn't spend all I was going to spend though) and then I went to bed.  Fortunately woke up in the morning without a hangover!  (Though I did vomit once at the club - after I'd had 2 successive champagnes very quickly I was feeling rather off - went to the bathroom and threw up a tiny bit and surprisingly felt lots better and then I went and had another vodka/orange and a cocktail)

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Las Vegas Day 3 - My parents arrive

Gosh the kids really slept in this morning.  We managed to get them up around 1030-11 and went down for breakfast close to 12.  I was planning on eating light today because we had big dinner at 6pm at Joël Robuchon .  So down we went again to Terrace Point Cafe and it was lunch menu time so I got the 2 sandwiches and chips for the kids and myself (they had some Cheerios in the morning already and they had a soy milk and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich).  Then off we went to the Mirage so we could go see the Dolphin habitat and the Secret garden (which is where all the big cats are on display).  Erika was happy.  My parents arrived at around 3pm and their room wasn't ready yet so they were waiting in my sister's room.  Took the kids up to see them and let them play with them for a while.  Erika seemed enthralled with Poh Poh's new iPad and Julian was just happy to run around and eat Cheerios.  I'm glad they seemed to be back to being comfortable with their grandparents.

Then off we went to get ready for our big dinner.  Joël Robuchon was named France's Chef of the century, and his restaurant in Vegas bearing his name at the MGM Grand is the only restaurant in Vegas awarded 3 Michelin stars.  You can read more here.

So here's the menu we had.  We had planned to go with the Degustation menu all along, so I took a picture of it to remind me what we had.
Now the bread cart was impressive.  I have never seen such an array of breads at a restaurant before.  I had the saffron one and also one of the puff pastry type ones. 
The dish before the appetisers is called amuse.  This was refreshing and citrusy (hence the Le Citron).
Cherry tomato gazpacho was pleasing and the pistachios added a nice flavour.
Now this was fantastic.  The trio of caviars was great.  I ate the asparagas first (it was warm) then the maki made with couscous and more caviar, then the lobster infused gelee with cauliflower cream on top (which is a miniature of a signature Robuchon dish)
Seared scallop was pleasant and the coriander in the coconut milk was very mild.

Now this was not my favourite dish because of texture though it was fine in taste.  Basically an upscale pea and ham soup!  The sweet onion foam was nice and light and so was the soup but there were heavy components in the veloute like the peas and the bacon which I think would have been better if they were light also.
I ate this in anticlockwise order from bottom right.  Truffled ravioli, then lobster in sake broth, then sea urchin with potato and coffee foam (which I liked because it was quite different).
Black cod with daikon and yuzu.  Not bad.  Lots of Japanese influence in this French restaurant!
Crispy fried vegetables with spring salad.  Those fried cabbage leaves were interesting!

Risotto of soy bean sprouts, lime zest and chives.  Strong flavour.  Those are almonds decorating it.
Onto the first dessert.  This was supposed to be almond pannacotta and pineapple but the pannacotta seemed more like a gelato.  Still nice, quite tart because of the pineapple though.
Raspberry sorbet with crunch honey bits.  Nice too.  Gosh I was getting full by this stage.

The petit fours cart was as impressive as the bread cart!

Las Vegas Day 2 - Getting settled

Woke up at 8am - the kids got up once at night so we got a good night's sleep! My sister rang us and woke us up at 830 and asked us to meet her at 10am at Terrace Point Cafe which was nice, met some of her friends there who were all dressed for poolside lazing around. Hubby had pancakes for brekky and I got 2 mueslis so I could have one and kids could have one. Erika wasn't feeling well yesterday, saying she had tummy pain, and she looked miserable. So we gave her some juice, muesli and she seemed to chirp up a bit after eating. Then she started eating some of Ivan's pancake (he'd only eaten maybe half of one of the 3 giant pancakes) and then she vomitted all over his breakfast. Fortunately my sister's friends had already left. Took her upstairs to clean her up and they even doggie bagged the rest of the muesli for us (apparently they do that everywhere, even at flash restaurants!)

So after breakfasts we went off to find a pharmacy and supermarket so we could get more nappies and some breakfast items for the kids. Walgreens was not far from Palazzo so we walked there with the kids and through shopping arcades... wow the shopping here is fantastic. Hard to shop with kids around but I can't wait to do some serious shopping!

Julian seems to have hardly any clothes, so we went to Baby Gap to buy some more clothes for him. Just a couple of cheap Tshirts and some swim shorts.

Oh and while I'm on the subject of things I forgot to pack, I forgot my swimsuit.

Had lunch at Pizza place, Erika was asleep though.

Went out at 7pm to go watch the Sirens of T.I which was a free show outside Treasure Island hotel which had lots of fire, explosions and scared Julian because he cried. Then we went to watch the volcano eruptions at the Mirage.

I booked dinner at Joel Robuchon at MGM - which is gonna be expensive and pricey and we're taking my sister along as well (edit: she's pulled out at last minute)! I'm looking forward to eating at my first 3 star Michelin restaurant! And the bill that comes with it! Hopefully mum and dad don't get waylaid in LA like me and hubby and get here on time!

Las Vegas Day 1 - The long road to Vegas

Today was the big day!  Bags were packed and we were off!  My sister in law came and dropped us at the airport and we told the kids how exciting it was to be catching a plane!

There was a slight disagreement about what we should be carrying on. In the end I got my way, we took the Trunki, my camera case and the blue backpack and stroller.  The stroller was great - you can take it to the door and it will be waiting for you when you get off the plane.

Once on the plane I dosed up Erika with 6mg of phenergan which was enough to knock her out for 4 hours, and 5mg for Julian which only worked for an hour.  Then I did a second dose which was 10mg for Julian and he slept for 6 hours and was still sleeping when we got off the plane.  There was lots of crying though from both kids.  For some reason Hubby and Erika had Premium economy seats and i had standard economy but we got mine upgraded and I had a Premium seat.  But then we weren't sitting together but the guy who was stuck next to the two kids realised he'd be better off sitting somewhere else and swapped seats.  Erika did 2 poos on the toilet and Julian didn't do any poos (he pooed at home in the morning).  I don't like United Airlines - it doesn't have on demand movies and they don't give you anything to entertain the kids with.  Don't think I'll be flying with them again.  We did put the kids to sleep on the floor though, so that was quite good.  We had the seats right next to the front of our section so you couldn't put the arm rests up because the tray tables were in there.

At Los Angeles there was a long wait at passport control.  Fortunately Julian was still sleeping and in the stroller and Erika was happy on her Trunki (and she got lots of comments there too - people were looking at her, smiling and pointing).  I thought we had plenty of time but we didn't!  It took us ages to get out and then we had to collect our baggage, and then we had to figure out where our other plane was which was in the terminal next door but we didn't realise that and then we had to get through security there too which was the full take off your shoes deal and the line there was huge and we would have missed our plane - but it turned out our plane was cancelled (but we didn't know that!) and the next flight was 630 pm but there was an american airlines one at 445 but we'd have to go out and go through security again.  I couldn't be bothered doing that though maybe in hindsight it would have been better, we could have gotten there early.  At least United gave us some food vouchers but I only used 2 of them, I went to the bar to get some of their nice sandwiches and they don't accept the vouchers because they also dispense alcohol and the vouchers are not for alcohol.

Anyway, arrived at Las Vegas and my sister paid for a limo ride to the hotel. Swanky!  That was really fun.  Julian was asleep for that too!  Stayed up late with kids and put them to bed with me at 11pm - they both refused to go bed though for a while and they both wanted to sleep with mama!  So I ended up with both of them in my bed, and I was scared someone was going to fall out of bed, but neither of them did.