A Weekend Trip to Edinburgh – Edinburgh Zoo

This is a separate post from the previous posts as there’s a lot of pics to show in this one!

As a Chinese geek I must see the pandas in Edinburgh Zoo! That’s my main reason for going up to Edinburgh. (^_^)v A few of my friends just thought I was crazy and obsessed! Noooo… not really… I blame the BBC for making a good programme about the panda’s journey from China to Edinburgh…

Anyway, as we got off the bus, I started growing with ecstatic excitement! I started skipping along the road because I was so happy… (I think people thought what is this crazy woman doing!).

Outside The Zoo

Miss Pinky and I got there a bit early, so we had an hour to walk around before we went to see the pandas. The first animal we saw was this MASSIVE sealion sleeping on a rock with its tongue sticking out…

Massive Sealion!!



Next it was the flamingos, monkeys, bears, penguins, sleepy hippos, meerkats, otters… and so many other animals!!!!!

Forgot what these red birds are called! But they are with the flamingos! 
Monkeys, Sleepy Hippos, Sunny Bears and Penguins 
Meerkats, Otters and a Hog

Finally, it was time to see the pandas 大熊猫 (trad. 大熊貓). I think they were running a bit late, because people from the 1.30 pm showing were waiting too!

On my way to see the Pandas!

Awwwwwww…. Tian Tian 甜甜 a.k.a Sweety was fast asleep on her back…

Tian Tian 甜甜 fast asleep
Tian Tian 甜甜 still asleep

Yang Guang 阳光 (trad. 陽光) a.k.a Sunshine was munching away at his bamboo…

Yang Guang 阳光 munching away at his bamboo

Closer view of Yang Guang 阳光

Awwww, Yang Guang 阳光 is so cute

We only had 10 minutes to see them – I wish we had a bit longer. But we got to see their habitat too… Well Tian Tian’s 甜甜 playground…

Tian Tian’s playground

They even had a wooden panda sitting outside!

Wooden Panda

After the panda showing, we went to see more animals… Couldn’t find the koala section (I think we passed it, but couldn’t see it). We couldn’t find the Asiatic Lions too… But we saw some of the cats (some in hiding) and the rhinos.

These two rhinos are gigantic!

This fast moving leopard was hard to get a picture of… It just would not stand still! 

Deer or antelopes… Couldn’t find the description 

By the way, the hilltop is very high up – make sure you’re ready for some exercise. I applaud the parents who brought their children up and for those who pushed up the prams!!

A view of Edinburgh from the hilltop – beautiful!

Finally Miss Pinky and I went back downhill and into the shop! ^_^ Some of the stuff were a tad expensive… But it’s all for the zoo. Plus all that bamboo must be expensive to produce for the pandas…

The Edinburgh Zoo shop! I want that wooden panda puzzle – but where am I going to put it?
My small sovenirs ^_^

I hope to go back again, but hopefully with a baby panda being born… Next year??

Geeky Information:

Location:Edinburgh, UK
Address: Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS

Public Transport: Buses 12, 26, 31, 48 
Website: www.edinburghzoo.org.uk
Purchase tickets online first especially for viewings of Tian Tian and Yang Guang

A Weekend Trip to Edinburgh – Day 3

Our final day in Edinburgh. There was a bit of noise in the evening, but what could we do. At least we got some sleep!
We left before 12.00 pm (check out time) and started walking – taking a small detour towards Princes Street. We could hear a rock band rehearsing in Princes Street Gardens, and so we decided to have a look…

Sunny Princes Street – too bad about the roadworks… 

A rock band playing in the Princes Street Gardens 
Further along there were more bands rehearsing for a Heart and Soul event run by the Church of Scotland. Not much was going, so we walked a bit and did some window shopping.

Another band rehearsing
We finally got hungry, and we still had a couple of hours to kill before we got our train. We ended up in Jimmy Chung’s Chinese buffet which is right next to Waverley Station (Edinburgh Station)… To tell you the absolute truth. I REALLY hate buffets! A single set menu is ok for me, and that’s it! I think it cost £8.95 per person.

Average Chinese buffet food at Jimmy Chung’s
This was probably an ok-ish buffet. Not as good as the ones in London though…
We still had plenty of time to spare, we ended up sitting in a park on the other side of Princes Street. It was nice and sunny… There was a Scottish family sitting in front of us having a nice picnic, so I took a random pic. ^_^ What a nice time to spend on a Sunday afternoon…

A park view on the other side of Princes Street
A family enjoying their day out ^_^ – just a random picture 
Finally we got the 3.00 pm train. Superbreak.com has a few rules and regulations about train times! It was a 4 hour and 45 minutes journey. My bottom was sore and I was extremely tired!

Waverley Station! (Edinburgh Station)
Here’s King’s Cross Station when we got off…

Finally home – it was a long journey!
Geeky Recommendations:

  • Go to Edinburgh for a weekend trip
  • Make sure you have plenty of spending money – prices are similar to London prices
  • Book train trip in advance – reserving seats are better – but using Superbreak.com was ok
  • Bring a raincoat and umbrella plus extra socks!
  • Try Haggis, Scottish ale and Whiskey
  • Go to Edinburgh Zoo ^_^

    A Weekend Trip to Edinburgh – Day 2

    Day 2 – *YAWN*… (-__-)zz

    After a long night my friend and I woke up and went out for breakfast. We walked along Haymarket Terrace and came across a little coffee shop called Sandwich Culture. 

    Forgot to take a pic in the day – Closes early on a Saturday! 
    View from the window seat – just to point out (and if you look closely) there is a reflection of a building, which I thought was in the sky ¬_¬

    We both ordered a Breakfast Box (£3.90), and it was great! Especially the brown bread baguette because it was soft and chewy. The bacon wasn’t salty, the eggs and beans were just right, and the sausage was juicy. Yummy! I recommend this place if you are staying near Haymarket.

    Breakfast Box – Thumbs up (^_^)b


    After breakfast, we got on one of the local buses to Edinburgh Zoo (they call it Zoo only). A day pass costs £3.50. It is worth it if you decide to take a long bus trip (which was what we decided to do later that day).

    A bus stop along Haymarket Terrace – not the one we wanted 

    The zoo is about 4 stops from where we were. Unlike the London buses, these ones are long but they only have one entrance. Purchasing a ticket on the bus was like being on a Hong Kong bus with their coin slot machine! 😀 Also be careful and count the number of stops because the buses don’t have a charming lady saying which stop is next.

    Once we got to the zoo, we saw a lot of MASSIVE animals and for a short period of time we got to see the pandas! (More about the Zoo in another post).

    Outside Edinburgh Zoo

    We took another bus back towards Princes Street, and decided to stay on the bus for a little longer. I took some pics when we got off.

    On a street in Edinburgh

    Our next trip was to Whetherspoons. One of the biggest ones I’ve been to! There were a lot of football fans (and I wish I took a pic of them)! I tried a Scottish ale (Flying Scotsman) and it was great! It almost tastes like a Chinese beer 😀 We then ended up in another Whetherspoons (it was so busy in the other one – and there was no where to sit!). And what did we end up eating…? Haggis!!

    Haggis in Whetherspoons! ^_^

    I liked it, Miss Pinky didn’t. I guess the Chinese will try anything foodwise! 😀 I ended up adding a bit of ketchup and it still tasted good to me! Reminded me of my parents cooking fried mince meat.

    We ended up shopping for a bit, and came across this place… Friendly staff. Cheapish whiskey. And cheapish souvenirs!

    Hector Russell along Princes Street

    Afterwards, we ended up in another pub along Haymarket. I drank some of this Monkey Shoulder whiskey with coke (the barman recommended it), and it really tasted good!

    Found this in The Whiskey Shop in
    Princess Mall near Waverley Station

    By the time we went back to the hotel it was too late to order food (actually we were so tired and couldn’t be bothered ¬_¬)…

    Along Eglinton Crescent – just before the hotel

    So we ended up going out again and eating Indian takeaway!

    Chicken Biryani

    Both Miss Pinky and I prepared for night 2! (There was some noise, but we both managed to get some sleep!).

    End of Day 2.

    A Weekend Trip to Edinburgh – Day 1

    Ack, so I wanted to go to Edinburgh purely to see the pandas that had arrived in December 2011. But Miss Pinky wanted to go purely for the whiskey! So we ended up going to do both! ^_^


    I was looking for a very, very cheap holiday package that would benefit both of our pockets, so in the end I ended up choosing a website called www.superbreak.com. They had the best deal! Two nights at Travelodge (in Eglington Crescent) and a train ticket for £96 per person! Wow! If I had booked this trip using easyJet, I don’t think I would’ve got a better deal!!

    Our train journey started from King’s Cross Station. We wanted to get the 9.30 am train but unfortunately ALL the seats were reserved for that train. This is one of the disadvantages with using this promotional site as they don’t reserve the seats for you. But the good thing is that you can choose any train time (within specific time periods of the day – read guidelines very carefully!) to go…

    It was fortunate that we were able to get seats on the next train at 10.00 am!

    And so we arrived in Edinburgh after 2.30 pm. It was cold! And it was raining, which we were both expecting! We took a taxi to the hotel in Eglinton Crescent because we couldn’t find the way out! It’s actually a short walk from the station (about 20 minutes) – unfortunately we didn’t know that and there are a lot of road works at the moment… 😦

    A very wet Princes Street

    We were both very hungry and ended up eating a pizza at Travelodge just to fill our stomachs.

    The dining area / bar and pizza at the Travelodge 

    As well as friendly staff, the room they gave us was great! One double and one single bed. They didn’t have any twin rooms available at the time but that didn’t matter as long as we had a room to stay in…

    The Room


    After doing a little unpacking Miss Pinky and I decided to go out and have a look around… It was a long walk and we ended up doing some shopping and walking in the cold wet rain.

    Scottish Goodies! I wanted to buy cashmere!!
    So much whiskey plus salesman in kilt! ^_^

    If you do decide to stay around Haymarket, make sure you pass this Designer Cake Boutique!

    Designer Cake Boutique

    Finally dinner time. We decided to eat at the hotel because it was just convenient… I had the top two dishes (chicken goujons and steak & ale pie), the pie was humungous! Miss Pinky ate the bottom two dishes (chicken wings and red thai curry – it was extremely spicy apparently!).

    Sorry for the dark pics – I forgot to the flash on! 

    First night at this Travelodge was a little noisy than expected! I think there was a stag do or a Scottish football match coming up… A lot of doors opening and closing. A lot of men talking. And a noisy breakfast run… Only a few hours sleep (-__-)zzzzz


    Chibi Friends

    On one Sunday afternoon i got bored (lazy to revise – I did eventually revise the following weekend!), so I started drawing myself and a few friends as chibi cartoons. Being brought up with an older brother who loves cartoons, anime and manga made me become addicted to this sort of stuff too. So it’s quite obvious why I like cute things.


    I watched a few videos from Cartoonists Mark Crilley and Christopher Hart before I started… The drawings look a bit like them, and knowing that they don’t really read this blog I thought I might as well post them up 😀 (but if they do… oh well!). It’s all just for fun.

    My Close Friends!


    I then ended up drawing a comic that same evening (which is in Cantonese) of myself feeling hungry. Translation is below each pic ^_^

    1。餓死人呀!So hungry. 2。啊。。。咩咁香呢?Ah, what’s that smell? 
    3。哇哇哇!Waaaaah! 4。好嘢^_^! Yay ^_^!


    On the following day, I was bored again, so i ended up drawing another manga style cartoon, this time using a Cantonese tongue twister. This was quite fun to draw… I had no idea what I was doing!

    掘金掘吉掘雞骨


    These cartoons may not be sticking to the manga rule religiously i.e. the format from one frame to another, but at least you can read it right?! ^_^ By the way, I used square paper, but I have now bought a plain sketchbook to do more drawings!


    More chibiness to come!!


    Kawaii Artbox ^^ – London Store

    Yep. I love Artbox too… It’s one of my favourite cutesy stores in London. There are in fact 2 stores at the moment – Covent Garden and Selfridges, but I’m sure there used to be one based in Camden Town Market and another at Top Shop in Oxford Street. I guess they decided specific locations were a priority to them.

    From their website, Artbox is Korean. They sell all types of cute things from simple stationery to socks to big cuddly toys. And they sell a lot of Japanese character stuff like Hello Kitty and Rilakkuma 😀


    The nearest one to me is the one based in Covent Garden and I love it so much.

    Outside the small mall Thomas Neal’s where Artbox is based 

    Outside Artbox ^^


    Inside the store is fairly big but compact with many items. There’s not much walking space between the tables and outer shelves, so you’ll have to wait for the other person to move. Or you’ll have to be stick thin or a child to passby 😛

    Inside Artbox at one end

    Inside Artbox on the other side ^^ – so many cute things! 

    I went here to get a birthday present for a friend. Here are my purchases.

    Domokun Plush Teddy – Bear Kigurumi ^^ – So Kawaii!!!! 

    My friend’s birthday card 

    Socks that I bought for myself  ^^

    I haven’t done the paper bags any justice here because it was raining that day when I went. Sometimes they use plastic bags but I guess it depends on what you buy…

    Blue one side; Pink on the other

    And I got a free postcard with a British flag.

    Get ready for the Olympics 2012!

    If you find that you have no time to go to the shop, you can also order online, which I have done before. It’s very useful just before Christmas and other holidays.

    Website: www.artbox.co.uk


    Address:

    London WC2H
    Thomas Neal’s Centre
    Tel: 020 7240 0097

    The Hunger Games (eBook Version) – My Review

    WOW!! I haven’t read a futuristic fantasy book like this for ages!! After reading Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, this is by far one of the best books to have been written… I have tried reading the Twilight saga, and have only read the first book. It’s ok. Not the best of books.

    So, The Hunger Games. I read it within a week using the Kobo app for Android. I think I could’ve read it in within days if I didn’t have to work. I haven’t seen the film yet and so at first, I thought the story would be a bloodbath story like the Japanese film Battle Royale. But it isn’t. It’s a cross between Battle Royale, Big Brother and I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.


    I found the story quite easy to follow and very fast paced like Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. It’s a story about the world’s controversial issues of poverty and survival whilst in combat as well as some “romantic” concepts in able to survive and to captivate the audience.


    The story itself is set in the future and is based on twelve districts, originally there were thirteen, that surround the Capitol. These districts once rebelled against the Capitol but they had more power and overcame the rebellion. In order to teach the districts a lesson, every year they hold a game “The Hunger Games” where two youngsters (children / teenagers) – one boy and one girl from each district is held in a centre. There must be only one winner, so each competitor must kill another to survive and hopefully win.


    Katniss the main character of the book shows what it is like to live in poverty. With her father who died in an explosion she was the one to help and support her family (mother and sister) by hunting, gathering and trading throughout her teens. Her sister was chosen during the name-picking but Katniss chose to volunteer in place of her sister. Katniss must enter The Hunger Games not knowing what to expect or what environment she’ll be in – but she must survive and win the games!


    The Hunger Games is an epic story. At one point I did cry because it became so emotional like watching a Korean drama.


    It is a very good story, and I recommend it to children, teenagers and adults.


    I found the cheapest of cheap eBook version on Kobo (costing only £3.59) – so I recommend using Kobo too!


    Ah looks like there’s a further discount from Kobo!

    Kobo vs Waterstones Android App

    I like reading books a lot, but due to a busy life schedule (and pure laziness as well) I don’t seem to read as many books as I used to. No doubt I have an e-reader, an iriver Cover Story (Korean made) which was to make reading easy, but I hardly touch it and seem to only read comics/manga on it. Plus it’s a little heavy to my liking and I don’t like carrying heavy things for long (I’m sure no one does!).
    So for a week I have been reading – only one book – on my Samsung Galaxy S2 using the Kobo app! Well, I heard from a friend that The Hunger Games is a good story, so I thought I might as well give it a try (it’s a good book – but my review is in a later post).
    Here I’m going to compare two Android apps – Kobo and Waterstones.

    Using the Kobo app was very easy. You can download it directly from your phone Google Play (a.k.a. Android Market). Once you open the app, it goes directly to your bookshelf and displays all the books you have.
    At the bottom of the screen you will see several buttons where you can discover some new or old books or search for a book.
    This app is quite useful. It actually displays your statistics on the book you’ve been reading! It displays the amount of time you are reading, how many pages you flick and how long each session you read for. I am quite impressed!
    Other features are the awards section. Each time you read, get a new book or do other things you will get awarded with a “badge”. That’s pretty cool for a reading app. ^^
    After I finished The Hunger Games, I quickly browsed through the Waterstones App, which I found slightly harder to use, but it had some good points that the Kobo didn’t have and vice versa.
    As you tap into the app, it doesn’t direct to your books but to a screen where you can find the book you want via their chart, new releases and genres.
    To get into your books, you tap on the books button on the top right hand side. The cart goes to your purchases.
    When you go into a book and you want to change the font size etc you need to swipe the screen for the toolbar to show. In Kobo, you just press the bottom left hand corner menu button, which is next to the phone’s home key.
    With this app, it provides a great way of viewing the content and a synopsis of the book, which you can’t get in Kobo.
    One of Waterstones App’s downfall is that you must tap the screen to turn the page, whereas with Kobo you have two options – tap the screen and / or use the volume up and down button to turn the page. I like that option, but too bad for the Waterstones App!
    With both apps, they can auto-rotate. So if you want to read your book sideways (landscape view) you can do it!
    I’m unsure if you can load Kobo books into the Waterstone’s app and vice versa. Not tried it. But all my books get added onto my e-reader as well!
    There is room for improvement for both apps. But I think I’m going to stick with Kobo for now.
    Update 06/06/2012:
    Looks like the Kobo app staff decided to improve the app!

    They’ve added a bar at the top to show your bookshelf and a separate button to show you your previews. I’m impressed! ^_^

    Update 01/07/2012
    The app has changed again! Wow!

    By the way, for those trying to import books from Waterstones to Kobo – it’s not possible at the moment. In the Kobo app there is the option of importing books by going to your library, go to the menu (press the left button – if you have Samsung Galaxy S2 – Not sure for other mobile phones), then select “import content”. There will be a selection of books for you to import, however it won’t import Waterstones’ books – maybe because they are protected…
    I have tried downloading the PC app and to see if I can import from there – no luck!!
    Sorry peeps!! -_-“

    Update 23/12/2012
    Just bought myself the Kobo Mini , and found that you can transfer your Waterstones ebooks using Adobe Digital Editions! And now I am going to be happily reading my books now!! 😀  … Actually, the text is so small you can’t read anything 😦

    Update 29/12/2012
    Read more on my Kobo Mini… Plus I found a way of reading Waterstones’ ebooks on my Mini and phone app… Yay!!

    http://asimplegeekylife.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/kobo-mini-ereader.html

    Nestle’s Rolo Chocolate Bar

    Oh dear, are Nestle trying different things on all of their chocolates this year? 
    They’ve suddenly come up with the idea of having “bars” of Rolo’s in the shops – I guess they’re trialling them out  for a bit before they officially roll them out.
    I saw this in my local supermarket – it was for a pound and so I thought why not. Let’s see what Nestle’s has to offer…

    The Rolo bar


    As I ate each piece (I only had 6 pieces, and gave the rest away to my work friend), I found it too sweet like the Aero Orange. Yuck! 

    My 6 pieces

    Nestle’s seem to like their chocolate to be very sweet! I think I still prefer the original Rolo’s – soft chewy and easy to eat and share around. The chocolate bar version seemed to easily melt in my fingers and it just didn’t feel Rolo-y. Nestle’s tried to keep to the Rolo design by adding the round tips on each piece, which I found quite amusing.

    The original Rolo’s round tip
    The inside of the Rolo bar had the original caramel inside – good for me, but I couldn’t really taste it because of the sweetness of the chocolate…

    Inside the bar with some caramel

    If it wasn’t very sweet, I think I would’ve enjoyed it more. But I have to say I really do prefer the original Rolo’s.

    Nestle – put less sugar in it!


    Geeky Bento Box Lunches

    I have grown to love all things Asian (Chinese, Korean, Japanese – anything goes I guess). (^_^)v 


    I have been a fan of bento style lunches for a little while now. Assuming you all know what bento lunches are, if not, they are just Japanese style lunch boxes of leftover food from your dinner etc. But sometimes I start mine from scratch.

    My craze for bento started off from watching a few mangas and Japanese school dramas and then seeing them on Hong Kong dramas… Hahahahaha… Geek!!! Anyway, a friend of mine from China had a pretty neat lunch box with 3 compartments – and I wanted one for myself! So I searched high and low for something similar – but only found small bento boxes, or ones without compartments but eventually I found one in London’s Japan Centre (but now broken and thrown away) and one in Hong Kong, which I knew I would use for a while ^^. Now, I have loads of lunch boxes (not intentional of course!). Some I have had to give away (they were too small) or thrown away (because they got broken after many uses!).


    Well, I think it’s about time I show you some recent bento lunches I have made this year (not many here since I’ve been a bit lazy and doing all of that crazy studying!).


    Some of these pictures were taken using my phone, so here’s a fishy salad to start off with in two different lunchboxes…

    Fried Salmon and Salad (cucumber, radish, red cabbage, cherry tomatoes, cheese and a mustard and vinegar dressing)… My friend who is now in China taught me the salad dressing, and the little bottle was brought from jbox.com… ^^


    Chinese style food…

    Stir fried beef and green bell peppers with noodles in black bean sauce… This is making me hungry!!

    Yummy pasta salad in the lunchbox I bought from Hong Kong!! You can find a box similar to this in MUJI at the moment.

    Tuna pasta salad with cherry tomatoes, olive bought from Cyprus and home made pickled cucumber ^^

    Here I used crustless bread for these sandwiches (I don’t like crust). And usually I leave the skin on my tangerines, but the skin easily came off on these ones…

    Ham and mayonnaise sandwiches with olives, crinkle cut gherkins, cherry tomatoes and peeled tangerine segments

    Now I’m going to show off my culinary skills, (plus the use of my Olympus EPL-1 which gives these nice shots)…

    Tuna sushi rolls, radishes cut into flowers, cherry tomatoes, gherkins and some home-made spicy pickled cucumber ^^

    And here I made another 2 for some friends. The one of the left is in a re-usable takeaway container. The black bento box I got from MUJI, which they don’t sell anymore.

    Loads of sushi!

    After making these, I ate the leftovers, yum yum!!^^

    I will make some more bento style lunches in the future, so watch out for more posts of these!! ^^


    Here’s a couple of websites you may want to read which are dedicated to bento lunches:

    http://justbento.com/
    http://www.aibento.net/