“Weekly” Challenge 22: BK Taro Turnover

When I travel, I love to try the local cuisine. But I have to admit that I also have a soft spot for trying global fast food chains in different countries. I liked having fritessaus with my fries in the Netherlands, I tried a bulgogi burger in South Korea, we visited Subway and Domino’s in Japan. So when Burger King came to town, I was always going to give it a go. A Sunday evening after a disappointing afternoon of cricket viewing was the perfect time to pick up some burgers and the dessert menu gave us the opportunity for a challenge: the Taro Turnover.

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After an underwhelming Whopper, and some really good fries, we broke into the turnover. The filling was not hot, as promised on the box, but was purple, as expected (although it doesn’t look it in the picture).

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There was nothing left but to try it.  The Engineer went first, and pronounced it too sweet. He has much more of a sweet tooth than me, so my hopes weren’t high.

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So when I tried it, I was pleasantly surprised. It was sweet, but the pastry was like a classic fast food pie (i.e. fatty and delicious), and the filling was vanilla-y or pandan-y or something that made it quite appealing. It wasn’t strongly flavoured, and I liked it.

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In fact, I made this the only challenge so far in which the challenge item was finished. No food wastage today!
Except for the very small piece that we offered to The Engineer’s Baby. She seemed to side with her Papa, and was not too impressed.

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It was her first “Weekly” Challenge, and I for one think she did a stellar job with her facials. Which is, after all, pretty much the point.
I might be on my own here, but I’m giving the Taro Turnover a big thumbs up. And best of all, next time I won’t have to share it (if there is a next time that is – the burgers weren’t really nice enough to go back for…)

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My Greatest Adventure

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Five years ago today, my greatest adventure started (who am I kidding, it just got made official; it started well before that).  It started with a grand occasion, family and friends, fancy clothes, the works.

Each year since, we have celebrated.  The first four we went all out: a weekend away, a little luxury, a proper occasion.

This year, it’s simpler.  Hanging out at home with our newest team member. A small gift. Then a dinner out, just the two of us.

This is probably not quite what we imagined five years ago.  But it’s perfect.

 

Two years

This month marks two years since I arrived in Brunei (it also marks eight months with The Engineer’s Baby and our five year wedding anniversary).  Milestones like this always make me a little pensive.  And today I am thinking about the things that have changed since we arrived.

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There is one particularly great change: the arrival of The Engineer’s Baby.  She continues to amaze me every day, and is absolutely the best thing that has happened to me here.

There are some other good changes:

  • I have learned about yoga, and discovered how much it helps me to balance and reconnect with myself.
  • I have understood the importance of creativity for me, particularly through writing, and have found ways to include that in my life.
  • I have met some wonderful people.
  • I have travelled to new countries, and have been exposed to new cultures, leading me to question some of my own cultural assumptions.
  • The Engineer’s beard has grown way more ridiculous and awesome.

But there have also been some not-so-good changes:

  • Being in a country where I cannot vote or have a say in the direction it takes has made me less politically active/interested.
  • The heat means we have not spent anywhere near as much time outside as we used to, and I miss it desperately.
  • It is difficult to get some of the healthy foods we are used to, and we have been lazy, meaning we eat far less consciously than we used to (and eat far more takeaways and junk).
  • Being pregnant with no job and no responsibilities allowed me to get into some not-so-good habits, particularly around using the internet.

Overall, it feels a little like I have been taking a break from our “real life”.  And I don’t think I’m alone in that.  The expat experience is different to immigrating to a new country.  The temporary nature of expat life is one of its defining features.  In some ways, the fixed term is freeing – we do less home maintenance, we have more opportunity to travel, friendships often develop more quickly.  But at the same time, it’s frustrating – people keep leaving, we miss some of that maintenance stuff, there are some things we would like but don’t want to buy for such a short time.

And at this two year marker, I’m torn.  Undecided whether we want to extend this life break in Brunei, or extend it somewhere else, or head back home to get back to real life.  What makes it even more complicated is that the decision ultimately hinges on The Engineer’s work.  We need to make the decision, but at the same time, it will be dictated by where he can get a job.  And for at least a couple of years, we’d like it to be a job that allows me to stay home with The Engineer’s Baby.

For now, I’m trying not to stress too much about the decision.  We know we want to stay another year here, and I want to enjoy that time.  I don’t want to waste this year worrying about what’s next.  I want to enjoy our quiet little life, travel a bit, and let the future unfold.  So I’m going to move on from this pensiveness, and get back into the present!

(I’m talking about living in the present moment over at The Engineer’s Baby too.  Apparently it’s a bit of a theme of my life!)

 

“Weekly” Challenge 21: Drinks (again!)

The Engineer and I have decided not to buy any toys for The Engineer’s Baby (well, at least not many…)  She has quite a few already, and for Christmas she received some homemade toys from her Grandma, which she absolutely loved.  That inspired us to look for things in our cupboards, reuse random things, and make toys, rather than buying more.

(This is pretty easy while we live in Brunei and don’t really have easy access to good toy shops.  It would be a lot harder to achieve other places – there are so many amazing toys out there!)

Our most recent toy making was some sensory bottles.  But in order to make sensory bottles, we had to buy some bottles. And to buy bottles, we had to buy some drinks.  So, rather than just buying water bottles, as was my initial plan, we decided to have a bit of fun and make a challenge of it. We’ve tried drinks before, but the variety in the drinks aisle left plenty more to choose from.

We went to the supermarket, and picked a selection out.  Our choices were partly based on bottle size, and partly on what looked interesting.  (If we were to choose again, we would also have chosen based on ease of label removal, but hey, you live and learn…)  In the end, we had two fruitamin drinks, two aloe vera drinks, and some cooling water.

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We ran along the line, starting with the pink fruitamin thing.  The flavour was tropical punch or something, and I wasn’t expecting much (I’m not usually a fan of tropical…)

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The Engineer tried first, and his first comment was “it has chunks…” Which, indeed it did.  As do many drinks in Asia.  Before we came here, I hated chunks in my drinks. But I have to say, I’ve become rather used to them, and sometimes even enjoy them.  But despite the chunks and the tropical flavour, we agreed this one was pretty good.

Next up was the grape aloe vera.  Grape is a flavour I dig, so I was excited about this one.  But as soon as I took the lid off, I knew my excitement was misplaced.  This was not just grape, it was extreme fake-grape.  My first comment on tasting it was not “it has chunks…” (though it did), but “you are going to HATE this!”  (Because while I am a fan of grape flavour, The Engineer cannot get behind it in even its mildest forms.  And this was far from mild)

My face in this photo kinda sums up the drink (shockingly sweet, overpoweringly fake, only good for tipping down the sink…)

1-DSC_0316Next up was the cooling water.  To be fair, we knew this would pretty much just taste like water (which it did).  But the bottle was a PERFECT size, and it was worth buying just to read the label, which claims that it should be used to “quench thirst and give a cooling effect in body heatiness”.  I know that this comes from Traditional Chinese Medicine, and probably doesn’t sound crazy in Chinese, but we found the English translation a little comical.  The Engineer thinks he is rather comical, and put on some silly moves for the camera.  (Because really, this tasting was pretty boring!)1-DSC_0322

After that, it was just more of the same, but in different flavours.  We were not surprised to discover that the pomegranate aloe vera was infinitely nicer than the grape version.

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But we were quite surprised to find that the lemon fruitamin was significantly less nice than the tropical punch version (we are usually fans of lemon drinks, but this was too intense, and way too sweet.  Plus the chunks just didn’t go as well!)

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So at the end of it all, we had confirmed that Asia loves chunky drinks, and that we should never ever buy grape aloe vera again.  But more importantly, we had some empty bottles (okay, okay, some tipping down the sink was involved) with which to make some toys for The Engineer’s Baby.  I think she approved of our first two (glitter and sequins in one, red sago in the other).

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