Maldives, 2022

On our trip to the Maldives, we chose to stay at a couple of different hotels, and instead of reviewing them individually, I decided to put everything together for a relative perspective, as well as a general “what did we think of the Maldives”. We stayed briefly at Taj Exotica, then a week at Gili Lankanfushi and a week at One & Only. There are thousands of islands in the Maldives and almost every island has now become a luxury hotel, so working out where to stay is hard! I spent weeks reading reviews, blog posts, travel guides. The factor to consider is that barring activities and excursions, you’re going to be trapped on that single island for an extended time, so you have to find a place you’re comfortable with their variety of food and activities. Some of the islands are really small with a single restaurant while others are huge and have a crowd of people. Finding the balance that you’re comfortable with takes time.

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Japanese Restaurants

Keeping track of the places I eat my favorite food!

I’ve given ratings out of 5 for a bunch of categories for each restaurant. Note that I’ve given the ratings relative to the other restaurants at the same price point, rather than as absolute.

I’ve rated “Starters” vs “Main” which for Sushi restaurants compares typically the small dishes of sashimi, soups or the like before hitting the main set of sushi pieces.

Rice I’ve rated based on a few different things: how well it’s seasoned, stickiness, nice and warm, size of rice (more than a mouthful). Fish I’ve rated similarly: size and cut of the pieces in general, and variety and quality of the actual species.

Price is based on a single person, food only, dinner menu. It used to be that most high-end restaurants would follow the Japanese tradition of not wanting a tip. However that practice is falling by the wayside post COVID and pretty much everywhere expects a tip now. The price I’ve put here is the expected price you pay – with tax and tip included, which is not what places typically advertise!

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In the late summer of 2019, we had the opportunity to spend a few days in Singapore. It’s an amazing place aiming to overload your senses. The food is awesome, whether it’s from a lunch time no-frills market, or if it’s a dinner from an upmarket restaurant. The cocktail bars all have wonderful concoctions. There is amazing art in the central galleries and museums. The experiences in the gardens, the views from the hotels, the time spent walking down side streets, the over-the-top shopping malls, all aim to bombard you with a microcosm of Asia in a very unique way. It’s a blend of Malaysia, India and China with bits of Japan thrown in along the way. It’s a fantastic place to visit.

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Visiting Hawaii

I’d always wanted to visit Hawaii. My Pinterest “Places to Visit” folder is full of pictures of Hawaii. I was hoping to go last year, but the practicality of finances meant we couldn’t make it then. This time we saved throughout the year to be able to go ahead with a truly awesome experience. Here’s a brief writeup of the best parts. The list of our major activities, in order of which ones I’d recommend most is:

  1. Sunrise from Haleakala, Maui.
  2. Stargazing and hiking to Lake Waiau on Mauna Kea, Big Island.
  3. Snorkeling with manta rays, Big Island.
  4. Huka snorkeling/scuba at Molokini, Maui.
  5. Sailing the Na Pali coast, Kauai.
  6. Helicopter Ride over Kauai.
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Stargazing at Mauna Kea

During our recent trip to Hawaii, we decided to do a trip up the mountain of Mauna Kea to do some stargazing and a small hike over to Lake Waiau. Mauna Kea is where some of the best observatories in the world are located because of the fantastic conditions. Up at the top, you’re looking at 13,000 to 14,000 feet above sea level. That’s way above the clouds and perfect for stargazing with zero light pollution. Lake Waiau is up near the top at 13,500 feet. It’s a small lake that presents an Arctic micro-climate to people deciding to visit. When we arrived in Hawaii, we were shown a photo from one of the staff (Nick) at the Four Seasons resort that epitomized the beauty of the place – a perfect shot of the Milky Way and the stars in the sky, reflected in a still and tranquil Lake Waiau. We wanted to see that! And so our adventure began. We hadn’t planned our hike or stargazing in advance. It was spur of the moment, and so all of the pre-made tours for stargazing were already fully booked. But we had a car. How hard could it be?

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Network Booting Raspberry Pi from OSX

The Magic Mirror that I’ve got has failed a bunch of times. Each time, the SD card has become corrupt and the mirror then hangs accusingly on the wall waiting for me to repair it. I’ve hidden away the keyboard. I need to unhang the mirror to access the SD card, and each time the wonderful mounting (a.k.a. masking tape) that holds the pi perfectly in place all needs to be redone. This is a pain. I finally decided to sit down and work out a way of managing the pi remotely – to complete ditch these pesky SD cards.

The end result? My mirror now has a raspberry PI v3, running without SD card, completely running from the network. To mess with the boot settings or the filesystem, I can completely do this from my comfortable workstation, remotely reboot the pi and it’s been pretty reliable (not perfect). The network service is all provided by my iMac, all via OSX without any software other than what’s built-in, or reputable open-source software. This setup is so much more comfortable to use.

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Skiing in Niseko, 2018

Skiing in Niseko was something we always wanted to do and on this visit we switched from our usual trip Hakuba way to try the Hokkaido end of Japan. This was a great trip, and the first skiing post Joey’s leg break while skiing the previous year in the USA, so we were looking for a gentle re-introduction to good snow, instead of break-neck adventure. The snow and the ability to wander around off piste powder snow was great. This town has a large amount of foreign visitors and so it’s very accessible for tourists with a wide variety of restaurants and shops, with English spoken pretty much everywhere (most of the town is staffed by visiting Australians). We were based at Grand Hirafu which has some great skiing, but I preferred the variety of the runs over at Niseko Village and Annupuri (although there are a few areas of flat at the bottom of the runs that forces you to do the walking work-out on skis). With intermediate level of skiing, you can connect over the top to all areas.

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