Archives For domestic life

hong kong best food

The suburb we moved to just over a month ago borders Box Hill, the center of the Chinese community in Melbourne. Box Hill is our local shopping center, and its 3 minutes in the car. I love it: parts of it remind me of Hong Kong: a magically fascinating range of shops you don’t get other places, a big food market selling anything and everything, and a ton of interesting Chinese restaurants.

Since we moved here we’ve been slowly visiting different restaurants…well, and one we’ve been to before and loved: Indochine, a Vietnamese restaurant that offers great food, happy and quick service, at really cheap prices.

Friday night we decided to try Hong Kong Best Food. A sure sign of a good Chinese restaurant is that it’s always full with Chinese people, and this fit the bill.

We had to wait 5 minutes for a table, which was fine, and were seated at around 6:50pm. That’s when the fun began.

The first thing we were asked is whether we wanted chopsticks or not. It’s an odd question given every other Asian restaurant I’ve been to just gives you the chopsticks and if you want a fork you ask for it. We thought nothing of the question then, and it seems innocent enough by itself (despite the fact it presumes we couldn’t use chopsticks)… until what happen next.

So we order and then wait….and wait…and wait. We watch people enter the restaurant, order, and get their food with a wait no longer than 5 minutes, often quicker. People who entered Hong Kong Best Food Box Hill at 7:15pm had eaten and left before we had our food, which finally arrived just after 7:30pm. It probably goes without saying at this point that those entering the restaurant were exclusively Chinese, and we were the only white people in the place.

The food wasn’t good, indeed had we not wanted to make a scene, we could have sent at least one dish back, because the meat was undercooked…which is even more interesting given how long we waited for it.

We paid the bill and left.

My wife, who would normally be the last person in this world to note racism like this said to me that we’d been racially profiled, and that the service was intentional so that we wouldn’t return again. I have to say I 100% agree.

So my Hong Kong Best Food Box Hill Review: probably a great place to dine, as long as you’re not white.

I’ll be investigating the racial discrimination laws this week to see if there is any way to complain as well. I don’t support racism from white people on others, but likewise I don’t support it happening in reverse either, and there can be no other explanation for our treatment by Hong Kong Best Food Box Hill.

Internode speed test

July 9, 2009 — 3 Comments

The interwebs were connected last night (Wednesday) exactly two days after I finally managed to place an order with Internode to get it connected over a Telstra landline (no Naked ADSL for me 🙁 ). They said 5-10 days, so I’m doubly impressed, although it helps a lot that the connection is a Telstra resale connection, because we know Telstra is always quick with their own product.

I’m on a 40gb plan at $109.95 a month, not cheap, (the Telstra resale plans are more expensive) although notably Internode doesn’t count uploads….which is mighty fine. The speed isn’t half bad on the ADSL2+ connection either.

So for those not in the secret society of Riley (modeled on Opus Dei, but with far more alcohol 😉 ), we finally acquired a house in Melbourne.

When I say house I use the term loosely, because it’s technically a townhouse, but it has separate title, so you could argue both sides.

House hunting in Melbourne requires stamina, and a strong volition not to attack real estate agents, who are in the most part lying scum sucking vampires. The short story: if it’s listed at auction for $540-$580k, it will sell for between $630 at $780k, and I’m not exaggerating on the last figure.

End of the day we needed to live within a reasonable circle from the golden child’s school in Hawthorn, because we had no interest in changing schools. After nearly two months of looking, we ended up buying a brand new town house in Mont Albert. It’s a little further out than we’d wanted, but likewise I can probably do the school in a solid 20 minutes (in peak traffic.)

Buying a brand new place helps, for example we have A/C, garage and more… something you really can’t get at our price bracket, and we also have ducted vacuuming…. I hope the cleaners know how to use it 😉 (don’t judge me there, it’s the only service we have done once a week, but we both work)

There is a little catch though: the townhouse is only 2 bedrooms…and I work from home, hence introducing the bat cave.

The garage is sunken under the two story townhouse (so it’s really sort of 3 stories) but it is 2 cars deep, and a huge alcove off to the side.

Pics as follows. If I need relief from the bat cave, the complex has an indoor heated pool, sauna and gym, so there is some balance 🙂

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Winter wonderland

June 10, 2009 — 4 Comments

The hail was so persistent for so long it woke me up at about 4:30am. These pictures taken after first light at 7:30am so it had started to melt; at 5am though everything was covered in a thick blanket

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So finally we’ve signed a contract to buy a house, or to be more precise a Town House in Mont Albert, some 15 months after we moved to Melbourne. We would have liked to live a bit closer in, but you take what you can get (well, what you can afford), and we’re close to transport and still in Zone 1 (just, Mont Albert is the last station). The pool is pictured above….no, it’s not our pool alone, but any pool is a good pool as far as I’m concerned 🙂 The double bonus is that the mortgage is going to be around $800-$1000 a month less than our current rent. Guess I might be taking a holiday this year then 🙂

We started seriously looking for houses about 5-6 weeks ago. I’d watched prices in Melbourne tumble from their highs last year, and when I say tumble I mean at the height of the boom, a little 2 bedroom apartment in an old complex just down the road from us in Burke Road Camberwell sold for $840k in May or June last year (I was at the auction.) I’d think that would be worth maybe $600k today, give or take.

With the economy going into recession, I thought this was the right time to buy, but I didn’t count on one thing: Kevin Rudd. In particular, the “first home buyers grant” of $21k.

The program was due to end June 30, and prior to the budget first home buyers were flooding into the market to beat the cut off. It was subsequently extended until the end of September, then offered at 50% until December 31. The problem though is that the extension didn’t stop the flood. Auction clearance rates in Melbourne 6 weeks ago were around 60% and heading south. For the last two weekends they’ve been 81 and 82%, which is as high as the top of the last boom. Our credit union manager also confirmed with me that they’d been inundated with first home buyers looking to borrow money.

Clearance rates don’t mean much though, because it’s the price that counts. I don’t have hard figures, and we’ve only really been looking in a 5-10km arc around Hawthorn (sons school), but here’s my guess: prices have gone up in the last month in the vicinity of $50-$100k in the inner Eastern, and Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, particularly at the lower end of the market (say $400-$800k)

Example: we looked at a place in Abbotsford, 3×1, near the river (no views), massive complex, and it didn’t appeal. List price was around $440k. It sold for $515k. We went through a very cool, indeed too trendy 3×2 apartment in Richmond, just off Swan Street, amazing views to the City. Listed at $540-$580k. Sold for $680k. That’s only two examples, but I’ve seen more again. Yes: real estate agents to tend to under price properties to get people in, however the gap between expected price range and actual sale price at auction has grown significantly in the last month.

Which begs the question: where’s the sanity in offering a $21k Government grant when the demand the grant causes pushes prices up by $50-$100k?

But wait, there’s more. Victoria has possibly the worst (and by that I mean highest) stamp duty in the country. The purchase of a $600,000 property attracts stamp duty of $31,070. So your $21k first home buyers grant really is just wealth transfer from the Federal Government to the State Government.

Now first home buyers could head out to the outer suburbs where the prices are less, but then you have the social aspect: do you want more people on the roads? Can public transport handle it (if and when available?). Even then, you’re still looking at $300-$400k for a house, although it would be an actual house.

Enough of my rant now. We beat Ruddonomics with a liberal dose of money. I’ll be sure to post pictures from the pool if and when we move in early July.

Michael Hill Jewellers FTW

February 3, 2009 — 8 Comments

A big shout out to Michael Hill Jewellers.

She who must be obeyed’s rather expensive 1ct diamond ring I gave to her for her 30th birthday (back when I could still afford to buy something like this) lost a diamond last week. They’re replacing the diamond under warranty, and were highly apologetic.

It is insured, but it’s nice to see a company happy to help, even with something so expensive for them to fix.

Michael Hill Jeweller FTW.

Tasmania

November 29, 2008 — 3 Comments

Port Arthur: nice
Tasmanian Devil Park: overpriced
Salamanca Markets: crafty
Getting caught in a snow storm on Mt Wellington: priceless, given Ive only seen snow twice before

PS WordPress iPhone app isn’t half bad either. Pics to follow tomorrow, after Crowded House tonight

Online Ubiquity

November 24, 2008 — 4 Comments

I’m not quite sure when it happened. Maybe it was when I imported a Chumby so my alarm clock became internet enabled. Maybe it was when we purchased the Macbook for my son + wife (she occasionally brings home a work Windows laptop) so we have 3 laptops in the house (the netbook EeePC is in a draw, too hard to type on, and a pain for WiFi at times) and every night at 9 or 10pm both of us are in bed online. But maybe it was when I hacked the Apple TV (again, the last time it got wiped with an update after 2 days) so our Apple TV now offers more than iTunes + YouTube, and now offers Boxee (which is beautiful) but better still XBMC, which has a pile of plugins for popular streaming sites.

I believe we may have reached online ubiquity.

Louis Gray yesterday wrote that every night he sleeps next to his iPhone. Every night I sleep next to a Macbook Pro, my iPhone and an internet enabled alarm clock, and that’s just my side of the bed. She who must be obeyed has a Blackberry, an iPhone, and a MacBook. My son’s room has an internet enabled DVD player and Wii. The lounge room has an Apple TV. Sadly the Bluray isn’t internet enabled. My office has a variety of things, including a wireless printer, network drive and Mac Pro. Sadly the kitchen doesn’t have a permanent internet enabled device, but I haven’t started looking for Christmas presents yet.

We’ve all but stopped watching broadcast TV. As I type this, my son, home from school is watching YouTube videos on the Apple TV. When my wife gets home if we watch something tonight, the toss up will be bed on a laptop or Apple TV in the lounge room, and the odds of us watching broadcast tv are about twice a week, if that now Australian Idol is finished for the year.

Online ubiquity

Melbourne Cup tips

November 4, 2008 — Leave a comment

My first year in Melbourne for the Melbourne Cup….and I’m not attending. Wife + son home, turns out schools and workplaces make the Melbourne Cup public holiday (yes, it’s a public holiday for a horse race here) into a 4 day long weekend. Maybe next year 🙂

Camberwell is quieter then Easter…and there’s less shops open. The more religiously inclined may want to reflect on that.

Anyhow, an exercise in futility, I haven’t backed a Melbourne Cup winner since Mackybe Diva, and before that it was probably 5 years, but here we go

FTW: 8 Mad Rush

Places: 7 Zipping, 9 Ice Chariot

She who must be obeyed tips: 8 Mad Rush, 11 Littario

The golden child tips: 14 Gallopin

Trifecta I’ve boxed 7 8 9 14. The idea of a horse called Gallopin coming a place appealed to me 🙂

No, not the dollar dropping to 60c, or the auction rate below 50%. No, red dust. Lots of it.

The Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, least Camberwell, Canterbury and Hawthorn, have woken up to find everything covered in red dust. On my car is looks like rain…and it’s a little sticky as well

Not sure if it’s coming from this fire at the Westgate Bridge. If it is, I wonder if it’s toxic or not? what I do know is that there’s a ton of it everywhere.

On a bright note, car wash outlets will have a record week in sales 🙂