Friday, November 28, 2014

Après l'école: le deuxième jour (after school, the second day)

After our first lesson with Ghislaine at Creipac, we headed off for lunch and our first excursion!

We had a quick lunch at 'Quick'. Our teacher, Madame S however agreed with all of us that "Quick, ce n'est pas quick!!!"- Quick, it's not quick! The queue was horrendously long, but when it came to ordering, it came out really quickly. Anyway, it was pretty decent. Better than McDonalds.

Photo credit to Rebecca
We ate on the Anse Vata beach. Sun, light breeze, conversations and fast food. What more could you ask for? 

We headed back to our hotel and we played cards for a while before we were picked up by the Tchou tchou train! It's a small train that makes a tour around Noumea. Such a cute little train!

 Our tour guide was incredibly heart-warming and joyous. He conducted 3/4s of the tour in French, then the rest in English. He was all like "Here in Noumea, we are happy so let your worries disappear and just relax and be happy!" And we were all really like "Woah he has a cool mojo", we all asked him for a photo later!
As we went up the mountain, we saw incredible views. This was at Ouen Toro park. 

Simplement, je pourrais dire que c'est incroyable. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


To be honest, at first I wasn't looking forward to our French lessons. And I guess that's single handedly from experience of dreadful Saturday language school.

We had 3 hour French lessons each day at the language centre, Creipac. It was about a half an hour drive from the city centre (Noumea). To my surprise, they were some of the best lessons I've ever had. Not only was our teacher incredibly encouraging & helpful, she made our lessons incredibly interactive. Also, having a small class of 7 students, was really comforting. We all felt comfortable making mistakes and talking with each other all en francais.
3 hours went incredibly quickly, and many of us just long to have language classes like that yet again. 
Our teacher, Ghislaine helped us immensely, I can't thank her enough! It was mostly an emphasis on speaking & listening. The activities we did were fun, for example some of us had to go up and give a short brief description of an imaginary person, based on a single picture we were given. Then, all of us would 'interrogate' the person and ask all sorts of questions.

It also really made me realise and value how much the fact that smaller classes are very beneficial for language classes, and learning a language is something that I feel passionate about (I have yet to master Chinese.. uni?) because the problem with a lot language classes in school, it's too big. Sometimes, a teacher can't handle so many people, and consequently students are timid talking in front of the class. Since I go to a public school, we don't have the luxury of small size classes like private schools.
But I would definitely give the Creipac experience 10/10!

View from the pier opposite. The language centre is nestled in lots of trees, near the mountains! 
The view wasn't too bad either. 
At the end of our lessons, we received fancy certificates saying that we had completed 18 hours of French lessons at the Creipac language centre. 

Merci pour tout Creipac :D 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hummingbird bundt cake

Last year I discovered hummingbird cake. Aunty SS made me a hummingbird cake for my birthday, and I loved it!
Hummingbird cake is practically another version of carrot cake sans the carrot of course. Add pineapple and banana, voila.
This is simply a no fuss cake because personally, I find layer cakes cumbersome. Two reasons:

1) I am not artistic AT ALL. I cannot draw to save my life, so making a layer cake look pretty is the last thing on my mind. I am more of a person who will execute and replicate a recipe, or even a piano piece. I can't listen by ear in music, unlike my second sister who can magically play tunes without the piece in front of her. I unfortunately lack creativity (no I'm not a drone)..

2) It's really troublesome you know. 2, 3, 4 layers yeah whatever. Then you have to put a 'crumb coating' and how do you get your icing to look so clean and cut? I wonder. But I do love the look of layer cakes. I'm just lazy. 
Anyway, punch line is: bundt cakes are so much easier to handle. The glaze? Even easier. Just whip some cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla and add a little milk and drizzle. I love uncomplicated things. 
Hummingbird bundt cake with cream cheese glaze
1 cup chopped nuts, toasted (Walnuts or pecans etc)
2 and 1/2 all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oil (I used sunflower)
2 cups sugar *
4 large eggs, lightly beatened
1 tsp vanilla
1 and 1/2 cup mashed bananas (about 3 medium)
1 can of crushed pineapple, undrained

*Reduced sugar to 1 & 1/2 

Cream cheese glaze
4 oz (113 g) cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted *
1 tsp vanilla
2-3 tbsp milk

*Reduced powdered sugar to 1 & 1/2

1) Preheat oven to 365 degrees F/180 C. Cover bundt pan with non-stick spray (or grease with  butter) and dust with flour
2) Place toasted nuts, flour, baking soda & salt in a bowl and mix until combined. Add in remaining ingredients and mix until combined. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan and bake for 50 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean.
3) Transfer to wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto wire a rack to cool completely before glazing
4) For the glaze: place cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla in a bowl and mix until combined. Add milk in one tablespoon at a time, mixing after each addition. Add more if necessary to achieve a pouring consistency. Drizzle on top of bundt cake. *Optional: finish with finely chopped nuts

Adapted from Bakers royale

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Noumea day 1

If there is one word to describe my trip to Noumea, it would be bliss.

Quite literally a trip of my life. Immersion into culture, bonding with my school friends and enjoying the sun pretty much sums it all.
Many people do not know where New Caledonia is. When I try to explain that it's a small French island in the Pacific, near Tahiti and Fiji, many people jump to the conclusion "So basically France?"

Pas exactement- not exactly. How about 17,000 km away from France?

School WITH A VIEW! 
Nouméa is the capital of New Caledonia. Think crystal blue waters, white sand and lovely weather. Locals think that '18 C is cold'. Quite the contrary for us Melburnians. We experience freezing, wet winters! 18 C is lovely. 

The Age also wrote an article about it

Its tourism isn't as well developed as many other well known pacific islands but it really does have the potential. So it was a nice change to see that there weren't too many tourists lurking around. A lot of tourists notably from Japan, New Zealand and Australia. I went on an educational tour with my school via GET, which was quite professionally done! 14 students and two teachers.

The trip to the airport was actually pretty exciting, because we've pretty much all never been on a school overseas trip. The plane ride was only about 3 and a half hours, not too long. I sat with Eric and one of the school teachers. We watched quite a few episodes of Friends (my all time fave show) and by the end of it, we were struggling to keep our eyes open. Actually, I think everyone was quite exhausted despite the short flight because it was a reeeeally long day at the airport and arrived in the evening.

  Yi Shan has a Gopro so she took that everywhere. So handy for group selfies ha ha ha.

There were also several other schools from Australia.

In a later post, I will write about Amedee, an island where we went snorkelling. I would've also loved to see Ile de pins, but we didn't have time to visit there!

We had 3 hour French lessons each day at the language centre, Creipac. They were quite literally some of the best oral lessons I've ever had. Not only was our teacher incredibly encouraging & helpful, she made the activities fun and we all learned from our mistakes. More on my French lessons in a later post.

Anyway, on the first night, we didn't do much because we arrived in the evening. We all had a pretty magnificent burger and a taste of Orangina- the French version of Fanta except that it is less artificial and more bitter..I quite liked it. First night was at the hotel, so us students played cards all night, trying to keep quiet but that really failed. But what do you expect with a bunch of students running wild in a foreign country?

Actually, our definition of 'wild' is playing countless card games........
Next morning, trying to keep our eyes open.