New Zealand has the best coffee

Bear with me as I go on my coffee rant….

As mentioned before, I was working in a local cafe for several months before leaving Auckland for university (college as the Americans call it). It was a great work experience and my boss provided me with barista training. By the time I left my job, I could make a decent (ranging from averagely decent to good decent) cup of coffee from grinding the beans to extracting the espresso to steaming the milk to pouring the milk. You name it, a cappuchino, latte, flat white, long black, moccachino or hot chocolate. It took me a while to overcome the bitter espresso and the burnt milk but eventually I was happy to have picked up a new skill; although if you were to ask me to make one now, I wouldn’t have high expectations…

While I was overseas, I came to the realisation that coffee in New Zealand is truly of a gold standard. For example, I was shocked at the numerous times where I was served coffee with bubbly milk that was far from the velvety texture it should have been. There were also lattes filled with way too much foam. I would never have dared to serve customers some of the coffees that I was served. Keep in mind I am absolutely not, a coffee snob.  I don’t know a whole lot about the art of coffee making and coffee flavour. But at the risk of sounding like a pretentious customer whining about absurd experiences, I am disappointed by the overall standard of coffees overseas.

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Finding a good cup of coffee is a mission and the filter coffee served at my school cafeteria is very questionable. There are also several differences between coffee culture here and in the states. 90% of the time, cafés serve their coffees in takeout cups regardless of whether I was staying in or taking out. Also, I soon realised after my first few visits to the local coffee shops around my school that often just ‘coffee’ refers to filter coffee and self-serve milk over the counter as opposed to coffee made from the espresso machine with steamed milk. Another thing is that a flat white is almost an unheard of thing in the states. In February this year, I was in New York over the weekend and noticed signs with phrases along the lines of ‘try our new flat white!’ in several coffee shops. Given that flat whites have been around in New Zealand for many many years it was surprising to find that it is only being introduced in America recently.

Since coming back home for a month in my summer break, it sure is great finally drinking a tasty latte. My solitary café visits are reignited!

Funny, strange Americans…

I’ve often heard people say ‘Americans are pretty weird’. I can see why now.

This is my second time coming to the US but I can hardly remember my impression of America the first time (I was eight) so pretty much everything was new and fresh for me this time round. I’ve been here for just over a week and this week has been like an acclimatisation period.

The term ‘weird’ is relative so I guess different would be more acceptable. Things are done ‘differently’ in the US. Every country is in various aspects (some more than others) different and unique in it’s own way but America- America is very unique.

Here are a few reasons why:

1) America does not use the metric system. I arrived in LA on the 19th and as we left the airport en route to down town, the driver mentioned the distance we had to travel. I didn’t realise till after that he was using miles. I still have no idea how far a mile is. Feet, inch, yard and Fahrenheit are also completely useless units to me. Pretty much everywhere else uses the standard Celsius but here, most weather forecasts are given in Fahrenheit.

2) Price labels don’t have the tax included. How are you supposed to know exactly how much you have to pay? During the first few days I kept forgetting that tax is excluded in the price and thought people were overcharging us. I know that tax is different among the States, but would it really be such a pain to display prices as exactly what you would actually be paying??

3) Tipping. This took me ages to get accustomed to. How much to tip? Who to tip? Do you wait for the receipt at your table? Also, Americans have a very trusting and blasé attitude towards credit cards. You hardly need to use pins and only after they swipe your card do you put down how much you want to tip.

4) I don’t know if it’s just me but a lot of toilet seats are unusually low. There is also a lot of water in the bowl. The flush seems way more forceful. I don’t even know how to explain this without sounding bizarre but I swear the toilets are different here.

5) There are words that mean slightly different things over here (I guess this one applies to many English speaking countries). The number of people that don’t understand what a rubbish bin is, is just shocking. No one uses a bathroom cubicle, they use a stall. A girl thought I was referring to driving when I mentioned a ‘fullstop’. I also still refuse to replace my ‘s’ with a ‘z’.

So I’m feeling a bit like a FOB right now but hopefully I’ll get adjusted soon. There is so much to see and do and I can’t believe tomorrow is our last night in New York and also my last night of ‘vacation’ before I’m off to college. Being an international student will be an entirely new experience for me. I’m sure that as an international student I will come across many more unusual things that Americans do. 😛

China through my lens- Part 3: Hainan

While staying with my family in Zhuhai, we travelled to Hainan Island. This was my first time visiting Hainan and though it was fun, coming from New Zealand made the sun, blue sky and beach environment less of a novelty.

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This is what winter is like in southern China!

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Hainan AKA the Hawaii of China

 

 

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This was a show we saw on Phoenix Island. It consists of water acrobats and the performers do some pretty incredible tricks using jet boats and other water equipment! I highly recommend this spectacle.

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Apologies for the blurry and not straight photo. I think I may invest in a tripod…

 

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