Sunday, June 30, 2013

"Sold out in a day" Singapore haze triggers massive mask sales in Australia

3M mask from
There has been haze in Singapore for many days now, mainly due to the burning of forests by the palm oil companies in Indonesia. Last Friday Singapore's air was so bad, hence the need for the N95 mask, a special mask to protect Singaporeans. The PSI ( 'Pollutant Standards Index'.) was reported at a level of 401, a dangerous level.
The haze from

These masks by 3M are available in Australia, but many pharmacies have sold out of these masks. Melbourne Central pharmacy sold out of theirs within one day. Its also the same for the QV pharmacy as well as many Priceline Pharmacies. Many Singaporean students and some Malaysian students needed to purchase these for people back home as the haze worsens. According to the Ministry of Health, the N95 masks makes breathing a lot easier and removes all the pollutants.

Many Singaporeans even those back home find it hard to obtain, even though the Singaporean government said that there was 9 million masks made for the population of 5.14 million people. One of our friends who is now living in Singapore said that she had to go to 15 different pharmacies just to find it.

Which pharmacy in Melbourne still has these masks? Please tell us below and then we can send students there.

International students finding it hard to call home

"Home is where the heart is"  Cambridge Idioms Dictionary, 2nd ed.,University Press 2006. Reproduced with permission.
It can take many months even years for students to feel like they are finally at home.
Image courtesy from

Many international students live in low cost housing in the outer suburbs. Often these sorts of housing is cramped and very unstable.They are prone to dangerous situations especially at night time.

A lot of students want to move to the city to be close to Uni but students from the poorest families cannot afford housing. A room in the inner city apartments is about $400-$600 per week (some places includes utilities).

A few Indian friends of mine live in outer suburbs and don't like it there due to the fact that it is too far away and there is not much life out there. They are far far away from their friends who managed to get a place in the inner city suburbs.

In the outer areas there is some violence. In the evenings when I watched the news there is always some sort of bashing going on particularly in areas like St Albans, Dandenong, Frankston and Footscray. So students are scared to live in these slum areas.

Occasionally on the news we do hear of rooming houses which are not always up to scratch.

We urge the universities to assist more and more students to find better housing. Even the uni could subsardise some of the inner city housing for students.

Bondi Chai

Bondi Chai have been around for a few years. Based in Sydney they have been popular with people from all over Australia.

The name reminds me of Bondi beach in Sydney.

I got a sample of this at the Good Food and Wine show in Melbourne where they were handing these out.

I tried this at home and it was sweet and spicy. Good for the days when it is cold outside.

You can check them out here.

Golden Gate Hotel by Claudia

After the masterclass we all sauntered down to the Golden Gate Hotel. The Golden gate hotel is around the corner from the Art Gallery so I had no trouble finding it.

The pub is rather noisy, but not overly. And they do have enough room inside for a pram.

There are two seating areas: a bar and a dining area. We sat at the bar. You go up and you pay and then they give you a table number.

They have $10 steak and happy hour specials everyday, but I'm not much of a steak eater. So I went for the vegetarian pizza ($14 for just a tiny one). Someone else had salad with a poached egg and that looked really good.

The bathrooms there were just ok and they were hidden. Here they are behind the frosted doors. But yeah they are nothing worth raving about.

My drink (lemonade- someone else shouted me so I don't know the price sorry) was great.

My pizza however was bland and it took forever to come out of the kitchen and they were not that busy- it was 1pm after all. Oh and about the base: it was thin on side and plump on the other. Make up your mind I have had better than this at other places.

Nic if you are reading this, I don't think that you'd really like to go here for pizza.  For me I'd probably only come back for drinks and maybe the dips and the shoe string fries and the burger.

Note: (updated on the 15/4/2014) The Golden Gate hotel are featured in this years Entertainment book. The are offering 25% off the total bill for Entertainment members. If you want this offer and others do purchase the membership from our page.
Golden Gate Hotel on Urbanspoon

Il Dolce Freddo

Il dolce Freddo has been around for a few years now and I have visited a few times now.

It is a lovely clean place that has won many awards and has got people talking.

Here they have many flavours to suit your taste buds. I personally love the lemon one. You can choose anything to go with lemon. Or some people love their chocolate one. I love the lemon one it is so flavoursome and helps to beat the winter blues.

The prices too are reasonable . It is about $6.60 for three flavours.

But just don't come at night when they are at their busiest. Best to come by in the mid afternoon when they are not so grumpy.

I recommend thee to try the place as you'll like it.
Il Dolce Freddo on Urbanspoon

RMIT library

RMIT library is the place to find all of you books and information needs. Here there are some lovely staff to help you find information. Most of them I know.

During the exam period the library can be a busy place to study. But this is always my favourite place to study on campus.

You can bring cold food into the library and there are wide open areas. You can also study in groups in the seminar rooms. But you need to book a day or two ahead and if you don't turn up you lose your place.

You can also book your computers ahead of time so that you don't have to line up.

If RMIT doesn't have the book you want you can borrow it from other libraries using a CAVAL card.

Pho mee I love Pho

This place had been opened for about three months now and they are going strong.

I bought a Groupon for this for $6. Normally a small bowl of this is $8.

This place is situated in the Chine on Paramount food court and I didn't know it had existed. The food court is usually very quiet but that might change for the better.

It is run by the same guys that run the green tea place in Flemington, so I expected good things.

The service was open and friendly. There was one lady who admitted that she was just new which was fine for me.

They have vegetarian pho as well as the usual meat phos. Since I am a little bit of a vegetarian myself I went for the first option. This option had tofu rather than meat. But the soup was bland though. I didn't mind as I was happy to add in all the sauce myself.  The bowl was just a tad bit dirty ( ahh it was too late as I'd started eating. Oh well it was only just a small dot of dirt. Not that I minded too much)

But put all that aside- love the noodles. Even love the beanshoots. They were fresh and yum.

I also bought a coconut juice for $4. Normally I'd find these for $1.50 in Footscray so I was a bit surprised at that price. It was really sweet, but I didn't mind.

Verdict: Wait til they settle down a bit and then I'd come back for a proper pho.  I'd also like it if they had EFTPOS. But compared to other places in that food court this place is worth spending your money on. For Groupon customers, yes they do exist and they will be on Urbanspoon soon.
Green Tea Vietnamese Restaurant on Urbanspoon Pho Mee I Love Pho on Urbanspoon

Ramen Ya in Paramount and Cafe Baci by Katherine

After the zoo trip there was dinner in the city.  The Japan Club and I went to Ramen Ya and I went to my other favourite place afterwards for dessert.

1) Ramen ya (at 108 Bourke st and near Parliament station)
Ramen Ya has been around for a few years now and they are student eatery. They mainly do ramen, but I was keen to try a lot of things at once. This place is a lot bigger than the one at GPO. I loved the fittings and the glowing reviews from the Age.
Service was just so so. Ramen ya is run by the Japanese. Some of the waitress were friendly, others were not. They mixed up our meals with other peoples. They were not busy (it was 5pm after all when my group of 20 people came) The food was quick though. Like the other place most meals were around $10-$15. I didn't have to pay for this as the Japan club covered for everyone

One waitress slammed my cup down when she brought it back (I had asked for a refill of the hot water). The other ones were lovely.

Most of the people in our group ordered ramen, but I wanted to try other things as well. Everyone loved that there was less salt in the ramen. I loved the gyoza and the chicken katsu (which I had a small sample of).

I had the bento set (Terriyaki tofu). The tofu wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. It was bland. The rice was mediocre at best. But the seaweed salad was soggy. Perhaps it had been in the fridge for too long? All the water was at the bottom and the carrots and other things were soggy.

The other salad wasn't too bad. In fact this and the tea was the best part of the meal. The Japanese waitress was happy to show me how it was done (after I spilled some on the table by mistake).

I'd be happy to try their ramen here. And I recommend Nic from Sharking with Fish and Chips to visit.

2) Cafe Baci
This is one of my favourite places to have ice cream in. It is at Crown. The wait staff were really surly (perhaps they hated working at night). I had two flavors for $6.90. I had the strawberry and lemon gelato.
Whilst I loved the Lemon flavour, I found the strawberry to be a bit artificial.

But what I loved about the dessert was the cute wafer cup that it came in.

Seeing that it is a little bit pricey I might just try other dessert places. I wouldn't mind coming back in the summer though.
Ramen Ya on Bourke on Urbanspoon


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