WestJet Transatlantic Review: Cheap Flights to Gatwick

For what it was worth and for what I paid – which was around 200 USD in total, I can’t really complain – the fare was phenomenally cheap – however, now I know why. I don’t have previous Transatlantic experience with WestJet, in fact they’ve only been offering their Transatlantic flights since the beginning of May and I was eager to hop on board to see what the fuss is about, especially, how they stack up to rival European budget airlines like Norwegian Air (which by the way is one of my favorite airlines of all time).

From the start, it all looked promising, the boarding procedure went smooth, the staff were friendly and the seats were comfortable (though, the WestJet 767-300 isn’t as comfortable as Norwegian Air’s 787-800.)

However, with the WestJet base fare, things like seat selection and meals are to be bought separately – and so I ordered ahead of time a seat and a meal. Drinks too, of the alcoholic variety, are for purchase (unlike various other major airlines.)

While the seat was no problem, the meal came as a great shocker – wait, was this actually made for human consumption?

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To begin with, the mashed potato was dry, the meat was rubbery, and the vegetables tasteless. The only edible thing in there was probably the brownie. 

Luckily, I had packed a separate salad from WholeFoods ahead of time, so I ate that while chatting to my seat mate. However, my experience with WestJet only seem to get worse after that – because the staff apparently didn’t bother with garbage collection until well after the meal. I was a little ticked by the lack of efficiency and got up to give them the tray myself so I could use the washroom and not deal with it later.

Then after I came back from the washroom my seat mate told me that they’d only began collecting trash because I’d complained.

Oh, how nice to know.

Then a couple hours later – we were served another ‘meal’ except, it couldn’t be hardly called that – apple slices and a piece of banana bread ? Really?

Not exactly what I was looking forward to eating.

Horrible food experience and timing onboard aside, the flight experience itself was good. But would I do it again for the cheap fare and horrible food? Most likely not, especially when their European rival Norwegian Air offers more pleasant experience with more competitive offerings.

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Adulting: you’re doing it wrong

I came home and there’s nothing to eat.

So naturally, I looked in the fridge. To my dismay, all the pizza pockets are gone (gasp!) and all that’s left are old frozen spaghetti dinners (from god knows when) and some IKEA meatballs I’d picked up from last time. Without further ado, it was tear off the top of the frozen spaghetti box and dump in half a box of meatballs, then zap it in my dying microwave. Take it out…realize it’s still frozen. Then nuke it again.

Ah, fancy dinner, with extra ketchup added to mask the flavor of my fridge.

The entire thing tasted like ketchup, washed down with late night coffee.

Healthy. Not in the least bit.

And the saddest part is – this isn’t even because I’m on a budget.

Nah, it’s all due to poor planning.

I could’ve made meals had I planned ahead of time, then I would’ve had homemade meals to zap instead. Oh well. This sadness prompts me to do better with food in the future, no matter how much I hate grocery shopping and meal planning. How am I supposed to know what I want or don’t want to eat a week in advance??

Still. This is major adult-ing, I’m doing it wrong.

Must rectify.

chicken tacos under 10 minutes: how I make inauthentic tacos…

So, I don’t like to spend a lot of time cooking and I don’t have a lot of time to allocate to culinary arts – however, eating is a big part of life and sometimes when you walk into the grocery store an idea hits you.

Now, I know what traditional beef tacos or burritos look like – but then I thought, hey why not try this easy idea with 3 items anyone could find in a supermarket.

  1. Marinated Chicken Breasts (doesn’t matter which flavor)
  2. Corn Tortilla
  3. 7 Layers Dip

Yes…I brought those 3 items home and sliced up the chicken then panfried them for 5 minutes in coconut oil and then assembled. And here’s the result. All I can say is this taste way better than it looks and it is very very filling. So if you’re looking for quick but still tasty dinner ideas i.e: not cereal with milk or oatmeal…I recommend giving this a try, and of course, there are numerous ways to assemble tacos, so go crazy!

10 MINUTES TACO HACK (1)

Altstadt: quaint German beerhall in the middle of Seattle

If I had to pick a favorite restaurant in Seattle, it’d be Altstadt hands down.

Altstadt, the German word for ‘old town’, definitely lives up to its name.

Even though I’ve only visited this haunt twice, the experiences were stellar to the point I know I’ll come back for sure. From the outside, Altstadt’s completely wooden interior looks barely lit. This of course is no mistake. The dimly lit interior creates an air of mystery, inviting diners to take a second look into its authentic beerhall design. Yes, beer hall, right in my backyard.

When you walk in, there’s a certain sense of coziness to the lighting and interior. You feel warmed up even before the beers start flowing. You’re invited to take a seat, any seat, at the bar or at one of the long tables.

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The kitchen is open concept so you get to watch the chefs at work while enjoying your brew.DSC_5325

Another cool thing is that all of their food are made in house, while their drinks are all imported from Europe, mainly Germany but there are also Austrian beers, which is definitely a treat if you’re looking to save yourself the 1k + 20 hours in plane ticket and travel time (back and forth). So what did I get whilst at Altstadt this time?

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Ta-da, fresh black kale salad with pumpernickel bread croutons and white Belgian endives with pickled onions, and leberwurst (liver sausage with pumpernickel bread) – the photo does not do the meal justice. Every bite of the salad is flavourful and possibly the best black kale salad I’ve ever had. The leberwurst which is made in house spread on pumpernickel bread balances out the otherwise vegetarian meal. The two dishes were very filling, after eating about half of each, I decided to take everything else to go (for midnight snacking purposes). The best part is, the entire meal came under $15 (including tips). So the last time I was complaining about American food here’s my solution, go to Altstadt and try one of their many salads which is freshly prepared, or if you’re not much of a salad eater – try one of their wursts (sausages) or side dishes with some authentic German beer. I guarantee, you wouldn’t be disappointed.

PS: If those of you are reading this and happen to be in town between September 18-20, 2015. The restaurant is celebrating Oktoberfest (which legit means soft chewy pretzels and 1L beer shoe on tap, drink your heart out!)

The horrors of ‘American’ restaurant food.

“Let’s eat nothing but American,” said my foreign friend with a bout of enthusiasm, sounding the beginning of sugar, salt and fat drenched two days of gluttony. An eye-opening two days of gluttony may I add (because there’s no way in hell I”m doing that again, and those two horrible days were enough to put me off of junk food forever.)

I don’t usually go out of my way to eat ‘American’ cuisine and when I do eat out, 99% of the time, I’m eating Sushi at a Japanese restaurant or even, Thai food (yummy veggies encased in rice paper wraps) things that are not high in sodium and definitely not ‘fried’.

And my typical diet at home consists of lots of yogurt, fruits, vegetables, fish moderate amount of carbs, and comparatively, very low amounts of sodium and saturated fat.

Now, two days in Seattle – it was kind of an eyeopener. Since, first of all, we didn’t get to make our own foods, at all due to our tight scheduling so it was to the nearest restaurant we go (I probably visited more restaurants than I had in the previous month). But here’s the shocking thing, almost everywhere I went, I found the food to be way too salty and sugary – and there’s almost an universal trend of bread on bread on more bread atrocity happening across the board (enough to give you a salt and carb overload headache, not to mention sluggishness, digestive issues and irritability…)

Prior to traveling to Seattle, I’d assumed the West Coast was very much vegetarian, hippie and yoga loving…doesn’t seem to be the case in Seattle (and perhaps it was because we’re in a rush, but we also didn’t see any salad bars, though I did spot a juicery near Pike Market.)

Not only that, the convenience stores we checked out, I saw a trend of soda being cheaper than bottled water. And what’s even more sickening is perhaps that a cucumber costs more than a packet of poptarts, with the wilted cucumber being 1.99 and the poptart being 0.99 (true story).

I used to think that I loved ‘junk food’ and the stuff wouldn’t ‘hurt’ but after two days of what seemed to be ‘nothing but’ nutritional atrocities committed, I have a different outlook on the matter. I don’t think I want to look at another burger, let alone eat one, ever again. And the next time a foreign friend suggests, ‘let’s eat nothing but American,’ I’ll politely opt out.

the spending math

Eating out used to be a luxury, nowadays however, it feels more habitual than ever.

I haven’t really noticed this before since my coworkers and I are so used to it. A quick bite from the nearest cafe, or a quick sit down and chit chat at the quaint little Italian restaurant tucked in a street corner not far from work which by the way, carries some of the creamiest portions of Tiramisu, all seem innocuous.

Innocuous that is until you review your credit card statement for the month.

Did I really SPEND that much?

Really?

Of course, these things really add up and since I’ve been very busy lately, my brain haven’t been really on top of my finances.

One of the surest ways to increase income is to work more, yes, but people often forget the other crucial step in retaining their earning.

That is: keeping it.

Yes, somehow, I feel like I’ve been programmed to ‘spend’ because I have more wiggle room to – but then that’s an illusion, given that I actually don’t – since my brain in the present is failing to register when/where I would need the funds later on.

I’ve never been great at saving and neither are most of my friends. At times it just feels plain cruel to turn people down when you know you could go ‘hangout’ per se and catch up over a meal, or a drink, but now I know I have to go and minimize everything and delegate – a beer here and a meal there won’t hurt but I might have to go with the envelope technique and go – when that envelope is empty that’s it! No more going out.


Because as much as I love these food-porn shots and tangy restaurant garden salads, I know for a fact that I’ll enjoy telling adventure stories more than anything else.

So, from now on, July until trip – will be as lean as possible in terms of luxuries. i.e: quickly flashing myself a destination photo whenever I want to buy something that isn’t a necessity. But for what it was worth, from the other day’s lunch, braised lamb with salad from the Italian place…it was yums. 

4.1: the importance of health is no April fools!

Nothing matures you faster than realizing you couldn’t get away with what you used to easily get away with in your teens. It came as a shock to me last weekend when I not only fell ill but began reflecting on my hectic work week. It appeared to me that I was so busy with ‘work’ that the priority of health took the backseat altogether.

I find it ironic because I always used to think how could adults ‘get so busy’ to the point their health is jeopardized? Why do society emphasize that money = success and everything else has to make way? I began to reflect and realize (despite the pounding headache and sniffles) that I had become another stereotype that I used to think was silly. I didn’t think it was possible for me to become a workaholic (especially at a job I care very little about) but I’m a person of standards, even if I do not like the job, I take great pains to see the job is done right.

Hence my downfall, putting everything else before my personal well being. I began to think if my general unhappiness was caused by giving too much of myself at things that had no place in my life in the long run (because essentially, at work, I see it purely as a transaction of time into money and I’m only dying in the process). Yes my outlook might be bleak but it’s exactly how I feel, no satisfaction gained from the job (despite how much work I put in). Not even a pat on the back from my boss could swat away the nagging feeling of alienation. ‘I don’t belong’ – ‘I could do so much better’ – I tell myself, yet find no strength to prove my internal statements as valid.

To top it all off, my health, which really should be one of my top 5 concerns gets booted to the backseat. And every time work calls, me the individual fades a little more into the background, to the point, last weekend I felt weak and achy all over as a result of how ignorant I’d been half thinking, half hoping my age would offset the effect of an unbalanced diet and nonexistent fitness regime.

Fast forward to now, almost Wednesday, my workweek had yet to begin, why? Because I’d been sick at home nursing the flu of the century. Though, I did discover something incredible to me, but perhaps not so to doctors whose advice often fall on deaf ears.

Because I was sick I’d little desire to continue in my ways of heavily processed foods. From Sunday until now, I’d stuck to mainly whole unprocessed foods with tons and tons of organic vegetable and fruits. To my surprise, the hacking cough I’d experienced since Saturday had disappeared and this would appear to be the speediest time I’d gotten over a cold in my twenty something years of life. And if that wasn’t enough motivation to switch over to a more healthful diet, I don’t know what is.

So for the entire month of April, I’m going to dive in, research like heck and try some of my new discoveries.

Stay healthy, stay focused, stay happy!