Argentina 2018

“I’m not going to go away for a while, at least until my Europe trip” I remember thinking. “I’m just going to stick around in Melbourne and get through some work”. What a fabulous lie I told myself stepping on board my flight to Vietnam. Little did I know it was here that I would meet Violet, a fantastic Argentinian who graciously offered to host me during my stay

From what I can tell, Argentina and Australia are distant relatives who love nothing more than slapping some meat on a barbie. Whilst I think they’ve taken the much more cultured approach to it, we still get an A for effort. This country also has an amazing craft beer & bar scene, I couldn’t get enough of their IPA’s the entire time, not to mention they have the wine to match.

While my jet lag eased off, we took things easy & headed off to the old country towns surrounding Buenos Aires (of course) to lunch and eat what you will become all too familiar with in this Gallery - Dulce Leche, Otherwise known as caramel. Argentina is ‘Loco’ for Dulce Leche, it is genuinely offensive to say no to it at a dinner table. Trust me, I learned the hard way. While I followed Violet blindly I lack the names for these gorgeous places, so here’s a feast for your eyes.

One of things I loved about South American culture was their dedication to enjoying their meals. So much so it’s literally embedded in their language. In english ‘Lunch’ is a noun, in Spanish it’s ‘Almozar’ which is the verbTo Lunch’.

On a solo trip through Pallermo I came across this man, who’s job it was to literally hold up the train crossing to let traffic through. Upon telling my Argentinian friends this I received a response I became all too familiar with “Haha, Argentina” as though it were the most simply natural but bizarre thing. I received the same response when I was telling a story to Violet’s mother who was slowly losing attention while we spoke. I thought it was the language barrier, but apparently behind my head someone was jumping off the third floor of their building and climbing down the building from the outside, landing, dusting off his hands and walking off, carrying on his day. “Haha, Argentina”.

On a new day solo in Buenos Aires, I ventured out on a new expedition, this time trying to see some art galleries. Little did I know I went on the day that they were all closed (Don’t bother on Mondays ladies and gentleman). I was ‘forced'‘ to spend another day sitting in cafe’s, but couldn’t help but be inspired by the streets around the law university. An awe inspiring building abandoned by a government prioritising themselves over their people.

A quick stop at La Panera Rosa to fix my hanger.

I stopped at ‘La Recoleta’ cemetery of Buenos Aires. Allegedly, celebrities and very important people pay thousands of US dollars just to be buried here, guarded by gorgeous felines, this graveyard has quite an intriguing air to it, with families piled up by the dozens on the walls surrounding…

I’ll admit, it felt strange taking photos in a Cemetery, yet with the celebrity theming I couldn’t help but find it fitting (and necessary). Never the less, I walked through with respect.

Taking my leave, I stumbled back homewards through yet another beautiful sunset in Argentina, something I became all too used to over there.

Wrapping up my time in the north, Violet & I headed south to live the cabin life near Bariloche, a beautiful small lakeside town with gorgeous mountains on the surrounds. It is here I decided to learn to ski. It is here, that I failed.

The south held lots and lots of driving for us, Violet had rented a manual which she later learned to her dismay that I can only drive an Auto. Never the less, this gave me more opportunities to snap flicks on the road.

With the south all wrapped up, this just about meant goodbye. Going our seperate ways, I’ll never forget that gorgeous country or how kind the people there are. I can’t help but feel I’ll be in South America again sooner than I think.

For now, I have other adventures tackle, next up on My Guide to the Galaxy ~ Athens.

Vietnam & Cambodia 2018

Vietnam, my second time back to this beautiful country. This time I decided to take a more formal way of capturing it all. The biggest trouble for any commercial photographer is taking a DSLR away on holiday with you can sometimes make travelling feel like your day job. Usually I would shoot film for something different, but after bad experiences going through security scanners and getting it wiped, I decided to pick up the new mirrorless Canon M50 that was just released by Canon. I couldn't have been happier with the results, the lightweight body gave me all the freedom to run around like the maniac tourist I am, as well as the quality and megapixels that I need as a shooter. Anyway, this isn’t an advertisement or anything, just some really average travel pics for you to scroll through at your own leisure.

 Hao Long Bay

Hao Long Bay

I won't lie... not many images were taken here. But this location is absolutely gorgeous and should be the starting point of any Vietnam trip. 

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Hoi An has repeatedly been one of my Favourite places to visit. So much so, we ended up extending our stay here by 7 days, oops. The weather is just too nice. If you want a place to relax poolside, Hoi An is the place to do so, Kahuna Beach Club & VBH especially get the vibe just right.

After far too much street food and shopping temptation, we jetted off on an overly expensive flight direct from Da Nang to Siem Reap. Home of Angkor Wat, and far too many Cheeky Monkeys. We said our prayers and went in.

With that in the bag, we honestly found there wasn’t too much else to do in Siem Reap, it’s quite easy to get lost in the temples for days. We had nice weather on our mind, so we took the night buss to Kampot… We were seen off by one of these mental Cambodian rain clouds we would become all too familiar with in the small riverside town.

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First up, we challenged Bokor Mountain with to a duel. We teamed up with a lovely chap we coined Yung Will from the UK. Armed with Two measly bikes riding bound-2 style, we took on this mountain in the rain… Would not recommend taking it on in the wet weather, but up there, a storm can roll in and out in minutes. on one side is a blue sky, the other, the worst storm you could imagine. The risk is yours.

And that’s it for me, I took my leave as the boys sailed off to Koh Rong, ending another asian adventure.

Through this trip I really didn’t keep track of the places we ate too much, trip advisor can be helpful, but remember the golden rule of asian eating: Any place that looks real nice, most likely has the worst food. Find the small dingy places, they will have the best asian food you could ever eat (and pray not to get sick).

Please note these photos were taken for my own pleasure, but if anyone would like a print, please email hello@michaelwoods.com

TOP 10 PLACES FOR VALENTINES DAY

Around this time of year I get asked a lot of Questions... Sadly, not about my availability on February 14, but about where you should take the ball and chain for a lovely feed this Valentines Day. 

HERE IS MY TOP 10 (that aren't already booked out):

1. DONINIS - 320 Lygon Street, Carlton

This place has the best pasta you will find in Melbourne, for real. The Donini family have been making pasta (and waves) in the food scene along Lygon since before I could walk. I would easily state this to be my favourite Italian in Melbourne.

I would recommend getting a platter of Bruschetta and following it up with the Trio of Pastas. sharing is caring. Alternatively, any independent dish would also go down a treat, but Valentines day is all about being with someone, keep that in mind with what you order team.

Fun fact: as a child, I was taken to Doninis multiple times and would apparently run around trying to take photos of peoples food, Marco reminded me of this fact on my most recent trip there and I haven't been unable to shake how doomed I've been to fill this Career my entire life. Destiny is a thing. 

For those like minded fellas, you're thinking "hey, that's right near Cinema Nova, maybe I could take my girlfriend to a really cool indy film so she can see how intellectual I am". You thought right. The Disaster artist is definitely worth a spell of your time, or just see The Showman, or anything really. You can't miss in there. 

2. ICHI NI NANA IZAKAYA - 127 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Sister to Ichi Na in St Kilda, The Fitzroy branch also has a cocktail bar AND hawker hall in a complex of 3 levels (which they renovated with a casual $20 mill) so your options are endless. While everyone in the world is quite poised towards the Chapel Street "Mr. Miyagi" (and rightfully so) it's booked out. Don't despair, Ichi Ni Nana has a really deep library of any Japanese (or Japanese blend) dish you could wish for. If you're from Southside, Feel free to stick to Ichi Na. 

I would follow this up with a walk down to Black Pearl or The Black Cat for an old fashioned.... but you know, that's just me. Ask for Chris & He'll rock your world. Tell him I sent you and he'll probably smile slightly and do absolutely nothing for you. 

3. NAKED FOR SATAN - 285 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

The perfect precursor for what we all know is about to happen later that night. Naked For Satan is a gorgeous rooftop bar with incredible city views in the heart of Fitzroy. For a post dinner met up, you can grab some bites to eat on the roof and avoid awkwardly smashing 3 burgers and a large chips in front of your future prospect. I recommend the Croquettes, Lamb Skewers and a couple of espresso martinis. Or head downstairs for some $1 finger food. 

4. SUDA - C2/550 Lonsdale Street (down the lane)

Located down an alleyway off of Lonsdale Street (brownie points for hard finds folks), SUDA has some of the best Korean blend dishes around. I've taken multiple groups here and never heard a single complaint. You can't go wrong with the Korean Fried Chicken or the Mini Pizza's, there's also plenty of Veg options if you're that way inclined. 

Most people won't care for this, but boys, they also have quite a variety of Asian beer (including Singha's) which particularly tickled my fancy on a night that I swore "I AM NOT DRINKING".

If you're looking for a quick bar to go to afterwards, hit up White Hart Bar (22 Whitehart Lane),  a mere 5 minute walk. Extra points here for neon's and another hard find. 

5. SUPERNORMAL - 180 Flinders Lane

Look. I'm not going to lie, It's probably already booked out, but any Andrew McConnell restaurant will do. Asian Blend & Cocktails to die for is a mix made in heaven that McConnell nails site after site. If Supernormal is booked out, check out Ricky & Pinky (Fitzroy) and Supernormal Canteen (St Kilda) for similar success stories.

Supernormal speaks for itself as a cocktail location, but if you'd like to check out another rooftop bar, go and have a couple of drinks at Good Heavens (Upstairs, 79 Bourke Street). A lovely spot to end your night. 

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6. GINZA TEPPANYAKI - 139 Little Bourke Street

Eating and playing games catching food in your mouth, the key to any romance really. 

On a serious note, you can't beat fresh cooked food,  having it made straight in front of you brings things to the next level. Teppanyaki can be a loud affair - but active entertainment, great food, and great company (hopefully) can make for the perfect memory this V-day. For those on a first date, it can be a great silence & barrier breaker. Nothing stops an ego like getting a piece of fried egg thrown at your face. 

If you want to cool things down afterwards, walk up chinatown to 18o6 (169 Exhibition Street) to snuggle into a slightly warmer, less volatile environment. 

7. LONG SONG (CBD) - Upstairs, 44 Little Bourke Street.

Because I know you need a safe bet for your first date, I give you, LONG SONG. You never know what cuisine your newest fling might be (for some reason) opposed to. Long Song has a huge open space that cultivates a nice talking environment (that isn't too open). Taking the goldilocks approach, it nails the spot between intimate and spacious. I would definitely still opt for the sharing option here (as I would on any date) but their cocktail list will ease any nerves you may have on that. Plus it's a really cool venue guys, have I mentioned that? 

8. SHUKAH - 104 Chapel Street Windsor

I know you were all waiting for a Chapel Street option, but this ones worth the wait. Shukah came into our lives about 6 months ago and isn't looking to leave. This menu has heaps of Veggie options, and while it may be spicy, the Armenian cuisine has some incredible flavours. Feel free to go cool down your tongues at Messina afterwards though, it packs a punch. I'd highly recommend trying the variety of dips they have (their hummus is great), as well as the fried chicken. They also have some Armenian beer, that is totally a thing. 

Oh yeah, and they have dumplings?!

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Because they deserve their own post....

9. BLACK PEARL  - 304 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. 

Put some class in your glass. Old Fashioned & Moscow mules are my potions of choice here... Black Pearl LITERALLY has the best bar tenders in the world, and I've never experienced perfection in drink mixing (as in, will get you drunk without you noticing) like I have here. Cocktails do come at a penny, and you'll definitely want to eat before hand, so perhaps try out Tora Dumplings (just under naked for Satan) to get some cheap Japanese action before signing yourself up for some world class mixology. 

 

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10. Thirty Eight Chairs - 4A Bond Street, Prahan

Your South Side fix for all things Italian. Have a couple of Aperol Spritz's and some pasta while getting to know your partner. This venue opens up to a sort of open air blend at night and has a lovely atmosphere. I know I'm talking a lot about the different vibes places has, but it is important. The Dessert menu here is particularly to die for.

Located conveniently close to the Jam Factory if you fancy a visit to the cinema as well. 

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