The best burger in the world – in Ulaanbaatar of course!

Chinggis Khan statue is 40 metres tall

While in Ulaanbaatar recently, and before checking into our hotel (after staying at a cheap, cheerful and comfortable hostel for a few days) my friend and I ate at Modern Nomads – a Mongolian restaurant chain – just a few doors down the road from the Tuushin.

Three or four days later we discovered a different side to the Modern Nomads: the Black Burger Factory right beside our hotel and which had opened only a couple of months ago.

It seems black burgers are the newest trend in many parts of the world. “Burger King Japan” first unveiled the “Kuro Burger”—which translates as “black burger”, which features a dark black bun, a slice of black cheese, and the onion-garlic sauce, made with squid ink.

We were thrilled to find it and try their chicken burger: they also have Black Burgers with double beef for meat lovers, Brown Burger for dieters and a Steak Burger for chilli lovers.

‘So what’ I hear you say, well, we voted their chicken burger ‘the best burger in the world’ – and, as my friend lives right opposite one of Los Angeles top burger places, and where I’ve also eaten, our best-in-the-world title is high praise indeed!

So why is a great? It is great because it was delicious, tender, juicy, and because of all those juices, black gloves are provided with each burger to save your hands from the sauce that covers your fingers and runs down your chin and wrists 🙂

While I don’t approve of the waste from the plastic gloves, unless everyone recycles them of course, I understand the need for them – I almost needed a baby’s bib as well.

So, while this is not ‘traditional; Mongolian food, it needs to be on your to-do list while in Ulaanbaatar. Luckily for you it’s only moments from Chinggis Khan Square, an area all tourists will no doubt visit.

Sadly, my photos of Judy, with black gloves on of course, enjoying all the deliciousness of her black bun chicken burger, are not available – as those of you who read my blog will know, However, here is a photo (found on Trip Advisor) of a young woman savouring her burger.

Waka & a Pickled Parrot (sad tale – great hostel)

Had just one night at the Pickled Parrot backpackers (on facebook too) in Paihia which got its name from a sad reason.

It seems a previous owner had a parrot, let it loose during the day, where upon it would eat and drink with travellers and ended up being picked quite often …  and pickled, despite being about preserving food, it is also another slang name for being drunk or ‘pissed’. Consequently the said parrot got aggressive and demanding more of the same and so its owner sold him. A sad tale I think.

However Rose, the current owner, does not have a parrot, drunk or otherwise,  and provides a free breakfast, and three dogs who are locked away at mealtimes so travellers can eat in peace of begging brown eyes Smile . This backpackers will go in my list of Northlands top 10 when I write that.

Up at 5.50am, I’m was off to spend the day with Hone Mihaka of Taiamai Tours Heritage Journeys to participate in waka training to be ready for the Waitangi Celebrations. … this is a story all of its own, and now I’m off to see them arrive – dress rehearsals are over and today is Waitangi Day … New Zealand’s birthday as a nation.

More about Waitangi, the Navy, and last nights concert in another blog.


IMG_6729 (768x1024)IMG_6738 (1024x768)IMG_6895 (1024x768)IMG_6917 (1024x768)IMG_6937 (1024x768)


Once again many thanks to Destination Northland for helping with my itinerary and Rental Cars New Zealand (Auckland, Christchurch and Picon)  for the vehicle for this road trip: I can recommend both!


youth hostel has great travel tips for us all


Responsible travel is a commonly used term nowadays, but sometimes all the talk of negative impacts of tourism can seem a bit overwhelming when all you want to do is enjoy your hard-earned travels! The good news is that responsible travel is not complicated and you can still have a great time, with a clear conscience, by following a few simple tips to ensure that future travelers will find a place as welcoming and magical as you did.

1. Keep an open mind. Embracing other cultures will transform your trip and help you earn the respect and welcome of the local people. Be tolerant and respectful, making sure to observe social and cultural traditions and practices. This will help to ensure that the door is kept open for other future travelers.

2. Help preserve natural environments. Leave things the way you found them – or better still, get involved in a project that will leave a place in better shape than you found it.  Protect wildlife and habitats and do not purchase products made from endangered plants or animals.

3. Respect cultural resources. Activities should be conducted in a way that respects the artistic, archaeological and cultural heritage of a place.

4. Support the local economy. Purchase local handicrafts and products, rather than mass produced souvenirs (and you’ll have something unique and authentic as a lasting momento of your trip). Bargaining for goods should be based on achieving a fair price, rather than a determination to get the lowest price possible. You don’t want to get ripped off, but it’s worth remembering that the merchant probably needs the difference more than you do.

5. Learn as much as possible about your destination and take time to understand the customs, norms and traditions in an effort to avoid accidentally offending anyone. Not only will this make your trip much more enjoyable, but it will also make a huge difference to how future travelers are viewed by the local population.

See more about Hosteling International New Zew Zealand ( I am  life time member – that  tells you what I think of  the organisation!)

looking for a place to stay in New Zealand?

YOU MAY KNOW I’M A HOSTELLLING INTERNATIONAL LIFETIME MEMBER SO FELT I HAD TO PASS THIS ON, esp’ as one of these is only 10 mins walk from my place in Christchurch city — kiwi travel writer


YHA Ohakune

At the base of Mt Ruapehu YHA Ohakune, Matai Lodge is one of the closest backpacker hostels to the start of the Tongariro Crossing and provides convenient shuttle transport to get you there and to other Central North Island attractions.

YHA Ohakune, Matai Lodge is a friendly, comfortable and inexpensive hostel. There is a wide range of backpacker style accommodation options to suit your needs and the recreational facilities have been recently improved for your enjoyment. Backpacker accommodation at YHA Ohakune includes doubles, twins, family rooms, tent sites and a variety of different multi-share rooms in which all bedding is provided. There are two fully equipped shared kitchens, dining and lounge areas. YHA Ohakune facilities include internet, home theatre, X-box, overseas TV channels and pool table.

Top 3 activities to do while backpacking in Ohakune:

  • Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of New Zealand’s ‘Great Walks’, passing through volcanic craters and glacial valleys.
  • Ski Turoa ski field on the south side of Mt Ruapehu, the nearest ski area to Ohakune.
  • Take a canoe tour down the mystical and lonely Whanganui River.

YHA Christchurch City

Situated in the heart of Christchurch, New Zealand’s ‘Garden City’ – this modern and spacious backpacker hostel is the perfect base for your Christchurch experience. YHA Christchurch City Central is in the centre of Christchurch just minutes away from the Cathedral Square and all the many, many restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops of this lively South Island city. Everything you could need is just a short walk away, including Christchurch’s Centennial pool and gym.

The YHA Christchurch City Central hostel has an amazing array of facilities including two spacious fully equipped kitchens (one on each floor), a comfortable common room, a TV room, a games room with pool table/foos-ball/video games, internet access including wireless, locker facilities, two laundry facilities, library exchange and disabled access…phew! YHA Christchurch City Central has a large variety of modern and clean backpacker accommodation in a safe and secure environment. And because there is no pub at this Christchurch backpackers you can be assured of a quiet night’s sleep.

Top 3 activities to do while backpacking in Christchurch:

  • Take a trip up the Gondola for breathtaking views of the patchwork Canterbury plains, the majestic Southern Alps and gorgeous Lyttelton Harbour.
  • Visit some of Christchurch’s many cultural centres: the Antarctic Centre, the Canterbury Museum, the Tamaki Heritage village and the colourful Arts Centre weekend craft market.
  • For animal lovers, swim with the dolphins at Akaroa Harbour, visit the kiwis at Willowbank or Orana Park or simply feed the ducks along the picturesque Avon River in Hagley Park.

Special Offers

%d bloggers like this: