Europe (2017)

3 May 17
Touched down in the morning after a transit at Milan. Took the train straight from the airport to Barcelona Sants where we checked in at Cosmo Apartments for the next 3 nights. We walked to Arena shopping mall and got our first Spanish meal – paella and tapas. Also went to the supermarket at the basement and bakery before heading back to the apartment for an early rest. I saved €15 of city tax by accidentally by stating only 2 adults that will live in an apartment meant for 4 people. Barcelona had this hefty city tax of almost €3 per person per night, actually depending on the type of accommodation as well but ours was the highest… Also the apartment was such a cheat as they gave us 1 single bed less and wanted me to pay an extra €30. I told them the booking from Agoda showed 2 single beds and 1 double bed and he said that the have changed it and that Agoda is not accurate. It is not my issue but anyway he later mentioned that he will give it to us for free in exchange for a positive review.
4 May 17
Rise and shine!! Feeling really horrible with a slight fever but still had to force myself to wake up!! Took the subway to Universatat station where Julia Travels, our tour agent is located at. We visited Torres Vineyard but I was too unwell to attempt some wine tasting. They showed us the winery processes and even their underground storage. Montserrat was really crowded and I didn’t really see what’s so popular about it other than its scenic view. Sitges was more fun! A lot more laid back than Barcelona with plenty of beaches. We had some churros and coffee at an Italian bakery haha.
5 May 17
A really long day that started at La Sagrada Familia. My mom and I didn’t go in since we aren’t really into churches and stuff so we had breakfast round the corner. Next up was Park Guell!! We hiked up and got a little lost within the park as it is really huge. There’s the famous CHURCH just beside the park too. We walked out and had lunch by a restaurant that served pretty good Carbonara (not sure why I’m eating Italian food again lol) and then we walked to Plaza Catalonia, the famous central square where we bought Zara and Ray Bans. We walked to La Rambla for about 30 minutes and the market (La Boqueria Market) within in. Had some fruit juice for €2 which later reduced to €1 when the market was closing and some potato croquette filled with cheese, mushroom etc. Dinner was at Sukaldari and it was so misleading! It had two names on its signboard and my sister googled the wrong name which showed 4 stars on Tripadvisor. However upon entering, the menu showed a name of another restaurant which only had 2 stars on Tripadvisor. We guessed that the name with 4 stars was a generic name perhaps meaning Spanish restaurant… The restaurant had only 2 stars as many gave negative reviews of it being a tourist trap charging €9 for bread €6 for coke and so on without first informing customers of the price. We avoided all those costly mistakes and actually had a really enjoyable meal. We took the subway to Arenas shopping mall where there was a 360 observatory deck. Unfortunately we took a direct lift and had to pay €1 per person instead of the escalator within the mall… We could see the palace magic fountain and 4 columns. And for some last minute shopping between 930-10pm, we actually lost our Raybans we bought earlier during the day that cost around $250. We only realised it after exiting the mall and scrambled back to both Mango Men and Desigual as my sister and I weren’t sure who was carrying it and who left it behind. Mango Men claimed it is not in their shop and Desigual told us to return the next day at 10am. We were really worried and I had lost hopes of finding it as so many other customers could have taken it…
6 May 17
Back to Arena to retrieve sunglasses from Desigual. God I was bursting with joy and dad suggested we buy breakfast for them so we did. I felt good doing it and I know they do appreciate the muffins croissant and meringue.  We quickly took the subway to Camp Nou and there was a match the very same day. Admittedly there wasn’t much to see if you didn’t enter the stadium but we didn’t have time anyway. After, we tried Spain’s version of Uber – Mytaxi since they ban Uber. The cabs quite fast and we had 3 people in each cab. The app says €11 which we thought was reasonable but upon reaching the port, it became €24 due to all the surcharges – port, luggage and weekend… We checked in to our balcony state room from there. It is my 2nd time with Princess Cruises and it doesn’t disappoint 🙂 Was feeling under the weather and had plenty of nap time.
7 May 17
Our first stopover is in Marseilles, France! It was rather quiet since it is Election Day here in France and we didn’t really visited many places. Stumbled across a Nazi Memorial Tablet near Marseilles Old Port. The view was sick and we bought plenty of locally made soaps. The cruise had plenty of entertainment shows every night and it’s all pretty good!
8 May 17
Next stop is in Italy. The port was Trivoli but there wasn’t anything there to do so we had to take a 1hr+ bus ride to Florence. I felt that it was really overpriced since it costs £20+ per person for a 2 way trip. We visited Florence Cathedral, Piazza della Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, Ponte Santa Trinita and Mercanto Centrale. Had our gelato from I think the same store where we had 2 years back.
9 May 17
At sea – basically wake up for breakfast – nap – have a 1.5hr lunch – pack a little, take a dip in the Jacuzzi, chill by the upper deck with fries and ice cream before preparing for formal night fine dining.
10 May
First time in Greece at Katakolon. It is quite a new port and there wasn’t many things to do. We took a local bus at €5 to Olympia, the ancient Olympic site. We had to pay another €12 (could have been €6 with my student card) to enter the site and museum. Bought plenty of Greek souvenirs at a slightly cheaper price as compared to Mykonos and Santorini. Probably because there are generally less tourists there.
11 May
Mykornos is the second port at Greece. Really beautiful place with clear waters and pastel painted houses. We had only a few hours and could only roam around Matoyianni Street, Little Venice and the windmills. Also saw the famous pelican!!
12 May
Santorini was as beautiful as it is in the pictures. We joined a local tour to bring us to the other side of the island as where our cruise docked at, Fira had no attractions. The water taxi drove past Amoundi Bay and we then took a bus up to Oia Village where the famous Blue Domed churches are. We then took a bus to the Fira town as well and we chose to trek down the cliff as it would have cost $7.50 per person to take the cable car. It wasn’t that hard probably 20 mins only thing is you get donkeys and its poop surrounding you.
13 May
At sea (formal night)
14 May
Montenegro was the most breathtaking destination of the entire Europe trip. It is such a small and undeveloped country. When we went into Kotor, it’s capital, the view was crazy. There were mountains everywhere and extremely clear waters. The roads circumvent the mountains and it looks like the kind of place where you would wanna drive a convertible while playing Ocean Drive. We joined a day tour there which brought us to observe various places from far LOL  Budva, Perast and Sveti Stefan. Apparently Sveti Stefan is some ultra-exclusive private beach where the entrance fee is close to 40SGD. All was good until I left my Somersby filled Nalgene water bottle in the minivan. Kotor itself is quite small but I’m so glad our cruise stopped here instead of Turkey.
15 May
At sea. Sadly, both yesterday and today was supposed to be spent in Turkey, Istanbul and. However, in view of Turkey’s political instability, it was cut off the trip.
16 May
Naples was the last port… The city itself was really boring and we only walked probably 5-10mins in it. Most of the tourists destinations were outside the city. We had to pay €300 = $450 to get a taxi for half a day to visit 2 places. Pompeii and Amalfi Coast. Yes it’s pricey but it is already the cheaper alternative, $450 would be what the cruise charge you for 2 pax. Pompeii was so satisfying from a geographical perspective. It has always been mentioned in my essay for years alongside Mt Vesuvius and I finally got a chance to wander inside it! (€13 entrance fee, no student discount except for EU students sigh and what’s worse is that UK is leaving the EU which means no discount for them too!) We had 2 hours inside the ancient city but really, there wasn’t enough time it was like a maze.
17 May
Just as we were starting to get sick of cruise food, it’s finally time to disembark after 12 days woo. We met some really friendly Hongkongese whom immigrated to Canada and they were actually on the cruise for 28 days. Could you believe it ?? 28 days and 7 days when they were completely at sea while crossing the Atlantic Ocean from US-UK. Princess Cruises and its port agents damaged my luggage’s wheel but we couldn’t do much about it as we had to rush to Rome’s city centre. We took a train from the port that was a little over an hour before reaching Rome Termini Magic Double. It was quite a tiring day, woke up at 7am to prepare for disembarkation before reaching Rome at 1pm… We walked around the area before settling for some Italian food at Brancaccio cafe and was Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore (the square with Rome’s biggest church). A large supermarket Simply was located there and just 2mins walk from our hotel.
18 May
Rome. Everything was in close proximity to where we were staying – Colosseum, Spanish Steps and Trevoli Fountain. Lunch at Trattoria Galleria The last time I was in Rome, we didn’t have time to Visit Spanish Steps and Trevoli Fountain was under renovation. Guess Rome was quite new still. The gelato opposite our hotel had happy hour from 7-830PM and this 3 scoops of gelato only costs €2 wow. I tried going back after dinner and shamelessly asked if the promotion was still valid even though it was reaching 9PM but nope.Piazza Venezia
19 May
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2017/ORD/Pre UK

I’m really excited for this new phase in life!!
Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

Actually I have wanted to blog about 2017 Resolutions but I have been really lazy and there’s honestly no point since these resolutions tend to be so fleeting and I lack determination. Now that I have ORD, might as well use this time to truly reflect on the changes/improvements in 2016. In 2016, I felt devastated for being posted to Hendon Camp and has such a meaningless vocation as Finance Clerk. The workload is pretty huge so time passes by really fast but whenever I look at my peers that are in a combat vocation, I can’t help but feel envious at the bonds they form and the experiences they have. Phhf but it’s all over now that I have ORD.

Anyway, mid way to 2016 I was really determined to make my life more meaningful so, I gave tuition to 4 different students and had like 5-6 classes a week lolol. Okay not exactly meaningful but I occupied myself and kept myself active while earning $$$$$. It really pays well haha. To end 2016, I invested more time into Carousell, mahjong, tennis and volunteering.

Nevertheless, my time management sucks and I failed to

  • Learn Spanish
  • Develop an exercise routine

Now that I have ORD I have been tidying up my entire house and preparing for UK departure 😦 donating/carousell things I wouldn’t need/ be using anymore and slowly getting all the UK things ready – visa/bank account/accommodation etc. When I am writing this, it’s about 190 days more to go.

Concurrently, I have applied to Carousell (Community Intern), International Enterprise (Intern) and MOE (Relief Teaching) and am waiting for their response 🙂

And and, to Mediterranean 2017 in 60 days!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USA + Tokyo 2016

Photos Link : Private Message!

Day 1 (30/07/16)

Took a late night flight on Friday and arrived at around 9am at Narita Airport. Took the sky express direct to Asakusa station where we stayed. Was really looking forward to it as the annual Sumida River Fireworks was taking place tonight. We had some difficulty locating the apartment we rented from airbnb as we got off the wrong exit… The apartment location was less than a minute walk to Sensonji. Anyway, after settling down, we headed out straight after lunch to Sensonji and Namikasen Road. We visited the Asakusa Cultural and Tourist Centre where there was a free viewing gallery and did some grocery shopping as well.
We had dinner at shinjuku and did some shopping there and placed our belongings at the apartment before heading out to the area around Tokyo Skytree, mainly the Sumida Park where the fireworks were going to take place. There was really good crowd control from the Japanese police. Many locals were dressed in traditional clothes and drinking asahi beer. The roads were closed and we had to cross the bridge by foot while enjoying the 1.5hrs fireworks medley.

Day 2 (31/07/16)
Rise and shine to Ueno Park. I swear every MRT is so bustling there’s so many places to explore. We had lunch near Ueno MRT station and bought some fruits along their marketplace. Ueno Park had the pond which has lotus only around Jul-Aug period. We had a really great arashi lunch. We then went to Shibuya to look at the crossing before heading to Meiji Shrine which is really nearby. The walk from the nearest subway to the shrine is at least 1 km… Afterwards we had dinner at Asakusa. We explored the places nearby and went to Jakotsuyu onsen before having a late dinner. Bought stuff from the supermarket and had fortune taken which says excellent.

Day 3 (01/08/16)
Check out 11am. Visited Tokyo Station which has an excessive number of departmental shops. Had lunch and walked around Asakusa. Did some last minute shopping at Rox and tried St Marcs before we took an afternoon flight.

Day 4 (02/08/16)
We arrived at Los Angeles and stayed at Mayfair which is in downtown Los Angeles. Downtown is quite boring and the metro is kind of unsafe actually. We walked to the nearby mall and had Korean food. That’s all cause we felt really weary from the long distance flight

Day 5 (03/08/16)
Woke up really early and uber-ed to Greyhound Terminal before taking a 5 he bud ride to Las Vegas. We stayed at Stratosphere Hotel & Casino and the hotel has the best view in Las Vegas and actually has a few theme park rides at the top. I caught an infection and had to sleep the entire day

Day 6 (03/08/16)
It is the day to shop!! America is the best place to shop followed by Europe. Woke up early to visit North Las Vegas Factory Outlet and shopped there the entire day. It was filled with mainland Chinese tourists that brought and even bought luggage to fill their purchases lol. Had cheesecake factory for lunch!! And the night view on the stratosphere tower is insanely vast it’s 360 degrees and you could see hotels at The Strip.

Day 7 (04/08/16)
We joined the West Coast Tour which will bring us across 7 states and 5 national parks. I’m really excited as the past 1 week has been sightseeing at urban areas in big cities but now we are going to explore the natural scenery! This means driving hours and hours before reaching an attraction, very unlike East US as the states in the West are huge. So we drove into St George in Utah. Utah is really interesting cause it is surrounded by red mountains and is the HQ for Mormons.

Day 8 (05/08/16)
The tour took us to the Glen Canyon Area, mainly the Glen Canyon Dam which regulates Lake Powell. So as I mentioned the tour focuses on the natural landscape. This means plenty of trekking across dangerous routes. We went to Horseshoe Bend which was a 30min walk in and it was unfenced. Next, it was the
Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona which required us to walk across the dessert for 15mins… The Canyon is sandstone (unfortunately we only learn Granite and Limestone formations in Geog) and is famed for its colours and swirling shape.
National Monument Valley Tribal park in Arizona. This has got to be one of the most memorable places I’ve been to. We braved through mini sand storms that were choking and blinding us. Then, there was a sudden downpour in the DESERT and it felt like cold dust piercing our skin. We sought refuge in a makeshift shelter that provided little comfort before we could exit in Indiana Jones style – jeeping through the muddy overflow while being surrounded by gigantic landforms. (fyi they did film Indiana Jones here and photo posted was taken after all the shit)

Day 9 (06/08/16)
Arches National Park in Utah is the highlight of the trip. I’ve become more of an outdoor person now that I’m in the US. The feeling and satisfaction you get when you reach the peak and is rewarded by the view is something so lacking in our lives. Really wish I’ll be blessed this life to explore the remaining national parks in the US. We had to trek 2km up before we reached the peak and had to manouerve around the peak to get a shot at the arch. Could you imagine how scary it was?? One wrong foot and you will slide down to idk where. You wouldn’t die but will certainly be injured quite badly… Be careful and 小心 were said every few seconds LOLOL. And uhhh Great Salt Lake in Salt Lake City.

Day 10 (07/08/16)
Yellowstone National Park is another highlight! It’s so huge it is the size of Taiwan and we only had the time to visit 5 places namely
Norris Geyser
Artist Point
Midway Geyser Basin
Old Faithful Geyser
Yellowstone Lake
Afterwards, we made a quick stop at
Grand Teton National Park. I was feeling unwell so I didn’t get down the bus. I was clearly not dressed for sub 15 temperatures and had a cold that worsened.

Day 11 (08/08/16)
The bears at Bearworld are really cute!! They kept standing on their feet and the deer were so pet friendly. Next, we saw the Aerospace Museum which was pretty cool but the coolest place would be the Utah Parliament. The Mormons are freaking rich the parliament is mostly made up of white marble from its flooring to its ceiling. Oh and we went to the Mormon’s Church HQ too which was pretty you know, typical…

Day 12 (09/08/16)
Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah was really… My vocabulary is too small to describe the beauty of each national park but you know since it’s a national park it has got to be insanely unique that the government will want to preserve it. We went downhill with the risks of rock falls. Next, we had a bus ride inside Zion National Park in Utah.  I can’t describe the immerse scale of it, the feeling of being so insignificant while being surrounded by nature hmm. At night, we Ubered to The Strip in Las Vegas where most of the largest hotels are located in. In retrospect, If you are heading to the US, do take Lyft, a US taxi booking app as they were giving $5 for 10 rides!! We only realised this on the last day…

Day 13 (10/08/16)
Today’s the last day of the tour and we are heading back to LA! We made stops at Target, Cactus Garden and Barstow Factory Outlet before reaching LA in the evening.

Day 14 (11/08/16)
We took the metro to Hollywood and it wasn’t the best mode… So we just went around the same old places. Chinese Theater, Walk of Fame and saw the Hollywood Sign
California Pizza, I didn’t know it’s from the US haha as there’s a branch in SG. After, we visited Santa Monica Pier and I think there’s some sort of festival going on.

Day 15-17 (12-14/08/16)
Flight+Time Zone Differences

Malaysia (KL/JB) 2016

( I’ve reached by 3GB free memory on WordPress. I’ll probably quit WordPress soon as I can no longer upload photos without deleting ones that I uploaded in the past. What a shitty platform. However, since I have already typed out this last post I’ll just post it)

Alrite so it has been almost half a year since I used my passport… There was a week interlude between KL and JB but since they are pretty close I’m gonna wordpress them together?

It was my first time to KL and man the bus ride was a horrible commute. Although the seats were really lush and nonfunctional massage chairs, there were so many Indian nationals on my bus it took over an hour to clear the custom. The bus ride took almost 7 hours, and headed straight to Berjaya Times Square. We had tea break, supposedly lunch at Nonya Colours as recommended by a Malaysian. The Chicken Rendang ($3+) was the best I have ever eaten and I’m pissed that I couldn’t find Nonya Colors in JB.

After tea break, my dad’s friend drove us out of the city centre to Mini Genting where we had Thai food at the mountain top. The streets were ghastly as we moved out of the CBD. Not that I am a prude but I was expecting more since it’s the capital you know. We had some really odd dishes, albeit tasty ones – fern??? Who the heck eats fern, I felt like it was piercing my throat with each swallow. I wish  I had taken a photo of the food but it felt quite embarrassing to do so in front of guests. The kampong chicken was so bony but I guess its sweetness compensated for that. And the highlight of the evening was the baby, just look at the grandness of its head. I have some good vibes that he will grow up to be incredibly intelligent and a fellow Singaporean in time. His mood was so capricious throughout, he was crying for 1 sec and laughing at the next when I cuddled it).

I realised there is plenty of interstate movement in Malaysia. So this couple works in KL and Singapore, lives in JB and originate from ?? (the state between JB and KL). It seems like a waste of time travelling hours on the road each day but a necessary evil to achieve a higher salary.

We went to Pavilion KL and there was a striking similarity between its entrance and Somerset 313’s entrance. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of restaurants they have, some with Michelin stars too. It was around 10pm but many of the shops at the basement were still open. We bought pastries from Lavender (I saw another branch in JB City Square Mall).

I ordered as much as I could possibly eat, all for $20 per person. Following an afternoon nap (don’t even know why I was tired), we visited KLCC and the Petronas Towers. Too bad it was closed for maintenance for over a month. For dinner/supper we ate at this famous Bak Kuh Teh shop plastered with pictures of the ladyboss along Jay Chou and JJ Lin.

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JB was basically a food splurging session –

 

Vietnam 2015

Day 1 (08/12/15)

It’s my first time to Vietnam and we visited Danang and Hoi An. We checked in at Sanouva Hotel in the city centre and it’s really affordable as it includes complementary massage. Finding hygienic food in Vietnam is a challenge but we settled for some local pho and fried spring rolls (2 dollars per person?!). It was horrible tho and according to the boss the cooking style differed between Danang and Hanoi, perhaps that explains why…

Day 2 (09/12/15)

         

We went to Big C (this Thai supermarket) and a Hong Kong restaurant for lunch (everything is like 1/2 of what you would have paid in singapore). Spent the entire afternoon sleeping and walked to the Dragon bridge in the evening. I’m really shocked at the lack of traffic lights and laws?? There’s like a dozen motorcycle scooting to where you are at every junction but one observation is that they avoid you like how fishes avoid sharks.

Ate at this Japanese Korean restaurant and the service is damn good like soo overstaffed.

Day 3 (10/12/15)

We joined a day tour ( Hoi An Express) and in retrospect it’s kinda pricey considering how cheap  the labour is ?? 55USD per person for 5 hours (with 3 hours spent on the car…). We visited the marble mountain where there were tons of Hindu and Buddhists statues, graves, pagodas and caves. I really like the marble sculpture I wanna ship some back to singapore. They even do Roman pillars and Greek gods how tasteful.  Needless to say, this 67m guan yin is made from marble. You could see it kilometers away (refer to the last 2 days) We had lunch at Lang Co resort (it’s very new and only the seafood restaurant is open). Afterwards it was kinda like a road trip up a mountain ( thua thien hue ) to some American fortress. The view was stunning as we traced the mountain’s contour alongside the ocean. Checked in at Nova Villa at a village near the city centre (Hoi An). One observation, Koreans love this place like 50% of tourists are from Korea and another 45% from Europe and America. Perhaps that is why I got mistaken as a Korean so often. We kinda got cheated by the local authorities to pay to enter a section of the village (which was the highlight of the village). Actually, one needs to buy tickets to enter 5 attractions in that particular section (which none was to our interests) but these conmen said otherwise. Well it’s not really corruption either since the money goes into preserving the attractions . Dinner was at Sau Restaurant and it’s really good! Beer is only 30 cents. The night market is a must and I’ve witnessed how good Asians are at bargaining. Perhaps the westerners didn’t bother since it would have been dirt cheap in their currency but we paid half of what they did.

Day 4 (11/12/15)

We visited My Son, some Hindu worshipping site and a designated UNESCO heritage site. It’s about an hour drive away from the village. We had some Vietnamese noodles for lunch and it didn’t suit my taste. I’m glad Vietnam used to be a French colony. Look at these cakes pavlova creme brulee paris brest at approx $3!! Ok I feel quite guilty for putting down Vietnamese food when I’m in Vietnam… Dinner was at Sau Restaurant again and it’s really good (not forgetting the massage I did before that at the shop beside) albeit slow. Dropped one of these boats which I feel guilty for polluting the river but the grandma selling looked so pitiful… Hoi An is really happening, there are bars with English songs catered to tourists everywhere. Motorcycles and bicycles could be rented everywhere at $6 and $2 respectively. I wish to return again with people who would want to rent bicycles to explore the village and visit cham islands where you can dive!! 

Day 5 (12/12/15)

We stayed in the other side of Danang near My Khe Beach instead of the city centre. Ala Carte Hotel had an infinity pool and is located just a road across the beach. The view from our room was just as nice and we could see the guanyin 24/7 lol. Lunch was from family Indian restaurant #3 on tripadvisor but stay away from pastas. Slept the afternoon away again… Dinner was at Draft Beer, a seafood restaurant near our hotel and I hate our people can smoke inside the restaurant like super inconsiderate you are ruining the aroma of the dishes. Heineken at $1.20. I don’t like beer but it’s too cheap to not order it. Although it’s Saturday the streets and restaurants are mainly empty I’ve no idea where everyone went , it’s supposed to be a city of 1million people.

 

Day 6 (13/12/15)

Tried the #1 restaurant on Tripadvisor, My Casa. It’s a Spanish Italian restaurant and was pricey relative to other restaurants. The beef stew special, home made pasta and sauce were amazing though. Afterwards it was so similar to day 1 ?? Parents wanted to return to Sanouva Hotel for spa, Big C and the Hong Kong Restaurant for dinner I don’t even know why.. Laska in lounge at 1am is sinful…

China (Hong Kong & Shenzhen) 2015

So this trip is basically a “Congrats for surviving 20% of NS!” / Pre-braces eat-all-you-eat-while-you-can trip.” Well talking about this, I’ve finally crossed something off my to-to-list and that is putting braces on.

Anyway let’s sidetrack a little from the overseas trip. I’ve always had this phobia of altering my teeth and forever procrastinating. I wasn’t so conscious in primary/lower secondary but in upper secondary I felt that I should do. This compulsion wasn’t so strong till Junior College days but there were so many things that kept me busy, o’levels, project work/Chinese oral exams, a’levels. Army is the perfect time to do it and I am extracting 8 teeth (all paid for) at a dental surgeon @ NUH. Anyway this phobia really made me over think for weeks. Initially I opted for General Anesthesia but was so fearful of that 0.001% of death and anesthesia awareness (when some patients can feel pain but are unable to sound off). Also the dental surgeon recommended I take out 4 on each side so that I could have fewer difficulties eating. Today was my first extraction appointment and I was kinda fearful. I requested to listen to soothing songs through my earpiece. All the nurses and the dentist kept telling me to calm down which I guessed they already felt my anxiousness when I made the earpiece request. So this doctor, was THE BEST I SWEAR HE TOOK OUT 4 TEETH IN 10 MINUTES. He probably felt really bad for making me go through this, could totally felt it when he apologised for every injection he gave (6-8 for the record). So after the first extraction, I’m a lot less fearful as I know I’m in good hands, he is the surgeon for my second extraction too!! And yes, I’m writing this while on MC cause you know 2 weeks+  break is really a looong time.

Day 1 (12/09/15)

So an NSF is entitled to 14 days leave per year which means I got to maximise each one of them. As such, I took the earliest flight (6am+ goddd after watching the elections till 2am+) to make sure I had a full day exploring Shenzhen.

After 3 hours+ flight, we (my father and I), took a chartered taxi for another 2hours to cross the border into China and stayed in Luohu Best Western Hotel. Luohu is where the railway station is located at and everyone takes a train from there to Hong Kong (and that was how I got back). Public transport is really affordable in Shenzhen and the subway is really well connected, each trip only costs $0.60. Lunch at this restaurant that disappointed me with its dimsum menu.

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So Shen Zhen is like this electronics export processing zone and the wholesale market is at HuaqiangBei. Every single electronic shit cost 1/3 of the price in Singapore, phone covers, glass screen protectors were like $1-2. So obviously I fixed my phones and watches and hauled a whole load of phone accessory necessities back home as well.

After HuaqiangBei we went to this upscale shopping mall called Galaxy Coco Park @ GuowuGongYuan (okay i got the urge to type in Chinese now all these pinyin is annoying me). Tried HuiLauShan, apparently its a rather famous dessert restaurants in Asia but they don’t have any branches in Singapore. The prices are steep too, considering how its China… It’s just your typical hongkee dessert shop, tropical fruits, shaved ice and pudding.

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Next we went to Futian Book City at Shaoniangong, it is MEGA, like the largest bookstore I have ever been too. I think Chinese (Mainland ones) really like things on a grand scale. Sadly their english books choice is overpriced and limited.

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The last stop was Laojie, it was a bustling street selling everything but nothing I needed/wanted. Oh yes I was approached with an interesting question.

兄弟你又微博吗?

Translation: Brother, you have weibo (China’s SNS)?

你还傻逼什么微博我是用面书好吗?

In my mind: You  **** what weibo, I use facebook

*Pats myself for attempting China street food and momentarily forgetting all the food scandals that embroiled China*

*Gutter oil, chemically created eggs and polluted water all didn’t exist on that day*

Really wish I had time to visit Guohuo and tried the Taiwanese chocolate ball :(:(

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Day 2 (13/09/15)

Time to head back to Hongkong, this time through the train from the start to end of EastWestLine and to BP International (somewhere between Jordan and HungHom). I really like how Hong Kong has named its train stations in English as well so the urge to type chinese kinda wane a little. The hotel was spacious, considering Hongkong’s limited land and the place directly central in Kowloon.
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While walking to TsamShaTsui where the Ocean Terminal is at, beside HarbourCity, we had dinner. The roads had this Orchard Road vibe. Anyway, I really like Hongkong’s public transport, we were spoiled with choices, whether we should take the ferry/bus/subway to Admiralty. Everywhere was accessible with the Octopus card, and it was reasonable priced. Of course I chose the ferry to have a scenic view of Hongkong’s CBD. The reason why we were heading to Admiralty was to take a bus uphill (approx 45mins) to Hongkong’s most expensive residential district, Mt Austin. So at the peak (Victoria Peak), the night skyline was absolutely stunning but really hard to get good selfie :<

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With my dad, every night we had supper and Hongkong is a food heaven! You could find shops operating till 3 in the morning at every street. This famous shop (Mak Man Kee Noodle Shop) sells the best beef broth soup($8) I have ever tasted, although I would have preferred a better looking bowl.

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Day 3 (14/09/15)

So breakfast at TimHoWan made me really excited! Oh one pet peeve I have about Hong Kong is how there is no English menu. Everything was in traditional Chinese (which was a little harder to read than simplified Chinese) and the people there can’t stop speaking Cantonese. So this is when my impression of Hong Kong changed, I thought the working language would be English since it was a British colony for decades and a commonwealth country and they always fare pretty well on the international chart but I was dead wrong. There was a slight language barrier… When I ordered in Chinese, they replied me in Cantonese so it was a little frustrating. I like how they wash their utensils in hot water/tea before using though 🙂 Everything was only $34!!

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Lantau Island was really far though, and we wanted to take the cable car up to Tian Tan Buddha and Ngong Ping Village but it was closed… The total travelling duration was 1.5hours from Olympic where we had our breakfast.

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Cutie sure knows how to avoid the sun

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So Tian Tan Buddha was like 8 flights of stairs but it was days since I last did some physiotherapy for my dislocated patella.

Afterwards we spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for Hong Kong snacks from QiHua at Citygate Outlets. Buying it without the useless box was so much more economical and environmentally friendly.

Lastly, we walked the streets along 4 train stations for the entire night, don’t even know which since we wandered for an entire night. I think it was from Prince Edward to Jordan. I’m really glad I stumbled upon RongHua and it was the mooncake season!! (Mid-Autumn Festival). This chocolate cheese/blueberry snowskin mooncake was much better than the ones in Singapore.

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Apparently this shop is really famous, 澳洲牛奶公司 but their service sucks. It’s really just ushering you in asap, taking your orders asap, collecting your bowl asap and requesting you to pay the bill asap. There are always customers anyway so I think they don’t really care even if they lose some.

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Fusion food but mediocre in my opinion, doesn’t really explain the long queue. The almond pudding was good though.

Day 4 (15/09/15) 

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Last bit of traditional dimsum @ Lin Xiang Lou before I bid farewell …

I don’t really feel that day 4 was wasted even though we were just wandering around. *the cliché quote comes to mind* Just had to have my last fill of Hong Kong desserts before I return to Singapore. Tried the Plaza Premium Lounge too and honestly think that nobody should ever pay (not that we did) for it, $80+ for 2 hours crazy.

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On a side note, Hong Kong is really a great place to wander by yourself, there is absolutely no need to join tours or whatsoever. It is a perfect getaway for a short trip as well. I only took 2 leaves this time but look at the number of places/things I did! Could easily do this 8 times in 2016 but shall not. I am proud of myself for better knowing Hong Kong (look how I remembered all the train station names!)

Queensland Australia // Part 2

So this post will focus entirely on Brisbane. Now ladyironchef is in Queensland and she (oops I mean he) keeps reminding me of the time I spent there. Since Brisbane has fewer attractions than Gold Coast, we spent less time there.

Day 5 (04/04/15)

We took the same way we went to Gold Coast back to Brisbane and took con-x-ion (airport transfer, quite pricey though considering that we shared the cab/van with others, about 20dollars per person) to our apartment, Mantra on the Quay. Our apartment is located at the edge of the CBD and we got a stunning view of the Brisbane River (okay I’m getting a deja vu feeling as I’m typing this…). The apartment was really spacious and modern too! After we settled down at the apartment, we walked to the CBD but most of the shops were closed before 7pm so we could only have japanese take-away…. I take offense at that signboard “新马”. Basically, that shop serves Singaporean cuisine and it’s english name is Singapore but it uses 新马 which means Singapore-Malaysia?!

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Day 6 (05/04/15)

I have to take back what I said about the river being stunning… Since it was at night when I saw the river yesterday, I couldn’t tell its colour but it looks polluted… So it’s Easter week and many shops here are closed or having shorter opening hours… We had to change our itinerary a little. We went to Chinatown (ghost town…) and Valley Market (ghost market). The whole place was so devoid of life. (just look at the irritated expression of my friends…). So we couldn’t do much shopping but managed to tour around Brisbane and found a more lively corner in the CBD @ South Bank Parklands (I LOVE THIS PLACE) where the collective market is at. There were many buskers, a man-made beach, the Wheel of Brisbane and a duper cute bulldog. It was an unexpectedly exhausting day as we found ourselves ‘lost’ among the various state buildings. The korean food was daebak (act Korean abit/ a lot) and there was this Korean street where I found my locknlock containers HAHA. Look at my awkward fingers because I couldn’t hold there properly anymore… Dejun cooked dinner with the ingredients we bought at the Korean mart and it turned out daebak esp the PORKKKKKK. And I finally tried a Lush bathbomb but it was so disappointing not like the ones I saw on twitter where the water really turned into a galaxy.

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Day 7 (06/04/15)

TIME TO SHOP (though I was constrained financially because I didn’t bring enough money). The korean food was so good we had to go back the next day. We spent the entire day in the CBD along the same few streets, George Street, Elizabeth Street, Adelaide Street where the major malls – Myer Centre, Queen Street Mall and Brisbane Arcade are located at. Felt that ‘Jimmy on the wall’ has a really good restaurant concept but it’s too pricey and I’m dead broke. As the day darkened, we had our dinner (really expensive (28 dollars) but one of the best burgers I’ve ever eaten in my life) at Grill’d (TOOK ME 15MINUTES ON GOOGLE TO FIND CAUSE I WANNA EAT IT AGAIN, it’s like a chain outlet in Australia) by the Brisbane River at Eagle Street. We then had our ‘personal time’ watching the Story Bridge change its lights.

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Day 8 (07/04/15)

SQ 256 back to Singapore. I do not know why my seat number wasn’t changed (it was the beta system) but thank god the flight was relatively empty.

I know the photos look really messy but it is because I don’t have so much time to resize each one of them so please understand 🙂

It’s almost 3 weeks behind time but I have been so busy (although I’m unemployed/ self-employed to fulfill my needs and wants LOL) Everyday has been spent meaningfully, even though I sleep 11 hours on average… I’m really glad I get to check everything off my To-do-list I created during the stressful A’levels year except cycling to CBD. Thankful for my friends and family for helping me in this aspect, love y’all. It frightens me a little that a new chapter of my life (national service) is going to start in 3 days and I have to PUSH my future aside for this, and hopefully it’ll not be as bad as I am anticipating it to be.