four days in langkawi

I managed to squeeze one more trip before my summer ended with a four day trip to Langkawi, Malaysia. We stayed in this boutique hotel called temple tree. It was only a 10 minute drive from the airport. We loved the unique furniture inside our villa, including a wooden bathtub right in the master bedroom. I would recommend this place, but you will definitely have to rent a car to make it easier to access all the places including the beach and other sites easily. Our trip started off with going parasailing on Cenang beach and getting the local rate to exploring the entire island in our cozy manual rental car by the end of our trip.

Another highlight of the trip was going on the sky tram and crossing the skybridge. It is apparently the longest free span and curve bridge in the world according to their website. The views from above were spectacular. We also hit up the night markets every night which meant incredibly delicious and cheap food (a few ringgits for each dish). My favorite food from the trip was definitely the pisang goreng (banana fritters) from the street stall on our second to last day. We just couldn’t get enough and made Dave keep going back to the stall for me .

In addition to eating really delicious malay food, exploring different beaches, and enjoying scenic rides in our car, it was the down time in our hotel that I enjoyed the best. Whether it was playing games, chilling by the pool, or putting on animal face masks, the company made it all worth it.

Photo cred to dave for taking the parasailing photos! :) 

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birthday sparklers

After feeling much anxiety about getting older this year, I decided to embrace it. So I decided that I wanted sparklers.  Yes, sparklers because they have an element of danger and fun all at once. Thank you dear friends for bringing more than enough sparklers (over 200???). It was a pretty beautiful sight at East Coast Park with the ocean behind us.

My lovely and introspective friends kept asking me what my goals/wishes are for this new year. And each time I said I don’t know because deep down I wasn’t really ready to get older. But after a week and half, I finally came up with 5 hopefully easy goals and sharing them will make me more likely to achieve them.

1. Get my scuba diving certification.

2. Travel to new places: Beijing (run a race on the great wall), Myanmar (ride a hot air balloon), and New Zealand (climb glaciers or something cool….).

3. Cook more at home and invite people to actually eat my food.

4. Become better at photography. Maybe take a class or just buy a nicer lens… ;)

5. Do something that scares me. (Hopefully, if I achieve #1, then I can cross this one off too.)

I took the first and last photo on my iphone 5s. The rest of the amazing photos are thanks to our resident photo experts: James K. & Tim Ng! TY!

*Check out James’s photos that are selling on visual trooper! You can buy different sizes, and they are all pretty incredible photos of Singapore.

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toronto top 10 highlights

I’ve been attempting to catch up on my summer travels so even though the order is a bit mixed up, next is my trip to my favorite friendly neighboring country, Canada. A wedding is always a good excuse to visit a new place! I was so excited to visit Toronto and of course explore it with Melody. Basically our last minute planning consisted of a combination of messaging our Canadian friends,  instagram, and good ol’ Google after landing in Toronto.  We only had about 2 days for sight seeing. However, we definitely packed a lot in and crossed off most of the things on our list, except for climbing the top of the CN tower (which I was ok with not doing, especially with the foggy weather on day 2).

Top 10 Highlights of exploring Toronto:

  1. Walking through Kensington market and seeing an eclectic bunch of things like the car that was turned into a garden on the street.
  2. Maple bacon macarons from Nadege patisserie while catching up with Steph!
  3. Staying at this cute boutique-y hotel, the Gladstone that was an art gallery during the day.
  4. Finding cute stationary and book stores on Queens street west.
  5. Taking photos of all the fun graffiti and art on the sides of buildings.
  6. Going down the Frank Gehry stairs at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
  7. Eating dinner at a random restaurant/pub on Osington, that ended up having the best sweet potato fries. The poutine was just ok.
  8. Taking a ferry to Toronto island and walking on the boardwalk by the beach with my cousin’s family.
  9. Watching planes land and lift off from Toronto city airport from a friend’s rooftop.
  10. Blueberry pancakes from Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. I would definitely go back here anytime.

Photos taken on my iphone 5s. 

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9 hours in amsterdam

On my way back to Singapore from NY, I had a 9 hour layover in Amsterdam, which I decided to use to explore the city. Since I visited Amsterdam about a year and half ago, I didn’t really do much research or planning before. I was ready to wing it. Taking the train into Amsterdam Central station was quick and easy. The train station is right below the Schiphol Airport.  After buying my roundtrip ticket, I managed to find the right platform. Thankful for wifi, a window seat, and scenic views, I arrived in Central station about15 minutes later.

I walked towards the center of town being careful of not getting run over by trams, cyclists, and cars. I decided to do what I do best. Go shopping. No matter how tired and hungry I am, I always manage to find enough energy to shop! So despite feeling extremely exhausted from lack of sleep during my red eye flight from NY, I knew shopping would perk me up. I did some window shopping inside the department store, de Bijenkorf.

Here are a few things you can do in Amsterdam:

  1. Window shopping at de Bijenkorf! Then, eat at the food court on the top floor. Not only is there free wifi, but an amazing selection of food, including steak, sandwiches, fries, salad bar, soups, frozen yogurt bar, fresh juices and smoothies, and more.
  2. Buy souvenirs like tulip flower pens and postcards in the many stores lining the streets so that you have proof that you visited.
  3. Go on an hour canal tour and see the beautiful sites of the city. Try not to fall asleep, like I did.
  4. Visit albert heijn supermarket and buy stroop wafels and chocolate! There is an albert heijn also in the airport!
  5. Take photos of the beautiful historic buildings and canals.
  6. Take the #2 or #5 tram from Central station to the Rijks museum and take a photo by the I Amsterdam sign. I would have totally done this if I wasn’t feeling so exhausted.
  7. Eat freshly made poffertjes.

I ended up coming back to the airport early because I just was too tired to keep exploring! In the end, 9 hours ended up being more than enough time to explore Amsterdam. Here are some photos from my iphone 5s.

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field of lavenders

You’ll be surprised what a two and half hour drive will get you to. We ended up taking a road trip to the end of Long Island to find this beautiful and not so secret lavender field here in NY. This lavender farm located in East Marion, Long Island, is called lavender by the bay. There’s an $8 entrance fee that you can use as credit in the store. I would highly recommend buying the fresh lavenders! Along the long drive out, there are plenty of wineries with livestock (alpacas, buffalos, goats, etc…), cute towns with good food, and a nice ocean drive for part of it. So if you can’t splurge or take the time off to travel to Provence, this is a great alternative. Loved all the good photo opps as well! xx

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glimpses of paris

In 7th grade, I decided to make a 3-d glass model of the Louvre for my French class project. My mom drove me to the hardware store to buy the sheets of glass that I would use to make this pyramid. I bought black tape as well so I could line the sides of the glass to look similar to the Louvre. All I remember now are the many hours it took to construct my mini-Louvre, and all of my French has unfortunately seemed to escape me. Nevertheless, despite my disappointing French skills, Paris never seems to disappoint me. I could just sit for hours outside the Louvre on a sunny day, stroll in the perfectly hemmed Tuileries garden, and take a million pictures of the Eiffel Tower and never get sick of it.

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paris in full bloom

I must admit that Paris in June is pretty splendid with sunny weather, flowers in full bloom, and sunlight until 10pm. After a late dinner, going outside the restaurant, and seeing that it was still bright out was mind blowing. I guess living Singapore, where sunrise and sunset is at a constant 7am and 7pm all year long, it was quite a breath of fresh air. So my list of things I love about Paris continues to extend with each visit. Yes, I’m a little obsessed.

It’s hard to not love a place where there are rose gardens everywhere you turn. I think I serendipitously ran into three incredible rose gardens on one of my days there. Seriously, walking around with my camera on the streets of Paris is one of my favorite things. Can I just live here now? Here are a few photos of the incredible greenery. paris-1379paris-0046paris-0043paris-0068 paris-0054 paris-0026paris-0034paris-1406 paris-1422