I went to Sydney last weekend for my birthday. Some things we did there:
1. We had lunch at Chat Thai, one of my favorite thai places. 2. Checked out the stalls at The Rocks Market. 3. Watched Cirque Du Soleil's Ovo at the Grand Chapiteau. 4. The Little Black Jacket exhibition happened to be in Sydney the same time as us and since we're big Chanel fans, made the trip to take a look at it. 5. Celebrated my birthday at Momofuku Seiobo.
After dinner one day during my Singapore trip, Chel suggested a visit to a chocolate place. It was, in a way, a 'research trip' and hey, as long as there's chocolate, I won't say no!
I love chocolates and Wimbly Lu is a perfect place for chocolate lovers. It may be in a pretty out of way location but it's got all the charm of a dessert space, including an adorable old school VW beetle car out the front. Chel and I went at 9.30pm and there was still a queue out the door (they close at 10.30pm on weekdays) so it was a good thing we made a booking.
The interior consists of cute vintage items (including a gorgeous vintage styled logo), an amazing skylight and sporting awards memorabilia, which I still don't quite understand to be honest. There were candlelights on the table which gave the place a homely, intimate feel. There's also a window into the kitchen so you can watch them make the yummy chocolate truffles, which you'll want to buy after your meal to bring home.
Chel had the S'mores Pie and I got the waffle. The pie was all sorts of chocolatey goodness and the waffle, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. yum. Definitely get a pot of tea to have with your dessert and it's the perfect cafe moment.
The Cloud dome is the taller of the 2 domes at Gardens by the bay. However, do not be fooled, there's just as much ground to cover. I prefer this dome to the flower dome because it's a more structured walk.
After you enter and behold the amazing 4/5 storey tall waterfall, you enter the 'mountain' and take a lift up to the top, from there the path takes you through gardens, paths that meander outside so you can view the green walls, a crystal forest and at the bottom, a simulation of what -5degrees would do to the earth, before exiting through another garden. The content of the cloud forest dome is more varied, more interesting, and, in my opinion, better presented.
If you only have time for one dome, make it the Cloud dome.
Next: The Skywalk
Yes, the flowers are pretty, yes, it's really cool inside and yes, there's a lot to see but I think the 'different plants from all over the world' concept is something I've seen countless times before.
The Flower Dome is perfect for you if you have a lot of time to walk around,chill out and read about the different plant regions or if you want to take really pretty photos of the flora. I didn't have the time so we did a quick walk and headed to the next dome.
Next: Gardens by the bay, Cloud Dome
Early in the year, when I was back in Singapore, Gardens by the Bay hadn't opened yet so when it was launched, I really wanted to go, it looked like paradise on earth. So we planned to spend the entire afternoon there, and I assure you, you'd definitely want to put that time aside. I
Parking at Marina Bay Sands, we walked through the shoppes and over the bridge that connected to the Gardens. Most of the gardens are open to the public including the F&B outlets, the only places that require a paid ticket are the 2 domes and the skywalk (which is somewhere amongst those massive tree structures). By the time we reached the end of the bridge, we were feeling overheated, but there was a way to go so we managed to drag ourselves to the nearest cafe for lunch, this happened to bakerzin and I was never happier to see an iced tea. The place wasn't air conditioned but it was cool enough under the shade and the caesars salad I had helped cool me down.
After lunch, we went to the entrance to the domes to buy tickets. The domes were massive so they will now require their own posts.
next: Gardens by the Bay: The Flower Dome
The Werribee Open Range Zoo is one of my favourite zoos. Yes, we can go into the whole argument about how 'animals need to be free' but the truth is some of these animals do need to be in captivity until their species' situation improves, people are the biggest threat.
It's a safari style zoo so the animals do get a lot of space, more than I've usually seen. The cafeteria food is so-so but I love how you can have lunch next to the meerkats, watch a keeper try to get a lioness to move, be stuck in a bus with strangers for 40 minutes whilst you check out giraffes and rhinos up close, see domestic chickens (are they not afraid of the lions?) and enjoy the beauty of these animals up close (that cheetah really looks like Hobbes!)
My absolute favourite zoo ever is actually the San Diego Zoo but I've never been so Werribee will do.
The original plan was to go to Chye Seng Huat but someone kept talking me out of it so I settled for Wild Honey. I'd heard a lot about Wild Honey and their brunch appeared to be wildly popular, so it was good deal in the end. My sister brought me to the Scotts Square branch because it was bigger, but that somehow did nothing as there was still a 20 minute wait, on a weekday. I can't imagine what a weekend queue is like.
Once seated though, service was quick and food came in a timely manner. The food and drinks was great, all the brunch dishes were named after countries. My New York brunch had bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon in scrambled eggs. My sister's Canadian brunch had big fluffy pancakes, maple and blueberry syrups and bacon. Sound yum? Indeed. The only thing that didn't work for me that the interior felt a bit drab and too dark for an afternoon meal. One could've mistaken it for a pub...
I always never have enough time when I'm in Singapore to catch up with all my friends so I was sad I could only spare an few hours to have tea with Ade. She had originally suggested one of the chocolate places at 313 but my sister mentioned there was a Dean & Deluca and I knew we had to go there...
Now, Orchard Central is not my favourite mall, the layout is quite messy and the stores are an eclectic mix, to put it politely.
Locating Dean and Deluca was a bit of an issue too and it was really full, even at 4 in the afternoon. We had to wait awhile for a table and the queue for food was even longer. Good thing there's a view of the on site rock climbing wall to distract the masses of people.
We had iced teas and cakes. The tea was lacking in taste but I absolutely adored the blueberry cheesecake I ordered. I'm not usually a fan of cheesecake but this was amazing.
If you want to pick up groceries, they also have a fine food section, I even spotted Mariage tea amongst the selection.
Our last day in Hong Kong, we had to be at the airport by around lunch time so we didn't want to spend the morning too far away from the hotel. 2 days before, we had discovered that there was an Agnes.B cafe at K11, 2 minutes from the hotel so we went there for breakfast...if you call cake breakfast. Don't get me wrong, they serve breakfast, my mother had a smoked salmon sandwich but the cakes were so good looking we had to get them. Can you guess which cake was mine?
At the airport, we checked in, went through immigration and then headed for lunch but not before I took a look at the Muji store and had bubble tea from Chatime. Inside, there was a food court but we settled for The Spaghetti House, we were kinda sick of Chinese food I guess. Don't forget to check out the Disney store, it's the only place outside of Japan's Disney Sea that carries the highly coveted Duffy. If you needed extra food souvenirs, the airport also has a Kee Wah Bakery and a Peninsula hotel counter.
That was the end of my Hong Kong trip. I'd like to do a little more sightseeing, a little less shopping next time but it's definitely an ideal place for a quick escape or even a stopover.
No trip to Singapore is complete without a trip to Simang Bedok. There are a few restaurants in the area but the one we always visit is Spize.
If we're there for supper, the usual is Maggie Goreng, Prata/Prata Bomb and Iced Milos. For dinner, the chicken cutlets and other western food on the menu are sure to please.
Spize has also started showing old movies if there's no soccer on. So if you're bored, its also a good place to chill.
Causeway bay, let me just say, if you are staying across the harbour, getting to causeway bay at lunchtime is a nightmare, because we were at the Icon Hotel, there was no public transport nearby so we decided to take a taxi. We went to Times Square to buy sport shoes, unfortunately, I've got big feet and I always forget asian countries don't carry my size usually, so I ended up not buying any. boo. As we were walking to our next destination, we passed by a egg waffle stand and since I'd never had it before, decided that it was snack time. It was quite delicious for a plain waffle. We then headed towards Sogo and made a quick detour to look for Egg tarts at Tai Cheong Bakery. Even though we waited till we got back to the hotel to devour them, they were probably the best egg tarts I've ever eaten. At Sogo, we bought mooncakes as souvenirs from the Kee Wah Bakery. The basement had many food counters that were all so tempting.
We went back to Harbour City in the evening. The Doraemon 100 year exhibition was on but tickets had run out so we missed out unfortunately. Dinner was at HIP Katsu, interesting name, pretty good katsu.
Next: Last day, Agnes.B Cafe and HK Airport
Our third day in Hong Kong saw us with time in the morning to spare before our lunch date with the sister's friend so I convinced everyone to go down the street to The One, a mall with the most confusing up/down system every. Din had recommended the zakka store Lost and Found but unfortunately, it didn't open till around lunchtime so..no go. We did end up having a bit of a wander around the mall and discovered they were doing a tie-up with Rilakkuma. There was a wee Rilakkuma cafe and everything, so cute.
For the lunch appointment, we walked thru some of Tsim Sha Tsui to Hotel Icon, where we had Yum Cha at Above and Beyond, a sophisticated cantonese restaurant with an amazing view of the bay. I'd recommend both the Siu yuk and the Roasted duck pineapple buns (the ones with the snowy top), the Siu yuk had the perfect crunch and the buns were literally melt in your mouth. By the way, if you were wondering, there are 2 pairs of chopsticks, one for picking up your food from the communal dishes, the other pair for actual eating. It was a bit confusing, but a really good system.
Next: Causeway Bay & Harbour City.
On our second day in Hong Kong, we took the MTR to Central. We were too early for yum cha so we wandered down a couple of streets to check out the new temporary store design at Chanel. All I can is that it was really gold and shiny, like a runway in a closet. After that we went back to Tsui Hang Village (located in the office building, New World Tower) for some hearty yum cha, we ordered all our usual favorites but the char siew was the best, all the raving other people had done was not for nothing.
Oh yes, we were in Central for a specific reason and that was to shop at COS. What's so special about this store? It's the only COS store outside of Europe, it opened recently and for the record, you can't buy from the european COS online stores unless you have a locally issued credit card (believe, I've tried, nothing else worked) We ended up spending a lot of time there, naturally.
Our final stop at Central was the Central - Mid levels escalator. It's the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world and I was excited to see it, unfortunately, the first set of escalators was broken and my sister and mother decided they didn't want to walk up, so I didn't make it past the first step. Disappointing but I guess there's always next time.
P.S I love the HKD10 note, it's purple, which is my favorite colour! <3 and how cute are the trams, skinny and tall.
Next, Day 2 Dinner: Tsui Wah Restaurant.
So yes, Hong Kong. Would you believe it was my first visit to the shopping paradise that is Hong Kong? I've actually never been to any of the countries in that area (i.e Taipei, China)
Our first impressions were not that great, after a quick 4 hours flight, we found ourselves at the end of a massive immigration queue, it must've taken us around 45 minutes to an hour just to make it to the luggage hall, followed by a further 30 mins, figuring out which belt our luggage was on, changing money and getting to the taxi stand.
After finally making it to the hotel (we stayed at the Holiday Inn Kowloon), it was already almost 4pm and we really overdue for lunch. We hot-footed it to the nearest mall for food, we found iSquare opposite and had some ramen, not the best first meal but it'll do.
I loved the Kowloon city lights at night and the retro ice cream truck in front of a luxury store we saw on our way home.
Day 2: Central
Topshop coat | Lifewithbird vest | Witchery knit | All Saints shirt | Rag & Bone jeans | Steve Madden boots
Marc by Marc Jacobs cross body bag
My brother came and stayed with me for a few weeks in June and we headed down to Phillip Island one weekend. One very cold weekend.
I've been to Phillip Island a few times before so we did the usual things. Koala conservation centre, Nobbies visitor centre, Little Penguin parade, Chocolate Factory, Pelicans at San Remo. You could tell it was cold because all the Koalas were grey fur balls, they barely moved.
My favorite attraction however, was the Chocolate factory, not so much for the chocolate but rather the amazing visitor center, it's like a mini museum/arcade/showroom and the best bit is the machine that lets you make your own chocolate squiggle. I tried to make a 'K' but the chocolate allocation per turn wasn't sufficient so it became a 'Y'. Close enough.
Even though we were in New York, I really wanted to try (authentic?) Mexican food. I found Toloache on Opentable and we went there on our first night in the Big Apple. Unfortunately, we were so tired from flying 21 hours we couldn't really enjoy the atmosphere but the staff were helpful nonetheless and we managed to order a few things.
The cocktail I ordered was strong but really delicious, definitely helped me sleep that night. We ordered a trio of guacamole, which was the most delicious guacamole I've ever had, a Tuna ceviche, and a chicken main (the only un-amazing thing on the table).
A good introduction to Mexican food, but next time, I'm heading for the source.
I love travelling not only because I get to visit interesting countries and take a break from my everyday life but I happen to have a thing for Airport terminals. Singapore airport is my favourite airport, there's so much to do, it's so good that when I first came to Melbourne, I was quite disappointed, I expected a first world country like Australia to have amazing airports, alas, that was not the case, that is, until the last few years. The airport has really been getting better and better, parking is still ridiculously expensive but at least they've got celebrity chef's opening up restaurants there, the only catch is they're mostly located after customs and therefore not easily accessible by non travellers (except for Cafe Vue, which now has a small presence in the international terminal near the check in counters. read: no sitting space)
One of the recent additions is Bar Pulpo by Movida. I'd tried cafe vue and would've gone there but can't help myself when it comes to trying new things, especially if said food is by Movida (I love Movida next door).
Tip: I check in 3 hours before flying so I can explore the terminal, also because the customs line can be long and the sooner I get that over with, the better.
Bar Pulpo is opposite Cafe Vue, as it is a tapas bar, the bar seating area is the most visible part of its footprint. Colourful and exactly what I would expect from Movida.
There's plenty more space inside, with a handy flight screen. I love that wall, I'm currently obsessed with chevron patterns.
I ordered a sandwich and a jam donut, which could've been warmed up but the jam more than made up for that oversight.
RIP bag, I took this ASOS bag along with me to New York, it's been with me on several trips but I had planned to buy a new bag and knew full well I was going to have to throw this one away. It has served me well but sacrifices have to be made.
The Reuben Sandwich, with corned beef, sauerkraut and pickles. It was sweet, salty and sour all at the same time, really good for a quick bit but I could eat one half of it. I would recommend this to share with maybe something else from the tapas selection.
It may not look like it but as I was holding on to the sandwich to eat, it was dripping olive oil, made quite a big puddle too which would've turned me off if the sandwich weren't so delicious.
Also, expect to pay something 12AUD for this sandwich. I know, ouch.
The food at Bar Pulpo is definitely not your usual cafe fare, it's better, in fact, it's far from the days when the best thing you could get at the airport was fast food. If you need a meal at the airport, I'm glad to say that there are now choices.