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You know, I think we can come to terms that I’m so bad with updating. So I thought it would be a great idea just throw together a photo diary of my best memories during my several trips in summer 2012.

So let me shut up and let the photo complete my story.

Venice/Florence/Cinque Terre/Nice/Monaco/Eze/Avignon

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I fall in love with these vibrant colors everyday.

Aren’t we blessed, able to absorb this planet’s full glory?

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Actually, I’m not entirely sure if we spent 60 hours there, it was a trip back in March. We stayed for two nights, let’s assume we did.

When most people think of Thailand, I don’t think Hua Hin can even come close to Top 5, not when you have Bangkok, Phuket, Koh Samui, Koh Samed, Chiangmai etc, Hua Hin might look/sound quite dull or second class.

but you’re wrong if you think that way

There’s a reason why Hua Hin is one of the oldest seaside resorts in Thailand and why so many Thai loves to go there. I do confess their waters might not be as clear as those in Koh Samui or Phuket, it doesn’t rock the metropolitan style like Bangkok, but it is a good old gem tucked away in Thailand, yet to be overflood with mass of tourists.

C, C and I had been talking about a getaway trip since forever but never came around, then one day we decided we can delay no more. C wanted water sports and I insisted I can’t take too many days of leave and I wanna control budget, so we restricted our choice to Thailand. Let me get this straight, Hua Hin is a great choice, but be prepared for a three hour drive each leg from BKK airport (which is a pain in the ass, literally)

SATURDAY

3 p.m.

1. Knead The Muscles

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Honestly, I think its quite dangerous when Hongkongers go to Thailand, because they invade every single Thai massage parlor they (I) can find. Eat and massage, that’s what all (most) of us do. So yep, when us girls arrived in Hua Hin, after spending sometime drooling over how nice our hotel room and terrace looks like, and (like all girls do) get changed and touch up our faces, we headed off into the neighbourhood.

Actually our resort Aleenta is located in Pranburi, a seaside village/town located half an hour away from Hua Hin city. Its not so convenient in terms of accessibility, but we definitely loved this area more than Hua Hin itself. It has some cute B&Bs, cafes and all that jazz. Anyways, off we went and indulged ourselves in full on one and half hour massage. I think we only paid 300 Baht each (~HKD80/USD10) – now come on, you can’t get it that cheap in Hong Kong no matter what.

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7 p.m.

2. Go With The Flow

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If you like food, flea market, live music/theatrical performances or a combination of them, you don’t want to miss the Cicada Market. Cicada stands for “Community of Identity Culture Arts and Dynamic Activities” and is one of most vibrant markets in Hua Hin. A combination of an open-air food court sporting fresh and oh-so-delicious Thai specialities (we loved their grilled seafood, grilled pork and tom yum gong), flea market that covers everything from vintage and fashion to artistic products, topped up with several vibrant live performances of music, dance, theatrics etc, you’re guaranteed a great night in Hua Hin. A friendly note is that the food market operates by purchasing food tickets and spare yourself about 300 Baht per person is definitely more than enough.

I’ll let some pictures do the talking:

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Sunday

8 a.m.

3. Breakfast Like A Princess

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We wasted no time on the next day. Breakfast by the terrace with the gorgeous sunlight beaming on our face. Our daily dose of endorphin fixed.
Ray-Bans? Checked.
Music playlist blasting with the hottest mixes? Checked.
Girlfriends? Checked.

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Fancy jumping in to the pool with us for a swim too?

12 p.m.

4. Maybe You’re Born A Kite Runner

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It’s unbelievable how hungry one can get with the mere exercise of swimming (so leisurely) in the infinity pool and just lying on the sun deck roasting oneself. So we decided to walk to the neighbourhood in the opposite direction to get some calories fixtures. Bad idea in that scorching heat. But we caught some beautiful pictures with more than twenty kites flying in the sky. Kite-surfing is apparently really popular in Hua Hin area, we have a kite-surfing school booth near our resort. C was really interested and went to ask, apparently you need at least four days to learn it properly. Maybe we’ll be back to try it out next time with a longer holiday.

Don’t you think it’d be quite cool when everyone says they windsurf or wakeboard that you kitesurf? I’d say that’s pretty standard. Hell yeah.

7 p.m.

5. Seafood, Glorious Seafood!

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Let the photo do the talking.
A whole super filling meal for like, what, less than HKD50 (USD7)?

Try and beat that, son.

9.30 p.m.

6. A Glimpse Into The Aladdin World

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We live next to a Morrocan themed resort, and every time we walked passed it – it’s like stumbling into the exotic Middle East. We decided to go and try out the shisha bar on our last night, dressing up fancy. Don’t you love this bold yet beautiful red and yellow wall? Don’t ask me how long we spent taking pictures. You know Asian girls never miss the chance to pose 😉 The total bill is not as cheap as you would hope, but I’d say most of the bucks goes to the ambience. Seriously, where on earth could you find yourself having shisha and drinks on an exotic terrace, listening to the whistles of the sea with the sea breeze taming your hair?

The trio would very much like to try it out next time. Meanwhile you can have a look here to satisfy your cravings for an exotic fix.

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Monday

6 a.m.

7. All You Shining Stars

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Nothing beats seeing the sun rising above the horizon on the beach. The view was truly breathtaking. It was probably not the most magnificent, majestic scene I’ve seen in my life, but the beauty of the sun rising always had a special place in my heart. It speaks of hope, light, future, all things bright and beautiful.

I think the beauty of life is simply boiled down to this: the ability to appreciate everything that happens in your life, being able to wake up and feel the warmth of the sun, being surrounded by families and friends, to be able to love and be loved. And from time to time, go outside your comfort zone to experience what God had planned for you.

The magic of travelling never dies.


Last but not least, big thanks to my C & C for the company, such a comfortable combination. (And I spent several minutes browsing our photos, and I can’t find a decent one to put up! Now, who’s gonna take the blame huh?)

P.S. Procrastination has to stop. A two month delay in updating is not something I have planned for, seriously.

P.P.S What’s next? Have a guess.

—–{BEWARE PHOTOSPAM}—–

July 2012

I’ve always had a strange attachment to Scandinavian things. IKEA, Norwegian and Swedish prints and patterns, salmon, northern lights, forests, snowy mountains, reindeers (?). Yea, you might think, such a strange child. But it is not an exaggeration when I say hitting the Scandinavian soil is one of my dreams.

I was always teased by friends saying I’m a full-time traveller rather than a full-time student. Although it may not be something I should be proud of, as I really should stay focused when I study, I’m proud of all the lands i’ve walked on, all the seas i’ve sailed. There is an old Chinese saying that speaks my heart:

Better to walk a ten thousand miles than to read a ten thousand books (讀萬卷書不如行萬里路)

I may not be rich in academic knowledge, but the wealth I gained from seeing the world is priceless and unique. And i’m forever grateful for all those opportunities.

My travel buddy H. is my friend from Uni back in HK. In fact I just joined a few legs of their Grand Europe Tour in June. She’s my fellow avid traveller, trusted friend and loving sister in Christ. Our idea for this was really random. She wanted to stay around for a bit after Grand Europe Tour, opened the map and the first thing that came into her sight was Norway. I always wanted to go to Norway so when she suggested the trip I jumped at the opportunity.

Scandinavian countries are known for their extremely high living standards (hence extremely expensive for travellers). We shopped all the foodstuff we need at Tesco’s and stuffed them all into our backpacks. So thankful for this decision when we later find out that you need to pay around HKD110 for a McDonalds meal.

We toured with Norway In A Nutshell. Our journey starts from Oslo, touring through the Norwegian highlands, stopping at the beautiful town of Flåm for 2 days, then landing at the beautiful coastal city of Bergen.

The Journey Begins…

The non-stop journey from Oslo to Bergen takes around 7 to 8 hours. We were dozing off on the train but suddenly jumped to consciousness when we realized there was a vast stretch of white outside our window. Bare in mind it was July, and though I know some mountain ranges remained snowy all seasons, it still shocked me to infinity and beyond.

Finse – We seized the 5 minute station stop to jump outside. It was so quite, so quite that I think you can hear it if a needle drops. The chilly wind was blowing, and we saw some people hiking up the snowy mountains. The view was spectacular. I was cold but my heart was on fire.

H and I 🙂

Mydral – Getting off to transfer to the Bergen Railway to the Flåm Railway

Note to self: time to lose some weight, really.

Flåm Railway is one of the highlights of this Nutshell tour which you can’t miss. Connecting the mountain stop of Mydral and the town of Flåm, it is one of the steepest railway in the world. It brings us to see the spectacular waterfalls, breathtaking mountain views and glimpse of the majestic Aurlandfjord.

I wonder if heaven looks like this?

Flåm is situated at the bottom of the valley, against the backdrop of the majestic mountains and Aurlandfjord. Sitting against the natural canvas behind, Flåm is one of the hidden Norwegian jewels you must explore.

The weather in July wasn’t that stable, alternates between pouring rain, drizzles or bright sunshine. So a light water-proof jacket is definitel recommended. H and I stayed at a camping site and we found out many families drive with their caravans and camp out there. It was quite an interesting scene to see many couples and families chilling out on the greens with their camp chair and coffee in hand.

Since we arrived in Flåm in the afternoon, we decided to just take it easy for the day and chill out in the area. As typical Hong Kong girls (?), we take tons of pictures of every single spot we visited……

me screaming with heart-shaped eyes: BABIEEEESSSSSS!!!! (and how cute they are, striking a pose for us)

Reminiscing our favourite childhood activities

My inner happy child released.

Blogging always takes longer than I expected, because there’s so much I want to share with you all!

Follow the blog for our further adventures of majestic Fjord hikes, colourful city of Bergen and numerous jump-shots!

Until then,

xoxo

Hello! Sorry I’ve disappeared off the Earth surface for a while. June is HECTIC! So much on my plate but there’s so much I want to share with you all. I need some real peace to sit down and write something, but for the mean time I just want to drop a note here and say I miss you (and the space to write and blab). Stay tuned for more travel goodies!

Two quotes that highlights my month (and I hope strikes home for you too):

You can’t teach experience.
Your greatness is given to you. 

Taken in Burano, Italy (June 2012)

Wish y’all a beaaautiful June evening!

Until then,

xoxo

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I’m still swaying with a heady enchantment over the 4-day Easter weekend spent in Scotland with Will’s family. On Thursday afternoon we left work at 5pm, dashed to King’s Cross with our baggage — mine filled with practical yet presentable clothes, a springform cake pan to make an Easter cheesecake with, a wrapped-up bottle of Laurent Perrier rosé champagne to give as a gift, and a zip-pocket full of anxiety — and just 5.5 hours later we were out of the bustling city and surrounded by fresh soothing scenery of rolling green hills.

My idea of paradise isn’t a beach with azure waters, sandy sand and palm-treeish palms under a blazin’ hot sun. My idea of peace and relaxation is Scotland — idyllic countryside in a sea of fresh green grass, freshwater lakes (or, since we’re north — “lochs”). Woods to roam, hills to hike and drink in the scene below. Just enough of a dewy snap in the air temperature to instigate lots of canoodling under warm fleece blankets near the fireplace, or bundled up on the porch with a tumbler of watered whisky while drinking in the lake view.

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Up in Clunie, Perthshire — north of Glasgow and Edinburgh — we took walks every day, played golf and cooked delicious lunches and dinners. There was too much chocolate, everywhere and in all shapes, bakes and form (that ain’t a complaint).

It sounds like there isn’t much to do, no sights to tick off a jam-packed guidebook. That’s kind of the point — this is a real vacation, one where you can vacate your mind of the stresses of city and work life, which seem so far away and so inconsequential when you’re faced with the beauty of the land. And what therapy could be better than home-cooked meals (and a bountiful pantry and fridge) shared with family, rather than stressful restaurant-h(a)unting?

Having sung my praises, here’s the downside: it’s no fun if you don’t have your own home there or don’t know a good friend who does. Scotland can be really remote — I barely saw another face aside from our group the whole weekend! — an having your own place means having somewhere really comfortable to return to if it starts raining, or if you’ve had enough of the outdoors and just want to sit on the couch with a hot cup of tea, cookies and the U.S. Masters (golf) on the telly. And you need a car. It would be very difficult to wind down as comfortably if you had no car, and stayed at a dinky bed-n-breakfast not near a scenic lake, as Will’s house is.

So the top tip here is: see which of your friends’ parents have countryside houses, get on their good graces, and then move in. That last procedure is my current fantasy. But if you can’t get there, hope you enjoy these photos.

People say if you’ve never been to London, Paris and Rome, you’ve never been to Europe properly. I’d say there are so many other countries that one should visit to get a real mingling taste of Europe, and Prague is one of the hidden gems.

Tucked away in the border of Western and Eastern Europe, Prague has an eccentric mix of the flourishing, rich Western Europe style of architecture and also maintaining its own distinctive Eastern European flare. The buildings and streets are so beautiful its just a pure joy wondering around aimlessly. The Castle District, Old Town Quarter and Jewish Quarter are “must-sees”, especially if you are a castle/cathedral/church maniac like me. The city is divided by the Vltava river, but the town is pretty much accessible on foot. Do leave some time, maybe an afternoon to let yourself relax and wonder around the Castle district neighbourhood or the old town square, I guarantee you will find so much peace in it.

Best season to visit?

This was my second visit to Prague and both times I went in Winter. I know, I know, I heard EVERYTHING about the lovely summer garden and beer festivals (Czech beer Pilsner is good and cheap by the way) and I know summer is better for ladies’ skin, but having been there twice I would say one of the best reason is to avoid getting into a situation like this:

Imagine all the sweat and frustration you’ll get from pushing people (or being pushed) around just to have a glimpse of the Astronomical Clock or the St Vitus Cathedral. If you get to the spots early (say before 10am), most likely you can find yourself owning pretty much the whole square.

Where to stay?

Last time I went to Prague (February 2006), I was with my Mom and Dad so my parents obviously had a bit more to spend than me on the budget. We stayed at the really cute boutique hotel, Neruda Hotel that has a light pistachio green wall with Art Nouveau decor, very chic. It was conveniently located, just below the Prague Castle and within 10 minutes walk to Charles Bridge. If you have some extra cash to spend, i would definitely recommend this. Oh, and their hot chocolate in their cafe is heavenly!

Where to visit? 

If you’re a “to-do list” freak (like I am), check out the following “must see” sights!

  1. The iconic Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral is a place you simply CAN’T miss. Go early in the morning before the place is swamp with tourist to enjoy the simple solitude of soaking in the magnificent interior and peace within the Cathedral. Take a close look at the stained colour glass windows, you can find some of them are works of the famous Czech artist Mucha, whose Art Nouveau style feeds in perfectly with the richly composed colour. The place is rich with History so if you have the spare time and money, do join a guided tour or get yourself an audio guide and just wonder around the Cathedral. Hike upthe flight of stairs to the watch tower of the Cathedral to enjoy a panoramic view of the city, 150Kc well spent.The Golden Lane, which used to be servant quarters when the Prague Castle housed its royalty, is also an interesting place to visit. There are reconstructions of how people lived back in the 19th century which was a really different experience.

     dont you think it looks like Hogwarts here? 

  2. Walk from Prague Castle to Charles Bridge, you will see a lot of colourful houses on hilly cobble road, whats better than sitting in a small coffee shop sipping hot chocolate watching the world go buy? Turn around and you may find a small surprise here and there… The best time to visit Charles Bridge is before Sunset, make sure you get there to see the beautiful transition of the skyline!
  3. The Old Town Quarter and the Jewish Quarter are on the other side of Charles Bridge, all major festivities, celebrations or big events take place in the Old Town Square. You won’t miss the Astronomical Clock, many free walking tours are on offer and in my opinion they are quite good! A 2 hour condense Czech history lesson with all the major sightseeing places checked, and you might even have time for a coffee break in a French style patisserie, what’s more to ask for? Spend 2 hours before dinner and visit the Jewish Synagogues, these sights are sometimes overlooked, but the stark presence of history and the suffering of those innocent people should always be reminded. You might find the Jewish Quarter a bit familiar to Paris, but surprise surprise! When reconstruction of the much damaged Jewish Quarter began the architects were actually inspired to copy the architecture in Paris, that’s why you see such similarities!
  4. Don’t miss out on the great offerings of cultural experience the city gives you! Check out their monthly performance schedule, I managed to see an Opera and a Swan Lake ballet performance on both nights for tickets around GBP10 (around HKD120~130) each! You can’t find any of that in Hong Kong, London, Paris or NYC!

What to eat?


Prague is probably the new “it” place for gastro-lovers! Be it authentic local Goulash and Bread Dumplings or extravagent up-market Czech-French fusion, the city offers it all. Try Lokál, which is a local chain restaurant that serves hearty Czech nationalities for very reasonable price. On another side of the spectrum, try V Zátiší, an upmarket Czech-French restaurant that offers exquisite 4 or 5-course Degustation menu. I tried the Bohemian Degustation Menu  for 1350Kc (about GBP45/HKD560, can’t do the maths) Their Crispy Duckling was particularly impressive, also the barley risotto. In between the spectrum there are tons of other restaurants that offer all kind of different cuisine at very reasonable price for their quality. Prague is certainly taking its toll on improving the culinary scene, catch the current before it goes big people!

*****

Big shout out for my buddy Margaret who made this trip very enjoyable! Two food lovers and amateurs playing with camera wondering around Prague was such a pleasant experience (despite the cold was really getting me). Keep warm everyone! I shall update again soon! Just spent another long weekend in Dublin and Edinburgh which was really fun too!

Until then,
xoxo