melbourne: city & beach life

Two things I’m drawn to are bustling cities and beautiful beaches. Luckily, Melbourne had both and quite close to each other. One day on my trip, I walked around the city, found a gorgeous cafe called the grain store to eat a leisurely brunch and then walked over to this amazing place for donuts called short stop. The rose earl grey donut was amazing. Like my friend said, it sounded like a donut made for me. Not only was the donut delicious, they served it to you with a glass of sparkling water (on the house) and friendly service.

Afterwards, I was able to hop on the free tram (in the city) and get to Flinders street station and catch a 20min. train to Brighton beach. The train ran pretty frequently getting there and back. It was about a 5 minute walk to the beach from the station and I got to see the iconic bright bathing houses. Even though it was warm but windy spring weather, there was a man I saw sun bathing outside his bright red bathing house! I was of course in a thin jacket, scarf, and sunglasses, trying to keep warm.

The beach was full of tourists taking many photos in front of the different bathing houses. I’m glad I took the time to see and enjoy the beach in Melbourne. I highly recommend it if you are visiting. Stay tuned for more photos on my adventures in Melbourne…

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48 hours in Singapore

I always love having visitors, but I was a bit nervous about how much we could get done in Nuree’s 48 hours in Singapore. I knew how tiring the flights are from NY are and I wasn’t sure what she would be up for. Luckily, the haze wasn’t too horrible and we were able to pack in a lot in the limited time. So in the two days we had, we accomplished the following:

  • Breakfast at the local hawker (Whampoa Market
  • Lunch at Din Tai Fung
  • Walking the streets of Orchard Road
  • Exploring Chinatown
  • Church service at RHC
  • Visiting Sentosa and going to the southernmost point of continental Asia
  • Eating coconut thai ice cream with free coconut water
  • Seafood Indian food at the Esplanade
  • Walking from Esplanade to MBS, via the double helix bridge
  • Cafe hopping on Keong Saik Road
  • Enjoying the view and drinks from the top of Marina Bay Sands hotel
  • Chili crab at Jumbo Seafood
  • Supper at Swee Choon
  • Visiting Gardens by the Bay Cloud Forest
  • Taking the water taxi from Clarke Quay to MBS
  • Visting Mustafa in Little India
  • Walking around Haji Lane and stumbling upon the Selfie Coffee cafe.
  • Taking the bus, MRT, taxi, rides from friends, and walking as means of transportation!

By the end of those two full days of eating and walking our way through the little red dot, we were ready to board a plane to haze free Thailand and relax on the beach. I forgot how tiring walking around and doing sightseeing in Singapore can be, especially when you are outside in the afternoon. There were a few times, where taxis were necessary. By now, I think I could plan tours for anyone interested in coming to Singapore in my sleep. Also, Nuree needs to come back to Singapore because we didn’t get to try durian. Next time, my friend.

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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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#sydneyeats

Before arriving in Sydney, I did what any normal foodie would do- searched Instagram Sydney food hashtags for recommendations on places to eat. After finding a few Sydney food based instagramers through #sydneyeats, I had a few places I wanted to try. We arrived on a Saturday morning, and right away we wanted to see things. Dave took us to Paddington market, where we grabbed lunch at a cute cafe (Crate bar & pizza). The cafe was pretty simple, but the sandwiches were amazing. Maybe we were just really hungry, but they were just so fresh and delicious. I instantly knew we would love the food there.

On day 3 of the trip, we were headed to Bondi beach, to do the coastal walk and spend time at the beach. We were getting breakfast at a cafe on the way. In the car, I showed Jenni a picture of these delicious hotcakes I saw on IG. Dave was taking us to a cafe that one of his friend’s works at as a graphic designer. We asked Dave what the name of the cafe was. He said, Grounds of Alexandria. That’s when I flipped out. That was the same cafe that I had just shown Jenni a picture of. Little did I know what it would be like when I arrived. It was amazing. Outdoor seating places, along with a few different shops, stands, and delicious food. I was surprised at how crowded it was on a Monday morning. Along with the lovely decor, the food was amazing.

After breakfast, we made Dave stop at Bourke Street Bakery which we passed along the way to breakfast. A second breakfast- why not? We saved the baked goods for the coastal walk. I could go on and on about our food adventures, but you get the idea. Nevertheless, Sydney, your food is impressive. I’m definitely coming back. 

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the ultimate singapore food trail

One of the many reasons I was so excited for my brother’s visit was that I knew that he would be down to eat ANYTHING here. Some visitors tend to be a bit pickier than others about new foods they are willing to try. However, with my brother and his wife, I knew that I could take them anywhere. So I got to take them to some of my favorite places along with some of the must eat places for authentic Singaporean food.

Here’s the list of places we tried and some of the must order dishes and foods we had:

  • Jumbo Seafood Restaurant @ Clarke Quay Riverwalk- If you are with a big group, order both the chilli crab & black pepper crab with the fried mantou buns. The salted egg golden prawns are also delicious. This is definitely the go-to touristy place for chilli crab. Make reservations before hand online! jane&brian trip-9005
  • Swee Choon Dim Sum @ 191 Jalan Basar – Considering the cheap prices of the dishes, it’s easy to try a lot of the dishes, especially if you go with a big group. Make sure to try the salted egg yolk buns, xiao long bao,mee suan kuay, sichuan oil chili wanton,egg tarts, and mango-pomelo dessert. Remember, it’s open from 6pm -6am. So go there for dinner or supper!Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
  • Foong Kee Coffee Shop @ 6 Keong Saik Street- This was my first time trying this place thanks to the recommendation by my friend. This place is known for their char siew. At $3.50 for char siew and rice, this was worth every dollar. Their wanton soup was pretty good as well! Next time, I want to try their noodles.IMG_4610
  • Tian Tian @ Maxwell’s food centre- Chicken rice. Apparently the best place in Singapore, which was evident by the long queue. Honestly, I still can’t taste the difference in chicken rice, but I’ll take everyone’s word that this place is the best.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
  • Durian stall @ Balestier – There are a few durian stands along Balestier that are pretty well known. Luckily, even though it’s not durian season, we were able to find some durian. Thanks to Bryce for taking us and eating the majority of the durian!IMG_4616
  • Toastbox- These are everywhere in Singapore,just make sure to try their kaya toast! However, I prefer the peanut thick toast for breakfast.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
  • Mozza @ Marina Bay Sands Shoppes- I had to take my guests to my favorite pizza place in Singapore. I usually go for the prosciutto de parma pizza! Jane even stated that it was quite possibly the BEST pizza she has ever tasted. That’s quite a compliment!IMG_4583
  • Tim Ho Wan @ Plaza Singapura- My brother was very adamant about wanting to try pork buns before leaving, so I had to take him here. Yes, they have the best pork buns, and you can’t forget that they are such an affordable 1-Michelin star restaurant here.Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset
  • Salad Stop & Cedele- I admit that we needed at least one “healthier” salad and sandwich meal to balance all the unhealthier food we were eating. Plus, a good western style salad and sandwich are hard to come by in Korea.
  • Landing Point @ the Fullerton Bay Hotel– This is definitely one of my favorite afternoon tea places in Singapore! Even though it’s a bit pricey at about $45++ per person, it’s unlimited tea/coffee/hot drinks, scones, and a 3-tier set full of finger sandwiches and other delicious desserts. The view of the Marina Bay Sands and live music help create a lovely ambience. Make sure to make a reservation beforehand! Afternoon tea is only from 3-5:30pm.
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  • Las Ristrettos @ Novena Medical Centre- The cafe culture is huge here in Singapore. There are always new and hipster friendly cafes sprouting everywhere, it’s often hard to keep track. This place has pretty good food and drinks. It’s also on the eighth floor of a huge medical centre, so you kind of need to know about it. It’s not a place you will stumble upon.
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If we had a few more days in Singapore, there’s a few more places I would have loved to taken them to eat roti prata, stingray, satay, char kway teow and more…

a year through photos

The other day, I was telling my friend how I had no space on my phone to download another app because of all the photos that I took. It’s true, especially when you have a 16gb memory space and you love to document everything through photos. I blame it partly on one of my strengths (according to strengths finders test) of “input” that makes me want to collect things.

I like to collect things, and photos in particular because every picture reminds me of a moment, that I will never get back. Who knows when I will need that photo or memory later on in my life? I might as well take a photo and save that moment forever. Ok, I’m sounding a bit more OCD than I really am. To clarify, I have been able to delete a lot of photos (considering my lack of memory on my phone). Currently, I only have 1,707 photos on my iphone and maybe a few videos as well.

In an attempt to reflect on this past year, I decided to look at my photos I took on my dslr camera and shared on my blog. I came across a few that stuck out to me, whether it’s the colors, emotions, or the memories they reminded me of. Each photo brings me back to a moment, big or small, from this year. Here’s a small glimpse into my 2014.

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life is delicious

I confess. I’m that annoying person that likes to take pictures of my food at restaurants. I make people wait to eat because I need to get a good photo before the food is touched. I rearrange the food dishes on the table so they look Instagram worthy. I guess if you are one of my good friends, than this isn’t such a surprise for you.

A few of my amazing co-workers like to push me to try new challenges, like training for a half-marathon in Angkor Wat (please don’t make me sign up for a marathon) last year, and this year, something a bit more reasonable, but I was still so hesitant. There are a group of teachers at my school that organize this group of “sketchers”, and it’s a pretty creative idea. Everyone in the group gets a blank sketchbook. Each person in the group comes up with a theme for their sketchbook. They decorate the first page of their sketchbook following their theme. Then, they pass it to the next person on the list. After a month, they pass it to the next person. At the end of the year, you receive your sketchbook back, filled with different sketches from different people. They each create something based on your theme.

I was super hesitant to join, because I didn’t want to add one more responsibility to my plate. So, I told them I wasn’t going to. Then, the day before the deadline to sign up, Leigh came to me and asked me if I had signed up yet. She assured me that it was pretty low key, and that if you miss a month it would be ok. I needed to hear that. So of course in the end I decided to sign up.

After quite a few days of reflection, list writing, and going back and forth,  I finally came up with my theme for the year. Earlier on, Leigh suggested I do something about food (she knows me so well). And, then it came to me. Life is delicious. I was also inspired by a hashtag that lady ironchef started, #LifeisdeliciousinSingapore. And, yes, it’s true. Food is abundant,glorious, and delicious here.

For me, this theme isn’t just about food, but it’s about the stories behind the food. It’s about the recipes that are passed on through the generations. It’s about the comfort and feeling of home food can bring. It’s about the people I shared those meals with. It’s about the stories, laughter, and tears, that were shared while eating. So I started to get crafty as the first deadline of passing on our notebook arrived. I ended up creating a collage using photos I took mostly on my iPhone and photos I posted on my Instagram. Here’s what happened over an early Sunday morning.

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Now I need to start taking pictures of the theme I got for this month from another teacher’s sketchbook, “tangled”.