07 December, 2013

Bali - Nusa Lembongan

A hidden gem a short distance from Sanur beach Bali - complete and utter bliss and away from the chaos of Bali.

19 October, 2013

Philippines - Tagaytay

We stopped off to the Tagaytay in the Philippines for the weekend to attend a beautiful wedding overlooking Taal Volcano.  We also took a half day trip to and up the active volcano via boat and horse back to see into the steaming hot caldera lake within the volcano.  It was certainly my bravest moment so far trekking up an active volcano, and an experience I will not soon forget.

31 August, 2013

Few days in London town

With just a couple of days in London catching up with friends, we couldn't hep but visit some of my favourite parts of town we loved to wander especially during the perfect temperatures of British summertime: Camden Passage, Borough Market, Shad Thames, London Bridge, Oxford and Covent Garden. 

Macarons in Borough Market

04 May, 2013

Zhangjiajie Forest National Park - China

We came across a picture of Zhangjiajie Forest National Park two years ago on a "40 places to go before you die" travel article. It seemed eery and strangely familiar, then after reading into the National Park, realised the rock formations, seemingly floating in the mist, strongly influenced the world of Pandora in the 2009 Science Fiction film Avatar written and directed by James Cameron.  

Zhangjiajie was not so easy to reach from Singapore. After an exhausting journey of connecting flights, and a couple of bus of journeys over a few hours, we finally made it!  We were lucky to have a mix of weather conditions: the incredible atmospheric mist, and blue skies and sunshine.

The National Park itself is huge, once you get into the park there are numerous buses taking you to various stops in the park. If you are like us and only speak English, be prepared and ask your hotel concierge to write down in Chinese characters where in particular in the National Park you want to go.  We walked along the mountain tops and also on the grounds of the rainforest - we would strongly recommend both.  However we suggest that if it is a sunny day, walk on the forest floor, but if it is misty, definitely get up there via the gondola.

The National Park has been adapted to fit with the thousands of tourists that visit daily. There are numerous gift shops, and various types of F & B stalls available, from local dishes fish on a stick, to ice creams and even a McDonalds!

Our daily diet of dumplings, meat and vegetables and steamed rice

22 April, 2013

Chengdu China

Our trip to Chengdu was my very first trip to China. Although we initially thought that this is quite a non adventurous and tourist location choice, and well known for their panda sanctuary, we were pleased the city was a vast, interesting city, seeped with culture and insight into the local lifestyle.  Including, group aerobics and tai chi morning, afternoon and night in local parks, antique flea markets, the ever popular visits to the various tea houses, with many locals using the additional services such as an ear wax removal treatment - armed with magnifying glasses, torches and various tools. Chinese opera entertainment including unlimited top ups of Chinese green tea. 

The highlight was of course seeing the pandas, we could have watched the playful, lazy and sleepy bears for hours. For a minimum donation of CNY 2000 (minimum donation in 2012 was CNY 1000) you can experience holding a 6 month old panda cub. The overall experience would be approximately 30 minutes, of which the cuddle itself would only last for 1 minute, before being passed onto the next tourist. Another highlight was visiting the incredible Leshan Giant Buddha, just a short trip away from the city.

For our last night in Chengdu, we went out to the bustling wide and narrow lanes of Chengdu. The reconstructed 'traditional buildings' were wonderfully lit up with low lights, hoards of people, locals and tourists, weaving in and out of each other, and amongst the wonderful fragrance of all sorts of culinary delights filling the air. We opted to eat and drink at an outdoor restaurant, and chowed down and sweated on various chilli overloaded Sitchuan province dishes...even though we asked for 'No chilli'. 

Our W T tips:
  • Flip Flop Hostel, Chengdu - Excellent stay. Clean, modern decor and very sociable atmosphere. Great central location and all private rooms are en-suite and spacious. They have a restaurant onsite serving food all day until 9.30pm. Staff spoke good English and were extremely helpful and happily supplied extra mattresses for us.  Overall, one of the best hostel's we have stayed at and at fantastic value.
  • Chinese opera - ask your accommodation for a local Chinese Opera theatre nearby. The tickets are extremely cheap and also include a cup which gets topped up with green tea throughout the performance. 
  • Leshan Giant Buddha - an awesome aspiring Buddha carved from the side of a sandstone cliff face. Climb the uneven stone stairs down to the Buddha's feet and get a view from the ground level as well as the from the top! You can also view the Buddha via the water with the boat trip option on offer.  
  • Food: Sitchuan province food commonly includes an insane amount of chilli. They eat chilli's like a vegetable. Be sure to always state no or very little chilli.  We found that despite asking this, they still gave us a lot. In which case, also order milk tea/water! 

Enjoying the sights after seeing the Leshan Giant Buddha

Chinese Opera time! 

An engrossed audience

But also a time to snooze

Antique markets

Time to exercise!

Copious amounts of jasmine tea :-)

Chengdu Panda sactuary

6 month old Panda cub sleeping in a tree

Koi Carp pond at the Chengdu Panda sanctuary


Narrow and wide lanes

Panda-mania ..one of the many 'everything Panda' shops