Irene's Travel Blog

Every Trip Is A Voyage Of Discovery


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My Last Trip of 2011 to Paris…

Paris, France 

My trip to Paris was my last trip of 2011

It was the most awesome standby call up I ever had. I was jumping with joy when I knew that I was activated for a flight to Paris. Not only I get to come back to Singapore in time to spend New Year countdown with my loved ones, I also get to visit one of my favorite cities in my list. I can’t think of any women who will not love Paris. Other than our love affair with Louis Vuitton, there are also beautiful architecture and romantic atmosphere to fall in love with.

This is the place where Tom Cruise proposed to Katie Holmes at the top of Eiffel Tower. It was old-fashioned but it was definitely romantic. Every girl dreams of her own fairy tales and want to live happily ever happy with their charming prince. My ideal marriage proposal need not be fanciful but it would be rather just the two of us in a simple and romantic setting. :)

These are also some of the places that I have been to in Paris…

King Louis XIII at Palace of Versailles

Notre Dame Cathedral 

Musée du Louvre

Da Vinci Code is one of my favorite movies and I was really thrilled when I saw The Louvre Pyramids. I didn’t get a chance to visit the museum but I will certainly be back for my next trip here.

Outdoor ice skating rink

How cool! If only there is winter season in Singapore as well..

And…Some bits and pieces of Paris…

Macaroons

I had the pistachio macaroon and it was so yum yum!

Ferris Wheel

We ended our Paris trip with a lovely ride on the Ferris Wheel, overlooking Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees. Simply Awesooomeeeee… :)

Good Food…

Good Wine…

And of cos…Good Company to hang out with that has made my last trip of 2011 a delighting one! :)

Today is the last day of the year 2011 and it is also the time for reflection. I am not someone who can express myself well in words but I shall try my best here…

I graduated with my Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management and I entered the workforce straight after 3 years of poly life. I am really glad that I have fulfilled my dream job that has allowed me to travel around the world. This is the very reason why I have decided to pursue a tourism diploma. I am appreciating it everyday and enjoying what I am doing so much.

There is always a difference between paying to study and being paid to work. I always believe in this motivational quote “Every obstacle is destroyed through rigor.” Hard work will pay off at the end of the day. It took me some time for me to get used to working life but I have definitely grown mature along the way. I withdraw out from Junior College despite that I had the best ‘O’ levels result in my secondary school. I had the thoughts of dropping out of Poly too because it was tough to gain back the momentum to study after being a school dropout for a year. My dear friends, never give up trying on what you believe in. There will always be an open path for those who don’t stop trying. Having a positive minds can create very positive things in your life. Always believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Also, I hope that I will not abandon my travel blog and continue to blog about my experience to share with my close friends and those who appreciate it. Buying my DSLR Nikon D5100 has brought me more joy than owning a Louis Vuitton or Prada bag. I will keep on shooting and improve my photography skills, bringing my dearest readers to feel what I want to portray through my lens. I do not know who or is there anyone who visit my blog but if you are reading this, thank you so much for visiting!

And viola, I wish everyone a Happy and Wonderful 2012 filled with abundance, joy, and treasured moments.

Enjoy your New Year Countdown with your loved ones at wherever you are in the world! :D


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A Day To The Ancient Watertown…

Shanghai, China 

It was an impromptu call up to Shanghai but nevertheless, I had a worthwhile trip to QiBao Ancient Watertown (七宝古镇). There is lots of photo opportunity found in this quaint little thousand year old town, where you can still find antique buildings from the Northern Song Dynasty.

Entrance to QiBao

The Pagoda near the entrance

May I suggest having an empty stomach when you visit this ancient water town. If not, you will be missing out on some good local snacks (上海小吃).

Xiao Long Bao (小笼包)

It was so good that I had two baskets (16 pcs) by myself. I am a Xiao Long Bao’s lover! I am a Chinese and I like my food to be served pipping hot! I always miss our Asian food when I am in European countries. And an interesting thing that I have noticed is that they do not provide shredded ginger and spoon in China. So…Does that mean the authentic way of eating Xiao Long Bao is without shredded ginger and spoon?

Tangyuan (汤圆)

Candied Haw in a Stick (冰糖葫蘆)

Vinegar Pork Trotter (猪脚醋)

Braised Pigeon (乳鸽)

This is one of the three bridges found in QiBao. It gives me a feeling that I was in those ancient chinese series (古装剧).

When you are in QiBao, you got to take the boat trip along the canals to complete the whole feel.

Aaaahhh… So nostalgic…

Personally, I think it would be even better to have tradition performance acts such as an old Chinese man playing erhu (二胡) on the streets to enhance the whole laid-back atmosphere.

I also tried an attempt on street photography to give more characteristics to my photo album for this trip. Here are some of my amateur shots..

An emo me..

If you are trying to figure out this photo, this is me sitting in the old boat.

I am pretty satisfied with my photos as I have captured the feel that I wanted to portray for this place. Looking forward to my next trip.. Till then.. ;)


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Enjoy a Slower Pace of Life at New Zealand…

Waiheke Island, New Zealand 

Greetings from Auckland! ;)

I just came back from Waiheke Island and I am typing out this post now in Esquires Coffee House which is nearby to the hotel that I am staying at.

Had a lovely brunch to kickstart my day in New Zealand. Soft and fluffy toast and crispy on the outside. Yum yum..

Queens Wharf

Queens Wharf

I took the ferry from Queen’s Wharf and the return ferry ticket costs me NZD35.

Waiheke Island Wharf

Arrived at Waiheke Island after a 35 minutes ferry ride. I rented a bike from the bicycle shop near the wharf and it costs NZD30 for the one day bike rental. It was a painful decision cos it was so tiring to cycle uphill. An alternative is to buy the hop-on hop-off bus for NZD22 to explore the island.

Beach near Waiheke Island Wharf

Here are some flower shots that I took with my first try on manual focus.

I am quite contented with the photos. :)

My bicycle @ Oneroa Beach..

It is just me and the beach today..

Irene, meaning Peace

Enjoy a slower pace of life when you are here… Just pause and listen to the musical sounds of birds chirping, ocean waves and winds rattling the leaves… You will be amazed at the peace that comes with it.

Nostalgic mailboxes..

Waiheke Island is a lovely place for retirement and it would be nice to have a house by the beach, waking up to the sound of ocean waves. Sitting on a bench holding hands with your soulmate, enjoying the sea view and each other’s company… Sweet sweet love, isn’t it?

Horse Ranch

Cable Bay Vineyards

Waiheke Island is also known as the ‘Island of Wine‘ and famous for its great New Zealand’s wine.

And of cos…Got to buy a bottle of locally produced wine when I am in one of the world’s most exclusive wine growing regions.. ;)


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Seeing Koala Bears and Kangaroos for the First Time!

Tangora Zoo Sydney, Australia 

I just came back from Sydney which was my 7th time to this lovely city! When I think of Australia, I will think of koala bears and kangaroos. I have been to Australia for 11th time and I really want to see these Australian animals so I decided to pay a visit to the Zoo! :)

I took the free shuttle bus 555 from the bus stop in front of Queen Victoria Building and alighted at Circular Quay.  From Circular Quay, you can buy the Zoo Pass for AUD50.50 which include the ferry transport and entry to Tangora Zoo.

On the ferry to Tangora Zoo and passed by attractions like Opera House and Harbor Bridge.

Welcome to Tangora Zoo“. Reached Tangora Zoo after a short 12 minutes ferry ride from Circular Quay.

I took the Sky Safari located near the ferry wharf to the top entrance of the zoo’s plaza.

Scenic view from the top entrance of zoo’s plaza. It is important to plan your visit well and follow the green dots on the path to explore the 9 trails. I didn’t follow the path and I had to walk uphill which was very tiring to see the other trails that I have missed.

My first stop was the Koala Walkabouts.

Weee!! Finally see an Australian koala bear after my 11th time to Australia!!

These are REAL koala bears but they look fake, don’t they?

Not Drunk – Just Digesting

Some interesting facts about koala bears… According to a bush legend, koalas are permanently drunk on fermented gum leaves. In fact, eucalyptus leaves are low in energy and difficult to break down, which is why koalas sleep as much as 20 hours a day. Their laid-back pose also keeps them cool. It exposes the soft white belly fur which reflects the heat and is easily ruffled by the breeze.

Next stop – Giraffe Encounters.

World’s Tallest Baby! – Giraffes are about 2m tall at birth”.

I missed the 1st trail which is the Reptile World and went to the 2nd trail African Safari instead.

Sun Bear.

Pygmy Hippopotamus. They have the cutest ears in the world! Their ears will start twitching after they come out of the water. You can just stare blindly at them, look at them playing with the water and twitching their ears. So cute!

Zebra.

“Just  as no two humans have the same fingerprints, no two zebras have the same stripe pattern.”

As I was snapping the zebra, this lil cutie flew by and stopped to eat the honey from the flowers.

Bongo.

Barbary Sheep.

Himalayan Tahr.

End of Trail 2. I should have proceeded to Trail 3 and 4 which is the Australian Walkabout but I went to Trail 7 (Big Cats Trail) instead. This proved to be a tiring mistake later on because I have to walk uphill to go back to Trail 3.

Snow Leopard. So fierce looking!

*Blinking eyes* Alright…You look cute in this photo! :)

On the roof of the world” – The Snow Leopard spends summer in the high alpine pastures, moving down to lower altitude forests during winter in search of wild goats and sheep. Increasing human settlement in this once remote area is forcing the Snow Leopard towards extinction.

Lioness.

Lion. You can see me but you can’t eat me. :-p

Tiger.

Tigress and her cub.

End of Trail 7 and I proceeded to Trail 6 (Rainforest Trail).

Malayan Tapir.

Binturong.

Gibbon. I don’t have a zoom lens to snap the Gibbon from far. :(

End of Trail 6. I walked uphill to Trail 3 back to see the Ring-tailed Lemur and Gorillas.

Ring-tailed Lemur.

Gorillas. So human-life.. Here’s a question, did we really evolve from Apes?

Saw this Peacock on my way to Trail 3 (Australian Walkabout).

Tadah! Kangaroo! Yipppeee! I finally see an Australian Kangaroo.

Ostrich.

Saw these Crocodiles on my way to the last trail which is Trail 9 (Seal Walk).

Seal. So big and fat!

Pelican. Please do not discard fish hooks into the sea cos it will get caught onto these seabirds causing injuries or even a slow agonizing death.

Say hello to my cute friend Sea Lion! She looked amused with all the cameras that kept snapping at her. Aaahhh.. So adorable! :D

Swimming freely in their world. :)

I gonna end this post with my favorite photo from the album.

Mother and daughter enjoying a day out to the Zoo! Motherly’s love.. So sweet, isn’t it?


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Waka Waka, This Time for Africa!

Johannesburg, South Africa 

I had a one-week stay in Johannesburg but all we did were going to the nearby shopping centre for meals. I will never ever dare to go out alone in this country after all the horror news that were reported during the World Cup.

On my last day in Joburg, I finally felt that I was in South Africa when my batch girl and me visited the Lion Park. We bought the guided drive tour from the hotel and off we go for our safari adventure!

This is my first time getting up close with wildlife and I felt like I was on National Geographic! I just wished that I had a better camera with super zoom lens to capture these wildlife in their nature habitat.

Close up view of the Blesbok.

Lion King is shitting! Lol!

“Alright, I am done shitting!”

White lions! So camera-shy!

Blur blur look. So cute!

We were freaking so close to the lion king! Roaarrrrrr!!

Feeding time! These lions are tame and they don’t rush to get their food. I guess they have already lost their killer instinct.

@ the Wild Dog’s Camp in Lion Park.

@ Cheetah’s Camp

I like this photo cos the cheetah’s face is facing the camera. Machiam posing for me! :)

Looking up to the blue skies… “Will there be another world over the fence?”

We also get to touch the Lion cubs and cuddle them around our arms.

Sayang-ing the lion cub.

Trying to play with the lion cubs but they don’t want to care about me.

Say Cheeze! :D

Anddd…..Here is my epic moments at the Giraffe feeding platform.

Heehee.. So “Kiasi”…! :-p


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The Netherlands, The Land of Windmills – Part 2

Amsterdam, The Netherlands 

Amsterdam is the capital of The Netherlands and it is also known as the “Venice of the North” for its canals which divide the city into 90 small islands linked together by 1500 bridges.

Charming canals but I got lost a couple of times because of the confusing canals network and layout of the city.

Canals and bicycles are everywhere in Amsterdam. Cycling is a very popular mean of transportation in Amsterdam with the average Amsterdammer owning 1.5 bicycles! Amsterdam is also one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world.

I like this white classic vintage style bicycle with the wicker basket. So chio right?

Pretty transportation to cycle to work everyday in Amsterdam but in Singapore, this type of bicycle is orbiang. Hahah!

The Chinatown in Amsterdam.

Ang moh countries always built a few Chinese restaurants, give it a very cheena name like “Dragon City” in a small stretch of road, and they already want to name the place CHINAtown and call it an “Attraction”. You can’t really find any local chinese staying there to provide the unique identity that allowed the place to be called CHINAtown. Lol!

Dam Square, one of the shopping areas in Amsterdam.

The National Monument in Dam Square to honor all the Dutch individuals who perished in World War II.

View of Dam Square in color sketch mode.

H&M stores are found everywhere in Amsterdam and I think I passed by more than 10 H&M stores. For a moment, I really thought H&M is originated from The Netherlands and not Sweden.

@ Flower Market.

Bright and beautiful flowers.

Lovely pink tulip. If you are visiting The Netherlands in Spring (around March-May), it is a must-visit to the Keukenhof Gardens which is one of the largest tulip gardens in the world.

Photo credits to Keukenhof Holland.

Photo credits to Keukenhof Holland.

Awwwww…SO PRETTY RIGHT? I wish the next time I am back in The Netherlands is the Spring season so that I can take all the beautiful flower photos. :D

I had lamb chops for dinner at Barbecue Castell Restaurant. I tried the pork ribs in this restaurant before too. They serve one of the BEST pork ribs and lamb chops in the world! Good ambience, good food and good beer! Two thumbs up! Having a great meal is a satisfaction. What more can I ask for? :D This gonna be the restaurant that I will bring into Singapore IF I have the $$$. Heehee..

Enjoyed a music performance in the streets before calling it a night…. ;)


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6 Ways to Enjoy Your Stay in Sydney!

Sydney, Australia

I have visited Sydney for 6 times in the last five months. Just in the month of November, I went there for 3 times! Even though it was a short stay on my each visit, it gets boring to see the same place and eat the same food again, again and again. I know I will dread coming to this place if I do not find ways to enjoy myself.

So…I have come up with a compilation of ways to enjoy my stay and here goes.. ;)

1. EAT PANCAKES!!

YUM YUM!! I love pancakes! If you are a pancake lover, you got to visit this restaurant named ‘Pancakes on The Rocks‘ when you are in Sydney! They serve the BEST pancakes in the world!

I had tried the pancakes for 4 times out of my 6 visits to Sydney. The two outlets that I have been to are located in Darling Harbor and The Rocks (24 Hours) which is near to Harbor Bridge.

I heard a good place to eat pancakes in Singapore is Strictly Pancakes which is in Dhoby Ghaut area. Gonna try it soon! Heehee..

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2. POSE STUPIDLY WITH OPERA HOUSE 

Hehehe…I am so strong!

Trying to show that I am bigger than the Opera House but failed terribly. Lol! -.-

I JUMP~ but block the Opera House. Epic fail!

This is the result of coming to the same place for so many times and you start to get a little crazy and crappy. Lol!

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3. VISIT BLUE MOUNTAINS

The Blues Mountains is a mountainous region in New South Wales and you can take a 2 hours train ride from Sydney Central Station and alight at Katoomba. The weather was really bad and all we can see is mist and rain! Kena con by hotel’s concierge again cos he told us the weather was only going to be cloudy.

You can buy the Blue Mountains Explorer Bus ticket from any CityRail Station in Sydney. It costs about AUD45 for the return train ride and bus ride around Blue Mountains. The hop-on hop-off bus will stop at 29 stops around Leura and Kamtooba.

Inside the Skyway. I am very scared of heights and I cannot cross an overhead bridge alone. However, the skyway ride wasn’t scary to me at all cos it was so misty and I can’t see anything below/around me at all.

The Railway, which is the steepest passenger railway in the world. Very fun but the ride was too short.

Three Sisters. Photo credits to Bluemountainsaustralia.com.

Hawkesbury Heights Lookout. Photo credits to Bluemountainsaustralia.com.

Valley of the Waters. Photo credits to Bluemountainsaustralia.com.

Wentworth Falls. Photo credits to Bluemountainsaustralia.com.

We were supposed to see all of these and not just mist and rain! Blue Mountains is so beautiful and it is also listed as one of UNESCO World Heritage Site. I will definitely come back again!

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4. SEE CUTE KIDS!! :D

Children are so cute and they always give you the biggest smile in the world. You can be yourself in their world. No pretense. No faking. No wayang. Life is just so simple with them. ;)

Fatherly love. Awww..

Handsome boy! Love the hair and eyes!

A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement.  It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood.  ~Rachel Carson

Let’s all be great man who does not lose our child’s heart and treat every fellow human beings with compassion and respect. ;)

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5. CHILLING OUT

What is nicer than spending a lovely afternoon sitting by the bay and having a nice chilled beer? :)

We had Beez Neez, a specialty honey wheat beer. It is an amazingly smooth beer with nice honey taste and not overpowering at all. I like to try the different kinds of beer around the world and some of my favorites include Corona, Kirin and Pure Blonde.

Chill out @ Opera Bar..

Artistic shot of the wine glasses.

You can also enjoy the view of Harbor Bridge and birds flying around the bay from the bar.

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6. And…Last but not least, awesome company to hang out with! :D

With my batch boy who came to Sydney with me twice!

@ Opera Bar.

With my batch boy again!

@ Pancakes on the rocks.

With another group of kaki @ Pancakes on the rocks.

@ Blue Mountains. My super steady bom pi pi friend who chiong Blue Mountains together with me! We are so awesome!! :D

With my batch girl who bunk in with me! Crazy night together! Hahah!

And of cos, not forgetting those peeps I did not manage to take pictures with who went makan and jalan together in Sydney. You guys make my stay in Sydney a pleasant one too! :D :D :D

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