Irene's Travel Blog

Every Trip Is A Voyage Of Discovery


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Lets Rock ‘n’ Roll!

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Dear readers… As some of you are aware, I am in the Top 10 Finalist for Best Travel Blog in Singapore Blog Awards 2013 and the themed challenge is to write a blog entry on something/someone from/about the 60′s that inspires us. I am born in 1990, a GEN-Y kid and a working adult now in my early twenties who has graduated from a local polytechnic not too long ago. What are there in the 1960s? I wasn’t even born yet. I kinda went into a “panic” mode. I think, think and THINK and I look at my June’s roster, “OH! I am going to London“.

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I love my job as I have great opportunities to travel around the world. There is no doubt that London is one of my favorite cities. I have been to London many times and was lucky enough to be in London during The Queen Diamond Jubilee and 2012 Summer Olympics. Kate Middleton, pregnant with her and Prince William’s first child is expected to give birth sometime in July. Guess what? I will be in London next month too! Hurray! Hopefully I will get to witness this joyous occasion in London. *fingers crossed* 

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That is not the whole point about the blog entry for the themed challenge.

So now…

I am going to throw you back to the 1960s - The Remarkable Era of ROCK AND ROLL.

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To find my inspiration for this blog entry, I joined this afternoon tour “Classic Rock & Beatles Site” by The Original Tour which costs me GBP32.50 (SGD65). The tour bring us to visit sites that made the ‘Sixties’ swinging and see where the legends used to live and where some still live. Our guide Bob was surprised to see me a young asian girl joining this tour because most of the tourists who join this tour are the americans or australians in their 50s or 60s. Truth be told, it was overwhelming cos I couldn’t understand some of the things he said. I tried my best to understand and digest the history of the 1960s music era. Nevertheless, the experience was pretty interesting and enriching I must say! :)

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Are you familiar with any of the musicians on this list?

Just to name a few..Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Jackson 5, The Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder, The Rolling Stones are some of the greatest musicians in the 1960s..

I LOVE ELVIS PRESLEY!

He is the undisputed King of Rock ‘n’ Roll! Wonderfully talented, charming and god damn good looking! Hottest man ever alive!

JAILHOUSE ROCK

BLUE SUEDE SHOES

LOVE ME TENDER

These are some of my favorite songs by Elvis Presley.

Oh man… Can someone please invent a time machine and bring me back to the 1960s?

I would really want to go to his concert!

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Here is some interesting history about The Golden Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll..

In 1950s, there were good times in the United States because of the economic boom after World War II. These new young generation of Americans had money to spend and the free time in which to spend. They did not want to be restricted like their parents who was forced to take life seriously because of the war. They wanted their own style and many chose rock ‘n’ roll as the music of their generation. Elvis Presley with his version of this new music became widely popular during the mid 1950s. Together with other famous rockers of the 1950s such as Chuck Berry and Little Richard, these musicians continued to create music and inspired others which led to the music that we now associate with the 1960s.

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Elsewhere in another part of the world, there was a group known as The Beatles formed in Liverpool that would take the world by storm and become one of the greatest bands in the history of rock music. The British Invasion was a phenomenon that occurred in the mid-1960s where British bands such as The Beatles, The Bee Gees and The Rolling Stones whose popularity spread rapidly to the rest of the English-speaking world, especially the United States. London was “swinging” to a flourishing of music, fashion and the cultural scenes and for a few years in the 1960s, London was the world capital of cool.

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If you are a huge fan of The Beatles, you  should join this full day tour “Liverpool & The Beatles” by Evan Evans Tours. I have wanted to join this tour instead but it was fully booked. The tour includes an entrance to The Beatles Story museum, a two hour “Magical Mystery Tour” that takes you around all the places associated with The Beatles including their homes, school, birthplaces, etc. Last but not least, you get to visit the legendary Cavern Club where the Beatles used to perform before they become famous. I so wanna go! Why no tickets! :(

I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND

YELLOW SUBMARINE 

LET IT BE

These are some of my favorite songs by The Beatles. There is a beautiful story behind this song “Let It Be” written by Paul McCartney.

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I was at Hyde Park last year June to celebrate The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and “Let It Be” is the last few songs performed by Paul McCartney to bring the star studded concert in tribute to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to a close.

HE REALLY ROCKS! WOAH! 

Paul McCartney, A True Legend 

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We also saw the Abbey Road Studios during the tour.

The Abbey Road Studios is the most famous recording studios in the world and The Beatles recorded almost all of their albums and singles there between 1962 and 1970.

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Of cos must take photo la! It is a working studio so you can’t go in.

You need to take your pictures fast because someone will come out to chase you away.

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This is arguably one of the most iconic album covers in history. The Beatles named their 1969 album, Abbey Road, after the street where the studio is located. The cover photo was taken at the pedestrian zebra crossing outside the studio. This pedestrian zebra crossing has now become a place of pilgrimage for The Beatles fans from all over the world. Mind you, this is not any ordinary crossing you find elsewhere. This crossing has been given a Grade II listed status for its cultural and historical importance.

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When you are here, you MUST take pictures of yourself crossing the road. HAHAHAHA!

I have never seen any zebra crossing this popular and you need to queue up to cross k!

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The tour also brought us to see the rooftop where The Beatles perform their final live gig on January 30, 1969.

The full performance included Get Back, Don’t Let Me Down, I’ve Got A Feeling, One After 909, Dig A Pony and another run-through of Get Back.

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The Beatles’ live legacy ends with the police shutting down the show as the concert disrupted the businesses along Savile Road and caused a traffic jam on the street below, when people stopped to listen.

And John Lennon’s sign off at the end of the gig, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition”.

That’s called ending off in STYLE! Rock on mate!

That’s how The Beatles break up and performed their last gig “rooftop concert”.

I have also come to the end of my blog entry… It was pretty fun and interesting to get to know more about the 1960s while I was researching for this entry.

I hope you have enjoyed reading the post and maybe get “inspired” to listen to the 60s music.

Cheers! :)

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Wonderful Day Filled With Incredible Scenery!

Yosemite National Park

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Hello, my dear readers! I know it has been quite awhile since I have updated my blog…like about one month? I just came back from my most recent trip to Hong Kong and San Francisco. I am very lucky to have been rostered flights to Hong Kong-San Francisco in March and then in May again. Such flights are not easy to come by and more so to be rostered again in less than two months. Oh yes, I love the States! And I am planning to go on a two-week vacation to the States this year. I had wanted to go to Yosemite National Park on my last visit in March but I was kinda lazy to go and I did not have any travel companion! But I was so inspired by my two flying friends Sophia and Simna who visited Yosemite on a tour alone. If they can do it alone, I also can do it right? And I booked a one day tour to Yosemite via biodiesel mini coach from Incredible Adventures which costs USD158.

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There is complimentary pick up from any of the hotels in San Francisco city and my pick up came at 7am. I was really tired cos we had only touched down in San Francisco the night before at 9pm, having worked through a 14 hours flight from Hong Kong. My body clock did not have enough time to adjust from the GMT+8 in Hong Kong to GMT-7 in San Francisco which is a freaking 15 hours difference. I was determined to sightsee even if I was walking around like a zombie. The 4 hours long drive to Yosemite was scenic and I enjoyed many incredible scenery along the way. I love scenic train/coach/car rides! Even though the rides can be long at times, I enjoy looking out on the beautiful window-framed scenery. A few of my memorable rides include the trip from Zurich to Lausanne, Milan to Venice, Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Sydney to Blue Mountains, Japan school trip and of cos this trip to Yosemite too!

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This is one of the past fire activity that has happened in Yosemite. According to the tour guide, fire in Yosemite has many faces. Fire in Yosemite might not just be a negative force but it can also be beneficial to the forests. Natural-occuring fires allow the recycling of nutrients to the soil while reducing the amount of dead debris. This in turn helps in the sprouting and regrowth of plants.

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After a long 4 hours drive, we finally arrived at this pit stop to take some photos. The mountain view is captivating and the clean mountain air is truly a breath of fresh air. It is like taking a break from everything to enjoy nature and its wonder.

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I met a young Danish woman who is also traveling alone in this tour and she commented that there is no such nature landscape in Copenhagen but flat land. I was like….Singapore more pathetic leh!!  Oh man…tell me about it. Okay lah, we have Mount Faber, Bukit Timah, Bukit Merah, Bukit Batok, Red Hill…. HAHAHAHA…

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This was our second pit stop El Captain to take photos. Beautiful!

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The next pitstop is the Yosemite Falls. The best time to see waterfalls is Spring with the peak flow in May, where most of the snowmelt occurs.

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This is the mini coach for the tour that we took which can sit around 14 pax.

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After the tour, we stop near the base of Yosemite Falls where we were given about 4 hours of free time to explore Yosemite. I was quite lost so I just took my map and walked to the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail.

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I wanted to take photos of the waterfalls but this adorable little girl came in front of me so I just took a snapshot of her.

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My colleagues asked me if I have seen the Yogi Bear during my trip. The answer is a big NO. I guess I was not lucky enough to see these Black Bears. I have only seen Black-Tailed Deer and Squirrel which are commonly spotted in Yosemite.

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There are a couple of day hikes you can do in Yosemite and of cos with the limited free time I had, I went for one of the easiest hike which is the Mirror Lake trail. You can take the free shuttle bus and stop at shuttle stop #17 and from the shuttle stop, there is a paved trail thats lead directly to Mirror Lake.

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The water was calm, offering a beautiful reflections of the surrounding landscapes. I wish I had more time to enjoy the scenery and one day is definitely not enough to explore Yosemite.

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Yosemite – Checked! It was yet another memorable trip…Till then! :)


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The City Of Angels

Los Angeles, United States

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I love flights to Los Angeles because the first trip that I did last year July was so great with super awesome company. It was not an easy feat to visit Grand Canyon and Las Vegas but we did it. It must be one of the best trips ever in my flying memories. This is my second time to Los Angeles and I am so glad that I have great company for this trip too. We rented a 7 seater SUV for one day and embarked on our road trip to visit the Hollywood Sign and Santa Monica.

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We started our day with breakfast at IHOP (International House of Pancakes). IHOP offers different styles of pancakes such as chocolate chip, strawberry banana and new york cheesecake pancakes, etc but the original pancake is still my all-time favorite. There is also syrups of several different flavors like old fashioned, blueberry, strawberry and peanut pecan to choose from. If you like to have good, affordable and some big portion american breakfast, IHOP is the place!

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I like to go out in a big group cos it means bigger fun! it feels more….Togetherness! The group includes Cassandra, Sulwyn, Rendy, Kelvin, Natalie and Gwen. The driver is none other than the “bitchy mama” in our group, Kelvin! I really appreciate the task of the driver cos it can be so tiring to drive on the road for the whole day. And of cos a road trip will never be possible without a driver. This bitchy mama didn’t allow anyone to sleep on the car cos he will bitch, bitch and bitch if he/she dares to doze off. I was constantly battling against the Zzz monster if not will kena bitch. Haha.. It was so tough because the time difference between Los Angeles and Singapore is freaking 15 hours. While I was having my breakfast in the States, everyone in Singapore is snoozing away. Poor thing, right?

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Our first stop was the Hollywood Walk of Frame. Heehee.. I am so thick skinned to put my name on the star. Lol!

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Guess who I met in Hollywood? Jack Sparrow! 

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Our next stop was the Hollywood Sign. I have finally seen the famous Hollywood Sign and not in movies!

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And…Of cos we had to take a group shot with the iconic Hollywood Sign!

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We had to take jump shots too! Woah!

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Do we look like a girls’ group in this picture? Haha..

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Our last stop was Santa Monica.

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We then went our own way to walk around the shopping districts. The weather was pleasant and it was a nice walk around the city.

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When dusk fell, it was time to say goodbye to Santa Monica and we headed back to the hotel. An awesome trip! And I look forward to the next one… Till then… :)


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Bike the Golden Gate Bridge!

San Francisco, United States 

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Me @ Golden Gate Bridge

It was more than a year ago that I was last here, but it feels nostalgic to visit San Francisco again. It was a great trip this time but there was a tinge of sadness.. Perhaps it was on my last trip that I found out how harsh and tough reality can be. I was terribly homesick on my last trip. I shall not elaborate about it but it makes me realize that I can’t be living like a little girl anymore. I will be officially turning 23 in three more months. *OMG* Isn’t it amazing how time flies? It may seem that I am enjoying my life traveling around but loneliness can be overwhelming at times especially when I fall sick overseas. Whenever I am feeling down, I will read my blog and I am amazed by the number of places that I have been too. I still have a burning passion for travel and I want to travel and see the world as much as I can.

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Bym, Travis, Jamie & Me

I con convince the rest to join me on a cycling trip to Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito. I felt quite bad cos everyone had terrible muscle aches for the next few days after our cycling trip. We were ridiculously burned trying our best to cycle up San Francisco’s famous steep hills.

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We rented our bicycles from Blazzing Saddles at Pier 41 in Fisherman’s Wharf. We chose the “deluxe comfort bike” and each bike costs USD36 for the one day rental. But trust me, you will want to get the electric bikes which cost a little bit more (USD69/Day). We overestimated our abilities and the famous San Francisco’s famous steep hills proved to be too physically taunting for us. Most of the times when we reach the foot of the slopes, we had to get off and push our bikes up hills. My stamina is not as good as before and this is a wake-up call to hit the gym more often!

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Paperworks settled, got our bikes and OFF WE GO~

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It took us 4 hours to reach our final destination Sausalito as we kept stopping to take photos.

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Took a few jump shots…

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…..And some funny and lame shots. Jamie was so engrossed “kicking” me that her shoes fly off. Lucky it didn’t hit my face! *Phew*

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Nice cool weather & Beach – a good combination to enjoy a great weekend!

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Golden Gate Bridge

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Even though it was tiring, cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge was a great experience.

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Where Sky and Ocean Merge…

The view of the Pacific Ocean was spectacular. It had a calming effect on me and it was a beautiful sight to behold.

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All of us felt a sense of satisfaction when we finally reached the other side of the bridge, Golden Gate Park National Recreation Area. It was an easy downhill ride to Sausalito.

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While on our way to Sausalito, we stopped by at this pier to take some photos. Managed to capture this nice little bird posing for me. :)

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We met this very nice and friendly local couple on the pier and we had a brief chat with them.

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They caught this whole bucket of dungeness crab. I like this kind of lifestyle…taking time off…just chillax and enjoy… Lifestyle in Singapore is too stressful and I doubt we can enjoy such life and not even in the near future.

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We cycled a few more steep slopes before reaching Sausalito and we took the last ferry back. It was too tiring and impossible to cycle back with the amount of energy left. It was invigorating but the beautiful sights along the trip made it all worthwhile. It is a trip you have to do it and you won’t regret it!  :)


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Better The Second Time Around!! Part 2

New York, United States 

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On the second day, my friend Pei Yu brought me to Chinatown to have hong kong style breakfast.

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Big Wong King Restaurant

She is a foodie lover and she found this restaurant through Yelp. I felt like I was in Hong Kong as soon as I step in. No frills, cheap and delicious chinese food!

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Congee with century egg

We ordered congee with century egg. This bowl of congee with century egg is really good and it brought me back my childhood memories. It has been long since I had such a good and comforting bowl of congee with century egg. My childhood favorite! When I was a little girl, my family would go to Fortunate Restaurant at Toa Payoh and one of the dishes that we always order is congee with century egg. More than 10 years ago, they serve old school push cart dim sum and the restaurant is always crowded during weekends. They stop serving push cart dim sum, the standard drop over the years and it is now taken over by another restaurant brand. :(

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You tiao

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Chee cheong fun

Chee cheong fun was a little too thick and dry.

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Roast duck noodle

Another must-order dish is roast duck noodle! The roast duck was flavorful and wonderfully tender. Slurps!

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American Museum of Natural History

It was raining so we decided to stay indoor and visit the American Museum of Natural History. This is where the movie Night At The Museum was filmed!

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We used my student card to get the student tickets. I graduated from poly two years ago but hey, I am still young to look like student right? :p

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I will just show some photos I took from the museum..

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The only thing I can remember about the movie is DUM DUM.

“Dum-dum, gimme gum-gum!”

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We went to this Vietnamese restaurant (I can’t remember the name anymore) for dinner which Pei Yu found it through Yelp too.

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Vietnamese Sugar Cane Grilled Pork Skewers

THIS IS A SUPER AWESOME DISH. You can chew the sugar cane and suck the sweet juice after the grilled pork. Yums…yums…YUMS!

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Pork and Noodle Soup

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Hot Chocolate

She has cravings for western style breakfast and we went to this random restaurant the next day.

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Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

I was disappointed with the food on my last New York trip because we went to the wrong place with the wrong recommendations. But with a little bit of patience, you will find an amazing number of good restaurants. Good Food = Satisfied Tummy = Happy Me :)

You can view my Part 1 post if you have missed it. :)


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Better The Second Time Around!! Part 1

New York, United States 

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NEW YORKKKKKK…

I like this photo because it captures me at my natural state- makeup-less, excited, tired and yea, stoning… It is so me… always stoning away in my own world

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Times Square

It is my second time to New York and it is better than my last trip in April which I got really sick. I was in good mood and health to enjoy the city this time around.

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We had our lunch at Shake Shack and the queue is insane! The waiting time is at least 45 minutes to an hour.

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When I’m shaken’ come on up to the shack!

The device will vibrate when your order is ready for collection.

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Shroom Burger (Vegetarian) – Crisp-fried portobello mushroom filled with melted cheese

I had the Shroom Burger because all the non-vegetarian burgers are beef and I have stopped eating it. The burger was still damn good with cheddar cheese oozing out from the portobello mushroom. Slurps!

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Sarah, Fleur & Me

Burgers, cheese fries and milkshakes! Lunch was sinful but very satisfying. Definitely not for the diet conscious.

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We took a photo with christmas greetings at the starbucks outlet.

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DSC_3489 Interesting street art

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Christmas decorations

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The world-famous christmas tree at Rockefeller Center

And yea, MUST TAKE photo with the most famous christmas tree in the world.

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My camera makes the christmas tree looks very unflattering so I got this photo from the net. So… Can you imagine how is it like to countdown to Christmas in New York now? AWESOMEEEEE RIGHTTTTT….


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Left My Heart in Vegas!

Las Vegas, United States

Juleen, Jadyn, Devy, Me and Christian

It is a dream come true to visit Las Vegas. If I ever live in Las Vegas, I think I will get wasted everyday. We have drove for so long on the road, sacrifice our sleep to travel from Los Angeles to Las Vegas but it is all worth it.

Giant mega-casino hotels are everywhere and the city is decorated with lavish care that make you feel out of the world.

Eiffel Tower in Las Vegas and it is just as stunning as the Eiffel Tower in Paris!

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Even the McDonald’s in Las Vegas also looks so cooooool! 

One of the MUST-SEE attractions in Las Vegas is the Fountain Show at Bellagio. It is playing “Time to say goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. I still have this amazing WOW WOW WOW feeling every time I play this video clip.

The Cheesecake Factory

We had our late dinner at The Cheesecake Factory.

And of cos, one of the must order food in The Cheesecake Factory is cheesecake!! I love this red velvet cake so much!

Even though the whole trip was really rush, it was definitely a memorable trip with awesome company. Special thanks to Christian and Devy cos this trip will never be possible without these two “pilots”.

Vegas, I will be back for you again….


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Grandest Natural Wonder Of The World

The Crazy 5!

It was definitely an impromptu and crazy decision to visit Grand Canyon. We arrived in Los Angeles tired and weary after surviving a 11 hours flight from Narita. Without a plan and proper rest after flight, we headed out for our adventure to Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.

We rented a car for two days from Enterprise and we chose this red Toyota Corolla.

After a long 6 hours drive, we finally reached Las Vegas from Los Angeles. Stayed in Siena Suites for one night and it costs about USD80 for the two bedrooms suite. I would say that it is a really cheap and decent accommodation.

Good morning Vegas! This is the view from our suite. We booked our tour pretty last minute through phone from Scenic Tour. The duration of the whole tour is approximately 7 hours and costs around USD250 per person. This package also includes the charter flight from Scenic Airlines Terminal to Grand Canyon West and return.

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We had our lunch from A&W. Oh, don’t you just love A&W root beer float and waffles with ice cream?

A&W, PLEASE COME BACK TO SINGAPORE! SINGAPOREANS LOVE YOU!

This is our boarding pass for the charter flight to Grand Canyon.

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Our captain for the flight!

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Jadyn, Devy, Me and Juleen

This is my first time taking a charter flight. Even though I spend most of my time in the air, I was really nervous to take this small plane. The flight is really unstable and it feels like the plane will crash anytime soon. However, the view from above is really breathtaking and it is such a great experience.

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Oh yeah! We conquered this 30 minutes bumpy flight together! :)

Our first stop was Eagle Point. It was named so for the landscape’s resemblance to an eagle. Are you able to spot the eagle?

I took a lot of courage to take this photo. I am really scared of heights and this is why I am sat down in this photo here.

Christian, Me, Juleen, Devy and Jadyn

The weather is so hot and dry and nothing beats having a big cup of coca cola with ice to quench one’s thirst! My coke comes free though :p

One of the highlights in Eagle Point is SkyWalk. We can’t bring in any mobile phones and cameras into the attraction but this is how SkyWalk looks. SCARY RIGHT? I was really scared that I have to drag everybody to walk with me and I did not dare to open my eyes at all.

But…but…I am so glad that I DID IT!

Our second stop was Guano Point.

Hey no! I am not the shortest in the group. I look so short because of the downward slope.

Christian, Me, Juleen, Jadyn and Devy

And…It was time to take the flight back to Las Vegas.

GRAND CANYON, ONE OF 7 NATURAL WONDERS OF THE WORLD CONQUERED! :D


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Togetherness! – Day 3, 4 & 5 in New York!

New York, United States 

Day 3 

Me @ Times Square

IT IS NEW YORK BABY! I have always wanted to come to New York cos I think this is one of the coolest cities in the world. It is just cool to me.

My first impression of New York is that the Americans are really proud of their country. They are so patriotic that you can find American flags everywhere in the city.

Excited first-timers to New York!

(From left to right) Julin, Lay Hui, Joan, Bee Peng, Chai Yean, Irene (Me), Tina, Yiiyin and Kent (the guy in the middle)

There are some new faces in the group who have joined us from Frankfurt to New York flight. This is our first time to New York and our first stop was Times Square! One of the places when I think of New York is Times Square! I just have this impression that Times Square is a very happening place and true enough, it is.

(From left to right) Yiiyin, Julin, Irene (Me), Bee Peng, Chai Yean, Joan, Lay Hui, Tina and Kent

The school buses are all in yellow color and it reminds me of the cartoon Magic School Bus in my childhood time.

We took the metro to Soho. According to Yiiyin’s friend who is studying in New York, Soho is a pretty good place to shop for US brands.

Soho!

We did some shopping in Soho before going back to see the neon lights of Times Square at night.

Times Square at night!

Please don’t ask me why we kept doing this “extending our hands out” pose. Lol! New York has one of the best neon signs I have seen so far.

We passed by this building as we were walking back to our hotel. It looks pretty interesting with the foggy background.

- End of Day 3 -

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Day 4

We started our day early with breakfast at Mcdonald’s. This breakfast is the best meal I had in New York. Eating out in New York is a nightmare for me cos most of the food are junk food and it tastes very salty.

Spamming photos on metro again!

Our tickets to Statue of Liberty!

Our first stop for the day was Statue of Liberty! How can you miss seeing the American icon Statue of Liberty when you are in New York!

At the ferry port!

The Statue of Liberty is located on the Liberty Island and a way to reach Statue of Liberty is to take a 10 minutes ferry from the ferry port in Battery Park.

Spamming photos on the ferry!

All the girls!

Statue of Liberty!

The Statue of Liberty was a gift of friendship from France and symbolizes a beautiful representation of freedom.

These photos are taken in two different occasions with the Statue of Liberty clone on my holiday trips to Taipei.

And hey, who knows I can see the real Statue of Liberty in New York a few years later? Sometimes, we may expect the unexpected twists and turns in life. I really feel blessed that I am able to do what I want and having fun traveling around the world at my age.

All the girls again!

Must take a jump shoot with one of the iconic landmarks in the world!

I like this photo! Nice jump! Nice timing!

Our second stop was 9/11 Memorial. I guess everyone of us will remember that over ten years ago on September 11 2001, the hijackers from the terrorism group Al-Qaeda crashed two planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center, killing nearly 3000 people. Both towers collapsed within two hours and some of us may still have vivid memories of people jumping out of the buildings to escape the flames.

The 9/11 Memorial is a national tribute of remembrance and honor to the people who are killed in the terror attacks of 9/11. The Memorial was officially opened on September 12 2011 to mark the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

This is one of the Memorial’s twin reflecting pools and it is the largest manmade waterfalls in the North America. The pools sit within where the Twin Towers once stood and the names of every person who died in the attacks are inscribed on the panels.

One World Trade Center

The One World Trade Center is being constructed in an effort to memorialize and rebuild after the original World Trade Center that was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks.

Survivor Tree

This is named the Survivor Tree in the 9/11 Memorial. It is a pear tree that miraculously survived the 9/11 attack and it is a testament to New York’s “ability to endure” and “unshakeable belief” in a brighter future.

Charging Bull

Our third stop was Wall Street and we saw the Charging Bull which is also referred to as the Wall Street Bull. It is a “Wall Street icon” symbolizing Wall street and the Financial District and some say that you have the nose, horn and testicles of the bull for good luck.

We got hungry so we take away the chicken rice from one of the street vendors. It is the cheapest meal I had in New York but still, it is too salty for my likings. American food is really salty and the salt is like machiam free.

Our fourth stop was the Brooklyn Bridge, another iconic landmark in New York.

New York Skyline

We then went to Times Square for more shopping before going back to the hotel. :)

- End of Day 4 -

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Day 5

Disappointing breakfast

I met up with the girls to have American breakfast. I was hoping to have a good meal since the restaurant was recommended by the hotel’s concierge. I guess you can see how unappetizing the breakfast was. Pancakes were burnt and the scrambled eggs did not look and taste like scrambled eggs at all.

After the breakfast, I did not join the girls out and continued with my rest instead cos I was feeling really fatigued with the madness walking and time difference. My conclusion is that I will never be able to survive more than a week in New York. Food is very important to me and I really do not like junk and salty food. The lack of greenery and high-rise buildings built in such cramped conditions made me felt very suffocated and stressed. Nevertheless, it is still an exciting and cool experience for me to visit New York. :)

Stay tuned for the next post back to Frankfurt! If you have previous posts, you can click on the following links – Day 1 (Frankfurt) and Day 2 (Heidelberg).


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Won’t you save me San Francisco? Part 2

San Francisco, U.S.A

Alcatraz Island, a maximum security prison to house some of America’s most notorious offenders in the 20th century.

Alcatraz Island is one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco and tickets sell out fast. We were really lucky to get hold of the tickets and visited the island on our second day in San Francisco.

The only way to reach Alcatraz Island is via the ferry ride from Pier 33 near Fisherman’s Wharf.

View of Golden Gate Bridge from our ferry to Alcatraz Island. How can you not see the Golden Gate Bridge when you are in San Francisco? It is just like not eating Dim Sum when you are in Hong Kong or Sushi in Japan. Talking about that, I didn’t manage to eat Dim Sum when I was in Hong Kong and I still hoping to try it one day!

Alcatraz Island Lighthouse, the oldest light station on U.S. West Coast.

Deterioration of the structures on Alcatraz Island over time and cordoned off for visitors’ safety.

“Break the rules and you go to prison, break the prison rules and you go to Alcatraz”

We were given an audio device to take on a self-guided tour around the prison. The award-wining self-guided audio tour was so awesome and includes stories from former prison guards and inmates as you walk through the cell block.

The new inmates will collect their prison uniform here with an identification number on their first day in the island.


This is the common shower area for the prison inmates.

The inmates have to be confined in their tiny and cramped cell with no freedom and loneliness in the island.

Broadway“, the central walkway in the cell block between B and C blocks.

This is me standing at the Broadway with the audio device hanging around my neck.

The Dining Hall, it is also called the ‘Gas Chamber’ due to the teargas canisters installed and is used used in the event of a riot. The dining hall was the most vulnerable area for riots and fights because they now had knifes and forks to harm each other.

View of the Kitchen. To avoid the risk of riots, the inmate were fed very well with meat, potatoes, gravy, vegetables, salad, salad dressing, bread and coffee.

Cell Block D and apparently, this is the most haunted area.

Several of the cells in Alcatraz’s D Block were designed for solitary confinement and the most serious offenders could be confined to these cells. These cells were called “The Hole” as they contained no windows and inmates will live completely isolated in darkness.

I felt spooky when I stepped into “The Hole” and I did not even wish to spend more than 5 seconds in this cell.

Inmates were given restricted access to the Library. Books on sex, violence and crime were not available.

Recreation Yard, the only place where inmates could enjoy sunlight and fresh air. They could also play sports such as baseball or handball in the recreation yard.

The Water Tower in recreation yard.

Visitation Area. Inmates could earn visitation privileges with good records. They could receive a visit from their immediate family members once every month. However, many are deferred to do so as the journey to Alcatraz Island is expensive for just an hour long visit over the telephone.

This is the housing for the prison guards and their families.

View of San Francisco from Alcatraz Island.

The isolation of Alcatraz Island from outside by the cold water and strong current of San Francisco Bay made it hard for anyone to escape.

One of the famous escape attempts include ‘The Battle of Alcatraz in 1946‘ which was the bloodiest attempt in the prison’s history.

The elevated Gun Gallery in the Cell House.

One of the inmates Bernard Coy spotted a flaw in the bars protecting the Gun Galley and widened it with a self-made bar spreading device. He starved himself so that he could be thin enough to squeeze through the bars and gained control of the guns. Bernard Coy and his accomplices tried to takeover the island but the escape attempt was foiled. They couldn’t find the keys as prison guard William A. Miller had held on to the keys as contrary to the regulations to let out kitchen staff without having to disturb the gallery guard.

The prisoners were trapped in the cell house as the inmates tried several keys and jammed the locks. Two guards and three inmates were killed in the battle of Alcatraz. Two of the surviving convicts were executed.

In memorial of prison officer William A. Miller for his quick thinking and bravery.

The only successful escape attempt that was possibly made was the ‘June 1962 Alcatraz Escape‘ by Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin.

They used self-made drills to enlarge the vent holes in their cells. The noise was disguised by the accordions played during music hours. They also used false walls and realistic dummy heads with human hair placed in their beds so that they would not be missed during nighttime head counts. They crawled out of their cells through the small vent hole and used raincoat to construct a raft to escape from the island. It is still not known if they have made it alive.

Replica of the dummy heads used in the escape attempt.

Alcatraz was never no good for nobody.” AZ 1576 Frank Weatherman, last prisoner to leave Alcatraz.

The prison on Alcatraz Island was too expensive to operate as the costs of transporting supplies to this isolated was too high. The buildings were also deteriorating rapidly caused by the corrosive effect of the salt water around the island. Hence, the federal prison was shut down in March 21, 1963 and it has now became a national park which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.


Has the spirits decided to stay in Alcatraz for good? This photo is for your imagination.

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