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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