Tioman 2016.

This was a 3D2N trip to Tioman, Malaysia. It was my very first trip to this island and also my very first time trying snorkelling! I was so nervous and afraid of being swallowed by the waters but trust was very important. I trusted this group of friends and hang on to their arms for my dear life even though I had a life jacket on, but i was still frightened just like any non swimmer will. Thank God, I made it alive trying to snorkel without even being a good swimmer. 

This video montage was made to display the epic highs and lows of this amazing trip. I love that each of our different personalities complement one another and make this trip so exciting and memorable.

Looking forward to the next trip with them!

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Sydney Autumn 2016.

Finally, my holiday is here! After my last holiday trip which ended in October last year, i was already feeling tired from work and all the daily stuff.. I hadn’t plan to visit Sydney at all thinking that it’s but another city alike Singapore. But as I was looking at the promotional airfares, I thought hey! maybe i could give Sydney a chance.. and here I come!

I was a little hesitant initially, being aware of the terrorist attack news there lately, but as I had been to Melbourne before (and fell in love with the city there), I thought its fair to give this beautiful place a visit. So true enough, it surprises me. 😙

This was the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, although it was so far away from us but we could spot a few groups of bridge climbers on top of the bridge at that time!

 

We even tried to capture both the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House together in a picture.. camera angles are very important!

The Grounds of Alexandria is a farm theme inspired cafe situated in the middle of an industrial area in Sydney. It was more accessible by car / taxis than by foot as we had to  walk a few miles only then to arrive here. It was very crowded too, so do make reservations if you are going there for a meal!

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This was the interior of Central Station, so wished our train stations are like that too haha! Impressive architecture!

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I love spacious places..  and it’s something we do not have here in SG.

This was Leura Garage cafe. Cannot remember if it was a garage transformed into a cafe or it’s just a garage theme cafe. They even serve rainwater as a form of beverage. LoL.

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We took a long distance train from Sydney to Katoomba. Then we bought the day pass @ $40++ /pax which gave us unlimited rides around Blue Mountains National Park! Be warned, beautiful scenery pics coming up.

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Nice? That’s the legendary 3 sisters. 😀

Some hiking was required at some areas since it’s a national park. Btw, it was pretty cold up here in the mountains so it’s always good to bring along an extra jacket!

 

Poor mum, we were pretty worried about her knees not able to take the load of hiking upwards.

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This was @ Sublime Point Lookout.

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Beautiful scenery!

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This picture is proof that we went during the autumn season!

We also spent some time exploring the city and the CBD area, there’s this mix of rustic and modern feel around the city when we saw modern and old architecture located just side by side! The clock tower reminds me of London’s Big Ben.

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Lots of walking about although the train stations are nearby. Besides St James Station is Sydney’s own Hyde Park.

 

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Bondi Beach was pretty accessible. We took a bus there and we had brunch at one of the cafes along the street opposite the beach. Highly instagrammable food as you can see.

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And the instafamous Bondi Icebergs swimming pool is just by the ocean.

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Another highly instagrammable shot. Hehe

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We took to the challenge of doing the coastal walk, enjoying the scenery and of course the sea breeze!

 

Decided to take a cliff shot, although it is not advisable because of the risk of falling rocks or a careless step, I may end up swimming in the deep blue ocean.

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Remembering that this was the last meal that we had on the last day before we caught our plane back to SG.

Last but not least, I would say “Kudos!” to the subway network in Sydney, I must say it was a pleasant smooth experience for us travelling with the Opal cards. I learnt that although Australia is one big country, the different cities uses different transport companies and therefore, just like in Melbourne, use the Myki cards. Melbourne was confusing with the Zones 1 or 2. If you visit Melbourne, you will understand what I mean.

Tokyo 2015.

Finally!! The entry on my last personal trip for the year 2015 is out!

So I was headed to Tokyo Japan once again… this time with a different group of people, my ex-colleagues from the last workplace! We wouldn’t have attempted on this trip if JC hadn’t initiated for this one as we weren’t super close working partners in the workplace. But as I was familiar having been to Japan before, I gamely accepted it, although fully stressed because I knew I’ll be the “tour guide” or “tour leader” for this trip. There were a lot of things to figure out, such as  Japan’s complex metro subway network, intricate map of Tokyo, etc. Those street names although they have an English interpretation of it, they are forever so hard to remember. We even got a lil lost at Narita AP when we were trying to locate the place to get the discounted train tickets from AP to the city and back to AP on the last day. I was lugging a 13kg luggage that contained autumn clothes for my 8D7N stay as well as a 1.5l mineral water bottle (a habit of mine when I visit less developed countries or countries with undrinkable tap water). I could get the distilled water from their supermarkets but I tried to save some money lah! hehe. Anyway, a word of warning though, you will expect to see more pictures of ramen as you scroll down later in this entry. 😛

For the first 2 days, thank God for LY who used his data roaming to get us around Tokyo and even helped us to locate our hotel as due to some hitches in the logistics, we could only have our wifi egg delivered to us on the 2nd night of the trip.

#0: This was our first meal at a restaurant within walking distance from our hotel. Ramen meal was quite cheap and good.

#1: We popped by the Gundam cafe because ET was a huge fan of these robots and it was very near to Akihabara station. P/s: AKB48 cafe was just beside it as well.

#2: The weather was cool at air con temperatures but it was sunny in the morning and afternoons.

#3: After a super long working distance, we arrived at the Tokyo Metropolitan Building where we caught a glimpse of the beautiful skyline of Tokyo at no charge. The waiting in queue was what we had to endure after we finally found the building.

 

#4; This was the Ramen museum where they showcase all the types of ramen that is available in different parts of Japan.

#5: Cant remember where this ramen was from. But I didn’t quite like the texture and type of the noodles being used. It was thick like what we have over in Singapore – Mee Pok noodles. HAHA

#6 Kumamoto ramen which I did not get to taste when i was in Kyushu. How ironic that i am having it only now when I visit the ramen museum in Tokyo.

#7 A group pic of us outside the Ramen museum!

#8: We went to Disneysea! My 2nd time there and i wasn’t bored at the thought of going there a second time!


#10: The highlight of this trip! Although LY gave this a miss, but the 3 of us totally enjoyed it and sweated it out. We went for a mountain hike at Mt. Takao which was only about 500 m above the sea. But as we weren’t too prepared physically for this challenge, we made it still. Yes!

#11 That was the view of Tokyo midway up the mountain. Thank God for keeping us safe!

#12 I was in good exercise gear although my bag was quite heavy after carrying this thick sweater as I thought it might get windier or cooler uphill. But i was wrong. Probably the hordes of japanese warmed the entire climate over there. HEHEHE.

#13 Ramen after ramen.. and ramen again!
  

#16 Rainbow bridge and the waters that linked Tokyo up with this reclaimed island called Odaiba. It was raining hence the picture looks foggy like that. The rain made us all wet and cold but the shopping was good!

WE LOVE JAPAN!!!

Ok.. there weren’t as many pictures as expected since my handphone was spoilt.. I didn’t bring out the DSLR because I wasn’t going to be carrying it around everyday when all the walking would have exhausted me totally. But I am glad this trip was a success! Feel free to ask me any questions by leaving a comment below as I will try my best to answer you on your questions about this trip. And before i end this post… again…

WE LOVE LOVE LOVE JAPAN!!! 

xo, thedarktraveler

Macau 2015. 

Ever since i started working with a company that manufactures slots and deals with clubs and casinos, i knew undoubtedly that one day i would be given an opportunity to sink my feet into this land of the gamblers (or the city of Sodom and Gomorrah, what the Bible says). I have never like the thought of travelling on a working basis so i have never really embark on the opportunities to travel for this company till this day.

When we arrived at Macau airport in the evening, we were told to meet up with a bunch of colleagues who were already here for quite some time for dinner. So this experienced colleagues brought me around (ok, I was the only noob during this trip who have not step foot on this land before) and we shuttle between casinos and malls throughout the night. This was outside one of the mega casino if im not wrong is the Galaxy Casino. This is after we crossed the bridge that linked Taipa to Macau and its also where the Macau intl airport was located.

Across the water or just beside the Galaxy casino is the infamous Venetian Macau Casino. 
Interior of the infamous Venetian Macau. Shopping malls as usual. The canal really look more impressive than the one in Marina Bay Sands Singapore. 😁

  
This is after walking around and about, we stood outside the  StarWorld Casino and L’Arc Casino. It was the summer period so the weather was pretty humid and warm.
  
Grand Lisboa Casino.

 The ruins of the St Pauls Cathedral at 大三巴. Lots of tourists here even when it is already at night. Realized the roads here are pretty narrow and sometimes just a one way lane even at places of attractions. We even learnt from the macau colleagues that the cars here are cheap but the car park lot fees are exorbitantly high.

Ok, this is about it as we spend most of the time working inside the customer venue. Although the map of macau is bigger than Singapore but, as true as it is, it is just full of casinos, nothing else but casinos. 🎲🎰🌃🏪

Suzhou 2015. 

This was an unexpected, unplanned side trip to Suzhou so thought it’d be more suitable to have a separate entry on this.  Through whatsapp chat, we learnt that our 小叔 from my Dad’s side who has been living in China for some 7 or 8 years was currently staying near to Shanghai. Thus, as he was as eager as us to meet up to play host, he offered to drive over to Shanghai to pick us up and arrange a side trip to Suzhou which we followed along. Along the way, we talked and mingled and learnt quite alot about his life here in China and I was quite guilty for being ignorant to his China “expeditions”. So he arranged for us to visit this famous Zhou Zhuang Ancient Town which was somewhat named in the Internet as  “Venice of the East”. He was doing really quite well in China, so he had his driver who drove him 1 or 2 hours to Shanghai to pick us up and then send us to Suzhou.

This was a screenshot of the GPS location of this ancient town which was precious to me as google maps were pretty much blocked in China. Almost couldn’t get the location when I was there even with the Shanghai prepaid sim card, 3G connection was sparse and weak in Suzhou. I can only suspect that Suzhou uses a different telecom network. But in the later part when we returned back to Shanghai, I realised that I could just download the Baidu map app on my iPhone and I would simply be able to access the road maps here clearer than google maps. #iamnotgoingbacktochinaagain
  Reached the ancient town. This was taken along the way to the entrance of the ancient water town.  As we reached there in the late afternoon, we were told that quite a number of the attractions are closed and the last 2 would be closed by 630pm. We hurried in our footsteps through this ancient town and finally reached the first attraction of the day. Basically, its just one of the very old but well preserved residences that the ancient people lived and this was lived by a generation of family with the surname, Zhang who was an offspring of the late Xu Kui.    This was Shen residence owned by a descendent of Shen Wanshen: a wealthy man in southern China in the late Yuan (1206-1368) to early Ming Dynasties.

Basically, some of the rooms were about the same as the Zhang residence so no point taking the picture again. This one has a pretty big kitchen and dining hall. On the dining table, those were their average daily meal consumption. 大鱼大肉!  Roads here are stone-paved, really not a good pavement to walk on after a long day outside.

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Venice of the East .    The night was still young but at 7pm-ish, we head off for dinner at one of the restaurants nearby.
  After dinner, we visited my uncle’s residence in Suzhou which was like 10 mins walk to his office. It was a pretty lux bungalow. Unfortunately, he is staying here all alone for the entire part of the year. And his children who are my cousins will only join him like once a year here during their school holidays. I felt a pity for him but I was also proud of him for his successes. Although he is not yet a believer, I hope that one day, he will come to the Lord’s side to enjoy not just the earthly riches, but to enjoy the heavenly riches that our Lord gives to us abundantly.  Minions chocolate milk, something cute!
   Sis, mum and yours truly. 🙂
  Look fat and fair here.. woman is never contented when it comes to how slim or fat they look. Agree? This is me enjoying my SQ A380 flight when there is an empty seat beside me.

Did not capture too many shots as it was getting dark in there and some of us were tired. Hope this entry is as interesting as the previous one.

Cheers.

Shanghai 2015. 

Finally after a long wait, we took a short getaway to Shanghai during the jubilee weekend when everyone else in Singapore will be celebrating the Singapore 50th birthday. It was a long weekend but we only flew on the 8th Aug.   #0 Uploaded this picture on my IG to commemorate SG50 and changi airport being one of the top notch high class airport in the world.
  #1 The timetable for subway line to and from the Pudong Intl airport  #2 Or taking the Maglev train which costs more but saves time
  #3 This is the Nanjing road Pedestrian Street which is lined with all the high rise buildings and shopping malls as you walked further down. It was pretty confusing when taking the subway to here as there weren’t much street signs to indicate the way to this street. We were walking round after round and back to square 1 before finally reaching here. And realized that the people here in this part of China are not helpful even when you approach them for directions. Just got to be aware of this and asked from a few people for directions before confirming the way to the place.  #4 this is the mini tram service along the Nanjing Rd pedestrian street.
  #5 As we walked on and on along the pedestrian street, we reached The Bund. This is the centre of the famous french concession area where all the old french buildings are built along the Huangpu River. Its like we just visited Europe lol.  #6 the famous clock tower which looks like the big ben minus the red flags.
  #7 The view of the Oriental Pearl Tower and all the financial district of Shanghai.  #8 this is by far the only shop I’d go to if I am in any part of China. #metersbonwe
  #9 panoramic view of the nanjing east road  #10 street shot of Yongkang road where our rented loft apartment is.
  #11 almost the end of the yongkang road, there is a supermarket where we went for 2 of the days to grab some necessities.  #12 Lishui Road towards the Yu Garden that we wanted to go.
  #13 This is the Shanghai Old Street which was at the other end of the Yu Garden.  #14 Tianzifang
  #15 the map of tianzifang. You will not get lost with this map to refer to as there are only 3 different exits out of tianzifang. #16 Xintiandi where we were when we were quite tired already. We reached here in the evening. Read on the internet that it is much better to visit in the evening when it is more happening and bustling with people. True to that, it was but only found out that besides the mix of old and new buildings, it was just a funky area where people gather together for some booze or dinner.

  #17 the loft apartment we rented in yongkang road. Looks the same as picture but furnishings have worn out quite abit.

  #18 another clearer landscape shot of the bund. Very nice night view of shanghai.

 #19 the bund and huangpu river

Gonna separate this Shanghai trip with another entry on side trip to Suzhou Zhouzhuang water town. Met up with an uncle who has been working in China for almost 7 to 8 years and this time he is staying in Suzhou.

Anyway, August has been the busiest month for me since I had to made 2 overseas trips week after another. So look out for my entry on Macau, my virgin business trip working in this company and also my virgin trip to Macau. Lol. 

Busan 2015. 

This is another one of my belated entry of my travel diary since this trip was made somewhere in April 2015. My last visit to South Korea was in 2007 and it has been almost 8 years since then. Despite this delay in making this trip, I still felt a sense of familiarity with this city upon touching down at Incheon airport. Probably, it was because I have always been watching SK dramas and movies for the longest time. hahaha.

 #0 this was taken at their domestic airport with an awesome view of the aeroplanes. Felt that watching aeroplanes fly and land can be quite therapeutic.
IMG_0018  #1 Took a domestic flight to Busan and we were transported to this Boseong Tea plantation which locals boast it as their finest green tea field in SK.

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#2 mandatory jump shot ?  #2.5 Naganeupseong Folk Village
  #3 reliving my childhood on this super humongous ‘Qiu Qian’

#4 I went up the rocky stairs to this huge rocky platform and sat there. So I insisted my mum to take an arty farty shot of me looking up at the skies. This is it.
  #5 Left the folk village for this Suncheon bay which is one of the top 5 coastal wetlands in the world. I bet this is a UNESCO heritage site since it is being protected and preserved by the country.

 #5.5  suncheon bay

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#6 Gumcheon art culture village

#6.5 so… this is the famous everyone’s heard of Santorini of the Asia.  This is the Gumcheon Art Village which is also famously called the asian version of Santorini. So while we are on the way to see that famous landscape, there were alot of such wall murals that decorated the streets of this quiet place which is also still homes to perhaps some of the poorest oldest citizens of this country.

#7 this is it. Added some filter to enhance the sunlight shining through the camera lens 😛  

#8 Us.

#9 and Us again.  

#10 took quite a number of selfies with the selfie stick hahaha!

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#11
 #11.5 the view at Skywalk Oryudo 

#12 this was taken down at the foot of the rocky hill. Was quite a long way down and I ran up because I felt guilty for eating too much ‘bap’ (meaning: rice) for the past few days. Locals eat bap for almost every meal.

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#13

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#14

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#15 Bulguksa Temple – an UNESCO heritage site, one of the incentives of this trip is been able to visit a few of the many UNESCO heritage sites in the world. To me, its like a check in the bucket list.
 #16 Cheonmachong (Algol Court) in Gyeongju where some of the late king and officials of the Silla Kingdom are buried here. Each ‘hill’ is a tomb for the king or some high ranking official. We visited one of the hill which laid the remains of a king.

#17 Another of nature landscape taken at the Cheonmachong. Overheard that this was the garden where the queen or king would roam around in their free time. Not sure if I remembered correctly, hehe.
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#18 This was Anapji Pond in Gyeongju.

 #19 on the way to lunch, we saw a big field of this yellow flowers and so the tour guide allowed us to alight to take a few pictures as this wasn’t a common sight in this part of the country in this season. This was also gps tagged at Wolsong area. 

#20 After an escapade to the countryside, we took a speed train back to Seoul from Shin GyeongJu Station. Pretty good weather to start with that day.

#21 This itinerary also included back row tickets to the Wedding Musical concert in Seoul and this was one of the actors in the musical.
IMG_0187 #22 Bukchon Hanok Village where the confusing streets of traditional korean houses are cultured together. 

#23 GyeongBokGung Palace.
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#25 we bought alot of MarketO cookies this trip.. it was so much cheaper here than you would get online or at the korean shops in SG.

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#26 aiyah.. i looked so fat here.. didnt wanted to upload this pic but uploaded this to mark my step here to this Teddy Bear Museum in Gwangju.
#27 This was the bonus of the trip where we finally catch a few glimpse of cherry blossoms on our way from/to Incheon airport. I knew our trip is a late one if we had wanted check out the cherry blossoms. Nevertheless, thank God we are still able to see it on our way along the highway.

The pictures are about it, the journey has been fulfilling and lessons learnt as I was so careless in Busan when I lost all my remaining money and the wallet. I really should be more careful and less confident about my alertness.