The best of 2016.

A look back at some of my most popular posts in 2016.

Until yesterday, I was without both my camera and laptop for three long days. I had to send them both for some TLC, and I regret to announce that only one of them came back to me.

My camera, that I often affectionately refer to as my baby, went through some sensor cleaning and is now back with me safely. Considering I never left my flat without it for the past one year or so, having it taken away from me for full seventy two hours did give me some separation anxiety.

My laptop, however, suffered from a much more unfortunate fate. I will let the picture below speak of what had happened.

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And of course it went beyond repair one day before a big deadline.

The cost of repairing it would almost be equivalent to buying a new one, so after fighting furiously for its life, I had to make one of the most difficult electronic decisions in my life: I had to let it go.

You may find me weird for having such a strong attachment to a piece of technology (let alone sharing my sentiments for the whole world to read), but that laptop has gone through so much with me.

It was one of the main reasons for the birth of this blog. I typed every single post (129 of them to be exact) of this so-called travel blog on that laptop – it practically gave me back my flair for writing. My mediocre pictures appeared twice as sharp and brilliant thanks to its screen resolution that was way ahead its time. It travelled with me to all the different countries that I have been to since the end of 2013 (there were a lot of them).

So it does feel extremely weird that I am now writing this very post on a new laptop that I had just purchased in a rush to fill in the gaps so I can continue applying for jobs during my winter break. For one I kept touching my screen to try and scroll down since my previous laptop came with that function (I was spoilt I know).

But in the words of G.K. Adams that I recently came across in the book “After You” by Jojo Moyes:

Sometimes in order to keep moving forward, not only must you take one step at a time, but you must be willing to look back occasionally and evaluate your past, no matter how painful it is.

As a tribute to the enabler of this blog, I have decided to use this post to look back at some of my most popular posts in 2016, all of them came to life thanks to my now defunct Lenovo Yoga Pro 2.

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The little great things of Tromsø.

As much as I think that the Northern Lights are one of the most incredible natural phenomena, I find it a pity that Tromsø is known for simply that – a gateway to see the Northern Lights. There seems to be very little else known about the city – most people out of the Nordic countries have never even heard of its name before, when in fact this place has so much to offer and is absolutely gorgeous.

I was guilty of exactly that – I came here aiming and caring for nothing but seeing the coveted aurora borealis. And knowing my tendency to not do any proper research before visiting a city (in a bid to be pleasantly surprised), I almost had no idea what was waiting for me at the largest town in Northern Norway.

Not only did Tromsø pleasantly surprise me, but it also took my breath away with its Arctic city charm. There is no earth-shatteringly famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome, or the Buckingham Palace in London. Instead, what Tromsø boasts is its own existence: a cold place in the Arctic with 24-hour darkness for a few weeks in the winter, the midnight sun in the summer, and of course the occasional visits of the Northern Lights. It is also nestled on a beautiful landscape with both mountains and the sea decorating its view – together with the city lights emanating from the houses, it makes for an absolutely breathtaking sight.

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The warm city lights contrasting with the white snow are possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.

Despite not visiting any museums nor tourist attractions when I was there, I left the city being charmed endlessly. Tromsø showered us with many little things that made every moment so precious.

And it started the moment we landed at the Tromsø Airport.

Being greeted by Father Christmas.

My trip started rather horribly with me losing my luggage at the Oslo airport (due to my supreme idiocy). But it was instantly cured the moment I stepped into the airport building as we were welcome by the sight of this familiar guy waving at us.

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It was a much needed warm welcome to our coldest destination; naturally, we couldn’t leave without taking a picture with him.

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I’m pretty sure he was smiling underneath that big beard.

Continue reading “The little great things of Tromsø.”

The best food we ate in Taiwan.

I love to eat. A LOT.

So does my friend JY who went to Taiwan together with me (she is slightly taller than me but only half my width which goes to show that the world can be very unfair, but let’s ignore that fact for the purpose of this post).

We also don’t plan a lot when we travel. Hence it is no surprise that we did not have a list of tourist attractions to visit.

But still, we did have a list of food we needed to try. That is simply how much we love to eat.

After eating our way through Cingjing, Sun Moon Lake and Taipei, we had several hits and misses when looking for awesome must-try dishes. So in order to do the world a service and turn the wasted calories into something useful, I have decided to create the list of food we had there that was absolutely worth trying, with occasional notes of which food turned out to be disappointment.

Fried salty mini fish (Cingjing Farm, Cingjing)

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I honestly did not expect much out of the eatery at Cingjing Farm, but this mini fried fish was a nice surprise! It was served hot and crispy with just the right amount of salt, but be careful of lurking fish bones!

Vanilla Roast Chicken (Lao Ji Po, Cingjing)

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This fragrant roast chicken was recommended by our driver from Taichung to Cingjing. I was half surprised and half glad that the main dish of the mountain with the famous sheep farm is not, well, sheep meat. (I find it morally wrong to be eating any animals that I have pet previously. I may have deliberately not pet any pigs in my life because pork).

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Things to do in Copenhagen, personal favourites.

I have so far lived my life believing that I was born to be a jack (or jill?) of all trades. I would be interested in something, learn about it, be somewhat decent at it and move on to new things.

Until I found myself in Copenhagen more than five years ago and fell completely in love with the city. Since then, I found that I can be especially good at something, i.e. travelling back to the same city over and over again just to do the same things that I love.

Till date, I have travelled to Copenhagen on five different occasions, and I have met the Crown Prince of Denmark (here we go again), which is why I think I am properly qualified to give my opinion on what the best things to do in this city are.

So here are my personal favourites, in random order.

Take a stroll at Nyhavn

My absolute favourite place, and this lovely harbour has been featured numerous times in this blog. Walking to Nyhavn from Kongens Nytorv Metro Station is like finding a colourful surprise after a somewhat gray (albeit beautiful) stroll at the heart of Copenhagen.

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The mall directly on top of Kongens Nytorv Station.

Continue reading “Things to do in Copenhagen, personal favourites.”

Copenhagen brunches.

In my opinion, Copenhagen is one of the most underrated cities in the world.

From time and again, I still get questioning look from people whenever I say that Copenhagen is one of my favourite cities in the world. Some even go so far as asking, “Where is Copenhagen again? Is it in Europe?”.

That’s how underrated this city, and Denmark is. The city where the famous statue of Little Mermaid is situated. The capital city of where the world renowned writer Hans Kristian Andersen came from. The city where Carlsberg brewery can be found (everyone must have heard of Carlsberg, surely!). The city which hosts the headquarter of Maersk, the biggest shipping company in the world. The capital city where LEGO, the world-renowned toy company, comes from. The city where Noma, the world’s #1 restaurant is! I mean come on people. Either I only care about things that no one else in the world cares about, or most people are simply ignorant, or Denmark has the worst marketing team ever.

And now, I shall add one more thing to the already long list of why Copenhagen is amazing: the city has many cafés with some of the best brunches that I have ever had.

Now, brunches aren’t really my thing, so I wouldn’t call myself a brunch guru. But I have had enough of them, especially in Singapore, where they are simply unimpressive. Brunches are always overpriced for the portion that they serve and most cafés, at least in Singapore, only focus on decorating the place and making the food presentation pretty (so they can charge a premium to it)  without paying much attention to how it actually tastes (there are exceptions of course).

But I remember being very impressed with Copenhagen brunches, at least those few that I have tried. Or perhaps I was just being biased about this city as usual. But who cares, here are the list of my favourite brunch cafés in Copenhagen (note: it’s all of them):

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Highlights from Mariner of the Seas.

A lot of people say that cruise trips are not for the young and energetic. I wouldn’t lie and declare that I disagree with them; it can be slow, lazy and full of old people and families with small kids. But just because the majority of your company is not young adults doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, and looking back at my holiday pictures last week, I actually think that I was a lot more active than the past four months sitting in front of my computer at work.

My family and I decided to go on a short trip to Malaysia on a Royal Caribbean cruise since we got a very good deal for it. SGD 300 for 5 days 4 nights is a steal considering the price practically includes accommodation, food and transport. So that’s how we found ourselves on our second Royal Caribbean Cruise after more than two years (the first was in Alaska back in 2012). This time, we had the honour to be on board Mariner of the Seas.

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Here are some of the highlights from my cruise trip.

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Header of the Month: Alaska in Summer.

Denali National Park, Alaska.

Alaska

I have always thought that our planet is a beautiful place. But I have never really comprehended nor imagined how beautiful it can be before visiting Alaska in 2012. It was my first time travelling for nature – previously it has always been for a mix of historic sites and culture plus a bit of nature but never was the entire trip dedicated to immerse myself in nature, from the landscape to the animals that depend on it.

When my dad first sounded the idea that we should visit Alaska, I looked at him incredulously. Mainly because I mistakenly thought that Alaska and Antarctica were the same thing (and I found out later on that a lot of people had this misconception). How on earth were we supposed to get there? And what is there to do besides looking at vast expanse of nothing but white?

This is the part where I’m glad that I’m such a dutiful daughter that despite thinking the idea was out of this world, I still went ahead and did some research. Of course, the first thing that I found out was that Alaska was NOT the same as Antarctica (how did I even make the connection?). I mean it was still cold, but summer seemed manageable and even pleasant. Secondly, it was not that hard to get to Alaska. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is well connected to other parts of the States and Canada. Alternatively you could take a 8-day cruise to and from Vancouver or Seattle. Which was what we did – we booked an 8-day Royal Caribbean Cruise from Anchorage to Vancouver and before the cruise we drove about 300 km to Denali National Park.

As it turned out, there is so much more to Alaska than the coldness it seems to have a reputation of. Here are my favourite moments in Alaska that hopefully will inspire you to get visiting next summer.

Continue reading “Header of the Month: Alaska in Summer.”