Travels for the year 2013!

2013 saw me travelling quite a fair bit. Bali, Melbourne, Sydney, Cambodia  Penang, Yogyakarta and then concluding the year with Sri Lanka. My highlight, of course, will be overcoming my inhibitions and attempting my first solo travel to Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Although, it was a short 4D3N, the trip taught me a lot on solo travelling.

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Sunset at Seminyak beach, Bali

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Post lunch smiles, Bali

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Kuta Beach, Bali

Bali, May 2013: A 3-night getaway with a couple of friends. Beach, sunset and laughter over cocktails. Got ourselves inked only for it to last not more than an hour. Also, my slippers that almost sailed away in the waters while at Tanah Lot. Oh, the fun times.

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Mt Buller Ski Resort, Melbourne

Melbourne, June 2013: A week of adventures with the sister. Tried out skiing for the first time. Amidst all the crashings and butt-aches was a memorable stay at Mt Buller. Watched 3 movies over the span of a week I was there. Felt like a local rather than a tourist. No surprises there, given my frequency in visiting Australia. Myriad of asian cuisine range conquered: Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese. Survived -10 degrees for 30 minutes in Chill On Bar. Relived bits of our childhood watching Circus Oz.

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Sydney Harbour Bridgeclimb: Check!

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Skydiving: CHECK!!

Sydney, August 2013: Sole purpose of this last minute travel was to conquer the Harbour Bridge Climb. Ended up, I conquered one of my biggest fears as well – tandem skydiving! At times, I still cannot digest the fact I went through with this decision. Plus given the fact I was alone, I must be quite brave I think. After all that adrenaline rush, spent the next 2 days in Manly just chilling. Manly is such a perfect beach town, you can just wake up, stumble into a coffee house and laze the day away, without feeling any tinge of guilt. Most spontaneous travel decision ever. And also, by far, my most favourite trip to Sydney.

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Ice ball making in process, Penang.

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Roadside chendol, Penang

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Street vendor selling banana pancakes, Penang

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Dim sum buffet for breakfast, Penang

Penang, October 2013: Nothing but a 3 day galore of food, food and more food. And I mean, GALORE. I’m sure my pictures are a testament to it.

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Borobudur, Yogyakarta

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Borobudur, Yogyakarta

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Borobudur, Yogyakarta

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The stranger who literally saved my life, Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta, November 2013: Highlight #1: My first (real) solo travel. Highlight #2: Catching sunrise at Borobudur which costed me nearly SGD 100. Was definitely worth it though. I won’t forget how I was almost stranded on Parangtritis Beach, 5 hours before my flight. The stranger (pictured above) showed me what kindness truly is and brought me back home for a nominal amount.

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Background of Sigiriya Rock from Hotel Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

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Scenic boat ride, Sri Lanka

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Footsteps in the ancient city of Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

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Chaaya Blu Trincomalee, Sri Lanka

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The Golden Temple of Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, December 2013: 10 days, 10 pax, clocked 1800km on the road. Truckloads of memories. Nothing beats the euphoria of scaling Sigiriya Rock (Lion’s Rock) despite the bad weather condition as we started our ascend. Waking up in Kandy at 6am to a full moon amidst the mist. Watching sunset at Galle. Will be doing up a full post on Sri Lanka very soon.

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Amidst all my travelling, I juggled a new job that has taught me so many things I love and hate about the real world. Obviously more hate, than love. But anyways.

Also, I decided to give accounting a shot and enrolled myself in ACCA. Have completed 3 papers till date.

Got myself a basic rock climbing certification.

Did a couple of runs. Conquered my first 10km at Sundown.

2013 has been by far the toughest year to get by. I’m glad I’m still surviving and standing strong. I recall that fateful span of 3 days in July where I lost 2 very dear people. There are days I just wanna crumble and disappear out of this world. The void is so indescribable that I have quit writing. But, there are other days I wanna live to make you’ll proud. Those days help me get by.

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I will live to make you proud.

I’m planning to march in to 2014 without any expectations whatsoever. I’m gonna quit wishing for things to happen and take things as they come along.

Keep writing your goals for the year ahead and, if necessary, re-write them as you go along. After all, we have got another year to get it right. Have a blessed year ahead folks!

Till we meet again,

Shelly to North Head, conquered!

I still recall the afternoon I was cycling all the way past Manly only to find myself at Shelly beach. It was beautiful, looking at Manly’s skyline, from another vantage point. I’ll let the pictures do the talking .

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Shelly Beach

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Shelly Beach

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From the foot of the staircase leading up to North Head

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The path is quite uphill and covered with gravel. Some distances of the climb lacks proper signages, I did get lost. And at some points, I had to follow my instinct and pick a route to continue walking in. But, hey, what’s an adventure without some mis-adventures.

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Signs like these are life saviours indeed. #truestory

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After the gravel ridden path, you end up in this stretch of the climb which is quite easy to cover because of the raised metal floor. This area is just before you hit the road – which is kind of the last lap of the climb.

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Happy climber at North Head

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View from North Head

Going past the North Head, you have something called, Fairfax Walking Track, which is basically a 1km loop that brings you back to your starting point.

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Entrance of Fairfax walking track

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Sydney’s skyline

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This was how windy it was up from North Head!

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En route down to Shelly beach

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The descend down of course, was very much easier compared to the climb up. Entire climb took me slightly under 2 hours (including Fairfax walking track).

Highly recommend this scenic walk. Definitely one of my highlights during my trip.

If you have a longer span of time, you might want to cover The Spit which is a very popular scenic walk.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Manly’s 5 cafes.

I miss nearly everything about Manly. I’m so glad I spent spent 2 nights in Manly doing absolutely nothing, before concluding my Sydney adventure last month. My days were spent literally waking up into a coffee house. Then, whiling away the rest of the day away, either by strolling into Coles and people surfer-boy watching or cycling up all the way to foot of North Head. (My next post is gonna be on this!)

1. Barefoot coffee traders (EXCELLENT COFFEE!)

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Their belgian hot chocolate is to die for! I’m not even joking. If I was dying and I could choose my last drink, I’ll choose this hands down. The chocolate is so rich and blended to perfection, that even now as I’m typing this, I can feel this drink down my throat. Okay, I shall stop here. Just go and try coffee from here, whenever you are in Manly, Sydney. If you ever are. You can take my word on this.

Rating: 5/5

Address:

18 Whistler St

NSW 2095

Sydney, Australia

Opening hours:

Mon-Fri: 6.30am-5.30pm

Sat-Sun: 7.30am-5.30pm

For more information:  http://www.au.timeout.com/sydney/restaurants/venues/4661/barefoot-coffee-traders

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2. Three beans

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The one thing you’ll love about Manly is that it’s such a small town you can hardly miss a cafe that is worth checking out. Just basing on the crowd, I stumbled into three beans. And of course, I surely wasn’t disappointed. Definitely decent food and, needless to say, iced chocolate was a bomb.

Rating: 3/5

Address:

2A darley road

NSW 2095

Sydney, Australia

For more information: http://www.threebeans.com.au/

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3. Belgrave Cartel 

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Rita’s baked bacon and egg

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You get a very cozy and indie feel when you step in Belgrave Cartel. It’s quite a different cafe as you don’t have staples like, eggs benedict for instance, which is a refreshing change. Instead, you have interesting twists to your first meal of the day. I loved my egg which was wrapped in baked bacon. Toast came along with avocado and pesto. Definitely a cafe you should try!

Rating: 4/5

Address:

6 Belgrave St

NSW 2095

Sydney, Australia

Opening hours:

Mon-Fri: 6.00am-3.00pm

Sat-Sun: 7.00am-3.00pm

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4. Moo Gourmet Burgers

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MOOteaser – maltesers, chocolate syrup & malt

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Mini Cheese Burger

Not only is Moo Gourmet a cute, little burger joint in Manly but also easily one of the top 5 in town. Just look at how cute straw is?! And also, from the menu I’m sure you can tell, you’ll be spoilt for choice. There have THAT many variations for a burger. I’m not huge on burgers, but I liked Moo Gourmet.

Rating: 3.5/5

Address:

Level 2 & 3

33 South Steyne

NSW 2095

Sydney, Australia

Opening hours:

Mon-Fri: 6.30am-5.30pm

Sat-Sun: 7.30am-5.30pm

For more information: https://www.moogourmetburgers.com.au/

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5. BenBry Burgers

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Decided to try BenBry burgers for my last dinner in Manly. It’s apparently better than Moo Gourmet, according to online reviews. However, I disagree. I didn’t really enjoy BenBry, as my chicken burger was rather oily. It didn’t quite fancy my tastebuds, I must say.

Rating: 2.5/5

Address:

5 Sydney Road

NSW 2095

Sydney, Australia

Opening hours:

Daily: 11.00am till late

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Can you take me back to Manly, please?

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Adventures on the feet.

I apologise for the overload of saliva-inducing pictures in my recent few posts, so I decided to share some other stories from my recent trip to Down Under.

They say when you are in Rome, do as the Romans do; and, that was exactly what I was doing when I was in Sydney. Lazy brunches, strolls in the park, stopping just to let the sun kiss your skin a lil’ longer, admiring the beauty in nature, smelling flowers along the way, sharing a moment with complete strangers – that was all my day was about.

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I wandered past the Australian Museum and decided to pop in. Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised with the on-going exhibitions, which were better than I’d expected them to be.

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Admission was AUD 17 for 1 adult ticket that allows you into Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition hall along with general entry. Otherwise, it would be AUD 12 for general admission.

Opening hours: 

Daily 9.30am to 5pm except Christmas Day

Address:

6 College St.

NSW 2000

For more information: http://australianmuseum.net.au/

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Le Monde, Surry Hills, Sydney.

Located just minutes walk from Central Station, Le Monde serves a good variety of both breakfast and main course food. Also, another plus for brekkie food lovers, all day breakfast is served. Considering I went there for breakfast 2 days in a row, Le Monde definitely lives up to Urbanspoon’s 95% votes.

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Eggs Benedict with poached egg, smoked salmon and hollandaise on a English muffin

Small portion but hollandaise sauce is awesome and salmon is fresh.

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Prawn Fritters with red cabbage, carrot, onion, corn, asparagus/chorizo, roquette, smoked red pepper feta salad & poached egg

Slightly oily as prawn fritters are deep fried but tasty nevertheless.

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Potato Rosti with schulz smokehouse bacon, sautéed spinach, feta, poached egg, pistachio and hollandaise sauce

Served all day which is good for people looking for something heavier to start the day with. Hollandaise sauce could have been poured more generously. Nonetheless, pistachio nuts added a different twist to the rosti.

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Chocolate milkshake and orange juice

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Rating: 4.5/5

Address:

83 Foveaux St

Surry Hills, NSW 2010

How to get there:

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Opening hours:

Mondays to Fridays: 6.30am to 4pm

Saturday: 7.30am to 2pm

For more information:

http://www.lemondecafe.com.au/home.html

Thanks to Urbanspoon, I discovered this hidden gem along Foveaux St.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Faith moves mountains.

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She set her eyes on what lay ahead of her.

The ray of sunlight made the cross glisten.

Her footsteps slowed and she stood in awe.

Gawking at the beauty that stood before her.

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She surrendered all her fears at His feet.

She was down on her knees with hands clasped tight.

Her eyes were shut, oblivious to the people that (physically) stood between her and Him.

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She was always a firm believer that faith moves mountains.

And that was enough for her.

To feel light. Again.

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Photographed at St Mary’s Cathedral, Sydney.

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Paddy’s Markets, Sydney.

Paddy’s Markets in Sydney, Australia is definitely a must to visit for both locals and tourists alike. Paddy’s boasts products as varied as fruit vegetables, clothing, CDs, flowers, homewares, sunglasses, jewellery.

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Some sights of the markets on a wet Thursday morning.

For more information: http://www.paddysmarkets.com.au

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Highlight #1 – Opera house, Sydney.

Credits to the brother for this shot – “the crescent juxtaposed”.

It was my second time to the Opera House having gone there last year, but I would say this time round was a proper visit cause I got to go for the in house guided tour. It’s AUD 35 for an hour, but I recommend you go for it. It’s worth the buck!

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The tour left me in awe of the building I was standing in. The insight about the Opera House’s history, the political struggle behind the building, the engineering breakthrough with regards to it’s architecture made me realize why exactly the Opera House stands as one of our world wonders.

Concert Hall, Opera House

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I also attended a play, Australia Day, put up by Sydney Theatre Company in the Drama Theatre, Opera House. It was purely a well-scripted and directed comedy that touched on the racial matters that plagued the society with as well as the local political scene. As a foreigner, it took me a while to understand the local slangs and understand the humor. But in spite of that, I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hour long comedy. Not to be a spill the beans, but the Australia-born Vietnamese dude delivers his role extremely well and his comebacks to the racial remarks made at him were awesome!

Here’s a good review about the play by Time Out for those interested.

Tickets are from AUD 45 onwards and it will be playing till the 27th of October. Do catch it if you’re there! Really recommend it for some good laugh.

Trip planning anyone?

Whitsundays, Australia

I’m going to be spending 5 days in this haven and I seriously can’t wait to wake up to the sight of the beach, sand and waves. My next one week is gonna be spent trip planning, so any advice from you would be appreciated. Where to stay, what to do, what to eat, anything and everything will be helpful. Nothing has been planned except for skydiving at Airlie Beach so I thank ya’ll in advance for the input.

Apart from Whitsundays, I’m going to be spending 3 days each in Sydney and Melbourne. It will be 2nd visit to Sydney so I’m pretty familiar with getting around. Really looking forward to the long drives the trip entails with my siblings. And also, 4 days back in Goldcoast when the parentals join us. I can’t remember when the 5 of us took a vacation together but it’s definitely been over what, 5 years?! Oh gosh!

Sydney loving!

Just as Gold Coast, Surfers to be specific, was growing on to me, we set off with our friends to Sydney for 6 days. Our planned itinerary for Sydney included more beaches, Blue Mountains, sky diving, Opera house, Luna Park and others. Blue Mountains and sky diving plans didn’t materialize as temperatures dropped to under 10 degrees and we weren’t prepared with clothing to embark on both. Nonetheless, we made full use of our transport pass that allowed for unlimited train (a particular colour zone) and ferry rides,  by heading up to Watsons Bay and Bondi Beach. We took a leisurely stroll one morning up to the Opera house while stopping at the Royal Botanic Gardens and churches along the way. And, ended our time in Sydney with a short trip to the Luna Park.

Took Virgin Airlines from GC to Sydney.

As the name suggests our hostel was actually railway cabins instead of actual rooms. How cool is that?! It felt like we were in some makeshift room that might move while we were asleep. Like overnight trains with sleeping facilities.

We didn’t get rooms here so settled for Railway Square YHA. Might have been a blessing in disguise since railway cabins were so much more fun!

Architecture outside Central station.

Circular Quay.

A shot of the Opera House while on the ferry.

P.S. All images you will be seeing about my Australia travel adventures belong to me (solosingaporean) unless otherwise stated. Most of them have been shot by the (talented) sister using her Canon 500D with 18-55mm kit lens. Be kind and give credit where credit is due. Cheers!