[3D2N] Our stay at Batam Sijori Resort & Spa

[3D2N] Our stay at Batam Sijori Resort & Spa

We all need a break sometimes, and after months of endless work and long office hours, we finally decided that it's time for a weekend getaway! We've been wanting to visit Batam together as it has been a long time since we visited the island. After some research, we decided to stay at Sijori Resort & Spa.

【日记 Diary】2018-05-19 | Brothers in Fine Food & Bugis Street

【日记 Diary】2018-05-19 | Brothers in Fine Food & Bugis Street

周末的开始。离家不远之处,发现了间新的咖啡厅。人潮随着我们缓慢的到来。
Over the weekend, we discovered a new cafe not too far from home. Brothers in Fine Food is located in Tampines West Community Centre.

【日记 Diary】2018-05-05 | Two Men Bagel House, Starbucks Reserve & Smiths Fish & Chips

【日记 Diary】2018-05-05 | Two Men Bagel House, Starbucks Reserve & Smiths Fish & Chips

熟悉的喧闹声配上漂浮的咖啡香还有两本“小日子”。
We settled for Starbucks at United Square. We didn't realise how beautiful it looked inside, and was also surprised by the Starbucks Reserve collection.

Day 7 in Aberdeen, Stonehaven, St Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland

Day 7 in Aberdeen, Stonehaven, St Andrews and Edinburgh, Scotland

The more days we spent in Scotland, the more we fell in love with Scotland. Pleased that we chose to embark on this less touristy road trip. Now leaving behind the amazing landscapes, we are ready to be charmed by the quaint little towns.

An afternoon in Tiong Bahru

An afternoon in Tiong Bahru

We visited Tiong Bahru together for the first time to have a walk around the estate. By the end of the afternoon, it has became one of our favourite place locally. 

Bangkok Shopping Guide | Siam area, Chatuchak, Union Mall, Platinum Fashion Mall and more

Bangkok Shopping Guide | Siam area, Chatuchak, Union Mall, Platinum Fashion Mall and more

During my first trip to Bangkok, I went shopping around without much research, and it was pretty disappointing! But for this second trip to Bangkok, I went well-prepared with a list of potential shopping places.. and fortunately I had luggage space!

Bangkok Food Diary | Thai Food & Cafe-hopping

Just got back from our second trip to Bangkok this year. This time round we planned it around food, food, and more food for our short 72 hours there. Trust me, it's hard to narrow down the list of drool-worthy local dishes and the instagrammable cafes available there. But I'm glad we made all the right decisions and not waste our calories intake!

Here's the list of food we ate and like.


ONE OUNCE FOR ONION (EKKAMAI BRANCH) 

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The cafe is tucked away in a small lane so it wasn't the easiest to locate it, but we found it with the help of google maps. They have expanded the indoor (air-conditioned) area so it looks slightly different from what I have seen online. Adjacent to the cafe, there's a hip multi-label clothing store named "Onion". This tranquil cafe area is really cosy with the sunlight shining in through the large window. 

We were there early for brunch. Don't be fooled by its name, the menu is not onion-centric. Instead it offers a great selection of western food and drinks which we really enjoyed! He ordered a cup of mocha and the Grilled Croissant which comes with a tomato egg dip. I ordered a cup of tea and the Thai Garlic Bacon Pasta which was what drawn me to this cafe. We give both the dishes two thumbs up! I fell in love with this cafe and will go back in a heartbeat if I could. 

Nearest BTS: Ekkamai
Address: 19/12 Ekkamai 12, Sukhumvit 63 Rd., Klongton Nua, Wattana 10110 Bangkok
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oneounceforonion/


AUDREY CAFE (THONGLOR BRANCH)

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Desserts from Audrey Cafe kept showing up on my Instagram feed for years so we decided to give it a try. Among all of their branches, Thonglor branch have the best exterior in my opinion and it happens to be in a cafe-clustered district which makes cafe-hopping a breeze. Service staff were very welcoming and sat us at the loveliest table by the window where we can lust at its beautiful surrounding. Had a tough time deciding what to order as the menu has more choices than what I knew. 

Eventually we settled with the Thai Tea Crepe Cake and Milo Sizzling Roti that did not disappoint! Crepe cake drenched with Thai tea sauce is of the right texture and sweetness. Soon, the second dessert was served. Our eyes went big when the waiter began to pour the Milo sauce over dessert and the pan started to sizzle. We left the place fully satisfied! 

Nearest BTS: Thonglor
Address: 1136/3 Soi Thonglo11, Vaddhana,Sukhumvit 55, 10110 Bangkok
Website: http://www.audreygroup.com/AudreyCafeBistro/


BAN KHUN MAE RESTAURANT

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Found a highly-rated Thai food restaurant along our shopping route at Siam. We've always thought that an authentic Thai food experience can only be found by the streets, but Ban Khun Mae proved us wrong. 

Arrived at noon and the restaurant is already filled with locals and tourists with minimal chatter as everyone were concentrating on eating. It is of an affordable price range despite its nicely decorated restaurant setting with good service. The menu included many photos of the recommended dishes, which made us so tempted to order everything. And we did over-ordered for two to share. Reccomend you to try the pandan chicken and green curry. 

Nearest BTS: Siam
Address: 458/6-9 Siam Square Soi 8, Rama 1 Road, Patumwan District, 10330
Website: http://www.bankhunmae.com/


NEON NIGHT MARKET (TALAD NEON)

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Neon night market (Talad Neon) is a relatively new night market in Bangkok and is situated 10 minutes away from Platinum Mall by foot. Popped over to this market for dinner after shopping. It's our first time having a proper meal at a night market. 

We were spoilt for choice with the various street food, seafood, barbeque and bar options. Along the seafood stalls area, we were constantly pursued by the friendly staff to dine at their area. In the end, we settled down at a crowded seafood stall and ordered Steamed Sea-bass, Grilled Squid and Pineapple Rice. The steamed fish tasted very fresh and the pineapple rice was very moist! Here's a tip, we think it's better to dine at a crowded stall as they will replenish their seafood supply more frequently than those quieter stalls.

Before leaving the night market, we got a plate of mango sticky rice from a cute store named "Mango Fu". As expected from Thailand, the mango is super sweet! 

Nearest BTS: Chit Lom
Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday, 4pm to 12midnight
Address: 1087 Khwaeng Makkasan, Khet Ratchathewi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10400
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/taladneon/


MBK CENTER LEVEL 6 FOOD COURT (FOOD ISLAND)

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Feeling famished after touchdown, we hurriedly checked-in to our hotel and head next door to the MBK Center level 6 foodcourt for a quick and fuss-free Thai meal. Don't confuse this with the more expensive level 5 foodcourt! It is good to note though, that the level 5 foodcourt provides halal food.

A variety of Thai cuisine are offered here at a low-price. To purchase the food, you will need top-up money into a refundable cash card at a counter first. The Pad Thai and Oyster Omelette are definitely our favourite from here!

Nearest BTS: National Stadium
Address: 444 MBK Center Phayathai Rd., Pathumwan, 10330
Website: http://www.mbk-center.co.th/en/


MISTER DONUT

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Mister Donut is everywhere in Thailand but not in Singapore, why?!! This trip had us on a "Pon De Ring" craze, eating a minimum of three donuts a day. Our absolute love and obsession, the Glazed Pon De Ring, is very soft and chewy like mochi. It is not as sweet as other American donuts and priced at only 25baht each! We even packed a box of half-dozen donuts to bring back to Singapore for breakfast, and they tasted exactly the same the next day! 

Address: Everywhere except Savarnabhumi Airport
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/misterdonut_thailand/?hl=en


Want more food options in Bangkok? Find them (Roast, Noi Seafood, After You Dessert Cafe and more) in our January Bangkok trip blog post Day 1 here and Day 2 here.

Share with us in the comment if there are any other amazing food in Bangkok that we should try in the future? 

Thanks for reading and sharing! (:
Anders + Cindy


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A Better Florist - Flower Arrangement Workshop

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Flowers are always associated with beauty and love. Many people gift flowers to their other half from time to time, on special occasions or just as a sweet surprise. One of the things that is more precious than the gesture of flowers is time. And last weekend, A Better Florist gave us the perfect opportunity to enjoy the gift of both.

Workshop

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Each workshop is unique as it features different flower combinations. For our class, the main type of flowers we got to work with are Roses, Carnations and Baby's Breath.

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The first step was to clean up the flowers. Good idea to get rid of the thorns on the roses before doing anything else. The Carnations required some 'massaging' to aid it in blooming. We also had to remove the leaves on the lower parts of the stem as we did not need them there for a bouquet.

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Next, we moved on to the hard part: Arrangement. A demo was done for us by the teacher to show us the final product. No one could quite remember all the steps, but it was fine as he guided us along the way.

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If we had one thing throughout the class, it was confidence. We thought we had a good finished product several times, only to get a chuckle from the teacher when he sees our work. And after rounds of guidance, we finally had our finished bouquet! 

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A hundred photos with one bouquet

We saw a video where Photographer Emily Quinton took many different photos from just one bouquet. So we decided we have to give it a try too! We didn't reach a hundred, but here it goes.  

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Final thoughts

In the end, a two hours workshop gave us an entire weekend of fun. Nothing beats trying something for the first time together with your loved ones. Really appreciate A Better Florist for the invitation as we enjoyed ourselves during the workshop. We both truly feel that this workshop could be a wonderful gift to your other half, as you get a bouquet of flowers at the end, and more importantly, you get to spend a great time with him/her. 

P.s Flowers are still looking good after six days! 

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Other Tips & Info:

  • Details on which flowers will be used is available at the sign-up page of each workshop.
  • Feel free to bring back leftovers for other uses such as flat lay photography.
  • Be careful while dealing with the roses as it's easy to get pricked.
  • Plant food is given at the end of the class.

2 Days 1 Night Weekend Stay at Cassia Bintan Resort (2D1N)

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We've been hoping to have a weekend getaway for our anniversary, and our immediate idea was to head to either Bintan or Batam island. However, both of us have had unpleasant experiences at some of the resorts there as they were 'aging'. Just as we were about to drop the idea, we came across an article by thesmartlocal, introducing Singaporeans to a new resort hotel, Cassia Bintan!

Day 1 - Saturday

Our weekend started with a breakfast at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. From the Killiney kopitiam where we had our breakfast, we could enjoy the sea view which wasn't too bad! The ferry terminal also had shops selling pills for motion sickness, so we got them just in case.

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After an hour on the ferry, we arrived at Bintan! Took quite a bit of time to get through the customs and security checks. But soon, we were on-route towards Cassis Bintan via a shuttle mini-van, complimentary by the resort.

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 Snacks and neccessities

Snacks and neccessities

 Nintendo Switch station!

Nintendo Switch station!

The lobby of Cassia Bintan, also known as the "Meeting Point", is open-air and a very inviting sight. The hotel staff were aptly named your "Friends of Cassia", as they welcomed us with bright smiles. As we arrived well ahead of the check-in time, we decided to go to the beach for our lunch!

 Margherita Pizza

Margherita Pizza

 Calamari

Calamari

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One great thing you'll notice throughout our trip is that the beach is not crowded at all! After a short stroll on the beach, we spot an al-fresco dining place named Xana Beach club, where we had our lunch and we highly recommend the pizza and calamari!

 Living Room

Living Room

 Bathroom with Separate shower and toilet area

Bathroom with Separate shower and toilet area

 View from the loft

View from the loft

 Kitchen

Kitchen

 Outdoor area

Outdoor area

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 Bedroom

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Checked into our loft apartment! The rooms with the garden view opens up to the main garden area of Cassia, while the others, like ours, has a forest view along the main road. Not too much of a difference in our opinion! Everything was still really new, so it was sparkling clean!

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Headed back to the beach after resting in our very cosy room. From here onwards, we'll let the photos do the talking. There were many comfortable sheltered seats and overall, just a really lovely beach!

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There's also a nice boardwalk near the Banyan Tree Bintan Resort, which we felt was a great photo spot.

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The night came along, and we've been looking forward to it as we were waiting to try the mookata! It's a pretty interesting idea as you get to bring the mookata back to your room. You can get the ingredients and drinks at Market 23, which is within Cassia Bintan. 

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The combo we chose comprised of chicken, beef, fish, squid, vegetables and the usual processed food like tofu and crabstick. It's more than enough for two people. Note that you will need to buy the oil though! Also based on our experience, the mookata smell will linger in the room, so it would be best that you shut the bedroom and bathroom door before starting to cook. Or you may choose to do it outdoor.
 

Day 2 - Sunday

Being in an enthusiastic mood, we decided to catch the sunrise! Hopped out of our bed and washed up in time. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy morning! But of course, that didn't stop us from taking photos!

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Went back to the "Meeting Point"  for our breakfast, where they have transformed the lobby into a dining area. Do not expect a huge international buffet, but we felt that it had everything we wanted! You'll find the usual food options on a breakfast menu, from sausages to hash browns, cereal to toasts. The egg station was a great plus point, and the thing that caught everyone's attention was the mini doughnut board! 

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 The Egg Station!

The Egg Station!

 The mini doughnut board

The mini doughnut board

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Jumped into the pool after breakfast. Cassia has a small pool right outside the "Meeting Point", and we spent quite some time wading in there. 

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A huge plus of Cassia Bintan is that it is part of the resorts group that manages Banyan Tree and Angsana. This means that we could use some of the facilities and amenities in each of the three resorts! SInce they are right beside each other, so we went to the Angsana pool for a swim too.

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Washed up and chilled in our apartment till check out time. We were pleasantly surprised during checkout to find out that Cassia has our ferry boarding passes ready! It is a great service to have.
As we bid goodbye, we have to say we really enjoyed the stay. A short and sweet weekend, but filled with the right amount of fun and rest. We hope to come back soon! 

Tips from the trip:
1. Ferry tickets have no seat allocation, so be at the queue early if you have seating preferences.
2. Bring your own snacks/cup noodle if you're planning a late night, but not planning to spend money on expensive supper at the resorts.
3. Power plugs are the same as the ones in Singapore, so no worries!
4. Bring a tripod for awesome self-portraits.
 

SMU Arts Festival 2017

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Didn't know what to expect at all when we decided to go for the SMU Arts Festival this year. But by the end of the day, we were glad we went! But let's not jump ahead...

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Had lunch at the Standing Sushi Bar before heading towards SMU. It was our first time there and to be honest, I was expecting to stand and eat the sushi. Turns out it's normal seating, which makes me wonder where the name came from... Anyway! The sushi was great! We ordered two rolls to share, and both of us liked the "Rockstar Roll" more!

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And we were off to SMU! Entered via the underpass, so we arrived at the Bookstreet first. The stalls all had interesting concepts! From board games to accessories to books, and even Gnome doors! We almost bought one of the board games, but resisted the impulse. Many of the stalls also had games where you can play and win prizes.

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Met up with our friend, a.k.a Tripflarebear, who was shooting the event for SMU. He told us that the exciting performances will start at 7:30pm, hence we stuck around for it. Had a quick dinner at the festival. Payment was via a card which you have to add value to add a separate counter. Evening came quickly, and the crowd began to build up. I believe they all came for "Elements", the performance we were about to enjoy.

 The 'Wind' segment

The 'Wind' segment

 Start of the 'Sand' segment

Start of the 'Sand' segment

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 The 'Water' segment

The 'Water' segment

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Mindblowing. That's what the performance was. Cindy and I don't watch much dance performances (actually none at all), but "Elements" felt world-class to us! The choreography, the execution and the production! Everything tied in so well, and the dancers were really good. Photos can never do justice to a dance, but i'm sure the actual performance will be uploaded somewhere in video. 

The SMU Arts festival lasts till 17th September, so do check it out. Based on what we saw today, it's definitely worth the trip!

 

The Finest Thai - 8th – 10th Sept '17

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"The Finest Thai" is here! Earlier this week, we saw many people sharing about this upcoming event that is taking place at The Royal Thai Embassy. It's near to our workplace, so we decided to drop by! Being fans of Thai food, movies and music, we were pretty excited about it!

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As with many events in Singapore, one of our major concerns was the crowd. We were glad that the crowd wasn't too bad at all! We were greeted by food stalls once we entered, and many other stalls with clothing, accessories and different Thai products followed. There are also stations where you can learn silk-weaving.

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Food queues were long, but as the place wasn't too hot, we felt that it was still manageable. The one queue that you will notice will be the queue at "After You", the very popular cafe in Bangkok that many Singaporeans visit during their trip there.

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There is an air-conditioned area within the building, where there are more stalls in there! The stuff are very nicely designed, and the stalls had a makers market kind of feel to them. Some people didn't notice this part of the market, so do have a look out for it!

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One of the other issues will be the lack of proper seats for dining, which resulted in people sitting by the road inside the embassy. They have beanbags and tables, but just not enough for the crowd. 

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The most important thing to note is that the event closes at 9pm! Most food stalls were already out of food or closing by around 8:15-8:30pm. So in the end, we didn't get to enjoy much of the food, managing to only buy some spring rolls and Thai Milk Tea. Our friends joined us late and got himself a "Talad Drink", so we tried that too! 

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Not sure how the crowd will be for Saturday and Sunday, but if you want shorter queues, go in the day! The music only starts in the evening though, so it depends on what you want to experience. I think it's worth going in and having a look as the crowd is not off-putting at all! Have fun!

Day 6 in Cairngorms, Ballater and Aberdeen, Scotland

Through the glass doors in the dining area, we can see the lovely view of hares hopping around the field and horses grazing. The weather looks slightly gloomy today but that did not deter us from wanting to trek up a hill to see reindeers!!! So excited!!!

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15th May 2017

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08:00 | Breakfast at Glentorets Bed & Breakfast
The village is really quiet in the morning with almost no one on the street outside our bedroom window. Freshen up and headed downstairs for our breakfast prepared by the host, Mark. Just beside the display cabinets, there are two world maps full of flags pinned onto the countries where the guests came from and gratitude cards. What a sweet reminder!

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10:00 | Saw the reindeers at Cairngorm Reindeer Centre
Our first order of the day is to see the reindeers! Reached the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre early to ensure that we each get a place for the hill trip to see herds of reindeers roaming around freely. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, the 11am trip was cancelled. But on a good note, the staff informed us that we can buy the ticket for the paddock visit first and should the weather condition improve later, we can top-up an additional fee for the 2.30pm hill trip. 

Hence we went ahead to visit the paddock. An adorable sight greeted us when we pushed open the paddock door... it's a mother reindeer (Sambar) with its calf!!! There were three more reindeers (Scrabble, Stenoa and Olympic). However, I had a hard time attracting the reindeers toward me! 

Inside the paddock, there is an exhibition area filled with interesting facts of reindeers to read up on. So glad that we were the only ones in the paddock that morning which allowed us to slowly enjoy our time at the paddock. 

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12:00 | Lunch at Cobbs Cafe in Glenmore Forest Visitor Centre
After the long visit at the paddock, we went to the nearby cafe to have our lunch. As the weather was still pretty chilly and we were not equipped with the suitable clothing, a sensible decision was made to not go ahead with the afternoon hill trip. Really wish that we will have a chance to see herds of reindeers in their natural environment next time!

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14:30 | Adventurous drive along A939 road and spotted hairy Coos
Our drive along the long A939 road was filled with fantastic views of Scotland landscape! Stopped our car halfway and had some fun taking photos with the curved endless road behind us. From there, we passed by more majestic views which our photos cannot do justice to. You must be there to see it for yourself! 

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Soon, google maps directed us onto a narrow road which led us to spotting some... coos!!! We've been wanting to see the Coos up-close since the beginning of our trip. They look like furry soft toys!!! 

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16:00 | Discovered the glorious Ballater village
Decided to stopover at Ballater village for a quick break. The beautiful Glenmuick Parish Church stood in the middle of the park and surrounded by cute little shops such as A. B. Yule Bookshop. During our stroll around the village, we saw a fat Scottish Terrier that walks funnily due to its excessive weight.

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From a distance, we saw a beautiful row of trees with pink flowers along some houses. Upon closer look, these pink flowers are actually cherry blossoms!!! It's our first time seeing cherry blossom in person!! And we were so surprised to see it here in UK! Felt so happy and lucky to chance upon these cherry blossoms in this small town!

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18:00 | Checked into our Airbnb at Aberdeen
The host welcomed us to our cosy Airbnb and gave us a short introduction about the place. I was really looking forward to preparing breakfast in this spacious kitchen the next morning! 

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19:00 | Dinner at Brewdog Castlegate
Ate burgers and drank craft beer at Brewdog. Made a silly mistake by ordering something too spicy twice. Nonetheless, we enjoyed our time there and took a long walk back to our Airbnb while watching the sunset in Aberdeen.

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Although we did not get to see the free roaming herd of reindeers on the hill, but we saw coos and cherry blossoms which were a first for both of us. This proves that the best moments are the unplanned ones, and these moments are the often the ones that make perfect memories. Don't you agree? 

You can read up on the rest of our 17 days' adventure in Scotland and England here

Day 5 in Glenfinnan, Loch Ness and Tomintoul, Scotland + The Engagement Story

Spoiler alert! Today is going to be an extremely special day for both of us as Anders have something up his sleeves (or pocket)! Read on to find out more!

14th May 2017

07:30 | Breakfast at Huntingtower Lodge beside Loch Linnhe
Enjoyed our long breakfast by the breathtaking view of Loch Linnhe and watched the little birds flying around the garden. I even tried to identify the birds by browsing through the bird-related books on the windowsill. Chatted with the host about our route for the day before setting off on a new journey!

More about our stay at Huntingtower Lodge - The Waterfall Suite
This is our favourite place to stay in Scotland! The suite we stayed in has everything you will need and want, such as the lounge overlooking the loch, a large bathroom and a very comfortable bed. There is also a separate dressing room which is such luxury, with the soft sunlight shining in, making it perfect for make-up! Wish I have a corner like this at home in the future! 
*Update* Just received the news on Facebook that Huntingtower Lodge property has been put on sale because the hosts are planning to move towards Edinburgh to be closer to their family. We are glad that we had the chance to visit the host's daughter, Laura's gift shop -  Curiouser and Curiouser at Edinburgh which I will share more details in our Day 9 blog post.

10:30 | Hiked up to witness the Jacobite Steam Train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct
We took a short hike up from the path behind the Visitor Centre. Upon reaching the Glenfinnan Viewpoint, there is the distant view of Glenfinnan railway viaduct infront of us. With hope of getting a better view of the Jacobite steam train crossing the curved Glenfinnan viaduct, we took a risk to trek out of the viewpoint area and head toward the viaduct despite not having a clear footpath to follow.

Trekked for about 20 minutes and we were closer to the viaduct. But it was still not the curved viaduct view that we had hoped for (wished we did better research like this walking trail). Despite that, we stayed put and waited for the steam train that will pass by any moment then.

Soon enough, a train passed by! But it was just a regular train, not the steam train like Hogwarts Express. Continued to wait till around 11.30am, but something felt amiss since we read up that the train should pass by around 11am. So we gave our host a call to help us check the train timing as there was no internet reception on the mountain. No......!!! We received the bad news that it does not operate on the weekend we were there!
After experiencing the Scottish weather of intermittent rain and shine, with my shoes all soaked with mud, I was ready to trek back down. But something more unpredictable than the Scottish weather happened...

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A special moment at Glenfinnan: The Engagement Story
He said "Stay there, let's take one more photo together!", so I did. He walked towards me but did not look into the camera. Instead, he stared at me and took out my earpiece from his denim jacket. Only at that moment then I realised something was going to happen. Through the earpiece, I listened to the song he wrote for me. I was so overwhelmed with emotions and started tearing (it suddenly rained) that I couldn't concentrate on the lyrics after the first few lines of the song. 
He went down on one knee after the song finished playing (the sun came out), took out a ring from his chest pocket and popped the question! I answered "Yes!" of course, and he put the ring on my finger. To be honest, I cannot remember what he said at that moment because it felt like the whole world went silent and many thoughts raced through my mind.
This is the story of how we got engaged. I am truly grateful that he remembered that I wanted a private proposal with no audience and chose such a scenic place as the background. Before all this happened, he already asked my parents' permission for my hand in advance and designed the engagement ring since last year. 
Remember the photo he lied about at the beginning of this story? He was actually recording a video to capture down the moment! The last photo is a screenshot from the video.

12:30 | Walked around the Glenfinnan Monument and Visitor Centre
After the magical moment, we needed to get back down to the ground. Being adventurous, we headed further towards the downwards slope of the mountain which turned out to be a bad choice made! Without proper hiking gear, we had to trek through the muddy grounds and uneven path that eventually forced us to climb over the fence (pictured above) to get back onto the real ground.
We took a break from the chilly wind and harsh conditions by having hot drinks and food at the visitor centre's cafe. Then we move on to the modern exhibition inside the visitor centre which was pretty interesting followed by a walk towards the Glenfinnan Monument.

14:00 | Admired the Neptune's Staircase at Banavie village
Only from a postcard at the Glenfinnan visitor centre that we learnt about the existence of Neptune's Staircase. By the canal, we saw an interesting architecture and some picnic benches on one side. On the other side, we can see Ben Nevis and read up about the canal. We were lucky to witness a boat travelling up the lock flight! We are utterly impressed by the wisdom of how someone in the past can come up with the idea of such mechanism and put it into practice.

14:30 | Stopped by the Commando Memorial
Before getting to Urquhart Castle, we did a quick stopover at the Commando Memorial. The three bronze commandos standing on top of the hill commands a strong presence! It's always a good idea to learn more about the country's history through the memorial created. Aside from that, this was a great scenery spot as the iconic landscape of Scotland surrounds the memorial.

15:30 | Marvelled at the Ruins of Urquhart Castle on the bank of Loch Ness
The Loch Ness Monster is probably one of the most famous myths around the world, but a quick search for Loch Ness will make you realise that it's just a huge Loch, with not too much to marvel about. However, a beautiful castle ruin sits by the side of this Loch. Urquhart Castle is a perfect location to visit if you want to make more out of your obligatory trip to Loch Ness!
Many of the spots in the ruins had signs that tell you which room it used to be. One of the towers still stand with much of its grandeur, and the top of it provides a nice view over the Loch. From another spot in the ruins, you could see the ruins in its entirety, and the outline of the ruins helps you imagine how the castle life could have been back in the day. It was a great visit!

19:00 | Checked  into Glentorets Bed & Breakfast
After nearly two hours drive up and down the mountains, we arrived at our B&B for the day. It was a cosy home by the side of a large field. We quickly settled into the comfortable room. Had a quick chat with the host and found out that there's a town square nearby where we could get some food at that hour.

20:00 | Night out at Tomintoul
Tomintoul is a small village, the kind where you would think everyone knows each other. It was a little late by the time we arrived, but the village is still filled with charm. We can't help it but stopped to take quite a bit of photos on the way to the town square!
Eventually we chose to have our dinner at Glen Avon Hotel Lounge Bar. It was exactly like how we have seen it on TV, where the bartender knows everybody and everyone's having a good chat as they wind up their day. After a while, our B&B hosts came in for a drink too! 
Took a nice stroll back to the B&B, towards the setting sun. As we approached the B&B, we stopped to take photos of the two horses that were in the fields. Our host showed up after a while and showed us how we can feed the horses! What a beautiful way to end the day!

On this fateful day I became his and he became mine. I couldn't stop admiring the ring the entire day and kept worrying that I might lose it. This day is filled with lengthy stories and details which we are happy to come back to, and it will always put a smile on our face.

You can read up on the rest of our 17 days' adventure in Scotland and England here

Day 4 in Glencoe, Scotland

With much anticipation, we are going to explore Glencoe today! This is the place that represents Scotland and its way of living. The beauty of Scotland is always being featured in movies such as Skyfall, Harry Potter and Braveheart, and now, it's finally our turn to see it in person! 

13th May 2017

08:00 | Breakfast at Huntingtower Lodge with the view of Loch Linnhe
Such a pleasure to have our breakfast in the dining area beside the huge windows that overlook Loch Linnhe. The friendly host, Chris, shared with us some information such as the weather and gave us suggestions on what route we can take for the day! 

10:00 | Scenic drive along A82 road
During the drive, we were completely blown away by the epic landscape with the mountains and rivers along the never-ending road. Everywhere looks so picture-perfect that we had to stop by the roadside numerous times with the hope of capturing down the amazing view.

11:00 | Search for the Blackrock Cottage near Glencoe Mountain
Before the trip, we saw many Glencoe photos featuring the Blackrock cottage. It is located on the access road towards the Glencoe mountain ski area. Little did we know, there are actually people living in the cottage. So we only took a few photos from a distance so as not to disturb the residents' privacy.
The white cottage sitting against the majestic Buachaille Etive Mòr mountain is indeed very photogenic. However, we also spotted many other isolated cottages along the drive that looks equally nice. So our advice for you is to look for photo spots elsewhere if this place is not along your planned route.

12:00 | An adventure into Glen Etive 
Sky was clear when we began our drive on the narrow single track road that meanders down Glen Etive towards the head of Loch Etive. We were greeted by the pristine scenery of Glen Etive with river flowing and mountain top hiding amid the clouds. It's as if we had been teleported into a surreal world!
The drive was really lovely until one point where we felt like we were driving to nowhere in the rain. There was no phone signal for us to check our location and how far are we from the end of the road. Despite the uncertainty, we still drove on and finally reached the end of the road. So happy to finally reach the head of Loch Etive after feeling lost! 
The superb view there totally screamed "Scotland!". We saw two paddlers back from their canoeing trip and they were picked up by their family whom we had a chat with. There were also people camping near the loch. Lucky us, we spotted a few wild deers by the roadside during our drive back!

This was a much longer drive than we expected, with us clocking in 28 miles for a round trip. Do note that this is a single lane road with passing places at almost every 100 yards, hence we had pull over our car several times to allow cars of opposite direction to pass through. This drive was definitely not easy and we suffered slightly from carsick due to the frequent stopping at passing place. But I am thankful that Anders overcame it. He's the best (and only) driver of our trip!

16:00 | Late lunch at The Glencoe Gathering
Passed by The Three Sisters of Glencoe - Beinn Fhada, Gearr Aonach and Aonach Dubh mountains along our way to the nearby restaurant. We were feeling very cold and hungry after drive in Glen Etive, so we did quick search online to find this cosy place full of Scottish charm coming from the staff and decor. 

18:00 | View the Castle Stalker from The Old Inn 
Last stop of the day is to go view Castle Stalker from afar. We parked our car near The Old Inn and walked down a short footpath to the viewpoint. The wind was very chilling that evening, so we could only stay for awhile to take some pictures. Castle Stalker is truly stunning! The weather, casting a grey sky, added a nice background to the isolated castle.

19:00 | Dinner at Lochleven Seafood Cafe 
Lochleven Seafood Cafe was recommended by Chris and we made a reservation before heading down as it's quite a small restaurant with limited seatings. The seafood here is very fresh and affordable. We ordered fresh oysters, small pot of Mussels cooked in wine and fish of the day. Two thumbs up and we strongly recommend you to eat here!

It has been a very adventurous day for us! Went back to admire the sights and sounds of Loch Linnhe just outside our B&B followed by a very restful night.

Scotland is really beautiful.

You can read up on the rest of our 17 days' adventure in Scotland and England here

Day 3 in Stirling, Loch Lomond and Luss, Scotland

Today marks the beginning of the true Scotland trip for us! After watching Braveheart, we really looked forward to follow the trail of William Wallace!
*Cue bagpipe music*

12th May 2017

08:00 | Breakfast at 19 Snowden Stirling Guest House
Morning started with a sumptuous breakfast prepared by the host, together with the company of two other female guests who have travelled in the opposite direction of our itinerary. They shared their experience of travelling in Scotland thus far and told us that we are about to visit their favourite castle of Scotland! 

10:00 | Strolled along the Old Stirling Bridge
Old Stirling Bridge was introduced to us through an instagrammer as a good location to photograph the impressive Wallace Monument. It's connected to a park and was really lovely to see the locals going about their daily routines.
Oh, do not be misled by the plaque! This stone structure is not the original Stirling Bridge from the battle. The original wooden bridge has collapsed in the 1297 battle. 

11:00 | Climbed up to the Crown of The National Wallace Monument at Abbey Craig
Parked the car at the carpark and took a courtesy bus to reach the base of Wallace Monument. Bought our entry tickets from the reception desk and began our journey up the 246 spiral stairs. Along the way up, we went into three exhibition galleries to learn more about the monument, William Wallace and the battle at Stirling Bridge. The spiral staircase is pretty narrow, so the galleries also served the purpose of easing the walk and being the passing point for everyone.
Eventually we made it to "The Crown" which is the top of the monument. The view of the vast landscape around Abbey Craig was absolutely breathtaking! Thus, we braved the strong winds and stayed there to admire the scenery for much longer than we should have. 

13:00 | Toured the Stirling Castle
We went on to visit the Stirling Castle nearby which was highly recommended by our fellow travellers at the guest house. And indeed, It became one of our favourite castles of this trip!
Started the visit with eating ice cream bought from a cute ice cream truck just outside the castle while admiring the view of where we just came from. Next, we purchased the tickets and entered Stirling castle just in time for the free guided tour (takes place every half an hour) around the castle. The engaging guide shared with us the history and fascinating facts of the royal buildings. We strongly recommend joining the guided tour when visiting any place of interest! 
After the brief tour around the castle with the guide, we continued to walk around the castle to take photos and appreciate the buildings with some still in the midst of restoration. In addition, there are costumed characters hanging out in some rooms where you can mingle with them or ask questions.
Truly enjoyed our visit there! It felt like we stepped back in time and we'll always remember this castle with its unique yellow building named "The Great Hall".

16:00 | Late lunch at Oak Tree Inn near Loch Lomond
It's time for a late lunch! We headed towards Oak Tree Inn that was situated in the lovely loch side village of Balmaha. This is a really nice location for a stopover/meal. Saw a lot of hikers there as it's just across the Loch Lomond-Trossachs National Park visitor centre. 

17:00 | In search of the lone tree at Milarrochy Bay
Anders was captivated by a photographer's photos of this lone tree, and thus we went a little off our intended path to look for it. There is very little information about this tree, and thus we had a hard time finding it. 
Finally, we found it right here on the beach in front of a small building. The light was working against us by that hour of the day. Still, we took some shots and made the best out of the visit!

19:00 | Stopped over at Luss Village
We originally planned to stop by a few more places on our way to our next accommodation, but due to time running out, we had to drop a few of them. One that we thought we had to visit was Luss. It's dubbed by some people as the most beautiful village in Scotland, and once you step in there, you can see why!
The beautifully conserved cottages makes this village really special. We really wished we had more time here. Every cottage makes a good photo spot! Walking through the rows of cottages will lead you to the pier with a nice boardwalk that opens up to a fantastic view of Loch Lomond!

We had to rush off this place, but fortunately still took enough photos and made it worthwhile. We stopped by The Green Welly Stop to grab some quick dinner before doing a long and direct drive to Huntingtower Lodge, where we will spend the night. The evening skies accompanied us on this beautiful drive as we rode towards the sunset and ended our day.

You can read up on the rest of our 17 days' adventure in Scotland and England here

Day 2 in Glasgow and Stirling, Scotland

Woke up pretty early today due to jet-lag. But on a positive note, we get to have an awesome long day ahead! 

11th May 2017

08:00 | Mini-photoshoot at our Airbnb
Since we were up early, we thought we might as well use the opportunity to have some fun around our lovely apartment. The large windows allowed ample sunlight into the living room and kitchen and made it perfect for taking pictures!

09:00 | Breakfast at Singl-end cafe & bakehouse
Look out for the black board with "Singl-end" on Renfrew street and take the stairs down. This place is cosy with many fascinating decorations such as old photos, postcards and Scottish themed prints all around. Being the first customers that morning, we saw the staff dishing out varieties of breads, cakes and savoury bites to display on the large table near the entrance. It was so tempting!
Had a hard time choosing from the extensive breakfast menu. Eventually decided on Singl-end Cooked Breakfast with Marshmallow Hot Chocolate for him; and Meaty Baked Eggs with tea for me.

11:00 | Failed to collect rental car from Hertz
Our initial plan was to collect the car and drive back to our Airbnb for check-out. Unfortunately, we had problems locating the Hertz temporary office, followed by the need to switch the car due to suitability and it caused a delay in the collection of car.

13:00 | Late check-out at Airbnb
Due to the hiccups at Hertz, we were late to return to our apartment for check-out. Thankfully, the host who was there cleaning up the place kindly waited for us. We'll share more on our good and bad Airbnb experience in a separate post.

13:30 | Break time at Waterstones bookstore cafe
Having two big luggages wasn't the easiest to roam the street with. So we went ahead to park ourselves in a cafe inside Waterstones bookstore near our Airbnb. It's a great place to chill with a book and drink! 

14:30 | Collected the car and visited Glasgow Cathedral
Finally! We have a car to move on to visit Glasgow Cathedral. Parking is opposite the cathedral, and we had a hard time looking for it initially. The cathedral interior is remarkable with the medieval stonework, open-timber roof and stained glass windows! An interesting attraction of the cathedral is the dark vaulted chambers of the lower church. There are guides walking around to share the history and little-known knowledge of the cathedral which we really appreciated.

16:30 | Explored Stirling city centre
As our B&B host was not around when we reached Stirling, we decided to walk towards the Stirling city centre. The first store that caught our attention was Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe, a traditional-looking sweet shop with a huge selection of sugary goodies. Next, we popped into Europa Music store to browse through the vinyls. Gradually, all the stores started to close when nearing 5.30pm. Bought a cup of hot chocolate from The Burgh Coffeehouse for our walk back to the B&B. 

18:00 | Checked into 19 Snowdon Stirling Guest House
Our B&B in Stirling is a large Victorian guest house situated in a quiet residential area. We got a large double bed room with a private bathroom adjacent to our room. The view outside our window is the backyard, where the owner's two dogs ran around and played!

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19:00 | Drink and dine at The Birds and Bees
As we had no reservation made, we were informed that we may need to wait up to an hour before getting dinner service. But we still went in and was seated at a nice booth seat with a romantic ambience. It felt like a date night!
Inside the restaurant, there's a pub where we ordered their beer on tap. Do try their Birds and Bees Golden Summer Ale which I liked! The manager also kindly served us olives while waiting for dinner service. Beer and olives made the waiting much more bearable.
Sooner than expected, food was served! We ordered the Beer Battered Haddock Fillet and Creamy Brandy Char-grilled Chicken Breast. Strongly recommend this place for its tasty food and top-notch service! Try make a reservation if possible to save waiting time. 

Not the smoothest day of our trip due to all the hiccups, but travel almost always bring along some issues. The key to easing past these issues is to simply stay positive and create an experience out of it! For us, it was finding a nice bookstore and simply relaxed. The day concluded with a nice purple sunset. Looking forward to the next day!

You can read up on the rest of our 17 days' adventure in Scotland and England here

Day 1 in Glasgow, Scotland

You know you love the destination the moment you land and find a fuss-free way out of the airport into the city. That's how we fell in love with Glasgow!

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10th May 2017

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12:30 | Landed at Glasgow Airport and took the Glasgow Airport Express to our Airbnb
Went outside the airport and purchased the Glasgow Airport Express bus ticket on the spot. This bus conveniently brings us to the city within 15 minutes! Glad to find out there was a bus stop on Bothwell Street, which was considerably close to our Airbnb.

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13:00 | Checked into our Airbnb
We were a little unsure of the exact location of the apartment, but luckily we spotted the bright blue wall of the bedroom as seen online. At the same time, the host spotted us and waved. What a relief!

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14:30 | Climbed up The Lighthouse and roamed the streets
First stop, we went to The Lighthouse Mackintosh Tower. The only way up to the viewing platform is to climb the helical staircase. It was not the easiest (takes some guts) but definitely worth it for the wonderful view across Glasgow!
Next, we strolled along Buchanan street, Argyle street and Merchant City. We were amazed at how well the old buildings are preserved and can't stop snapping away. 

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18:00 | Dinner at Bread Meats Bread
The burgers are absolutely delicious and the portion of the sides are huge! You must try the Maple Bacon Sweet Potato Fries which is my favourite sweet fries ever! 

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19:00 | Evening stroll around George Square and the City Chamber
Thanks to the longer daylight hours, we were able to continue walking around despite all the shops around us have closed. It was such a pleasure to people-watch at George Square and admire the architectural structure of City Chamber. 

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A stroll back to our accommodation in the beautiful weather concluded our first day. Needed to rest up early for the 2 weeks of adventure ahead of us!

You can read up on the rest of our 17 days' adventure in Scotland and England here

17 Days In Scotland And England Itinerary

"Somewhere charming with little towns"
"Surrounded by mountain and near the sea"
"Scenic route for a roadtrip"

These were what I suggested when he asked where we should go for our next holiday. I'm pretty sure you can already guess where we finally decided to go by the title!

Here's a quick summary of our 17 days itinerary in Scotland and England during May 2017. Very shortly, we'll collect our thoughts to do the day by day blog posts and link to the images below. Click on the images to read!

Day 1 Glasgow

The Lighthouse > Buchanan St, Argyle St, Merchant City
> George Square > City Chamber

Day 2 Glasgow
to Stirling

Glasgow Cathedral

Day 3 Stirling
to Fort William

Stirling Bridge > Wallace Monument
> Stirling Castle > Luss Village

Day 4 Glencoe

Blackrock Cottage > Glen Etive > Castle Stalker

Day 5 Glencoe
to Tomintoul

Glenfinnan > Neptune's Staircase
> Commando Memorial > Urquhart Castle

Day 6 Tomintoul
to Aberdeen

Cairngorms Reindeer Centre
> Glenmore Forest Visitor Centre > Ballater

Day 7 Aberdeen
to Edinburgh

Stonehaven War Memorial > Dunnottar Castle
> St Andrews Cathedral > Forth Bridges

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Day 8 Edinburgh

The Elephant House > Edinburgh Castle
> Royal Mile > Edinburgh Old Town

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Day 9 Edinburgh to Shilbottle

National Museum of Scotland > Lindisfarne

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Day 10 Shilbottle to York

Barter books > Alnwick Town Centre > Alnwick Castle

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Day 11 York
to Manchester

York Shambles Market > York Minster > MediaCityUK

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Day 12 

Manchester

Spinningfields Makers Market > John Rylands Library
> Old Trafford (Manchester United Game)

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Day 13 Manchester
to London

Old Trafford (Stadium Tour) > Bermonsey >Tower Bridge

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Day 14 London

Notting Hill > Portobello Road Market
> Abbey Road Studios > Oxford Street

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Day 15 London

Borough Market > Tower Bridge
> Spitalfields Market > Shoreditch > BOXPARK

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Day 16 London

London Eye > Big Ben
> St James Park > Buckingham palac

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Day 17 London

Victoria station > Camden Market

Hope you enjoy reading!
If you are travelling, wish you have a lovely and safe travel! 

Istana Open House 2017

Woke up to the sound of thunder and heavy raindrops, thinking that it will be another weekend when we'll be forced to stay home. Wanting to make full use of the long weekend, we made the decision to head out to Dhoby Ghaut in search of a camera to replace Cindy's Canon G9X, which was on the brink of another "lens error of death". 

It turned out to be an eventful day! We went to Hoshino Coffee for the first time to have our lunch. Never paid attention to their lunch selection until today, so we were excited to try their Porcini Soufflé. We also ordered the hot fruit tea and Vanilla Soufflé for dessert.

All we had to say was.. IT'S SO FLUFFY!!!

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Soon, the rain had died down and the sky rolled out a carpet of sunshine. Since the weather was kind to us, we headed next door to the Istana Open House!

Queue was faster than we thought it would be. After some security checks, we were in! Tons of people there, but as the space was huge, we don't really feel the crowd. See more from our photos below!

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Drained by the scorching sun, we headed back to Plaza Singapura for Singapore-style high tea at Wang Cafe. The kaya breads and milk tea are the perfect perk-me-up!

Afterward, we continued with our main aim of searching for a camera. Staff at TK Foto was really helpful! Patient in explaining and went an extra mile to let us try out the cameras. He even encouraged us to go research on the potential models we were interested in before making the purchase. Good service goes a long way!