Travel recaps: Trip to Middle Earth

 All images taken by my dad
My last overseas trip with the whole family (3 kids + parents) was two summers ago. We decided to embark on a 2week holiday for some quality family bonding time. New Zealand, specifically South Island was chosen as the parents have always wanted to travel there. Plus mum is a big fan of the Lord of the Rings.

Nothing, however, could prepare us for the beauty of this other-worldly country. It is the most gorgeous and breath-taking place on earth. We probably took a million pictures because we could not believe how gorgeous it was. My dad who is an avid photographer went bonkers. Literally every 5 minutes, he would stopped the car, set up his tripod and snapped away.

Here are my top 5 activities/places of South Island, New Zealand:

1. Jump off a bridge. Yes, jump off one. Obviously with a cord attached to your feet. New Zealand is also famous for its extreme adrenaline-filled activities. The most famous being bungy jumping. What better way to celebrate my second day in NZ than paying and voluntarily jumping off Kawarau Bridge, the world's first commercial bungy jumping site. Yep, that pic above with that tiny human oscillating up and down, that is yours truly. Make this your first jump, if you ever want to bungy.

2. Queenstown. Besides being known as the Adventure Capital of the world, it is also a very scenic and lovely town. Surrounded by the mountains known as The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu, the town is extremely photogenic.

3. Lake Tekapo. Blue. Extremely gorgeous blue lake. Possibly the most beautiful lake in the world. So surreal looking at it.  Please put this lake onto the list of places you have to see in NZ.

4. Milford Sound. It is known as New Zealand's most famous attraction. I don't know if it's because I have seen so many amazing sceneries along the way that I sort of expected more from this fjord. But it is stunning especially the wildlife, e.g. seals and waterfalls. The best thing, however, is the drive to Milford Sound and Homer Tunnel - the single lane, long dark tunnel that gets pretty scary as you have no idea what awaits you at the end. That is until you drive out of it and ... wow.

5. Hike a Glacier. The west coast of South Island is also famous for its two glaciers. Fox Glacier and Franz Josef. They are two of the most conveniently accessible glaciers in the world. Though it still requires quite a tedious and long hike to the top (maybe I find it so because I don't exercise). It is overwhelming to be standing on top one. Highly recommended unless you hate hiking. 

If you love nature, extreme sports and road trips, then New Zealand is the place for you.
Also do hire a car. No license? Find a travel companion who has one. You will see so much more, every missed turn is a drive to somewhere magical.

Snapshots #3

So far it has been a good start to Spring. Went on a road trip with the bestie. With no actual plan and relying on the GPS to get us to our destination safely, we embarked on a 2hr drive up north. On the agenda was vineyards but somehow arrived at the coastal town of Newcastle instead. Blessed with sunny clear blue skies, we went on walks and mini adventures around the old and new parts of the lovely beachside town. Coming back we nearly ended up at Brisbane (an extra 12hours drive) due to my friend's horrible GPS reading & listening skills. Only took my eye off her for less than 5mins!

Additionally I finally quelled my burrito and dumpling cravings. The other big news - Laduree opened its first store in Sydney last week! To celebrate the new opening, I decided to brave the queue to get my hands on their famous macarons. Original plan was to buy two but 20mins into the queue, I decided that I should get more as a 'pat-on-the-back' reward for not giving up (I'm not really known for my patience). After 40mins, I ended up buying eight. I have to say they were really good.

Have been listening to Mumford & Sons's new album, Babel, all day. Can't wait to see them live next month!

Chalet C7 by Nicolás del Rio and Max Núñez

Imagine yourself on the Andes, surrounded by snow-capped mountains and you spot a chalet in the midst of this extreme landscape ...

All Images from homedsgn
Architects Nicolás del Rio and Max Núñez designed this amazing home with the jaw-dropping Laguna del Inca and Three Brothers mountain acting as a natural backdrop. It would be a nice place to hide away from the world and escape all shackles of responsibilities. I could imagine myself nursing a cup of hot chocolate while appreciating the view from inside the living room.

To stay there long term, however, I don't think I can manage. A bit too isolate for my liking.

PS: Being the html/template dummy that I am, I have finally realised how to add the Follow widget thing on my blog. Which means I now understand how to follow blogs (some blogs were added by fluke. Yes, I'm really slow). So I hope it's easier now for any who would like to follow yours truly - not that I'm particularly interesting. But if you like to, the option is there - located on the right.

Travel lust: Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

One travels to Bolivia to visit this -

 (Images are from here, here & here)
One of my travel regrets was choosing Buenos Aires over Bolivia, specifically Salar de Uyuni. It wasn't that I did not have a good time in Argentina but merely because I have always wanted to visit the world largest salt flat. Why didn't I go? I was cash-strapped and flying to Buenos Aires from Sydney was much easier than flying to La Paz and then catching a bus to one town before hopping onto a train to another town before joining the local tour to the salt flat. Quite a hassle. Plus a friend mentioned she boarded a bus that used the infamous Death Road aka Yungas Road (see here for details) which of course freaked my parents out.

So I hereby announce that I will somehow find a way to visit Salar de Uyuni (and Machu Pichu) within the next 5years. Good enough? The problem I face is finding a travel companion - so far my friends think I'm insane and would rather go to places with proper toilet plumbing. But I'm not brave enough to head to South America alone. Worst case scenario, persuading/black-mailing brother to come along - he's taking Spanish at uni so at least he will, hopefully, be of some use.

Is there anywhere you would like to go? Somewhere foreign that has been on top of your dream list?

Newtown is where I go when I'm bored

Busy King Street that cuts through Newtown.
Love this dish - Chicken Masala Dosai. So good.
Cardigan-Giordano; Collared shirt - Random store at Broadway; Pinafore shorts - Sportsgirl; Stockings - Topshop ; Shoes - Thrifted; Tote bag - The Beatles Story, Liverpool
I really like this pair of Topshop stockings, bought in London. Ecstatic that Topshop will open in Sydney early next month!

Newtown is one of Sydney's most vibrant and eccentric suburbs. Situated in the Inner West (the best area of Sydney - I might be bias as I live in the Inner West), it is a mere 15mins walking distance to Central. Filled with eateries - most offering cheap lunch specials to cater for the poor students at nearby University of Sydney, quirky little shops, tattoo parlours, secondhand bookstores and clothing shops. It is, without a doubt, one of my favourite suburbs.

I go there when I can't make up my mind on what to eat (Italian, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, Greek ... the list goes on). I head there to catchup with friends over coffee. Friends' parties are usually held there too. It is basically where I hang out. You will never get bored nor will you get hungry which makes it perfect for me.

So when dad wanted to try Indian cuisine for Father's day (see this post for explanation), where else to go but Newtown? And it turned out to be a splendid choice. Very yummy food, albeit spicy. I've never had it before but Chicken Masala Dosai is now on my list of fave food.

PS: Thanks for the well-wishes. I'm feeling much better now.

To leap and levitate

All images are from yowayowa
It is only the second day of the week but my immune system has failed me. Had to call in sick. To get better for work tomorrow, this is what I did (in no particular order): Nap, overdose on Redoxon Vitamin C tablets and read a book.

The pictures above are from the amazingly talented Natsumi Hayashi from Tokyo. Her photographs make you wonder if she's actually floating or if they are in fact photo-shopped. The answer to the second question is no. So how does she do it? She sets a self-timer or gets a friend to help her press the shutter and basically ... jumps. Easy? Not so. Sometimes it takes up to 300 jumps before she finds the perfect shot.

"In being free of gravity in the pictures, I am also not bound to societal conventions. I feel as though I am not tied to many things and able to be my true self."
"I hope the viewers can feel emancipation from the stress of daily life when they see my levitation photography.”
- Natsumi Hayashi

Visit her blog here (though she has, unfortunately, stopped updating it) as well as her Facebook page here for more creative shots.

Playlist #3

Take a Walk - Passion Pit
1 2 3 4 - Feist
Ooh La - The Kooks
Born at the Right Time - Dappled Cities
Sorry - Gypsy & The Cat
Heart of a Lion - The Griswolds
Little Talks - Of Monsters and Men
Young Blood - The Naked and the Famous

My latest mix to welcome the arrival of September and the start of a brand new week. Let me know if you like any and I'm always looking for music recommendations.

Watching Moonrise Kingdom(good movie, the kids are adorable) was the only productive thing I did over the weekend and I managed to pass off as a uni student. The conversation with the lady at the ticket counter was as follows:

Bro: Two tickets to Moonrise please (He offered to pay for my ticket, so I was partially spacing out next to him)
Counter: Concession?
Bro: Yes (He is indeed a uni student)
Counter: Student ID?
Bro: *Hands over his ID card*
Me: *Finally realised what's happening and frantically giving bro 'what do you want me to do' looks but he refuses to acknowledge me.*
Counter: *Returns ID card and looks at me*
Me: *About to come clean* Sorry, I ...
Counter: It's okay. *Prints out tickets*

My brother is one of the most intelligent individuals I know, so I'm not sure if that really was accidental as he claimed or in fact a ploy of his.

DIY: Tie-dye stockings

Images from thethousands
Something DIY before the weekend starts. Ways to avoid shaving your legs for summer as Natasha from thethousands nicely highlighted.

What you will need:
- Vinegar
- Food colouring
- Some nylon stockings (Nude-coloured 15 deniers is recommended)
- Tongs
- Gloves (to prevent colourful cuticles)
- String

Visit the site for more step-by-step instructions. She also applies 'science' on methods of adding food colouring, which I will choose to ignore because I don't think my brain wants to comprehend subtractive colour theory. I will probably randomly add colours to my liking.

For those who are interested, have a go and good luck :)

For the first time in weeks, I have no concrete plans for the weekend except catching a movie with lil' bro and lodging my tax (boring). But I do believe somewhere in my diary there is an appointment to lie on my backyard with Muriel Barbery's 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' in hand.
Have a lovely weekend!

Tumblr favourites

(Images from tumblr : via, asiiananniie, d3ssins, kuulas-sunnuntai, icanread, lustingnewyork, ache, mademoisellefrances, followandreblog & satelliteofyou)

I will admit. I'm a tumblr addict. I can spend hours glancing through the site. It's where I go when I'm feeling down or uninspired. Above are some of my favourites. Do you have an account? If you like you can follow me on jojo-n.

To be honest, I'm feeling quite moody lately. Things aren't exactly going according to what I had in mind. That and trying not to get drag into petty arguments. In desperate need of some cheering up, really want the weekend to arrive now.

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