Lantau Island

If you are looking to escape the man-made surroundings of Hong Kong, I would suggest a visit to one of its many islands. Lantau being one of them. A friend recommended me to take a train there and hop on a cable car ride to Ngong Ping where one of Hong Kong's most famous attractions sits - The Big Buddha.

But I woke up late and arrived at 10.30am to a long line of people with the same idea. Buy the tickets online! It will save you a 40min wait. The cable car ride was just spectacular, offering magnificent views of a different Hong Kong as we passed by mountainous terrains and the ocean. Unfortunately I forgot to charge my camera which meant very limited pics taken to conserve power.

After getting off the cable car, we arrived at Ngong Ping Village which is a fairly new development catered for tourists with a number of souvenirs and food stores. Follow the people and you will reach the statue. Climb the 300+ steps for a close-up view of the largest outdoor seating bronze Buddha statue in the world and wonderful panoramic views of the island.

Another highlight was the Po Lin Monastery nearby. A popular and colourful temple, where it's covered in thick incense from joss sticks burnt by its worshipers and filled with chanting of monks.

Due to time constraints, we didn't get to head over to Tai O, a known fishing village with houses built on stilts over the sea. I guess, there's always next time?

Thank you

 Image from here

I have never been so glad that the weekend is here. Work has been crazy hectic. Deadlines and projects all due within the same timeframe. I also had relatives from overseas paying a visit which meant lots of catching up and big meals. But the good thing about being busy is that time flies and at the end of the week, I feel a sense of accomplishment, of fulfillment. For that I am thankful. If I look back, I never would have imagine myself being where I am now but life works in mysterious ways. It's like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get (still one of my fave movies). You can only make do with what you have got. Besides life is too short for regrets.

So friends and family who have been with me through thick and thin. And everyone who has given me a smile, said hello and complimented me. Thank you.

On that note, have a great weekend everyone. I will be attending a yoga class with sis, doing some pre-christmas shopping (more like window shopping for xmas ideas) and having a little birthday party for my dad.

Newtown Festival


Two weeks ago, I headed out to Newtown Festival which has been on my "to visit" list for the past few years but plans, they never work out the way you want them to. It's a yearly free event organised by the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre. There's an optional gold coin donation for entry, in which all proceeds go towards the centre to assist with providing community support services to the local community.

This year the theme was "Bottled Water Free" - making a stand against the commercialisation of water and plastic bottle waste. As a result no bottled water was available for purchase, instead free tap water was offered at refill stations throughout the park and festival-goers had to BYO refill cups/bottles. It's fascinating to read how lucky we are in Australia to have wonderful, tasty potable tap water and how much we, as a nation, take it for granted when comparing with other countries that do not have access to any. I'm going to ask for tap from now on.

The crowds did get a bit intense in the afternoon due to the heat and stalls being stationed quite close to each other but it was a great day out. Ate a yummy falafel wrap and heard some pretty good homegrown bands.

Newtown Festival, I will see you next year.

Yoshimoto Nara

 Images from here, here, here, here & here

I was helping a friend track down the name of an artist whose works we saw during an outing to the art gallery and whilst 'searching', I came across the art works of Yoshitomo Nara, an artist who has gained a cult following in Japan.

There's nothing cluttered nor convoluted about his works. Simple images of little kids, toddlers or animals with huge heads that seemingly returns their gaze at you, much like a mirror. But an air of discomfort and apprehension has been infused onto the simple childlike images to portray a loss of innocence in contemporary society. Quite an eerie effect.

To see more of his works, click the links above or head to an art gallery nearby as his works are being displayed worldwide, including MOMA (I'm not sure if his works are still there. New Yorkers, you might have to double-check).

A town called Beitou

Due to my flight arriving around mid-day and the distance from the airport to my accommodation, I did not plan to do much on my first day in Taiwan.  I read somewhere, when conducting my "research" aka blog-hopping,  of a famous hot spring town known as Beitou. This piqued my interest. I have fond memories of hot springs when I took my only and last dip 4.5years ago in Tokyo (surrounded by old naked ladies - an experience indeed) so naturally I added this town onto my itinerary.

After getting some assistance from the reception on directions and recommendations, we were off to navigate the metro lines and streets of Taipei. Fortunately the travel to Beitou was pretty straightforward but unfortunately for us, we were sandwiched throughout the packed train ride. We learned from one of the passengers that it was the first day of the hot spring season, hence there was a festival going on to celebrate this.

Once we were out of the station, I was glad we chose that particular day to visit. It was quite entertaining to see performances and varied stalls along the street. We wandered around a path, following the crowds, and passed by this amazing wooden structure which turned out to be their local public library (4th image). Because we took a different route back to the station, we were unable to take a look inside which I imagine would be pretty stunning.

On our leisurely walk, we spotted lots of activity in front a small building and decided to enter it. After taking off our shoes and being handed a pair of indoor slippers, we realised that it was a museum documenting the history of hot springs at Beitou. The Euro-Japanese building was built during the Japanese occupation period and used to be the largest public bathhouse in East Asia during its time. It was fascinating to see how hot springs became embedded into the Taiwanese culture.

The thermal valley (7th image) was another spot we visited and possibly my favourite. I've never seen anything like it. The constant rising steam from the green-coloured spring makes it look mysterious and otherworldly. But the strong smell of sulfur brings you back to reality. The surface of the spring was constantly bubbling away and standing beside it, I felt like I was slowly melting. An amazing sight and smell.

Turned out to be a perfect start to my stay at Taiwan.

2 story attic

Images from Homedsgn
How gorgeous are these pictures? I really do have a thing for white-coloured walls and open spaces. This two bedroom duplex penthouse sits on top one of Stockholm's historical buildings.
Loving the living room and how it connects to the terrace outside with big clear sliding doors. The fireplace is a nice touch and the view of the city is quite lovely.
Stockholm reminds me of Copenhagen, would love to make a stop there in the foreseeable future.


Images from here, here, here, here and here

I have to confess. I am afraid of taxis/cabs. I hardly catch a cab here in Sydney and refuse to get into one if I'm the sole occupant. If I'm with someone, it's ok but not if I'm alone. Weird isn't it? My friends and colleagues think so. They make me flag one down whenever I'm with them. For training, they say. I'm not too sure why I feel this way. Maybe it's because the thought of getting into a stranger's car and driving into the unknown scares me. I can't really describe it.

But due to work, meetings, leisure and business travels, I have become somewhat accepting of taxis - though still hesitant to flag a taxi alone and during travels would rather catch the public transport to the city centre from the airport if the option is available (e.g. hongkong, tokyo).

Maybe I just need more 'training'? Do you have something you are afraid of? Something that makes you feel like the odd one out?

Anyways have a great weekend! I'm off to Newtown festival this coming Sunday which should be a fun-filled day.

Snapshots #4 - Taiwan & Hong Kong pictures


Hello, I'm alive and back at work. I have been busy unpacking, doing laundry and tidying after my 2 week absence. I have a million pics to sort but for the time being here are some of the pics from my phone.

The trip was fun but too short. Yes, I did get lost (many times) and there were indeed lots of hand movements/signing used when communicating but I had a great time. Taipei was particularly fascinating. The people over there were super friendly (at least to me) and the strange food concoctions were oh-so-yummy. If I was to compare Taipei to a city, I would call it the lovechild of Tokyo + Kuala Lumpur.

Hong Kong, on the other hand, fail to captivate me. It's similar to Singapore but much busier and louder. Maybe I'm just not a big fan of crowds and how commercial and brand-conscious it is? Don't get me wrong, I had a memorable time there - especially the neighbourhood I stayed at on Hong Kong Island. It had little lanes filled with small, quirky shops that sold items ranging from antiques, traditional medicine, herbs, books to bakeries and cafe. I also really like the islands and the harbour at night.

I'm itching to travel again. Family is planning a trip to China (another place I have yet to visit) in March/April. Thinking of tagging along but sadly I do not think I will be able to accumulate enough leave. Hmm... what to do?
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