Activities - See

Sydney eats and sights and stay at Old Clare Hotel

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In my second half of my week in Sydney, my landscape changed from surfers paradise - Bondi Beach to Chippendale, where I stayed with Y, and buddies WT and CG in newly opened industrial chic Old Clare Hotel opened by our own Singaporean hotelier Loh Lik Peng. Close to Chinatown and a 10 minutes car ride to the CBD area, and home to local universities like University of Technology and University of Sydney, my friends told me Chippendale used to be rather gritty. However, over the last few years, this area has been getting a new lease of life and becoming rather gentrified with art galleries, design studios, chic restaurants & cafes sprinkling up amidst new buildings like Foster + Partners designed luxury residential building - One Central...

Sydney Bondi Beach – Stay and Sights

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In March this year, Y and I made our way to Sydney with our buddies CG and WT for some chillax week in Sydney, the main reason coming here was for Madonna's final leg of her Rebel Heart World Tour, but it was nice to come visit Syndey with our friends who used to call this sunny place Down Under their home when they studied here. For a refreshing change which is quite untypical of Y and I, CG suggested to stay in Bondi Beach area for the first part of the week which the rest of us didn't mind, as we have never really explored this area thoroughly in the past when I last came here in early 2005 with Y. Familiar sights of the promenade along Bondi....

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda

Just in late September this year, Y decided to head to Chengdu with R and me to celebrate her birthday and also more importantly to check out this city known for my favourite black and white Pandas. R's parents also came along given they had once stayed in this country years ago and had fond memories of it, but they skipped the Panda visits since they preferred to stroll through some of their other favourite haunts. Apparently, there's an estimated 1800 plus wild giant pandas, living in central China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi, and Gansu Provinces. So it's no wonder that panda bears can be seen everywhere in Chengdu, it's on billboards, many souvenir shops, walking in costumes. And the recently completed IFC building in Chengdu invited renowned...

Chateau La Coste

Our last day in Aix En Provence, was chock full of activities. After a quick shopping spree at the morning markets in Aix En Provence (see post), and a wonderful lunch at La Petite Maison, we had to make a quick dash to this amazing modern winery - Chateau La Coste en Provence in Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade that I heard so much about from fellow wine buff friend AL. As we drove into Chateau La Coste, the perfectly manicured landscapes along the long driveway greeted us, before we entered the minimalist designed underground carpark. First views of Chateau La Coste as we drive in. Entrance from carpark. What sets Chateau La Coste apart from many other wineries is that rather than just having a modern designed building...

Sunflowers in Provence

Very often when one googles for flowers in summer in Provence, images of lavender and sunflower fields fill the pages. So it's only natural to any non-local including myself that sunflowers are just springing up anywhere in Provence in the peak of summer. So here's the reality check, for sure lavender fields aren't everywhere, and with sunflowers, they are even rarer. But after chancing upon these sunflower fields, I decided to do some research so that if you are planning on finding these happy flowers the next time you visit Provence, at least you have a game plan. First sightings of sunflower fields in the area of Cadenet. Honestly, given it was our last day in Provence, we had pretty much almost given up on seeing any sunflower fields up...

Day trip to Cassis

On our first day arriving into Aix En Provence, we were planning to just take it easy and walk around the town square. But yes there's always the unexpected that pops up in driving trips. Our concierge from Hotel Le Pigonnet was sharing with us places to go near Aix En Provence, and what we could do if we wanted to see something different. Cassis, a Mediterranean seaside town located south of Aix En Provence, came up as the place which many Aix-ers (short form for the locals from Aix En Provence) tend to head to especially during these hot sweltering summer months. The pictures of the famous Calanques in Cassis and the idea of our feet submerged in nice cold sea water was enough to...

Stay in Aix En Provence

For the last leg of our Provence trip, we decided to stay in Aix En Provence, given that we might need to have some 'city life' after a few days of countryside and small towns. And it's convenient to depart from here back to Paris via the TGV. I acknowledge we didn't thoroughly explore Aix, but our first and last impressions of this city is we really hate the traffic, enough for me to strike it off my list of cities to visit in Provence. It's notorious for its high traffic and constant jams on the town roads and highways during summer and this runs on till maybe autumn when both the domestic and foreign tourists have dissipated. Sculpture in the square at Cours Mirabeau. Given we spent...

Lavender in Gordes

Gordes, part of the Luberion region, has been helmed in many tourist websites on Provence as one of the most beautiful villages of France, and after coming here, I can understand why. Gordes has also been mentioned in Peter Mayle's best selling, famous book - A Year in Provence, which am sure has also helped in attracting curious tourists from round the world. Strangely, I have not read this book yet, and it makes me want to read it after having visited Provence. First views of Gordes. Ideally, it would be nice to stay a few nights in the Luberon region and explore the likes of Gordes, Menerbes and Bonnieux. However, given we had limited time, we decided to settle with driving at good speed from St Remy all the...

Carrières de Lumières – breathtaking!

When you visit Provence, it is an absolute must to come to Les Baux Des Provence (a 20 minutes drive from St Remy) to visit the Carrieres De Lumieres here and also the Chateau which sits on the former old town of Baux. Sometimes good things come out of bad experiences, and CG found out about this place by chance when speaking with a French couple while we were queuing up in the heat for our Avis rented car in Avignon. Front entrance to Carrieres De Lumieres. Upon parking our car, we found an imposing limestone quarry right in front of us. With a height of 25 meters tall, this was converted in 1977 into a site to showcase incredible multimedia shows called the Carrière de Lumières. Each year,...

St Remy Provence shopping and sights

The second stop in our Provence virgin trip was St Remy. This town is picturesque with its tree lined streets and has a great selection of art galleries, gourmet shops and museums, spread throughout the main boulevard and the tiny streets. I love especially the mixture of pastel and bright coloured windows that accent the old buildings through the various tiny streets, it makes for a perfect picture. It's also most famous for being the place which inspired Van Gogh and where he produced many of his most important works while staying in the asylum at Saint-Paul de Mausole monastery. Remember the famous Starry Night? SLEEP We stayed at Hotel L'Image, a 4 star boutique hotel with 32 rooms. Upon check in, we were given a tour of the premises before...
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