[Short Let London] Your Home Away From Home

Travelling behaviour of millennial globetrotters have, in many ways, been shaped by digital media. Our lives revolve around fitting snippets of travel experiences, ranging from meals to iconic landmarks and scenery, into picture-perfect 1080 X 1080 px squares. You would think that when it comes to choosing a place to stay, accessibility would be the main consideration – but oftentimes friends of mine have chosen picked pretty boutique hotels in not-so-accessible places over conventional 3-5 star accommodation. Gone are days where dream trips warrant 5-star hotel stays, or mainstream luxury accommodation – this I’m sure is a sentiment shared by many people who wish to escape the usual tourist traps, and crave a truly cultural immersion.

So lo and behold ~ I’ve found some affordable, Instagram-worthy holiday apartments in Central London for my next trip to the UK!

So Short Let London is an online letting platform that offers vacation flats for short let mainly in Central London and North West areas. Not only are these holiday apartments incredibly picturesque on the outside and inside, these holiday apartments are fully furnished and self-contained with neat en-suite bathrooms. All apartments also come with a double bed and other essential furniture, a fully fitted kitchen, TV and Wi-Fi connection (thank God, right?).

When in London, live as the Brits do. I find stowing myself away in hotels a crying shame when there’s a whole other world out there. After all, Hilton looks pretty much the same all over the world right? From the pictures below (which I’m only too keen to share), living in these houses pretty much takes you to the heart of London, both geographically and culturally. Plus these apartments are typically close to popular tourist attractions as well as lesser known local hangouts! Ever dreamt of living in an attic? You may just be able to fulfil your dreams…

Onward.

Bayswater & Queensway

Short Let London offers a gorgeous range of 14 apartments in the Bayswater zone. Scroll on if you don’t trust my taste! They’re beautiful. Bayswater is home to my favourite Four Seasons roast duck so there’s no reason why I can’t stay right down the street and have duck rice all day everyday.

What I like about Short Let London’s holiday apartments is their centralised locations, namely in the Zone 1 areas of Bayswater, Queensway, Lancaster Gate, Paddington and Marylebone / Baker Street. 

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Bayswater

An apartment at Bayswater:

An apartment at Queensway:

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Queensway

Bayswater is located in Central London, 1 zone on District and Hammersmith & Circle lines

Kilburn

Kilburn, north-west of London, is my go-to pub-crawl area. It is also home of the The Animals WW1 memorial dispensary which dates back to the early 1930s where the home treated animals wounded by the war. Over 6,000 animals were treated in its first year! There’s an air of sanctity to Short Let London’s Kilburn apartments, totally 12 in Kilburn and another 8 somewhere else in the neighbourhood Kilburn Park.

With all-in amenities, I imagine that the rooms are ideal for couples, friends and families looking for some quality time together.

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Kilburn

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Kilburn 2

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Kilburn 3

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Kilburn 4

Kilburn is a residential area of North West London on Jubilee and Overground Line.

Willesden Green

Whoever chose those checkered curtains deserve a drink – it’s both understated and tasteful, exactly what I would choose for my own apartment. Homeliness of this room draws me in and I might not want to leave that bed.

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden Green

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden Green

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden Green

Willesden Green is located in North West London, zone 2 on the Jubilee line.

Willesden Green – ME9

I’ve always dreamt of hiding away in someone’s attic, and this might be my dream apartment come true. See? I would love waking up everyday to sunlight streaming through those windows. Then climbing down those wooden staircases to have my tea, muffins and scones for breakfast. Mm mmm…

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden

Willesden Green Area – ML8

Also in the popular Willesden Green area, this apartment, separate from the ones above, is chic and homely. Who wouldn’t love this cosy little studio apartments. I picture a couple – first time to London, escaping into and completely engulfed by a world of their own. With the stove merely 4 steps away, breakfast in bed anyone?

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden Green ML8

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden Green ML8

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Willesden Green ML8

 

Aside, I couldn’t help but fall in love with this Short Let London room – it was so adorably decorated for Halloween, it totally put the spook back into the festival (until you see the behind-the-scenes)

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Halloween

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Halloween

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Halloween

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Halloween

Brr…are you getting the chills?Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Halloween

Well, boo ya.

Viktoria Jean - Short Let London, Halloween

With decorations like these, Halloween doesn’t happen often enough.

Honestly, I’ve been planning for another UK trip for the longest time without getting actually getting down to it. I like the idea of getting more for less, as well as making my trip worthwhile by capturing Instagram worthy pictures that would speak more than the 1000words I’ve written thus far. I’m thinking of spending some days in various Short Let apartments, in various locations in London, to get the most out of my stay.

So out of all these I’ve highlighted, which are your favourite Short Let apartments?

Don’t forget to check out Short Let London at http://www.shortlet-london.com/ for more.

You may find more information on their holiday apartments at this link: http://www.shortlet-london.com/central-holiday-apartments

Till next time my lovely readers.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

J65 @ Hotel Jen Tanglin

Just last week, I gushed over my weekend at Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore (HJTS), and promised to share more about J65 – HJTS’ very own F&B outlet. So here’s a long pictorial essay. As a precaution, do not proceed on an empty stomach as it will be sure to growl at these food-porn up ahead.

I had the pleasure of trying the hotel’s dinner and breakfast buffet during my stay. With a name inspired by the Singapore international dialing code (+65), HJTS’ new all-day dining restaurant J65 is open to diners for breakfast, lunch and dinner. HJTS is one of the only hotels in Singapore to offer net pricing at it’s F&B outlet, meaning that diners get no unpleasant surprises at the end of their meal. HJTS’ other dining outlet – Jen’s Kitchen On-the-go – offers locally roasted coffee and snacks 24-hours a day.

First, let’s talk about Hooked! – Seafood Dinner, which is available on Fridays and Saturdays from 6pm to 10pm. The vibrant restaurant with a modern market look and feel offers an eclectic fusion of authentic Southeast Asian cuisine alongside the buffet’s signature selection of fresh Fin de Claire oysters, sushi and sashimi, tiger prawns, Boston lobster and Sri Lankan crab. Hot dishes include soup-baked cumin red mullet and lobster bisque, poached sweet clams, grilled sea bass and other seafood treats.

J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin 2

The layout of the buffet starts with the salad bar and cold dishes in the middle, and grilled meats and hot dishes at the side, but I couldn’t make up my mind, and so decided to attack the grilled meats for starters. The hand-carved meat cuts offered all kinds of red and white meats, including Iberico ham and roast with fancy trimmings. I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Pork knuckles, anybody?

J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin grilled meat

J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin grilled meat

A trayful of cheesebaked mussels for my birthday pleaseJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin baked mussels

Fancy meat, bread pudding, cheesebaked mussel: a plate full of (sin and) happinessJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin on my plate

This corner of the buffet is built to resemble the classic Singaporean hawker centre: note the hanging roast ducks and chicken, layout of a gazillion chillis and sauces, plus satays and authentic peanut sauce. 6 types of regional laksa (Singapore, Penang, Johor, Thai, Sarawak, and curry) are cooked on the spot by the skillful chef. J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin 3Here’s all 6 of the laksa selection!Hotel Jen Tanglin J65 Laksa SelectionJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Laksa

It was sooo hard to make a choice! Finally went with Penang Laksa.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Penang Laksa

Singapore chicken rice with all its accompanying sauces and condiments; once you’ve eaten at J65, you’d have tried a big portion of Singapore’s renowned delicacies
J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin chicken rice
Hotel Jen Tanglin J65 Chicken Rice Booth
And my favourite: SATAY! A pity they only offered chicken. Would have loved me some lamb or beef.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin satay

This is one helluva fascinating buffet area: the YUSHENG BAR. As it was nearing the end of the Chinese New Year, you could make your own yusheng at J65, and toss in fresh salmon from the Japanese sushi bar right beside it. Staying true to the Southeast Asian/Singapore tradition indeed.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin 1

There ain’t no lack of fibre at this buffet with this well-stocked salad bar. Tantalizing bowls of pre-tossed Thai-style mango salad, a mixed deli couscous, delectable choices of cut beetroot, shaved carrots and tomatoes are all the fibre you’d need in a meal or two.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin saladJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin salad barJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin salad

Finally onto the seafood bar. The mussels are especially fresh. Some of the oysters tasted a little strange, but it could have been just my taste buds. The crab was amazing though.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin seafoodJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin seafoodJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin seafood

I must say, the sushi platter and fresh salmon / sashimi are the fastest to go, once restocked. I loved the fresh salmon! The selection was not bad at all (though I couldn’t waste anymore tummy space on rice)J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin sushi

Here’s a peek at what filled our plates at dinner:J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin salmonJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Meat FestJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin PlatesJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin MusselsJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin plate

What’s dinner without desserts? It’s like I have a separate mood centre in my brain that lights up at the sight of desserts (and coffee, too). So much happiness on this table right here.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin dessert bar
Look at this spread!J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin coconut tart desserts

J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin DinnerJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin cakeJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin cupcakeJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin chocolate cakeJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin mango mousseJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Cakes and DessertsImpressed by this selection of ice cream, really! The matcha was to die for (actually had the matcha at breakfast, scroll down for my matcha with sprinkles)J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin ice cream bar

This pistachio cake with chocolate fudge, and chocolate cupcake were out of this world.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin DessertsThe pistachio bits were really darn goodJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin pistachio cake

Feel free to order one of these:Hotel jen Tanglin J65 Desserts Foodporn yummy

These go into your ice cream, or wherever you’d like them, even on your sashimi if you pleaseJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Ice CreamJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Ice CreamMore desserts: osmanthus jellyJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin jelly

If you need to load up on carbs, again, no lack of them. Shelves and shelves full of them, to your fancy.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin BreadJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin JuicesJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin 6

J65 Hotel Jen TanglinSeafood galore:J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Bar

At dinner, we made our own Kueh Pie Tee!J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin DIY kueh pie tieJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Kueh Pie Tie

So we added everything that was available at the DIY area. Was so tempted to throw in random junk like ice cream and sprinkles in my Kueh Pie Tee shell, but that would be untrue to local traditions, and I suppose is a nono at J65, which has such strong roots in local flavours and cuisine. The buffet isn’t all, there’s an ala carte menu if you’re looking for something more.

I learnt that on other buffet nights, pizzas and other Western dishes would also be available.
Hotel Jen Tanglin J65 Pizza BuffetTravellers hunting for authentic Southeast Asian food should definitely make it a point to try J65’s Hooked – Seafood Dinner, because this is where you get the best of both worlds – Western, Singaporean, Asian – you name it, they probably serve it.

Now onto breakfast! After an awesome night’s sleep, we woke up refreshed, and ready for HJTS’ breakfast selection.

At J65’s Sunday morning breakfast, we were greeted by this table full of cold cuts to pair with the great salad bar. And as all good breakfasts should, there were hash browns, sausages, baked tomatoes and bacon. In addition, we also got to choose from a variety of Hong Kong style dimsum (chicken paus, rice rolls), and Malay style beehoon and curry. Good ol’ Peranakan style Kuehs were also available!

J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin BreakfastJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin breakfast meatsJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Salad BarJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Bacon Grease

J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin BreakfastJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin buffet paoCereal table, and shelves full of bread behind. Carbs heaven!J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin cereal barJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin eggsJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin buffet kuehJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin tabao bagWhat went onto our plates:J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin breakfast plateJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin breakfast choiceYes there is KIMCHIJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin breakfastAnd aforementioned to-die-for matcha ice cream!J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin breakfast dessertsI went for 2 cups of ice-cold desserts: the vanilla and matcha, both decked in my favourite crunchy choco/malt balls.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin ice cream breakfastJ65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Matcha Ice Cream

Breakfast was just as satisfying as dinner, with the mad selection of meats (which were too heavy for us), and sweets.J65 Hotel Jen Tanglin Breakfast Buffet

Really grateful to HJTS for this staycay opportunity and for a chance to taste their signature weekend dinner and breakfast spread! Definitely spreading the word, and keeping this place in mind for future staycays. Do click through this Link for HJTS’ room rates and deals!

J65 at Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore

J65 HJTS BuffetWeekday Lunch Buffet
S$29 net per person
Monday to Saturday
12pm – 2.30pm

Hooked! – Seafood Buffet Dinner
S$78 net per person
Friday to Saturday
6pm – 10pm 

Sunday Champagne Brunch
S$128 with free-flow Champagne, wine, beer and cocktails, or
S$88 net without alcohol

Every Sunday
12pm – 3pm

Book online for a 15% discount on the total bill.

For more information, email J65@hoteljen.com or call (65) 6831 4374.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Staycay @ Hotel Jen Tanglin

Welcome to Hotel “Jean” Tanglin, a cuppa hot chocolate anybody?

hotel

Fooling around with Club Lounge amenities as though this place was my own. ‘Local flavour’ and ‘home’ are indeed the overarching themes for the old Traders Hotel at 1a Cuscaden Road, which has gone through a SGD45 million makeover to become the spunky new Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore!

The establishment was reopened just December last year. I was thrilled to get a weekend stay at the spanking new building, and even more excited to share these pictures of my experience! One of the highlights of the stay was dinner and breakfast at J65 – the hotel’s new restaurant with the look and feel of a local farmer’s market, serving the freshest seafood and other authentic Southeast Asian cuisine.

Well, that’s a story for another day.

There should be a disclaimer at HJTS to warn travellers they might end up not leaving the room altogether. No, seriously. I had a really well-rested stay-in weekend at HJTS. I believe business or leisure travellers looking for a good night’s rest at a convenient location, as well as local staycationers looking for a change of scenery, would find HJTS fulfilling for all their needs!

Ready for pictures? Here we go!

1713

My room at 1713 is a fine sight to behold – I was thrilled to get a room on Level 17, which was on the Club Lounge floor.
Hotel Jen Tanglin 1

HJTS’s 565 new, contemporary guestrooms come with four modern, locally curated wallpaper designs highlighting different Singaporean themes (bicycle, orchid, goldfish and shop house). Each room includes thoughtful touches such as free WiFi, USB charging outlets, high-pressure walk-in showers and king-sized beds with 300-thread-count linens. So I guess mine belonged to the shophouse theme. I love the thoughtful furniture and comfortable colour scheme. The incredibly soft comforter and sheets trapped me between them for most part of Sunday.

bed @ hotel jen tanglin

wall @ hotel jen tanglin

hotel jen tanglin 5

Everywhere is OOTD-worthy!

Queen at Hotel Jen Tanglin

Hotel Jen Tanglin 2

It’s a crime for pillows to be this fluffy.

Hotel Jen Tanglin 12

And the bed.

home hotel jen tanglin

Hotel Jen Tanglin interior 3

In other new, the view outside is incredible. We lounged on the couch overlooking this amazing view, and just talked for hours. 

view outside my window hotel jen tanglin

hotel jen tanglin 6

hotel jen tanglin 7

love live laugh hotel jen tanglin

hotel jen tanglin shoes

hotel jen tanglin floor

lights hotel jen tanglin

Business travellers, your needs will be serviced. The ultra comfortable chair, fuss free desk and password-free WIFI access gives you unlimited usage for multiple devices, so you can get work done in peace. I would have spent more time on that chair if the bed wasn’t so inviting.

business hotel jen tanglin

bright blue chair hotel jen tanglin

See what I mean about fixtures? Very tasteful.

Hotel Jen Tanglin Amenities

And this housed the minibar/fridge:

fridge at hotel jen tanglin

colours hotel jen tanglin

FLUFFY PILLOWS hotel jen tanglin

selfie at HJT hotel jen tanglin

bathroom hotel jen tanglin

bathroom hotel jen tanglin

The Club Room’s stay-in pull has a room service menu to match, so you won’t have to leave the premises. Penang Char Kway Teow, anybody?

room service menu, hotel jen tanglin

And for all other F&B needs, you have the Club Lounge at level 17!

Club Lounge

Most of everything you’ll need can be found at the business cum amenities lounge, where anything from a quick caffeine fix or a highball for the night is within reach. Here, we fixed our much needed morning cuppa and bedtime hot cocoa. Fruits, snacks and tea are available 24/7, with a wide selection of cakes and finger food between meals, so you’ll never go hungry. This is a also great business meeting place.

hotel jen tanglin - club lounge coffee

Care for our ‘National Drink’?

singapore sling, hotel jen tanglin

club lounge HJT hotel jen tanglin

seats @ club lounge, hotel jen tanglin

club lounge business, hotel jen tanglin

Spoilt for choice at tea break!

tea break HJT

club lounge hotel jen tanglin

hotel jen tanglin - club lounge eats

strawberry cheesecake, hotel jen tanglin

tea break @ hotel jen tanglin

hotel jen tanglin tea club lounge

Hotel Interior

Millennials’ll be delighted by the abundance of Instagram-worthy spots at HJTS! From hipster bicycle walls to inbuilt swings and a Singaporean theme wall – there are no lack of OOTD spots for the new age soul.

Hotel Jen Tanglin

Hotel Jen tanglin 11

rooms hotel jen tanglin

Hotel Jen Tanglin 10

I'm Staying With Jen - Hotel Jen Tanglin

Yup, I’m Staying With Jen!

Stay tuned for mouthwatering foodporn at Hotel Jen Tanglin’s J65.

Thank you HJTS.

Hotel jen Tanglin welcome

blogger hotel jen tanglin

Also just learnt that a colleague of mine is holding his wedding banquet at HJTS in June. Can’t wait to be back here for another stay.

Book a staycation at Hotel Jen Tanglin Singapore today!
Click through this Link for their room rates and deals.

About Hotel Jen Tanglin:

This stylish modern hotel is 6 km from the lively Marina Bay Sands and 7 km from Universal Studios Singapore.

The polished rooms with midcentury decor come with free Wi-Fi and luxe linens, plus flat-screens and tea and coffeemaking facilities. Suites offer separate living rooms, while upgraded suites have Nespresso machines and microwaves. Room service is 24/7.

Amenities include a lounge with city views, casual dining and cocktails, plus a chic restaurant and a cafe. There’s an outdoor plunge pool, an exercise room and a spa area with massages. Free shuttle service is available.

Address:
1A Cuscaden Rd
Singapore 249716

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[Kuala Lumpur] Toast And Roast

If like me, you had imagined ‘Toast and Roast’ to be a brightly lit cafe with piping toasts and artisan coffees, then you’re in a surprise. KL’s Toast and Roast is a distinctly traditional coffee-shop serving old-school teas, best-for-a-hangover hot Honey-Lemons, chewy Hakka noodles, bouncy beef ball soup, and what they became famous for – roast pork / chicken. When your foodies friends make the recommendations, you know you’re in good hands. It was there that I had the best charsiew ever. So as I popped my first caramelised, melt-in-your-mouth charsiew, I must have died and went to charsiew heaven.

See that plate in the middle? It’s the charsiew.


Don’t think about the fats you’re consuming, because fighting this is a losing battle. Put tht first piece in your mouth and you’re hooked. Okay, but seriously I could taste the layers of fats, and thick caramel sauce, which makes it sooo good. Usually my friends and I are a bunch of locusts sweeping across a harvest field when it comes to food, but we couldn’t finish the meat at Toast And Roast. This servings here were for our party of 8. Guess we’re not big eaters after all, or they’re really just generous with their portions.

For all fans of wanton mees or whatever mees, this bowl of Hakka noodles will get to your sweet spot. It’s all kinds of chewy without making your jaws ache. Don’t let the meagre pieces of minced pork fool you, cos there’s a whole heap underneath! So, so good.
 Look how happy my friends were with their food.
More about the other dishes: I’ve never been a big fan of meat processed into balls, aka fishballs/meatballs/chicken or egg balls, because I’ve always felt they weren’t au naturale. What even goes into ’em balls nobody knows. Nonetheless I found myself liking the bouncy beef balls that came with the soup. It’s tender, and didn’t taste like supermarket frozen meatballs. With that said, T&R also serve a mean iced white kopi, which is basically what all South Malaysian food places are good at making. I’ve not had a bad kopi anywhere in Malaysia.
  
  

‘Nuff said.

Toast And Roast
No.20, Jalan SS2/72 47300 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, 47300, Malaysia

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[Kuala Lumpur] Alexis Cafe

Rocking the ghetto streets of Bangsar is this classy, off-the-beaten-track bistro cafe that has maintained its name with a fine selection of cakes and a sleek price to match. Not a conceptually-strong bistro, but Alexis banks its traffic on excellent word-of-mouth and high quality desserts.


  

Having heard a great deal about their Tiramisu, the 8 of us couldn’t resist getting a couple to share. Their fruit meringue and lemon tart were so darn amazing too.

With tasteful decor, scattered art pieces, white chairs and pale wood tables, Alexis needed little else in their concept to be a decent chill-out spot for afternoon tea. While the wall of wine bottles added a layer of sophistication, it was a tad lacking in the bar/pub factor. Nonetheless I loved how they stacked up all their collection so patrons could literally check the bottles out.
  

Again, random installations – this one is ‘crowdsourced’ since everybody could add their graffiti to the paper chandelier. It’s both sleek and rustic at the same time.
  
Ta-Da! Tiramisu & Fruit Meringue. Interesting how they glazed pecans and an assortment of nuts over the traditional tiramisu coating to create that crunch in your mouth that is oh-so-satisfying.

Nothing beats coffee and cakes with the best of friends. Totally did not expect these 2 to join our KL trip…till they literally surprised me by appearing in the hotel room!! They planned this all along for my birthday. What sweetie-pies!
  
  
More from that lovely afternoon.

 

A short snap from my snapchat above. Couldn’t bring out the tastefulness in Alexis (which coincidentally is one of our friends’ name). But all in all, the cakes were to die for. I’ve had amazing tiramisu cakes, but the uniqueness of this one was rather memorable.

29, Jalan Telawi 3,
Bangsar Baru, 59100 Kuala Lumpur

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[L.A.] FOOD SNAPS IN LOS ANGELES

Tribute to all the food-snaps I take that go un-posted as soon as the physical item gets devoured / forgotten. Here’s a post to say, you’ll always be remembered. Tralala.

I love you, Los Angeles.

▷ Breakfast @ Denny’s for the first time and I liked it! Western portions are way too generous. With a selection like this it won’t be anytime soon for us to taste it all. A tad bit greasy on the side of mashed/fried potatoes but all else’s good.

All American Slam, French Toast Slam, Peanut Butter Cup Pancake Breakfasts
Breakfastception

▷ Late post-shopping lunch with the elder folks was Seafood Port Chinese Restaurant on Hawthorne Blvd Torrance

As much a visual feast as it was physical! Curry crabs and the works, totally Chinese through and through
Highlight of the evening
Managed to get my fortune told

▷ Sneaked in a pizza at Sbarro, Del Amo @ Torrance Bay. Nothing like salad, carbs and mozzarella to complete your trip to the States.

▷ Dining in near pitch-black darkness at Santa Monica Pier Restaurant, whilst chilling to the strong sea breeze at the restaurant’s namesake. Food’s amazing. Mojitos were cray.            

▷ Santa Monica Pier in all its midnight glory. America is gorgeous.  

▷ Too much to eat, too little time and space.

 

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[NEW YORK] EAT. SHOP. REPEAT

“I love New York. You can pop out of the Underworld in Central Park, hail a taxi, head down Fifth Avenue with a giant hellhound loping behind you, and nobody even looks at you funny.”
Rick Riordan

Eat, shop, dream, repeat! was all we did in New York during the winter. In early February, 0°C felt like much less, thanks to bone-chilling winds and an insufficient wardrobe. We had 3 days to spend right smack in the city, where you could literally shop all day and stay up at Times Square without realising it’s already midnight, and not even subzero temperatures could deter them creatures of the night.

Rick Riordan’s quote rang true when I realised literally anybody could dress up in anything and sell their crafts/ideas on Times Square. I forgot how many Big Birds, Cookie Monsters, Madagascar Penguins, Mickey Mouses and Eeyores I’ve seen accosting strangers in the streets, handing out pamphlets or just attempting to sell you something. Nobody found it weird and the reverse is true. The ones wearing them don’t feel judged at all.

Checking into The Paramount Hotel at Times Square felt like entering a club – dim lights, velvet couches, a DJ spinning on the console and bar drinks in the corner.

Straight off our flight, we headed for Koreatown in search of piping hot and spicy Korean food! Decided on New Wonjo because it looked spanking clean and boasts a really strong heater (we felt the emanating warmth just by walking past). Not once during our entire meal did we regret our choice. We had an amazing meal: Bean paste stew (된장찌개), Spicy Tofu Stew (순두부찌개), Short Rib Soup (갈비탕), Beef Glass Noodles (잡채), Rice Cakes (떡볶이), and Seafood Pancake (해물파전 ). Daresay this was one of the best Korean restaurants I’ve been to outside of Seoul.
    

During the trip I had one of the best Thai dishes in NYC too! New York’s melting pot of culture gives rise to an international array of good cuisines within the city centre. Yay me, who’s not a big fan of fast food. This was Thai green curry chicken from Pongsri Thai, a hip diner tucked between Broadway & 8th Ave, bringing you awesome Thai food since 1972.

The sweet-tooth in me jumped for joy at MAGNOLIA BAKERY, NYC’s very own vintage cupcakes store! This is one patisserie that I would seriously cry with happiness if it ever makes its way to Singapore…and guess what!! I just read this on their webpage:
In addition to our current locations, Magnolia Bakery is continuing to franchise internationally and will soon open in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Singapore.”

OH LORD I’LL SHED REAL TEARS OF JOY. Let me show you why:

Day One: Red Velvet Cupcake and Banana Pudding.
I’ve always been a huge fan of red velvet, but this is a whole new level of velvety goodness. It was so soft and creamy, that there was nothing cake-y about it at all. Just melt-in-your-mouth smooth satiny velvet, made red with cocoa, vanilla and “a little southern mystery”, topped with  special whipped vanilla icing and chocolate chips.
  

I’ve never eaten a banana pudding, and my first was pure orgasmic. I totally get why this is Sex-and-The-City-approved! Layers and layers of banana and melted vanilla wafers in a cup blended in rich vanilla mousse… this is helluva showstopper. Omg, so good I swear!

Banana-pudding-and-kindle kinda night

Day Two: Lemon Cheesecake and Magic Cookie Bars
Lemon cheesecake was my breakfast, and it was so totally amazing, I wanted to trudge back to the store in freezing winter just to get another. I love how moist their cupcakes are in the grand scheme of how cupcakes tend to be, and it’s sweet without being sinfully so (or at least they don’t taste sinfully sweet like a pure bar of sugar)
Curious about Magic Cookie Bars and just how magic they were, I tried one, and went to cookie heaven. Still wasn’t sure what was in them until I went over to their page:”Graham cracker crust with chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut topped with sweetened condensed milk then baked.  

Enough talk about food, moving on to the shopping part of my whirlwind stay. For me shopping is the main activity in the States. Without driving to outlet stores, NYC has a convenient selection around our hotel and down the streets. Big names are all listed on city maps designed with easy-to-navigate grids. Sephora awarded me their VI(B) thanks to my patronage every time I’m in the States.

We went into the Lego Store! – always such an innocently happy place. Larger than life-sized figurines such as the Statue of Liberty and Lego Movie characters were made of lego blocks only. I applaud the makers’ patience and their eye for details. This was where we took most of our shameless selfies that must have prompted many to judge us overenthusiastic Asian girls.

In the day, Times Square is incredibly, vividly lit. In the night, it’s not so different. Shopping from late evening on, I didn’t even notice that daylight was gone because the billboards were so intensely bright that they lit up almost the entire sky if you were to stand right in the middle of the streets. I’m reminded again of why NYC is the City that Truly Never Sleeps.

When it was time to go, I was just incredibly sad ): But knowing that I’ll be back someday makes me incredibly excited to explore new parts of the state and venture beyond the city centre!

Of course my bag suffered the brunt of my shopping.

 

Till next time,

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[SINGAPORE] PINK DOT SG 2015 / PARKROYAL ON PICKERING

☼ Supporting the Freedom To Love #PinkDotSG

Attended my first Pink Dot last Saturday (13 Jun) with ChaiArmy, and celebrated the weekend with a wholesome staycation at the Park Royal Hotel on Pickering Street.

I was curious about Pink Dot campaign which had gathered much talk and controversy (pink versus white) when I felt the cause inherently bore no ill-intentions at all. In fact Pink Dot was very much an outdoor family affair! Singaporeans from all walks of life were clad in pink, from babies and toddlers to the very old, soaking up sun at Hong Lim Park’s open field. I loved the warm (literally, though) atmosphere, complete with picnic mats, cheerleader stunts, pink balloons and mascots, as well as booths with activities to partake in, resembling a carnival of sorts. Picnickers began choosing their spots at 1-ish PM. Decked in all shades of pink, supporters of the Freedom To Love movement gathered and mingled with fellow pink friends all throughout the afternoon, at times releasing iconic pink helium balloons (a move I’m not too crazy about).

The highlight of the annual event was the evening concert which culminated in a traditional lighting up of a clustered ‘pink dot’. Experienced the gorgeous light-up first-hand from our vantage point – a 6th-floor room at Park Royal! Here’s a snippet (just the highlights) of the lighting up, enjoy:


At 3-ish the crowd was still beginning to gather…
By 5, the place was close to packed, forming this sea of pink
With my dear friends at the event. C for #ChaiArmy

 

☼ Staycation at the Park Royal on Pickering Street

Loading up on carbs and chilling with beers with these bunch at the Park Royal, which evidently was a popular staycay spot every year on Pink Dot day. When we checked in, there were tonnes of people in pink. Being a very new establishment, the interior was spanking clean, and the rooms spotless. Just as the exterior moss-green decor suggested, the rooms were in sync with the woodsy organic theme.  Service was also uber efficient when we asked for extra duvet, towels and water!

Wholesome movies and stay-in party night, drinks provided HeinekenSG.
With the Enqi / Hannah at the staycay


The pool was amazing, if only it wasn’t raining.
  

My frolicking friends
I’m sometimes amazed by the picture quality of iPhones. Landscape shot of the indoor sundeck. Great for reading a book by the poolside in your bikini if you’re not looking to get tanned.

  Clearly swimming wasn’t on my agenda. I walked around snapping photos of the pool and Park Royal’s signature ‘birdcages’ that housed lounging couches for the pool dwellers.

I must say I had a great night’s sleep, having been awake for >24hours prior. The woody interior just ups the bed’s appeal. Crispy white sheets against mild rosewood. Sleeping just got better. But be extra careful: draw the blinds for privacy and especially when showering, because otherwise, guests from the next building can see everything you do. Like literally, every single thing.  

Such different feels from the other Park residences. Thoroughly enjoyed my first Pink Dot experience made even better with the weekend staycation ❤ just what I needed to recharge for the rest of the month.

How’s June going for everyone?

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o19. AFTER YOU DESSERT CAFE 

If you could only make one dessert pit-stop in Bangkok, it has to be AfterYou Dessert Cafe! In the absence of distractions (animals, excessively hipster embellishments) the establishment focuses on a competitive menu  and plain awesome desserts! Since Taiwan’s Dazzling Cafe experience and toasty good times in Korea’s trendy coffeehouses, I’ve not had good toasts in a while. Until Shibuya Honey Toast and Ferrero Icecream Toast came into my life at AfterYou and my life is worth living again. Teehee. Scroll for toastporn, millefeuille and photos of the cozy cafe interior, featuring the ChaiArmy up to our usual shenanigans, this time in Thailand for Red’s birthday celebrations (all pictures taken with my old iPhone 5 because 6+ had to stay home, in case it decides to stay in Bangkok and to never come back)

                  

 

Just waiting for the day that AfterYou comes to Singapore too, like all other high-profile franchises.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[VENICE] HOW TO EAT AND DRINK LIKE A LOCAL IN…

Couple of days back, I chanced upon this interesting site that arranges professional gourmet food tours in Italy. The foodie in me was jumping for joy! I wish I had done more research before my trip to Venice (2014), which led to sub-par pastas and touristy rip-offs (although you never go wrong with seafood risottos). Venice is a perfect locale for sightseeing, but at the same time the hustling-bustling city is bound to overwhelm you unless you come prepared with a solid list of where to go and what to do. Loads of pizzerias and pasta houses would lure unsuspecting tourists into their midst and serve up mediocre cuisines, tricking you into believing that this is the best you can get in Venice.

There’s this Italian saying, “Non tutte le ciambelle riescono col buco.” – literally translated as “not all donuts come with a hole”, metaphorically alluding to things not always turning out as we expected. I’d projected all Italian restaurants to be fantastico. Truth is, locals have got way higher expectations than the average tourist, so it turns out you can actually hire a tourguide to bring you around for the best cuisines! Next time round probably I’ll be engaging tours – what better way to pamper your belly than Emilia Delizia’s filtered list of delis, chosen through personal samplings from the native Italians themselves. Way too cool!

Where: Emilia Delizia

Who: Experts in food and wine travel in Parma, Modena and Bologna

What: Holiday planning to various Italian destinations in your native language (Russian, English, Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, German, you name it)

What I love: Cicchetti Crawl
The same question popping up in your head right now was in my own, the first time I read about cicchetti. What’s that?

Well essentially they are snacks, rather like Spanish tapas, served in wine bars and taverns. According to Emilia Delizia, a cicchetti adventure should begin at bacari (wine bars) or osteria, both of which serve such simple, traditional snack foods: chunks of salami, pieces of cheese, fried olives and fried seafoods. However modern cicchetti can be much more elaborate, and can even be dinners in miniature. Also what better way to sample the best local wines than to get locals to drink them with you! The Italian vocabulary for wines is amazing: did you know, ombra are small glasses of wine (about the size of a double shot), and also nicknamed ‘shade’ after wine sellers in the Piazza San Marco, who kept in the shade to keep the wine cool and fresh. I remember having an aperitivo (a pre-dinner drink to whet my appetite) during my trip, and was awed by the wine selection. Due to our language disparity, unfortunately, the Italian wine connoisseur could not express what was in the aperitivo – I think it had something to do with sparkling wine and bitters. Which is why a food tour would be extremely helpful, and could save you a lot of trial and errors in the Venetian food-maze.

I should probably warn you not to read Emilia Delizia on an empy stomach…I got so hungry after reading their gourmet descriptions. I needed no further proof that these guys know their stuff. Popular cichettis include “tidbits served on toast (crostini) or on squares of savory grilled polenta”, and “squid ink toast with or without curried shrimp”, and “tramezzini (little triangular sandwiches) made from special, soft white bread, stuffed with a delectable variety of fillings including ham, olives, cheese or tuna”. Tramezzini. What a mouthful.

Where To Go: Rialto Fish Market
The best seafood based bacari and osteria are in San Polo, where they serve “swordfish croissant and scallops served in the shell – all served in a buffet style” and “hearty plates of polpette (meatballs) served with an aioli sauce, topped with truffles, cheese and mushrooms”. Honestly, I never knew these existed till I read this off E.D.!

Venice, I’ll be back for you with a hearty appetite!

P.S. All pictures are my own, circa 2013

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o18. SALA AYUTTHAYA


Sala AyutthayaThailand might be most famous for vernacular and religious buildings, but its modern-day architecture has surpassed world-class standards. We hunted down this structural wonder, with the luxury of time and an inexplicable need for coffee, situated across the famed Wat Phutthaisawan, along Chao Phraya river.

Sala Resort’s boutique accommodation in Ayutthaya features 26 guest rooms (all uniquely designed) including a duplex river view suite and a pool suite, a small art gallery as well as a signature restaurant with a splendid view of Chao Phraya (reservations required, but helluva beautiful place to sit and ponder about life). I loved their deconstructed wave-inspired bricked buildings that were impressively designed to capture a play of lights. Sala Ayutthaya SIgnature Curved Staircase Sala AyutthayaArt Sala Ayutthaya ThailandArt Gallery Thailand Seaview Dining Sala Ayutthaya Thailand Seaview Dining Thailand Ayutthaya Coffee and canapés. In Thailand sauce maketh a meal complete.Crispy Rolls Thailand Sala Resorts Thailand Coffee Latte Thailand Sala Ayutthaya Sala Ayutthaya DiningDesigner living spaces and boutique serviced apartments are increasingly receiving its share of love in the land of smiles, even in city-centred resorts away from beaches and the sea. Interestingly, ‘photogenic’ qualities plays a big part nowadays as holidaymakers want to take incredible pictures for their social media platforms on top of collecting snapshots as memories. The deciding factors of holiday accommodation are as much about concept as they are about prices, location and people factors.

Food for thought. Happy holidays, people!

Sala Ayutthaya Resorts
Thanon U-Thong
Pratuchai, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: W6 Garden Centre Café

“This is our way of celebrating the great city we live and work in. Where others see nothing but debris and stone, we see the possibility of a truly life-enhancing experience.”
– W6 Creative Director Paul Holt.

I was pleasantly thrilled to be amongst privileged writers notified of the grand opening of W6 Garden Centre Café. This gem of a coffeehouse takes centerstage under the rail arches of Ravenscourt Park tube station, promising a soothing experience that will whisk you away from the trains running just metres above, by bringing a piece of old London back to life.

Judging from this hearty menu, the cafè can expect a long list of returning patrons. Nuala O’Connor, who previously worked as a chef at Petersham Nurseries Cafe, helms the kitchen. To quote her directly, ”I want to see the cafe become established as a favourite for local people and a lovely discovery for new customers. We already serve fantastic coffee; I would like to match that with simple but delicious fresh food made with great ingredients, some of which we are even starting to grow ourselves in our herb garden.”

Yes, from a luxuriant herb garden, no less than a foliage in the interior to potted ferns on your dining table – these little green details makes W6 a perfect place to get in touch with nature. Just looking at snapshots of the greenery brings a sense of peace – who would not love these lush overhanging plants and walls of mossy bricks?

photo H&F ad

West Six Garden Cafe, Ravenscourt

West Six Garden Cafe Cappuccino

Our Cafe Interior 20.11.14Cafe Seating 20.11.14

Getting super excited by these photographs courtesy of David from W6 (thank you). I don’t usually write about cafés which I haven’t personally been, but this is too lovely not to share!

Am definitely adding this to my bucket-list on my next trip to London!

W6 Garden Centre Café
West Six Garden Centre & Cafe Ravenscourt Avenue
London W6 0SL
Opening hours: 
Mon to Fri: 8.30am – 5.00pm 
Sat & Sun: 9.30am – 6.00pm

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o17. AYUTTHAYA – OF RECLINING BUDDHAS AND WISHING WELLS

Following a seafood-induced food coma and a brief exposure to Thai Buddhist rituals at renowned Wat Phanan Choeng, our local Thai friends took us on yet another cultural tour – the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, also known as Wat Lokkayasutharam. At this point it would be useful to note there are more than 2 Temples with Reclining/Sleeping Buddhas in Ayutthaya – one of which is indoors at Wat Pho, and 2 others are documented below.

In good faith, devotees typically purchase incense sticks for prayers, which came with flowers, candles, joss-sticks and 2x2cm flecks of gold paper for ‘dressing’ the Buddha. A huge test of devotion often involved patience for adhering the flimsy pieces of gold, bound to escape like seeds of the dandelion in the wind.

The first thing about ‘Sleeping Buddha’ at Wat Lokkayasutharam that amazed me was its absolute size, followed by the sense of peace upon seeing the gentle unassuming smile of the sacred giant. Putting aside fatigue of travel and accumulated stress, an aura of serenity took precedence as all else fell into the background. Away from the bustling city was this figure of faith on which many troubles were unloaded, to which hopes and dreams were articulated.

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Gold Flecks on the Reclining Buddha

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It suffices to say that the Kingdom was wealthy, to be in possession of enough to construct multiple such shrines in praise of its gods. IMG_6665

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Within the shrine more surprises were in store. Wishing wells, treacherous stairs, relics from another life. To make a wish at this particular wishing well, you have to conquer a tough flight of stairs.

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Wishing well for the weary – only by conquering a treacherous flight of stairs could you be deemed eligible to cast your wish

If one reclining Buddha wasn’t enough, we visited and prayed to yet another, this one albeit with a much brighter smile in my opinion! Don’t you feel instantly cheered up by this mega-watt beam? For a truly cultural experience this part of Ayutthaya is definitely not to be missed. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing the the local customs of praying and showing respects to local monks, as well as learning to different eacf part of the city from another by events that went down post Burmese-invasion. I don’t think there was any other way I could have learnt more from the trip.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o16. DAYTRIP TO AYUTTHAYA

40 miles north of Bangkok lies Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, capital of Ayutthaya Province, Thailand. Ayutthaya Kingdom was destroyed in 1767 by Burmese army who took down the city. Ayutthaya, like Rome, has since left most of its ruins within sight. Officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is its Historical Park, whose ruins were a peek into the kingdom’s past grandeur.

Dia and Ake drove us on a daytrip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. The journey could have taken way longer (by means of Thailand’s inter-city railway) than our tranquil 1.5 hours drive to the country side which I truly enjoyed. Having lived in a city all my life, the drive was akin to entering a timezone ungoverned by conventional rules of time. I was fascinated by farmers in paddy fields seeming to move in slow-motion, accustomed to a lazy pace of life. The last time I’ve ever immersed in such a slow-moving city was during a layover in Mumbai, India, but even then I was concerned by and paranoid of the city’s hygiene. Here I rolled down my windows to let unfamiliar country smells invade my olfactory senses. The experience was truly rural and underrated.

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A stream leading to Chao Phraya, Thailand
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Enjoying this incredibly scenic view while dining on the country’s finest seafood

With Dia and Ake, our tummies were in for a treat. Along a stream that leads to Chao Phraya River, we located Yang Deaw Restaurant, a local eatery well-known amongst the natives for grilled river shrimps.

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A mouth-wateringly good salad with Thai version of the Chinese salted eggs, tossed with shrimps and chunks of chilli
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Steamboat / various fried fishcakes and pork dishes
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Pork in spicy gravy with salted eggs. Thai dishes are just so big on gravy and sauces it’s impossible to go without.

An old lady, aided by 2 others only a decade younger, took our orders, prepared the seafood, grilled the prawns, chopped the vegetables, served the dishes, iced our tea and washed the dishes in a small pantry; hence service was, like everywhere else in the country, slow. Oddly enough, us city-dwellers never for one second lost our patience. I contemplated going to the kitchen to help mince the pork and skewer some prawns.

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Looks ugly here, but this crispy salted fish blew our minds.
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Highlight of the meal: hugeass river shrimps!

Highlight of the meal: river shrimps! In all its fresh glory. Caught right off coast at neighbouring streams surrounding Ayutthaya. When de-shelled, these shrimps were almost the length of my forearm (note: I have long limbs)

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Did I make you wanna lick the screen?

We left Yang Deaw feeling like our lives was complete, then we drove further north, nursing an intense food coma with tonnes of iced tea. One of our major pit-stops was Wat Panan Choeng temple, on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, part of Ayutthaya Historical Park. Fervent Thai Buddhists usually made it a point to journey to this temple to pray for the best of luck on New Years and special occasions. The Golden Buddha statue is known as Luang Pho Tho, who stands at 19meters tall.

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Our Thai friend Ake going about with his prayers by sticking gold flecks on small Buddha statues

 

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Luang Pho Tho @ 19m tall

We were there for a ceremony on that particular day – Thais were flocking in to pray for good luck for the coming year (2015). Fervent Buddhists purchased golden cloth to ‘clothe the Buddha statue’. We purchased one each and handed the golden sashes to a temple staff, who then proceeded to mumble his blessings, before tossing the golden cloth to 3 pairs of waiting hands standing on Luang Pho Tho who would catch the cloth, tie them to the existing length covering Luang Pho Tho. During the ceremony, Buddhist monks would then chant a long series of words in Thai. We joined the fervent Buddhists in kneeling at the Buddha’s feet with our heads bowed. When the time came, the monks and temple staff began throwing the tied cloth back at us and people in the front started pulling the cloth for us people at the back. The cloth went over our heads as a symbol of protection and having us ‘covered’. After we were all draped in gold cloth, the chant went on in Thai for about 5 to 10 minutes, before we returned the cloth and made our donations to the temple.

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Blessings from Luang Pho Tho
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Passing the golden cloth, over our heads

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A room filled with religious statuettes
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Devotees

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The first of my posts on Ayutthaya had touched on aspects of local food and Wat Phanan Choeng. In the coming posts I’ll be sharing on other places to visit in Ayutthaya, including the famous ‘Buddha head in tree‘ featured in many travel guides on Thailand. Stay tuned for more!

Yang Deaw Restaurant
5/1 Moo 4, Tambon Ban Len, Amphoe Bang Pa-in, Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya

Wat Phanan Choeng

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o15. VINTAGE ROD FAI

Talad Rod Fai, Bangkok, is an open-air bazaar peddling an insane array of vintage collectables, quirky kitsch and memorabilia from yesteryear. Since its move in 2013 due to an expansion of the BTS Skytrain line, its reappearance at the new site accommodated a bigger, more international crowd. I loved the old Rod Fai next to the train tracks, where shop-owners displayed their wares on floors or did business right out of 1950s Cadillacs. The new locale is posh, less rugged than before, while retaining signature vintage elements.

Shopping was way down on my list of priorities as opposed to capturing these on camera.

“Vintage books, old china, antiques; maybe I love old things so much because I feel impermanent myself.”
― Josh Lanyon

All things biker chic
All things biker chic
Vintage television
Vintage television
Lorries from another era
Lorries from another era
From before our parents were born
From before our parents were born
Vintage Chinese
Vintage Chinese

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For Sale: Gas masks, anybody?
For Sale: Gas masks, anybody?
So old your nose will blow
So old your nose will blow
Coca cola signs
Coca cola signs
This still exist?!
This still exist?!
Route 66, US
Route 66, US
Old is gold
Old is gold
Rod Fai Gems
Rod Fai Gems
This is how coffee is made, sometimes
This is how coffee is made, sometimes
Pretty interiors of Title @ Rod Fai
Pretty interiors of Title @ Rod Fai
Title @ Rod Fai
Title @ Rod Fai
LOVE @ Rod Fai Thailand
LOVE @ Rod Fai Thailand
Leaving space
Leaving space
Pinball or something
Pinball or something
Vintage bikes...vespa?
Vintage bikes…vespa?
Mannequin.
Mannequin.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o14. SIX HANGOUTS TO HIT IN BANGKOK (FOODIES ONLY)

Perks of having native Thai friends – they’ve tried it all and only take you for the best. I had the honour of my Thai native friends’ undivided attention 5 days in January this year. Knowing us (foodies who were through with tourist traps in the big city), the pair of them took us gallivanting through Bangkok for the best F&B. Here are 6 of my favourite picks,

GRAM CAFE – Brunch

Nestled within the trendy streets of Sukhumvit 49 near to Thong Lor is GRAM Cafe, featuring an open-kitchen counter and a pretty garden where you dine. Highlights of our meal: ovaltine volcano pancakes dripping in chocolate fudge and ovaltine powdered goodness. Also loved their latte: I’m a sucker for hand-drip coffee.

Gram Cafe Thailand

Gram Cafe, Bangkok
Gram Cafe, Bangkok
Their lattes are not to be missed
Their lattes are not to be missed
Smoked salmon salad - my all-time salad of choice
Smoked salmon salad – my all-time salad of choice
What 5 Persons Ate
What 5 Persons Ate
Ovaltine Volcano Pancakes
Ovaltine Volcano Pancakes
Pulled Pork Burger
Pulled Pork Burger

Outdoor-dining only meant there were certain elements of nature interrupting our quiet brunch: flies, mozzies and leaves falling into your coffee. But when your bill arrives all’s good again, since a Bangkok hipster brunch is one of the most affordable in the world.

GRAM CAFE
1/F, 49 Terrace, Sukhumvit Soi 49, Bangkok, Thailand
Tue-Sun 9am-5pm
081-884-8554
Nearest Train: BTS Phrom Phong


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ROCKET COFFEE BAR – Brunch

An uber-chic hangout for hipster lunch in the up and coming Sathorn area; the best flat white in town makes this the expats’ choice on the weekends. Save yourself the best seat by the window when you make reservations! Rocket is well-known for their artisanal coffees – I fell so in love with their iced latte that I had to have two.

Muesli Yoghurt with Honey
brunch bangkok
Eggs Benedict
brunch thailand
Salmon Roe and Crab Meat Toast

Their eggs-ben weren’t fantastic and drool-worthy so don’t bother if you’re hunting for the best food in time. Come here for a cozy meet-up, and to immerse in a chic up-town environment.

Check out their menu here.

Rocket Coffee Bar
147, Sathorn Soi 12, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
+66 2 635 0404
Monday to Sunday 7am – 11pm
Nearest station: BTS Chong Nonsi


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MR JONES’ ORPHANAGE – Cakes, waffles and all things sweet

Named after a renowned children’s book, Mr Jones’ Orphanage lives up to its name with teddy-bear strewn interiors, low-hanging ceilings resembling children’s bedrooms, and quirky cutesy dessert creations. We ordered a round of cakes and rocky road waffles after heavy-on-the-savoury-buds lunch – the kick on our sense of taste was incredible. Mr Jones’ is a sweet-tooth’s haven.

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Cookie Monster Cupcakes
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Red Velvet Cakes

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We had one of each: the strawberry shortcake is too amazing. The kitkat mud monster was way too chocolatey but if you’re a fan, it’s a chocolate heart attack.
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Marshmallows Rocky Road Waffles

With more than one outlet, the cafe still gets crowded. Save the wait and make reservations!

Mr Jones’ Orphanage
2nd Level, Siam Center
Rama 1 Road, Bangkok, Pathumwan 10330
11:00 am – 10:00 pm


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MANNA THAI – Rock Melon Sorbet

rock melon sorbet siam paragon manna thai

Situated at the basement level of Siam Paragon is an outdoor paradise, where the food isn’t spectacular but they serve a mean rock melon sorbet straight out of rock melon skin. A hand-drip latte goes well enough, and together we’ve got tea-break for the high-soul in Bangkok. Dining in is great, but the view outside is better. If you’re into people-watching this is your little heaven.

Rock melon sorbet is highly recommended.

Manna Thai
G Fl., Siam Paragon
991 Rama1, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
+66 2129 4555


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CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET – Street Food

Don’t waste your time and money if you’re hell-bent on eating clean in Thailand! Street food has too much flavour and life in it, so who cares what happens in the kitchen right? Eating straight from street stalls gave me a genuine taste of Thailand – where the culture stands, and what the people enjoy in their spare time. Here, flavour is key (as lovers of uber-sweet Thai Iced Milk Tea can vouch for), and Thais are big on traditional spices. Meet some of my favourites from the all-time touristy Weekend Market of Chatuchak.

Yummy oily thing
Carrot cake-ish mash up – oily but sooo good
Quail Eggs
Quail Eggs! Featuring my Batman-inspired nails.
smoky ice cream
Smoking Ice Cream
Street oysters
Street Oysters

Shoppers are advised not to waste any time stopping to ogle at street food if intent on covering every nook and cranny of this 32.91 km² maze. Shopping can be endless in this god-amazing place, but some things are just not up my alley, especially when the weather’s too hot and I’ve been here more times than I bothered to count.

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SOMBOON – Seafood

The best place for fresh seafood fix in Bangkok: my all time favourite dish is the fried curry crab which comes in a fuss-free pre-shelled form so all you need to do is scoop it up, eat it with rice or fried bread! Do not exclaim “so cheap!” each time you select a dish or you’ll end up sounding like a bird. Yes, seafood is seriously affordable here.

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PRE-SHELLED FRIED CURRY CRAB: Party in my mouth and heaven in a dish
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Deep fried sea-bass – just look at this meaty goodness
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Steamed and tossed mussels in onion and gravy. Hmm
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Darn fresh oysters! Gotta slurp ’em all
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Feast for Five
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Delish mango sticky rice

Somboon Seafood
895/6-12 Chula Soi8, Bangthadthong Road | Wang Mai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
11:00 to 23:00 Daily
0-2216-4203-4 or 0-2214-4927


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Stay tuned for more adventures in Bangkok, as I’m always back for more. I’ve got too much affinity with the Land Of Smiles, it seems.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o13. BANGKOK ON IMPULSE

“I don’t believe in guilt, I believe in living on impulse as long as you never intentionally hurt another person, and don’t judge people in your life. I think you should live completely free”
― Angelina Jolie

2 Jan – 7 Jan // There are only two places I travel to on impulse when alone: Korea and Thailand. In under 24 hours I went from Christchurch – Singapore – Bangkok Suvarnabhumi with bare minimum rest. What made it all worthwhile was seeing Elizabeth, Dia, Ake and Terence in Thailand! Literally only booked my Bangkok-bound tickets 16 hours before, as I was contemplating between a solo-trip to Seoul, or a vacay with friends to Bangkok. Meanwhile, caught 5 movies onboard and savoured at least 6 Vanilla Haagen Dazs minis amidst fellow travellers who managed to fall asleep!

SIA flight christchurch bangkok

Upon touchdown, Dia brought us for fine Thai food. Could always depend on her to get us the best! Thai sticky rice, fried pork skin, papaya salad, crispy chicken, and my favourite lychee shake – I was completely satiated! That lychee shake is perfect for Thailand’s scorching heat as it expels heat from your body better than jumping into a pool of ice. Plus it’s sooo good.

thai food bangkok

thailand food bangkok

Honestly I’d thought a solo trip might have been a better idea, because out of the five of us, I was the only single girl while the rest were attached to each other. But turns out I was wrong. I had a blasted good time!

On ur first day, we went easy on shopping / exploring. Aside from Terence who was only in Thailand for the first time, Beth and I liked to take it slow. Ake and Dia are Thais who lived within Bangkok.

Snoopy was having it seasonal run at Central World with its Universe Of Happiness exhibit for Christmas! Picture a sea of Snoopys and pop music blaring from gigantic speakers, and you get people fighting for pictures or plotting ways to kidnap a plastic white dog (I was tempted to!)

snoopy centralworld

Central World Snoopy

Central World Siam Snoopy

After lunch and picture-whoring with dogs, we made our way on foot to Chit Lom. Many foreigners make the annual pilgrimage to Erawan Shrine at the Chit Lom / Ploenchit intersection. I find myself back here more than twice a year to jostle with the fervent Buddhists. Do not expect a temple though as this is an open-spaced shrine on a street corner. This is a good place to explore Thailand’s culture as there are Thai dancers on special occasions as well as street stalls on the adjacent streets.

Prayers Bangkok Erawan Shrine

erawan shrine

 

It’s way too hot here so be sure to ditch your jeans and sneakers for shorts and slippers!

The rest of the day was spent searching for funky local eateries, and knowing Dia and Ake, it’s never just street food. They’ve got a solid list of mid-high class restaurants they frequent, which only locals would know. Which I would post some pictures of in upcoming posts. So stay tuned 😉

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[MACAU] oo4. THE ISLAND IN 20 PICS

Let me take you on a tour of the nondescript: things you won’t see unless on foot, plowing through the city.

“It all takes time and lessons and places, but I’m learning to listen to my restless heart, telling me to “go, go, go!”
― Charlotte Eriksson, Another Vagabond Lost To Love: Berlin Stories

Macau directions
Quintessentially Macau signboards in green and yellow
macau sightseeing
Back alleys and winding roads. Grilled balconies.
Breathtaking views
Breathtaking views
macau wandering
Narrow meandering lanes
macau beauty
Faded walls
travelogue macau
More beautiful from behind bars
macau china
Schools, cathedrals
chinese macau
Lush green overhanging trees
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Underpopulated
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Kitty Kindergartens
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Pretty neighbourhoods
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Tinted with Baroque influences
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Tall street lamps
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Intimidating names
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Quaint white architecture
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Royal cathedrals
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As homely as it is holy
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Pops of orange
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Mad bloggers on the loose
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Road signs you don’t know how to react to

There you go friends, Macau for you

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean