Day One: BLU Home Guesthouse

7:45am – Touched down at Incheon International Airport
8:30am – Claimed all baggage and cleared customs
8:45am – Bought T-Money (Bus, Train, All-In-One Fare Card) and WiBro (incredibly fast and useful portable WiFi egg gadget)
8:50am – Boarded Airport Railroad (AREX) Commuter Line towards Hongik University Station
9:40am – Reached Hongik University Station (Hongdae!) Then proceeds to take an hour to find BLU Home Guest-House. Because am stubborn and for the first half an hour, refused to use Google Maps. Lugs trolleybag all over Hongdae. Gets lost and finally seeks the almighty navigator.
10:40am – Heaved a huge sigh of relief at locating the blue swing doors. Successfully checks-In at BLU Home Guest-House!!

Well, I love this place! My room is small (am allocated the double bunk beds all to myself for the first 3 days although I paid for the single room) because somebody else is occupying it at the moment. I’ve been here for only half a day, and already the owner, Denny, appeared extremely helpful and dependable. BLU Home is a cosy double-storeyed building fully equipped with everything a backpacker/hostelite would ever need (internal heating, desktops, Free WiFi, heated water etc) despite not boasting of grand exteriors or showy furnishings. Presenting to you…my humble little room!

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Yes I am ALWAYS hungry so this honey pancakes comes in handy.20140320-204952.jpg

I really brought nothing much. My heaviest possession is my MacBook Pro and 4 novels.20140320-204958.jpg

BLU Home Guesthouse deserves a proper post when I get round to taking proper photographs of its kitchen, the laundry room, lobby and the breakfast area.

For the rest of the day upon checking in, I roamed all over Hongdae’s busiest streets and wandered over to its very quiet Wausanro 27 to 29-Gil. Visited some very interesting cafes which I’m dying to share with everybody ^^ Hope everyone’s having a good day!

BLU Home
464-52 Mapo-Gu, Seoul

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Caffe Vergnano 1882

A while ago, I got to enjoy some much desired me-time in London! Originally from France, the British branch of Caffe Vergnano 1882 sits right across from Chancery Lane station, a short walk away from the likes of Prufrock and Department of Coffee and Social Affairs.

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Everybody else was shopping at SOHO or Oxford Circus whilst strangely I had nothing I needed to get. I guess it was too cold to be walking out there alone in the crazy winds, snapping random photographs of an ordinary day in London with my badly abused umbrella. Hence I took the time out and sat through the rain (no matter how bad the storm you just gotta tide it through)

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Nowadays I can’t stand being cooped up anywhere for long, but wherever I have piping hot latte and a book, I’m good to go. The ham & cheese croissant was amazingly toasty!

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What sets Vergnano apart from most commercial coffee-houses would be its classic sleek black chairs and walls, dimly-lit retro lights, and latte / espresso shots that come with a slice of cookie or chocolate. Not exactly setting itself up as that friendly neighbourhood café, but a place for business meetings, catch-ups between distant friends and formal gatherings. I’m told they also have franchises in Dubai & Mongolia!

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Despite all that positivity I’m not sure it serves the best espresso in London. I still love the latte from Department of Coffee and Social Affairs! Caffe Vergnano is a much quieter place probably ‘cos half its storefront is currently hidden behind construction works.

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Someday I would really love to visit its branch in Mongolia.


Caffe Vergnano 1882

337 High Holborn
London, United Kingdom
+44 20 7242 7119

Victoria Peak, Hong Kong

Friends, I can finally say that I’ve been to Hong Kong. Cannot believe that for the past 4 – 5 times I’ve been here for work / holiday, I’ve never made it up to the highest mountain (1,811 ft) on Hong Kong island!!

It was close to 9 p.m. when we dropped Samantha back at our hotel at Causeway Bay. The tram took us to Central Station, and we walked for 10 minutes to the Peak Tram Lower Terminus. Tickets to the peak were pretty affordable (75HKD) and we were pretty surprised at despite how late it was in the night  the tram was still operating!

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On the way up: the tram actually tilts way more than 45 degrees sky-wards, I wonder how it has never in the history of its operations backflipped towards the foot of the mountains.20140301-002556.jpg

 

Right, to backtrack to the process of getting tickets: there was still a queue at 9pm so you can just imagine how popular this destination is to tourists and locals alike. They say you should mount the peak with your lover at least once in your life, if you’ve got the chance to.20140301-002604.jpg

 

After getting tickets, it’s a short walk through the museum which takes you through the history of the tram’s operations. Similar to the one at the peak of the mountain, but less wordy.20140301-002612.jpg

 

The tram ride takes a mere 10 – 15 minutes, but it’s definitely one of those moments which you’ll be stunned by shifting perspectives of Hong Kong Island and Kowloon as the carriage ferries you and another 20 odd passengers to the top.

Mandatory shot with Bruce Lee after we alighted from the tram and began the walk to the peak (yes you need to walk a bit).20140301-002624.jpg

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And then here we are…20140301-002645.jpg

…at the top!20140301-002705.jpg

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Pictures can’t produce the same effect – the view was spectacular and absolutely breathtaking. You can see the whole of Hong Kong, literally. It was soooo windy and cold, our fingers and faces were numbed. Professional photographers are stationed at the peak to take shots of you and your companions as well, but expect to be charged a high price.20140301-002742.jpg

Pardon how ghostly I look in the shots, camera flash does that to my pale complexion.20140301-002752.jpg

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There’s a lot more to this: you can choose to dine at Bubba Gump or various other cafés and restaurants overlooking the skyline from bird’s eye view, or just walk around the spherical walkways at the peak. Madame Tussaud’s Museum is also at the peak of the mountain. There’s also a board in the open space to pen down your love notes/confessions/declarations or whatever…which is kinda cheesy but sweet if you’re into it.20140301-002856.jpg

This is how it feels like to have Hong Kong at your feet…such an amazing view of an amazing city!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Sleep a Little, Dream a Lot

This weekend I’m finally able to catch up on some reading to feed my obsession with caffeine. If you’re looking to set up your own café, coffee-house or coffee-bars in future (well, one can always feed their dreams), you’ve got to check these books out.

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Complete Book of Coffee: The Definitive Guide to Coffee, from Simple Bean to Irresistible Beverage, Including Over 100 Classic Coffee Recipes
An illustrated guide to the history of coffee, where and how the beans are grown, the types of roast and grind and, above all, how to brew and drink it. This is my new bedtime story!

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Cafe Life London: An Insider’s Guide to the City’s Neighborhood Cafes
A profile of 34 independent cafés in London, coupled with great photography and quick, practical insights.

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The Coffee Boys’ Step-By-Step Guide to Setting Up and Managing Your Own Coffee Bar
Haven’t actually started on this yet. This is The Coffee Boy’s distillation of experience in setting up their coffee businesses. Somewhat of a marketing, economics type book. My next bedtime story!

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These perhaps, are the reasons why I sleep so little and dream so much.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Café Sommersko, Copenhagen

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Highly recommended by the counter staff at Urban Outfitters, we decided to have lunch at Café Sommersko, just round the corner off the main street of Strøget. The lunch crowd had more or less dispersed by 3pm, which was the time our stomachs were growling as we trooped onto the café’s upper deck. Sommersko’s menu consists of simple French-Danish fusion – the basic fare plus some fancy coffees with liquers that might interest you if you’re into that!

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I had a Caesar Salad and afternoon coffees. Jasmine had the goat’s cheese salad which was all sour, sweet and savoury at the same time! The food was alright if you disregard the poor service and slow delivery, plus the fact that its a tad pricey. Its a great chillout place if you’re just having a drink with company, otherwise the food was kind of disappointing. As a plus point, though, the view of the blizzard from its windows were really pretty!

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I’m just really glad for the good company of my amazing colleagues to Copenhagen, and they made the meal very much enjoyable. The next time, I’ll remember to just have a coffee with Bailey’s!

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Café Sommersko
Kronprinsensgade 6, 1114 København, Denmark
+45 33 14 81 89

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

La Galette, Copenhagen

If you love pancakes, and the French comic series Asterix, La Galette is the place for you!

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The place is a well-kept local secret as it is hidden from the sidewalk. Upon seeing the cardboard Asterix cut-out, you need to enter the gates into the yellow building and walk further in. The owners are French and boy, they do know how to whip up a good crispy pancake!

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In French, the galette is a flat, round or freeform crusty pancake – almost like a crêpe but crispier. La Galette offers both decadent sweet or savoury buckwheat pancakes. The interior is a small cosy space with an open-concept kitchen. From where I sat I could hear the chefs speaking French. When the (cute) chef served up my Pomme Caramel – pancakes with French caramelized apples – he actually said bon appetit and I melted! There’s just something about French men…

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Thereafter my Pomme Caramel tasted extra sweet and yummy!
C’était vraiment délicieux! Merci beaucoup..

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The pancakes are all within the range of DKK 40 – 110. Mine costs DKK 45 and tasted amaaazing. The range of pancakes are really stunning and varied, and you can really trust the chef to deliver the taste of French pancakes direct from Paris. Mes compliments au chef!

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La Galette
Coffee and Pancakes
Larsbjørnstræde 9
Tel: +4533323790
Opening Hours:
Mon – Sat 12:00 – 16:00 & 17:30 – 22:00,
Sun 16:00 – 22:00
Map

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

The Living Room, Copenhagen

Cafè culture in Copenhagen is amaaaazing! Touched down in the morning at 6am, slept for 3hrs, until the silence of the hotel room made me so darn restless. So, I embarked on the list of coffee-places I wanted to visit! First stop: The Living Room @ Larsbjørnstræde. The street is lined with indie cafès, vintage designer stores, chill-out bars and late-night pubs – the kind of street culture I love the best.

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I took a while to make my choices because there were too many! Had a cuppa piping hot latte and a soft, slightly dry slice of tiramisu. Somehow I miss the tiramisu I had in Frankfurt – it’s more moist and tastes strongly of eggs and dark rum rather than flour and sugar.

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I love the interior of The Living Room – it’s spacious yet cosy and lives up to its name by being ideal for social gatherings! There’s even a dark underground ‘dungeon’ where friends or couples can sink into large sofas for more privacy.

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My view of the sidewalk from the bar-top is just right. Spent close to an hour hiding from the cold (-4°C!!) and reading my book whilst sipping on latte.

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If you’re out seeking for good coffee, I’m sure there are better caffeine joints with tastier brews. For cakes or food, definitely there would be better patisseries out there. I still loved this place nevertheless! It gave me very good vibes. The Living Room baristas were super friendly (one of them chatted with me in perfect English!) and the variety of tables and seats are made to suit any occasion. The Living Room is best enjoyed with good company for the ambience is fantastic. Even if you’re alone, the space is quiet without being stale, and is ideal for that me-time you’re seeking.

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The Living Room – Bars, Coffee & tea, Snacks
Larsbjørnstræde 17
Tel: +4533326610
Opening Hours:
Mon – Thu 10:00 – 23:00,
Fri 10:00 – 02:00,
Sat 11:00 – 02:00,
Sun 12:00 – 19:00

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Stack ’em all Matryoshka Dolls

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Christmas Markets at Izmailovsky on a Monday afternoon: surrounded by a coupla thousand pairs of eyes with thousands more nested within Russian Matryoshka Dolls. How adorable are these? These wooden dolls are carved and painted to resemble traditional Russian folklores, political movers and shakers, as well as pop culture rockstars. Izmailovsky peddles Soviet memorabilia, porcelain figures and fairy-talesque music boxes which sells for much more at any other touristy places, and lesson be learnt – it’s best to come back on a weekend.

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Russian Dolls Moscow 6

Russian Dolls Moscow 7

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Baker’s Terrace in Perth

Australia is my favourite stopover for minced meat pies and squishy meat pastries!! For my airport-bound breakfast, I filled my tummy with this juicy chicken and veggie pot pie. It wasn’t altogether to-die-for because seriously I’ve had better meat pies from Pie Face or downtown Brisbane’s steak pie joints, but I’m a happy girl after my pastry brunch.

Baker's Terrace Perth

Baker's Terrace Perth

Chicken and Veg Pie Baker's Terrace Perth

Baker's Terrace Perth

Foodporn-worthy!
xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Shop 60, 255 Adelaide Terrace

[THAILAND] oo9.Leaving on a Jet-Ski

Eight of us embarked on 4-hour jet-ski safari that took us on a tour of 7 of Thailand’s offshore islands. While Josephine maneuvered the ride for the journey to the snorkeling island, I drove both of us back to Koh Samui. We had aching arms for days after the ride. Jet-skiing is such amazing fun once you get the hang of it…the way you handle the waves, rising tides and getting soaked from top to toe…it’s all about taking the plunge and just trying. I never thought I would like jetskiing but I’ve seriously fallen in love with the sport!!

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet-Ski Koh Samui

Jet Skiing Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

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Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

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Jet Ski Koh Samui Girls

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Jet Ski Thailand

Jet Ski Thailand Island

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Life Vest Girls

Girls Island

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Jet Ski Thailand Sun

Sun sand sea jetski

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For a list of island water activities – such as kitesurfing, paddle-boarding and scuba diving – visit Water Edge Sports!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] oo7.Black Moon Party

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

This is Koh Samui’s very own Black Moon Party at Chaweng Stadium on a Friday Night. Thailand’s offshore islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui are best known for their Full Moon, Half-Moon and Black Moon parties. Us party-goers were a good mix of Caucasians, Chinese and Japanese tourists, as well as the local Thais, filling the stadium for just 200Baht per entry. Thai artists were offering to decorate our body parts in neon body paint for a 100Baht but we managed to get ours for free! Also enjoyed the awesome spinning by the island DJs and the crazy neon party lights in the house.

Black Moon Party Koh Samui Girls

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Thailand

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui Drinks

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Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Chaweng Stadium Koh Phangan Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Black Moon Party Koh Samui

Full Moon Party Samui

Party Samui

Dark Moon Party Thailand

Island Thailand Full Moon Party

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Full Moon Party Samui Thailand Girls

Full Moon Party Samui Thailand Girls

Full Moon Party Samui Thailand Girls

Full Moon Party Samui Thailand Girls

We’re gonna make it for the Full Moon Party for our next trip, definitely! Partying’s always fun and safe when you’re with the right mix.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Soi Reggae, Chaweng Beach,
Chaweng, Koh Samui, Thailand

Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg

Swans at Schloss Leopoldskron

A glimpse of the rococo villa from the bank across, while surrounded by a gorgeous bevy of swans. Contrary to popular belief, the Schloss Leopoldskron palace was never used as the Von Trapp villa in Robert Wise’s Sound of Music!

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Leopoldskron Palace is privately owned and not accessible to the general public, unless you’re a registered resident of the castle accommodations.

Schloss Leopoldskron River Palace
We were in Salzburg mid-September while temperature hasn’t descended to an insane low, though dark clouds and rain weren’t merciful enough to spare us.

Swans Schloss Leopoldskron
One of 3 scenes filmed here was of Julie Andrews and the children falling into the Leopoldskroner Weiher. I remember that so well now!

Schloss Leopoldskron

Sound of Music Tour
Our larger-than-life, don’t-seem-like-she’s-been-doing-this-everyday-for-twenty-years tour guide.

Swans at Schloss Leopoldskron

Schloss Leopoldskron Swans riverside

Schloss Leopoldskron Salzburg

Schloss Leopoldskron Salzburg
Friends who were excited at meeting swans who aren’t people-shy.

Schloss Leopoldskron
Leopoldskronstraße 56-58
5020 Salzburg

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

The Cafè Braun, Mondsee

Hungry for apple strudels and a steaming mug of hot chocolate and coffee? The Cafè Braun was our mandatory pit-stop on a tour of landmarks from the 1965 film musical, Sound of Music!
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‘Twas a rainy mid-afternoon, and we ran from Mondsee Abbey (a quick 50m dash) into the welcoming embrace of Cafè Braun, where the aroma of vanilla syrup and freshly roasted coffee jolted our olfactory senses into working overtime.
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Couldn’t resist snapping shots of the interior!
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Within minutes of ordering, the prompt waitress had our strudel with vanilla sauce delivered. It was truly heavenly!!
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Ugly food pictures aside, the apple strudel tasted wayyyyy better than it looks. The flipping cold weather commanded the need for hot chocolates and wiener.
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This small-town cafè is everything you can ask for: the apple strudel is next to the best I’ve ever had (the first on my list being Corica’s Apple Strudel from Perth)! The beverages were simply divine and the interior cosy and welcoming.
Definitely one of those places you have to try, at least once in your lifetime.

Marktplatz 7
5310 Mondsee

London Lovin’: Ladurée

London Lovin’ – Parisian sweet treats in the heart of Britain!
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In 2011, The French patisserie’s first stand alone London tea salon opened at Covent Garden
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Where? The Market Covent Garden
London WC2E 8RA

Did you know…Ladurée was the first pâtisserie to color the macaroons, and sandwich them together with ganache or buttercream filling!!
How can anyone resist these pastel wheels of happiness?
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Beside macaroons, Ladurée’s extensive dessert menu offers a dizzying myriad of treats that will make you go wild.
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At Ladurée, Covent Garden, you get to bask in the sun and soak in some heat as the winter months gradual move in.
Can you believe it was 6 °C when we touched down in London yesterday morning?
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Embedded in the Covent Garden shopping district, surrounded by a tourists’ market, chain of food joints and restaurants as well as pubs and bars, it’s really convenient to pop by for a sugared quickie.

And a quick look at its interior:
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More cushy couches upstairs…
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This is why, Ladurée is the epitome of sweet treats to go with your afternoon tea.
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Watching Snowflakes Fall

My friends amass all kinds of travel trinkets: keychains, fridge magnets, shot glasses, travel mugs, and even Starbucks tumblers with city names.

I’ve recently started collecting snow globes, after months of making sure I take a polaroid in every city I travel to, until my 5-year-old White Instax-Mini 25 took its last breath in Perth. (Rest in Peace my darling). Am currently using my Instax Piano-Black, but it isn’t the same. My first will always be my beloved baby.

Salzburg, Austria.
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Munich, Germany
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Milan, Italy
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Shaun-Paul got this for me, because I didn’t have time to browse the gift-shops for it when I was there.

There’s something addictiingly magical (if not clinically insane) about aimlessly watching snow flakes fall.

So, what do you collect?

3 Obvious Reasons to Visit Maldives

1. Sun, Sand, Sea
As we approach winter months, basking on the beach has never been more appealing.
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2. Maldives is Instagram-Worthy
P.S. Do not judge my failed jumpshots please.
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3. Snorkeling and other water activities are practically free on most island resorts.
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Some resorts even provide the equipment and instructors to guide newbies along.

Having extremely fair skin makes me prone to sunburns.
Nothing can stop me from enjoying the outdoors on Kurumba Island, though.
I slapped on more sunblock and chugged skin vitamins.
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Fun Fact: Maldives consists of 1,192 coral islands spread over roughly 90,000 square kilometres, making this one of the world’s most dispersed countries.
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Also, inhaling salty sea breeze and getting sand stuck in your Havaianas is the best way to clear your head of a lot of things.
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Fun fact: Maldives is the smallest Asian country in both population and land area. Also the planet’s lowest country, with an average ground level of 1.5 metres (4 ft 11 in) above sea level, forecasts of inundation is a great concern.
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Waking up to nature’s beauty is enough reasons to make your way here for a golden getaway, don’t you think?
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Photo-diary: I’m in love…with Kurumba Maldives!

Unbolt your main door and this is what you see
This world is all kinds of amazing20131003-022815.jpgIt’s positively exhilarating to know that the beauty of Maldives is right at your doorstep
Complete with sea breeze and utter, remote peace.
20131003-022832.jpgI’ll always be in love with the skies and the sea.
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One of my favourite spots:
The patio to lounge around, to watch the sea from a safe distance
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Only at Kurumba, the pool comes crazily close to being as inviting as the open Maldivean sea20131003-023617.jpg

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Even the visitor lodge is so tastefully built with an air of zen.
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My room was closest to the lodge! Super safe and all, I didn’t feel scared to stay in that hugeass room at all.
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Can’t stop reiterating how much I love the Maldives.
How could anyone not fall to her charms?
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Definitely gonna be back for more.
Does anyone wanna come scuba-dive here with me?

Travel-diary: Nagoya Unagi Rice ひつまぶし (Japan)

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Finally tasted the most famous Hitsumabushi (Unagi Rice) in Nagoya!
The 4300YEN platter that we ordered for 2 came with these set of instructions, a four-step guide to eating the reknowned Japanese dish.
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I must say, this is the best eel-rice I have ever tasted!! I loooove unagi rice!
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So following the etiquette guide, the best possible way to enjoy this Eel Rice Bowl was to portion our unagi rice into quadrants. Each section is eaten separately, in different and unique methods.

Step One: Eat it on its own.
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Step Two: Add the seasoning – seaweed, wasabi and green onions
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Step Three: Add the seaweed, wasabi and green onions. Top it off by pouring Dashi-broth (green tea) on top of the rice.
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Step Four: Pick your favourite method and eat it all over again!
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To be honest, I couldn’t decide! I wanted to eat a second full bowl of hitsumabushi on my own.
The broth method really cleansed my palate of any oil, and when eaten along with the juicy, slightly fatty Unagi, it felt like heaven on earth.

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So amazing, I’d definitely come back again for more!! Was told that it’s really crowded during lunch and dinner. People actually queue up for up to an hour. We slipped in during a lull period, thankfully. The walk/journey to Unagi Horaiken was totally worth the trip.
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Unagi Horaiken
Nagoya Matsuzakaya South Wing 10th Floor,
3-16-1 Sakae,
Naka-ku, Nagoya