President’s Day at Pier 39, San Francisco

Day after we touched down on San Francisco was the United States’ President’s Day on February 17th. We took a tram from Parc 55 Wyndham Hotel to Pier 39 aka Fishermen’s Wharf, which was mad crowded. That island on the other side in the picture below, by the way, is Alcatraz!

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We were just in time to catch Tulipmania! PIER 39 is in full bloom with thousands of tulips in all possible shades, and seasonal garden favorites decking the walkways on both levels of the pier.

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Taking a shot with the pier! Although it’s my second time at Fishermen’s Wharf, previously it was late evening when I arrived. Sunny afternoons really bring out the vibrance of the wharf.

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Some of my travel buddies this trip: Sam and Brown! Thanks for the great company, the heart-to-heart talks and the spontaneity.20140223-022825.jpg

The pier is double-decked, so from the upper deck this is basically what the lower deck looks like. It’s pretty much the same everywhere around the pier, except with different shops or diners. And if you’re a shopaholic there’s soooo many shopping to do: a crazy variety of gift shops, Candy Baron, Zip It, Sunglass Hut, Shirtique, SF Underground and so much more.

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Fulfilling our fascination with carousels. The pier’s central carousel is one of their main photographic attractions and kids line up for it everyday.

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Giving the teddy a HIGH FIVE ^^ he’s like a club bouncer outside the souvenir shop. Sad teddy needed some lovin’.

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A cupcake patisserie along the second deck. Cannot resist pretty cupcakes! They smelt so good too.20140223-022940.jpg

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A senior colleague who brought us here was telling us something about this building…not with the sharp pointed head but that one on the left. I cannot remember now!! Something about its resemblance to something…can somebody refresh my memory?
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Will be posting up more snapshots in a while. There are too many food pictures!! This place is known for crabs, clam chowders, and seafood in general. I’m not entirely a fan of seafood but I had some crabs and fish & chips anyway. You have to, it’s Fishermen’s Wharf!

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Coming to San Francisco for work purposes isn’t the same as travelling on holiday, but I’m glad for friends who brave through jet lags and fatigue with me!! Despite the worsening eyebags, I had a helluva great time. Can’t imagine lazing around in my hotel room all day!! I’ll be like these fat ass sea lions on the wharf. They stink, so bad.

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Beach Street & The Embarcadero,
San Francisco, CA 94133, United States

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] oo2.Island Lovin’

Headed for Thailand’s Koh Samui with my favourite travel pals in exactly 3 days’!! ❤
So stoked about scuba-diving, and living the island life in my friends’ resort. Also can’t wait to start partying at the local hotspots on Chaweng Beach.

Koh Samet Thailand

On our last trip to Koh Samet, another offshore party island in the Gulf of Thailand, we spent our afternoons snorkelling, swimming, speed-boating, tanning, scuba-diving, Thai-massaging, getting our asses bruised from bumpy rides on the island lorry and eating the freshest seafood the island has to offer.

Though we won’t be in time for Koh Samui’s famous full-moon parties, my local Thai friends insist that the island’s year round nightlife is insane. I’ll believe when I see it!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

5 Things I Learnt about Dubai

This weekend, I’m in Dubai, feeling so lost about the city’s roads, culture, everything.

With Harper’s Bazaar World of Fashion, Fashion Forward Season 2, Global Village 2013 – 2014 and all those exciting events going on, no doubt Dubai deserves being hailed as the regional fashion hub. There are just soooo many things I can’t get used to.

It’s a lovely lovely city, especially Downtown Dubai! People actually offer to hold your bags while you fish for your wallet at small local delis. The grocer at Robinsons hands you your change on a dish like in Japan and waves you goodbye. And everyone holds doors for everybody else.

Fascinated by this city, really. Here are 5 things that sprung to my mind.

1. There are no Cafès. Period.
Gosh. What’s their secret? How do people get their daily cuppa?

2. You get stared at, if you’re female and alone.
Then they start walking backwards with their eyes still trained on you.

3. You get stared at, if your skin colour is different.
Yes I know I’m pasty and practically translucent

4. Barricades in (some very rare) Starbucks are meant to separate  men and women
That being said, I’m darn impressed by Starbucks’ Dubai interior designers. Omg SO PRETTY
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5. Everyone walks > an arm’s distance apart.
I thought it was just me. Until I observed and realised they just don’t walk close to anyone else. Like a habit.

Also, girls can bear their skin. It’s not a sin.
Contrary to my misguided belief, it’s alright for tank tops in the sweltering heat! It is just very uncommon. The girls here are also very very pretty.
Well, seems like I’ve learnt something new!

Book Review: The State We’re In

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Publisher: Headline Review
Date Published: 4th July 2013
My Ratings: 7 / 10
Average Goodreads Ratings: 3.9 / 5

SYNOPSIS:
What are the odds that the stranger sitting next to you on a plane is destined to change your life? Especially when they appear to be your opposite in every way.

She’s a life-long optimist, looking for her soul mate in every man she meets; he’s a resolute cynic – cruel experience has taught him never to put his faith in anyone.

People can surprise you. In the time it takes to fly from London to Chicago, each finds something in the other that they didn’t even realise they needed.

Their pasts are such that they can never make one another happy and it’s when they get off the plane, that their true journey begins…

REVIEW:
At times, Joanna (Jo) Russell’s naivety gets on my nerves. She attempts to salvage a youthful mistake of ditching a fiance at the altar, by flying 300miles to wreck his upcoming wedding. That simply shows how much of a tragically hopeful romantic she is. I hated her less when she’s simply unhinged and having fun, while not harbouring thoughts of how romantic love is the one thing that should determine how you run your career and life.

The story runs beautifully. We see a parallel story running side-by-side, an almost continuation of the affair that never was. On one hand Eddie Taylor at his bedside and the son that he had left 29 years ago, Dean, flies over to bid him hello and farewell, but leaves for his house in Chicago in a fit of anger when he discovers that it was not Eddie who had asked to see him, but the meddlesome nurse who felt sorry that no next-of-kin was holding the dying man’s hand. On the other hand, delusional Jo Russell leaves her parent’s house and flies to Chicago to stop her ex-fiance – Martin’s – wedding, determined that the letter of invitation was a cry for help, and that Martin was pleading with her to not hold her peace. Somehow, she was inclined to believe that she had to take him away from his current bride-to-be. That Martin was the One.

I mean, who in their right state of mind still believes in the One?

Fate, or whatever forces that be, dictated that Dean and Jo were to spend 10 hours in the pressured tube bound for Chicago in the Club Class. The moments of emotional upheaval that they shared were rather less physically intimate than usually required for Dean to feel for anybody, but in rare cases more fictional like this, Dean cared for the delusional 35-year-old.

The forces that be also created a tragic interweaving of their histories. The father that Dean came to abhor happened to have left Dean, his mother and sister, 29 years ago, for the woman that happened to be Jo Russell’s mother – Clara Russell. And in a dramatic irony, Jo finds out that her ideal picture of what family had been and should be, was destroyed by a single phone call revealing that after decades of marriage, her mom was leaving her dad for a dying man – Eddie Taylor.  And that her dad was actually gay.

What?

That much was revealed in the span of this novel which had moments of epiphany that tugged at my heartstrings, despite the loathing I felt for Jo Russell at certain points where she was behaving less than half her age. How thoughtless and selfish a woman past her 30s can be really got on my nerves.

Dean, however, made a huge impression with his touch of sensitivity. His genuine care and concern filled up the void left blank by absent members of his family. He was the true hero of the book, taking baby steps in placing trust upon people and learning to commit like nobody in his life had ever shown his before.

The part where he was beginning to fall in love with Jo got a bit unrealistic and unconvincing, though. It was clear that girls were throwing themselves at his feet – cleavage, cellphone numbers and all – yet Jo was all he had on his mind after a mere 10 hours in the air. And Jo was being such a selfish, self-obsessed and indulged woman. Perhaps the oxygen up there is insufficient indeed.

However towards the end I grew to love Jo Russell. There was a reason behind her first-hand account while everyone else’s stories were written by the third-person. Here’s where the spoiler comes: Dean and Jo doesn’t end up together. Jo marries somebody else, and the little epilogue is simultaneously the saddest and the most heart-warming bit in the entire novel. The moment we’ve all been holding our breaths for – Dean and Jo were each other’s love of their lives but for reasons only explained in the book (ask me personally cos I don’t wish to spoil the book for you) they don’t end up together, ever.

Amidst the interweaving tales of marriage, relationships and families – broken or not – lies the keen reminder that nobody is perfect. Perfection should not be expected of anybody. And that forgiveness, big or small, is the hardest yet most essential part of any human relationship.
This is one piece of thoughtful contemporary literature that I would recommend to lovers of Jodi Picoult or even Jill Mansell and Kristin Hannah.

If ‘The State We’re in’ were to be made a movie…
Joanna Russell: Isla Fisher (Bring back the Shopaholic, please!)
Opening Ceremony And 'The Great Gatsby' Premiere - The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival

Dean Taylor: Hugh Dancy
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Eddie Taylor: Sean Bean
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Clara Russell: Christie Brinkley
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xoxo Viktoria Jean

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.
None shall disturb your peace.20131003-023935.jpg
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?

From Milan to Venice

Fresh off a 12-hour flight to Milan,
we hopped onto a three-hour railway tram into Venice.

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Grabbed lunch at the train station
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And off we go
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Our stop: Santa Lucia
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Buon Giornata, Venezia
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One of their prime, very beautifully hand-crafted, tourist rip-offs
which are too elegant and gorgeous to look at to be of much practicality. photo DSCN2150.jpg

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Big on Masquerades photo DSCN2154.jpg

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Dinner at Trattoria
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Mr Keith Chow, Milan buddy!
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Yes just take my breath and heart away
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At one of the many bridges over the canal
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Italy – the start of my gelato frenzy
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This is how they entice people to stay the night at their B&B
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With Paolo Sarpi
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GONDOLES – great way to spend a lazy afternoon drifting down the canals of Venice
but just beware of the speedboats
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More Gondoles
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Heading back to Milan at sunset…
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I must have left my heart behind…

Maldives – Bandos Island Resort

Sun, sand, sky, sea – recipe for indulgences.
And thus the three of us decided to go chasing dolphins in the setting sun!
Maldives is indeed the perfect getaway. photo DSCN1458-1.jpg

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Self-shot with Jocelyn, Brenda and He-Cui.
My hair was especially yummy that day, with a tinge of sea-salt.
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The awesome crew! photo DSCN1499.jpg

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And thus our journey to the centre of the Maldivean Sea begins!
Because that’s where the dolphins roam. photo DSCN1504.jpg

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Can you spot their fins?! *hums the tune of Shark Attack* photo DSCN1524.jpg

Hello adorable little Dolphins!! They were soooo cute as they flipped and jumped up in the air.
The ferry captains were whistling and inviting the dolphins to show their little faces.
And each time one of the dolphins made a circus-worthy act, everyone on the speedboat cheered. photo DSCN1525.jpg

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My Malibu heaven. photo DSCN1549.jpg

Hello there, familiar face. photo DSCN1556.jpg

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Setting sun….
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The three of us were laughing so much, we almost got thrown off the tip of the speedboat when the captain swerved.
Huge rolling waves by the way…
So much fun! photo 312148_10151499582857795_214188067_n.jpg

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Loving Bandos Island on the Maldives. I can’t wait to be back! photo DSCN1603.jpg

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[THAILAND] oo1. ISLAND AND THE CITY (Bangkok – Ko Samet)

The minute our home-bound aircraft took off, I missed Bangkok already.
Even with my infected tummy hurting so badly from seafood poisoning,
the land of a thousand smiles can’t shake me off.
Thailand, I will be back!!

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The amount of insane things we did on this trip was kept to a minimal
We capped it at scuba-diving, really.
Continue reading “[THAILAND] oo1. ISLAND AND THE CITY (Bangkok – Ko Samet)”

EXPOSED Dance Competition!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYQkicEsVw4

ODD5 Dancers!

As our time together came to an end tonight, I’m blessed to be able to give my thanks to these awesome crew-mates for the fun, laughter and companionship as we worked hard for this show 🙂 *hugs*!!! The journey itself was amazing the end results a bonus. Thank you guys!!!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ATcV3Wc-FiM

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xoxo,
Jean

12 February: ODD5!

EXPOSED DANCE COMPETITION
12 February, Tuesday
4 – 7 PM
SINGAPORE EXPO HALL 6
Click here for the online voting via our video.

And yes it’s on a Lunary New Year holiday
so Happy Chinese New Year in advance!:)
Live voting counts only on 12th of Feb…

I guess, it’s all ending really soon!
The impulse to join something out of the blue,
squeezing out some free time for our passion.
Here to dance our hearts out, to entertain, with no hard feelings 🙂

ODD5 dancers