Biking the Golden Gate Bridge | Part (I)

In life sometimes it pays to be a little wild and adventurous. On check-out day, we took an early tram to Fishermen’s Wharf @ Pier 39, rented a pair of bikes and helmets, then peddled for a good half-day from San Francisco to Sausalito via the Golden Gate!

This is where Part 1 begins, from the pier to the foot of the famed San Francisco bridge.

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Step 1: Begin with the end in mind. So we took photos with our final destination!

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This is also where the negative self-doubts kick in…can we reach Sausalito and still make it back by evening to catch the flight to Hong Kong?

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Okay who am I kidding. I was too excited for any of those worries. Golden Gate here we come!

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The terrain from Pier 39 was straightforward and easy for bikers, even for amateurs who haven’t touched a bike for more than a year (me). Right after the photo above was taken, we met with our first terrible uphill climb (there are only two along this bike trail). I can still feel the strain of the burn in my calves and thighs!

We took a couple of scenic detours (including a long stop at the Palace of Fine Arts) and a hell lot of photographs along the way, which I will eventually come around writing about, and progressively we also took shots with the looming Golden Gate as we inched closer and closer…

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Viktoria Jean victory jump at Golden gate Bridge

… and before you know it, you reach this jetty! Beautiful place to put your feet up and watch the seagulls circle overhead whilst waves hit the shores and you get to sip a latte from the cafe by the bay in full view of the San Francisco bridge. We took a short break and grabbed a hot drink. Although sunny, the biting wind sometimes numbed our faces; as I recall it was 3-5 degrees Celcius.

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A semi-victory shot: we’re getting close! If only we could pull the bridge to us.

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Still on the jetty, and guess whose familiar face we saw!?…

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Yep… none other than the urp-urp-urping sealions! This one’s way more active than the lazybums tanning their asses at Pier 39’s Sealion Center. I swear he has a slimmer butt.

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Interesting find: there are so many of these ship anchors along the shores leading to the Golden Gate. In the early days, warships, cargo fleets and passenger boats were tied and docked at these parking area.20140307-133418.jpg

And according to these people, fishing is lucrative along the bay. Perhaps they sell their catch to the restaurants at the wharf? I doubt any of them fish for personal consumption.20140307-133424.jpg

I SEE YOU NOW.
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You ain’t far away no more!20140307-133437.jpg

One last detour: we wanted to enter Fort Point at the foot of the bridge, but all visitors are banned from its premises. Built to protect the San Francisco Bay, the United States Army completed the fort just before the American Civil War, as defence against hostile warships.
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Oh well. At this point, we met the second uphill climb. I gave up and pushed my bike instead. What a loser, I know. Everything was good again when we reached the top, and look what we saw!

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Hi there, so much closer now!20140307-133510.jpg

Before you hit the actual bridge path, an exhibit shows you the entire history of who, how and why the iconic structure came about. This fascinating board shows you the timeline of San Francisco bay: you just need to walk from left to right, and TA-DA – watch the Bridge appear!!

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If you’re wondering whose smart idea it was to build this bridge, in 1872, a self-proclaimed Emperor Norton (highly eccentric citizen of San Francisco) decreed that a suspension bridge was to be constructed connecting Oakland to San Francisco. On July 9, 1933 – construction began on the longest bridge in the world at that time. It took three years and five months to complete the Bay Bridge. The final bridge cost was approximately $77 million, $6 million under the estimated cost.

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Time for a little fun hands-on! You get to experiment why the bridge is of this length and height – everything was engineered and calculated to maximise efficiency of construction, stability and the ease of raising the columns to its desired positions.

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The Bay Bridge opened to traffic on November 12, 1936 at 12:30 p.m. A chain cutting ceremony took place where former San Francisco Mayor Angelo Rossi, former President Herbert Hoover and Chief Engineer C. H. Purcell looked on while former California Governor Frank Merriam opened the Bay Bridge. When the ceremonies were completed, President Roosevelt telephoned workers on two sides of the bridge to flash a green light to signal the bridge was officially open. Everything you wish to know can be found on the information boards.

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WE MADE IT!! I’ve always pictured the Golden Gate enshrouded in fog , and as it was a clear day, nothing was hiddenViktoria Jean in San Francisco travels.jpg

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Two hours and we made it from Pier 39 to the beginning of the bridge! Honestly, it wasn’t tiring because I had great company and an awesome view of the sea. It was a good 2 hours and a few hundred calories well-burnt.

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I’ll let Part (II) show you the next part of our biking journey…across the Golden Gate!!!

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

P.S. A full day rental of the bike costs around USD30, inclusive of helmets, without a safety insurance which you have to pay an extra 4 dollars for. There’re many bike rental places along Pier 39: Blazing Saddles, Bay City Bike Trails etc.

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

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] o12.Does Nature Imitate Art?

Legend has it: a boat carrying Ta Kreng (Grandpa Kreng) and Yai Riem (Grandma Riem) capsized at Ko Samui, killing the old couple who, for their son’s sake, were sailing to Prachuap Khiri Khan to ask for the hand of their in-law’s daughter. The locals believed then that their organs turned into the rock formations which are now widely known as the Grandpa and Grandma rocks (Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks). No prize for guessing which body parts they came from!!

Samui Grandpa Grandma Rocks 1

Ake drove us all to this south coast; the rocks are located between Hua Thanon and Lamai Beach, roughly 17 kilometres from the airport. How did these rocks come about?

Samui Grandpa Grandma Rocks 2

It’s a puzzlement as to how these rocks came about, in such close proximity, if we choose not to believe in the folklores of the local community. Nature’s imitation of Art (artistic ribaldry) continues to amuse and baffle us beings. Seriously, mortal art will never match up to the art of nature.

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Samui Grandpa Grandma Rocks 8

Samui Grandpa Grandma Rocks 9

Samui Grandpa Grandma Rocks 10

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Grandma rock was partially submerged due to the high tides and the area was cordoned off because a tourist had slipped and fallen to his/her death a couple of weeks ago. This is what the Hin Yai Rock looks like!
hinyai
Samui Grandpa Grandma Rocks 12

I know right.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o11.Shopping @ The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui

The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui

Drawn by the ring road’s sleek and appealing post-colonial design, we parked here on our way to Lamai Beach for beach-wear shopping. The ring road consists mostly of restaurants (Pazzo Italian Cuisine and Wine Bar, Mulligan’s Irish Pub) and boutiques (Chicstation, CocoVilla Supermarket, Lamai Boutique). The street stalls on the road leading away from the plaza sells pretty much all the stuff we need!

The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui Shopping

The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui

The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui

The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui

The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui

[THAILAND] o10.Lamai Beach Samui

Samui Asian Girls Beach

Ever taken a day from work to stroll all morning along the calmest beach on Koh Samui? I love how my traveling job makes it all easy to find myself on an entirely different city from day to day. Yet it makes me appreciative of nature’s beauty on a minuscule scale. I’m all excitement and “let’s take more pictures!”, even when all that’s truly picture-worthy are a row of colourful beach houses, or teeny-tiny pretty sea shell on the beach. Hell, if you’re not noticing these little things, you’re missing out on a whole lot in life.

Lamai Beach Samui

Lamai Beach Samui

Lamai Beach Samui

Lamai Beach Samui

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[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

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui Girls

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Koh Samui

Jet Ski Thailand

Jet Ski Thailand Island

Jet Ski Thailand Samui

Life Vest Girls

Girls Island

Jet Ski Thailand

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] oo8.CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

Day beds, bean bags, egg chairs, shishas and the island’s most varied selection of cocktails on the beachfront: there’s nothing not to love about CoCo Tam’s Bar. The music was sooo good we had to ask the bartenders for their playlist! Ideal for after-dinner chillout drinks, we took a short walk here from H Bistro @ Hansar, and watched the sunset on Koh Samui whilst chilling out on our beanbags with cocktails. A jug of Samui Sling, anybody?

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Thailand

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

Beach Koh Samui

Living the Life CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

Sea CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui Girls

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

Viktoria Jean Thailand CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

Couple CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

Coco Tams Bar Samui

Shisha CoCo Tam's Bar Samui

Cocotails CoCo Tam's Bar Samui

Cocotails CoCo Tam's Bar Samui

Girls CoCo Tam's Bar Samui

Girls CoCo Tam's Bar Samui

Girls CoCo Tam's Bar Samui

Girls CoCo Tam's Bar Samui

Girls CoCo Tam's Bar Samui

Sunset Girls CoCo Tam's Bar Samui

Girls CoCo Tam's Bar Samui

Girls CoCo Tam's Bar Samui

CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

Couple CoCo Tam’s Bar, Koh Samui

Worth a second trip down here when we come back for Koh Samui’s Full Moon Party in the future!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

99/1 Moo 1, Bophut
Koh Samui 84320, Thailand

[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

Black Moon Party Koh Samui Girls

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

[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

Travel-diary: the Beauty of Christchurch

Or rather, the beauty of Peppers Clearwater.
Wouldn’t mind waking up to lakes and greens everyday!
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Facts: The February 2011 Christchurch earthquake of magnitude 6.3 killed 185 people. 4,423 earthquakes were recorded in the Canterbury region above a magnitude 3.0, from 4 September 2010 to 3 September 2012.

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Nevertheless, the city still retains such scenic beauty! Some economists estimated that it will take the New Zealand economy 50 to 100 years to completely recover…

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The villa we were staying in: right by the lake.
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Definitely adding sky-diving and bungee-jumping to my wishlist for the next trip!

“There is nowhere else in the world where, within two hours of an international airport, you can ski at a world-class alpine resort, play golf, bungy jump, raft, mountain bike, hot-air balloon, wind surf, whale watch and visit internationally-acclaimed wineries and gardens.”

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: Rangitoto and Volcanoes

Fedora’s friend Ridge drove us up the coast at Mission Bay – Patteson Avenue
which overlooked the active volcano on Rangitoto Island
They say, you only live once
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What with volcanic hazards and possible reawakening of volcanic activity, this place is entirely too beautiful.
Then again, beautiful things are dangerous.
The Auckland volcanic field is fuelled entirely by basaltic magma, and is likely to erupt again within the next “hundreds to thousands of years”.
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It is expected that these volcanoes won’t erupt anytime soon. But then again there’s the volcanic ash from Mount Taranaki/Egmont, Taupo, Okataina, Tongariro and Mayor Island.
Soooo beautiful, right?
20131004-201716.jpgA heaping mound of Thai Food to warm up our frozen bodies…it was so cold by the seaside!!!20131004-201731.jpg Conclusion: most of us tropical climate creatures are just not made for winter.

Photo-diary: Island Life, Maldives

The beauty of Maldives never fails to take my breath away
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Honestly would love to stay on this island and work for peanuts,
if it means that I get to see this every day of my life.
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Also, Kurumba Maldives is a crazy good place for getaways! It has 2 outdoor freshwater pools, 3 tennis courts, a yoga pavillion, spa and a fitness centre. Snorkeling was insanely fun, because you don’t even need to be a good swimmer – the crystal clear water in the lagoon sort of buoys you up naturally.
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Kurumba Island
Vihamanafushi
08340, Maldives

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)”