SEOUL DIARIES 014: CHEONGYECHEON STREAM 청계천

For serenity and peace in Seoul’s busy boulevard, Cheongyecheon’s mini waterfalls, crystal clear stream and quiet walking lanes is where I found clarity for my thoughts.

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Honestly this 8.4 km / 5.2 miles long stream wasn’t as grand as what I had in mind, but still a picturesque sight in the city! Many couples were seen holding hands, strolling leisurely as if they had multitudes of time.

Cheonggyecheon Stream is near to Deoksugung Palace, Seoul Plaza, Sejong Center, Changdeokgung Palace, Changgyeonggung Palace, and Insadong street (where I had walked from!) It’s also close to major shopping malls like Lotte Department Store.

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Not much wildlife here – I wasn’t the only one snapping pictures of this lonely duck.20140409-152406.jpg

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In such a busy business and shopping district, a leisure strolling canal holds a hell lot of appeal. Especially since it’s the best place to go before or after a shopping spree.

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CHEONGYECHEON STREAM 청계천
110, Sejong-daero, Jung-gu, Seoul
서울특별시 중구 태평로1가 ~성동구 신답철교


Accessible from
– City Hall, Jonggak, Jongno 3-ga, Jongno 5-ga, Dongdaemun, Sinseol-dong (Seoul Subway Line 1) – City Hall, Euljiro 1-ga, Euljiro 3-ga, Euljiro 4-ga, Sindang, Sangwangsimni (Seoul Subway Line 2)
– Jongno 3-ga (Seoul Subway Line 1, 3 and 5)
– Dongdaemun History & Culture Park (Seoul Subway Line 4)
– Gwanghwamun (Seoul Subway Line 5)

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES 008: CAFES IN ITAEWON

Along the glorious and vibrant district of art museums and galleries are laid-back cafes offering all-day breakfasts and a myriad of flavoured coffees. In close association to the indie Hannamdong Cafe Street, coffee culture in Itaewon is self-directed and expat-friendly. Expect top-notch Americanos and loads of Seoul Design-Spot cafe galleries! Here are some of my favourites!

Glamorous Penguin

For more updates on Glamorous Penguin.

Ways of Seeing Art Cafe
For more updates on Ways of Seeing Art Gallery / Cafe.

Other amazing cafes in Itaewon / Hannamdong:

☆彡 Flying Pan Blue
123-7 Itaewon-Dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Daily 10:30am – 10:30pm
☎ +82 2 793 5285
Americano 4500₩, All Day Breakfasts 15000₩

☆彡 Passion 5
272 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Daily 730am – 10pm
☎ +82 2 2071 9507
Nearest Station: Hangangjin
Americano 7000₩, Cakes 5000 – 10000₩

☆彡 Take Out Drawing
140-861, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
☎ +82 2 790 2637
Nearest Station: Hangangjin

☆彡 Tartine Bakery & Cafe
Famous for: Being the Pie Shop from Running Man episode 71
4 Itaewon-ro 23-Gil, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
Daily 10am – 11:30pm
☎ +82 2 3785 3400
119-15 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-Gu, Seoul
Nearest Station: Itaewon (Line 6) Exit 2

☆彡 Coffee Chu
682-10, Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul
(7 Itaewon-ro 54-gil)
☎ +82 2 790 6821
Nearest Station: Hangangjin

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES OO6: SHOPPING @ IFC MALL & LOTTE OUTLETS

MARCH 22, 2014: DAY THREE
Despite my frequent travels, I don’t do a lot of shopping overseas. Seoul is probably the only place where there’s never enough space in my luggages for my shopping loot! Hongdae’s open-till-late vintage and indie stores are just about my favourite places to go. Right up there on my favourite shopping places in Seoul: IFC MALL @ Yeouido and LOTTE OUTLETS @ Seoul Station.

Following my solo-venture to Yeouido and Hangang Park, I took exit number 3 at Yeouido Station. This exit will lead you to IFC MALL directly! It also links to Conrad Seoul, where my colleagues and I stay when we travel to Seoul. Mostly, IFC Malls boasts of international boutiques and luxury franchises. In major shopping districts like Myeongdong, Migliore (Dongdaemun), IFC Malls, Lotte World, Lotte Outlets etc, you get to shop Tax-Free and get your GST refund from Incheon International Airport.

Lotte Outlets is at Seoul Station – the one-stop place where you can check in for your flights, deposit your luggages for a small fee, and shop till you drop right up to an hour or so before your plane departs! The mad convenience is why Lotte World is shopper’s paradise!

롯데아울렛 서울역점
LOTTE OUTLETS SEOUL STATION

45-205 Dongja-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea
Monday – Thursday: AM 11:00 ~ PM 09:00
Friday – Sunday: AM 11:00 ~ PM 10:00

SEOUL STATION

SEOUL STATION SKYLINE

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Lotte Outlets Seoul

.:*・°☆.:*・°☆.:*・°☆.:*・°☆.:*・°☆.:*・°☆

IFC MALL
10 Gukjegeumyung-ro, Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul
(before) 23,Yeouido-dong, Youngdeungpo-gu, Seoul
IFC MALL: AM 10:00 ~ PM 10:00
IFC STREETSHOP: AM 10:00 ~ PM 09:00

You might love: YOUNGPOONG BOOKS, Raum Edition, 8 Seconds, Bean Pole, Beaker Lab
Food: CAFFE BENE, Baskin Robbins, Parkgabudae, Olive Market, Cheiljemyunso, Le Brunchic

IFC MALL

IFC MALL KOREA

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES OO3: CAFE-HOPPING in GANGNAM

day Two itinerary seoul

Gangnam is, altogether, a fantastic spot for cafe-hopping. I spent the entire day here from morning till early evening, until I headed to KYOBO BOOKSTORE at Sinnonhyeon Station. The area is close to the Jamwon section of Hangang River Park, so take a walk to the famous South Korean river if you feel up to it!

Sharing a few cafes which I’ve managed to check out on days when I’d made my way to Gangnam:

Bloom and Goute Cafe
For more pictures and information on Bloom, click here.

 

50 FIFTY CAFE
Link to full blogpost on 50 FIFTY CAFE here.

 

deux creme

For more information on Deux Cremes: click!

 

Twosome Place Cafe
For more information on A TWOSOME PLACE: click

 

coffee chu korea
For more pictures of COFFEE CHU: click here.

Other amazing cafes in Gangnam:

☆彡 AllO
Converted from a private home, transformed into a modern, stylish brunch cafe
520-9 Sinsa-dong Gangnam Gu Seoul
02 541 6933

☆彡 Bless Garden
645-16 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu Seoul

☆彡 Butterfinger Pancakes
Excellent all-day breakfast pancakes, menu revamped every 6 months
88-9 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul
02-3448-1070
Exit 10 Gangnam station (Line 2)
Daily 7.00a.m. to 3.00a.m

☆彡 Design Cafe 디자인카페 (내추럴퍼니)
646-5 1F Sinsa-dong Gangnam Gu Seoul
02-3445-2822

☆彡 Grand Ciel 그랑씨엘
650-22 Sinsa-dong Gangnam Gu Seoul
+82 2-548-0283
Daily 11AM – 10PM

☆彡 Grande 그란데
Mediterranean menu: Tea, Wine, Various Deserts and Pasta.
546-8 1F Sinsa-dong Gangnam Gu Seoul
02-548-8858

☆彡 May Island
서울 강남구 역삼동 816-6 용일빌딩 4, 5층
(Seoul, Gangnam-gu, Yeoksam-dong 816-6, Yongin Bldg 4F & 5F)
Nearest Station: Gangnam Station (Line 2), Sinnonhyeon Station (Line 9)

☆彡 Mug for Rabbit 머그 포 래빗
534-25 Sinsa-dong Gangnam Gu Seoul

☆彡 Paper Garden 페이퍼가든
653-11 Sinsa-dong Gangnam Gu Seoul
02 3443 8880
Daily 11PM – 1AM

☆彡 Sarubia 사루비아
542-3 Sinsa-dong Gangnam Gu Seoul

 

ANGEL-IN-US was where I had my breakfast before heading toward Gangnam. It’s just about my favourite coffee-chain in South Korea, right up there with Caffe Bene.
ANGELINUS COFFEE KOREA
For more pictures, click here

 

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

SEOUL DIARIES OO2: GANGNAM

On my second day in Seoul, I travelled to Apgujeong in the district of Gangnam. To catch a trendy side of Seoul without the unexaggeratedly touristy appeal (aka Myeongdong), head to this part of town. Gangnam has been revolutionized by a wave of new-age Koreans.

What I loved: this building dressed in a coat of leopard prints without looking over-the-top
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As expected of diners in this hip and classy community, every cafe which I slipped into for a cuppa coffee competed for style – each interior design was aesthetically magazine-worthy. In short, Apgujeong is first-rate uptown district: its roads are dominated by big brand names, posh restaurants, sophisticated cafes and nightclubs. Further down north, towards Sinsa station is the less ambitiously stylish locale of Sinsa-dong. Here, you can find independent homely eateries, roadside stalls, casual soju-bars and pubs.

Gangnam Gu

APGUJEONG:
APGUJEONG GANGNAM

SINSA-DONG:
SINSADONG

Cheongdam-Dong is the middle-ground that provides a balance between the two locales. I love Cheongdam-dong – the people seem to be in less of a rush than Apgujeong. Its streets and stores were well-kept, neat and tidy.

CHEONGDAM-DONG:
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Sinsadong’s Garosugil 신사동 가로수길 (which literally means tree-lined street) is the perfect romantic dating spot for couples and meeting place for friends. Though it’s a bit overrun by tourists, photographers and Euro-loving Koreans, Garosugil remains a popular hangout and must-go destination! Loads of popular dramas were filmed in Garosugil and Gangnam area, to be honest, for it’s really the posher side of Korea which foreigners would love.

I personally love people-watching at the Gangnam district because the guys here are really goodlooking. It’s no wonder, though, or perhaps it’s merely a coincidence, that plastic surgery clinics are everywhere in Gangnam. Clearly, the rich and famous have their nosejobs, boobjobs and facejobs done in the area. Private plastic surgery establishments as high as 50-storeys are not uncommon. Here, you could do plastic surgery in complete privacy and total isolation.

That somewhat sums up my Gangnam experience. Stay-tuned for my next post on…CAFEHOPPING IN GANGNAM! ^^

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Biking the Golden Gate Bridge | Part (IV)

This is the part we say goodbye to an awesome biking expedition:
from stopping at various landmarks at San Francisco bay, to biking till the foot of the bridge, and then across the bridgeto exploring the city of Sausalito, I had so much fun that I forgot to feel tired.

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From the pier at Sausalito, we booked ferry tickets bound for Embarcadero at 10USD each (inclusive of our bikes). The ferry arrives and leaves the pier at frequent designated timings, making it uber convenient to come and go from the island. As we wheeled onto the ferry, I found myself comparing Sausalito’s residential houses to Cinque Terre. So beautiful in the sunset it was!

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Saying goodbye to the Golden Gate! Looking at you from afar once again. The sky was such a lovely addition to this landscape.20140307-164727.jpg

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Ladies and gentlemen, the island behind yours truly is the Alcatraz. This is the closest I’ve ever come to snapping a shot with the prisoner island; I will come back to set foot on it!20140307-164738.jpg

A kind gentlemen took this for us. Alcatraz, here you go.20140307-164747.jpg

A beautiful shot of San Francisco bay – I’m still mesmerised.20140307-164758.jpg

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So we bid farewell to the iconic structure, and to this crazy road trip which was a reckless idea borne from wanting some adventure. We spent a total of 6 hours and in this span of time, covered 8.5miles/13.5km of land on our bikes. I was so tired on the flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong, and my butt/calves/thighs/toes were hurting so bad. Still, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything ^^ and I strongly urge everyone to go for this bike trail if you’re in San Francisco. You have to, at least once in your life.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Sausalito – Biking the Golden Gate Bridge | Part (III)

Took a snapshot at this lovely residential estate cum diner by the bay! Loving how the baby blues of the house were in perfect pastel harmony with the cloud-streaked blues of the skies and crystal clear turquoise of the sea. We were finally in Sausalito, after biking from the pier, then across the Golden Gate Bridge!

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Insanely steep downhills, narrow roads and strange sudden curves were characteristic of bike paths on Sausalito. The whole wind-whipping-in-face and look-ma-no-hands! as we careened (at times uncontrollably) down the slopes into Sausalito’s town center, felt sooo good! I had my fingers curled around the brakes, all ready to slam it, but we never stopped at the downhills which were the best parts!

This statue of a Marines soldier stands at the gateway into Sausalito, just before the bike trail hits the endlessly steep highways downtown. If you see him, you’re on the right way!

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Sausalito took my breath away, not just from the sheer exertion of biking!! This San Francisco Bay Area city in California stands at an elevation of 13 feet. With a small population of slightly more than 7000, it was once was home to an indigenous settlement known as Liwanelowa before the site was invaded by the Europeans.

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Basking in the afternoon sunshine! That said, the temptation of taking a dip in (the shallow end of) the ocean had to be greatly resisted.

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The whole town was really quiet, except for us biking stragglers who, having reached our intended destination, had our vehicles docked in the bike-parking lots as we settled down for celebratory lunch. At Sausalito, there were a couple of novelty stores and vintage souvenir houses which looked pretty amazing.

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Early dinner at Le Garage Bistro Sausalito, overlooking the bay! We dined to the sounds of lapping waves and seagulls flapping above our heads.

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Some pasta and smoked salmon crepes, anybody? I guess cycling left me famished, I ate in record time.

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Though it’s a tiny town, Sausalito has a myriad of public attractions: the Cazneau Playground, Cloud View Park, Martin Luther King Park Langendorf Park and so many more, as well as  Schoonmaker Beach, Swede’s Beach and Tiffany Beach.

FYI Sausalito is currently home to Darren Hayes (singer-songwriter, and former lead of the awesome band Savage Garden), Amy Tan (novelist who brought us The Joy Luck Club and The Bonesetter’s Daughter), as well as Ken Pontac ( author of the sadistic internet series Happy Tree Friends).

After a really short, yet very refreshing and memorable afternoon at Sausalito, we booked a ferry ticket to take us, along with our bikes, across the bay to San Francisco. Was glad for the biking journey to be over, but sad, as that meant we were about to leave Sausalito and San Francisco behind.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Biking the Golden Gate Bridge | Part (II)

Part 1 saw us through the journey from Pier 39, and in Part Deux we finally peddled past the threshold and across 1.7 miles of galvanized steel!

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We did it – was my first thought, taking the first step onto the gate. The 2 of us only just saw the gate from the start-point miles away and then in the span of 2 hours…  Armed with only a map and scattered bike trails, I can’t help feeling this tremendous sense of accomplishment. Cheers to taking a step into the unknown!

Strength in numbers – migration of feathered flock in an orderly formation, with absolute faith in their leader’s ability to lead them to a place where they can call home. As photographed from the bridge where we were standing, there were many many many flocks of birds flying across the bay ocean in similar fashion.20140307-163441.jpg

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The view of San Francisco and Oakland from Golden Gate Bridge is spectacular. You have to be there to feel the grandeur.

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The wind-in-your-hair, sun-in-your-cheeks (and hair-all-over-my-face) sense of liberation cannot be captured in words. At downhill points, the speed is at once within your control and also out of your control. You decide how much control you render to the elements and how much grip you retain. Mostly, I let myself careen downhill and almost threw up both my hands and shouted HURRAY!! It was so amazing.

In the next part, we cross over from San Francisco to Sausalito, with bike trails that were insanely steep yet at the same time liberating ^^ you just let the roads take you where they go.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

P.S. I’m glad to have given up my sleep for this biking trip. Post-biking muscle cramps and fatigue was worth it!

The Love Lockdown

Eiserner Steg Frankfurt Love Bridge

Eiserner Steg Frankfurt

Eiserner Steg Frankfurt 2

Couples lock down their vows over the Eiserner Steg in Germany, which stands proud over River Main linking Frankfurt’s city centre to the district of Sachsenhausen. Another lover’s bridge marked with everlasting passion symbolized by the act of locking with a sense of resilient security and firm, unyielding permanence. The irony of these very metal locks surviving way past expiry of its owners’ heartfelt promises, we may never know.

Eiserner Steg 1

Once you look beyond the riveted steel truss, everything else can be forgotten. The scene of River Main from the centre of the bridge took my heart and mind away, just for a little while.

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Eiserner Steg
Mainkai, 60311 Frankfurt,
Germany

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

5 Best Blogs on Cafès in London

This time tomorrow I will be in London, trolling SOHO’s awesome cafès. It’s time to share my favorite blogs when I’m seeking the best of UK’s brews!

The 5 Best Blogs on Cafès in London

Caffeine Mag
What it is: UK’s only consumer coffee magazine, available in independent coffee shops
What I love: Their dedication in seeking alternative to high-street coffee chains currently dominating the global coffee scene.

Coffee Hunter
What it is: A no-nonsense guide to cafès in mainly Shoreditch, SOHO and central London.
This guy definitely knows his stuff!
What I love: The writer, Peter Thomson, walks and talks and blogs coffee. He says things like “the flat white had pot marked bubbles and the crema had collapsed”. How can anyone not to trust this caffeine-ista?

Cozy Coffee Shops
What it is:  Review dedicated to artisan coffee and terrific independent coffee houses. Featured by the BBC in 2008, the page is still going strong after 7 years with über-regular updates.
What I love: The beautifully taken pictures and top-notch recommendations of indie cafès. When time permits, the duo (Mr and Mrs Cosy) also reviews cafès from Peru, Bolivia, etc.

London Thru Cafès
What it is: A blog andalso an app that maps the backbone of fabulous London coffee houses, with hundreds of great things to do nearby.
What I love: A comprehensive guide with crazy accessibility. The reviews pretty much names and covers all of UK’s popular and indie coffee chains.

London Coffee Blog
What it is: A quest to explore London’s ‘cute little independent coffee shops’. What I love: The personal touch that makes the reviews a tad closer to heart.

So if you’re a coffee-lover heading to London, discover these exciting cafès! It’s all about creating that perfect coffee moment, in the words of UK National Barista Champion, Simon Robertson: “However busy you are, in the time it takes you to finish that coffee your normal world is put on hold and you go somewhere else in your head. It’s about creating a moment, creating an experience.

Travel-diary: Asians in Munich

Touched down on the third largest city in Germany, the host city of the 1972 Summer Olympics, with the cutest city motto: München mag dich, which literally means Munich loves you.

On the first day, we had lunch at Dachau Station, KZ-Gedenkstätte,
in which our Döner (kebab) came in colossal proportions!

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Our stop where we touched down at Dachau, Germany’s longest running Jewish concentration camp.  photo DSCN2622_zps29146051.jpg

Heading back into the town center of Marienplatz is easy when you’ve got a Captain who’s very familiar with the topography.

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This fountain reminds me too much of Singapore’s USS!
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Having my mandatory gelato…after a long walk at Dachau. An immensely refreshing treat for the summer. Am definitely coming back for my winter gelato brainfreeze.
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Have I ever mentioned that Nuts and Baileys is my new favourite gelato flavour?

Also bought myself fresh raspberries and strawberries for supper!
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As with all European cities, I find their architecture very fascinating.
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This is the Rathaus-Glockenspiel in the heart of Marienplatz.
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Every day without fail at 11 a.m. (12 p.m. and 5 p.m. in summer) it chimes and re-enacts stories from the 16th century to crowds of tourists and locals.
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Each story lasts 12-15 minutes, and at least 500 people were gathered in the square to watch the spectacle with us.
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Munichers are famous for PORK KNUCKLES and really, it’s truly a mouthwatering treat 🙂
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The more famous pork-knuckle makers in town
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Was accumulating photographs along the way, and I’m really surprised I managed to snap so many…
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Have no idea why the Caucasian men in this one became the main focus. Naughty camera.
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This pretty much sums up our afternoon, lazy walks in the Munich summer heat, mindlessly appreciating the amazing architecture in the city.

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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