[DIARY] ONE LESS STRANGER

A sleepless night was spent following tweets on AirBnB’s #OneLessStranger campaign. Tired and insomniac as I was, I couldn’t help applauding the global movement to connect people across cultures, to eliminate the distance we keep with people we don’t intend to know. To be on the receiving end of a thoughtful deed from a stranger – it is a simple, solitary gesture with wide-reaching resonance.

I gave the campaign some thought. What’s the point in reaching out to a stranger. Sometimes we don’t even know the person we share our last name with. How much value-add can one less stranger be? So yes it’s impossible to tag a price on gaining unlikely acquaintances. But at its core if we each know the value of having one less stranger, we would not hear of hotel sieges, terror bombings or impending nuclear wars.

I love quoting my favourite author – Haruki Murakami tells us things about ourselves we do not even know, sans big words and complexity. I would love to debate long and hard on this line:”But what seems like a reasonable distance to one person might feel too far to somebody else.” How far should you be from a stranger? How much distance should you keep from a friend, a lover? Could you draw a boundary with a firm hand and keep it? 2 people, side by side, can be worlds apart. Distances are at once tangibly physical and entirely, subjectively emotional.

January is time to begin with a new frame of mind. If I didn’t know better, 2014 was a turbulent year for many, as was the last and the year before, but that should not be grounds for excuses we tell ourselves from discarding poisonous, harmful thoughts.

We’re all on this earth for a limited time, so let’s not be strangers.

And with that said, January is already ending. I hope 2015 had been as eventful for you as it had been so far for me. Let’s keep this party rolling.

SNOW 2015

 

P.S Caught my first snowfall of 2015 in Frankfurt! I love Winter.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

 

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

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

Micro-Chip, Macro Dreams

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Could somebody invent a micro-chip for our brains, to programme us in such a way we can speak all the languages we will ever need? Frustrates me soooo so much that I can’t speak German, and I’m in Frankfurt where everybody rattles off in their native tongue and all I can mumble back are Guten Tag, Danke…Ciao.

Frankfurt is loooovely! And I’m here with very awesome people to hang out with. Am checking out places to go, things to do in future, yummies to eat and cathedrals to see…. Already hoping to come back in spring or summer. The next time I’m back I wish to speak a little German if I can!! (Yeah right I say that about every other language)

Till then 🙂

xoxo
Viktoria Jean

Moscow’s Winter Wonderland

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My very own white Christmas at the Red Square in Moscow – a little bit of cultural walkabout in the wet cold! Somewhere within these walls, Lenin’s Mausoleum houses the embalmed body of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, founder of the Soviet Union. I love the reds, the space, the neons that light it up at night, and the non-conformity of these solid fortresses embracing the centre of the city. Very fortunate and lucky to spend festive season in Russia! A very blessed Merry Christmas to all!

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

November, Please Be Awesome

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Saying goodbye to a beautiful month of October, ushering in my favorite year-end season, with a resolution to be always mindful, never to treat anyone with a careless disregard. I was in London treading on mounds of fallen autumn leaves, feeling nostalgia for days gone by. And suddenly I’m in Christchurch with my fourth bout of food poisoning this year, from the mussels and seafood cooked by a couple of friends and I. Ten months into 2013, I still don’t feel the urgency to treasure this slippery concept of time. Day to day, things change too fast to grasp and savor the beauty of each moment, each person, floating through our transient lives.

Travel-diary: Melbourne

Perhaps I’m not too much of a winter person. Hiding from the incessant drizzle in the heated warmth of the hotel just shows what a coward I am!

Checked in at Rendezvous Melbourne in the evening. Dinner was at Nando’s, before bumming with Rena and watching Running Man till we almost dropped dead from laughing and fatigue.
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Breakfast-ed at Straits Cafe the next morning, then took a tram up to Victoria Market with Zen and Sean.
The market is where  organic fruits, sausages, raw meat and local dairy products are rumoured to be the freshest and most sought-after.
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Bought a bag of my favourite macadamia nuts and as usual, tasted the local coffee! (Still wildly in love with Italian Caffe Shakerato)
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Also nibbled on some local chocolates, ribs and sausages… Has it been scientifically proven that taste buds do get frozen in the cold? Because sadly, mine were practically in winter hibernation.photo 2 (2)

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Melbourne is high on my list of places admired for its serenity 🙂

Till we meet again~

the fields are frozen gold

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As though ten winters have passed since we arrived,
thin ice beneath our heels, snowflakes in our breath.
Lucent white in ten miles’ sight
no sign of impending summer.
Yet somebody dreamt of this perfect world.

Such a waste of lush green pastures
every leaf chilled to the very spine –
botanical shards of piercing ice.

White winter world.
Wherefore art thou, Colour?
Blood runs through these icicles,
every touch ten Fahrenheits too cold.

Truth be told, it’s colder as your heart gets old,
even the summer fields are frozen gold.

P.S FTS. Wrote this so quick.
So many fricking things in my head.
For the first time I can’t count
the number of times I swore out loud.
Adieu.