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London Travelogue – (Part 1): Gatwick Airport, Covent Garden, Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, Chinatown Gate and Trafalgar Square

This is our first trip to London and we were told that it is an extremely expensive city for vacation. All this while, we thought it wouldn’t be possible until we discover some London hacks that made our trip a reality.

For once, we realised apart from travelling with the usual prominent airlines there are actually options to travel with budget airline to London for an affordable price of $1.1K in total for 2 adults / 2 childs (one way) – Norwegian airline.

Journey to London

Norwegian airline offers a direct flight from Singapore to London without any stopovers. To ensure further comfort, inflight entertainment are available. Ear phones were not provided.

The inflight meals were simple and nothing fanciful.

As we booked the flight early, we managed to get the best seats which gave us more room.

The 14-hour flight was surprising smooth without any turbulence and we arrived at London Gatwick airport by 5:40am.

If you are travelling to London Zone 1 or 2, we would recommend you not to take the express train which cost about $20 per adult. Our travel from Gatwick to Islington/Highbury was horrid as we needed to change platforms during the morning peak hours.

Towing 4 big luggages with us up and down the subway stairs without elevators and waiting for multiple trains before squeezing in was no joke. The weather was about 10 degrees but we were already perspiring. We would recommend booking the airport transfer (Blackberry cars) instead as the price was almost the same with no hidden charges.

The train ride brought us to the Victoria station where we would need to buy Oyster cards to travel in the London Underground, or the “Tube”. In simple terms, this is a version of our MRT. London is segmented by 9 zones with the touristy areas being in Zone 1 and 2.

Image result for london map zones
Photo Credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_fare_zones

The morning crowd at Victoria station were beginning to build up.

We had our breakfast here before continuing our journey to the Airbnb.

This was already the third train ride. We were tired.

Finally arrived at Highbury & Islington station.

But not before taking a 5 min bus ride and another 2 min walk to our Airbnb apartment. For all the hassle, it would be wiser to take Blackberry cars next time.

Covent Gardens

Covent Gardens is one of the ultimate Instagram spots in London. An iconic area with thriving street arts, we heard that it is usually crowded with tourists. However, it was not that bad.

The streets were easy to explore and it was not uncommon to take a pause every now and then to soak ourselves in the historic architectures. Covent Garden is a popular tourist spot such that Din Tai Fung has recently established an outlet here.

Something similar we have seen back home.

The locals love coffee so much and very often cafes would be packed with people. The scent of fresh coffee permeated the cafe and we couldn’t help but to order a cup.

Address: 13 Floral St, London WC2E 9DH, UK

Leicester Square / Piccadilly Circus

As Covent Garden is located centrally, it is near to Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Google maps may not be reliable. Having these street directories made it easier for us to find our way around.

We were in for a treat during winter as Leicester Square Christmas Markets was up and running.

Not a fan of shopping but food tasting was our theme during this trip. Unlike the States, Christmas markets are common throughout Europe and UK.

Didn’t stay too long in the Christmas markets as some strangers kept looking at our belongings. We decided to leave and go into M&Ms World for safety reasons.

Address: 1 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7DE, UK

Have you been to M&M’s World? It is situated directly opposite Leicester Square Christmas Markets.

The bright, colorful storefront would inevitably draw anyone in. The staff were friendly and helpful, even if you are not buying anything.

Abbreviation familiar to a tween.

Address: Leicester Square, 1 Swiss Ct, London W1D 6AP, United Kingdom

London Chinatown is close to Leicester Square. The nearest underground stations to Chinatown are Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus. Bus available are 14 / 24 / 27 / 29 / 134 / 168 / C2.

Eat all you can for $10.50.

We dined here over the next 2 days as the price was cheaper compared to other restaurants. Some restaurants open till 3am.

Address: 10 Wardour St, London W1D 6BZ, UK

Our jet-leg started to kick in. One final stop at Trafalgar Square before we ended the day. The attraction here is surrounded by museums, galleries, cultural spaces and historic buildings.

Trafalgar Square is a public square in the City of Westminster, Central London, built around the area formerly known as Charing Cross. Its name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars with France and Spain that took place on 21 October 1805 off the coast of Cape Trafalgar.

Address: Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN, UK

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Recommendation – Why You Should Rent Traveler WiFi Router for Overseas Travel

Our overseas trips have been much dependent on buying SIM cards at airport terminals or tapping into free wifi connection at hotels or cafes. In our recent travel to UK and the States, we decided to rent a portable WiFi router from Traveler Wifi to give it a try for the first time and after trying it out, we are very impressed and will definitely tick it as a travel essential in the future.

These are the top 5 reasons why you should be using Traveler Wifi:

#1 – Hassle Free with Worldwide Connection

Traveling across different continents require us to purchase multiple SIM cards which can be a hassle as it could only be tagged to a mobile device. With Traveler Wifi, it offers secured global coverage which support 4G networks. We are looking for hassle free and plug-and-play connection. All we need to do is to switch on the wifi router and it can automatically be detected in the network after keying in the password provided.

#2 – Long Battery Duration

We were told that Travel Wifi router offers up to 15 hours of connectivity. Based on our experience during the trip, it could easily last 13 hours without a single charge (with 3 mobile devices connected) before we returned to the hotel which we will change to hotel’s wifi. The pocket router could also be charged from a powerbank when we are on the go.

#3 – Cost Savings

The wifi router can connect up to 5 smart devices at the same time! It offers unlimited data with fair-use policy. If daily data usage exceeds 500 MB, router speed will slow down but can still connect and use. Data usage count is reset on daily basis. This provides cost savings when comparing to purchasing a SIM card which can only connect to 1 smart device and not forgeting you may need to figure out how to activate the SIM card.

#4 – Multiple Service Counters to Collect

To make collection easier, Traveler Wifi has different service counters conveniently located at the following locations:

Service Counters Islandwide: 

(NO reservation required; customers can rent Wifi Routers directly at any of the retail service counters)

  • Orchard Road
    • Lucky Plaza, 304 Orchard Road #B1-108 (Perfumes & Cosmetics Gallery: 11:30am-9pm daily; Friday 12.30pm -2pm – Closed)
  • Chinatown
    • People’s Park Centre, 101 Upper Cross Street #08-19 (Incredible Odyssey: 11am-6pm; Sat & Sun – Closed, Public Holiday – Closed).
      [you may message 91065688 before coming to Chinatown service counter]
  • Lavender
    • 322 Lavender Street (Gap Year Hostel: Daily 8am-8pm)
      [Please note only for Singapore WiFi routers rental/return at Lavender service counter]

#5 – Happy Memories

Big & Small M were probably the biggest beneficiaries of this trip. With Traveler Wifi router, they were allowed to use our mobile phones during the long road trips to keep themselves occupied.

We drove from San Francisco – Silicon Valley – Big Sur – Solvang – Santa Monica – Las Vegas – Los Angeles which we will blog about the journeys later so stay tune. These would not be possible without the wifi router which was certainly a life saver as it provided us with google map directions during the long, long and long drive.

And we went places before hitting the books after the holidays.

From London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

To New York – Statue of Liberty.

To San Francisco – Golden Gate Bridge.

To Silicon Valley – Googleplex.

To Las Vegas – Bonnie Springs Ranch.

And Los Angeles – Hollywood Boulevard.

Enough said. First time using wifi router and we were convinced of it’s convenience. Planning your upcoming trip soon and need a wifi router? Do not forget to check out Traveler Wifi!

 

Traveler Wifi

Website /  Bookinghttp://traveler-wifi.com/cms

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/travelerwifi/

Service Locations: http://traveler-wifi.com/cms/service-locations

Call for Enquiries) –

(65) 94877330 (General Enquiry) – [Mon-Fri : 9am – 6pm]

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Making the Most of a Short City Break

City breaks are a brilliant way to see more of the world. A short city break can be much cheaper than a long holiday, you’ll also need less spending money and less time off work, and because flights are so readily available now, you can get to many places within just a few hours travel time. If you’ve got kids or other responsibilites and commitments, a short city break is a chance to get away on your own, with friends or your partner without having to take time out or drag your family across the world.

A short city break is a perfect chance to explore a new location, hitting museums, restaurants and galleries, taking in some of the cultures and having a bit of a blow-out. But, one problem people often find with city breaks is that they just don’t have enough time to fit it all in. When you are visiting one oft he best cities in the world, you can easily come up with a list of things to do, that’s longer than both of your arms and legs. There are museums, galleries, restaurants, bars, zoos, farms, clubs, theme parks, and there’s architecture to admire and parks to take in. People live in these cities full time and still don’t manage to take everything in, yet you are trying to do it all in a couple of days. Many of us return home with plans to return in the future to tick off more of our to-do list.

So, how do you get more out of your stay? How do you manage to do as much as you can, so that you can return home feeling satisfied and fulfilled?

Image Credit – https://unsplash.com/photos/mpzFnoQCwWU

Research Online

If you are only staying somewhere for a few days, you don’t want to spend one of them finding your feet and finding out more about what there is to see and do. You want to go armed with this information. So, as soon as you book your trip, or even before, start researching your destination. Old fashioned travel guides are excellent, and still have their advantages, mainly that you can travel with them. But, nothing beats online research for up-to-date information. Check out the most popular attractions at your destination, but also look for those smaller venues and attractions that the locals love, but tourists don’t know about. Learn some necessary language skills, understand the currency and learn about your public transport options.

Prioritise

Once you’ve started your research, you need to start writing a list of things that you’d like to do. While it would be great to do it all, it’s important to realise that you might not be able to fit it all in confortably, and the last thing you want is to find yourself running around, not getting to fully appreciate the places you visit because you need to rush off to your next spot almost as soon as you get there.

So, prioritise your to-do list. Write the things that you are desperate to see or do, those things that you couldn’t bear to miss, at the top and make sure you fit them in. See anything else as a welcome bonus.

Book in Advance

Booking tours like one from The Paris Guy, as well as tickets to events and attractions online before you travel, can be an excellent way of saving time and money. Tickets purchased online are often cheaper, and you’ll save time queuing. It also means that you know you’ll do these things, which can help you plan and prepare.

If you don’t know your destination well, a tour can be a fantastic way to see lots of sights quickly. You might find some that you’d like to go back to in the future.

Leave Room for Change

Planning and organising your time is brilliant. It can save you time, help you to fit more in, and ensure that you get to see those things that you really don’t want to miss. But, too much structure could be a bad thing. It’s important that you also leave room to be spontaneous. So that if you see something that you fancy while you are exploring, you’ve got time to go. Try to see your plans as more of a guide that you can be flexible with. Don’t end up missing out on something that you could love, just because you feel tied down to a plan.

Take a Break

When there’s so much to do and see, and you are only away for a couple of days, the idea of taking a break and getting some rest might not seem very productive. But, sometimes, it’s what you need. When you work hard at home, you need to get some rest on your days off to avoid burnout and stress. It will also help you to do more. Give yourself an afternoon to relax. Sit in a coffee shop, read a book and enjoy a coffee and you’ll feel better. Your energy levels will be raised, and you’ll be able to enjoy the rest of your time.

Get Plenty of Sleep

It can be tempting to stay up late into the night enjoying the nightlife of your destination, and if that’s how you want to spend yout time, go for it. But, if you’d prefer to make the most of your days and fit more in, get to bed early and get a good nights sleep. Then, get up early, enjoy your breakfast and start your day. Remember, there is more open in the mornings than at night.

Eat Well

Image Credit – https://unsplash.com/photos/oAYlDfiZcJ0

If you want to spend your time on the go fitting lots in, it’s essential that you take care of yourself. As well as getting lots of sleep and some rest, you should be careful about what you eat. Introducing too many different foods quickly can cause illnesses, and fatty and greasy foods can leave you feeling fatigued and sluggish. Instead, opt for healthy and filling meals with slow-release energy that will keep you going. You should also take a bottle of water out with you when you go out and keep stocked up on healthy, energy-boosting snacks.

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What’s Out There (And In Here): Traveling By Yourself To Broaden Your Mind

There’s nothing quite like getting out there, on the road, and traveling the world, viewing proceedings from the ground floor. But, when you are thinking about planning a long journey around the world, stopping over in many countries, are you going to do this by yourself, or with a group of friends? Usually, we would think about going as a group, but if you really want to experience the world first-hand, going around the planet on your own is the best way for you to broaden your mind. It’s been said a million times before, that travel broadens the mind, but if you really want to expand your horizons, mentally and emotionally, you have to explore the world by yourself, and so, how can travel broden the mind better when you are by yourself?

You Find Out What You Are Made Of

There is nothing quite like going somewhere by yourself, and having to rely on your skills and instincts to get you around. We can either feel intimated by a big and scary world, or we can embrace it, and really get involved. What you learn when you are travelling by yourself is that getting from one place to another isn’t as stressful as we once thought. In fact, even if you don’t speak the language, there is always help available, and you realise that a new environment isn’t scary and alien. And, even if you encounter a few difficult scenarios, you have to think that little bit more to get yourself out fo those situations. And once you’ve done this, you can realise exactly what you are capable of. By throwing ourselves into new situations, we embrace the whole sink or swim attitude to life. By doing this, and realising that when we make a little mistake that the world doesn’t cave in on us, we build our emotional strength.

You Develop Your Confidence

The stronger we get in an emotional sense, the more confident we feel. When we are stuck in our hometown, in a dead end job, or we are used to a certain pattern of living, we can feel somehwat hemmed in. Once you break out of all of these constructs, and you being to travel the world by yourself, you can reinvent who you are. This is one of the most enlightening feelings we can have in life. By going to a new country, we can completely change our personality, or try on new ones. Instead of being a shy and retiring person, or being a nosey loudmouthed person, we can’t try on a new “suit” and see how this different personality fits. And that’s a great thing when you are going from place to place, and relying solely on your instincts to get you by, in many ways, you might realise that the person you were isn’t the person you’d like to be. By going from place to place, and making new friends, even just for a night, you learn how to adapt to new situations quickly. You realise that these moments we have in life aren’t always about lifelong friendships, it’s about learning from others, and figuring out who we really are. These is no better way to understand who you really are than travelling and putting yourself into these new and exciting situations.

You Can Start Again

And by putting on a whole new personality, you may find a way of life that suits you more than the one you are used to. A lot of people travel from place to place, and they encounter so many new and exciting ways of living, there can be the temptation to stay in one place, possibly for the rest of your life. But the great thing about travbelling is that you can spend as long as you really want to in one particular place, and you can even rent a property, just so you really know in your heart of hearts if this is a place that you’d like to stay for the foreseeable future. Links like https://www.rumah.com/rumah-disewa/di-area-semarang-idjt28 shows you the various types of houses that are for rent in Central Java, and, on the opposite end of the spectrum spending prolonged periods of time in these places may help you realise where home really lies for you. By going all around the world, you may finally understand that there is no place like home. In this respect, you can start your life over again with a clean slate, wherever you end up, because you’ve been out there, and experienced what the world has to offer, and you’ve found what is really important to you and what you actually want out of life, whether it’s an adventure, or the simpler things.

You Learn New Skills

Naturally, as you explore the world and find new cultures and approaches to life, you learn how to navigate public transport, find great food recommended by the locals, and learn new skills within yourself. Coping skills are one of those all important tools that we need in life to tackle new and exciting horizons. Whether you learn through fellow travelers, or you naturally stumble upon new skills that you wouldn’t have considered before, these are all things you can utilise for your adventures across the globe. While something like meditation can be beneficial in every  aspect of our lives (https://alifeofproductivity.com/meditation-guide can give you some of the basics), when you are travelling across the globe, you need to find a way to relax quickly, but still have your wits about you. After a while, this idea of expanding your comfort zone means that you will thrive in situations that used to stress you out completely. By learning new skills, it’s not just about making these serve you well during your travels; you will learn how to implement them in other areas of your life, long aftet you finished your excursions. And this is the true benefit of broadening your mind while you travel.

You Will Feel A Great Achievement in Life

Last, but not least, you will feel a great sense of achievement. After all, you’ve learnt how to navigate “alien” worlds, discovered how to trust your instincts, and you’ve learnt how to apply so many new skills to get by, all of which adds up to a momentous achievement. And, these skills you learn are what will help you live a better life. Heading out across the world by yourself is a major undertaking for anyone, and many people will voice their concerns, but you will get to the core of who you are and what is really important to you. Whether this is by experience new cultures so you can look at the world a little differently, or these experiences you have accumulated has finally made you realise that home is where you will thrive, it’s hardly a surprise that the travel bug is something that so many people can’t shake. Some people don’t like to experience new things, they are more than happy in their bubble, but it’s these people who may not necessarily achieve much in life. Yes, this is a grand statement, but if you are missing something in life, or you want to discover what is out there as well as in you travelling is the simplest way to achieve so much. It’s been said before that travel broadens the mind, but it’s not just because you learn about new cultures, by going out of your comfort zone, you finally get to grips with who you really are.

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Road Trip: Pacific Coast Highway

It is not often we can get a chance to be across the globe. As evidenced by the beautiful scenic pictures that keep cropping up in our trip planning, the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) promises unique landscapes and plenty of places to stop and explore. However, we are still toying with the idea of whether to take a domestic flight or drive along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).

The distance stretches up to 800 km and it does not seem possible to complete the route within a day without exploration.

A tad daunting, perhaps.

An initial thought was making interval stops before hitting Los Angeles (LA). That means shortening the time we have in LA, an itinerary that we felt are not conventional to many travellers as they prefer to spend more time in LA with the availability of amusement parks. After some research, it seems hard to miss out attractions along PCH.

All thanks to Outdoor Blueprint, they made trip planning easier with these attractions laid out neatly.

SAN FRANCISCO

San Francisco Road Trip Guide
Image Credit – http://www.outdoorblueprint.com

MONTEREY BAY

Monterey Bay Road Trip Guide
Image Credit – http://www.outdoorblueprint.com

BIG SUR (Limekiln State Park)

Limekiln Big Sur 26
Image Credit – https://californiathroughmylens.com/big-sur-attractions

Big Sur Road Trip Guide

Image Credit – http://www.outdoorblueprint.com

SAN LUIS OBISPO

San Luis Obispo Road Trip Guide
Image Credit – http://www.outdoorblueprint.com

 

POINT CONCEPTION (The Santa Barbara Channel)

Image Credit – https://exoticwinetravel.com/santa-barbara-urban-wine-trail/

Point Conception Road Trip Guide

Image Credit – http://www.outdoorblueprint.com

If you have driven across Pacific Coast Highway before, do feel free to share your travel hacks.

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Family Friendly Activities: Explore Qian Hu Fish Farm

This was our first trip to Qian Hu Fish Farm at the far west of Singapore. This place offers a beautiful, rustic feel that provides a great escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. When we arrived, there were many families here to get an insight into farm life and have some fun.

If you are not aware, Qian Hu is an integrated “one-stop” ornamental fish service provider where fish lovers  can buy ornamental fish as well as aquarium accessories.

The sound of air bubbles and sight of fishes have such therapeutic effect where it makes one feel happier just by gazing at these ‘water friends’.

Qian Hu Fish Farm also provides group tours as well which you can check out here.

Reminisce the good old kampong days.  Remember when families got together and children were out playing and enjoyed netting fishes from the canals and streams?  Bring your kids down to Qian Hu and let them experience the same excitement and joy of catching their own fishes, bringing them home and caring for them.

Longkang fishing over here for your little ones? A fun activity for families and children where kiddos sprint into action to scoop fishes from simple fishing nets.

Catch of the day! These fishes are live-bearers.

For those who are interested to buy some fishes back, head into the Fish Gallery.

Stacks and stacks of ornamental fishes displayed neatly along the aisles.

Beautiful albino guppies!

Different varieties of cichlid fishes.

Betta corner. A good choice for those who do not want the hassle of setting up fish tank and filtration system.

Bettas, also known as “Siamese fighting fish”, are popular pets recognized for their aggressiveness, interactivity, and low cost for care and maintenance. You do not need air pump to maintain them. They are sturdy and beautiful to look at. The better grades do not come cheap though.

Open-net fish farms.

Clumsy-looking Ranchu Goldfish is popular throughout the world. It originated in China and was further developed in Japan in the late 1800s. With its round, broad body and large bulbous head, it is also known as the Buffalo-head Goldfish, especially in Asia.

Little corners for families and kids to chill out.

Qian Hu Fish Farm Trading
仟湖鱼场贸易 

71, Jalan Lekar, Sungei Tengah
Singapore 698950
Tel: 65-6766 7087 (10 Lines)
Fax: 65-6766 3995
Contact: Andy Yap
Email: fishexport@qianhu.com 
Website : www.qianhufish.com

 

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Insta-worthy #BEACHPLACE across South-East Asia

South-East Asia is known for countries that are rich in traditional cultures, amazing, extremely delicious food, great people and a whole lot of picturesque settings. Not only are these places totally affordable, visiting these countries will surely change the way you look at life. So, going back to my title, check out these totally insta-worthy beautiful beaches where you can get all the #vitaminsea that you need.

1. Rai Leh, Thailand

Rai Leh or also commonly known as Raileu is one of the most beautiful beaches in Krabi, Thailand. If you’ve even come across Krabi on a postcard or in any images, Rai Leh is the exact beach that you are looking at. It is the ultimate Andaman gym for rock-climbing fanatics as the limestone formations here are what they would call a dream come true. Let the waves wash away your stress on this beautiful, broad strip of white sandy beach that is perfectly framed by massive cliffs each end of the beach.

Image Credit: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/

2. Dreamland Beach, Bali

This once-hidden paradise that is located on the Bukit Peninsula was first ‘discovered’ around the 1970’s and has since become a popular destination for surfers all over the place thanks to its great shore breaks. Though it has grown to be so popular in the last 40 years with new, luxury hotels sprouting up, this beautiful island has retained its hang-ten vibe with small shops and beach shack cafe’s that promotes total relaxation.

Image Credit: http://www.bali-indonesia.com

3. Nha Trang, Vietnam

Surrounded by a necklace of hills, not forgetting the picturesque stretch of beautiful coastline with white sandy beaches and clear waters with an abundance of marine life and thriving reefs. Nha Trang is konwn as the Riviera of South China Sea not only because of its beautiful beach, but also because of this island offering a myriad of sightseeing and recreational activities as well as breath-taking structures that date back to the Champa Kingdom.

Image Credit: http://www.vietnamtravel.guide

4. Rawa Island, Malaysia

Are you looking for a more seluded vacation? Rawa island is a small island 16km off the east coast Peninsular Malaysia and is greatly known for its clear white sand, turquoise waters and its exclusivity. As it is owned by the family of the Johor Sultanate, Rawa only has two resorts available on the island, making it the perfect weekend escapade.

Image Credit: http://onnsapuan.blogspot.com

5. Sipadan, Malaysia

Sipadan Island in Sabah, Malaysia is a beautiful, untouched piece of art with clear, crystal waters and home to the finest marine life in Malaysia. This amazing world heritage site is voted by divers all around the world as one of the top five dive sites in the world. This crown jewel houses species like barracudas, hammerhead sharks and hawksbill turtles and the reff wall plunge into great depths just meters away from the beach. This island totally defines what peace and relaxation means.

There are many more islands around South East Asia that are totally beautiful and worth every visit. But how to do we get there? Thanks to Malindo’s cheap flight that flies to all these destination, basking under the sun here is a total dream come through without leaving a hole in your bank. Go ahead and start finding for your cheap tickets today and start your new chapter of life in SEA.

 

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